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Bible Ballistics: Vol. 14 No. 10        God’s Bucket List???

 

I know this is a strange title, but I hear so many people these days talking about their “bucket” list; and for a long time I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about, so one day when it came up, I asked one of my children, what it meant.  They laughingly explained that it was a reference to “kicking the bucket”, reference to things people wanted to do before they die.  Well, for a long time since, it has interested me that a culture so anxious to avoid talking about death, was so consumed with talk of the “bucket list”; and as I’ve pondered this from time to time, I have a few thoughts that I’d like to share about this “bucket list”.  Now let me say, there’s nothing wrong with having goals, or having dreams and desires for things that we would like to accomplish, places we’d like to go, or adventures that we would like to experience, but I think this is idea is often used by the ‘enemy of our souls’ to get people so focused on tomorrow that we miss our God-given opportunities of today.  Jesus spoke to this quite clearly.

From that time forth

began Jesus to shew unto his disciples,

how that he must go unto Jerusalem,

and suffer many things

of the elders

and chief priests

and scribes,

and be killed,

and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him,

and began to rebuke him, saying,

Be it far from thee, Lord:

this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter,

Get thee behind me, Satan:

thou art an offence unto me:

for thou savourest not

the things that be of God,

but those that be of men.

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples,

If any man will come after me,

let him deny himself,

and take up his cross,

and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life

shall lose it:

and whosoever will lose his life

for my sake

shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited,

if he shall gain the whole world,

and lose his own soul?

or what shall a man give

in exchange for his soul?

27 For the Son of man shall come

in the glory of his Father

with his angels;

and then he shall reward

every man

according to his works.”   Matthew 16:21-27

I love the Apostle Peter—this big fisherman with the ‘big’ mouth– who like me, often spoke before he thought.  Imagine, rebuking his LORD!  But don’t we do the same, when we wrestle with our own pictures of life, plans for the present and the future, and purposes of our own making instead of God’s!  How often do we argue with God, “But God you surely can’t mean for me to ‘be’, ‘do’ or ‘follow’ YOU in ‘That’?”  But in this scenario Jesus rebuked Satan for prompting Peter to be distracted from God’s plan, seeking to distract the Lord Jesus Christ from HIS very mission here on earth!  God calls us to be His children—His followers—His testimony to a lost and dying world, that needs Jesus.

And while God blesses us in so many ways, providing blessings beyond measure, His goal is our “Holiness” not our “Happiness” (although He grants us the delights of so many things that bring us happiness, yet often, we forget that it’s simply His goodness, grace and generosity toward us!).

Every good gift

and every perfect gift

is from above,

and cometh down

from the Father of lights,

with whom is no variableness,

neither shadow of turning.”   James 1:17

God is ever at work in the lives of His children to continually grow and conform us “to the image of his son” (See Romans 8:28-29)!  Please don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the gifts of God, the beauty of His creation, the joys of food, family and friendship; but we need to make sure we keep our eyes on the prize—JESUS– His glory, His grace, and His call upon our lives.  But if God had a ‘bucket list’, His Word tells us what HE wants—which ought to be what we, who are His, want!

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?

by taking heed thereto

according to thy word.

10 With my whole heart

have I sought thee:

O let me not wander

from thy commandments.

11 Thy word have I hid

in mine heart,

that I might not sin

against thee.”  Psalm 119:9-11

The Word of God is key to our focus—seeking after God, His ways and His Word with our “whole heart”; yet sadly so many who claim His name today simply want a “get out of hell free” card, and have no desire to know HIM, or to serve HIM!  Something is terribly amiss!  As the Psalmist so vividly paints a picture of devotion to God, we see the connection between putting (hiding) God’s Word in our heart and avoiding the pitfalls of sin!  How sad that we have neglected His Word and have often failed to recognize the lies and schemes of the devil!  Paul reminded the young preacher Timothy, of this very thing.

Study to shew thyself approved

unto God,

 a workman

that needeth not to be ashamed,

rightly dividing

the word of truth.”   2 Timothy 2:15

All scripture

is given by inspiration of God,

and is profitable

for doctrine,

for reproof,

for correction,

for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God

may be perfect,

throughly furnished

unto all good works.”    2 Timothy 3:16-17

And if I may paraphrase for a bit—God’s Word is beneficial for—

What we need to know (doctrine/truth)—

What is wrong (sin/error/reproof)—

What to do to make things right (correction)—

What/How to avoid the wrong by knowing right—

In all we ‘are’ and all we ‘do’ (instruction)!

And here are a couple of things that might help each of us to remember God’s perspective:

The sacrifices of God

are a broken spirit:

a broken

and a contrite heart,

O God, thou wilt not despise.”    Psalm 51:17

He hath shewed thee, O man,

what is good;

and what doth the LORD require

of thee,

but to do justly,

and to love mercy,

and to walk humbly

with thy God?”  Micah 6:8

There is a simple reminder that we so often forget in the clear teaching of Jesus on our focus.  So as we go from day to day, making plans, working with our hands, doing the things that God leads us to; as He directs our steps in living for Him, it’s not wrong to desire to go, see, and accomplish new things, but it is important to make sure our focus stays on the ONE we claim to love and follow!

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father

which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done

in earth,

as it is in heaven.”   Matthew 6:9-10

And as James said so precisely, may we ever remember:

Go to now, ye that say,

To day or to morrow

we will go into such a city,

and continue there a year,

and buy and sell,

and get gain:

14 Whereas ye know not

what shall be on the morrow.

For what is your life?

It is even a vapour,

that appeareth for a little time,

and then vanisheth away.

15 For that ye ought to say,

If the Lord will,

we shall live,

and do this,

or that.”  James 4:13-15

May we pursue God in all our ways—no matter what you may have on your “bucket list”, may we each draw near to God and remember James admonition in all things (great and small):

If the Lord will,

we shall live,

and do this,

or that

Just as Jesus so tenderly reminds me and you:

My sheep hear my voice,

and I know them,

and they follow me:

28 And I give unto them eternal life;

and they shall never perish,

neither shall any man pluck them

out of my hand.

29 My Father, which gave them me,

is greater than all;

and no man is able to pluck them

out of my Father’s hand.

30 I and my Father are one.”   John 10:27-30

So rest in The One who died for YOU/ME, and make a ‘bucket list’ if you like, but live your “todays” with our soon coming King in mind, that you and I might be found faithful when HE comes—having lived with HIS ‘list’ in mind—being delighted IN Him!

Trust in the LORD,

and do good;

so shalt thou dwell in the land,

and verily thou shalt be fed.

4 Delight thyself also

in the LORD;

and he shall give thee the desires

of thine heart.

5 Commit thy way

unto the LORD;

trust also

in him;

and he shall bring it to pass.

6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness

as the light,

and thy judgment

as the noonday.

7 Rest in the LORD,

and wait patiently for him:

fret not thyself

because of him

who prospereth in his way,

because of the man

who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

8 Cease from anger,

and forsake wrath:

 fret not thyself in any wise

to do evil.”  Psalm 37:3-8.

Amen and Amen!!!