A Matter of Life and Death

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ― Robert Frost

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ― Oscar Wilde

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

A Necessary Reminder
When we take a look at some of the things life has to offer, the conclusion concerning the matter of our choices and decisions comes to light. What more can one do in the ring with right and wrong, good and bad, success and failure, opportunities and misfortunes, joy and sadness, prosperity and poverty, and wisdom and foolishness, just to name a few? All this and more centres around one thing: Management.

Management of time. Management of responsibilities. Management of knowledge. Whether or not these things happen is not the question, but rather what we do with the hand that has been dealt. I love what someone said: There are three kinds of people in this world, those who watch what happens, those who make things happen, and those who wonder, “what happened?”

There is one overlooked factor of life that must be frequently made conscious of, that is the rival: Death. A comment from Bible.org puts it this way:

Death is one of those subjects we don’t like to discuss. That’s why it’s a subject of so many euphemisms. Instead of using the word dead, we say, “passed away,” “returned home,” “gone to a better place,” “sleeping in Jesus,” or “went to be with the Lord.” At least we use those terms around the church and the funeral home. In less guarded moments, we speak of “taking a dirt nap,” “kicking the bucket,” “buying the farm,” “cashing in the chips,” “biting the dust,” or the ever-popular “croaked.” Whether we lean to the reverent right or the flippant left, we shy away from speaking directly of the ultimate enemy

A Harsh Shove
Solomon attempted to analyze death in light of God’s role with humankind, and the impact it has in our lives, especially as it pertains to the difference between existing and living. Some of the things he noted are:

Death is certain. As uncomfortable as it may be to mention or talk about, the reality is its inevitability. A very chilling thought indeed! Solomon saw that there is no one exempt from it, regardless of financial status, social influence, vocational position or anything else, one thing was true of anyone and everyone: one day there will be a complete biological shutdown (is that not a neat euphemism)?

In Ecclesiastes 9:2-4, Solomon does a lot of comparison between great and small things and creatures in the earth, chiefly focusing on dogs. In his day they were loathed, diseased and filthy animals. His unique selling point: a live dog is better than a dead lion. This illustrates that the living will come to terms with the brutality of death and thus value everything life has to offer, including the seemingly insignificant things.

Life is uncertain. In contrast to the first point and contrary to what most may believe, life is not all buns and roses filled with nothing but guarantees! The human life expectancy is supposed to be 120 years in general (Gen 6:3), but thanks to pollution of all kinds, among other things, that has depleted over the years.

As far as Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:7-12 is concerned, the finer things in life come down to our function, rather than chasing fleeting pleasures and fading fantasies. One will never know when their time may come, therefore maximizing every day to the best of our abilities includes these 3 factors:

i) Eat and drink with cheerfulness. Life is short, and to grasp as much of it as you can, party away. Enjoy the best of it, filling your heart with laughter, and your mind with memories. While you are at it, eat healthy and workout often.

ii) Enjoy your spouse while you can. The world has done quite a number on the beauty of love expressed within the union of marriage. The truth is it’s enviable, to the extent that one should seek it out and treasure it. Spouses must work through their relationship with the mindset of continual development, and avoid complacency regardless of marriage length.

iii) Get work done. In this department, to give those who have a glass-half-empty outlook regarding the job they don’t like, having to imagine walking in the shoes of those who struggle to find jobs should bring their own circumstance to perspective. Punctuality is a huge indicator of work ethic and must be taken seriously.

Whether meeting deadlines, doing admin, overseeing or managing projects and/or people, doing damage control with clients and customers, and communicating payments, know that these positive and negative experiences are what some can only dream of having.

Love your work, whether you own a business, are an employee, self-employed or an investor. Find something in your work you love and create opportunities to experience it repeatedly. Increase the value of your workplace, so that you can increase your value in it.

I am of the greatest opinion that those who have reached the top their game, serve as role models for the rest of us in various industries. The department in which one works is not important, but the benefit to both the recipient (client/company) and the provider. Death brings a painful reminder that not everyone lives to fight another day. It must be faced with praise to the Lord in both good and bad times (Psalm 34:1) and planning for tomorrow while living for today (Matt 6:34; Proverbs 27:1).


Perfect Peace and a Perfect Mind

Courtesy of one-vibration.com

Peace in good and bad times

I recently meditated on Isaiah 26:3 and my eyes froze on it as though time stopped. All other words might as well have slowly faded away as the only thing in crystal clear picture and vision were these words:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind (both its inclination and its character) is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

My eyes kept circling back and forth those words and my mind tried to follow through. Eventually I began to feel it resonate deep within me as other verses relating to peace and the mind sprung forth. I discovered something interesting as I kept thinking about it. This is more of an inner peace that cannot be shaken by any situation. The Jews were singing a song to God in order to re-establish their own land and, in essence, devote it to Him. He is to be their strong city, their everlasting protection. The peace that is to be their soul-soothing comfort (as well as ours) is said to be perfect peace, which is undisturbed in any and every way. Free from persecution, poverty, sickness, want, or bereavement.

The Trade And Reward
There is a reward for holding to our end of the deal. To be kept guarded and given perfect peace is invaluable. All we have to do is simply (because it’s not complicated) keep our minds on Him. How so? By staying commited to Him, leaning on Him, and cofidently hoping in Him. Happiness is situational and temporary, but joy is eternal. Since there is joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11) then the easiest way to practice all three is to be joyful. That means both in the good times and in the bad (Psalm 34:1). In a literal sense we have to picture Him beside us at all times so that He is Someone very close to us, because He is (Hebrews 13:8 cf Josh 1:5). Think long and hard about that.

Wisdom That Brings Order

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, 
      And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding Proverbs 9:10

O Lord, listen to my cry;
  give me the discerning mind you promised.
Listen to my prayer;
rescue me as you promised Psalm 119:169-170

Where the mind goes, the man follows Joyce Meyer

There are three aspects to this year. It is the year of complete governance and peace; the year of answered prayer; the year of double wisdom.

Last year was the year of walking in wisdom. Meaning that in the midst of all the chaos and disorder you grew and gained wisdom to continue walking in the plans of the Lord. This year it is about using the wisdom you’ve gained or are about to gain to bring order in every part of your life. How are we to go about doing this?

Wisdom and Peace go together
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, we need to understand what the fear of the Lord is:

Come, my children, and listen to me,
      and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
  Does anyone want to live a life
      that is long and prosperous?
  Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
      and your lips from telling lies!
  Turn away from evil and do good.
      Search for peace, and work to maintain it Psalm 34:11-14

Basically the beginning of wisdom is searching for peace and working to maintain it. The question obviously then is: how do we search for peace? James tells us that any time we need wisdom we simply ask:

 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:5-8

Before moving on we need to understand the importance of this verse. It actually talks about discipline. We must have a mindset that cannot be moved. When we ask for wisdom we have to be sure that what we ask for is what we want.

This means that we also need to understand the kind of wisdom we’re asking for:

For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.  For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind (something to think about).

  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere James 3:15-17

That was the theme for last year and how we were to walk in wisdom. This is the year of double wisdom which means we need to continue to walk in wisdom and also grow in wisdom. We have managed to establish that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and that kind of wisdom searches for peace and works to maintain it. We need to be very certain, beyond the shadow of doubt, that when we ask for wisdom, we are not going to let doubt overshadow our faith. Finally godly wisdom has to do with peace.

Peace starts in the mind
Listen carefully to what Peter says:

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.  Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do (the will of God), and he will bless you for it.  For the Scriptures say,

   “If you want to enjoy life
      and see many happy days,
   keep your tongue from speaking evil
      and your lips from telling lies.
  Turn away from evil and do good.
      Search for peace, and work to maintain it 1 Peter 3:8-11

First he tells us to be of the same mind or think the same things. Then he proceeds to tell us how. If we are going to enjoy life it comes from asking for the wisdom that comes from the fear of the Lord. Pay more attention to the fact that he says to be of the same mind. Watch this:

1 ) And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth Colossians 3:2 (AMP).

There is the discipline of the mind again. Since we know the wisdom that comes from above, we are to keep our minds set on that wisdom where peace dwells. This is the first thing.

2) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you Philippians 4:8-10

Take note of the key word here: Then. That implies that the previous statement is a conditional statement. That means for peace to come we have to think about what is honorable, excellent and worthy of praise. Just ask yourself, “Is what I’m thinking going to bring peace? Is what I’m about to say going to bring peace? Is what I’m about to do going to bring peace?”

3) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Changing the way we think is a constant, on-going process. Now because being negative is a natural part of human nature, changing the way we think, renewing our minds, is a never-ending process!

Putting it all together
We understand that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the fear of the Lord is searching for peace and working to maintain it. We also know that the wisdom that brings peace and order is a godly wisdom, the wisdom from above. That is the wisdom we should ask for and continually ask for it as an act of renewing our mind. To make sure our thinking doesn’t waver we must always ask ourselves whether or not what we are thinking and what we are about to say and do is going to bring peace.

We must practice double wisdom by making sure our prayer which is sure to be answered, is to grow in self-governance and peace in, through and with every part of our lives. This is the wisdom that brings order!