Chance May Be Random, But What Chance is there that You’ll Read This? YOU Decide.

Time and Chance might seem to have no place in a world ruled by a Sovereign God. Both Bible Scholars and skeptics believe in an either-or universe in which God has pre-ordained all things, and where determinism restricts the choices men may make about existence. The tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is a difficult thing to sort out, but surely God has a plan designed to accomplish His will which would override random events.

So why did the wisest man who ever lived say this:
“I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

I have always been in awe of God’s majesty and omniscience, but I have often wondered about his sovereignty. What does God’s sovereignty mean to us in a practical sense, and do we really have any choice in this world? On one hand, I have heard it argued that there is nothing that happens outside of God’s plan, and that there is a sort of determinism about life: since God has foreknowledge, and knows everything in advance, then we really have no options and we are basically puppets dangling at the end of God’s strings. On the other hand, there are many things in scripture that suggest man was given will and the ability to make choices for a reason; there is cause and effect, there are consequences to actions—but it’s not always the outcome we think is logical or fair.

chance

I have always believed that God’s sovereignty is somehow big enough to allow for human choices without limiting His authority, or interfering with the outcome He desires. God’s perfect will allowed for Abraham to sleep with Hagar, and still somehow used the players in their faithless disobedience to fulfill His ultimate plan. God allowed Jacob to lie and steal the blessing from Esau, yet it all worked to fulfill the covenant. He permitted a harlot to betray her own people to save the spies in Jericho and become one of David’s ancestors. In each of these cases, people made their own decisions, committed sins, or followed seemingly unpredictable paths of choice and chance.

The universe is not simply an “either-or” situation between God’s will and man’s will. The Bible views them as a “both-and” scenario, where God is utterly sovereign and man takes his chances and makes his choices. There are many twists and turns throughout Scripture that seem disconnected from God’s will (or totally random, based on earthly factors), but they did not deter His will or prevent the outcome He had ordained. And then this verse from Ecclesiastes: “time and chance happen to them all.”

I believe that God allows for time and chance in a fallen world. If that is true, then He does not program us like automatons or dictate every action. Things are not always logical, and outcomes are not all predetermined. We act freely. We take our chances. Every eventuality exists under the umbrella of God’s sovereignty, and His foreknowledge does not limit our choices or dictate our decisions.

Sometimes the underdog wins. God allows for that. Sometimes humans exercise their will in business or athletics. God allows for that. And sometimes, in a fallen world, random things occur and accidents happen. Sometimes people pay for making stupid choices, or even pay for someone else’s stupid choices, and life is affected by time and chance. Ultimately, however, God is in control and we can have faith in a risen Lord in the middle of a fallen world. Are there things in life that seem unfair or impossible? Sometimes. Do those things ever circumvent God’s will? Never.

Chance or Choice?

If everything is prearranged, and history’s die is cast,
Then every action is ordained from the first one to the last.
The Lord is sovereign (heaven knows), and has a master plan–
So what remains within the province of the mortal man?
The Lord knows every man’s demise, and every sparrow’s fall,
But Solomon said Time and Chance still happen to us all.
So, is God in control, or do we have the right to choose?
If you gamble, bet on God. There’s no way you can lose…

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Resolutions for the OTHER kind of New Year’s Health and Fitness

A whole bunch of people out there are going to make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get in better shape, and make improve they way they look. (And I’m one of ’em!)
It’s Day One of a brand New Year, when everyone resolves to make some changes and get stuff done! A lot of folks look in the mirror and decide to make some improvements. Workout clubs will be full and optimism will be high! We all know the gym population thins back out (ironic) in February as muscles ache and enthusiasm wanes… Maybe it’s time to come up with some new resolutions for New Year’s!

resolutions

People work hard on getting back in shape. (My own problem when it comes to fitness is that I am usually concerned with “fitness donut into my mouth”!) Even though resolutions to lose weight often fail, at the beginning of 2019 Nancy and I committed to changing our nutritional habits and getting in better shape. Our results have been pretty good, actually, and I’m proud that we have stuck to our physical fitness goals for a full year! Just focusing on our goals one day at a time has helped us keep our resolutions and get into some smaller clothes!

But stop to consider that there is more than one kind of fitness. Physical fitness is certainly desirable, but don’t forget to work on your mental and spiritual fitness as well! When you start writing those New Year’s resolutions this year, try to think of more than just your outward appearance. Build some spiritual muscle along with those physical ones.

Jeremiah says, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them.” Peter says, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow by it.” The Bible, it seems, is our spiritual food! So try this– if you drew a picture of your “spiritual man (or woman)”, based solely on how many spiritual meals you get each week (that one small meal at church seems kinda small now, doesn’t it?), then what kind of shape are you in? Is your spiritual man or woman robust and healthy, or are you a poor refugee who is starving?
Maybe it would be good to feed them a few meals that provide spiritual sustenance. Here are a few suggestions from a book filled with wise sayings:

“Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NKJV)

“Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord; Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.” (Lamentations 3:40-41, NKJV)
“Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the Lord God of hosts will be with you…” (Amos 5:14, NKJV)

“And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”. (Colossians 3:23 NKJV)

“But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all of these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV)

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, NKJV)

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 KJV)

There are LOTS of other good resolutions in there, and hey, it’s a new year! Feel free to dig into that book and find your own. Then work on them a little bit every day. Your spiritual man (or woman!) will thank you for it!

The Wimpy Spiritual Man

Somewhere, in the corners of your mind
Your spiritual man sits weakened, frail, and blind;
You treat him like you really never need him,
And rarely work him out, or even feed him!
He really only asks for your permission
To have him work beside you on your mission.
So this year, when you’re making resolutions,
Remember your poor spiritual constitution:
Work him out a little every day,
Encourage him to venture out and play!
Here’s a little challenge, then, for you:
Feed your spiritual man a meal or two.
You’ll be surprised at all that he can do!
When he gets stronger, you’ll be stronger too.

 

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread