2015 A to Z Challenge

Elements of Existence

Why are we here? What is the meaning to life? Hard questions that I don't know that I can adequately answer. However for the 2015 A to Z Challenge I'll be looking at some concept each day to see if we can get any closer to the answers to life's biggest and most puzzling questions.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Finishing What You Start -- #atozchallenge

English: School Running Race
English: School Running Race (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
Ecclesiastes 7:8
New International Version (NIV)

        My upbringing has always reinforced the idea of finishing what I've started.  There have certainly been times when I have fallen short of this worthy goal and most of those times I was not pleased in having been a quitter.  I try to finish what I've started and carry the burden of not having finished something when that has been the case.

         Our image in this world is reflected in the work we do.  If we gain a reputation for not following through with our stated commitments then we are known as unreliable, undependable, and not up to being given responsibilities.  This can hurt us not only in our work life, but in our relationships with those around us.

          Slow and steady is a good philosophy to heed in most cases.  Jumping headlong into a venture and then losing steam and giving up might look good at the outset, but it doesn't win the contest.   Preparation is important.  Pacing provides strength and stamina.   If you're going to be a winner at anything, you have to finish those things.  

          What you do in life and how you do it tells others who you are and what they can expect from you in the future.   If you look back to see a life filled with failures in work and relationships then evaluate your performance to see how honestly you worked at those things in your life.  Then look at yourself now to see what you need to do to change your image.   Whenever you set out to do something, do it well and see it through to the end.   Finish and finish well.  

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
2 Corinthians 8:11
New International Version (NIV)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Value (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

A sparrow in Mellieha, Malta. In Malta the res...
A sparrow in Mellieha, Malta. In Malta the resident sparrows are mostly hybrids between Spanish Sparrows (Passer hispaniolensis) and the House Sparrows (Passer domesticus). It is difficult to identify this bird with certainty, because of the mix of sparrows wintering on Malta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14
New International Version (NIV)

       If God is great and all of his creation is great then we are great since we are made by God.  That's pretty sound reasoning I would say.  We are fallen creatures so that takes away our perfection, but God's intent in creating us was a perfect one.   Since we all are part of God's creation, we have value in God's eyes.

       Now, if God sees value in us then we too should see value in others and we should be aware of our own value.  When I hear someone say that they are worthless then I have to ask, "According to whom?"     Self devaluation is just plain wrong as far as I'm concerned.  We all have shortcomings, but that is not a diminution of our value.  We always have room to grow and to better ourselves.

      Don't look down on others as though they have no value to anyone.   And since you are closest to you, don't look down on yourself.  You will never achieve perfection in this life, but that's not any excuse to not try to become the best that you can be.   Living up to God's standards is up to you.  God cares and wants you to become a better person.  God never gives up on any of us because we are valuable to him.   

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.   Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31

English Standard Version (ESV)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Uprigthtness (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

Look at Earth from the Heaven
Look at Earth from the Heaven (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

Psalm 84:10-11
English Standard Version (ESV)

         These days there often seems to be little concern for decent moral behavior.  Many people are shameless about how they conduct themselves on social media and the things they put online about themselves.   In public places we see people dressed without regard to decency and using language that we are embarrassed for our children to overhear.   There seems to be a general lack of respect for standards of decency and uprightness of character.

          High profile public figures often show blatant disregard for respectful behavior and many flaunt their inappropriateness as their badge of individuality and badness.  Bad is good in the eyes of modern culture while sin is merely another synonym for having a good time.  As our society is turning topsy-turvy, Satan is undoubtedly thrilled to see so much disobedience of God's commands.

           Raising children and keeping ones morality on track are challenges that Christians have always faced, but now more than ever we are constantly tempted to fall into sinful ways and evil thoughts.  Each of our lives is merely a brief flash in the span of time.   Is a moment of carnal pleasure or immoral action worth sacrificing an eternity in Paradise with God?

           When we walk upright and keep our sights high, we can lift ourselves above the filth that is all around us.  Our uprightness sets an example for others and especially for our children and the younger generations who look up to us.  

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;  but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:5-8
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Talents (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

Parable of the Talents
Parable of the Talents (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The right gift at the right time can open up new opportunities
and gains access to influential people.

Proverbs 18:16
The Voice (VOICE)

      Despite anything that you might believe about yourself, you have talent.  I've heard some say that they have no special talents or skills.  Untrue!  God has blessed each of you with one or more special gifts.

       Maybe you can't dance, play a musical instrument, or sing.  That doesn't mean you don't have a talent.  Some people might be good at sports and physical activities while others might be better with writing or math.  Talent can encompass many many things.

        One person might be good with children which makes them a good candidate for childcare, teaching, or parenting.  Another might have extraordinary abilities with cooking and other skills in the kitchen.  Maybe you're a good driver or mechanic.   There are many skills that a lot of people don't think of as talent.

        Before you start believing that you have no talent, think about the things that you do well and the things you enjoy doing.  Those are some of your talents.  Chances are you have a number of talents.   Put them to good use.  Look for a career that puts those skills to work or volunteer your skills in service to God at your church or local charity.

         Don't hide your talents.  Be glad for the special gifts with which God has blessed you.  He gave those to you so you could share them with others, give you self worth, and to glorify Him.  Don't waste those resources.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10
New International Version (NIV)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Salvation (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

Our Lord Jesus Christ
Our Lord Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

1 Chronicles 16:23-24
New International Version (NIV)

       In some ways we might say that salvation is what life on this Earth is all about.   We may not totally know why we are here and where in this life we are going other than we will one day die and leave this life.   While in this life we are given the opportunity to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

         We are all sinners and are undeserving of God's mercy and yet our Lord has provided us an opportunity to be saved from eternal damnation.  God offers his grace.  It is up to each of his to receive this gift through our profession of faith, confession of sin, and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

         You are offered a generous gift.  Will you receive it?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9
New International Version (NIV)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Renewal (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

English: Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Dove of the Ho...
 Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, stained glass, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:10-12
New International Version (NIV)

        All around us we see others struggling with their lives.  There are those who are dealing with economic hardships, health problems, and emotional conflict.  These life difficulties are often self-inflicted, not so much on purpose but more so being the consequences of bad life choices and withdrawing from the aid of the Holy Spirit.

        Alienation from God is our choice, but so often we want to blame God for leaving us on our own and not providing the assistance to pull us from the depths into which we've sunk.  Blame is not the appropriate solution.   Instead we need to call out for God's help and reach out for his hand.   God provides the ultimate answer to the difficulties we face in life.

         Mental health specialists might be able to help some.   Drugs can provide temporary assuagement, but they are not the ultimate long term answer. Friends or family members can comfort us to some degree, but we become a burden to them if we are overly dependent.   God is the perfect solution to our needs, but if we don't recognize this and believe it then we cannot hear his voice of comfort calling to us through the confusion of our pain.

         Each day we are dying.   Yet through God we are becoming more alive and growing ever closer to a perfect eternity with Him.   Feeling defeat and weariness is not an unusual state of human existence on occasion, but we don't have to be constantly beaten down into that frame of mind.  Renewal is at hand and is ours for the believing.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16
New International Version (NIV)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Quiet (Elements of Existence) #AtoZChallenge

English: A nice view on the quiet landscape in...
A nice view on the quiet landscape in Twisk, The Netherlands  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Proverbs 17:1
New International Version (NIV)

       The world can be a noisy place at times, but still there are quiet places to which we can retreat.  Solitude and silence sometimes seem like something that many fear and yet these are states that are vital to our sense of inner peace and personal sanity.  We should not only seek out the quiet places which we can use to our meditative advantage, but we should strive to help create environments of quietude for ourselves and others to enjoy if even for only a few minutes at a time.

        So many of us feel the need to have chatter around us whether it be the television, radio, or merely our own idle talk.  Once in a while it doesn't hurt to just keep your mouth shut and listen to others or even strain for the distant sounds of all that surrounds us.  We usually don't have to strain much for that!

          I'm not suggesting that we should just clam up and not have conversation with others, but we should perhaps be more careful in the things we say.  I've been trying my best to speak carefully when I'm among others.  A quiet person can have a lot of impact when their words are spoken.  Try to make what you say count for something.   Words can be like precious treasures or dangerous daggers.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:36-37
New International Version (NIV)