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Such Useless Things

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

USELESSThe other day I was standing beside an elevator, having just pushed the Arrow Down button to call the elevator up to the second floor, when an elderly gentleman walked over and pushed the same button again. Then, he turned to me and said, “I know that was useless. The elevator won’t get here any sooner just because two people push it.”

At the grocery store, a little later that day, I tried to sign my name on a credit card scanner. After several attempts to make a semi-legible mark, the clerk waved her hand at me and said, “Oh, honey, forget it. Your signature won’t mean anything on there. That thing is useless.”

My day of useless things ended when I got home and tried to balance my checkbook. No, it wasn’t balancing the checkbook that proved useless. What was useless was pushing the “C” repeatedly on the calculator, clearing out the old amount before adding a new one. Like the gentleman at the elevator, I suddenly realized pressing the “C” a second time was an exercise in futility. The screen always went blank the first time I pushed it.

There’s a fourth useless thing we may be guilty of as well. It’s forgetting to worship our Creator. God reminds us of this in Isaiah 45:7 when He says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

Failure to acknowledge the God of the Universe, He who created light and darkness, who directs every aspect of our lives, is useless. In the same chapter in Isaiah, God says,” By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” (Isaiah 45:23).

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Three Useless Things We Do–And A Fourth!

September 30, 2015 Leave a comment

USELESSThe other day I was standing beside an elevator, having just pushed the Arrow Down button to call the elevator up to the second floor, when an elderly gentleman walked over and pushed the same button again. Then, he turned to me and said, “I know that was useless. The elevator won’t get here any sooner just because two people push it.”

At the grocery store, a little later that day, I tried to sign my name on a credit card scanner. After several attempts to make a semi-legible mark, the clerk waved her hand at me and said, “Oh, honey, forget it. Your signature won’t mean anything on there. That thing is useless.”

My day of useless things ended when I got home and tried to balance my checkbook. No, it wasn’t balancing the checkbook that proved useless. What was useless was pushing the “C” repeatedly on the calculator, clearing out the old amount before adding a new one. Like the gentleman at the elevator, I suddenly realized pressing the “C” a second time was an exercise in futility. The screen always went blank the first time I pushed it.

There’s a fourth useless thing we may be guilty of as well. It’s forgetting to worship our Creator. God reminds us of this in Isaiah 45:7 when He says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

Failure to acknowledge the God of the Universe, He who created light and darkness, who directs every aspect of our lives, is useless. In the same chapter in Isaiah, God says,” By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” (Isaiah 45:23).

Should This Verse Be In The Bible?

August 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Bible QuestionI had one of those “Well, duh,” moments this morning when I was reading my Bible. It came from 1 Samuel 12:21, where the prophet Samuel is issuing a warning to the people in a kind of farewell address. He says, “And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” I was tempted to skip over that verse and not spend anytime meditating on it because its meaning wasn’t difficult to understand—empty things are, well . . . empty.

However, the verse’s obvious logic gave me pause. Other translations—I was reading from the ESV—rendered “empty” as “useless” or “vain.” So, here’s my own paraphrase of the verse: “Don’t spend your time, emotions, and energy running after or thinking about useless things. Useless things—anything or anyone who promises to deliver you or to bring you profit—are useless.”

Even with my expansion of the warning, the verse’s original reasoning doesn’t change. The message is clear. The simplest reading makes perfect sense. It’s common sense. So why does it need to be in the Bible in the first place? Why is it part of Holy Scripture? Why is it taking up valuable space?

These words are here because, despite our knowing the truth, we DO run after empty things. As fallen creatures, we are running after, looking for, and taking in empty stuff all day long, just hoping it will bring us prosperity, just hoping it will deliver us. We need to be reminded NOT to do this.

Three verses later, Samuel tells the people—and us—what we should be doing instead, “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.” 1 Samuel 12:24.

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