Life Is but a Vapor
Missey Butler, Author, 1.cbn.com
At a very early age, I was blessed to discover the wonderful writings of King Solomon, the humble ruler who unselfishly asked God for wisdom, instead of the typical list of wants compiled by most kings.
I am not sure if he won my affection by his great insight with the teaching of the two disputing mothers and the baby, or when after he experienced all the pleasures life had to offer, he then had the conviction to tell the world, “None of it matters.”
God must have had something up His sleeve, because as a youngster, He made sure many nuggets of truth were planted deep within my very impressionable heart. It produced a kind of “Princess and the Pea” fairy tale effect. It caused me not be able to rest too comfortably on the “mattress of complacency.”
The Holy Spirit always made sure that soft whispers of wisdom would consistently move in and out of my life for many years. I recall one particular verse that I could never seem to forget. It was one of those sayings that you weighed everything against.
It’s found in the book of Ecclesiastes. It says,
It is better to spend more time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die and you should think about it while there is still time (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
You must be thinking as I did, Goodness gracious, what a depressing statement! A real bubble buster! Actually, for me it was quite the contrary. That rather gloomy statement would cause me to continually reprioritize my life.
The Holy Spirit made sure that particular Scripture was stored in a “refer to often” file within my mind. He was faithful to lead me to that mental index whenever I developed the self-centered notion that somehow my life was my own and I could live it anyway I pleased.
As James often reminds us,
For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away (James 4:14).
This verse is certainly not one of those “claim it” verses we so readily display on our fridges with a cute little magnet. But then again, why don’t we? Are we so in love with our lives or so deeply immersed in our pleasures that we cannot bare to be reminded that one day it will all disappear like a passing mist?
On the front of my computer at work, I keep a small, neon-colored “post-it” with the following words displayed directly at eye level: “Soon this life as we know it shall pass … only what’s done for Jesus will last.”
So what is our duty? The wisest king that ever lived summed it up in one sentence.
Fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
So, in closing, I leave you with a K.I.S.S. – “Keep It Simple Saints.” And always remember, “It’s only a minute, but eternity’s in it.” Make your vapor count!
“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
Living knowing that your life is a vapor is different than just living. Things here are passing away. You’ve got to hold on to what will stand. Savor what matters. This collection of thirty-one articles is full of that heart-longing after Christ that distinguishes Piper’s preaching ministry. Readers will feel as though they have stumbled into a garden as they enter these pages. The Scripture cuts, Christ is exalted in God, and we worship Him.
Life Is Short. Eternity Is Long. Live Like It.
You will exist forever. You and God are both in the universe to stay—either as friends on His terms, or enemies on yours—which it will be is proven in this life. And this life is a vapor. Two seconds, and we will be gone.
In these thirty-one meditations, John Piper will connect you to a fresh understanding of God and a renewed relationship with Him. You’ll find your faith stirred to make every day count for Christ when you consider life as a vapor.
Time is precious. We are fragile. Life is short. Eternity is long. Every minute counts. Oh, to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me. Three texts resound in my ears: “Redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16 ); “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2); “His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10 ).
Surely God means for our minutes on earth to count for something significant. Paul said, “In the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Philippians 2:16). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
“Jesus Christ came into this world – this fleeting, fallen, fickle world – and did the greatest thing that will ever be done” (p. 12).
“Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].”
– James 4:14 Amplified Bible
“I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more—the feeling that I could last for ever.” These impressions were the work of author Joseph Conrad in his classic novel, Youth. But his words express the feelings common to many young people, for whom time seems to have no end. In their youthfulness, it may seem that life will “last for ever.”
Yet, as we age, we understand more clearly that life is short. The Bible says it is like “a wisp of vapor.” It quickly fades and soon is gone.
Many marketers want us to forget these facts, urging us to live for today. They promote the mindset that we will find contentment and pleasure through acquiring more “things.” We constantly are bombarded with advertisements designed to make us feel discontented, lusting after new things and experiences.
In themselves, there is nothing wrong with new things, products, or trends. But we must remember that filling our lives with these things is often just “chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14 NIV). The world’s pleasures don’t last. They can distract us and consume our hearts and minds, taking our attention off of serving God and living for Him.
Today, ask God to give you His perspective on your life and the things of this world. Don’t spend your time just chasing the wind or pursuing things that cannot produce lasting satisfaction.
Ask the Lord to help you evaluate your heart. Where is your treasure? What are you doing with your time and resources?
Remember: Your life is like a wisp of a vapor, gone in a flash. Make your life count for eternity. Invest your time, talent, and treasure into God’s Kingdom.
From: Streams In The Desert, By: L. B. Cowman
“Not much earth” (Matthew 13:5).
Shallow! It would seem from the teaching of this parable that we have something to do with the soil. The fruitful seed fell into “good and honest hearts.” I suppose the shallow people are the soil without much earth–those who have no real purpose, are moved by a tender appeal, a good sermon, a pathetic melody, and at first it looks as if they would amount to something; but not much earth–no depth, no deep, honest purpose, no earnest desire to know duty in order to do it. Let us look after the soil of our hearts.
When a Roman soldier was told by his guide that if he insisted on taking a certain journey it would probably be fatal, he answered, “It is necessary for me to go; it is not necessary for me to live.”
This was depth. When we are convicted something like that we shall come to something. The shallow nature lives in its impulses, its impressions, its intuitions, its instincts, and very largely its surroundings. The profound character looks beyond all these, and moves steadily on, sailing past all storms and clouds into the clear sunshine which is always on the other side, and waiting for the afterwards which always brings the reversion of sorrow, seeming defeat and failure.
When God has deepened us, then He can give us His deeper truths, His profoundest secrets, and His mightier trusts. Lord, lead me into the depths of Thy life and save me from a shallow experience!
On to broader fields of holy vision;
On to loftier heights of faith and love;
Onward, upward, apprehending wholly,
All for which He calls thee from above.
–A. B. Simpson