Time is Short, Time is fleeting: Seize the Opportunity for God

Before reading on, pause and make a list of the things you value most in life. Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc are at the top of your list. But did you list “TIME?”

Below is a link to the song entitled “Redeem the Time” – It is beautiful vocal by David Smallwood with well done, and very moving graphics. Father, may the words of this song cause us to soberly ponder the length of eternity and the brevity of our opportunity to live our life in the power of the Spirit for the glory of Christ. Amen

Ephesians 5:15-16note has been called the Bible’s key to TIME MANAGEMENT. In these passages Paul commands all believers

Therefore (because we have been awakened from spiritual stupor and spiritual death and have the light of Christ – Eph 5:14noteBE CAREFUL how you walk, not as unwise men (“fools”), but as wise, REDEEMING (making the most of) THE TIME, because (explains why we must redeem the time) the days are evil (Corollary: The evil of our day should motivate us to redeem the time).” (Eph 5:16note)

Paul uses three Greek words or phrases that are very instructive, the first being the command to “be careful (present imperative = command to make this vigilant attitude our lifestyle) how you walk.” The idea is we as believers are commanded to continually take heed, be alert, be vigilant, to discern with Spirit enabled vision. This command which calls for us to continually live our life wisely and continually dependent on and filled with or controlled by the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18).

C H Spurgeon paraphrases it “See then that ye walk circumspectly (being careful to consider all circumstances and all possible consequences), not carelessly, not thinking that it is of no importance how you live; but looking all round you, “walk circumspectly,” watching lest even in seeking one good thing you spoil another.” In other words, if we walk wisely, we will be careful not to let the good steal God’s best!

Charles Hummel wrote that our “greatest danger is letting the urgent (secular) things crowd out the important (divine things).” Our problem is that too often we live by life’s demands, instead of by God’s priorities. Remember that life is too short for us to do everything we want to do, but it is long enough for us to do everything God wants us to do.

The second word is REDEEM (Eph 5:16note) is the Greek word exagorazo which literally means to “buy out of the market place.” The picture is of a merchant who diligently seeks to buy up the best bargains in the market place, taking care not to miss the fleeting opportunities! REDEEM is in the present tense which calls for us to make it our lifestyle, our daily, moment by moment practice, to buy up for ourselves (to our eternal advantage) the strategic opportunities which God providentially places in our path. If we are walking wisely (Eph 5:15note), filled with God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18note), we will be spiritually alert to those divine opportunities in the “marketplace”, and will begin to view people and circumstances not just as encounters (or irritations) in time but as opportunities to impact eternity (read 2Cor 4:18note).

Each new day brings us 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,000 seconds, each moment a precious gift from God (Jas 1:17note), each calling for us to be good stewards, mindful that one day we must give an account for how we spent the time God loaned us, how effectively we “bought up” the opportunities He provided. If someone gave us $1440 each day and said spend it or lose it, how diligent would we be to comply? Yesterday is but a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is all of the cash that you have. Spend it wisely. As someone has well said

I have only just a minute, only 60 seconds in it;
forced upon me; can’t refuse it;
didn’t seek it, didn’t chose it.
But it’s up to me just how I use it.
I must suffer if I lose it, give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.

A survey asked “What do you have to live for?” to which 94% answered they were just enduring today and living for tomorrow. That is living unwisely (Eph 5:15). Too many people miss today because they are worrying about tomorrow (Read Jesus’ advice Mt 6:34note). Worry does not make us ready but unready to redeem the time. As Adrian Rogers said “We face the future out of breath, because we have been fighting tomorrow’s battles today!”

Wisdom is taking every opportunity today and fully using the time granted us. We have each been given the same amount of time but the difference is how we redeem this divine gift. Instead of killing time, redeem it. Instead of counting the days, make your days count. Indeed, “ETERNITY will be appreciated only in the measure that we have rightly handled TIME!” Redemption of time is preparation for eternity. The present should be viewed as preparation for the future. As Spurgeon rightly observed “‘NOW‘ is the watchword of the wise.” LATER may be too late! Right NOW counts for ever. How goes your preparation for the future dear saint? It’s now or never. “Time is the seed of eternity.” To make our life count for eternity, we must be wise in how we spend our time today. What will your eternal harvest be? H A Ironside agrees that “Time is given us to use in view of eternity.”

Psalm 107:2note says “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” Paul would say let the redeemed of the Lord DO so (redeem the time in the power of the Spirit for the glory of God!). We should redeem the time because we are redeemed!

In a letter to his wife John Wesley wrote “Redeem the time. Catch the golden moments as they fly.” May the Spirit (Eph 5:18) enable us to live wisely (Eph 5:15) and catch the golden moments as they fly by (Eph 5:16)! Amen.

The word TIME (Gk = kairos) is better translated OPPORTUNITY and refers to a fixed and definite period of time during which something can be accomplished that cannot be accomplished after the time has passed. The idea of kairos is not “clock time” (Gk – chronos) but what one writer refers to as “kingdom opportunities.” Wuest adds that Paul’s “idea is not to make best use of time as such, which is what we should do in the sense of not wasting it, but of taking advantage of the OPPORTUNITIES that present themselves.” The time/opportunity for bringing forth fruit is the spring SEASON (kairos) in which the tree bears fruit, in contrast to late autumn, when there is no fruit. And so kairos is the time which God allots to each believer to bring forth for themselves “spiritual fruit.” This truth calls for us to “Seize the Day” (Carpe diem) because “Time flies” (Tempus fugit). As Horace Mann put it “Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.” Kairos represents the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable. Kairos can be a moment or a season, but always refers to specific times in which opportunity is “ripe”, so that when the time passes, so does the opportunity – “Opportunity only knocks once.”

The word OPPORTUNITY is derived from the Latin “ob portu.” In ancient times before modern harbors, ships had to wait for the timing of the tide before they could make it safely to port. Thus “OB PORTU,” described the ship waiting “FOR PORT,” ready to seize the crucial moment when it could ride the tide into safe harbor. The captain knew that if he missed the passing tide, the ship would have to wait for another tide to come in. God gives each of us many “ob portu’s”, but we must be spiritually wise and Spirit filled in order to see and seize them. As Charles Swindoll said “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities (ob portu’s) brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Shakespeare’s famous line from Julius Caesar conveys the same thought: “There is a tide in the affairs of men (an “ob portu”), Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat; And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.” In short, KAIROS conveys the sense of an “opportune time,” a “window of opportunity”.

John Broadus said “Opportunity is like a fleet horse that pauses for a moment at one’s side. If you fail to mount him in that moment, you can hear the clatter of his hoofs down the corridors of time. That opportunity is gone forever.”

Jonathan Edwards America’s greatest theologian understood Paul’s charge to REDEEM THE TIME and as a young man wrote “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved: to live with all my might while I do live.” “Time that is past you can never recall, Of time to come, you are not sure at all; Only the present is now in your power, Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.”

John Piper reiterates that the “OPPORTUNITY will never come again. The days are evil; opposition is great; be wise as serpents (Mt 10:16). Understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:17)… These words ring with a sense of urgency. They are like the words of a platoon leader addressing his unit just before they enter combat. The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and, even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. “Watch your step; be smart; don’t miss your opportunity; keep yourself lean for the battle!”… In other words, the Christian life is a vigilant life, defensively guarding itself from the subtleties of the evil days and offensively redeeming the time to strike for love and righteousness again and again. We are a vigilant people at war with unbelief and evil. O to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me… 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” (Php 2:16). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Co 15:58). And I commend this promise to you. No minute need be lived in vain. Eternity will render it significant if lived in faith for the glory of God. In the end we rest in this: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15).

Time is a strange commodity-we can’t save it, retrieve it, relive it, stretch it, borrow it, loan it, stop it or store it , but can only use it or lose it. We can’t call time out in the game of life. Indeed, there is no such thing as a literal “instant replay.” That appears only on film. “When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept. When as a youth I dreamed and talked, time walked. When I became a full grown man, time ran. When older still I daily grew, time flew. Soon I shall find in traveling on, time gone.” The pioneer missionary, Robert Moffatt, said, “We shall have all eternity in which to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before the sunset in which to win them.” Jesus said “I must work the works of Him Who sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work.” (Jn 9:4) It’s not how long we live that counts, but how we live, so “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ec 9:10a).

“We cannot afford to be idle; neither do we desire it. The call is, REDEEM THE TIME. Be always doing something that will last; be always stretching forward to the prize (Php 3:13-14). It will soon be ours, for the Lord is at hand. It is a prize worth all our labour and sorrow here. The very thought of it is enough to put to flight all murmuring, or selfishness, or sloth. To labour here is as blessed as it is to rest hereafter. Work on, work on, till the day of recompense arrives.” “The time is short! If thou wouldst work for God, it must be now; If thou wouldst win the garland for thy brow, Redeem the time. With His reward He comes; He tarries not; His day is near; When men least look for Him will He be here; Prepare for Him!” (H. Bonar)

Paul exhorts believers “while we have OPPORTUNITY (kairos), let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Gal 6:10) If one misses the “seasonable opportunity”, he will miss the eternal harvest associated with that spiritual opportunity. Yesterday is past and cannot be changed, and tomorrow may not come, so make the most of the opportunities God gives you today. May God’s Spirit enable us to seize the day, while we may! And so again Paul commands us “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of (redeeming, buying up) the OPPORTUNITY (kairos). Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” (Col 4:5-6)

Harry Ironside exhorts us “to be as alert for witnessing to the lost as bargain hunters are to purchase goods to advantage. Yet how often we neglect to use the circumstances which are put in our way, where we may say a word for our Lord and endeavor to point the lost to Him. Our intentions are good, but we become so occupied with other matters, many of them trifling in the extreme, and before we realize it the person to whom we should have spoken is beyond our reach.” “We are to be alive to every opportunity to witness in the chance encounter, the unexpected turn in conversation, the opening that comes in the expression of a need or the asking of a question, the signal given by what may appear casual but reflects something deeper, the unplanned incident that brings the “outsider” into our life in a way that mind and heart can meet. We are to seize the critical moment when it comes… There are intersections upon which we sometimes come abruptly. We have to choose, and destiny is in the choice. There are flashes of insight that break in upon us, guidance, intuition, discernment, which, if we do not receive, record, and act upon, we lose.” Our few days here on earth are so short and precious, in relation to eternity, that we ought never to waste time on selfish trivia, but to use it only on that “which is good, to the use of edifying” (Eph 4:29). (Dunnam)

Adoniram Judson a famous missionary to Burma wrote that “A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity… the same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever… each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny… How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, (enabled by God’s Spirit) resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly (forever) marked.”

Watch Francis Chan’s excellent illustration of the shortness of your life in light of the length of eternity!

David Brainerd whose candle burned so brightly that God brought him home at the relatively young age of 29 wrote in his diary “Oh, how precious is time; and how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misemployed it or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity. Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey!” It’s too late to redeem the time that is past, but not the time that is passing!

Some novel ways to redeem the time – Ask your waiter if there is anything you can pray for him (her) when you pray over you meal. You will be surprised at the variety of responses, some of which open a door for the Gospel! When you get one of those irritating calls asking for money, turn it into an opportunity to ask your caller if they know Jesus as Savior. As an aside it is interesting how the number of calls decreases! Pray daily for an unreached people group (see globalprayerdigest.org) Let us not just “mark time,” but use time to make our mark! Yes, time flies, but remember that you are the “navigator!”

Adrian Rogers offers some other practical thoughts on redeeming the time:

(1) Learn to live in the eternal now. Today is the only day you have. Redeem the time. (2) Stop saying, “If I had time.” You do have time. (3) Stop worrying about tomorrow, and stop waiting for tomorrow. Give God today, and He will take care of tomorrow. (4) Cut yourself loose from the past. Bury your failure in the grave of God’s forgetfulness (read Mic 7:18-19Isaiah 43:2544:22), and let Him give you a brand new day. (5) If you have not accepted Christ, now is the time “for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (kairos = the opportune time!) I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU”; behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (kairos),” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” (2Cor 6:2)

Let us pray like the old Puritan

Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ. Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity for usefulness; GIVE ME A HOLY AVARICE TO REDEEM THE TIME, to awake at every call to charity (love) and piety (godliness), so that I may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the Gospel, show neighborly love to all. Let me live a life of self-distrust, dependence on Thyself (Thy Spirit), mortification, crucifixion, prayer.” (From Valley of Vision)

Dear reader, may God by His Spirit cause each of us to so order our steps that when that great day comes we might hear those glorious words

“Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful in a few things, I will put your in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your Master.” (Mt 25:21)

“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:12)

Now take a moment, as you ponder the moments of your life which remain and the poignant words of Robin Mark’s song…

When It’s All Been Said and Done
There is just one thing that matters.
Did I do my best to live for Truth?
Did I live my life for You?
When It’s All Been Said and Done
All my treasures will mean nothing.
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward,
Will stand the test of time.

Play “When It’s All Been Said and Done”

Related Resources:Redeeming the Time

F S Shepherd

The grain stands white in the harvest field
And rich the fruitage which it will yield.
Step in today and the sickle wield,
Redeeming the precious time.

Lost souls are hastening down to doom
Without a ray to dispel the gxloom
Give them the Gospel, their path illume,
Redeeming the precious time.

Some lives are darkened by want and care;
The lack of sympathy brings despair;
Seek out such souls and their burdens share,
Redeeming the precious time.

The Lord soon cometh His own to take,
And of their stewardship reckoning make;
Blest will he be that for Jesus’ sake,
Has ever redeemed the time!

Refrain:
Redeeming, redeeming,
Redeeming the precious time.
Go work today in the harvest field,
Redeeming the precious time.

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C. T. Studd amply illustrated the importance of making your one life count for the Lord when he penned these powerful words.

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.


Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.


Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.


Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.


When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.


Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.


Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.


Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,“Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

A farmer’s clock ran amuck one morning and struck seventeen. The man of the house jumped up and ran all over the place, saying, “Get up, it’s later than it ever has been before!” It is later than it ever has been by God’s eternal timepiece. It is later than you think.

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Larry Moyer – Decide now what you want written on your tombstone, then live your life backward from there. Life is short and ought to be taken seriously. Decide now how you’d like to be remembered, then live your life accordingly. Do you want your tombstone to read, “He was the head of his corporation,” or, “She was the best in her field”? Or would you rather it reflect an important contribution you’ve made to life?… If, at the end of your life, you want to say “I did,” instead of “I wish,” alter your course today. (31 days to contagious living: a daily devotional guide on modeling Christ to others)

ILLUSTRATION: Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel awoke one morning and read his own obituary in the local newspaper. It read, “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before, and he died a very rich man.” It was Alfred’s older brother who had died; a newspaper reporter had bungled the epitaph. But that account had a tremendous impact on Nobel, who decided he wanted to be remembered for something different. As a result, he initiated the Nobel Prize to reward individuals who foster peace. He said,

“Every man ought to have the chance

to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one.”

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Paul exhorts believers that “while we have OPPORTUNITY (kairos), let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Gal 6:10) If one misses the “seasonable opportunity”, he will miss the eternal harvest associated with that spiritual fruit. Each new day brings potential new opportunities, which we should recognize and “seize,” for once they are passed, they will not return, for “opportunity only knocks once.” We cannot lament about missed opportunities, for we can do nothing about them. But we can commit ourselves to God and determine to be alert for the opportunities God gives us tomorrow to do good. Leon Morris writes that “Kairos denotes “the right time” or “the proper time” for anything; consequently a time that occurs only once before it is lost forever. No one can hope to reap the harvest before the time appointed for it by God (Gal 6:9). But if he does not seize the time appointed him for sowing, he will reap no harvest at all (Gal 6:10).” Yesterday is past and cannot be changed, and tomorrow may not come, so make the most of the opportunities God gives you today. May God’s Spirit enable us to seize the day, while we may!

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If you are continually filled with God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18), He will enable you to be on “high alert” for spiritual opportunities which you can seize before they are gone. What opportunities are passing before you today? How will you respond? Walk wisely. Be filled with the Spirit. Redeem the time! We don’t want to be like Mark Twain who said “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”

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An ancient Greek statue depicted a man with wings on his feet, a large lock of hair on the front of his head, and no hair at all on the back. Beneath was the inscription: “Who made thee? Lysippos made me. What is thy name? My name is OPPORTUNITY. Why hast thou wings on thy feet? That I may fly away swiftly. Why hast thou a great forelock? That men may seize me when I come. Why art thou bald in back? That when I am gone by, none can lay hold of me.”

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It takes only a moment to be kind, but the result can last forever

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When one door closes, another one opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.—Alexander Graham Bell,

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TICK, TICK, TICK – Do you have a clock or watch available with a secondhand on it? Stop and follow that hand as it ticks away 1 minute. Those seconds, of course, are the way we measure time, and time is the very essence of our lives. By the time you reach the age of 75, the clocks and watches of this world will have ticked away a total of nearly 2.5 billion seconds.

Bernard Berenson, an internationally famous art critic, had a zest for life. Even when he was in ill health, he cherished every moment. Shortly before he died at age 94, he said to a friend, “I would willingly stand at street corners, hat in hand, asking passersby to drop their unused minutes into it.” Oh, that we would learn to appreciate the value of time!

We certainly don’t want to be so time-conscious that we become driven workaholics, neglecting our families, never relaxing with our friends, too busy to smell the roses or admire a sunset. Yet Paul urged us to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:15-16), and Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Let’s ask the Lord to help us appreciate the value of time. May we wisely invest our seconds, minutes, hours, and days, realizing that beyond time lies eternity.

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The first principle of time management is recognizing the value of time and redeeming it—buying it up and using it carefully as the priceless resource which it represents.

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1 Cor 7:29 But this I say, brethren, the time (kairos) has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none

Comment: There are two words in Greek that are usually translated with one English word, “time.” The one is chrónos, referring to time simply as a measurement or the length of a period of time. The word is used in English in the word “chronometer” which is a device to measure time but without any reference to the relation of time to the accomplishments that it permits. Chrónos denotes the length or space of time, but kairós signifies eukairían, “good or proper time, opportunity.” With the definite article in 1 Corinthians 7:29, it means the opportunity to accomplish certain things and not simply time per se. Often when we say, “Time is short,” we really do not refer to the measurement of time itself but to the accomplishment of a certain thing or project in that particular time. What Paul is stressing here as a basic consideration for life is that we merely have the opportunity of using a state of being to accomplish a desired goal. First, there must be the goal, and the goal as expressed throughout the Scriptures is the glory of God. The basic questions should be, “How can I best glorify God in my life? Is it through being married or being single?” (Spiros Zodhiates -1 Corinthians Commentary)

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Wisdom is taking every opportunity and fully using the time granted us.

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David Brainerd, the great missionary to the American Indians, was on one occasion witnessing to a chief, who was very close to deciding for Christ. But he held back; there was some pause or hesitation. Brainerd got up, took a stick, drew a circle in the soft earth about the chief, and said, “Decide before you cross that line.” Why this passion and urgency? Because Brainerd recognized that at that moment, that chief was close to God. If he missed that moment, he might never be so close again.

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Steven Cole – “Buying up” in Eph 5:16 pictures a businessman or investor who knows an opportunity to make money when he sees one. He quickly moves in before the opportunity is gone. Or picture a careful shopper who knows that all of the sale items will be gone within the first hour. So she gets to the store early to take advantage of the good deals. A wise witness is on the alert to buy up opportunities to share Christ with lost people.

Max Alderman – We constantly ought to be moved to further advance the cause of Christ, by each tick of the clock. The passing of time should stir us to remove ourselves from a life of slothfulness. Each tick of the clock should be a sharp goad to rouse us from our sleep. It is time that we have, but it is time that we also lose. We are losing the time and then fail as good stewards to redeem the time that we have remaining while here upon this earth.

Making the most of the opportunity – Other phrases that come to mind – “a window of time”, “embrace the opportunity,” “seize the moment (day).”

We are to live as if every minute counts— because it does. We can always make more money, but we cannot make more time. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. And when our time on this earth is over, we will give an account to the One who gave us our allotment of this precious commodity.

Vance Havner – The big word with God is ‘now.’

We do not know how long we have
Till time for us is past,
So let us live as if this day
Is going to be our last. —D. De Haan

To spend time wisely, invest it in eternity.

Seize the moment – History records that when Hannibal could have taken Rome he did not, and when he later sought to he could not.

McNaughton notes that “everything is to be done for the glory of God and in the light of eternity, remembering that we live in a fallen universe. Don’t put off until tomorrow what should be done today, because procrastination is the thief of time. ‘Redeeming the time’ is about making the best use of time, making time your own property, but this will prove impossible unless one is ‘filled with the Spirit’ (Eph. 5:18)… Time is loaned to us and, as stewards of Christ, we must use it wisely.” (Opening up Colossians and Philemon)

Wiersbe – One of the greatest tragedies in life is wasted opportunity–not making the most of what God has given us.

Oswald Chambers has said, “Grace is for ‘right now.’ It is not the process toward some future goal, but an end in and of itself. If we would only realize this, then each moment would become rich with meaning and purpose.”

To redeem time is to rescue it from the waste can of unwise living and bring it into the place of good God-glorifying use.

Webster says opportunity is the convergence of a favorable juncture of circumstances, but in God’s universe the convergence of circumstances is not left to “chance” or “fate” but is under His providential control

In Gal 6:10, Paul adds the caveat “while we have opportunity (kairos), let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Gal 6:10) In the context of this passage one could interpret this (“while we have opportunity”) as referring to this present life which affords the believer the one ” season” he or she will have to sow good.

Sammy Tippit in one of my favorite books “Fire in Your Heart” writes…

It doesn’t matter if we live to be 36 or 100, life is short. We’ll all die and give an account of our lives. After Ken’s death, I determined that the sum total of my life would be given to things of eternal value. The Scripture exhorts us to redeem “the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 ). There’s an urgency about the gospel. The eternal destiny of mankind hangs in the balance. Many Christian acts I do on earth I will also din in heaven. I pray. I will pray in heaven. I sing. I will sing in heaven. I serve God. I will serve God in heaven.

There’s one thing I won’t be able to do in heaven:
bring the lost to Jesus
.

It will be too late. My heart must be set aflame for the lost now. We must all be about our Father’s business. The other truth that should drive us out of our easy chairs is that Jesus is coming again. The last night of an evangelistic meeting in Romania, a young person gave a note to one of our team members. Hundreds were gathered around our van, and we wept as we pulled away from those precious people. A teenager reached in with the note, “Please, read it.” It simply said, “Jesus is coming soon!” Christians in the West spend a lot of time debating the theological ramifications of His coming. In the East, they live in anticipation of it.

In Eph 5:15-16 to walk wisely is to redeem the time in these evil days, to understand the will of the Lord and live in light of it, we must be filled with the Spirit.

John MacArthur – Wisdom numbers the days (Ps 90:12), sees the limited time, and buys the opportunity. Don’t be foolish—shun opportunities for evil, but seize opportunities for good.

Our English word opportunity comes from a Latin word which means “toward the port.” It suggests a ship taking advantage the window of time when the wind and tide are such as to allow safe passage into the harbor. The brevity of life is a strong argument for making the best use of every opportunity God gives us.

We should occupy till He comes, because time is drawing short. We must be about the Father’s business, so that one day He will look at us in glory and say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Bruce Wilkinson – Time is a God-given stewardship for which we must render account, and our use of it will determine the value of our contribution to our day and generation. The difference between one man and another lies largely in his use of time.

Time that is past you can never recall,
Of time to come, you are not sure at all;
Only the present is now in your power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.
—Unknown

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. – 1Cor 15:58note


How valuable is this truth to you?

A worldly wise man will part with nothing except for its value,
yet many foolishly part with time for nothing!


WATCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES “Redeeming the time.” Chances must be sought for putting in the right word, and when God sends it we must make the most of it. We must go on the principle of now or never. This will make us eager to embrace opportunities; and in turn we must urge the undecided to embrace Christ at once. Every act of kindness to the unconverted will help us. (T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)


Should our question be “Now or when?” No, wisdom dictates we should declare “Now or never!”


F B Meyer…

Let us number our days against the eternal ages of God’s Being; against the age of the mountain and the universe; against the rise and fall of great nations. It is when we realize how short life is that we set ourselves in good earnest to redeem the time, to buy up each golden opportunity.

The heart of wisdom will show itself in giving God a just proportion of our time. Every day it is wise to set apart time for the reading of His Word, for prayer and holy fellowship; in every week it is wise to reserve a seventh part for His holy service. We may learn deep lessons from the amount of time that the Hebrews gave to their religious institutions. “Prayer and provender hinder no man,” says the old proverb. It is specially wise to make God to be our Guide, that He may show us how to use this precious thing called life. Apart from Him all our desire to use our time aright will be in vain, but when the soul walks in fellowship with God every action tells, every day adds something to the growing power and influence of existence. Nothing is little, nothing trivial, nothing unworthy, if your soul holds fellowship with God. Then will come satisfaction and gladness, and the work of our life will be established by the Divine Hand. (Our Daily Walk)

Joseph Parker on Using our Opportunities

Our efforts in life must be seasonable. There is a religious forethought. He who neglects to gather in summer neglects the bounties of the Lord as well as neglects his own future necessities. The man who sleeps in harvest is pronounced a fool, because he lets his opportunity slip. The historian writes concerning Hannibal that when he could have taken Rome he would not, and when he would he could not. We are to be men of opportunity–that is to say, we are to buy up the opportunity, to redeem the time. When God opens a gate He means that we should go through it, and pass into all the inheritance beyond. There was a king of Sicily who was called “The Lingerer,” not because he stayed till opportunity came, but because he stayed till opportunity was lost. There is a time to wait and a time to act. Overlong waiting means loss of chance, for the king has passed by, and the gates are closed; but to wait patiently until everything is ripe for action is the very last expression of Christian culture. (J. Parker, D.D.) (Biblical Illustrator-Proverbs 10:5)

Begin at once to redeem the time. Say to yourself each morning-” My soul, thou hast to-day a God to glorify, a Christ to imitate, a soul to save, a body to keep under, time to redeem, temptation to overcome–verily, I must be about my Father’s business.” (Dean Goulburn.)


James Stewart notes that

The consideration of the past will stimulate us to redeem the time.

1. The whole life of man is short.

2. How much shorter has it become to us!

3. Had it been spent aright, its increased shortness would not be a matter of regret.

4. But only look back! (Biblical Illustrator-Psalm 143:5)


We may be rich or poor or bankrupt but none of us is absolutely bankrupt for the precious commodity time remains–redeem it.


A dying English queen cried, “A world of money for an inch of time!”


Ps 31:15 My times are in Thy hand; – Spurgeon – The sovereign arbiter of destiny holds in his own power all the issues of our life; we are not waifs and strays upon the ocean of fate, but are steered by infinite wisdom towards our desired haven. Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads, an anodyne for care, a grave for despair.


D. L. Moody recalls an incident in his ministry that brought him great distress because he failed to redeem the time. “On the night when the courthouse bell of Chicago was sounding an alarm of fire, my sermon was upon ‘What Shall I Do with Jesus?’ I said to the audience, ‘I want you to decide this question by next Sunday.’ What a mistake! That night I saw the glare of flames, and knew that Chicago was doomed. I never saw that audience again.”


We need to live in such a way that we get the most for our time. We are to live as if every minute counts— because it does. We can always make more money, but we cannot make more time. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. And when our time on this earth is over, we will give an account to the One who gave us our allotment of this precious commodity.


Kent Hughes says that believers…

ought to be like the little boy whose family clock malfunctioned and struck 15x so that he rushed wide-eyed to his mother crying, “Mommy, it’s later than it’s ever been before!” What sanctifying logic! We should also keep in mind that if Christ does not return in our time, He will certainly come individually for us in death. Each ache, pain, gray hair, new wrinkle or funeral is another reminder that it is later than it has ever been before. It is time to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s later than you think. Redeem the time!… May God help us to love with a sense of urgency and selflessness. Let us cultivate a sense of debt. Just as when we owe someone money and our debt is the first thing we think of when we see him, so may it be with our debt of love (see Ro 13:8-11). Let us enlarge our definition of neighbor as, “My neighbor is not necessarily someone like me. It is any person God has put in my way whom I can help.” Let us cultivate a sense of the time—“It is later than it has ever been before.” Let us consciously put off the deeds of darkness (we individually know what these are) and put on Jesus—every day! (Ro 13:12-14) (Hughes, R. K. Romans: Righteousness from heaven. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books)


Fleeting Opportunity

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days (Hebrews 11:30).

As a sculptor showed a visitor some marble figures displayed in his studio, an unusual sculpture caught the guest’s attention. It had two peculiar features. Where the statue’s face normally would have been, the sculptor had chiseled a covering of hair, and on both feet were wings.

“What is the name of this one?” asked the visitor.

“Opportunity,” the artist answered.

“Why is its face hidden?”

“Because,” said the craftsman, “we seldom know opportunity when he comes to us.”

“And why does he have wings on his feet?”

“Because he is soon gone, and once gone, he cannot be overtaken.”

The apostle Paul spoke of the quickly passing nature of opportunity in Ephesians 5:16 . The word time used in this verse can also be translated “opportunity”—suggesting occasions for accomplishing high and noble purposes. But what are these opportunities? They are brief moments of personal contact—the passing incident, the turn of a conversation, or the “chance” meeting of an old acquaintance. Such times present golden opportunities for caring, for witnessing, for eter­nal good.

Alexander MacLaren, the noted Baptist preacher from England, said,

“Every moment of life is granted us for one purpose: becoming like our dear Lord. That ultimate, all-embracing end is reached through a multitude of near and intermediate ones.”

Like the young shepherd David, when our faith is strong we will have the wisdom and courage to see every obstacle as an opportunity. —P.R.V.


Excerpts from Adrian Rogers sermon “The Time of Your Life”
INTRODUCTION
1. Resolutions go in one year and out the other.
2. Yet, our God is the God of a new start – the God of a second chance.
3. The scene is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena – two undefeated teams – Georgia Tech and the University of California – two quarters almost gone – time running out – Georgia Tech has the ball – pressing hard on the 33 yard line – Thomason is hit – fumble – the center for California scoops it up.

The crowd goes wild. He cuts down the field and starts toward the goal line – everything breaks loose – he’s running brilliantly – knees high, legs wide apart, stepping sideways. He is running toward the wrong goal, however. He is running in the wrong direction. One of the classic stories of football is being written as Roy Riegels carries the ball in the wrong direction. Sixty-seven yards down the field he runs. His own teammates try to tackle him, and the opponents lead in interference for him. Finally, at the one yard line, Benny Lon, his teammate, brings him down. Then he realizes what he has done. Shaken up on the play he had carried the ball in the wrong direction. Can you imagine how he felt? All of the laughing and hooting of the crowd as he begins the slow, long walk off the field and back to the bench to sit down in humiliation by himself. You may feel like that. Perhaps God has put the ball in your hands, and in confusion, you’ve been pursuing the wrong goal. Satan has been glad to run interference for you. During the halftime, Roy’s coach spoke to him words of assurance and encouragement. In the second half he played brilliantly. So may you.

There are two words for time.

A. Chronos – This speaks of moments or time as it passes on the clock.

B. Kairos – This speaks of seasons of opportunity.

Galatians 6:10 “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

5. Here are some wise ways for evil days.

I. TIME IS A PROVIDED OPPORTUNITY. (Eph 5:14)

1. We need to awaken to the gift that God has given.

2. God is the Creator of time.

3. Time is God’s great gift to you – time to work, serve, love, laugh. But like any gift, the value you receive from it is up to you.

4. Learn to see every day as a gift from God. God doesn’t need to take your life – just stop giving it.

Lamentations 3:22-23 “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

5. We are stewards of every God-given day. One day we will give an account for these opportunities.

A. There are 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,000 seconds in every day. We all have the same amount.

B. Every minute is precious,

“I have only just a minute – only 60 seconds in it.
Forced upon me – can’t refuse it
But it’s up to me just how I use it; I must suffer if I lose it.
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute – but eternity is in it.

6. Don’t say that someone has more time than you do. The difference between people is how they use the time that God has given them.

II. TIME IS A PRESENT OPPORTUNITY. (Eph 5:15) “Days

1. There are two days that can steal the strength and joy from today.

A. Yesterday.

Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this is one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

1. Past guilt – Paul refused to be haunted by the ghost of guilt.

2. Past glory – Paul, the greatest apostle, church builder.

3. Past grief – He had known suffering.

4. Past grudges – Mistreated, now in prison.

B. Tomorrow.

1. Those who are waiting for tomorrow.

Psychologist, William Marston, surveyed 3,000 people. “What have you to live for?” Ninety-four percent said they were just enduring today and living for tomorrow. Learn to enjoy today. We look forward to having friends, weep when we have lost them, but we fail to enjoy them while we have them. Women look forward twenty years to becoming a mother, look back twenty years with memories when their children are gone, but complain during the twenty years that they have them.

2. Worrying about tomorrow.

A. Some miss today by worrying about tomorrow.

Matthew 6:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

B. God has an ecology for the soul. He gives enough difficulty to cause us to come to Him. Then enough strength from Him to meet today’s needs. But he only gives today’s strength for today’s needs.

Deuteronomy 33:25 “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

C. Worry does not take the sorrow out of tomorrow. It only takes the strength out of today.

D. Worry does not make us ready, but unready. We face the future out of breath because we have been fighting tomorrow’s battles today.

E. Worry pulls tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine,

F. The man who hired a professional worrier. “That’s his worry.”

2. Yesterday is but a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is all of the cash that you have. Spend it wisely.

3. A wise man said thousands of years ago: “Look well to this one day, for it and it alone is life. Yesterday is only a dream and tomorrow is but a vision. Yet each day, lived well, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope.”

III. TIME IS A PRECIOUS OPPORTUNITY

1. We need to value every day. Time is life. To waste time is to waste life. It is foolish.

2. To kill time is suicide by degrees. Murder is really stealing time from someone else, because they are going to die anyway.

3. The art of living is to spend time wisely.

Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

A. The prayer principle.

1. Spend enough time with God to get a clear sense of His direction.

2. It is not a waste of time to wait on God. The woodsman is not wasting time when he sharpens his axe.

3. There’s enough time to do gracefully all that God wants us to be.

B. The priority principle.

1. Don’t let the good steal the best.

2. What you do is more important than how you do it.

3. Jesus said, “I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.”

4. Charles Hummel wrote a little booklet called, “The Tyranny of the Urgent.” In this incredible book he points out that a 30-hour day wouldn’t solve the problem. We would soon be just as frustrated as we are now. A mother’s work is never finished, and neither is that of any student, teacher, minister, or anyone else we know. Nor will the passage of time help us to catch up. “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”

C. Promptness principle.

1. Recognize procrastination as a sin and repent of it.

James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

2. Cultivate the habit of immediate obedience.

3. Procrastination and disobedience are really the same kind of sin.

4. When you have a job to do, begin this very hour. You supply the will and God supplies the power. (Ed: Actually God supplies both – but we still have to exercise the will or desire He gives us – see Php 2:12 = our responsibility is to “work out” what God’s Spirit “works in” us in the following passage, Php 2:13 = the indwelling Spirit’s part to give us the desire and the power!)

D. The power principle.

1. The command to be filled comes after the command to redeem the time.

2. Most time management books are telling us really how to get more done. We may be doing, more of the wrong thing. Even if we know the right thing, we need the power to do it.

3. Learn to burn the oil – not the wick.

4. The idea is not primarily to work harder (unsaved people can do that), but to work more effectively.

IV. TIME IS A PASSING OPPORTUNITY. (Eph 5:15) “Days are evil.”

1. Time is a strange commodity, You can’t save it, borrow it, loan it, leave it, or take it. You can only do things with it – use it or lose it.

A. Time cannot be stopped. You can’t call time out in the game of life.

B. Time can’t be stored. You can’t put it in the bank.

C. Time can’t be stretched. Only so much possible in a given day.

D. Time cannot be shared. It cannot be loaned or borrowed.

2. When as a child I laughed and wept time crept.

When as a youth I dreamed and talked time walked.

When I became a full grown man, time ran.

When older still I daily grew, time flew.

Soon I shall find in traveling on, time gone.

3. The pioneer missionary, Robert Moffatt, said, “We shall have all eternity in which to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before the sunset in which to win them.”

John 9:4 “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

4. Horace Mann, writing about the importance of using time well, concludes the matter like this:

“Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.”

CONCLUSION

1. Learn to live in the eternal now. Today is the only day you have. Redeem the time.

2. Stop saying, “If I had time.” You do have time.

3. Stop worrying about tomorrow, and stop waiting for tomorrow. Give God today, and He will take care of tomorrow.

4. Cut yourself loose from the past. Bury your failure in the grave of God’s forgetfulness, and let Him give you a brand new day.

5. If you’ve not accepted Christ, now is the time.

2Corinthians 6:2 “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, not is the day of salvation.)”

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Time wasted can never be recovered. No man ever possessed the same moment twice.

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Williamson writes “Spend (buy the opportunities of) this life in earnest, as if your eternal future depended upon it. Spend (buy up opportunities) today as if there were no certain tomorrow. Be watchful about little things, and especially the brief moments of time.

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Joseph Parker wrote “Redeem the time, buy up the opportunity, knowing that our brightest genius shall be eclipsed, our strongest sagacity shall lose its penetration, and our judgment shall halt for the judgment of others. (Biblical Illustrator-Lamentations 4:2–12)

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Archibald Alexander

My next counsel is that you set a high value upon your TIME. Time is short and its flight is rapid. The swiftness of the lapse of time is proverbial, in all languages. In Scripture, the life of man is compared to a multitude of things which quickly pass away after making their appearance; as to a runner, a weaver’s shuttle, a vapor, a shadow, etc. All the works of man must be performed in time, and whatever acquisition is made of any good—it must be obtained in time. Time, therefore, is not only short, but precious. Everything is suspended on its improvement, and it can only be improved when present. It is no sooner present, than it is gone! So that whatever we do, must be done quickly. This precious gift is sparingly parceled out by ‘moments’, but the progression of these moments is rapid and uninterrupted. Nothing can impede or retard the current of ‘the stream of time’. Whether we are awake or asleep, whether occupied or idle, whether we realize the fact or not—we are borne along by a silent but irresistible force!

Our progressive motion in time may be compared to the motion of the planet on which we dwell, of which we are entirely insensible; or to that of a swift-sailing ship, which produces the illusion that all other objects are in motion, while we seem to be stationary. So in the journey of life, we pass from stage to stage—from infancy to childhood—from childhood to youth—from youth to mature age—and finally, before we are aware of it, we find ourselves declining towards the last stage of earthly existence. The freshness and buoyancy of youth soon pass away: the autumn of life soon arrives; and next, and last, if disease or accident do not cut short our days—old age with its grey hairs, its wrinkles, its debility and pains, comes on quickly.

The period of old age, is described by the wise man as one in which men are commonly disposed to be grumbly and fretful, and to acknowledge that the days draw near in which they have no pleasure. “So remember your Creator while you are still young, before those dismal days and years come when you will say, “I don’t enjoy life.” That is when the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars will grow dim for you, and the rain clouds will never pass away. Then your arms, that have protected you, will tremble, and your legs, now strong, will grow weak. Your teeth will be too few to chew your food, and your eyes too dim to see clearly. Your ears will be deaf to the noise of the street. You will barely be able to hear the mill as it grinds or music as it plays, but even the song of a bird will wake you from sleep. You will be afraid of high places, and walking will be dangerous. Your hair will turn white; you will hardly be able to drag yourself along, and all desire will be gone. We are going to our final resting place, and then there will be mourning in the streets. The silver chain will snap, and the golden lamp will fall and break; the rope at the well will break, and the water jar will be shattered. Our bodies will return to the dust of the earth, and the breath of life will go back to God, who gave it to us.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)

Time wasted can never be recovered. No man ever possessed the same moment twice. We are, indeed, exhorted “to redeem the time”, (Eph 5:16Col 4:5) but this relates to a right improvement of that which is to come, for this is the only possible way by which we can redeem what is irrevocably past. The counsels which I would offer to the young on this subject are: Think frequently and seriously on the inestimable value of time. Never forget that all that is dear and worthy of pursuit, must be accomplished in the short span of time allotted to us here. Meditate also profoundly and often on the rapidity of the flight of time. Now, you are in the midst of youthful bloom, but soon this season will only exist in the dim shades of recollection, and unless it has been well improved, of bitter regret.

If you will make a wise improvement of your time, you must be prompt. Seize the fugitive moments as they fly; for otherwise they will pass away before you have commenced the work which is appropriated to them.

Diligence and constancy are essential to the right improvement of time. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” (Eccles 9:10) “Work while it is called today.” (John 9:4) Walk while you have the light, for the dark night rapidly approaches when no work can be done.

Let everything be done in its season. There is a time for all things; and let all things be done in order. The true order of things may be determined by their relative importance, and by the urgency of the case, or the loss which would probably be sustained by neglect.

If you would make the most of your time, learn to do one thing at a time, and endeavor so to perform every work, as to accomplish it in the best possible manner. As you receive but one moment at once, it is a vain thing to think of doing more than one thing at one time; and if any work deserves your attention at all, it deserves to be well done. Confusion, hurry, and heedlessness often so mar a business, that it would have been better to omit it altogether.

Beware of putting off the duty of today—on tomorrow. This is called procrastination, which is said, justly, to be “the thief of time”. Remember that every day and every hour has its own appropriate work; but if that which should be done this day is deferred until a future time, to say the least, there must be an inconvenient accumulation of duties in future. But as tomorrow is to everybody uncertain, to suspend the acquisition of an important object on such a contingency, may be the occasion of losing forever the opportunity of receiving it. The rule of sound discretion is, never to put off until tomorrow—what ought to be done today.

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Grant Richison notes by way of application that…

Time means opportunity. The Greek word here means a time in which something is seasonable. Evangelism is seasonable! We need to seize on the season! God wants us to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes along. We cannot recall the opportunity if we miss it. Are we making the most of every opportunity? There is a favorable time to preach the gospel. We can mark time, waste time and kill time. Only a Christian who walks in wisdom can redeem time. In sharing our faith, God wants us to “Strike while the iron is hot” or “Make hay while the sun is shining.” We squander so many opportunities. God places opportunities at our disposal but we waste the moment.” (Notes on Col 4:5)

Our English word opportunity comes from the Latin and means “toward the port.” It suggests a ship taking advantage of the wind and tide to arrive safely in the harbor. The brevity of life is a strong argument for making the best use of every opportunity God gives us. The Greek word Kairos does not emphasize a point of time but rather a space of time filled with possibilities and opportunities. Paul tells the saints at Colossae and Ephesus to buy up every one of these opportunities for yourselves and ultimately for God’s glory. All believers are presented with opportunities to redeem. Paul exhorts us to go into the open market and buy up those opportunities by using them rightly. Remember that interruptions can be opportunities to serve. As someone has accurately stated, the three most difficult things to do are : keep a secret, forget injury, and make good use of your leisure time (it’s really not yours anyway but His… He’s just “loaning” it to you.)

Peter said,

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth (1Pe 1:17note). (This is a “kairos” opportunity we dare not miss!)

Your entire life should be built around looking for opportunities to present Christ, seizing the time and using it wisely. Evaluate all of your activities and determine how they affect your testimony for Christ. Ask yourself —

“Will any particular activity provide an opportunity to present Christ or will it make it more difficult for me to present Him?”

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The opportunity – Note the Greek has the definite article (ton) preceding kairon, indicating the “specific” opportunity, implying the specific one that God’s providence has arranged and to which the indwelling Spirit makes you sensitive. How critical then is it that we begin each day filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit that we might walk by the self-same Spirit, all through the day, ready to seize the opportunity He presents! That is abundant life! That is a life of full joy! Enjoy!

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Daniel Whedon – Redeeming the time—Better, buying up for yourselves the opportunity. Olshausen remarks (from Beza) that “the phrase is taken from the figure of a provident merchant who uses everything for his ends.” We are to watch for the opportunity to commend the gospel and win a soul, seizing the right time to speak, in order that we may advance the Master’s cause.

John Trapp – Redeeming the time] Opportunities are headlong, and must be timously laid hold on, or all is lost. {See Trapp’s comments below on Eph 5:16} It is said of Hooper the martyr, that he was spare of diet, sparer of words, and sparest of time. Latimer rose usually at two of the clock in a morning to his study. Bradford slept not commonly more than four hours in the night, and in his bed, till sleep came, his book went not out of his hand. He counted that hour not well spent wherein he did not some good, either with his pen, tongue, or study. These worthies well weighed what a modern writer hath well observed, that they that lose time are the greatest losers and wastefullest prodigals. For of all other possessions two may be had together, but two moments of time (much less two opportunities of time) cannot be possessed together.

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Christianity gives real value to life for it “is a life that impels the seizure of every opportunity for good-doing. “Redeeming the time “–buying up the opportunities. Opportunity is the flower of time which blooms for a moment and is gone for ever.” (G Barlow)

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Wayne Barber

Making the most of the time means to redeem the time. To redeem the time means to purchase it. That is one thing that we all have in common. Every one of us has exactly the same amount of time. You’ve got 24 hours, and what you do with it is your business. You’ve got to make choices. But now wait a minute. He says, “Redeem the time.” What do you mean, “redeem the time”? Purchase it. To purchase it, I have to have the collateral.

Not only do you have to have the collateral, you have to have the right kind of collateral if you are going purchase anything. So what is the collateral to purchase time? It is my choices. We have to understand this. Life is filled with one choice after another choice after another choice. It is not putting the garment on in the morning and thinking it is going to stay on you all day. You have to continue all day long to make those choices. What are those choices motivated by? They are motivated by what the Word of God has taught us. They are motivated by our respect of Who God is. Now to be the right choice it has to be a choice that honors Christ and what His Word has to say. That is the way I purchase time. I have only got one time around, and I have to learn to make proper choices. How many choices did you make yesterday?

We have to learn that time is short. We only have one season. We only go around one time. Make those choices. Why? Because every time you choose, you are going to do something. That is called a deed and one day we will answer for those deeds at the Bema Seat of Christ. Are they wood, hay and stubble? What is wood, hay and stubble? They are stupid, fleshly, religious choices. Sometimes they are not even religious. What are precious stones? They are choices that were made based on God’s Word and my willingness to do what He tells me to do. We are making those choices, moment by moment by moment.

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Redeeming the time – As wise merchants, trading for the most precious commodity, and taking their best opportunity. The common complaint is, We lack time; but the truth is, we do not so much lack it as waste it. Non parum habemus temporis, sed multum perdimus. (Sen.) The men of Issachar were in great account with David, because they had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 1 Chronicles 12:32. So are they in great account with God that regard and use the season of well doing. It is reported of holy Ignatius, that when he heard a clock strike, he would say, here is one hour more now past that I have to answer for. And of Mr Hooper the martyr, that he was spare of diet, sparer of words, and sparest of time; for he well knew that whereas of all other possessions a man might have two at once, he cannot have two moments of time at once, for any money.

Our goal as believers is to enter into those works that He has already prepared for us, for those are the only eternally lasting and “good” works. The idea of kairos is that God gives each believer opportunities – each new day brings its opened doors, its vast potential. It behooves believers to live in such a way that we are sensitive to when God gives us one of those “kairos” opportunities, because when it passes, it is gone. We can achieve our potential in His service only as we utilize those opportunities He has given us. If this admonition was urgent during Paul’s day, how much more urgent today!

What if we as believers began to see the everyday opportunities that God places in our path as “opportunities of a lifetime”, as opportunities to invest in eternity accompanied by a “divine guarantee” that our “investment” would yield priceless, ceaseless, unfathomably blessed spiritual dividends! I believe we would all begin to invest wisely in the lives of those around us if we kept these secular worldly missed opportunities in mind to motivate us not to miss the divine heavenly opportunities to do eternal good. Open the eyes of our heart Lord to see and seize those “opportunities of a lifetime” for Your glory. Amen.

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Instead of killing time, redeem it. Instead of counting the days, make your days count. ETERNITY will be appreciated only in the measure that we have rightly handled TIME!—F. King (Addendum: Instead of marking your time, make your mark on time!)

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Kefa Sempangi (whose story is told in the book A Distant Grief, Regal Books) was a national pastor in Africa and barely escaped with his family from brutal oppression and terror in his home country of Uganda. They made their way to Philadelphia, where a group of Christians began caring for them. One day his wife said, “Tomorrow I am going to go and buy some clothes for the children,” and immediately she and her husband broke into tears. Because of the constant threat of death under which they had so long lived, that was the first time in many years they had dared even speak the word tomorrow. Their terrifying experiences forced them to realize what is true of every person: there is no assurance of tomorrow. The only time we can be sure of having is what we have at the moment. To the self–satisfied farmer who had grandiose plans to build bigger and better barns to store his crops, the Lord said, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you” (Lk 12:20). He had already lived his last tomorrow.

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Warren Wiersbe… Life is an adventure of faith, and each of us is like a merchant, investing today in that which will pay dividends tomorrow. We are like the farmer, sowing various kinds of seeds in different soils, trusting God for the harvest (Gal. 6:8-9Ps. 126:5-6Hos. 10:12). If we worried about the wind toppling a tree over on us, or the clouds drenching us with rain, we would never accomplish anything. “Of course, there is no formula for success,” said famous concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein, “except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.”… No good deed done for the glory of Jesus Christ will ever be forgotten before God. No loving word spoken in Jesus’ name will ever be wasted. If we don’t see the harvest in this life, we’ll see it when we stand before the Lord. Even a cup of cold water given in the name of Christ will have its just reward (Mt 10:4225:31-46). (Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament)

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Psalm 1:1-3 uses the word Kairos (season) in the Greek translation (Lxx)…

Ps 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season (Lxx = Kairos), and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

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Opportunities to be kind, are never hard to find.

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John Eadie… The kairos here refers to the kairos of the preceding verse: as there is one kairos for reaping, there should be also one for sowing; and in proportion as we have it, so ought we to improve it; the season for reaping is coming, the season for sowing is fast passing away.

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As believers we can achieve our potential in God’s service and for His glory only as we maximize the time He has given us.

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Robert Newton – God has made eternity to depend on time.

John Flavel (1627-1691) points out that “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”

Nebuchadnezzar alludes to buying up the time declaring to the magicians who could not give either his dream or the interpretation…

The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm (Da 2:8)

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The idea of kairos is not clock time but what one writer calls “kingdom opportunities” those openings for ministry that often come at inconvenient times – a friend who wants to talk, a child with a problem, the chance to lend a hand to someone in need. Paul is encouraging us to keep our lives uncluttered so that we can respond when the need arises—because kingdom opportunities can get squeezed out of an overly tight schedule. Think back on your last 24 hours – were there some “kingdom opportunities” you saw (or see now in retrospect) and which you rushed past because you were “too busy”? Am I so task oriented that I miss the “kingdom tasks” God gives us the privilege to experience? May His Spirit give us all “kingdom vision”! Amen

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Bruce Thielemann – What Shakespeare is saying is not only that the tides have great power, but that they also are irretrievable, unstoppable, unrecallable. Their lifting strength comes for but a few hours and then is gone. And if you miss the flood, you will be left in shallows and in miseries, having lost your ventures.

Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922) wrote that… When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.

An old Chinese adage says, “Opportunity has a forelock so you can seize it when you meet it. Once it is past, you cannot seize it again.”

John Ruskin (1819–1900)… Sojourn in every place as if you meant to spend your life there, never omitting an opportunity of doing a kindness, speaking a true word, or making a friend.

Napoleon said, “There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen minute period that is the crucial point (kairos). Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated.”

If time is a ring of gold, opportunity is the rich diamond that gives it both its value and glory. (J. Flavel.)

Here are lines from William Cowper’s poem “Retirement”

Anticipated rents, and bills unpaid,

Force many a shining youth into the shade,

Not to redeem his time, but his estate,

And play the fool, but at a cheaper rate.

Mark Twain made the sad remark that “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”

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Eccl 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.

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Charles E. Hummel said… Our greatest danger in life is in permitting the urgent things to crowd out the important.” The writer of Hebrews called these “urgent things” “encumbrances” or “weights” the Christian runner needs to cast aside, in order to be able to run the race and redeem the time.

The 16th-century reformer Philip Melanchthon kept a record of every wasted moment and took his list to God in confession at the end of each day. Little wonder that God used him in such great ways.

An ancient Greek statue depicted a man with wings on his feet, a large lock of hair on the front of his head, and no hair at all on the back. Beneath was the inscription:

  • “Who made thee? Lysippus made me.
  • What is thy name? My name is OPPORTUNITY.
  • Why hast thou wings on thy feet? That I may fly away swiftly.
  • Why hast thou a great forelock? That men may seize me when I come.
  • Why art thou bald in back? That when I am gone by, none can lay hold of me.”

We need to live in such a way that we get the most for our time. We are to live as if every minute counts— because it does. We can always make more money, but we cannot make more time. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. And when our time on this earth is over, we will give an account to the One who gave us our allotment of this precious commodity. The Lord Jesus was sensitive about time. He began His ministry at age thirty and ended it a mere three years later. His life was jammed with people with immediate needs. Sick. Dead. Scared. People pushed through crowds to touch Him. In Mark 1:353637, before sunrise, Christ spent time with the Father. Peter and his friends “searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You.’ ”In Matthew 14:23, He spent time with the Father in the evening. In Luke 6:1213, He spent the night in prayer. And in Luke 5:1516, we see that He slipped away into the wilderness to spend time with the Father. He had three short years to teach, preach, heal, and lead. But the most important thing in His life was the time He spent with the Father. If it was that important for Him, as the God-man, what about you?


2Cor 6:2 for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (kairos) I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU”; behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (kairos),” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION.”


Romans 13:11 And this do, knowing the time (kairos), that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.


Webster defines “opportunity” as a favorable juncture of circumstances wherein there is a good chance for advancement or progress.


Kairos is a season, an opportune time, an opportunity (“window of opportunity”). It is a fixed & definite time. It is a period possessed of certain characteristics. For example, a “season” is a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature.


Most of us are familiar with Garage Sales – if the ad says the sale begins at 8AM, you can rest assured there will be a number of “redeemers” on site thirty minutes early, so that they can find the best bargains before they are gone. Believers need to be as determined as Garage Sale shoppers, seeking diligently to make every moment count.


Henry Blackaby (known for his excellent study Experiencing God) says

Timing our obedience is crucial. Invitations from God come with a limited opportunity to respond. Some opportunities to serve Him, if not accepted immediately, will be lost. Occasions to minister to others may pass us by. When God invites us to intercede for someone, it may be critical that we stop what we are doing and immediately adjust our lives to what God is doing. Missing opportunities to serve the Lord can be tragic. When an invitation comes from God, the time to respond is now.

Do a deed of simple kindness,
Though its end you may not see;
It may reach, like widening ripples
Down a long eternity.
—Anonymous

The good we do is never lost,
Each kindly act takes root,
And every bit of love we sow
In time will bear rich fruit.
—Anonymous

Jesus said to one and all:
“Take your cross and follow Me.”
When you sense the Spirit’s call,
Seize the opportunity!
—Hess

It takes only a moment to be kind,
but the result can last forever


BREVITY OF LIFE: God wants to impress on our heart and mind the brevity of life and the length of eternity. And so it is not surprising that Scripture repeatedly presents powerful pictures that speak of our brief “season of opportunity” on earth using metaphors such as a breathe, a swift ship, an eagle’s dive, a shadow, a hand breath (thumb to little finger), smoke, vapor, grass, flowers of the field, a weaver’s shuttle! Oh my! In light of this is sobering truth regarding the shortness of life, we have not a moment to waste! A man may regain lost health, wealth, friends, but never time. Oh, how we ought to redeem what remains, for what remains is uncertain. All can ascertain how much has been expended, but none how much remains. Over 3000 years ago Moses prayed a prayer we would all do well to pray daily “So teach us to number our DAYS, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Buying up the hours; they are of such value that you cannot pay too high a price for them. If you want excitement, seek this highest, holiest, happiest form of exhilaration, the divine exhilaration which the Holy Spirit alone can give you: “Be filled with the Spirit.”

Often we don’t see the results of doing good until much later. Leslie B. Flynn tells about Dyson Hague, a chaplain in an English hospital who visited a ward of dying soldiers. One man asked him if he would write his Sunday school teacher and tell her he would die a Christian because of her teaching. Chaplain Hague wrote the letter. A few weeks later he received this reply: “Just a month ago I resigned my class of young men which I had been teaching for years, for I felt that my teaching was getting nowhere. Then came your letter, telling how my teaching had helped win this boy to Christ. I’ve asked for my class back. May God have mercy on me!”

The shortness of time

Time’s a hand’s breadth; ‘tis a tale;
’Tis a vessel under sail;
’Tis an eagle in its way,
Darting down upon its prey;
’Tis an arrow in its flight,
Mocking the pursuing sight;
’Tis a short-lived fading flower;
’Tis a rainbow on a shower;
’Tis a momentary ray
Smiling in a winter’s day;
’Tis a torrent’s rapid stream;
’Tis a shadow; ’tis a dream;
’Tis the closing watch of night,
Dying at the rising light;
’Tis a bubble; ’tis a sigh;
Be prepared, O man, to die.
(Quarles.)

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The use of opportunity – The apostle bids us “buy up” out of the market what we can never purchase so cheaply again–what, in fact, we can never buy again at any price. The lesson is–use opportunity, and use it thoroughly while you have it. Go read the old weird myth of the Cumaean Sibyl. She wrote her predictions upon leaves, and laid them at the entrance of her cave. Those who consulted her were compelled to exercise the greatest care and caution, lest the wild wind should take up the leaves, and scatter and displace them, destroy their arrangement, break their connection, and turn the clear oracles into inexplicable enigmas. That was a mythological lesson on seizing opportunity. Again, according to the familiar Roman legend, a Sibyl came to the palace of Tarquin II bearing nine volumes, for which she demanded a high price. Her offer being declined, she went away, and burned three of the precious books. Returning, she offered the remaining six, but asked for them the same price which she had demanded for the nine. Again her proposition was rejected, and again she departed and committed to the flames three more volumes. Once more she came back, bearing the last three, and refusing any less sum for them than that by which all might once have been bought. Tarquin, startled by this strange conduct of the merciless Sibyl, advised with his augurs, and bought the books, which proved the invaluable “Sibylline Verses”; but the chance of purchasing those priceless sister volumes was forever lost. Buy up opportunity!” Your privileges will never be offered so cheaply again. Each time life’s Sibyl comes to us her precious treasures are diminished in number, and relatively increased in value. Each time she has less to offer, and asks a higher price for each opportunity that remains. So comes Time’s stern, relentless Sibyl, until she herself finally disappears, and Time and her opportunities are no morel (A. T. Pierson.)

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Jonathan Edwards… Why Should We Redeem It?

According to my propounded method I proceed to show you how reasonable it is that we should redeem the time. You will find this to be a most rational performance when you have considered of these following things.

1. The inestimable value of time.

2. The brevity and uncertainty of it.

3. The impossibility of recalling it.

4. The end and design of God’s intrusting us with it.

5. The account we must give for it.

I read of Amasis, an Egyptian king, that he made an order, that every man should once a year give a particular account how he spent his time, and in what way he lived. My brethren, there is a day coming, when you must all give an account of your time; all your time must be reckoned for at the great and general audit of the world.

Reasons for redeeming the time

1.Redeem the time, for time is very precious. Nothing is so valuable as time. Not all the gold in the universe–not all the hoards of ages–can purchase a single moment.

2. Redeem the time on account of the momentous consequences which depend on our use of it. These consequences are an eternity of woe, or an eternity of bliss.

3. Redeem the time, for the time is short. What are the longest lives? “My days,” says Job, “are swifter than a post: they are passed away as the swift ships; as the eagle that hasteth to her prey.” “What is your life?” says St. James; “It is but a vapour which appeareth for a time and then vanishes away.” Time is short, and the work we have to do is great. How important it is to “redeem the time.”

4. Redeem the time, for when it is once past it cannot be recovered. If we chance to lose a valued treasure, is may be found again though it be buried in the depths of the sea. It is not so with time. Not all the entreaties of eternity will bring back a single moment of time. It is a vessel dashed in a thousand pieces which can never be repaired; it is as water spilt upon the ground which can never be gathered up again.

5. The last reason I shall urge why we should redeem the time, is that it is not our own. Woe to that idle servant who neglects to improve and to trade with the talents given him to traffic with. (J. J. S. Bird, B. A.)

The redemption of time

I. The importance of time. This may be inferred from the names given it in Scripture–“The day of salvation,” “The acceptable year of the Lord,” “An appointed time.” It is the season in which alone the business of religion can be transacted. Those advise badly who say “there is time enough yet,” for who knows what a day may bring forth. It may be longer or shorter, but the day of salvation, like any other, is limited, and must soon come to an end.

II. The rapidity of the flight of time. “Time and tide wait for no man.” The little we have on hand is all we have, and even this short space is hurrying on so fast that to catch it is like dipping your hand in a running stream which glides through the fingers that would detain it. The Egyptians represented it as a serpent creeping on silently and gliding away imperceptibly. And yet there are those who act as though it had no assignable limit.

III. The large portion of our time lost. The season of boyhood–much of which was wasted in indolence; the season of youth–much of which was simply dissipated; the season of riper years–how much of that is being lost in the pursuit of shadows. Some misspend time because they have no proper object to engage their attention. How many fashionable people there are who are quite at a loss what to make of themselves. Others lose much time in mere delays and in expecting what will never come.

IV. The best means of redeeming it.

1. Misspend no more. Treasure up scraps of time. He who is prodigal of a minute spends far above his estate.

2. Rise early.

3. Husband your time well during the day. (T. Watson, B. A.)

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Spurgeon reduced our lives to four words

“Sown, groan, blown, gone!”

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Buying Up the Time – Consider this: “If we had to buy time, would there be any difference in how we would spend it? Would the days of our lives be used more wisely?” That’s what time management consultant Antonio Herrera asked the participants in a seminar he conducted on the subject. Then Dr. Herrera became more specific. He asked, “What if you had to pay in advance $100 an hour for the time allotted to you? Would you waste it?” The answer should be obvious. Of course, we can’t put a price tag on the minutes and hours we possess. They are given to us freely. But that doesn’t excuse us from using them conscientiously, carefully, and wisely. The giver of time is God Himself, and that places a far greater value upon it than any monetary figure could suggest. We must therefore use our time intelligently, taking advantage of opportunities it provides for us to serve the Lord and to do His will. – R W De Haan

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Time: Handle With Care – If you had to buy time, would there be any difference in the way you would spend it? Would you use the minutes, hours, and days of your life more wisely? Of course, we can’t put a price tag on the minutes and hours we possess. They are given to us freely. But that doesn’t excuse us from using them carefully and wisely. The giver of time is God Himself, and that places a far greater value on our time than any monetary figure could suggest. We must therefore take advantage of the opportunities time provides to serve the Lord and to do His will.

This doesn’t mean that we have to be working every single moment. It’s necessary to take a break every so often, to stop and smell the roses along the way, or to enjoy the beauty of a sunset. We use our time wisely when we combine the appropriate “stops” with the proper “steps.” According to Solomon, there is a time for all of God’s purposes to be accomplished (Ecclesiastes 3:1). I’m so grateful that the Lord doesn’t sell time. He provides it as a gift of His grace. So let’s spend our days “redeeming the time,” using the opportunities to live for God (Colossians 4:5). Yes, time is precious. Handle with care! —R W De Haan

We do not know how long we have
Till time for us is past,
So let us live as if this day
Is going to be our last. —D. De Haan

To spend time wisely, invest it in eternity.

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Vance Havner – It is a tragic thing to end up one’s days like Saul, trying to call back the Samuels of lost opportunity. There is no witch or wizard in time or eternity who can turn back time in its flight and make one “a child again just for tonight.”

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Henry Blackaby – “There will be times when, immersed in the ordinary details of life, you may be oblivious to the extraordinary that is right next to you. You can be in the midst of a common moment, only this time the activity is filled with the presence of God. There may be times when, in the middle of your harried day, you notice something unusual. Your first reaction might be “I’m too tired to go aside to investigate this!” or “I’m not going to disrupt my life for this.” Yet, in that moment you may have the opportunity for a unique encounter with God. God usually speaks out of the ordinary experiences of life. Often, it is not while you are worshiping at church. Many of God’s most profound and history-changing encounters come during the ordinary experiences of life. When you see the unusual in the midst of the mundane, don’t continue business as usual. It may be that God has ordained that moment to be a life-changing time for you and those around you.”

What do you do when you redeem something? You pay for it. I mean, dear friend, there is something you must give in exchange, if you would live up to the opportunities that God has given you. You see, you need to see how valuable time is. To waste time is to waste life, because time is the stuff that life is made out of. A person who is killing time is not killing time; he is killing himself. He’s committing suicide by degrees. A murder, in the true sense, doesn’t take someone’s life—that person is going to die anyway. What he takes is that person’s time. You understand what I am saying? He just causes that person to die sooner. You see, time is life. Time is life. How precious it is. When I give you my time, when you give me your time, you’re giving me a piece of yourself. When I give you time, I give you something that even Heaven can’t give. In Heaven, time makes no difference. You see, time is so valuable. Time is so important, and, therefore, we need to redeem the time. Do you know what wisdom is? Wisdom is the art of spending time wisely. Or the art of living is spending time wisely. Put this verse down—Psalm 90, and verse 12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Ot is a passing opportunity. The days are evil. Time is passing away. This day is passing. I must give an account for this day. I must give an account one day for this sermon that I have preached. Time is such a strange commodity. You can’t save it. You can’t borrow it. You can’t loan it. You can’t leave it. You can’t take it. You can’t give it. All you can do is use it or lose it.

Time can’t be stopped. In a football game, you can call time out. But you can’t call time out in life. Time can’t be stored. You can put your money in the bank, but you can’t put your time in the bank. Time can’t be stretched. You can add another cup of water to the soup, but there’s no way that you can stretch time. Time can’t be shared. I can give you my books, I can give you my money, I can give you my automobile, but I can’t give you my time. I can give you a part of my time; but, when I give you my time in that sense, I’ve not added anything to your time. So, in that sense, time can’t even be shared. Someone wrote these words,

When as a child, I laughed and wept,
Time crept;
When as a youth, I dreamed and talked,
Time walked;
When I became a full-grown man,
Time ran;
When older still I daily grew,
Time flew;
Soon I shall find in traveling on,
Time gone.

T

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ime cannot be stopped; it cannot be stored; it cannot be saved; it cannot be shared. “We are to redeem the time, for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). Conclusion – It was Horace Mann who wrote these words—he said, “Lost, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours studded with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are lost forever.” Oh, my dear friend, if you could only see the preciousness of just one day. I’ve come to the end of my message—but listen to me now. I’m just going to wrap it up and lay it in your lap. And, as I talk to you, I’m talking to me, on the threshold of a new year. Listen—don’t gather your books, just listen.

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Nothing venture, nothing gained.

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Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

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How important is time? Ask death-beds. “Doctor,” said a dying man, “the whole of my estate for half-an-hour,” but no, the whole of his estate could not purchase half a moment.

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Blackaby – The disciples had the opportunity of a lifetime to pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and yet they fell asleep! Mark records “Then He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The time has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.”—Mark 14:41a “It is enough!” How these words from the Master stung the disciples! They were given the opportunity to share a sacred moment with Jesus. They failed Him. This time, not even Peter had an answer for Jesus. Jesus forgave them, and they went on to experience God working powerfully through their lives, but that unique moment with their Lord was lost. The angels had comforted the Savior on that lonely night as He prepared for the cross, not the disciples. Scripture indicates that the disciples later became diligent in prayer, but the memory of that night would remain with them for the rest of their lives. Like the disciples, you receive unique opportunities to serve your Lord. There are times when Jesus will ask you to join Him as He is at work in the life of your friend, family, or coworker. If you are preoccupied with your own needs, you will miss the blessing of sharing in His divine activity. God is gracious; He forgives, and He provides other opportunities. He will even use our failings to bring about good, but it is critical that we respond in obedience to every prompting from God. God does not need our obedience; He has legions of angels prepared to do His bidding when we fail Him. The loss is ours as we miss what God wants to do in our lives. Respond immediately when God speaks to you. His will for you is perfect, and it leads to abundant life. (Experiencing God Day by Day)

Blackaby – It’s easy to become so busy that you are oblivious to those in need. Your schedule can become so full of accomplishing good things that you are of no help to the people around you. God is at work in the lives of your friends, your neighbors, your family members. He may ask you to interrupt your day long enough to join Him as He ministers to them. Nothing on your agenda, no matter how pressing, is reason enough to ignore the voice of God when He tells you to stop and help. If you have become too busy to minister to those around you, ask God to reestablish your priorities so that you do not miss opportunities to serve Him. (Experiencing God Day by Day)

Blackaby – There will be times when, immersed in the ordinary details of life, you may be oblivious to the extraordinary that is right next to you. You can be in the midst of a common moment, only this time the activity is filled with the presence of God. There may be times when, in the middle of your harried day, you notice something unusual. Your first reaction might be “I’m too tired to go aside to investigate this!” or “I’m not going to disrupt my life for this.” Yet, in that moment you may have the opportunity for a unique encounter with God… Don’t assume every opportunity that arises is from God. Satan will disguise himself as an “angel of light,” and his invitations will seem to be in your best interest (2 Cor. 11:14). Yet his way leads only to death (John 8:44). The word of God will be like a light to your path, guiding you in the ways of righteousness (Ps. 119:105). It can be perilous to follow a path that seems right without first consulting the Holy Spirit for guidance (John 16:13). Take time to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction when you face decisions. He knows the full ramifications of your choices. The Holy Spirit will assist you to understand truth and to experience abundant life. Trust Him as He leads you… Even when Paul was shipwrecked on an island, he used that opportunity to share the gospel there. Regardless of his circumstance, Paul’s concern was how he could use his current situation to tell others of God’s good news of salvation. Even when Paul was shipwrecked on an island, he used that opportunity to share the gospel there. Regardless of his circumstance, Paul’s concern was how he could use his current situation to tell others of God’s good news of salvation… Timing our obedience is crucial. Invitations from God come with a limited opportunity to respond. Some opportunities to serve Him, if not accepted immediately, will be lost. Occasions to minister to others may pass us by. When God invites us to intercede for someone, it may be critical that we stop what we are doing and immediately adjust our lives to what God is doing. Missing opportunities to serve the Lord can be tragic. When an invitation comes from God, the time to respond is now… If you are spiritually prepared when a crisis comes, you will not have to try to develop instantly the quality of relationship with Christ that can sustain you. If you suddenly have an opportunity to share your faith with an unbeliever, you will be equipped to do so. If you enter a time of worship spiritually prepared, you will not miss an encounter with God. If you are spiritually filled when you meet a person in sorrow, you will have much to offer. If you have established safeguards in your life in advance, you will not give in to temptation. Christians lose many opportunities to experience God’s activity because they have not devoted enough time to their relationship with God. If you have not yet developed the habit of daily prayer and Bible study, why not begin now, so that you will be equipped for whatever life brings?… If you are unprepared, you, too, will miss the opportunity to experience Jesus. You may practice religion, but you will miss God. While others encounter the Lord personally in worship, your heart will remain unmoved. As others receive a fresh word from God, you will experience a painful silence. Religious activity can never substitute for a heart that is pure before Him. Purity comes only through repentance. Pray, as the Psalmist did, that God will examine your heart and reveal your need to repent of your sin (Ps. 139:23–24). (Experiencing God Day by Day)

Blackaby – God has tried, at times, to get our attention by revealing where He is at work. We see it, but we do not immediately identify it as God’s work. We say to ourselves, Well, I don’t know if God wants me to get involved here or not. I had better pray about it. By the time we leave that situation and pray, the opportunity to join God may pass us by. A tender and sensitive heart will be ready to respond to God at the slightest prompting. God makes your heart tender and sensitive in the love relationship we already have talked about. (Experiencing God)

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The final rewards and position of the saved will be governed by their faithfulness, after their conversion, in filling the hours here with loving service, holy adoration, and diligent study. The lost too will be beaten with “few” or “many stripes” in relation to their deeds and attitudes while here on earth. Therefore, someone has wisely written: “Use well opportunity, drift not with the tide; killing time is not murder, it’s suicide!” Indeed, eternity will magnify that which we have done in time. – RBC

Life is the seedtime of eternity!

Believe in Christ, redeem the time,

Prepare without delay;

That death is certain should affect

The way you live today.

— Hess

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Our Measured Life- Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. . —Psalm 90:12

The root meaning of the word translated number in “teach us to number our days” (Ps. 90:12) is “to weigh” or “to measure.” We are to place each day in the balance and make it tip the scales in a way that will bring glory to God and blessing to the lives of others.

When the great artist Raphael died at the early age of 37, friends and relatives carried his marvelous but unfinished painting The Transfiguration in the funeral procession. His family felt that because of the limited time he was allotted to use his creative genius, the painting was an appropriate symbol of his unfulfilled earthly aspirations. That half-completed picture has another meaning–a message that should impress itself on all of us: Life is fleeting and death may come unexpectedly. We should treasure each hour as a gift of great value and use it to the best advantage.

If we realize the value of our days, we will try to spend them profitably. To have no regrets at life’s end and have much reward in heaven, we must make the most of every opportunity (Eph. 5:15-16). In the words of the psalmist let us pray, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). –H G Bosch

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Warren Wiersbe commenting on Ps 90:12 said “We number our years, but it is wiser to number our days, for we live a day at a time.”

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Mark Dever – As Christians, we have come to realize that history is not cyclical, always repeating itself in an endless rotation of events, but that God will one day bring history to a close in judgment. We know that He has given us this life, and that He will require it back. The time that we have is limited, the amount is uncertain, and how we use it is up to us. So Paul tells the Ephesians to make the most of every opportunity (Eph. 5:16). Like a collector buying up every known specimen of some cherished item, we should desire to capture each fleeting hour and turn it into a trophy for God, using it for Him. We shouldn’t be content with thinking, “I’ll live another couple of years in selfishness and then, when all of my desires are taken care of, I’ll turn and follow Christ.” No, we shouldn’t be content with that! We should know, as Paul knew, that, “The time is short. From now on… those who use the things of the world [should use them] as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:2931). What situations are you in right now that you won’t always be in? How are you using those situations in obedience to God? Trust the Lord to use you in those situations instead of always seeking for new situations. Trust the Lord to use you in this moment, instead of waiting until the next one, since you don’t even know if the next one will come. Don’t let the passing permanence of great buildings and established institutions, or the lulling tedium of long hours and minutes, make a fool of you! “The days are evil,” says Paul in Ephesians 5:16 , meaning that they are dangerous, they are a fleeting opportunity, and so we must redeem the time, we must make the most of every opportunity. So we say with Paul that, in view of certain judgment, Christ’s love compels us to proclaim the Good News (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10-14).

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Bishop Hall – Every day is a little life; and our whole life is but a day repeated: whence it is that old Jacob numbers his life by days; and Moses (Ps 90:12) desires to be taught this point of “holy arithmetic”—to number not his years, but his days. Those, therefore, that dare lose a day, are dangerously prodigal; those that dare misspend it, desperate.

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Ps 90:12 “invites us to embrace an eternal perspective in a temporal world.” (K. Boa)

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Warren Wiersbe (Ps 90:12) – Number your days and make your life count! We live a day at a time. Usually, we don’t number our days; we number our years. When you have a birthday and someone asks how old you are, you tell them your age in the number of years. But we had better number our days, because we live a day at a time. “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). God has ordained that the entire universe functions a day at a time. Moses gives the secret of making life count–live it a day at a time. You need God’s help to apply His Word to your life. Live as though this may be your last day. Ask God for the wisdom you need and apply it by faith. Since life is so brief, we cannot afford to “spend our lives” and we certainly do not want to “waste our lives.” We know nothing about tomorrow; only God knows. Life is uncertain–a cloud that quickly comes and goes (Job 7:7Ps 102:3) Every believer needs to keep before his or her eyes an awareness of the brevity of life. We number our years, not our days, but all of us have to live a day at a time, and we do not know how many days we have left. A successful life is composed of successful days that honor the Lord.

Instead of spending our lives or wasting our lives, we must “invest our lives” in those things that are eternal! The world speaks of SPENDING time, while Paul commands us to be BUYING time. Indeed, time should not be spent, it should be invested in the kingdom of God.

OUR LIFE IS LIKE…
BREATH, SHADOWS, A RUNNER,
 SMOKE

Brevity of our life is a repetitive theme in Scripture – life to us seems long and we measure it in years, but in comparison to eternity live is “just a vapor.” The idea of death is mentioned some 1300 times in Scriptures (die, death, dead, etc) so clearly it is a major Biblical topic.

James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Job 7:6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, And come to an end without hope. 7 “Remember that my life is but breath, My eye will not again see good.

Job 8:9 For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, Because our days on earth are as a shadow.

Job 9:25-26 “Now my days are swifter than a runner; They flee away, they see no good. 26 “They slip by like reed boatsLike an eagle that swoops on its prey.

Job 14:1-2 Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. 2 Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.

2Sam 14:14 “For we shall surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one may not be cast out from him.

1Chr 29:15 “For we are sojourners before Thee, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope.

Ps 39:4 LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the extent of my days, Let me know how transient (fleeting) I am (David is asking God to give him a sense of the brevity of his life. Why? Because most of us do not contemplate how short our life is when held up to eternity! To grasp this deep within our soul should motivate us to be more careful with the precious golden moments we have today, to buy up all the opportunities God presents to us). 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Selah 6 Man is a mere phantom (shadow) as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

Matthew Henry: Lord, make me to know my end, means, “Lord, give me wisdom and grace to consider it (Dt. 32:29) and to improve what I know concerning it.” The living know that they shall die (Eccl. 9:5), but few care for thinking of death; we have therefore need to pray that God by his grace would conquer that aversion which is in our corrupt hearts to the thoughts of death. “Lord, make me to consider,” (1.) “What death is. It is my end, the end of my life, and all the employments and enjoyments of life. It is the end of all men,” Eccl. 7:2. It is a final period to our state of probation and preparation, and an awful entrance upon a state of recompense and retribution. To the wicked man it is the end of all joys; to a godly man it is the end of all griefs. “Lord, give me to know my end, to be better acquainted with death, to make it more familiar to me (Job 17:14), and to be more affected with the greatness of the change. Lord, give me to consider what a serious thing it is to die.” (2.) “How near it is. Lord, give me to consider the measure of my days, that they are measured in the counsel of God” (the end is a fixed end, so the word signifies; my days are determined, Job 14:5) “and that the measure is but short: My days will soon be numbered and finished.” When we look upon death as a thing at a distance we are tempted to adjourn the necessary preparations for it; but, when we consider how short life is, we shall see ourselves concerned to do what our hand finds to do, not only with all our might, but with all possible expedition. (3.) That it is continually working in us: “Lord, give me to consider how frail I am, how scanty the stock of life is, and how faint the spirits which are as the oil to keep that lamp burning.” We find by daily experience that the earthly house of this tabernacle is molding and going to decay: “Lord, make us to consider this, that we may secure mansions in the house not made with hands.”

Ps 90:5 Thou hast swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.6 In the morning it flourishes, and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades, and withers away. (NLT – My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering like grass.)

Ps 90:9 For all our days have declined in Thy fury; We have finished our years like a sigh.

Ps 102:3 For my days have been consumed in smoke, And my bones have been scorched like a hearth. 11 My days are like a lengthened shadow; And I wither away like grass.

Ps 103:15 As for man, his days are like grassAs a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more; And its place acknowledges it no longer. (NLT = 15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. 16 The wind blows, and we are gone– as though we had never been here.)

Ps 144:4 Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.

Isa 40:6 A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.

Pr 10:5 He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

Eccl 7:10NLT – Don’t long for “the good old days,” for you don’t know whether they were any better than today.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Eccl 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–

Time is a gift of God and should be spent remembering our Creator, especially in our youth (Eccl. 12:1). It should be a time of doing something, “casting our bread upon the waters,” or nothing will return to us. Outside of the boundaries of “time” stands God, who will judge us for how we spent our time (Eccl. 12:13–14).

Gal 6:10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

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Illustration – A millionaire in New York came to the end of his journey and died. On his deathbed he gave continual expression to his remorse for what his conscience told him had been an ill-spent life. “Oh,” he exclaimed, “if I could only be spared for a few years, I would give all the wealth I have amassed in my lifetime! It is a life devoted to money-getting that I regret. It is this which weighs me down and makes me despair of the life hereafter!”

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W E Vine – Make the most of every opportunity, turning each to the best advantage, since none can be recalled if missed.

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Proper use of time

Recognizing the brevity of human life Ps 90:12 See also Ps 39:4-6Pr 27:1Jas 4:14

Seeking God Isa 55:6 See also Ps 32:669:1395:7-8Ecc 12:1,6-7

Looking to eternal realities 1Co 7:29-31 See also Ps 10:6Isa 56:12Lk 12:16-21Ro 13:11-12Jas 5:7-9

Isa 56:12 “Come,” they say, “let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; And tomorrow will be like today, only more so.”

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Redeeming the Time – Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil.—Ephesians 5:15–16

These days we are bombarded with opportunities that entice us to invest our time and energy. Each day the voices of urgency cry out for every available moment. So many causes promise that time spent on them will reap great rewards; how can we recognize God’s voice among so many competing voices?

A fool makes unwise choices with his time. With every new opportunity that comes along, the fool chases off in a different direction, not questioning whether that is the best choice. The loudest voice gains his attention. At some point the fool discovers to his dismay that he has squandered the investment of his time.

The days in which you live are evil. Marriages are under tremendous pressure, families are disintegrating. Multitudes are dying each year without hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Investing your life wisely is critical to you and to those around you. Foolishly spending your time in sinful or wasteful pursuits can cost you and others dearly.

Often, it is not evil pursuits that rob your time. Rather, the temptation is to sacrifice what is best for what is good. The enemy knows that blatantly tempting you with evil will be obvious, so he will lure you with distractions, leaving you no time to carry out God’s will. He will tempt you to so fill your schedule with good things that you have no time for God’s best. You may inadvertently substitute religious activity for God’s will, pursuing your own goals for God’s kingdom instead of waiting for His assignment. Time is a precious commodity. Be sure to invest it wisely. (Henry Blackaby – Experiencing God Day by Day)

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Spurgeon on Ps 90:12 – Here is heavenly arithmetic! It has been well said that many men will number their cows or their coins, but forget to number their days! Yet number our days is the kind of arithmetic that would be exceedingly profitable to those who practice it aright. Counting our days and finding them but few, we should seek to use them discreetly and we should reckon that we cannot afford to lose so much as one of them! Who would be a spendthrift (miser) with so small a store as that which belongs to us? Count how many days have gone. Will not the time past suffice us to have wrought the will of the flesh? (1Pe 4:1-2) You cannot tell how few remain, but still, if you live to the longest period of life, taking that for granted which you may not take for granted, how little remains! Oh! that we might, by the shortness of life, be led to apply our hearts unto wisdom, so as to live wisely (Eph 5:15). And what is the best way of living wisely, but to live in union with Christ, in the enabling power of His Spirit and to the glory of God the Father?

That is the great matter, after all, to get the heart applied to wisdom, to learn what is the right way, and to walk in it in the practical actions of daily life. It is of little use for us to learn to number our days if it merely enables us to sit down in self-confidence and carnal security; but if our hearts be applied to true wisdom, the Lord’s teaching has been effectual.

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To say just when the hands will stop;
At late, or early hour.

Now is the only time we own
to do His precious will,
Do not wait until tomorrow;
For the clock may then be still.
-Anon.

Instead of counting the days,
make your days count.

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Ephesians 5:15-16 has been called the Bible’s key to time management. But “redeeming the time” goes far beyond being efficient. It’s a wonderful phrase that can also be translated “making the most of every opportunity.” It suggests an attitude toward living that sees every situation as the perfect occasion to do God’s will and influence others for Him. During these evil days, we are to live out the goodness God has placed in us through faith in Christ. How much time do we have today? Time for prayer? Time to answer a child’s question? Time to be interrupted by someone in need? Time to consider others during an inconvenience or delay? May the Lord give us wisdom to grasp today’s opportunities and make time for what’s important to Him. –D C McCasland

Lord, help us to redeem the time
You give us every day–
To take each opportunity
To follow and obey.
-Sper

There’s always enough time to do God’s will.

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A poet once wrote,
Time that is past you can never recall,
Of time to come, you are not sure at all;
Only the present is now in your power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.
—Unknown

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F. Ferguson – We speak of time as past, present, and future; but what a mystery it is! The present moment is all of time that actually exists. All past time ends in the present moment. All future time begins in the same point. To use the experience of the past so as to shape the future aright is to redeem the time. This gives to every moment of time a tremendous importance.

A day is full of many hours just waiting for your using;
and there are many ways to spend them,
so be careful in your choosing.

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Larry Richards has some sage words on “time” from a Biblical perspective…

Scripture locates the significance of time outside the experience of any individual. Time, like the rest of the environment in which human beings move, has been ordered and designed by God. It is marked by cycle and repetition and yet flows from a beginning toward a culmination. Time is also marked by significant moments. The greatest of all significant moments are significant because God sets them aside as times of his own action in history. These moments are also significant because they provide opportunity for each of us to confront the reality of God and to respond to him. Spans of time may be remembered as troubled or peaceful, but the truly significant points in each person’s life are those in which he or she senses the call of God and responds to him—with rejection or with joyful obedience. The NT focuses on the fact that all time finds its focus and fulfillment in Christ. His coming transforms every moment into opportunity; and when he returns, the fulfillment of every promise God ever made will be achieved. How important, then, that we use our moments of time wisely, sensing the eternal significance that our relationship with Jesus brings to all time. (New international encyclopedia of Bible words)

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G Campbell Morgan – In these words (“redeem the time”) we have a remarkable revelation of Christian privilege and responsibility in days of calamity. Redeem suggests keen business acumen, the ability to know exactly what to buy, and when to buy. It is a strictly commercial term. Time indicates a special occasion, and therefore a special opportunity. Evil refers to evil in the effect it produces: evil is that which is hurtful, harmful, calamitous. The element of sacrifice is involved, the giving up of something, in order that the opportunity may be seized. Of course, involved in that is the larger thought that all such giving results in getting. As in the market place in the olden days, as in the market place today, the man, keen and shrewd and honest and upright and true, is ever prepared to give, but he expects also to gain… The true attitude for heavenly commerce is a threefold one, and the apostle has carefully marked it for us. “Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise”; “understanding what the will of the Lord is.” “Be filled with the Spirit.” (Sermon by G Campbell Morgan – “The Opportunity of Calamity”)

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Although we cannot keep time from passing, we can keep from using it unwisely. This inestimable gift, which a most gracious God has committed to our use, must not be squandered. We do not know how much time we have left.

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the years, freighted with golden possibilities, have been buried one by one in the bosom of an eternity which never gives up its dead. (Duckworth)

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John Phillips – Suppose that a wealthy man were to give someone $1440 a day to spend. He had to spend it. The gift did not allow him to save it, still less to hoard it. At the end of each day what was not spent was lost. The same sum would arrive every day until the end of life. Then an accounting would be made of what the recipient had done with the sum. There it was $1440 a day to spend or squander, to be used buying things for oneself or in helping others, to be wasted on trifles or invested for eternity. Every day God gives us 1440 minutes to be spent by us and us alone. We have to spend it. We cannot save up some of today’s time for tomorrow. We have none of yesterday’s time left over for today. All of these precious minutes are ours. However, when life is over, there will be a strict accounting of what we have done with that time. We, as Christians, will give our accounting at the judgment seat of Christ. The unsaved will render account at the Great White Throne. But an accounting will be made. “Make the best possible use of your time,” Paul says. Paul might have wasted his time moping over the restrictions placed upon his liberty. Not him! He invested that time in writing immortal books, in praying for the furtherance of the gospel, in talking to those who came or were sent to him about the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, in meditating upon the Scriptures long since committed to memory, and in preparing himself for new missionary journeys should he be released or to meet the Lord in Glory should Nero order his execution. (Exploring Colossians)

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Our efforts in life must be seasonable. There is a religious forethought. He who neglects to gather in summer neglects the bounties of the Lord as well as neglects his own future necessities. The man who sleeps in harvest is pronounced a fool, because he lets his opportunity slip. The historian writes concerning Hannibal that when he could have taken Rome he would not, and when he would he could not. We are to be men of opportunity–that is to say, we are to buy up the opportunity, to redeem the time. When God opens a gate He means that we should go through it, and pass into all the inheritance beyond. There was a king of Sicily who was called “The Lingerer,” not because he stayed till opportunity came, but because he stayed till opportunity was lost. There is a time to wait and a time to act. Overlong waiting means loss of chance, for the king has passed by, and the gates are closed; but to wait patiently until everything is ripe for action is the very last expression of Christian culture. (J. Parker, D.D.)

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TIME IS SIGNIFICANT because it is so rare. It is completely irretrievable. You can never repeat it or relive it. There is no such thing as a literal instant replay. That appears only on film. It travels alongside us every day, yet it has eternity wrapped up in it. Although this is true, time often seems relative, doesn’t it? For example, two weeks on a vacation is not at all like two weeks on a diet. Also, some people can stay longer in an hour than others can in a week! Ben Franklin said of time, “ … that is the stuff life is made of.” Time forms life’s building blocks. The philosopher William James once said, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” —Lloyd Cory, Quote Unquote

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It is too late to redeem the time that has passed but not the time that is passing.

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Tim Schoap – “Making the most of the opportunity.” exagorazo kairos, Lit. “redeem the time,” buy it up. Picture a garage sale shopper, making every Saturday morning minute count. Time is short for this fallen world. We must redeem time, and every opportunity God has given us by using it in the most effective way possible. Think of Jesus’ parables of hidden treasure, the pearl of great price in Mt. 13:44-46, where the characters give up all for that treasure of the kingdom. This is the same idea. You can never have the last 5 minutes back, so evaluate your activity. How does it contribute? Each opportunity with outsiders is to be bought, and treated as precious.

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Mark Dever – What situations are you in right now that you won’t always be in? How are you using those situations in obedience to God? Trust the Lord to use you in those situations instead of always seeking for new situations. Trust the Lord to use you in this moment, instead of waiting until the next one, since you don’t even know if the next one will come. Don’t let the passing permanence of great buildings and established institutions, or the lulling tedium of long hours and minutes, make a fool of you! “The days are evil,” says Paul in Ephesians 5:16 , meaning that they are dangerous, they are a fleeting opportunity, and so we must redeem the time, we must make the most of every opportunity. So we say with Paul that, in view of certain judgment, Christ’s love compels us to proclaim the Good News (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10-14). (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church)

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Thomas Carlyle – Life is a little gleam of time between two eternities.

Life Application Commentary: The believers should carefully use their time, making use of opportunities for doing good (see Galatians 6:10). This implies that we should not allow ourselves to be controlled by our circumstances; rather, we should make use of time as a valuable commodity or resource, as a master does with his servant. We should not read into this verse that God expects or condones workaholics. God has given us periods of both work and rest. We must never find in Scripture an excuse to neglect our physical needs or the needs of our families. Make a quick mental list of the things you really value. Undoubtedly your list would include your loved ones, your home, your church, and perhaps a few other possessions. Would it also include your time? Paul’s admonition to live carefully, “making the most of every opportunity,” is a reminder of the preciousness of time. (Life Application Commentary)

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Ps 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy doings; I muse on the work of Thy hands. – The consideration of the past will stimulate us to redeem the time.
1. The whole life of man is short.
2. How much shorter has it become to us!
3. Had it been spent aright, its increased shortness would not be a matter of regret.
4. But only look back! (James Stewart)

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The lights which God hath set in the firmament ENABLE US TO REDEEM THE TIME; to retrieve the misspent past by the right improvement of the present. Each day is a miniature of the whole of life and of all the seasons of the year. Morning answers to spring; midday to summer; afternoon to autumn; evening to winter. We are children in the morning, with fresh feelings and hopes; grown-up men and women, with sober and sad experiences, at noon; aged persons, with whom the possibilities of life are over, in the afternoon and night. – H. Macmillan, D. D.

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Harry Ironside: Just as people go out bargain hunting and say, “There, if I buy that today, I can get it at a good price, much better than if I have to let it go until another time. It is worth my while to buy these bargains up at this rate.” Let the Christian be just as eager, just as earnest, to obtain opportunities to witness for Christ, to serve the blessed Lord, and to be a means of blessing to others with whom he comes in contact. Buying up the opportunities, seeking to use them to the glory of our Lord Jesus, realizing that the days are evil and the time for serving Christ is slipping fast away, and that opportunities once lost will never be found again. Therefore, the importance of buying them up while we have the chance. (Amen!)

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John Henry Jowett discusses “The Watchful Use of Opportunity” based on “Redeeming the time.” Eph. 5:16.

The disciple of Christ is to be an expert merchant in the commodity of time. He is to be always engaged in “buying up opportunity.” He is to allow no one to be the peer of the Master’s servant. His vigilance must never sleep, and he must never be away from the market. Every moment must be bought up for the King, and used in the service of His Kingdom.

And therefore the disciple will be busy buying in seasons both sad and joyful. He will not allow the evil one to buy any of the brighter seasons for his own infernal purpose. Seasons of merriment will be purchased for the Lord; bright moments of wit and humour will be gained for Him. This will never mean that merriment will lose its sparkle; it will really mean that sunlight will be added to common daylight, because the merriment will shine with the very lustre and purity of the love of Christ. All wit will be perfectly clean and therefore translucent, containing nothing which darkens or defiles. Gaiety will become the most intimate friend of sanctity and will be the possession of the Lord.

And the watchful merchant will also buy up the darker seasons for his Lord. He will not allow his moments of disappointment, or sickness, or adversity, to be owned and used by the devil. He will rather claim that the black seasons may be used for the home of Christ, and he will accordingly bring them and offer them to His service. A dark house, with the Lord in it, becomes a temple of ineffable fellowship.

But in all these purchasings everything goes to the early buyer. To be first in the market must be our constant aim. Let us regard every moment as precious treasure, and before the enemy of our souls can lay his hand upon it let us be up and buy it for the Lord. (Life in the Heights)

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May not life be filled fuller of blessings, if only we know how to redeem the time, and appreciate the opportunity to perceive the God that is near us? (H. W. Beecher.)

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If any day passes without embracing some opportunity for learning new truth, or doing some fresh good, we should agree with that Roman Emperor who said, “I have lost a day.” (J. G. Angley, M. A.)

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The astronomer measures time by light-years, the geologist by vast cycles, the historian by epics and centuries, the industrialist by the fiscal year, the salaried person by the month, the laborer by the weekly paycheck, the child by the birthday party. But for most of us the common measure of time begins with the awkward motions of rising in the morning and the weary movements at night. In this dimension we determine our day. While the vast majority of the hours are predetermined, planned for us, we nevertheless have precious tidbits of time which we are free to use and which ultimately determine the quality of our character and the degree of our commitment. The Lord measures time in terms of responsible living.

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The late Will Rogers had these lines engraved on a huge watch which he presented to David Rubinoff, the consummate violinist:

The Clock of Life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop,
At late or early hour.

Now is the only time we own;
Love, life, toil with a will;
Do not wait until tomorrow,
For the Clock may then be still.

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Ridley Pearson – Life itself is the opportunity upon which eternity depends. And during life opportunities more or less are given every one for laying up provision against the future.

Ps 31:15 My times are in Thy hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.

Warren Wiersbe – We would say, “All the affairs and details of my life are in the Lord’s hands.” This is the Old Testament version of Romans 8:28. David trusted God to bring light into the darkness and truth into the sea of lies that was overwhelming the people.

R. C. Sproul – “We all have an equal measure of time in every day. Where we differ from one another is in how we redeem the time allotted. When something is redeemed it is rescued or purchased from some negative condition. The basic negative condition we are concerned with is the condition of waste. To waste time is to spend it on that which has little or no value.”

Fred Smith – Many Christians read the Bible’s command to “redeem the time” and, as a result, spend too many hours simply organizing their time. That is not the intent of Scripture. Time management isn’t nearly as important as life management. Perhaps the greatest life management skill is to develop good reflexes in knowing when to say yes and when to say no. All kinds of opportunities and decisions confront us. We can’t say yes to all of them. But neither do we want to be ungracious, saying no simply for our own convenience or because we’re selfish or negative. (Tabletalk Magazine, June 1990: Held Captive by Time)

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Horatius Bonar – Live for Something

“See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”—EPH. 5:15, 16

OUR life here, as saints, is no aimless life. We know the true way of living. We have found an object worthy of our living for. In all we speak and do we serve the Lord Christ. We do not live at random. Each hour, each word, each action, has its aim. Far short, indeed, we come of that which we propose to ourselves, but still we have always something in our view; something exalted, large, unselfish; something that will last for eternity. We have done with idleness, frivolity, and vain amusement. Our desire is, not to kill time, but to use it; to gather up all its fragments, to lay out every moment well, to lose nothing of so precious a boon. All that we have of it is too little to be trifled with, too precious to be thrown away. We would fain live busy lives. We cannot afford to be idle; neither do we desire it. The call is, REDEEM THE TIME. Be always doing something that will last; be always stretching forward to the prize. It will soon be ours, for the Lord is at hand. It is a prize worth all our labour and sorrow here. The very thought of it is enough to put to flight all murmuring, or selfishness, or sloth. To labour here is as blessed as it is to rest hereafter. Work on, work on, till the day of recompense arrives.

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Steven Cole – Our text tells us how to walk wisely, so that we make the precious years that God allots to us count for His purpose and glory. There is a paradox in that God is the sovereign over time. He has a divine will (Eph 5:17) and He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). And yet at the same time, He allots time to us to use responsibly to bring about His sovereign will. We must walk carefully and redeem the time that He gives us (Eph 5:15-16). To make your life count for eternity, you must give careful thought to how you spend your time. To walk wisely, you must know what God wants you to be, what dangers to avoid, and how to take advantage of the opportunities that God gives you… As I said a couple of weeks ago, when you’re around a bad odor for a while, your nose adjusts and it no longer smells so bad. When you’re in an evil day, if you aren’t careful, after a while you don’t even notice how rotten things have become. After a while, even Christians absorb the world’s values. We think it’s okay to live together outside of marriage, especially if it saves money, because the world does so. We accept divorce for incompatibility, because after all, shouldn’t we be happy? We tolerate gambling as innocent fun, because there are casinos and state lottery tickets everywhere. We begin to look just like the world, except that we go to church occasionally. But Paul calls such behavior unwise and foolish… Unwise people live for temporal fulfillment and pleasure. In the Bible (especially in Proverbs), fools live for immediate gratification according to their feelings, impulses, and desires. Fools, like the rich man building bigger barns to store his goods, don’t think about the fact that today could be their last and then they face God and judgment. Fools don’t think about storing up treasures in heaven. They are focused completely on the here and now. In short, they do not understand the will of the Lord.

Redeeming the time – The idea is, being alert to the spiritual opportunities that God brings your way, so that you grab them as a wise merchant grabs a bargain. The reason that you are alert to these opportunities is that you are living wisely, with a view to eternity and God’s kingdom. As Paul puts it (2 Cor. 4:18), “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Luis Palau tells a story from one of his evangelistic crusades in Paraguay many years ago (Heart After God [Multnomah Press], pp. 114-116). At each crusade they set up family counseling centers, where people could come for spiritual help. They trained local people to work in them, teaching them how to lead people to Christ and how to deal with common problems. At this crusade, a man named Jose who took the training could not even read or write. But he loved the Lord and he had a fantastic memory. He passed the training exams because he had memorized all the answers. But because he was illiterate, the training director asked the receptionist not to assign Jose to anyone who looked like a professional person. One day all the counselors were busy when a very sharp looking gentleman walked in. He was obviously upper middle class. The only one left with no one to counsel was Jose. The receptionist got flustered, but Jose was alert. He walked up to this gentleman and said, “I’ll help you.” The receptionist was too bashful and embarrassed to say no. So, Jose took this gentleman into a room, talked with him, and led him to Jesus Christ. He turned out to be a medical doctor. Meanwhile, the receptionist had gotten through to the training di-rector and explained the situation. When the doctor and Jose walked out of the session, the training director greeted the doctor warmly, but just got a quick, “Hello.” He thought, “Jose must have blown that session.” So he told the receptionist, “The next time a distinguished looking gentleman comes in, make sure he is assigned to another counselor. Don’t give him to Jose. Even if I’m busy, call me anyway and I’ll take care of it.” The next day the same doctor returned, with two men with him. These men were well-dressed, impressive looking men also. The center was busy, so the secretary rushed off to get the training director. He came out, turned on the charm and offered to help the man and his friends. But the man insisted that his friends talk alone with Jose. So, they went and found illiterate Jose, and he took the men into a private room. Jose led the doctor’s two friends, who were also doctors, to faith in Christ! And, the next day, the three doctors brought a fourth man who was having family problems and illiterate Jose led that man to Christ! The next week, the doctors had a party and the only one from the counseling staff that they invited was humble, uneducated Jose.

1Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm (aorist imperative) yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 1Pet 4:2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh (refers to physical flesh, not the anti-god tendency still latent even in believers) no longer for the lusts of men (no longer or no more – looks back and indicates that the former time devoted to evil practices as unsaved humans was more than enough! The memory of that sinful past is to serve as a sharp goad against our fleshly tendency to relapse into that kind of depraved living), but (instead we should live) for the will of God.

Comment: “The rest of the time” looks to the future and reminds us of the brevity of the remainder of our present earthly life. That perspective should inspire all readers in make haste to redeem the time. “Time” (chronos) denotes the chronological duration of life allotted to each of us. Note that we live either for the depraved will of our flesh or the blessed will of our God. There is no middle ground. Don’t try to straddle the line! Hiebert adds that “When living such a life (seeking God’s will not ours), “His will is our law, His word our rule, His Son’s life our example, His Spirit rather than our own soul the Guide of our actions.” His will should ever be the pole-star for the believer.” And remember that God’s will for believers may at times include suffering for righteousness.

CORAM DEO!
CARPE DIEM!
TEMPUS FUGIT!

Coram Deo living is living consciously before the face of God; Carpe Diem seizing the day, because Tempus Fugit, time flies and so our daily prayer should be

So teach (an imperative) us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 90:12 writes:

So teach us to number our days. Instruct us to set store by time, mourning for that time past wherein we have wrought the will of the flesh, using diligently the time present, which is the accepted hour and the day of salvation, and reckoning the time which lies in the future to be too uncertain to allow us safely to delay any gracious work or prayer. Numeration is a child’s exercise in arithmetic, but in order to number their days aright the best of men need the Lord’s teaching. We are more anxious (eager) to count the stars than our days, and yet the latter is by far more practical.

That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Men are led by reflections upon the brevity of time to give their earnest attention to eternal things; they become humble as they look into the grave which is so soon to be their bed, their passions cool in the presence of mortality, and they yield themselves up to the dictates of unerring wisdom; but this is only the case when the Lord himself is the teacher; he alone can teach to real and lasting profit. Thus Moses prayed that the dispensations of justice might be sanctified in mercy. “The law is our school master to bring us to Christ”, when the Lord himself speaks by the law. It is most meet that the heart which will so soon cease to beat should while it moves be regulated by wisdom’s hand.

A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour. Neither are we sure of enough life to justify us in procrastinating for a moment. If we were wise in heart we should see this, but mere head wisdom will not guide us aright.

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Phil 3:13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Comment: “This one thing I do” is only one word in the Greek, succinctly expressing single-minded concentration and determination. (H. Morris)

You can’t successfully run forward if you are looking backward. The contestant who takes his eyes off the goal is in danger of losing both his direction and his motivation. He must not be distracted by the crowd, either their cheers or jeers; and he must not let the other runners distract him. Nor should he look back inwardly and depend on past successes or be discouraged by the memory of past failures. Each race is unique and demands the very best.

The word “forgetting” is stronger in the Greek = “completely forgetting.” Paul knew that the moment a Greek runner would think of the men behind him, the thud thud of their pounding feet, his speed would be slackened. So he presses home the lesson that when a child of God thinks of his past failures, the things he should have done and failed to do, the things he did which he should not have done, his onward progress in the Christian life is hindered. When a Christian has confessed & sought the gift of repentance & thus made things “right” with God and his fellow-man, (1Jn1:7,v8,v9) the proper technique is to completely forget them.

When the devil brings up your past, remind him of his future!

In his painting “An Allegory of Prudence,” the 16th-century Venetian artist Titian portrayed Prudence as a man with three heads. One head was of a youth facing the future, another of a mature man eyeing the present, and the third, a wise old man gazing at the past. Over their heads Titian wrote a Latin phrase that means, “From the example of the past, the man of the present acts prudently so as not to imperil the future.” We need that kind of wisdom to overcome the anxiety created by our past failures and the fear of repeating them in the future–an anxiety that can keep us from redeeming the time to the fullest right now.

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RESOLUTIONS OF
JONATHAN EDWARDS

The goals (resolutions) of the great preacher Jonathan Edward’s, written before Edward’s was 20 years old: ‘Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will.’

#1 – Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure… To do whatever I think to be my duty… for the good and advantage of mankind in general.

#4 – Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body less or more, but what tends to the glory of God… ’

#5 – Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.

#6 – Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.

#7 – Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

#28 – Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

#43 – Resolved, Never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.

#46 – Resolved, Never to allow the least measure of any fretting or uneasiness at my father or mother.

#70 – Resolved, (That) there be something of benevolence in all I speak. – (Edwards resolved to read these resolutions over once a week!).

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The great sixteenth-century reformer Philip Melanchthon kept a record of every wasted moment and took his list to God in confession at the end of each day. It is small wonder that God used him in such great ways.

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While all of our times are in God’s hands (Ps. 31:15), He wants us to walk wisely, redeeming the time, in accordance with His sovereign will. No matter who you are, if you walk with Christ and grow wise through His Word, He can use you greatly for His eternal purpose.

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The time is short!
If thou wouldst work for God it must be now;
If thou wouldst win the garland for thy brow,
Redeem the time.
With His reward
He comes; He tarries not; His day is near;
When men least look for Him will He be here;
Prepare for Him!
—Horatius Bonar

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Consider your ways

Haggai 1:7 Consider your ways – Command from the Lord of Hosts… Fix your thoughts upon them with diligence, earnestness, and heart application. Be honest with yourselves, serious and particular in the inquiry into your real character in the sight of God… God hath endowed us with the powers of recollection and reflection. By these we can bring the transactions of our whole lives into present view, and arrange the several actions of them in their proper order and colors. It is our wisdom to converse with our departed hours, that we may learn to redeem the time.

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A driver stopped his car at an intersection and waited for the green signal. When the green light came, he waited further to confirm it. That is, he waited until the light turned green a second time! After that, he waited still further until the green light flashed a third time, before he proceeded on his way. Absurd? Of course. No one would drive like that. But are there not Christians who live like that driver drove? They are so overcautious that they wait for signs from God, wait to reconfirm the signs, and then wait for an auspicious moment to act. They are waiting almost perpetually and can never redeem the time they wasted or the opportunities they lost. (1500 illustrations for biblical preaching)

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Letter from John Wesley – MY DEAR BETSY, March 23, 1775. I AM glad you have had an opportunity of spending a little time at L——, and with Miss B. This, I doubt not, has been a blessed means of increasing your spiritual strength. And I trust you will find more and more opportunity of using whatever strength you have, even at O——. Wherever the work of God revives, we are more particularly called to work together with him. Now be instant in season and out of season! Redeem the time! Buy up every opportunity. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening slack not thy hand; and God will give the increase! In a day or two I expect to embark. Possibly in autumn we may meet again; and, in the mean time, I am persuaded you will not forget. Yours affectionately.

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Ps 25:7 – Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; According to Thy lovingkindness remember Thou me, For Thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.

How, in answer to such a prayer as David’s, will man stand related to the follies and sins of his past life? He will not be entirely rid of their consequences, especially of their physical consequences. Nor will God cease to use the faultful past in the new man’s education. But He will never taunt him with the past. He wants to use the past only as a help, not as a sting. And into the heart there will come a tranquil rest, a deep peace, founded not upon hone of retrieving the past, for there may be little time left; but simply upon the conviction that God has taken the whole sadly confused and stained life into His own hands. And there will come a turning with fresh zest to redeem the time which remains. (Marvin R. Vincent, D. D.)

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The uncertainty of life (Thoughts on Eccl 8:8) – Autumn, with its tinted leaves, its slanting shadows, and brief sunshine, points out the same truth as the text (Ecc 8:8). Man is powerless–much as he might wish it–to check the fast falling shower of faded foliage, or to throw back the shadows of the sundial. The fortune of the world could not procure a moment’s respite from that silent and regular work of decay which is going on in the surrounding world. So, likewise, “No man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit.” Each one of us must gradually pass away from the visible universe. When that solemn moment arrives, there will be those who would long to retain us by their side–those who have yet to learn that the “communion of saints” is not broken by the accident of death. And yet it cannot be; we must let go our hold of the departing soul. Others will long and vainly struggle to remain behind themselves. As we contemplate the prospect of death, a new stimulus should be given to duty and action. For it has been well said, “Duty is done with all energy then only when we feel ‘the night cometh when no man can work’ in all its force.” Let me lead your thoughts then for a brief space in this direction. “Redeem the time.” This is the precept, the echo of a past inspiration, which the Holy Spirit of God would still sound in our ears as we look forward to the termination of present life. Spend the life in earnest, and as if the whole future depended upon it. Spend to-day as if there were no certain to-morrow. Be watchful about little things, and especially the brief moments of time. The few pence and the fragments of food have their value. (A. WilIiamson, M. A.)

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What would you change if this day were your last? Someone has wisely said,

“You should treat every day as if it’s your last one,
because one of these days you’re going to be right.”

There’s no getting around it. Whether our earthly life ends by accident, illness, the ravages of age, or our Lord’s return, one of these days will be our last. That’s why we should guard so carefully the things we do and the words we say. We ought to be tying up the loose ends of long-neglected matters by expressing our love and gratitude to others, by seeking reconciliation with an alienated friend, or by sharing the gospel with a neighbor.

Dr. Robert Morehead tells the story a young man from Rwanda who was forced by his tribe in 1980 to renounce Christ or face death. He refused to renounce Christ, and he was murdered on the spot. The night before he had written the following commitment which was found in his room: Can you make this kind of commitment for the Gospel of Christ and become a member of the Fellowship of the Unashamed?

I am a part of the fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit

Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has

been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow

down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense,

and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight

walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions,

mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or

popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised,

regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by

patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my

way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted,

or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the

presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the

pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I’ve preached up, prayed

up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a

disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop,

preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My

colors will be clear for “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the

power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..” (Romans 1:16)

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Adrian Rogers – I would to God that I could get you and your pastor to live in the eternal now. Cut yourself loose from yesterday. Last year, with its heartaches and its failures, is gone. Forget those things which are behind, confess them to the Lord, and bury them in the grave of God’s forgetfulness (Cut yourself loose from the past. Bury your failure in the grave of God’s forgetfulness, and let Him give you a brand new day). Tomorrow is a time nowhere but on the fool’s calendar. Stop saying, “If I had the time.” You do have the time; use it. And, if you’ve not accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, the Bible says, “Behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now is the time to be saved. Rogers, Adrian

John 9:4 “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

How important that you let prayer be the key that unlocks the door of the morning, that you begin your day with prayer. As the poet said, “Lean your arms upon the windowsill of Heaven, and gaze at the face of God” (paraphrase of Thomas Blake). As you greet the day, begin the day with prayer, spend enough time every day, in the morning, to get God’s will for your life. Prayer must be in the morning. There’s enough time in every day to do everything that God wants you to do and to do it gracefully. It’s an insult to God to say you don’t have enough time. If you don’t have enough time, you’re doing something God did not intend for you to do—either something that you’ve imposed upon yourself, or you’ve allowed others to impose upon you. So, what you must do in prayer every morning—the principle of prayer—is to get quiet before the Lord, and let God speak to your heart. Charles Hummel, called The Tyranny of the Urgent. It’s a great little book: The Tyranny of the Urgent. Do you know what our problems are, dear friend? We’re constantly having a battle between the important and the urgent.

Listen—in verse 16, he says, “Redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16)—that’s the promptness principle. In verse 17, he says, “Be… not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17)—that’s the prayer principle. Look in verse 18: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)—that’s the power principle. You see—the power principle is to do God’s will in the power of the Holy Spirit. Most of us don’t need to learn to work harder—we need to work with more power. We need to learn to work with more effectiveness

Time is the word “kairos.” Gal 6:10 use of kairos helps us understand the meaning… “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” So in Eph 5:16 Paul commands us to “make the most of the opportunity God gives us.”

We need to see time, not just as something that is passing, but you need to see time as an incredible opportunity. And, when you’re redeeming time, what you’re really redeeming is opportunity. What he is trying to tell us is how to live wise ways for evil days. The days are evil, so therefore, take advantage of every opportunity that God has given us. It takes such incredible willpower, such an incredible prioritizing of priorities, to see the difference between the urgent and the important. Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important things.

“Somewhere in Africa each morning, a gazelle and a lion wake up. The gazelle knows that if he cannot outrun the fastest lion, he will not make it. He will be dinner. The lion knows if he cannot outrun the slowest gazelle, he will starve. So both of them wake up running.” And, you know, we have to wake up running. Ah, it’s, it’s, there, there’s a race to run. And Satan, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And Satan is on our trail, and we can’t stop and become indolent.

Ps 90:10 The length of our days is seventy years– or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

the Bible says, “As your days are, so shall your strength be.” God gave that verse to the Israelites who were coming out of Egypt and going into Canaan, and He says, “As your days are, so shall your strength be.”

And how did they get to Canaan? They didn’t have a bus, they didn’t have an airplane, they didn’t have a stagecoach. They walked to Canaan. And you’re going to find out that the Christian life is, by and large, not all that romantic, not all that dramatic; it is dignity and drudgery put together. And, that, you need strength for that; I mean, just to live tomorrow in your office, amen? (amen). You know you do. Ha, ha, ha. This is, this is the walk. And that requires patience.

A snail started up the trunk of an apple tree. You know how slow a snail moves. A worm stuck, came out of a crevasse and said to the snail, “No need going up there. There’s no apples up there.” He said, “There will be when I get there”. Friend, just day by day by day being faithful.

Now let me just take two words in there and the word, first of all, is the word renew. The word renew is a Hebrew word, chalaph, and it literally means to change or exchange. When you wait upon the Lord, you exchange your strength. It’s like you taking off your coat and giving it to someone else, and he takes his coat and gives it to you. There is an exchange. You see, God says, “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” God’s strength.

God says in the Book of Ephesians, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” And the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.”

Devin Barber – Walking circumspectly is walking mindful of the circumstances and consequences. To correctly apply our knowledge of God’s word at every opportunity is to walk with that wisdom. We must all strive to spread the word, recognizing the opportunities that arise for us to do so, and capitalizing on each one… Each moment must be wisely used in service to God, because we will get no second chance at a missed opportunity or a wasted minute. (Christianity Magazine: November 1989, Volume 6, Number 11)

F Ferguson – We speak of time as past, present, and future; but what a mystery it is! The present moment is all of time that actually exists. All past time ends in the present moment. All future time begins in the same point. To use the experience of the past so as to shape the future aright is to redeem the time. This gives to every moment of time a tremendous importance. It makes the thought of it the most practical of all things. (Biblical Illustrator-Revelation 1:4–9)

Erwin Lutzer – Remember that the Lord will not say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, for thou hast watched 5,312 hours of television!” We only get one shot at life; when a single hour is gone, it can never be retrieved. So we must ask: How do I want to spend the few short years and hours on this planet, knowing that I will have to give an account to our Lord? (Who are you to judge? learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths, and lies)

Joni Eareckson Tada’s prayer – “God, I turn today over in my hands and ask you to help me to pay attention to what you have for me in it, not for the future but for right now.”

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A Williamson on The uncertainty of life

Autumn, with its tinted leaves, its slanting shadows, and brief sunshine, points out the same truth as the text. Man is powerless–much as he might wish it–to check the fast falling shower of faded foliage, or to throw back the shadows of the sundial. The fortune of the world could not procure a moment’s respite from that silent and regular work of decay which is going on in the surrounding world. So, likewise, “No man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit.” Each one of us must gradually pass away from the visible universe. When that solemn moment arrives, there will be those who would long to retain us by their side–those who have yet to learn that the “communion of saints” is not broken by the accident of death. And yet it cannot be; we must let go our hold of the departing soul. Others will long and vainly struggle to remain behind themselves. As we contemplate the prospect of death, a new stimulus should be given to duty and action. For it has been well said, “Duty is done with all energy then only when we feel ‘the night cometh when no man can work’ in all its force.” Let me lead your thoughts then for a brief space in this direction.

“Redeem the time.”

This is the precept, the echo of a past inspiration, which the Holy Spirit of God would still sound in our ears as we look forward to the termination of present life. Spend the life in earnest, and as if the whole future depended upon it. Spend today as if there were no certain tomorrow. Be watchful about little things, and especially the brief moments of time. The few pence and the fragments of food have their value. (Biblical Illustrator-Ecclesiastes 8:8)

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AN APPOINTMENT
YOU WON’T MISS!

Warren Wiersbe – How long will the rest of our lives be? We don’t know; nobody knows. We may have many years, or we may have many days. We could be called home to glory before the day ends. We don’t know. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27). It is an appointment, not an accident, and God knows when it is going to be. When you are redeemed, you are set free from bondage to the old life. This is why Ephesians 5:16 tells us to redeem the time. Don’t live the rest of your life the way you used to live. You have been set free from that. “The old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17). Therefore, redeem the time, buy up the opportunity, make the most of the rest of your life. I would like to apply that, if I may. Perhaps you are born again, but you are following the traditions of other people. You are doing what everybody else does. Why don’t you ask God what He wants you to do with the rest of your life? Perhaps you are in the wrong school, and you ought to be in another school training to serve God. Perhaps you are pursuing the wrong career. Perhaps you are a successful businessman, but God is calling you into His service. You could use your experience and your gifts to glorify God in full-time Christian service.

If you knew you had only ten years left to live
or one year left to live,
how would it change your life?

We should be living each day
as though it were our last.

We are redeemed from bondage to sin; we are redeemed from bondage to the old life. We should live wholly for God. (Key Words of the Christian Life)

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I wasted time; now time doth waste me.—William Shakespeare

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Be not afraid, oh, duty-neglecting Christian, to rise up with a fixed resolve and retrace your steps and say : “I will redeem the time. I will renew my vows with Jesus.” (George Truett – A Quest for Souls)

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Lord, for tomorrow and its needs,

I do not pray;

Keep me, my God, from stain of sin,

Just for today!

Now, set a seal upon my lips,

For this I pray;

Keep me from wrong, or idle words,

Just for today!

Let me be slow to do my will,

Prompt to obey;

And keep me, guide me, use me, Lord,

Just for today!

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The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, “Ordinary people think merely how they shall spend their time; a man of intellect tries to use it.” It’s a wise saying, but we might want to change the adjective their. Our time is not really ours. It is God’s!

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Many can relate to the cartoon that showed the boss leaning over an employee’s desk and shouting, “Of course I want it today. If I had wanted it tomorrow, I would have given it to you tomorrow.”

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TOO BUSY – Too busy to read the Bible, too busy to wait and pray! Too busy to speak out kindly to someone by the way! Too busy to care and struggle, to think of the life to come, Too busy building mansions to plan for the heavenly Home. Too busy for all that is holy on earth beneath the sky, Too busy to serve the Master, but—not too busy to die!—Anon.

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Before World War II northern Kentucky was in the Central time zone. A redrawing of the map put this area in the Eastern time zone along with its neighbors across the Ohio River in Cincinnati. Then came Daylight Saving Time that put them, for the summer months, another hour faster. One farmer stubbornly refused to change his clock. He remained two hours behind everyone else, declaring that that was “God’s time” and people should not be messing with it. However we measure time, all of our time is truly God’s time.

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In Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip, a little girl says, “Grandma is mad at me. She said it’s inexcusable to be six weeks late with a ‘thank you’ note. I didn’t think six weeks was that long to a grandmother.”

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Learn from yesterday;
Live for today;
Hope for tomorrow.

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ETERNITY will be appreciated only in the measure that we have rightly handled TIME!—F. King

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May not life be filled fuller of blessings, if only we know how to redeem the time, and appreciate the opportunity to perceive the God that is near us? – H. W. Beecher

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“We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work” (see John 9:1–12). This tremendous passage inspired Elton Trueblood to entitle his autobiography While It Is Day. This eighth-generation Quaker, distinguished author, pastor, and professor took seriously John’s admonition. To read the life of Trueblood is to become better acquainted with one who values time and the relevance of the gospel. He is a confirmed believer in discovering one’s prime time and using it for first-class work.


YOU’RE NOT HOME YET – The idea that we are not home yet is one we all would do well to keep foremost in our mind as illustrated by the true story of Henry C. Morrison a little known “hardworking farmer” (2Ti 2:6note) in God’s missionary fields, toiling some forty years in the difficult fields of Africa. As the story is told, he became sick and had to return home to America, and as providence would have it, the boat he returned on was also carrying a well known guest. As the great ocean liner docked in New York Harbor there was a great crowd gathered to greet President Teddy Roosevelt who received a grand welcome-home-party after his widely publicized African Safari. Two men in Africa, one hunting to kill wild animals, the other seeking to save wicked men! Resentment seized the “hardworking farmer”, Henry Morrison, and he turned to God saying “I have come back home after all this time and service to the church and there is no one, not even one person here to welcome me home.” Then a still small voice (cp Elijah’s experience = 1Ki 19:12131415ff) came to Morrison reminding him “You’re not home yet.” Our ultimate harvest is yet future and our future reward is “out of this world!” Ready to be revealed in the last time(1Pe 1:5note)! Praise the Lord.

Live today for that great tomorrow!


A study revealed that an average seventy-year-old man has spent twenty-four years sleeping, fourteen years working, eight years in amusements, six years at the dinner table, five years in transportation, four years in conversation, three years in education, and two years in studying and reading. His other four years were spent in miscellaneous pursuits. Of those four years, he spent forty-five minutes in church on Sundays, and five minutes were devoted to prayer each day. This adds up to a not at all impressive total of five months that he gave to God over the seventy years of his life. Even if this man had been a faithful churchgoer who attended Sunday school and three one-hour services per week, he would have spent only one year and nine months in church! If you have a question about the above arithmetic, sit down and figure out how you have been using your time. How large a portion of it is for the things related to God? When you finish this exercise, ponder what Jesus said: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?…” (Matt. 16:26, NIV).

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Time is what we want the most but what we use the worst.—William Penn

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Time is God’s gift to mortal man.
It is that fleeting little span
Between our birth and heaven’s door,
Where we begin God’s ever more
When time is o’er.
How then, should we our time employ?
In service or in passing joy?
Can we afford to throw away
And squander time in passing play—
O men of clay?
—Neighbor

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It’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it.
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it.

A Tiny Little Minute
Just a tiny little minute.
Sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me;
Didn’t ask it,. didn’t choose it.
Yet, it’s up to me to use it;
Must give account if I abuse it.
Just a little minute.

I have only just a minute
Just sixty seconds in it;
Forced upon me—can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it
It’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give account if I abuse it;
Just a tiny little minute
But eternity is in it.

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Twenty-four hours in the day, 1,440 minutes in the day, 86,000 seconds in the day—and every one of them is a precious gift from God.

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Robert G Lee – If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,400, that carried no balance from day to day, allowed you to keep no cash in your account, and finally every evening canceled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. what would you do? Draw out every cent—of course! Well, you have such a bank and its name is “Time.” Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it rules off—as lost—whatever of this you had failed to invest to good purpose. It carries no balances. It allows no balances. It allows no overdrafts. Each day the bank named “Time” opens a new account with you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits the loss is yours.

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Somebody once thought it would be a wonderful thing if every day of our lives each of us had $1,440 in the bank that we had to spend before the end of the day—none of it could be carried over to the following day. Each of us does have 1,440 minutes every day. Could they be spent in a better way?

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O God, Our Help in Ages Past
Time, like an ever-rolling stream, soon bears us all away.
We fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
—Isaac Watts

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Time wasted is existence; time used, is life.

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Oswald Chambers – We can choke God’s word with a yawn; we can hinder the time that should be spent with God by remembering we have other things to do. “I haven’t time!” Of course you have time! Take time, strangle some other interests and make time to realize that the centre of power in your life is the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

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If you want to kill time, why not try working it to death? —E. C. Mckenzie

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There is the old proverb, “One has to spend money to make money.” Likewise, “One must spend time in order to save time.”—James Hastings

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Time is what we want most, but what, alas, we use worst, and for which God will surely most strictly reckon with us when time shall be no more.—William Penn

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LIFE’S COUNTDOWN – Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. —Colossians 4:5

If we live 65 years, we have about 600,000 hours at our disposal. Assuming we are 18 when we complete high school, we have 47 years, or nearly 412,000 hours to live after graduation.

If we spend 8 hours a day sleeping, 8 hours for personal, social, and recreational activities, and 8 hours for working, that amounts to 137,333 hours in each category. When we think of the time we have to work and play in terms of hours, it doesn’t seem like much. And when seen in the light of eternity, it’s but a fleeting moment. How important, therefore, that we spend our waking hours wisely!

D. J. De Pree, a former member of the RBC Board of Directors who lived to be almost 100 years old, had for many years been calculating his age in terms of days. If you asked him, “How old are you?” he answered immediately with the number of days. He based this practice on Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Literally counting his days reminded him of the swift passage of time and the need to live with eternity’s values in view.

The hours, days, and years are here and gone. So whether we count them or not, let’s be sure to make them count—for Christ.

God set a goal, yet gave the choice
To mortals how time may be spent,
Admonishing that worth, not length,
Values time’s accomplishment. —Mortenson

Don’t just spend time; invest it.

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Take time to work—it is the price of success.
Take time to think—it is the source of power.
Take time to play—it is the secret of youth.
Take time to read—it is the foundation of knowledge.
Take time to worship—it is the highway of reverence.
Take time to help and enjoy friends—it is the source of happiness.
Take time to love—it is the one sacrament of life.
Take time to dream—it hitches the soul to the stars.
Take time to laugh—it is the music of the soul.
Take time to pray—it helps bring Christ near.

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John Erskine, the well-known author, professor, and lecturer, once wrote that he learned the most valuable lesson of his life when he was fourteen. His piano teacher asked him how much he practiced and how long at a stretch. The boy replied that he practiced for an hour or more at a time. “Don’t do that,” warned the teacher. “When you grow up, time won’t come in long stretches. Practice in minutes, whenever you can find them—five or ten minutes before school, after lunch, between chores. Spread the practice throughout the day, and music will become part of your life.” Erskine stated that the observance of this advice enabled him to live a comparatively complete life as a creative writer, outside his regular duties as an instructor. He wrote most of Helen of Troy, his most famous work, on streetcars while commuting between his home and the university.

How can you make good use of your spare moments? Consider carrying a Bible or a devotional booklet with you. Use the time to read, or to pray, or to write a note of encouragement or admonition to some needy soul.

Beware of wasting the present. Instead of killing time, redeem your spare moments today.

Redeem the time! God only knows
How soon our little life may close,
With all its pleasures and its woes,
Redeem the time! —Anon.

Wasting the gift of time insults the giver of time.

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Life is a book of Volumes three
The Past—the Present—and the Yet-to-be:
The First is written and laid away,
The Second we are writing day by day;
The next and the last of the volumes Three—
Is locked from sight—God holds the key.

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Time management consultant Antonio Herrera asked the participants in a seminar, “If we had to buy time, would there be any difference in how we would spend it? Would the days of our lives be used more wisely?” He asked, “What if you had to pay in advance one hundred dollars an hour for the time allotted to you? Would you waste it?” The answer should be obvious.

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Tis not for man to trifle; life is brief,
And sin is here.
Our age is but the falling of a leaf,
A dropping tear.
We have no time to sport away the hours;
All must be earnest in the world like ours.
Not many lives, but only one have we,
Only, only one.
How earnest should that one life be,
That narrow span;
Day after day spent in blessed toil.
-Horatius Bonar

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I have only just a minute, only 60 seconds in it;
Forced upon me; can’t refuse it; didn’t seek it, didn’t chose it.
But it’s up to me just how I use it.
I must suffer if I lose it, give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.

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Nobody on his deathbed ever said:
“I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

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THE NEW YEAR – Let the year be given to God in its every moment! The year is made up of minutes: let these be watched as having been dedicated to God! It is in the sanctification of the small that hallowing of the large is secure.—G. Campbell Morgan,

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Have you seen the television commercial for a telephone company that shows a drive-through window such as you would see at a fast-food restaurant? Over the window are the words: TIME “R” US. One customer drives up and says, “Gimme a couple of seconds.” Another one drives up and with great weariness says, “Can I have another day?” It’s a great commercial, because we can all identify with it. —Donald W. McCullough, “Now is the Time,” Preaching Today,

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No time for God,
What fools we are to clutter up
And leave without heart’s gate
The Lord of life, and life itself—
Our God.
No time for God?
As soon to say, no time
To eat or sleep or love or die.
Take time for God
Or you will dwarf your soul.
And when the angel death
Comes knocking at your door,
A poor misshapen thing you’ll be
To step into eternity.
No time for God?
Some day you’ll lay aside
This mortal self and make your way
To worlds unknown
And when you meet Him face to face
Will He—should He—
Have time for you?
—Trott

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It has been said that it is not the length of the story that makes it worth reading, and it is not the length of a life that makes it worth living. Some of the greatest stories are the parables of Jesus. They are very short. Some of the greatest men and women died young but led useful lives.

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John Piper – The clock never stops ticking. Nothing but God is more persistent than the passing of time. You can’t stop it or slow it. It is sovereign over all human resistance. It will not be hindered or altered or made to cease. It is utterly oblivious to young and old, pain and pleasure, crying and laughing. Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes a difference to the unstoppable, unchangeable tick, tick, ticking of time. Anna Akhmatova, a Russian poet, said that war and plague pass, but no one can cope with “the terror that is named the flight of time” (Quoted in D. M. Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn [New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998], 270). (A Godward Life – Part 2)

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Warren Wiersbe on 1Pe 3:14-15 – Instead of experiencing fear as we face the enemy (1Pe 3:14note), we can experience blessing, if Jesus Christ is Lord in our hearts (1Pe 3:15note). When Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives, each crisis becomes an opportunity for witness. We are “always prepared to give an answer.” Every Christian should be able to give a reasoned defense of his hope in Christ, especially in hopeless situations. A crisis (Ed: see note below on “Opportunity”) creates the opportunity for witness when a believer behaves with faith and hope, because the unbelievers will then sit up and take notice. (Pause for Power: A Year in the Word)

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Opportunity – The Chinese symbols for “crisis” are identical to those for the word “opportunity.” Literally translated it reads “Crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind.” Billy Graham said that “Today’s world is said to be multiplying crises all around us. But we must never forget that, for the gospel, each crisis is an opportunity.” (Caveat: Note that this illustration is popular but may not be accurate – see Chinese word for crisis).

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Chuck Swindoll – We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations (Ed: Crisis).

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F B Meyer – Our Daily Walk – THE WISE USE OF TIME

“Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”– Eph 5:15-16

GOD DESIRES to give each life its full development. Of course, there are exceptions; for instance, in some cases the lessons and discipline of life are crowded into a very brief space of time, and the soul is summoned to the Presence-chamber of eternity. But, on the whole, each human life is intended to touch all the notes of life’s organ. There is an appointed time when it shall be born or die, shall weep or laugh, shall get or lose, shall have halcyon peace or storm cast skies. These times have been fixed for you in God’s plan; do not try and anticipate them, or force the pace, but wait thou the Lord’s leisure. In due time all will work out for thy good and for His glory. Say to Him” “All my times are in Thy hand.”

Times and seasons succeed one another very quickly. Milton, in his glorious sonnet on the Flight of Time, bids her call on the leaden-stepping hours, referring to the swing of the pendulum; and, indeed, as we look back on our past life it will seem as though each experience was only for a moment, and then had vanished, never to return. We are reminded of the cobbler, who, as he sat in his kitchen, thought that the pendulum of his clock, when it swing to the left, said For ever; and to the right, Where? For ever–where? For ever–where? He got up and stopped it, but found that, although he had stopped the questioner, he had not answered the question. Nor could he find rest until, on his knees, he had been able to face the question of the Eternal, and reply to it.

We must be on the alert to meet the demand of every hour. “Mine hour is not yet come,” said our Lord. He waited patiently until He heard the hours strike in heaven, and then drawing the strength appropriate to its demand, He went forth to meet it. Each time and season is kept by the Father in His own hand. He opens and none shuts; He shuts and none opens. But in that same hand are the needed supplies of wisdom, grace, and power. As the time, so is the strength. No time of sighing, trial, temptation, or bereavement is without its special and adapted supplies. Take what is needed from His hand, and go forth to play the part for which the hour calls.

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John Piper writes

The clock never stops ticking. Nothing but God is more persistent than the passing of time. You can’t stop it or slow it. It is sovereign over all human resistance. It will not be hindered or altered or made to cease. It is utterly oblivious to young and old, pain and pleasure, crying and laughing. Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes a difference to the unstoppable, unchangeable tick, tick, ticking of time. Anna Akhmatova, a Russian poet, said that war and plague pass, but no one can cope with “the terror that is named the flight of time” (Quoted in D. M. Thomas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn [New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998], 270). I have an unusual habit when I go to bed. After Noël and I pray, I crawl into bed and situate myself on my left side, facing the red glow of the radio-alarm-clock numbers on the bedside table. I pull my hands up in front of me at about face level and wait for a few minutes in stillness, usually praying silently with gratitude for the wife who lies behind me, and for my children, and for the ministry God has given me. Then I take my right hand and curl my fingers around my left wrist and find my pulse. I watch the red minute number until it changes, and then I begin counting. One… two… three… When the number changes and one minute has passed, I stop. I began this peculiar habit out of the vain notion that if my heart rate were very slow, from good exercise (or genes), it may mean that my heart is healthy and I will live long. Such is the silliness of human thought. The effect has been otherwise. Now, as I count the beats, it is not the rate that fixes my attention, but the succession. One beat, then another, then another, on through the night, about twenty-one thousand times while I sleep. The effect of this little exercise is that I fall asleep most nights, lulled by the steady rhythm of my heart and with a sober sense of my very fragile existence. Any one of those beats could be my last. I cannot will my heart to beat one more time. If it stops, it stops. I and my time on earth are over. “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Time is precious. We are fragile. Life is short. Eternity is long. Shall we not then enter on every venture with a vigilance like that of the young Jonathan Edwards when he wrote his fifth resolution: “Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can;” which is really a subpoint of his sixth resolution: “Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1, ed. Edward Hickman [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1974], xx). Yes, this can become compulsive and unhealthy But for those of us who need to hear it as an antidote to squandering the preciousness of irretrievable time, let us hear it. The church I serve is generous to me beyond all my deserving. As I write these words I am on a one-month leave to complete this book. I enter the month with a sense that every minute counts. O to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me. Three texts resound in my ears. 1) “Redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16, KJV). 2) “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2). 3) “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, author’s translation). 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, KJV). And I commend this promise to you. No minute need be lived in vain. Eternity will render it significant if lived in faith for the glory of God. In the end we rest in this: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15). (A Godward Life – Part 2)

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“MAY I NEVER LOITER
ON MY HEAVENLY JOURNEY”

David Brainerd (who died at age 29) called his passion for more holiness and more usefulness a kind of “pleasing pain.” “When I really enjoy God, I feel my desires of him the more insatiable, and my thirstings after holiness the more unquenchable; … Oh, for holiness! Oh, for more of God in my soul! Oh, this pleasing pain! It makes my soul press after God … Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey (p. 186)!” He was gripped with by the apostolic admonition: “Redeem the time for the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16) He embodied the counsel: “Let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due time we shall reap if we do not faint.” (Gal. 6:9) He strove to be, as Paul says, “abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).” {John Piper} (Piper’s book on Brainerd is entitled “May I Never Loiter on My Heavenly Journey”)

Brainerd wrote: Oh, how precious is time; and how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misimproved it or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity.

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John Piper – When Jonathan Edwards was a student at Yale 270 years ago he wrote 70 resolutions to stir him up to run his race. One of them catches the spirit of verse 24. He wrote: “Resolved: to live with all my might while I do live.” “With all my might.” It’s the practical outworking or the great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The New Testament is full of ways to say this. “Strive to enter by the narrow gate” (Luke 13:24). “Labor for the food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27). “Be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the word of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). “Let us not be weary in well-doing for we shall reap if we do not faint” (Galatians 6:9). “Redeem the time for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15). “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 3:12). “Christ gave himself to purify for himself a people zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). “Show earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope to the end” (Hebrews 6:11). “Love one another earnestly from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). Strive, labor, abound, be zealous, be earnest. Run like the winner runs. Be done with half-heartedness and laziness and lukewarmness. Christ has laid hold on you for this very thing. You do not do it in your own strength. You strive and labor and abound and love in the strength that he supplies so that in everything he gets the glory (1 Peters 4:11). {Piper, John},

On the one hand the text says, Watch carefully how you live, that is, be alert, be vigilant. Apply wisdom to redeem the time. That opportunity will never come again. The days are evil; opposition is great; be wise as serpents. Understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t surrender your powers of judgment to alcohol. These words ring with a sense of urgency. They are like the words of a platoon leader addressing his unit just before they enter combat. The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and, even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. “Watch your step; be smart; don’t miss your opportunity; keep yourself lean for the battle!” {Piper, John}

Edwards exhorts us to redeem the time and to do what our hand finds to do with all our might. His 6th resolution was simple and powerful: “Resolved: to live with all my might while I do live.” Resolution #5 was similar: “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.” He was a great believer in doing what you could in the time you have, rather than putting things off till a more convenient time. {JP}

Spurgeon on Time…

I remember hearing an old lady say to a man who said that he had no time, “Well, you have got all the time there is.” I thought that was a very conclusive answer. You have had the time, and you still have all the time there is—why do you not use it? Nobody has more than twenty-four hours in a day, and you have no less.

Do not think that you are stable things; fancy not that you are standing still; you are not. Your pulses each moment beat the funeral marches to the tomb. You are chained to the chariot of rolling time—there is no bridling the steeds, or leaping from the chariot; you are constantly in motion.

If you have not the time, God gave it to you, and you must have misspent it.

It is a grand thing to have faith for the present, not bemoaning the past, nor dreaming of some future faith which we hope may yet be ours. The present hour is the only time we really possess.

Be parsimonious of minutes now, though you may have been, at one time, prodigal of years.

Had we plenty of time, we might try two or three schemes at once, though even then we should most probably fail for want of concentrating our energies; but as we have very little time, we had better economize it by attending to one thing.

Life is very short, but a great deal may be done. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in three years, saved the world. Some of his followers in three years have been the means of saving many and many a soul. It was a short life that Luther had to do his work in. If I remember rightly, he was hard upon fifty before he began to preach the truth at all, a hopeful sign for some of you who have wasted your young days; so there have been men of sixty that have yet achieved a life’s work before they had slept and gone their way. After all, time is long or short as you like to make it so.

Eph 5:1517 – “Look carefully then how you walk… Do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.” So together these verses call us to use our minds in careful thought. Look carefully! Know yourself, know your enemy, know your commander, know the situation, apply your mind to understand what the Lord wills in this crucial time. This is what I mean by analysis. It is the use of the mind to scrutinize, to examine, to sort out distinctions and seek relationships and patterns and to draw conclusions and inferences. {Piper, John},

“Since the days are evil be alert how you can snatch up every opportunity for good.” You can see it in verse 17: “Don’t be foolish. Apply your mind. Think through what the will of the Lord is.” In other words, the Christian life is a vigilant life, defensively guarding itself from the subtleties of the evil days and offensively redeeming the time to strike for love and righteousness again and again. We are a vigilant people at war with unbelief and evil.

The glue that holds them all together is the work of the Holy Spirit: “Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit!” And God will uncover for you

• the mystery of gratitude for all things, even when the days are evil,

• the pleasures of exultation even in the midst of analysis,

• and the peace that passes all understanding even in the vigilance of our daily conflict with evil.

Urgency and gratitude. Glued together in one heart by the work of the Holy Spirit. This morning we have been heavy on the side of urgency, analysis, and vigilance. {Piper,

Life is a series of never to be repeated opportunities!

The opportunity will never come again. Days are evil. Opposition is great. Stakes are high. Be wise as serpents, innocent as doves. Piper dramatically portrays our engagement in making the most of our time “The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. Watch your step. Be smart. Don’t miss your opportunity. Keep yourself lean for the battle!”

In addition, this verb was used of ransoming or redeeming slaves from the market place, and used by Paul to describe Christ Who “redeemed us from the curse of the Law” by paying the only acceptable price, His life, His blood securing our eternal life, eternally covered by His blood.

Paul used this same verb in Col 4:5 calling for all believers to “Conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of (redeeming, “buying up”) the opportunity.”

Can you buy time? Yes and no. Today is the only “today” you will every have. You cannot buy another “today.” But you can purchase or buy time, by making the most of your opportunities. Who could you have prayed for today? Who came in your office discouraged and could have used an encouraging word, perhaps even a comforting Bible passage?

Time: A creation of God which marks the duration of life and which is measured by changes in the created order. The flow of time is directed by God who appoints particular “times” within his unfolding purposes. Because human life is brief, time should be used properly, making the most of every opportunity. (Manser, Martin H., Dictionary of Bible Themes)

The NT focuses on the fact that all time finds its focus and fulfillment in Christ. His coming transforms every moment into opportunity; and when he returns, the fulfillment of every promise God ever made will be achieved. How important, then, that we use our moments of time wisely, sensing the eternal significance that our relationship with Jesus brings to all time. (New international encyclopedia of Bible words)

William MacDonald:

“Redeeming the time.” (Eph. 5:16)

In a day when men of the world are becoming increasingly allergic to work, Christians must make the most of every passing moment. It is a sin to waste time.

Voices from every age testify to the importance of diligent labor. The Savior Himself said, “I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

Thomas a Kempis wrote, ‘“Never be idle or vacant; be always reading or writing or praying or meditating or employed in some useful labor for the common good.”

When asked the secret of his success as an interpreter of the Word, G. Campbell Morgan said, “Work—hard work—and again, work!”

We should never forget that when the Lord Jesus came into the world, He served as a carpenter. The greater part of His life was spent in the shop in Nazareth.

Paul was a tentmaker. He considered it an important part of his ministry.

It is a mistake to think that work is a result of the entrance of sin. Before sin entered, Adam was placed in the garden to dress it and to keep it (Gen. 2:15). The curse involved the toil and sweat that accompany work (Gen. 3:19). Even in heaven there will be work, for “his servants shall serve him” (Rev. 22:3).

Work is a blessing. Through it we find fulfillment of our need for creativity. The mind and body function best when we work diligently. When we are usefully occupied, we enjoy greater protection from sin, because “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do” (I. Watts). Thomas Watson said, “Idleness tempts the devil to tempt.” Honest, diligent, faithful work is a vital part of our Christian testimony. And the results of our labor may outlive us. As someone has said, “Everyone owes it to himself to provide himself with some useful occupation while his body is lying in the grave.” And William James said, “The great use of a life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” (Truths to Live By-Daily Devotional)

When I was a little boy I used to pray a simple prayer “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

I have only just a minute
Just sixty seconds in it;
Forced upon me—can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it
It’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give account if I abuse it;
Just a tiny little minute
But eternity is in it.

John Piper writes “Time is precious. We are fragile. Life is short. Eternity is long. Shall we not then enter on every venture with a vigilance like that of the young Jonathan Edwards when he wrote his fifth resolution: “Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can;” which is really a subpoint of his sixth resolution: “Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1, ed. Edward Hickman [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1974], xx). Yes, this can become compulsive and unhealthy But for those of us who need to hear it as an antidote to squandering the preciousness of irretrievable time, let us hear it. The church I serve is generous to me beyond all my deserving. As I write these words I am on a one-month leave to complete this book. I enter the month with a sense that every minute counts. O to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me. Three texts resound in my ears. 1) “Redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16, KJV). 2) “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2). 3) “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, author’s translation).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, KJV). And I commend this promise to you. No minute need be lived in vain. Eternity will render it significant if lived in faith for the glory of God. In the end we rest in this: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15). (A Godward Life – Part 2)

Time management consultant Antonio Herrera asked the participants in a seminar, “If we had to buy time, would there be any difference in how we would spend it? Would the days of our lives be used more wisely?” He asked, “What if you had to pay in advance one hundred dollars an hour for the time allotted to you? Would you waste it?” The answer should be obvious.

Pause and make a list of the things you value most in your life. Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc would be at the top of the list. But did you list “time?” Asked what he would do if he knew Christ would return in three days, George Whitefield replied, “I would do just what I have scheduled to do.” God by Your Spirit make of imitators of such men. Amen

When as a child, I laughed and wept,

Time crept;

When as a youth, I dreamed and talked,

Time walked;

When I became a full-grown man,

Time ran;

When older still I daily grew,

Time flew;

Soon I shall find in traveling on,

Time gone.

The Christian should treasure every second of time, savoring the moments for the glory of his Lord. These “few precious days,” to quote a phrase from a song, are but a prelude to eternity.

TIME IS SIGNIFICANT because it is so rare. It is completely irretrievable. You can never repeat it or relive it. There is no such thing as a literal instant replay. That appears only on film. It travels alongside us every day, yet it has eternity wrapped up in it. Although this is true, time often seems relative, doesn’t it? For example, two weeks on a vacation is not at all like two weeks on a diet. Also, some people can stay longer in an hour than others can in a week! Ben Franklin said of time, “ … that is the stuff life is made of.” Time forms life’s building blocks. The philosopher William James once said, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” —Lloyd Cory, Quote Unquote

Instead of spending our lives or wasting our lives, we must “invest our lives” in those things that are eternal! The world speaks of spending time, while Paul commands us to buy time. Indeed, time should not be spent, it should be invested in the kingdom of God.

Where did we come up with this concept of “spare time,” anyway? Is there any time for which we aren’t accountable to God? Is there any time during which God doesn’t care what you are doing? No Christian has ever had spare time. You may have spare time from labor or necessity, you may stop working and refresh yourself, but no Christian ever had time off from living like a Christian.—William Law

Warren Wiersbe on Psalm 90:12 – We live a day at a time. Usually, we don’t number our days; we number our years. When you have a birthday and someone asks how old you are, you tell them your age in the number of years. But we’d better number our days, because we live a day at a time. “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). God has ordained that the entire universe functions a day at a time. We live from the heart. “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We need to take care of the heart. That’s why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it spring the issues of life.” What is in your heart will direct your life. We also live by God’s wisdom. Wisdom is knowing and having discernment, so that we can apply the truth of the Word of God at the right time, in the right way, with the right motive. Wisdom comes from the Word of God and from getting to know Him and ourselves better. Moses gives the secret of making life count–live it a day at a time. You need God’s help to apply His Word to your life. Live as though this may be your last day. Ask God for the wisdom you need and apply it by faith. (Prayer, Praise and Promises)

Wasting time is really wasting a life. One thing we cannot recycle is wasted time.

Counting time is not nearly so important as making time count.

Don’t just mark time; use time to make your mark.

Time is a little chunk of eternity that God has given us.

The Lord wants our precious time—not our spare time.

Time passes quickly. We cannot buy it. We can do nothing but make good use of it.

Time flies; but remember, you are the navigator.

Lost time is never found. And when you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection. Horace Mann said it this way “Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.”

Time is a precious gift of God, so precious that it is He only gives in the smallest possible increments—moment by moment.’

Vance Havner – We ought to watch and pray because of the shortness of the time, the seriousness of the hour, and the shallowness of our nature.

A converted Hindu who had been given a Bible and a clock said, “The clock will tell me how time goes, and the Bible will tell me how to redeem it.”

Most time is wasted, not in hours, but in minutes. A bucket with a small hole in the bottom gets just as empty as a bucket that is deliberately kicked over. Paul Meyer

The chief value of an anniversary is to call us to greater faithfulness in the time that is left. – William Manning

Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.—Will Rogers

Time is life—nothing more, nothing less. The way you spend your hours and your days is the way you spend your life.—John Boykin

Our greatest danger in life is in permitting the urgent things to crowd out the important. Charles Hummel (Tyranny of the Urgent)

Asked what he would do if he knew Christ would return in three days, George Whitefield replied, “I would do just what I have scheduled to do.”

Pause and make a list of the things you value most in your life. Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc would be at the top of the list. But did you list “time?”

Only eternal values can give meaning to temporal ones. Time must be the servant of eternity. Erwin Lutzer

The clock of life is wound but once,

And no man has the power

To say just when the hands will stop;

At late, or early hour.

Now is the only time we own

to do His precious will,

Do not wait until tomorrow;

For the clock may then be still.

-Anon.

Instead of counting the days,

make your days count.

Swindoll – I’D LIKE TO PLAY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE and tell you how to waste your time. Five proven ideas come immediately to mind: First, worry a lot. Start worrying early in the morning and intensify your anxiety as the day passes. Second, make hard-and-fast predictions. For example, one month before his July 1975 disappearance, Jimmy Hoffa announced: “I don’t need bodyguards.” Third, fix your attention on getting rich. You’ll get a lot of innovative ideas from the secular bookshelves (I counted fourteen books on the subject last time I was in a bookstore), plus you’ll fit right in with most of the hype pouring out of entrepreneurial seminars and high-pressure sales meetings. Fourth, compare yourself with others. Now, here’s another real time-waster. If it’s physical fitness you’re into, comparing yourself with Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jane Fonda ought to keep you busy. Fifth, lengthen your list of enemies. If there’s one thing above all others that will keep your wheels spinning, it’s perfecting your skill at the Blame Game. Put these five surefire suggestions in motion and you will set new records in wasting valuable time.

We are to redeem the time because we ourselves are redeemed. Richard Chester

There is no time after time, but there is an eternity.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Indeed, let the redeemed of the Lord do so (redeem the time)!

Counting time is not as important as making time count.

Time is but the fringe of eternity. Anon.

We dare not waste time since we are living for and in eternity now. An hour lost is never found.

The greatest use of time is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

Eternity will reveal whether we have made the right use of time.

What we weave in time we wear in eternity. Anon.

“You can tie a knot in time that you cannot untie in all eternity.”

Time is not a utility, it is an opportunity. Edward Norman

The less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in.

The great weight of eternity hangs upon the small wire of time. Thomas Brooks

Time is not yours to dispose of as you please; it is a glorious talent that men must be accountable for as well as any other talent. Thomas Brooks

It is difficult for me to understand how an intelligent person can spend all of time building for this world and have no time for the future world. Billy Graham

Eternity depends upon this moment. Thomas Manton

We give so little thought to the fact that God made time as a preparation for eternity,

God hath given man a short time here upon earth, and yet upon this short time eternity depends. Jeremy Taylor

Right now counts for ever. R. C. Sproul

Kill time and you murder opportunity. Lost time is never found. Time can be wasted, but it can never be re-cycled. To waste time is to squander a gift from God.

A man has no time for which he is not accountable to God. If his very diversions are not governed by reason and religion he will one day suffer for the time he has spent in them. Thomas Watson

What is past cannot be recalled; what is future cannot be insured. Stephen Charnock

It is better to lose anything than to lose time; we can recover lost money, but time is irrecoverable. Chrysostom

Know the value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every minute of it.—Philip Chesterfield

No time like the present.

Isaac Watts

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly forgotten, as a dream

Dies at the opening day.

Time is not a commodity that can be stored for future use. It must be invested hour by hour, or else it is gone for ever. Thomas Edison

One today is worth two tomorrows. Benjamin Franklin

We live by demands when we should live by priorities. J. A. Motyer

Give me a Christian that counts his time more precious than gold. Joseph Alleine

Life is too short for us to do everything we want to do; but it is long enough for us to do everything God wants us to do. Anon. (Think of David Brainerd)

Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of;

in nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God;

in nothing which you could not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed;

in nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act. Richard Baxter

The historian writes concerning Hannibal that when he could have taken Rome he would not, and when he would he could not. We are to be men of opportunity–that is to say, we are to buy up the opportunity, to redeem the time. When God opens a gate He means that we should go through it, and pass into all the inheritance beyond. There was a king of Sicily who was called “The Lingerer,” not because he stayed till opportunity came, but because he stayed till opportunity was lost. There is a time to wait and a time to act. Overlong waiting means loss of chance, for the king has passed by, and the gates are closed; but to wait patiently until everything is ripe for action is the very last expression of Christian culture. (J. Parker, D.D.)

(“redeem the time”) we have a remarkable revelation of Christian privilege and responsibility in days of calamity. Redeem suggests keen business acumen, the ability to know exactly what to buy, and when to buy. It is a strictly commercial term. Time indicates a special occasion, and therefore a special opportunity. Evil refers to evil in the effect it produces: evil is that which is hurtful, harmful, calamitous. -GCM

Time’s Shortness by Thomas Watson

A sermon preached July 2, 1676, at the funeral of Pastor John Wells

“But this I say, brethren, the time is short.” 1 Corinthians 7:29

The blessed Apostle in these words shows us what our station in the world is, and what all our secular enjoyments are. They are short and transient. “But this I say, brethren, the time is short.” The text consists of two parts:

1. A kind address—”Brethren.”

2. A seasonable admonition—”The time is short.”

1. A kind address—”Brethren.” The saints of God are brethren. They are cemented together with the blood of Christ. Then let there be no strife among them, seeing they are brethren (Genesis 13:8). Believers are regenerated by the same Spirit; they suck the same breasts—the promises; and wear the same garment—Christ’s righteousness. They sit at the same board—the table of the Lord; and partake of the same glory—the inheritance in light (Colossians 1:12). Should they not love one another? There ought to be no contending among God’s people—but as to who would love most.

Satan foments discord and warms himself at the fire of men’s passions. If he cannot divide the spiritual members from their Head, he will endeavor to make them smite one against another. If he cannot keep the saints from heaven, he will endeavor to make them fight with one another along the way.

It was ill for Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s to fight with one another, when the Canaanite was in the land (Genesis 13:7). It is an ill time for mariners to be fighting, when the enemy is boring a hole in the bottom of the ship. Take heed that the popish enemy does not enter at your breaches.

Let Christians remember they are brethren. Unity among brethren resembles the harmony among angels. Psalm 133:1-3: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, as the dew of Hermon.” It is compared to ointment because it is sweet; and compared to the dew of Hermon because it makes everything fruitful. The primitive Christians were of one heart (Acts 4:32).

Let us pray that that golden motto may be written upon the churches: “One heart and one way” (Jeremiah 32:39). What a blessed place will heaven be, where our light shall be clear, our love shall be perfect, and our joy shall be full.

2. A seasonable admonition—”The time is short.” This word “time” I shall take more strictly as the term and period of man’s life. The time is short. The diverse instances of mortality, may serve as so many commentaries upon the text. The Greek word for “short” alludes to mariners who roll up their sails and bring them into a narrow compass when the ship draws near the harbor. Though the sails of man’s life were spread larger in the times of the patriarchs, now God is folding up these sails in a narrower compass: “The time is short.” The Scripture frequently asserts the brevity and transitoriness of man’s life. Psalm 89:47: “Remember how short my time is.” Psalm 39:5: “Behold, You have made my days as a hand-breadth,” which is the least of the geometrical measures.

Job used three elegant metaphors to set forth the shortness of man’s life. Job 9:25-26: “My life passes more swiftly than a runner. It disappears like a swift boat, like an eagle that swoops down on its prey.” If we look to the land, man’s life is like a swift runner. If we look to the sea, it is like a swift ship. If we look to the air, there it is like a flying eagle.

Life is compared to a cloud (Job 7:9). A cloud is a vapor drawn up by the sun into the middle region of the air. When this cloud comes to its full proportion, it is soon dispersed and blown away with the wind. Life gathers as a cloud, bigger and bigger—but all of a sudden it is dissipated by death. Our life is but a breath, even less. Psalm 39:5: “My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath.” There is but a span between the cradle and the grave. Solomon said, “There is a time to be born—and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2)—but mentions no time of living—as if that were so short, it were not worth speaking of.

QUESTION. In what sense is the time of life short?

ANSWER. It is short in respect to the uncertainty—it may instantly expire. Our time is short, because of the uncertainty. Hezekiah, it is true, had a lease of fifteen years sealed (Isaiah 38:5)—but we have no such lease sealed for us—death may be within a day’s march.

There are so many casualties, that it is a wonder if the slender thread of our life is not cut off by an untimely death. Have you not seen a virgin on the same day dressed in her bridal apparel—and her winding sheet?

Time is short in respect to its improvement. If we reckon that for time which is well-spent, then time is brought into a narrow compass indeed. A great part of our time lies fallow. Take from our life all the time of eating, drinking, sleeping, besides idle impertinences—and then how short is our time! How little is the time wherein we can truly say, “This time I have lived!” Oh, how little is the time which is spent with God! Time misemployed is not time lived—but time lost.

Time is short compared with eternity. There is no telescope which can see to the end of eternity. Eternity is a day which has no sun setting. It is a circle—without beginning or end. Eternity is a sum which can never be numbered, a line which can never be measured. Reckon as many millions of years as there have been minutes since the creation, and they stand as ciphers in eternity. The most elevated strains of rhetoric cannot reach eternity. It is a sea without bottom—or banks. Time may be compared to a spot of earth lying at the mouth of the great ocean. Time is a spot on this side of eternity. What a little spot of that, is man’s life! Thus you see, in this sense, time is short.

It will not be long before the silver cord is loosed and the golden bow broken (Ecclesiastes 12:6). Time goes on apace. The poets painted time with wings, because it flies so fast. In Joshua’s days, when the sun and moon stood still, time went on. In Hezekiah’s reign, when the sun went ten degrees backward, time went forward. Our whole life is nothing else but a passage to death—where there is no staying by the way or slacking our pace.

USE 1. See what a poor inconsiderable thing life is. The time is short, and upon this small wire of time hangs the weight of eternity. Life is but a short scene acted here. It is but a vapor or puff of wind (James 4:14). Life is made up of a few flying minutes. Oh, then, how imprudent are those, who will damn their souls to save their lives! He would be unwise who, to preserve a short lease, would lose his inheritance. How many there are who, to preserve this short life, will take sinful courses, defraud and oppress and build up an estate—but will pull down their souls! Many, to save their skins, will destroy their souls.

It is better to endure a blow on our body or estate—than suffer our precious soul to be damaged. The soul is the man of the man. The soul is the princely part, crowned with reason. It carries in it some faint idea or resemblance of God. The soul is a rich diamond set in clay. What folly it is to save the clay—and lose the diamond! Tiberius the emperor, for a drink of water—lost his kingdom!

USE 2. EXHORTATION.

BRANCH 1. Is time so uncertain and short? Let us often contemplate the shortness of life. Feathers swim upon the water—but gold sinks into it. Light, feathery people float in vanity—but serious Christians sink deep into the thoughts of their death. Deuteronomy 32:29: “Oh, that they were wise—that they would consider their latter end.” Forgetfulness of the latter end—makes life sinful—and death formidable. People naturally shrink back from the thoughts of death. Amos 6:3: “They put far away from them the evil day.” When they are young, they hope they shall spin out life to the blossoming of the almond tree. When old age comes, they hope to renew their strength as the eagle, though their bodies are subject to corruption and they feel the symptoms of mortality in them. Deafness of hearing—is death creeping in at the ear. Dimness of sight—is death creeping in at the eye. Yet they are so frantic as to persuade themselves of long life. Bodily diseases are but death’s harbingers which go before to prepare a lodging for death. Why, then, do men dream of an earthly eternity? Psalm 49:11: “Their inward thought is that their houses shall continue forever.” Where is the man who contemplates time’s shortness, or makes another’s death a looking-glass in which he may see his own dying face?

Some may say this discourse of the shortness of time is fit for such as are mortally ill, whom the physicians have given over. But those who are in health, may live many years.

Though your blood is fresh in your veins, and your bones are full of marrow—you know not how short your time may be. He was not sick nor in fear of sickness who said, “Soul, take your ease—eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” But that very night, death terminated his life (Luke 12:20). A strong constitution is no guarantee of a long life. People likely enough to live, have been suddenly taken away by convulsions and strokes. How soon may death sound its alarm! It is reported of Zelenchus that the first he brought into his new house, was a tombstone. Oh, meditate on the transitoriness and brittleness of life! Think often of your tombstone!

QUESTION. What advantage will accrue to us, by often thinking of our short stay here?

ANSWER 1. Meditation on the shortness of time would cool the heat of our affections for the WORLD. These visible objects please the fancy—but they do not so much delight us—as delude us. They are suddenly gone from us. Worldly things are like a fair picture drawn on the ice—which the sun quickly melts.

The time is short, so why should we overly love that which we cannot keep over long? 1 Corinthians 7:31: “The fashion (or pageant) of the world passes away.” Time passes away as a ship in full sail. This, thought on seriously, would mortify covetousness. Paul looked upon himself as ready to loosen anchor and be gone. His love to the world had already died, Galatians 6:14: “The world is crucified to me—and I unto the world.” Who would covet that which has neither contentment nor continuance?

Peter had the same view in 2 Peter 1:14: “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle.” Among the Grecians, the city of Sparta had a king for a year and then he was to lay down his crown—which made everyone strive not to be king. Why should we so toil about the world as if we were to live here forever? What need is there for a long provision—if it is for a short way? If we have enough to bear our charges to heaven, that should suffice. Suppose a man’s lease were ready to expire and he should fall to building and planting; would not he be judged to be foolish? When our time is so very short now, to follow the world immoderately, as if we would fetch happiness out of the earth which God has cursed—is a degree of madness. We shall soon have no need of the earth—but to be buried in it!

ANSWER 2. Meditation on the shortness of time should be a means to HUMBLE us. Augustine calls humility the mother of the graces. Balm sinks to the bottom of the water. A good Christian sinks low in humility. And what can sooner pull down the flags and banners of pride—than to consider we are shortly dropping into the dust! The priest was to cast the feathers of the fowls by the place of the ashes (Leviticus 1:16). Just so, all your feathers of honor must shortly lie in the ashes. Shall not he who is clothed with mortality—be clothed with humility? The thoughts of the grave—should bury our pride.

ANSWER 3. Meditation on the shortness of time, would hasten our REPENTANCE. Repentance is as necessary, as heaven. As moisture and natural heat preserve life—so repenting tears and a heart burning with love preserve the soul. It is natural to delay repentance. We say with Haggai 1:2, “The time is not yet come.” But, the text says, the time is short. Our life is a candle, which is soon blown out.

The thoughts of time’s uncertainty and swiftness, would keep us from putting off our repentance. There is no time for us to delay. It is observed of the birds of Norway, that they fly faster than the birds of other countries. By the instinct of nature, knowing the days in that climate to be very short, they therefore make more haste to their nests. The consideration of short abode here, will make us avoid delays and fly faster to heaven upon the wing of repentance.

ANSWER 4. Meditation on the shortness of time would give us an antidote against the TEMPTATIONS of Satan. Temptation is Satan’s eldest daughter, who woos for him. Satan does more mischief by his wiles—than his darts. He knows how to suit his temptation, as the farmer knows what seed is proper for such a soil. Satan tempted Achan with a wedge of gold; and David with beauty. It is hard to keep up the banks of grace against the sea of temptation. I know no better remedy against Satan’s immodest solicitations than this text: “the time is short.”

“What, Satan, do you tempt me to vanity—when I am going to give up my accounts at the judgment? Shall I now be sinning—when tomorrow I may be dying! How shall I look my judge in the face!” Christian, when Satan sets sinful pleasure before you, show him a death’s-head. This will make temptations vanish.

ANSWER 5. The consideration of the shortness of our stay in the world would be a help to TEMPERANCE. It would make us sober and moderate in the use of worldly comforts. By excess, we turn lawful things into sinful things. The bee may suck a little honey from the flower—but put it into a barrel of honey—and it is drowned. We may with Jonathan dip the end of the rod in honey—but not thrust it in too far. The flesh, when pampered, rebels. The best preservative against intemperance is this—the time is short!

The Egyptians at their great banquets, used to bring in the image of a dead man, and say to their guests, “Look upon this—and proceed in your banquet.” An excellent antidote against excess. Joseph of Arimathea erected a sepulcher in his garden—to spice his flowery delights with the thoughts of death.

ANSWER 6. Meditation on the shortness of time would much mitigate our grief for the loss of dear RELATIONS. It is observable that when the Apostle said, “The time is short,” he immediately added. “Let those who weep be as if they wept not.”

No doubt the loss of relations is grievous to the fleshly part. It is like pulling a limb from the body. When God strikes us in our right eye—we weep. It is lawful to give vent to our grief. Joseph wept over his dead father. But though true religion does not banish grief, it bounds it. We must weep—as if we wept not. Rachel’s sin was that she refused to be comforted (Matthew 2:18). If anything can stop the issue of sorrow, at least assuage it, it is this, “The time is short.” We shall shortly have our losses made up and enjoy our godly relations again in heaven!

ANSWER 7. Meditation on the shortness of time would make us highly value GRACE. Time is short—but grace is forever. 1 John 2:27: “The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you.” Grace is a blossom of eternity; it is an immortal seed (1 John 3:9). Grace is not blasted by death—but transplanted into a better soil. Grace is not a lease which soon expires—but an inheritance entailed forever. He who has true grace can no more lose it—than the angels can, who are fixed in their heavenly orb. Grace shall outlast time—and run parallel with eternity.

BRANCH 2. If time is so short and winged, take heed of MISSPENDING this short time. To misspend time, is the worse wastefulness.

1. Take heed of spending time UNPROFITABLY. Domitian wasted much of his time in catching flies. Many live merely to cumber the ground. Judges 10:4: “Jair had thirty sons who rode around on thirty donkeys” and they died. So it may be said, such a one was born in the reign of such a king and he possessed such an estate—and he died. His life was scarcely worth a prayer—or his death worth a tear. An idle person is a cipher in the world—and God writes down no ciphers in the Book of Life. Many are like the wood of the vine—useless. Ezekiel 15:3: “Will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?”

Too many resemble the lilies which do not toil, neither do they spin. They spend their time as the emperor Caligula. He was at a great expense to provide a navy, and when it was provided he sent his mariners to sea to gather cockle-shells, and so they sailed home again. God has furnished men with precious time wherein they may work out salvation—and they employ it in foolish vanities. What reward can be expected—when there is no work done? Who is crowned as a conqueror—who never fights? Matthew 25:30: “Cast the unprofitable servant into utter darkness!”

2. Take heed of spending time VICIOUSLY. Many spend their short time in drinking, gaming, and whoring. Esau lost the blessing, while he was hunting. Many lose heaven, while they hunt after sinful pleasures. Sin is boiled to a great height in this age. Men count it a shame, not to be vile. They are steeped and boiled in wickedness! They live in the world to infect others—as the cockatrice with its breath poisons the herbs. What a dreadful account will they have to give, who have nothing to show God but their sins!

BRANCH 3. If the time of life is so short, let us IMPROVE it. Ephesians 5:16: “Redeeming the time.” If a man had but a short time on a farm, he would make the best improvement of it and get as good a crop as he could out of it before he left it. The thoughts of our short stay here on earth, should make us improve this little inch of time.’

That we may do this better, remember we are accountable to God for our time. God will say, “What have you done with your time?” If a master entrusts his steward with money and goods—he expects that he should give him an account of what he has done with them—and how he has employed them. All of us are stewards, and God will call us to a reckoning and say, “What have you done with the talent of time which I entrusted you with?”

QUESTION: How should we improve this short time?

ANSWER: In general, mind salvation work (Philippians 2:12). He who lays up gold and silver is wise for his children—but he who gets salvation is wise for himself.

Especially, improve this short time by a serious examination. Examine how the case stands between God and your souls. 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves.” Examine yourselves—as the goldsmith does his gold. Time is short, and what if God should say this night, “Give an account of your stewardship!”

Reckon with yourselves about your debts. Are your debts paid—and your sins pardoned? Reckon with yourselves about making your will. Time is short; you may die before night. Have you made your will? I mean, in a spiritual sense, have you given up your will to God and, by solemn vow—set seal to the will? They are most fit to resign their souls to God—who have resigned their wills to Him.

Call yourselves to account about your evidences for heaven. Are your evidences ready? Your desires are your evidences. Do you desire Christ for Himself—as beauty is loved for itself? Can nothing quench your thirst but Christ’s blood? Is your desire quickened into endeavor? This is a blessed sign.

For lack of this self-examination, many who are well known to others—are unknown to themselves. They know not where they shall go when they die—or to what coast they shall sail—to hell or to heaven.

Improve this short time, by laying hold of all the seasons and opportunities for your souls. The mariner takes the fittest season; he sets to sea while the wind blows. Time is short, and opportunity (which is the cream of time) is shorter. Let not the seasons of mercy slip away unimproved.

While God’s Spirit strives with you, nourish His sweet whispers and motions. When the dove came flying to the windows of the ark, Noah reached out his hand and pulled it into the ark. So when God’s Spirit (this blessed dove) comes to you, entertain and welcome Him into the ark of your souls. If you repulse the Spirit, He may refuse to strive any more. Gospel seasons, though they are sweet, are swift.

While God’s ministers are with you, make use of them. Zechariah 1:5: “The prophets, do they live forever?” Their time (by reason of their labors) is scarcely so long as others. We read of lamps within the pitchers in judges 7:16. Ministers are lamps—but these lamps are in earthen pitchers, which soon break. Though ministers carry the word of life in their mouths—yet they carry death in their faces! Improve their labors while you have them. They thirst for your happiness and, as so many bells—would chime in your souls to Christ.

Improve this short time by keeping up a close communion with God. 1 John 1:3: “Our communion is with the Father.” This sweet communion with God is kept up by holy meditation. Genesis 24:63: “Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening.” Meditation cements divine truths into the mind. It brings God and the soul together. Meditation is the bellows of the affections. It gives a sight and a taste of invisible glory. Psalm 104:34: “My meditation of Him shall be sweet.”

Communion with God is kept up by prayer. Praying days are ascension days. Caligula placed his effigies in the capitol, whispering in Jupiter’s ears. Prayer whispers in God’s ears. It is a secret parley and conversation with God. On this mount of prayer, the soul has many sweet transfigurations.

Improve this short time by doing all the service you can for God. Wisdom may be learned from an enemy. Satan is more fierce because he knows his time is short (Revelation 12:12). We would act more vigorously for God seeing our time is short. Our lives should be as jewels—though little in quantity yet great in value. Paul knew his stay in the world was short, therefore, how zealous and active was he for God while he lived! 1 Corinthians 15:10: “I labored more abundantly than they all.” Paul’s obedience did not move as slowly as the sun on the dial—but as swift as the sun in the sky. Is time short? Let us be “God-exalters.” Let us bring glory to God in doing good to others. As aromatic trees sweat out their precious oils, so should we lay out our strength for the good of others.

Let us do good to their souls and convince the ignorant, strengthen the weak, and bring back the wandering. A good Christian is both a diamond and a lodestone—a diamond sparkling in sanctity; and a lodestone for his attractive virtue in drawing others to Christ.

Let us do good to their bodies. Many at this day say to their sorrows, “You are our companions.” Let our fingers drop with the myrrh of liberality. Hebrews 13:16: “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God.” Let us feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and be temporal saviors to others.

Could we thus improve our time—our lives, though short, would be sweet. This would be the way to cast abroad a fragrant, redolent smell in God’s church, like the orange trees which perfume the air where they grow.

Could we thus improve our time, we might have our consciences drawing up a certificate for us, as in 2 Corinthians 1:12. Then it does not matter if the world censures—as long as conscience acquits; it does not matter how cross the wheels go—if the clock strikes rightly.

Could we thus improve our time, we might have an easy and joyful passage out of the world. This was Hezekiah’s comfort when he thought he was lying on his deathbed. 2 Kings 20:3: “I beseech You, O Lord, remember how I have done that which is good in Your sight.” To improve time aright answers God’s cost, credits true religion, and saves the soul.

USE 3. Let this strike terror into every wicked person who exhausts his strength in sin; his time is short—and then begins his hell. He spends his life in a frolic. He takes the timbrel and harp and rejoices at the sound of the organ (Job 21:12). But the time is shortly coming, when all his mirth shall cease. Revelation 18:22, “Never again will the sound of music be heard there—no more harps, songs, flutes, or trumpets.” “All the fancy things you loved so much are gone. The luxuries and splendor that you prized so much will never be yours again. They are gone forever.” Revelation 18:14. The grave buries all a sinner’s joy. When a wicked man dies—the devil gets a windfall.

Satan (in Samuel’s shape) said to Saul, 1 Samuel 28:19, “You shall be with me tomorrow.” The sinner has his lusts today—and may be with the devil tomorrow! Who would envy the wicked their honor or pleasure? They must pay dearly for it! They have a short feast—but a long reckoning! For a drop of mirth, they must drink a sea of wrath! And who knows the power of that wrath? Bellarmine said that if a man had a sight of hell—it would be enough to make a drunken person sober.

Hell is the epitome of torment. The sacrifice of jealousy was to have no oil nor frankincense put to it (Numbers 5:15). In hell, there is no oil of mercy put to the torments of the wicked to assuage them; nor is there any incense of prayer to appease God’s wrath. Oh, that sinners would in time break off their iniquities! What has become of their intellect—have they sinned away reason as well as conscience? The time of life is short—but the torments of hell are lengthened out! Revelation 14:11: “The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever!”

USE 4. Here is a light side of the text to the godly. They may be glad that their time here is short. They cannot really live—but by dying. Behold, there is honey at the end of the rod.

The time being short, their sinning time cannot be long. Sin is a troublesome inmate. Romans 7:24 says that Paul, that bird of paradise, sighed and groaned under corruption. A child of God mingles sin with his duties. He cannot write a copy of holiness, without blotting. There’s a part of a regenerate heart that sides with Satan. But be of good comfort, the time is short. It is but for a short while, Christians, that you shall be combating a proud, unbelieving heart. The year of release is coming. Death does to the godly as the angel did to Peter—it smites them, and makes their chains of sin fall off!

The time being short, their working time cannot be long. In this life, much work is cut out. There is the work of the hand, as the artificer works in his trade (Proverbs 10:4). There is the work of the head. Notions are the children of the brain, and there is labor in bringing them forth. There is the work of the heart, which is the hardest work—to search, cleanse, and watch the heart. As a clock sometimes goes faster, sometimes slower, so the heart sometimes goes faster in sin, sometimes slower in duty. But here is the saint’s comfort—their working time is short. Revelation 14:13: “They will rest from their labors.” When their bodies return to dust—their souls return to rest.

The time being short, their suffering time cannot be long. Life is laden with trouble, “How frail is humanity! How short is life, and how full of trouble!” Job 14:1. You may as well separate weight from lead—as trouble from a man’s life. We come into the world with a cry—and go out with a groan! Everyone has his yoke, and it is well if there is not a nail in it. Though the cross is heavy—we have but a little way to carry it. Death will give the godly a writ of ease. Job 3:17: “There (in the grave) the wicked cease from troubling.”

The time being short, their waiting time cannot be long. The godly shall not be long out of heaven. While the blessed angels see the orient beauties which shine in God’s face, believers live far from court, being imprisoned in the body. Here they rather desire God—than enjoy Him. But the time is short, perhaps a few days or hours—and the saints shall be solacing themselves in the light of God’s countenance. They shall leave their pillow of thorns—and lay their head on Christ’s bosom! Faith gives a propriety in God; death gives a possession. The wagons and chariots came rattling to old Jacob—but they were to carry him to his son, Joseph. Death’s chariot wheels may come rattling to a believer—but it is to carry him home to his Father’s house!

In that paradise of God, a Christian shall have more than he can ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He can imagine, “What if every mountain were a pearl, every flower a ruby, every sand in the sea a diamond, the whole globe a shining gem?” But all his thoughts are too low and dwarf-like to reach the glory of the celestial pyramids. The heavenly reward (as Augustine said) exceeds faith—and, as the time is short, a Christian shall be in heaven before he is aware. Then he shall bathe his soul in those perfumed pleasures of paradise, which run at God’s right hand forevermore!

I am done with the text. Let me speak to the occasion. We are meeting here to commemorate the death of an eminent minister in this city, Mr. John Wells. I am sorry I am the actor in this mournful scene. But being requested by him in his life (in case I survived), I was willing to do this last office of love.

There has been a great mortality of ministers lately. The men of the world need not be so fierce against God’s ministers; they will not trouble them long. God’s taking away His ministers so fast (two in a day) bodes much evil. It presages the fall of a house—when the pillars are removed.

Concerning this reverend brother deceased, it is not my purpose to use any exaggerated eulogies; only give me permission to strew a few flowers upon his casket.

Our worthy friend was endued with learning and volubleness of speech. He could rightly divide the Word as a workman who needed not to be ashamed. He had seals to his ministry. Some of his hearers might call him their spiritual father.

Regarding his piety, he was not only a follower of that which was good—but a leader. He said not long before his death, that he was sure that he loved God. He was fixed to his principles. Though he is by death a fallen star, he was not a wandering star.

His disposition was not morose—but affable. He was a man of candor and courtesy. He obliged and won the affections of many to him. When grace and sweetness of nature meet—it is like a diamond in a gold ring.

Regarding his preaching, he preached intelligibly to the capacity of his assembly of hearers, because he was sure that a minister would never touch the hearts of his hearers if he shot over their heads. Ministers should be stars to give light, not clouds to darken the truth. Clearness is the grace of speech. Gregory Nazianzen preached plainly to the ignorant—yet was admired by the learned.

He was conscientious and painstaking in his work. Sloth in a minister, is as bad as sleep in a sentinel. He would not offer that to God, that which cost him nothing. Christ bled for souls; well may we sweat. This good man, like a candle, consumed himself while he gave light to others.

He was a man of a forgiving spirit. He was not troubled with the overflowing of gall. Kindnesses he wrote in marble; injuries he forgot. He was very charitable. The backs and bellies of the poor, were the furrows where he sowed the seeds of his liberality. But though his charity shone, he did not care that it might blaze. He is now taken from the evil to come.

For you who sat under his ministry, let me tell you that you have lost a friend and a guide. You have cause to be dear mourners. Let me request only this of you, that you would remember the many good instructions given you. Though he is dead, let not his sermons die, too—but labor to copy them in your lives.

POST FOR 2016 – DUPLICATES MUCH OF WHAT IS WRITTEN ABOVE…

THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE – What does 2016 hold for each of us beloved? Our Father knows (best). We do not. G Campbell Morgan wisely said therefore “Let the year be given to God in its every moment! The year is made up of minutes: let these be watched as having been dedicated to God! It is in the sanctification of the small that hallowing of the large is secure.”

“Time that is past we can never recall.

Of time to come, we are not sure at all.

Only the present is now in our power,

Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.” -Anonymous

Time is a strange commodity — we cannot save it, retrieve it, relive it, stretch it, borrow it, loan it, stop it or store it , but can only use it or lose it. We can’t call “time out” in the game of life and there are no “instant replays” as in the game of football. Job in the midst of the trial of his life was very sensitive to the brevity of life declaring “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle…my life is but breath… my days are swifter than a runner. They flee away. They slip by like reed boats, like an eagle that swoops on its prey. Man, who is born of woman, is of few days, and full of trouble. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He flees like a shadow and does not remain.” (Job 7:6-79:25-2614:1-2) A poet phrased it well — “When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept. When as a youth I dreamed and talked, time walked. When I became a full grown man, time ran. When older still I daily grew, time flew. Soon I shall find in traveling on, time gone.” And so while we cannot control the length of our days, yet by God’s grace we can control their depth, for we know that our Redeemer lives (Job 19:25) and that He is on our side (Ps 124:1-2note, cf Ro 8:31-32no te).

Our vigor is fleeting, our best years are brief,

Our youth passes quickly—time’s ever a thief;

But hope yet becomes us—death’s sting holds no power;

We have a Redeemer—an unfailing Tower. —Gustafson

James wrote you “do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:15) When the great artist Raphael died at the early age of 37, friends and relatives carried his marvelous but unfinished painting The Transfiguration in the funeral procession. His family felt that because of the limited time he was allotted to use his creative genius, the painting was an appropriate symbol of his unfulfilled earthly aspirations. That half-completed picture has another meaning–a message that should impress itself on all of us: Life is fleeting and death may come unexpectedly. We should treasure each hour as a gift of great value and use it to the best advantage. And so we do well to pray the prayer of Moses the man of God “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God…. Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away….SO TEACH US to number our DAYS, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:1-21012note) The root meaning of the verb translated “NUMBER” is “to weigh” or “to measure.” We are to place each DAY in the divine balance so that it tips the scales in such a way that will bring glory to God and blessing to the lives of others. Remember that there is no time after time, but there is an eternity. Indeed, time is but the fringe of eternity!

Reflect for a moment what time of day it would be today if Moses’ normal life span of “70 years” were were squeezed into a single 24-hour day. For example, if you are 59, the time is approximately 8:30pm. For me as I approach my 70th birthday, it would be near midnight! In fact, this Christmas I considered asking my children for a watch called the “Tikker” which not only tells time but calculates your estimated life span, and displays a running countdown of your remaining time! It is advertised as the watch “that counts down your life, just so you can make every second count!” That’s not a bad tagline Biblically speaking! So the question is…

How much time? We are never sure,

But at least we have today

To seek to do the Master’s will,

In all we do and say. —Fitzhugh

David a man after God’s own heart echoed a prayer similar to Moses — “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my DAYS are numbered–how fleeting my life is.” (Ps 39:4NLT) Did you notice that the prayers of both men specify “DAYS” not years? Most men number their life in years, but wise men number their lives in DAYS. David goes on to write “BEHOLD, Thou hast made my DAYS as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight. Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah…. And now Lord what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Ps 39:5,7note) For what are you waiting? And how can you be sure that what you’re waiting for is going to come to pass? In light of the brevity of life, David’s HOPE was in Jehovah. Biblical hope is not “hope so,” but “hope sure,” a mindset that gives us an absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future. The “Tikker” is ticking. Today is the DAY for us to seek God’s presence and power to enable us to be the people He wants us to be. And finding HOPE in our eternal God gives meaning for our daily lives however long or short. As Spurgeon explains “a handbreadth is one of the shortest natural measures, being the breadth of four fingers; such is the brevity of life, by divine appointment; God hath made it so, fixing the period in wisdom. David’s “BEHOLD” calls us to attention. To some the thoughts of life’s hastiness will bring the most acute pain, but to others the most solemn earnestness. How well should those live who are to live so little! Is my earthly pilgrimage so brief? Then let me watch every step of it, that in the little time there may be much of grace. Selah – Pause and reflect on these things remembering that it is not HOW LONG you live that counts, but HOW WELL you live. Don’t spend time. Invest it! Don’t spend it on futility. Invest it in eternity! “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl 9:10).

One life for Christ is all I have,

One life for Him so dear;

One life for doing all I can

With every passing year. —Brandt

Moses and David were both seeking God’s wisdom to live in the eternal now, to live in light of eternity, knowing that TODAY is the only DAY of which one can be certain. We need to give God our days, confident that He will take care of our tomorrows. “Yesterday is but a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is all of the cash that you have. Spend it wisely.” Indeed, we are stewards of every God-given DAY. DAYS wasted can never be recovered. No man ever possessed the same moment twice! One DAY we will all give an account for the opportunities God gave us each day of our life (2Cor 5:10note). We have all been allotted the same amount of time each day. May God grant that we learn to view every minute as precious, seeking to use it for His glory, for as the poet put it “I have only just a minute – only 60 seconds in it./ Forced upon me – can’t refuse it/ But it’s up to me just how I use it; I must suffer if I lose it./ Give account if I abuse it./ Just a tiny little minute – but eternity is in it.” Amen

SO THE QUESTION IS “AM I REDEEMING THE TIME OF MY LIFE?” To help answer that question ask yourself what do you really value most in life? Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc are at the top of your list. But did you remember to include “TIME?” Ephesians 5:15-16note has been called the Bible’s key to TIME MANAGEMENT. In these passages Paul commands all believers “Therefore (because we have been awakened from spiritual stupor and spiritual death and have the light of Christ – Eph 5:14noteBE CAREFUL (a command to continually take heed, be alert, be vigilant, to discern with Spirit enabled vision) how you walk, not as unwise men (foolishly), but as wise, MAKING THE MOST OF (REDEEMING) THE OPPORTUNITY (Kairos) because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:16) Notice that the evil of our day should motivate us to redeem the time each day. C H Spurgeon paraphrases Eph 5:16note— “See then that ye walk circumspectly (being careful to consider all circumstances and all possible consequences), not carelessly, not thinking that it is of no importance how you live; but looking all round you, “walk circumspectly,” watching lest even in seeking one good thing you spoil another.” In other words, if we walk wisely, we will be careful not to let the good steal God’s best! Charles Hummel, author of “Tyranny of the Urgent,” wrote that our “greatest danger is letting the urgent (secular, temporal) things crowd out the important (divine, eternal things).” Our problem is that too often we live by life’s demands, instead of by God’s priorities. Remember that life is too short for us to do everything we want to do, but it is long enough for us to do everything God wants us to do.

Paul gives a parallel command in Colossians to “Conduct (command to make this your habitual practice enabled by the Spirit) yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, MAKING THE MOST OF (same verb as Eph 5:16) the OPPORTUNITY (KAIROS). Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” (Col 4:5-6note) The verb MAKING THE MOST OF (REDEEMING) (Eph 5:16Col 4:5) literally means to “buy out of the market place” as would a wise merchant diligently seeking the best bargains, taking care not to miss the fleeting “opportunities!” MAKING THE MOST OF is in the present tense which calls for us to make redemption of time our daily practice, buying up the strategic opportunities which God providentially places in our path. If we are walking wisely (Eph 5:15note), filled with (continually controlled and enabled by) God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18note), we will be spiritually alert to divine OPPORTUNITIES and will begin to view people and circumstances not simply as encounters (or irritations) but as opportunities (and “invitations”) to impact eternity, as we learn to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Cor 4:18note).

Think of redeeming the time this way – If each day someone gave you $1440 (the number of minutes in a day) and said spend it or lose it, most of us would be quite motivated to wisely spend every dollar! A survey asked “What do you have to live for?” to which 94% answered they were just enduring today and living for tomorrow. That is living unwisely (Eph 5:15note). Too many people miss TODAY because they are worrying about TOMORROW (cf Jesus’ words in Mt 6:34note). Adrian Rogers said “We face the future out of breath, because we have been fighting tomorrow’s battles today!” Instead of killing time, redeem it. Instead of counting the days, make your days count. “ETERNITY will be appreciated only in the measure that we have rightly handled TIME!” Spurgeon said “‘NOW’ should be the watchword of the wise.” LATER may be too late! Right NOW counts for eternity. To make our life count for eternity, we must be wise in how we spend our time today. What will your eternal harvest be? A popular slogan says, “Life Is Short—Party Hard.” But God, Who gives us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, reminds us that “Life Is Short—Live It Well!” It’s not how long you live that counts, but how well you live, for a life lived for God will count for eternity. To make the most of our earthly existence, we must lose ourselves in the will of God, living “the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1Pe 4:2note).

I do not ask for honor, fame

While life’s short race I run,

But for a will to do Thy will

And then Thy glad “Well done.” —Meadows

In Ephesians 5:16 the word TIME is the Greek word KAIROS which can also be translated as OPPORTUNITY (as in Col 4:5) or SEASON (Ps 1:3 in the Lxx). In ancient Greece “Kairos” was a mythological character who had a forelock by which you could seize him when you met him, but who was bald in the back, so once he had sped past (his statute had wings on his feet), he could not be seized again. And so kairos refers to a fixed and definite period of time during which something can be accomplished that cannot be accomplished after the time has passed. The idea of kairos is not “clock time” (Gk – chronos) but what one writer refers to as “kingdom opportunities.” The time/opportunity for bringing forth fruit is the spring SEASON in which the tree bears fruit (Ps 1:3). Once the season has passed, there is no fruit. And so in a spiritual sense kairos is the time which God allots to each believer to bring forth “spiritual fruit.” Therefore it behooves us, enabled by the Spirit, to “Seize the Day” (Carpe diem) because Tempus fugit (Time flies)! Kill time and you murder opportunity. History records that when Hannibal could have taken Rome he did not, and when he later sought to he could not. As Horace Mann put it “Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.” Kairos represents the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable. Kairos can be a moment or a season, but always refers to specific times in which opportunity is “ripe”, so that when the time passes, so does the opportunity.

Our English word OPPORTUNITY is derived from the Latin “ob portu.” In ancient times before modern harbors, ships had to wait for the timing of the tide before they could make it safely to port. Thus “OB PORTU,” described the ship waiting “FOR PORT,” ready to seize the crucial moment when it could ride the tide into safe harbor. The captain knew that if he missed the passing tide, the ship would have to wait for another tide to come in. God gives each of us many “ob portu’s”, but we must be spiritually wise and Spirit filled in order to see and seize them. As Charles Swindoll said “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities (ob portu’s) brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Shakespeare’s famous line from Julius Caesar conveys the same thought: “There is a tide in the affairs of men (an “ob portu”), Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.” Napoleon said, “There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen minute period that is the crucial point (kairos). Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated.” In short, KAIROS conveys the sense of an “opportune time,” a “window of opportunity”. “Opportunity is the flower of time which blooms for a moment and is gone for ever.” (G Barlow) John Broadus said “Opportunity is like a fleet horse that pauses for a moment at one’s side. If you fail to mount him in that moment, you can hear the clatter of his hoofs down the corridors of time. That opportunity is gone forever.” Jonathan Edwards America’s greatest theologian understood Paul’s charge to REDEEM THE TIME and as a young man wrote “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved: to live with all my might while I do live.”

A farmer’s clock ran amuck one morning and struck seventeen. The man of the house jumped up and ran all over the place, saying, “Get up, it’s later than it ever has been before!” It is later than it ever has been by God’s eternal timepiece. It is later than you think! Today you are as young as you will ever be. Don’t vacillate! Don’t hesitate! Don’t procrastinate! Time is loaned to us and, as good stewards of Christ, enabled by His Spirit we must use it wisely. Let us each redeem the golden moments of opportunity while we still can! “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” (Ps 144:4) As Spurgeon (who went home at age 59) said “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour!” Spurgeon in fact reduced our lives to four words “Sown, groan, blown, gone!” As Larry Moyer said “Decide now what you want written on your tombstone, then live your life backward from there.” Stated another way, instead of counting your days, make your days count! Ask yourself what would you change if this day were your last? In fact, we should live every day as if it might be our last, for one of these days we will be right!

Now is the only time we own

To do His precious will,

Do not wait until tomorrow;

For the clock may then be still.

John Piper reiterates that the “OPPORTUNITY will never come again. The days are evil; opposition is great; be wise as serpents (Mt 10:16). Understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:17-note)…These words ring with a sense of urgency. They are like the words of a platoon leader addressing his unit just before they enter combat. The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and, even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. “Watch your step; be smart; don’t miss your opportunity; keep yourself lean for the battle!”…In other words, the Christian life is a vigilant life, defensively guarding itself from the subtleties of the evil days and offensively redeeming the time to strike for love and righteousness again and again. We are a vigilant people at war with unbelief and evil. O to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me…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” (Php 2:16-note). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Cor 15:58-note). And I commend this promise to you. No minute need be lived in vain. Eternity will render it significant if lived in faith for the glory of God. In the end we rest in this: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15-note).

Adoniram Judson a famous missionary to Burma wrote that “A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated throughout eternity. The same may be said of each DAY. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever. Each DAY will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, (enabled by God’s Spirit) resolve to send the DAY into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more DAY is irrevocably gone, indelibly (forever) marked.” Eternity will reveal whether we have made the right use of time for what we weave in time we will wear in eternity. David Brainerd whose candle burned so brightly that God brought him home at the relatively young age of 29 wrote in his diary “Oh, how precious is time; and how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misemployed it or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity. Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey!” It’s too late to redeem the time that is past, but not the time that is passing! Clocks don’t move backwards! So don’t replay those old tapes of failures of unfaithfulness. The hands of the time of your life that count are the ones moving “clockwise!” So enabled by God’s Spirit and His Word, make every second count for eternity!

Time that is past you can never recall,

Of time to come, you are not sure at all;

Only the present is now in your power,

Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.—Unknown

Adrian Rogers offers some practical thoughts on redeeming the time: (1) Learn to live in the eternal now. Today is the only day you have. Redeem the time. (2) Stop saying, “If I had time.” You do have time. (3) Stop worrying about tomorrow, and stop waiting for tomorrow. Give God today, and He will take care of tomorrow. (4) Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today. Cut yourself loose from the past. Bury your failure in the grave of God’s forgetfulness (read Micah 7:18-19Isaiah 43:2544:22), and let Him give you a brand new day. (5) If you have not accepted Christ, now is the time “for He says, “At the acceptable time (kairos = the opportune time!) I listened to you and on the day of salvation I helped you”; behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (kairos),” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” (2Cor 6:2)

Let us pray like the old Puritans in Valley of Vision — “Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ. Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity for usefulness; GIVE ME A HOLY AVARICE TO REDEEM THE TIME, to awake at every call to charity (love) and piety (godliness), so that I may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the Gospel, show neighborly love to all. Let me live a life of self-distrust, dependence on Thyself (Thy Spirit), mortification, crucifixion, prayer.” Amen

Dear reader, may God by His Spirit cause each of us to so order our steps that when that great day comes we might hear those glorious words “Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful in a few things, I will put your in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your Master.” (Mt 25:21) “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:12note)

The famous missionary C T Studd penned these words…

Only one life, the still small voice,

Gently pleads for a better choice,

Bidding me selfish aims to leave,

And to God’s holy will to cleave.

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,

Each with its burdens, hopes and fears,

Each with its days I must fulfill,

Living for self or in His will.

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Now take a moment, as you ponder the moments of your life which remain and the poignant words of Robin Mark’s song

When It’s All Been Said and Done

There is just one thing that matters.

Did I do my best to live for Truth?

Did I live my life for You?

When It’s All Been Said and Done

All my treasures will mean nothing.

Only what I’ve done for love’s reward,

Will stand the test of time.

Courtesy of https://www.preceptaustin.org/redeem_the_time#Spiritual%20Life

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The Power of Prayer

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

– Matthew 6:9-10

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

– Matthew 7:7-8

So far, our discussion of missions has been focused upon the missionary’s necessity of being grounded in the Scripture and the great doctrines of the Christian faith. We have pleaded with the reader not only to hold to the inerrancy of the Scriptures but also to build his or her entire life and ministry upon the belief that they are sufficient. We have no need for the pragmatic and oftentimes anti-biblical schemes and strategies that run rampant in contemporary Western Evangelicalism and many of its missionary endeavors. We simply need to conform every activity to the dictates and parameters of the Word of God.

The Necessity of Prayer

Having laid this groundwork, we will now turn our attention to the absolute necessity of prayer in the life of the missionary. Prayer is the great complement to biblical knowledge, without which, there can be little life or power in the missionary, his preaching, or his mission endeavors. Every triumph of the church in the last two thousand years has been birthed, cultivated, and matured with prayer. If there is one thing that all the great missionaries of church history hold in common, it is their intense and unceasing devotion to God in prayer.

It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of prayer in the missionary endeavor. This becomes especially apparent when we realize that the work of global missions is an absolute impossibility apart from the power of God. The Apostle John tells us that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”1 Thus, it would be easier to lift Mount Everest and cast it into the sea, than to take one inch of Satan’s domain in our own power. He laughs at our endless strategies and mocks our clever schemes, but when one man lashes himself to the Word and wears out his knees in prayer, all of Hell shudders.

All the Christians, churches, missionary societies, and institutions combined cannot win one soul. All our conferences, campaigns, and desires to give our lives away cannot advance the kingdom. Even if there were no devil, the radical corruption of one sinner’s heart would bring to nothing all our efforts and make us a laughingstock of impotence. The lost world and the lost soul are like Jericho. They are tightly shut up; no one can come out and no one can come in.2 We can march around it until we are utterly worn out. We can lift up our voices and blow our trumpets until we are blue in the face. We can throw ourselves at the wall until our bodies are broken and lying in heaps on the ground. But the wall is not going to fall by any human effort. It requires the power of God. He can do a quick work of the wall and bring down in seconds what we could not do even if we were granted ten thousand eternities to do it!

Most, if not all, Christians would heartily agree with what has just been written regarding the importance of prayer. Why then do ministers and missionaries openly admit to praying so little? This is especially perplexing when we realize that many of those who lament their neglect of prayer are truly God-called men and women, who love the Lord and honestly desire to see His kingdom advance into all nations. Why then do we so-often neglect prayer? Though there are more reasons than we have room to mention, we will consider several of the most obvious.

The Neglect of Prayer

The first culprit is our superficial understanding of the impossibility of the task. This fault is the result of poor theology. Not only do we not seem to understand the power of our enemy, but also, and most importantly, we do not understand the corruption of the human heart. The unreached nations are not merely ignorant of God so that they can be cured by more information. Neither are they seeking God so that they only need to be pointed in the right direction. The nations, like the men who form them, are morally depraved, hostile to God, and will be unresponsive to any gospel herald to them apart from God’s direct intervention.3 Only God can change the human heart and advance His cause. Apart from His aid, our attempts to tear down the iron walls of sin that surround the nations is comparable to a tiny gnat beating its head against a wall of granite. Therefore, in the beginning, middle, and end of all our missionary endeavors, we must constantly and relentlessly seek God’s aid in persevering prayer.

Secondly, unbelief is a great enemy of prayer. Do we really believe in our utter inability to win even one soul of the more than seven billion that now abide on this planet? Do we really believe that God is “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us?”4 Do we really believe that prayer is absolutely essential and that it is the catalyst for life and power in all our activities? To answer these questions, we must not appeal to our theology because we often affirm truths with our heads that we do not practice with our hearts. Nor should we appeal to sentiment because we can feel deeply that we ought to pray without ever truly praying. To properly discern the answer to this question, we must appeal to the practice of our daily lives. How much time do we set aside for prayer? How often do we run to prayer as our first recourse?5 If we graphed a chart comparing our time in prayer with the time consumed by all our other activities, would it not show that we are an unbelieving generation?

Thirdly, our fallen flesh is one of the great nemeses of prayer. In fact, the flesh probably hates prayer even more than it hates the study of God’s Word. At least through study, the flesh can boast in its knowledge, but in prayer, it has no grounds for boasting. Through study, a man may gain fame for his scholarship, erudition, and eloquence; but prayer is performed in secret and demands that a man lays down all his credentials at the door. True prayer is a renunciation of the flesh and its power. In the prayer closet, the most capable men must acknowledge that the “flesh profits nothing”6 and it is, “not by might nor by power, but by God’s Spirit.”7

Fourthly, spiritual and physical laziness is a major culprit that leads to the neglect of prayer. We should not be deceived. Intercession is hard work, even for the most devoted. One of the greatest and most far-reaching deceptions among Christians is that those who dedicate themselves to a certain spiritual discipline do so because it just comes easy for them. We think that the man devoted to Bible study does so because of some special gift or even natural inclination that makes it easier for him than for the rest of us. However, the primary reason behind his devotion and our lack of it is that he has recognized his indispensable need and fights to overcome the spiritual laziness that holds many of us in bondage. It is very liberating when we realize that spiritual disciplines such as Bible study and intercession are “hard work” for everyone, even the most mature and gifted saint. It proves that our lethargy with regard to prayer can be overcome. 

Fifthly, the pragmatism that has inundated the West is contrary to praying. Pragmatism is basically a worldview that determines the value or rightness of something in terms of its apparent success. In the Western church, pragmatism is manifested in the tendency to adopt any strategy of ministry that purports to have produced positive results for other churches or ministries, regardless of the fact that it has little or no biblical foundation or is even contrary to the Scriptures. The Western church is literally inundated with books, conferences, and media material peddling the latest scheme or strategy to grow the church and evangelize the world. One of the most telltale signs of the limited value of these programs and strategies is their limited endurance. The strategy that takes Christianity by storm and becomes all the rage today is soon jettisoned and replaced by another. Is it possible that this preoccupation with finding the ultimate strategy for church growth and missions is the result of the church’s ignorance of the Scriptures and its carnal aversion to the hard work of prayer and proclamation?

Sixthly, the evil twin of pragmatism is busyness. One of the great and most frequent confessions of churches, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries throughout the world is that they are just too busy to pray. In fact, we seem willing to wear ourselves out for the cause of the gospel by doing any activity except those that have been most commanded by Christ—abiding in the Word of God and prayer.8 God calls for one sacrifice that we are unwilling to make (i.e. prayer), and so we substitute countless others in its place (i.e. busyness). We would do well to remember that “to obey is better than sacrifice,”9 and, “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”10

Seventhly and lastly, the devil is the great enemy of prayer. He would grant us hours of unhindered study, let us read good books without end, and allow us to wear ourselves out in ministry if only he could keep us from praying. He knows that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us,11 and that apart from Him we can do nothing.12 He knows that Christ has chosen us, and appointed us that we should go and bear fruit; and he knows that this fruit is directly related to us asking the Father in Christ’s Name.13 Thus, the devil is constantly working to make us forgetful of our own impotence and to blind us to God’s infinite strength and willingness to do abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.14 We must never forget that the missionary is sent out like a sheep in the midst of wolves.15 It does not matter how the sheep array themselves for battle, how willing they are to sacrifice, or how vigilant their watch, they cannot repel even the slightest attack from the least of wolves. The sheep’s only hope is that the Great Shepherd will hear their bleats and come running to their aid.

Paul Washer

  1. I John 5:19
  2. Joshua 6:1
  3. Romans 1:18-323:10-18
  4. Ephesians 3:20
  5. This question is prompted by the popular declaration, “There is nothing left to do but pray,” as though prayer were the last recourse instead of the first resource.
  6. John 6:63
  7. Zechariah 4:6
  8. John 15:7 – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:16 – “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” Notice the direct relationship between the abiding word and prayer in John 15:7, and the direct relationship between God’s sovereignty, fruitfulness, and prayer in John 15:16.
  9. I Samuel 15:22
  10. Psalm 127:1
  11. Philippians 4:13
  12. John 15:5
  13. John 15:16
  14. Ephesians 3:20
  15. Matthew 10:16

Courtesy of https://heartcrymissionary.com/theological-forum/article-26-the-power-of-prayer/

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Die to Self

This is a transcript of a sermon podcast from Paul Washer:

Paul says I urge you brethren. Here he is an apostle, one of the big twelve, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. And he says brothers, brother, listen to me, Therefore, I urge you brothers by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice. Paul is going to tell these people to give their life away. That he needs something of motivation. If I were tell someone they need to give their life away they would probably ask “why?” Paul says here by the mercies of God, because of God’s mercies demonstrated to you through Jesus Christ, give your life away. What are these mercies?

First of all it is a plural, the multi-faceted mercies of God, it doesn’t matter how you look at it you are always going to come up with a bigger and better picture. You look at mercies of God from one side and you think maybe it is one dimensional like most things in our life, but then you get behind the thing, and you realize you discover something completely new. Then you go to one side or another, you go below and look up, or you go up and look down, and you try to grasp and comprehend the beauty of this mercy that has been given to you, and you say what mercy? You go thru the first eleven chapters of this Book of Romans and you discover what mercy. The fact that we were all lost and deserve condemnation. The fact that we could not save ourselves by our own works and didn’t even want to. The fact that God sent his only begotten precious holy Son to die on a tree carrying our sin and condemned under our judgment. And when he died, he paid the price and after paying the price, he rose again from the dead, and 40 days later he was exalted in the heavens, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high and he sat there as God’s man for you. And he ever lives to intercede on your behalf.

Now do you need more motivation? Because if you do, you’re lost. If you need me to tell you that if you serve God you’ll get a Mercedes, you’re lost. If you need me to tell you that if you serve God, He’ll heal your body and fix everyone of your problems, if you need that, you’re lost. If Jesus is not enough to motivate you to godly living, you don’t know Jesus. So let us keep it simple. Christ and Christ alone. No one else. I have need of nothing else. It is well with my soul. I want my sons to put their lives at God’s disposal. Here I am Lord. Speak to your servant. What do you want from me? That’s all. That is all that really matters. As a matter of fact my dear friend, when you are on your death bed and you will be there, when you are on your death bed the only thing that will be running through your mind is did you put your life at His disposal.

I mean I want to tell you something right now, if I was to go to Ethiopia and start 500 churches in three years, but God told me to be a janitor in a small Midwestern town, I would be disobedient planting all those churches. It’s not to do great things, it is to obey God. It is to put your life at His disposal, and that is it. Isn’t it simple? I had a guy walk into my office one time and say you know the Christian life is very, very complicated. I said no it’s not. He said yes it is. I said no its not. He said yes it is. And I said no its not, and I won because I was the pastor. I could also whip him. I said no it’s not complicated. He said but there are so many decisions, and I said no there’s not. I said God has already made all the decisions son, and now you have the same problem I do, you going to obey or not. You going to put your life there or not? And I want you to understand, let’s go back to that word brethren, when I am preaching this to you as my preacher back home says, I got one finger pointing at you, and I got three pointing back at me. This is as much for you as it is for me today. All of us struggle with this. You know we say we have so many struggles in so many things, No! You only have one struggle, and it is the same one I have-Are you going to put your life at God’s disposal? That’s the only thing. There only one thing that matters. And I guarantee it, I struggle with it just as much as you do. Are you going to put your life at God’s disposal? Christ first. Lord what do you want me to do today? What do you want me to see, what do you want me to say, what do you want me to hear, how do you want me to spend what you’ve given me, how do you want me to do everything you want me to do, how do you want it Lord? Here I am Lord, just goes back again to being at His disposal.

I remember one time in seminary I decided I am going to live one day totally at the disposal of God. Well that was an ambitious thing to do. I didn’t make it, but I did notice some differences. You know when your young, and you’re in the ministry, you should be locked away for a few years, because you are just not right in the head. You know I just got outside of the door of my house, OK Lord now what do you want me to do? Well Paul you got a class in five minutes so you better get there. But I am trying to walk across campus and just be sensitive. And just being goofy is what I was being, but I was trying every step Lord where do you want…and then all of a sudden, there out of the left, there was a lady that I talked to several times, she was an older lady, a cook there at the seminary, and she came walking out and was standing there kind of sad. And I was just trying to be this spiritual giant and the first time I felt God told me anything that morning was go tell her about my Son. And guess what? Oh I was willing to walk around like a zombie looking spiritual, but when it came to just loving somebody, go tell her about me. And I remember just having to collapse like this and just walk over there. That day she received Christ. Sure it was goofy, but God will honor a heart that makes any type of an attempt to be at His disposal.

You know sometimes I think we love day timers because we can somehow write God out of our day. God you know I want to make every minute productive for you, every five minutes I want to break down, but what we are doing is Lord, I want to be so active that you have no time to tell me what to do. Sometimes I think I must struggle so much, but there is one thing this hard head of mine can’t pound thru, and that is the love of Christ. I can make every excuse in the world not to be obedient, every excuse in the world not to do what I ought to do and then bam like a sledgehammer comes the love of Christ. The Love of Christ just knocks me to my knees.

But that is the thing I want you to see about the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Listen to this. Jesus was poor, and that’s all there is to it. He was regardless of what the TV preachers tell you, the guy was poor. He didn’t ride around in a King’s chariot, he was poor. He was many times tired. He many times had anguish. He many times had all the things that you and I have to deal with, but here is the thing about Jesus Christ, he was never empty. He was never empty. Why was he never empty, because he had food to eat that we know not of. He was never empty for the same reason we usually are. He was not empty because he was about doing the will of his Father. He was putting his life at the disposal of his Father. You’re empty? You ever feel empty?  Guess what? Let a little red flag go up. I do. I just feel so empty, I need a vacation, I just feel so empty, I need to get away from the ministry for a while, I just feel so empty, I need to get by myself. No. I just feel so empty, I need to put myself at God’s disposal, and I won’t be empty anymore. Put myself at God’s disposal.

Now I have to step back for a second, because I have some of you in here, who are always under guilt that you are not doing enough for God. So when I say that you say, yeah I just need to get back in there and do some more. No, not get back in there and do some more for the church or for anybody else. I said put yourself at God’s disposal, and there’s a big difference. Draw near unto God, and he might want you to draw near unto him and to rest. He may want you to draw near unto Him and read through the book of John. He may want you to draw unto Him and cut half of your activities. What I am talking about is putting yourself at His disposal, not doing something extra.

Beautiful passage in Scripture in Ephesians 5:2: Walk in love just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us an offering and sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Just give yourself to God. Well I have nothing to give. How dare you talk about God that way. Hold it Pastor I am not talking about God that way I am talking about me, I have nothing to give. If you have nothing to give, you are saying God gave you nothing. And I don’t believe that. God gives everyone of His children gifts and graces. None of this false humility stuff. It is better to say what He has given me, I shall return to Him. Never say I have nothing to give. Never. Never. False humility is a great destroyer of many things. Your problem is that you are not in me. Your problem is that your are not dwelling and putting your life at my disposal. When you do that Paul, I give you more joy than anything else.

That’s something you all need to understand, we all need to understand, it’s not where we are, its who He is and our relationship to Him. That is something very, very important. I want you to know that most of you are striving to be happy and that is not necessarily bad, you are just doing it totally the wrong way. The times that I have died to self have been very few. But the times that I have died to self and laid down my life as a sacrifice, put myself at His disposal, I have been the happiest man on the face of the earth. Even though it might have cost me greatly. There was such a peace, such an overwhelming joy. And all the times and there have been many, when I put Paul Washer before other people, which actually meant I put Paul Washer before Jesus Christ the Lord, I have been the most miserable person on the face of the earth.

Can anyone out there identify with what I am saying? Well then stop it! Sometimes theologically we want to get through all these things, you know theologically why do I do this or why do I do that? Just stop it! Its like a friend of mine down in Peru, one day he walked in and told his mom, he said mom when I do this with my arm, my arm hurts, she said stop doing that with your arm, and it won’t hurt anymore. It is the same thing. You know those of you who are truly Christian, you know the times when you have surrendered yourself to Christ, you know the times when you have put Christ before everything, when you presented your life to him as a sacrifice and you know the joy of it.  And you also know the misery of doing the opposite.

The thing about it is, die. I know that is not too seeker friendly, but I am glad about that. Die to yourself. Do you want to fix your marriage, die to yourself and offer yourself to God. You want to fix everything, but what you can fix, die to yourself. One who tried to gain his life will lose it. Except a kernel falls to the ground, and dies, it bears no fruit. But if it dies, it bringeth forth much fruit. It’s all about Jesus Christ being first and second and third and fourth and fifth. What I am saying is don’t put Jesus first, Jesus is everything. He is not just first in a rank, he is everything. The whole shooting match as we might say. He’s everything. Lay down your life.

I was with Charo several years ago in Peru, and she has always been a very wise person and after teaching 4 or 5 classes some Romanian girls came up to her, and they said we don’t need to hear anything else you have to say. Charo said why? She said because you say the same thing every time. Charo said yea it is really that simple. Read the Word of God. Seek to submit your life to it. Pray for power. Lay down your life. Live for others, not for yourself. Die to self that you might have life. That you might life. Die to yourself that you might have life. That’s what it comes down to.

I have never given anything away that I have felt sorry for. I have kept things that I have regretted. I have never been self-sacrificing, that I look back on it now and say I wish hadn’t done that. But I have been selfish so many times and said I wish I hadn’t done that. It is really what Jesus said-die, and give your life to him. Die. Die. Should we be theologically correct? Yes we should. Should we be other things, yes we should. Does any of it matter if do not do this first thing? No. Die to ourself, give our lives away. Not self-promotion, but self-demotion. So that Christ may be promoted. He must increase, I must decrease. And oh did he have joy that John the Baptist.

Tonight we are going to talk about offering your body. Why did he say body? For a very, very important reason. He didn’t say give your heart, he said give your body. And we’re going to talk about that tonight. Now if you are here this morning, what can I say to you? You know, I have to be honest with you. I’m not expecting you to hear this message and just be flat out transformed and everything go right the rest of your life. I’m more hoping this message will be like a cocklebur under the saddle, and it will be always this reminder to you. Are you empty? Then die. Are you miserable, then die to self, live for Christ. Are you just feeling all dirty inside?, then put yourself at his disposal. Draw near unto him. A constant reminder of these things that you and I are called to habitually, continually die to self and to give our lives to God.

Some of you young people out there, you are going to terribly mess your lives up. You are, and I will tell you why.  Because you are going to take the reigns and you’re going to run with it and when you do, well, New Years you will be in my office. You’re going to take the steering wheel and say I am going to drive my own car, and you’re going to regret it all the days of your life. I implore you to throw down the reigns, let go of the steering wheel, and to submit to the sovereignty of Christ. Not to the sovereignty of this preacher. You know what preaching is like, sometimes I don’t like the way it is done, I tell you why. It looks like I have some message and I am God’s co-pilot or something and I am giving the message to you. When in fact if it is a message from God, I should speak it and run down there and sit and listen to it just like you. This is not on the authority of some preacher.

You read the Bible yourself, do you agree with what I just said about Romans 12 verse 1? It’s not about submitting to a pastor or church or anything else, it’s about submitting to Jesus Christ and putting your life at his disposal and becoming everything he desires you to be. But you have to die, you have to die.  If you are not a Christian here today, you are saying what is all this lunacy?  That’s exactly what it is. Come lose your life for a carpenter’s son, for a madman who died for a dream and you’ll have the faith that his first followers had and you will feel the weight of his being.

It is lunacy to someone that does not know God. To die to yourself in this world? We live in the Roman Empire where it is all about self-promotion, being strong and powerful and getting everything so people will applaud you. Not in the kingdom, it’s not about going up the ladder, but going down it. It’s not about having your feet washed, it’s about washing other people’s feet. Jesus Christ knowing where he came from, and where he was going, basically knowing that he was the Son of God in the flesh, put on a towel and wiped everybody’s feet. Now that’s strong self-esteem. That’s what this is about. And it’s just as much for me as is it is for you.

But if you don’t know the Lord, this is what the Bible wants you to know. The Bible says something that is extremely offensive. Can you handle it? The Bible says something extremely offensive. You are not a victim to society. You are not a victim to other people’s problems. You sir, you ma’am, you child, your problem just like me. The Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we are not lost sheep looking for a shepherd, we are God hating rebels, running with all our life to get away from it, because we want to be sovereign lord over our own universe. The Bible says if you keep doing that you will be even more destroyed. The Bible calls you to repent, to recognize your sin, and to hate it. And to run back to God, a just God, who could not forgive you because you have broken every law except He sent His Son to pay for every crime you ever committed, the payment has been made, justice has been satisfied. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. That’s what it is about. Your good works are like filthy rags, they are dead before God, and are of no account. They are just like mine. The only merit, the only virtue we have is Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected from the dead. Our only hope and our only glory. Our only hope.    

George Muller: There was a day that I utterly died-died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends. And since then I only have to show myself approved to God.  

Charles Spurgeon: I have now concentrated all my prayers into one, and that one prayer is this, that I may die to self and live wholly to Him.

A.W. Tozer: The reason many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.

Matthew 10:39: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  

Philippians 1:21a: For to me to live-Christ

 

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We Are the John the Baptists of This Generation

John the Baptist had a special calling and mission for his generation. He was born in a dark time where there had been no prophet speaking the words of God for over 400 years since the prophet Malachi. He was God’s messenger; he was God’s prophet  and his inspired words for shake a nation. He was God’s mouthpiece and His voice to a nation that sat in darkness. He plowed the hearts of people like a fallow field, making them ready for the coming Messiah.

Luke 3:1-6: In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
 make his paths straight.Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

The Word of the Lord came to John which is a hallmark of a prophet. It was not a word of a Pharisee or Sadducee or priest. It was the word of Yahweh, directly from the heart of God. John’s duty was to speak these words of light to his generation and to let the word of the Lord fill the valley, make the mountain low, straighten the crooked paths and level the rough places. He proclaimed the salvation of God to all flesh.  

JOHN CAME AS A
DIVINE HERALD

In the first century a herald was a Crier, Messenger or Proclaimer who made a public proclamations for kings, princes and military commanders, which is apropos for John heralded Jesus, who was the rightful King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2ff+), the prophesied Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6ff) and the coming conqueror as King of kings (Rev 19:11-16ff). The kerux served as a close confidant of the king, and would travel throughout the realm announcing to the people whatever the king wished to make known. John understood his purpose for existence and stuck with the divine plan for his life. Certain qualities were required of heralds. They must have powerful voices, so voice auditions were often held. Also they had to be capable of calming down an unruly mob, in order to faithfully communicate the command. An honest disposition was also required, as a protection against the exaggeration of a royal decree. Furthermore, they could make no additions or subtractions from the received message.

Apart from Jesus Christ, John the Baptist is probably the most theologically significant figure in the Gospels. As was the case with Jesus, his birth was meticulously recorded (Luke 1:5-25ff). His entrance into the world was marked by angelic proclamation and divine intervention (Luke 1:57-80). John’s birth not only parallels that of Jesus, but echoes the momentous occasion of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:15-22 ; 21:1-7). John is clearly a pivotal figure in the salvation history of God.

The Bible sets forth many characteristics of John the Baptist that set him apart as he placed himself at full disposal of God.

He was great before the Lord (Luke 1:15); He was filled with holy spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15); He turned many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God (Luke 1:16); John went in the power and spirit of Elijah, to turn hearts of the fathers to children, the disobedient to wisdom just and make ready for the Lord a people prepared (Luke 1:170; He was the voice of God and prepared the way of the Lord and made his paths straight (Luke 3:40; He preached the good news to the people (Luke 3:18); John bore witness to the word of Yahweh and he was more than a prophet (Matthew 11:9); He was God’s messenger and no one was greater among men than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11).

John the Baptist:  

  • He came with no theology;
  • He came with no philosophy to discuss;
  • He came with no new cult to introduce;
  • He did not come to ask men to consider a position which they could accept or reject as they pleased;
  • He came with the thundering voice of a great inspiration “Repent;”
  • His message of God’s authority stirred every place, and everyone.                                        John the Baptist was prophesied many centuries before in Scripture:

Isaiah 40:3-8:

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”A voice says, “Cry!” And I said ,“What shall I cry? ”All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:3 NASB: “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” 

Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. 

Malachi 4:5,6: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

John’s ministry: Prepare the way of the Lord; Made his paths straight; mountains and hills made low; level the uneven ground; the crooked shall me made straight; reveal the glory of the Lord; all flesh will see the salvation of God. Simple Message: Repent the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mountains are symbolic of the Devils deeply entrenched position, leering over and dominating society. Bulldoze the mountains into fallow fields preparing the way for the SAVIOR TO SOW HIS SEED. John preached against selfish subsistence. John began to awaken people spiritually

Luke 3:3 Wuest – As it stands written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, A voice of one shouting in the uninhabited region, Make ready the Lord’s road. 

Make ready the way of the Lord – Make ready is a command in the aorist imperative calling for his hearers to do this now and not to delay or procrastinate. Their need is urgent! Wuest says “That was the character of the preaching of the Baptist. His was no pussy-footing, no beating about the bush, no smooth, oily, namby-pamby preaching. The Baptist was a man among men, and his preaching was straight from the shoulder.” He is speaking figuratively of course and not calling for them to make a literal path, but to make their hearts ready to receive the Lord Jesus. Wuest adds ” His road needed to be prepared, that is, the hearts of His Chosen People must be ready. John’s ministry was to see to it that Israel was ready to welcome its Messiah.” 

The people had not been obeying the Lord, they had not kept His statutes and commandments, they had not walked in His ways, to love and serve Him. Now He is coming to earth to walk among men, so the command goes forth from John to prepare ye the way of the Lord. 

Broadus – Great public roads were rare in the East until introduced by the Romans. When an Oriental monarch was designing to journey into a certain region, he sent messengers in advance to require that a graded road should be prepared. Hence the image, here denoting spiritual preparation. Notice that in Isa. 40:4, every part of the process of grading is mentioned.

Literally the idea was to fill in the holes, remove the rocks and debris and knock down the hills, to make the king’s passage pleasant and easy. In this context of course the commands (make ready and prepare) convey a figurative meaning

Make ready means to make ready, specifically to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity. Thayer says when it is used as here to prepare the way (hodos = road) of the Lord, it is used as a figure “drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable,” thus, “to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure His blessings.”

Edwards comments that “The imagery given in verse 3 from Isaiah 40:3-5 is also very pertinent for us. If Christ is going to continue His advance in our lives, then many things must be cleared away. The hills and mountains of pride and unrighteousness must be leveled. The valleys of things we lack must be filled up. Rough spots must be smoothed out until all which hinders us from reflecting God’s glory is removed. Then our lives will no longer be a wilderness, but a highway upon which the King of glory may be clearly seen.” 

The fact here recorded is one that is much overlooked. We are apt to lose sight of him who went before the face of our Lord, and to see nothing but the Lord Himself. We forget the morning star in the full blaze of the Sun. And yet it is clear that John’s preaching arrested the attention of the whole Jewish people, and created an excitement all over Palestine. It aroused the nation from its slumbers, and prepared it for the ministry of our Lord, when He appeared. Jesus Himself says, “He was a burning and a shining light–you were willing to rejoice for a season in his light.” (John 5:35.) 

Prepare: Everything is ready. Make ready the road of the Lord.

Jesus Christ- I am the Road (John 14:6a), ROAD of the Lord is Jesus Christ. God made know to us the road of Life-Jesus. Jesus is the Road that leads to peace, joy, reconciliation, restoration and eternal life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

The preparation was the inward preparation of the hearts of the people for the coming of their king. Note that the command is personal. It is something that you must do. The prophet said, “Prepare to meet your God.” Basically John was saying the King is on His way, prepare the way for Him. 

The hills and mountains of pride and unrighteousness must be leveled. The valleys of things we lack must be filled up. Rough spots must be smoothed out until all which hinders us from reflecting God’s glory is removed. Then our lives will no longer be a wilderness, but a highway upon which the King of glory may be clearly seen.” 

Make his paths straight:

Paths (tribos from tribo = to rub, wear down) in secular Greek was used for a path, usually a well-worn track, a beaten path, thoroughfare and thus a defined track or route. 

Direction that we are on in our life is referred as a path or road in Scripture. You see that God and the devil are actively involved in the highway business. Both are builder of roads. Both are maker of paths.  1st usage of “path” is in Genesis 49:7: “horned snake in the path” referring to the idolatry of the tribe of Dan; There are traps on the path (Job 18:10; Psalm 142:3); paths of devil spirits and paths of wicked men (Judges 5:20, Job 5:10, Job 22:15); Paths of destruction (Job 30:12); Paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3); False ways or paths (Psalm 119:29); path of God’s commandments (Psalm 119:35); Snares on paths (Psalm 140:5); Crooked paths (Prov. 2:15); Paths of life (Proverbs 2:19); paths of justice (Proverbs 8:20); level paths (Psalm 27:11); path of death (Proverbs 5:5); turn aside from the path (Isaiah 30:11); way or path of Balaam in Scripture in 2 Peter 2:15,16 is referred to as madness as Israel forsook the right way and went astray.  The way of the Lord. Jesus Christ is the way, the road. Any other road you are on you are lost or deceived. The road is broad that leads to destruction; it is wide like an eight lane highway. We are always on path or road in life. A path is a course of life and a mode of action. We are all on a journey on a road. What path are you on? What road are you following? In Noah’s day the people corrupted His way on the earth. Psalm 18:30-God’s way is perfect. Psalm 37:5 tell us to “Commit your path to the Lord. Trust in Him and He shall act.” Psalm 139:3 God is acquainted with all your ways (paths). God tells us to commit our path to Him and He will act.

Proverbs 3:5,6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.

God promises us if we trust in him with all our heart and don’t lean on our own understanding and acknowledge him in everything, He will make our path straight. Only God can make your paths straight. Otherwise the path you are on is crooked.

Prepare your heart for the way of the Lord. Make ready your heart for the road of the Lord and let him make all your paths straight.

Like the Christmas lyric, “every heart is to prepare him room.”

We must prepare our hearts for the Lord, before we can tell others to do so.

2 Timothy 2:19: But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Amplified: So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work. 

We want to be an honorable vessel, holy and useful to God, prepared for every good work.

We must prepare our minds (Romans 12:2) We must prepare our bodies (Romans 12:1;I Corinthians 6;19,20); We must prepare our hearts; We must prepare and put on our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:14ff); Live in prayer; Walk in love and light and do not mix our soul with the world.

This advent season we want to cleanse ourselves from worldly fears, anxieties and ways of thinking and be an honorable vessel for the master’s use, walking in every good work He has prepared for us. This makes our path straight.

Ephesians 2:10:  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God has the good work prepared for us. He has prepared the path of good works.

1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Always being prepared in the way of the Lord

We prepare the way of the Lord in our generation. We are the John the Baptists of this age.

We bring the message that makes the Lord paths straight, levels mountains, and fills valleys.  

In this information age, we accumulate mounds of data—regarding ethics, solutions to social ills and the like—yet our morals decline. Because God has revealed His truth to us, each individual Christian has a responsibility to conform to it and grow. A greater diversity of distractions compete for our time and attention than at any other time in the history of mankind. If we are not extremely careful, and if we lose our sense of urgency, we will gradually lose our understanding of what is true and what is not. Our ability to distinguish between right and wrong will become blurred. We must make  sure that God, His Word and His way are always first in our lives.

When the Israelites rejected God’s instruction contained in His law, they rejected the Instructor as well. Their relationship with Him quickly deteriorated.

Commandment means “to engrave or cut into stone,” suggesting its permanence and immutability in contrast to temporary and changeable lies.

So it is with us: God wants to change our hearts so He can change our actions and turn around our lives.

In every area of life, Israel perverted the truth of God to accommodate the ideas of men. In the final tally, they loved lies rather than the revelation of God (II Thessalonians 2:11-12).

We must love the truth and not the lie to prepare the way of the Lord.

All people see the salvation of God in Christ. He is the way, the truth and life back to the Father; he is the mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5).

Look at Simeon’s prophecy concerning Jesus Christ:

Luke 2:30—32: For my eyes have seen your salvation31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

Prepare way of the Lord is a heart issue. John the Baptist plowed the field of the heart to make ready for the Lord Jesus’ ministry on the earth. God still cries out to us in the wilderness of this world to GO and make my ways know; GO and sow the seed of my word, GO as lights of this world and shine; GO as the salt of the earth and stand speaking the words of life. We are ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ and we are to prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness of this world (2 Corinthians. 5:17-20). We are His voice, His hands, His feet to this generation. We plow, we plant, we water, and God gives the increase. Our message is to be reconciled to God. We have ministry of reconciliation, and we have the Word of reconciliation. We implore people to repent and be reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We tell people about the good news of salvation and restoration through Christ.

Romans 10:12-15: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

We have been sent to herald forth the good news of great joy about the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ in whom there is remission of sins, a restoration of peace and a future hope.

We have the true Christmas message and we are sent by the authority of God to prepare His way on the earth, to bring back people to God where their paths can be made straight, where the mountains and valleys in their life will be leveled and filled. We show forth God’s glory and share His message of salvation and the wonderful hope of his second coming.

We can never forget that God is preparing a place for us (I Corinthians 2:9); Jesus promised he preparing a place for us and will bring us home to Him. (John 14:1-3). This future hope motivates us to be steadfast and faithful, abounding in the work of the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58).

One who is prepared has the hope as the anchor his soul. The one who prepares the way of the Lord, waits on Him to act. To hope in Him is to wait!  Perseverance, steadfastness, loyalty, tenacity, patience, endurance, stamina: all of these characteristics reveal the character of the one who hopes in the Lord. God is never in a hurry, but He is never late. If I trust in Him, I know that His timing is “never hurried and never late.”  And I must be patient.  My faithfulness is the action of waiting for Him to act.  This is no passive attitude.  There is much to be done during the time of anticipation.  We must be prepared for God’s action.  When He acts, the sea parts, the mountains split, the graves open, the stars fall.  We see the valleys filled, the rough places, the crooked places made straight and hills brought low. Woe to those who stand unprepared.  But when He acts is not up to us.

We reflect the glory of the Lord as we prepare His way and we are transformed more and more in that glory until he returns, What a glorious promise of transformation.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18:  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[f] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

God wants everyone to return to Him. God wants all to return to His loving embrace and everlasting arms. We herald forth to all people with the message, “Return! Repent! Reconcile! Prepare to meet thy God!” (Amos 4:12).

Amos 5:4,6: Seek me and live!

Seek the Lord and live! This is foundation of our message this season to the world. If we seek or desire anything more than Him, we will be disappointed, frustrated and left empty. God is a million times better than anything the world has to offer.

Isiah 40:25: To whom then will you compare me,  that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

Nothing in this generation compares to God.

Isaiah 40:28-31: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;  they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

God gives us power and strength to mount up with wings like eagles, to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint. He takes care of us as we prepare His way.

Isaiah 40:9-11: Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news;  lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him,  and his recompense before him.11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;  he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

We proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ in all his magnificence as the road back to the Heavenly Father.

We prepare the way of the Lord in this generation. We are heralds and messengers of the good news. We proclaim that people no longer need to fear. We proclaim “Behold the Christ! Behold the Lord God! Behold the Liberator! Behold the Shepherd! Behold the King! Behold the way, the road, the path! Behold the life! Behold the truth! Look at what he has done for you! His arms are open! He is knocking at the door of the heart! Be restored! Be reconciled! Be set free! Receive His gift of eternal life!”

This is the wonder of Christmas and the significance of his birth and life.

Jesus Christ is the subject of the Word, the red thread, the essence of God’s work upon the earth. You find him everywhere in the Word.

My people, the light has dawned and it is rising to the height of its midday brilliance among us today. Why? Because he is the Way, that’s why this is our way. He is the Truth, and this is our truth. He is the Light, and, this is our light. He is the light of our lives, people. He is, therefore we are.

In Genesis he is the promised seed of the woman.
In Exodus he is the Passover lamb.
In Leviticus he is the High Priest.
In Numbers he is the star to rise out of Jacob.
In Deuteronomy he is the two laws: Love God and love your neighbor.
In Joshua he is the captain of the Lord of Hosts.
In Judges he is the covenant angel named Wonderful.
In Ruth he is the kinsman redeemer.
In Samuel he is the root and offspring of David.
In Kings he is the greater than the Temple.
In Chronicles he is the King’s son.
In Ezra-Nehemiah he is the rebuilder.
In Esther he is the savior of God’s people.
In Job he is the daysman.
In Psalms he is the song.
In Proverbs he is the wisdom of God.
In Ecclesiastes he is the one among a thousand.
In The Song of Solomon he is the bridegroom of the bride.
In Isaiah he is Jacob’s branch.
In Jeremiah he is our righteousness.
In Lamentations he is the unbelievers’ judgment.
In Ezekiel he is the true shepherd.
In Daniel he is the stone that became the head of the corner.
In Hosea he is the latter rain.
In Joel he is God’s dwelling in Zion.
In Amos he is the raiser of David’s tabernacle.
In Obadiah he is the deliverer on Mount Zion.
In Jonah he is our salvation.
In Micah he is the Lord of kings.
In Nahum he is the stronghold in the time of trouble.
In Habakkuk he is our joy and confidence.
In Zephaniah he is our mighty Lord.
In Haggai he is the desire of the nations.
In Zechariah he is our servant The Branch.
In Malachi he is the son of Righteousness.
This is the red thread. You find him everywhere throughout the Word.
In Matthew he is Jehovah’s Messiah.
In Mark he is Jehovah’s servant.
In Luke he is Jehovah’s man.
And in John he is Jehovah’s Son.
In Acts he is the gift of holy spirit.
In Romans he is the believers’ justification.
In Corinthians he is the believers’ sanctification.
In Galatians he is the believers’ righteousness.
In Ephesians he is the believers’ heavenly standing.
In Philippians he is the believers’ self-adequacy.
And in Colossians he is the believers’ completeness.
And in Thessalonians he is the believers’ soon-glorification.
In Timothy he is the faithful men.
In Titus he is the fellowlaborer.
In Philemon he is the love of a believer.
In Hebrews he is the High Priest for sin.
In James he is the royal law.
In Peter he is the pastor.
In John he is as we are.
In Jude he is the beloved.
And in Revelation he is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Who is this Jesus Christ? Yes, who is this Jesus Christ?
He is the Red Thread that binds together the Word from Genesis to Revelation.
He is the doom of the Adversary as promised in Genesis 3:15 and accomplished in Revelation 20:10.
He is the “no night” of Revelation 22:5, of which Genesis 1:1 is night.
He is the light of Revelation 21:13, of which Genesis 1:16 and 17 is the sun and moon. He is the “no more death, neither sorrow or crying” of Revelation 21:4, of which Genesis 3:16 and 17 is sorrow, suffering, and death.
He is the “no more curse” of Revelation 22:3, of which Genesis 3:17 is the curse.
He is the welcome home to paradise of Revelation 22:2, of which Genesis 3:22 to 24 is the banishment from paradise.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Abel’s sacrifice, Abraham’s ram. He is Isaac’s well. He is Jacob’s ladder.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Judah’s scepter, Moses’ rod, Joshua’s ram’s horn, Samuel’s horn of oil, David’s little-ol’ slingshot, Hezekiah’s sundial, Elijah’s mantle and Elisha’s staff.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Job’s prayer, Isaiah’s fig tree, Ezekiel’s wheel, Daniel’s Jerusalem window, Jonah’s sea monster and Malachi’s storehouse.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Peter’s shadow, Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons.
He is the lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon in life’s desserts.
He is the pearl of great price.
He is the Rock for pilgrims in a weary land.
He is the believer’s justification.
He is the believer’s righteousness.
He is the believer’s sanctification.
He is the believer’s redemption.
He is the believer’s knowledge.
He is the believer’s wisdom.
He is the believer’s all- in-all in all.
He is the believer’s completely complete completeness.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is the bright and morning star, and he’s my Lord and my Savior.

This is the essence of the Christmas Message!

Go out and prepare the way of the Lord!

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How Will You Wake Up Tomorrow?

I have two questions for you: How did you wake up today? How will you wake up tomorrow?

The Bible tells of a time when the people of God woke up in the morning and discovered that “the enemy that was against them had come by night with a great army and surrounded the city” (see 2 Kings 6:14). Have you ever experienced that? You wake up and find yourself surrounded—by your struggles, your trials, perhaps an illness in your body. You may even feel as though you are being taunted by the voices of the enemy all around you.

In this particular scenario, a servant of the prophet Elisha got up early and found the army surrounding them. “His servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15–17).

Here we see two types of men waking up at the same time. Now both are followers of God. Elisha is called into a specific ministry, and so is his servant. If you were to ask the servant, “Are you a follower of Jehovah God?” he would answer, “Absolutely. I am Elisha’s servant. If he goes somewhere, I go with him. I am pursuing the same God he is.”

The problem is that although this servant was a follower of God, he had little to no spiritual vision. There are a lot of people like that in the Church of Jesus Christ. They are followers of God, they go to church, they go where the servants of God go. They do the things they are asked to do, yet they have little or no spiritual vision. When the enemy comes in, just as in this case, their very first response is, “What shall we do?” God is not even in the equation. In other words, “Something has to be done, and it has to be done by us.”

The New Testament calls this type of man a natural man. Yes, he has come to salvation through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Yet, just like Elisha’s servant, he sees with his natural eye and pushes forward with his natural strength and reasoning. He remains outside of where the power and the wonder of God are.

I don’t want to live there. I never wanted to live there. Right from the beginning, I said, “God, I see something in Your Word. You operate in a kingdom that cannot be seen with the natural eye and sometimes cannot be comprehended with the natural mind. It cannot be attained with natural ability. You invite us into this kingdom by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. You give us Your Holy Spirit to take the victory You won and show us what we have inherited.”

This is important because we are in a battle now for the very soul of our nation. We are in a battle for the testimony of God in our generation, and we are not going to be able to reason our way through this. It requires a supernatural victory that can only come by the hand of God.

The book of First Corinthians says it this way: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God… But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:12, 14). In other words, the man who lives by his own strength and reasoning cannot know the things of the kingdom of God. He will always live in a realm of “What shall we do? What can we do?” It will always be that reasoning.

BECOMING AS LITTLE CHILDREN

The book of John gives us another picture of how the kingdom of God works. “Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do” (John 6:5–6).

Jesus saw a great multitude—a great need that He knew could not be met through human resource. And so He tested a man who had been walking with Him for a season. Now Philip should have known better. The disciples knew Jesus could do miracles. Yet immediately, Philip resorted to his natural understanding and said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little” (John 6:7). When you do not have the strength to meet the need that is before you, have you ever considered that God might be testing you to see if you are willing to look away from your own resources? Are you willing to look away from your own ideas about how to achieve your desired end?

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?’ Then Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:8–11). You see, the kingdom of God operates through faith. Jesus knew what he was going to do, and He knew who His partner was going to be in doing it. A little boy with five loaves and two small fish pressed through the crowd and presented his lunch to one of the disciples. I can imagine him saying, “This should do it. Between me and Jesus, we can feed this crowd!”

I have grandchildren, and that is the way they are. They do not see impossibility. They do not get up in the morning and look at the size of the problem. If Papa tells them, “It’s all going to be okay,” then in their minds, it’s all going to be okay. They do not have to figure it out. If I tell them we are going to get ice cream today at five o’clock, they know they are going to get from where they are to the ice cream shop even though they cannot drive a car. They do not have to know how it’s going to happen, they just need to know that Papa told them it is going to be done.

Jesus Himself said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Now, He is not talking about salvation. He is talking about entering into a place of God’s power and wonderment—this kingdom that starts with just a small seed but grows into something that can provide for multitudes. Unless you become converted and become as little children, you will wake up in the morning just like Elisha’s servant. It does not mean that heaven is not your home. It means that while you live on the earth, you will live outside of this place of the miraculous. You will be part of that crowd that gets up in the morning and says, “Alas, master, what shall we do?

THREE SIMPLE PRAYERS

Now Elisha’s response to his servant’s question was quite simple. He said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17). The Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. His eyes were suddenly open to a whole kingdom and power he had been unaware of.

Then he saw Elisha pray two more simple prayers. The first: “Strike them with blindness” (see 2 Kings 6:18). In other words, do not let the enemy achieve their desired end of trying to captivate Your testimony. You and I should pray this again in our generation as darkness attempts to take away the testimony of Christ, redefining good as evil and evil as good.

Elisha then said to this foreign army, “Come, follow me,” and he led them right into the midst of Samaria (2 Kings 6:19). A whole army was taken captive by a praying man! Then Elisha prayed one more prayer: “Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see” (6:20). In other words, open the eyes of our enemies and give them spiritual sight to see that there is a kingdom bigger than theirs.

When the king of Israel asked, “Shall I smite them?” Elisha replied, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those whom you have taken captive with your sword and your bow? Set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master” (2 Kings 6:22). In other words, “Show them that there is a God much greater than anything they have ever understood.” And so he had them sit down at the table for a great feast. Then he sent them home, and the Scripture says they never came back again. Nobody wanted to fight that kind of battle!

SPIRITUAL EYES

Think about how Elisha’s servant got up in the morning and, in the space of just a few short hours, saw something that he had never seen before. How do you think he woke up the next morning? “God, show me those chariots again. Show me the soldiers of heaven again. Help me to pray like Elisha. Help me never to trust what I see with my natural eyes or think with my natural mind. Help me never to lean on what I can come up with in my natural strength. You have shown me Your power, so do not let me settle for less!”

Perhaps you woke up this morning like Elisha’s servant and essentially said, “Alas, master, what shall we do?” Maybe you got up and spoke to your spouse or to your mom or dad and said, “What are we going to do? We have to do something.” Your whole life has been stuck in this narrow corridor of human effort and human reasoning.

My prayer is that God will open the eyes of His people one more time. We have lived in the natural for too long. We have strategized ourselves into spiritual impotence. Now we find ourselves surrounded by enemies who are hellbent on stamping out the testimony of Christ in this generation. We must have our spiritual eyes open. We must have that faith of a child that says, “God is much bigger than me. God has a great plan. God is my Father. God can be trusted. God’s ways are not my ways.”

I am praying that tomorrow you will wake up and instead of asking “What shall we do?” you will say, “God is with me.” Your circumstances may not have changed, but you will have light in your eyes and joy in your heart. You be able to confidently say, “I do not have to understand everything. My enemies can bark over the wall all they want, but God has promised to keep me. God has sealed me in His hand, and no one can take me out of that hand. God has promised that He is going to bring me to a desired end!”

Carter Conlan, Times Square Church

Courtesy of http://sermons.tsc.nyc/how-will-you-wake-up-tomorrow/newsletter/english/

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The Christian Lifestyle: Joy and Peace and No Anxiety

This amazing section of Scripture sets forth the choice of Christian believer when faced with challenges, difficult circumstances and daily living. Do we have joy or anxiety? Do we have peace or worry? Do we have confidence or fear?

As we study these important truths, think where Paul wrote this epistle. He was in prison in Rome. Not the best of circumstances, but it brings home the truth that no matter where you are or how big a problem looks in front of you, you can practice these truths as our habitual lifestyle. Joy and peace are never dependent on our circumstances. Paul could have been angry, fearful, depressed, or despondent because in prison.

Philippians 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

We may decoupage this verse and hang on our wall, but do we live it?

Rejoice-repeated joy. God says it twice for emphasis and then adds the word always. Our lives should radiate joy from the morning’s first light to when we fall into sleep at night.

I Thessalonians 5:16: Rejoice always.

Rejoice (chairo) is present imperative calling for a lifestyle of joy that emanates from an active choice of our will regardless of whether confronted with joyful or adverse circumstances and/or people.

Repeated joy: Joy is inner gladness, delight, exultation, and rejoicing that is grounded in a close relationship with God. Joy is much deeper than happiness, as joy is a spiritual quality of exuberant gladness that leads one to praise, sing, shout, and leap in great delight. Joy is not affected or changed by outside circumstances. Joy rests upon a firm knowledge of the truth concerning our salvation and all we have been made in Christ, including our future hope of everlasting life with our Lord. Joy is always linked to the grace of God and in the Greek actually comes from the same root as the word “grace” Joy rejoices in the magnificent grace of God and displays an inner awareness that by the grace of God we are who we are. Joy is a manifestation of living in the presence of God and  gives us great strength to do what He has called us to do. Joy is a deep overwhelming jubilation that arises from our unwavering trust and love for God. Joy celebrates everything that God has done for us and everything he promises to do for us in the future. Joy is a true inner celebration and delight in the goodness of God.

Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life;  in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

To rejoice in Him is to exult in Him, not as a dim abstraction, but as a living Person—so near and so loving, so generous and so powerful, that we ever turn to Him in admiring grateful homage, coveting His presence as its sunshine, and reveling in fellowship with Him. 

Psalm 4:7: You have put more joy in my heart…

Psalm 63:7: In the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy

Is it rash to say, in fine, that the churches of Christ are strangers by far too much to this repeated charge of the apostle—that the current ideas of Christ are too historic in their character, and want the freshness of a personal reality—that He is thought of more as a being in remoteness and glory, far above and beyond the stars, than as a personal and sympathizing Saviour—that salvation is regarded more as a process a man thankfully submits to, than a continuous and happy union with Jesus— and that therefore, though Christians may run and are not weary, and may walk and are not faint, they seldom mount up with wings as eagles, and then, if they do, is not their flight brief and exhaustive?

Joy is always centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, there is no joy.

Luke 2:10,11: And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

Jesus Christ is the Father’s plan for great joy. He is great joy, great light, great calm, the great King, the great voice, the great commandment, the great gain and the great, the Son of the highest.

John 16;22-24:  So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Our joy is to be full like Jesus’s joy.

Hebrews 12:2: Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Paul: 2 Corinthians 7:4: In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy

Jesus was full of joy even as he hung on the cross in extreme agony. Joy sees the bigger picture. Joy sees the future as bright as the promises of God.

Joy is such a vitally important factor in believers’ spiritual stability. It is important to understand that this is not “joy” as the world defines joy, envisioning it as an emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. This secular definition hardly describes Christian joy which is not a feeling, but it is the deep-down confidence that God is in control of everything for the believer’s good and His own glory, and thus all is well no matter the circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                          If believers are to represent heaven to earth, then joy should be one of our trademarks, for in Christ’s presence is fullness of joy. We obtain (and maintain) this joy by rejoicing in the right object. We rejoice not in our situation but in our Savior, not in circumstances, but in Christ.

It does not say just rejoice. It says to rejoice in the Lord. We live in the sphere of the Lord. This enables us to rejoice repeatedly,

Rejoice in the Lord; don’t rejoice in the world; don’t rejoice in our circumstances; don’t’ rejoice in our political affiliation, don’t rejoice in our worldly accomplishments, don’t rejoice in our education. The Lord is the immutable (unchanging), inexhaustible source of joy, and it is only by maintaining close union with Him that a Christian will be able to experience this supernatural joy.

Rejoice in the sphere of the Lord.  It’s only joy in Him that remains. If you get your joy any other place, something can take it away.

Joy in him is full, and it is complete.

The joy of the Lord is a thermostat, not a thermometer. A thermometer registers conditions; a thermostat controls them. Happiness is related to the thermometer. If your hap is good, you’re happy; if your hap is bad, you’re unhappy. And, your condition of happiness goes up and down with your circumstances (like a thermometer). But, joy remains constant, because Jesus is constant (He is our “Thermostat” that never changes – Heb 13:8).

You know what most of us need to learn to do? Practice the presence of God—I mean, to understand that He is always there (Heb 13:5-6) and, in no matter what circumstance we find ourselves, not to become a thermometer, but to set the thermostat. 

 Habakkuk 3:17-18: Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:”—that is, it’s a time of economic depression and deprivation—”yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” And friend, if you don’t have any joy, it’s because Jesus is not real to you. I don’t care how sick you may be; I don’t care what agony there may be. There is Jesus, and He is always there. You can set the thermostat.

Joy is not an accident of temperament or an unpredictable providence; joy is a matter of choice.

“The Lord is the only sure, reliable, unwavering, unchanging source of joy. Spiritual stability is directly related to how a person thinks about God. No one has stated that truth more clearly than A. W. Tozer. In his classic book on the attributes of God, The Knowledge of the Holy, Tozer wrote” What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God. Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.”

Impossible situation in Philippi-Would you rejoice? Acts 16:19-32

In Prison-rejoicing and singing.

Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS-No exceptions. Always-at all times. Ephesians 5:20-Give thanks always.

Philippians 4:5: Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;

Amplified: Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is a coming soon]

Lightfoot: Let your gentle and forbearing spirit be recognized by all men. The judgment is drawing near.

Wuest: Let your sweet reasonableness, your forbearance, your being satisfied with less than your due, become known to all men. The Lord is near [in that His coming may occur at any moment]. 

Reasonableness-Gentle (Forbearing)  (epieikes) stands for the spirit or attitude that does not seek to retaliate. It denotes one’s willingness to give and take instead of always standing rigidly on one’s rights to the end they become moral wrongs. This is the person who is yielding his rights and is therefore gentle, kind, courteous, tolerant or as one has described it exhibits a “sweet reasonableness” or an ability to extend to others the kindly consideration one would wish to receive themselves. The forbearing person is not spineless but selfless. Reasonable not rigid.

It also describes what is proper or fair, or what is kind and reasonable, especially in the form of considerateness and as opposed to the harshness of law. It is opposed to that rigor which never bends nor deviates. It is slow to take offence, it is swift to forgive it.

Epieikes defines the individual who knows when it is actually wrong to apply the strict letter of the law, knows how to forgive when justice would otherwise give then the right to condemn, knows how to make allowances, knows when not to stand upon his or her rights, knows how to temper justice with mercy and remembers that there are more important things in world than rules and regulations. 

Be known  (ginosko) speaks of knowledge that goes beyond the merely factual. Paul is saying that others are to realize our yieldedness “experientially.” We are to be sure that they realize by seeing us in action that we are a people who do not cling to our rights as do non-Christians. The aorist imperative is a command calling for this to be done now and to be done effectively so that others come to know by their experience (by their interactions with you!). The NET Bible conveys this sense rendering it “Let everyone see your gentleness”

Kenneth Wuest comments that “The word known refers to knowledge gained by experience. The exhortation is therefore, “Do not keep this sweet reasonableness in your heart. Let it find expression in your conduct. Thus others will experience its blessings also.”

The Lord is near-James 5:8,9: You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 

Thayer defines eggus as “near,” adding that it speaks of “things imminent and soon to come to pass.”

We live every moment like his coming is imminent.

Philippians 3:20: But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 

Luke 12:35: “Stay dressed for action[f] and keep your lamps burning,  40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

I Thessalonians 1:10: And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Living with anticipation of Christ’s return allows us to live with joy and gentleness, forgiveness and patience

Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 

Wuest: Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing, but in everything by prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion and by supplication which is a cry for your personal needs, with thanksgiving let your requests for the things asked for be made known in the presence of God.

Passion: Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, 

The Greek places nothing at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis. The verb be anxious is present imperative which is a command, not just an exhortation and not something optional that would be nice to do if we decide to do it. The present tense in fact calls for this to be the habitual practice in the life of believers. The negative preceding the command means they are to stop doing something, implying they are already worrying! Paul says in essence

“Stop worrying and do not under any circumstances worry about anything.”

Matthew 6:24ff

Be anxious (merimnao from merimna = anxious care from meris = part, in turn from the verb merizo = to distract, to divide, to draw different directions – which is exactly what anxiety does to most of us!) expresses a strong feeling for something or someone, often to the point of being burdened. Although this can be a “positive” concern, in most of the NT uses it refers to an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune, and so it means to be worried about, to be anxious about, to be apprehensive (viewing the future with anxiety or alarm), to be unduly concerned, to be burdened with anxious care or cumbered with many cares and in simple terms to worry.

2 Samuel 7:10 “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed (Hebrew = ragaz = be agitated, quiver, quake, perturbed; Lxx = merimnao) again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly.

Worry has a fascinating etymology which can be traced back to the Old High German “wurgen” which means “to strangle” which is what worry does to our joy! Webster adds that in “dialect British” worry means to “choke” or to “strangle”. The first definition of “worry” in Webster is “to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat”, and then “to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort” and “to afflict with mental distress or agitation = make anxious”. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, Mass)

Merimnao in the present context means to have an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune and is characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency and emphasizes a fear of frustration, failure or disappointment.

The idea inherent in merimnao is of an individual attempting to carry the burden of the future by themselves and expressing an unreasonable anxiety (especially) about things over which one has no control.

Vine writes that “merimnao denotes to have a distracting care. This is to be absent entirely from the believer. Anxiety harasses the soul; it enfeebles, irritates, ruffles the temper, is a sign of mistrust and of failing obedience, and distracts the mind from communion with God.

I Peter 5:6-8: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The word “casting” in the Amplified Version means: to throw, hurl or cast with a sudden motion; to throw something suddenly and completely on something else. It is not a timid casting of our cares upon Him or an apologetic casting in the sense of “could you please take a care or two from me God, if you have time?” It is an abrupt and swift hurling, like you were throwing a fastball or hurling a hot potato out of your hands. God does not want us to mess around with a half-hearted effort in this casting. You are not to hang on to one single anxious care, but forcefully throw every one of them upon Him. Throw all not just some of our anxieties on God. God commands us not to carry one anxiety on our shoulders. This takes humility. Want to not get devoured by the enemy because we are not wallowing in worry or anxiety.

Guzik has an interesting insight stating that “Undue care is an intrusion into God’s arena. It makes us the father of the household instead of being a child.”

From the spiritual point of view, worry is wrong thinking and wrong feeling about circumstances, people, and things. Worry is the greatest thief of joy. It is not enough for us, however, to tell ourselves to “quit worrying” because that will never capture the thief. Worry is an “inside job,” and it takes more than good intentions to get the victory. The antidote to worry is the secure mind: “And the peace of God… shall keep [garrison, guard like a soldier] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). When you have the secure mind, the peace of God guards you (Phil. 4:7) and the God of peace guides you (Phil. 4:9). With that kind of protection—why worry?

Worry is excessive concern over the affairs of life. The key obviously is the word “excessive.” Worry happens when you are so concerned about the problems of life that you can think of nothing else. It is an all-consuming feeling of uncertainty and fear. And it is a sin. Worry is a sin for two reasons: First, because it displaces God in your life. When you commit the sin of worry, you are living as though God did not exist. And you are living as though you alone can solve your problems. Second, because it distracts you from the things that really matter in life. As long as you are worrying, you can’t do anything else. You are strangled by worry.

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained. – Arthur Somers Roche

2 cares choke the word out of you

Matthew 13:22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Luke 8:14: And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Jesus divided these anxious cares and worries into two categories in the parable of the sower and the seed. The first category is the anxious cares of this age (Matthew13:22), which are worries about the current state of affairs in the world. Today it would be all the negatives we hear on the nightly news about the violent and horrible events of this age. Threats of terrorism, violent wars, disease outbreaks, environmental disasters, food shortages, and political corruption are just a few of the worries and cares of this age. The second category is the anxious cares of this life (Luke 8:14), which are daily worries and cares that come up in our personal lives. These are cares about our finances, jobs, relationships, food, clothing, health, and all problems that may arise from our day to day living. Jesus Christ clearly taught that these anxious worries choke the Word of God out of your mind and heart so you do not bear any fruit for God in your life. You cannot think, meditate, and grow in the word of God when these anxious cares and worries are dominating your thoughts for they crowd out the Word of God in your mind. The word “choke” in this parable means: to so press, throng and crowd to the point that it suffocates completely the life out of something. Worry always suffocates the growth of the Word of God in your life. This is why Jesus Christ spent so much time teaching His disciples that they cannot let worry and anxiety dominate their thoughts, if they expect to love and serve God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are to cast and throw every care upon our loving and mighty God, whether it is a care of this age or a care of our life.

Ray Stedman

I think there is nothing more prevalent in the age in which we live than the increasing problem of tension. It isn’t for nothing that the ulcer has become the badge of modern life. Worry is a powerful force to disintegrate the human personality, leaving us frustrated, puzzled, baffled, bewildered by life. Sometimes you hear the expression: “sick with worry”, and anyone who has experienced it knows it is no empty expression. You can be literally sick with worry. Paul’s answer to this is a blunt, “Have no anxiety about anything.” These are not just Paul’s words. This reflects the position of scripture from Genesis through Revelation. The entire Word of God is a constant exhortation to believers to stop worrying. It is everywhere forbidden to those who believe in Jesus Christ, and I think one of the most serious areas of unbelief is our failure as Christians to face the problem of worry as sin. Because that is what it is. Worry is not just something everyone does and therefore it must be all right. It is definitely labeled a sin in the scriptures, and the exhortation is everywhere: stop it! Have no anxiety about anything.

In everything by prayer and supplication- Everything (whatever the matter) (pas) means everything without exception! Not just those “crisis” prayers. No time, no subject, no place is off limits for prayer. In everything; in each emergency, little or great, as it arises, pray; cultivate the habit of referring all things, great or small, to God in prayer.

Barclay comments:

It has been beautifully put: “There is nothing too great for God’s power; and nothing too small for his fatherly care.”

No care but all prayer.
No anxiety but much joyful communion with God.

Spurgeon goes on to exhort us…

Carry your desires to the Lord of your life, the guardian of your soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and, therefore, thank God for His grace.

Henrietta Mears – Yes, the way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything. The prayer of faith must be a prayer of thanksgiving because faith knows how much it owes to God. Put your prayers into God’s hands and go off and leave them there. Do not worry about them.

Supplication  (deesis from deomai = to want, to beg, to pray) refers to making known of one’s specific needs, even conveying a sense of an urgent request to meet that need.

Deesis is used in the NT for prayer for particular benefits and gives prominence to one’s personal needs. Deesis emphasizes the fact that the suppliant is in need of the thing ask for

Dwight Pentecost adds that…

Supplication concerns a specific request for special needs. Paul is saying that to be relieved of worry we ought to move in our praying from the general to the specific. How often we pray, “God, bless me today. Bless my loved ones”; and that is as specific as we ever get. The antidote to worry is to recognize a specific need, realize that it is God’s responsibility, and charge God with the responsibility. That is how worry can be relieved. This will work for every area of a believer’s life — not just his spiritual life, but his business life, his financial responsibilities, his home, his children, everything. Put yourself in a place of dependence upon God, and expect Him to do what He has promised. Then be specific about what is worrying you, and expect Him to do something about that very thing. (Pentecost, J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)

When Franklin Graham, the oldest son of Billy and Ruth Graham, was living a wild and dangerous life, Ruth found herself torn apart by worry. One night while she was abroad, she suddenly awoke in the middle of the night worrying about Franklin. A current of worry surged through her like an electric shock. She lay in bed and tried to pray, but she suffered from galloping anxiety, one fear piling upon another. She looked at the clock and it was around three o’clock. She was exhausted, yet she knew she would be unable to go back to sleep. Suddenly the Lord seemed to say to her, “Quit studying the problems and start studying the promises.” She turned on the light, got out her Bible, and the first verses that came to her were these, Philippians 4:6-7. As she read those words, she suddenly realized that the missing ingredient in her prayers had been thanksgiving. “…in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

She put down her Bible and spent time worshipping God for who and what he is. She later wrote, “I began to thank God for giving me this one I loved so dearly in the first place. I even thanked him for the difficult spots which had taught me so much. And you know what happened? It was as if someone turned on the light in my mind and heart, and the little fears and worries that had been nibbling away in the darkness like mice and cockroaches hurriedly scuttled for cover. That was when I learned that worship and worry cannot live in the same heart. They are mutually exclusive.”

Requests  (aitema from aiteo = ask for with urgency to the point of demanding, even as demanding one’s share) are petitions that in general are from one who is in a lesser position than the one to whom the petition is made. Vincent says that aitema refer to the specific details of supplication.

What has been requested or demanded

Be made known is a command (imperative) in the present tense (continually do this, make it the habit of your life). In other words keep praying and don’t lose heart. Jesus gave a similar exhortation to His disciples “telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” Luke 18:1-6

Paul is saying, in effect, that prayer is a conversation with, a plea directed to, a request made of, information given to God Who can hear, know, understand, care about and respond to the concerns that otherwise would sink you in despair.

To God (in the presence of God) (immediately before God) is the preposition pros which as noted above conveys the idea of motion toward or of being immediately before another. Pros depicts us as “face to face” with God!

This picture reminds one of King Hezekiah who upon receiving a potentially anxiety producing letter from the Assyrians (in which Israel’s destruction was predicted)

“took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD

Focus on God not the anxieties. .WORRY FORCES US TO FOCUS ON THE WRONG THINGS

Did you know that there’s no higher expression of faith than thanksgiving, and worry is the highest expression of unbelief? Now, you think about it: Thanksgiving is the highest expression of faith; worry is perhaps the greatest expression of unbelief. 

Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   

NLT: If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Peace, shalom, means: wholeness, completeness and soundness; it’s a harmony and unity of heart and soul because of a restored relationship with God, our Father; it is an inward and outward tranquility, a quiet assurance and a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the symphony and harmony of life, in which you enjoy all that is good because of your right relationship with God. It’s the freedom from being disturbed, agitated, stressed and troubled. It is the absence of discord, strife, and anxiety. It is to be at ease and calmly unaffected by circumstance. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, and satisfaction in life. There is absolute security, safety, and victory at the center of peace. It is the absence of inward conflict, condemnation, and torment, but rather a state of rest, calmness, and quiet confidence.

         True peace is oneness and complete unity with Yahweh-Shalom, where there is a wonderful mutual sharing of the enjoyment of that bond and relationship. Yahweh-Shalom is the origin and source of all peace and we have and enjoy peace because of our relationship and oneness with Him. His peace is our peace. His wholeness is our wholeness. His soundness is our soundness. His completeness is our completeness. No man or woman can ever have peace without a vibrant, living fellowship and right relationship with Yahweh-Shalom. You can’t buy peace, you can’t medicate peace, and you cannot manufacture peace. You cannot produce peace from some mental gymnastic exercise or self-help book or seminar. It is impossible to have peace apart from Yahweh-Shalom. There is and never will be true peace for the unbeliever.

Isaiah 57:19-21 (New Living Translation):

I will comfort those that mourn bringing words

of praise to their lips. May they have abundant

peace, both near and far, says the Lord, who

heals them.

But those who still reject me are like the

restless sea, which is never still but continually

churns up mud and dirt.

There is no peace for the wicked, says my God.

Isaiah 59:8 (NIV):

The way of peace they do not know; there is

no justice in their paths. They have turned them                       

into crooked roads; no one who walks in them

will know peace.

Surpasses  (huperecho from hupér = above, over + écho = have) means literally to hold above and in context means to transcend the reach of man’s ability to comprehend. This word speaks of that which is superior to or of surpassing and exceptional value.

Huperecho is in the present tense which signifies that this peace is continually a peace that baffles men’s futile attempts to explain it or rationalize it. Why? Because it is supernatural peace. God’s peace continually stands out and is superior and more excelling than the world’s peace or any so called peace we might be able to well up because of ”positive thinking” etc. It is beyond our ability to produce it by our own intellect.

Comprehension  (nous) describes the God given faculty of perceiving and understanding and is the channel through which truth reaches the heart.

This peace doesn’t just surpass the understanding of the worldly man but surpasses all understanding. Even the godly man can’t comprehend this peace. Paul is promising something that is not humanly explicable — that a man surrounded by care and anxiety and harassment and concern can still live with the tranquility of God in his soul! Who can understand this great promise!

William Barclay says surpasses all human comprehension “means that the peace of God is so precious that the human mind, with all its skill and all its knowledge, can never produce it. It can never be of our contriving; it is only of God’s giving. The way to peace is in prayer to entrust ourselves and all whom we hold dear to the loving hands of God.”

Shall guard The picture of phroureo is to protect by a a Roman guard or soldier holding his weapon on guard duty, either to prevent hostile invasion or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight (ponder this last aspect in the context of the effect that “anxiety” often has on one’s psyche – don’t you sometimes feel like you just want to take flight or run away?) The armed guard is walking back and forth in front of an open gate so that no one can enter.

We need never worry or be anxious about any circumstance or problem we face, for we have a Heavenly Father to whom we can take every need and difficulty to in prayer.  In the Greek, the word “worry” describes the state of the mind of being pulled apart and divided by anxious cares and worries. It is characterized by an extreme uneasiness of the mind and a brooding fear about something, and emphasizes a fear of misfortune, failure, disappointment, and disaster. Worry denotes a lack of focus and trust in God and an endless running of the mind in all directions. God says instead of worrying or being anxious, bring the problem to Him in earnest and thankful prayer. We should worry about nothing and pray about everything. That is the lifestyle of the believer.

The word “prayer” in the Greek means: a prayer to God of worship, adoration, and devotion remembering His character, His attributes, His names, His goodness, and who He is. It is a prayer where our heart is focused on His greatness and majesty. It is a prayer where our heart remembers all the great qualities of the goodness of God and overflows with thankfulness. It is from this heart of love that we make specific detailed requests for our personal needs and the needs of others. Then God promises that His awesome, wonderful peace will mount and keep constant guard over our hearts and minds as we rest in our union in Christ Jesus. No fear, no worry, and no anxiety can penetrate and disturb our heart or mind, for the peace of God is guarding our heart. 

The word “guard” in the Greek was a military term for the guarding of a city by a military garrison that kept constant watch to protect and secure the city from the hostile invasion of any enemy. This peace of God protects and guards our heart like a military garrison, keeping it calm, tranquil, and without agitation from any outside influence. When we love God with all our heart, seek Him in prayer in all of life’s situations, and walk in our sonship rights and privileges in Christ Jesus, the peace of God will overflow in our heart and act as a strong barrier against every fiery dart of the wicked one. The peace of God is the impenetrable barrier, the unbreakable wall, and the protective watchtower against every device of the devil designed to distract and divide our mind from serving the one true God.  The peace of God enables us to live above the fear and anxiety of the world and enjoy our reconciliation with our Heavenly Father, even when the terror of this age rages around us.

Shortly before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples

John 14:27 (Amplified): Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled)”

We have the peace of Jesus Christ. We never need to be fearful, intimidated or unsettled.

The result of believing prayer is that the peace of God will stand like a sentinel on guard upon our hearts. The way to peace is in prayer to entrust ourselves and all whom we hold dear to the loving hands of God.

Isaiah 26:3: You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Colossians 3:15: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

Romans 5:1:2: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. 

The Christian believer’s life should be marked with the qualities of joy and peace. Joy and Peace fruit of spirit, supernatural inside characteristics of the believer. Worry and anxiety have no place in a believer’s life. They are the fruit of unbelief. Each day we have a choice. Joy or anxiety? Peace or worry. Faith or fear. God commands us to live free of worry and anxiety and have great joy and peace in Him.

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5 Ways to Revolutionize our Relationship with Each Other in the Body of Christ: A Study of 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

It could be said we live in the retaliation generation. Social media is used to play a game of “gotcha” as everyone tries to outdo another with clever posts aimed at degrading anyone who disagrees with our self-proclaimed truth. We must spout off our unique perspective on every issue of life and never let the opportunity slip by where we can cut another human being down to size. Although this is the way of the culture that surrounds us, these destructive actions have crept into the church and caused strife and division to arise in the Body of Christ. We try to define our worth by labels such as conservative, liberal, republican, or democrat, instead of Christ. We look to worldly things to save us and make us feel better, and God is given a backseat to our passions and motives.

I Thessalonians 5:14,15 shines as a bright light in this dark culture by giving the Christian believer five essential commands of sanctified living. These five commands fly in the face of the ways of this world, but are vital to the Christian being the salt of the earth and the light of this world. When we obey these five commands, people will see Christ in our words and actions. These commands concern our outward relationship to other believers in the Body of Christ and even to unbelieving people in the world.

 I Thessalonians 5:13,14 (REV):

Now we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the    undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always diligently pursue what is good for one another and for all people.

 The Apostle Paul prefaces these five commands by using two important words “now” and “urge.” The time for the Christian believer to obey these commands is now, not tomorrow, or when we feel like it, but now! It cannot wait. The word “urge” intensifies the importance of doing these commands immediately with no delay. It is a call to action and in the sense of desperately implore or earnestly beg, conveying an intense desire and a deep sense of responsibility. This same word is translated “beseech” in Romans 12:1 and “implore” in Ephesians 4:1 calling attention to the immense importance of these actions for the Christian believer.

The first command is to “admonish the undisciplined.” The Greek word for “admonish” means to so lay it on the mind of a person that it affects their will and emotions. It is to alert someone of the serious consequences of their actions and to give instruction about an improper course of conduct. The Greek word for “undisciplined” means one who is out of step and going his own way. It describes someone who is out of order and thus disorderly, lazy and idle. It was used of a soldier who broke rank or an army that advances in disarray and describes irresponsible behavior.

Christians are supposed to be disciples or “disciplined ones” of Christ. We cannot be lazy or idle in our Christian lifestyle. We must exercise discipline physically, mentally and spiritually. We should be disciplined in the fundamentals of Christianity of reading and studying the word, praying, giving, witnessing, walking in the spirit and fellowshipping with God and our fellow believers. Discipline is a critical component in our walk with God as we are surrounded by a very undisciplined and unruly culture. We cannot admonish the undisciplined if we ourselves are lazy when it comes to living the Christian life. It takes discipline and determination to master these fundamentals.

We must guard our hearts against the sin of idleness and disorder. Thomas Brooks in his 1665 classic “The Privy Key of Heaven” states:

Take heed of an idle and slothful spirit. An idle life and a holy heart are far asunder. By doing nothing  men learn to do evil things…Idleness is a breeding  sin and the devil’s anvil on which he frames very many sins…O shake off the sloth! The sluggish Christian will be sleeping, or idling, or trifling, when he should be in his closet-a-praying…There   is nothing that gives the devil so much advantage against us as idleness.[1]

When we are undisciplined as a Christian believer, we step out of God’s way unto our own path, and it breeds discord and disruption. Paul admonishes the Christian believer that they must run the race of life that God has set before us with everything we have. We must bring our body and emotions under control and exercise self-control daily as we pursue the prize of our high calling in Christ (I Corinthians 9:24-27).                                          

The second command in I Thessalonians 5:14 is to “comfort the discouraged.” The Greek word for “comfort” means to come along side of someone and speak kindly so as to comfort in disappointment, loss, sadness or trouble. It is a compassionate and tender uplifting of a burdened soul, It is to encourage so as to stimulate to action. The Greek word for “discouraged” means cast down in spirit or disheartened and timid.

Everyone has times in life where they are crushed in spirit by circumstances and overwhelmed with discouragement. Even the Apostle Paul,  “despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). This is why there is such a tremendous need in the Church for encouragers and comforters that compassionately lift up the burdened soul. But the culture of this age has infiltrated the church and instead of encouragement we often spew out accusations, and wag our heads with condemnation. Our words tear down instead of edify; we blame, criticize and divide the body of believers by our toxic actions. We have allowed offense to blind our eyes to the beauty of Christ in each believer in the Body of Christ. God is the ultimate encourage and comforter, and we are to imitate our Heavenly Father and behave in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ.  

God’s command is crystal clear: come alongside your Christian brother and sister and comfort them in times of trouble. We should beacons of kindness and tender compassion to one another and never let the atmosphere of this world harden our hearts. We need each other in the Body of Christ for our spiritual growth and the effective witness of the gospel.

The third command in I Thessalonians 5:14 is to “help the weak.”  The Greek word for “help” means to hold fast to, to cleave to, to hold firmly and support. It is to hold tightly and tenaciously. It expresses a strong sense of attachment that demonstrates loyalty, devotion and love.  In other verses it describes holding fast to the faithful Word (Titus 1:9) and our full devotion to serving God rather than worldly riches (Matthew 6:24). This word is more than dropping off some can goods at a food pantry. This is not just a stray prayer or a momentary kind thought. It is a deep relational word that expresses a relentless commitment where we are heart to heart and face to face with another person. It is a knitting together of our hearts that we so care for another that we help them through their time of weakness.

It reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan when a certain man was stripped and beat by robbers and left for half dead on the side of the road. The two religious leaders did not want to help, and walked on the other side of the road. It was the cultural outcast Samaritan who binds up his wounds, and cares for him with great compassion. He sacrifices his time, reputation and money to make this man strong again.

This is what it means to love with sacrificial, unconditional agapao love. Jesus was our example of this love where he was moved with compassion towards those who were harassed and helpless (Matthew 9:36). This kind of love is awakens in our heart a sense of value of the person loved. Our agapao love compels us to help one another.  

The Greek word for “weak” means without strength and describes both physical and spiritual weakness. It is to be limited in capacity to do or be something. In Scripture it is used of those that are sick or have a physical infirmity (Matthew 25:43, Acts 4:9. Acts 5:15). In the spiritual arena it is used of weak in faith (trust) (Romans 14:1), weak conscience (I Corinthians 8:7), and weak in the flesh (Matthew 26:41).

As Christians we are not exempt from weakness. We all experience bouts of weakness both physically and spiritually. How are we to respond to weakness in the Body of Christ? Do we condemn and judge others that are weak? Do we give them a good lashing on social media? Do we turn our back on their weakness and associate ourselves with more “spiritually together” people? Absolutely not. We are to tenaciously hold firm to each other and devote ourselves in love to one another. Hiebert in his commentary on I & 2 Thessalonians beautifully states the responsibility of the Christian believer: “Let the strong put their arms around the weak and hold them up. They need to be assured that they are not forgotten or despised because of their helplessness.”[2]

When is the last time you put your arms around a weak brother and sister and held them up in love? How long has it been since we committed ourselves to help each other grow stronger in Christ? When is the last time we touched the physically weak with compassion? Can you remember when you held tightly to those weak in the faith encouraging them instead of condemning them? Or are we just too busy with our daily lives that we forget to love each other? We can become so self-focused that we neglect to help each other when weakness arises in the Body of Christ.

The Word of God in Romans 15:1 admonishes us that “we who are strong in the faith have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of others and not to please ourselves.” Romans 14:7a says “none of us lives for himself.” Can you imagine living a life not for ourselves? Can you envision what a revolutionary impact this would have on the church and the world if we loved God and each other in a greater degree than we love ourselves? We have allowed the “me generation” thinking of selfishness to creep into Christianity where we honor our goals and priorities more than we honor each other. We resent more than we love; we envy more than we serve; we hoard more then what we give. We hold tightly to our pride and ambition rather than each other. In the midst of all these cultural trends of division, arrogance and hatred, God commands us to help the weak.

The fourth command in I Thessalonians 5:14 is to “Be patient with everyone.” The Greek word for “patience” means to exercise self-restraint in the face of provocation of others without retaliation. It is a patient endurance of people even to the point of bearing insult or injury without bitterness or complaint. It is the quality of holding off on getting angry when you find another person’s conduct towards you difficult, bothersome, or exasperating.

There is very little patience in the world today and far too often in the Body of Christ. Our generation specializes in fuming anger, lashing out against all those who disagree with us. We become entrenched in unforgiveness wanting to inflict revenge on all those who dare challenge us. These actions harden our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Christ and bring to a screeching halt our spiritual growth and the opportunity to help others. God has never given up on you, why do you want to give up on each other? We have allowed our hearts to be confirmed to this world as we often speak more insults, than blessings, manifest more hatred than love, and show more indifference than genuine caring. We have lost patience with one another.

The Bible is clear that it is impossible to love one another without patience. It is the first quality of love listed in I Corinthians 13:4. Patience is also a fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22,23 and is produced in our lives as we walk by the spirit. Patience tag teams with the other fruit of the spirit, temperance or self-control, as we must exercise patience endurance of our fellow believers if we are ever to truly walk in love. When it comes to people, we must always be on guard against anger, resentment and bitterness establishing a root in our hearts. As Christians we are not perfect and fall short in our habits and manner of life. Our trust in God often is lacking and we have let fears and anxiety grip our lives. All of us have broken fellowship with God and allowed sin to push us around. But this does not give us the right to be offended with each other and refuse to forgive. This does not give us an open door to retaliate.

God is amazingly patient towards us daily. In fact, without patience God would have given up on us a long time ago.

Exodus 34:6 (REV):  Yahweh passed by before him and proclaimed, “Yahweh! Yahweh, a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in covenant faithfulness and truth.”

Nehemiah 9:17b (REV): But you are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in covenant faithfulness, and did not forsake them.

The Hebrew phrase “slow to anger” literally means “long of nose” or “long breathing” and paints a picture of God taking in a long breath through the nose letting His anger pass. This is God’s deep breath of patience. God is so patient with us! His patience is always intertwined with His compassion, grace, mercy, faithfulness and truth. It is a fundamental characteristic of His love. The patience of God is a wonderful trait of His character that is foundational to the gift of our salvation and the riches of our glorious inheritance in Christ.

Jesus Christ exercised perfect patience while upon the earth and is a flawless example of patience with people. Many times he endured the ignorance, wrong thinking and pride of his inner circle of disciples without exploding in anger or lashing out with insults. He was patient with the throngs of people who crowded to hear him speak or to experience his healing touch. He was even patient with the religious establishment who attacked him and tried to discredit him. He knew what God had called him to do and patience flowed out of his character even as he was obedient to the suffering, torture and death of the cross. Finally he is extremely patient with us as our resurrected Lord (I Timothy 1:16,17).   

The Apostle Paul is also a tremendous example of supernatural patience with people as he fulfilled his ministry and calling from God. Scripture declares in 2 Corinthians 6:6 that Paul demonstrated himself to be a servant of God by much perseverance, living in the sphere of patience. The Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to closely follow his patience (2 Timothy 2:3:10). Read 1 and 2 Corinthians and see Paul’s great patience with the believers of Corinth who were divisive and jealous, walking in many patterns of sin and ignorance. In Galatia, Philippi, Antioch, Jerusalem and many other cities in the Book of Acts, we see Paul’s loving patience with people. In I Thessalonians 2, among his brothers and sisters in Christ, the Apostle Paul was like a nursing mother tenderly caring for her own children and treated them as a father treats his own children (I Thessalonians 2:7,11). He shared the depth of his soul-his thoughts, feelings and emotions, with the believers because they were beloved to him (I Thessalonians 2:8). This is the heart of patience towards each other in the Body of Christ.

We are to imitate our Heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ and our brother Paul and be patient with each other. Like we put on our clothes every day, God exhorts us to clothe ourselves with patience, seasoned with compassion, kindness, humility and meekness.(Colossians 3:12). With patience we bear with one another in love and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:2;Colossians 3:13). The word “bear with” in the Greek means “to put up with, to tolerate, to endure and to forbear.”

Christianity is not lived in isolation. We are part of the Body of Christ made up of our brothers in sisters from many backgrounds, races and cultures. Believers are people and will often disappoint, irritate. exasperate, frustrate and exhaust us. We are all human and striving to grow more like Christ. Do we become upset, angry and throw up our hands in disgust at each other? No we exercise patience towards every believer in the body of Christ, holding back our emotions, not hurling accusations, but walking in great love and forgiveness. We are not just to occasionally like each other, but we are to love each other like a nursing mother loves her child. We cannot do this in our own strength. The flesh can never produce this type of patience. As we walk by the spirit and are energized by the power of God, this fruit of patience is cultivated in our lives. The world has very little if any patience. It is becoming less tolerant and patient every day. Imagine the revolutionary impact to the Christian church if we were patient with each other instead of trying to bite and devour each other. It would revolutionize the outreach of the gospel and strengthen our unity as the Body of Christ.

The fifth command is in I Thessalonians 5:15 is to “see that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always diligently pursue what is good for one another and for all people.

The Greek word for “see” means to take heed, to beware, be on guard, and to make sure. Hiebert says that this command “implies that watchfulness is necessary to keep the prohibited practice from creeping in. The plural imperative “make sure” is clearly addressed to the church as a whole, not just the leaders. All have a standing duty to see to it that this undesirable practice does not gain entrance. The temptation to retaliate generally comes on the personal level, hence each member must see to it that he on his part does not give in to it.”[3] 

Each Christian believer must be on guard that retaliation and revenge against each other does not creep into our thinking and actions. Retaliation is a dominant characteristic of this age, and we are considered weak unless we forcefully retaliate to every insult or breach of our beliefs. But God commands us that no one in the Body of Christ should retaliate against another believer. It is a forerunner of division and strife and a destroyer of unity in the church of God. 

The Greek word for “repay” means to give back or render what is due. It is in the aorist tense and indicates we must constantly be on guard that there is not one single instance of anyone paying back “wrong for wrong”[4]. The word “evil” in this context means that which is injurious or harmful caused by evil intent. This can be physical or emotional harm that causes pain, sorrow, distress and calamity. 

It is not our business to repay. We don’t give people a bit of their own medicine. God clearly tells us “Vengeance is mine. I will repay” Romans 12:9; Hebrews 10:30. Romans 12:17,19 commands us in no uncertain terms. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil” and “do not avenge yourselves.” There are no exceptions. I Peter 3:9a says “Do not repay evil for evil, or insult for insult, but on the contrary, give a blessing, for to this you were called…” God called us to bless and edify each other, not insult each other.  

God does not value who gets the last zinger in. We should never act with an intent to injure or harm our fellow Christian believer. Accusation, disdain, and finger-pointing flow out of the sin nature like a mighty river. We cannot allow these powerful emotions to rattle our soul and take root in our hearts. The world loves a good insult, but we guard against this dangerous desire to retaliate. We cannot give into this temptation to repay evil for evil and insult for insult or we become a catalyst for division in the Body of Christ.

Life is not always fair, and we cannot get into the habit of becoming offended and lashing out in anger every time we feel we have been wronged. People can talk about you behind their back, falsely accuse you, unfairly treat you, ignore you, and refuse to listen to you. What is our response? “To diligently pursue what is good for another and all people.” The Greek word for “diligently pursue” means to press hard after, pursuing with earnestness in order to obtain. At all times and occasions, we are to diligently pursue good for one another and all people. “Good” means what is useful and beneficial to others. Galatians 6:10 says that at “every opportunity we should do good to all, but especially to those who are of the household of faith.” We make a special effort to diligently pursue what is useful and beneficial to our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. It must become a priority in our lives. We must become less “me” focused and look rather on how we can be a blessing to others. We must think how we can do what is honorable for each other (Romans 12:10,17).

It begins with the words we speak that should edify and encourage, not tear down and insult. We were created in Christ Jesus to manifest goodness, love and affection to one other. Evil intentions and actions have no place in our relationships. We cannot be ignorant of Satan’s devices by walking in unforgiveness and harboring resentment towards each other. We must replace these emotions with a tender heart full of compassion, love and kindness. It takes humility to diligently pursue what is good for others.

The REV commentary on Galatians 5:13 shares these words of wisdom:

The Body of Christ would be much better off both individually and collectively if Christians would obey God’s command to give other Christians special love and blessings…Sometimes we just don’t take the time to find out how to specifically help other Christians in our day-to-day dealings. But that goes against the teaching of Christ. His new commandment was that we are to love fellow Christians with an elevated and special love, just as he loved us (John 13:34). To do that will take our time and energy, but it is clearly what Christ commanded. There are many verses with specific commands about being focused on our fellow believers and how we can help and bless them rather than being focused on ourselves and our wants, needs, and concerns.[5]

These five commands in I Thessalonians 5:14, 15 are in the present imperative in the Greek which calls for a long term commitment to continually and habitually make these actions our lifestyle. They are not suggestions, but commands. Can you imagine how each one of these commands would revolutionize our Christian fellowships? We would become of one heart and soul with each other and begin to reflect the mighty church in the Book of Acts. The impact would be mind-boggling around the world and the witness of the gospel to all peoples would be exhilarating. 

Endnotes:

[1] The Privy Key of Heaven (A Discourse of Closet Prayer) (London 1655, republished Kessinger Publishing, LLC 2009)

2 D. Edmond Hielbert, I & 2 Thessalonians, (BHM Publishing 1996) pg. 253.

3  Hielbert,  pg. 254.

4  Hielbert,  pg. 254.

5 Revised English Version, Commentary on Galatians 5:13  (Spirit and Truth International 2013)


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It’s Time To Demolish the Strongholds of the Enemy in our Thought Life

One of the greatest sections of Scripture concerning this great war for the thought life of the Christian is in 2 Corinthians:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (10:3–5, KJV)

We all have strongholds in our thinking that must be demolished. We cannot destroy them by the weapons and strategies of the flesh. No psychological counseling, self-help book, or life class can completely annihilate these strongholds without Christ. It is like shooting a BB gun at a Navy battleship. The weapons of the flesh lack the spiritual power to blow these strongholds out of our minds and hearts. These fortresses can only be obliterated by spiritual weapons rooted in Jesus Christ. Only God’s mighty weapons have any chance of tearing down every brick of the strongholds that captivate our hearts.

The Greek word translated “stronghold” means fortress, castle, or prison. It was used in Greek literature to describe a strong military installation and a fortified place. This is the only time this Greek word is found in the New Testament, but the word is found thirty-two times in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. These usages shed some additional light on its meaning.

The first use of this word in the Bible concerns the prison that Joseph was cast into.

Joseph’s boss took him and put him in prison, the place where the men who did wrong against the king were put in chains. So there he was in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him kindness. He gave him favor in the eyes of the man who watched over the prison. (Genesis 39:20–21, NLV)

Remember me when it is well with you, and show me kindness. Say a good word about me to Pharaoh. Get me out of this prison. For I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews. And here also I have done nothing for which they should put me in prison. (Genesis 40:14–15, NLV)

Joseph was an amazing man of faith whose heart was a wonderful example of trust in God even in life’s most difficult circumstances. He was taken away captive from his homeland and unjustly thrust into prison, and his great heart cry has become the cry of every child of God: “Get me out of this prison! Deliver me from this dungeon! Take me away from this stronghold!”

We were all stolen from the Garden of Eden, our true homeland, when Adam and Even sinned. We were thrust into the dungeon of our sin nature, and our hearts became captive to the power and weight of sin.

Joseph was not delivered from the dungeon by his own strength, power, or ability. He was only set free and given a place in authority next to the king because God was with him, and the mercy and favor of God rested upon him.

God sets the pattern in this first use of the word stronghold in the Bible. The only way to be delivered from the dungeons that hold us in captivity is through the mighty power of God. Only God can answer the cry “Free me from this prison and tear down this stronghold!” Only God is strong enough to demolish every stronghold.

What are these strongholds? How are they built? How do they capture our hearts?

A stronghold is an entrenched or fortified way of thinking that has become so engrained into the mind that it produces habits of character and ways of life. These strong fortresses have been built by the brick and mortar of our thoughts. Brick by brick we construct these fortresses by our thinking.

In the Old Testament, the word stronghold was used to describe the fortifications of a city when its builders formed a formidable wall around it for protection. It was constructed to resist all attacks, allowing it to be more easily defended.

In Bible times, a stronghold around a city consisted of stone walls that were often fifteen feet thick and twenty-five feet high. It was extremely difficult for an army to successfully defeat an enemy protected by such a stronghold.

A stronghold represents a place in our minds and hearts where the Enemy has become entrenched and where we have become in bondage to Satan. It becomes a secured sanctuary where the Devil can exercise influence and authority over our lives. It is where the Devil can run his covert operations and wreak havoc in our hearts. It is his military base, where he launches his fiery darts into our hearts in an attempt to steal, kill, and destroy the knowledge of God and the image of Christ from producing fruit in our lives. A stronghold is a point of operation where Satan can keep a person captivated, incapacitated, and under control. It is an emotional, mental, or experiential mind-set that thrusts the heart into bondage and keeps it from growing spiritually in the Lord. It is a mental fortress of wrong thinking.

One of the Hebrew words for “sin” means to slowly twist a fence around a person. Strongholds are like fortresses with huge barbed-wire fences around them, built by the power of sin, with a sign hanging at its entrance that says, “Keep out! This is the property of Satan. No trespassing allowed. This is the realm of darkness, and no light is allowed here. God is not wanted here!”

These strongholds feed off of sin, and the fences grow higher, thicker, and more twisted the more sin dominates our thinking. The heart was never designed to have these barbed wires like fences keep us in mental and spiritual prisons. God wants the heart free from every fortress of bondage.

Strongholds are designed by Satan to enslave us. Their purpose is to keep the life and glory of God from being manifested in our hearts and setting us free to love Him. Strongholds rearrange the boundaries that God has set for our hearts and fence us in, so we live, breathe, and move in captivity. Strongholds are the tool of the Devil to hinder the purposes of God in our lives and destroy our God-given calling. Strongholds are one of the great enemies of the heart. The strategy of the Devil for every man, woman, and child on earth is to build these wicked strongholds in the heart. He marshals all the spiritual forces of his entire kingdom to this end, as each stronghold is cleverly designed to turn the heart away from God.

A stronghold is always rooted in a faulty thinking pattern based on lies and deception that exalts itself above the knowledge of God contained in His Word. Deception is the glue that holds every stronghold together. Every stronghold cleaves to a lie that our thinking patterns have been twisted to believe.

Beth Moore, in Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, says:

Basically, a stronghold is any argument or pretension that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” A stronghold is anything that exalts itself in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger and more powerful than God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled—our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective. Needless to say, these are the enemy’s precise goals … Based on my understanding of Scripture, anything that steals, kills or destroys the abundant, fruitful life of a believer can be considered a stronghold of the enemy. [i]

Strongholds can literally rewire our brains if we continue to reinforce toxic and ungodly thoughts. A stronghold can actually be visually viewed in images of the brain. It looks like a huge tree with branches that have spread its root system into the physical structure of the brain. A stronghold is woven into our genetic makeup and even restructures our cells to create emotions that are harmful to our spiritual well-being. These strongholds will imprison us and hold us hostage until they are torn down.

God designed the brain so that we can demolish strongholds and effectively rewire the brain. He also designed the brain so that we have every opportunity to eradicate these toxic thoughts before they become strongholds. If we take control of our thought life, become aware of what we are thinking, and take vigilant watch over our thoughts, these strongholds will wither and fade away. Otherwise, the stronghold can spread its roots deep into the physical brain and become strongly embedded in the heart.

A stronghold can be any area of sin that has risen to dominate our thinking to the point it becomes entrenched in our way of life. What are some of the strongholds that Satan loves to build as fortresses in our hearts?

Fear is a huge stronghold and is the foundation of many other strongholds.

Unbelief is a common stronghold. Every stronghold has at its core a disbelief in the promises and faithfulness of God. Rejecting the truth of Scripture allows false reasoning and erroneous logic to control the thinking process.

Unforgiveness is another colossal stronghold, and many other strongholds grow out of an unwillingness to forgive. If left untreated, unforgiveness becomes a spiritual cancer, poisoning the heart with its root of bitterness. Satan takes immediate advantage of any unforgiveness in our lives and uses it to build powerfully effective strongholds that can crush our heart.

Pride, guilt, lust, greed, depression, covetousness, and addictions are some of the other strongholds that can torment our minds and destroy our hearts. A stronghold is tangible evidence of the pursuit of the unholy in our thought life.

Do these strongholds only afflict the unbeliever who has not accepted Christ? Are they only the problem of the unbelieving world and not the concern of the Christian? Absolutely not! Strongholds and dungeons of captivity are running rampant in the minds of Christians and greatly hindering our walk with God and our Christian growth.

Beth Tirabassi, in Sacred Obsession: What You Chase After You Become, expounds on this enormous problem:

You cannot imagine how many people I meet who say they know God but are broken and confused, hiding their true selves, addicted to a substance, involved in emotional affairs, extremely overweight and battling with food every day, defiantly bitter about something, angry and easily able to wound with their words, abused, trapped, and desperate, obsessed with the illicit, habitual liars, too self-centered to love those who need them, and consumed with chasing after the unholy. They believed the lie that the sacred is not enough. Instead of being obsessed with the sacred … instead of loving God and others with intimacy and intention, instead of being free to dance on the inside or outside, instead of being able to laugh with pure joy and lift their hands with extreme freedom, instead of caring for the needs of others with selfless abandon, instead of being aware of God’s presence, when His blanket of comfort or power comes over them … they are numb … I don’t totally understand the dynamics of every addiction, but I do intimately understand the relentless pursuit which gets a hold of you—almost to the point of complete destruction. And I am guessing that you understand addictive compulsive obsessions too. You’ve felt their impact on someone you love. And you know if you don’t do whatever it takes to get the addiction out of your life; it will consume everything you love. Everything you are.[ii]

In 2 Corinthians 10:4 God commands that these fortresses must be pulled down and eradicated from our hearts. The Greek word for “pulling down” is kathairesis, which means to take down, to destroy, and to bring to extinction.

The first usage of this word in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is enlightening as to the deeper meaning of this word.

You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices. Instead, you must utterly destroy (kathareisis) them and smash their sacred pillars. You must serve only the Lord your God. (Exodus 23:24-25, NLT)

The root of every stronghold is idolatry—the worship and service of rival gods that have established a fortified dwelling place in our hearts.

We cannot serve the Lord our God if these dungeons of idolatry are dominating our hearts. These strongholds are like tumors that have fastened to our hearts and attempt to utterly consume it. When you are diagnosed with a tumor, you go to the doctor to get it surgically removed so it will be eliminated from your body. Likewise, God does not want one fortified stronghold to remain in our thinking or our hearts.

Do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:27, NIV)

Leave no such room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. (AMP)

In the Greek, this is a present imperative and could literally be translated “Stop giving the devil a foothold in your heart and life!”

The Greek word for “foothold” means territory and a defined area like a district, town or dwelling place. We cannot give the enemy an inch of territory in our thoughts. We cannot give him a dwelling place in our minds. If we give him a foothold, the Devil will aggressively take territory and build fortresses. If we give him a deed of land in our minds, he will stake out more boundaries to control as much real estate as he can. He is a spiritual squatter who attempts to gain legal title to property by a hostile, continuous possession, to the exclusion of its true owner. The owner, through neglect, has failed to protect the land against the actions of its adverse possessor who has treated the land as his own for a significant period of time. Eventually he is recognized by the law as its new owner.

The Devil has no legal right, by the authority of the finished work of Jesus Christ, to occupy one blade of grass in the real estate of our minds. Don’t give him any land on which to build a fortress. Don’t let him establish a military base. Don’t allow him to become the owner of one square inch of your thinking through neglect or inattention.

The Lesson of Jericho

There is a beautiful illustration of this truth in the book of Joshua. When Joshua was about to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land, he faced thirty-one hostile nations that were not about to surrender their territories to the people of God. These hostile empires were thirty-one strongholds, most having heavily fortified cities, and were described as giants in the land of Canaan (Numbers 11:31-33). The Devil placed these nations right in the heart of the Promised Land. If Israel was to inherit the land God had promised them, they would have to defeat these nations and tear down their strongholds.

God told Joshua that not one nation, stronghold, or person could stand against him. Joshua was to courageously advance into enemy territory and conquer every stronghold in the name of God Almighty. God encouraged Joshua to not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God was with Him. God was going to show in spectacular fashion in the presence of His people that no stronghold can stand against His mighty power.

The first kingdom-city that stood in the way of Joshua and all of Israel was Jericho a formidable, heavily fortified city. This stronghold had to be demolished, but human logic and reason would label this task as impossible. Jericho was one of the greatest cities of its day, and was surrounded by a great embankment with a stone retaining wall twelve to fifteen feet high. On top of the retaining wall was a mud-brick wall six feet thick and six to eight feet high. At the crest of the embankment was another mud-brick wall that was forty-six feet above the ground level outside the retaining wall. If you were standing in front of this city, the walls would be close to seven stories high.

This stronghold’s massive fortifications dared any soul, army, or nation to attack it. Joshua could have easily thought, “Are you kidding me? This is impossible! This stronghold is impregnable!” But is anything too hard for God? What people say is impossible, God says is possible with Him! (Luke 18:37).

On the eve of this battle, God Almighty sent Joshua a heavenly visitor to put things in spiritual perspective and to confirm that this stronghold was going to be demolished by God. The Lord of Hosts would fight on the frontlines of battle as a great warrior to tear down every fortress that stood in the way of God’s people entering into the Promised Land.

When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13–15, NIV)

God sent the commander of His army, the captain of the Lord’s mighty host, to show Joshua that this battle to tear down the stronghold of Jericho was God’s battle. These walls would only come down through the mighty weapons of God Almighty.

God does not engage in battle to lose. He is always victorious and He never fails on the battlefield, no matter how formidable the enemy. Our God is a warrior against every evil stronghold and He always brings overwhelming victory to His children who trust and obey Him and absolute defeat to all those who oppose Him.

God’s plan to demolish this stronghold did not include battering rams, or a massive frontal attack of troops, or some otherworldly tactic of war. His weapons made it one of the most unconventional battles in the history of the world. Only God could get the glory and praise for this type of battle plan. Only He could win this war.

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priest shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction. (Joshua 3:5; 4:23–24; 5:8–10; 6:2–7, 18a, ESV)

It was by faith that the walls of Jericho collapsed, for the people had obeyed God’s command to encircle them for seven days. (Hebrews 11:30, PHILLIPS)

The Battle of Jericho: 8 Keys to Demolish Strongholds

In the battle of Jericho God sets forth the pattern of how we should approach the tearing down of every stronghold in our minds and hearts.

Come out of the Wilderness

First, if we want God to deal with our strongholds, we must come out of the wilderness of sin and the world. We cannot have wilderness thinking and lifestyles and expect our strongholds to come tumbling down. Actually, the opposite happens. The strongholds built by sin strengthen their fortifications in our hearts as long as we play with the golden calf in the wilderness. We wander about in spiritual blindness and stumble in the darkness, not knowing where we are going, as long as our hearts treasure the wilderness more than they treasure God. We must follow Jesus and let Him lead us out of the wilderness and into the promised land of a new life in Him.

We must never turn our gaze back to longing for the wilderness. We must fix our eyes on our Lord. We should seek His face, hunger for His presence, passionately pursue Him as our first love, and walk out of a past dead in trespasses and sins into the transforming power of our awesome God.

Consecrate Yourselves

The second thing we must do to tear down any stronghold is to consecrate ourselves. The Hebrew word translated “consecrate” is qadash, which means to be set apart, sanctified, holy and pure, and is used to describe what is set aside for God’s purposes. Qadash is to be completely dedicated to God for His glorification. It is a holy separation, where we pursue the sacred and consecrate all to Him. Our actions, words, and thoughts become instruments for His glory. Everything in our lives is set-aside for Him.

We must not conform to the world’s way of thinking or mold our lives after the fleeting mind-set of this age. We must boldly come out from among the world in our thought life, and separate our thinking from the evil spiritual atmosphere that has been orchestrated by the Prince of the Power of the Air in every area of society.

Becky Tirabassi says in Sacred Obsession:

We have allowed culture to consume us and make us like it. The average Western Christian is much more like his culture than his God … We have become incredibly ineffective as children of the King—no longer considered by ourselves or others as a holy, set–apart people of the living, loving God.[iii]

Do not allow the culture to consume your thought life and make it a wasted opportunity for the King of Glory. Our thinking must live under the banner of holy separation from the evil of this world. When we consecrate our thoughts to Him, God can tear down the strongholds caused by destructive thinking. The presence of God should penetrate our thoughts like beautiful rays of sunshine breaking forth in celebration of a new day. We must renew our minds by bringing our thinking to a new quality that is branded by God as pure, selfless, and compassionate.

What label would characterize your thinking? Would it be the brand of Christ or the brand of the flesh? Would it characterize the beauty of God or the ugliness of sin? It is time we examine our thought life to see what label it carries. Our earnest desire and driving passion should be that God is glorified by our thinking. We should be passionate to consecrate our thought life to the glory of God, for no stronghold can withstand the power of a consecrated thought life dedicated to the honor, praise, and majesty of our God.

Our Spiritual Circumcision in Christ

Thirdly, for God to tear down the strongholds in our minds, we must boldly stand in our spiritual circumcision in Christ under the new covenant, allowing God to circumcise the old ways of the flesh from our hearts. In that circumcision, the flesh will be pulled away from its grip on the heart and the power of sin broken in Christ and rendered inoperative. We do not need to have a slave’s habitual obedience to the flesh anymore. This circumcision is the enablement to break free from all sin, and to live in the freedom of our new life in Christ.

At the foundation of every stronghold is the carnal thinking of our flesh, fed by our sin nature. We can claim the benefits of the new covenant, which freed us from the power of sin controlling our lives and its relentless building of strongholds in our hearts. We can now walk by the Spirit of God and allow its holy work within us of burning the chaff, tearing down strongholds, and purifying our hearts.

Communion: The Power in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ

Fourthly, for the stronghold to be demolished, we need to know and believe the amazing power in the body and blood of Jesus Christ memorialized in the communion ceremony. Just like the Israelites who observed Passover before the walls of Jericho came crashing down, we can walk in the magnificent power of our redemption, accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The power of Satan to maintain strongholds in our hearts was permanently broken, crushed, and defeated at the cross, and His authority to rule our lives was overthrown and destroyed by our Lord Jesus.

Every captivity that has held the heart a prisoner in its strongholds has been blown to smithereens by Jesus Christ. No stronghold can stand against the blood of Jesus Christ. No stronghold can stand against the body of Jesus Christ. Our salvation is so complete that it can tear down the walls of any physical, mental, or spiritual stronghold, no matter how long it has been rooted and engrained in our hearts. When He cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” He was declaring the death sentence for every stronghold that has ever held us captive and oppressed our hearts. When the angel declared, “He is risen!” it was a heavenly declaration of a new age for all those who choose to believe.

Salvation is now available through Jesus Christ. In this salvation there is no room for the old strongholds to continue to plague and control our lives. Praise God there is a new freedom in Christ from every stronghold. The power of the Holy Spirit can reduce these fortresses to ashes in the unquenchable fire of God’s holy presence.

We must elevate our thinking to our heavenly position in Christ. Our thoughts must be filled with the truth of our redemption in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus if these strongholds are to come tumbling down.

The Battle is Not Yours but God’s

The fifth truth illustrated in the battle of Jericho is to realize that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. Joshua saw the commander of the host of heaven’s armies, and he had no doubt that the mighty God of Israel was going to fight for His people and bear His mighty arm against Jericho.

Only by the powerful weapons He has given us, like prayer and the sword of the Spirit, can we engage in this battle. Trust God to bring these strongholds to nothing. Believe God is our warrior and cry out in victory, “If God be for me, if God be on my side, what stronghold can stand against me?” Even if the wall is seven stories high and seems impossible to overcome, our God created the heavens and earth and can demolish any stronghold.

No stronghold can stand against the Almighty God! He will simply breathe on any stronghold and its walls will crumble. Believe in your awesome God. Trust in your Almighty God with unwavering devotion. Know that He is faithful to demolish every stronghold.

We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us and in us, and we have nothing to fear. Never let unbelief in God and His Word raise its ugly head and take root in your heart. Unbelief is the fuel of every stronghold. It is the great enemy that will try to overtake your thinking patterns.

The altar of unbelief is established in the heart through our thought life. We cannot succumb to thoughts that God does not care, that He doesn’t deliver, and that He is not trustworthy. Unbelief doubts the character of our God and allows the Devil to build strongholds of unbelief in our hearts.

Unbelief doubts the integrity and accuracy of the God-breathed Word of God.

When unbelief toward God and His Word is demolished in our thinking, the miraculous God can rise up and do His mighty work of destroying these fortresses so they no longer control our lives. We must lay every single battle to demolish these strongholds at the feet of our God and let Him arise in our hearts and take out these bastions of the Enemy.

The Ark of the Covenant: The Power of God’s Word and Presence

The sixth truth is, just as the Ark of the Covenant was marched around the walls of Jericho for seven days, we can take the Word of God and march it around every stronghold, confessing its truth and claiming its power. The Word of God is the mighty weapon in our thinking that will tear down the bricks of unbelief, fear, and doubt that have built their strongholds in our minds. We must know the Word, meditate on the Word, confess the Word, and believe the Word if these strongholds are ever to come down.

God declares in Jeremiah 23:29 (HCSB): “Is not My word like fire … and like a hammer that pulverizes rock?” The holy fire of God’s Word will melt any stronghold. The mighty power of God’s Word will pulverize the walls of any mental fortress. The hammer of God’s Word is the great weapon to demolish all these strongholds. This is why the Word of God must live and abide in our thought life.

The great philosophies and religions of the world are like a plastic toy hammer against these strongholds. They are powerless to bring the walls down. Only God’s holy Word, which He has magnified above all His name (Psalm 138:2), can crush these fortresses that have established residency in our hearts.

The ark also represented the presence of God, where God lived and met His people. When God is present, strongholds dissolve and crumble. No stronghold can remain in the light of His presence. We must hunger after God’s presence to be a living reality in our hearts. We must practice the presence of God in our thought life if these strongholds are to dissolve. God is calling us to carry His presence into battle and let our hearts be a living ark that radiates the glory of God Almighty.

Do you hunger after God’s presence like a newborn bird craves food from its mother? Do you pant for God’s presence like a thirsty deer pants for water? Do you know that God is with you and in you every moment of the day? It is time we set the glory of God’s presence before the walls of every stronghold that captivates our minds and holds us in bondage.

Tell the stronghold that you want to introduce it to the Almighty God whose power and majesty is beyond measure. These dungeons of bondage melt when they touch the glory of our God. God cries out to us like He did in Isaiah 45:2, “I will go before you and level the mountains. Bronze doors I will shatter, and iron bars I will snap!” Our mighty God will level every fortress and shatter every stronghold that stands in defiance of His truth if we only let Him. Let the weapon of God’s holy presence be carried into battle for the destruction of these strongholds and stand still and see the salvation of our Lord. When God is vitally present in our thinking, then the victory is assured over every stronghold that has ever tormented our lives and held sway over our hearts. The trumpets of God must once again sound in our hearts announcing to the world that the presence of God has arrived and the judgment of destruction on every stronghold has been pronounced from the throne of God.

Have Unshakeable Faith in God and His Word

The seventh truth is to have faith in God and His Word. Only by the exercise of faith can God move into action and accomplish the impossible. Our faith rests on the truth that with God all things are possible and nothing is too hard for Him. Strongholds are so prevalent in the hearts of Christians because there is a vast shortage of believers who have childlike faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. We have more faith in the power of the enemy to defeat us than in the power of God to deliver us. Faith is an unwavering trust and confidence in our God that he will never fail us. It is to be fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able to perform. No stronghold is demolished without faith. Strongholds arise when there is unbelief dominant in our thinking.

Faith always begins at the thought level. The strongholds of Satan will sift our hearts like wheat if we don’t have strong faith and confidence in our God. Take the shield of faith into battle against these strongholds to quench all the fiery javelins of the wicked one.

Faith not only tears down strongholds in our hearts, but also prevents new strongholds from finding a dwelling place in our minds. Faith comes by hearing the mighty promises of the Word of God and believing what God has spoken. God does not lie. His promises are always true. His promises cannot fail. As Jesus proclaimed again and again: “O ye of little faith! Why do you doubt?”

Our entire culture is designed to build fear and unbelief in the promises of God and God’s true character. We have made God too small; our vision is too mundane and we do not understand the greatness of our God. Strongholds abound as our faith is miniscule and shipwrecked on the island of doubt, worry, and fear. Truth faith has absolute confidence that God is able and willing to bring about the miraculous and the extraordinary in our lives. True faith has absolute confidence no matter how high the walls, that it can demolish any stronghold that grips our thinking with fear. True faith not only moves mountains, but it smashes strongholds into pieces. Faith is the key ingredient to keep our hearts healthy and free from these fortresses of bondage.

Wait on the Lord

The last truth in the Battle of Jericho is that we must wait on the Lord. God did not move to demolish the walls of Jericho until the seventh day. The Israelites were commanded to wait patiently for their God and not even utter a word until God’s appointed time. They were not to analyze God’s battle plans or have discussion groups about the best way for God to handle the situation. They were not to hand God an agenda and a timetable to try to get His approval. They were to be still in their thoughts, hearts and mouths and see the mighty salvation of the Lord.

God does not need an advisor. God does not need a counselor. God does not need a time scheduler. God needs people who will simply trust, obey, and wait for Him to act. Isaiah 64:4 boldly promises that God acts on behalf of those who trust in Him.

One of the most beautiful acts of faith in our Lord is to wait on Him for we know He is never late. God’s timing is always perfect. Many strongholds fail to crumble because we get inpatient with God as our flesh takes over and we take matters in our own hands. We attempt to tear down the stronghold in our own strength and worldly wisdom. It never works. It is like trying to destroy a military installation with a bb gun. It is a recipe for failure and never effective in demolishing strongholds in our hearts. Strongholds can never come down until we learn to wait upon the Lord and move when He moves and act when He acts, and faithfully follow His triumphant battle plan.

It is absolutely essential if strongholds are to be demolished and our heart set free, that we cultivate thinking patterns of waiting on the Lord. We cannot let anxiety and fear control our thinking where we develop an “I want it now” mindset and fail to wait on our God. We have become such an inpatient generation and we hate to wait on anything. But as in any battle, any movement of troops made in haste against the commands of its general, leads to disaster and often a crushing defeat. The soldier must trust the general’s heart and His commands and not allow his thinking to commit rebellion against his commander-in-chief.

The nature of our flesh does not want to wait on anyone. The flesh is incredibly impatient, demanding, and arrogant as to its ways. The flesh never understands the great truth of God’s faithfulness. The flesh deceives us into thinking we do not have to wait upon the Lord. Don’t make this disastrous decision to the health of your heart by following the flesh’s advice.

Waiting on the Lord is to trust in His faithfulness. Waiting on the Lord is to trust in His promises. Waiting on the Lord is to place our hope only in Him. God will absolutely never fail to perform what He has promised. He cannot lie. He did not stutter when He promised to demolish every stronghold if we trust Him and do what He has told us to do.

We should be like David who cried out in the Psalms 62:5: “My soul only waits on God for my expectation is from Him.” and in Psalm 25:5: “Lead me in thy truth and teach me for you are the God of my salvation and on you I wait all the day long.” David was a man after God’s own heart because his soul waited on the Lord day and night and his hope rested in the Lord.

David set forth the keys on waiting on the Lord in Psalm 37 which is to first trust in the Lord, then delight in the Lord, then commit our way to the Lord and then rest in the Lord. The actions of trusting, delighting, committing and resting, prepares our heart to wait patiently for the Lord. No matter how long it may take, we wait on the Lord for He will bring deliverance and salvation from every stronghold that captivates our hearts. He is our expectation. He is our hope. He is our confidence. Never get discouraged. Never lose heart. Never give up.

The Hebrew word for “wait” is qavah and it means to wait with breathless anticipation and to earnestly look towards something with great expectation. Qavah also means to be gathered together in unity. It comes from the root meaning to twist and bind together like a rope, which becomes strong as many strands are intertwined together. When we wait on God our heart becomes knit together in strength with God and like a mighty rope our heart becomes intertwined with the very heart of God and everything He is. We become one in purpose and in action. We are bound together in a loving union of trust and confidence. We wait in eager expectation for we are excited to stand still and see how the magnificent God of wonders will act. There is no “maybe” or “perhaps” in waiting for the Lord for we have absolute confidence in God. When we wait upon the Lord a wonderful transformation of our heart takes place where the shackles of doubt are replaced with an unwavering confidence in God.

As Christians we have had too many walls of Jericho in our hearts for far too long. Fortresses stand in the way of the glory of God being manifested in our hearts. We have betrayed our hearts by allowing these strongholds to remain deeply rooted, distorting the image of Christ. As Saul lost his kingdom because he failed to eliminate the Amalekites, we have lost the true king from reigning on the throne of our hearts because we have failed to tear down the fortresses of our flesh. God is crying out to us daily: “Remove these strongholds from my dwelling place!” They have no right to be there. They must be demolished if God is to rule in our hearts.

[i] Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds (Nashville: B& H Publishing Group, 2009), 3, 14, 15.

[ii] Beth Tirabassi, Sacred Obsession: What You Chase After You Become, (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006), 6, 7, 11.

[iii] Ibid., 123.

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Abide in Me

John 15:1-5:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Andrew Murray Abide in Christ:

“During the life of Jesus on earth the word he chiefly used when speaking of the relations of his disciples to himself was ‘Follow me.’ When he was about to leave for heaven, he gave them a new word, in which their more intimate and spiritual union with himself in glory should be expressed. That chosen word was “Abide in Me.”  It is to be feared that there are many earnest followers of Jesus from whom the meaning of this word, with the blessed experience it promises, is very much hidden. While trusting in their Savior for pardon and for help, and seeking to some extent to obey Him, they have hardly realized to what closeness of union, to what intimacy of fellowship, to what wondrous oneness of life and interest, He invited them when He said, “Abide in me.” This is not only an unspeakable loss to themselves, but the Church and the world suffer in what they lose. If, in our orthodox Churches, the abiding in Christ, the living union with Him, the experience of His daily and hourly presence and keeping, were preached with the same distinctness and urgency as His atonement and pardon through His blood, I am confident that many would be found to accept with gladness the invitation to such a life, and that its influence would be manifest in their experience of the purity and the power, the love and the joy, the fruit-bearing, and all the blessedness which the Savior connected with the abiding in Him.”

These are the critical words of our Christian life “Abide in Him!” What closeness of union, what intimate fellowship, what wondrous oneness, what vitality of life is available with Jesus Christ, our true vine! What an awesome invitation from our Lord “Abide in me and I in you” yet how many Christians have failed to realize and claim this magnificent promise. The parable of the vine and the branches is one of the most important truths that we will learn as Christians. It is not talking about salvation, it is talking about fellowship, the vital union of the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ after conversion.

The important question we must ask ourselves as Christians is “What do we abide in during the day?” What draws us in and captivates our mind and heart? What do we rest in? What do we go to that determines the image that we have of yourself and what carries our thinking? What are the controlling thoughts or things that moves our emotions? What is our driving passion? It is all related to what we abide in. We all abide in something so we must examine our lives to see what or who we are abiding in.

Do you know what you abide in determines the character that you manifest to the world? What ever we abide in produces the fruit of that abiding into our lives. We are what we abide in. We become one with what we abide in. To have faith we must abide in Him. We cannot fully trust Him if we are not abiding in Him. To love like him we must abide in him. To have joy, peace, assurance and hope, we must abide in him. Our spiritual growth is directly proportional to our abiding in him. We cannot be effective witnesses for Christ if we do not learn to abide in him. This is not just a cute phrase of Christianity as it takes discipline, perseverance, determination and faith to let go our ourselves and abide in Him.

What are some of things we have abided in? Fear, worry, condemnation, unworthiness, guilt, shame, routine of daily living, our perception of reality fed and influenced by the world, our work, our earthly relationships, the business of life, the me world of ourselves? What we abide in affects everything in our lives. We grow into what abide in. What kind of fruit do you think this produces? The fruit in our lives is a direct result of what we abide in. This is a fundamental truth to Christianity that we must abide in Him. This is more than just being saved, cleansed by his blood and redeemed from our sin. This is about what we are feeding on, what we are embracing and what we are living in. Jesus is the “Word” and he went on to say in verse 7 to say that to abide in him is to “abide in his words”

Andrew Murray: “It is only by frequent repetition that a child learns its lessons. It is only by continuously fixing the mind for a time on some one of the lessons of faith, that the believer is gradually helped to take and thoroughly assimilate them. I have the hope that you will realize the precious words, “Abide in me,” with the lessons connected with them in the parable of the Vine. Step by step we shall get to see how truly this promise-precept is meant for us, how surely grace is provided to enable us to obey it, how indispensable the experience of its blessing is to a healthy Christian life, and how unspeakable the blessings are that flow from it. As we listen, and meditate, and pray as we surrender ourselves, and accept in faith the whole Jesus as He offers Himself to us in it.”

The Greek word for “abide” means-to remain, not to depart, not to leave, to continue to be present, to maintain unbroken fellowship, continue to be operative in him by his divine influence and energy, to cleave, to hold fast and to be knit to, to be held or kept continually, and to remain as one. It occurs 118 times in the New Testament, 40 of which are in the Gospel of John.  The word borrows a context from the Old Testament where God is portrayed as consistently faithful and steadfast in His commitment to men.  This consistency is made evident in sending His Son as the redeemer.

Think about this meaning in our relationship with Christ.

This word abide speaks of a vital union. We do not depart from it, or leave it, but we hold fast and cleave to Christ in fellowship. We truly are one with him.

In our relationship w/God, abiding in Jesus is the screw that holds everything together & makes us useful to Him. In Him we live and move and have our being.

“Abide” is in the aorist active imperative in the Greek which calls for a definitive, decisive and deliberate choice-“Do this now, at once, once and for all!” It conveys a sense of urgency. “Check it off! Get it done!” The verb is describing the result of something that happened in the past and gives rise to the action you are commanded to take in the present. The response is fitting for what happened before. All that Christ has done for me in his death and resurrection, atoning for my sin, making me alive again in Christ, our natural and logical response is to abide in Him.

John 15 indicates the closest possible relationship between God the Father and the Son.  This verse extends the same relationship to those who believe in Jesus as the Christ.  In other words, the same harmony and fellowship that Jesus experienced with the Father is offered to Jesus’ followers.

Luke 19:5,6: And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

Are we joyfully running to Jesus to abide in Him, to allow him to occupy our house , allowing Him to be our life in everything and the head of our house?

The vine and branches teaching of Jesus is a parable. A parable brings life to truth via illustration. This parable gives us the best and most complete meaning of the Lord’s command “abide in me” and the union to which he invites us. The connection between the vine and the branch is a living one. No external, temporal union will suffice; it is not the work of man or the flesh. It is a divine union created by the work of God.

The first great truth in this parable is Jesus Christ is the true vine. The Greek could read “The Vine; the Genuine” He is the genuine, the one and only true vine. All other vines that we may try to attach ourselves to our counterfeits of the true vine. The world has many vines, but not one of them is the true vine. Not one of these vines produces the fruit of the spirit, but rather the fruit of the flesh. Read Galatians 5:22ff to see the vivid contrast of fruit. Jesus Christ is the vital energy of our lives that produces the fruit of the spirit. What a privilege and honor to be a branch of the true vine.

The Heavenly Father is the vinedresser. The Heavenly Father is actively involved as the vinedresser making sure the branch stays fruitful and tender. It means one who has the care of a vineyard; whose office it is to nurture, trim, and defend the vine, and who of course feels a deep interest in its growth and welfare. The figure means that God gave, or appointed his Son to be, the source of blessings to man; that all grace descends through him; and that God takes care of all the branches of this vine – that is, of all who are by faith united to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus infused his life into the branches, his strength, his love and everything he is in the world. Both Jesus and the Heavenly Father are actively involved in our life as a branch. Their work is vitally connected to the holy spirit of God that we receive as a gift at the time of the new birth. This threefold connection is essential to the true vine and branches producing fruit.

Branches: A tender and flexible branch; specifically, the shoot or branch if a vine, a vine-sprout. There is an inseparable connection between the branches and the true vine.

Palestine appears to have been a vine-growing country from the earliest historic times. The whole Old Testament witnesses to how greatly Palestine depended upon the vine and its products. The cultivation of the vine requires constant care or the fruit will very soon degenerate. As the grapes ripen they must be watched to keep off jackals and foxes (Song 2:15), and in some districts even wild boars (Ps 80:13). The watchman is stationed in one of the towers and overlooks a considerable area. When the grape season comes, the whole family of the owner frequently take their residence in a booth constructed upon one of the larger towers and remain there until the grapes are practically finished. It is a time of special happiness. To plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof implied long and settled habitation.

Everyone has a vineyard. We are all branches connected to something. Who is your true vine? Who is the vinedresser? What fruit are you producing? Who is tending to your vineyard? It is a vineyard of a sluggard or a vineyard of the Savior? Does it produce the life of God or the sin of the world?

Proverbs 24:30-34: I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.32 Then I saw and considered it;  I looked and received instruction.33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Is our vineyard overgrown with thorns and broken down by years of neglect rooted in the flesh? This a perfect picture of the sin nature and our vineyard before Christ. No good fruit comes out of this vineyard.

The visual picture of the vine & branches tells us that the central idea is a vital union. A parable teaches one main truth and the main truth here is abiding in Him, in this vital union so we can produce fruit. His thrust is not on becoming a Christian, but on becoming a productive Christian. A branch is good for one thing…bearing fruit.

Christ in his teaching said four basic things to us: [1] Come to Me (as Savior) [2] Learn of Me (as Teacher) [3] Follow Me (as Master) [4] Abide in Me (as Life). Abide is the highest requirement of Christ & therefore applies to His faithful disciples

  1. Action: Abiding, Result: Fruit 2. Action: Pruning, Result: More Fruit 3. Action: Continued Abiding. Result: Much Fruit. When we’re abiding, fruit comes naturally.
  2. The fruit in view here is not produced by the branch but by the Vine itself! a) Without abiding, a branch cannot produce even a bud of real fruit. b) The vital sap comes from Him alone. c) Nothing, yes nothing of genuine or eternal value. It’s only plastic fruit!
  3. Without Me you can do nothing…Lasting!
  4. “Nothing, nothing, nothing you do w/your talents, gifts, money, or time, can save one soul, or can bear even one little spiritual grape…w/o Christ!”

“I in You” – That is, “if you abide in me, I am in you, and I will teach, guide, and comfort you.” This he proceeds to illustrate by a reference to the vine. If the branch should be cut off, in an instant, it would die and be fruitless. As long as it is in the vine, “from the nature of the case,” the parent stock imparts its juices, and furnishes a constant circulation of sap adapted to the growth and fruitfulness of the branch.

Apart from me you can do nothing. Apart-separate, without, no use of, no association with, without connection and fellowship.

Nothing: Is an absolute negative in the Greek. Literally “not one thing” Absolutely nothing (not one thing) is produced that is godly, righteous, or just apart from our abiding in Christ. The works produced are worthless, they have no true value, they do not last, they are temporal. Why do we do so many things in our daily lives without Christ? We often do not think about him hours upon hours, days upon days. Our abiding becomes weak and our fruit putrid. Nothing is being produced that is of profit to the kingdom of God unless we are abiding in Him.

We think we can handle some things on our own. “I don’t need you Jesus and the divine energy of the vine for these little things! I will just leave the big things to God.” This word “nothing” shouts out a resounding “No!” We need to be deliberately conscious of the connection before we do anything at all. We need to pray, meditate, reflect, ponder, and trust. We do not jump hastily into anything and seek God’s approval later. For the truth of the Christian life is that connection to Him is the basis of every action that has divine purpose behind it.  So even if the rest of the world is unaware of the underlying connection, we as His followers must not be unconscious in our actions.  In order to accomplish what He purposes, we must be connected to Him.  He connects us to God’s will.  To act without acknowledging or employing this connection is to misconstrue our purpose.  Not one single thing that matters in God’s great scheme can be accomplished without this deliberate connection. The believer can each day be pleasing to God only in that which he does through the power of Christ dwelling in him. Every sliver of our being, every moment of our life, every thought and feeling belong to Jesus, that from him and for him we may bring forth fruit to bring glory to his name.

All life and strength proceeds from Christ alone. Hence it follows, that the nature of man is unfruitful and destitute of everything good; because no man has the nature of a vine, till he be implanted in him. We are implanted in Him at the new birth. We are a new creation. We have a vital, living union with Christ. The fullness of Christ fills to overflowing every member of the Body of Christ. Christ is in us and by the Spirit of God, our divine seed and connection, we are built by God to be His habitation.

Yet so often we do not experience this union. It is more real than the fingers on our hand, but we fail to walk in it. Andrew Murry addresses this point in Abide in Christ:

“And yet you have had to complain of disappointment: as time went on, your expectations were not realized. The blessings you once enjoyed were lost; the love and joy of your first meeting with your Savior., instead of deepening, have become faint and feeble. And often you have wondered what the reason could be, that with such a Savior., so mighty and so loving, your experience of salvation should not have been a fuller one. The answer is very simple. You wandered from Him. The blessings He bestows are all connected with His “Come to ME,” and are only to be enjoyed in close fellowship with Himself. You either did not fully understand, or did not rightly remember, that the call meant, “Come to me to stay with me.” And yet this was in very deed His object and purpose when first He called you to Himself. It was not to refresh you for a few short hours after your conversion with the joy of His love and deliverance, and then to send you forth to wander in sadness and sin. He had destined you to something better than a short-lived blessedness, to be enjoyed only in times of special earnestness and prayer, and then to pass away, as you had to return to those duties in which far the greater part of life has to be spent. No, indeed; He had prepared for you an abiding dwelling with Himself, where your whole life and every moment of it might be spent, where the work of your daily life might be done, and where all the while you might be enjoying unbroken communion with Himself. It was even this He meant when to that first word, “Come to me,” He added this, “Abide in me.” As earnest and faithful, as loving and tender, as the compassion that breathed in that blessed “Come,” was the grace that added this no less blessed “Abide.” As mighty as the attraction with which that first word drew you, were the bonds with which this second, had you but listened to it, would have kept you. And as great as were the blessings with which that coming was rewarded, so large, yea, and much greater, were the treasures to which that abiding would have given you access. The intercourse was not only to be unbroken, but most intimate and complete. He opened His arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His divine fulness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly one with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you cannot yet realize in His words: “Abide IN ME.” And with no less earnestness than He had cried, “Come to me,” did He plead, had you but noticed it, “Abide in me.” By every motive that had induced you to come, did He beseech you to abide. Was it the fear of sin and its curse that first drew you? the pardon you received on first coming could, with all the blessings flowing from it, only be confirmed and fully enjoyed on abiding in Him. Was it the longing to know and enjoy the Infinite Love that was calling you? the first coming gave but single drops to taste ’tis only the abiding that can really satisfy the thirsty soul, and give to drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at His right hand. Was it the weary longing to be made free from the bondage of sin, to become pure and holy, and so to find rest, the rest of God for the soul? this too can only be realized as you abide in Him-only abiding in Jesus gives rest in Him.”

“Come to Him” is only the first step of the gospel. “Abide in Him” is the lifelong commitment with magnificent blessings in this life and the life to come.

Look at the context of this passage of John 14:31b: “Rise, let us go from here.” Jesus was walking toward the Garden of Gethsemane to face his most difficult trial. Jesus told them that the ruler of this world is coming and that he has no claim on me. These words are critical in our walk of sanctification, in our not conforming ourselves to the pattern of this world, in our shining as lights in this dark world. Do you want to endure the pressures and cares of this age? Abide in Him. We cannot shine as lights in opposition to the idolatry all around us unless we are producing fruit from the life of the vine. Unless everything we are is deriving from him. We need to rise up and abide in him now without further delay.

Andrew Murray: “Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us … Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform.”

I John 2:6: Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Colossians 2:6,7: Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Amplified: As you have therefore received Christ, even Jesus the Lord, so walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots of your being firmly and deeply planted in Him, fixed and founded in Him, being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.

NLT: And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

How do we abide in Him. By childlike faith. Faith is the foundation of abiding. Without faith we fail to abide in vital union with Him. How do we build our faith? How do we grow our faith? By hearing the Word of God and hiding it in our hearts (Romans 10:17). Studying, meditating, memorizing, pondering on His Word is vital to abiding in Him. We must abide in His words if we are to effectively abide in Him (John 15:7).

Receiving Christ Jesus the Lord is the first step. We must be rooted and built up in him to where we walk like him on the earth. When people see the branch, they see the vine. The same life that is the branch is in the vine. When people see us they see Christ. Our words, our actions and our character reflect Christ because we are in vital union with the true vine.

Andrew Murray: “But, alas! I hear someone say, it is just this abiding in Jesus, always bearing His yoke, to learn of Him, that is so difficult…What a mistake to speak thus, and yet how often the words are heard! Does it weary the traveler to rest in the house or on the bed where he seeks repose from his fatigue? Or is it a labor to a little child to rest in its mother’s arms? Is it not the house that keeps the traveler within its shelter? do not the arms of the mother sustain and keep the little one? And so it is with Jesus. The soul has but to yield itself to Him, to be still and rest in the confidence that His love has undertaken, and that His faithfulness will perform, the work of keeping it safe in the shelter of His bosom. Oh, it is because the blessing is so great that our little hearts cannot rise to apprehend it; it is as if we cannot believe that Christ, the Almighty One, will in very deed teach and keep us all the day. And yet this is just what He has promised, for without this He cannot really give us rest. It is as our heart takes in this truth that, when He says, “Abide in me,” “Learn of me,” He really means it, and that it is His own work to keep us abiding when we yield ourselves to Him, that we shall venture to cast ourselves into the arms of His love, and abandon ourselves to His blessed keeping.”

Who would, after seeking the King’s palace, be content to stand in the door, when he is invited in to dwell in the King’s presence, and share with Him in all the glory of His royal life? Oh, let us enter in and abide, and enjoy to the full all the rich supply His wondrous love hath prepared for us!

One of the great enemies of Abiding in Him is forgetfulness. This is one of the great flaws of the human heart to fall into habitual forgetfulness of God. We have a tendency to not remember God on a daily basis as the heart wallows in this sea of forgetfulness. A parent’s heart would be crushed if their beloved child forgot them. A bride’s heart would be wounded if her groom forgot about her love and devotion to him. There may not be a worse feeling for someone than to feel that you have been forgotten. No one wants to be a distant memory. Yet God is consistently forgotten day after day in the busyness of our hectic lives. We forget the amazing love, mercy and grace of God that has been poured into our lives in countless ways. We forget God’s words of instruction to guide us through the uncertainty and confusion of our times. We forget God’s constant plea for a deeper intimacy and relationship with Him. God easily disappears from our thoughts with a troubling constancy. The heart forgets. The heart does not remember. God fades from our memory with a relentless persistency, and the heart of God is grieved that His very own children have so easily forgotten Him.

Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. (Jeremiah 2:32, ESV)

You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. (Deuteronomy 32:18, ESV)

The Hebrew word for “forget” means to ignore, to wither, to cease to care, and to be oblivious of from want of memory and attention. We must not allow God to wither from our hearts by ignoring Him and giving Him little attention. We cannot cease to care about God being at the center of everything we do and everything we are. We must never let God be labeled “the forgotten one” in the depth of our hearts.

It is sad to say, but most of us give more attention to our grocery list than God. We have become consumed with everything else, but God. We are consumed with our television shows, our music, our careers, our schedules, our success, our sports, our families, our education, our politics, our fitness, our comforts and our finances. We remember more about our IPhone apps than we remember about God. We remember the latest sport scores and statistics more than we remember God. God has to be more than just on our mailing list when we send Him a nice card from our hearts twice a year on Christmas and Easter. For a Christian, God should be more alive, important, and thought of, than any earthly thing. God has to be the living and burning passion of our hearts. We cannot follow the ways of this world where God is dead in the hearts of people. God must be more than a fleeting thought or a desperate prayer when we are in trouble. God must become the lifeblood of our heart, and the reason for every breath we take. We must cultivate in the soil of our hearts an expectation and excitement of knowing, experiencing and fellowshipping with God in a deep and meaningful manner. This is what it means to abide in Him.

A.W. Tozer in Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews says:

How many Christians really harbor within their own spirit the daily expectation of God’s presence? How many truly expect a personal encounter with God? It is quite important to cultivate a daily expectation of God’s presence in your day … Each day presents a new opportunity to experience God and fellowship with Him. Nothing should so occupy the mind of the Christian than discovering God in his day … My encounter with God today may be of such a nature as to alter the course of my entire life. With a sacred expectation for me to dwell upon each morning, as I get up, I look for God in all the circumstances of my day. Let me give personal testimony that I never anticipate a day without experiencing the presence of God … Start the day seeking God’s presence and search for Him all through the day and revel in the gracious encounter of God throughout the day.[i]

The Hebrew word for “forget” has even a deeper meaning when we look at its word picture. Remember that Hebrew is a pictographic language, and each letter of the Hebrew alphabet represents a picture. Every word in Hebrew is formed by adding these pictures together to visually illustrate the meaning of a word.

The Hebrew pictograph for the word “forget” is Shin-Kaf-Chet and means what destroys the fence around the open palm or hand. The open hand of God has given us life, blessings, and purpose. The open hand of God has given us instructions for life in His Word. He has also put a fence or protective boundary around our heart that allows us to live separate from the chaos of this broken world. To forget is to tear down and destroy this fence.

Skip Moen in his “Hebrew Word Studies” explains in more detail this pictograph for the Hebrew word “forget”:

To forget is to tear down the fence that provides life … God fences us in on purpose. The broken world is a dangerous and unhealthy place. God protects with His instructions, often in ways that we cannot comprehend. When we forget, we tear down the fence that keeps life and chaos apart. When we forget, we let sin in. When we forget, we open the door (as Paul says) and life tumbles.[ii]

We can never forget the great blessing of the vine and the branches and abiding in Him. It is a commandment of our Lord. Abiding in Him is the security, the fence that protects us from the world and the devices of our enemy. Abiding in Him is the antidote for the chaos of this world. No matter what is raging around us, we can abide in Him. Joy, peace and rest comes from abiding in Him. Fear melts away, anxiety evaporates, and worry disappears when we abide in our vital union with the true vine. Let His life flow through us and into our speech, our love, our touch and our heart. As He is so are we in this world. What will happen to our lives, our growth and our walk if we abide in Him? It is life-changing. The harvest of fruit will be abundant 30, 60, 100 times greater than we could imagine. Just as he commanded us to “Come” in the call of salvation, he now commands us to “Abide” in the call of fellowship. Nothing is more important in our Christian life than to obey this commandment to abide in Him. It is essential in the chaos of this world that we do not allow our hearts to forget this crucial truth-“Abide in Him.”

[i] A.W. Tozer, Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews (Bloomington: Bethany House Publishers. 2010), 1842, Kindle Edition.

[ii] Skip Moen, “”For Whom the Bell Tolls (2), Hebrew Word Study, February 25, 2011, http://skipmoen.com/2011/02/25/for-whom-the-bell-tolls-2/

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Guarding the Heart: The Christian’s Sacred Duty

God Almighty has given us a clear commandment concerning the heart, and that is to stand watch, remain vigilant, and guard the heart from intrusion by outside forces. This is not a wish or a request from God. It is a direct order from our Supreme Commander, who lovingly but firmly calls, “My child, do this for Me. Guard your heart with great fervor and diligence! You must be watchful over your heart daily, for your heart is the key to your spiritual life and the intimacy and depth of your relationship with Me.”

Guarding your heart is simply not optional in God’s eyes. If you don’t guard your heart, then your words, actions, attitudes, motives, and life will never reflect the risen Savior and will never shine forth with His glory. Yes, we live in a society where we tend to hold onto so many temporal things, yet so few of us ever take heed of the need and divine requirement to guard our hearts.

If we fail to keep and guard our hearts, then we have failed God, failed in our walk with Him, and failed in the calling He has placed on our lives. The heart is the key to everything in the Christian life, and we can never take a vacation from our duties concerning its health. We can never allow ourselves to become careless, apathetic, or lazy in watching over it.

Do you long to be rich in faith and strong in the Lord? Do you want to be full of His love and compassion, speaking His words with kindness, boldness, and conviction? Do you want to know a deep and intimate bond with your heavenly Father where your fellowship with Him is so alive that you hear His voice, feel His heart, and become His hands, feet and heart to the world? Do you want to see the power of God made manifest in your life, where signs, miracles, and wonders follow your sharing of the gospel? Do you want a life-changing, earth-shaking faith that is a vibrant, energetic, and beautiful representation of the glory and majesty of the Almighty?

It all starts with your heart, for the heart is everything you are. And this heart must be molded and built by God to reflect His glorious image and be the home where He dwells without hindrance or impediment. Your heart must be the control center for the movement of God in your life and the outreach center for the movement of God into the world.

However none of these wonderful things can ever be sustained if your heart is left unguarded. The heart is under vicious attack daily by the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4, ESV) who wants to cripple, sicken, and twist it, so that it becomes dead to the things of God. You have probably heard the phrase “the battlefield of the mind,” which accurately depicts one phase of spiritual warfare. But the ultimate battle and the relentless goal of the enemy is to crush the heart. Every strategy, method, and device of the devil is designed for this purpose. Once you become a born-again Christian, your heart is thrust into a raging battlefield more intense than Gettysburg, more ferocious than Iwo Jima, and more brutal than Omaha Beach.

Watchmen on the Walls

Do you see why guarding your heart is not an inconsequential task? It is, in fact, the key to victory in every phase of Christian living. This is so clearly seen in Proverbs 4:23, which identifies guarding the heart as the most important thing we can do for God: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). This is our number one priority. We cannot seek Him, love Him, worship Him, and do His will with complete devotion every day unless we first become committed protectors and keepers of our hearts.

The Hebrew word translated in this verse as “keep” is natsar, which means to guard, protect, or maintain out of a sense of responsibility; to watch, preserve, and guard from dangers. The central idea here is holding fast and protecting something entrusted to you. This word also means to observe with great diligence, keeping very close, even to blockade. This Hebrew word was also used to describe a prison guard keeping watch over prisoners or a sentinel at a guard post. It is sometimes translated “watchmen” and “watchers” in the Bible. The root of the word is translated as “watchtower.”

God has entrusted to us a monumental responsibility, and He expects us to carry out this awesome task with the utmost faithfulness. Our hearts are vulnerable to the perils of this world. The heart can be easily broken, turned or hardened, and it must have a diligent overseer who will not cower but hold fast against the enemy’s schemes. We must be watchmen of our hearts, faithful to keep a lookout from the watchtower, day and night, for any approach of the enemy. We are to be attentive security guards, continually watching and evaluating the threat posed by our surroundings and our contact with the world, its images, and its ideals.

We should enthusiastically take this mantle of responsibility upon ourselves for we are obeying God’s command and training our hearts to carry His banner into battle, wholly spending every fiber of our beings for His glory. And we can be triumphant and victorious, rooted in God, and bringing a foretaste of heaven into everything we do and touch. Don’t you think that kind of heart is worth guarding? No wonder the devil expends so much energy targeting our hearts, for a guarded heart lays waste to his schemes and works upon the earth and shatters his kingdom with the glory and power of God. A guarded heart stands like a mighty fortress of God’s grace, goodness, love, and mercy in the midst of the wicked, destructive darkness of this age.

Your heart has a God-given mission, and it must be protected at all costs so that you can make a difference in this world. If you don’t guard your heart with every bit of diligence you can muster, it will eventually wither to God and become hardened to every purpose, every leading, and every whisper coming from the heart of God.

The Branch and Your Heart

The root of this word natsar also has another interesting meaning: “to shine, sparkle, bloom, or sprout.” In its noun form, this word is translated as “branch.” Jesus Christ is referred to as “a righteous Branch” in the Old Testament:

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel shall live in safety. This is the name by which he shall be called: The Lord our Righteous Savior. (Jeremiah 23:5–6, NIV)

Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from this place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne.” (Zechariah 6:12–13a, NIV)

In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. (Isaiah 4:2, NIV)

As we guard our hearts, we allow Christ to bloom and sprout in our hearts. God desires that your heart to be a reflection of Christ, and by protecting the heart, you allow this image to grow and develop from a tiny sprout into a mighty branch. The branch implies that something is living and growing, and the heart is the holy greenhouse where the image of Him can grow and thrive into maturity.

The heart of every Christian should be a place where the King of Kings reigns and exercises His authority, directing us to do what is just and right. Our hearts should blossom with the life of the Spirit of God, bearing His glorious fruit and showing the world just how special it is to bear the image of our Creator. The believer’s heart should be the temple of the Lord, where the fire of the presence of God burns brightly and purifies the heart into a fortress of holiness. We are to have the heart of Christ, the mind of Christ, the thoughts of Christ, the zeal of Christ, and the actions of Christ. This mighty Branch will become a tree of righteousness in our hearts that directs and compels us to live according to His righteous standards, pouring out ourselves for the lost, the needy, the poor, and the broken. Then our hearts will sparkle for our King.

God Helps Us Guard Our Hearts

Can you accomplish this sacred duty of guarding and protecting your heart in your own strength, ability, and power? Are you alone in this monumental task of watching over your heart with great diligence day after day? Are you even capable of shielding your heart from all the attacks of the enemy? Of course not, and God doesn’t expect you to fight this battle alone.

You cannot be the watchman of your heart without help from God, for you desperately need His guidance, His wisdom, His instruction, His insight, His promises, and His strength to effectively guard your heart. You are doomed to fail miserably without God Almighty laboring with you to keep your heart holy and pure. This truth is borne out in Scripture as we examine another verse in which the Hebrew word natsar is used:

But God himself took charge of his people, took Jacob on as his personal concern. He found him out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland. He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him, guarding (natsar) him as the apple of his eye. He was like an eagle hovering over its nest, overshadowing its young. (Deuteronomy 32:9–12, MSG)

You are God’s personal concern, and He takes charge of your care by wrapping His arms tightly around you and guarding you as the apple of His eye. The word “apple” here is the Hebrew word for “pupil,” the dark center of the eye where light enters in. The pupil dilates to control the amount of light that enters the eye, and this light forms an image on the retina so we can see what we are looking at.

The pupil is one of the most vulnerable parts of the human body. If left unguarded, you could easily damage and perhaps lose your precious sight. So God designed the human eye with many safeguards and protections, since even the tiniest particle can cause searing pain. For example, the eye is deeply entrenched in the skull, so that the forehead and cheekbones act as natural barriers. It is also protected by the eyelid and eyelashes. Even your hands are in a position to raise up and protect your eyes from foreign objects.

Likewise, the heart is highly vulnerable to damage from foreign objects. The heart is essential to our spiritual eyesight and must be guarded so it is does not become blinded to the things of God. Indeed, just as the health of the human body can be often be discerned by examining the pupil and its condition, so also the spiritual health of a person can be discerned by examining his or her heart.

It’s interesting to note that this Hebrew word for “pupil” literally means “little man or daughter of the eye.” The pupil acts like a mirror so that you see a tiny image of yourself when you look into eyes of another person. God helps us to guard our hearts so that when He looks into our heart, He will see the image of Himself, a reflection of His love, compassion, and grace. What an amazing and profound truth that God wants to see Himself when He looks at your heart! He wants to see there a masterful reproduction of His nature and characteristics. He wants to see a heart that beats like His, that sees the world through His eyes and loves people as He does.

Watchman in the Vineyard

In Bible times there were watchmen who watched over and guarded the vineyard against animals and thieves. Rev. G. M. Mackie, the author of Bible Manners and Customs, elaborates on this custom:

The vine has always had an important place among the industries of Palestine. … Vineyards are found all over the country, but the most suitable is the hillside, or the gently sloping ground at the foot of a hill. … The vineyard requires a great deal of preparatory work. A wall has to be built around it. … In the case of a large vineyard, a winepress has to be dug and a shelter made for the watchman.[i]

A watchman was appointed over a vineyard or group of vineyards. He stood watch, day and night, to frighten away wild animals and to challenge and report on intruders. He roamed about at night, but in the daytime he was stationed in a conspicuous spot: a booth made of four stout poles fixed into the ground, with a boarding lashed across halfway up, and a covering of oak leaves. Here the guard sat and watched by day. Sometimes a permanent stone structure took the place of the booth to serve as both a watchtower and place of shelter.

In that day—“Sing about a fruitful vineyard. I, the Lord, watch (natsar) over it; I water it continually. I guard (natsar) it day and night so that no one may harm it.” (Isaiah 27:2–3)

God wants your heart to be a fruitful vineyard for Him, and He will help you guard and watch over it night and day so that nothing may harm it. The Hebrew word rendered as “harm” in this verse means “to visit, attend, search out, or pay attention to with a hostile intent for the purpose of bringing harm or evil.” Although the devil prowls about, searching out your heart for the purpose of bringing it harm, your God is there with you, standing as watchman of the vineyard, helping to protect your heart from the enemy’s hostile schemes and fiery darts. He labors with you to prepare, water, prune, dress, and nourish the heart. God does not want your vineyard to be overgrown with thorns and thistles of fear, unbelief, anxieties, bitterness, and strife. If you will heed His voice, He is showing you what to work on in the vineyard so that your heart can be vibrant with the life of the Lord and fruitful for His glory.

In Rees Howells: Intercessor, Norman Grubb writes:

When the divine owner takes possession of a property, He has a twofold objective: intense cultivation and abounding fruitfulness. But if the land is fallow ground, He can only till it acre by acre. We shall see the Owner now at work in his newly-claimed estate.[ii]

When you allow God to ascend to the throne of your heart as the owner of this vineyard, He begins an intense and thorough work on every aspect of the heart to cultivate His fruit in your words, your actions, and your motives. God tills the ground of your heart so it is tender and receptive toward Him and becomes deeply rooted in the love and worship of God. He then plants His seeds and lovingly and diligently manages their growth into a beautiful healthy vine that will bear much fruit. He cultivates the vine with the warm light of His presence, His life-giving words, and the flowing waters of His Spirit so that the vine extends upward, seeking out Almighty God alone. Then truly, your heart is a great treasure worth guarding day and night so that the enemy cannot steal, kill, and destroy this sacred vineyard that God has so lovingly built.

Do not allow yourself to become lazy or slothful in this great duty of guarding your heart, or it can in little more than a season turn into a wasteland of dry, hardened soil overgrown with weeds, thorns, briers, and dead vines. God is calling to you, “Come and watch with me! Let’s watch and pray over the vineyard of your heart so that it remains fruitful, and so that the enemy does not breach its walls and lay waste to it.” Does this remind you of an invitation and command from our Savior almost 2,000 years ago in a garden where the enemy was lurking?

A Sleeping Heart Is Unguarded

After supper, on the night before his execution, Jesus went with His disciples to a garden where He sometimes prayed.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come.” (Matthew 26:36–45, NIV)

Even today, our Lord calls to us with the urgent command to watch and pray with Him in the task of guarding our hearts. But so many have fallen asleep at their post. Three times in this passage Jesus commanded his disciples to keep watch with Him, yet they could not even do so for one hour.

The Greek word translated here as “watch” means “to be keenly alert in a constant state of readiness for trouble or danger; it is an intense, unremitting watchfulness; a mental alertness; the condition of the mind opposite to sleep.” The Greek gives us a picture of a man awakening himself from sleep or slumber and refraining from sleep so he can be alert and watchful. This word was used in Greek literature to describe a man crossing a raging river while stepping on slippery stones—he must be keenly alert and pay strict attention to exactly where he’s stepping or he will fall into the water and be swept away.

The Greek word for “watch” is here used in the present imperative, meaning this is a command of our Lord that we are to continually and habitually follow. It calls for a long-term commitment, a way of life. This is no mere suggestion of possible devotion; this is a commandment of the Lord that is absolutely vital to our spiritual life.

“Watch and pray,” He says. Watchfulness and prayer are like two sentinels who must maintain constant and vigilant guard over the entrance to the heart. You cannot guard your heart without maintaining a constant state of vigilance alongside the Lord. The enemy is at the gate, and you must stand guard with a watchful eye, an alert ear, and much prayer. If you fail to do so, breaches begin to form in the walls surrounding the vineyard of your heart, giving the enemy access. The devil wants to devour you and destroy your heart so that it does not reflect to the world the beauty and glory of God. This is why you must be on the lookout at all times, under every circumstance. Time and time again, the Lord calls your name and asks, “Will you watch with me?” Will you heed His call or continue to slumber?

God has given His people His Word, His power, and His Spirit so that we keep watch and prevail over the enemy. Yet the church has fallen asleep at the most desperate hour when everything is at stake. Christianity needs to wake up now! We are at war, and we can no longer afford to nod off while on duty.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV)

Christian, do you not know your heart has a personal enemy that is bent on its destruction? He is always looking for the unguarded and slumbering heart so he can pounce on it and viciously consume it. The devil lives and rages in hostile opposition to everything that might honor Jesus Christ, and this is why you must remain alert and vigilant. For who can guard his heart against a lion when he is asleep?

The Greek word that gives us “devour” in 1 Peter 5:8 means to drink down and swallow up completely, to gulp down entirely, and to cause something to pass from the mouth into the stomach. This same word is used in the Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Old Testament—to describe the great fish that swallowed up Jonah. It was also used of the Egyptian army that was swallowed up by the Red Sea after Israel made safe passage through the waves when parted by the mighty hand of God. The word paints a picture of complete and sudden destruction.

The Devil wants to completely swallow up your heart like the great fish gulped down Jonah. Satan wants to overwhelm your heart with engulfing waves of fear, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness so that it is swallowed up and rendered useless for God’s kingdom. Or perhaps he is trying to consume your heart with the thoughts, imaginations, philosophies, culture, and idols of this age.

Paul calls the devil “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The word “age” here is aionos in the Greek and is enlightening as to Satan’s ways of devouring the heart. Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament elaborates on its meaning:

[This word] comes presently to signify all which exists in the world under conditions of time … the course and current of this world’s affairs … All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral, atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again to inevitably exhale.[iii]

The devil is the god of the course and current of this world’s affairs as well as the ideas, fashions, opinions, and passions of the culture. He molds and twists a humanistic atmosphere designed to swallow and devour the heart. And people breathe in this atmosphere like they breathe in air, not realizing they are inhaling a demonic toxin that will corrupt, suffocate, harden, and utterly destroy the heart.

John MacArthur, in his sermon “Fundamental Attitudes for Spiritual Maturity,” says:

[The devil is] always active and he’s always looking for an opportunity to overwhelm us. His aim is to sow discord, to break fellowship, to accuse God to men, to accuse men to God, to accuse men to each other, to undermine confidence, to silence confession, to get us to stop serving God. He’s always after us. He is called in John’s Gospel three times “the prince of this world.” He commands the human system. So as he is moving around, seeking whom he may devour, it is not that you have to come into contact with him individually to fall prey, because he orchestrates a whole realm of demon beings and he orchestrates and controls the whole world’s system. And so from his seat as prince of the world, he orchestrates an environment which in and of itself can devour us.[iv]

The devil is orchestrating a cultural environment at every level of society to blind the heart from the glory, grace, and wonder of God. His schemes overwhelm the heart with pressures, bondage, and oppression. Just look around you. This is an atmosphere where God is not wanted, and its lusts and momentary pleasures of self-gratification are absolutely fatal to the human heart and the purposes God has wonderfully planned for each of us.

This is why we will never be able to successfully and consistently guard the heart unless we become men and women set apart from the world and devoted to prayer. We can stop the lion in his tracks if we choose to carefully protect our hearts as a sacred treasure and pray with mighty boldness and confidence in the faithfulness and goodness of our heavenly Father.

Prayer Guards the Heart

E.M. Bounds, in his classic The Necessity of Prayer, wrote of the importance of prayer to the effectiveness of the armor of God:

Note carefully that the Christian’s armor will avail him nothing, unless prayer be added. This is the pivot, the connecting link of the armor of God. This holds it together, and renders it effective. … It is all important and absolutely essential to victory, that prayer should so impregnate the life that every breath will be a petition, every sigh a supplication. The Christian soldier must needs be always fighting. He should, of sheer necessity, be always praying.

The Christian soldier is compelled to constant picket duty. He must always be on his guard. He is faced by a foe who never sleeps, who is always alert. … Watchfulness is a cardinal principle with Christ’s warrior, “watch and pray” forever sounding in his ears. He cannot dare to sleep at his post. Such a lapse brings him not only under the displeasure of the Captain of his salvation, but exposes him to added danger. Watchfulness, therefore, imperatively constitutes the duty of the soldier of the Lord …

The inseparable companions and safeguards of prayer are vigilance, watchfulness, and a mounted guard … When will Christians more thoroughly learn the twofold lesson, that they are called to a great warfare, and that in order to get the victory they must give themselves to unsleeping watchfulness and prayer? [v]

Prayer is a mighty catalyst for the purification and godly transformation of the heart. It’s an invitation to God to become intimately involved in every detail of your life. Prayer awakens your heart to the voice of God and helps to direct you in the paths and ways of God. As Christians, we have so underestimated the explosive power of prayer. Eric Ludy, pastor of the Church at Ellerslie in Colorado, has said, “Prayer is nuclear power, world renovating in its epic strength. When used according to the pattern of Scripture, prayer alters history, alters the natural world, and alters the human soul … Prayer is the catalyst behind everything godly taking place in the earth.”[vi]

I’m not referring here to a ten-second prayer said before you eat, or the weak, distracted, half-hearted prayer you mutter under your breath while running out the door or falling into a deep sleep. I’m talking about prayer delivered with guts, audacity, humility, and confidence. This is a wrestling prayer, the kind that requires focus, determination, passion, tenacity, and persistence. This is prayer born of an unwavering trust in God at all times and in all circumstances. This is prayer that conveys an intense and relentless love and passion for God. This is the prayer of a warrior, one that shakes the kingdom of darkness to its core and brings to pass the will of God upon the earth. There can be no anxiety, fear, timidity, or doubt in this prayer. You are in the field, your position is under attack, and you are in contact with the Lord of hosts—clear communication and unwavering faith in your Commander is critical if you are to push the enemy back.

The Greek word translated “pray” in Matthew 26:36–45 means speaking out with desire, worship, and devotion in a direct manner, conscious that you are talking face to face with God. This is prayer with a specific purpose delivered in complete trust and faith that God will answer, and indicates the warmth, depth, and passion of an intimate, face-to-face conversation. This is communion so close that God and you are gazing at each other’s faces and listening intently to each other’s whisper. There may be weeping, groaning, joy, suffering, laughter, and adoration. Yet always this prayer is spoken with deep respect and thankfulness toward God.

This is the true nature of the mighty prayer that revolutionizes the human heart and safeguards it from the roaring lion. We will never be able to effectively carry out the command of God to guard our hearts above all else unless we make this type of prayer a habit and way of life. We must spend significant, passionate time in communion with God if we are to become useful vessels in His holy mission of rescuing and restoring the hearts of others through us.

Did you know that the day that even before God breathed life into Adam in the book of Genesis, He designed people to be praying human beings? The human heart was formed by God to be immersed in prayer as a way of life. Since man took his first breath, we were to live and breathe this relationship. It’s as vital to our spiritual life as physically breathing is to our physical life. We cannot have healthy hearts, and we cannot guard our hearts from the enemy unless prayer is an integral part of our everyday lives.

Leonard Ravenhill, in his book Why Revival Tarries, says that victorious living can only come through “sustained watches in the prayer chamber.” He quotes the venerated John Chrysostom, early church father, concerning the supernatural power of prayer:

The potency of prayer has subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of a thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings.[vii]

Ravenhill goes on to say, “The prayer closet is not merely a place to hand the Lord a list of urgent requests. Does prayer change things? Yes, but prayer changes men.”[viii]

Prayer is the great catalyst for the transformation of the human heart, in both the person praying and the person prayed for. But as Eric Ludy said, “True prayer demands more of our lives than most are willing to give, and therefore few ever taste of its power and delights.”[ix] Prayer will change every nook and cranny of the human heart, altering its course, composition, and temperature. And yet the prophet pleaded to God, saying of his people, “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins” (Isaiah 64:7). It’s amazing to me still that the hearts of God’s chosen people could be devoured to the extent that not a single one was calling on God’s name and wanting to take a hold of Him, even after all the magnificent things He had done for them.

The word translated “lay hold” in the Hebrew means “to fasten upon, to seize, to be strengthened to do extraordinary deeds.” There is a confidence, boldness, and bravery to this word, and it is used in the Scriptures to describe the mighty acts of David, Joshua, and Samson. There is no fear, doubt, or surrender in this word, but rather, courage, perseverance, audacity, and fortitude. We must arise and fasten ourselves to the Father in prayer and seize upon His unlimited strength and power. Prayer not only guards the heart, but from prayer we are energized to charge into battle and rescue the broken, the crushed, the forgotten, the maimed, the hurt, and the hopeless of heart for Almighty God.

Healing the Breach

This guarding nature of prayer is also brought to light in the Hebrew word mishmar, which is translated as “guard” in Proverbs 4:23. This word means to keep diligent watch over a prisoner; the condition of being guarded, watched, and controlled. This word is also used in the book of Nehemiah concerning the rebuilding of the wall and gates of Jerusalem in the midst of fierce opposition from the enemy.

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard (mishmar) day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:6–9, NIV)

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had destroyed the wall of Jerusalem that surrounded the city when he conquered Judah. One hundred and forty years later, the wall still lay in utter ruin, and it was heavy on Nehemiah’s heart to go to Jerusalem and rebuild it. G. M. Mackie, in Bible Manners and Customs, explains the importance of the wall to a city in Bible times:

Thick high walls and fortified gates do not pose much of a deterrent to modern armies, but in the biblical era they were very effective, even against large, well-equipped armies … The wall came to be a symbol of protection. Throughout most of the Old Testament a thick, high wall around a city made it almost impossible to conquer.[x]

Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king of Persia, and even though he obtained permission from the king to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall, he was to face incredible opposition. Nehemiah and his men were ridiculed, insulted, laughed at, threatened, and attacked. Many of the people of Judah caved into the pressure, saying that their strength was giving out and that the enemy would kill them before the wall could be completed. But Nehemiah stood steadfast.

He encouraged the people not to be afraid, reminding them of how great and awesome the Lord is and charging them to fight in His strength for their families and homes. He knew that God was the strength, the foundation, the protection, and the power behind this audacious work. Nehemiah was a man of prayer, and met the relentless assault of the enemy by watching and praying day and night, and God heard his prayers. Nehemiah 4:13 says that God frustrated the plot of the enemies to stop the work. Miraculously, the walls and gates of Jerusalem were rebuilt in just fifty-two days.

Prayer helps to build a spiritual wall of protection around the heart to guard it from infiltration by the enemy. But prayer also helps to repair the broken walls around the heart and make them strong again. Most Christians today have massive breaches in the walls surrounding their hearts, and this allows the devil nearly unfettered access to wreak havoc and misery in their lives. As Christians, we cannot be content with broken-down walls that leave us vulnerable to attack.

Prayer is the catalyst to mend and repair these breaches in the walls so the heart can become a mighty fortress for our God. Prayer frustrates the plans of the enemy to capture the heart and gives us the power and strength to stand against all the insults, threats, and assaults of the devil. Prayer aids in the recovery of our hearts from a condition of breakdown and ruin by bringing restoration, order, security, and peace. Prayer enables God to do His miraculous work in our hearts in order to accomplish His good will and extraordinary purposes. Prayer allows God to take His rightful position as the keeper and protector of our hearts.

Guarding the Sacred Romance

The Hebrew word mishmar comes from the root shamar, and this word’s very first usage in the Bible sheds some additional light on guarding the heart:

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep (shamar) it. (Genesis 2:15, KJV)

Notice first of all that God took Adam. This is a beautiful statement of a precious possession and protection of someone so valued that God took Him into the closest and innermost chambers of His heart. The Hebrew word rendered here as “took” means to grasp and seize, to take hold of, to take possession of, and to carry away. This verse describes the first time Adam and His magnificent God looked at each other face-to-face, the first encounter when their hearts touched as Father and child. What a breathtaking moment that must have been! O, how God loves His children! He grasped hold of Adam, lovingly took possession of Him, and drew Him close to His bosom and embraced Him.

This is the ultimate love story, the sacred romance that is beyond anything else seen or experienced in the heavens and the earth. Think about how special the moment is when a mother gives birth to her first child and the parents first hold the precious baby in their arms, staring at their offspring with great love. Yet the encounter described between Adam and God was at a much deeper and more intimate level, a thousand times more intense and passionate, as the heart’s desire of the Creator stood before Him. God snatched Adam into His presence with joyful anticipation of their fellowship. God revealed to Adam His heart, His character, His love, and His goodness and bestowed upon him a part of Himself: His glorious image. God took Adam so they could begin a relationship on a heart-to-heart basis forged with a deep bond of love. God desired above all else to have Adam’s heart.

God next put Adam in the Garden of Eden, this awesome paradise that He had planted and prepared for His child. The Hebrew word for “put” means to rest, to settle down and remain; to pause and to quiet. It was used in the Old Testament to describe God’s Spirit resting on a person, God’s blessings resting on a person or house, and the dedication of something before the presence of the Lord. Adam was placed in the garden so his heart could rest in the presence of God. It was a place where his heart was to be stilled with awesome wonder and adoration as he began to know His magnificent God. The heart was to rest in everything that God is and overflow with His peace, His joy, His presence, His strength, His wisdom, His goodness, His faithfulness, and His majesty. Here, their intimate relationship was to grow, flourish, and become firmly established. The garden was to be the sacred place where the heart makes its home in God.

The real beauty of this verse and its truths about guarding the heart reach their apex in the meaning of the words “dress” and “keep.” Richard Howe, in his article “Rethinking Adam in the Garden,” says that according to Hebrew grammar and word usage, the words “dress” and “keep” in Genesis 2:15 do not refer Adam’s responsibility to the Garden of Eden, but rather, to Adam’s relationship with God and his responsibility to love, worship, and obey Him. [xi]

The Hebrew word for “dress” is abad and is primarily translated as “serve” in the Old Testament. This word is used to describe both the serving and worship of God and the serving of false gods or idols. The Greek equivalent to this word in the Septuagint is kollao, which comes from the word for glue, and literally means to glue, cement, fasten together, cleave and cling to. In the modern vernacular, it means to “stick like glue” to someone. It is to attach oneself firmly to something and not let go. It is to be steadfastly united with strong affection and desire, to be so close and cohesively joined that nothing could loosen or break this bond of love. It represents the highest form of commitment and devotion that overflows into praise, worship and service.

Fear the Lord your God, serve (abad) him only and take your oaths in his name. (Deuteronomy 6:13, NIV)

Serve (abad) the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:2, ESV)

They served (abad) their idols, which became a snare to them. (Psalm 106:36, HCSB)

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve (abad) him with all your heart and all your soul. (Joshua 22:5, ESV)

The word “keep” in Genesis 2:15 is translated from the Hebrew word shamar, which means to exercise great care to watch over, to preserve, and to guard. Examples of shamar translated as “keep” in the Bible include Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 8:2, 1 Kings 8:48, and Proverbs 4:4. Here it conveys an attitude of attentive care and protectiveness, realizing the preciousness and sacred honor of God’s words and exercising great care so that they are not broken in your heart or fall to the ground. The commandments, words, and precepts of God are such priceless treasure that they must be preserved, guarded, and kept in the heart at all cost.

All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep (shamar) His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of His creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, AMP)

Adam’s primary responsibility in the Garden of Eden was to pursue, love, cherish, treasure, and serve God with every fiber of His being. Adam was to be always focused on God, cleaving, fastening, and clinging to his heavenly Father with passion and zeal. God created the heart of Adam with a fierce hunger to know and experience everything about Him, and to this day, the heart of a person will never be satisfied, never be fulfilled, and never be content unless it finds its home in God.

In this truth lies the fundamental way in which we are to guard our hearts, and that is by fiercely guarding our relationship with God. We guard and protect our hearts by intensely holding onto God in love and growing in intimacy with Him. This is the key to the condition of the heart, and it’s the key to protecting our hearts from the attacks of the enemy. Our hearts must stick and cling to God like superglue. We must devote ourselves to knowing Him, loving Him, honoring Him, and serving Him. Then God will dwell in our hearts and build us up to stand firm like a rock in the midst of uncertainty and fearful times.

This fundamental key to guarding the heart is really a twofold process. We must first guard and protect our relationship with God, and secondly guard the heart from setting any idol on its throne. Idolatry at its most basic level is a failure to guard and protect the heart. Idolatry will weaken and take the heart out quicker than anything on earth. It’s the number one cause of all spiritual heart disease. Idolatry means we have turned our hearts away from God and looked instead to something else for satisfaction, enjoyment, and fulfillment.

You must choose the object of your devotion and commit to whom or what you are going to serve. This is the critical decision in life we all must make, and your choice will determine whether your heart stands strong for God or gets devoured by the enemy. The heart cannot serve two masters. Your heart must declare its allegiance and proclaim its god. Are you going to love, cherish, and serve, the one true God or a false idol? The enemy has a host of idols that he is continually pressuring us to sell out to. The temptation is great, the lure is fascinating, and it takes great diligence and spiritual awareness to guard the heart from idols.

Later we will spend a whole chapter of this book delving into the idols of the heart because this topic is so critical in understanding the condition of our hearts.

Keeping the Word of God Alive in Your Heart

The second way to guard your heart is to keep the priceless words of God, as revealed in the Bible, alive and abiding in your heart with relentless obedience, steadfast love, and breathtaking reverence. The Word of God represents His thoughts, His truth, and His character, and it has the ability to shape and mold the heart into a mighty reflection of God Almighty that can withstand the storms of life and the insanity of the world’s evil.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might sin against you. (Psalm 119:9–11, ESV)

My son, pay close attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep (shamar) them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. (Proverbs 4:20–22, NIV)

You must faithfully immerse yourself in the words of the Lord every day and allow them to become a part of you. The words of God are to be at the center of your thoughts, meditations, motives, desires, and deeds. You must not let His words fade or depart from your heart. Do not harden your heart to His voice. God’s words must become the living and breathing essence and functioning fuel of the heart that defines your purposes, direction, and growth.

The words of the Lord are just as important to the spiritual condition and health of your heart as physical food is important to the health and condition of your body. Remember the words of Jesus, that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, ESV). The heart cannot be spiritually alive and in tune with God without depending on His Word as its source of food and nutrition. An inadequate spiritual diet will lead to spiritual malnutrition and weakness against the onslaught of the wicked one.

E.W. Bullinger, in How to Enjoy the Bible, says:

A low condition of spiritual health is produced by improper feeding or neglect of the necessary food which is the Word of God; and the end is a resort to all the many modern fashions and novel methods and widely advertised nostrums in the Religious world in the attempt to remedy the inevitable results. The Root of all the evils which abound in the spiritual sphere at the present day lies in the fact that the Word and the words of God are not fed upon, digested, and assimilated, as they ought to be.[xii]

We digest and assimilate the Word of God as we think, meditate on, confess, and believe it. This prevents the heart from becoming hardened by man-made rules and religious regulations or seduced by the fascination of culture as controlled by the evil one. The Word of God acts as a giant buffer and shield for our heart against the devil, the flesh, and the world. It fights off idolatry, diseased ways of thinking, and wrong motives and desires.

Meditating on the Word of God is the exercise the heart needs to keep it healthy for God and immune to the attacks of the enemy. Indeed, the words of God will be an absolute delight and joy to those who feed upon it, and their hearts will be aligned with the will of God, the purposes of God, and the work of God:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16, ESV)

Etching the Word of God on Your Heart

You are called by all the grace and magnificence of God Almighty to be His child, and it is imperative that you make you hearts a mighty citadel of His words if you are to walk in the light and glory of that calling. But you will fail to guard your heart if you fail to pursue and hold fast to His words as He commands you:

And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, AMP)

The Hebrew word that gives us “whet,” “sharpen,” “penetrate,” “teach,” and “impress” in this verse is shanan, and it means to inoculate, pierce through, and impress upon the heart like words cut into a stone tablet. We must write the Word of God on the tablets of our hearts, piercing the heart and inoculating it against spiritual disease and idolatrous viruses. His words are to be engrafted and impressed on the heart through diligent study, prayerful reflection, and focused meditation.

In modern medicine, people are inoculated with a vaccine to protect them from sickness and disease and boost the immune system. Our word “inoculate” comes from two Latin roots: “in,” meaning “within,” and “oculus,” meaning “an eye.” It literally means “to put an eye within,” thus to monitor and watch against harm. The Word of God acts as the eye within the heart, monitoring and protecting the heart from the deadly spiritual diseases of fear, idolatry, anxiety, lust, hardheartedness, bitterness, and depression.

Can you see why the words of God are so important to guarding your heart? The Word of God acts as a great spiritual vaccine, and “eye within” that constantly watches for harmful viruses and contaminants trying to invade the heart and sap your spiritual health and strength.

The Word of God is the impartation of the living God to men and women, infusing the human heart with the active life and vitality of the Creator of heaven and earth.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, AMP)

The Word of God is alive! It’s more alive and vibrant than any idea, philosophy, or religious thought ever conceived in the mind of humanity, for it is the very life of God Almighty. The Word of God breathes, speaks, encourages, warns, stirs, pleads, conquers, moves, and communes with the human heart like no other book ever written. The Word of God brings pulsating vigor of limitless quality to the heart and awakens it to the call and holy purpose of God’s voice.

Hebrews 4:12 also tells us that the Word of God is full of power! His Word is an unstoppable force more powerful than a million nuclear bombs. The Word of God is always working, always producing, always transforming, and always active, bringing the glory and might of God into every circumstance, problem, or relationship when it is believed. The Word of God is the great energizer of the human heart, giving it strength and protection against the suggestions, words, and ideas of the wicked one.

In 1812, German geologist Friedrich Mohs devised a scale of mineral hardness based on the ability of mineral to scratch another. The scale ranks minerals on a scale from one to ten, with ten representing the hardest substances. On the lower end of the scale we find talc, which doesn’t make much of an impression on other minerals. On the higher end of the scale we find diamonds, among the hardest substances known to man. But God’s Word is far sharper and more penetrating than any diamond! The Word of God can penetrate into the deepest core of a person’s being and cut away the cancerous growths of fear, depression, sin, and selfishness. With the mighty double-edged sword of His Word, the Great Surgeon can cut away every bondage and oppression and root out every form of darkness from the heart. The Word of God can further protect the heart by pruning away what is fruitless and dead, thus allowing the heart to heal and grow in the love, grace, and light of God.

Enter the Judge

The Word of God is the ultimate judge of our spiritual condition, according to Hebrews 4:12. God’s Word discerns the heart’s temperature, whether it is on fire for the Lord or waxing cold in the icy waters of the world. This yet another reason the Word of God is so important as protection for the heart, because it is the perfect judge of every motive, intent, belief and thought. The Word pronounces its verdict as to which thoughts and motives are unworthy of God or born of the flesh and must be cast out of the heart to maintain its purity.

In Hebrews 4:12, the Greek word translated “judging” (AMP) or “discerning” (ESV) is kritikos, and this is the only time this word is used in the New Testament. It means to divide, to separate, to discern, and to sift out and analyze evidence. Only the Word of God is capable of exposing our true attitudes, plans, purposes, desires, and motives, and only the Word of God can penetrate into the deepest recesses of the heart and shed pure light upon its true condition. It reveals where the heart is weak, diseased, contaminated, and in need of purifying and strengthening. It shines a spotlight on fear and unbelief so we can identify it and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, eradicate it from the heart.

According to Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament:

There can be no escape from the penetrating, searching application of the word of God. … Is it not true that people are made to see their real character under the exhibition of the truth of God? … Men then are made to look upon their motives as they had never done before, and to see in their hearts feelings whose existence they would not have suspected if it had not been for the exhibition of the truth. The exhibition of the truth is like pouring down the beams of the sun at midnight on a dark world.[xiii]

Psalm 119:105 (ESV) reads, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Word of God is pure and bright, and its revealing light is like a blazing sun exposing every area of darkness in the heart. This brilliant light enables us to walk the paths that God has set for each of us and gives us spiritual insight to see where we are going, for we cannot guard our hearts if we are blinded by the darkness. If we will only immerse ourselves in the Word, determined to remain in its unerring light, we will not turn from the path of God to explore the dark alleys of the world.

The Word of God has the glory, power, and life of God pulsating in every single word. These words will not only protect the heart but also heal and transform it. Jeremiah 23:29 says, “‘Is not my word like fire?’ declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’” The Word of God is a mighty flame that will burn up the refuse and chaff that is clogging our hearts. Like silver that is purified by fire, the Word of God will cleanse our hearts of all impurities, setting the heart on the holy course of its divine destiny.

This same verse says the Word of God is like a hammer that will shatter the shell of a hardened heart into a million pieces, allowing the heart to be tender, kind, and loving in the service of others for God. The Word is like a jackhammer that breaks up the concrete that may have formed around the heart because of past rejection, abuse, hurt, and disillusionment.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might sin against you. (Psalm 119:9–11, ESV)

You must seek God with your whole heart and never wander from the rock-solid, God-empowered shelter of His commandments. Never let your attention drift away from the Word of God, for you cannot guard your heart when you have strayed beyond the protective walls of God’s truth.

Incline Your Heart: Stretching Toward God

Have you ever seen a movie where someone is in mortal danger and she is stretching out her hand, as far as her muscles will allow her to reach the hand of a friend who is trying to save her from deathly peril?

Psalm 119:112 (ESV) reads, “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.” The Hebrew word rendered here as “incline” is natah, and it means to stretch out or extend toward someone or something. This enlightening word provides us another key on how we can guard our hearts. We must stretch our hearts, reaching out to God with every ounce of energy, desire, and devotion so we can seize and grab a hold of Him. It’s like the Olympic runner who stretches forth his body with every bit of strength at the finish line.

This stretch toward God is a stretch of faith, trust, and confidence in His faithfulness and character and the promises in His Word. We stretch toward God by devoting time with Him in prayer, meditation, study, and worship, by challenge ourselves to go deeper on every level in our relationship with Him. We stretch toward God by pursing Him with reckless abandon, allowing ourselves to be consumed with Him, and aching to experience Him fully as our living, joyful reality.

Workout routines often employ a stretching exercise in which a person stretches his arms as high as he can above his head and then bends over and stretches his hands down as far as they can go. This stretching builds flexibility, agility, and growth of certain muscles, making them better able to handle the stresses they will face in the workout and in daily life. Stretching reduces muscle tension, increases range of motion, promotes circulation of the blood, and enhances muscle coordination and energy levels. Stretching also protects a muscle from injury by keeping it flexible, warmed up, and loose for the pressure and stress of the exercise that is to come. Stretching enlarges the boundaries of a muscle so that it can do far beyond what we thought possible. When a muscle is not stretched and exercised, it becomes weak, brittle, and inflexible and begins to atrophy.

When you stretch your heart toward God, you are building spiritual flexibility, strength, agility, and growth in your walk with God and developing a godly defense against the hardening and weakening of your heart in its devotion to the Lord. When you stretch toward God, you’re not only expanding the capacity of the heart to overcome the stresses you are bombarded with daily, but you’re actually expelling fear, worry, and anxiety from the heart and replacing them with the joy of the Lord. Stretching toward God enables you to run farther and with greater endurance than you ever thought possible, breaking through the barriers of unbelief and enlarging your heart’s capacity to do the will of God. It allows the Spirit of God and the power of His Word to circulate and flow through your heart like a mighty river, purifying and igniting your heart with a flame of passion to do your utmost for the Highest.

God is calling you to stretch out your heart toward Him, even if your circumstances seem impossible. God is challenging you to expand the boundaries of your heart and push your faith and trust in Him into the realm of the impossible, the improbable, the extraordinary, and the astonishing. Take joy in knowing that the same Hebrew word natah is also used to describe God’s stretching His hand and heart toward you so that He can snatch you into His arms to lovingly hold and protect you. God is stretching His mighty hand toward you! Turn, stretch, and extend your heart toward Him with all of your strength and devotion!

Conclusion

In the next section, we will look more closely at three main portals, or entryways, to the heart—the eyes, the ears, and the thoughts—all of which must be diligently guarded. These are the doorways to the heart, and if we don’t watch over them and take care to monitor them, then the heart will be shaped and molded into the pattern of this world and not to the glory of God. God warns us what will happen if we neglect this vital duty:

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12, NASB)

What a tragedy to allow our hearts to fall away from the living God and let evil and unbelief take root there! This falling away can be very subtle at first, so that you don’t even realize your heart is turning away from Him. This is why guarding the heart is a full-time occupation. The enemy is crouching at the gates of your heart, always looking for an opportunity to infiltrate, to corrupt, and ultimately to destroy.

You must not allow unbelief even a temporary visitor pass to your heart, for it will not want to leave until it has defiled the entire heart. Unbelief is always an affair of the heart, and it separates the heart from the beauty and faithfulness of God and it hardens the heart against His voice. Unbelief causes the heart to distance itself from God and turn its allegiance elsewhere.

Christian, guard your heart! Do not delay. Do not slumber. Do not let your heart become a battlefield casualty. The fulfillment of your calling depends on it. Christian, guard your heart!

[i] Reverend George M. Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs, (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898).

[ii] Norman Grubb, Rees Howell: Intercessor (Great Britain: Lutherwood Press, 1952), 560, 561 Kindle.

[iii] Richard Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1953), 216, 217.

[iv] John MacArthur, Fundamental Attitudes of Spiritual Maturity, Sermon: February 25, 1990.

[v] E.M. Bounds, The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds (Redford: Wilder Publications, LLC 2014), 6641, 6681, Kindle.

[vi] Eric and Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2009), 27, 28.

[vii] Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1959), 141.

[viii] Ibid.,142.

[ix] Eric and Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2009), 122.

[x] G. M. Mackie, Bible Customs and Manners (New York: Fleming H, Revell Company, 1898).

[xi] Richard G. Howe, “Rethinking Adam in the Garden,” Outline presented on website:

http://richardghowe.com/index_htm_files/RethinkingAdamintheGarden.pdf

[xii] E.W. Bullinger, How to Enjoy the Bible (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons LTD, reprinted 1970), xiii.

[xiii] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications 1962), 1255.

Excerpt from The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/1483447928/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia-wc-p13n1_0?crid=2YTTLZSI2U01H&cv_ct_cx=the+heart+the+key+to+everything+in+the+christian+life&dchild=1&keywords=the+heart+the+key+to+everything+in+the+christian+life&pd_rd_i=1483447928&pd_rd_r=8bcd8062-bf30-4b80-96f1-cb52f58bbeb2&pd_rd_w=RLWbX&pd_rd_wg=ALjjP&pf_rd_p=13bf9bc7-d68d-44c3-9d2e-647020f56802&pf_rd_r=BZ4KRF13WX2QAF53GCQ4&psc=1&qid=1597060468&sprefix=the+heart+the+key%2Caps%2C178&sr=1-1-791c2399-d602-4248-afbb-8a79de2d236f

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