A Christian’s Profession: To Excel in Good Works

Titus 3:8,14 (Darby Bible):

The word is faithful, and I desire that

thou insist strenuously on these things,

that they who have believed God may

take care to pay diligent attention to

good works. These things are good and

profitable to men.

And let ours learn to apply themselves

to good works for necessary wants, that

they may not be unfruitful.

English Standard Version:

The saying is trustworthy, and I want

you to insist on these things, so that

those who have believed in God may

be careful to devote themselves to good

works. These things are excellent and

profitable for people.

And let our people learn to devote

themselves to good works, so as to

help cases of urgent need, and not

to be unfruitful.

The Apostle Paul sets forth in no uncertain terms that Christian believers must be diligent in devoting themselves to good works. The words “to take care or be careful” in the Greek mean: to give sustained thought to something; to fix one’s attention on; to give careful attention, and to think seriously about.  The Greek word is in the present tense, which calls for continual, habitual action. God exhorts us in His Word to make it a habit to seriously think about and fix our attention to devoting ourselves to good works.  The word “devote” is the Greek word proistemi, which means: to excel, to take the lead in; to be at the head of, and to attend to with care and diligence. It has the idea of standing before others in a position of leadership. It is someone who stands in front and leads the whole group. 

Rogers and Rogers, in The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, state that “The word has a technical meaning: ‘to practice a profession.’” We are to excel and be leaders in good works. God wants us to assume a position of leadership in producing good works in our families, our churches, our jobs, and our communities. We have leaders in politics, leaders in business, and leaders in education, but what about leaders in good works? We need leaders in loving people. We need leaders in compassion. We need leaders in tenderness. We need leaders in mercy.  We need leaders in speaking the truth. We need leaders in healing the brokenhearted. We need leaders in encouragement. We need leaders in forgiveness. The world is in desperate need of leaders in good works who love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and energetically manifest His goodness in their words and deeds. God needs us to assume a role of leadership and responsibility to be completely devoted to doing good works that flow from our new creation in Christ.

Our profession, our occupation, and our employment are to excel in good works that bring God’s goodness into the challenges and circumstances of our times. God wants us to stand in first place when it comes to doing good works energized by Him that reach the hearts and lives of people on every level. What profession, what passion, and what purpose are we practicing in our lives? What better profession to be called to then to excel in good works? No matter if we are a nurse, or a mailman, or a laborer, or a doctor, we can practice our calling and profession to excel and be leaders in good works in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our communities.

To excel in your profession of doing good works does not happen overnight. Verse 14 states that we must learn to lead and excel in good works. It is a growing process that requires great dedication and commitment of heart. The word “learn” in the Greek means: intentional learning by inquiry, study and observation; to direct one’s mind to something to produce an external effect; learning with a close connection with action or behavior, and learning through repeated action. A form of this word is translated “disciple,” where it emphasizes a relationship where one learns through a teacher to the extent that such learning and knowledge is applied in the pupil’s life.

We learn to excel in good works by the study of the Bible, by observation of and relationship with the leaders in the church, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit in practicing the art of doing good works. We are to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who follow his example of good works.  We learn by God teaching and inspiring us, by men and women of God teaching us in words and actions, and by boldly walking forth and doing the good works.  We must be patient in our growth, but we will grow in our walk of good works if we trust God, become rooted and grounded in His Word, pray continually, and walk by the holy spirit. We are to be disciples who are known for our excellence in bringing God’s goodness into the heart of all our works. God wants an unwavering commitment, empowered by the new creation in Christ, to diligently pursue good works as the disciples of Christ.

People cry out all over the world for these good works that are energized by God in the Christian believer. Titus clearly states that when we excel in good works, “it is excellent and profitable for people” and can help people in cases of urgent need. The word “profitable” in the Greek means: useful, profitable, beneficial, helpful, and that which yields advantageous results. It provides something one needs to attain a certain goal. The word “urgent” in the Greek means: that which one cannot do without because it is indispensable and what is required to be done by the circumstances.  It is what ought to be done according to the law of duty.

When we excel in good works, in both the world and in the Body of Christ, it is profitable and yields advantageous results in the lives of the people we touch. When we excel in good works, we help people attain the God-designed goals and purposes for their lives. When we excel in good works, we help people to accomplish and pursue their particular gifting in the Body of Christ. When we excel in good works, we give people something that they can not do without because we are bringing God’s goodness into their lives no matter what the circumstance.

It is our sacred duty as Christians, according to God’s calling, to love and devote ourselves to help people with pressing needs and urgent wants, with God’s goodness in our words and actions. Every place we go, there is an urgent demand for a born again son or daughter of God to rise up and diligently devote their life to doing good works in the service of our God. Everyday you have something to say and do that will show forth our Savior’s love and compassion. We cannot remain silent. We cannot sit around and do nothing. We are the hands, feet, mouth, eyes, and heart which Jesus Christ reaches out to the world.

Matthew West, in his song “Something to Say,” echoes this calling to good works:

Wake up, 7:32AM

Can’t believe its time to do it all over again

Yesterday, it took all you had

And your wandering if you will ever get it back

But the whole world is waiting for

Waiting for you to step out that door

Come on, and let your life be heard today         

You got something to say

If you’re livin’, if you’re breathin’

You got something to say

And you know if your heart is beatin’

You got something to say

And no one can say it like you do

God is love and love speaks through

You got it, you got it

You got something to say

Listen up, I got a question here

Would anyone miss you if you disappeared?

Well your life is the song that you sing

And the whole world is listening

Well the answer to the question is

You were created, your life is a gift and

The lights are shining on you today, ’cause

You got something to say

God only has one you. As His poetic masterpiece in Christ, you have gifts, abilities, and talents that God uniquely designed for you that no other person on Earth possesses. God needs you to step forward and let your light shine in the wonderful way God has designed for you. You need to see the beauty of your new life in Christ. God needs us to produce exquisite and awesome works of goodness that honor and glorify Him. Our lives are wasted when we do not live for the glory of God. If we fail to excel in good works, the world will suffer, people will suffer, and the body of Christ will suffer. The whole world is waiting. Our cities and towns are waiting. Our families and churches are waiting. Now is the time to excel.

Matthew 5:14-16 (New King James Version):

You are the light of the world. A city that

is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a

basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives

light to all who are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they

may see your good works and glorify your

Father in heaven.

The word “you” in verse 14 is emphatic in the Greek, as God is telling us in no uncertain terms that, yes, you are the light of the world. What an amazing truth! We are not a light of the world, but we are the light of the world because Christ lives in us. We shine as the light before people by our good works. Remember the connection that light has with goodness from the first usage of the word “good” in the Bible. These good works bring God’s light into a circumstance, problem, or challenge. These good works bring God’s light to the hearts and souls of people. The very nature of light is to shine and dispel darkness. These good works dispel the darkness of Satan’s kingdom.  As Christian believers, we are to let our lights shine to the entire world. Jesus commands this, and in the Greek, there is a sense of urgency to this command. Now is the time to shine. The word “shine” in the Greek means: to radiate brilliantly, to beam forth, and to shine brightly. Our lives and works are to radiate brilliantly and shine brightly in the darkness of this age. We must let the wonderful light of Christ in us brilliantly shine forth in all its goodness and truth.

God does not want us to be an invisible believer who hides the beauty of Christ within under a basket of excuses. We let our light shine through the beautiful and attractive good works that come from Christ living in us. These good works are a revelation of God’s goodness and His glory. These good works come from the heart of God as He energizes, inspires, motivates, arouses, awakens, and stirs them within us. God is at the center of all these good works, and they bring glory and praise to His name. These good works reflect God’s divine character and show forth to the world the wonderful goodness, love, compassion, and mercy of our Heavenly Father. We are in the public relations department for God; we are ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are the divine representatives of God’s goodness upon the earth. We were created in Christ Jesus as poetic masterpieces to display His glory.

John Piper, in a Sermon entitled “God Created Us For His Glory,” elaborates on the truth that we are created to display the glory of God: 

Ever since Adam and Eve chose to eat of the forbidden

tree in order to be like God, independent of Him and

wise in their own right, the human race has been

enslaved to a rebellious heart that hates to rely on God

but loves to make a name for itself…Man was created

from the beginning in God’s image that he might image

forth God’s glory. He was multiply and fill the earth so

that the knowledge of the glory of God would cover the

sea. And ever since the fall of man into sin, people have

refused to align themselves with this divine goal. But all

of God’s acts have been aimed at seeing it through…He

created us for His glory…The glory of God is the beauty

and excellence of His manifold perfections. It is an

attempt to put into words what God is like in His

magnificence and purity. It refers to His infinite and

overflowing fullness of all that is good. The term might

focus on His different attributes from time to time-like

His power and wisdom and mercy and justice-because                           

each one is indeed awesome and beautiful in its magnitude                                             

and quality. But in general God’s glory is the perfect                           

harmony of all His attributes into one infinitely beautiful

and personable being…He created us to display His glory,

that is, His glory might be known and praised. This is the

goal of God that we must align our hearts and actions…  

We do not do good works to make a name for ourselves, or so that we get all the glory. Don’t we have enough of this in the “what have you done for me lately” generation?” We bring the light of God’s goodness to this age of selfishness where so many are out for their own fame and fortune. We are concerned that people see the true image of God through our lives. It is when we lose our lives in Him that we find the true meaning in life. Selfishness always leads to frustration, disappointment, and defeat as the prideful journey of self-exaltation leads nowhere.

David Needham, in Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?, sets forth a beautiful illustration of our birthright as Christians:

Let me tell you about an object I keep in the top

drawer of my desk. I have used it so often over the

years as an illustration that it is not only badly

chipped, it has produced several holes in my pockets

from carrying it around. Its a small glass prism (my

humble substitute for a diamond). Without light, it

really isn’t much at all. But with sunlight, Oh!

Suddenly you see all the shades of the rainbow

dancing across the wall, splashing colors upon

whatever it touches. Who is a Christian? In terms

of deep, spiritual personhood, he or she is God’s

uniquely designed prism, his ultimate spiritual

masterpiece. Created clean as a flawless diamond,

progressively being faceted as a receiver, responder,

and displayer of the otherwise invisible glories of

the infinite God into limitless, visible colors-the

rainbow of his own attributes-so that all creation

may see GOD. That is wonderfully true! And it is

simply amazing. Our lives are the means by which

the invisible God becomes visible to a world that

will not see him any other way. Our inmost being,

the prism; our flesh, the wall upon which colors

are seen. Could there be any greater purpose, any

greater significance than being alive for this?

We are God’s spiritual masterpiece and His flawless diamond who display the beautiful, vibrant colors of our God to the world. We are the city on the hill whose light can be seen for great distances. We are shining stars in the dark sky and light-bearers to all those in need. What a treasured possession you are to God, as you help the world to see the majesty and splendor of your heavenly Father.

II Corinthians 3:18-4:6 (Phillips):

All of us who are Christians have no veils

on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the

glory of the Lord. We are transformed in

ever increasing splendour into his own

image, and this is the work of the Lord

who is the Spirit.

This is the ministry which God in his mercy

has given us and nothing can daunt us.

We have set our faces against all shameful

secret practices; we use no clever tricks,

no dishonest manipulation of the Word of

God. We speak the plain truth and so

commend ourselves to every man’s conscience

in the sight of God.

If our gospel is “veiled”, the veil must be in

the minds of those who are spiritually dying.

The god of this world has blinded the minds

of those who believe not, and prevents the light

of the glorious gospel of Christ, the image of

God, from shining on them.

For it is Christ Jesus as Lord whom we preach,

not ourselves; we are your servants for Jesus sake.

God, who first ordered light to shine in darkness,

has flooded our hearts with his light, so we can

enlighten men with the knowledge of the glory

of God, as we see it in the face of Jesus Christ. 

 God has flooded our hearts with his light, and we reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. But a wonderful transformation takes place each day of our lives, as we look to the Lord and to the written Word of God that reveals our true identity.  We are transformed more and more into the likeness of God’s glorious Son day by day and reflect more and more of His splendor and God’s wonderful glory. It is like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. Day by day and moment by moment, we reflect more and more of the true image of God in our lives. God’s glory is reflected on our faces, in our words, in our actions, in our thoughts, and in the entire sphere of our lives.

We enlighten the minds of men and women to the knowledge of the glory of God through the face of Jesus Christ by holding forth the Word of Life and shining forth the glory of God through our good works. The devil, the god of this age, does everything in his power to stop the light from shining in the hearts and lives of spiritually dead people and accomplishes this through their unbelief. The devil even masquerades as a false angel of light to lead people away from the wonderful healing wholeness and salvation available in the glorious good news of Christ. But the devil has no power to extinguish or stop the light from setting people free and delivering all those who come to Christ and confess him as their Savior and Lord.

I Peter 2:9 (Amplified):

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased,

special people, that you may set forth the

wonderful deeds and display the virtues and

perfections of Him Who called you out of

darkness into His marvelous light.

 As God’s own purchased, special people in Christ, we have the distinguished purpose of setting forth and displaying the wonderful virtues, perfections, and qualities of our God. The words “set forth” in the Greek mean: to bring the word out, to proclaim everywhere, to give out intelligence, to tell forth, and to make widely known. In modern vernacular, it could mean “to advertise.” This word also has the idea of declaring things that are unknown. This is the only place where this Greek word is used in the entire New Testament, but it is used 10 times in the book of Psalms in the Septuagint(the Greek Translation of the Old Testament), where in each usage the psalmist is proclaiming the magnificent excellencies of God.

The Greek word for “virtues and perfections” means: any quality where one stands out as excellent; the ability to perform heroic deeds; the demonstration of virtue by excellence in life; living up to one’s potential, and fulfilling one’s purpose with excellence. It is a tapestry of excellence and courage and denotes the courage to excel in life. It is goodness in action that produces something excellent. 

God called us out of darkness into His marvelous light and earnestly desires for us to proclaim and make widely known to the world all of His excellent qualities, all of His powerful works, and all of His heroic deeds. God is the true hero of mankind. God has been absolutely heroic in His efforts to accomplish the redemption of mankind from the sin of Adam. God is the excellent one in all of His words and deeds. God has the courage of a mighty warrior, the strength of a thousand armies, the heart of a tender lover, the wisdom of a million minds, the righteousness of a thousand judges, the faithfulness of a  million shepherds, the holiness of ten thousand sacrifices, and the power of a million universes. Nothing in heaven or earth compares to the splendid majesty of God Almighty.

 We are to advertise to the world the glorious character of our God. This knowledge about the true goodness and nature of God is unknown or dimly seen by many people all over the earth. People see through a glass darkly when it comes to knowing the attributes and qualities of their Creator. We live in an age where it is often vital to national security to get accurate intelligence about a subject, nation, or movement. How much more important is it to have accurate intelligence about the Creator of the heavens and earth?  How much more important is it to know the true nature and character of God.  We are involved in the greatest advertising campaign ever! We are to advertise the truth about God’s goodness, which is the sum total of all of His excellent qualities, to every person who God brings across our paths.

We advertise to the world the glory of our God in two primary ways. The first way is to simply tell people about the wonderful qualities of God and the great things He has done. We hold forth the words of Life contained in the Bible; we proclaim the heroic deeds that God has accomplished in our lives and in the lives of others; we tell people about our wonderful Jesus and His victory at Calvary, and we share the awesome promises of deliverance and hope from the heart of God.  The Lord knew how important this advertisement campaign was and exhorted the Apostle Paul to speak the good news and not to be silent.

Acts 18:9 (NIV):

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in

a vision: Do not be afraid; keep on

speaking, do not be silent. For I am

with you, and no one is going to

attack and harm you because I have

many people in this city. So Paul

stayed for a year and a half, teaching

them the word of God. 

We must not be afraid; we cannot be silent. We must keep on speaking because God has many people in our cities and communities who desperately need to hear the gospel and heroic deeds and qualities of our awesome God.

The second way we advertise to the world the glory of our God is to live in such a way that people will be able to see the excellence and virtues of God in our lives. Our words, our actions, our thoughts, and our works should brilliantly reflect the marvelous qualities of our Heavenly Father and be stamped with His excellence. Good works that come from our living union with Jesus Christ shine forth his excellence and display to the world the good, loving, kind, merciful, tender, faithful, and caring nature of our God. We are a living advertisement of the glorious character, the fathomless love, and the tender mercies of the only true God. This is the dignity and special honor of the Christian life: that we can manifest to the world how great our God is and always will be. 

In our good works, we take on the character and excellent qualities of our God. It is not just a simple good work, but it is who we are, transformed by a living, vital union with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are a witness to life as God intended it to be from the beginning. Our lives radiate joy, peace, patience, faith, goodness, kindness, love, and strength. We maybe the only Bible the world ever reads. We maybe the only Jesus the world ever sees. What a testimony we have! At one time we were held captive by the power of darkness, but God called us out of the darkness and gave us complete deliverance from all of the oppression, depression, fear, and hopelessness that dwell in that darkness. God Almighty called us into His marvelous light, and we became the light-bearers to the world.

The Greek word for “marvelous” means: wonderful, to look at with wonder and amazement, to marvel at, that which excites the feeling of wonder, extraordinary, striking, remarkable, and astonishing.” It is an awesome work or quality of the highest degree of excellence that causes great wonder, astonishment, and amazement. The marvelous light of God shows forth all of His brilliant and glorious attributes like the varied colors of the rainbow. We are children of light whose lives are a witness to the awesome and remarkable goodness and glory of God. Our good works should cause the world to marvel at our spectacular and marvelous God. The goodness of God is so awesome, so marvelous, so amazing, and so extraordinary that it takes your breath away. What a privilege to witness and advertise the goodness of God to the world.

Ephesians 5:8,9 (Revised English Bible):

Though you were once darkness, now

as Christians you are light. Prove yourselves

at home in the light.

For where light is, there is a harvest of

goodness, righteousness and truth.

(New American Bible):

For you were once darkness, but now you

are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

For light produces every kind of goodness,

righteousness and truth.

When we walk as children of the marvelous light of God we will produce a harvest that reflects God’s goodness, righteousness, and truth. We will make an incredible mark upon the world when our lives bear the fruit of walking as children of light. We will be a living testimony of God’s goodness, His righteousness, and His truth. Let us make a commitment to shine brightly and advertise all of the excellencies of God’s glory to every person we meet.  

We have another responsibility when it comes to good works that is often neglected. We are not only to excel in good works in the world, but we must never forget to excel in good works towards our Christian brothers and sisters. The history of Christianity is not a pretty sight. We have had inquisitions, crusades, witch trials, burning at the stake, excommunications, killings, great schisms, heretical charges, and wars between Christians. Christians have condemned, ostracized, criticized, ridiculed, harassed, abused, neglected, attacked, killed, reviled, and denounced each other with unrelenting passion throughout the ages.  Christians have so often specialized in hate, not love; condemnation, not forgiveness; pride, not humility; greed, not giving; hypocrisy, not truth; blame, not responsibility; impatience, not longsuffering, and bitterness, not kindness. We have been poor representatives of our Jesus, and broken displays that fail to shine forth  the characteristics of our loving Father. No wonder so many have not wanted to have anything to do with Christianity or Jesus Christ. How we have forgotten the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the words of the Apostle Paul to the church.

John 13:34,35 (The Message):

Let me give you a new command: Love

one another. In the same way I loved

you, you love one another.

This is how everyone will recognize that

you are my disciples-when they see the

love you have for one another. 

Verse 35 (New Living Translation):

Your love for one another will prove to

the world that you are my disciples.

Verses 34,35 (Wuest):

A commandment, a new one, I am giving

you, that you should be constantly loving

one another with a divine and self-sacrificial

love; even as I love you, you also be loving

one another.

In this all shall know that you are my disciples,

if you constantly have love among one another.

Galatians 6:9,10 (New Living Translation):

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.     

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of

blessing if we don’t give up.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity,

we should do good to everyone-especially to

those in the family of faith.

(Amplified):

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and

faint in acting nobly and right, for in due time

and at the appointed season we shall reap, if

we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

So then, as occasion and opportunity open to us

let us do good [morally] to all people [not only

being useful or profitable to them, but also doing

what is good for their spiritual advantage]. Be

mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of

the household of faith [ those who belong to                                     

God’s family with you, the believers].

We are to love our Christian brothers with the same love that Jesus Christ loves us. The distinguishing mark of Christian disciples is the love that they constantly have among each other. Love is at the center of all of the good works that we are to be devoted to in the church. We diligently pursue to do good works to all people of any race, nation, gender, or creed, but we especially are to do good works to the household of faith. Why  have Christians been so cruel and hateful toward each other given the Lord’s commandment? Why do Christians bite and devour one another instead of loving one another? If we are shining as lights for God, if we are walking in intimate fellowship with him, if Jesus is living in us, if we are reflecting His glory, then we are going to be walking in great love.

The word for “love” in John 13 is agapao, the same word used for the love God has for us. Agapao means: a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize it. It springs from an appreciation of the preciousness of an object and is a love of esteem for the value and worth of an object. It is a love of admiring affection. It is to love with wonder and admiration prizing the worth of the person loved. It means to cherish with reverence and to have an internal feeling of satisfaction, kindness, and regard for the beloved person of His affection.

We should cherish, respect, and value our Christian brothers and sisters. My, how we have fallen short of agapao love among us in the history of the Christian church. This agapao love is not dormant, but is active and is manifested by our good works that bless the Body of Christ. We are all members of His body, and the fullness of Christ fills each one of us. We are to especially have good works and words of tenderness, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, love, goodness, patience, faithfulness, and truth in our churches. We are so often too busy pointing the finger instead of extending a helping, compassionate, and understanding hand. God is at work in countless churches and numerous ministries that may be beyond our realm of Christian comfort or doctrine. Every single Christian on the face of the earth has something to contribute to the Body of Christ. God has a purpose, a dream, a vision, and a desire for greatness in the service of Christ for each born again believer. Every Christian believer is a poetic masterpiece in Christ, and God has magnificent good works ready to be energized if we will only walk forth spiritually in them in full partnership with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If we ever want to manifest the marvelous glory of God and His goodness in our works, we must learn to love and help each other in the church. 

God understands the challenge of a life dedicated to divine good works that reflect His character. The transformation of our lives into a representation of the living Christ is a growth process and has bumps, setbacks, and frustrations. Having Christ formed in our words, our thoughts, our actions and our lives, is a day by day growing process, like physical life when a newly born baby grows in time into a mature adult. Growing is an exciting process, but it is also can cause one to become weary and disenchanted by slow progress or development. It is easy to lose heart in developing a lifestyle of good works. We can grow weary and faint in the pursuit of the magnificent good works that God has specifically designed for us. This is often because we try to figure everything out, instead of just trusting God to change, transform, mold, and lead us into a life that is a glorious reflection of the heart and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ. We try to set our own timetables, and we have our own preconceived notions as to how God is supposed to work, what God is supposed to do, when God is supposed to do it, and how long it is going to take. We fail to realize that our times, our growth, our transformation, our fruit, our development, and our change are in His hands; we just need to trust and obey Him, and He will take care of the growth process. We must have childlike faith that God will work in our lives and energize within us the power, strength, ability and desire to live for Him and display His glory to the world through our words and deeds.

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The World has No Answer to Sin and Its Consequences to the Human Race, but God Does

Immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, something cataclysmic happened. Everything changed. In a second, in a flash, Adam and Eve died spiritually and lost their spiritual connection with God. They lost the holy spirit of God within them. The nature of spiritual death replaced the nature of spiritual life. Sin poured into creation and corrupted the entire nature of Adam and Eve. Also by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, death infiltrated the human race. The seeds of physical death were planted in them, and their corrupted human nature would dominate them throughout their lives until they died. On that fateful day of disobedience, the dying process had begun, as Adam and Eve were mere mortals, embraced by sin and death. They were now free to make a world of their own choosing. They no longer could enjoy the intimate presence of God and the joy of close fellowship with Him. A curse settled in upon the earth and it still hangs over all the world like a dark cloud. Men and women became lost and alienated from the life of God.  Shame and guilt before God replaced love and confidence. Fear and uncertainty replaced peace and security. They lost God-consciousness and became self-conscious. They lost the spiritual power and ability to do good and gained the power to do evil, which was now inherent in their nature. They became  subjects in the devil’s kingdom and heirs to death, misery, pain, and affliction. The exercised power of darkness became a constant thorn and source of agitation in their lives. 

Genesis 3:7 also reveals the birth of religion, as Adam and Eve foolishly tried to cover their sin of disobedience by making coverings for themselves. They thought that by the works of their own hands, they could somehow justify themselves and earn the favor of God. Religion always focuses on man and his rules, regulations, and works to try to be God-like. Religion always drives people away from the heart of God and puts them in bondage and fear. Religion always misunderstands the goodness of God and his loving nature. Adam and Eve had died spiritually, and their entire nature was infused by sin. A mere covering of fig leaves was not going to solve the enormous dilemma that they had brought upon themselves. Adam could not restore his perfect relationship with God by a simple covering. This disaster could only be rectified by God Almighty and His glorious plan of redemption and wholeness. God’s goodness is the only place where the future salvation of a person could reside.

Genesis 3:8-10 (Amplified):

And they heard the sound of the Lord

God walking in the garden in the cool

of the day, and Adam and his wife hid                                        

themselves from the presence of the                                         –  

Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to Adam and

said to him, Where are you?

He said, I heard the sound of You walking

in the garden, and I was afraid because I

was naked; and I hid myself.      

God would appear in the garden in some physical form to fellowship with Adam and Eve. What intimacy! What closeness! What communion! What friendship they enjoyed, and what a privilege to have such an uninhibited, close relationship with God Almighty. But on this day, something tragic had happened and Adam and Eve’s entire nature and disposition toward God changed. There was now a separation and barrier between God and people, and guilt and shame dominated their mindset towards God. Instead of running into the presence of the Lord with confidence and great freedom, Adam and Eve hid from God in fear. They lost the spirit of God and had no vital and living connection with their Creator any longer. Adam and Eve no longer had the innocent trust and love for God where their hearts were pure and unrestricted in their full sharing of themselves with their Heavenly Father. Now their hearts were full of panic and dread, as they were afraid of God and terrified to come into His presence.

The word “hid” in the Hebrew means: to hide secretly, to withdraw from the sight of another, and to conceal oneself generally for the purpose of security.” The word “presence” is paniym, which we have studied before, and it means: to direct or set one’s face toward, and to be face to face in the presence of someone and everything that person represents.  At one time, Adam and Eve loved the intimacy of fellowship face to face with God. They loved His goodness, His blessing, and His caring heart. They thrilled to be in His presence and have a deep heart to heart sharing of everything they were and  hoped to be. Nothing was hidden from God. Nothing was held back in their fellowship and worship of Him. It was face to face, eye to eye, and heart to heart intimate communion. It was profound and satisfying, as they had a deep yearning to know their loving God. In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy and great goodness for those who love Him and put Him first in their life. Before God’s face is a peace that passes all understanding. As God wrapped His loving arms around His children, they had security and comfort.

So why would anyone want to run from the presence of God? Who would want to hide from such an awesome God? After Adam and Eve sinned and died spiritually, something happened on the inside of them. The mind and heart of Adam and Eve became full of fear and shame in the presence of God. There was an enmity and a turning of the human heart away from God and all the goodness He represents. The human heart became twisted because of the sin nature that had poured into it. Selfishness, self-interest, pride, and rebellion against God became part of their inborn nature. God no longer was a priority. Adam and Eve now wanted to hide and conceal their thoughts, desires, and purposes from God Almighty. They wanted to hide in secret from God and withdraw themselves from His sight. They thought they had some warped sense of security in separating themselves from their Creator and fleeing from everything true, just, loving, and good that God represents.

The voice of God brings goodness, justice, mercy, and righteousness. The voice of God always has the best interests of His children in mind. Yet Eve listened to the voice of the serpent and obeyed his word. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and followed her right into disobedience. The sound of God’s presence and voice no longer brought them comfort, security, and guidance. The voice of God made them tremble in fear because of their unbelief in the goodness of God and His Word.

Verse 8 is the first usage of “fear” in the Bible, and it is enlightening to see that fear always drives a person away from God and the truth of His Word.  Fear makes you hide from God and builds unbelief in the human heart. Fear drives a barrier in the human heart between God and man. Fear encases, binds, and enslaves a person in mind and heart. Fear keeps a person from walking in intimate fellowship with their Creator. Fear indicates a lack of trust in God and His Word.               

God’s first words after the Fall of Adam and Eve wonderfully reveal the heart of God and His goodness. He could have deserted Adam and Eve and turned His back on them. He could have given up on them because of their rebellion and disobedience. But God called to Adam, “Where are you?”  God was still seeking Adam, even in his sinful state and even after committing high treason against Him. What a God of love! What a God of mercy! What a God of goodness! Even in the midst of the ruin of God’s creation and the sentence of death on His children, God had a plan of restoration to bring men and women back to paradise. God came to the garden seeking fellowship with Adam and Eve, but because of their betrayal, He had to design and initiate His awesome plan of redemption. God deeply desired to rectify the enormous problem of sin because of Adam’s disobedience. The devil wanted to keep man forever in a state of death and destruction, unredeemed and crushed by the penalty of sin. God would not stand by and do nothing. God did not throw in the towel and say, “Kids, you are on your own now.” God would give hope even in man’s darkest hour, as He promised a Savior who would bring salvation, goodness, wholeness and righteousness back to the human race, and ultimately destroy the great enemy of God, the devil. The goodness of this legal plan of redemption is so great and magnificent that its riches and glory far surpass anything ever known in history. Truly it is the good news.

Genesis 3:11-13 (Amplified):

And He said,  Who told you that you

were naked? Have you eaten of the

tree of which I commanded you that

you should not eat?

And the man said, the woman whom 

You gave to be with me-she gave me                                          

fruit from the tree and I ate.

And the Lord said to the woman,

What is this you have done? And

the woman said, the serpent beguiled

(cheated, outwitted, and deceived) me,

and I ate.

Interwoven into the sinful nature of man is to play “the blame game” by failing to take responsibility for his actions. Adam pointed the finger at the woman, but ultimately blamed God because He gave him the woman. The first words uttered by man after the Fall blamed God for the evil that had befallen him. Man has been blaming God for evil ever since. Instead of recognizing His goodness and love, men and women have blamed God for all the problems in the world. God is portrayed as evil, and the human race is painted as good. Neither Adam nor Eve asked for forgiveness. Neither Adam nor Eve said they were sorry. Neither Adam nor Eve admitted they did anything wrong. Pride and exaltation of self above God became an inherent characteristic of the sin nature. The finger of accusation pointed to everyone but themselves. Adam and Eve gave God an excuse for their disobedience. Adam failed to speak God’s Word, failed to stand up for God’s Word, failed to teach God’s Word, failed to follow God’s Word, and failed to believe God’s Word. He decided to remain absolutely silent. Then he blamed God, implying that He should not have given him the woman in the first place. Adam blatantly told God that He was an accessory and partaker of this sin and just as responsible as Adam or Eve for all of its consequences. Just a little bit arrogant, don’t you think? There simply is no humility in the sin nature. Selfishness and pride rule the day in this corrupt nature of sin. Eve finally realized that she had been cheated, deceived, outwitted, and tricked by the serpent, yet again, she did not accept responsibility for her actions.

Job 31:33 (New American Standard):

Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,

By hiding my iniquity in my bosom.

Adam tried to cover his transgression and hide his iniquity from God. This verse sets forth the nature of Adam’s disobedience and two dominating characteristics of the sin nature inherited from Adam. The word “transgressions” in the Hebrew means: to rebel revolt or rise up in clear defiance of authority by violation of a law, command, or duty. The fundamental idea is a breach of relationship between two parties. It is a willful deviation and rebellion against God and His way or path. It is a stepping aside from the right path. It is to cross a line, challenging God’s boundaries. It is to refuse allegiance and duty to whom they are due. It is to knowingly refuse subjection to rightful authority. At the heart of this word “transgressions,” there is a real absence of love, respect, and honor towards the rightful authority. What insight this word gives us into Adam’s disobedience! Adam made a deliberate decision to rebel against God, His goodness, and His Word. He refused allegiance and dedication to God and knowingly revolted against His commandment. He stepped outside of the right and good path God had established in the Garden of Eden and crossed the line, challenging the boundaries of God’s Word. It was an assault on the goodness  of God’s character, blessings, and Word.  It was a fundamental breach of the loving relationship God had established with His children. Adam turned his back on His relationship with God.  At the heart of  the disobedience of Adam was a lack of belief that God really loved  him, and conversely, Adam showed a lack of a deep, heartfelt love and respect for His Creator. He was more concerned about his relationship with Eve than His relationship with God.

Adam tried to cover this transgression in the presence of God. The word “covered” in the Hebrew means “to conceal and to hide.” God saw Adam’s heart, and he could not hide his transgression from Him. Adam showed no respect for God’s authority and tried to conceal the rebellious purposes and desires of his heart from God Almighty. Adam tried to make his transgression look good by rationalizing his disobedience to God and then blaming God for the evil consequences. The sin nature seems to have a bent toward trying to make good look evil and evil look good.  Adam became a rebel against the goodness of God.

The second word used to describe Adam’s disobedience is “iniquity.”  This word in the Hebrew means: perversity, depravity, and crookedness, and comes from a verb meaning to bend or to twist. It is a twisting of the standard and deviating from it. It is to distort and twist God’s standard, deviating from His righteous design and purpose. It is rebellion from a twisted condition of the human heart. It is disobedience due to thinking and reasoning that is crooked or perverse. Adam had twisted God’s righteous standard and distorted the way of God. He deviated from God’s commandment by crooked reasoning, and his heart became twisted and turned away from God. Then Adam tried to conceal his iniquity in his heart from God. God saw right thorough Adam’s twisted logic and got to the heart of the matter. The sin nature specializes in twisted and distorted logic that deviates from the heart of God. The whole idea that God is not good and causes evil is twisted and distorted logic. God’s goodness is perfect, whole, pure, and without any distortion or evil deformities.

Deuteronomy sets forth in great simplicity what God wanted Adam and Eve to do yet they failed miserably.

Deuteronomy 13:4 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

You must follow the Lord your God and fear

(reverence, respect) Him. You must keep His

commands and listen to His voice; you must

worship Him and remain faithful to Him.                                       

John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart, describes the heart of God:

I am convinced beyond a doubt of this:

God wants to be loved. He wants to be a

priority to someone. How could we have

missed this? From cover to cover, from

beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart

is, “Why won’t you choose me?” It is

amazing to me how humble, how

vulnerable God is on this point.  “You

will…find me,” says the Lord, “when

you seek me with all your heart” (Jer.

29:13). In other words, “Look for me,

pursue me-I want you to pursue me.”

Amazing. As Tozer said,  “God wants

to be wanted.”

Adam and Eve failed to keep God’s commands and listen to His voice. They failed to remain faithful to God by putting Him first above all else. They failed to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They failed to choose God, and ultimately Adam and Eve did not want God. This is just heartrending. Tragically, as a result, sin and death entered into the human race.

Romans 5:12 (Amplified);

Therefore, as sin came into the world through

one man, and death as the result of sin, so

death spread to all men, [no one being able

to stop it or to escape its power] because all

men sinned.

New Living Translation:

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire

human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so

death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 

Message Bible:

You know the story of how Adam landed us in

the dilemma we’re in, first sin, then death,

and no one exempt from either sin or death.

That sin disturbed relations with God in

everything and everyone…

Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also.

E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in Light of our Redemption, writes:

Sin has ruled as king in the realm of spiritual

death, where man lives under the cruel Emperor,

Satan. Every effort of man has to failed to eradicate

the power of sin. Education has failed. History

confesses that every single rise in civilization has

been accompanied by a decline in morals. War

has dominated in every period of the life of every

nation, destroying the youth and strength of humanity.

It has brought untold suffering to man. Its cruelty is

but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in

its destruction of man. Man has been unable to strike

at the root  and the cause of sin, sickness and death.

The law of disease has fastened itself upon the

human body, blighting and scourging humanity.

Death is the supreme problem that all men at all

periods have faced. It casts its shadow on upon

every happiness born in the sense of man. Man,

lying in the embrace of Satan, cries in agony against

this vain struggle which only ends in a hopeless

death and doom…He is born to die…Spiritual death,

the nature of Satan, is the soil out of which has

grown sin, sickness, physical death and every sorrow

that has darkened the life of God’s man.

Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children.  The human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God.  Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death.

The word “sin” in Romans 5:12 in the Greek means: to miss or fail to hit the mark, like when someone fails to hit the target with a bow and arrow; to fall short of any goal, purpose, or standard, and a failure or aberration from a prescribed law or duty. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, states that the word means “a falling and missing the true end and scope of our lives which is God.” Wuest, in Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, says it means “missing the divinely appointed goal, a deviation of what is pleasing to God, doing what is opposed to God’s will…a missing of the goal conformable to and fixed by God.” In A Critical Lexicon and Concordance of the English and Greek New Testament, Bullinger gives some great insight into the history of this word as:

A duct or canal by which water flows down to

any place… and which implies an evil influence…

in which it has the idea of turbidity and excitement,

muddy confusion in water, acetous fermentation

in wine, bitumen arising from hot natural springs,

collection of mud brought down by tumultuous

waters, bitter and brackish waters, etc…and then

is the defiling influence and bitter principle of

disturbance which has flowed down upon the

creation of God.  

God had a wonderful divinely appointed purpose for Adam and Eve and all their progeny when He blessed them in the Garden of Eden. He had a great plan of goodness for Adam and Eve and their children, desiring to bring them into the full accomplishment of His destiny for them. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin poured into their nature, causing them to miss the purpose and goal that God had designed for their lives. Their entire relationship with God was defiled and disturbed as bitterness, hostility, separation, and enmity against God flowed into their nature like raw sewage or muddy contaminated waters. Adam and Eve now had a sin nature that was against God and His will having the dominant characteristic of continuously missing the standard of God, like a reckless archer who can never hit the target. The affections, desires, motives, reasoning, and thoughts coming from the sin nature were in rebellion against God and His authority. The sin nature is inherently grounded in a hostility against walking with God, trusting God  and relying on God as its only sufficiency.  The heart and soul of the human race became polluted with the sin nature, which is twisted to an enmity toward all the things of God, all the goodness of God, and all the words of God.     

In Romans 5:12, “sin” is in the singular, and the word “the” is before the word “sin” in the Greek text. “The sin” does not describe the acts or deeds of sin, but the root cause: the totally depraved nature, or the basic active principal of sin.  PreceptAustin  gives us some valuable insight on their website:

What Paul is doing by using the phrase “The Sin

is to use this word not to describe the actions or

results of sin (sins [plural] which are committed)

but to describe the underlying root cause, the

basic principle or, in medical terms,…the

virus” that killed (first spiritually and then

physically) Adam and which has infected

all men for all men can trace their physical

lineage to Adam. Think of The Sin as analogous

to a highly contagious, 100% lethal virus which

every man, woman and child has contracted

because every person alive is related to Adam,

the first man, who himself was infected. Or

think of The Sin as analogous to an abnormal

“gene” which transmits a defective moral/ethical

“DNA code” to all of Adam’s offspring, this

defective code explaining why every individual

commits sins (plural)…The Sin is man’s Adamic

SIN(inherent) nature (that every baby inherits

from his spiritual father Adam) in distinction to

“SINS” one commits each day, these being a natural

outworking of the (inherent) SIN nature in every

man, woman and child. PERSONAL SINS then

are those sins we commit because we are by nature

SINNERS having inherited THE SIN “virus” that

entered the garden from our first spiritual “father”

Adam. 

Romans 5:12 declares that this sin nature, this deadly virus, this defective gene that directs a person’s life away from what is pleasing to God, entered into the world through  Adam’s  disobedience to God. The word “entered” in the Greek literally means: to come into and contains the force of distribution, meaning it made its way to each individual member of the human race.” The word is in the indicative mood, the mood of certainty, which states that the action is factual and certainly occurred.   The word “world” is kosmos in the Greek which in this verse means: the harmonious arrangement and order of God’s creation. It was the creation in perfect order and harmony before the entrance of sin. The word “spread” in the Greek means: to go or pass through; to send out in all directions like a highly contagious virus disseminating and spreading completely through an entire population.” Sin and death certainly spread to every member of the human race and ruined God’s original perfect order and harmony of His creation. No one had a pass; no one was exempt; no one was immune; we all inherent this sin nature from Adam. 

Romans 5:17 says that “death reigned,” and Romans 5:21 says that “sin reigned” over the whole human race. The word “reigned” means: to rule with the authority and power of a king, to possess regal authority to reign, and to exercise the highest influence and control. The human race was now subject to the rule of two great kings, namely sin and death. The power and authority of sin and death wreaked havoc and destruction on all peoples of the earth, and no one could break free of its rule nor escape its power.  They exercised kingly authority, not to liberate its subjects but to bring them into bondage.  People became slaves to sin and its consequences, as they desperately needed a deliverer who would conquer the twin kings of sin and death.

Before Adam fell into sin, he had a nature perfectly suited to bearing the image of God and representing His goodness. The sin nature was not part of our humanity as God had originally designed it. Adam was designed to represent His Maker, and God gave him a divine nature in which he shared some of the attributes and qualities of His Creator. Characteristics of God, such as love, joy, goodness, peace, kindness, faithfulness, and wisdom must have been abundant in Adam, as he was  a son of God and bore His image. He had every godly quality necessary for him to exercise his dominion upon the earth. There was nothing in his nature that caused him to act contrary to the will of God.

When Adam fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, this perfect image of God’s character that he represented was shattered into pieces. Sin was now mixed into this nature like a virus in the blood, and the image of God inside us was greatly dimmed. These great qualities that God had designed intrinsically in men and women became mixed with sin which obscured and obstructed their demonstration in the world. This sin nature is not an intrinsic part of who God designed you to be, but is a contamination and intrusion into our lives that caused physical and spiritual death. We still see great acts of compassion, courage, creativity, and kindness that exhibit that we were made in the image of God. However, qualities of selfishness, hatred, cruelty, lust, indifference, violence, and idolatry all flow out of this sin nature and obscure and suffocate these godly qualities.  The sin nature is very strong and dominates over the image of God, so no one has exhibited an ability to habitually be free of its impulses and characteristics. Man’s relationship with God was broken and separated by sin, which made it even more difficult to exhibit the qualities and attributes of God, our Creator.

The sin nature energized the thoughts, reason, will, and emotions, as Adam and Eve were living in a state of separation from God. The sin nature is absolutely rooted in selfishness and intrinsically pushes people to glorify themselves rather than God.  The sin nature drives one to habitually act and speak in a manner that satisfies its evil desires. Adam turned the image of God into an image of sinful man, as the world throughout all ages of history has not lived up to the image of God.   No one can break free of the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death, without the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be the liberator, the deliverer, the conqueror, and the Savior from the kings of sin and death and all their evil consequences.

The sin nature within us does not mean that God has not designed us for a wonderful purpose and given us qualities and talents that we can use to glorify Him. The dim image of God that comes forth at times is a reminder of man’s original destiny and purpose that had God had designed. Man and woman were meant for so much more than an enslaved obedience to the sin nature. We retain a shadow of the image of God in ourselves, but the primary nature is this fallen nature of Adam. The human nature has fallen, and the original image has been marred. Humans struggle with a nature that has been crippled by the loss and continued absence of a relationship with God. The sin nature, like a deadly disease, is lethal to life. The sin nature brings no meaning, purpose, goodness, or blessing to life. In Mark Cosgrove’s, Foundations of Christian Thought, he states:

The result of the Fall could be called, not selfishness

but self-centeredness…they (Adam and Eve) became

the center of their own experience or existence, rather

than God being the center of their lives…it is clear that

after the Fall they, and everyone born after them,

seemed bent inward on self and prone to selfishness.

Isolation and emptiness of soul…What the fall of

human nature into sin means practically speaking

is that while human beings are possesses with

great potential and desire from the image of God in

them, at the same time, they are incapable of

reaching this potential and happiness.

There is great emptiness of soul and meaningless in life without God.  Mankind has lost their true heart, their true destiny, and their true purpose. David Needham, in Birthright, Christian Do You Know Who You Are?, gives a vivid illustration of the emptiness and meaninglessness of the sin nature:

Try to imagine for a moment the entire human

race as though it were an art gallery full of

picture frames. Long, long halls. Billions of

picture frames-without any pictures! Empty

can you visualize it? Some of the frames are

very carefully carved. Some boast very delicate

gold leaf, others are rather gaudily painted. A

few are dirty, chipped. But every frame is

wrapped around-nothing-emptiness. Is it

possible the human race is seen in such a

way by God? An art gallery with no paintings!

Each human being was intended to frame an

inimitable, individual masterpiece of God’s

own reflected glory. But where God should

be, there is only emptiness, a bare patch of

wall. Since the frames are conscious, however,

the fact of emptiness is simply too devastating-

too self-destructive-to acknowledge. And so     

human kind becomes obsessed with the only                            

thing left to it: its own flesh. The frame. Life,

if it is to be found at all, must be found in each                                       

one’s own frame, and the frames around him.

So, ingeniously and carefully, man lights the                                                                      

gallery, carpets and air-conditions the halls,

creates all sorts of special displays, and

leads community crusades to clean up the

dirty and broken frames…No wait. It wasn’t

suppose to work out this way! We thought

all our inventions and progress would solve

the difficulties and…if only we had more

time. But the air is getting foul. Lights are

beginning to flicker. Sounds of confusion

are coming from every corner. And anyway-

there are no pictures. We all know that.

Emptiness. Everywhere emptiness. What

difference does it all make anyway? Oh,

the tragedy of Eden! Rejecting dependence

upon the will and character of God, Adam

and Eve rejected life! Looking for fullness,

they found instead a fathomless despair.

Even in some twisted sense they fulfilled

by sinning what they were-sinners-they still

were missing the destiny for which God had

created them. There one bridge to meaning,

their fundamental reason for existing, lay

collapsed in hopeless ruin before them. Man’s

essential nature was now “in the flesh.” And

the Bible says that “those who are in the flesh

cannot please God.”

So, by his very nature, man is a sinner.

Cut off from his Creator.

Cut off from any hope of meaning.

A rebel  trapped in futility

That is what sin is all about…

So it was, long ago in the Garden, human

beings forced upon themselves the task of self

fulfillment without any hope of success. Authentic

meaning, significance, and purpose lay always

beyond their grasp. It is this fact that underlies

the darkness of evil. This then, is sin-a tragedy

for human beings and an offense to God. Apart

from God’s intervening miracle of changing us,

there is no hope.

Emptiness, meaninglessness, hopelessness, and lifelessness became the destiny of the human race because of their rejection of God in the Garden. The beautiful, breathtaking picture and exquisite masterpiece that God desired for every person became broken, stained, marred, and shattered. The picture was lost and the frame was empty and without true meaning. A bare patch of wall with a blank piece of backboard now was the focal point of the frame. No vibrant colors, no living images, no spectacular scenes of beauty, and no inspiring reflections, but only an image of emptiness. Oh, if we would only listen and obey the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 44:22: (New International Reader’s Version):

I will sweep your sins away as if they were

a cloud. I will blow them away as if they

were the morning mist. Return to me.

Then I will set you free.

The sin nature will never bring meaning to life. It does not want a relationship with God, but desires to follow the course set by the god of this world. God had such goodness planned for the human race, but they turned their backs on Him and fell into ruin. John Eldridge, in Epic: The Story God is Telling and the Role that is Yours to Play, describes the human race after the Fall of Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin into the world: 

Something has gone wrong with the human

race, and we know it. Better said, something

has gone wrong within the human race.

It doesn’t take a theologian or a psychologist

to tell you that. Read a newspaper…Most

of the misery we suffer on this planet is

the fruit of the human heart gone bad. This

glorious treasure has been stained, marred,

infected. Sin enters the story and spreads

like a computer virus…Any honest person

knows this. We know we are not what we

were meant to be…Something has gone

wrong. We know that much. Whatever else

we know, whatever else our convictions

may be, we know that something has gone

terribly wrong with the world, with us, with

life. Haven’t you ever wondered , if only for

a moment, why life comes nowhere close to

the desires that are written in your heart?

Where are the beauty, intimacy and adventure?

Why can’t we make these things last? The poet

George Herbert declared, “I cried when I was                             

born and every day shows why.” Dear God-

what has happened to our world?

The human heart desperately cries out for the goodness of God.  Yet, it has become contaminated and hardened by sin and dull to the heartbeat of God. The relentless onslaught of the god of this world exercising dominion upon the earth has further driven the human heart away from its loving Creator. Tragically, some people live their entire lives without ever tasting and experiencing the goodness of God.

Job 21:25 (New American Standard):

While another dies with a bitter soul,

Never even tasting anything good.

(NIV) :

Another man dies in bitterness of soul,

never having enjoyed anything good.

(Moffatt Translation):

Another man dies, broken-hearted, and

never gets the good of life.

With the infusion of the sin nature, bitterness took root in the human heart. Most people live with bitterness dominating some portion of their heart and soul throughout their entire life. Bitterness breaks and cripples the human heart. The goodness of God melts away all bitterness of the soul and brings release, freedom, and deliverance from the oppression of bitterness. The devil wants your heart to be in a constant state of bitterness. New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies  explains that bitterness in the Hebrew means “to be bitter of soul is to be exasperated, angry, disgusted, uneasy, discontented, and exceedingly sorrowful.”  There is great anguish, fierce resentment, and heart-crushing despair at the center of bitterness. Without God, a person’s life becomes a story of bitterness and ravaging disappointment. God desires with every ounce of His being for you to taste and enjoy His goodness. What a travesty to live your entire life and never taste, never experience, and never enjoy the goodness of God. Every day another soul has died in great bitterness, broken by life, and completely alienated from the goodness of God. Only by the power of God and the healing redemption available in the Lord Jesus Christ will the bondage of bitterness be obliterated in a person’s life. Yet Adam set the pattern of the human race in turning away from God and trying to find meaning and purpose in life in our own vain and futile efforts.

Romans 3:12 (New Living Translation):

All have turned away; all have become                            

useless. No one does good, not a single

one.

(Wuest):

All turned aside; all to a man became

useless. There is not one who habitually

does goodness; there is not as much as

one.

The words “turned aside” in the Greek means: to turn aside or away from; to shun; to bend away from the right course; to steer clear of; to stay away from, and to avoid.  It was used to describe a soldier running the wrong way or deserting. The Greek word is in the active voice, which indicates that the turning away is a deliberate choice and not an accidental losing of their way. This sin nature of man drives a person away from the heart of God. All of us have at sometime deserted God and shunned Him. We all at some time made a deliberate choice to turn away from God and avoid Him at all costs. All of us at some time in our lives have rejected the goodness of God. It is simply amazing when one sees the goodness, faithfulness, and love of God, how anyone would ever want to turn away from Him. Yet the history of the world is largely a chronicle of  people turning their backs on their loving Creator and following their own destructive paths.

Every single member of the human race became useless without God. The word “useless” is an enlightening word as to the nature of man without God. In the Greek, it means: to be worthless; to be useless; to be unprofitable; to render unserviceable, and to be unfit for any useful purpose. The Hebrew word used in the same verse in Psalm 14:3 means: to go bad and to become sour like milk. When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was working at a fabric warehouse, and one day I noticed a refrigerator in the basement. I opened the door hoping there might be some food or drink, and there was a carton of milk sitting on the shelf. When I eagerly opened the carton, the most disgusting smell I had ever experienced filled my nostrils, and I became extremely nauseated. The milk had soured and was good for nothing. I could not even look at a glass of milk for months after that episode.

God vividly says that a person without God under the power and influence of the sin nature is like a carton of sour milk. Sour milk is worthless for any good use and cannot be used for its intended purpose. The highest and best the human race has to offer in society, government, academics, arts, and every other category amounts to nothing more than sour milk without God. Every life, every purpose, every idea, and every goal lived apart from the truth of God and His Word is wasted and worthless. 

How mankind has often exalted ourselves in great arrogance against God. The human race has throughout its history been flooded with countless examples of unbridled pride and conceit. I remember taking numerous classes in world history in college, and the pompous nature of so many people, kingdoms, and rulers is astounding. I wonder how they would react if they knew that God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and earth, thought they were no better than spoiled, rotten milk.  Without God, a person can never fulfill their true purpose and destiny, as their lives begin to rot and waste away.

Spurgeon, in the Treasury of David, says, “The fallen race of man, left to its own energy, has not produced a single lover of God or doer of holiness, nor will it ever do so. Grace must interpose or not one specimen of humanity will be found to follow after the good and true.” The contamination of the sin nature, along with the turning aside from God, turned Adam and Eve’s once glorious lives into sour milk that was putrid and offensive to the true purpose and will of God. Sin rendered men and women unfit for what God had intended for them. Like a piece of rotten fruit that had gone bad, the human race desperately needed a Savior and Redeemer to restore all that Adam had lost in the Garden of Eden.

The word “good” in the Greek means: goodness in its widest sense with the idea of usefulness; kindness; the goodness of God’s divine attributes showing itself in benevolence to man; moral goodness and integrity; genuine goodness and generosity of heart, and goodness expressed in action and deed. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, defines it as “ a beautiful word, as it is the expression of a beautiful grace…a grace of word and countenance, it is one pervading and penetrating the whole nature, mellowing there all which would have been harsh and austere…a goodness that has no edge, no sharpness in it.” The Tyndale Bible Dictionary defines it as “the state of being that includes the attributes of loving affection, sympathy, friendliness, patience, pleasantness, gentleness, and goodness. It is more volitional than emotional.” The word “do” in the Greek means: to make, form, produce or bring about the accomplishment of something.  As Wuest indicates in this verse, it is in the sense of a habitual doing or making, producing, forming, and building something on a habitual and continuous basis.

Not one single person on the earth after the Fall of Adam habitually produces works of goodness, kindness, integrity, graciousness, generosity, love, gentleness, and compassion out of a heart loyal to honoring and serving God. The sin nature of a man or woman cannot produce anything good that glorifies God. The sin nature is inherently harsh, unforgiving, cruel, selfish, deceitful, arrogant, evil, hateful, jealous, and immoral and produces these types of words and actions. The image of God reflects all the attributes of His goodness, love, tenderheartedness, gentleness, grace, and compassion. However, because the human race is now under the power and control of sin and living in a world controlled and dominated by the god of this world, the devil, no natural man or woman without Christ can do, make, build, and produce great works of goodness that bring glory and praise to God Almighty. There is not one ounce or drop of goodness in the sin nature that poured into the heart and soul of the human race because of Adam’s disobedience. If you live by the sin nature and under its control, you will never accomplish the good purpose and design that God wants for your life. It is like building your life on sinking sand. It is living a life of very little meaning or purpose, and it becomes an exercise of futility and disappointment.

Romans 7:18 (NIV):

I know nothing good lives in me,

that is, in my sinful nature. For I

have the desire to do what is good,

but I cannot carry it out.

New Living Translation:

I know I am rotten through and through

so far as my old sinful nature is concerned.

No matter which way I turn, I can’t make

myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.

Wuest:

For I positively know that there does not

dwell in me, that is, in my flesh, good; for

the being desirous is constantly with me;

but the doing of the good, not.

God’s goodness does not make its home in the sin nature. God’s goodness does not live or abide in the sin nature. God is not responsible for the sin nature or the fruit, deeds, and actions that proceed from it. No matter where the sin nature turns or what it does, it is absolutely impossible for it to produce works and deeds that reflect and demonstrate God’s goodness. The sin nature and God’s goodness are polar opposites. The sin nature produces words, deeds, and actions that are evil. I like the Wuest translation, which sounds like a modern, hip vernacular: “but the doing of the good, NOT.” The word “doing” in the Greek means: to labor, work or engage in activity involving considerable expenditure of effort to bring a result or end to successful completion; to work out fully and thoroughly; it represents the full and final bringing of an enterprise to a successful conclusion; to carry something out to its ultimate goal and to do, accomplish or perform something successfully. The sin nature, no matter how much effort is expended, cannot successfully bring about a work of God’s goodness as its accomplished goal.

The word “good”  (a different Greek word than in Romans 3) means: that which is inherently excellent or intrinsically good, beautiful, honorable, admirable or precious and provides some special or superior benefit. It is something morally excellent and worthy of recognition. It is the beautiful, noble and honorable impression made by good as it manifests itself. It is goodness that is visible to the eye and radiates beauty and harmonious perfection that is pleasing to God. It is goodness that is excellent in its nature and characteristics.  The sin nature through hard work cannot produce anything intrinsically good or beautiful that has any special or superior benefit to the kingdom of God.  Nothing morally excellent or worthy of recognition comes out of the sin nature of ah uman being. The fruit of our sin nature never benefits God or promotes His kingdom in any way, shape, or form. No matter how wise, or how rich, or how connected a person may be, they have no ability in this corrupt sin nature to accomplish anything that reflects the beauty, loveliness, honor, wholeness, and perfection of the goodness of God.

The heart and soul are lost and wounded in the wilderness of this world, battered by sin and in desperate need of God’s healing redemption. John Eldridge, in Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, describes the long and vicious war of sin and the waging spiritual battle for the human heart:

Its June 6, 1944..You are soldier on the third wave

at Omaha Beach. Thousands of men have gone

before you and now its your turn. As you jump out

of the Higgins boat and wade to the beach, you see

the bodies of soldiers everywhere-floating on the

water, tossing in the surf, lying on the beach.

Moving up the sand you encounter hundreds of

wounded men. Some are limping toward the bluffs

with you, looking for shelter. Others are barely

crawling. Snipers on the cliffs above continue to

take them out. Everywhere you look, there are pain

and brokenness. The damage is almost overwhelming…

this is one brutal war…But we do not think so closely

about life and I’m not sure why…Men (and women)

are being taken out right and left. Scattered across

the neighborhood lie the shattered lives of men and

women who have died at a soul-level from the wounds

they have taken. You’ve heard the expression, “he’s a

shell of a man?” They have lost heart. Many more

are alive but they are badly wounded. They are trying

to crawl forward, but are having an awful time getting

there lives together, they seem to be taking hits. You

know others who are already captives, languishing in

prisons of despair, addiction, idleness, or boredom.

The place looks like a battlefield, the Omaha beach

of the soul. And that is precisely what it is. We are

in the late stages of the long and vicious war against

the human heart…We were born into a world at war.

The battle for the human heart is fierce, as both God and the devil are at war for the soul of mankind. Even though the human race is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and all the consequences of sin poured into God’s creation, God promised a coming Redeemer who would crush the serpent and break the power and penalty of sin. He would be the victorious captain of our soul, and our triumphant general in the battle for the human heart.

Let’s return to Genesis 3 to see some additional truths concerning this battle of good and evil, the curse pronounced on the serpent, and God’s awesome promise of redemption.

Genesis 3:14 (KJV):

And the LORD God said unto the serpent,

Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed

above all cattle, and above every beast

(chayyah-living thing) of the field; upon

thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou

eat all the days of your life.

God reserved the harshest judgment and strongest curse for His archenemy, the devil, as revealed in verses 14 and 15. It was a proclamation of the death penalty; it was an announcement of his ultimate destruction, and it was a message that his future was doomed. Just when it appeared Satan had achieved a great victory, God boldly confronted him with a firm declaration of his annihilation. There was no discussion, no debate, and no question as sentence was at once pronounced. Satan did not get off the hook, but was cursed above every living thing upon the earth. The curse of God fell upon this evil fallen angel and will abide all the days of his existence until his final destruction, as described in the Book of Revelation.  Although Satan gained the authority and power over the world from Adam, every action in his evil kingdom has the curse of God hanging over it. His power is not unlimited; his kingdom will not abide forever, and there is a time limit to his exercise of authority over the earth.

The first part of his curse is that “upon thy belly thou shalt go.”  Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states this is a figure of speech referring to the devil and “implies utmost humiliation.” He elaborates:

This figure means infinitely more than the

literal belly of flesh and blood just as the words

“heel” and “head” do in verse 15. It paints for

the eyes of our mind the picture of Satan’s ultimate

humilation; for prostration was ever the most

eloquent sign of subjection. When it says “our

belly shall cleaveth unto the ground” (Psalm 44:25),

it denotes such a prolonged prostration and such a

depth of submission as could never be conveyed or

expressed in literal words.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on the The Serpent’s Sentence, says:

Note THE REMARKABLE PROSTRATION

which fell upon the serpent-”upon your belly

shall you go.” So does the serpent move and so

does evil labor to make progress. Satan moves

always as a fallen one-not with the dignity of

holiness, but groveling low. God has put upon

his every movement the indication that he is

no longer great and wise…The greatest potentate

of evil is doomed to cringe and crawl…All the

objects of the power of evil are groveling.        

There is no dignity in Satan’s kingdom. There is no uprightness in Satan’s schemes. He sneaks, grovels, cringes, and crawls, but suffers humiliation on a daily basis. He has to masquerade as an angel of light; he has to deceive, and he has to counterfeit the things of God, for he cannot stand in truth. Even though he is full of pride and arrogance, he must prostrate and be subject to the power of the Word of God. His authority and strength must bow to and coil back from the living Word of God and those who believe it. He cannot extinguish or snuff out the light of God. He cannot conquer those who trust God and believe His Word. Any victory of Satan is short lived when seen in the light of his daily failures and humiliation in his fight against God Almighty. But nothing compares to his ultimate humiliation and destruction right before the eyes of the entire world.  Ezekiel and Isaiah prophesied of this final devastating humiliation of the curse in Genesis 3:14, “upon they belly thou shalt go”:

Ezekiel 28:17-19 (English Standard Version):

Your heart was proud because of your

beauty; you corrupted your wisdom

for the sake of your splendor. I cast you

to the ground. I exposed you before kings,

to feast their eyes on you.

By the multitude of your iniquities, in the

unrighteousness of your trade you profaned

your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from

your midst; it consumed you, and I turned

you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all

who saw you.

All who know you among the peoples are

appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful

end and shall be no more forever.

Isaiah 14:15-20 (Christian Holman Standard):

But you will be brought down to Sheol

into the deepest regions of the Pit.

Those who see you will stare at you; they

will look closely at you; “Is this the man

who caused the earth to tremble, who shook

kingdoms,

who turned the world into a wilderness, who

trampled its cities and would not release the

prisoners to return home?”

All of the kings of the nations lie in splendor,

each in his own tomb.

But you are thrown out without a grave, like

a worthless branch, covered by those slain

with the sword and dumped into a rocky pit

like a trampled corpse.

You will not join them in burial, because you

destroyed your land and slaughtered your own

people. The offspring of evil doers will never be

remembered.  

The god of this world, the devil, who ruined Adam and Eve in the garden, who  contaminated God’s creation with sin, who turned the world into a wasteland of evil and trampled its cities, who made people prisoners in the bondage of his snare, who uses and destroys his followers, and who spreads fear throughout every age, will one day become like a worthless branch and a trampled corpse, as he is destroyed and reduced to ashes. This is the future of the serpent. He will enchant no more, fascinate no more, deceive no more, destroy no more, and oppose the goodness of God no more. This is the ultimate humiliation awaiting the great enemy of God and His people. This is the future of evil.       

The second part of the God’s curse on the devil is: “dust shalt thou eat all the days of your life.” E.W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

“Dust shalt thou eat”. This is not true to the letter,

or to fact but it is all the more true to truth. It

tells of constant continuous disappointment,

failure and  mortification: as when deceitful ways

are spoken feeding on deceitful food, which is

“sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth shall be

filled with gravel” (Prov. 20:17). This does not

mean literal “gravel” but something far more

disagreeable. It means disappointment so great

that it would gladly be exchanged for the literal

gravel. 

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on The Serpent’s Sentence, says:

THE PERPETUAL DEGRADATION put upon

the serpent- “And dust shalt thou eat all the days

of your life.” Satan is now to live a defeated life,

for such is the force of expression. It signifies that

they are utterly defeated. So Satan, all his life,

exists as a conquered and chained enemy-his power

is broken and he knows it. He is defeated as to the

whole of his great scheme and he is to be defeated

in the details of it all the days of his life…Forever,

dust shall be the serpent’s meat, for what he gains

always disappoints him. He thought he had obtained

great advantage when he won the woman to –

disobedience-but he made a rod for his own back

since her Seed has become his Eternal Antagonist…

If Satan ever knows pleasure at all, it is of the foulest

and most unsatisfactory kind-dust is his meat. There

is nothing satisfying in the pleasures of rebellion. He

remains a disappointed, restless being. His whole cause,

for which he has labored these thousands of years with

horrible perseverance-his whole cause, I say-will

dissolve into dust and will be blown away as smoke!…

Everything that sin can bring you is just so much dust…

This is the misery of that great spirit who is called the

Prince of Darkness, that he must eat dust all his days.

Satan and his kingdom suffer bitter disappointment, frustration, and disillusionment on a daily basis. There is no joy or contentment in Satan’s kingdom. At every turn, at every corner, and at every path, the devil is constantly frustrated by God and His goodness. Evil always brings disappointment, as only the goodness of God can truly satisfy the heart and soul of a person. The best the devil has to offer is dust in your mouth, dust in your purposes, dust in your accomplishments, and dust in your life without God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is constantly disturbed and aggravated because he cannot usurp God’s throne, cannot defeat God, cannot outsmart God, cannot overcome God, cannot overpower God, and cannot get away from the curse of God that permeates everything he does. The Evil One has a cloud of defeat and doom that hangs over all of his schemes and deceptions.

The next verse contains the greatest promise of the goodness of God in the Bible. When it seemed that all was lost and the devil had succeeded in ruining Adam and Eve, God promised a coming Savior, who will redeem mankind from the penalty of sin and  ultimately crush the devil into oblivion. This was a promise of hope, goodness, and salvation, as God would not leave the world helpless, but would give them His only begotten Son. What a God of love and goodness to promise this to His children who had just committed high treason against Him. God threw the glorious light of His Word right back at the serpent, as the coming redeemer would not only restore everything Adam and Eve lost in the garden, but utterly destroy the devil and all his works. This was the final death blow of the curse of God on the devil that was boldly pronounced in the garden. God heralded forth this good promise so every fallen angel, including the devil himself, would hear about His magnificent goodness and shudder about their ultimate defeat. 

Genesis 3:15 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible):

And enmity shall I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,-

He shall crush thy head, but thou shall crush

his heel.

This is a declaration of war! This verse sets forth the fulcrum point of all history and defines the ceaseless battle that has raged since Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden. This verse is the central theme of all scriptures, as the red thread of the coming Redeemer is interwoven into every book of the Old Testament. Its message is even written in the heavens, as each night the stars proclaim the sufferings and glorious triumph of Christ.

Who is the seed of the woman? In conception the seed comes from the male, but God’s Word clearly refers to the woman’s seed here. Seed implies birth, and this verse indicates a virgin birth of a man who would crush the arch-enemy of God. This man is the Savior, the Redeemer, the Liberator, the Messiah, the Second Adam, and the Conqueror over sin and death. This man is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Adam as a fallen man could not conquer death or sin, but was a slave to them. Adam or Eve could not of their own power crush and destroy the devil. Adam and Eve could not redeem themselves and pay the penalty of sin that hangs over the human race. They were in desperate need of the seed of the woman, the Redeemer, to free them from the curse of their disobedience. There was great hope in this promise of goodness.

God proclaims that the destiny of this seed of the women is to destroy the devil and all his works. God promises the destiny of the serpent is utter destruction at the hands of this man. The Second Adam will “crush the head of the serpent.” The word “crush” in the Hebrew means: to break or smite in pieces and to greatly injure or wound. E. W.

Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

When it is said (v.15), “He shall crush thy head,”

it means something more than a skull of bone, and

brain and hair. It means all Satan’s plans and plots,

policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed

and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the

purposes of God.

Charles Spurgeon continues in his sermon on The Serpent’s Sentence:

We now observe his FINAL DOOM…Here is the

end of the great conflict. Satan who heads the

powers of evil in the world, is to fight it out with

all his cunning and strength… but in the end the

Seed of the woman is to bruise his head…Hallelujah,

Hallelujah, He has cast the Prince of Darkness from

his high places…What can he do with a  broken

head? This bruise upon the head  of the Evil One is

a mortal stroke. If  he had been bruised upon the tail

or upon the neck he might have survived. But the

Lord shall utterly slay the kingdom of evil and crush

its power.

In this great battle, the serpent will inflict some temporary damage as he will “crush the heel” of the seed of the woman. E.W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, explains:

It cannot mean his literal heel of flesh and blood,

but suffering, more temporary in nature…The

bruising of Christ’s heel is the most eloquent and

impressive way of foretelling the most solemn

events; and to point out that the effort made by

Satan to evade his doom, then threatened, would

become the very means of insuring its

accomplishment; for it was through the death of

Christ that he who had the power of death would

be destroyed; and all Satan’s power and policy

brought to an end, and all his works destroyed…

What  literal words could portray these literal

facts so wonderfully as these expressive figures

of speech.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon The Serpent’s Sentence, expounds on this truth:

We see in the text THE LIMITED ACHIEVEMENT

of the old serpent. What will be accomplished by all

his schemes? “You shall bruise his heel.” That is

all…That bruised heel is painful enough…He was

betrayed, bound, accused, buffeted, scourged, spit

upon. He was nailed to the Cross. He hung there

in thirst and fever and darkness and desertion.

They pierced His hands and feet…Satan by death

death bruised the heel of the woman’s seed…but

when our Lord thought of the Resurrection, the

salvation of His chosen and the conquest of the

world, it seemed to him to be a light thing-”He

endured the Cross, despising the shame.”…Make

the best of it Satan, it does not come to much. All

that you are at your greatest is but a heel-nibbler

and nothing more.

This is the essence of the battle of good and evil throughout all history. The seed of the woman represents all of God’s goodness, and the serpent and his seed represent everything that is evil. The most intense war the world has ever known is about to begin. It is more fierce, more violent, more brutal, more ferocious, and more severe than all of the wars of human history combined. At the very root of this warfare is deep-seated enmity between good and evil, between God and His people and the serpent and his people, and between the Word of God and the word of Satan. This is a spiritual battle, an invisible war for the heart and soul of all peoples on Earth.

God states that there will be great enmity between the serpent and the second Adam, Christ. The word “enmity” in the Hebrew means: hatred and hostility with a desire to injure. There is no truce in this battle. There is no peace agreement. As long as Satan’s kingdom operates upon the earth, it will be opposed vigorously by Christ. Jesus Christ is the absolute pinnacle of God’s goodness, and he represents everything that is good in the heart and purposes of God.  Christ represents God’s goodness, mercy, grace, love, righteousness, justice, holiness, faithfulness, truth, life, and peace. Satan has great hostility to the goodness of God  and everything that Christ represents, as he tries to suppress the knowledge and understanding of God’s goodness in the hearts and minds of people. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about how good God is and the great salvation and deliverance available through Jesus Christ. He fervently desires to injure, hurt, destroy, harm, wound, impair, mar, impede, obstruct, hinder, frustrate, and discourage God’s people, God’s Word and  God’s purposes. He does everything he can to turn people away from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan has  raging hostility toward the second Adam, for he knows that his head will be crushed by him. This is a fatal blow from which there is no recovery. Once a serpent’s head is crushed, he cannot inject his poison into the world anymore or operate his schemes and deceptions on all mankind. The devil knew that there was a genealogical Christ line that would pass through Eve, as the seed of the woman would  have to be born. Later, the Word of God was more specific that this Christ line would pass through Abraham and King David. The entire Old Testament is a record of the fierce attempts of the devil to wipe out the Christ line, and prevent Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, from ever being born. It is a record of God’s magnificent works and actions that repeatedly delivered the Christ line from extinction. Sometimes the survival of the Christ line rested on the faith of one individual like Noah, Joseph, Abraham, and Esther. Read the Old Testament with this truth in mind, and the Word of God will come alive in new and wonderful ways.

There is not enough space in this book to go into detail of the countless schemes and plots of the devil to destroy this Christ line, and God’s miraculous protection of it. The salvation and redemption of the human race depended on the preservation of the Christ line.  The devil started with the murder of Abel and was absolutely relentless to try to destroy the Seed of the woman who would utterly crush and defeat him. He was not going to go out without a vicious and violent battle where he marshaled all his evil forces to bring about the destruction of the Christ line. The devil even tried to genetically corrupt the entire human race with nephilim, or giants of wickedness, (see Genesis 6) so that the Christ line could never come. This was a serious all out attack on the human race to prevent the coming of the Redeemer.  The devil also tried floods, famines, warfare, idolatry, politics, religion, people, philosophies, and countless schemes throughout the Old Testament to destroy the true knowledge of God, and obliterate the genealogical line from which Christ would be born. But Satan was foiled again and again. He even tried to devour the infant Jesus through Herod’s decree of death, but God was always one step ahead of the devil in the preservation of His promise of the Seed of the woman.

The book of Romans sets forth the importance of this one man, the second Adam, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race for all who believe.

Romans 5:15,17,18 (Amplified Bible):

But God’s free gift is not all to be compared

to the trespass [His grace is out of all

proportion to the fall of man]. For if many

died through one man’s falling away (his

lapse, his offense), much more profusely

did God’s grace and the free gift that comes

through the undeserved favor of the one

Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to

and for the benefit of many.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse,

offense) death reigned through that one,

much more surely will those who receive

God’s overflowing grace (unmerited favor)

and the free gift of righteousness [putting

them into right standing with Himself] reign

as kings in life through the one Man Jesus

Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One.)

Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s

false step and falling away led] to condemnation

for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness                                           

leads to acquittal and right standing with God

and life for all men.

God revealed His ultimate plan of grace with the Seed of the woman, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who by His death and resurrection made available the free gift of righteousness leading to acquittal from the penalty of sin and right standing again with God.  The court of God legally pronounces the declaration of acquittal when a man or woman confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and believes God raised Jesus from the dead. Sin and death reign in this world because of Adam’s one act of disobedience, but now through the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice, we can reign as kings in this life and the one to come.

Ray Pritchard in his Commentary on Romans explains:

Death reigned. That’s our heritage from Adam.

Death reigns on the earth because of Adam’s

sin…Ah, but that’s only part of the story. There

is a way out. There is a way to reverse what

Adam did…It comes, Paul says to those who

receive God’s abundant provision of grace and

the gift of righteousness…But notice the result

of receiving the gift of righteousness. Those

who receive this free gift now reign in life.

On one hand, death reigns; on the other hand,

those who know Jesus Christ as Savior reign

as kings right now, in this life and in the life

to come. We live in dying world, but in this

realm of death, we may through Jesus Christ

reign as kings. And in the life to come, we

shall reign forever, rising from the dead,

clothed with immortality. Only God could

take a slave and transform him into a king.

But that is what God has done through Jesus

Christ. So what Jesus did is far greater than

what Adam did. Greater in its nature. Greater

in its power. Greater in its effect.

The goodness of God has its ultimate triumph in the Lord Jesus Christ. Evil has its sentence of doom and ultimate destruction in the Lord Jesus Christ. What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent, so awesome and so astounding, that it permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important event in all of human history, because he broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He regained everything that Adam and Eve had lost on that tragic day in the Garden of Eden and so much more. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin.  We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. We can walk in great power, wreaking havoc in Satan’s kingdom on the earth as we touch people with the great healing love and wholeness available in Jesus Christ.  You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ. 

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Eight Words That Change Everything

In the book of Acts, we read of Saul, a man who had a definitive objective in life. He thought he understood what truth was, so he set out to persecute the Church of Jesus Christ. Yet, as he was on the road to Damascus one day, a blinding light from heaven suddenly caused him to be thrown to the ground. The Scripture tells us that he was blind for three days (see Acts 9:3, 9). Everything he thought he was, all that he was attempting to do, every purpose he thought he had in life suddenly came to an end.

It may feel the same way for you today. Perhaps you thought you knew what your life was going to be. But whether gradually or suddenly, like Saul—who, as we know, became the apostle Paul—you have come to an end. You can no longer see a way forward.

Paul, trembling and astonished, had an encounter with the Son of the living God. The first thing he prayed in response was a prayer that I believe everyone who wants a living relationship with God must pray. He spoke eight words that changed everything, not just for him, but for millions of people around the world.

IT STARTS WITH “LORD”

The first word of his prayer was simply, “Lord.” In Luke 6:46, Jesus said to the religious leaders of the day, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Yet when Paul called Him “Lord,” he meant it. It was a confession that he was no longer in charge; there was a new boss in his life. Paul understood that he was called to lay down his plans and everything he thought his life was going to amount to.

I believe that part of the reason many Christians in this generation are so powerless is because they have never truly come to that place of surrender, saying, “God, You are Lord of my life now. Your Word is supreme. Your thoughts are above my thoughts; Your ways are above my ways. If Your Word says it is wrong, it is wrong—even though I might think it is right. I am not going to be among those who call You ‘Lord, Lord’ but do not do the things which You say. I yield the rights to my life.”

A DIVINE PURPOSE

The next words that Paul said in his prayer were, “What do You want me” (Acts 9:6). This implies that God not only had the right to his life, but He had a divine purpose for his life. The will of God is not always pleasant. We often want to craft some pleasant thing in our heart and bring it to God, saying, “Okay, here is Your will for my life; obviously You are going to agree with this.” Yet Jesus Himself said in Matthew 26:39, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.”

Remember, God does not want your plans; He does not need your strength. Imagine this formerly enraged man called Saul hauling Christians out of their homes and torturing them to the point of blaspheming God just to get out of the pain. When Stephen, a precious young servant of God, was martyred, Paul was there holding the coats of the witnesses, consenting to his death (see Acts 7:58). No doubt Saul was a man full of ideas. His whole life had been governed by his own zealous agenda. But now he had come to the point of saying, “Lord, what do You want? You have a divine purpose for my life.”

We must understand that the divine purpose of God for our life is far beyond our thinking. He says in Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). In other words, “I am thinking thoughts about you that you have not even considered yet. I am able to do more for you and through your life than you can even ask or think.” In the natural, we are confined in our minds by our past experiences, by the depths of our struggles, by the parameters of what other people have said about us. But the Holy Spirit, who comes to live inside of you when you yield to the Lord, is not confined by these things. He is the God of the universe, and He can do things that you cannot even imagine!

We see in the Bible that the last two words of Paul’s prayer were, “to do,” making the full statement, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6). In other words, He is the Lord of my life with a divine purpose for my life, and now His plan requires my active cooperation. God starts to open doors, and we are simply required to walk through them. Remember Jesus said to the Church of Philadelphia, “See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8). The open door is set there by God. All He requires now is our cooperation—our willingness to go where we have never gone, to do what we know we cannot do without Him, to speak even though we do not know what is going to come out of our mouth, to be put in uncomfortable places.

Consider Paul going from enraged persecutor of the Church to suddenly finding himself in the midst of followers of Jesus Christ—looking for acceptance and trying to convince the disciples that he was no longer against them. It must have been incredibly uncomfortable for him. Yet we know that from that initial prayer, God did things through his life that you and I are still talking about two thousand years later!

SMALL BEGINNINGS

When Paul prayed, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” we might expect God to have replied, “Paul, I want you to get up and start writing the Scriptures. I want you to go out and establish churches.” You see, you and I always want the whole package—the full answer. But God’s first answer to Paul’s prayer was simply, “Arise and go into the city” (Acts 9:6). That was all God told him! Although we want the entire pathway laid out before us, God says, “No, just take the first step. Just do the first thing.” He does not lay it all out before us, because He knows that we would not be able to handle it. If, within the first few weeks of my salvation, Jesus had told me the plan He had for me, I think I would have collapsed on the sidewalk! I had a lot of struggles in my life at the time. I was not yet free from fear and could not speak publicly, so everything He would have laid out before me would have seemed like an absolute impossibility. So in His mercy and His gentleness, God just tells us to do the first thing first.

Remember, do not despise the day of small beginnings. Do not regard that initial answer to your prayer as nothing. Perhaps God will tell you to just get up and open your Bible. Maybe He will tell you to go to the pantry and pour that bottle of liquor down the sink or flush those drugs down the toilet. Maybe He will tell you to get a word and speak it to the heart of your wayward son or daughter. Whether they scoff or scorn or curse you out, just go through that first door by faith.

A FAR-REACHING MINISTRY

In Paul’s case, after he was told to go into the city, the second answer that came to him was when God sent a man called Ananias to lay hands on Paul so that he would receive his sight back. The Lord said to Ananias, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). So Ananias obeyed God, went to Paul, and essentially said, “God sent me here, and this is what He told me about you: Your ministry is going to be greater than anything you could ever imagine it to be. But it is not big to God, it is just big to you. God is going to use you because you have chosen to obey. However there is a caveat that comes with it—“For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16).

In other words, “Yes, your ministry is going to be far-reaching, but it is not going to be easy.” Likewise, I believe there is going to be hardship ahead for many who choose to stand for Christ today. They will go on to have a widespread ministry, but it will be costly. Nevertheless, we know that our generation desperately needs the Church to begin to walk in all that God has ordained for us.

My prayer is that God will give each of us the grace and willingness to say the words, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Remember, Paul did not start by saying, “Lord, I have a hundred ideas about how to advance Your kingdom. I have a strategy.” He came in surrender to the Lord’s plans.

Don’t forget that God’s plan for your life is so much bigger than even the best one you can imagine for yourself. It simply starts with the desire to get up and then wait until the Lord speaks to you. If you will follow the leading of His voice, though it will not be easy, you will impact your known world—starting in your own home. In fact, your ministry could change the trajectory of your entire family; it could have a lasting impact at your workplace, within your community, and beyond. If God can simply find an obedient heart, it is amazing what He can do!

By Carter Conlan

http://sermons.tsc.nyc/eight-words-that-change-everything/newsletter/english/

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Stay in Love with God

We as humans have a hard time staying in love with something for a sustained period of time. We get bored, we get distracted, we get our fancy tickled by something else, and we usually walk away. Then we do it all over again. This is the cycle of love that engulfs the world. We toss things away when they lose their relevance in our lives.

The book of Timothy warns us that perilous difficult times will come in the last days and one of the characteristics is that love for God is none existent. 2 Timothy 3:1,2,5 says people will be lovers of self, lovers of money and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. What camp are you in? Lovers of self or lovers of God. Lovers of pleasure or lovers of God? Lover of money or lovers of God? Whom do you love more? The reason people do not love God is that they have been seduced, deceived, and bamboozled. We are being seduced away from God to love something else more. Something is more important than God and deserves our love and attention. This is the great battle of love. Our entire life is defines by whom we love.

God is love in all its perfection. God commands us to love Him and to love one another. This is not optional. It should be the fabric of everything we are and everything we do. Love is the measuring stick of our Christian life.

Mark 12:29-31: Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

Agapao: means: a love, which is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize it. It springs from an appreciation of the preciousness of an object, and is a love of esteem for the value and worth of an object. It is a love of admiring affection. It is to love with wonder and admiration, prizing the worth of the person loved. It means to cherish with reverence and to have an internal feeling of satisfaction, kindness and regard for the beloved person of His affection.

Figure of speech polysyndeton-many ands-emphasizing the importance of each of these four ways we are to love God. All our heart; all our soul; all our mind; all our strength. This is how we love God. It is a command.

John Piper says “all our mind” means “to direct our thinking in a certain way, namely our thinking should be wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.”

Joshua 23:11: So take diligent heed to love the Lord your God. ”Diligent heed” means to guard, to protect, to watch over-to hedge about-keep like the Garden-Genesis 2:15. Its an attitude of attentive care. We must guard, we must protect, we keep a protective hedge around our love for God for it is always under attack from the enemy. The devil wants to steal, kill and destroy your love for God.

John 21:15:17: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

Do you love the Lord more than these? What is the “these” in our life? Do we love him more than our house, our car, our sports team, our job, our success, our money, our 401K, our hobbies, our self-image, our family, our goals, our opportunities, our ministry?

What is the temperature of your relationship with God? Is it hot, cold or lukewarm? How much affection is in your relationship with God? How much passion is there in your relationship? How much of a bond is there between you and God? Does anything come in between you and God? How much time are you devoting daily to your relationship with God? Is it a passing thought before you go to bed or night or a minute devotional before you start the day. Is He a backburner God or a second string God? Is He just another contact that you mean to catch up with? Are you consumed with God?

We have so “evolved” in culture, science and behavior that we just don’t need to be consumed with God anymore or so we are told. Who needs God anymore as long as I have my iPad? Who needs God when I have the world at my fingertips from my computer in my cozy house? Who needs God when I have Netflix, iTunes, DroidX and Xbox? Who needs God when I can Twitter? God has to be more than just on our mailing list. God has to be more than just on our wish list. God has to be a living, burning fire in the depths of our heart. God has to be more alive, more real, more present, more close and more looked to than any earthly thing. An electronic device may fascinate you for a moment, but it can never bring you peace, love, joy or true satisfaction. It is a sad characteristic to this “enlightened” world that God is so dead in the hearts of people.  

It is sad to say that there are Ten Thousand and Eighty (10,080) minutes in a week and Five Hundred Twenty Four Thousand One Hundred and Sixty (524,160) minutes in a year and we think we are doing God a favor if we spend sixty minutes of the over ten thousand minutes a week for Him or three thousand minutes a year of the over half a million available. We wonder why spiritual anemia and lack are rampant in our lives. We wonder why God is just not all that real to us and why we are so lacking of the demonstration of the power of God in our lives. We wonder why our heart is dead to God. The white hotness of your love for God is in direct proportion to how much time you spend with him. If we love Him we will place our lives at his disposal.

 The challenge is to keep the flame of God’s love alive in our hearts. Romans 12:9: Let love be genuine (without hypocrisy), vs 11: Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. :Fervent”-boil with heat, be hot. Describes water boiling or metal glowing with heat.  Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you-2 Timothy 1:6. Feed it until it is ablaze. We need to feed and stoke our love for God so the fire does not go out.

Look what happened to the love of these great leaders! 2 Timothy 4:10:  For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” They forsook Paul, they forsook God, they abandoned their first love. 

Tozer: Man unlike any other of God’s creation, is uniquely created to experience God. Not to know God and His intimacy is to deny our fundamental purpose. The human race has been guilty of revolt. Men have broken with God, and the Bible teaches that we are all alienated from Him. That is, we-the human race-are strangers to Him. We have ceased to love Him, ceased to trust Him and ceased to enjoy His presence. Redemption simply brings us back intimate fellowship with God.

Psalm 10:4: In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

The world does not love you if you walk with Christ. The world hates you. The world hates Him. This causes many to fall away in their relationship with God. False prophets will arise with the purpose to turn your love away from God. When lawlessness abounds, it will test your love for God. Grow or fade. Burn brightly or wax cold.

Matthew 24:9-12: Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 

Wax cold-reduction of temperature by evaporation. Cool by blowing, to wane, to chill. The fervency and intensity of our love for God begins to wane.

Revelation 2:2-4: “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.                                                                               

Abandon-to depart, to send away, to let go, to desert, to leave (Left their nets and followed him-Mark 1:18)

Have we abandoned our first love? Has the flame of our love flickered and been blown out? Who in this generation truly seeks Yahweh? Who in our age really seeks God’s face? The wicked has no room in their thoughts for God. They are dead in their love for God. But are we the same? Do we want all of God? Have we created a god in our own image? Is God our most treasured possession? We need to breathe in God’s presence daily. Live in the conscious, vital, living presence of God.                                                           

Love for God starts with a love of who is He is. More you know who is He and His characteristics, the more you love Him. Have you studied the attributes of God? What image do you carry in your mind of God? Have you made God in your own image? How much do you seek Him?

Amos 5:4: For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live.

“I have set the LORD always before me . . .”Psalm 16:8a

Psa. 42:1-2

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Does your soul thirst for God? Do you pant for God? How thirsty are you for God?

Love God test: I John 4:20,21: If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

We cannot say we love God and hate our brothers and sisters in Christ. How we love others is a measuring rod of how much we love God?

And as he came still nearer to the city, he caught sight of it and wept over it, saying, “Ah, if you only knew, even at this eleventh hour, on what your peace depends—but you cannot see it. The time is coming when your enemies will encircle you with ramparts, surrounding you and hemming you in on every side. And they will hurl you and all your children to the ground—yes, they will not leave you one stone standing upon another—all because you did not know when God Himself was visiting you!” (Luke 19:41–44, PHILLIPS)

Is Jesus crying over you this day? Is He crying out to you, ‘’Must your heart rebel against me forever? I gave my life for you. You have so much potential, so much promise, so much power because of my sacrifice! Why are you wasting it? Why are you not walking in my victory, letting me live through you? Why are you letting your heart become entangled in the trivial matters of this world that have no eternal value?” Jesus weeps over the wasted potential of His church and what could have been. He weeps over the many hardened hearts. He weeps over those who have been deceived. He weeps over those who are enslaved to sin. He weeps over the hearts that have waxed cold and forgotten their first love. He weeps over those who have closed their ears to His voice because they are offended at His words.

To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. (Jeremiah 6:10, NIV)

You cannot love God if you do not listen to Him. Your ears determine the temperature of your love.  

One encounter with the voice of God can change your life forever. Moses, Samuel, Paul, and many others can attest to this truth. Nothing in the heavens or the earth compares to the voice of the Lord:

“Whenever this happens, my heart stops—I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath. Listen to it! Listen to his thunder, the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice. He lets loose his lightnings from horizon to horizon, lighting up the earth from pole to pole. In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice, powerful and majestic. He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice—His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding.” (Job 37:1–5, MSG)

God’s voice sounds throughout the earth with great majesty, power, and wonder. Nothing can silence it. Nothing can overpower it. Nothing can stop it. Can you imagine being awakened each morning by the tender, gracious, and loving voice of the Creator of all things? It’s so much better than an alarm clock, a Starbucks coffee, or the morning newspaper! Nothing is more satisfying to the heart than to hear from God as a new day dawns. Can you imagine having your ears so attuned to God that every day you hear His voice encouraging and helping you to be your best in your service for His kingdom? We are so accustomed to spiritual deafness that such an idea seems far-fetched and beyond our reach, but God wants you to know His voice like a loving Father and faithful friend. Pray that God awakens your ear to His voice.

Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 

Jesus is standing at the door of your heart wanting for you to let him in so you can commune and fellowship with him with the deepest love. Will you open the door?

How quickly spiritual apathy, indifference, unresponsiveness creeps into our love for God. It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that we are in a constant state of fluctuation. No sooner are our hearts awakened than we are languishing again. No sooner does the Lord revive us than we are again lethargic. The Song of Solomon shows this constant state of spiritual fluctuation

Song of Solomon 5:2- I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking. “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one,
for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.” I had put off my garment;  how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them? (Because of her carnal case, she refused the Lord’s gracious invitation to communion. She did not wish to trouble herself, and she did not wish to be troubled. Her heart was so cold that she preferred her ease to the fellowship of Christ.)My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me.I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.

If Christ finds His chief delight in us, should we not delight in Him? Should not our principal pleasure derive from Him?  We can never get too much of Jesus or be too happy in Him.

The number one enemy of staying in love with God is idolatry. Idolatry dulls the heart for God, steals our love, and extinguishes the flame. Every problem that has ever plagued the human race can be traced back to the sin of idolatry. Tertullian called idolatry “the principal crime of the human race.”[i] Idolatry devours people, cities, governments, and nations. Idolatry has infiltrated every generation, hanging over them like a dark cloud, wreaking havoc like a deadly plague. Idolatry is the great destroyer of civilization.                                                                                          

The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed: “Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame”—(Jeremiah 11:13, NLT). The sad truth is that in America, our list of gods far exceeds the number of gods in Judah. Our altars of shame are countless, and of so many shapes, forms and categories, that it boggles the mind. We have pursued other gods with a fanatical obsession and have become a nation wholly given to idolatry. Surely God weeps over a world that has sold their souls to an endless list of worthless idols that have corrupted their relationship with Him.                                                                                    

Isaiah 65:1-4 NLT: The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.                                                                                               

Above all other things, idolatry breaks the heart of Almighty God for He created men and women in His own image and greatly desires fellowship, love, adoration, praise and worship from His precious creation. But idolatry ruined everything and caused a wall of separation between God and the human race as they gave their love to another. Idolatry is the human choice of substituting their Creator for a thing, image, person, or ideal. Idolatry is an act of treason against the God who gave us life. The sin of idolatry declares God is not good enough, not great enough, not glorious enough, not complete enough, and not all that He claims to be. It says that something else is more worthy to be loved and served. Who do you love the most? Do we love God? Do we really love God or has an idol replaced Him?

The price to pay for idolatry is extremely high as it demands everything, and ultimately will destroy our lives. It chokes the life of God from our hearts. This condition of the idolater’s heart is described in Isaiah 59:11: “we grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night: we are in desolate places as dead men.” The idolater has lost his eyes to see the magnificence of the God, lost his ears to hear the loving voice of the faithful God, lost his way to see the path of the righteous God, and lost his life to the service of a dead god that mocks his reason for existence.

A.W. Tozer said in The Knowledge of the Holy that “the essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”[ii] Idolatry begins when we lose the sense of awe and wonder of God and relegate Him to a simple concept that gets lost in the thousands of other things that bombard our minds daily. God becomes mundane, unneeded, unimportant and bothersome in the schemes of our lives, and other things become more exciting and valuable to us. This is fertile ground for idolatry.

Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty. (Jeremiah 2:19, NIV)

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble. “Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:3-9, NLT)

God has no rivals. He alone is God, and nothing from the tiniest blade of grass on earth to the remotest star at the far reaches of the universe, can be compared to Him. He is the first and the last; He is the beginning and the end; He was, is and always will be. He is unchangeable in the beauty of His character, and the holiness of his nature. He is everything we could ever dream Him to be in all His perfection, and a billion times more! God’s wisdom is infinite, His understanding limitless, His love fathomless, His righteousness untouchable and His mercy boundless. He alone has the right to be worshipped, praised and loved above all else. How can we not love God?

Frederick Faber said, “Only to sit and think of God, oh what a joy it is! To think the thought, to breathe the Name, Earth has no higher bliss!”[iii] Who would even dare to label themselves a god in His presence? Who would even dare to usurp His throne? Who would even dare to think that they are equal to God? Who would be crazy enough to compare an idol to God? God is infinitely greater and more powerful, and no idol is even worthy to bear the name “god.”

Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; (Deuteronomy 11:16, KJV)

The Hebrew word for “deceived” means to be wide open for enticement, spacious, and to make roomy. Derivatives of the Hebrew word mean a doorway, opening, and gate. Another derivative verb means to carve or engrave. To be deceived literally means to open wide the doorway of the heart and make it spacious and roomy for the idols to march in. This generation thinks there is some virtue in being open to all ideals and alternatives. “Accept everything and make room for it in our hearts” is the social cry of this age. Yet this is an invitation to let the Trojan Horse of idols into the inner sanctuary of the heart. Once inside these idols carve their name as special guests, they take ownership of the heart.

Psalm 27:8 NLT My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”

What do you do when the Lord calls? Too busy? Get to him later? How is your bonding and affection with the Lord? How would you describe your relationship with the Lord? Is their affection? Is there a tender bond?

A recent survey indicated that the average Christian spends 8 minute a day in prayer and the average minister 12 minutes a day in prayer. Are we too busy for God? How often do we practice His presence in a day? How often do we seek his face?  

Do you know God? Really know Him? Do you know the Lord Jesus? Really know Him? Do we experience God intimately on a personal level daily? When was the last time you sought his face? Really sought his face?

Tozer: How many Christians really harbor within their own spirit the daily expectation of God’ 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. Jeremiah 29:13 admonishes us, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Proverbs 8:17 states, “I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me.”  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.

Psalm 63:1,6: NKJV: O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.


I met God in the morning, When my day was at its best, And His presence came like sunrise, Like a glory in my breast. All day long the presence lingered; All day long He stayed with me; And we sailed in perfect calmness, O’er a very troubled sea. Other ships were blown and battered, Other ships were sore distressed, But the winds that seemed to drive them, Brought to us a peace and rest. Then I thought of other mornings, With a keen remorse of mind, When I too had loosed the moorings, With the Presence left behind. So I think I know the secret, Learned from many a troubled way; You must seek Him in the morning, If you want Him through the day. Ralph Cushman    

When did you last seized Him and cleaved unto God and say, “Lord, I can’t go another inch without meeting You this morning.”

Dr. Tozer said as a mature man in his sixties that there were times when he lay on the rug for an hour, two hours, three hours, four hours and never uttered a word of prayer, and never uttered a word of praise. He said, “I’m lost in adoration, I see Him in His glory, in His majesty, in His beauty. I can hear those holy beings crying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord.’” And he said, “I’m silent in adoration before Him. I had no language, it is beggared.” And he had a vocabulary as good as any man I know,

Have you forgotten to love Him? We fail to love because we forget God hours and hours and He doesn’t even enter out mind. One of the great flaws of the human heart is to fall into habitual forgetfulness of God. We have a tendency to not remember God on a daily basis. 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. 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)

This is the great tragedy of forgetfulness that we live our lives unmindful of God, barely giving him a thought. We have forgotten the God who intricately knitted us together in our mother’s womb and beautifully formed every physical detail of our bodies. We cannot love God is we forget.

The Hebrew word for “forget” means to ignore, to wither, to cease to care. 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.

However, most of us have not given our hearts to God completely, without reservation, and with nothing held back. Too often we have honored God with our lips, but our heart is far from Him. We have a whole religious culture today with churches on every corner, but so few of us have ever really given God all of our heart, with no strings attached. If God does not have your heart, then you will forget Him. God is knocking at the door of your heart right now. He is pleading with you to let Him in. Dine with Him! Abide with Him! Give Him the keys to your heart! Don’t shut Him out! Don’t forget Him! God cries out daily like He did in Proverbs 23:26: “My son give me your heart!”

Listen to His passionate plea to His children in Jeremiah.

“I thought to myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—the finest possession in the world. I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me. But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the Lord, have spoken.” Voices are heard high on the wind swept mountains, the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people. For they have chosen crooked paths and have forgotten the Lord their God. “My wayward children,” says the Lord, “comeback to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” (Jeremiah 3:19-22, NLT)

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-Chetand means what destroys the fence around the open palm or hand. He has 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.[iv]

You make the choice, whether your heart is going to remember God or forget Him. It is interesting that one of the root words for “sin” in the Hebrew means forgetfulness. At the core of sin is a heart that has forgotten the majesty, grandeur and holiness of God. At the core of sin is a heart that has erased God from its thinking, forgetting His instructions, and deliberately choosing to follow another god.

Yet that is the danger we can fall into. It is so easy to become an Ephesus church, focusing on doing everything right. Right doctrine, right works, right programs—all at the expense of losing what was so precious in the beginning. God help the bride of Christ who suddenly needs a pamphlet to talk about her Bridegroom. “Can I tell you about Jesus? Wait, I have it here somewhere. There is a pamphlet here that describes Him. Yes, let me tell you about my Bridegroom.” No! Our hearts should be captivated! Just as it says in the Song of Solomon, “Have you seen him? He is the fairest among ten thousand! He is altogether lovely!” (see Song of Solomon 5:10–16). That is first love.

RETURN TO YOUR FIRST LOVE

I don’t know about you, but I want to finish this race the way I started. I want my marriage to finish even better than it began. I want my love for Jesus to increase. I don’t want to preach in different places and have people conclude, “Wow, he sure is theologically accurate. He sure can rip apart the false prophets. He sure can labor without fainting.” I would much rather people notice, “He sure does love Jesus! Everything in his being, everything in his voice, everything in his eyes simply exudes a relationship that I would like to have!” Perhaps you started out so in love with Jesus, yet somewhere down the road that love has degenerated. In your heart you know that your relationship with Him is not what it used to be. It has become all about works, doctrine, and learning to endure. If this is the case, Jesus would say to you today, “If you can overcome this declension and get back to your first love, all that I have will be yours again. I will fill your heart with compassion. There will be light in your eyes, and people will ask you the reason for your hope.”

How do we come back to our first love? I believe it starts with asking the Lord to ignite our hearts once again, and then simply reaching out and embracing Him. Jesus told Peter, “Stretch out your hands.” He was talking about embracing the Lord—embracing the heart and will of God; walking together with Him in intimacy again.

Jude 21: Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.                                                    

The Greek word of “keep”: To attend to carefully, to guard, to preserve and stand firm in. It means to watch as one would guard some precious possession. Used to Keep the commandments and guards kept watch over Jesus tomb.

Keep is an aorist imperative, a command calling for “urgent” attention The readers to heed the command and guard themselves from anything that would negatively affect our abiding in the sphere of God’s love. Let love be the “atmosphere” you breathe and in which you obey.

John 15:9-11: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 

Commandment: Abide in my love-keep his commandments-joy to be full.

You see, the opposite of love isn’t hate.  It’s indifference.  “I don’t care” is far more painful than “I hate you.”  Hate implies strong emotional connection.  Just like love.  The relationship remains, even if it’s a hostile one.  But “I don’t care” wipes away the relationship.  Not hot.  Not cold.  Nothing.  It says, “You don’t matter to me.  You’re nothing to me.”  

God knows us intimately, like a best friend, lover of our soul.  We are not collections of facts.  We are real, embodied, emotional, relational beings whom He chooses to deeply, personally, compassionately understand. Do you know that God thinks about you all the time? Do you know that God’s love for you is immeasurable and unfathomable and to such a degree that it transcends human understanding? Do you know that God longs for you to fall into His embrace and to cleave unto Him with all your heart and strength? Do you know that God wants to be wanted by you, He wants to be loved, He wants to be cherished, He wants to be adored, He wants to be treasured, and He wants to be worshipped?  The Psalmist says that God’s thoughts toward us are so many and so wonderful that they cannot be numbered. 

God has always loved you no matter what you have done. God has always been there even in your darkest hour even though you may not have ever realized it. God will never give up on you for He is a loving God and not just a fickle person. God will never quit chasing you for His love for you burns deep and true. God is pleading to you, please let me be your God, your everything, your reason for breathing and let me bear my mighty arm for you and show you my goodness and glory. God has never forgotten you, not ever, not even for a second. Don’t you want to know and love this God? 

Galatians 4: 4-7: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Abba Father:   Abba conveys a warm, intimate sense just as with our expression “Dear father.” Abba emphasizes the warm, intimate and very personal relationship which exists between the believer and God. In Abba tenderness, trust and love find their combined expression.  Abba was the word used by a young child to its father; it was an everyday family word, that we can speak to our heavenly Father in as childlike, trustful, and intimate a way as a little child to its father.” What intimacy we can have in our love for God!

Don’t let you’re your love for God be diminished in this critical hour. Come back to your first love, whether you have walked with God for fifty years or for ten. Simply come back to that place where you love Him with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind and all of your strength. We must have the flame of first love burning brightly in this dark hour. This is what our testimony should be; this is what will bring Him glory in our generation!


[i] Tertullian, On Idolatry (Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2004), 3.

[ii] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1961), 3.

[iii] Frederick Faber, Hymn: My God How Wonderful Thou Art, 1849.

[iv] 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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The Days of Noah: Toxic Thinking Destroyed a Civilization

The Hebrew word translated “imagination” means to frame, form, or shape a purpose or desire. Forming an image in the mind drives the heart toward to it. Every thought in its most basic sense has an image as its foundation. This image could be a person, object, idea, or desire. The image is the fuel of each thought.

When certain thoughts begin to dominate our minds, they carry their images into our hearts. The heart begins to take the form of these images. The image formed in the heart can be amazingly purifying or incredibly destructive.

The heart is like a mirror, reflecting the image of its thoughts. God should be the only image that dominates our thinking. He is the pole star, the rock, and the focus of our thoughts. Our thinking provides a framework for our entire life, as it continually molds and shapes our hearts.

Our transformation into the image of Christ, and our spiritual growth into a mature Christian, always passes through our thought life. Our hearts become complete and perfect in Him when God is the center of our thoughts. We must become keenly aware of what images our thoughts are bringing into our hearts. Ask yourself what image is directing my thoughts? How easy it is for this image of our thoughts to become skewed in its focus and a breeding ground for evil.

The first use of this word “thoughts” in the Bible sets the pattern throughout all of Scripture, It illustrates what happens when we do not control our thinking and our thoughts are fashioned according to the wrong image.

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. (Genesis 6:5–6, NLT)

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually. (Verse 5, AMP)

It is sobering to see what happened to the human heart because of a reckless thought life.

It did not take long after sin had poured into the human race in the Garden of Eden for men’s and women’s thinking to go down the tubes. Almost immediately Adam and Eve let fear dominate their thinking when they hid from the presence of God. God was no longer the focal image of their thoughts.

Corrupt thinking only worsened, as Cain murdered Abel when thoughts of jealousy and anger shaped his heart into a murderer. Sin was crouching at the door of Cain’s thought life, and he failed to master it. Each succeeding generation continued to allow sin to crowd God out of their thinking.

The Days of Noah: The Point of No Return

In Genesis 6, people’s thought life had so corrupted their hearts that it reached a point of no return. Every thought, imagination, and intention of their human thinking was consistently and totally evil from morning to night. The Bible does not say some of the imaginations and thoughts of the human race were continually evil, but all of their images, desires, intentions, and inclinations, in every single thought, were evil.

The Hebrew word translated “continually” means daily or at all times, which emphasizes that this was not just some weekend fling. It was their thinking from the time they got up in the morning until the time they went to bed at night. There was not a moment in the day when this evil thought process was not actively controlling their minds and shaping their hearts. Their hearts were ready to do evil at all times because they refused to think rightly according to God’s holy standard. The image that they fashioned in their thoughts was pure evil. It poisoned their hearts so that they would never repent, turn to God, and forsake their evil ways. Evil had completely consumed their hearts, and they wanted absolutely nothing to do with God in their thinking, actions, and ultimately in their hearts.

The psalmist affirms this destructive habit of wrong thinking to the human heart:

The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts. (Psalm 10:4, NKJV)

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (NIV)

This wicked and rebellious people in the time of Noah did not seek God in their thinking. God was not in one single thought. God is the most awesome, majestic, and honorable thing we can ever think about, but these people were so deceived that they did not believe they needed God. They simply had no room for God in their thinking, and this opened the door for every kind of destructive thought that eventually shaped their hearts into a monument of evil.

This is the tragic height of selfishness. This is the ultimate ego trip. This is the most dangerous thinking pattern on the planet. Without God in our thoughts, we have written the death sentence to the magnificent purpose God has prepared for our lives. To never know Him is the greatest catastrophe of the ages. He deserves the honor to be first in our thinking.

God cried out day after day to this generation’s rebellious hearts to forsake their unrighteous thoughts and turn their thinking to the Lord. If they had done so, He would have had mercy and abundantly pardoned. But they turned a deaf ear and cleaved unto their evil thoughts which led to their destruction.

In Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clark, he describes this destructive condition of thought:

All the imaginations of their thoughts were evil—the very first embryo of every idea, the figment of every thought, the very materialsout of which perception, conception, and ideas were formed were all evil; the fountain which produced them, with every thought, purpose, wish, desire, and motive, was incurably poisoned.[i]

The catastrophe of the flood in the days of Noah was caused by wrong thinking. The seed and root of every single thought was evil, and it produced desires, motives, and deeds that were only evil. The fountain of their thought life became corrupt, and as its waters flowed into the heart, it poisoned every purpose, desire, and action.

James Allen, in As a Man Thinketh, says:

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. As the plant springs from and could not be without the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them … Cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of chance, but is the result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts … In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself.[ii]

Our Thought Life: A Weapon for Good or Evil

Our thoughts are a mighty weapon that can forge our hearts into a steel fortress for our God, or they can be a stealth bomber that penetrates our inner life and destroys our hearts. Thoughts are a much more powerful weapon than any nuclear bomb. They are the critical component to our spiritual growth. We must have a disciplined thought life that is focused like a laser on God and His Word, or our hearts will become a mush of spiritual apathy and worldly lusts.

The Devil is a master general at attacking the thought life of a Christian. His war strategy involves tactics of deception, pressure, and enticement to turn our thinking away from God and toward his kingdom. The Devil knows that every action that flows out of the human heart originates from our thoughts. He knows that our moral character is an exact image of our thinking. Our thoughts determine whether our character drifts toward good or evil.

The Devil knows that in order for a person to do evil, he must first think evil. He attacked Eve’s thought life in the Garden of Eden with subtle suggestions that caused her to entertain thoughts of doubt about God’s Word. When Eve followed the Devil’s way of thinking, sin poured into her nature and separated her from God. Eve’s careless thought life caused devastating consequences to the human race.

The Devil continued his relentless attack on the thought life of human beings. Within ten generations he was so successful that only one person on the entire earth had godly thoughts. The population of the earth at the time of the flood was between 235 million and 7 billion people. In approximately 1,656 years after the fall in the garden, sin had spread like wildfire and contaminated every single thought of what was probably billions of people. To imagine that only one person out of this massive population had his thought life together is mind-boggling.

The thoughts of every human being other than Noah had become worthless to God because they were always evil. Nothing in their thoughts reflected the image of God and not one thought brought glory to God. They were wise, rich, sophisticated, and cultured for their time, but the defining characteristic of their age was wickedness because of their thinking.

A civilization that is centered on an ungodly thought life is built on sinking sand. This civilization in the days of Noah received the fruit of their thoughts, which was wickedness and corruption that multiplied on the face of the earth. This rotten thinking caused the heart to become so saturated with evil and so hardened with unbelief that nothing could alter it.

Only Noah was thinking rightly and found favor with God. No one else held the image of God and His words as the standard for their thoughts. No one else was guarding their thoughts. No one else cared that their thought life had nothing good in it, but was a breeding ground for evil. Only Noah had righteous thoughts that built his faith and fueled his obedience to God. Noah’s thought life was pure and free from evil because he walked with God.

Is Your Thinking Breaking God’s Heart?

Genesis 6:6 reveals how the toxic thinking of the human race affected God’s heart. These verses contain the first usage of the word heart in the Bible, and they describe a heart that is in deep sorrow.

And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (Genesis 6:6, NKJV)

The toxic thought life of His precious creation, men and women, broke God’s heart.

Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible in Genesis 6:6 says, “It grieved Yahweh that he had made man in the earth and he took sorrow unto his heart.” The Hebrew word translated “grieved” means to draw the breath forcibly, to groan, to sigh, and to lament. It is a heart in agony, a heart that is full of terrible pain.

The Hebrew word for “sorrow” means to hurt, to be in pain, to be vexed, to be distressed and to be tortured. Words fail to describe just how hurt Almighty God was over the evil that penetrated every thought of His children whom He had lovingly created for Him. God’s heart was in horrible agony and pain as He groaned in sorrow over the condition of the heart of every member of the human race. God’s heart was crushed in pain as He cried in agony that His people refused to honor Him with even one thought.

Is our thought life any better? Does our thinking bring great agony to the heart of God? How God must grieve today over the thought life of so many Christians. How it must hurt God’s heart when He sees the way we think.

In this first usage of the word heart in the Bible, God is sounding out a clarion call to all who would listen that what we think is critically important to the heart of God. He knows He cannot have your heart if He does not first have your thoughts.

I don’t want to break the heart of God because of my toxic thinking. I want to bring glory to God with my thinking. I want to honor Him with every thought. I do not want any virus to infect my thinking and take out the operating system of my heart.

Could God have made it any clearer how concerned He is with the content and images that dominate our thoughts? A reckless thought life led to the annihilation of an entire civilization. Do you see how significant your thinking is to God?

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon “Thoughts and Their Fruit,” expounds on this truth:

The Lord is constantly watching our thoughts. He knows them before they are known to us. “Thou understandeth my thought afar off.” … Do not, therefore, make light of evil thoughts … A steeled and seared conscience may look upon them with indifference; those whose hearts are not right towards God may sneer at the idea of any evil consequence coming from what they simply turn over in their minds; but if you have a tender heart … you will say at once, “O save my soul from base and wicked thoughts!” That thoughts are of the utmost importance may likewise be inferred that God makes them here the grounds for punishing his people. He speaks of the fruit of their thoughts … The thought in itself may not be a very great thing, but what will it come to? It may even be a very little thing, but what will be the end thereof? … The thought of evil paralyzes the finer faculties of the soul … I do not believe that a man becomes a villain all at once. He puts his soul to school, his thoughts are his teachers, or rather they are the school-books in which his soul reads; and at last he becomes capable of transacting the deeds of a scoundrel. If you think long upon any sin, the chances are that, as soon as the temptation to that sin comes, you will commit it … If you introduce these evil thoughts into your habitation, you cannot wonder at the consequence … It is certain that thoughts are the eggs of sin. These are the embryos out of which sins spring—the spawn in which every form of iniquity is developed … Therefore as God takes cognizance of our thoughts, let us be mindful of the responsibility they entail upon us.[iii]

All of us are responsible before God for our thought life, but reasoning based upon thought cannot save us. The wisdom of this world proclaims that it can reason away evil and come up with a solution outside of God. Ecclesiastes 7:29 declares that men have “engaged in too much reasoning,” and 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 declares that the world in its own wisdom cannot know God for He has made foolish the wisdom of this world. Reason alone cannot get us out of our dilemma. Our thought life must be based on the revelation of God to deliver us from evil and to keep our hearts pure.

Reason without the boundaries of God’s revelation leads us over a cliff just like Noah’s generation. No matter how enlightened and how intelligent we think we are, without God’s revelation we still end up in the grave right next to the fool.

Scripture declares in 1 Corinthians 3:20, “The Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the humanly wise and recognizes how futile they are.” God knows that thoughts of human reasoning and wisdom that ignore His instruction are worthless in directing the heart in truth and righteousness.

Skip Moen, in Spiritual Restoration: Volume 1, declares:

One of the fundamental differences between the Greek worldview and the Hebrew worldview is the place of reason and the place of conduct. For the Greeks, reason was the supreme path to salvation. “As I think I am” would be a very Greek motto. The Greeks believed that correct thinking was the solution to life’s problems. Therefore, the truth was found in correct thought … The Hebrew worldview takes a completely different approach … From the Hebrew perspective, dependence on thinking alone is dangerous. The Bible cautions us to not lean on our own understanding … From a Hebrew perspective, men are riddled with sin and so is their thinking. The truth is not discovered by thought. It is appropriated by action—and that action must be in accordance with what God says is true. From the Hebrew perspective, I do not have to think my way out of the box. I have to obey God, who has already told me the right actions to get out of the box … I cannot think my way into correct action because all my thought is tainted by sin … I must depend on God’s revelation of true and faithful behavior … No man sees the big picture well enough to know how to solve the problems of life. What man can do is to listen to God and obey Him. Rather than rely on my mind, I must rely on God’s Word, even if I don’t always understand what God is doing. … For me to rely on any other source for decisions that affect life or death is not only utter stupidity but outrageous arrogance … Left to my own reasoning and human wisdom, I can’t find my way to the personal God. His holiness is completely beyond me. I don’t have the spark of the divine within. What I have within is the result of thousands of years of distilled disobedience. I was born in a swamp of human arrogance and I have been drinking and breathing that environment since conception. Unless God reveals the wisdom I need from above, I am lost even if I win one Nobel Prize after another … The only real wisdom comes from God.[iv]

Exaltation of Human Reasoning Above God

The book of Romans describes what happens to the thinking of a person and their heart when human reasoning is exalted above God.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:21–23, ESV)

The human race has no excuse for a thought life that excludes God and exalts human reasoning. The human race has no legal defense before the throne of God.

The entire creation bears witness to the awesome nature of our God and He should be occupying our thoughts. The revelation of God in His creation and revealed Word should be the food that our thoughts are feeding upon. Yet their foolish thoughts were I don’t need God! I can do this on my own. By their thinking they rejected a relationship with God as their thought life robbed them of intimacy with their loving Creator. Their thinking enslaved them to a life of hopelessness with a gnawing emptiness that clung to their souls.

God says in Romans 1:21 their thinking became futile and it caused their foolish hearts to be full of darkness. The Greek word translated “futile’ means to be worthless, empty, devoid of truth, and to have no intrinsic value. They thought they were wise; they thought they had the world by its horns; they thought they were successful and had everything they needed. But they played the fool. The great exchange had taken place in their thought life. They exchanged the glory of God for an image representing the glory of mortal man and other earthly things. This was a raw deal for the human race. This futile thinking had a profound and lasting impact on the heart, causing it to be darkened and lifeless toward God. Their hearts did not reflect the image of God or His glory, not even in once crevice.

The word translated “darkened” in the Greek means without insight or understanding, unintelligent and to be covered in darkness. The word was used of a heavenly body that was deprived of light. Their foolish thought life caused their hearts to be covered in darkness, with no spiritual understanding. The heart was deprived of the light of God that it needed so desperately to grow and be spiritual healthy.

The thought life of the world has caused the hearts of people in every community, city, and nation to be covered in darkness. When the heart is covered in darkness, it is blind to the direction it is going. It gropes around helplessly in its search for truth. It cannot see the beauty and wonders of God all around it. It cannot live, function, and grow in the way God intended.

Evil thrives in a heart covered with darkness, and many people become so used to this condition that they run from the light, refuse deliverance, cringe at truth and mock salvation. This sad state all begins with futile, worthless thinking that refuses to give honor and thanksgiving to God.

Honoring God with our Thought Life

As Christians our thought life should honor God first and foremost. The Greek word translated “honor” in Romans 1:21 means to make glorious, to adorn with splendor, to make excellent, and to cause the worth of something to be made known. Our thinking should glorify God and adorn Him with splendor. Our thoughts should magnify God daily and give Him the dignity He deserves. Our thoughts should be flooded with thanksgiving to God for His blessings, love, mercy, and grace.

Do your thoughts glorify God daily? Is your thought life a model of honor and thanksgiving to your God? We must never give the glory of our thoughts to another. We can never glorify God with our lives if we are not glorifying Him with our thoughts.

Noah’s thought life was different because he chose to walk with God. It must have been possible for all of those millions of people on the face of the earth to do the same. But in their thinking and ultimately in their hearts, they refused.

Before Noah, Enoch also walked with God for hundreds of years. So all these people had a choice to follow God and let Him govern their thought life, or to reject God and walk in alignment with their own sin nature. In the Hebrew, “to walk” is to form habit patterns that determine your way of life. It is the way we live our lives daily. To walk with God is to form a habit pattern of thought and action that conforms our way to God’s revealed truth.

It is impossible for any human being without God to make life work and keep himself from evil. We must walk with God for life to have true meaning. Walking with God on its most basic level is walking with God in our thought life. Our thoughts should be filled with God’s presence, truth, and nature. A thought life without God is ultimately an exercise in foolishness, and it always leads to dangerous consequences for the heart.

If we do not control our thought life, it has a tendency to run toward evil faster than a speeding train. Without God’s revelation to guide our thought life, it wanders aimlessly in darkness and stumbles into every trap of the enemy. A thought life not centered upon God always leads to rebellion against the way of God.

God cries out to His people to get their thought life in line with His revealed Word.

I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts. (Isaiah 65:2, NKJV)

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7, ESV)

Every day we should check our thought life and bring it to the feet of our Lord. Our thoughts should be preparing the way of the Lord in our hearts. Each day we should be doing a spiritual check-up of our thought life by asking God to examine our thoughts and reveal to us any trace of rebellion, selfishness, and sin that is dominating our thinking. We should forsake these thought patterns, ask God for forgiveness, and ask Him to cleanse our thinking with the blood of Jesus Christ and return our thoughts to the Lord. Read and study the Bible daily, meditate upon it, ponder it, memorize it and keep it before your eyes. Spend time alone with God every day (one hour minimum) in prayer and praise. Practice the presence of God. Sing daily songs in your heart to the Lord. These daily habits will help you to develop a disciplined godly thought life.

The Devil is always trying to turn our thoughts away from the Lord, and he has a whole arsenal of weapons that barrage our minds with distractions, lusts, images, and temptations to accomplish this spiritual strategy. Thinking is the last filter that any image, word, or idea goes through before it enters the heart. We may be bombarded by images, words, or ideas, but we process them and ultimately accept or reject them by thought. We determine by our thinking what will enter into our hearts.

This is why our thought life is always on the front lines of spiritual warfare as we engage in a thought-by-thought combat for our hearts. We cannot stand for God against the powers of darkness without a vigilant and constant effort of renewing our thoughts and bringing them in line with Scripture. Allowing thought patterns of unbelief, fear, anxiety, anger, lust, and bitterness to govern our thinking is playing right into the enemy’s camp.

God is so concerned with our thought life that He stretches out His arms in love each day with the encouragement to think in a way that glorifies Him. Our thoughts should be holy, for He is holy. Our thoughts should be righteous, for He is righteous. Our thoughts should be just, for He is just. Our thoughts should be love, for He is love. Our thoughts should be peace, for He is our peace. Our thoughts should be joy, for He is our joy. Our thoughts should be compassion, for the Compassionate One lives inside us. Our thoughts should be kindness, for He is kind. Our thoughts should be built upon our great reverence for God. Our thoughts should rest on the mighty splendor and majesty of our God.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8, NLT)

This verse summarizes what should be the makeup of the thoughts that occupy a Christian’s mind. We can use this as a checklist to determine whether our predominant thinking is glorifying God.

What would the ingredients label look like on the thoughts that entertain your mind? Is truth an ingredient? Honor? Purity? Are the contents of your thoughts things that God would consider excellent and worthy of praise? Or does your thought life look like a fast-food restaurant full of spiritual junk food?

In our partnership with God, we need to become spiritual repairmen and begin to fix our thought life. We need to become spiritual health specialists and begin to detox our thought life.

Do you want to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? This love for God begins with your thought life. Do you want to have great faith that will move mountains? This mountain-moving faith begins with your thought life. Do you want to manifest the character and life of Jesus Christ in everything you say or do? Do you want to live with a passion for God and fulfill His purpose for your life? It all starts one thought at a time.


[i] Adam Clark, Commentary on the Bible, Volume 1 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1810).

[ii] James Allen, As a Man Thinketh (New York: Tribeca Books, 1910), 10.

[iii] Charles Spurgeon, Thoughts and their Fruits, Sermon 3257, published on July 6, 1911, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

[iv] Skip Moen, Spiritual Restoration: Reclaiming the Foundations of God’s Word (Maitland: Xulon Press, 2008), 44.

Excerpt from The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life 

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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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