We Need To Remember This Year
By now, you must have noticed the news magazines end of year publications with special pictorial sections that recall people and events that made news in 2008. Many also include articles by experts predicting what they expect to see in the years ahead. Back in 1967, experts predicted that by the turn of the century technology would have taken over so much of the work we do that the average American work week would be only 22 hours long and that we would work only 27 weeks a year. Well, we all know that was wrong!
But here we are in the last week of 2008 and where will we be in 2009? What should we choose as our mission statement for the year? In Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul writes, "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Here are some salient points worth pondering as the year begins.
REMEMBER THAT OUR TIME ON THIS EARTH IS LIMITED. First of all, we must be very careful how we live because our time on this earth is limited. The Psalmist wrote, "Show me, O Lord, my life's end & the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life" [Psalm 39:4]. And then again, "The length of our days is 70 years - or 80, if we have the strength...they quickly pass, and we fly away" [Psalm 90:10]. I can remember when I thought anyone over 40 was ancient - but not any more. It is all rather relative, isn't it? If I number my days and live to be 65 years old, I have about 7855 days left to live. That's all, just 7855 days left to live which is just 1/3 of the time I have already lived. And really, I don't have a guarantee of even one day more to live.
REMEMBER THAT WE NEED TO WALK LIKE A WISE MAN. Wise people spend their lives walking carefully. The word Paul used indicates we are to use great care in our walk [Ephesians 5:15]. In the KJV and NKJV, the word is translated "circumspectly" and means "exactly, accurately, and diligently" unlike the fool who cares little about where they are going or what is happening.
REMEMBER TO REDEEM THE TIME. We need to take advantage of the time available to us [Ephesians 5:16]. We should "make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good, so that zeal and well doing are as it were the purchase by which we make the time our own" (from the "Online Bible"). This is necessary, Paul says, because the days are "evil." Whether it is the evil of trials, sins, or even death, Christians will not count on tomorrow but count on the Lord. All we have is right now. And are we right now, right with Him and working for Him?
REMEMBER TO MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY. Sometimes we just need to choose the better path. The lesser path may not be sin - just not as good. Remember when Jesus went to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. He sat down to teach and Mary sat at His feet soaking in every word. Meanwhile, Martha was out in the kitchen preparing dinner. Now, you know the story. Martha gets upset because Mary is not in the kitchen to help her. So she complains to Jesus, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" [Luke 10:40] "Martha, Martha," Jesus answered, "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her" [Luke 10:41-42]. Martha was committing a sin by being hospitable and fixing a meal in the kitchen! The problem was that she was so preoccupied with what she was doing that she didn't realize that God was in her living room. She could not see the things that mattered most. We all know we do this more often than we ever want to admit. We get so caught up in today that we lose sight of the eternal.
REMEMBER WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE LORD'S WILL IS. Well, Paul said it. The answer to this foolishness is to "understand what the Lord's will is." Do we think God wants our mind so saturated with worries and anxieties about jobs, careers, and the economy that we can't think spiritual thoughts? Do we think He wants our calendar so crowded that we don't have time for the more important things like worshipping with the church, personal Bible study and growing our family spiritually? To understand that will of God, we need to prioritize the spiritual things. "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:1-2; also, Matthew 6:33; Colossians 1:18). So, when Sunday rolls around, will neither rain nor shine, football kickoffs or special sales interfere with being in church, because He comes first in our life? If we do indeed set our mind on things above, we will worship the Lord when we are called to worship and let nothing interfere with that. We will resolve to become closer to our brothers in Christ. Whether it is simply learning their name (3John 14) or having them over for a meal (1Peter 4:9), they will be part of the spiritually important matters we need to prioritize.
To understand that will of God we also need to prioritize the family things. We need to make time for our spouse. "Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband" (Eph 5:33). Every husband ought to have a date night with his wife. You heard it here first. The Hootons are going to make time for each other in 2009. We need to make time for our children. How else will our children learn to "obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right? HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH." (Ephesians 6:1). They're growing up ever so fast and they need parents - every day, both "quantity" and "quality", of that process.
Someone said, "Life is what happens to you while you're making plans to do something else." And God says, says, "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:11-12). Remember these five things and 2009 will be a year you can remember with delight and no regrets.
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By Don Hooton
From Expository Files 16.2; February 2009