Better Get Started

How many more years do you expect to live? When you die, how long will you be dead?

Michael LeBoeuf

 

I came across this quote a number of years ago, and it has really resonated with me. We all spend so much time on the immediate, that we sometimes fail to see the Big Picture.

 

How about you? Have you accomplished all of the really important things that you had planned to when you were younger? Maybe you are younger and think that you have plenty of time to get to the important stuff later, but those of us who are older know the truth: We often waste the most valuable commodity that our Maker has bestowed upon us - our time. Because of that waste, we often find ourselves looking back over the years wondering why we failed to accomplish the important goals of our youth. More tragically, we often realize, too late, that we never even had worthwhile goals.

 

But the past is the past. If we could go back and change our mistakes, we would, but we simply cannot. Since that is a fact, the only reasonable thing to do right now is to move on. So, what will you do about the important, right now? The fact is that God has given us all of the time we need to take care of everything we should be doing. We know this is true because we have all had bosses who had tasks for us to complete who always made sure that we had the resources we needed to accomplish those tasks. God is the same, only in a perfect way. He really does give us all the time we need.

 

This leaves us, then, with several vital questions: Are we saved? Are we prepared to die? Have we made provisions for those we will leave behind?

 

Are you ready for eternity? You and I will have one, you know, somewhere. If you have yet to take care of the most important areas of your life, now is a good time to start. Maybe these inspired words from Moses will help with needed perspective:

 

   As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,

   or, if due to strength, eighty...

   So, teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.

         Psalm 90:10, 12, NAS

Stop Taking Revenge... on Yourself!

"To be angry is to revenge the faults of others on ourselves."

Alexander Pope

 

Have you ever been really, really, really mad at someone? You know the type of anger - it's the kind that keeps you awake at night. It's the kind that consumes your thoughts during the day. It's the kind that you nearly forget about when things are going well, then you think about it and spoil a perfectly good day.

 

Why do we do that? Why do we let people that we don't even particularly like have so much power over us? Why do we let them win battle after battle that they don't even know that they are fighting, simply because we hold a grudge and refuse to forgive them?

 

Alexander Pope was right when he told us that anger is like taking revenge on yourself on behalf of your enemy. He said something else that is particularly apt concerning this topic. He said, "To err is human, to forgive, divine."

 

He was a pretty smart guy for someone who lived so long ago. Then again, he was just using common sense Bible principles and applying them to everyday life.

 

And Bible principles applied to everyday life are always a good idea.

 

The beauty of forgiving is that it releases us from the bondage of our enemies. For one thing, most people who make us mad usually aren't our enemies at all. And those who are shouldn't have the satisfaction of our ruining our sleep, our waking hours, and our happy moments just because we are too stubborn to forgive.

 

So the next time you feel a really good "mad" coming on, why not take back the control of your own happiness by forgiving these folks for whatever wrong they may have done. You will be glad you did and you will be living the type of life that God called you for in the first place.

 

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

James 1:19-20, NIV

Your Second Chance

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Thomas Edison

Imagine yourself awaiting execution for a horrible crime you have committed against the king. A man awaits in a leather hood, wielding a large ax. You kneel before him, melting with the fear of a sure and impending doom. Then another man steps forward, the son of the king, and he stays the executioner's hand. He then orders you released and kneels in the very spot that you were in only a moment ago. Understanding dawns on you at just what the son is doing for you. You try to stop him from taking your place but he shakes his head, looks deep into your eyes and says, "I am taking your place. All I ask is that you live for me". And you go away, filled with love, determined to meet his request.

Now imagine yourself the very next day, preparing to do the work of the one who paid your penalty. You look at the schedule that day - the schedule of the son of the king who took your place - and you decide that it is filled with things that are simply beneath your dignity. There is a lot of service to others and, frankly, it looks too much like work. So you walk away from your duty without even a backwards glance and you return to your old ways.

Ridiculous story, isn't it? Yet when you think about it there are billions of people who have temporarily escaped the sword of the executioner because the real Son of the real King has taken their place. And, quite frankly, while they liked the sentiment of the grace that saved them, the life that they are called to looks too much like work. And... they miss the greatest opportunity of an eternal lifetime.  How about you?

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6, NIV

You May Begin!

For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin, but there was always some obstacle in the way. Something had to be got through first, some unfinished business; time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. Bette Howland

I cut this quote out of a Reader's Digest in the early 80's and have it under my glass blotter on my desk where I can see it every day. Sadly, it all too often has described my own life. How often it has seemed that real life was waiting to be lived just around the next corner. But, every time I turn that corner, I find another long and winding avenue of things still to be done before I can begin my life.

It's like when we were in school and about ready to take a big test. Maybe it was one of those important assessment tests or a college entrance exam, and we just sat there, waiting and waiting, while the proctor explained the rules and waited for the correct time. Then came the big moment: "You May Begin!"

So much of our lives seemed to be a suspended animation where we are just sitting, sharpened Number 2 pencil poised, waiting to turn our tests over and begin. To our detriment, the most common area of our life that seems to be placed on hold is that of our service to God. We have become convinced that as soon as our life slows down we will become more faithful in our church attendance. We are positive that as soon as things fall into place we will dust off our Bibles and become daily students of God's word. We are certain that , just as soon as we get past this one big thing, we will get serious about our prayer life. And our lives become one hollow promise after another of "as soon as".

The fact is that this life is one big test. God wants to know if we will serve Him in good times and bad. Will we live as Christ expects us to live even when our obligations mount and we seem to have not even one spare second left in our schedules? It is during these hectic times that we need God the most. It is then that we need a calm and the peace that passes all understanding to return to our lives.

So, if the frantic pace of life has got us down and we are ready for God's peace to take control, perhaps we just need to get a grip on what is really important in life and say to ourselves: "You May Begin!"

...for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12,NIV

 

Yesterday & Tomorrow

He was going to be all that a man should be, Tomorrow. 

No one would be better than he, Tomorrow.

The world would have known him had he ever seen, Tomorrow.

But the fact is he died and faded from view,

And all that was left when living was through

Was all of the things he was planning to do... Tomorrow

Leroy Brownlow

I can relate to this poem. I’ve had so many noble things that I wanted to do, but they were so noble that they needed more time than I could give today… so I put them off until tomorrow. After a half century of life, I’m just beginning to realize that tomorrow never comes.

Just as bad is the multitude of great things that I was going to do, but didn’t get to, yesterday. The comfortable thing about yesterday is the fact that it is already gone. Since no mortal can get the past back, I have often comforted myself with the thought that I really would have accomplished all of those admirable things if time had just not run out.

So,I find myself living between the two worlds of yesterday and tomorrow in this magic place where there are no responsibilities and no consequences. After all, yesterday is past and tomorrow has yet to arrive. Since I have scheduled all of my really important things for either yesterday or tomorrow, I have today’s calendar wide open for all of the things that really don’t matter.

Might this possibly describe your life, as well? If it does, may I recommend that you make begin to do what you know you really need to do… today.

As God fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

II Corinthians 6:1-2, NIV