“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered - how fleeting my life is.” Psalm 39:4
Time really does seem to fly. It seems like only yesterday that I was graduating high school and I had my whole life in front of me. At 18 years of age, it felt as if it was an eternity until I would reach the ripe old age of 50. As I look back, what I thought would take forever now seems like a blink of the eye.
I was reading Psalm 39 in my devotion time and I came across a great reminder in verse 4 above that I would love to share with you in this article. We all need to be reminded of how brief our time is here on earth and just how fleeting life can be. We have all seen visible reminders of this when we see young people pass away each year.
God has used this verse in my heart to help me slow down a little bit and enjoy all that God has blessed me with. We all can get in such a hurry and miss out on appreciating the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. God has given me a great wife and three incredible daughters. He has also blessed me with an incredible platform to minister to students and families each week here at Metrolina.
If we are not careful, we all can get a little off focus and spend our time wishing for things we do not have or need and many times even wishing our lives away. How do I know this? I wonder who would be honest and admit that so many weeks we wish for Friday to be here and dread the coming of Monday. Too many times we live the mantra of “I have to go to work” rather than “I get to go to work.”
In addition, we will work our fingers to the bone so that we can get more stuff all the while missing what might really be important in this life. Verses 6 and 7 of Psalm 39 describe all of this when it says:
“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”
I do not know about you but I do not want to spend the remainder of my days as a moving shadow rushing around and accomplishing nothing of eternal value. My heart’s desire is that I might spend my time making a difference in the lives of others for the cause of Christ.
Also, I want to teach others the truth of Psalm 39:4 so that they might not only live their lives on mission but also recognize the urgency of time to do so. As Abraham Lincoln once said: “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”
“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14
Reality television has become quite popular in our country. These shows give us an inside look at the real life drama that occurs inside the lives of people. These shows use this explosive drama to draw viewers each week. It seems as though the viewers cannot get enough of watching drama. I liken this to what we call “rubberneckers” on the highway when an accident occurs. Traffic will slow down when it does not need to because folks will almost stop so that they can see what has occurred.
As believers, God does not intend for us to live with drama being a part of our everyday lives. Hebrews 12:14 above reminds us that we are to “work at living in peace with everyone and at living a holy life.” In order to follow this command, it should become our mission to avoid drama and live free of it.
Does this mean we will never have conflict? No, we will have conflict in this life but God is calling us to deal with conflict on a much higher plane. Our conflict should not be lived out on social media or by talking to people who are a not a part of the issue. Rather, we should seek reconciliation by first asking God to give us the right spirit to deal with conflict.
Next, we should go directly to the person we are in conflict with and seek to resolve the matter in love. We should always enter into these conversations without placing blame but rather seeking reconciliation. For us to live a holy life, means that we must recognize that bringing honor to the Lord in our relationships supersedes any other issue or right we perceive ourselves to have.
I am also convinced that we need to model this for our children. We must begin to teach our kids to walk away from drama and deal with conflict in a healthy and holy way. Our children need to learn not to gossip, not to stir up trouble, and how to use their words in a way that will enable them to “live in peace with everyone.”
I recently heard Chris Brown from The Dave Ramsey Group make a powerful statement regarding this issue that can help us when conflict arises. He stated: “Conflict is inevitable: Drama is a choice.”- Chris Brown
What a powerful and wise word! I pray that God will give us all the wisdom to live the truth of Hebrews 12:14! In doing so, I know that He will be glorified!
“The neglected heart will soon be a heart overrun with worldly thoughts; the neglected life will soon become a moral chaos.”- A.W. Tozier
In 2017, my wife and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary. All these years later, she still has my heart. She is indeed my best friend and the most important relationship in my life on this earth. I think that it is important in any marriage that we ensure that our spouse is the most important human relationship we have. If we allow other people or things to eclipse our spouses in our hearts, the marriage relationship can quickly become endangered.
Similarly, the depths of our spiritual lives will be defined by who or what has the place of preeminence in our hearts and lives. I love the A.W. Tozier quote above as it is so true. If we neglect our hearts in regards to our relationship with God, our hearts will soon be consumed with the things of this world.
The problem with that is the things of this world will never bring us peace, joy, and contentment. We will, in effect, sentence ourselves to a life of searching for answers in things that will not satisfy us. Tozier goes on to say our lives will soon become a moral chaos.
How do we keep from neglecting our hearts toward God? Let me share with you three basic things we need to do to ensure we do not neglect our hearts. The answer to that question is very similar to what it requires to have a strong earthly marriage. First, we must make a commitment to God by receiving Him as Lord and Savior. We must begin the relationship by giving control of our lives to Him through a personal relationship with Him. We simply ask Him to forgive us of sin and ask Him to become the Lord of our life.
Next, we must commit ourselves to growing our relationship with Him on a daily basis. We have to spend time with Him. Our earthly marriages will not flourish without spending time with our spouse and neither will our relationship with God without doing the same.
Finally, we need to ask God to give us the wisdom and strength to stay away from anything that might take God’s place in our hearts. That is precisely what the Bible instructs us to do in 1 John 5:21.
“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”
Who has your heart? I pray that the Lord would use this verse to remind us all to do everything we can to keep God as the top relationship of our hearts!
“When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular practice.” Job 1:5
We all have routines that we follow most days. We drive to work the same way, we get ready each morning the same way, we get the kids up and ready in the same manner each day, and so many more things we do each day that become routine to us. They have become so routine that we do not even have to think about it much. Routines can become monotonous but disciplining ourselves to get certain things done each day can be quite helpful and useful.
I have long believed that we need to set aside a certain time each day to spend time with God in His Word and in prayer. This discipline should not be approached in a monotonous manner but in a way that will help us grow spiritually. We need that discipline.
With our children, most of us are good at pushing them to do their best at all they do in life. We try our best to equip them with every good thing we can. As I was reading Job 1:5, I was reminded of one the best things we can do for our children. The Bible says in the verse that it became the regular practice of Job to pray for his children every day.
As I read that passage, I do not believe that this was a mundane activity for Job. It was not something he just checked off his list. The verse says he got up early to pray for them. I am convinced from reading that verse that he prayed passionately for them and the direction of their lives.
With Job, there was a true concern for their spiritual well-being, a godly concern which every parent must have for his children. It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their heart, said Job. He knew the temptations of this world and that is precisely why he prayed daily for his kids.
As I grew up, I knew that my parents prayed for me and my siblings daily. I have done the same for my children. I have been blessed to see God answer so many of my prayers when it comes to my children. He truly has been faithful!
I pray that God would give each of us a passion to pray for our children as never before. I sincerely believe that it is one of the greatest things we can do for them in this life!
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” - Philippians 4:11
All of us are born with certain talents and abilities. What we do with these talents and abilities in life beyond that comes down to how hard we work at developing those gifts. I hear people, including myself, use the phrase “I am not gifted in that area” a lot when talking about various things.
Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between what is a natural gifting and things that we can learn to do. In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul makes such a distinction in the area of contentment. We may believe that it is a gift to be content but Paul tells us that contentment is a learned trait. He makes the statement in this verse “for I have learned to be content.”
I am convinced that one of the greatest struggles that people endure is that of finding contentment. I know that because I too have struggled with that same issue at times. I have seen single people who do not believe that they will find contentment until they meet the right person. Many others believe that getting the right career or acquiring stuff may hold the secret to contentment. The truth is that none of this will ever make us content in and of itself.
How could Paul learn to be content? What was it that allowed him to be so relaxed and relieved of tension? The answer is found in verse twelve and thirteen of the same chapter of Philippians.
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Paul said that he had learned the “secret of living in every situation” and that secret is that “I can do all things through Christ.” In other words, Paul was convinced that Christ was in the midst of his everyday life and in every circumstance of life pouring His power into Paul. Paul learned that Jesus was not only more than sufficient to meet all of life’s challenges but also that through trust in Christ he himself could learn to be content.
What do we need to do next to learn this same level of contentment? First, we must place our focus and our hope solely on Jesus. In doing so, we also must let go of everything that is keeping us from totally trusting Christ with our everyday lives. I love how Brian Dodd explains this process when stated:
“You cannot ever take hold of what God has for you until you let go of what you want to hold onto.”
I pray that those of you today that are so stressed and in need of contentment will allow the truth of Philippians 4:11-13 to minister to your heart today and enable you to find God’s contentment for your life.