Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
And we are not saved.” – Jeremiah 8:20

      It is invisible, yet we say that it “marches on,” “flies,” or “drags by.” We talk about it “beginning,” and we talk about it “ending.” We can mourn over its passing, and wish we could make it stand still in our most ecstatic moments, or we can wish it would “hurry up” and usher us into a better, future state. We waste it on the one hand, but then lament that we never have enough of it on the other hand. This is the thing we call “time.”

      Many years ago I took my art students on a “field trip” to meet Dr. A. Lyall Lush, and see his artwork. Dr. Lush and his wife Jean (author, counselor and speaker) lived in an English (replicated) home in Edmonds, Washington. He was a genius in various pursuits, and an acclaimed artist, art teacher, and philosopher. I remember him lecturing my art class that time did not move as we generally think of it, but rather we are the ones who are moving, and passing through time. I’m not sure to this day if I fully grasp the concept that he expounded upon, but to me the gist of it was the fact that time is a stationary state through which each of us travels while in this world. William Shakespeare put it this way, “All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts….” In James 4:14 we read, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Jesus taught, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” Luke 21:33. Thus, we can conclude that time is indeed stationary as is God’s Word and His truth, and we are the ones sojourning through this world for a very brief time.

       Philosophy aside, we read in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” followed by ten verses that contain the beautiful and poetic expressions of “time” in relationship to the most basic elements of human life. What we, who live in these “end times” need to remember is that God knows, and sees everything that concerns us. Psalm 31:15 says, “My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” The Psalmist knew that his life consisted of periods of “time,” or “seasons” through which he must live. He knew that there were times of rejoicing, and gladness, but also times of great trial, testing, and tribulation when the soul can feel utterly hopeless, helpless, and abandoned. The good news is, we are never out of His sight, regardless of how the darkness may press against us, bringing waves of fear and depression for Jesus promised those who belong to Him, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” Matthew 28:20b.

      Perhaps there are times when you can relate to Job, (as I have on occasion) who lamented, “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” Job 23:8-10. “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope” Job 14:2. Throughout Job’s trials and tribulations he was unaware that Satan was behind it all (with God’s permission), but he held fast to his great faith in Jehovah God, knowing that every detail of his life was known to God, and that after being tried in the furnace of affliction, he would come forth as gold. A fitting quote from Oswald Chambers is, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”

      It is only natural that in our fallen and limited state we struggle and strain to try and make sense of things that we, and others go through that (to our way of thinking) are unfair, tragic, senseless, and sometimes just plain “wrong.” Yet, as Oswald Chambers taught, at the core of life is tragedy. It is a fact of reality. We can do our best to avoid it in its many forms and manifestations, but inevitably tragedy will touch each life in some way. Indeed, there is “A time to be born, and a time to die” Ecclesiastes 3:2a. The wise consider their immortality, and with David pray, “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am” Psalm 39:4. Why is it so important to face our frailty? The answer is in the next verse, “Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity” verse 5. Wisely, David concludes, “my hope is in thee” verse 7b. Is there any other who can save us, and give us eternal life? The answer is no, yet multitudes choose to continue spending their days on the broad path that leads to destruction.

      Moses prayed, Psalm 90:12. There are important points to consider from this verse. 1) “Teach us.” How often do we stop and consider who the greatest Teacher is, and ask His counsel? Concerning counsel, King David wrote, “I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins [innermost being] also instruct me in the night seasons” Psalm 16:7. (Addition mine.) Consider Psalm 73:24 which says, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Isaiah declared, “…the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” Why should we languish in the misery of confusion, lost in a foggy sea of ignorance, while sailing toward the abyss when our mighty God has given us great comfort through His Word? Meditate on this powerful verse from Jeremiah 32:19, “Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” There are two main ways the Lord counsels us; namely, through His Word, and by the Holy Spirit. By the way, Christian friend, trying to depend on either one without the other is like trying to walk through life on one leg apart from any type of crutch.

      2) Moses is asking the Lord to teach us to number our days. What does it mean to number our days? Can we count ahead, and know the number of days we have on this earth? Of course not, for only God knows the number of our days. What he is asking is for wisdom to be able to redeem the time that we do have, whether it is one hour, one day, one week, or a month, or even a year. Ecclesiastes 12:1 admonishes, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Redeeming the time means to make sure that your life is established in Christ, that your salvation is made sure, that your life counts for eternity, one day at a time, so that when you stand before Him to give an account of how you spent the precious days you were given on this earth, you will be able to give an answer that is acceptable to God, brings Him glory, and insures that you will not be ashamed before Him. Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away” 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. Therefore, God’s people need to remember Paul’s admonition to the Colossians, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above,  not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” Colossians 3:1-3.

      3) Back to Moses’ prayer in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Is it really all that important to apply our hearts to wisdom? Proverbs 1:7 tells us, concerning wisdom, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Concerning wisdom, James exhorts, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” James 1: 5, 6. If we are to “number our days” and “redeem the time,” we must seek the Lord, and ask for His perspective on how we truly view our time on this earth. Do we tend to think that we will always have “tomorrow” to draw nigh to the Lord, asking Him to search our hearts, to study His Word and meditate on it, to pray, to do that which He asks us to do, or to do what should be done today? Or, do we find excuses to waste the time He has given us in worldly, vain, and meaningless pursuits?

      Each season of life brings its joys and sorrows, challenges and opportunities. You have been given the ability to choose how you will live in each season of your life, which really comes down to who, or what, you are living for. Are you living for self, and your selfish, vain pursuits? Or are you living for the One who gave Himself for you? It is so easy to procrastinate, so easy to put off surrendering all to Christ, so easy to sit on the fence remaining neither “hot” nor “cold.” But, the Lord says to you, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” 2 Corinthians 6:2b.    

      Will you, right now, stop and pray with all your heart this prayer of King David? “But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered…out of the deep waters. Draw night unto my soul, and redeem it” Psalm 69:13, 14a, 18a.

      May this New Year find us all “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” Ephesians 5:16. Amen.