Lord Teach Us About Time

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The New Year & Our Renewed Concept of Time

The Psalmist prayed, “Lord teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” (Psalm 90:12). 

Could it be that the main reason why we never get around to doing everything we want or need to do in a day, a week, a month, a year or a life is not so much because “we don’t have enough time” (common response), but really because we don’t know how to best manage the time God has given us?” Perhaps. I will honestly count myself in that bunch, especially when I allow other “things” to distract me from what I should be doing. In our technology-driven world today, it seems we have more devices and applications to manage time, but somehow many feel they still don’t have enough “time” in any given day. Why is this? 

Could it be that most of us would acknowledge the truth that “our days are indeed numbered,” but by the way we live we feel our time is more or less unlimited in scope?

“Where did the time go?” middle-aged and older adults often remark. Many of us feel that time passes more quickly as we age, a perception that can lead to regrets. According to psychologist and BBC columnist Claudia Hammond, “the sensation that time speeds up as you get older is one of the biggest mysteries of the experience of time.” Fortunately, our attempts to unravel this mystery have yielded some intriguing findings

There are good reasons why older people may feel that way. When it comes to how we perceive time, humans can estimate the length of an event from two very different perspectives: a prospective vantage, while an event is still occurring, or a retrospective one, after it has ended. In addition, our experience of time varies with whatever we are doing and how we feel about it. In fact, time does fly when we are having fun. Engaging in a novel exploit makes time appear to pass more quickly in the moment. But if we remember that activity later on, it will seem to have lasted longer than more mundane experiences.

The reason? Our brain encodes new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory, and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period. In other words, the more new memories we build on a weekend getaway, the longer that trip will seem in hindsight.

This phenomenon, which Hammond has dubbed the holiday paradox, seems to present one of the best clues as to why, in retrospect, time seems to pass more quickly the older we get. From childhood to early adulthood, we have many fresh experiences and learn countless new skills. As adults, though, our lives become more routine, and we experience fewer unfamiliar moments. As a result, our early years tend to be relatively over-represented in our autobiographical memory and, on reflection, seem to have lasted longer. Of course, this means we can also slow time down later in life. We can alter our perceptions by keeping our brain active, continually learning skills and ideas, and exploring new places.

So, what exactly does it mean to “teach us to number our days that we gain a heart of wisdom?” (Psalm 90:12)

First, it means to “make the most of each day.” Prioritize what is most important and be consistent in pursuing our goals. We have to set goals for without them we will drift. By prayer, godly counsel and Scripture study—decide what it is God wants you to do. If you are saved and belong to Christ, then He has given you a job or a task to do in His Kingdom. Make no mistake about it. It could be anything, but it will be something. It’s easy to get caught up “in our own agenda” and forget why God has put us here in the first place. God’s plan for our life includes allowing Him to guide and direct us toward His will for us (which is the best plan, incidentally). Evaluate your daily and weekly activities. Focus on what is most important and don’t allow distractions to detour your direction. We are “time managers” and the more we do it “right” the more joy we will experience, as well as a greater sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. 

Second, it means to keenly realize “our lives are shorter than we realize.” For some people, it is drastically brief. Since none of us know exactly how much time we have left, we have to use what little, remaining time doing the things which matter, the goals which count for eternity and which are most important, not just for this life now. It may sound morbid to some, but our days are “literally” numbered Scripture teaches. That means in a certain year, of a certain month on a certain day it will be “game over” for each of us. No going back. No reincarnation. No second chances. It’s a done deal. I sincerely believe if each of us actually knew how many “days” we really have to live, it would profoundly shock us. “Count your days by making each of your days count.”

I like to do research on the internet. I enjoy learning new things. I also enjoy some time on social media and I do my best to reply to emails as quickly as possible. I selectively watch some television programs, good movies and inspiring music often. Because of the rise of technology today, if I am not careful and I don’t get my work done first, then all of these other things can easily trip me up and cause me to never get to the most important tasks of my day. Stay in charge of your schedule, don’t let lesser things rule your day. Your time is more precious than you might know. 

A wise question to ask yourself is, “What do I want to see happen in my life before I die?” This transcends a mere “bucket list.” When you have noted the answer to that probing question, then ask yourself this one, “What small step could I take toward that life purpose today?” Stay focused one step at a time. Keep your eyes on the prize! 

Thirdly, “numbering our days to gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12) means embracing the truth that our accomplishments on earth await their ultimate satisfaction only in eternity. Most Christians, who are spiritually healthy and growing in the Lord, deeply want to see their work reflect the glory of God and His permanence. This is good, however, if we feel dissatisfied with this life, and all it’s endless contradictions, frustrations and imperfections, then we must remember that our very passion to see God’s work and will done in our life, as well as the lives of others we serve, originates from the Lord Jesus Christ, not ourselves. 

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11).

This means it is a good sign to have a certain sense of “dissatisfaction” with earthly pleasures and pursuits. Because we are created in “God’s image,” we have; a spiritual thirst and hunger for Him, eternal value and are intimately connected to the “cosmic, heavenly reality” that ultimate fulfillment will never happen to us in this life. Why? Because God has created us with a “built-in” restless yearning for the kind of flawlessly, perfect, eternal world which far transcends the temporary, fallen material world we live now. Can we experience high levels of joy and peace in Christ here? We should, it’s our birthright, after all. But, the truth is God has given us “only a glimpse of His glory” and the amazing perfection of His creation to come. This mere glimpse is only a passing glimpse. We can’t see the whole picture. No one can. We see in a “mirror dimly.” Anyone who claims to “see and understand all the details of the future” is blinded by their own self-deception. Therefore, we must trust God now and love Him enough to do what work He has already clearly revealed for us to do in His Word. 

The more we see “time” from God’s eternal perspective, the more we will apply our entire lives in such a way that we will not only realize the brevity of life, but we will also seek to take advantage of each day as an opportunity to honor God. We will see our limited time on earth impacting our destiny in eternity, “what we do in life echos through eternity, ” (Russell Crowe in Gladiator). 

“Father God, forgive us for the way we have managed our time. Sensitize our hearts and minds so that we will enthusiastically pursue Your plan for our lives with a view to eternity. May Your wisdom in Your Word become even more so our directional compass in the 2019 New Year ahead.  For we ask and pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.” 

Heaven’s Light Invading Our World’s Darkness

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Heaven’s Light Invading Our World’s Darkness

At this holiday season of the year, many people are asking, “What is there to be so merry about anyway?” With the threat of nuclear war, terrorism, crime, abusive injustice, violence against women, celebrity and leadership scandal take-downs, political instability, racism, hatred of police, national discord—all of these at an all-time high, marriages breaking up, online suicides, a sense of continued ragged emotional & spiritual fragmentation, drug & alcohol abuse —no wonder many people question whether we should say, “Merry Christmas!”

Yet it was at such a time that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world some 2,000 years ago. And it will be at such a time that Jesus Christ comes back to this earth.

The angel on that first Christmas night said, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). If we believe this, then it makes all the difference in the world for us. Life takes on a new dimension.

There is one particular passage of Scripture in the Old Testament to which I often turn, not only at this time of the year but also at many times other than the Christmas season: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a Light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

When these words were uttered by the Prophet Isaiah, prophetic thunders were heard and the lightning of divine vengeance was seen as the clouds of judgment were gathering. With a trumpet-like voice this great statesman-prophet had declared with certainty the calamity which was soon to fall upon Judah as a judgment from God. Judah’s alliance with evil and her departure from God called forth predictions of dreadful disaster. Isaiah had proclaimed with accuracy the Assyrian invasion. All around him were clouds of wrath and desolating darkness.

But Isaiah saw far away at the horizon a rift in the clouds and a clear light shining from heaven. He saw that while the people were walking in darkness, a light also shined upon them. He looked through the next 800 years of time and then he declared, “Unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6).

“Unto us a Child is born” (Isaiah 9:6). He was not born according to the laws and the processes of natural generations. The nature of His birth was supernatural. The “Child born” was born to a virgin: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

But “Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). Because He is the God-man, He was able to bear our sins on the cross. And God raised Him from the dead as an indication that He had accepted Christ’s atoning work on the cross. He was the only One in the entire universe qualified to bear our sins, and He did it voluntarily.

Therefore, at this Christmas season, with our trust and faith in Christ, we hear the angel saying, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:10). The psalmist said, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).

This is the Christmas message to you and I today. You, too, can appropriate the words to believers, words that are used all the way through the Scriptures: “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:5). “Peace on earth, good will to man” is promised by God and spoken first by the Christmas angels that very night His Son Jesus Christ was born! But, where is all that “promised peace” today?

First, it begins in our hearts, secondly, it will be completed when He returns and that could be soon! Until then, friends you and I are called to work for peace, to be “peacemakers” at our workplace, in our communities, in our families, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” said the Prince of Peace our Lord Jesus Christ.

A Child was born and a Son was given for our salvation. We have complete assurance that Jesus Christ is not only the Son of Man but also that He is the Son of God. And God has accepted what Jesus did on the cross and in the resurrection for our salvation. We trust in Him–and Him alone–for our forgiveness and for eternal life. Trust Him with your all this Christmas and resolve to live for Him with all your heart throughout the coming New Year. Christmas means that God has “stepped into our very human shoes” taking on broken, sinful humanity personally Himself. He knows all about our ongoing struggles, our present challenges, our deep pains, our inward scars from the past, our unfulfilled hopes, our wistful dreams, our nagging fears and everything there ever is to know about our past, present and future—He knows us better than we know ourselves and He loves us dearly. Now would be a good time to turn to Him in prayer and give Him the heavy burdens you are carrying around that He came to bear for you. Jesus is the “the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). We are the people who have “walked in darkness, but seen a Great Light.” (Isaiah 9:2)

A Blessed Christmas to You All!

David Crews​