HOW DO WE SPEND OUR TIME?
This is an issue that has been close to my heart. Let me tell you my story - I became a Christian about 4 years ago and I was a pretty normal (that's debatable), athletic, young man just living my life. Then, January of this year, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. My first stay in the hospital was 38 days; I then completed 5 more months of intense chemotherapy. There were times in my treatment that I wasn't sure if I was going to live and I spent a lot of time in my hospital room contemplating death. As I faced the reality of my feeble mortality I looked at my life and felt ashamed that shortly I might be standing before the creator of the universe knowing that I had squandered a lot of my time in selfish pursuits. Some of these were unsanctified but not necessarily sinful pursuits of enjoyment, comfort and fun but I served myself in leisure instead of the Lord in diligence. It goes without saying that it is still a struggle for me not to do the same but God, in His grace, continues to teach me that all we need is found only in Him (2 Peter 1:3).
It is both a glorious and convicting Truth that believers are judged not in the sense of sin, for our sin was taken by Christ on the cross (Romans 8:1, Colossians 2:13,14), but we are judged according to how we spend our time on earth. When speaking to believers Paul says:
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." - 2 Corinthians 5:10
How would the Lord have judged my life?
While I was in chemotherapy treatment, fatigue and pain became familiar to me. There were times that simply brushing my teeth seemed a mountain too tall to scale. I say all of this not for pity sake but so I can say, "What a precious gift from God!" The predestined plan of our Lord is perfect in every way (Isaiah 55:9). The Lord planned that I would suffer and it was for my good (Romans 8:28); through suffering He has grown and stretched my faith. What a grace of God that he would even teach me! I have offended and disregarded Him and yet I have been able to sit in His school and learn of His grace because of faith in Jesus Christ. He has proven to me the time that God gives us on this earth is an amazing grace; every moment. Well here I stand, almost done with my radiation therapy, about to begin 2 years of maintenance chemotherapy and, if it is the Lord's will, I will live out my life in relatively good health.
Why could I not believe these Truths before I faced death? How could I have been so blind? If the Lord truly does give us every second by His sovereign plan, and He does, then why should we waste one second on anything except the glory of God?
If you are convicted, know that the Lord teaches and guides His faithful servants for it is only by the Spirit's empowerment that we can walk in His ways (Galatians 5:16,22-26). God will put us under these Truths and grow us thereby (1 Peter 2:1,2). I know this to be True because the word of God says so and subsequently, I have experienced it. I must remind myself that no growth in my life, including any obedience, comes from my own doing but from God Himself (Ephesians 2:9,10) and I shamefully confess that I take what the Lord has given me and twist it for my own fleshly desires. All believers will see areas of growth (John 15) and if you are like me, you have thought higher of yourself at times because of it. I even sinfully boast about it. What a joke! Heaven forbid that we should boast in anything except the Cross!
"God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 1:28-31
Brothers and Sisters, I would never pray that any would be put through the furnace of affliction but I do pray that the Lord would teach all of His saints the true joys of serving His name. Take some time to contemplate this Scripture:
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 5:20
An ambassador is a top-ranking diplomatic official. We have all, in a sense, been ambassadors before. Growing up, my family would go to a friends house and my parents would always remind my brother and me to, "Be polite, say 'thanks you' and mind your manners." This is because I was an ambassador of our family. I represented our family values to our friends and hosts. How much more should we be concerned about representing the all-powerful, all-knowing, creator of the universe? The Gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ has been entrusted to us and we are commanded to go to the nations and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). God has made His people a light unto the world and we are to let that light shine before men so that they may see our good works and Glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). Oh, beloved, we take that yoke so lightly.
I was studying through 1 Timothy and was convicted by 6:11. "... you man of God ...pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness." (NASB) Think about the command of a Christian to be godly. What is being godly but 'being like God'. Consider this: How we live our lives is a direct reflection of how we view God. That Truth really stings; cuts really deep into our flesh. We just denigrate the name of the Lord when we sin. Will you pursue godliness for His glory? Then repent and learn from God through His Word!
Do not be discouraged through all this, for as sinful as we are, He remembers our sin no more! Past, present and future; all sin is removed from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Where sin increases, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20).
"Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." – Romans 8:1
We obey the Lord out of a love for Him, not simply out of duty (John 14:15). Believers have been forgiven an awesome, unimaginable debt. Christ has paid it for us, how can we not live for Him. We, as believers in Christ Jesus, have passed from death to life. We have been made alive! Rejoice and be glad!
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" - Romans 6:1,2
Serve the Lord with vigor (1 Timothy 4:15). Strive in all you do to serve the Lord and understand that it is God working powerfully in you as you labor (Philippians 2:12,13; Colossians 1:29).
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:6-11
The very words of Almighty God are recorded for us in the Bible. They are right there. From Genesis to Revelation God reveals Himself in order to bring His people to Him for His glory. Do you view the Bible properly as the very heart and words of the Lord (2 Timothy 3:16,17)? You must! Be students of the Word, like newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:1,2). The word of God is perfect converting the soul, rejoicing the heart, bringing wisdom, and enduring forever (19:7-9). If you want to prosper and be successful then meditate in the Law of the Lord, the Bible, and do all that is commanded (Joshua 1:8). A mighty fortress is our God (Psalm 18:2; 32:2,3)!
May the Truths of Scripture bless you through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In His grace,
Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 8:01 PM
A note of encouragement
I received this via email from Ryan and got permission to repost it here. I found it encouraging, convicting, edifying, all those tasty morsels that make life in Christ just so sweet.