Uncategorized

Changing seasons

Yesterday marked the change of seasons in Canada.  While the calendar said it was autumn, the weather certainly didn’t indicate any such change!  But today shows signs of being cooler.  Every time we see a change of seasons, I am reminded of these classic words from the Teacher, Qoheleth, who wrote Ecclesiastes.  Linger for a few minutes over this passage.  Read it a few times, and ask the Lord if he has a word for you in it.  And rejoice in the changing of the seasons, by the plan of God.

For everything there is a season,

a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.

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Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

The older you get…

I used to hear people say this years ago when I was a child, and I never quite understood it.  Now, I think I do.

The older you get, the faster time seems to move.

I am astounded that tomorrow is the last day of April, 2016.  That will bring to completion the first third of the year.  Last Christmas seems like yesterday – but it wasn’t!  Perhaps it comes with busyness, perhaps with age, but either way, the clock seems to tick faster these days.

So I’m led to ask myself, and you:  What are you doing with this time?

We all know each day is a gift; this is especially true for those who have lost loved ones.  The value of keeping short accounts is magnified when we come to realize that the time we have with others may be limited.

Likewise, we do well to be good stewards of our time.  Often, when we think about stewardship as followers of Jesus, it’s in the context of the wise use of the material wealth with which the Lord has blessed us, or maybe the care and conservation of the environment, the world God made.

But time?  That’s a gift to be stewarded as well.  Think about the number of hours we have in each week:  168.  If we spend 56 of them sleeping, 10 of them eating, 7 of them in the Necessary Room, 45 of them working, and 10 of them driving to and from work, that leaves us with 40 waking hours to do other things.  How can we be good stewards of those 40 hours?  Here are a few ideas.

Build your spiritual life.  As has been famously said, in 100 years, the only thing that’s going to matter is what you did with Jesus, so prioritize those 40 hours (and maybe some of the others, while you’re at it) building your spiritual life.  Make worship with the church and personal or family worship a priority.  Take time each Sunday to worship in community and spend time in fellowship with other followers of Jesus.  Be part of a small group of some sort that deepens that fellowship and involves some less formal study time.  Read Scripture, pray, and engage in other spiritual disciplines daily.  Use the time you’ve been given to enrich your relationship with the Giver of time.

Build your family life.  If you’re married and/or have children, prioritizing your spiritual life is the biggest favour you can do for your family, but the next thing you should do is deepen the relationships you share with those closest to you.  If you’re single, that can involve spending time with close friends.  Do things together.  Talk together, without competition from technology or television.

Rest.  In a world where the addiction to work (or even play) is not yet seen as a problem, rest is often frowned upon, but we all need it.  God set the example in creation where he looked at all he had made in 6 days, pronounced it good, and set aside the other day for rest.  Rest isn’t something we do just when we’re sleeping.  Remember, the word ‘recreation’ can be hyphenated to ‘re-creation’.  When we rest, we are re-created, rejuvenated, made ready for the week that is ahead of us; that’s why having a day of rest at the beginning of the week is so wise.  (Ever wonder why Sunday is on the left side of most calendars?)  Work from your rest, not toward it.

Of course, there can be overlap in all of these, can’t there?  We can build our spiritual lives and our family lives as part of our rest – but we should set aside some of that rest for personal renewal.  There’s no single formula for all this, so I encourage you pray about how the Lord would have you be a good steward of the time he has given you.  Hold your calendar before God as an offering.  Let the Lord speak to you as you seek to make priorities in your life.  After all, we think our time is our own, but in reality, time is in his hands.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3.1, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

The end is near?

As I sit to offer you a word of encouragement today, I don’t know where to begin.  So much has happened and converged around this time!  There was the mass shooting in the school in Connecticut last week; Christmas is just around the corner; today is the first day of winter; and if you’re reading this, there’s a better-than-reasonable probability that the Mayans got it wrong when their calendar came to a screeching halt on this day.  If there is any commonality here, it is time.

Perhaps the best word I can offer you came from the teacher, Qoheleth, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes:  “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.  So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.  And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God” (Ecclesiastes 3.11-13, NLT).

The older we get, the faster time seems to fly (unless we’re standing in a queue at the Licence Bureau, or something like that).  For those school children and teachers, their time is now measured in eternal units.  Christmas is not just a day to be marked with the sharing of gifts, but is a lifestyle to be lived throughout our lives.  The shortest day of the year – therefore, the longest night of the year – arrives with this day, yet we have much to which to look forward.  And the Mayan “prediction”?  Well, Jesus told us that nobody knows when the end will truly come, when he will come again to consummate time as we know it.  Our job is to be ready.

As the season of Advent draws to a close, we are reminded that it not only prepares us for Jesus’ first coming, but also for his second coming.  Too often, we ignore this in our preparations for Christmas, don’t we?  Jesus will come again.  He will judge the world.  He will receive his faithful people to himself.  And for followers of Jesus, there is great comfort in this truth.

God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  We measure time with our watches and calendars, but God can see all time with absolute clarity.  What better reason is there to trust him with our lives?

I wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases, the richest of blessings, and the deepest prayers for a new year filled with hope and peace.  Celebrate the coming of our Saviour in these days.  Pray for those for whom this season is devoid of meaning because they have no relationship with God.  And allow God to use you in the answering of your own prayers as you invite friends and loved ones to experience the joy of the Lord in the life and worship of the church.