In this worship gathering, we hear a message introducing the Book of Revelation as our new series. What is the real message of the book? Is it all about predicting the end of the world, or is there more substance than that? Based on Revelation 1.1-20, you can watch the message alone below, or the entire worship gathering below that. The introductory video is available as a stand-alone video here.
February 5 has always been a special day for me. It’s the birthday of the woman who gave birth to me! I wish I could be with her to celebrate the completion of her 82nd trip around the sun, but the stay-at-home order we’re experiencing here in Ontario prevents that from happening. So if you know my mom, feel free to phone her or inbox her with your own greeting!
I’m finding as I age that birthdays seem to get closer and closer together: time passes quickly. That may or may not be everyone’s experience, but that reality, for me, is a reminder of the precious nature of time.
God understands this; he is, after all, the Author of time.
There is much in the Bible that speaks to how we best may steward the time allotted to us in this world, even as we prepare for the world to come. Consider these:
“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” (Ecclesiastes 3.11, NLT).
“Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring” (Proverbs 27.1, NLT).
And this one – this one really stands out:
“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90.12, NLT).
There are hundreds of others, but these give you the idea.
How are you being a steward of the time God has given you? With every breath, we acknowledge our Creator, whether we realize it or not. Let’s choose to realize that, giving God praise with every breath we take. Let’s choose to see time as a precious gift, enjoying the moments we have with those we love, and living in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection are what gain us eternity.
This weekend, we switch to Daylight Saving Time where I live. Originally, it is said to have been enacted to make the most use of sunlight and to conserve energy. I’m not sure how true that may still be; all I know is that I lose an hour’s sleep before Sunday worship!
Someone else, putting a positive spin on the notion of ‘springing ahead’, suggested that instead of thinking of it as losing an hour’s sleep, we should think of it as losing an hour of winter. I can get behind that notion!
All that said, the intentionality of shifting clocks, whether in March or November, makes us think about time. The twenty-four-hour clock was a human invention, enabling us to tell time in some sort of universally accepted manner.
Sometimes, we count down the time, whether it’s on New Year’s Eve or when we get off work or when we retire.
We might anticipate a time when we leave for vacation, or see someone we love. We are all mindful of time.
God is mindful of time, too, though his picture of time is far larger than ours. God can see all time and all space, and knows all things. God doesn’t need to move his clock ahead an hour to see what’s around the corner, or to see the sunrise.
What an amazing God we serve! Why not place your trust in the One who transcends time?
Praise the Lord!
How good to sing praises to our God!
How delightful and how fitting!
The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem
and bringing the exiles back to Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars
and calls them all by name.
How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension! (Psalm 147.1-5, NLT)
But seriously, you’re not God, so if you’re not in Saskatchewan, turn your clocks ahead an hour on Saturday night, so you show up to Sunday worship on time!
There’s a verse in an old hymn that says,
Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the op’ning day.
Time is something we tend to think a lot about as the year closes. To be frank, I’m thinking a bit more about it than usual.
On Wednesday, I had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend who that day turned ninety-eight. It’s hard for most of us to conceive! But she is well, all things considered, and it was a joy to talk with her.
Then, on Thursday, I hit a milestone – the half-century club. I’ve always believed age is just a number, but this one has caused me to pause and ponder a bit more than any other, perhaps because it is such a profoundly round number!
The end of the year, like a milestone birthday, is an occasion both for looking back and looking forward. What have I accomplished in the past year (or half-century)? Who have I become? What do I hope to accomplish? Who do I hope to become?
The ancients called an exercise like this the examen, an examination of both conscience (what I’ve done and who I am) and consciousness (how aware of God and his activity in my life I’ve been). It’s something they actively encouraged we do not only annually, but daily.
Life coaches and new age gurus (who don’t necessarily overlap much) will often tell us to visualize goals as a means of doing what we want to do, and being who we want to be, in a prescribed period of time. Making goals both attainable and tangible certainly contributes toward their accomplishment. But I would stir that pot for you a bit by suggesting that what matters more in that conversation is this: What does God want us to do, and who does God want us to be?
I encourage you to spend a few moments, as the year closes, asking those questions. Because time, “like an ever-rolling stream”, seems to fly by with greater haste as we grow older. Let’s make the most of it.
“We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9.4, NLT).
Encouragement From The Word returns on January 12.
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.
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).