2 CORINTHIANS 4:7-18
Day 1 · Present and Future
“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
God’s promises of future rewards challenge us to live godly lives. But with our focus on the future, we may overlook the remarkable range of good things we have right now. For example, we can accept the world—the beautiful side of its nature and its people—right from the hand of the Creator. Knowing our Maker, we can appreciate and enjoy the present in a way others can’t.
There’s another thought about our “present” benefits. Every decision we make today to live as God would have us live is producing right now an eternal reserve account of glory. Do what God wants us to do and immediately certain benefits are ours. First, there’s the peace that comes from doing what we know is right. Then there’s the way our obedience opens up relationships with others. There’s a special closeness with our Father that only the obedient can enjoy. Also, simultaneous with our here-and-now actions, God, in some way known only to Himself, is noting and adding to our eternal account.
INSIGHT: Christlikeness and fellowship with God that grows out of our obedience now is also producing “an eternal weight of glory” which will enable us to enjoy God forever.
Day 2 • Process, Not Event
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught” (Colossians 2:6-7).
Do you ever wish you could become a mature Christian through some quick formula? Living in a culture of just about everything “instant,” one expects that there must be some way to get on more rapidly with this business of Christian growth. But the more I look at life and the Scriptures, the more I see that growth is a process and not an event.
Recall when Philip turned to Jesus and suggested that if the disciples could just see the Father, their curiosity would be satisfied, and, he implied, their faith would be complete. Jesus responded by asking, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
It seems that no matter how great the teacher or how concentrated the instruction-growth takes time. So, my friend, be patient. Studying and understanding and acting on God’s nature is a subject you can never exhaust. It is a mine of purest gold which will produce the same kind of fresh riches tomorrow as it did today.
INSIGHT: In the end, the process of our spiritual growth is far more fascinating and challenging than any single event ever could be.
Day 3 · Untimely Ends
“No man knows when his hour will come” (Ecclesiastes 9:12). “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).
Have you ever thought about the fact that death is never timely for individuals who do not know God? But for those who do know Him, is it never untimely?
For our friends, those we know and love who do not know Christ, each day is a new opportunity to make a decision regarding Christ’s claim as their Savior. In doing so, they will find peace and security. But outside of that decision, each day holds the prospect of permanent alienation from God. For who knows what a new day will bring?
Death for the person who has not dealt with this decision is never timely. But for those in God’s family, each new day is one of peace because we know that He does all things well, that we are safe in Hi: hands.
One of the marks of a Christian who really know God is the quiet with which he faces life—knowing that faithful, steady living is what God wants for us Death, though temporarily separating us from people we love, is just a part of the eternal process of living
INSIGHT: Jesus reminds us that, trusting in Him, we have no fear of death. He says, “The very hairs of your head are numbered, so do not fear” (see Luke 12:7).
Day 4 • Patience
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Some time ago I was in Thailand and had a flight to Australia delayed by 12 hours. It started with an innocent “Flight delayed” notice. Then we were called to the gate where we waited for another hour. Finally we were told, it now being 10 at night that the flight would leave early the next morning. This meant going back through customs, into buses, and finally around midnight, dinner, and into bed in a hotel in the city. Since I had started my journey quite some distance from the airport and had arrived a couple of hours prior to the scheduled flight time, I had spent a lot of hours waiting—and I’m not naturally patient.
It’s interesting to me, therefore, that God doesn’t expect us as Christians to be overnight successes. The fruit of our lives must be something we produce—with patience. The fruit develops over a period of time as we trust Him and live with Him. We can trust the Lord to make something of permanent value out of even our simple acts of obedience today.
INSIGHT: Your acts of obedience today may not be big or spectacular, but they are of real value. Be faithful to the Lord, counting on Him to give you that patience you need.
Day 5 • What Is the Center?
“All things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together…. So that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:16-18).
The calendars of the Middle Ages didn’t work right. Why? It was popularly held that the earth was the center of the universe. As a result, astronomical calculations, starting with this false assumption, never worked out quite right.
Tired of these irregularities, the Pope gave a commission to Copernicus to work out a new system for a reliable calendar. His monumental study of the universe produced the irrefutable mathematical proof that it was the earth that revolved around the sun, not the other way around. Though some astronomers and mathematicians had previously suggested this, Copernicus was the first to provide it on paper with his highly technical, yet comprehensive, explanation of the movement of the planets.
Later, Galileo with his telescope was to prove it with the eye and not with formulas. But for Copernicus, a godly man, his discovery was sim ply further proof that God—not Planet Earth—is at the center of things.
INSIGHT: Isn’t it good to know that something so ordinary as a calendar that works is living proof that God is at the center of things? Is He at the center for you—now?
Day 6 • Perspective
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. … May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us” (Psalm 90:12, 17).
As we reflect on the topic of time, it’s natural to turn to Psalm 90. Here are just a few of Moses’ thoughts on time from this passage:
- God is the dwelling place for all generations (v. 1).
- God is God from everlasting to everlasting (v. 2).
- Man’s life is limited on earth, and eventually his body returns to dust (v. 3).
- A thousand years for God are as one night’s sleep for man (v. 4).
- We should pray that God would help us allot our days wisely (v. 12).
- Morning should find us with a sense of satisfaction because of God’s presence (v. 14).
- This satisfaction with God’s love should cause us joy throughout all our life (v. 14).
- Even those days which are difficult, when we sense that God is teaching us something, should be cause for thanksgiving (v. 15).
Moses tells us that no matter how we look at time, it’s a way of measuring God’s character and our own quality of life in Him.
INSIGHT: When we get tired of our daily routine, let’s ask God to give us Moses’ sense of perspective-seeing our days in reference to Him and His goodness in our lives.
Day 7 · Cause and Effect
“I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory” (Psalm 73:23-24).
Life isn’t simply a random series of events which have no connection. Rather, we make choices each day that affect what will occur later. I may ask on occasion, “How did I get into this mess?” And I hear the answer, “Remember that decision you made some time back?”
In today’s verse the key word is “afterward.” Asaph had made a decision to seek God’s guidance and counsel. And, in deciding to listen to and respond to God, he knew there would be a certain outcome.
I wonder what choices you made today. Were they choices that will take you nearer God? Will they make you more Christlike in your relationships with your family, friends, or colleagues?
In life’s more minor issues, the effects of causes may be seen quickly, but usually it takes time for the relationship to emerge. Between the “now” and the “afterward” we need a willingness to trust our Father with the effects once we have made the choices. Often the “in-between” is harder than the original choice.
INSIGHT: We need the Holy Spirit, who guarantees the outcome and is our source of strength, to help us keep on in the often uncertain “in-between.”
Day 8 • Nonrenewable Resources
“Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time” (Ephesians 5:15-16, PH).
I am told that if you start early in life to put a little money away weekly, saved at a modest rate of compound interest, you’ll be a millionaire by the time you are 60. Time works for you. However, a time comes when it is too late to take this approach. As you mature, the amount you have to put in weekly is too much for the ordinary individual to invest.
How time slips away! I think it must have been because he understood these things that the apostle Paul wrote our verses for today. It’s not so much that we are to be working constantly, at least in the traditional sense. We need rest, renewal, and diversion if we are to have the most productive and satisfying lives. But we decide consciously how the time will be used, rather than just letting this precious,
nonrenewable resource slip through our fingers.
We need to ask ourselves, Are we living or being lived? If people and circumstances around us jostle us through our days like a bit of human flotsam, we’re being lived. On the other hand, we can consciously decide to make the best use of our time.
INSIGHT: One of God’s gifts is for us to make the decision that we will be wise in our use of our resource of time, and begin to live as He would have us.
Day 9 · The Appropriate Moment
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27). “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” James 4:17).
I don’t like the uncomfortable sense of guilt I get when I neglect my responsibilities. But my neglect is usually hidden by a well-intentioned phrase like, “I’m waiting for just the right moment.”
Now it’s true that there is a right time and a wrong time to do certain things. Discretion or strategy calls for delay in bringing up a delicate or difficult matter. But usually the better phrase to use as our guide is “No time like the present.” Demonstrating love to friends or family members, giving children the time they consistently ask for, dealing with the employee who needs discipline for personal growth, or setting your alarm to spend time with Christ—these are all common enough matters. But if left for the appropriate moment, they easily become neglected.
Our adversary Satan would have our trails behind us strewn with good intentions but neglected responsibilities. There is quiet satisfaction, even though it may be mixed with uncertainty that comes from making a commitment to take action. To deal with the matter now is one of life’s deepest rewards.
INSIGHT: Do today what you should do today, and in so doing you’ll bring inner joy to yourself and a measure of integrity to your relationship with those around you.
Day 10 · Natural Versus Supernatural
“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:). “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (Psalm 68:19, KJV).
Did you thank the Lord that the sun came up this morning, or that you have eyes to read, or that you have enough food to keep you alive for one more day? It’s disturbing that we’ve come to the place where we have to see “supernatural” events before we feel God is at work on our behalf.
I’ve often reflected on the fact that it is no less supernatural that I was born out of that same amazing man-woman reproductive process through which the first child, Cain, was given to Adam and Eve. Imagine their awe, their wonder that their relationship of love and intimacy had produced yet another life-like their own.
All rain that nourishes the crops and flowers, all music that we call beautiful, all tenderness we call compassion—every bit of it is from His hand. And these gifts keep coming every single day. A delightful by-product of realizing and being thankful for this stream of good things is that our own spirits are changed from a blase, take-things-for-granted out look to a joyful spirit of appreciation.
INSIGHT: Jesus often expressed His thanks to His Father. Ask Him to give you the same heart of appreciation for the amazing range of good things He gives every day.
Day 11 • End and No End
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you” (Psalm 39:4-5).
The future is a study in contrast. As Christians, we can know that eternity with the Father is ours. Jesus, having nailed our sins once for all to the cross, makes that clear. Yet we are children of this earth. We’re transients, to be sure, but nonetheless bound by earth’s often harsh realities. One of those is that our days are limited. It’s good to have respect for our lives and the brief time we have to conduct our affairs on earth. On the other hand, Isaiah, speaking of the coming Messiah, points out that “of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).
G.K. Chesterton suggested that we can rest assured that the universe will remain in order until such time as the cosmic government changes hands. Isaiah reminds us, Jesus is the government that will last forever beyond time and into eternity.
So we have our feet planted in two worlds: one with a finite number of days and limited prospects, the other with unlimited days and infinite prospects. We are transients in the one, citizens of the other.
INSIGHT: Ask the Lord to give you a fresh sense that all life, all days are from Him—the limited ones here on earth and the unlimited ones in eternity.
Day 12 · Priorities
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” Mark 1:35).
Since God is the source of our power, the fundamental resource for our lives, there is something logical about spending time with Him at the beginning of each day. We hear often that some of us are night people while others are morning people. But amazingly, if we have a job to get to in order to earn the bread on our table, somehow we can always a range our schedules to get there.
Now here’s something to think about: Jesus’ remarks about being the Bread of Life should mean something regarding our schedules—shouldn’t they?
It’s curious that the Second Person of the Trinity, the One who spoke and the worlds were created, found it a priority to spend those early morning hours with His Father, having fellowship and getting the message and the strength to deliver it-day by day. And if it was a priority for Jesus, the Son of God, how much more should it be a priority for me!
Time is a limited resource—one which has to be allotted through specific decisions, whatever our schedules—day work or night work.
INSIGHT: Is your life emaciated spiritually? Make time with the Lord at the top of your priorities. You’ll find the strength you need from feeding on the Bread of Life.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:12-24
Day 13 • Constant Communication
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). “Pray without ceasing” (v. 17, KJV).
All our thoughts are in the form of language. Even in audible conversation, the thoughts first take shape in our minds in the form of words, then are spoken by our vocal system.
The old saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground” came to me recently as I read the familiar words, “Pray without ceasing.” Thinking of the two brief quotations in light of how our minds work, it would appear that the far more important form of praying is the internal, silent kind that never gets verbalized. It’s important because we spend more time in this kind of communication than any other.
Idle minds are to be avoided, that’s certain. And when they are not idle, they are thinking in language that is understandable. So we need to be making some choices concerning what we will think about. Rejoicing is certainly a kind of prayer-praising and giving thanks for who God is and what He has done. The words “evermore” and “without ceasing” mean we are to train our minds to turn to praise and constant communication with the Father.
INSIGHT: Ordinary affairs of the day fill enough of your mind. Ask the Lord to help you fill in the blanks with communication with Him.
Day 14 · Anticipation
“We wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us” (Titus 2:13-14).
One of the joys of being in a family with small children is to share their great sense of anticipation. Have you noticed how so much of their anticipation is filled with joy and how much of adults’ anticipation is filled with fear and dread?
We tend to lose our sense of joy as life goes along, tending to let the negative take priority over the positive. Individuals I’ve met over the years who seem to be getting the most out of living most always have been people who are looking forward to the future with real anticipation. Oh, they’re thankful about the past, to be sure—that’s part of what gives them joy as they look at tomorrow. Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Titus reminds us of Jesus’ coming, when we’ll see Him face to face. Anticipation.
A few times in my adult life I’ve been filled with an almost fever-pitch anticipation. Looking back, I remember the anticipation almost as much as the events themselves. Actually, the anticipation really changed my perspective—my whole outlook.
INSIGHT: Many today face difficult situations, some with real pain. But even in these circumstances, God can help us see and look forward to the good things He wants to give us.
Day 15 • If Only
“I will sing … about his vineyard … Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it” (Isaiah 5:1; 27:2-3).
A telling mark of our time is that we always seem to be short of it. “If only I had more time,” the phrase goes. A 30-hour day, perhaps? But, of course, even those additional hours would be filled and look just like the other 24.
In contrast to the frenetic pace of most modern living, one of the distinctives of a Christian should be a sense of peace, calm in a storm.
God is in no hurry. His schedule is on time, and He does not need my frantic activity to keep it that way. More and more the Spirit says, “Slow down.” Have you ever thought about the fact that you have time today to do what God wants you to do?
This leads us to the question of knowing God’s will. On that subject, we recognize that what He wants us to be is more important than what He wants us to do. Today my priority should be becoming more like Christ. Then, having given myself to Him, I can move throughout the hours quietly and steadily, knowing that He will take and make something of the moments of the day.
INSIGHT: We don’t need more hours. We need to let God tend and water our affairs. In so doing, we can trust all things to Him even the productivity and value of our time.
Day 16 · Limited Objectives
“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed. … ‘I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do’” (John 17:1, 4).
Within a mile of where Jesus prayed there were broken bodies, suffering hearts, political oppression, and economic opportunism. Strange, then that after only three years of ministry, Jesus could say that His work was done. Of course, He had been talking about His limited objectives long before this prayer.
He’d come to complete an assignment. He wasn’t going to do everything, only a specific task. So often we’re tempted to try and take on much more than we need to, than we should. What were those words Jesus suggested we should want to hear? “Well done good and faithful servant!”
With the limitations of time, it’s good to know that God calls us to be faithful in whatever task He gives us. Success, riches, popularity, even holiness, none of these will be the standard by which our lives will be measured. Faithfulness—nothing more. Once we’ve come to know the Father through Jesus Christ our assignment is only to understand His will in a growing way, and be responsive to it faithfully.
INSIGHT: Are you concerned about how you fit into God’s overall plan? By faith, leave that up to the Lord—and just get on with what you know you should do today.
Day 17. God Standing By
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you” (Psalm 32:8). “You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Nehemiah 9:17).
It is comforting to have a friend or colleague standing by, able to step in when needed. Whether you’re on a battlefield, in the middle of a major transaction, or alone and needing understanding, someone alongside at the right moment is welcome. One of the problems in having the person alongside, though, is that usually people don’t like the idea of just standing by in the wings, waiting to see if they are needed. It seems like a waste of time.
It just may be that today you need someone—it may be that you have a place in your life that God needs to fill. You may be wondering about tomorrow, about difficult decisions you have to make, about sins you have committed, about fears that are paralyzing you. Whatever the need, God is standing by. He’s ready to step in right now—if you are.
God is always standing by. He responds when asked into any situation. He may work quickly, or, knowing what is best for your growth, He may move slowly, calling for you to keep looking to Him—trusting. But He is there for you all the time.
INSIGHT: You can count on one thing. God is compassionate with those who come to Him. His nature of love puts its awesome power to work in the tenderest of ways.
Day 18 On the Carpet
“The angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and swear by him that liveth for ever and ever … that there should be time no longer” (Revelation 10:5-6, KJV).
It was suggested to me once that time is possibly like a roll of carpet. It has a beginning edge, and as you unroll it, you finally come to the end. There is no more. Time future is simply rolled up, ready to be used, but there is a real and definite end to it. C.S. Lewis, in his essays, God in the Dock, writes about “The World’s Last Night,” when the carpet is finally unrolled.
Remarkable, isn’t it, that so many of us live as though things will continue as they are—forever? Of course, there are the scientists, the international financial experts, the occasional political scientist who will say that it can’t go on like this forever, that there has to be a radical change if not a catastrophic end to the human race. (But hope and longing desire spring eternal inside us, and that’s good.)
Further, regardless of strides made in medical research, we cannot live forever. We need to live today in light of the moment when the carpet is finally unrolled and we will stand before our Lord.
INSIGHT: Let’s be thinking about the permanent, eternal decisions we’re making—before that last night, our personal one or the one for the human race.
Day 19 · Looking Back
“They did not remember his power—the day he redeemed them from the oppressor” (Psalm 78:42). “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Forget it,” he said. “You can’t go back and live your life again.” And whether it’s regrets or sweet memories, we can’t step backward in time. One thing is certain, however, God meant us to have memories. They are useful in putting the present and the future in perspective.
Looking back is an important part of living. There’s a time machine inside us, one which vividly or sometimes rather dimly conjures up experiences we’ve had. Capacity to remember is one of the most basic building blocks of growth and maturity.
Our memories have two sides as the twin specter of good and bad times parade by in our recollections. Paul talked about forgetting what was behind. God, on the other hand, held Israel responsible for not remembering the past. In Paul’s case, the mistakes and sins of the past are covered and blotted out by Christ’s work on the cross. In God’s reminder to Israel, it was to have them think about how He had guided them and kept them, a looking back so they could look forward with faith.
INSIGHT: Are you using your memories to build for the future, expecting God to continue to care for you? Or to let the past defeat you with a sense of futility?
Day 20 Seasons
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). “As a shock of com cometh in in his season” Job 5:26, KJV).
Fall … winter … spring … summer … They come with reassuring regularity. As the earth wends its way in 365-day orbit around the sun, we are treated to one of the most basic yet majestic elements of time. But these four markers in the passage of days give us much more.
The basic cycles of life for many living things are dependent on those seasons. Each year, they are markers for renewal—for freshness and change. God speaks to us of His faithfulness, His dependability with the passage of the seasons.
While the seasons bring a predictability to our lives, they also provide a welcome variety, a change of pace in our lifestyles because of the elements around us. Reflect for a moment about how many of your memories relate to the seasons: flowers in the spring, the heat as you picked berries in the summer, the smell of burning leaves in the fall, and the brilliance of a snow-covered landscape in winter.
The symmetry, the perfection, and balance of nature and time speak of God’s incredible design.
INSIGHT: Seasons: markers in time. Take a walk outside today and thank your Creator for still another point for praise.
Day 21 Time Out
“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some resť ” (Mark 6:31).
There’s a kind of silent way of measuring folk these days—the “busyness factor.” The idea is that if you’re busy, you must be doing something important. If you’re in business, it’s breakfast meetings, luncheons, late nights hunched over the computer, and bringing stuff home on weekends. Or it’s running the kids around, taking a course, working around the house, or getting ready for guests.
Have you ever thought that time out of a busy schedule is just as important a part of your life as any of the other elements in it? Think about a few items: there’s the one day a week that God set aside for rest. There’s the need for many soils to rest every so often in order to renew productivity. There’s the winter season when many living things go dormant only to come to life and fruitfulness in the summer. And there’s Jesus’ example. He regularly went apart, seeking the quiet of an isolated place for meditation and renewal. Increasingly clear, according to doc tors, is the need for us to follow the scriptural plan of taking time out.
INSIGHT: What steps can you take to make time out a part of your plans? It need not be far, nor expensive. But away and different it should be.
Day 22 Waiting
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).
Waiting is an act of faith. It indicates that we believe that, despite the lack of obvious action, waiting will allow God to work, to show us the next step.
Isaiah had just been speaking of man’s limited strength-how we grow weary. He contrasted that with God’s infinite power—the fact that He never grows weary. Then Isaiah gives his observation, our key verse for today.
It is another of those cause and effect situations. Waiting is not necessarily an idle gesture. It can be an active way of seeking God’s guidance and strength to move ahead. One of David’s greatest victories occurred because he was willing to wait, based on specific instructions from God (see 2 Samuel 5:17-25).
These days, so much seems so urgent. Every dimension of our living seems to call for ever-quicker means of doing things. It takes some strong, definite decisions in this kind of climate to wait, to hear God, and renew ourselves in power and purpose through His work in us.
INSIGHT: You have so much to do! Does waiting seem like swimming upstream, against today’s current? Ask God to show you when you should be ready to wait.
Day 23 Inside The Box
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you” (Psalm 39:4-5).
If eternity is everything and time is only some thing created, then we might say that time looks like a line of finite length somewhere within eternity. But since there seems to be so much going on in time that would hardly fit on a line, let’s say time is a box. Quite a long box, to be sure, but nonetheless, a box with finite dimensions.
As Christians, it’s helpful for us to understand that time was created and stands, so to speak, within God’s nature of eternity. We have a beginning and an end. It is clear both from Scripture and those natural laws that confirm the Scripture that time is exhaustible. It may be that is one of the byproducts of the Fall, this running out of time. It may be that in the beginning, before man’s sin, time was to have no end, but it is certainly clear now that it will.
Seeing ourselves in a box called time, created within eternity, it is much easier to see ourselves in eternity—now. And we are. For all individuals, once conceived, have begun a one-way, outbound trip into eternity. There’s no coming back.
INSIGHT: Let’s understand where we are in eternity. It’s helpful for our perspective – and helpful as we share the Good News of God’s redemption of all things through His Son.
1 JOHN 2:28-3:3
Day 24 • On the King‘s Estate
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! . . . Now we are children of God” (1 John 3:1-2).
Arriving to my office one day, I was reflecting on the surroundings—our part of the country with the sea and its lakes and mountains being particularly beautiful. It occurred to me that it all be longs to my family—in a very real sense to me. As a child of God, I’m living on my Father’s estate: the whole world!
So often I find Christians I meet are anything but confident about who they are and what they have as a result of Christ’s work. We are God’s children. You see, it’s not a matter of hoping for something in the future, though we of all people should be filled with hope and anticipation. But it is now! We are His children now.
You can roam the world and know that it is part of the King’s estate—and that you are part of the family. One lovely thing about all this is that you can look or walk outdoors right now and thank Him for it. In doing so, you begin to take hold on the rights that are yours, given to you by the faith fullness of Jesus Christ.
INSIGHT: Jesus’ death brought us into God’s family and gives us the opportunity to walk the grounds of the King’s estate as His own child.
Day 25 • Getting Tired
“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar. ... Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well”
A friend and I spent several hours cleaning an old boat. It was a misty, rather cool day, and at times the job was not all that pleasant. Hours later, we both sank into the seat of the truck we had driven to the dock. The moment I sat down and felt the exhaustion in my bones, I recalled how so often that kind of feeling has a certain satisfaction to it. It’s a good kind of tiredness, like after a long walk with a friend.
The passage of time weaves its way in and around our bodies to slow us and remind us of our need to pause along the way. This happened to Jesus as He traveled from Judea to Galilee. He had to pass through Samaria to get there, and on the way He became very tired. His fatigue and the ensuing rest stop at the old well of Jacob produced the encounter with the Samaritan woman, and later, through her witness, the evangelization of her hometown.
We do get weary, but we can thank God for the opportunity to use our minds and bodies for Him.
INSIGHT: Next time you’re tired, it might be good to think about it and ask what good thing God wants to have come out of it.
Day 26 • No Broken Promises
“God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ (Hebrews 13:5-6
There are so many good intentions, but so many broken promises. Changed circumstances, new attitudes, and evolving relationships seem almost to conspire against keeping well-meaning promises. And, while there are those promises made with no intention of keeping them, it’s the honestly made promises that are the hardest to take when they are broken.
Thinking about promises, it would be good to reflect sometime on the “neverness” of God. I believe one of the most difficult concepts for us mortals to grasp is that God never breaks a promise. Absolutely never.
Time has a way of teaching us many things in a fallen world, and one of those things is that there is no such word as “never.” It is just too inclusive, too sweeping. But there it is in Scripture: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (v. 5). A few verses later, the author observes that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (v. 8). God never bails out on us. He is always there.
INSIGHT: There’s a world of difference between God and those around you. Understanding Him, you can learn to count on Him to keep His promises.
Day 27 · Capturing the Moment
“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them” (Psalm 111:2). “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17).
Our family had walked around the island on a brilliant, sun-filled afternoon. Now a crackling fire was made in the little spit at the beach’s edge and dinner was cooking. Some yards away my two girls leaned against an old cypress tree, laughing and enjoying each other, washed in the gold of the late afternoon’s dying sun. How one wishes there were a way to capture moments like that—really hold on to them!
Of course, those who sell cameras and recorders insist that their products do a good job of just that, capturing the moment. Did you ever think, though, that if time really did stand still and somehow the moment could be transfixed, there would be nothing to look forward to? Suddenly beauty would become monotony. In contrast, the transience of the moment brings freshness, precious value, and hope. With those incidents “captured,” I can anticipate other familiar sounds and smells and sights put together in yet new ways. More wonderful moments, but now fresh, different.
INSIGHT: God provides the two elements: familiarity we can count on with creativity that makes all things new. What will it be like to live with Him forever?
Day 28 • Efficiency
“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom” (Isaiah 40:28).
Have you ever thought about the fact that God is always efficient no matter how much time He takes? “Time is money,” the saying goes. And since so much of our value systems are bound up in money, naturally time has to be squeezed for the very last drop of its potential.
Industry pays huge sums of money to time and motion consultants, experts who study a given process and tell the most efficient way of going about it. Computer experts keep making the basic components smaller so that the electrical impulses have to travel shorter distances with their “messages.” Since they cannot speed up the rate at which electricity travels, they have only the option of shortening the distance it has to travel.
In the middle of such an age, it’s good to know that because of His efficiency, God never gets off schedule. His timetables are always accurate. He always accomplishes His plans. And when you and I listen to His Spirit we can relax in the schedule that He puts together for us.
INSIGHT: God’s pace is the most productive. When you feel pressured to be doing much more, listen for His voice and stick to His schedule.
Day 29 · Coming Back Again
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. … I am going there to prepare a place for you…. I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” John 14:2-3).
Reunions have a special place in our lives. We tend to remember the good times and look forward to the renewal of them. Like loved ones coming back again. Sometimes, as in the case of high school reunions, there’s a strange mix of feelings—anticipation and curiosity mixed with a twinge of misgiving or even fear.
But time serves us, as it does in so many other ways, with real instruction in this matter of re unions. Here are some good words about reunion, buried in the Old Testament: “I will return to Jerusalem with mercy” (Zechariah 1:16).
It reminds me of my father, who often traveled when I was young. He would frequently arrive home late at night, but no hour was too late. Though in bed and fast asleep, we would get up with real excitement. Dad always arrived with presents—sometimes with little things just to show that he had been thinking of us, occasion ally with something really special. But always re membered was his coming home.
INSIGHT: There’s no anticipation like Jesus’ return. “I will come again,” He promised. For those who know Him and love Him, there’ll be no regrets at that reunion.
PSALM 71:1-8, 14-21
Day 30 • The Fountain of Youth
“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18).
An incredible industry is built on the premise that it’s desirable to stay young. The social pressure to conceal one’s age is incredible! Isn’t it remarkable that so much energy and money is spent on staying young rather than on learning the genuine benefits of growing older? It would seem that a lifelong quest to hold onto one’s youth can only be because one sees no beauty in growing older.
In his letter to Titus, Paul reminds older men and women that they are responsible to provide examples for younger ones to follow. They should be models of Christian character and share les sons learned through the passing of time (Titus 2:1-5).
One of the most helpful aspects about growing older is that we can gain perspective and understanding, of coming to know God more fully as we become increasingly dependent on Him. And, of course, each day puts us just that much nearer to seeing Him face to face!
INSIGHT: Thank God for the chance to grow older and to begin to understand the beauty of that end of life as fully as the other.
2 CHRONICLES 1:1-12
Day 31 · First Things First
“Wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor” (2 Chronicles 1:12). “Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house” (Proverbs 24:27).
The Bible is an eminently practical book. Its truth stands the test of everyday living. One such practical truth is this matter of doing first things first. Take, for example, Solomon’s experience. He first asked for wisdom in governing his people, the difficult nation of Israel. Solomon applied the wisdom God gave him, God then gave him much more. First things first.
I wonder what decisions you are facing today? As you consider them, think about the fact that God has some priorities among them. It could be a specific thing He wants done. Or it just might be that He wants you to tend to His generally-known will by acting responsibly and doing what you ought to do first.
I’m confident that if you pray and seek His counsel, what should come first will be fairly obvious to you. And having genuinely sought His will, you can count on Him to guide you. Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).
INSIGHT: God can be trusted with the priorities of your life, even when you cannot sort them out.