Friday, August 30, 2013

Numbering Our Days

“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
The focus in the early part of Psalm 90 is on the contrast between the eternalness of God and the transience of humanity.  God has been the dwelling place of faithful people “in all generations” (v. 1).  The One who created the world is the God who exists “from everlasting to everlasting” (v. 2).  He is not subject to time as we know it (v. 3).  Humans, on the other hand, are just the opposite.  We know the ravages of time.  Our physical bodies came from dust and will return there (v. 3).  Time, for us, comes and goes like grass that flourishes and then withers (v. 6).  There are limits on our longevity (v. 10).
It is this relative brevity of human life that prompts the psalmist to appeal to God for instruction regarding the wise use of the time we have.  It is a perspective that appears in other places in the Scriptures.  “LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am” (Psalms 39:4).  “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16).  “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).
Time is short, even for those who have been blessed with long life.  Rather than becoming obsessed with how much time we have left, perhaps our time would be better spent making good use of the time we have been given.  The only time we really have is the moment in which we are living.  Anything beyond the present is not promised to us.  “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:13–14).  Make today count as you serve God!

God loves you!

Monday, August 26, 2013


Opponents can make life miserable.  They are the kind of people who watch you carefully, waiting for you to make a mistake that they can exploit.  They set themselves up as rivals to your own progress and success.  They seem to take great joy in causing you distress and harm.  Perhaps you already have a mental picture of an opponent in your own life. It may be someone where you work.  Sadly, it could also be someone within your own family, maybe a spouse or a relative.  Or it might be the brother or sister in Christ who sits on the other side of the auditorium on Sundays.  Whoever it is, an opponent can be a real thorn in your side.
As troubling as an earthly opponent can be, imagine how much worse it would be if God Himself became your opponent!  Notice God’s words to the captive Israelites in Babylon: “Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you have more turmoil than the nations which surround you and have not walked in My statutes, nor observed My ordinances, nor observed the ordinances of the nations which surround you,’ therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the nations’” (Ezekiel 5:7-8).  What chilling words!  To have God declare Himself as an opponent!
The Bible teaches that when God is for us, it doesn’t matter who or what else seeks to oppose us (Romans 8:31-39).  We will ultimately conquer all opponents when God is on our side.  But the inverse is also true.  When God is opposed to us, it doesn’t matter who or what else claims to be our allies.  We are guaranteed to fail when God is our opponent.
Lord, please help me to live in such a way that You can be for me instead of against me.  I desperately need You to be on my side.  May I forever claim You as a friend instead of an opponent.

God loves you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Ezekiel had a difficult job ahead of him.  God was giving him the unenviable task of bringing a message of discipline and judgment to His people.  “Then He said to me, “Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day.  I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD’” (Ezekiel 2:3–4).  Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?  But, thankfully, God also had a plan in place to prepare Ezekiel for what lay ahead.  “Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. “Like emery harder than flint I have made your forehead. Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them, though they are a rebellious house”” (Ezekiel 3:8–9).
Some children are more compliant than others.  Compliant kids don’t take a lot of parenting expertise.  But other children seem to be born shaking their little fist at the world around them.  These small packages of defiance are a whole different ballgame.  We euphemistically refer to them as “strong-willed.”  Parents of strong-willed children have their work cut out for them.  They learn (some sooner and some later) that the strength of their will must exceed the strength of the will of their little “rebel.”  Strong-willed children require strong-willed parents!
God had some stubborn, obstinate, and rebellious children on His hands.  That is why He needed a hard-headed prophet!  As a spokesman for God, Ezekiel was going to need a determination that matched and exceeded the determination of those who heard him.  He would be tempted to give up.  His patience would be tested to the limit.  But with God’s help, he could do it!
Lord, help me to be hard-headed without being hard-hearted.  As a disciple of Jesus, may I learn to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) in every circumstance.

God loves you!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dangerous Prayers

The famous English mariner, Sir Frances Drake,  penned the following prayer in 1577 as he prepared to embark on another adventure: "Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love."

These words challenge me.  Frankly, when I reflect on my own prayers, I struggle to remember a time when I prayed for God to disturb me.  Much more common are the times when I pray for difficulties to be taken away or resolved.  While there is nothing wrong with those kinds of prayers, perhaps I need to expand my prayer horizons.  Instead of always praying for ease, do I have the courage to pray for struggles?  Instead of always praying that my needs are met, do I have the courage to pray for seasons of deprival?  Instead of always praying for safety, do I have the courage to pray for opportunities to exercise my faith in dangerous ways?  I wonder...

Jesus prayed a dangerous prayer in John 17:1: “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.”  Those words might not sound too perilous, but, in essence, He is saying, “Bring on the cross!”  Disturbing? Yes!  But God-honoring as well.  Lord, as a disciple of Jesus, give me the courage to pray dangerous prayers!

God loves you!