“There are never enough hours in the day!” Ladies, do you find yourself saying that often? I sure do. As if God has given us more work than we are able to complete in the 24 hours he has given us to do it in. Something in our day usually has to give, we simply can’t (or won’t) get everything done. Too often what gets pushed off our schedule is time in the Bible or prayer. By the end of the day we are spent and exhausted and tell ourselves that it just can’t happen today, but maybe with a little luck tomorrow will be better. There is always tomorrow… or next week… or next year…
There is no way around it, you only have 24 hours in a day, that will never change (okay, daylight savings time messes things up twice a year, but it evens out). God is perfect, so how he set up our measure of time and the hours set in a day is also perfect. You don’t need more time. That is not our problem. I fully believe that if we were given 30 hours in a day we would still find ourselves in the same position and asking for more. Do not accuse God of being stingy in his blessing of giving you any time at all.
I believe God desires us to have this sense of limited time, a sense that time is flying by. Why? Well for one, I can feel it every day of my life. I am amazed at how quickly the weeks go by, how fast my children grow, and how the years slip by faster and faster. More importantly, I see it in Scripture. God gives us many reminders of how limited our time here on Earth is. Here are just a couple:
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:14
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” – Psalms 39:4
Having the knowledge that our earthly time truly is short and purposefully designed that way by God should lead us to some important conclusions.
First, we need to use our time wisely. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Understand the will of God so that you can walk through life in wisdom.
We get this wisdom from God’s Word, so Bible reading needs to be at the top of your list instead of at the bottom. We need to prioritize our days carefully. Some items on our agenda will have to be removed to make room for what is truly important. This could mean forgoing the baseball or softball tournament teams so your family can be in church on Sundays. This may mean getting rid of television so that it is no longer a distraction for you or your family. How you spend your days is how you spend your life, therefore “look carefully then how you walk” as instructed.
Secondly, we need to live for our eternal life not our earthly life. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2. This breath of a life is not worth living for, not worth spending our riches and resources on, not worth giving our soul for. We need to invest all of our treasures in Heaven (Matt. 6:20). We need to spend ourselves on what will last forever. For
Christians, this earth is just a temporary stop before we go to our forever home in Heaven; send your goods on ahead of you instead of hoarding dust here. For non-Christians, this place is as good as you get, dust is as good as you can ever hope for.
Finally, we need to understand that the minutes of our lives are like sand pouring through an hourglass; and we don’t know how much sand we have left. We need to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to our loved ones and to the nations. This is the work we need to be about (Matt. 28:19). We shouldn’t wait for a better time; there may not be more time. Let the urgency of this affect the way you live each day. Proclaim Christ always.
Let Psalms 90:12 be your prayer, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Limited time on earth is truly a great blessing from God. If we belong to him we should long to be with him in glory, not toiling away here on earth. We should yearn to be home. Today I enCOURAGE you to praise God that your days are flying by, praise God that we are but a mist and so very fleeting, praise God that we will be soon be with him in glory! Revelation 22:20 - “’Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
A few weeks ago I cleared off my treadmill that I keep in our basement storage room. I took off the boxes of Easter eggs, the camping gear and the gigantic stuffed rabbit (a story for another day). I blew off the dust as best I could and started it up to make sure it still worked. Yep, it was ready for action! I would be fit and trim in no time, I was sure of it.
So, have I lost weight? Taken inches off my waist? Am I down a couple jean sizes? Well, um, let me see, ah… no, no and no. Hard to believe yes, the simple act of preparing my treadmill was not enough to scare the fat cells right off of me (even when I ran it really fast to blow the dust away). What gives?
Can’t I just have the appearance of fitness? Can’t I just make my treadmill look well used and walk around in sporty clothes? I could add some free weights and resistance bands to the scene. I could talk as if I actually exercise.
Oh the lengths we will go to attempt to keep up appearances. Yet the evidence of how we truly live is as plain as day. I could do any or all of the above, but if I never put the effort into getting fit or make regular use of that treadmill I will remain the same. No true change can be faked. If I am out of shape now, I will remain out of shape until I do something about it. Ouch, man the truth hurts sometimes!
Just as I won’t be mistaken for a fitness buff, someone faking the Christian walk will not be mistaken for a true follower of Christ. You can call yourself a Christian, carry a Bible, attend services, celebrate holidays, and decorate yourself with religious knickknacks but you are fooling no one. If your daily actions and what comes out of your mouth does not line up with the Word of God you are an obvious imposter.
The Bible tells us that a tree is recognized by its fruit. “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.” – Luke 6:43-44. You know what type of tree it is by what it produces. A peach tree does not produce coconuts.
What fruit does a Christian tree produce? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23. Good works are also produced, springing forth from the faith in Christ that resides in us (see James 2:14-26).
Jesus goes on to say in Luke 6:45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Whatever is inside is destined to come out and it is evidence of what your heart is full of.
Remember this works from the inside out; you do not work to be joyful in order to change your heart. True joy can only flow out of a changed heart.
What do you hear and see coming out of the hearts of those around you? Is it proper for us to evaluate others like this? If we love them it is (2 Timothy 3:16). If I see one of my children producing thorns in their life or hear evil coming out of their mouth, I need to correct them and deal with this heart issue. If I see a friend who says she is a Christian but acts in a way completely opposite of the Word of God; I need to confront her with grace because I care about her.
What is coming out of your own heart? Does it show that you have been filling up on God or the trash of the World? It is very easy to get filled up with garbage; it is what most people do all day long.
A heart full of godliness does not happen by osmosis. You have to intentionally consume and study God’s Word. Do the hard work it takes, Ladies! Don’t just blow the dust off your Bibles like I did my treadmill. Make use of it to change your heart and your eternal physical condition.
I enCOURAGE you to check what fruit you are producing today and remember to continually fill up on the only true source of good for your heart, the Word of God.
I have had the privilege of watching several Christian women flourish and grow in their depth of knowledge of Christ over the past several months. This brings great joy to my heart and I get excited every time I see new evidence of it in their lives.
I have been struck over and over in my Bible reading lately just how serious God takes the spiritual growth of his children. God doesn’t just want more children, he wants wise and mature adult children.
From the moment we first accept Jesus as our savior, we begin our journey toward maturity. We must learn and grow from that point forward, never letting up.
Ephesians 4:14-15 states that God desires that we “…no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
Remaining spiritually superficial makes us easy prey for our Enemy and causes us to get tossed around by any trial or persecution that comes along. It’s like being a young tree with very shallow roots, easily blown over. This is not God’s desire for you and you are being disobedient to his commands.
True spiritual maturity is learning to walk in obedience to God’s Word. Continually conforming your life to the life of Jesus as taught in Scripture. This is a daily task and takes intentional, ongoing effort. This is the life of a true Christian.
We should never get to a point in our relationship with Christ when we feel completely satisfied. We shouldn’t get comfortable with our current routine of religious activities. If this is you, you likely have a serious problem on your hands. If we are growing in Christ we will be in a continual state of wanting more: more wisdom, more knowledge, more understanding of who Christ is and how that affects our lives.
If you are comfortable with how much Jesus you have in your life, if it is “just enough” then you have officially boxed him up and put him on a shelf. Stagnation has come and decay is soon to follow.
What does perfect maturity look like? Jesus. As we grow in faith, we will look more and more like Jesus. We will be doing what Jesus did: spreading the gospel, making disciples and teaching them to grow into maturity. Sound familiar? Look up Matthew 28:19 and 20, these are Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples.
Women, this is not an easy task and often it can be painful. As we mature we will push harder and harder against a world trying to shove us in the opposite direction. We must keep pushing! Press on and strain forward like instructed in Philippians chapter 3.
This may mean staying home to raise your children when the world is telling you to stop being lazy and get to work. This may mean selling everything you have and moving to Haiti to be a missionary instead of chasing the false idol of the “American dream”. This may mean beginning full time ministry work in your golden years instead of retiring to play golf and travel. It means being a true “living sacrifice”, Romans 12:1.
Paul demanded maturity in the churches he oversaw (see 1 Timothy and Titus) and prayed earnestly for it in believers. One example is found in Colossians 1:9-10, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
How often do you pray for your fellow Sisters in Christ to grow in spiritual maturity? I enCOURAGE you to start today. We need to spur one another on in this growth and hold each other accountable to what our life’s actions are displaying.
Easter weekend has passed and I find myself breathing a sigh of relief. The remnants of a busy weekend remain visible all over my house. Thousands of plastic eggs from the city egg hunt are stacked in boxes in the corner, Easter baskets and the treasures that they originally held are scattered on the dining room table. I am still catching up on laundry and the housework that was ignored for other activities. Candy wrappers seem to be everywhere, why did I buy all that candy again?
With the holiday over we can begin to focus on spring projects, gardening ideas and plans for the summer. A nice break from the extra celebrations, services and gatherings. I’m sure that is what the disciples were thinking when all the commotion Jesus had caused subsided. Jesus did the work he had promised to do: he died, rose again and then ascended into Heaven where he belonged. They finally had time to put in a new vineyard, redecorate the messy upper room and go fishing. What a relief to have that crazy Passover celebration behind them.
What did the early Christians do after Jesus left them? How can we know what the apostles were busy with after all this took place?
How convenient that a book was written to address these very questions (and many more). It falls right in proper order after the recordings of the life of Jesus found in the gospels and is entitled “Acts” or “The Acts of the Apostles.” The Bible comes through again.
Check out Acts 1:8, as Jesus is ascending into Heaven he promises that they (the apostles) “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in all Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Sounds like Jesus had some serious work for these men to do.
After this the disciples head back to Jerusalem and enter into an upper room. The names of all the apostles are listed and then we read in verse 14, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” The first thing they did was to meet together and seek God in prayer. We need to continue to meet together through church services, Bible studies and times of fellowship. We also need to be in prayer and seeking God’s will, strength and wisdom.
Not many days later was the day of Pentecost, another Jewish festival. The disciples of Jesus were once again gathered together, “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house… And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” Acts 2:2, 4. The promised Helper had come, the Spirit of God to dwell within the believers. The Holy Spirit that teaches us (John 14:26), helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and empowers us to do God’s will (John 14:15-16) and produce good spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Yes, this same Holy Spirit dwells in believers today. If you are a true follower of Jesus, these promises of the Holy Spirit are for you just like they were for the disciples long ago. Believe it and act accordingly.
In the days, weeks and years that followed the awesome commotion of Jesus Christ on earth these men became bold and courageously preached the gospel, evangelized the nations and changed history forever. They did not take a season off, they did not let up; they followed hard after Christ giving everything they had in full surrender to his will. What a beautiful example for us today.
When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, it was a decisive victory over death and over our Enemy. However, it is not the ending, it is the means to a beautiful beginning. We need to be more intentional than ever before in maturing in our knowledge of Christ and growing the Kingdom of God, we should never let up in this area. I enCOURAGE you to not lay back and relax spiritually after celebrating Easter, but to dig in and seek Christ with renewed passion this season and always.
This Sunday we celebrate Easter. We will attend egg hunts, church services, and family gatherings. These events are fine, but do we realize the true immensity of what we are celebrating?
Easter is a holy holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death to life, but how many of us are living as if he is still dead? Do our lives reflect the power of his triumph over sin and death?
This man who was called Jesus lived on this same earth nearly 2000 years ago. He was sinless and perfect because he truly was the Son of God. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.
He fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament, he was the waited for Messiah. He came to love and to show us how to love. He healed, taught and proclaimed the coming Kingdom of God. Yet the more he loved the more he was hated by the religious rulers of the time. They cared more for their rules, traditions and order than for the truth.
They tried many times to capture Jesus, but he evaded them because it was not yet his hour. Finally, the time had come. Jesus had been eating with his disciples in the upper room, teaching them, washing their feet and preparing them for what was to take place. Jesus led them to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. What did he pray for? For himself, for his disciples, and for you and me. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you were on his lips that night, read John chapter 17.
The mob came for him, a band of soldiers and officers of the priests ready for a fight carrying “lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’” John 18:3-4. When told they were there for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus replied, “’I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” John 18:7. This detachment of trained soldiers with swords in hand could not even stand in the presence of this holy man Jesus, the power of his word was too much for them to even stay on their feet.
Jesus gave himself up in obedience to the mission given him by his Father. They bound the Son of God and led him off to be judged. After a bogus trial where he was actually found innocent, the Pharisees stirred up the crowd to demand his crucifixion. Pilate finally relented, valuing his physical life over his eternal one.
Jesus suffered greatly as he was ridiculed, tortured, whipped and finally raised above the crowd upon a cross. Held to rough wood by large metal stakes driven through his flesh. He hung, he bled, he died. Why? For you. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” - Isaiah 53:5
There was no other way. Sin has to be paid for, the price is death. We sin, we die, separated from a holy God forever who cannot tolerate sin in his presence. What hope do we have then? Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus is our hope, our only way (John 14:6). Jesus stepped in to take our place and died for us. A sinless, perfect sacrifice bearing the wrath of God against the sin of the people, our sin. That was his mission on earth, to pay your penalty and redeem you to be his own.
The lifeless body of Christ was laid in a tomb and sealed, but nothing has power over God. Not soldiers, ropes, a cross, or a sealed tomb. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day just as he told his followers he would. He defeated death and remains alive today and forever.
This is why we celebrate; we have hope of eternal life through Jesus if we accept what he did for us on the cross and fully surrender to his kingship in our lives. This event of death and resurrection was witnessed by hundreds and is recorded in all four gospels: Matthew 27 and 28, Mark 15 and 16, Luke 23 and 24 and John 19 and 20. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself. Read it to your children!
The tomb is still empty today; don’t live as if Jesus is still there. He remains alive and is seated at the right hand of his Father God (Luke 22:69). Are you living as if Jesus is King and has full authority? If we belong to God, our lives should reflect this truth.
Happy Easter, I enCOURAGE you to truly celebrate Jesus this weekend. We can be full of hope because the tomb is completely empty!