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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Clock Is Ticking

“As for man, his days are like grass,
and flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.”
Psalm 103:15-16 NIV

Not often, but sometimes I am up early enough to enjoy a sunrise and the glorious beginning of a new day. When I experience these early morning moments of joy I realize that God is the one who has given me a restful night of sleep and now he is blessing me with one of his many magnificent sunrises! I am also reminded that God has given me one more day to live. Will I make it to tomorrow? I never know, but this one thing I know for sure, the clock is ticking and my time here on earth is precious.
As I fix my eyes on the sunrise I dare to ask God, “How should I spend this day?” I know that each day has its own set of responsibilities. Some days are filled with just the plain ordinary routine of family and work; some days are filled with pleasures that come from the extraordinary and unexpected. Other days are purposeful as we set about to serve others who are in need. Still other days jar us with an element of surprise that is about to take us on an unwanted journey. But in simple trust I will choose today to set my face toward heaven and begin this day knowing that I was created for a purpose and that purpose is to worship God and to love others. Even if my minutes and hours do not accomplish what I set out to do, I know that I may plan my way but it is God who directs my steps. Loving God and loving others is what life is all about and I know that some days I do this better than other days.
Because the clock of my life is ticking I have been told that I must make every moment count. Count for what? God whispers, “Paula, the message is clear. Your life must count for eternity.” “But Father,” I reply, “my life is filled with so much. I do not have time to examine and scrutinize every single thing I do. Some days are filled with so many responsibilities I barely have time to breathe. What about the days when grief and sadness come into my life. How do I make those things count for eternity?”
Then my wonderful Heavenly Father gives me some suggestions to follow so I can live life well and finish strong. It is a plan that if acknowledged and followed will help me choose things that will count for eternity. This is a plan that will free my mind to think about my priorities. Are my priorities based on the world’s value system or are they based on God’s value system? The things that are based on God’s values are eternal. The things of the world will without a doubt pass away. Eternal works are noticed by God and stored in heaven for our future reward. Things of this world are unpredictable and are enjoyed only for a brief season. “As for man, his days are like grass, and flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16 NIV
Personally, I am very well acquainted with stress and frustration when I put too much on my plate. In God’s Word he has suggested to me that I step under the umbrella of his protection. Today God is reminding me of a few simple suggestions to follow on days when life is normal and on those days when life is stressful and draining. God has given me the Holy Spirit to minister to me in my times of need and instruct me in the way I should live. I know that if I ask God he will give me his perspective regarding my time.
Suggestions on How I Can Stay Under God’s Umbrella of Protection Regarding My Time

Suggestion #1 - Seek God and Worship Him
“Be still and know that I am God;” Psalm 46:10a NIV
Past experience has taught me that I experience the most joy in life when I am living as God intended me to live. I am learning that when I choose to seek God’s face at the top of my day I receive wisdom and strength for my journey. Of course, this is only God’s suggestion! It is always my choice.
Suggestion #2 - Evaluate How You Spend Your Time
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”Psalm 90:12 NIV
Time is a precious commodity. Life is short and precious. I must endeavor to number my days aright as I align my activities with God’s activities for my day. It is important for me to I learn to evaluate my schedule. It is easy to get rid of the things that do not interest me or the things I would rather not do, but it takes courage to get rid of things that are good. I must form the habit of asking God what would you have me put on my “to do” list today? My prayer is that I would learn to care about the things God cares about and become diligent about doing his bidding.
Suggestion #3 - Strive for Simplicity – Shake off the Unnecessary
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1NIV
Striving for simplicity is a real spiritual discipline. I must seek to know God’s priorities vs. the many activities and plans I put on my plate. My plan often hinders my walk with the Lord and my service. I become so busy caring for my things and taking care of the unnecessary that I push God to the back burner. Many things that are good may not always be in my best interest. It is that hectic schedule that throws us into a stressful panic mode. Sometimes saying “no” to good things is the right thing to do.
Suggestion #4 - Practice Gratitude
“sing…songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16b NIV
Gratitude is always a plan that will boost my spiritual well being. It is pretty hard for me to be discouraged or discontent when I am shooting up prayers of gratitude to God. When I share my gratitude with others God is glorified. Uplifting others by sharing my faith in God and his faithful provision is of eternal value and significance.
Suggestion #5 - Serve God and Others with Gladness
“Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” Psalm 100:2 KJV
Many of the mundane and routine things that fill my day can be laced with God’s love as I serve him and others. In moments of frustration I can look to Jesus for perspective. In moments of discontentment I can choose to practice gratitude. In times of selfishness I can choose to give of my time and even my resources.  As I make beds, unload the dish washer, or clean the toilet I can choose to serve others with gladness. I can be thankful that I am healthy enough to do my own work. If I wash and fold laundry, I can pray for the one whose clothes I am folding. If I cook a meal, I might consider making a double recipe, one to serve my family and a second meal to freeze and later share it with someone who may be in need of a little help from a friend. If I am doing the mindless chore of dusting or vacuuming I can pray. If I am shopping I can be God’s messenger by flashing a smile at those who serve me and speak words of appreciation to them. If I have lunch with a friend we can use that time to encourage one another or share what God is doing in our lives. I find that I am a busy person and if I do not guard my thoughts I can go through my day thinking about things I would rather be doing, or being discontent and angry that no one ever helps me, or complaining that I am not appreciated, or spend my time longing to be in a magical place somewhere far away in the sun! I have found that serving God with gladness does not come naturally; first of all the thought of serving God with gladness must be entertained in our mind and then we must practice making good choices until it becomes a habit. I wish I could say I do this perfectly, but I most certainly do not. However, I am pretty sure it is a suggestion worthy of pursuing!
Suggestion #6 - Make Time to Enjoy the Garden
 “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28 KJV
“And on the seventh day God rested.” Hebrews 4:4 NIV
What about rest and relaxation? God gave us one day for this and we need to take it! What is enjoying the garden? It is taking time to do things we enjoy, the things that bring us refreshment and restoration. This too can be done to the glory of God. The fact is I will only be able to serve God well if I am rested and restored! Oh, I may go through the motions but my attitude will usually need to be adjusted. I will not be able to be effective if I am worn out, tired, and stressed. When my life becomes too difficult I become resentful of my duties. Even Jesus knew when he had had enough. He left the crowds, sailed away, and was even known to take a nap! As I begin each new day I must be purposeful about giving myself permission to enjoy the garden. Let something that can wait until tomorrow simply wait! Forget staying on schedule for just a little while. Take time for a cup of coffee and enjoy reading a book for just an hour! Take a much needed nap, exercise, or take a walk.  In addition, schedule in a day ever so often to enjoy a hobby, lunch with a friend, and always make time to enjoy nature! God wants you to enjoy the garden. Ask God to help you discern between what is urgent and what can wait.
Suggestion #7 - Breathe In God’s Peace
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 7 NIV
Isn’t it strange that we must learn to lap up God’s peace? To continue walking through life without peace is like passing on dessert. God saves the sweetest for last. When we taste his peace at the end of our day we know we have lived our day under the umbrella of his protection. Peace is the check point for knowing if we have spent time worshiping and honoring our Master. We experience peace when we know we have been obedient. Peace is our reward for trusting God with all that is uncertain in life. We experience peace when we know we have loved others well. Peace comes at the end of forgiveness. All these things: worship, obedience, trust, serving others well, and forgiving count for eternity as we lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys. Heavenly rewards for selfless works well done. The clock is ticking and if you are like me, your heart's desire is to  live life well.
  1. Are you aware that your life’s clock is ticking?
  2. What are the things that you are currently doing that will count for eternity?
  3. When was the last time you did a priority check?
  4. Does the lifestyle of simplicity intrigue you?
  5. How can simplicity enhance your busy life?
  6. Are you currently living under God’s umbrella of protection regarding how you spend your time?
Dear Lord,
Yes indeed, my clock is ticking and I want to live my life well. Help me to be purposeful about how I fill my days. Lord, it is my desire that all of my moments will pass under your watchful eye. Lord, I want to have eyes to see what must be placed aside and know what things must be picked up. Give me feet that will dance in gladness as I perform the most mundane tasks of life. Make me willing to go places I would rather not go because of the very real possibility that you may have an assignment waiting for me when I arrive. Give me sweet words for others all through my day that will point them to you. Father, I pray that you will begin to teach me more about simplicity and gratitude. Help me Lord to give myself permission to enjoy the garden so that I will be refreshed and restored, ready to do your work. Most of all Lord, I thank you for your sweet gift of peace that is experienced deep within my heart when I stay under your loving umbrella of protection regarding how I spend my time. Lord, forgive me for all of the times I have failed in the past. Give me your grace to move forward knowing full well I will not do it perfectly. Lead me daily as I press toward the mark of your high calling to worship you and love others. Help me to remember that life is short, the clock is ticking, and that I need to make the necessary adjustments in my life so my time  here on earth counts for eternity. Lord, fill my busy days with purpose and my tired nights with peace.
It is in Your Name I pray. Amen.