The Gift of Time

I threw out my 2010 calendar today.  It was a nice calendar,  given as a gift last year.  As I threw it into the trash can, I wondered whether I had done the same thing with the time given to me during the year.  This year contained 31,556,926 seconds, 525,948 minutes, 8,765 hours, 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months.  However you decide to count it, it’s gone and it is a year of time that can never be regained, recaptured, restored or re-lived.  Have I spent it well?  What have I accomplished?  Am I closer to God and living in greater obedience that I did at the start of the year?  Have I loved people around me with the love of Jesus?  Have I shared my faith and seen somebody come to Christ?

As we enter into 2011, these questions are still important to ask for the following year as well. Every day is a day we can not reclaim, and we need to live it in obedience, grace, faith, love and joy.  If we do this, we will indeed have a Happy New Year!

The Challenge of Grace

The last two weeks the Lord has led me to preach about grace.  On the surface, grace seems so simple…it's free, it's given by God, it's nothing we can earn, and the means through faith by which we have eternal life.  However, it seems difficult for many to grasp the reality of grace because it has so many theological potholes and it can reveal so much in our heart that isn't right.

Grace reveals all kinds of heart attitudes that come from a sense of entitlement, resentment, and a loss of joy.  In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the older son gets angry when the father throws the younger son a party upon his return.  Perhaps he was upset that because he had not been recognized for his years of being faithful and felt slighted because one who was lost was found.  As we get older, we must never let grace lead us to the point where we lose the sense of its wonder in a cloud of entitlement of seeking recognition for simply doing what God asks, which is to be faithful.  In the parable of the Vineyard Workers, the first workers that get paid get upset for about the same, because the vineyard owner decides to be gracious and offer all the workers the same wage regardless of when they started work.  Grace is really grace when it doesn't make sense and it doesn't seem fair.  "Deathbed confessions" still challenge us because it means that those that confess Jesus right before they die after living a life apart from God will enjoy all the same blessings of heaven and eternity that those  "…who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!" (Matt. 20:12b, HCSV).  In other words, those that served the Lord for years and years and years can lose their joy at enjoying the blessings given to them by the Father and get upset when others discover it.  That is sad when it happens but is a danger that awaits.  Lord, may I never lose the wonder of your joy and love and grace and mercy.