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How do you spend your time?

This blog has laid dormant way too long.  So, I decided to kick the New Year off by posting a short article I wrote for my church's newsletter.  Happy 2016!!!

2016: A Time to Reflect!
Three, two, one … Happy New Year … goodbye 2015, welcome 2016!  Wait, what?  Really!?!  Did we not just welcome the arrival of 2015?  We have similar thoughts as each year passes, do we not?  The older we get the quicker time seems to pass by.  Frankly, it seems like just yesterday we anxiously counted down the final seconds of 1999 while at the same time wondering if the world was about to come to a catastrophic end due to Y2K.  But it didn’t, and like previous years, 1999 came and went much like 2015 did ... passing quietly, albeit quickly, into the annals of history.  As I reflect on this, particularly the pace at which the years pass, it raises the question:  “How do I spend my time?”  I certainly won’t bore you with the details here but suffice it to say I don’t spend my time wisely.  Why is this important?  Because the answer to this question reveals the very nature of who we are! 
Do you find this statement convicting?  I certainly do!  Why?  Because when I gaze into the mirror and seriously consider who I am and how I spend my time, I don’t like what I see.  I see a man who often does not love as he should and puts his self before others more often than he cares to admit.  This is NOT how it should be.  Jesus was asked in the book of Matthew:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:36-39, NIV).  “Okay, got it, but what is the point?”, you ask.  “What does this have to do with how I spend my time?”  The point is this … we will never be able to love as Jesus commands us to love unless we get into the Word and deepen our relationship with Him!  And it’s impossible to get into the Word and deepen our relationship with Him when we spend exorbitant amounts of time on Facebook, watching football, playing video games, or ___________ (you can fill in the blank here).  Am I saying these things are bad?  Not at all.  But when we make them an “idol” and turn to them at the expense of prayer and delving into the Word, then we have a problem.  It is only through the Lord that we will we be able to love and love unconditionally.  And we cannot deepen our relationship with Him without getting into His Word. 
So, let’s return now to the original question of how we spend our time.  Personally, I don’t spend it wisely.  In hindsight I can honestly say I never really have.  Like most of us, I find myself wrapped up in the above mentioned activities at the expense of studying the Word and loving my family and loving others.  That must change!  Although I am not big on New Year’s resolutions, my 2016 resolution is to spend my time more wisely.  More time in the Word, less time on Facebook.  More time with the family, less time watching TV.  More time loving my neighbor, less time loving myself.  This is certainly a tall order and it won’t be easy.  But change is never easy!  I don’t think it is supposed to be.  Habit patterns run deep and they are hard to break.  With that in mind, I will focus on this verse found in Psalms:  “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NKJV).  Teach me Lord to number my days.  Each day is a gift and when it passes, it is gone for good.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to live life to the fullest.  Focus on the eternal, not the internal. 
So, where do I start?  I will start with my personal favorite, the book of James.  James is where the “rubber meets the road.”  It is practical and it is difficult.  James tells us that “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19a-20).  He goes on to say in verse 22:  “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”  This is easy to read, difficult to put into practice.  However, the more time I spend in the Word the closer I hope to get.  Paul says in Hebrews: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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 12:1).  These are challenging words.  But, given time (time spent wisely), we can each do just that.  Every race starts with that first step.  I challenge you to take that first step.
There are 31,536,000 seconds in a given year.  How will you spend those precious seconds?  Will you spend them focused on yourself or will you spend them focused on the eternal?  I encourage each and every one of you to spend those seconds wisely.  I plan to … and trust me, I have a lot of work to do.  Oh, one last thing.  For those who are like me and slow to learn, 2016 is a leap year which means we have an additional 86,400 seconds allotted to us.  Make them count! 
   

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