Do you know why the little boy through his alarm clock out the window? He wanted to see how time flies. Do you ever want to see how time flies, or has age and the progression of the world convinced you that it always moves too fast unless you’re waiting on something? There are very few times for me anymore where I wish time would hurry up and move. Most of the time, I just wish it would slow down and wait for me.
While thyme may not make a very good gift or present, especially if you get too much of it on your hands ;-), time does make a great gift. Ask those who know their days or hours are numbered, or ask a person who longs for more moments with someone they’ve lost. God knows how much we need time, and He knows exactly how much time we need. Because we don’t see the future like God does, we don’t know how much time a person needs, and it never seems like enough. Of course, God’s idea from the beginning was for us to be like Him and live eternally. That’s why we long so much for those who have already gone on, and that’s why we fight so hard to keep our lives on this earth. Well, most of us anyway.
It always amazes me when I find out about people who don’t cherish their moments here. I mean, yes, I long for eternity with my Savior because I know nothing on this earth will ever compare, but I also enjoy seeing His Light shine in a dark world. I love to see the conversion and transformation of one who was lost and dying without God. I love to see real miracles that make one or more souls truly aware of God’s presence in our lives. And, I love to be used of God to carry His message and His presence into any situation where He can change a life. At the same time, it’s a very great pain to watch a person reject that message, presence, miracle, or love of God and move forward in the darkness without conversion.
A choir I once sang with performed a song with beautiful lyrics that speak my heart about our moments on this earth. I couldn’t find a video with lyrics, so I’ll type the lyrics and then I’ll attach a video in case you want to hear the tune. I don’t know who the writer is to give credit, but the song is called While There’s Still Time. It picks up on the verse from Romans 13:11 that urges us to pay attention to the time…
Tomorrow is just on credit,
There’s no guarantee on life.
You could be gone in a moment;
Your time comes tonight.
You also know that Christ is coming,
And if you’re left behind,
How you’d wished for a little bit more time.
While there’s still time,
Make up your mind.
You can’t be happy living on
The border line.
If you only knew
His plans for you;
You wouldn’t wait,
While there’s still time.
If you’re saved then you’re invited
To spread the news around
To your friends and those you love so much
That time is running out.
Oh just listen to His tender voice,
He’s calling to your heart,
“Draw closer to me child,
While there’s still time.”
And here’s the video…
Time may not matter to God, but it definitely matters to us, and it matters for those we love. It can be easy to be fooled into thinking there is more available than what God has planned. Here’s a little scenario of one reason we might fall for that lie…
The demons were having a big meeting to see if they could stop the great influx of souls that were turning to The Creator. One popped up with the idea to just tell everyone that there is no God. The meeting leader assured everyone that it had been tried, and it worked on a few but was ultimately a failure. Another popped up with the idea to spread the message that there is no devil. Again, the leader commented that it had been tried and failed. The leader asked if anyone had a new idea that had not been tried yet. From far back in the room, a tiny voice whispered, “Just tell them there’s no hurry.”
God’s greatest gift to us is His salvation because it comes through His blood and His love for us. But, in order for us to find that salvation and carry it to others, He has also given each of us a certain gift of time. There is a hurry to value that gift and use it as God intended, for there is no present like the time we have right now.
The above video should catch the fancy of those of you who like Tim Burton animations (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”) as it has a similar feel. It’s a creative telling of the story of Ananias and Sapphira from Acts 5:1-10. The story reminds us that when we choose to serve God without giving Him our whole heart, we will miss out on the future He has planned for us.
In His love for us, God has chosen to give us an eternity we don’t deserve for a price He paid. It’s a lot like when a child goes shopping with his mom to get his father a gift from money the father earned. The father gratefully receives the “gift” from his child because he cherishes the act of giving from the one he loves.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 27:22 through Leviticus 27:28, we read more about those who want to consecrate things like fields and animals to The Lord. In this portion, God tells Moses how to value a field a person gives when the giver is not the tribal owner but the owner by purchase. In that case, the value is based on the amount of years until the year of jubilee because at that time, the field will go back to the tribal owner. The new owner cannot give something that doesn’t belong to him, so he can’t give the field for life since he only owns it until jubilee.
The next part of the reading deals with those who want to consecrate an animal to The Lord. Now, it should seem common sense that you cannot give something to God that already belongs to Him, but apparently common sense wasn’t necessarily common back in Bible days anymore than it is now. God tells Moses to make sure people understand that they cannot dedicate an animal to Him that is a firstborn because God already owns everything that is first from the womb. God will, however, accept as a gift an unclean animal from the flock, but the value will not be as high.
This whole reading made me think about those who take the credit for those things which belong to God, and take pride in the works and gifts they “give” Him. But salvation belongs to The Lord. Even the very idea of salvation belongs to God. As it says in Philippians 2:13 (ERV), “Yes, it is God who is working in you. He helps you want to do what pleases him, and he gives you the power to do it.” In addition, our lives belong to The Lord; miracles belong to The Lord; and, in truth, everything belongs to The Lord. No matter what we do or what we give, we cannot boast or brag.
There was a minister I once heard of who listened for people to say, “Oh my goodness,” and was ready with the response, “…is as filthy rags.” Since hearing that story, I think of it anytime I notice someone making the same statement. It reminds me that His word tells us that our righteousness is as filthy rags, especially if we try to perform good works apart from the mercy found in the blood of Christ. Because of grace, God receives each of our gifts to Him as if there were no better gift in the world. But in all truth, we have nothing to give Him that does not belong to Him already. Since that is the case, let us go ahead and give Him our hearts, our love, and our obedience that we may bless Him.
Ananias and Sapphira had the opportunity to give everything for the work of The Lord, but they were more interested in receiving honor for themselves than in honoring God through their giving. Their gifts, then, were not truly gifts because they brought no glory to God. Our gifts may not be gifts since they are His already, but He receives them as gifts because we use our free will to honor and praise Him, and to show Him our love, and that’s what He cherishes from us more than anything else.
I remember sprouting a lima bean in a wet paper towel when I was in one of my lower elementary grades. I also remember that I found it fascinating. I think most people who take the time to see how God makes things grow are in awe of His handiwork. I am especially in awe at how, just as His Word tells us in John 12:24, it takes the death of the seed to make the plant grow and bring forth fruit. Sometimes, we only look at things at the point of death or hopelessness, and we forget that even out of that, God can bring new life.
Today’s reading from Leviticus 27:16 through Leviticus 27:21 doesn’t talk about anything growing, but it does talk about the fields where the growing is done. It’s basically about people who want to consecrate a field to The Lord. God informs Moses that the priests are to value the field according to its production using a standard measure of barley. Later, if the person wants the field back, he can redeem it for the value plus another one-fifth of the value, unless someone else purchased it. If it has been sold, then on Jubilee when the new owner vacates it, the land will become a permanent possession of the priesthood, and it will be holy to The Lord.
So, a field consecrated to The Lord will either be redeemed for a greater value than when it was consecrated, or it will become perpetually holy. Because God takes possession of it, He brings new life from old. If that can happen with a field, what then can happen with a soul? How many times have we prayed over a person and dedicated them to the work of God from their youth. And then they grow up and make bad decisions that go against everything we hoped and dreamed they would do for The Lord. But if we let go and trust them into God’s hands, He can add value to them or draw them to Himself as His permanent possession.
I write this at the end of a long day with a lack of sleep, but I am happy for the day because the works done in its hours have been necessary due to the work God has done in our lives. A few weeks ago, you may recall my writing about the nephew who was in a coma due to a drug overdose. If not, you can read the post “When Brothers Weep” for more information. At that point, and based on all the tests, we prayed for a miracle but were fairly certain that we had a long road ahead even if he ever woke up. Our tasks today were part of that road–which it turns out will not be as long as anticipated.
Beyond the test results and expectations, our nephew Joshua is out of both the hospital and the in-patient rehab facility, walking with a walker, thinking and remembering with almost perfect cognition, and in the process of amazing his out-patient rehabilitation workers. His biggest deficit is neuropathic pain in one foot that keeps reminding him that he just took his body through something from which it should not have recovered. And yet it has. And we are praising God for the opportunity to encourage him to use his second chance to become what God created him to be and to share his testimony with others.
My husband and I took Joshua and his three brothers to church when they were very young, and we prayed over them more than once. We had dreams of their dedication and service to God. We didn’t get to keep them in our custody very long, but we loved them as if they were our own, and it has caused us great pain to see these “fields” misused and under attack of the enemy because their mother makes herself more available to the enemy than to God. But today gives me hope of change and hope that those prayers from so long ago will be answered. Those prayers came before all the attacks of the enemy that have sought to bring these boys down, and maybe it’s those prayers that have stopped the enemy from being able to fully take their lives. Maybe these boys that we dedicated to God will each find their way to Him, increased in value and perpetually holy, before their ends come and/or before the end of life on this earth. I am going back to that prayer and that dedication and asking God to make it so. You, my friends and readers, are welcome to join me. Thank you.
I don’t know if there are different colors of flowers in the “Forget Me Not” family, but I thought blue was an appropriate color to represent how it feels to be forgotten by someone you really wanted to remember you. There are times when being forgotten is just a thing of time and distance, but there are times when whatever transpired between you and someone else leaves a permanent etching on your heart, and you hope it has done the same for the other person. The rejection of finding out you have been forgotten can be heartbreaking.
Since this is the last section for this week’s portion, I bid you Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath Peace), and may you find rest in God today and always. Our reading today is a whole chapter; Genesis 40:1 through Genesis 40:23, and in this reading, Joseph is still in prison, but now he has some new roommates. Pharoah’s chief baker and his chief cupbearer have both somehow offended Pharoah and are sentenced to time in the same prison as Joseph. Joseph is the one in charge of them.
When Joseph comes to get the men one morning, he finds both men looking rather sad. As it turns out, they have both had dreams that left them confused as to their meanings. Joseph tells the men that interpretations belong to God, and that if they’ll share what they have dreamt, he will interpret for them.
The cupbearer had dreams of vines that grew in three days and of pressing the juice into the Pharaoh’s cup, so Joseph tells him that he will be restored as the royal cupbearer. He then asks the man to not forget him when he is restored, but to let Pharaoh know that he is innocent of all charges and does not belong in prison. Then, because the interpretation for the cupbearer was good, the baker shared his dream about baskets of bread on his head and birds eating them. Joseph told him it meant he would be hanged and that birds would eat his flesh. Yikes! I’ll bet he was sorry he asked.
Both of Joseph’s interpretations from the Lord came true for the men, but the cupbearer was so lost in the happiness of being returned to his position instead of being hanged that he completely forgot about Joseph. And we will have to wait for the next portion to find out just what it takes to get Joseph out of the dungeon where he has been forgotten and abandoned once again.
The sad thing in this story is that Joseph experienced what Our Loving Creator and Savior has too often experienced. How many of us have made promises to Him about things we would do “if only” He would do some special thing for us. And then, when we have received what we so desperately wanted, we get so lost in the joy of the gift that we forget to go back to our promises to The Giver. It’s the reason God had to keep reminding Israel, “Forget me not for all my benefits.” I think we have all experienced this, so next time you feel forgotten as a giver, let it remind you to never forget that God is your ultimate provider and giver, and that it is an honor to praise and lift Him up for all His providence.
Today, we begin Parashah (portion) 5 which covers Sarah’s life and spans Genesis 23:1 through Genesis 25:18. It starts with a bit of sadness for Abraham in today’s reading from Genesis 23:1 through 23:16. In our story, Sarah has passed away at the age of 127, and Abraham is looking for a proper place to bury her in a land that is not their home. Certainly, not having his own land on which to bury his wife is adding to his grief, so Abraham is looking for a plot to buy as his own. He has set such a good example, even as a foreigner in a strange land, that everyone on the council is willing to give up their own tombs to him, but Abraham keeps seeking for something of his own.
Finally, Abraham asks the men to consult Efron the Hittite about a piece of farmland he would like to buy and use for the burial. It appears that Efron was already among the councilmen present, so he speaks up and says he’ll give the land to Abraham for free. Of course, many of us would consider that to be a blessing from God, but sometimes it can be more of a blessing to pay your way and be a good businessman, so Abraham insists on knowing the value of the land. Efron figures out what he is asking and says, “A plot of land worth 400 silver shekels — what is that between me and you?” Then Abraham gets his message and pays for the land.
Maybe it’s my female mind, but all the hidden messages back and forth did not make sense to me, so I had to ask my husband why men wouldn’t just come straight out and give a price and an exchange. He said that it enabled each man to make his offering without insulting the other. In a current world example, the exchange might go something like this…
A woman goes to get her hair done. The hairdresser offers to do her hair for free because she is the pastor’s wife. The woman says, “A workman is worthy of his wages, so please let me pay you.” The hairdresser answers, “But it’s only a 25 dollar style and cut,” and happily accepts that amount from her customer.
In the above scenario, both women are able to exchange their services freely, and it results in both women being more givers than takers. It appears Abraham had some good business sense and knew how much of a gift to God, others, and ourselves it is to have a giving spirit. And this is an awesome way that we, too, can be a blessing while we are foreigners in this strange land called life on earth. It gives clear understanding to why joy is spelled “J.O.Y.” and stands for Jesus, Others, You–in that order.
The picture below contains a portion of a beautiful message (from 1902) called The Joy of Giving by Ellen G. White. Read the full article at http://www.whiteestate.org/message/Joy_of_Giving.asp or by clicking on the picture.
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