Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Putting a year into perspective: Lord, teach us to number our days … "

There's a verse in Psalm 90 that always causes me to put everything in my life into the perspective of God's kingdom and the reign of Jesus Christ.  Interestingly, Psalm 90 was written as a prayer by Moses, who is said to have been "the man of God."  Moses begins by reflecting on his life and the life of those who had been chosen to be the people of God:  the people of Israel.  He declares, "Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting YOU are God" (Psalm 90:1-2).

Then he goes on to state the reality of your life and mine:  "You turn men back to dust, saying, 'Return to dust, O sons of men.' For a thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.  You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning - though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered" (Psalm 90:3-4).  It is in this context that Moses prays the words that cause me to pause and to attempt to put everything in my life, including the past, the present and the future, into the perspective of God's kingdom and the reign of Jesus Christ:

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).

Perhaps it is easier or more common for people who have experienced life for a greater number of years, and who have faced struggles and trials of various kinds, to reflect on life in this way, yet God calls even youth to consider the brevity of life in order to live in such a way that God is glorified and we live with hope.  Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 12:1:  "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them' …"  Some people are unrealistically optimistic, while others are unnecessarily pessimistic about the new year.  Attitudes are often based on past experience and future expectations.  But ultimately, the only thing that puts life into its proper perspective is understanding the truth that God reveals in His Word:  that you are here for a limited number of days and wisdom means using them wisely, to glorify God, your Creator.  As someone has said, "We all come with an expiration date!"

Such honesty tends to depress those whose hope is not in the LORD, our Creator, and who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  These want to believe that all is well, but are constantly faced with "life."  I want to end this year by encouraging those of you who have confessed your faith in Jesus Christ to stand firm in your faith, to endure, to persevere, to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles," and to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us" as we "fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3).

When the people of Israel were complaining that God had forgotten about them, Isaiah wrote, "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God'?  Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:27-31).

Begin the new year by looking at your life … past, present and future … in the right perspective - in the light of the truth God reveals in His Word and in the light of the reign of Jesus Christ, who is even at this moment seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, ruling over all things for His people, for those who have been born again by His Spirit and who believe in Him.  Make the prayer of Moses your prayer:  "Lord teach ME to number MY days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom!"

Have a blessed New Year, living in God's presence and using every day to glorify Him!!

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