13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed. 15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly (Proverbs 26:13–16, NKJV).
Diligence is a hallmark of faith (Rom. 12:11; Heb. 4:11; 6:11; 2 Pet. 1:5, 10). Laziness fails to see daily opportunities to serve God, our families, brethren, and neighbors. Laziness serves the desires of Satan, not God. Solomon’s wisdom teaches us to be diligent in every part of our lives as it identifies the indicators and dangers of idleness. (1) The lazy person always has an excuse for not meeting his responsibilities (v. 13). Real or imagined dangers and difficulties content the lazy to remain so (Prov. 22:13; 20:4). God will use us to accomplish His work when we diligently seek and do His will (Matt. 19:26; Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 11:6). (2) The lazy person fails to use his time wisely (v. 14). He sleeps when it is time to work (John 9:4). As a result, he is unprepared to successfully meet life’s challenges (Prov. 6:6-9; 19:15). We must redeem our time wisely (Eph. 5:15-16). (3) The lazy person does not want to work (v. 15). The answer to his problem is staring him in the face, yet he is unwilling to work (Prov. 19:24). There is no reward in life or eternity for the apathetic and negligent soul (Prov. 12:27; 13:4; Eccl. 5:18-20). (4) The lazy person comforts himself with his pride (v. 16). He is self-deceived, lacking the perception needed to change his condition (Prov. 16:18). Let us be diligent in things temporal and eternal. Otherwise, “the desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (Prov. 21:25).
35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37 When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” 39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons (Mark 1:35–39, NKJV).
There were great demands on Jesus’s time. He came to the world to preach “the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:38, 14-15). People gathered around Jesus to hear His teachings and be healed (Luke 5:15). His apostles needed personal training before going into the world to preach the gospel, so He taught them privately (Luke 9:10). Religious opponents pressed against Him to undermine Him and His work (Luke 11:53-54). He saw long days and short nights. Yet, Jesus took personal time for prayer and meditation (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; Matt. 14:13). He managed His time effectively, even when everyone was looking for Him. He set and kept priorities for how He used His time (in Mark 1:38, Jesus chose to go to “the next towns” to preach even as people searched for Him in Capernaum, Mark 1:21-34). We all have demands on our time as parents, children, employers, employees, etc. Like Jesus, remember your faith priorities each day without distraction. Take time to pray, read God’s word, meditate, and serve others (1 Tim. 4:13, 15). “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… (Matt. 6:33).” Redeem your time with wisdom and faith (Eph. 5:15-17).
2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Colossians 4:2–6, NKJV)
Paul urged Christians to rely on the power of prayer and divine providence to spread the gospel. Thankful hearts are alert to blessings from God’s hand (v. 2). Trusting in God’s foresight and provisions, we pray for open doors (access, opportunity) for God’s word to reach hearts and lives. We pray for those who walk through those doors and teach others (3). Paul relied on brethren praying for him. Although in prison, he yearned for their prayers so that he (and they) would use wisdom in speaking the gospel to the lost. While God opens doors for the gospel, we must be wise, prudent, and gracious in choosing our words. Time is precious, so use it properly. Doors of spiritual opportunity are too often closed by impulsive words and unwise actions. So, let us work on aligning our motive (“to answer each one”) with well-placed, gracious words of truth. When we do, we trust God will work through us for His glory (Phil. 2:12-13).
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, NKJV)
Beginnings. Every New Year’s Day, people worldwide reflect on the previous year and resolve what they will do during our next 365-circuit around the sun. It is a perfect moment to remember who created the heavens and the earth and, therefore, time itself. With the precision that defies random chance, the earth sits on its tilted axis, rotating to produce night and day (not to mention gravity). This well-arranged order also gives the earth its seasons, protecting us from the sun’s otherwise harmful and deadly effects while sustaining plant, animal, and human life. God did that (Gen. 1; Psa. 33:6-9; Jer. 51:15-16). The hubris of humanity dares to think humans control this globe. God said to Job, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place” (Job 38:12)? We neither control the morning light nor the dark of night; God does. How foolish it is to think humans control the heavens and the earth! “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:4-7)? Pause as another year begins to give thanks to God, our Creator, and Sustainer. Thank God for your life, and especially for the life He gives you in Christ (Rom. 6:23). There is no better beginning to your new year.
1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. 3 You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.” 4 For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:1–4, NKJV)
Daylight Savings Time ended last night. We manipulate the clock, attempting to improve the human condition. Scripture teaches us God peers into the ebb and flow of time from His timeless, eternal throne. He is unhindered by the limitations of time; He is God “from everlasting to everlasting.” God created time for human survival (days and seasons), and with it, we measure our existence (Gen. 1:14-18; Psa. 90:10). There was a “beginning,” and there will be an “end” of earthly time (Gen. 1:1; 1 Cor. 15:24). When we are reflective, time teaches us “to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” because “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Psa. 90:12; Heb. 9:27). While God is not defined and detained by time, we are. Time teaches us our mortality, our fragility (Psa. 39:4-6). Our life is “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14; Psa. 90:3). Time is a precious commodity. Use today to honor God by walking carefully and wisely because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16). “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Psa. 90:14)
Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” (Acts 24:25, NKJV)
The convenient time sought by Governor Felix did not come. His opportune time was an attempt to secure a bribe for Paul’s release (Acts 24:26). The irony is rich. The innocent man – Paul – remained bound in prison for two years, while the guilty man – Felix – remained imprisoned by his sin. You seen, when we are confronted with the truth of the gospel, looking for a more favorable time to believe it and obey it betrays a lack of faith. Putting off obeying the Lord does not produce good fruit. Now is the opportune time; now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). God is ready to save you and relieve you of your burdens of sorrow and sin. Today is the right time to put the Lord first, to do His will and to live in the freedom from sin He only gives (Acts 4:12).
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV)
Divine Providence has arranged life on earth with its own symmetry. Life and death, planting and harvest, weeping and laughter all illustrate the portion and occasion of things “under the sun.” Yet, acknowledging life’s symmetry (and at times, its paradoxes) does not give ultimate satisfaction or meaning to life. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11). Only by trusting the purposes of God and submitting obediently to Him will one ascend to the ultimate purpose and meaning of life which God has given us (Eccl. 12:13).
11 I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them. (Ecclesiastes 9:11–12)
The fastest person does not always win the race. The strongest warrior does not always emerge victorious. Life is uncertain. Often, the “sure thing” is not so sure. The uncertainty of life – “time and chance” – can either be your incentive to trust the Lord and do His will, or your excuse to throw caution to the wind. The choice is yours. Misfortune can occur without warning, and when it does you are at the mercy of life’s circumstances. No one knows when calamity may strike. Be ready for whatever life brings by walking with God each day. “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).