There are many things in life which we take for granted. Those things which we often take for granted the most are usually the things we value the most. Sadly, it often takes the loss of these things before we realise just how valuable they are to us. I’m using the word things extremely broadly and honestly, probably inappropriately. This is because the ‘things’ that should matter the most to us are not material things.
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Everyone gets two precious gifts from God for which none of us are thankful anywhere near enough. The first is our life. The second is the time we are given to use it for good. Both of those most precious gifts are of incalculable value. Consider for a moment that if we are prepared to surrender them back to God in this life and time, He will give us eternal life! This infinitely valuable gift comes at the supreme price that God Himself could pay. If you consider all the vain things that charm us most – possessions, riches, good health, popularity, fancy clothes, fine food, new toys – they pale into pathetic insignificance when compared with the infinitely valuable and incomparably extravagant gift of eternal life given to all those who are prepared to surrender their life and time to God. Isaac Watts was so moved by this incomprehensible thought that he wrote-
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.
See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
Have you surrendered your life and you time back to God? Is God the Navigator of your life – or just a passenger? You do not know how much of your life you will have at your disposal, or how much time you have in this life. What a tragedy of eternal proportions would be if you scorned God and His offer of eternal life for the false and vain hope that you could live better without God! Your life and your time are seeds that can only bear fruit when planted in the right soil. Your job is not the right soil. The object of your earthly affection is not the right soil. Your money and possessions are not the right soil. The accolades of the crowd is not the right soil. Surrendering your life and life to God is the only soil that you have been created, designed, and intended to sow your life into!
For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
When you seek first to sow your time into God’s service, you are developing godliness (Christlikeness), you will be fruitful and effective and position your life for His blessings in this life and in the life to come!
for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
First Timothy 4:8
The only thing you can take with from this life and time into the next dimension of eternal life and eternity, is your level of godliness (1Tim. 4:8).
We sometimes find them irritating. We sometimes find them annoying. We sometimes find them frustrating. We sometimes wish they would stop interrupting us. People. Some we like. Some we don’t. If we could learn to listen to people, and to see them, I’m sure we would have more time for them. The main way that God ministers His grace to us is via people (1Peter 4:10). I think He does it this way because it develops one of the most desirable virtues of godliness in us – humility. It takes humility to be ministered to by another person. Our pride prevents us from spending time with people who deeply care for us because we know that they will challenge us and make us feel uncomfortable. Our pride prevents us from letting people get too close. Our pride prevents us from being honest with people about how we are struggling. Our pride stops us from reaching out to others because we think our problems mean that they should reach out to us. Our pride stops us from showing hospitality to strangers because strangers are just strange to us. Yet it is the very thing we push out of our lives that God has ordained to enrich our lives!
Our pride stops us from realising the truth that people are more important than we think!
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Being planted in a church brings together in one place of each of these things for our good. It involves our life. It involves our time. It involves people. God has designed for us to each grow by being planted in a church whereby these 5 things happen. Firstly, we worship God in Christ together (Heb. 10:28). This is essential for our souls to be nourished (Col. 2:19). Secondly, we are to come together in united fellowship to encourage one another to good works (Heb. 10:24-25), to receive prayer and to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16). Thirdly, we assemble as the church to receive instruction from God’s Word which also brings insight/inspiration/illumination. Fourthly, we come together as the church to be discipled in godliness so that we can each be more effective in our witness as people see Christ being more fully formed in us by GOD’s Word and Spirit. Fifthly, we multiply our evangelistic effectiveness when we come together because a non-Christian, the apostle Paul tell us, is more inclined to believe when they are in a gathering of believers (1Cor. 14:24). This is why we meet Sunday morning, and then again Sunday night, and then fortnightly in our Home Groups. God has ordained these gatherings of His people so that you might grow up into Christ (Eph. 4:15-16). He calls this growth, a walk (Col. 2:6). If your walk with Christ has come to a standstill, then something is wrong! Horribly wrong! If your love for God and His church is not growing, then you are not growing! But it does not have to be this way. Father God wants to lead you out of the shadows and into the green pastures where He has prepared a table for you (Psalm 23). Come back to the table and fall in love again with God and His House (Rev. 2:4-5).
I can guarantee you that church is far more important than any of us think!