The Whole Counsel of God: What is it?

 

For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.  Acts 20:27  (NKJ)

One of the things this nation is not short on is advice.  If you turn on the television, every station has its personal brand of advice—The Real, The Talk, The View.  And let’s not forget social media.

Life and spiritual coaches have been added to the deluge of resources ready to “create a better life for you”.  Online counseling by Chat, Video or Phone.  Get Help and Get Happy.  Therapy Anytime, Anywhere.   Each of these resources and programs are targeting different groups of viewers—boomers, millennials, Xers to influence their thoughts and actions.  And the real question is influence for what?

If ever there was a need for reliable counsel, it is now!

Definition of Counsel

The noun “counsel” means advice, especially that given formally.  Counsel is synonymous with guidance, direction and instruction.  The Hebrew word that best communicates the concept of counsel is ‘esah, which adds purpose or plan to the definition.   It is both used of God’s counsel and of human counsel.

Counsel Given—Counsel Received  

The Old Testament portrays counsel as that which is usually given to kings (1 Chron. 13:1).  Counsel may have come from trusted advisors but more frequently through God’s prophets (Deut. 18:14-21).

Proverbs suggests that one should seek counsel from many with the thought that human beings are limited and need contributors to be sure all alternatives are considered (Prov. 11:14;  Prov. 20:18).

In the New Testament, especially in the church, though they were a close-knit fellowship, involved in one another’s lives, there is almost nothing about counsel or acting on the advice of others.  The closest thing to “counsel” would have been that given to the early churches via apostolic letters.

Regardless of the counsel received, no advice or counsel frees the person’s responsibility for making his or her own choice. Such was the case in our text as Paul gives instructions to the Ephesian elders.

What constitutes “the whole” ?

What is the “whole counsel of God”?  If you search different Bible versions for clarity, you may still be left asking, “What is it?”  In our text, the different Bible versions read, “the whole counsel of God” (ESV) or “the whole will of God” (NIV) or “the whole purpose of God” (NASB).

The phrase the whole counsel of God was introduced by Paul in Acts 20:27 in his farewell speech to the elders of the Ephesian church.  In this context, the whole counsel of God refers to the “gospel message”.

Paul spoke the complete gospel—the whole truth about God’s salvation including the “mystery” of God extending His plan of salvation to Gentiles as well as Jews (Ep. 3:9).  Paul’s declaration of the “whole counsel of God” made him “innocent” of anyone’s decision to reject God’s truth as revealed, at that time.

The whole counsel of God, in summary, is God’s truth revealed in His purpose and His will.  God communicates His whole counsel in two key ways—the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

Paul witnessed to the fact that, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16, NRS).   The Bible is the “play book” which helps believers live in alignment with God’s will and in right relationship with one another.

Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit believers relate God’s truth to present situations—guiding them in actions they are to take.   Although the Spirit may use any number of avenues to help believers sense His direction, He ultimately guides us to decisions that are in harmony with what God purposes for us (Jer. 10:23).

Living in 21st century, postmodern America, it is critical that we have access to good counsel.  We need counsel that is sure and dependable; trustworthy and timeless.  We need counsel to help us live out of the heart God created for us.  We need the whole counsel of God.

We will continue next week with this series, “The Whole Counsel of God.”

The Whole Counsel of God: The Wisdom of God

Today we introduce a new series that, I hope, will help believers in our daily challenge to live in a world where our faith and our Christian lifestyle are at risk.  While God’s salvation is unquestionable and His faithfulness to us is undeniable (2 Tim. 2:13), it is we believers who must be reminded to grow in our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-8) so that we may remain free from the sinful influences of the world (Gal. 5:1.)

This series, “The Whole Counsel of God”, will focus on building our confidence and spiritual “grit” to earnestly contend for your faith—unashamedly, openly, without guilt or embarrassment (Jude 3).   Reliance on the whole counsel of God will fortify the believer against persistent assaults from the world and satanic attacks (1 Cor. 2:5).

I’d like to kickoff this series by returning to an earlier WordBytes entitled the “Wisdom of God”.   I have chosen this teaching because the believer’s understanding of God’s wisdom is foundational in their acceptance of the whole counsel of God and for living victoriously under “Kingdom Rule”.  God has the first and final word in all things!  Why?  Because we trust in His love, we submit to His sovereign rule in our life and we willingly receive His wisdom.   Welcome to “The Wisdom of God”.

But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  1 Cor. 1:23, 24 (NKJV)

After reading 1 Corinthians 1-2, I wanted to get out of my seat, stand tall, and stick out my chest, and figuratively, “drop the mike.”  This teaching by Paul to the Corinthians was, for me the capstone, the finale, the ultimate answer for those who are desperately seeking wisdom.   “Christ crucified” or the Gospel message is not only the power of God but also the wisdom of God.  While time and space does not permit me to fully teach on this passage, I would invite you to include it in your future Bible study devotion.  Today, however, I’ll attempt to contain myself as we conclude this series, “Desperately Seeking God” by exploring the wisdom of the God.

What is the Wisdom of God?

For believers in Christ, the wisdom of God is the truth set forth in His Word and through His Holy Spirit.  This wisdom becomes accessible to us through belief in Jesus Christ and His saving work to lost humanity (Matt. 1:21).   This wisdom shapes our beliefs and the reality in which we daily live.

Although 1 Corinthians is not part of wisdom literature, it does illuminate the fact that the Gospel and acceptance of its truth will result in “true wisdom from above” (1 Cor. 1:30).   So why was it considered “foolishness” in Paul’s day (and today)?  This requires we take a look at the context of Paul’s letter—the city of Corinth and the beliefs at that time.

Corinth was a key city in ancient Greece until it was destroyed by the Romans.  The city was filled with shrines and temples leading to idolatry and corrupt living.  The diversity of the population produced many philosophers with Greek philosophy being the dominant thinking.  These men filled their days with study and in espousing their beliefs as to the existence of divine beings, the nature of life, and how life was to be lived.  When Paul spoke of the wisdom and power of the Gospel, the Jews demanded “signs” while the Greek demanded “worldly wisdom”.   Both groups appearing as wise “became fools” (Rom. 1:21-22).

You might find some parallels with activities and beliefs we find in the 21st century.  Technology, information, and knowledge are being touted as the “crown jewels of wisdom” for this age.  Explosion of the Internet and microchip development, robotics and artificial intelligence, and genetic re-engineering have become but a few of man’s self-proclaimed proofs of his superiority to any professed god.  Such progress has created a sense of “deity” within man, leaving God and His wisdom behind as mere relics of a past civilization.  The result of such thinking puts future generations in jeopardy of forgetting God and His mighty works (Judges 2:10).   Such thinking has become nuevo wisdom.

So why does the wisdom of God seem like “foolishness”?  Paul answers this question in 1 Corinthians 2:7-15.

    1. The wisdom of God cannot be understood using human wisdom
    2. The Holy Spirit (being God Himself) is the revealer of the wisdom of God, and
    3. The Holy Spirit does not dwell within unbelievers therefore they cannot receive the revealed wisdom of God.

This being the case, God’s methods in sharing His wisdom, through His Word and through His Spirit are “spiritually incompatible”  with the “natural”, unregenerate man.  To them, it appears as foolishness.

The wisdom of God, however, is available through Jesus’ work of salvation, providing “whomsoever will” with access to the wisdom of God the Creator, God the Deliverer, and God the Sustainer.   He is all wisdom.

Truth: The Divine Perspective

 

You were getting along so well. Who has interfered with you to hold you back from following the truth?   (Gal. 5:7, NLT)

Truth is a very significant concept.  Our view of truth shapes our societies and our personal lives.  It also influences our relationship with God and our view of Scripture.  Our definition of truth is impacted by the magazines we read, our choice of news broadcasters and even the opinions of our friends.  And if you follow social media, your “truth” is being adjusted with every post and tweet you receive—every 60 seconds, 175,000 tweets are sent.

Let’s face reality!  We live in an age where we are being bombarded by varying opinions as to what is or isn’t truth.  Because of these deceptive trends, it is important that believers have a reliable and trustworthy compass by which to navigate in this world.  We need guidance from God.  We need divine perspective.

In the Old Testament, truth (’emeth) is rendered as “true” or “faithful”.  In either case, the Hebrew concept communicated in its use is reliability and trustworthiness.   This trustworthiness is frequently used to describe God’s divine faithfulness (Ps. 31:5; Jer. 42:5).

Those who walk in God’s truth accept as trustworthy God’s view of moral realities and act in harmony with His divine revelations:  “For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.” (Ps. 26:3)  Dependence on God’s truth is not based on emotional sentimentalities but firmly grounded in the nature of God (Deut. 7:9).

Truth (al’ētheia) in the New Testament emphasizes reality as God has revealed it in creation (Rom. 1:18) and in the gospel (Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; 1 Tim. 2:4).

Adherence to the truth was critical during the formation of the early Church.  Paul reminds believers in Ephesus of the role truth played in their salvation:  “In Him (Christ) you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.” (Eph. 1:13, RSV)  The Apostle John instructs believers to hold fast to the gospel truth:  “I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth.” (3 John 1:3.)

Through God’s revelation we have access to reliable knowledge—divine truth—about God, about ourselves, and about how we are to live in relationship with our fellow man.  This is especially important since there is often a tendency by believer’s to separate their “faith walk” from their “life style”.   God’s truth is to be put into daily practice.  Knowing the reliability of God and accepting the reality of God, believers can begin to operate from God’s perspective.  God’s divine truth becomes the vehicle by which we are able to successfully navigate in this postmodern society.

God Is His Word!

“The law of the LORD is perfect.” Ps. 19:7 (NKJV)

People often use the phrase, “good as his word” to assert one’s personal dependability and trustworthiness.  Words reflect a person’s true character and show what he or she is about (Matt 12:34; Mark 7:15).  This is especially true of God.  However, where human words are frail and finite, God’s words are creative, perfect, and powerful.  God’s Word reveals much about His nature.  God is His Word!

The Word of God refers to Scripture itself.  It was Moses who first received the written Word from God.  Although written on pillars of stone, The Ten Commandments outlined God’s expectation of man.  By obeying them, the Israelite people would be better prepared to live in “right relationship” with God and his fellowman.

In preparing the nation of Israel to enter the Promised Land, God instructed Moses to strongly emphasize adherence to His commands, decrees, and laws (Deut. 6:1-19).  These would serve as an abiding written record of God’s person, presence, and ways.  The men, specifically, were to “teach and talk” about them in their homes.  God’s Word was to not only influence but also shape everything they did—from when they “lied down to sleep at night to when they rose in the morning.”

Different yet all key in revealing God’s nature

In Psalm 19, we see different names that are used for God’s Word such as the law, the statues and the judgments.  In each verse, a different set of nouns are used to describe God’s nature revealed in His Word.  In using this literary device, the psalmist, highlights the transforming power of God.  Through His Word, God converts and makes wise: He rejoices and enlightens the eyes (Eph. 1:18-19).  God true character is reflected in the Word He speaks.

The final couplet speaks to the righteous durability of God’s Word—“it endures forever and is true and right.”  The Prophet Isaiah rejoiced in the fact that, “The grass withers, the flower fades but the word of God stands forever (Is. 40:8).” God’s Word can even penetrate and judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13).  Just as “there is nothing hidden from the sun’s heat” (Ps. 19:6), there is “nothing in all creation hidden from God’s sight”.  God is Eternal Creator, Transformer, Everywhere present, and All-knowing.        

Pursuit of God’s Word is to be desired

God’s Word is to be desired more than monetary riches or physical luxuries.  Through His Word, God offers “incorruptible” rewards—spiritual discernment and godly wisdom that will provide the knowledge and sensitivities needed to navigate this world.

Ps. 19:11 offers a final declaration as to the essential benefit of God’s Word—“by them [the Word of God] we are warned and in keeping them there is great reward.” God’s Word is the “fail safe” for man’s conscience.  It offers truth that is desperately needed in a postmodern world that denies the need for absolute truth and moral standards.

Our 21st century culture is “imploding” as a result of misinformation and propaganda through intentional abuse of social media thereby making it difficult to differentiate between truth and lies.  The acceptance of untruth is so pervasive that a new word was added to the dictionary in 2016 to describe it—post truth.   But as believers we are dependent on God, who through His Word, offers the “the way, the truth, and the light.” God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). Consequently His Word can be trusted (Heb. 6:18).  God is His Word!

Things Revealed

The secret things belong to the LORD our God,

but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,

that we may follow all the words of this law. Deut. 29:29 (NIV)

It is the nature of man to be curious about “secret things”—things that are yet to be revealed; things that remain hidden from immediate view. This curiosity has led to man’s fascination with astrology, fortune telling and other “future gazing” activities. Secret things have contributed to the bizarre growth in social media followings, gossip tabloids and entertainment shows that uncover the latest exposés of the rich and the famous. As the children of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, they were more than curious as to what secret things God had planned for their lives. Moses addressed their curiosity with a clever statement of fact about the revelations of God that still holds true today—“the secret things belong to the LORD but the things revealed belong to us.”

The secret things are those things known only to God. The prophet Isaiah best captures this truth in the difference between human and divine knowledge: “His (God’s) thoughts are not our thoughts, nor our ways His ways. As the heavens are higher than earth, so are His ways and thoughts higher than ours” (Isa. 55:8-9). While man may feel that he has the right to be aware of all plans pertaining to his future, it is sovereign God who ultimately determines what needs to be known and what must be accepted by faith alone. “The just shall live by faith” is an iconic expression of trust and hope that encourages believers to proceed without all the answers confident in God’s goodness and greatness (Jer. 29:11-13).

The things that belong to us are those truths which God has communicated through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. With the coming of Pentecost, believers were gifted with the Holy Spirit to live within them. Jesus provided not only a Comforter with the Holy Spirit but also His Presence to guide believers in all truth (John 16:13). God’s Word continues to reveal His nature and His never ending love for His people. From Genesis to Revelation, God discloses Himself as the Master Creator seeking to restore His relationship with His beloved Creature. The greatest evidence of God’s persistence and love is His plan of salvation resulting in man’s freedom from the penalty of death, our reconciliation with the Father, power to live victoriously, and the promise of eternal life, beginning now (1 John 3:2).

Through the things that belong to us we gain a thorough knowledge of God and what is needed to live godly lives (2 Pet. 1:3). Our challenge will come in our ability to walk in the truth that God has revealed to us and to obediently follow His directions. Shifting societal and moral norms will force believers to “stand fast” in that which has been clearly revealed by God (Eph. 6:11-13; 2 Thess. 2:15). Such shifts will lead to continual rejection of Christian beliefs and persecution by this fallen world (2 Tim. 3:12). However, Jesus has more than adequately prepared us for such a time as these: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). As believers we need not concern ourselves with the secret things we don’t know BUT to trust and obey that which we do know.

The God Who Contends

For I will contend with him who contends with you, And I will save your children.”  Is. 49:25b

In our study last week, we discovered the power available to us when we exchange our human weakness for God’s inexhaustible strength.  Declaring our total dependence on God moves believers from doubt and fear to confidence and trust.  This confidence is strengthened by the reality that we have a God who contend on our behalf.

In most Old Testament texts, contend refers to fighting or strife between two persons.  The Prophet Jeremiah pleaded with God to reverse His decision to punish Judah with exile:  Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to the voice of those who content with me! (Jer. 18:19)

In other biblical writings, contend is used in reference to a legal argument or defense.  In Ps. 35:1, 23 the psalmist is asking the Lord to enter the case and act as their advocate.  Such is the case in John’s epistle as he reminds this new church that they have a “heavenly Advocate” who stands before the throne of God and contends for His saints (1 John 2:1).

Our text today is found in the section of Isaiah known as the “Prophecies of Comfort”.  Israel and Judah’s disobedience was a major offense to God throughout their national history.  Upon hearing Isaiah’s pronouncement of judgment, the people tried to shift blame to God by accusing Him of “forsaking  them” (v.14); but Isaiah would not engage in their excuses but would instead comfort them with God’s promise of the coming Messiah and hope of restoration.  God would contend for Israel and Judah, even while they were in exile and bring them and their families back to their native land.  Those nations who had been enemies of Zion would receive judgment for their crimes and ultimately destroyed. God would contend for Zion because of His promises and because of His great love for them (Deut. 7:7,8).

Before the foundation of the earth God was contending for us (Ps. 139:15, 16).  God contends for us through His everlasting love (Jer. 31:3) and spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3).  Through Jesus Christ, Satan has been defeated (Col. 2:15) and sinners reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20).  With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have everything we need to successfully live in this corrupt and lustful world (2 Pet. 1:3-11).  Regardless of your personal situation or circumstance, know that God “has you covered”—He contends fo you.

Also Read:    “Victorious Living”

Necessary Weakness

You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.   2 Chronicles 20:17 (NKJ)

I must admit that I have often felt ill-equipped for many of the opportunities I’ve been given.  Although my initial response is usually one of “caution and fear”, I always eventually experience God’s abiding presence and strength in the midst of my challenge.  Proverbs 3:5-6 is my “touchstone” (go to) scripture: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”  I continue to learn daily to totally depend on HIM and the importance of necessary weakness.

In this postmodern society, self-initiative and personal accomplishment is glorified and cheered.  “Tooting your own horn” or “celebrating oneself” masks the prideful tendency of mankind to gloat in his own works with little glory given to God (Jeremiah 9:24).  Individuals tend to compensate for potential weaknesses through their dependency on academic degrees and personal experiences to provide, what they view, as viable solutions to life’s challenges.  As a rule, declaring one’s personal weakness is not well received by the world.

Even “God assignments” entrusted to both laity and clergy are first evaluated through the lens of personal capability and competency versus going first to God for instruction and empowerment.  We even view our spiritual gifts and talents as the only means to sustainable ministry success.  How foolish!  We fail to see the real ingredients for usefulness to God is weakness and inadequacy.

Also read:  Is it OK to be Weak?

Jehoshaphat gets an A+ for his quick recognition of his situation and his inability to handle what threatened the nation of Judah.  He put first things first—he “feared”, he “sought the LORD”, and he     “fasted”.  In their weakness, Jehoshaphat and Judah fixed their eyes on the LORD.  And the LORD responded and told them to “set yourself…stand still…and see salvation” (2 Chron. 20:17).

Imagine what would happen if we as a country, would acknowledge “our fear” concerning our nation’s future and cooperatively fast and pray (2 Chron. 7:14).  Visualize the impact if our churches collectively, regardless of denomination, would “cry out” to God to save our children from Satan’s attack resulting in senseless suicides and killings.   Picture the transformation we would experience in our communities and in our families if we would “stand before God” and declare our total dependence on Him and Him alone.  BUT we have not.  We continue to do what is “right in our own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  Through failed social programs, fractured political platforms, and misappropriated power, we unsuccessfully attempt to “fix ourselves” rather than acknowledge our weakness and need for God.

Let us pray for wisdom and humility to embrace our personal and collective weakness—to realize the spiritual truth that in weakness God’s glorious power is released.  Paul understood the truth of necessary weakness and dependency on the Lord.  May we begin today to do the same!

I have plenty to boast about and would be no fool in doing it…even though I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.  Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:6-10, NLT).

 

 

Redeeming the Time: Finding Faith

Then He spoke a parable to them that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.  Luke 18:1 (NKJ)

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”  Luke 18:8

Today we end on conversation on “Redeeming the Time” by examining God expectation for believers and His Church.   The definition I use for redeem means to exchange or convert.  What do we exchange our time for?  How does our use of time convert into something of value—specifically of eternal value to God and for kingdom building?

We have examined to date “redeeming the time” from the perspective of witnessing and the importance of making every moment count for eternity as we “number our days”.  Last week we were reminded by the Psalmist to rejoice in each day “the Lord has made” and not to squander it.  For our close, I’d like to share another viewpoint on redeeming the time from Luke’s account of the parable of the “Unjust Judge and the Persistent Widow” (Luke 18:1-18).

Found in Luke 14:25-18:34, Jesus is seen teaching to diverse multitudes through guided lessons and parables.  Jesus uses these moments to also target the Pharisees, who mistakenly believe they are living righteously and above reproach.  As believers we must continually examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5) to avoid “secret sins”—hypocrisy, self-righteousness, arrogance and “toxic behaviors”—anger, malice, envy, critical and judgmental attitudes—that cause us to ruin our testimony of faith (Titus 3:3-6).   When the Son of Man returns (The Second Coming) will He find faith?

In the opening verse of our text, Jesus shares the key to faith and what He expects believers and His Church to be engaged in.   Faith is not only a matter of specific activities but also one of attitude. 

Men ought always to pray.    Why?   Because the world will be so absorbed in the things of this life, they will be utterly unprepared for the certain judgment that awaits them when Jesus returns.  Like the time of Lot and Noah, people will be engaged in lawlessness, moral decay, and social mayhem (Luke 17:20-37).  Does that sound like the 21st century we live in?  Checkout the “news-of-the-day” and you will see the erosion of institutions and truths that once guided this nation and this world.  Believers and the Church ought ALWAYS to pray—not just one day in May.  Without prayer, will the Son of Man find faith?

And not lose heart.   Jesus used the parable of the Persistent Widow to illustrate the characteristics He desires of His Church as He prepares to return.  Though the widow dealt with a person she knew was unjust and indifferent, she remained tenacious, unflinching, and determined.  As believers, we live in a world where we will experience persecution and ridicule.  We will be challenged daily because of our faith in Christ and our adherence to God’s Word.  Jesus’ words to His disciples in the 1st century are still true for His disciples in the 21st century:  “In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Let us daily renew our heart and follow the example which Jesus has given us (Heb. 12:3; 2 Cor. 4:16).  If we lose heart, will the Son of Man find faith?

Jesus is on His way back to judge the world (Rev. 19: 15, 20, 21) and to retrieve His Church (John 14:1-4).  He is coming sooner than later!  It is God’s will that none would be lost and that all will come to the saving knowledge of Christ (John 3:17).  Will the world be ready for Jesus’ return?  And will the Son of Man find faith?  Do your part by redeeming the time to make an “eternal” difference!

Redeeming the Time: Don’t Squander the Day

 

“This is the day the LORD has made.” Psalm 118:24 (NKJ)

“Time is free, but it’s priceless.

You can’t own it, but you can use it.

You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.

Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”

Time is something all living creatures share.  It is both illusive yet well within our control.  One writer said that the way we spend our time defines who we are.  Solomon stated that it is “time and chance” that makes the playing field level for all men (Eccl. 9:11-12).  What do you do with your time?  Are you using it to your best advantage or are you a victim caught in time’s swift movement?

As I woke this morning, the Lord gave me this instruction, “Don’t squander the day!” What did God mean by that? I knew He saw my appointments for today and my “things to do” list. I had carefully prioritized them so that nothing would fall through the crack. To squander means to spend or use something wastefully. There are many things I do with my day but I felt squandering was not one of them. After presenting my defense, the Lord patiently began to share His heart with me.

“Don’t squander the day by…”

Rushing to do the routine rather than enjoying the uniqueness of the day. We are so busy planning our next hour or day that we fail to live in the moment—in the very present now. The rich fool spent his time in the routine of planting and it yielded a reward of “plenty”. So he began plans to erect new barns “to store all his crops and goods” not knowing that his soul would be required of him that very night (Luke 12:13-21).  He didn’t live to enjoy the uniqueness of the day. The rich man squandered the day.

Pondering over past hurts and offenses. There is little to be gained in such activities and definitely nothing that can be useful in accomplishing God’s purpose for our lives. The brother of the prodigal son was offended and jealous of the attention his brother received—the attention, he felt, should have been his (Luke 16:25-32). The father expressed love and appreciation for the faithfulness of the son who remained with him but the brother chose to “cling” to his anger. He was offended and “would not come in.” The brother of the prodigal squandered the day.

Instead of “squandering the day”, spend time with Abba Father…

Asking, listening, and reflecting. Think about the possibilities of your life; not rehashing what could or should have been. Playfully create new scenarios for your life with the Creator of the universe versus replaying old tapes. With God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37).

Watching. We spend great efforts attempting to “make things happen” rather than observing the work God is doing around us. He invites us to watch Him at work in the lives of individual believers and the Church to accomplish His purpose through the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:4-5).

Squandering the day expresses the failure to see the work of God in this present moment.  It is a failure on our part to see His hand on every person and in every circumstance that He allows in our life.

“Don’t squander the day” is not a flippant directive but acknowledgment that God is present in our circumstances and working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).   It results in our witness to both the goodness and the greatness of the Lord.  Let us therefore confess and declare our confidence in His love and in His faithfulness. This is the day the LORD has made…DON’T SQUANDER IT!  Redeem it!

Redeeming the Time: Appreciative Living

So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.

Psalm 90:12 (NRS)

As we formulate principles for “Redeeming the Time”, it is critical that we fully understand the value of appreciative living.  What is that?

Appreciative Living is not about fixing ourselves or our lives, but in finding what works; where we excel; what we love; what makes us come alive.   It is an expression of gratitude for where we are right now.   Many time we don’t redeem the time because we’re fixated  on things outside the will and the purpose of God (Eph. 2:10).

Time is the constant factor throughout every phase of our existence. Too often, however, rather than appreciate time, “the gift of 7X24”, we try to control it like any other resource we either consume or squander. We attempt to gain more of it, spend it more wisely, or endeavor to save it. All these efforts are folly and a waste of time (Eccl. 9:11-12). Instead God’s desire is that we “gain wisdom” as we move through time. And that wisdom begins by appreciating the time and place God has given us.

Psalm 90, the oldest of the psalms, was written by Moses to contrast the frailty of man with the eternal, everlasting nature of God. In light of this sobering difference, Moses petitions God to “teach us to number our days.” It is within God’s teachings that invaluable knowledge is provided as to how we are to live in the time He has allotted each one of us; it is available in God’s Word and through His Spirit who lives within us.

The “numbering of our days” recognizes that each moment of our life counts. No moment is to be wasted (Prov. 24:33-34). To “grow in wisdom” acknowledges the reality of God’s Lordship and results in the believer actively seeking His will. All these actions result in a life lived to the fullest and in the fullness of God (Ep. 3:16-20). This is appreciative living.

What causes us not to fully appreciate the time God gives us? The first is ingratitude. As times marches on, our days may become more routine or mundane. We settle into a rhythm of apathy and indifference not fully aware that an “ingratitude attitude” has moved into our heart (Luke 17:15-18; 2 Tim. 3:2).

The next theft of appreciative living is pride. Pride operates out of the false belief that whatever is accomplished is as a result of one’s own skills and knowledge and perhaps a “little luck”. Time is not a factor in the pride equation accept as a medium in which work is accomplished. It is only appreciated when the individual comes to the end of their life (becoming either old or ill) and are then surprised how, “time flew.” Ingratitude and pride are but two examples of personal behaviors that result in undervaluing time. That’s why Moses advises us even in the 21st century to “number our days”.

What do you do with the time God has gifted you with? Is it spent with your children and family? Do you tithe time to your church or volunteer with a local nonprofit that serves the needs of your local community?  Or do you simply “live within time” with little appreciation for its purpose and potential in your life? While we don’t know how many days or time we have in the future, we do know that ultimately our days will come to an end (Heb. 9:27). Don’t let your last thought be that you wish you had appreciated one of the great gifts from God—TIME!  Redeem the time!