Posts tagged ‘time’

The Time of Your Life

“The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:7-8

From my third year of medical school in 1980 until I retired from medicine in 2004, there were only two years that I had control of the call schedule. This occurred when I was the department chair at the US Naval Hospital in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. And those were the two toughest years of my professional life, largely because of my authority over the time my colleagues would be required to work in the hospital. When we were “on call,” we took care of every obstetrical and gynecological patient who would come to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. With 52 weeks in a year and 3 physicians to cover those weeks, one physician always had to take one more week of call than the other two. So there was constant tension. Time is the most precious commodity on earth. 

So when Jesus tells us that God has authority to set dates and times, I find it very reassuring. I want God, who knows the end from the beginning and is full of mercy and grace, to be in charge of how much more time sin will be allowed to exist on this earth. As a follower of Jesus, the Father sets my call schedule.  Just like a physician on call has been given power to provide the necessary treatment for people who come to the hospital, we see from our text today that Christ-followers are given power by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for Jesus. To be a witness for Jesus simply means that we are His hands and feet to care for the hungry, the homeless, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned.

Jesus gave this response in answer to the following question asked by the apostles, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and store our kingdom.” In other words, they were asking if they could get off the call schedule. They didn’t want to take care of any more sick people. They wanted to be in charge of their time. They wanted to do their own thing. And the truth is, we do too!

But Jesus says that the Father alone is in charge of our time.  It’s a simple message really. But it calls me into account. I don’t make the call schedule. I do not have control over how much time I have. But I am in control over how I use the time I have. And for that, God has given me all the power of the universe at my disposal. So I ask myself as I ask you, What are you doing with each second of each day? Do you even think about it? Have you been a witness to others of the love of Jesus in your life? When you truly think about it, the only way to have the time of your life is to give your life to Jesus.

How Do You Know?

Thus says the Lord: “Do not listen to the words of your prophets who are prophesying to you, saying, ‘Behold, the vessels of the Lord’s house will now shortly be brought back from Babylon,’ for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you. Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon and live.”   Jeremiah 27:16-17

Serve the king of Babylon and live? Did God really say that to His people? The back story is that the kingdom of Judah had turned away from God. They were worshiping other gods and had ignored His presence in the Temple. Now God was actually pursuing them through King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 

It can be confusing to know who in your life you can trust. You can find just about any opinion you want in any area of your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re having medical, relationship, work, financial, or family problems, you can find at 20 different opinions on how to solve them. And each opinion claims to be the gospel truth! So how do you decide? How did God’s people in Jerusalem know that Jeremiah was the true prophet rather than all the others who were telling them exactly what they wanted to hear?

My first clue is that if the message is exactly what I want to hear and seems too good to be true, then I need to at least consider other options. Those who were living in Jerusalem at the time of Jeremiah had resisted the Babylonian invasion. But it was those who were taken as captives, like Daniel, who prospered in their relationship with God. Many times I have found God’s path to be the less obvious one. When I give it enough time and don’t rush my decision, the right path always emerges. This was true in Jeremiah’s time. The truth seeker could see that Jeremiah was telling the truth because what he predicted was actually taking place. 

When I go to God in prayer and seek His way with all my heart, He always brings the right person into my life to help guide me onto His path. When I was confused about my calling in high school, He brought a pastor to help me see that I needed to study theology at Andrews, . When I was questioning my calling in Rockford as a physician, He led me to be the lay-pastor there. When I was confused as to whether I should retire from medicine, he brought the right question to my mind as I sought His way in fervent prayer. And most recently with my medical condition, He is making my path clear through prayer, time, and the right people at the right time. 

If you are confused about your calling in life, or a decision you need to make about any aspect of your life, give yourself time to clearly hear from God. He is always with you. His message may be surprising or even seem impossible. He may even want you to “serve the king of Babylon” for a time. But His way is always the best way for your life. Jeremiah 29:11-13 is as true today as the day Jeremiah penned it… For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Expect a Miracle

Every Christmas Eve I would get in the car with my dad who would drive around the neighborhood to see if we could spot Santa Claus. We would look on housetops, and of course in the sky. Most years we didn’t see anything resembling Santa. So we would return home to the news that Santa had visited our home while we were out. By the time I was 6 or 7 years old my parents told me the truth about Santa. It wasn’t a big deal to me since I had never seen him anyway. And what’s more, my parents had always taught me the real Christmas story. I knew the miracle of Jesus’ birth. In fact, the Christmas story is filled with miracles. There’s the miracle of the virgin birth. The miracle of Joseph accepting Mary’s story. The miracle of the Son of God becoming the Son of man. The miracle of wise men from the east finding the Son of man. The miracle of the ancient prophets foretelling the exact time and place of the Son of man’s birth. And the miracle of escaping Herod’s plan to destroy the Son of man.

The Christmas story is indeed filled with the miraculous. So why don’t we expect miracles as part of our Christmas story? For some of us, including many Christians, we don’t actually see the miracle of the Christmas story. Or if we do, we see it as something that happened over 2,000 years ago in a time when miracles were commonplace. But today we live in the scientific era where miracles are simply those things yet to be dissected, explained,and repudiated as nothing more than a law of nature. So we don’t expect a miracle. We talk about the “magic” of Christmas, but not the miracle of it. We give exhortations to “believe” in the inner good of humanity, but not in the inner miracle of God.

As I try to make sense of the miracle of Christmas, I find proof of it at the very beginning of the story. I’m talking about the very beginning of our story that is found in Genesis. Here we see a description of a miracle happening in which God creates two things man has never been able to create: life and time. Many in the scientific community feel we are close to creating life. After all, we are able to clone mammals. Some might argue that we can create a single cell. The headline “Scientists Create First Artificial Life” was published by WorldPress.com on May 20, 2010. The New York Times published an article titled “Scientists Create Artificial Life In Laboratory” on May 21, 2010. But there are no similar claims of man creating time, not even a single second.

The creation story in Genesis describes God as first creating life culminating in the creation of man. Then God created time, the Sabbath, for man and God to commune on a weekly basis. God established a weekly cycle to remind us of the miracle of time and the life that lives within that time. Yes, He created time on the seventh day that is called the Sabbath so we could experience the miracle of time with Him. The miracle of the Christmas story is that the Son of God interjects Himself into man’s time and space. Perhaps if we really want to experience the miracle of Christmas we should look at how Jesus spent His Sabbaths on this earth. He created the Sabbath as a time to be with us. Christmas is a celebration of the time He came to live with us. What better way to experience the miracle of Christmas than to do the things Jesus did on the Sabbath when He lived on earth?

We can experience a different kind of Christmas this year if we follow the example of Jesus and expect a miracle. In Luke 4 Jesus quoted from Isaiah to describe His mission on this earth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” We can live the miracle. We can be the miracle. Jesus tells us we only need the faith of a mustard seed to move mountains. It’s time to expect a miracle by being a miracle this Christmas!

Tag Cloud