Jan 6, 2016

Teach Us To Number Our Days; For a heart of Wisdom

"Hey Dad, I'm at the start of an amazing mid-year break". my oldest son texted from his exchange-program residence in St. Andrews, Scotland. "I'll have 5 weeks of travel ~ Zurich and Zug for Christmas; hiking in the Swiss Alps;

...then Dusseldorf-Belgrade-Thessalonica for my debate in the World Debate Championships and that's just the start;  then there's lots more travel on the way back to Scotland from there!"  "I'm representing St Andrews University debate society at the Worldwide competition in Thessalonica, Greece after Christmas. They are paying almost everything for me; and I'll compete against 500+ others !"
"Wow! ...what an opportunity!" I exclaimed, feeling his excitement.  "Did you know that I passed through Thessalonica riding on the Orient Express in 1984 during my train trip to Greece and on to Israel after I worked those years in Africa?"  I added, (reminding him that the old guy did a bit of travel himself). 
"Really?, that's awesome"

We exchanged now-distant memories from my past with exciting plans for his future. My head filled with rich memories that came flooding back from worldwide adventures now decades ago.  With some envy, I get to join him, if only vicariously by following each and every twist and turn of his adventure by his texts and photos.  But I couldn't help but notice that seemingly just a short time ago, it was ME excitedly explaining my travel plans to my own mom and dad.  

  • Time marches steadily, determinedly and doesn't stop for any of us.
Perhaps from time to time we need to pause and question ourselves.  What are we doing with the time we have?  How much of our time are we wasting? How could we put it to better use?  Have we yet discovered the purpose God has for our lives?   What does the bible say about being wise with our time; and in the process becoming wiser?  Perhaps these are questions we should be asking this time of year going into 2016.  Here are a few of my thoughts that reflect the heart of Moses, the man of God from long ago:

10...Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
12Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom

~ Psalm 90  (Prayer of Moses, the man of God.)

  • We need to ask God for Wisdom!

-The fear of the Lord (reverence) is the beginning of Wisdom ~ Proverbs 9:10

-Your commands (God's Word) are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies ~ Ps. 119:98

Biblically, we learn that the great men of the bible  have always asked God for wisdom.   While there are many examples, the Old Testament introduces us to Solomon, who although famously wise enough already, is recorded asking God for wisdom.  Amazingly, we actually get to listen in on this intimate conversation in 1 Kings 3. 

4-5 The king (Solomon) went to Gibeon, the most prestigious of the local shrines, to worship. He sacrificed a thousand Whole-Burnt-Offerings on that altar. That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, “What can I give you? Ask.”
Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.
7-8 “And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.

“Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”

10-14 God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—
I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.” 
The Message (MSG) version of 1 Kings 3

Currently our Anvil 'Route 66' bible study is cruising through James, where we have begun looking at the writings of this wise leader of the Jerusalem church.  This perceptive man immediately in his writing begins to teach us of God's ability to impart wisdom by asking Him in prayer.  God stands by, only too happy to oblige our wisdom requests.  I find that I remember back to my youthful days seeking God for my life's work and  subsequently encourage my children to seek God for direction and 'generous amounts' of wisdom that is their's; ....just for the asking.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you ~ James 1:5

It has been said that there are two significant times in a person's life; the day you were born, and the day you discover WHY you were born.  Perhaps then we should spend our time as wisely as we can in the ways God has gifted us;

  • doing the things that we discover God has created us for; 
  • doing the things that are building God's kingdom; including our Character, and being a Godly and positive influence in the lives of people around us.
  • I know I can be more like that in 2016 than I was in 2015.  What about you?

My friend Ernie Sohnchen from Kelowna, BC sent me the following words to think about. They are ideal to meditate on as we go into 2016.  An entire year is ahead of us and perhaps we can use this pause to make some course corrections in our lives and practise asking God for wisdom, being wise and numbering our days by making each day  count. 

What Will Matter?
Ready or not, someday, it will all come to an end.
All the things you collected whether treasure or tinsel will pass to someone else.
There will be no more surprises, no minutes, no hours or days.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on, at the end.
I won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you BUILT;
…not what you got, but what you GAVE.
What will matter is not your success, but your SIGNIFICANCE.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you TAUGHT.
What will matter is every act of INTEGRITY, COMPASSION, or SACRIFICE that enriched,
Empowered or encouraged others to emulate your EXAMPLE.
What will matter is not your competence, but your CHARACTER!
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
…but how may people will feel a lasting loss, because you made a DIFFERENCE!
When you’re gone, What will matter is the CLARITY and CARE at which you have loved others, …and have been a POSITIVE INFLUENCE in their lives.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how LONG you will be remembered by WHOM and for WHAT.
Living a life that matters, doesn’t happen by accident.  
It’s not a matter of circumstances but of CHOICE.
~Michael Josephson

  • Happy New Year from the ANVIL Newsletter!

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