January 2023

Several years ago, the Appleton, Wisconsin Post Crescent ran a headline that read, “The Future is Getting Closer.” Interesting thought. Certainly, there is truth in that statement. As we begin a new year, we all ask ourselves at least two questions: “How much time do we have left in life?” and “How can I best use that time for eternal purposes?” At least I ask those questions. As to the first question, that is in God’s hands. But the second question is in ours. Time is the most precious thing, apart from God’s gracious redemption, that we are given. As we come to a new year of life let us endeavor to use God’s gift wisely. Certainly, we will all admit to having not always done so. We look back and recognize many mistakes we would like to forget. But I like what someone said: “One reason God created time was so there would be a place to bury the failures of the past.” The scripture that says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us” (Ps 103:12), brings me great comfort and the resolve to keep moving forward. As the Apostle Paul wrote,
“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . . . Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14).
So, what can you spend your time most wisely on? Jesus clarified that for us in Matthew 22:38-40. First, simply love God with all your heart and mind and body and soul. The best way to do that is honor him daily with how you live your life. If you are living it correctly, you will love your neighbor as yourself. That is the second way to spend your time. Those two resolves will send you on the way to redeeming your time, the time that God gives you, both wisely and well.
There is a management dictum that says, “If your priorities are right and you’re working on the right things and using your time well, then 20% of your time will produce 80% of your results.” That doesn’t mean we aim at only working 20% of the day. It means if we live those two great commandments, the kingdom of God will gain maximum benefit. It’s going to be a great year loving God and loving our neighbors together.
Pastor Mike