Your spiritual alarm clock
May the encouragements of Scripture and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit lead each of us to an embracing of this incredible opportunity in Christian meditation.
Life is unpredictable. As much as we’d like to think we know what the future holds, none of us are in control of our futures. As we start to wrap up this first week of the new year, today we’re going to look at living out our year with a sense of urgency.
In one of the cities where I served as pastor, a man was diagnosed with brain cancer and was told he only had six months left to live. Faced with this life-changing diagnosis he chose to spend his remaining time speaking to men’s groups in our area, encouraging as many as possible to turn to Christ as their Lord.
One Sunday morning, he shared his message of urgency with a men’s Bible study. The next day, one of the men who heard him speak was driving on a highway in our city when a spare tire came loose from a pickup truck in front of him, smashed into his windshield, and killed him. Two days later, the man with terminal cancer attended his funeral.
As we focus throughout this week on beginning our new year with God, let’s think today about the transforming power of urgency.
In our Scripture today, Paul testifies that “the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.” “Sleep” in this context refers to spiritual lethargy, an attitude or lifestyle of complacent apathy. And here’s why they should “wake from sleep”: “Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”
Paul then extends his metaphor in verse 12: “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” He’s referring to the weapons of spiritual warfare, such as truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, Scripture, and prayer, which he elaborates on in his letter to the Ephesians.
Just as Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: we have only today to be ready for eternity. I learned this in a vivid way many years ago.
One Sunday morning, I shared a message on the topic of judgment and the need to be ready today. Following our evening service that same night, an elderly couple stopped to thank me for my message that morning. They told me they’d taken my words to heart and made time that afternoon to pray together, confessing their sins and preparing to meet the Lord one day.
The next day, the wife passed away from a heart attack.
The day after her passing, I received a thank-you note in the mail from her that she had mailed on Sunday.
She’d written it on that Sunday afternoon and had put in her mailbox in case she didn’t see me that night at church. I received it on Tuesday and read it at her memorial service on Wednesday. I still have that letter to this day.
I share all of this not to scare or sadden us but simply as an important reminder. No one knows when Jesus will return, but we do know this: we are all one day closer to eternity than ever before.
Let us live like it could be today.
today’s devotional is written by Jim Denison
1. Meditate on the brevity of life and the urgency of living for Christ.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you prepare to meet God face-to-face. Ask him to bring to your mind anything in your life that is grieving your Father, then confess all that comes to your thoughts. Receive his forgiveness, and ask him to help you live today and every day with repentance and godliness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
3. Think about how you would live today if it were your last. What things would matter most? What wouldn’t matter at all?
“As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone” (Galatians 6:10).
If you knew the Lord would return tomorrow, what would you change today? Would you seek forgiveness from someone? Would you forgive someone? Would you stop doing something? Would you start doing something?
Even if you knew you had another thirty years to live, living with this sense of urgency leads us to a life of fruitfulness and joy. Living for heaven is the best way to live on earth. Imagine a culture in which everyone did the same.
In light of the urgency of Jesus’ return, would you join me in praying for a spiritual awakening?
In Matthew 24:45–46, Jesus taught us, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.”
Will you be “blessed” today?
Extended reading: Psalm 31
Living for heaven is the best way to live on earth. Imagine a culture in which everyone did the same.