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So be very careful how you live. Do not live like those who are not wise, but live wisely. Use every chance you have for doing good, because these are evil times. Ephesians 5:15-16 (NCV)

“I don’t have enough time.”

How many times do we say that in a day? There are, of course variations of that saying. The reality is that sometimes ‘time’ is our biggest enemy. Everyone on earth has exactly the same amount of time, 24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds a day. That’s it. You can’t stretch them out. You can’t bank some today for use at a later time.

Someone once said, “Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note.

Today is ready cash. Spend it wisely!” You can’t do anything about the time you wasted yesterday, so forget about it. No sense crying over spilt milk. Planning for tomorrow it a wise thing to do, but putting things off until tomorrow only adds to the workload and stress for that day.

Today, more than ever we are being pulled in a multitude of directions. We have opportunities socially, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically like never before. We can get tired out just going over our day planner!

The key to wise living is balance, but balance is hard to attain to. Take the story of Mary and Jesus and his disciples). One was concerned about Spiritual things (sitting at Jesus feet and listening to him). Jesus responded to the stress and frustration of Martha by saying (my paraphrase), Martha what you are doing is noble, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

There’s no easy formula or 12-step process to avoiding stress and making the most of our time because each of us has unique situations and opportunities. But here are a few things I am trying to learn in living wisely.


                * ‘Just say no’. This is more than a quip to keep us off drugs. Sometimes we need to say no to some very good things in order to do better things well. We aren’t called on to save the world. During those tough decisions on whether to say yes or no, pray first, decide later.

                * “Will this enhance my walk with God?” Our spiritual lives must take the forefront in all of our dealings with others. Is it more important to [blog, be on Facebook, get my ‘tweet’ in] than to spend time in God’s word and prayer? “Oh, (you say) but I use my blog, my FaceBook, my Tweet account to spread the gospel and encourage people. While these are noble gestures, Jesus is more concerned about your relationship with him than the number of blog readers, tweets or FaceBook Friends.

                * “Will this benefit my physical health?” We are God’s holy temple. Take that walk (or run). Visit the gym. Skip the second helping at the dinner table or pass on desert. When our physical bodies are out of sync it can affect the way we think and act towards God, ourselves and others. Take care of your physical body before you take care of others.

                * “Will this improve my emotional/intellectual ability to perform?” There are many good things out there. Things that can change society. Things that can make the lives of other people better. But if your own emotional or intellectual well-being is strained you eventually burn out and that never helps anyone.

When the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Church in Ephesus he mentioned wise living before ‘doing good’ for a reason. Even during his life people were being pulled in many directions. Paul knew the importance of living wisely so that we can ‘do good things’ better and for a longer period of time.

The four ideas mentioned are not profound, but they take a lifetime to master. Allow God’s Spirit to lead you in what is best for you so that, as a Christ-follower you can change your world without destroying yourself and those around you in the process.

PRAYER: Father God, I won’t ask you for more time. You’ve given me all the time I need. What I do ask is that you empower me with your Spirit to see the wisdom of simple living, taking the time I need to take care of me so I can take care of those around me. Amen.

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:3-4

There is an old Native American legend regarding evil and good. Evil is portrayed as a dark dog that lives within each of us; good is a white dog that also lives within each of us. The two are at constant battle for control of our lives. The dog we choose to feed the most is the dog that wins control of our lives.

In a sense, the legend isn’t far from being wrong. Paul describes a similar scenario in his own life when he says, in Romans 7, the good that I want to do, I don’t do. Instead, the very things I hate, the very things I despise, I find myself doing over and over again. Paul, like the rest of us, want to see the ‘dark dog’ die, yet we continue to feed it at least enough to guarantee power to wage war in our lives.

Any of us who have walked the journey of life at all are well aware of the battle within. There are so many things out there that cry out to us. Things that make us feel good (for awhile at least), things that ‘seem right’ (even though they contradict God’s law), things that sneak up on us and attack us at our weakest moment.

For some of us it’s an addictive habit like smoking, drugs or alcohol, or lust. For others it’s anger, language or food. Still others battle daily with feelings of failure, insecurity, fear and doubt. We work hard to build or salvage broken relationships, save our homes or jobs and rescue our children from harm. It’s draining just to think about it!

The Apostle John gives us a formula for victory. It’s a lesson he learned at the feet of Jesus himself. The secret to victory over the world isn’t found in religion. It’s not found in social action, counseling, self-help books or volunteering at the local soup kitchen. Recovery groups and fitness programs won’t help either.

The secret to victory over whatever you are struggling with is love. Not love as the world gives, but love that comes from a growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Many of us know that but few of us see victory. One reason may be that we forget, or have never learned, that relationship takes time. Victory won’t come over night. The bad news is that we are responsible for every bad decision we’ve ever made. We can choose. The good news is that even if we’ve made a boatload of bad decisions in life, Jesus Christ will forgive us and help us back on the road to recovery.

Don’t expect to win every battle every day. Take little steps. Relationship comes as we read God’s Word on a daily basis, pray for guidance and strength and refuse (one decision at time) not to listen to the enemy voices that want to bring us to defeat.

People who are victorious over the things that bring them down are the people who determine every day to walk just one step closer to the light. The are the ones that have learned to celebrate the small victories in life and bounce back from the occasional defeats as they learn to love Jesus Christ above all else.  

PRAYER: Father, from this day forward I have resolved to move closer to you in relationship through the love and forgiveness only Jesus Christ can offer. Forgive me for the times I’ve made wrong choices. Empower me with your Spirit to learn to walk closer to you and love you more. In Jesus name, Amen.

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