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For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I have a list. Actually I have several lists. Some are written on scraps of paper. Others are stored digitally on my Smartphone or computer. They are work related, personal and, of course, my honey-do lists.

The frustrating thing about my lists is that many of the things on them are things that really wouldn’t take that much time. That’s the issue. Time. I’m lousy at time management. Before you give me a list books to read or ten easy steps to time management let me tell you I’ve read many books and articles about that and have a few more on my list. (Have I already mentioned I have plenty of lists?)

What’s true in my physical life is also true (unfortunately) in my spiritual life. I love Jesus Christ. He is my source of comfort, encouragement, forgiveness, acceptance… (There I go again making another list!)

I have to confess though, that there are many things in my ‘spiritual side’ that don’t get done, or don’t get done well. Like my physical side, most of the time it’s not an issue of difficulty or time consumption; it’s a matter of self-discipline.

Self-discipline. I hate that term. ‘Self’ gives me the picture of who it all relies on. It’s all about me. I need to try harder. I need to organize better. I need to prioritize. I need to delegate. ‘Discipline’ to disciple, to follow a standard. To accomplish what you have set out to do. To suffer consequences for failure.

The Apostle Paul writes to a young pastor named Timothy. It seems like Timothy was almost like a son to Paul. It also appears that this young pastor was ministering in a difficult place and time.

So ‘Father Paul’ writes (my paraphrase), “So remember Timothy. This God we serve has given us the ability to stand courageously, live powerfully, love passionately and accomplish the task set before us by the Lord Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

For someone like me who already feels overwhelmed at times this can be small comfort. I’ve been given the Holy Spirit to accomplish all that but reality screams at me that it’s not working!

Here’s one thing I’ve discovered. I need to continue reading on in Paul’s letter. Just a couple verses later, Paul explains more of life and ministry to his young protégé.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

Did you catch it? The solution to my (and perhaps your) dilemma? Go back and read it again. One tiny little phrase we often overlook, ‘not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.’ Once again, I’m reminded that this life isn’t about my power, my ability, my ‘self-discipline.’

From now on my endeavor is to shelve the old term ‘self-discipline’. From now on my goal will be to live in Christ-discipline. To let his power live in my, through me and in spite of me. I’m not relinquishing responsibility. I’m handing it off to the one who said to cast all my cares on him.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I’m tired of trying to do things on my own. I hereby give you back the reigns of my life as you’ve commanded me to do. Empower me with your Spirit to live a life of ‘Christ-discipline.’ Amen.


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.

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