Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You have set up a banner for those who fear and worshipfully revere You, to which they may flee, a standard displayed because of the truth.”
Psalm 60: 4
“My cloud of battle-dust may dim,
His veil of splendor curtain Him;
And, in the midnight of my fear,
I may not feel Him standing near;
But, as I lift mine eyes above,
His banner over me is love.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Sky and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”
Matthew 24: 35
“Sky and earth will wear out; My words won’t wear out.”
Matthew 24: 35
The Message Bible
“Why I Love Studying the Bible” Part 11
“God’s Word Stands Forever”
“The only way to get our values right is to see, not the beginning, but the end of the way, to see things, not in the light of time, but in the light of eternity.”
What does it mean in my life that God’s Word stands forever?
How would I define the word “eternal”?
(Written the night before his execution as a heretic)
“Let nothing cause thy heart to fail;
Launch out thy boat, hoist up thy sail,
Put from the shore;
And be sure thou shalt attain
Unto the port that shall remain
“To pray about any day’s work does not mean to ask for success in it. It means, first to realize my own inability to do even a familiar job, as it truly should be done, unless I am in touch with eternity, unless I do it ‘unto God’, unless I have the Father with me.”
Mary F. Smith
We live in what I call a “disposable society.” Just in the United States, the average household member produces 1,600 pounds of garbage a year. As one article explains, “While the numbers may be difficult to grasp, consider this: with the garbage produced in America alone (each year), you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks and reach the moon…or (you could) bury more than 990,000 football fields under a six-foot high pile of waste.” (Statistics from EPA).
As I thought about how easy it is to dispose of all the paper and plastic in our world, I got to thinking about the fact that there are other more valuable things and people that we also toss aside without giving one thought about it. This fact was driven home to me when I decided at the beginning of this year I would get a new address book and update all the addresses and phone numbers of family and friends.
I was shocked to uncover the reality that nearly 40% of the names in my current Address Book were not being transferred to my new book. The reasons were many. Some people had passed away. Others had moved and not given us their new address. Some people just simply slipped away. And I had to ask myself, “Are these individuals really disposable?”
With an attitude of “disposal” filling our minds, a word like “eternal” seems impossible to comprehend. Exactly what would it look like to know that there is a time and place where “forever” really exists? I can remember hearing people talk about heaven when I was a child. I’ll admit, their descriptions sounded fantastic. Riding on a lion – petting a giraffe – running with gazelles. WOW! To a child’s mind, this sounded like an eternal Disneyland. One big amusement park. Since I had a very active imagination, I would lay on my bed, gazing up at the ceiling, and thinking about this place, where I was told with great assurance, we would live forever and ever.
A long time has passed since I was that little girl fantasizing about what heaven would be like. As time has passed, it isn’t the “fun land” dream which catches my attention anymore. One thing life over the years has taught me is that a “forever” home, where I can live without the reality of constant pain or the threat of losing someone you dearly love doesn’t hang over your head, truly seems like a place where I’d love to live.
But then, as I was preparing this series of devotionals, I came upon a statement by Richard Jeffries which caught my attention. Here’s what his perspective on eternity is: “It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly is in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come, it is now. Now is eternity.”
This thought really set me back for a moment. I asked myself, “Dorothy, do you feel like you are living in eternal time right now in your life?” To be honest, I had to admit that what I call “Dorothy’s World,” is most usually on an earthly time-clock.
Now I want to just put an idea out there for you to consider. I’ve always been fascinated with the Biblical record of a man named Enoch. It is recorded in Genesis 5: 21-24 that “Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years; and Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him.” What I find gripping about this story is that Enoch lived in a world filled with sin. Yet he didn’t choose to become a hermit and hide away in a cave. He had a wife, children, and extended family. He was engaged in what I’ll call “activities of daily living” or “ADL” as we called it when I was a nurse on a Rehabilitation Unit. However, Enoch made a choice at some point in his life to walk in “eternal time” while living on earth. I like to think that one day while Enoch and God were walking together, God said, “Enoch, you have walked in “eternal time” for so long, the earthly time-clock doesn’t work in your life anymore. Come on home with Me today.”
Enoch isn’t the only person in Scripture who chose to live in “eternal time” while still on this earth. Several weeks ago when we were studying about Abraham and all the challenges encountered in his life, I found it noteworthy that while Lot moved into Sodom, where he had a “permanent” dwelling or so he thought, it was Abraham who lived in a tent – a temporary dwelling place for he understood that earth was not his foreverland. The fact is that the author of Hebrews, in Chapter 11, which is often referred to as the “faith” chapter, makes this observation regarding the people whose names are mentioned – “These all died in faith, not having received the promise but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth” Hebrews 11: 13, K.J.V.). In order to make certain I understood what a pilgrim and stranger meant at the time these words were penned, I got out my trusty Greek dictionary and found that pilgrims and strangers were identified as aliens and foreign residents…individuals who were located away from their native home.
When you and I choose to walk with God as we spend time in prayer and studying His Word – we become grafted into the eternal. The “time” in my life becomes “forever” time! The beloved Apostle John tells us, “This is eternal life: to know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17: 3, R.E.B.). As noted author Thomas Carlyle observed, if we have no vision of eternity, we will “never get a true hold of time.”
Why do I love studying the Bible? It’s because in Genesis 1: 1, we are told “In the beginning God!” I love these words. For an earthling like myself, these four words let me know that my heavenly Father, my Creator is the beginning point in eternal time – the starting place. But then, as we study through the entire Bible, we come to the end, rejoicing in the words found in Revelation 22: 13, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
God’s Word stands forever. What’s more, from the beginning of time, God’s Word existed. These two facts give me a point of reference for my own life. And if I want to live in eternity, then why not keep myself in God’s Word... and in commune with my Father? Why not live in God’s eternal time, then I need to spend my own time in His Word and in communion with Him. So I ask you, “Why not begin living in “eternal time” right now? Why put down stakes in a country when we are only strangers in a foreign land. The prophet Isaiah reminds us, “the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40: 8, K.J.V.). And as the Psalmist asked of His Father, “Uphold me according unto Thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope” (Psalm 119: 116). I’d like to paraphrase this passage today to reflect God’s eternal time – forever – with these words: “Keep walking by my side, holding me with Your strong arm of deliverance, that I may live each moment in the mindfulness that I’m walking in eternal time with You as I hope for the day when Your promise of talking face to face becomes reality.”
“I thank thee, O Lord, that Thou hast so set eternity within my heart that no earthly thing can ever satisfy me wholly.”
“Everything Christ did and taught has eternity in view. Most of us give a nod of our theology to heaven and then live as though this world is all we have.”
Prayer of John Wesley
“I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for You or laid aside for You, exalted for You or brought low for You; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, You are mine, and I am Yours. So be it.”
“With Christ as your companion, you are a creature of eternity.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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