As this article is published we are now 5 days into the year 2014.
The old year 2013 has now passed into history. It can never be relived, nor stored up for future use. That is the way it is with time. The clock of life never stands still, nor does it run backward. It continues steadily forward always pointing toward what will be and never toward what has been. Since this is the case, pause for a moment and reflect on the number of years God has allowed you to experience the coming and going of past years.
Then ponder the question, “How many more will I be privileged to see?” Some of you reading this seem to take it for granted that you are guaranteed to live another full year. Need I remind you that some of our relatives, friends and acquaintances that started 2013 among the living are no longer here? Some of them were prepared for the eventuality, sadly many were not, yet all had to accept the fact that time is transitory. Someone has aptly said, “Yesterday is a canceled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is the only cash we have available.” None of us can know what tomorrow will bring.
Yes, the year 2014 is here. You have lived through its beginning, and are now recording more of your life’s history as the days go by. What will be recorded? You might wonder whether you will finish the year or will your journey end sometime before the year is over? Are you prepared for whatever happens? You certainly have no guarantee that you will see all of 2014. So, heed Paul’s admonition, “See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” Eph.5:15-16. This passage teaches us to use wisely (make the best of) the time we have left to make up for all the wasted and spent opportunities of the past. Keep in mind God controls all things so whatever time we have left we need to use for God. Since time is short as compared to eternity, the number of “evil” days (troubles and trials of daily living, (cf. Matt.6:34) we endure is not important but how we use them are important. One day we will have to die so we need to use the time we have left to prepare for it. With your allotted days you have in your possession the most precious commodities in the world: your soul and the souls of those who are being influenced by you. How you use these days will be a determining factor in where these souls will spend eternity. So it should be of great concern to you to make the best use of these opportunities to help yourself and them. You have a choice as to how you will live this year God has granted you. How it ends for you will be your choice Josh.24:15. So, redeem the time. It is short but eternity is long. “TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS”
We rush along. One year ends and a new year looms before us. Even though we have no guarantee that we will see it all the way through Dec.31 2014, so few ask the all-important questions: “What am I here for? Where did I come from? Where am I going?” The Scripture exhort us, “So teach us to number our days; that we may get us a heart of wisdom” Ps.90:12. In this hurry-up world of materialism even the ending of a year should make us more aware of the impending close of our earthly life: “It is appointed unto men once to die…The living know that they shall die” Heb.9:27; Eccl.9:5.
Of our earthly life, the apostle wrote, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away” Jas.4:14. James is reminding us of the transitory nature of life (here today, gone tomorrow). Now, in the year 2014, it suddenly dawns on us that the flowers that bloomed last Spring later withered and died in the fall and are now gone forever. Like the flowers we live but a short time. “December” has passed, “January” is here. We cannot live the past years over again but we can “get us a heart of wisdom” and find purpose and happiness in this New Year. King Solomon, the richest man on earth in his time, wrote the book of Ecclesiastes which records his search for purpose and happiness. Let us see what God had him write about purpose and happiness.
Happiness is not found in material riches. Stocks and bonds, 401k’s, IRAs, real estate, bank accounts and annuities will not guarantee happiness. The rich man wrote, “I gathered me also silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got me men-singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me…and behold all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was no profit under the sun” Eccl.2:8, 9, 11. Again, what happiness did Judas find with his thirty pieces of silver or Achan, with his wedges of gold? How about the hoarded portion of the sale by Ananias and Sapphira? Yes, many have coveted wealth and “pierced themselves through with many sorrows”, as the apostle wrote 1.Tim.6:10.
Happiness is not found in dominant power. Solomon was the most powerful king on earth. But he wrote, “Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity” Eccl.2:18-19.
Happiness is not found in worldly pleasure. Many avidly seek happiness in the giddy whirl of pleasure and social entertainment. But Solomon wrote, “I said in my heart, come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure; but surely, this also was vanity. I said of laughter – ‘madness!; and of mirth, ‘What does it accomplish?’Eccl.2:1, 2. Often Solomon said: “All is vanity under the sun.”
Happiness is found only in obedience to God. When he came to the end of his search, Solomon wrote, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is man’s all Eccl.12:13. Until we have a confident trust, based on our understanding of His word that we have obeyed our God, we cannot know true happiness. Go back and read the beatitudes found in Matt.5:1-12. This is the basis of true happiness! “Blessed” can be translated “happy” in every instance. If you truly want a Blessed Happy New Year in 2014 then allow God to make it so by fully obeying Him. Tommy Thornhill