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Man Apart from God

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-15)

Lesson 9 -- first quarter 2004
February 1, 2004

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2003, Christian Light Publications

Enough time?

"I don't have enough time. I have so much I need to do and so much more I want to do." I want to read and I want to go on outings. I need to maintain a business and I need to teach school. I want to build a play house (and a tree fort) and I wanted to help rebuild that engine. I need to write these pages and I need to finalize work on a marriage and family seminar. I want to be a missionary in Mexico and I want expand my current outreach. I need to fix a faucet, clean a vehicle (or two!), replace a keyboard, write report cards, and on and on. I want to build a flower box, spruce up the yard, go through some boxes of stuff, write a devotional book, clean out the garage, organize the basement, and so on and so forth. Some of things I put in the Need to Do category also go in the Want to Do category; for example, teaching school and going through some boxes of stuff. Other things conflict with each other, regardless of the category in which I placed them; for example, teaching school, maintaining a business, and being a Mexico missionary.

The basic dilemma of the previous paragraph is not unique to me. You suffer from your own version of it, as I suspect almost everybody else does and has. It doesn't matter whether we live in the fast-paced culture of the United States or in the relaxed-pace culture of Mexico. Time places inviolable restrictions on what and how much we can get done. We all have a limited amount of time and we cannot do a thing to change that.

What shall we do, then? Increase the pace of our living in order to squeeze more use from (and into) our time? I suppose some folks will need to do that in order to implement the solution. But that is most definitely not the solution itself.

The solution is discernment. We need to discern our purposes in living. In addition to being able identify at least one long-term purpose for our lives, we can also identify various short-term purposes for the individual days of our lives. We also need to discern God's purposes for us. In addition to purpose, we also need to discern timing -- when it is the appropriate season of life to do a given thing.

When is the right time for you to be working on this discernment project? Right now -- in the present! Ask, read, listen, think, pray -- don't trust your own limited judgment, understanding, and vision. Choose to be discerning and purposeful. There's always time for that and it is always the right season for that.

What profit have you?

God used Solomon to ask the question this way: "What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?" (Ecclesiastes 3:9). What are you getting in return to your spent time? What profit is your life generating? Don't be careless with your time and your life! Don't squander them in the pursuit of that which will not last. Ask God to deliver you from an earthly, materialistic life purpose and to implant in your heart a purpose for living that is both practical and eternal. Then your life with be genuinely profitable for you . . . and for God and others.

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