(A Stewardship Article by Yvonne Cummins, Willesden SDA Church – July 2022)
What is time? It’s difficult to describe but perhaps indicates that things are constantly occurring and changing, without anyone intervening (the time and tide wait for no man idea). When did time commence? The Bible states “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). Beginning implies the start of a time recording system. As God creates, we are introduced to night and day, and the notion that morning and evening constitutes a day. So He is the author of time, without being subjected to the limits of time – He is Immortal!
Time is on a continuum, for after the flood the Lord God Himself ordained: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)
Time cannot be escaped! In fact it is “inflicted” on us from the beginning and virtually everything around us reminds of time – we wear timepieces, clock in and out of work, and so on. At our birth, a birth certificate is issued, indicating that we are born at a certain time, on a specific day and month of a particular year. And as we know, time is measured – seconds, become minutes, minutes convert to hours and hours into days, days into months and months into years. And as most of us become familiar with life, we begin to recognise that every day is a countdown to death. Upon death someone will be issued with our death certificate stating the time, date and circumstances of our death.
We also know that tomorrow will become today (if an extra day is granted us), and today will transform to yesterday (and history). Every day we live then, is history in the making. And even, if tomorrow is not granted to us, life has taught us that there will be a tomorrow. What we commit to history through our decision making, generally speaking, cannot be undone, therefore we need to be careful how we use it (time) and make it count!! Good news – the righteousness of Jesus undoes our sins when we repent, and God forgets them (Hebrews 8:12).
So, we are born and die, and the baton of life passes from one generation to the next, similar to a relay. But we are not simply born for the sake of living and dying, God who created time wants us to redeem time, using every opportunity to do good and to have thankful hearts (Ephesians 5:15-20). Therefore, we are not to waste it consumed with trivial pursuits!
Each person is assigned a day in which to die – each of us has a timeline. Psalm 90:10, gives the average lifespan of a human as 70 years, extending to 80 years, if we are strong (implying that there are things which might be done to enhance longevity – the application of health
laws, perhaps). Within the timeline of life, God has promised to extend the life of individuals who honour their parents (Exodus 20:12). One thing is certain, we are finite beings, and none of us knows the time assigned for us to die, hence the Psalmist requests of God: “… teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Using the example of ants, Proverbs 6:6-11 implores us not to be lazy, but to structure/utilise our time well. And in Luke 12:16-20 Jesus warns us not to be like the foolish rich man who stored up much riches, and even planned his retirement, but did not plan a relationship with God. “But God said unto him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall all these things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). This reminds us to first seek the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all our needs will be supplied. (Matthew 6:33)
We might even be involved in very meaningful, essential activities, but with the wrong emphasis. This is clearly portrayed in the story related in Luke 10:38-42 where Martha is busy making food preparations etc. for Jesus, whilst her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet listening to His every word. Martha complains to Jesus about the stance taken by Mary, which she considers as unreasonable behaviour. However, Jesus tells her that Mary’s choice is better. So, prioritise time for God.
Because: “… God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); crucially, time is set in motion for us to repent of our sins. Of repentance time, there is only now, and 2 Corinthians 6:2 reminds us “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Further, Hebrews 3:15 warns “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts…”
Simply put, time is now; tomorrow is not promised, therefore we need to review whether we have accepted God’s gift of salvation, which will determine whether we spend ceaseless time (eternity) in God’s presence in the new earth.
Jesus is coming again, and no-one has knowledge of the timing, but He states “Behold I come quickly….” (Revelations 22:20). Here again, we see time reflected, as quickly implies speed, which is related to time.
There is so much more that could be said about time, the subject is vast, but this reflection is intended to be brief, so as Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that there are times to engage in specific matters, it’s time to bring this reflection to its closure. Be smart as ants and utilise time well! And like Mary, let the word, presence and focus of God dominate your time.
(By Yvonne Cummins – June 2022)
We are bombarded with so much on the subject of talent. There are many and varied kinds of “talent shows” particularly on television, including X- Factor, and Britain’s Got Talent, where people showcase their talent[s] to the general public and compete for the winning position. These hopefuls seek to change their status in life, and might derive adoration, a new career pathway and/or fame, and even monetary reward.
We’ve also become acquainted with people who call themselves talent scouts, such as in the game of cricket, football, gymnastics, and ice skating, whose purpose it is to identify talented individuals, and make a name for themselves in the bargain. Generally speaking, this is the worldly perception of, and utilisation of talents.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines talent as “… a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught.”
Let’s take a look at Scripture to see God’s perspective. Exodus 35 provides a very good illustration.
Moses said to the Children of Israel “The Lord has chosen Bezalel, the son of Uri from the tribe of Judah, to work on the Sanctuary. He has placed His Spirit on him and given him skill, ability and knowledge in all types of artistic works….” (Exodus 35:30)
There are a number of important things highlighted by this Scripture. Here we see that Moses doesn’t play the part of the talent scout, but points out the originator of
the talent as being the Lord. And God chooses specific people to endow (in this case Bezalel).
The Lord’s purpose for endowing Bezalel was for him to do works on the Sanctuary. In other words, God’s expectation when He gives us a talent is that it be utilised predominantly for the benefit of God’s works, in this particular example to work on the Sanctuary.
When God endows an individual with talents, the anointing of the Spirit of God is essential for that person to fulfil the ordained works with skill, ability and knowledgably.
We note that Bezalel was gifted with the ability to do various types of works. Therefore, is possible for an individual to be empowered with one, or several gifts or talents. We can also conclude, that without the Holy Spirit’s anointing Bezalel would have been just an ordinary, very good craftsman, like those whom God called him to teach!
Further, Exodus 35:34 indicates how God wants Bezalel’s talents to be utilised: “The Lord has given him and his assistant Oholiab son of Ahisamach the skill to teach.
From this statement, we can deduce that the Lord can choose to group skilled individuals together and give them clear roles. Bezalel is the main person, Oholiab is his assistant. It is also very clear to see from this example that Bezalel and Oholiab are both expected to teach and to skill others to work for the Lord. God therefore wants an attitude of sharing and building up/ enabling of others. He doesn’t want those He’s gifted to keep it selfishly.
But the ability to teach is not the only gift bestowed on Bezalel, and his assistant, we are given an indication of some of the talents God bestows as Moses states: “He wants him to design things to be made out of gold, silver and bronze.” (Exodus 35:32). “He wants him to cut and set precious stones, to carve wood and to use his artistic craftsmanship to help me to make His Sanctuary.” (Exodus 35:33). “He has given them skill as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers and weavers of fine linen and yarn dyed blue, purple and scarlet. They will do this with the skill of trained designers and craftsman.” (Exodus 35:35)
According to 1 Peter 4:10 each of us have some of God’s gifts which we should use to help others, “like good stewards, administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
There’s also an attitude which should exist when using our talents, i.e. “Whoever serves should do it with the strength that God has given Him, so that God will be praised through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:12).
So, let God reveal your talent[s] and use them, not for self-glorification but for the building of God’s kingdom and for His glory!
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Besides the spiritual implications of this verse, we understand that we are to care for our bodies, since God gives them to us for his glorious purposes. They ultimately belong to him.
It is also important to note Paul’s statement in Ephesians 5:29-30 (ESV) that says, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church….” He makes the implicit assumption that we will naturally want to take care of our physical bodies.
Unfortunately, we are often guilty of taking our bodies for granted, abusing and/or neglecting them in various ways. This ought not to be so. Many of us fail to properly nourish our bodies through a healthy and well-balanced diet. We don’t take the time or effort to exercise like we should. Some people abuse their bodies through overeating, excessive consumption of alcohol, illicit drug usage, and even intentional self-harm.
Our bodies are intended to be holy instruments for God’s special usage. We are also supposed to enjoy our bodies and their remarkable functional capacities.
Our bodies are indeed amazing creations. Your nose has the capability of remembering 50,000 different scents. Your taste buds are replaced every 10 days. Your body sheds about 600,000 particles of skin every hour. Your blood vessels could circle the globe that is 100,000miles of blood vessels in an adult human body.
While awake, the human brain produces enough electricity to power a light bulb. Human bones are ounce for ounce stronger than steel, though they are composed of 31 percent water. The human eye can distinguish about 10 million different colours. If uncoiled, the DNA in all the cells in your body would stretch 10 billion miles.
Your brain uses 20 percent of the total oxygen and blood in your body. In a lifetime, your brain’s long-term memory can hold as many as 1 quadrillion (1 million billion) separate bits of information.
Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day pumping 1.5 million barrels of blood during your lifetime, enough to fill 200 train tank cars. When you take one step you are using up to 200muscles. These are just small fraction of the wonders of the human body.
Yes, your body is an amazing organism. It was made by and belongs to God. Therefore, take good care of it and use it for God’s purposes.
If you don’t take care of your body- your temple – where are you going to live?