Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Barry Kang of Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on April 19, 2013.
Devotional Thought for Today
“What Would you Write on Your Own Epitaphs?”
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Selah 6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
On the first day of seminary, the professor of Christian Leadership asked us to write our own epitaphs. I thought this was a rather surprising, if not a morbid, request. But I found that this exercise gave a new perspective on my life. In Psalm 39, David asks God to give him a perspective to be able to see his life’s end and how short his years will be. When we know how short our lives will be, we will treasure each day and desire for it to be used in the best possible way.
Moreover, we can also gain true perspective by seeing how much greater the eternal life will be with God! Each day of our lives is lived with purpose and richness towards God when we consider their breadth relative to the forever that awaits us afterwards. Instead of “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die,” each day is an opportunity to do something significant (“rich”) for God and His kingdom, thereby storing up treasures in heaven. Many Christians delay living a life rich towards God because they assume that there will be time for that later; such attitude, however, will result in leading a trivial life for God. The time to live for God is now!
How much time do you think you have in this life? Are you waiting to live more richly for God because you think you will have more time later? Let’s not delay! We can begin living a life rich for God today.
Prayer: Father, just as David did, I ask that You teach me to number my days. I confess that I lack perspective. On the one hand, I think I have all the time in the world to do the things of God later. On the other hand, I think life is so precious and short that I must enjoy myself now. Help me to have a proper perspective. I want each day to be lived in Your joy and seeking Your will in all things. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 25
Lunch Break Study
Read James 4:13-17 (NIV): Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
Questions to Consider
- What is James warning us against in this passage?
- What steps can we take to guard ourselves against presumption?
- What is the difference between sinful presumption and prudent planning?
Another word for proper biblical perspective is humility. When we see the shortness of our lives on this earth in comparison to the eternity of God (and our life with him in that thereafter), we are humbled. To see ourselves as God sees us is true humility. To live with God at the center of our lives is true humility.
- James warns against the sin of presumption:
- The presumption that we can continue to be alive at will (“today or tomorrow . . . spend a year there”)
- The presumption that we are masters of our own lives, as if we need to do no more than decide and it will happen
- The presumption that ability is all that matters (“carry on business and make money”).
- We overlook frailty (we are a “mist”) and ignore the will of God (“if it is the Lord’s will).
- The three verbs in verses 14-15 will help us to guard against presumption:
- “You do not know”. We have to recognize our ignorance of the future. The future is in God’s hands and not ours.
- “You are a mist”. We must recognize the shortness of our lives on this side of heaven.
- “You ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will”. We must be dependent upon God.
- James is not speaking against all planning, but rather the kind of self-sufficient, self-important planning that as one writer puts it, “keeps God for Sundays but looks on Monday through Saturday as mine”. The phrase “If the Lord wills” is not a magical or protective phrase to be used in a ritual fashion. Rather, James is telling us that all of our plans must be made whilst depending upon God and desiring his will above all things.
Think about the plans you’ve been making. Do they fall into the self-centered, I-am-the-Lord-of-the-Universe category or into the God-is-the-Lord-and-Sustainer-of-my-life category? As we journal, let us submit those plans to God’s will.