God is already putting the finishing touches on the salvation work. We must make every opportunity count because the day of salvation is truly near.
THINK ABOUT IT: What for you is the most important part of your day? What takes up much of your time and effort? Is it in taking care of your obligations? Is it in earning a living?
More often than not, we plan out our activities for the day, for the week, or even for the year—prioritizing important schedules and appointments—according to what we desire and hope to achieve. We do this also to have enough money to spend for our basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and education; to be physically healthy and fit; have a sound mind; be successful at work; enjoy a clean and safe environment, among others.
Do not waste precious hours
While we also keep ourselves busy with things that bring about happiness and contentment in our lives, we, members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), are taught a very valuable lesson concerning spending our time, thus:
“The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!” (Rom. 13:12-14 The Message)
We are instructed not to be preoccupied with the things of this world, because God is already putting the finishing touches on the salvation work. In other words, we must make every opportunity count because the day of salvation is truly near.
For us not to waste but make good use of the precious daylight hours, we are instructed to never forget God’s teachings but store them in our hearts:
“My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart, for they will give you a long and satisfying life. Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will gain a good reputation.” (Prov. 3:1-4 New Living Translation)
As such, let us spend our time wisely by obeying God’s commands. We are also advised to plan carefully what we do and avoid evil for our benefit:
“Plan carefully what you do, and whatever you do will turn out right. Avoid evil and walk straight ahead. Don’t go one step off the right way.” (Prov. 4:26-27 Good News Bible)
Never a loss
Living in this world is indeed a big challenge for all. Regardless of our status in life, each of us goes through various problems—poverty, injustice, calamities, dreadful illnesses, and all kinds of difficulties. When faced with such problems, many are likely to prioritize the things that they think would help them in their plight. Sadly, there are those who fail in handling problems in these troubled times and consequently drift away from the right direction and, in effect, take the path toward destruction. However, for us, the key to God’s blessings is clear:
“The Lord your God will bless you in the land that he is giving you. Not one of your people will be poor if you obey him and carefully observe everything that I command you today.” (Deut. 15:4-5 gnb)
We must never think that the reason we are exhorted by the Church Administration to obey God’s commands is to burden us. Neither should we complain nor refuse when we are instructed to obey. Let us have faith that our obedience has a great bearing on our receiving God’s help and graces. Like the servant of God, Job, let us treasure the words of His mouth more than our necessary food (Job 23:12 New King James Version).
Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself guaranteed that one is not at a losing end whatever and no matter how much he has sacrificed in obeying the will of God:
“Then Peter said, ‘See, we have left all and followed You.’ So He said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life’.” (Luke 18:28-30 nkjv)
One who constantly obeys God’s commands will receive many times more in this life and even more in the life to come.
Our most important appointment
What are some of the commandments of God that we must pursue to receive His favor even though living in this world is very difficult? King David, a servant of God, tells us of his experience, thus:
“The danger of death was all around me; the waves of destruction rolled over me. The danger of death was around me, and the grave set its trap for me. In my trouble I called to the Lord; I called to my God for help. In his temple he heard my voice; he listened to my cry for help.” (Ps. 18:4-6 gnb)
We can only imagine how difficult David’s situation was back then. And yet, did he give up? Did he stop obeying God? No. Instead, he went to the temple and there he communed with God—he worshiped and prayed to Him for help. And David testifies that God heard his voice and listened to his cry for help.
Hence, we must never neglect the worship service no matter how severe our problems are. Let us make use of the house of worship to pray to God and ask for His help. As servants of God, what are we certain of when we pray as we gather to worship Him? The Psalmist declared:
“He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me. … I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live.” (Ps. 23:3-4, 6 gnb)
Considering the value of praying to and communing with God during worship services, we can definitely say that our most important appointment is our appointment with Him. Our most important commitment is our meeting together, which is the congregational worship service, to worship Him.
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine.