November 21, 2016

What about that to-do list?

A pastor friend once said that in his line of work, there was always the sense of being unfinished. This stuck in my head and now, thirty years later, I’m thinking the same thing. It isn’t about my ‘line of work’ so much as it is about the things I would like to do before I die.

At the same time, I’m reading a book about prayer with a section that focuses on consecrating all daily activities to God. That is, whatever is on my to-do list should be given to and dedicated to the glory of God. In many cases, this also prompts me to examine my motives. Why am I doing this? Will it glorify God? Is it even necessary?

This morning’s devotional reading takes a verse from the following passage. Chambers uses it to stress the importance of realizing that God’s forgiveness is possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God cannot forgive us simple because He loves us. We must realize that our redemption is possible because our penalty was paid in full at Calvary. Before Jesus died on that Cross, He prayed this way . . .

Lifting his eyes to heaven, he said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:1–5)

Chambers as a preacher sees the danger of bypassing the necessity of the cross. No doubt he knew other preachers were preaching the love of God to attract sinners, leaving out the remedy for sin and the death of Jesus to pay sin’s penalty. However, this is not the issue in my heart right now.

Instead, God’s Word speaks to me about the work I do and compares it to the work of Christ. I’d love to be able to say it is finished, but know that my ambition and desire list is longer than my life will be. Is this a trifle, a non-issue in the bigger scheme of things? Perhaps, but God cares about how I live and has something to say about my smaller concerns.

His rhema* words to me are: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (italics mine). Jesus’ had a to-do list also, but none of His own ‘stuff’ was on that list. The things in His heart were only those which His heavenly Father put there. This included the hardest item of all, to which He said, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Everything that I’d like to do will not get done. I know it. What I need to know is what God wants me to do and make sure I do that. His Word gives general principles, but as I read it I can see many instances where He gave specific instructions to His people. He told them exactly how to fight specific battles. He told them where to live, when to go, when to stay. He instructed the disciples in which place to prepare for Passover, where to share the good news, what to say when they were opposed.

I’m also reading a book by John Piper called “Don’t Waste Your Life.” It places great importance of my questions and my to-do list. If I do what I think or want, I may regret it at the end of life realizing that those things were a waste of time. Instead, I need to pray over that to-do list and listen to the Holy Spirit. I need to be diligent with the ‘go for it’ charge from the Holy Spirit and being willing for the ‘dump it’ commands as well. “Not my will, but Yours, be done.”

(NOTE: *rhema means a word from God personally spoken to the needs of the moment, compared to logos which is the truth of and from God)

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