Bible Study Jan. 3, 2018

Conference Number: (563) 999-2090 Access Code: 793633

Lesson: TIME

Scripture: Psalm 90:1-17

The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who revere God, and God's righteousness to their children's children.

Prayer

Eternal God, in whose sight a thousand years are as an evening past; as you have led us in days gone by, so guide us now as we enter this new year. We confess that in the year past we have lived too often for ourselves, ignoring the needs of those around us, and ignoring the pain of the world. We have passed by on the road the hungry, the oppressed, the poor. We have hidden from the probing and the seeking of your prompting Spirit. Forgive us, we pray, and free us to live in liberty with you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Scripture Reading

Psalm 90:1-17

90:1-2. Although Psalms 90 focuses primarily on time, it begins with an affirmation involving place as well. As a response to exile, v. 1 is a particularly pertinent and powerful affirmation: God is really the only "dwelling place" that counts (see "refuge" in Psalm 71:3; see also Psalm 91:9). Indeed, such has always been the case—"in all generations." This phrase directs attention to the passage of time. Here God is portrayed not as Mother Earth, but as mother of the earth.

Verses 1-2 already make the crucial juxtaposition of human time ("all generations") and God's time ("everlasting to everlasting").

A "Lord, you . . . " (God)

       B "all generations" (time)

               C "mountains" (space)

               C´ "earth and the world" (space)

      B´ "everlasting to everlasting" (time)

A´ "you are God" (God)

The literary structure makes a theological point. The divine "You" is all-encompassing of time and space. Human life and the life of the world find their origin and destiny in God.

Question: If all of creation and time begin with God, depend on God, and end in God. What does it suggest about how we should use our time?

The priority of God's activity and the priority of God's time reshape human activity and human time. Our days and years are not simply moments to be endured on the way to oblivion; our efforts are not simply fleeting and futile. Because God is eternal and faithful and eternally faithful in turning toward humanity, our allotted time becomes something meaningful, purposeful, joyful, and enduring. In the words of the apostle Paul: "You know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Cor 15:58 NRSV).

Question: What is striking about the above statement as it relates to how we use our time here on earth?

No topic is more common at New Year's than "time." Think of all we do with time—we gain time, fight time, lose time, find time, beat time, kill time, waste time, save time ... and so on, and on. There is no end to the quotes one can accumulate regarding time.

Question: What are some other quotes on time you can come up with?

 

One that conveys much is on an old clock in Chester Cathedral.

     When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept.

     When as a boy I dreamed and talked, time walked.

     When I became a full grown man, time ran.

     Then later, as I older grew, time flew.

     Soon I shall find, while travelling on, time gone.

Question: What does each of the stages mentioned above mean? What are some examples in your own life you may want to share during some of those stages when time flew by?

 

We are all deeply aware of time and its passage. Some want to slow it down. "Time, you old gypsy man, will you not stay.”

Others rush it. "What a drag. I can hardly wait." Time is the only resource that each of us is proud to admit we lack.

There was a show on television called “The Million Dollar Drop”. Unlike other game shows on television where you begin with nothing and end up with something, this show is the complete opposite; you begin with a million dollar and try to keep it at the end.

Question: How does this television show relate to the people of the world and their use of time?

"Time management" is a favorite topic for after-dinner speakers in the business world. The fact is, there is no such thing. There is only management of ourselves with regard to time.

Question: Do you agree there is no such thing as time management? Why, or why not? 

Despite difficulty with the term, as this new year begins, we will take a look at time management for the Christian.

The starting point must be the recognition that time is a gift of God, to be used with appreciation and respect. Paul wrote to the Colossians, "Make the best possible use of your time." That is the clear message of the Puritans who came to America. They were distressed by time wasted because one's devotion was proven by one's production. In turn, this conviction generated the "Protestant work ethic."

Uneasiness about the Protestant work ethic stems from the fact that its practitioners have often been more work-centered than God-centered. There are worse errors. Calvin, one of its founders, wrote of the work ethic, "There is no task so sordid or base that, provided you obey your calling in it, it will not shine and be reckoned precious in God's sight."

Most jobs can be enjoyable. Alan McPhee, well-known to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation listeners in Canada, said in an interview, "My motto is, 'far better to be a radio announcer than work for a living'." He followed up with, "Just watch me in the corridors grinning from ear to ear!" Listeners to "Eclectic Circus" can feel the grin. Making work an act of joy is probably the first lesson to be learned about Christian time management.

Question: How does joy with your job help you manage time?

In a New Year's interview regarding future trends most of the participants mentioned issues of peace, poverty and so on. Noted commentator Eric Sevaried's "issue" was leisure. How does "loafing" fit into our notion of Christian stewardship? The Bible links it to the nature of God as surely as it does work. On the seventh day, God rested.

We have thought of work time and leisure time. Family time also deserves attention. Time spent in family games, camping, travel, provides rare opportunities to listen, to care and to show concern. Finding words to help another express her feelings; time spending shared laughter or shared tears—all these are growing ground for family life, but each requires a commitment of time.

In the words of the old hymn, "Take time to be holy." Public worship, private devotion, hours of study, time for prayer—we sometimes fail to get these onto our agendas.

Question: What are some measurable things you could do in 2018 to make the best use of time? Share on the call.

Skill in budgeting can be applied to time as well as to cash. Each is a limited commodity. Each requires thought and planning. "So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom," says the Psalmist.

Prayer

Maker of all time and space, God who was before time or place, we thank you for the gift of years. We are grateful for all that gives our lives shape and design, for the dependable round of days, the annual cycle of seasons, and the seasons of the heart. We thank you, too for fresh beginnings, and pray that in the use of these your gifts we may find closeness with your timeless spirit, through Christ our Lord. Amen.