Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Christian teacher and author Max Lucado is fond of saying, “Today is a bite-size portion of life”. I like that because today is all we have got.
In a day we’ve got: 84,000 heartbeats; 1,440 minutes; one sunrise; one sunset; 24 hours.
Yesterday is gone, and you can’t bring it back again even if you want to. Do you remember the old song by The Beatles:
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
Nice song. Very popular in its time. But what would happen if we lived the way the song said and only believed in yesterday?
Are You Dwelling In the Past?
Do you ever dwell on something that took place in the past that you wish you could either go back to or change altogether? Our attics and garages and sheds are full of stuff we can’t bear to part with because it reminds us of a yesterday we wish we could have back. But we can’t dwell on the past. Today is all we’ve got. Yesterday has gone, and you can’t do anything about it. You also can’t spend tomorrow’s money or celebrate tomorrow’s achievements. We all too often spoil today by taking with us yesterday’s regrets and troubles—even our remorse over the past, or the anxiety worrying about tomorrow.
There’s a great verse in the Bible in Psalm 118:24 (NIV)
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The Lord has done it this very day;
Let us rejoice today and be glad.
Dr Norman Vincent Peale was a great Bible teacher and author who died in the mid-1990s. But he challenged people everywhere to be confident in their Christian faith. He was convinced the only way to live a fulfilled life was to claim the promises of God. And one of them was this verse better known in the ESV translation:
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it”.
Do you know where this verse came from?
Picture a man in a dark depression. Everything has gone wrong. He has reached the end, and he feels there is no hope. But he also knows something about God’s goodness and love. He can say, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1 & 118:29) Then, in the middle of this pessimistic/optimistic autobiography, he shouts, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
In a strange blend, Psalm 118 expresses how you and me, often feel about life. We can identify with the up-and-down experience of the Psalmist. This Psalm was a favourite of Martin Luther. He returned to it often. Why? He loved it because it expresses the gratitude of one who, having suffered greatly, has been released from his distress. He loved it because from beginning to end it is inherently religious. God hears the distress cry. God brings deliverance. God sows a steadfast love which endures forever. You simply can’t ‘go it alone’ in the Christian faith; you need help from the Bible to clarify the significant issues of life.
I would like to say, Today is the most important day in your life. Perhaps you would like to argue with me; maybe today doesn’t seem to be that special to you. You have had your yesterdays. Those memories are so beautiful. You were young. Life was simple. Health was good. The change had not yet taken its toll. The people who counted were alive. They loved you. They gave you attention. Now those days are gone. You are not certain there’s a place for you today. So it is much easier to live in the past, to enjoy your yesterdays. But God doesn’t deal only in life’s yesterdays.
Or Are You Counting On Tomorrow?
Perhaps you want to argue for a different starting point. You’d rather talk about your tomorrows. Life will begin for you when you graduate from university, or now that you’ve graduated, life will start for you when you find a job. Or perhaps your life will begin when you find a partner. Instead of looking to the past, you are counting on that tomorrow when Christ returns, or when you pass through that long, dark tunnel called death into the eternal light of his presence. You are geared to the future and not to the past.
In spite of that, God’s Word still says that today is the most important day in your life—”This is the day…” The Psalmist is declaring the importance of the ‘present tense’.
Today is very special. Every single chronological day is ushered in anew by the Lord. It is a gift to you. God has invested you with 24 hours. What a privilege. What a responsibility. What an opportunity. To live in the now!
What Are You Doing Today?
Don’t be content to look back to yesterday. Don’t allow yourself to be just futuristically engaged in what’s ahead. Thank God for the past. Live in the hope of the future. But God wants you to live today with the assurance that this is his day given to you. As bland or as complicated as it may seem, it is a very special day.
What are you doing with today? Are you making the most of it? In what important task are you engaged today? Are you drifting along, sensing nothing special about today, not taking advantage of his opportunity?
Even in the mundane, routine, apparently insignificant, there is the something there that has eternal significance. God has strategically placed you in your life’s circumstances. I’m suggesting, on the authority of God’s Word, that God doesn’t make mistakes. He has a reason for your being right where you are today. Tomorrow may be entirely different. He only asks you to ‘make full use of the time’ today. He prompts you to work for him today.
In your mind, you’re just an average person. God doesn’t view you that way. To him, you are a very special person. You are a gifted person. You are the only person who can work out his will for you. You are the only person who can relate to the people he has entrusted to you. God is sovereign—he is in charge. This day is not an accident.