Thursday, January 14th

Thursday, January 14th

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. Hebrews 3:12-14 (NASB)

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

In our quest to make good improvements in our lives for 2016, we have been tackling this week a very important matter: our "use of time." Yesterday, our focus was on managing well the tension of seeking to live life as a member of God's kingdom in the middle of all the things associated with living life here on earth. We saw that making the "kingdom" our top priority is the key to "using our time" in ways that count for eternity. But, we also saw that this doesn't mean we have a total disregard for the basic human needs of life and the "use of time" associated with them. It just means that kingdom members must be very careful about not overdoing it with the time and concern they invest in such things.

We introduced today's focus yesterday when we talked about the help that comes from fellow kingdom members to support us in our pursuit of living our lives with God's kingdom as our top priority. We said that kingdom members help each other in the following ways: becoming good at having and maintaining an intimate relationship with the king; sticking at the process of being transformed into Christlike kingdom members; and blessing those outside the kingdom in ways that help them enter into the kingdom as well.

Today's Scripture is a great follow up to this statement. This passage is essentially a mandate to the members of God's kingdom collectively to succeed at being a support system that helps everyone individually succeed at putting God's kingdom and righteousness first. The passage speaks for itself. Go back over it carefully and you will see the following: the mandate - "take care, brethren (the church)"; the problem - "an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God"; the solution - "encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today'"; and the goal - "we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end."

Staying close to God is the key to succeeding at everything that goes with being a good kingdom member and staying close to fellow kingdom members (small groups) is the key to staying close to God (assuming the kingdom members you associate with are seeking to stay close to God as well). The good "use of time" really is all about the "priorities" and "partners" we choose for ourselves throughout our lives. The more we follow the pattern of the kingdom we have been considering and the less we follow the pattern of the world in regard to the time and concern we invest in the basic human needs of life, the more we will be able to live for the kingdom during our time here on earth.

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, I choose to put you and your kingdom above all else. Continue to teach me how to get close to you and stay there. Provide that circle of fellow kingdom members that will provide the support I need for staying on track with you. Teach me more fully how to support others in ways that really count for the kingdom. Help me bless the lives of those outside the kingdom in ways that help them enter into the kingdom as well. Lord, thank you for your amazing plan and you commitment to seeing it come about in my life. Amen!

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