“Come Before Winter”

 If God wills, this year will consist of 12 months / 52 weeks / 365 days.

How will you use that time?

Have you given it any thought?

Fact is, not many things can be done at one time. Some things simply have to come first. The turn of a new year is time to evaluate our priorities and put first things first. Jesus said, “do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life (John 6:27).” How we need to put our emphasis where it belongs!

From the depths of a Roman prison Paul wrote to Timothy, his beloved friend and brother in Christ: “Do your best to come before winter (2 Timothy 4:21).” Paul knew that in the winter, the Mediterranean sea trade all but ceased. Ships would anchor in a safe harbor so as to avoid the violent storms that plagued the Mediterranean during the winter months. If Timothy was going to make the voyage from Ephesus to Rome, it would have to be before the ships stopped sailing.

There was an understandable sense of urgency in Paul’s writing. Nero, a psychotic man who tended to blame Christians for Rome’s problems, was on the throne. Paul himself knew that his death sentence was imminent, “the time of my departure is at hand (2 Timothy 4:6).” Timothy needed to drop everything and get to Rome as fast as possible.

Some things have to be done before winter or not at all.

What will you do with 2002? What will you accomplish before winter?

I will teach someone about Jesus — One of the saddest and most poignant songs in our songbook echoes the following refrain, “When in the better land before the bar we stand, how deeply grieved our souls will be; if any lost one there should cry in deep despair, ‘You never mentioned Him to me.’” Indeed, how grievous it is for Christians to remain silent about the One who has redeemed us (cf. Matt 10:32-33). Souls are passing into eternity daily. Shall we remain silent?

I will increase my giving — God blesses us with everything we have (James 1:17), and yet we may often try to rob God by giving Him the “leftovers” (read Malachi 1:6-9). There is no better time than the present to purpose in our hearts what we will give to God this year (cf. 1 Cor 16:1-2). God gives us more so that we may use more in His service! Are we responding according to His will (cf. Luke 12:42-48)?

I will grow in my relationship with God — Want to be closer to the Lord? Study His word (2 Tim 2:15). Want the fullness of joy and peace in your life? Pray and give thanks unceasingly (Phil 4:6-7). In Christ we find the ability and the strength to live as we ought (Phil 4:13). How much of 2002 will you seriously devote to knowing God better? Will He be pleased with your efforts?

Each day we’re living on time that is not guaranteed. Where are your priorities? What will you accomplish before winter?                                                                                     — John Baker