Pearl 242: Guesswork

TOPIC: Time and Estimates

"Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, 'How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?' It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time" - Nehemiah 2:6.

Nehemiah set a time when he would be finished with the project of rebuilding the walls. He had never been to Jerusalem, did not really know much about building, and had no idea what he was going to find when he got there. How did he know how long it would take? He probably made his best guess, and it satisfied the royal couple. You may be facing a similar situation, but you are hesitant about making a commitment. What should you do? Make your best guess, get to work, and trust the Lord. Where are you holding back because you cannot be as precise as you would like? Where would making your best guess as to the time it will take help you get started? Where can you have faith to get it done in even less time than you estimate?

Lord, Nehemiah made his best guess and it was good enough for the king. What's more, it got him started on his way. Deliver me from my perfectionist tendencies that keep me bound and don't let me get started. Then give me a Nehemiah-sized goal in which I can invest my time and energy once I am free from having to know it all before I get started.

Pearl 241: Sleepless Nights

TOPIC: Time and Sleep

"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;" - 2 Corinthians 6:4-5.

At times Paul had to forfeit sleep in order to respond to and finish the work God had put before him to do. In other words, he put a higher priority on his work than sleep. Of course there were times he had no choice, like when he was involved in the troubled trip to Rome in Acts 27. While no one likes the feeling that comes from lack of sleep, it is also a chance to trust God for the energy one needs to carry on in that day or season. Are you willing to lose sleep to finish the jobs God gave you to do, or to meet the needs of others? Can you trust Him for the energy and stamina you need for your work? What could you do with an hour or two less sleep from time to time?

Lord, I realize that You sometimes require that I work into the night, requiring me to lose sleep. That may mean I need to put the needs of others ahead of my own rest time. I trust You to direct my schedule and also for the energy I need to do the work, even when my sleep time is less than optimal.

Pearl 240: A Break in Your Break

TOPIC: Time and Interruptions    

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later" - Revelation 1:19.

John was in exile on Patmos, with plenty of time on his hands. Then the Revelation came and he had to end his 'doing nothing' to write down the Revelation Jesus was giving him. He could not say, "I'll do this later," or "I'm not done with my vacation." If you are going to write and create, you will have to carve out time to actually produce something, not offering excuses like you are tired, out of the mood, or not feeling creative (whatever that means). Are you 'on call' for creativity and the Lord's initiatives, even when you are on a break? Do you see your time as your own or something God is directing? Do you feel you are owed a break, or instead that your 'breaks' are times God will use for His purposes and not just yours?

Lord, once I get to a break in my schedule, I usually love it and don't want it to end. I learned today, however, that a break may be the interlude to something else You are doing, and I must be willing to end that break at Your direction or interruption. Help me be sensitive even in down times to re-engage and create.

Pearl 239: A Long Break

TOPIC: Time and Solitude

"I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, . . ." - Revelation 1:9-10a.

John was in exile when he received the revelation from Jesus. Patmos is a beautiful but remote island in the Aegean Sea, and John was there, far removed from all church business and distractions. It was there and then that Jesus broke into his world to impart His insight. Sometimes, you have to create a long break, not just an hour or a day, to do nothing in order for your heart and spirit to quiet themselves and receive the Lord's insight and word. When is the last time you made time for any down time? How long was it? Why don't you do it again? Are you addicted to activity, so much so that you can't break away without feeling empty and guilty?

Lord, I regularly say I want or need to hear from You, but then provide only a small window of opportunity for You to speak before I am off and running. Help me to make time to hear from You, which means I need a day or a weekend or perhaps even a week or longer to focus on You, Your word, and Your will for my life.

Pearl 238: Your Priorities

TOPIC: Time and Priorities

"Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise'" - Luke 23:42-43.

Let's take one final look at Jesus and how He managed the time and priorities in His life and mission. In these verses, Jesus is hanging on a cross, suffering one of the most agonizing deaths man has ever devised. When the thief hanging next to Him made his petition, Jesus could have said, "Excuse me, I'm a little busy suffering and dying right now." Instead Jesus granted the man's petition and then proceeded to yield His spirit to the Father. He focused on His priorities and set an example for us all to follow in the power of His Spirit. Are you focused on your mission? How effectively can you put your own needs aside to help others? Do you handle important interruptions well, or see them as intrusions?

Lord, I thank You for Jesus and His example to me. Today's verses show just how focused He was on Your will for His life, even in the midst of personal agony and pain. Give me the same focus and help me produce the same results to help people be  set free from their own misery through my service.

Pearl 237: Equilibrium

TOPIC: Time and Interruptions

"Then, because so many people were coming
and going that they did not even have a chance
to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by
yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a
solitary place. But many who saw them leaving
recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns
and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed
and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them,
because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
So he began teaching them many things" - Mark 6:31-34.

Jesus tried to get away becuase they were so busy but, when they arrived to their hoped for place of rest, the needs of the peopla awaited. What did Jesus do? He followed His prioirities, put His needs aside and taught the people. There is a time for rest, but Jesus put a higher priority on meeting needs and prayer, and was willing to lose sleep and miss meals to maintain His priorities and time management equilibrium when interruptions occurred. How do you handle interruptions? Do they ruin your day or can you get back on track? Do your established priorities help you when you are faced with the unexpected or the unanticipated?

Lord, I face interruptions every day, and sometimes they ruin my day and what I had planned.  First, help me set my priorities so that I stop seeing some things as interruptions but rather as redirections. Then help me get back on task when those inevitable interruptions do come.

Pearl 236: All NIghter

TOPIC: Time and Priorities

"One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside
to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When
morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose
twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles . . ." - Luke 6:12-13.

Jesus had been busy and He had an important decision to make: choosing the 12 apostles. So he pulled an all nighter, praying instead of sleeping. Was He able to do that simply because He was God? No, He prayed all night because prayer was more important than sleep. That indicates the power and role that your prioirities should have in your time management. Have you established clear priorities and values? Do you follow them, or are they paper values? Can you think of an example this week where you followed your priorities, just like Jesus did here, in your daily work and walk?

Lord, I think I have overspiritualized my life at times, waiting for You to lead me instead of making a decision to act based on my values and priorities. Forgive me for abdicating my responsibilities at times and help me to recognize, set and follow my values on a daily basis.

Pearl 235: Hard Work

TOPIC: Time and Productivity

"Simon answered, 'Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets'" - Luke 5:5

The fishermen stayed up all night, but they caught nothing. You can work hard and manage your time well, but the Lord is still the one who has to bless your work for it to prosper. Are you working hard with few results? Maybe it's time to stop and listen, and then do what God directs, even if it's something you have already tried. Do you believe that God can direct your time and activities? Do you trust Him for results or have you put your trust in your ability to manage your time and work hard? Can you see that it is not one or the other: It is both: your effort and His blessing?

Lord, there are some areas in which I have tried and worked but still seen little result. Today I submit those areas to You once again. I ask You to direct my steps and I commit to do whatever You tell me to do, whether I have tried that before or not.

Pearl 234: More Focused

TOPIC: Time and Priorities

"Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat" - Mark 3:20.

Jesus knows what it's like to be busy, so busy that He could not take a meal. Yet Jesus kept His priorities straight in the midst of it all, and for Him the priority was His purpose, which was to 'seek and save the lost' (Luke 19:10). Jesus put people's needs ahead of food, prayer, leadership development, and just about everything else on His agenda. That is the kind of focus you also need if you are going to be effective in His will. Is your purpose so clear that it can direct your daily activities? Do you know your priorities and stick to them every day?  Do you complain how busy you are, but don't do anything to make adjustments so you can recapture what is most important in your life and work?

Lord, my days seems out of control sometimes, yet when I study Your life, I see that You were busy but productive, always doing what was most important. Help to have that kind of focus, and then help me be flexible enough to care for people while always getting the most important things done every day.

Pearl 233: God's Strength

TOPIC: Time and Productivity

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength" - Philippians 4:13.

If you are like most, you quote this verse from time to time. If you do, then what are you doing with and through God's strength? Just because you can do something does not mean you will do it. It just means you have the potential. Doesn't it make sense that if you can do all things with God's strength that you should see supernatural results someplace in your life and work? And if this is true, can you apply it not only to your time management, but also to your goals and purpose?

Lord, I have often quoted today's verse not as a testimony but as a cop out, passively waiting for your strength to do something in and through me. I want to learn how to actively apply this truth to my daily living, and that includes my time management. I want Your strength to empower my schedule and work today.