Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beginnings and Endings

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev 22:13

I'm told that the wonderful composer JS Bach wrote a series of initials at the beginning and end of each of his compositions. He began them with JJ, the initials of the phrase Jesu Juva, Latin for "Jesus, help me." He ended them with SDG, the first letters of Soli Deo Gloria, "to the glory of God alone."

In All Your Ways
Proverbs 3:6 says, "in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." That appears to have been Bach's experience. Like that other great Christian composer Handel, the results of his labours have a quality about them which makes us feel as though the writer must have had a glimpse of heaven in order to create such beauty. In fact whilst Handel was composing The Messiah he is believed to have turned to his servant and said, with tears in his eyes, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself."

Whatever we do, if we give the Lord Jesus priority at the beginning, and acknowledge at the end that any achievement is not ours, but for the glory of God, we will find our lives transformed.

Jesus Himself claimed to be the beginning. When we look to Him at the beginning of the day, surrendering to His plans and His will for us, the whole day can be lived for His glory. We will find unexpected ways through or around difficult situations; we will discover more ways to serve God; the mundane activities of the day will become more meaningful as we honour God in them.

Often days begun with the Lord Jesus will prove to be more productive. We may have more opportunities to witness, we may gain greater victory over temptation, we may simply perform better at work and earn praise from our employer. The temptation in such circumstances is to pat ourselves on the back and to pride ourselves in all we've achieved.

But Jesus is the end as well as the beginning and all that we do should be for His glory. If we have been successful in overcoming temptation, or sharing the word of God with someone, or completing a task ahead of schedule, it is simply by the grace of God and His ability to direct our paths.

In Parentheses
We need to learn to live every aspect of our lives bracketed by our commitment to Jesus and our glorifying of Him. It is right to begin and end our days with Jesus, to give ourselves to Him for each fresh responsibility we face. We must not fall into the trap of thinking there are certain things we can handle on our own, and taking glory for our achievements.

The Lord Jesus said, "apart from me you can do nothing," (John 15:5). We do not grasp how reliant we are on the grace of God for every aspect of our lives. If we become complacent He may well decide it's time to take us down a peg or two and show us how vulnerable we are when He withholds His hand.

Prayer College Assignment
Ask the Lord to remind you to give Him your day at the beginning and to give Him the glory at the end.

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