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What Can You Do in One Day?

What is the most you have accomplished in one day? I was lamenting yesterday over all the things on my to do list that didn’t get done. I had two small writing projects I was going to finish but didn’t. I had a spreadsheet to create on which I never got started. I was going to check online for future flights but had to leave the house shortly after I logged in to my account. It got me to thinking, what has a really productive day looked for me?
If I had to present a day from my life for a “productivity competition” I would probably put up the day we finished our first “in house” curriculum. I had remarkable clarity that day. We had been working on the project for a couple of months and it was very clear to me the steps we needed to take to get it ready for printing. I coordinated the efforts of two other writers, a graphic designer, an office manager and two interns. In addition, I did a final edit on the content and wrote 8 pages of additional assignments to add based on a brainstorming session we had in the morning meeting. Everyone was busy all day and we were proud of the final product. It was a strenuous day but we loved the results.
I got to thinking about my most productive day because I read Zechariah 3:9, “See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.”
This statement was written about 550 years before Christ came to the earth. It would have been a stunning statement for the people to hear. They were back in Jerusalem building the temple which would end up being the largest structure in the city. An entire tribe of Israel was set apart to be priests and temple workers. They had an elaborate system of sacrifices that were to be offered on a yearly basis to deal with the imperfections in their lives. It would have been impossible for them to imagine that in one day the sin of the land could be removed eliminating the need for the temple, the priests and the sacrifices. And yet there it was. They didn’t really understand how it could be done so they pondered the thought and trusted that God knew what He was talking about. It was too big, too impossible, however to make sense to their limited minds.
Then came Jesus. In one day He died on the cross and paid the penalty for all sin for all time. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And that one act in one day “resulted in justification and life for all people.” (Romans 5:18)
The next time I have a frustrating day where I don’t get as much done as I was hoping, I am going to take a few minutes to marvel that in one day Jesus secured salvation for everyone who is willing to trust in Him. What a day!

Faithful Finisher

Bill and Caleb at the Western Wall of the Temple

Zechariah 1:16 Therefore, this is what the LORD says: “I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt.”
It had been a frustrating road. 50,000 Israelites had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. The beginning was glorious. In short order they built the foundation for the structure and rejoiced exuberantly (Ezra 3:11-13). Then the obstacles began. The Samaritans didn’t like the fact that they weren’t allowed to help. The Persians didn’t like the idea at all. They argued, threatened, put up political pressure and managed to hinder the project for 14 years.
The people who began the project started with great enthusiasm but then began to question, “Is God really in this? If God really wanted us to do this, why is there so much opposition? If this is God’s will for us, wouldn’t circumstances work out better than this?”As they questioned, they lost heart. It seemed too difficult so they turned to their own personal affairs and engaged in pursuits that were less ambitious, less challenging and more self-gratifying.
In response, God sent Zechariah to call them back to action. Building the temple was high on God’s priority list. Stopping the project was high on Satan’s priority list. The physical project was the stage on which the spiritual struggle of life played out. Of course there was opposition. Of course there were setbacks. Of course there were intense obstacles to overcome. Anything that is truly worthwhile in life is that way. If I want to live a trivial life, no one will stop me. If I want to spend my days in selfish pursuits that impact nobody, I will experience few, in any, hurdles. If, however, I dream of partnering with God to influence others, achieve worthwhile goals, and frustrate the schemes of evil, I will need to welcome the challenges along the way.
Charles Kingsley said it this way, “Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done whether you like it or not. Being required to work and doing so to the best of your ability will breed in you self-control, diligence, contentment, and a hundred other virtues which the idle never know.”
As I read Zechariah 1:16, I was reminded of a list I keep on my computer of achievements that took diligence and focus to finish. I keep this list as a reminder that the most important things in life take time and a commitment to keep coming back to them until they are done.
• Adam Clark is reported to have spent 40 years writing his commentary on the Scriptures.
• Noah Webster labored 36 years forming his dictionary; in fact, he crossed the ocean twice to gather material needed to make the book absolutely accurate.
• Gibbon spent 26 years on his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Jesus, give me the grace to keep coming back to the important tasks of life until they are accomplished.