Written by David P. Nolte for 9/11 service

PSALM 90:1-17

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We have a variety of ways of numbering our days. Some people mark them off on a calendar either to number the days since an event happened or until an event will happen. Prisoners numbered their days by making a mark on the wall of their dungeon to denote the passing of yet another 24 hour period of confinement. Some people number their days by special observation of them: anniversaries, birthdays, and so on. Some number their days by not forgetting certain days. Most of us remember what we were doing on certain significant days. For instance, where were you and what were you doing on December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed? Where were you and what were you doing on November 22, 1963 the day President John Kennedy was assassinated? Where were you and what were you doing on August 16, 1977 when Elvis Presley died? And, where were you and what were you doing on September 11, 2001? The time and place is indelibly etched in your memory. Somehow we tend to number those and other special days. We have marked them in our minds. But what does Moses mean by his prayer; what does it mean to number our days?
    1. If 9-11 taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected; it is to recognize that in a flash things that were become things that are not; it is to apprehend that none of us is guaranteed even the next heartbeat or breath.
    2. Listen to the words of Scripture on this truth:
      1. Job lamented, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, And come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is but breath, My eye will not again see good." Job 7:6-7 (NASB).
      2. And he continued, "Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain." Job 14:1-2 (NASB).
      3. The prophet declares: "The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:7-8 (NASB).
      4. "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:14 (NASB).
    3. That is not a call to fear and panic; that is not a call to depression or distress. It is a call to seize the moment for it passes so quickly. It is a reminder that instead of keeping our focus earthbound and on the temporal which so quickly recedes, we ought to have an eternal focus. There is life that never ends; there is a world without trouble; there is a day of eternal hope!
      1. Solomon wrote, "He has also set eternity in the hearts of men;" Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV).
      2. Paul wrote, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:1-3 (NIV).
    4. So, to number our days means, first, to recognize the brevity and fewness of them. Matthew Henry said, "We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God's hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God's works. We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time."

    1. Nobody has a sure, ironclad deed to even another breath, let alone another day.  September 11, 2001 made that clear if we didn't already realize it.
    2. We ought to announce, believe and live by: "This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!"  Psalm 118:24.  To paraphrase that: "This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be grateful for it!"
    3. Each day is a gift from God; it is a pearl of eternity; it is a drop of forever and God graciously puts it in our hands.  Don't take it for granted; don't assume you will have another.  Numbering our days means saying, "This is another day the Lord has given and I count it a gracious gift for which I am thankful."
      1. Be grateful for the opportunities.
      2. Be grateful for the challenges
      3. Be grateful for the blessings.
      4. Be grateful for the duties.
    4. A lady said to me, "Every day I can get out of bed is a good day!"  That's a grateful philosophy.
    1. Since our days are few and short, use them wisely!
      1. "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.": Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV).
      2. "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." Colossians 4:5 (NIV).
      3. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:10 (NIV).
      4. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV).
    2. September 11 shows us that what we plan to do, we ought to do while the chance remains. It might not be there on September 12. September 11 reminds us to "Carpe Diem!" "Seize the Day!"
    3. So since we ought to use our time wisely:
      1. If there is a load to lift, lift it.
      2. If there is a burden to bear, bear it.
      3. If there is an apology to offer, offer it.
      4. If there is forgiveness to extend, extend it.
      5. If there is a gift to give, give it.
      6. If there is a grief to comfort, comfort it.
      7. If there is someone to lead to Christ, lead that one to Christ.
      8. If there is love to express, express it.
      9. If there is a job to do, do it.
    4. An old Chinese man lay dying. He had been engaged in building a house for the Missionary. He called the Missionary and noting the old man's troubled countenance, the Missionary asked if all was well between him and God. The old man said, "It's all right with me Teacher. I am going to the Heavenly Father, but I did not want to go until I had finished the work I had started for you. Will you forgive me, Teacher, for not finishing it?" What a great thing it would be if we were that concerned with finishing the work God has given us to do by using our days wisely and not frittering them away.

It is certainly our hope and prayer that those events of September 11, 2001 will never again be repeated. But it is also our hope and prayer that the lessons of that day will never be forgotten. We cannot go back and eradicate from reality the devastation of that terror. But we can look back and glean from that horror the lessons we might otherwise have missed. Lessons about what really matters in life; lessons about the uncertainty of each moment; lessons about our vulnerability and frailty; lessons about our need for God. And as we learn those lessons, let us number the days God gives us, not taking for granted that we will see another sunrise; not being ignorantly complacent; not letting another opportunity pass without doing our utmost to bring it to some good fulfillment. Decide tonight, if you have not already done so, to number your days so they will count for Christ. Jesus stands ready to take your old life and give you a new one in return. He stands ready to forgive your wasted days and to make the rest of your days meaningful. If you would like to receive Jesus as Lord of your life, come to the front while we sing our song; we'll take your confession of faith and counsel you on obedience in repentance and baptism and faithful living. If you are making a decision that will make your remaining days count for Jesus, come as we sing.

Illustration from Knight Illustrations

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