February 26, 2023
Time Is of the Essence – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 5: 15 - 17
Scripture: 

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

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Transcript

So I invite you to take your Bible at Ephesians chapter 5 verses 15, 16 and 17. That’s what marks us. Now we’re going to look at this passage over a couple of weeks. It’s such a phenomenal passage. Ephesians 5:15 to 17.
Here we are kind of marking time, marking 20 years of this church’s gospel effort. Now we’re being reminded, okay, but continue to redeem the time. Hats off to the past, coats off to the future. So let’s stand in honor of God’s word, move our position a little bit and we’ll begin a two-part sermon, at least on these verses. They’re so good, so helpful. I think you’ll enjoy this exposition and be challenged by it. Ephesians 5:15.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” So reads God’s word and you may be seated.
The late Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers was famous for his coaching, but he was also famous for his counsel. He was not only a great football mind, he was just a great educator of man. He often spoke about life and leadership with great insight. I commend you to look up some of his quotes. I’ve written some of them down for you today.
He’s famous for this statement, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” When you get tired, you tend to lose perspective. Don’t make big decisions when you’re tired because you won’t be as brave and as bold as you ought to be.
So number one, fatigue makes cowards of us all. Then is another statement. “If you are not fired with enthusiasm, you should be fired with enthusiasm.” I love that. He famously said, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” He also said, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.” That’s wise.
Another thing he said was “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.” This one’s really good. “Perfection is unattainable, but if we chase perfection, we might catch up with excellence.” But my favorite and it will launch us into our sermon this morning, he said this, “I never lost a game. I just ran out of time.” That’s good. “I never lost a game. I just ran out of time.”
Now thinking about time and sports. That’s so true, isn’t it? ‘Cause one of the most dramatic elements of sports is the race against the clock. The team that most effectively and productively uses the time allotted in football, 60 minutes will come away a winner. We just watched the Super Bowl and the winner of the Super Bowl got the Lombardi Trophy, and the team that was the most productive and effective during that game, which was the Kansas City Chiefs went away with the Lombardi Trophy because when the clock runs out, the game’s over and the winner’s determined.
However, in football and in sports, unlike life, you can stop the clock, you can slow the game down, you can call a timeout. But since we’re talking life this morning not football, there’s no timeouts in life. You don’t get to slow the clock down ever, and it relentlessly marches forward without you or with you. That’s challenging. The sands of time are sinking. The hourglass of your life, young or old here this morning, is running out. Life rushes on.
I do have an hourglass in my study. I bought it one day when June and I were down in San Diego. It’s just a little piece of art. It’s a beautiful thing made of brass and glass. But I love it because I like to play with them once in a while and just turn it and watch the sand slip out of one chamber into the next. It does something to you that a digital watch doesn’t.
The sands of time are sinking. The hourglass of life is running empty. So seize the day. Redeem the time. Make sure that you are using your time and your talents to those God-appointed ends. Time is limited. Life is precious. Therefore, let’s invest every day wisely. Life is not a thing to be wasted, and time is not a thing to be flittered away.
The distinguished actress, Judi Dench, you may be seen her, she’s M in the James Bond movies, when she was 81, she had a tattoo put on her wrist, “Seize the day.” When you’re 81, you better seize the day. But I love her instinct, don’t you? Seize the day. It’s that Latin term. Carpe diem. Pluck the day, seize the day because it’s precious. It’s a commodity that one can lose.
We saw that statement. Can it become part of our contemporary conversation in the movie Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams plays a teacher in a New England school urging his students in the poetry class to seize the day. He’s in a library. He’s looking at all the authors and the poets and he says this to those young men, “We are food for worms lads, because believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is going to stop breathing, grow old and die. Therefore, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
That’s what the Bible teaches us to do here, doesn’t it, in Ephesians 5 verses 15 to 17, redeem the time. The day’s evil. Jesus is coming. The judgment seat is real. So let’s seize the day. Let’s make our lives extraordinary. Let’s be that masterpiece that Ephesians 2 verse 10 talks about, right? We are his masterpiece created in Christ Jesus on the certain works which God has ordained for you to do.
Let’s discover what that is. That’s what we’re told here. Redeeming the time actually is not managing every moment of the day. It’s making sure that you have discovered the will of God for you and you’re doing it. That’s what redeeming the time is, living the life God planned for you, doing the good works God has planned and ordained for you do.
Now, before we actually get into the heart of this passage, let’s do a little thing quickly on time. We talk about time, but I wonder, do we understand it? How do we frame it? How do we see it? And there’s different views of time. There’s three major views on time in history, and they emerge out of the three major families of faith, Eastern, Abrahamic and secular.
Now this isn’t original to me. I just finished the book by Os Guinness, Carpe Diem Redeemed, excellent. And then he helps me understand there are kind of three major views of time. Let’s deal with the eastern view. This is what we would call cyclical time. With Buddhism and Hinduism life is this kind of never-ending circle driven by reincarnation after reincarnation after reincarnation. That’s the eastern view of time. Things go around and around and when you shed your body in death, you return to where it began and you reincarnate in another physical form. And it can be animal or human depending on karma. So your aunt can come back as an aunt.
Don’t like that idea, do you? But that’s what we’re kind of taught. It’s certainly deeper than that. But basically we’re talking about reincarnation where your soul survives. It’s reincarnated in another physical form. It’s all defined by karma. You get recycled and recycled and recycled. Hopefully you learn the lesson. And I believe it would be true to say in this arena, salvation is ultimately shedding the body and kind of merging with the divine essence because this is pantheism. God’s not a person. God is everything and anything. And you kind of nirvana and salvation just kind of emerge with the divine. That’s the cyclical view. What goes around comes around. What goes around comes around.
The chronological view is the secular view, and basically the foundation of that view they stole from Christianity and from Judaism. But what they did was they took the idea of linear time. There’s a beginning and there’s a telos, there’s a purpose, there’s an end. But they divorced that from God. So evolution replaces creation and man replaces God. And man lives out his days in this meaningless world. They came into existence, yes, but without a designer and without design. There is no God. You’re God. You’re the master of your own fate, the captain of your own soul. This is secularism. This is nihilism. This is America Today.
You get to define who you are on your terms and what you want to do with your life. And you know what? If life becomes bleak, you get to decide when it ends. Or if others get in your way, like children in the womb, you get to decide they don’t have a beginning because you see you’re God. You get to determine who’s in your life, who’s out of your life and what life is. It’s kind of scary.
Now, there’s kind of two parties to it. There’s the positive party and the negative party. The positive party is kind of okay. There’s no real great design and purpose to life, but you know what? Life is to some degree this gift that we’ve been given. Let’s do something with it. And that’s your neighbor who’s without Christ but going, “I’m going to try and make something of my life.” That’s kind of the positive party. And yet death becomes overwhelming for them because it’s an abrupt end and the lights go out and there’s nothing. And there’s the pessimist end, which is, “You know what? If that’s true, what’s the point?”
But that’s chronological view. That’s secularism. There’s this cyclical view which is eastern mysticism. And then there’s what we call the covenantal view. That’s the Abrahamic and Christian. Again generalizing, this is pretty simple but I hope it frames the discussion for you. This is a view of time as linear. It has the beginning, it has an end, it unfolds in daily cycles, and time and space and history are the outcome of the creative act of God who brought the world into existence.
And on the sixth day of creating the world, he created man and woman, woman out of man. And he put them in the garden and he gave them a purpose, a telos. He defined their life with meaning and said, “You know what? I want you to exercise dominion under me. Let’s be co-creators with the creation. Let’s build cities. Let’s mine minerals. Let’s form walls. Let’s pave roads. Let’s sail the seas.” Life is meaning. History has purpose. Space and time along with man was created for God’s glory and that makes us responsible. And it also is a reminder that because of man’s sin, death has entered the world. Therefore, our physical lives will come to an end. Our moment within history will have a terminus. But you know what? You live beyond that in another world, heaven or hell with God or without God, light or darkness.
And that, doesn’t that drive you, does not help define you, does not give purpose and meaning to your life? Doesn’t that remind you that every action has an outcome? Listen to Os Guinness. Time and history have meaning under the twin truths of God’s sovereignty and human significance. Time and history are going somewhere, and each of us is not only unique and significant in ourselves, but we have a unique and significant part to play in our own lives, in our own generation and therefore in the overall sweep of history. So with that in mind, we have a covenantal view of time, not a cyclical view and not a chronological view. We have a covenantal view.
That would mean that our lives therefore are a matter of stewardship. You’re a steward of your time and your talents given to you by God, and he has set a certain time for you to exercise those. If you go to the supermarket and you buy some dairy, milk or cheese, there’s a used by date attached to it, used by or best by. When you and I are born, that label’s stuck on us used by. We don’t know the time. The date hasn’t been given, but it’s true of your life. You and I must use it by a certain date. Make sure we’re using it wisely. Paul’s going to help us here where he tells us to redeem the time because the days are evil.
Let me just put the text in its context. You’ll notice this is another, maybe a final use of the word walk. Back in chapter 4 verse 1 we’re told to walk worthy of our calling in the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re told in verse 17 of chapter 4, not to walk the way we once walked when we were part of the world and its futile thinking. We’re told in chapter 5 verse 2 to walk in love. We’re told in chapter 5 verse 8 to walk as children of the light. And now we’re told to walk circumspectly.
So that’s kind of where we’re at. Paul is continuing to call us to a certain lifestyle. The nearer context is verse 14, isn’t it, where he’s told them that they’re children of the light. They don’t dwell in darkness and they don’t sleep in on life. So wake up you who sleep. Time is a wasting. Death is coming. Jesus is coming. The judgment seat is real. After death, the judgment. Therefore, make sure you’re awake to all the possibilities that God has set before you and you’re living the life he created you for and redeemed you for.
Peter Drucker, he’s no theologian, he’s a leadership guru. He made a statement that I think is worth pondering. “Until we manage time, we cannot manage anything else.” All right? It’s good. Until we learn to manage time, we cannot manage anything else because life is time and time is life. Now, there’s three things in our text. We’re not going to cover one and a half today and we’ll pick it up next Sunday morning. Look at verse 15. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.” Be serious. That’s our first thought. Be serious. Walk carefully. That’s what the word circumspectly means.
Number two, redeem the time because the days are evil. Be strategic with your life and your time, your days and your weeks. And then number three, be smart. Don’t be a fool. Be wise. What is it to be wise? It’s understanding God’s will. And here we’re not talking about the particular will of God for you. What job you should have, what girl you should marry, what zip code you should live in. We’re talking about the general will of God, the moral absolutes of scripture. And they have already been revealed in the Bible. You want to know the will of God? You need to study 66 books, Old and New Testament and learn what they’re saying about God’s purposes and plans ’cause God has revealed.
I’ll tell you what, the will of God is the worst kept secret in the Bible. We’ll look at that next week. Our problem with knowing the will of God is not that we don’t know, but we don’t obey what we know to be the will of God. That’s our problem. But that’s all next week.
Number one, be serious for the time that remains. Be serious. See then, it’s picking up this idea awake you who sleep, rouse yourself. Time is a wasting. Life is precious. So see to this that you walk circumspectly, carefully, pay attention to the things that matter. This word circumspect is a very interesting word, comes with the New King James. Maybe you have a modern translation. It kind of translates it pay careful attention. That’s a good translation. I just love the Old English word circumspect, has that idea of inspect. Make sure you take a look at your life and the next step you’re about to take and be circumspect about it.
This is a Greek word that means to judge accurately or precisely. It was used of a judge or someone in the legal business who’s given a case. They look into it intently and they come to a conclusion. Isn’t that what Paul’s saying? Hey, when it comes to life, you need to look into it intently. Be careful about life. Maybe we could use this word be judicious, be smart and serious about your every decision. Louis Talbot who started Talbot Theological Seminary not far from us here on the campus of Biola, in his commentary on Ephesians he says this: “Circumspectly means to pick the way, to be careful how we walk as though we were walking on a ground filled with broken bottles.”
Let me illustrate that. I can identify that picture of trying to pick your way through broken bottles on the ground. My grandmother lived in a working class area, a blue collar area of East Belfast under the shadow of the great shipyard Harland & Wolff where the Titanic was originally built. They were old houses. They dated back to the turn of the century. They had no indoor plumbing. They had a night house. If you wanted to get a bath in my grandmother’s house, it was a long process of taking a tin bath off the wall in the backyard and filling it with kettles of water.
The other thing I remember about my grandmother’s backyard was that along the top of her wall, she or someone had cemented pieces of broken glass just to stop some mischief kid from breaking into her home. Many a Saturday when I was there, my mother was just so regular and loving her mother, we were almost there every Saturday. And sometimes you’d watch the cat, the local scruffy cats walking along filthy, walking along the top of the wall. I was glad I got my tetanus injection and all of that. But these scruffy little cats would walk along the top of the wall in between the glass circumspectly, their little soft paws watching where they took the next step.
That’s our word. You need to walk like that through life. What’s the next step? Is that the right step? Where will it land me? Should I take it? That’s the kind of thing we want to be thinking about. In a world of dominating evil in this fleeting moment between two eternities, you and I cannot afford to be careless about our souls. Like a phrase that John Stott uses on Ephesians 5:15 to 17. He says this, “We need to take trouble over our Christian life.” It’s a good phrase. We need to take trouble over our Christian life.
See, don’t we take trouble over the things that we count valuable, your health, your hobbies, your job, your family, your neighborhood? We take trouble over that stuff because we value it. Is there anything more valuable than your Christian life? No. So take trouble over it. Be serious about it. We need to keep the Sabbath. We need to not neglect the assembling of ourselves together. We need to be diligent and add to our faith. We need to watch and pray. We need to be sober and vigilant for our enemy seeks to devour us. We need to guard the deposit of the gospel. We need to lose our lives and we might find it. We need to diligently divide the word of truth. We could go on and on about the things we need to do and be serious about.
I’ve quoted this before. J.C. Ryle says this, “If you’ve been taught to strive for your soul’s prosperity, I entreat you never to suppose you’ve gone too far.” He goes on to say this, “Watch against the slightest inclination to be careless about the means of grace. Beware of shortening your prayers, your Bible readings, your private devotion before God. Take heed that you do not give way to a thoughtless, lazy manner of attending the public worship services of the church. Fight against this rising disposition to be sleepy, critical and fault-finding towards the listening of the preaching of the gospel. Whatever you do for God, do it with all your heart and mind and strength. In other things be moderate and dread running into extremes. In the matters of your soul fear moderation just as you would fear the plague.”
What’s he saying? Be serious. What’s he saying? Walk circumspectly. What’s he saying? Pay close attention to your life and the use of your time.
You’ve heard me tell the story of Charles Simeon in Cambridge. One of his disciples was a phenomenal young man at Cambridge University called Henry Martyn who had a glittering career in almost any field, brilliant mathematician and so on and so forth. But at a young age he decided God had something for him on the mission field. He joined that little non-conformist evangelical church which was often mocked and marginalized in that day. Before long he set off for Persia and spent part of his life there. Died fairly young.
Interestingly, two days before Henry Martyn died, a portrait of him reached his father-in-the-faith Charles Simeon in Cambridge, England. And so he took that picture and hung it over his mantelpiece over his fireplace. And whenever he had guests in his home, he would say about that man looking down on everybody in the room. “See that blessed man? No one looks at me like he does. He never takes his eyes off me. He always seems to be saying the years are short. Be earnest. Don’t trifle. Don’t trifle.”
Listen, this culture is a trifling culture. Its comedy is trifling, its approach to the serious issues of life are trifling, its most serious newscasts are still trifling. There’s hardly anything about our culture today in America that’s serious. And you and I have got to fight that. We’ve got to be fastidious. We’ve got to be serious and careful about our Christian walk.
Number two, be strategic. We’ll just do a little bit on this. Be strategic. Part of being careful about your Christian life is the use of your time. And remember our view of time. It’s God given. It’s God appointed. God has appointed an end to our human existence. We’ll go back to him and give an account for the time and talents he gave us.
So given that reality, we need to redeem the time. See, we’re the redeemed. We’ve been bought by the blood of Jesus. What is Paul saying in his writing to the Corinthians? You’re not your own. You forget that, but you’re not your own. You’re not the master of your own fate, the captain of your own soul. I own you. I bought you. You’re mine. And I’ve given you a life and I’ve given you talents and I’ve given you time and I want to send opportunities. Now I want you to do is redeem the time because the days are evil. You need to redeem time from an evil bondage. Your neighbors will use time differently from you. Your neighbors will give their lives to the pursuit of things that you won’t. The accumulation of things that you don’t value in the light of eternity. So redeem the time. The days are evil.
This is a word it means to buy up. It’s in the middle voice. It suggests to buy up for oneself and for one’s own advantage. And that’s true. There are rewards to be won. There are things to be had in the next life. And you and I need to buy up the opportunities to win those rewards.
Salvation’s not a reward, that’s a gift, that’s grace. But eternal rewards and our role in the millennial kingdom and the eternal state, that’s all determined by what we do during this moment because Jesus says, what? “I come quickly and my rewards are with me.” Who gets them? Well, that’s determined by what they did with what they were given and the time allotted.
We need to buy up to our own eternal advantage the moments that God has set before us. We need to be on the lookout and snap up the opportunity that God sends our way. Interestingly by the way, look at the word time. It’s a word in the Greek called kairos. It may not mean anything to you, but I’m going to try and make it mean something to you this morning. See there’s two Greek words for time. One was chronos. Does that ring a bell? Chronology. Chronometer.
If you have a really nice watch like you paid a bit of money for it, they’ll call it a chronometer. It’s a timepiece. That’s the Greek word chronos. But that’s not the word Paul uses. He uses kairos. What’s the difference? I’ll let James Emery White explain it.
Beyond having a word for the common passage of time chronos from which we get our word chronology, the Greeks had another word, kairos, which we do not encounter in the English language. Kairos speaks to the quality and content of time itself, independent of its actual length. It speaks of something altogether different from chronology. Kairos is time filled with opportunity, a moment pregnant with eternal significance and possibility. It’s a point of time that demands action, a point in time that is life determining. In fact, he goes on in one of his articles to say that kairos moments are those life-shaping doors that take you into the future.
So we’re all living chronos, right? The clock is ticking, the minutes are passing and there’s some drudgery in that and there’s some monotony in that, but we’ve all got to live that. But what you got to look out for is those kairos moments. That teachable moment with your child, that’s kairos. That gospel opportunity in the Starbucks line, kairos, don’t miss it. A job opportunity you’re equipped for and ready for, kairos. I think you get it. We live chronos, but we long for kairos. We long for those moments that launch us forward, that allow us to become something more than we are.
And Paul says you need to be on the lookout for those moments. They’re not to be missed. They hold the potential to alter your life and other people’s lives. Every moment is not that kind of moment, but as you live life, those moments will come and redeem those opportunities.
I think some of your modern versions, if you’ve got them this morning, we’ll talk about, you know what, buy up or redeem the chance that’s set before you, something like that.
We only get a few chances at making our lives kind. There are certain seasons in life that in many ways are most determinative. I love the fact of a lot of young people here this morning. Youth is a tremendous kairos season where you can educate yourself, you can discover what the will of God is and set yourself on a path to have a significant life for God’s glory. Don’t wake up in the middle of your 20s and not know who you are in Christ and what God has called you to do. Don’t do that. There are seasons in life that are kairos. There are moments in life that are kairos and we’re told to be ready for them and you’ve got to be ready for them.
And sometimes we’ll see in next week, it’ll take some courage to embrace them. Don’t be waiting for another day. Don’t be waiting for a promising situation. You’ll miss an opportunity. Ecclesiastes 11 tells us that if the farmer waits till the sky’s blue to sow his seed, he’ll never sow his seed. You got to be purposeful. You got to be ready for the moment.
Now let me tell you about a kairos moment. Among the many portraits that hang on the White House is the painting of Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent. Now there’s an unusual story behind this painting if you ever see it. You can maybe look it up. For several days, the painter had been waiting at a stately mansion hoping for the chance to see the president and gain permission to paint his portrait. And that chance came unexpectedly. He’d kind of been turned away or held at arm’s length. But in one particular moment in this stately mansion, they met.
President Roosevelt was coming down a flight of stairs and John Singer Sargent was at the bottom of the stairs and he took his moment and he said, “Mr. president, when can we paint your portrait?” And the president said, “Right now.” And John Singer didn’t say, “Well, that doesn’t work out for me Mr. President. What about next Tuesday afternoon three o’clock? That’s better for me actually be honest about it.” No, he got his stuff and he painted Roosevelt at the bottom of the stairs and you can see the picture, Roosevelt standing on the stairs with his hand on the banister. John Singer Sargent took the kairos moment in the middle of chronos time and redeemed it.
That’s what Paul wants us to do. Oh, I’m not encouraging you not to live the chronos moments, but make sure that you don’t miss the kairos moments, those moments that are significant, those moments that alter things more fundamentally than any other moment.
Now we could leave that there, but for the 10 minutes or so that is left, I’m going to make a start on about seven or eight principles I shared this past weekend in Palm Desert. I got an opportunity I don’t normally get. I was invited by a member of this church who’s high up in a company and I was invited to go out to Palm Desert and to speak to almost a hundred businessmen and their wives or businesswomen and their husbands, West Coast Materials. They do sand and stone and all kinds of stuff. They’ve got some 350 trucks. You’ll see them. Maybe you’ll notice them going forward. They’re these torquoise trucks. In fact, one of them worked out from the beginning of the company until this moment. Some of their trucks have passed this property a million times. Just a little tidbit. And they asked me to speak on time, and I happened to be getting ready for Ephesians 5:15 to 17. Hannibal 18. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?
And so I shared a bunch of things that I want to begin to share with you. We’re kind of going on a little rabbit trail. That’s where we’re going to take at least a couple of weeks from this. Okay pastor, I want to redeem the time. Can you help me? Can I at least be ready for that? What kind of things do I need to be doing that will make me the kind of person who’s redeemed and able to redeem the time?
Here’s two things and we’ll wrap it up. One, start early. Start early. What do I mean by that? Make the most of your mornings. If you want to be a person that redeems the time, you’re going to have to stop being a night owl and become an early morning bird. I know that’s going to require a change, but I think I can make an argument. It’s been well said. Someone has said that the first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day. I think innately we know that. Why would you leave your best thinking to the end of the day? You want to create a sense of purpose early in the day.
Like the rudder on a ship, your morning is relatively small part of the day, but it gives direction. Give you a couple of verses that kind of underscore that. What about Psalm 5 and verse 3? Psalm 5 and verse 3, the psalmist says this, “My voice shall you hear in the morning, oh Lord. In the morning I will direct it to you. I will look up.” See Lord, I’m going to direct my voice to you and then I’m going to open my ears to hear your voice direct me. What do I need to do today most of all? What’s a kingdom priority? What does it mean to do today that will echo out into eternity?
You get a similar thought in Psalm 63 verse 1. “Oh God, you are my God. Early will I seek you. My soul thirsts for you.” Maybe one other, Psalm 143 verse 8. Love this. “Cause me to hear your loving kindness in the morning for in you do I trust. Cause me to know the way in which I should walk for I lift up my soul to you.”
And then you’ve got Mark 1:35 right where it says about Jesus that he got up a great while before day and he went out to listen to the voice of the Father. You know that old statement, but we need to hear it again. Don’t look into the face of man until you’ve looked into the face of God. Try and talk to God before your children start talking to you. Look into the face of God before you look into the face of your boss. Your day will just go better.
God will get rid of the Messiah complex. God will remind you what’s first in his kingdom. God will remind you to get grace for this tough day ahead of you.
My friend Reagan Rose wrote a book called Redeeming Productivity. He says, “A well-crafted Christ’s first morning routine is the best way I have found to begin a productive day.” What’s the first business of the day? George Miller would say, what? Make your soul happy in the Lord. Want to redeem the time? Talk to the redeemer before you do anything else. Start early.
I love what C.S. Lewis says. “The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in simply shoving them back, listening to that other voice, taking in that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter aspect of life come flooding in, and so on all day standing back from all your natural fussing and fretting.”
Oh, he’s so right, isn’t he? We need to hear that. I don’t know if you’ve read the book, Make Your Bed. It’s a great little book. I commend it, especially the young men takes some time to read that. It’s written by Admiral William McRaven, who was part of the Navy SEAL force. In 2014 he gave a speech at the University of Texas. It went viral and it became the book. Just little points that he wanted to give young people and young men especially what they needed to do. And you know what? Here’s this accomplished man, this brilliant soldier and his first point to the whole student body as they head out in the life, make your bed. And they’re like, “What? Man we paid for make your bed?”
But it was good because here’s what he says about the benefits of making your bed. It gives you a small sense of pride. It encourages you to accomplish the next task in any given day. It reinforces that the little things in life matter. And also if you have a bad day, at least you made your bed. I like it. That’s good stuff. But you know what? Come on, he’s making a larger point. Big changes come from simple daily habits. Big things happen from simple daily habits. Start early.
Number two, and this is where we stop, stay focused. Stay focused. You want to redeem the time? Stay focused. Stay focused on what pastor? The priorities that God has set for your life. Don’t be a fool. Understand what the will of God is and do it. As well as revealed in His word what you do best is revealed by your natural gifts and by your supernatural and spiritual enablements. The key to life is doing one thing after another thing in the proper order. How simple is that? The key to life is doing one thing after another thing in the proper order.
There’s so much disorganization in the American home, so much disorder in our personal lives. Let’s get a grip of our days. Let’s get a grip of ourselves. Let’s get a grip of our calendars. We’ll pick this up next week. Stay focused and say no. That’s the third thought. But just hold that. Say no so that you can do the things you’re meant to do because you can’t do everything. So stay focused.
Oswald Sanders, the great missionary said, “A fool has been described as a person who missed the proportions of things.” Some of us have a tendency to be engrossed in the secondary and we have little time for the primary. Not everything that’s urgent is most important. That’s one of the challenges in life. You get caught up in the urgent and you miss the important. The secondary becomes primary and the primary becomes secondary. Big mistake. That’s why you’ve got to get up early and remind yourself of the focus and the priorities of your life as a Christian man or a Christian woman, and make sure that that day you ring the bell on those things.
Of course there’ll be interruptions. Of course there’ll be digressions. But you’re the kind of person who’s going to keep coming back, keep coming back to this is what I’ve got to do today. This is what I’ve got to focus on. You need to set priorities because you cannot do it all. Hope you realize that. Hope you shared the Messiah complex. I must set priorities for I cannot do it all. I must set priorities for there are certain things I do best. Love that thought.
See, you’re gifted in a certain way for this body. There are things that you can do best God wants you to do. And then there’s other things others must do. And priorities, make sure you’re not doing the job that God gave to someone else. That’s why we can’t afford unemployment at this church. We can’t have people doing double shifts because you’re not pulling your weight.
God has gifted you with talents. He’s given you time to fulfill those talents and gifts. And you need to set your priorities because you can’t do it all. You need to set your priorities for there are certain things that you do best, and you need to set priorities because if you don’t, others will.
If you don’t make your mind up on what you ought to do, others will make it up for you and they’ll have you doing the secondary, they’ll have you doing the urgent.
Listen, do you realize that there’s always time for to do the things God wants you to do? I believe that. The issue is not insufficient time. The issue is misplaced priorities. That’s why you’ve got to determine the will of God for you. Determine your giftedness and set a course. This is who I am, this is what God has made me to be and do, in marriage, in ministry, in work, whatever. And God will give you enough time to accomplish that work. And if you and I die with those things unaccomplished, it’s because of misplaced priorities. I mean, Jesus died pretty young, didn’t he? 33. Let’s just take that number, 33.
But tell me this, did he live an incomplete life? Did he die with what God had given him to do on incomplete? No. John 17 “Father, the hour has come and I’ve done what you sent me on earth to do. When I return home to heaven, give me back the glory revealed in my flesh and incarnation.” And on the cross what did he say? “It is finished.” Jesus was given enough time, even in 33 years to do what God had called him to do because he allowed the priority to govern him.
And many times in John’s gospel, you get this little phrase, the hour was not yet come or the hour is come. What was the hour? The cross. He set his face as a flint to go to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what he was to do. He was to give his life a ransom for many. And he accomplished that. Someone said this, “Jesus understood his purpose and allowed him to take the long list of things he could do and pair them down to the things he must do to finish the work the Father had given him to do.”
I’m telling you, if you don’t redeem the time, your list will get very long. And if you don’t set priorities, people will write things on your list. You’ve got to pare the list down to what the Father has sent you into the world to do. And he’s given you enough time to do it and he’ll give you the greatest necessary to achieve it.
I know many of you are lovers of Charles Swindoll, myself included, and I remember him telling this funny story many years ago about a friend of his, a pastor friend whose daughter was a great lover of nature. And 9 times out of 10 in the summer, she would pack up the van with her husband and the kids and they’d just go and enjoy nature. They’d go to the great parks of America.
One particular summer East Coast, they’re in their minivan and they noticed a sign. They thought it read nature camp. And so they turned and they were kind of halfway down the road when they realized that wasn’t nature camp. That was naturalist camp. They’re halfway down the road and when they see a whole posse of bikes coming and people on them stark raving naked.
And they’re trying to reverse up and shield the kids from it, but it was too late. Can you imagine? Hide the children kind of moment, but they couldn’t. And as the bikes came by, little Johnny at the back said, “Mommy, mommy, look, they’re not wearing helmets.” It’s a true story and it’s just a wonderful place to end this morning.
That’s focused. That’s staying with it. So much distraction the kid got it. So much distraction. We live in a trivial, trivial world that won’t produce any kind of seriousness in you, but the Bible will. Worship together will. The thought of Jesus in return will.
Let’s be serious. Let’s walk carefully. Let’s give our best thinking and best actions to the best things. Let’s be strategic. Let’s look for those kairos moments in the unfolding of chronos time so that we can take all that God is sending our way so we can be all that God made us to be.
Father, we thank you for the word, your word. It never disappoints. It resonates with us. As the spirit of God opens our minds, we see that we live covenantal time, that you’ve put us on this earth for a purpose. You’ve given our lives meaning. You’ve gifted us. You’ve told us to exercise dominion under the rule of Jesus Christ. You’ve told us to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You’ve told us to embrace gainful employment and do a hard day’s work for the betterment of society. You’ve told us to serve your church and evangelize the loss.
These are the big rocks. These are the priorities. Help us to keep the focus. Help us to start early. And before the day stampedes all over us, help us to realize this is what I must do today. I must live today as if it was my last day for some day it will be. Make us serious people. Make us a strategic church for Jesus’ sake. Amen.