This morning we want to talk about the most precious commodity, the most valuable gift you & I will ever have: & that is our time. I think it would be fair to say that no society has ever been more time-conscious than ours is today in NA. When we were in Africa, our African friends were fond of telling the missionaries: “You may all have watches, but we have the time”
Often we say to ourselves "If only I had more time! There just aren't enough hours in the week." But more hours in the week, wouldn't solve our problem, they would only compound it. The irony of the age we live in is that we have more time-saving devices than ever before, and yet we still complain about never having enough time. The problem is not that we don't have enough time, the question is:
"What are we doing with the time we have already been given?"
Just before he was about to crucified, Jesus made what to me was an amazing statement: "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." (John 17:4) From our perspective, Jesus’ life was so short- only 33 years old when he died- after only 3 years of active ministry. And yet at the end of his life, he was able to say that he had completed the work that God gave him to do.
You see, Jesus understood very clearly what his purpose on earth was, & at the end, he could look back & say that he had fulfilled that purpose, he had accomplished the task God had given him.
That doesn't mean that Jesus did everything he might have done. He didn't heal every sick person, he didn't save everybody, he didn't meet every need, or solve every problem. But he did do everything that his father called him to do.
When we arrive at the end of our lives, I wonder if we will be able to say the same thing? This morning, as we take a look at King Solomon’s words in the scripture we read earlier from Ecclesiastes 3, I think he gives us some principles that can help us to make the most of the time God has given us
1. Recognize that God sets a time for everything that happens in my life, and that includes both the good times & bad times in my life.
Eccl. 3:1 "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven."
God doesn't do anything by accident. God has a purpose, plan and even a time for everything that happens in our lives.
As you read through the gospel of John, you can see how aware Jesus was of God’s timing in his life. In the early chapters, Jesus says: “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4)
But as he approaches the final days of his life, something changes. John 12:23 “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” John 17:1 “Father, the time has come” Jesus was very aware that his approaching death was all part of God’s timing, his purpose for him
And that’s true for you and I as well. Eccl 3:2 "There is a time to be born, & there is a time to die." God knows the exact day you're going to be born and the exact day you're going to die. There is a time to enter the world and there is a time to leave the world & that is part of his plan for your life.
"There's a time in our lives to plant and a time to uproot." There's a time to put down roots and stay where you are, and there's a time to be uprooted and get up and move.
"There's a time to heal and a time to kill. There's a time to build up and a time to tear down. There's a time to laugh and a time to weep. There's a time to mourn and a time to dance." In God’s timing, all of these things have their place in our lives.
“There's a time to mend and a time to tear. There's a time to speak and a time to be silent. There's a time to love and a time to hate. There's a time for peace and a time for war. “
Solomon's point is that life is a mixture of both good & bad, positive & negative. They both have a place in your life.
2. God makes everything beautiful in its time. What does that mean? Given time, God can take those negative experiences, & transform them into positives. Maybe you've gone thru a financial setback? or an illness? or a divorce? Those things in themselves may not seem particularly beautiful, but the Bible says, God makes everything beautiful in its time. In other words, He can bring good out of bad, he can create beauty out of ashes. All of the things that Solomon lists here, are part of God's plan for your life. He has a time & a purpose for everything that happens in my life
3. God sees time from an eternal perspective. Even tho we can't see what's coming in the future, God already sees it and it’s part of his eternal purposes for us
3:11: "He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
What does it mean "God has set eternity in your hearts"? It means that we have within us, an innate sense that there is something beyond this life. We want to know what's going to happen in the future, what's going to happen after we die -- that desire for immortality is one of the things which makes us human. God has put eternity in our hearts, a desire to know what's coming tomorrow.
But it also says, "yet we cannot fathom what God is doing from beginning to end.." We have only a limited perspective. We can't see the whole picture. It's like a little ant trying to comprehend a human being. His brain isn't big enough. Our brain isn't big enough to comprehend all of God's plan. If you could figure our all of God's ways and understand why He does everything He does, you'd have to be God.
LB: "We cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." We only see the current situation, but God sees the end result. When we're confused by what's happening in the present, that's when we need to trust God, because he's the only one that can see the end from the beginning. One day we will see the whole picture, but we can't right now. In John 13:7, Jesus says to his disciples, `You don't realize now what I'm doing, but later on you will understand.'" Why does God keep things hidden from us? When we ask, Why is this happening? and we don't get an answer. Why doesn't He tell us? Partly it's because He wants to remind you that He is God and you're not! That's where faith & trust come into the picture. You have to trust Him, because you're not able to figure it all out.
2 Cor 1:9, Paul talks about a particularly difficult time in his life: "This happened so that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves but in God." Sometimes we have to come to that point where we say, "Lord, I just don't know how You're going to work this out, but I don't have to know; I can just trust You. I believe You have my best interests at heart & I believe that somehow You're going to use this situation for my growth and Your glory."
4. Make the most of the present time by doing good.
3:12: "There is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while they live." Because we don't know what will happen tomorrow, we must do what we can while we can. There is no better time than now. You're not guaranteed tomorrow. So many people are always waiting -- getting ready -- to start living. Don't wait! Do it now! Regardless of the situation you're in, you need to apply the present to doing good because you're not going to have any other time.
We need to appreciate that every moment of time is a gift from God. Even this moment right now- it's a gift from him. If you were told that you would be given $86,400 every day as a free gift, no strings attached and you could use it any way you wanted to, but at the end of the day, whatever amount you had not spent would revert back to the bank and none of it carried over to the next day, what would you do? You would probably spend some serious time trying to figure out how you could best use that money, every day as it came.
Did you know that every morning, your Heavenly Father deposits 86,400 seconds into your daily time account. You get to use it. You get to choose how you use it. But if you don't use it, then you lose it. You don't get it back again. It is a gift to be used for good and to be enjoyed every day.
I have just enough time to do what God wants me to do with my life -- no more, no less. What God has planned for your life, He has given you the exact amount of time for that. And so when I say, "I don't have enough time", it means a) you're doing something that God never intended for you to do, or b) you're doing the right thing in the wrong way. Each of us have just enough time to do God's will.
5. Each of us will give an account to God of how we used the time he gave us. v15: "God will call the past to account" Why is God going to judge me in the way I used my time? Because my time is my life. Time is my most important, precious commodity. It's far more important than money. Money is a renewable resource. You can always get more of it somewhere. But you only have a certain amount of time. You get 168 hours a week -- no more, no less. Everybody gets the same amount of time.
One day God will hold us accountable for the way we used the time we were given in our lives. Solomon learned that the hard way. Even tho he accomplished a great deal thru most of his life, he did not finish well. We're told that as he grew old his wives turned his heart after other gods, & he was no longer fully devoted to the Lord. He began to worship other gods. As we look at our walk with God, we need to be commited not just for the short term, but for the long haul.
If you're a believer, if you have invited Jesus Christ into your heart and life, accepted His forgiveness for your sins by what He did on the cross, you as a Christian will not be judged for your sins when you stand before God one day. Your sins have already been taken care of on the cross. You've already been forgiven. But you will be evaluated on how you made use of the gifts God gave you. How did you use the time God gave you in your life?
God says "There is a time for everything, & a season for every activity under heaven" No matter which season of life you going thru right now, there are some basic questions we can ask of ourselves to evaluate and make the most of every moment we are going thru:
1) What can I learn from this moment? With God every moment is a teachable moment. What is God trying to teach you right now?
2) What good can I do in this moment? How can I do good for somebody else. Or maybe the good is just to praise God wherever you are. What good thing can I do in this moment?
3) What can I enjoy in this moment? How can I express contentment? Even when things are falling apart you can always find something good. What can I enjoy in this moment? What can I be grateful for?
4) How can I trust God in this moment? Without faith it's impossible to please God. If you will make Jesus Christ the center of your life, then all of the seasons become important and relevant and valuable. The Bible says, "Today is the day of salvation." Some of you have been thinking about establishing a relationship with Christ and you say, "One of these days..." If you wait for perfect conditions you'll never do it. Now is the time! There's not a better time than now to begin a relationship to Christ.