Don’t Waste Your Time in 2018

Image result for redeeming the time Bernie Diaz, December 26, 2017

Christmas is now behind us and as we near the close of the year of our Lord 2017, we have to admit it has been both a very interesting and challenging year. I’m sure you had many blessed moments and by the same token, some very rough ones.

In our world and more specifically, our county and our greater community, we were challenged by threats to religious liberty and rights, a controversial year of politics under the administration of the ‘Donald’ in the White House, a radical and rebellious, leftward societal and cultural turn to the left via the sexual revolution, “natural” disasters, mass shootings, violence and social unrest (e.g. Black Lives Matter vs. the Alt-Right) just to name a few of the crisis and issues we faced this year, pretty much disposing with the eschatological notion that the word is getting better.

Biblically in fact, the “last days” or what we could call, the church age, is one that progressively gets worse, before it gets better I think, with the return of King Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote his young apprentice Timothy 2,000 years ago:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power..  (2 Tim. 3:1-5a, ESV).

Lest we become overly pessimistic nor prophetic, it is safe to say that Paul was not contextually referring to our day and age per se, in the early 21st century, but in the reality, that despite mankind’s unprecedented advancement in technology and information, our hearts will continually grow devious and ‘desperately wicked,’ or as he added in his second letter to Timothy, “.. evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

So, ‘how shall we then live’, as Francis Schaffer may have asked a generation ago? What are we do about- and in the times we live?

A New Year’s Resolution next week? I’ve been making and failing at the same resolutions for the past several years, so I’m not sure that works real well or that I’ve been doing it right. Probably a little of both. Most of the time we’re our own worst judge of which resolutions we should pick anyway.

TIME

I’m going to argue here that perhaps our biggest resolution as Christians in 2018, should be to ‘redeem’ the TIME. What should you do with your time?

How Do You Value Time?

  • How do we value ONE YEAR? Ask a student who failed a grade.
  • How do we value ONE MONTH? Ask a Mother whose baby arrived prematurely or is overdue?
  • How do we value ONE HOUR? Ask someone who lies terminally ill waiting for a loved one who is late.
  • How do we value ONE MINUTE? Ask someone who missed a plane, a train, a very important meeting or event that can never be rescheduled.
  • How do we value ONE SECOND? Ask an NBA or NFL player at the end of a close game, or someone who just missed having an accident, or someone saying goodbye to a loved one they will never see again.

Most people measure their lives in years. But how would our thought processes change if we measured our lives in days? On the 20,000th day of his life, Robert D. Smith decided to put this concept to the test. He spent the next 48 hours planning his next 20,000 days—and walked away with life-changing information that became a best-selling book.

I’ve now lived over 20,000 days in my life-time and if I really think about it, I’d like to have a lot of those back- as do-overs or mulligans as they say in golf. So maybe this new year’s time, looking forward, it might be a good time for me to rethink the concept of time.

If we think about the kingdom of God, time is not ours to spend as we choose, it is a trust from our creator (the King of that kingdom) and we have to give an account to Him for how we use or invest it, as our church has been studying in some of The Greatest Stories Jesus Ever Told.

Paul may have been thinking that as he wrote Timothy at the church in Ephesus (AD 60-62) that he had planted on his third missionary journey. In the middle of the great chapter of Ephesians 5, he said that they and you, were once children of darkness and now as disciples, that you should be a child of light, walking in light and love and taking no part in the “unfruitful works of darkness”, but instead “exposing them”.

Then in Eph. 5:15-16, he gets into some nitty-gritty, or some detail of how we do that, which is so fitting for the mindset I think we can consider taking into AD 2018.

Walk Wisely

In other words, the apostle begins this passage with a call for disciples of Christ to: “Wake up! Don’t sleep-walk today. Open your eyes and make the most of your day! That is the simpler definition of that phrase you might find in your old or new King James Version, walk circumspectly.

The word and the concept has with it the idea of living in such a way as to  see and discern with skill, or simply to be wise.

A wise person knows what to do with what he knows. That’s a parallel to the idea of discernment or decision making. You could be a Bible scholar and be a fool or unwise- did you know that? Wisdom is applied knowledge and is more art than science. It’s acquired and matures over time, with experience or with some trial and error sometimes. Someone said, “Experience comes from what we have done. Wisdom comes from what we have done badly.”

There’s an old story about John and Dave, who were hiking when they spotted a mountain lion staring at them. John froze in his tracks, but Dave sat down on a log, tore off his hiking boots, pulled a pair of running shoes from his backpack and hurriedly began to put them on.

“For crying out loud, you can’t outrun a mountain lion!” John yelled. “I don’t have to,” shrugged Dave. “I just have to outrun you.”  That’s wisdom!

Little wonder why we are emphasizing the doctrine of wisdom, in our small-group studies for men and women at our church right now from the book of Proverbs.

So, what’s the admonition here? That we should walk or live wisely because the days are few. The days are evil. Sin and its influence and temptation is everywhere right? Persecution was a reality for the Ephesian believers and has dawned upon America in our time.

Make the Most

Eph. 5:16 tells us that we are to ‘make the best use of the time’, which though literally is about paying a price to recover something or someone from the power of another, giving the idea of making the most of every opportunity of the time we have. That makes sense since James also reminds us in the New Testament that “life is but a vapor.” We can be here today and gone tomorrow. Try walking with that in mind.

The Psalmist puts it this way: So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psa.90:12). In other words, Bernie Diaz, count those days that you’ve lived and what may be ahead, the times you’re living in, wake-up, smell the coffee, get to some serious business and live for Christ and his kingdom.

Simply stated, we are to redeem, or make the best of the opportunities and moments that God gives us for our good and for His glory. The believer who walks in wisdom knows how to make the most of his or her opportunity. The parallel passage from Colossians says it another way:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Col. 4:5-6)  

Walking wisely is then knowing how to talk and share with unbelievers, giving them your reason for the hope that lies within you. It’s funny, we pray (if at all), for evangelism or witnessing opportunities for the cause of Christ, and then we wonder why we rarely share our testimony or our faith, when we keep missing the time and opportunities God keeps putting right in front of us. We as Christians, are salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16), and should preserve and shine in a world that is dying and dark every day.  Therefore, let’s not waste any more time.

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