Keeping Track of the Time
How important is it to you to keep up with what time it is?
A businessman drives all night to meet a client. He arrives 2 hours early, so he decides to stop in the local park and catch some shuteye. Just as he dozes off, there’s a knock on the window. Outside the car he sees a jogger. “Excuse me, but do you have the time?” “Yeah, it’s 6:27.” The man settles back almost falls asleep when there’s another knock on the window. Another jogger. “I’m sorry to disturb you. Do you have the time?” “Yeah. It’s 6:34.” The man rolls up the window and realizes this could rob him of his nap. So he makes a sign: “I DO NOT KNOW THE TIME.” He sticks it in the window and again nestles himself back in the seat. Just as he begins to snore here comes another tap on the window. Sure enough, another jogger. He angrily rolls down the window and yells, “What do you want?” The jogger smiles and says, “I just wanted to let you know: it’s 6:42.”[i]
We learn early to keep up with what time it is. They teach you to tell time so you can know when you’re supposed to be where. They install bells and whistles and alarms to be sure you know when to come and when to go. We buy watches for our arm, clocks for every room, and place calendars on the wall to remind what time of day, what day of the month, what month of the year we are passing through.
Yet there is a sense in which you and I still lose track of not of time, but of the value of time. We can forget the value of a moment, or a day, or a week, or a year. We say we have more time than we have money, but how do you really know that?
Perhaps this is why Moses prays this way in
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Moses is not just asking for help in counting his days, but for help in making his days count. Numbering our days means taking seriously the stewardship of the time God gives us to live on earth. I want to talk to you this morning about the stewardship of this valuable resource we call time. I want to help us all see how important it is for you to keep track of this precious God-given gift we call time. Let’s begin by reading Ecc. 3:1-11
How can you and I number our days and gain a heart of wisdom? To begin with, we must understand
I. OUR TIMES ARE IN HIS HAND (Ecc. 3:1-11)
It is said that when Queen Elizabeth I of England was dying she exclaimed, “All my possessions for a moment of time!”[ii]
But all of her possessions, all of her money, all of her prestige could not buy one more second of time. If you want to learn to number your days, you begin by remembering Who holds your time in His hands.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
Who chooses those seasons for your life? Who is in control of the times of your life? God is.
Vs. 2-8 tell us the time you are born and the time you die is not in your hands, but His. God has wired into life the proper time for laughter and weeping, sorrow and dancing, even when to love and when to hate.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
This verse portrays God as Lord of both time and eternity. He is in charge of the times of your life. He holds the keys to the mysteries of time and eternity. He is the expert in how you need to spend the time you are given. Your times are in His hands.
You see, time is more than just one event happening after another. Time is God’s will and God’s purpose working in the world, God’s will and purpose working in your life.
Your life is not just a series of random happenings---God has them in penned onto His calendar. Many of the most important times in your life are not in your hands, but His. You may not know when those important days will come, but He does, because He has planned them long before you were ever born.
Psalm 139:16 …And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
Numbering your days means seeking God’s wisdom about how to make the best use of your time. James’ advice holds true for your time:
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
A man asked God how long a million years was to Him. God replied, "It's just like a single second of your time, my child." So the man asked, "And what about a million dollars?" The Lord replied, "To me, a million dollars is just like a single penny." So the man said, "Well, Lord, could I have one of your pennies?" And God said, "Certainly, my child—in just a second."[iii]
Your times are in His hand, for He is not only Lord of time---He is Lord of your times. Once you grasp the reality of God’s sovereignty over time, you also have to understand another important reality about your time:
II. YOU MUST MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT (Eph. 5:15-16)
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. - Carl Sandburg[iv]
Jesus Christ is Lord and Master of Time, but you are the steward of the time He gives you.
He is in charge of how much time you have, and what happens to you; you are responsible for how you use the time He gives you. The Bible gives us this important advice about the stewardship of your time:
Ephesians 5:15-16 15 See then that you walk circumspectly (with careful thought and purpose), not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time (making the most of every opportunity) because the days are evil.
How do you make the most of every moment? First, you need to put some careful thought into how you use the time God gives you (walk circumspectly). God gives you time to manage wisely, not waste foolishly. Redeeming the time= making the most of every opportunity (NIV). Plan out how you will use your time, use your time with purpose and thought. Don’t just let time pass; use it for God’s glory and for your good.
Secondly, you need to understand: if you don’t use your time wisely, you will end up using it foolishly. The days are evil= time that is not used wisely will lead you into evil. If you fail to make the most of every moment, you waste one of God’s most precious gifts. Days that are not used to serve God will eventually end up being used to serve the devil.
So exactly how do you make the most of every moment? It will take some thought and planning.
First, you make the most of every moment by making God a priority in your schedule. Take time each day to listen to Him by reading the Bible, and speaking to Him through prayer. Make time to go to church, make time to serve Him in some specific way.
You make the most of every moment by making your family a priority. Make your spouse, your kids, your extended family a priority when you make out your schedule. Make time for your family.
You make the most of every moment when you take time for rest. One of the 10 Commandments is to take one day in 7 to rest. If you don’t make time for rest and recreation, you are sinning! Be sure you make time to come apart, or you will end up falling apart!
Remember: life is not about doing everything; life is about doing what matters!
Charlie Brown asks Lucy, “What do you hope to accomplish in life?” Lucy replies, “Accomplish? I thought we were just supposed to stay busy!”
Life is not about staying busy; it’s about using your time to do what is important.
If people would do what they should, there would be no time to do what they should not.
You are a steward of the time Christ has given you. Are you making the most of every moment? Are you using your time for His glory, to please Him—or foolishly wasting your time? III. YOU DON’T HAVE FOREVER TO MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT (James 4:13-17)
When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept.
When as a youth I dreamed and talked, time walked.
When I became a full grown man, time ran.
And later as I older grew, time flew.
Soon I shall find while traveling on, time gone. [v]
Time can fool you. You can think you always have plenty of time- plenty of time to spend with your family, plenty of time to change your bad habits, plenty of time to change your mind or mend your ways. But the truth is none of us know how much or how little time we really have. The Bible says in
James 4:13-16 13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
The Lord say Go ahead and make your plans, but always remember this---you number may come up before your plans become reality. Tomorrow may not for you come in this life. Don’t ask how long you have---remember how short life is---like steam rising from a boiling kettle, that lasts only a moment, and then it’s gone. You don’t have forever to use your time on earth wisely.
A lot of you sitting here this morning don’t believe that.
You think only old people die, only sick people die. You have your plans for tomorrow, and next year, and many years down the road. And who am I to tell you that you don’t? On the other hand, what if your number came up today? What if God revealed to you today is your day to die?
They say when you’re near death, your whole life flashes before their eyes. What would flash before your eyes? Sure, you might think about some of the good times, but what about all the time you wasted? What about all the time you spent so foolishly?
It could happen on the way home in a car accident. It could happen while you’re eating Sunday dinner with your family. Your heart may call it quits before next week is out.
I’m not trying to be morbid; I’m trying to be realistic. I don’t know how long you have, any more than I know how long I have. What I do know for certain is that you don’t have forever to make the most of every moment.
You don’t have forever to say I love you…I’m sorry...
You don’t have forever to make things right between you and God.
You don’t have forever to do what God put you on earth to do.
A friend of mine named Jimmy Smith once offered me this piece of time management advice: Mike, there’s only two reasons a person dies: either he/she has finished what the Lord gave them to do, or they run out of time.
God doesn’t want you and I to run through life fast and furious, but He does want us to know the danger of procrastination.
There is a legend about Satan and his imps planning their strategy for keeping people from getting right with God. One demon says, “I’ve got the plan, master. I’ll tell them there’s no heaven. The devil responds, “They’ll never believe that. Most of them know there’s got to be something after this life.” Another says, “I’ve got it! I’ll tell ’em there’s no hell.” “No good,” the devil says. “They know deep down in their hearts that their wrong will be punished.” One brilliant little imp in the back stood up and said, “Then I know the answer. I’ll just tell them there’s no hurry.” [vi]
There are plenty of people in hell today because they believed this lie. They procrastinated about the most important decision of life. They put off coming to Christ until they were older, or until they could get their act together, or until it was more convenient. But they ran out of time.
This morning I urge you to hear the world of the Lord from
2 Corinthians 6:2 Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Why now? Because now is the only moment you have for sure.
There are many things you need to take your time on, many areas where it’s wise to put off, but being sure of your relationship with God is not one of those things. You simply don’t have forever to make this decision—but by God’s grace, you do have right now.
In Bill Keane's strip The Family Circus the little girl is explains time to her little brother:"Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present."[vii]
For the next few minutes, God is giving you the present of time.
A little more time to get your relationship with God right.
A little more time to surrender yourself to God’s will for your life.
A little more time to answer His call on your life.
It’s later than you think. You have time right now to do what God wants you to do. Why don’t you make the most of this moment God gives you?
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
[i]Lowell D. Streiker, Nelson's Big Book of Laughter : Thousands of Smiles from A to Z, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers
[ii]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes,
[iii] James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 410
[iv]10,000 sermon illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Dallas: Biblical Studies Press.
[v]10,000 sermon illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Dallas: Biblical Studies Press.
[vi]C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters Swindoll, C. R. (2000, c1998). The tale of the tardy oxcart
[vii] Robert Shannon, Preaching July/August 1999