Christ is the Lord of Our Time [Part One] Dec. 3, 2017
Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church Sunday School
Pastor Louis Prontnicki
- Let’s start with the time and priority issues we struggle with.
Where do you feel you need help with your use of your time, with all the demands that are upon you, with any time-wasters that you indulge in, with your feelings of guilt about either working too much or not doing enough (or both at the same time!), with needing more wisdom about making the right choices and priorities that will impact my time, etc.?
“I never have enough time to do everything I’m supposed to do!” “I get too many interruptions!” “I’m overwhelmed/ stressed out by all that needs to get done.”
“I’m bored.” “I’m tired of waiting” “Time flies by too fast” “I’ve got too much time on my hands” “I am a procrastinator” “I am easily distracted from the task at hand” “I waste too much time” “I don’t know how to say ‘No’.” “I struggle with making good decisions”
Who comes to mind in the Bible who may have had similar time challenges?
Abram and Sara – waiting for a child.
Joseph – sitting in prison, forgotten.
Moses – especially during those middle 40 years!
Job – going from an active man to one who just sat around and suffered.
Paul – Constant ministry pressures (2 Cor. 11:23-29)
What about Jesus Christ? Note that in John 4:34 Jesus told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” That priority was like Jesus’ daily bread to Him; that goal set His schedule. The later, near the end of His life on earth, Jesus prayed to His Father: “I have brought You glory on earth by completing (finishing) the work You gave Me to do.” (John 17:4) Think about that: Jesus had not healed everyone with a disease; He had not preached the Kingdom of God to all the people in Israel; and He had not cast out all the demons in the region. Yet He could say, “I have finished all that You, Father, have given me to do.”
Sometimes this meant staying in a place two days longer than he had intended to (John 4:40). Other times it meant delaying his arrival at a crucial time of time, and disappointing close friends, for the greater purpose of God’s glory. (John 11:4-6, 21, 32, 43-44)
What are some of the common sayings we have about time?
Tempus Fugit – Time flies Carpe Diem – Seize the day
Time waits for no man. Time is money (is it? In a sense, yes: with more money you can buy things that might free up your time choices, e.g., not having to cut firewood and tend the woodstove all winter.) “Make up for lost time” “Beat the clock” “Better late than never” “At the eleventh hour”
“That shipped has already sailed” “Call it a day” “Killing time” “There’s no time like the present” “Turn back the hands of time” “Once in a blue moon” “around the clock” “24/7”
“Behind the times” “Ahead of his time” “Do Time/ Serve time” “In the nick of time”
2. Let’s picture the possible time demands and opportunities that you might have:
You might have one or more elderly parents and/or in-laws to care for:
You might have a spouse to care for (normal marriage needs or special circumstances)
You might have one or more children – or grandchildren – to care for. (Special needs, difficult adult children, etc.) Or perhaps foster children, adopted children, international students.
Perhaps you need to give time to a sibling or a relative.
You need sleep (6-8 hours); some time to exercise and to rest, to eat, to shower, to meet with God. You desire time for your avocations/ hobbies/ continuous learning, etc.
Job/ Career (always asking for more)
Church/ Ministry (every week/ needs never end/ always more that could be done)
Neighbors/ Community (You want to be a good neighbor and be a witness for Jesus)
Volunteering (Things you feel you should do/ want to do)
All these people and all these activities are pulling on the 24 hours that you have, and usually you feel stressed out or overwhelmed… unless you have just given up and are only serving yourself, in which case Jesus Christ is clearly not the Lord of your life or time.
Now it may be helpful to distinguish between two types of time commitments:
First, there are some are things you have had some part in choosing in the past, which have time implications for the present:
Examples: Going to college and taking on a student loan; getting married, having kids, deciding on a career, retiring at a certain age, volunteering at church or in the community. [See 1 Cor. 7:29-35, the single person is less encumbered.]
Second, there are other time commitments which have been “chosen” for you, in the providence of God:
Some are great opportunities given to you, others are challenges that you did not sign up for, but are all part of His plan for you. Opportunities may include a special job opening; a large inheritance; or unique skills (academic, athletic, or financial). The challenges may include a child with special needs; a disabling accident or disease; a house fire or a job lay-off. (Luke 12:48 “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Luke 19:11-27, the parable of the Ten Minas.)
Now almost every area of your life wants more of you and your time, right? You could always do more of everything. Therefore, if you zero in on just one area of your life, you set yourself up for failure, stress, pressure, and burn out. Time is a zero-sum game.
Therefore you need to know who your ultimate Judge is; who the One you are living under and accountable to. It’s not your spouse, nor your boss, nor your kids or grandkids, and not your “self.” It’s Jesus Christ. You will answer to Him at the end of your life. That is both freeing and sobering!
3. Let’s move to Biblical Priorities and Biblical Patterns which impact our Time:
Biblical Priorities – that should impact our time:
The two great commandments (Matthew 22:37-39): Love God with everything; Love your neighbor as yourself
The Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20)
Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33)
Weighing temporal significance vs. eternal significance in what we choose (Phil. 3:7-11).
Biblical Patterns – that should impact our time:
The fact that we are dust, and to dust we shall return (Gen. 3:19). We live in the limited time between our birth and our death, and we have no ultimate control over those dates.
The creation and redemption pattern of six days of work and one day of rest (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15)
The creation and redemption patterns of alternating times and rhythms (Gen. 1:14 – day/ night; seasons/ days/ years- daily, seasonal, and annual rhythms; Ecc. 3:1-11 “To everything there is a time”); as well as reoccurring festivals/ feasts (Lev. 23) and sabbatical years (Lev. 25), both every 7th years and every 50th year.
Daniel 2:21 “He changes the times and seasons” Psalm 31:15 “My times are in His hands”
Some Questions to Ponder:
Is there enough time in each day to do all of God’s will for that day?
Are your priorities and use of your time pleasing to God? Consider doing a time audit, whereby for two weeks you keep track of how you spend all your time, in 15 or 30 minutes intervals. Then total up the times spent in each category.
If God works in decades and centuries, what can I expect to see happen in a year or two?
How can I “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16) when it feels there’s never enough time?
What’s my motive for wanting to be a better manager of my time?
To relieve the stress and pressure?
To be able to accomplish more and greater things?
To have a more peaceful balanced life?
Is it possible that my motives are prideful, self-centered and even self-righteous?
Do I secretly enjoy being overly busy, because it makes me feel and look important? (We may not enjoy the process of our busyness, but we relish displaying our busyness as a badge of honor to others.) BTW: Here’s how to feel less busy in three seconds. Ready? Stop telling yourself that you are so busy. Stop reminding yourself and reconfirming it. Your actions and your feelings will follow your mindset/ attitude.
Am I ultimately looking to reduce the stress in my life through better time management, or in the person of Jesus Christ? (Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest…”)
Am I really wanting to be a better steward of my time and priorities so that my need for affirmation and being successful can be met? Am I trying to serve two masters? (Matt. 6:24)
Is my goal to gain more, or to lose all, for the sake of knowing Christ? (Phil. 3:8-9)
Is my drive and my busyness and my over-extending of myself a form of legalism, whereby I am trying to pay back what I think I owe God? Are you chasing down God’s approval?
Yet at the same time, the follower of Jesus Christ will generally be busy. It’s just that he or she will be busy with good, Christ-centered things, being done for God-centered reasons. Let’s busy ourselves with the things that will count for eternity.
What would it take to re-arrange my priorities and make better time-management decisions? Am I ready to count the cost for such an overhaul?
What time demands should I listen to, and which ones should I ignore? Do feelings of guilt get me to say “Yes” to more things, when God wants me to say “No”? Or, do I say “No” to things that God is prompting me to do, because of my fears or laziness or lack of faith?
Why does even my rest not feel like rest? Why can’t I enjoy my Sunday afternoon off? Why does my “to do list” haunt me as I lie down?
“If you need to get done your do list in order to enjoy rest, then you’ll never enjoy your rest.”
Rest is a matter of obedience to God’s commands and of faith in God’s promises.
(Think about the Sabbath, or the Sabbatical years) Rest required discipline.
“I can relax though Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13) In His strength, I can be content, and relax more.
More next week….