We are blessed if we live 70 or 80 years. It sounds like a lot, but it's not. Thankfully, the Bible gives us a great deal of wisdom on how to benefit the most from the time we are given.
[Rudy Rangel] Happy Sabbath. Time is something that we all see a little bit differently, isn’t it? When you’re young, you have all the time in the world. Time to do whatever, all my plans, have all the time in the world. But when we start to get a little bit older, we… it’s a lot easier to start to number our days, isn’t it? Start seeing, you know what? This time is precious. The time that we’ve been given is precious. I don’t feel like I have all the days in the world anymore to do all the things that I want to do with my life. We see time as valuable, not something to be wasted.
We talk a lot about time. A lot is written about time. There are lots of blogs, books on time management. How to make the most of your time. How to make the most of your work/life balance. How do I balance all the things that I need to accomplish at home with all the things that I want to accomplish in my career? How do I do that? There’s tons written about it. How much time do we actually have? How much time do we have? If you live to be 70 years old, in your lifetime you have 613,200 hours in your lifetime if you live to be 70. That’s, you know, a big number, a big number we can deal with.
Let’s break that down in a week, though, because that’s how we manage our time. What am I going to do this week? How much time do you have in a week? Well, that’s easy, 24 times 7. You have 168 hours this week, 168 hours. But do you really have 168 hours? I mean, if you plan on sleeping, eight hours every day is allotted. Eight hours every day is allotted. So, we need to subtract from our 168 to really decide our usable hours. Subtract 56 hours. That’s assuming everyone gets eight hours of sleep. Does everyone get eight hours of sleep? Nobody. Okay. Well, let’s assume because that’s what we should be getting for our health. If we subtract 56 hours, that leaves us with 112 hours a week. That’s still quite a bit, isn’t it? Well, if you’re an adult and you have a full-time job and you work 40 hours, that time also is already allotted. So, we take away another 40 hours, 112 minus 40 is 72. I’m no mathematician. I had to write these numbers down, just so you know. But as soon as those 40 hours start, you’re not just right there are work. The average American, they spend 26 minutes each day driving to work. So, that’s an extra four hours a week on average that you’re spending just in your commute alone.
So, if we take our 72 and we minus… subtract 4, we’re down to 68 hours, 68 hours that you can decide to do with your time whatever you want, 68 hours. That’s how much time we have. What did you do with your 68 hours this week, the time you can choose to do anything you want? Did you spend time doing chores? Did you spend… some of us work overtime, did you spend any extra time at work? Time with family? What about those spiritual matters? Did we take time for prayer and Bible study? Did we take time doing good for others? When you think about having 68 hours, do you feel like that’s a lot or do you feel like it’s a little bit too little? I think that our views may differ on that depending on also our age once again. Today, I’d like to talk about time, hopefully, to get us thinking more intentionally how we spend our time.
Let’s start in the book of Psalms. Let’s go to Psalm 90 today. Psalm 90. Psalms 90:10 Psalms 90:10The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
American King James Version×, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years.” The New Living says it this way, “Seventy years are given to us, some even live to eighty, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? And as we fear You, so is Your wrath.” Verse 12, “So teach us teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The New Living says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.” It says here in verse 10 that we have 70 or 80 years if we’re lucky. And you know what? Those numbers really do add up for us today. Even with all of our medical advances, the average American lives to be 78 years old, just over 78. So, it fits with scripture even after all these years and all that we’ve done, 78. Now, if you live in Canada, I know there’s some Canadians watching online, your average is actually 82. So good for the Canadians, also sorry, Judy, for moving you to America and losing four years of your life.
This is important. The time that we’ve been given is a gift. It’s a gift. We shouldn’t take it for granted and we can’t get caught up in the cycle of life that is so easy to do where we just continue going on our days and not really thinking about how we spend our precious time. You have 68 hours to choose to do whatever you want to do. What do you plan on doing with your 68 hours? The difficulty is that we are often… we feel like slaves to the commitments that we’ve made. We’ve made these commitments. You know, we have work, we have jobs, we have other promises we’ve done, and we’re continuously running around and around and we’re getting tired, and by the end of the day, we just want to sit on the couch and let Netflix just wash all over us. But Ferris Bueller told us when we were young that “life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” That’s pretty smart for a teenage kid but it was actually the writer of the movie who wrote that. But that’s what life feels like. It does feel very fast.
We know what God told Daniel. He told him to shut the book up because, until the end time, many shall run to and fro. And isn’t that what it feels like? It feels like we’re just running to and fro. Sure, knowledge is increasing, but man, at what cost? That’s what it feels like sometimes. And to be honest, it’s easier to just not really think about it. It’s easier to… I’m just going to get up and I’m just going to do it again and I’m going to do it again and not really take stock of how I’m using my time because that’s just something else on my plate that I have to deal with. It’s just easier to continue on and not really assess how I’ve spent my time.
So, where do we go from here? Let’s go to Ephesians. Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5:15 Ephesians 5:15See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
American King James Version×says this. “See that you walk circumspectly,” that’s not a word we use every day. In my margin, it says carefully. But “See 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.” Walk circumspectly. Be diligent. Be diligent with how you use your time. And then it says here, “Redeeming the time.” Redeem it. Take that time. Use it for yourself. When you look up this word redeem, it has this sort of connotation of a transaction and it’s interesting because that’s how we talk about time today. You say I spent time. I spent time doing this. I spent time doing that. We talk about time as a transaction. We’re spending it. And maybe that’s a good way for us to think about it because when we spend it, it’s gone. It’s gone. I spent two hours watching Netflix this week, I’m not getting that back. Maybe that’s the way we should think about our time. We shouldn’t look at it as something renewable. We have 68 hours this week and we’re not going to get those 68 hours back. When we spend our time, it’s gone. Our time is precious. It’s precious.
I remember the first time in my life, and it’s usually when you’re in your 20s something big happens in your life and someone dies and you think, “Wow,” you know, “this person I was close to, I looked up to,” and a tragic accident happens. That happened to me when I was 25, newly married, there was this man in my congregation, larger than life character, boisterous, you know, jovial, everything you could say about him. He was just a fantastic person, one of the most encouraging people I know. There was a lot that we learned about him actually on the day of his funeral. He was a traveling salesman and oftentimes he would ride his motorcycle and in-between visits he would go visit some of the widows in the church area. He would go and sit and have coffee and tea and these things we never knew about him. He was just a fantastic person. Unfortunately, he was on his motorcycle one day and someone, not to any fault of his, fault of his own, pulled out in front of him. They didn’t see him and it ended his life. It’s usually those times when we really start to think about, “Wow, just like that.” Just like that and it’s over. We have to really see our time as precious because it is. What I had found in my own life is if I don’t consider how I’m spending my time or anything that I’m doing, it just breaks down. If I’m not intentional about how I use my finances, it starts to break down. If I’m not intentional with how I use my time, that breaks down as well. We cannot let the time that we have just slip away. It’s very precious. Let’s go to Proverbs 27.
Proverbs 27:1 Proverbs 27:1Boast not yourself of to morrow; for you know not what a day may bring forth.
American King James Version×, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” We don’t know. The man at my church had no idea that he was going to get into a motorcycle accident. And it’s not just tragic things like that. Other things can really change how we see our time. If we have a trial, a health trial, something that we can’t control and it has now taken all of our time and our effort, it shapes how we will plan our week, and our day, and our month, and all the time that we have. We just don’t know. And we like to think that we are in control. I know I feel that way. I absolutely feel like I am completely in control of everything I do. But is that true? I mean, to an extent, yes, but we just don’t know. It says here don’t boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth. James says something very similar to this. Let’s go to the book James. James 4:13 James 4:13Go to now, you that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
American King James Version×, “Now come, you who say, ‘Tomorrow… today or tomorrow we will go to such and such city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? Is it even a vapor that appears for a little time then vanishes away? Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” Verse 17, “Therefore, to him to knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is a sin.”
There’s a lot happening in these few verses so let’s break it down. Can we make plans? Because it says, you know, don’t say I’m going to go here and I’m going to go there. Can we make plans? Well, of course, we can make plans but we never want to live our life like God is not in the picture, like we have not submitted ourselves to Him and He’s not part of our planning. The other thing we have to understand, and this is the hardest part for all of us, is I’ll make plans and it doesn’t come how I planned it. It comes how God planned it. That’s when it’s hard. That’s when it’s difficult. How do we handle that? How do we handle that as Christians, faithful Christians? It’s difficult.
Verse 14 says, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away.” For a little time. I never do… I never have props but I’m going to do a prop today. What is a vapor? I didn’t ask for permission for this so we’ll see how this goes. It’s better to ask for forgiveness I was told by Mr. McNeely. I’ll go ahead and out him. What is a vapor? This. I’m going to show it to you. Are you ready? Here’s a vapor. That is the vapor and now it’s gone. That little bit of a smoke vapor, that’s how much time we have. That’s how much time we have.
Sixty-eight hours each week, that’s what we get to choose what we do with our time and it’s easy to assume that our time will continue on. You know why? The sun rose this morning, it rose yesterday, it rose the day before, and it’s easy for us as humans to say,”Oh, it’s just going to continue on” until something tragic happens and then we’re sort of shaken. We realize I don’t have all this time. What did I do with all the time that I had? What did I do with it? If the Lord wills. That is yielding ourselves to God’s plan. When we say “Instead you are to say, ‘If the Lord wills,’” that yields my plans with my time. I’ll yield to God for that. God should be part of our planning. And we should be making goals in life. That’s good. That’s good for us to do. Those goals should include spiritual goals. We should be seeking God’s direction in our planning. Every time that Israel would go out and they would not seek God’s counsel before they went out to battle, it didn’t go so well. They needed to put… to use… to seek God in their planning.
Verse 17 here in James, it seems like it comes out of nowhere. So, it’s talking about planning and then all of sudden, “Therefore, to him knows to do good, does not do it, to him is a sin.” It seems out of place at first but if we really think about what’s being said here. All right. Well, what it’s talking about is you shouldn’t just be making plans without God in your life. You have a little bit of a time, the time of vapor, so with that time don’t forget to do some good. Don’t forget to do some good because if you know to do it and you don’t, that’s a sin. Some of our 68 hours should involve doing good. We know that we should be and if we don’t, if we don’t do it, it’s a sin. Oftentimes we talk about sin like don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do that, that’s what we read, but also if we don’t do good, that too is a sin. If you feel like sometimes at the end of the week you feel like “Where did all my time go, I didn’t get anything done that I wanted to,” it’s a good time to consider how we spend our time. We don’t want to live years and years and look back and say “What did I do with all the time that I had? What did I do?”
As I was preparing this message, I looked… I was going through the web and I actually noticed a lot of blogs, personal blogs, about people in their 30s and they were talking about how “I wasted my 20s.” There were quite a few. “I wasted all of my 20s,” all gone, and they are lamenting the fact that they had wasted an entire decade. Titles like “How to Move on After Wasting Your 20s.” That was a Medium article. That’s a personal blog that someone wrote. “What can I do in my 30s if I feel like I wasted all my 20s?” When you’re young, you feel like you have all the time and the next thing you know you blink and you’re 30 and all that time is gone. And it’s when you hit those decade markers, it’s definitely a time for reflection. It doesn’t matter if you spent your time wisely and you were completely content with all the decisions you made in your life and how everything turned out, those time markers, those decade time markers are something that stops all of us in our tracks and we start to consider, “Wow, what did I do? What did I do with these last 10 years?” We can’t escape those times. There are also times in our lives where God needs to make some course corrections in our lives because He is involved in our lives. We have yielded ourselves to God and He will at times step in, especially when we need course corrections spiritually.
Let’s go to the book of Haggai. Not a book that we go to very often, Haggai. Jonah, Micah, Nahum. It’s after Zephaniah, or as Judy called this yesterday, “Hey Guy.” Hey Guy 1. A little background in the book of Haggai. This was after the Babylonian exile so Jews are starting to return from Babylon and they were permitted to go back to their homeland. We’re familiar with the stories of Nehemiah and Ezra, Nehemiah building the wall, Ezra setting up some civil things. Sixteen years pass at this point and they still have not completed the work of the temple. What they had done is they began focusing on their own houses. They began focusing on their own affairs. And Haggai is called by God to talk to the Jews.
Let’s start in verse 3. “The word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now, therefore thus says the Lord of Hosts, ‘Consider your ways.’” Verse 6, “You have sown much and bring in little; you eat but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Verse 7, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood, build the temple, that I make take pleasure in it and be glorified,’ says the Lord.” Verse 9, “’You looked for much, but indeed it came too little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?’ says Lord of hosts. ‘Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.’”
They all just get back from exile, and you know, start tinkering with the temple and then decide, well, it’s time to sort of do my own thing now, get my own house in order. They begin to build their own houses and he addresses some of these things in verse 6. They start to sow, they start to plant, they eat. But he says they’re doing these things but they’re still not filled up. Why? It’s because they have left their spiritual house in disarray. The spiritual house where they were to go and worship God at the temple, they left that in ruins. For us that translates a little bit differently today, doesn’t it? It translates with how I prioritize my spiritual life. How do I prioritize my spiritual life? Is God’s spiritual house the temple that has put His Holy Spirit in, am I fixing that up? Am I fixing the temple that He has placed His name and He is living today? Am I working on that?
They were not putting God first and everything that they were doing, all the efforts they were putting into sowing and drinking and eating and warming themselves and filling their pockets with money, it felt like nothing. Why? Because spiritually, they were bankrupt. They had to put God first. They needed to go and fix that temple. And the people do hear Haggai. They hear Haggai. But isn’t that true of ourselves today? We can fill ourselves with whatever we want, we can work hard, we can feel happy with how we worked, but if we don’t put those spiritual matters as a priority in our life, at the end of the day, it still feels empty. And we trick ourselves. We say you know what? I worked hard and my feet hurt and I need to put my feet up and I need to play video games for four hours tonight and I need to watch Netflix, I need to be on Facebook for the next three hours after that, and you know, I’ll pray tomorrow. But in the end, why it feels empty is because it is. We trick ourselves. You and I, we’re supposed… we’re called to a life of doing, physically, yes, but spiritually, spiritually, we are to be doing. We fill ourselves with these leisures.
And when we think about… Go to Ezekiel 16. We think about the sins of Sodom, we often think about the sexual sins of Sodom, but in Ezekiel, it gives us a little insight that us in a very rich nation can learn from. Ezekiel 16. Ezekiel 16:49 Ezekiel 16:49Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
American King James Version×, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness.” Idleness, not I-D-O-L, I-D-L-E. They lived a life of leisure. What’s interesting, these sins, these are all very self-indulgent sins. Self-indulgent sins are widely accessible to the richest nation in the world, us. God tells us to enjoy the fruit of our labors, yes, but we have to make sure that we are doing all the right things spiritually. The Bible reading program says this about this excerpt in Ezekiel. It says “The wealth and prosperity of Sodom had plunged it into such spiritual laxity that the people fell headlong into utter rejection of morality and restraint. Therefore this idleness brings about spiritual idleness.”
Matthew 25, Jesus gives us a parable. And I won’t read the whole parable. I will just get to the crux of the matter here. It’s the parable of talents, and at the end, verse 25, when the laborers are confronted… Sorry, verse 26, “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.’” This servant was idle. This is the one He said “You should at least put it in the bank. I gave this to you and you just sat there with it and you did nothing. You were idle.” God has opened our minds to the truth and He has given us His Spirit and we are to grow. We are to grow and to do and to share what we’ve been given. This servant in this parable did nothing. There is no time for complacency in the life of a Christian. Every day we drink water because our life depends on it. We have to drink water. And it’s interesting outside of your house, if water sits, what do you say? It’s stagnant. What happens to it? Water that is not moving is dangerous. Water that is idle, it’s sitting there, breeds disease, and contrast that with the living waters that we’re supposed to be living by, God’s Holy Spirit that moves and is restorative, cannot be idle.
The life instructions of a Christian are full of action words: ask, seek, knock, do, run. We’re physical people and God gave us physical things to teach us spiritual lessons and we are to act on those things. He knew that we needed these type of reminders because each day we get up and we’ll just say, “Well, I’m just going to do the same thing I did yesterday. That’s how I’m going to use my time.” But the fact of the matter is the God that we worship, He also, too, is busy. Jesus told the disciples, “My Father has been working now and I have been working.”
How do you spend your time? My goal of today is to get us to think about how we use it so that we are intentional. We just don’t let the days keep coming at us. We just get up and do the same thing because what we have is precious. It’s precious. And when we spend our time, we don’t get it back. Don’t go through this winter and come up on the spring Holy Days and ask yourself “Where did all the time go? What happened to it all?” It has to start today. It has to start today. There’s a quote from The Music Man and the character Professor Hill is trying to get this girl to go take a walk with him and she’s like “Maybe not today, maybe tomorrow.” And he says, “If you pile up enough tomorrows, you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.” If you’re in your 20s and you’re listening to this, this is a fantastic time to live a life that is productive. You are laying the foundation of your spiritual life today. Take time to set those foundations. Your physical goals and life goals, that’s important, too. Make sure God is a part of those.
Let’s go to Romans 12 as we end here. As we make our plans for the next week, let’s keep this in mind, the promises that we’ve made to God. Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version×says this, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We’ve given up our will. We’ve given up our will and we told God I will follow You. I will follow Jesus Christ. That has to be a vital component to our time. Make sure that we’re being transformed every day. That this day was not just a wash but that I was productive today. Make sure that we’re being transformed daily. You have 68 hours this week to do whatever you want to do. How are you going to spend it?