A MATTER OF TIME
Last time I preached Mark 1:15 which states: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Two Wednesday evenings ago I taught on the wisdom of Solomon as He prayed to God to give him wisdom to properly judge His people.
Luke 9:57-62 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Solomon was a very wise man. He had lived long enough to get a true perspective on life and living. He knew the value of time. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 3: that God has put everything in a time and space continuum saying that there was a time for everything under the sun. And in verse 11 he writes: God, hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
John Gill writes on Solomon’s word. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” and though everything is beautiful in its time, yet till they are made manifest, and all viewed together; they will not be perfectly understood, or the beauty of them seen. For God has put something “hidden”, or “sealed up”, in the midst of them, as it may be rendered, so that they cannot be perfectly known.
Matthew Henry says: Everything is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works. We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence, is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love him. God doeth all, that men should fear before him. The world, as it has been, is, and will be. There has no change befallen us, nor has any temptation by it taken us, but such as is common to men.
Robert Hawker adds: From the fluctuating state of things, as they refer to men (and time), Solomon makes a beautiful transition in those verses, to the permanent and settled things of God, and his purposes. Here, indeed, as the Preacher saith, everything is beautiful in its time and order. In things of nature, providence, and grace, (and time) we may well cry out, as we contemplate them; in wisdom hast thou made them all.
With these Scriptures and commentary in mind, I want to speak to you this morning on the subject of time a subject that as we grow older the fact of time and its brevity as it relates to life’s ending becomes very important.
What do you do with your time? How much time do you spend doing nothing? Watching TV? Reading your Bible? On your knees? Writing letters? Etc., etc.
Time is important to you and me. Time is always on our minds. We say, “there was a time when…” We speak of the time of the “good old days,” as if those times were better than today’s. We oft’ times put off doing things thinking, “I will have time to do this or that tomorrow.” Or “Sorry, I don’t have time to do this or that.” I don’t have time to be faithful to my church, no, but you have time for whatever else you want to do or feel you have to do. What if for you tomorrow never comes? What then…you will plead for more time…there will be none!
What is time? It is a particular portion or part of duration, whether past, present or future.
The time was; the time has been; the time is; the time will be. Lost time is never found again.
God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets. Hebrews 1:1.
On time: Time is a gift from God and we are to make the best use of it. We should not waste a second of it. There are times when I wonder if I have made the best use of the time God has given me.
Time management, we think, has little to do with our everyday life.
I was never taught as a boy the best way to manage my time. I knew by instinct when it was time to eat, sleep, and play. I knew when it was time to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to school. I knew that school started at 8:15 and that to not be on time meant trouble. I knew that summer time was a time for play, and at several points of time the grass had to be cut. I was never educated on the importance of “time management,” which by definition is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.
Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd. President wrote in a letter to his Daughter Martha when she was 11 years old…we are never to young to learn good time management. And tho’ his letter contains a suggested time frame you may find a bit humorous considering the time in which we live I hope you may find it useful in your own life.
With respect to the distribution of your time the following is what I should approve.
From 8 to 10 o’clock practice music. From 10 to 1 dance one day draw another.
From 1 to 2 draw on the day you dance, and write a letter the next day.
From 3 to 4 read French.
From 4 to 5 exercise yourself in music.
From 5 till bedtime read English and write.
If you love me then, strive to be good under every circumstance and to all living creatures, and to acquire those accomplishments which I have put in your power.
This letter, though’ written by the hand of a wise father to his daughter could have been written by God to you and me for it speaks of good endeavors that exercise the mind and heart and pleases God.
Time management is important because of the brevity of our lives. Our earthly sojourn is significantly shorter than we are inclined to think. As David so aptly points out, “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:4-5). The apostle James echoes this: “You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Indeed, our time on earth barely registers on the eternal radar screen. To live as God would have us live, it is essential we make the best possible use of our allotted time. God did! (Genesis 1:1-2:3)
Moses prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). A good way to gain wisdom is to learn to live each day with an eternal perspective. Our Creator has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Knowing that we will have to give an account to the One who gives us time should motivate us to use it well. “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul cautioned the saints, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Living godly productive lives involves using our time wisely. Knowing that the harvest is great and the workers are few, and that time is rapidly dwindling should help us make better use of our time as witnesses for our Lord.
There is no doubt that the responsibilities and pressures of this world scream for our attention. The myriad of things pulling us in different directions makes it all too easy for our time to get swallowed up in mundane, lesser matters. Those endeavors which have eternal value, then, often get relegated to the back burner. To avoid losing focus, we need to prioritize our time and set goals we want to accomplish with the time allotted us. Additionally, to whatever extent possible, we need to delegate.
Regarding time and our work ethic, we need to recall that God did all of His work in six days and rested on the seventh. This ratio of work to rest sheds light on our Creator’s expectations relative to our own work ethic. Indeed, Proverbs 6:10-11 reveals the Lord’s disdain for slothful behavior: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit.”
Furthermore, the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) illustrates the tragedy of wasted opportunity as well as the importance of laboring faithfully until the Lord comes.
We need to place our focus on that which is eternal as opposed to the fleeting pleasures of this passing world, and must include determining what is more important. Accordingly, we should move forward with diligence and divine purpose as the courses of our lives progress toward God’s ultimate goal. We are to accomplish as much as we can with the time He has given us. We will be eternally rewarded for investing our time in good works (1 Corinthians 3:14). We should live as if each minute counts – because it really does.
Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Everything is as God made it; not always as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works.
We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence, is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love him. God doeth all, that men should fear before him. The world, as it has been, is, and will be. There has no change befallen us, nor has any temptation by it taken us, but such as is common to men. (Matthew Henry)
Now, to eternity. We cannot speak about time unless we compare time to eternity. Time will end. Eternity has no end! This is something that men should consider in regards to the life they will have when time runs out.
A word about eternity… God inhabits eternity – He dwells not only among human beings, but he dwells in eternity – where time is unknown – in a world where the passing of days into nights is not marked– Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity , whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. With the Lord there is neither beginning of days, nor end of life, nor change of time. His name is holy, and all must know him as a holy God. He will have tender regard to those who bring their mind to their condition, and dread his wrath. He will make his abode with those whose hearts he has thus humbled, in order to revive and comfort them. Matthew Henry
By God’s ‘determinate counsel He has established time and has set certain limits on time. For example by His own Determinate Counsel and Foreknowledge He has:
- Set the boundaries of the times of day and the night, of the seasons of the year.
- Set the boundaries of time of all Creation – He set the earth on its proper axis. The first is the rotation of the Earth around an invisible axis. It takes the Earth about 24 hours to finish one complete rotation. The Earth rotates from the west towards east. As viewed from North Star or polestar Polaris, the Earth turns counter-clockwise. The earth’s rotation determines everything we take for granted. The time of day, the years, the seasons, the tides, the way the earth rotates and circles the Sun. The average distance between the Earth and the Sun is 96 million miles and it takes a complete orbit occurs every 365.256 days, during which time Earth travels 584 million miles.
- He set the boundary time for the great flood not to rise above 18 cubits over the Highest mountain – Everest perhaps at 33,000 feet, plus.
- God set the boundary of time for Satan’s power over Old Job. Job 1:12
the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.
- He set the boundary of time for the span of man’s life: Psalms 39:5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. And in Psalms 90:10- The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
- God set the boundaries of time regarding the number of days for the body of our Lord to lie in the tomb – three days and three nights.
Eternity… What is it? It is “continuance without beginning or end.” (Webster) How is that something we can figure out in our finite minds. How do we know this to be true – We are told that it is so by His own word. Eternity is Endless, Never ending, perpetual, undying, immortal, abiding, permanent, enduring, infinite, boundless, undying and a dozen other definitions.
Picture a circle, where does it begin and where does it end? It never began and never ends. Then think of the life of a man, any man. It had a beginning, a time of mornings and nights, seasons, a time for living.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
We oft’ use the phrase that God has put eternity in men’s heart, but that is not what Solomon says. He said that God has put the world in the heart of man.
The ‘world’ in this case may be taken in two ways. One meaning of the “world” is, ‘everlasting’ or the fact of an everlasting (eternal) world to come. But the word ‘world’ used in this same text also may mean just what it says which is to imply that We have the world so much in our hearts, that we are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them.
The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works. We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time. Eventually all time will pass into that which time has always been, guess where…ETERNITY.
I ask you to look at your life as the length of this pole – you begin at one end and die at the other end.
Surely, you noticed the length of the pole it is short, it has a beginning and an ending. Eternity, by contrast has neither.
A believer thinks of eternity much different that an unbeliever, if the unbeliever thinks of it at all. A believer thinks of eternity as a place of life, glory, and the presence of God. Eternity is not time, as we know it. It is a place.
The majority of us live the length of our lives the way we want, suiting ourselves with little or no thought of God. We believe that we have “all the time in the world” to straighten up and fly right. We think that we will wait until the end and then turn to God. We who have read even a modicum of Scripture or heard even a small bit of preaching know this is not true.
Many believe that they are going to pass through this portal we call time and one day step into…what they know not and care less. Most believe that when it is our ‘time’ we all will go to a heaven of some sort, but few believe that any will burn in a Lake of fire forever. Yes, they say we are going to live then we are going to die and that’s the end of it! So many say to their soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry . Luke 12:19
Psalms 90:10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten ; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
I am so glad God has given us ‘time.’ If he had not done so we would have ceased to be as soon as Adam bit into the forbidden fruit! God by His grace and mercy has given us “time” on purpose and for purpose. Time is borrowed. It is on loan to mankind. Time is an invention of God to give us opportunity to discover who we are and what we are; to discover life; to live it with purpose, that purpose is to glorify God and in glorifying God we find not only purpose but happiness, but not just happiness but joy, and not just happiness and joy but eternal, everlasting Life.
What is our purpose of time as it relates to your life and mine? It is to Glorify God.
- What does it mean to Glorify Him? It means to take time to give glory only unto Him.
- How do we do this? In this sense we do this by honoring God and praising Him.
We hear God say: 1 Chronicles 16:28-36 Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. 29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. 30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
- Bring an offering.
- Come before Him.
- Worship Him.
- Reverence Him.
Why are we to do this? Because He is God and there is none other.. “Behold” He cometh with the clouds to judge the earth and gather His elect from the four corners of the earth—from the Uttermost part of the earth.
It is futile to speculate about why God allowed things to happen in what we call the past; or what He is about right now; or what is He going to do in the future. We must remember: 2 Peter 3:8-14 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
As Believers we have today, tomorrow is gone, the future is not yet. What will we as believers do with today? The choices will we as believers make today either for or against God is up to you and me.
If you have not been born again…you must be if you are to enter or see the kingdom of God. Repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior—YOUR TIME IS NOW! DON’T WASTE IT!
Look at this pole. It represent your time of life. At one end is the beginning and at this end time is over. The red tip is where most of us try to make a decision that will guarantee eternal life. Seems silly doesn’t it? Spending most of the time of our life in foolish and ungodly endeavors and thinking that we know the end is near and then try to make amends and be reconciled to God before its too late. We live in a time motion state…time and motion means to make the best use of our time while we have the time!
Time is full of many things; some very pleasant, some unpleasant but one day time will run out and if you have not made good use of the time God has given you, if you are living out your time thinking nothing of the eternity that awaits of all, Come to Jesus today – Life, after all, is really just a Matter of Time. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 says:
1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time ; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Today, this time, is the accepted time, now is the day (time) of salvation! This is, we say, the dispensation of the Grace of God. A time when He will save men from their sin. This dispensation will end. There is coming a day when the accepted time of salvation is passed into eternity forever and that time will be no more! You may say that you will come to Christ when you have time. Today is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.
Do not put off what will be the most important thing you will ever do…Come to Christ today. He will not turn you away. Come to the cross and lay your sin at the Feet of the Lamb of God that taketh away your sin. Come in faith…He will receive you. This is the time! It may never come again!