As many of you know, on the first Sunday of each year I deliver what I call my annual State of the Church message. For the past several years I have endeavored to deliver a message that both recaps the past and projects a vision for the future.
Statistics do not always reveal what has happened. Statistics can’t always tell us what is going on in the lives of people. Yet statistics are important.
1. Current Membership
2. New Members
4. Transfer of Membership
1. Sunday School
2. Worship Attendance
4. Teens For Christ
1. Southern Baptist Convention Related
a. Cooperative Program
b. Lottie Moon
c. Annie Armstrong
3. Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Boxes
1. Current Budget
3. Building Fund to Date
It’s hard to believe that we’re already into a new year.2013! Wow! I still remember very vividly our anticipation of what might happen when the calendar rolled over to 2,000. Do you remember the big scare? There was a fear that all the computers would stop working, newer cars with computers wouldn’t start, and much of the world would shut down. Of course all of that didn’t happen, but it’s amazing how recent that seems to be and yet it was 13 years ago. What’s even more amazing is that the next 13 years will pass by just as quickly. Where will you be 13 years from now? How old you will you be? 13 years from now I will be close to 70 years old! That’s crazy.
But let’s not try to project 13 years from now. Let’s consider the year that’s ahead of us. A whole year sounds like such a long time, and yet before we know it, we’ll be celebrating 2014. Each year contains 365 days. 365 days translates to over 8,000 hours, over 500,000 minutes, or over 31,000,000 seconds. Or another way of expressing this is to say that the Lord will give us 31 million moments to live this year. Though a moment doesn’t seem like a lot of time, most of our lives are lived ‘moment by moment.’ In a moment we can make a major decision that can affect us for years; maybe even a lifetime.
How do people spend the moments of their days? Though many of us are very busy, it’s estimated that the average person has over 5 hours of leisure time each day. How do we spend that leisure time? Recently I read that the average person spends 4 hours of their leisure time watching TV. I also read that the average person spends at least 1 hour per day surfing the Internet. Facebook says that it has 500 million active users who make nearly 100 billion hits per day. According to CNN, the average young adult between the ages of 18-29 send on an average nearly 88 text messages a day.
That’s not to say that we’re sinning by doing many of these things, yet it does help us to see how we spend a lot of our time. If the Lord gives us a year of life, we will have 31 million moments that we will spend in some kind of way. Unfortunately we sometimes say that we’re just killing time; yet the Bible teaches us that time is very valuable. It’s what we do during those 31 million moments that often determines who we are and how we live.
Concerning our time, the Apostle Paul writes –
Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith , Awake thou that sleepest , and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light . 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
I. OUR TIME IS NOT UNLIMITED
We sometimes think that our life is limitless. To borrow an old phrase, ‘We’ve got time to kill.’ Yet the truth is, we don’t have time to kill. We don’t have time waste. Our time is not unlimited.
A. Our Life is Flying By
Job said, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle flying back and forth.” (Job 7:6 NLT) In other words, my life is flying by me. That’s so true. When I was a kid in school I used to think that a week was so long. Now it seems that I turn around and the week has passed by and it’s another Sunday.
We read from the book of Psalms-
Psalm 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.
Another translation says – “Our lifetime is seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. But the years are full of hard work and pain. They pass quickly, and then we are gone.” (NCV) That sounds pretty pessimistic, yet it tells the story of many.
B. There is a danger of wasting our time
Solomon was such a man who had a similar outlook on life. The Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest man of his time. Solomon was also the wealthiest man of his time. Unfortunately, he turned out to be one of the most wasteful men as well. Solomon said about his life – “Useless! Useless! Completely useless! Everything is useless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NCV) Really? Everything in life is useless? That’s how a man felt who wasted his life in useless things.
What will you do with the life God has given you? What will you do with the 365 days; 8,760 hours, 31 million moments of 2013? Will you look back upon 2013 and say, ”I don’t know where the year went”, or will you say, “Wow! 2013 was a major year in my life!”
II. WE CAN WASTE OUR DAYS
The Bible tells us –
Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
The word ‘redeem’ means to purchase for one’s own use. It means to recover from the power of another. In other words, don’t let yourself be robbed of your precious time. How can out time be stolen?
A. Through Carelessness
Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
In other words, “Don’t go through life in a fog. “ It seems that there are some people who are in a spiritual fog. They are walking through life in a daze.
B. Through Busyness
There is another way that our time can stolen from us. It can be stolen through busyness.
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Years ago, Harry Chapin wrote a song entitled – Cat’s in the Cradle. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has used this song a number of times to illustrate how someone can allow the things of this world to intoxicate us and thus rob us of our precious time.
Cat’s In the Cradle
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you dad
You know I’m gonna be like you”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then
My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”
Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head and said with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?”
I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then
What’s this song about? It’s about a man who got caught up in the busyness of life and allowed his precious time with his son to be stolen away.
III. WE MUST LEARN TO USE OUR TIME WISELY
Because our time is not unlimited and we can waste even the little precious time we have, we must learn how to use our time wisely. We read from the book of Pslams-
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
In other words, teach us to use our time wisely. Don’t let us waste our days. Help us to count every day and to make every day count. The Apostle Paul said –
Ephesians 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Paul teaches us that God has a special will for each of our lives and therefore we need to make it a priority to know and do His will. Let me give you five goals for a life that is well spent.
A. Be Biblically Strong
Make it a goal to become biblically stronger this year. Read through your Bible. Read through the Old or New Testament. Take one particular book of the Bible and study it in order to grow and develop. Attend church faithfully. Have your family involved in Sunday School, Awana or TFC. Determined to invest at least a portion of your 31 million moments in intentional spiritual growth.
B. Be Spirit Led
Make it a goal to be Spirit-led. The Bible commands us to constantly be under the control and influence of the Holy Spirit. Rather than leaning upon your own understanding, seek the Spirit’s guidance. Let the Spirit guide you through each and every day and situation.
C. Be Ministry Successful
The word ‘ministry’ refers to some type of Christian service that we do in order to help another in their relationship with the Lord. I encourage every one of us to find ways to be active in the ministry this year. Find an area where God can use you and give yourself to it. Some believe that the phrase ‘redeeming the time’ could be translated as – ‘make the most of your opportunities.’ Make the most of the opportunities God gives you this year. Invest your life in serving the Lord by serving others.
D. Be People Focused
Make it a goal to be people focused this year. Rather than focusing only ourselves, we should look for ways to help others. This goes hand in hand with being ministry successful. Paul tells us to walk ‘circumspectly.’ That means to be alert to all that is going on around you. Obviously we need to be alert to the dangers around us, but also the opportunities.
E. Be Kingdom Happy
The last few years have been a rough economy and there is little hope that 2013 will get a whole lot better. If we depend solely upon our economy to make us happy, 2013 is going to be a rough year. But if we can do as our Lord commands us, we find a lot of joy and happiness in 2013. Jesus said –
Matthew 6:31 Therefore take no thought , saying , What shall we eat ? or, What shall we drink ? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The phrase ‘take no thought’ means to be worried or anxious. Literally it means to be divided in our attention. He is not saying that food and clothing are not important or unnecessary. What He is telling us is that if we will make God’s kingdom our number one priority, our heavenly Father will see to it that we have all the things that we need.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a story about a man who thought that he had the world by the tail. His business was booming and he thought only of how he could expand. At one point he said to himself –
Luke 12:17 …What shall I do , because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said , This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease , eat , drink, and be merry.
But then the Lord spoke and said –
Luke 12:20 Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be , which thou hast provided ? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
What this man didn’t realize was that he didn’t have many years to be merry. His life was over and now it was time to give an account for how he had lived.Unfortunately this man had invested his life in the wrong things. He had filled barns with goods, but now it was time to die and leave all of that behind. The only thing that mattered now was what he had invested in his relationship with God. This man who had been extremely wealthy here on earth, was now a pauper before God. He had nothing eternal to show for his life.
What about you my friend? What are you investing in the kingdom of God? Will you waste a good portion of your 31 million moments, or will you invest them wisely in doing the will of God?