Summary: Theme for coming year: 15 Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17).
A Fresh Start!
Back in the 1960’s experts predicted that by the turn of the century technology would have taken over so much of the work we do that the average American work week would be only 22 hours long, & that we would work only 27 weeks a year. As a result, one of our biggest problems would be in deciding what to do with all our leisure time.
Well, I don’t know about you, but that prediction certainly missed the mark as far as my life was concerned!
In fact, most of us seem to be very busy. We’re always in a hurry. We walk fast, & talk fast, & eat fast. And after we eat, all too often, we stand up & say, "Excuse me. I’ve gotta run."
So here we are, on the last Sunday of 2014, facing a new year. I wonder how we’ll do this year? Will we be as busy? Will we make any better use of our time? 365 days from Thursday, when 2015 is over, will we be looking back with joy, or with regret? Will we be looking at the future with anticipation, or with dread?
There are numerous surveys, studies, and statistics on how people use their time. Here is one:
Work-related 8.7 3175.5
Sleeping 7.7 2810.5
Leisure/sports 2.5 912.5
Caring for others 1.3 474.5
Household Activities 1.1 401.5
Eating & Drinking 1 365
Other 1.7 620.5
There is a passage of Scripture that I believe can be of help to us as we look forward to the coming year if we’ll listen to it. The passage is Ephesians 5:15-17 15 Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.
Let’s take a look at some thoughts from these verses and see what the Lord would say to us about how we approach the coming year.
I. OUR TIME ON THIS EARTH IS LIMITED
The Psalmist wrote, "Show me, O Lord, my life’s end & the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life" (39:4). And again, "The length of our days is 70 years or 80, if we have the strength...they quickly pass, & we fly away" (90:10).
Now, I realize that for some of the younger folk, 70 or 80 years sounds like a long, long time. In fact, I can remember when I thought anyone over 40 was ancient. But no longer. It is all rather relative, isn’t it?
The Psalmist also tells us to number our days so that we will develop a heart of wisdom.
ILL. A few years ago People Magazine published an article entitled "Dead Ahead" telling about a new clock that keeps track of how much time you have left to live. It calculates an average life span of 75 years for men & 80 years for women. So you program your gender & age into the clock, & from then on it will tell you how much time you have left. I guess it sold for $99.95.
I didn’t buy one. But it is an interesting idea. Isn’t that what the Psalmist told us to do to number our days?
Based on the average male lifespan, I might have nearly 10,000 days of life left on this earth. However, we have no guarantee of even one day more to live.
In fact the Bible tells us not to count on tomorrow because tomorrow may not come for you or for me. All we have is right now. So our time on this earth is valuable because it is very limited.
II. MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY
Paul tells us that we must make "the most of every opportunity." And he gives a reason, "because the days are evil."
Jesus said that Satan is a robber & a thief, & one of the things he tries to rob from us is our time because time is a very precious possession.
Just think of the time wasted in sinning. Think of the time wasted in bars or in gambling casinos or in shallow affairs. Think of the time wasted in gossiping or spreading rumors. Or think about all the time wasted worrying about the consequences of the sins we have committed. Satan is a thief & a robber!
But it is not just sin that makes demands on our time. Sometimes even good things can make demands.
ILL. Jesus went to the home of Mary & Martha & Lazarus. He sat down to teach, & Mary was sitting at His feet just soaking in every word. Meanwhile, Martha was out in the kitchen preparing dinner.