Summary: Since our time on earth is limited, let's make the most of the time we have left.
Don’t Waste Your Year
Rev. Brian Bill
January 4-5, 2014
In November a man in Janesville, Wisconsin purchased ad space on a highway billboard and put up these words: “Enjoy life now: There is no afterlife.” In December, after this sign came down, two area churches got together and put up their own message on this same billboard: “Life is short. Eternity is not. – God.”
Life is short, isn’t it? Or, as Dr. Seuss put it: “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness, how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
We can’t really slow life down, but we can slow down so that we live life to its fullest. As Pastor Andy reminded us last weekend in a great sermon, we can’t go back to the glory or the guilt of the past, but we can move forward.
My guess is that you’d like some things to change in 2014. Much of what will happen will be beyond your control but there are some things you can control. While we all want a Happy New Year, what God wants is a Holy New You.
How many of you have already broken your New Year’s Resolutions? It’s true that resolutions often go in one year and out the other. I talked to a friend recently who told me that she doesn’t make any New Year resolutions because she always breaks them anyway. While I certainly understand this (all too well), the downside of this attitude is that we can end up not making any decisions to move forward spiritually. As Donald Whitney writes, “No one coasts into Christ-likeness.” I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Spiritual growth is intentional, not automatic.
Jonathan Edwards lived in the 1700s and was a preacher, theologian and missionary and has been credited with helping to bring about the first Great Awakening. Amazingly, he wrote out 70 different resolutions when he was just 20 years old! You can read them by clicking here. He determined to read through each of them weekly. Here are just a few:
• Resolved, let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.
• Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
• Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
I’m going to sprinkle the sermon with some more of his resolutions in the hopes that you’ll be spurred on to make some similar determinations so that in this New Year God will make a holy new you!
We’re going to draw out some life lessons today from Ephesians 5. In the first three chapters, Paul establishes the importance of doctrine and in the second half of the book the focus is on our duty to do what we know to be true. Based on our position, we must put into practice.
With that as a very brief explanation of the context, let’s look at our text. Please stand as we read together from Ephesians 5:15-17: “See then 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.”
Our outline is simple:
• Live wisely (15)
• Leverage your time (16)
• Learn God’s will (17)
Here’s the sermon in a sentence: Since our time on earth is limited, let’s make the most of the time we have left.
1. Live wisely. Ephesians 5:15: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.” I can’t even count how many times my mom told me to “be careful” when I was growing up. I’m sure our girls would say the same thing about our parenting as Beth and I are always urging them to watch out and to stay safe.
The word “circumspectly” means to be skillful and to be on guard, to look very closely so as not to stumble. It has the idea of exactness, precision and accuracy. One Greek scholar renders it this way: “Be constantly taking heed therefore how accurately you are conducting yourselves…”
I got a taste of what this word means a couple years ago at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament when Simeon, who was the number one high school basketball team in the nation, was scheduled to play. Beth and I arrived early only to find that there was no parking left and a crowd had formed outside the high school. When we finally got to our seats, the team was warming up and all eyes were on these incredible players. I asked the person next to me to point out which one was Jabari Parker (who now stars at Duke). Parker was ranked as the number one junior in the entire country. Incidentally, Beth and I saw Derrick Rose play at this same tournament several years earlier! I kept my eyes locked on him the whole game. By the way, our daughter Lydia’s fiancé played for Pontiac that year and had the task of guarding Jabari. Jamie told me last week that he was only dunked on once!