Summary: The sermon is based on 1 Peter 4.1-11. In addition to receiving the gifts of salvation and the Spirit, God has given us the gift of TIME. As all of His gifts, we are to be good stewards and correctly use the time we have been given.
1. The Gift of Time
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
David Jeremiah observed: Almost everything in life is "stoppable." Even gravity can be suspended temporarily. But one part of life cannot be stopped by us. And that is TIME. Right now, time is marching on. But it doesn't march without a purpose. Time marches on toward the end of all things and the culmination of the prophecies about Jesus.
The apostle Paul didn't advise the Ephesians to redeem the time just so they would be busy. It was because he knew that the kingdom of darkness is always at work to stop the advancement of God's kingdom. His words are a reminder that Satan never stops working against God and that we should never stop working for God. But there is another reason: stewardship. Like everything we have--life, breath, material goods, salvation, abilities--time is a gift from God. Our responsibility as stewards (managers) of God is to use time in the way the Owner of time wants it used.
Consider today: The next 24 hours belong to God. They have been given to you as a gift. Be sure to use this day in a conscious manner, consistent with God's desires.
2. The creation of time is a relevant issue for us.
3. Paul mentions it as does Peter -- 1 Peter 4.1-11
a. Past time -- 4.4-6 (our attitude toward the old life; and current sinners)
b. Future time -- 4.7 -- Jesus IS Coming!
c. In the Mean Time -- what should we do? Unwrap our Gifts -- 4.8-11
I. Use Our Gift of Time to Love Others
A. Focal Quality of Jesus' Followers -- John 13.34-35
1. Three badges of faithfulness for Jews: Kosher food; circumcision; Sabbath-keeping
2. How many badges do we wear?
Lee Iacocca once asked legendary football coach Vince Lombardi what it took to make a winning team. Lombardi said, "There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don't win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: If you're going to play together as a team, you've got to care for one another. You've got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself: If I didn't block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his. The difference between mediocrity and greatness is the feeling these guys have for each other."
B. Fervent Application -- as an athlete straining to win
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
1. Love does not condone sin, it covers
2. Love seeks the best in others -- 1 Corinthians 13
3. The opposite of our usual approach to people
a. We have come to believe that it is our duty to expose and destroy people
b. Moses with the Hebrews and even his siblings
4. Noah -- Genesis 9.18-27
a. Ham Exposes his father by telling the family
b. Shem and Japheth cover their father's nakedness out of love and respect
II. Use Our Gift of Time to Serve Others
MEASURING IN "REAL TIME"
A man visiting a Jewish cemetery in a foreign town stumbles upon something quite unexpected. On each tombstone is etched not the date of the person's passing, but rather the AGE of the person when he or she left this world: in years, months and days! Confused but intrigued, our traveler next notices that the ages listed of the departed are all very young. One stone reads "7 years, 4 months, and 6 days". Another reads "16 years, 6 months, and 23 days".
He soon comes across a member of the Burial Society, and upon asking him why everyone buried there had passed on to the next world so young, he receives a response that shakes him to his core: "on our community's tombstones, we don't record the amount of TOTAL TIME that people spend existing on this earth," says the helpful gentleman. "We record the REAL TIME they spent on this earth: the sum total of how much time they devoted to acts of kindness, refinement of character, the performance of Mitzvahs and the study of our precious Torah's wisdom."
A. Share as Good Stewards of our Gifts and Talents
1. We are blessed to bless
2. Not to be kept to ourselves
B. Share in Hospitality -- v. 9
1. Specific Gift and General Practice (Martha and Mary)