Summary: When this year is over, will we be looking back with joy, or with regret? Will we be looking at the future with anticipation, or with dread? (Powerpoint Available - #224)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, OK
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A. I’m sure you’ve noticed that each year almost all the major news magazines put out an issue with special pictorial sections recalling people & events that made news during the previous year.
Many magazines also include articles by experts predicting what they expect to see happening in the years ahead. Some even go so far as to make predictions covering 10, 20, or more years in the future. In the past, a few of these predictions have proven amazingly accurate, while others couldn’t have been more wrong.
ILL. For example, back in 1967, 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."
B. So here we are, at the first Sunday of 2010. I wonder how we’ll do this year? Will we be as busy? Will we make any better use of our time? In 362 days, when this year 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 is a passage of Scripture that I believe can be of help to us as we look forward to the rest of 2010 if we’ll listen to it. The passage is Ephesians 5:15 17, & here is what it says, "Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is."
PROP. I think that in this passage the Apostle Paul presents some important lessons that we need to consider.
I. OUR TIME ON THIS EARTH IS LIMITED
A. First of all, we must be very careful how we live because 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 you 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?
ILL. For example, for teenagers in love talking together in the car, an hour or two seems like a blink of an eye. But for mom & dad worrying about what’s going on out in that car, an hour or two seems like an eternity.
B. 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 sex & age into the clock, & from then on it will tell you how much time you have left. It sold for $99.95.
I didn’t buy one. But it is an intriguing idea. Isn’t that what the Psalmist told us to do to number our days?
When I first heard about the clock I figured out that if I lived to be 75 years old that I had just about 2,345 days left to live. That’s all, just 2,345 days left to live. But wait a minute. Neither you nor I have a 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
Secondly, Paul tells us that we must make "the most of every opportunity." And he gives a reason, "because the days are evil."