Summary: One of the secrets of life is knowing the difference between the urgent and the important.

The Urgent or the Important

Ecclesiastes 3:2

One day a professor took out a one-gallon pitcher from under her desk. She also produced about a dozen fist size rocks. She carefully placed the rocks in the jar. The rocks stacked up to the rim of the pitcher then she asked her bright students if the pitcher was full. “Yes” was their reply. Then she reached under her desk and pulled out a bucket of gravel and poured it into the same pitcher. The gravel of course worked its way in between the rocks. Then she asked again, “Is the pitcher full.” A few said, “yes” but most were on to her now and reserved their judgment for later. She then reached under her desk and pulled out a bucket of sand. She poured the sand in and it penetrated the spaces between the rock and the gravel. This time when she asked if the jug was full everyone said, “no.” The professor said, “Good” and then proceeded to pour glasses of water into the pitcher until the water reached the rim. The professor then asked what the point of this exercise was. One student answered, “You can always cram more into life than you think.” Another answered, “Looks can be deceiving.” The professor calmly and politely said, “No. The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first you’ll never get them in at all.” Put the big rocks in first.

What are the big rocks in life? Can we tell the difference between what is important and what is urgent? What is the difference between needs and wants? C.S. Lewis put it well, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in, put second things first and we loose both first and second things.”

This morning I hope for us to leave worship determined to put the big rocks in first. To do this I would like us to first look at how time shapes our life. Then we will look at the power of saying, “no.” We will conclude by determine how to manage our life by managing our time.

Shaped by Time

The dictionary devote more than a page to defining the concept of time. As a measurable commodity, time is treated as something to be measured, gained, lost, or wasted. We say things like, “She has too much time on her hands.” “I’ve spent hours on this project.”

Time is also viewed as an opportunity. We speak of a timely event. Time can also be seen as an experience, “I had the time of my life.” Time is often spoken of as an action, it can march or fly.

Most talk about time centers around frustration. “I ran out of time.” “Where does the time go?” We only have three commodities to spend with our life, money, energy, and time. When we don’t use our time well. We feel bad. Time gets away from us. We were once young. Our children were once small. Indeed, where has all the time gone?

The way we use time shapes our life.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born a time to die, a time to plant a time to uproot . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn a time to dance . . . a time to be silent a time to speak

Ecclesiastes 3:2,4,7

Is time our friend, enemy, or tyrant? It is what we make it. We can waste time or use it. As Christians, bearers of the nature of Christ, we look at our use of time seriously. What did we do with our time in 2001 to honor God? Did we use time in pursuit of the kingdom or did we use our time for other interest? Consider the past week, did you use anytime serving others, nurturing relationships, reading the scripture, or praying? Yet as we stand at the threshold of 2002 the more pressing question is how will we use our time this next year? How will use your 16th year on planet earth? How will use your 42nd year? How will you use your 73rd year?

The Power of “No”

We all start the year with the best of intentions. We write down our priorities in our day planner. We set some goals and put them on the refrigerator. Yes we want to use our time wisely, to honor God. We have a plan (1) Read Bible daily (2) Volunteer at Eastside Crisis Center monthly (3) Use my gifts when asked in the church or community (4) Invest regularly. Yet there is one word that if we do not learn to say our plan will be destroyed.

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