Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

07/24/11 Sermon

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our strength and our Redeemer, Amen

Imagine for a moment that every morning your bank credits your account with $86,400. ----but it doesn’t carry over the balance from day to day.  In other words, every evening your bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do?  Draw out every cent, of course!!

Did you know that each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME.  Every morning, you are credited with 86,400 seconds.  Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft.  Each day it opens a new account for you.  And each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.  You can’t go back and you can’t draw against the "tomorrow."  So you have to live in the present on today's deposits………………………..
Now this morning, we’re beginning the first of a 3 part series on stewardship.  And today we’re talking about the stewardship of time.

Now the definition of the word stewardship in the Bible means “To make use of and manage all the resources that God provides to us for His glory and for the betterment of His creation.  In other words using what God has given to us to bring about God’s kingdom.   Unfortunately we can often fail to use the precious gift of time that we’ve been given.  We go thru the 86,400 seconds each day in an unaware mad rush.  We feel like time gets away from us. At the end of the day and we can feel like we’ve squandered those seconds, wishing we could get them back OR borrow them from tomorrow.

We might feel as if we’re wasting away our life or we’re worn out and tired form the chaos of each day.  But how and why does this happen?

Well the culture in which we live plays a big part in the rushing about and squandering of time.  And even though we do have a choice--- it’s a difficult choice to make when we’re swimming in this water tank of the culture that calls us to be hurried and rushed and to waste the time we’ve been given.

Everything about our culture calls us to use time in a way that is counter to how God wants us to use time.  And much of this revolves around money. We’ve often heard the old saying that time is money. And that’s a true statement in the culture we live.
 
Wayne Muller in his book “Sabbath: Finding Rest and Renewal in Our Busy Lives”” speaks to how we have become a culture that is either spending time trying to make money or spending our time spending money.  He talks about the Kellogg’s (cereal ) company and an experiment that they tried beginning after the Great Depression in the 30’s.  The experiment was to change the 8 hour work day to a 6 hour work day.  And while the employees were paid less, 85% of the workers preferred this because it gave them more time to be at home with their families and community service and church activity.  For 3 decades the experiment was a success, the employees were happy, productivity increased and more people were employed.   But the tide turned on this experiment in the 1960’s. A new generation of workers didn’t care for time used for freedom and family. Instead they wanted more money.  There also became a social changes---- there was a mindset that said working shorter hours for less money meant you were weaker than the person who worked long hours and made more money.   Being a success became the goal and that success was measured by the amount of money you made.  This was about the same time the culture started seeing housewives as less than working women.  We also became a culture that was measuring everything by our GDP (gross domestic product) which is the measurement of our economy being successful.
 
So the more things produced as a country and the more money made, became the standard we were to live by as a culture.

Another interesting factor was that it was in the 1960’s and 70’s when television became the domination of leisure time.  And the TV was flooded with commercials and TV shows that were always enticing people to buy more and spend more.  So there was this message (and there still is) that enjoyment of life is found in things we buy; in the toys or services that will give us pleasure and make us happy.

What’s subtly happened to us is that the pull of the culture has drawn us into an out of control busy life.

So instead of being stewards of God’s gift of time we’ve become slaves to time.

The Enemy, has subtly drawn us into this life of bondage with an enticing apple that takes us out of the Garden of joy and fulfillment into the thorns and chains of slavery.  Of course this isn’t what God has in mind for us when it comes to the gift of time entrusted to us.
 

What we see in our scripture today from Ecclesiastes is the understanding of a fullness of time.  And that’s what God wants for us---A time that is fully lived in the good times and the bad.  Time where we see the beauty of God’s creation.  Time where we never lose sight of eternity and the reality that one day our Master will come to us, his stewards, and ask us how we spent the time we were given. 

You and I have that 86, 400 seconds every day to spend. The question is how are we going to spend it?

Even though the culture entices us and pulls us to use time to make money and spend money, or to prove how strong we are, or to please people or to just waste time with distractions, WE CAN be free from this.

And God wants us to be free. He wants us to be free so that we can be His faithful stewards of time where we live in joy while carrying out his purposes and plans.

So the question to us today is how can we become the good stewards of time that God calls us to be?.......................

Well the first thing we have to do is we have to turn away from letting the clock run our lives…..

A man was seated on a park bench when a small boy about 5 years old sat down and started winding what appeared to be a prized possession - a Mickey Mouse watch.  The stranger said, "What a neat watch! Does it tell you the time?"  And the boy said, "No, you gotta look at it ".

You know, for many of us, our watches do talk to us. They dictate and command to us where we need to be and what we’re supposed to be doing.  And they can turn us into tyrants….Have you ever seen parents with their children when they’re in a hurry?----screaming and dragging,  threatening to beat them??

The clock master pulls at us and calls us and we lose sight of what’s really important.

Jesus knew of the pull of the clock and the demands of people.

I’m reminded of the time in Mark chapter 1 when very early in the morning, Jesus as he always did went to be alone in prayer with his Father.  And Simon Peter goes looking for him and says “what do you think you’re doing? You can’t be wasting time all alone out here!!---The crowds of people are looking for you”.

But despite all the crowds who followed him and demanded his time, Jesus resisted the pull and never sacrificed his time with his Father in prayer. It was a priority.  Now that’s a message to us as well. For us to be free from letting the clock run our lives we have keep our time with God in prayer and study a priority that is never sacrificed.

We often say we’ll get to it when we have time. But as we’ve often seen the time is never there. Too many other things are taking a priority.

But when we learn to not compromise this time alone with God, we will begin to take control of the time that God has entrusted to us. 

Now the next way we become good stewards of the time we’ve been given is when we learn to live each day as if it were our last.

I want to ask you a question to ponder on----- "What would you do if you knew that you only had one day to live?"

What would you do???----Of course some in the culture might go out and party, get drunk and live it up?

But what would you do??

Would spend the time with family, or go out on the boat, play golf, go fishing or climb a mountain?  Maybe you would go on a picnic with friends or come to church in prayer with God?

It is an interesting question to think about. ------What would you do????

Someone once found the great spiritual leader Francis of Assisi hoeing his garden and put the same question to him.  Francis replied, "I would finish hoeing my garden."

John Wesley was asked what he would do if he knew Jesus' "second coming" would occur the next day; Wesley said he would continue with what he planned to do, including calling on a friend and preaching tonight in a nearby town.

For us to live every day as if it’s our last, means we have come to the place in our life where at the core of our identity, we are already living the full life that God has entrusted to us.  We listen to God’s call on our life and embrace His grace, and live with joy and freedom.  We don’t put things off, or procrastinate.

A news columnist imagined what the world would be like if everyone suddenly knew there were only 24 hours left for them to live.  He said the telephone circuits would be overloaded with desperate people trying to call family and friends in order to say, "I love you." --Donald J. Shelby

The time to begin living life as God’s stewards is NOW.

Now is the time to get into the life that God has been calling you to live. Don’t put it off saying that once I have the time, or once the kids are grown, or once I retire…..then I’m going to be live fully the life God has given me.

A steward of God’s time answers God’s call immediately. God has given you and me a purpose and a call.

We can’t squander those precious seconds and make excuses. We need to be His joyful stewards right now, working to bring forth God’s kingdom in this world.

Now the final way I want to discuss in how we can learn to be good stewards of time, is when we learn---- to “waste time”.

There was a man on an outing with his family and his wife started screaming at their daughter: “Molly hurry up, Molly hurry up; there’s no time to stop and blow dandelions."  In response, Molly unknowingly raised the most philosophical question of our generation.  She said, "Mommy, what is time for?"

Now as I mentioned before, our culture puts a premium on being successful and productive. 

The GDP says that building a factory is more important than blowing dandelions.  Blowing dandelions can’t be measured like the profitability of military plant that produces smart bombs where we can measure their destruction in the number of lives destroyed.  Blowing dandelions is a silly waste of time in our world of success and power and productivity. 

But stewards of God’s time measure things differently.  They see things thru the lens of the eternal kingdom of God. So spending time blowing dandelions is on the top of the list.

The same goes for spending time with our families, or working with our church family in the community not to raise our numbers like the GDP, but simply because God calls us to.

Or how about sitting on the porch on a summer evening, going on picnics, taking a nap or a walk, reading a book or working in the garden on the weekend?

How about taking the time to listen to the fears of neighbors or the sick or elderly, or caring for the poor and hungry?

And how about sharing our tears and grief, our losses and our worries with a dear friend who will listen.

None of these things would measure up in our culture as being priorities because they don’t equate with money and productivity.

But in kingdom time, as stewards of God’s, they are at the top of the list.  And something happens to us when we’re living in this kingdom time.  We grow to understand what the writer of Ecclesiastes says in verse 12 ----- we know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good things while they live.  That’s the kind of steward God calls us to be---to be truly happy and to also go good things.

Thru our own freedom and salvation from the bondage of the Enemy; thru God’s grace and mercy, we become witnesses of our Master of a whole different way; A way of freedom and fullness of life that others out there long to know.

While others rush about, screaming at their kids, honking their horn in a hurry, living with a ball and chain, stewards of God’s time dwell in peace…..and it shows.

And as others see and experience the peace of Christ within us, they might be led to experience Christ themselves.

In closing this morning, as we begin this series on stewardship-----let’s first start by becoming stewards of God’s time that He has given to us.

The very breath that is in front of you, one of those 86,400 seconds of your day is a gift from God. He is our Creator.  He wants us to live in freedom and joy AND He also has a job for us: to witness to others and bring about His kingdom.
 
Let us remember we are His stewards. Our time is on loan from him.
 

Let’s spend time with God as a priority number one each and every day.

Let’s live life as if it’s our last day, living the life He has called us to live.
 
And let’s “waste time” in the ways of the kingdom of God making time for our family our friends and also for those who don’t yet know Christ
 

Today, let us make every second count because in the kingdom of God every second does……………..

 In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen