January 21, 2018
Pastor Jeff Struecker
Last week, we started a sermon series called Weird, and we’re taking weird to the personal level. I have developed an ongoing relationship with a guy in our community who is an avowed atheist, and he’s been coming to church at Calvary for the last several weeks. This sermon series is designed to help not just him, but anybody who is outside of the faith, who does not know Jesus Christ personally. If they were to look at the life of a Christian, we’re supposed to not just know who Jesus is, we’re supposed to be changed by who Jesus is.
So, this whole sermon series is designed so that if you were an outsider looking in on the Christian faith (don’t really believe in God, don’t believe in Jesus at all), what is different about the way that Christians live their lives? And what we’re saying is that we should look weird to people who don’t know Jesus personally. In fact, we’re not just asking you to be weird; we’re asking you to own it.
We’re not just asking you to be weird; we’re asking you to let your neighbors and your coworkers see just how weird you are. Today, we want them to see that you’re different when it comes to your schedule. -that you treat time differently because of what Jesus has done for you.
Can I give you an idea of what this looks like to me, because if you’ve been to the movies over the years, movies themselves have changed. Here’s the truth: Many year ago, when you went to the movies, it was considered wrong if you made a movie that even hinted like there was more after this movie was over. If there was a sequel, and you were hinting during the movie that there was going to be a sequel, many movie goers thought, you ruined my movie-going experience! I wanted a complete story!
In fact, the movie critics used to hammer you if you used the approach that there was something after the movie was over. Here’s how often that happened: Many years ago, when a movie ended, everyone got up and walked out during the credits. As soon as the credits started to roll, even that teenage couple making out in the back of the movie theater got up and walked out when the credits started to roll, because they didn’t want the lights to come on and for everybody to see what was going on. Everybody knew that when the credits started to roll, the movie was over.
Go to the movies today. When the credits start to roll, nobody gets up and walks out. -because most movies (especially superhero movies), all of us know if you don’t stick around to the very last credit on the screens, you’re going to miss something. Even though the movie is over, it’s not really over, right? There’s a second act; there’s going to be a sequel, and if you don’t stick around to find the hint about the sequel, you’re going to miss something. That’s what the movie-going experience has taught people. -that when it’s over, it’s not really over.
Weird people (those of us who know Jesus Christ personally), we’re different from 70-80% of the people who live in the Chattahoochee Valley, because they don’t have the relationship with Jesus that we have. So, we’re a bit weird when it comes to our time. -because we know something that they don’t know about life. For most people who don’t know Jesus, when it’s over, it’s over. You never get a second chance; you don’t go around again.
I guess I want to ask it to you this way: Why don’t people do at funerals or in cemeteries what they do at movie theaters? Why don’t they stick around ‘til the preacher is done, until the casket is laid in the ground, until they cover the vault, until they throw dirt on top of it? Why don’t people stick around waiting for the second act at a funeral? -because here’s something that church people know (people who genuinely follow Jesus Christ): When it comes to life, it ain’t over when it’s over. There is something waiting for us after it’s over. Here’s something that we church people know (I put the word ain’t in there on purpose).
Weird people know life ain’t over when it’s over.
In fact, it’s just starting for those of us who know Jesus Christ personally. There’s something else after this life is over. So, we live our lives differently, and we definitely approach our time differently. Today’s sermon, though it’s talking about time, is actually not about time. It’s actually about priorities. Everybody gets 24 hours per day, not 1 second more, not 1 second less. We all get 24 hours in a day, and what gets your time is what’s important to you. It doesn’t matter what comes out of your mouth. If you spend your time doing it, that’s most important to you.
I. They seize the day
So, let me show you a couple of things that weird people do when it comes to the way that they spend their time, invest their time, use their time. -because it’s a limited commodity. Here’s the first thing that weird people do: They seize the day.
By this, I mean they spend their time in such a way, that they’re making an investment with this life that’s going to echo into the next life, the second life, into the eternal resting place. What I mean by this is that weird people are misers with their minutes. They are very particular about what gets their time or what doesn’t get their time. Let me give you an Old Testament passage from the Bible that may help demonstrate what I’m talking about when I say “seize the day”. This is found in Psalm 39, verses 4 and 5. Here’s what the Bible says (this is the Psalmist speaking to God about how short life is):
Lord, make me aware of my end and the number of my days so that I will know how short-lived I am. 5 In fact, you have made my days just inches long, and my life span is as nothing to you. Yes, every human being stands as only a vapor.
In other words, God, I know this is a short time here on Earth, but sometimes it feels like I’ve got forever. God, remind me how short this life is. In the grand scheme of human existence, your life is like a mark on a ruler. Your life is like a breath or a vapor.
Think about what your breath looks like when you are out in the snow. You know that vapor, that mist that comes out of your mouth? It’s gone almost as soon as you’re done breathing. On a cold winter day, the moisture in your lungs and in your mouth is warmer than the air outside you, so it creates this mist, or this vapor. It’s fascinating that God would use this word to refer to human life. -because no matter how cold it is, that vapor is gone almost the instant you stop breathing. It’s here for a second and then gone.
What the Bible is saying for us in Psalm 39 is that your life is a very short inch on the ruler of human history. It barely registers. It’s like a vapor on a cold winter morning. It doesn’t matter if you’re the oldest person on the planet. It’s still just a bare mark on the ruler. It’s only around for a second in light of all of human history. And what the author of Psalm 39 is doing, is he is saying, “God, help me remember that. -that I only go around once, and it’s really short, so I’m going to be careful. I’m going to be very particular about what gets my time and what doesn’t get my time. Because life is short, it’s precious. And because time is precious, we don’t waste it. You see, we all have 24 in a day, and how you use those 24 hours is incredibly important. In fact, I would tell you it echoes into eternity.
Do you want to know what the recent statistics are on people in America on social media? Last year, the average American spent 116 minutes a day, just short of two hours a day, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. That’s roughly 2 hours a day, and over the course of a lifetime (listen to how disturbing this is), if your average over the course of your entire life, if you’re spending about two hours a day on social media, that equates to 5 years and 4 months of your life over the course of an average lifetime. That’s how much time you’re mindlessly scrolling through somebody’s posts on Pinterest.
That’s more time than people spend drinking, eating, socializing, or grooming. They spend more time on social media than they do brushing their teeth or brushing their hair. This is gross, but it’s not as bad as TV. The average American over the course of a lifetime will spend 7 years and 8 months of their life watching television. You can’t get that back.
You’re going to spend on average in the course of one year, 12 days of a year just driving back and forth to work. That’s the average commute to work. An average person works somewhere between 47 and 49 hours a week. That means if you were to take all of the waking hours of a week, to include your weekend, you’re giving about 30% of all of your waking hours to work. That’s where your time is going.
And we understand. I’ve only got 24 hours in the day. I don’t get any more; I can’t make any less, and so because of that, I’m going to be very particular with my time. Here’s what I’m saying: Average, normal, that’s not how we weird people live. We do something different, worth our time. We’re very particular about our time. We don’t waste it like it’s an unlimited commodity, because we know it’s finite, and I have just a few days here on earth. What I have, I’m going to spend wisely.
II. They don’t let their calendar control them
Here’s how we seize the day (we weird people): We’re generous with our time for the stuff that’s important, and were greedy about our time with the stuff that’s not important. We don’t waste time on the stuff that’s a time waster. We give our time generously to the stuff that’s going to echo into eternity after us. That’s what seizing the day looks like, but you know what? Weird people also don’t let their calendar control them. By this, I mean they slay the schedule monster. They don’t let their schedule get control of them. They whip it back into its proper place.
Here’s a true story from the Bible. Jesus is going to visit a couple of women. He’s going to their house, and there are two sisters in this house. These two sisters start to freak out about the house if Jesus, the King of the universe, is coming to visit and going to hang out for a dinner party. These two ladies, Mary and Martha, show up in the Bible in Luke chapter 10. Notice how radically different these two women are when it comes to time and worry. Luke chapter 10, starting at verse 38:
While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.” 41 The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Martha is angry, and I am certain Martha doesn’t get the response from Jesus that she expects. I’m convinced Jesus is very tender with this woman when he replies. You have two women -same house, same amount of chores, same amount of responsibilities, two radically different ways to prioritize their time, two very different approaches to their calendars (or to their schedules).
Jesus says, “Martha, I’m not going to do what you’re asking me to do, because this woman is doing with her time what she should be doing with her time. This woman has got her priorities right, and Martha, you don’t. I’m not going to take away from this woman. Certainly, there’s stuff that has to be done. Yes Martha, I get it. There’s work that has to be done. The calendar is calling your name. I get it that the chores have to be done, and this is a dinner party. Somebody has to make dinner, or it’s not a dinner party anymore. I get that. [The truth is, this passage is more about worry than it is about time] Martha, you’re worried about the wrong things. Mary has her heart right. Mary’s schedule, her calendar, is right. She’s spending her time right, because her heart is right and Martha, I’m not going to take that away from her. In fact, Martha, what you should do is you should learn a lesson from your sister, Mary.”
Now Jesus is not saying that if you’re a Christian, you just lay around the house all day praying and you let your children go to school with dirty clothes. -that you don’t make the dishes; you don’t go to work. You just sit there and you’re super spiritual, and you don’t do anything all day long. In fact, the Bible says if you don’t get up and go to work, you don’t deserve to eat, so certainly you’re supposed to work, but it’s also saying, “Look, don’t let things get out of hand here.”
In fact, I think Jesus may use this kind of language with us: Don’t let the urgent take the place of what’s ultimately most important. Did you hear what I said? Don’t let the immediate become more important, what’s most important. -which means you and I as weirdos, as followers of Jesus, we’re going to have to say no to some really good things, some really important things, so that we can say yes to the most important things. We say no to good things so that we can say yes to great things, and if you don’t learn how to say no, you’re not going to be able to say yes when you want to.
This concept comes from a recent book by Lysa Terkeurst. The book is entitled Your Best Yes, and basically, she says everybody on the planet has two words that they have to consider when somebody offers them an opportunity to do something with their time: no or yes. Be very careful what you say no to and very careful with what you say yes to, or pretty soon you will say yes to the things that you wanted to say no to and now you have no choice but to say no to the things that you wish you could say yes to. We don’t let our schedules get out of control, because time is finite. It’s very limited, and what we do with it here on Earth is important to God.
If you’re not sure how important time is, let me put things into perspective for you like this. I saw this on Bluefish TV: Do you want to know how important a year is to somebody? Go ask a student at school who was held back for a year, “How valuable was that one year of your life?” Do you want to know how valuable one month is to somebody? Go ask somebody who is working paycheck to paycheck how valuable one month is. If you’re not sure how valuable one week is, go ask a television producer who has to create new content every week, and nothing can stop them from getting the next episode ready. If you’re not sure if a day is important, ask any warrior in this room who has been in a sustained fire fight, and they will tell you, “I will never forget that day for the rest of my life.”
But is an hour important? Does an hour make much of a difference? Ask a woman who is about to go out on a first date how valuable one hour is. Is a minute even important? I mean, that seems like a pretty small amount of time, Jeff. That’s no big deal, is it? Go to the Atlanta airport and watch anybody who has just missed their flight and ask them, “How valuable is one minute?”
Let’s talk about a fraction of a second. We’re now at the point where this doesn’t matter, does it? Less than a second, a 10th or 100th of a second, that’s not important is it? Watch the winter Olympics in just a few weeks. Watch the men’s bobsled or the women’s super G, and you’ll see that 1/100th of a second may be the difference between gold and silver and four years of your life. That’s how valuable time is. Once that millisecond is over with, you can’t get it back. So, we are really intentional with our time. We don’t let our calendar control us. We seize the day. -because we realize that what we do here on Earth has eternal significance.
III. They give their best time to the best things
Here’s the last thing I’d like for you to hear from me today: Weird people, those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus, we give our best time to the best things. We say no to good things so we can say yes to great things.
If today was the last day of your life, would you go skydiving? Would you go Rocky Mountain climbing? Would you have the time of your life, because you never lived like this before? -if today was the last day of your life? You see, you’d probably use your time a little bit differently. There’s a passage in the New Testament were the great Apostle Paul, who is consumed with a passion to reach people who don’t know Jesus, describes for church people (those of us are really followers of Jesus) how we should view our time, what we should do with our time. Here’s what he says in Colossians chapter 4, starting in verse 2. Paul says this to church people, to Christians who are followers of Jesus, we who call ourselves weird:
Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, 4 so that I may make it known as I should. 5 Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
He is talking in this passage about Christians who are ready and willing to share their faith with somebody else. We prepared our hearts; we arranged our schedules so that we’re on the lookout for somebody around us who does not know Jesus. That’s kind of the overarching thought in this passage.
Verse 5 says to act wisely…What do you mean by acting wisely, Paul? What does acting wisely look like for you? He says, “Let me tell you this: It’s making the most of your time, and if you’re not sure what making the most of your time looks like, let me show you what that looks like…Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”
Paul is kind of saying, “Hey, when you’re on your way to work, when you’re going through your normal day, are you aware of people around you who need to hear about Jesus? Are you ready to talk to those people, or are you so busy that you don’t even notice that there are people around you who need to hear about Jesus? – because acting wisely, making the most of your time is being ready at an instant to tell somebody about Jesus.”
In the ancient language, those words, making the most, are a business term. “making the most” means to buy it up completely. Consume it all. Buy everything, and don’t leave anything else after you get done shopping. Purchase it with everything you’ve got. Make the most of the time that you’ve got, because it’s very limited; it’s very short. Be ready to use your time in such a way that other people around you see, this guy, this gal, lives differently. She’s not like other people. He doesn’t do with his time what other people do with their time. In fact, they’re a little bit weird. I wonder what makes them tick.
I just finished reading a book about prayer. It was written almost 100 years ago by a guy by the name of Hallesby. Hallesby grew up in a little mountain village in Switzerland. True story. Hallesby said, “There was a guy in my town by the name of Jorn who I’ll never forget.” In his book he says, “Let me tell you about Jorn. Jorn’s parents died when he was young. Jorn was not a particularly strong man, and he lived in a farming community. If you didn’t have a lot of physical strength, you couldn’t add a lot of value to a farm.” Hallesby’s father owned a farm, and Hallesby’s father allowed Jorn to live on his farm for free. This was the late 1800’s, and the little farming village in the mountains of Switzerland didn’t have a town doctor. So, Hallesby says that Jorn had weak eyes. That means he had a problem with his eyesight, and there was no doctor to diagnose it.
So, Jorn couldn’t really be a good, skilled craftsman at anything, because he couldn’t see that well. It made Jorn feel like he was pretty much worthless to his community. The only thing Hallesby says that Jorn had going for him was his faith… and time. So, Jorn started to pray for people. He lived in a little mountain hut on Hallesby’s family farm, and he started to pray fervently for people in his community. Jorn started to develop this sense of wisdom about him. -the kind of wisdom that people from all over this little farming village would come to Jorn and ask him for advice.
Jorn wasn’t married, but married couples would come to Jorn and say, “Hey Jorn, would you give us some advice about marriage?” Parents would come to Jorn ask him questions. Jorn would listen. He would hear with compassion. He would pray for people. And when they left, most people would say this: “I feel different because I went to talk to this guy. Jorn started to make such an impact in this little mountain village that when he got older, a couple of old widows that were living together asked Jorn to come and to live with them in their home.
They said after his funeral that not just once, this happened regularly. These widows would wake up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, and they would hear Jorn fervently praying for people in town. Hallesby says, “I remember this vividly. Every single person in town -man, woman, child- Jorn would be laboring with God in prayer for them at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, and he didn’t do that once; he did it repeatedly.”
Hallesby says, “I will never forget Jorn’s funeral, because when this man who really didn’t do anything in the community died, everyone stopped what they were doing. Everyone went to the funeral.” Hallesby said, “Women and children walked by the casket in reverence like they were standing in front of a legend. Grown men wept at that man’s funeral like he was their own father,” and Hallesby says, “Many unbelievers in town came to that funeral and wept at that funeral like they had just lost somebody very dear to them. Their lives were changed forever at the funeral because of who this man was.” He had nothing going for him but time… and faith, and he put those two to work, and that man, in Hallesby’s estimation, had the biggest impact on his community in history.
Jorn was a guy who learned that time is precious, that we don’t waste it, that everything wears down; everything has and end point, even human beings. Our life here on earth is precious, and what we do with our time now echoes into eternity.
The Bible is teaching us today that time is short, and because time is short, time is precious, and because time is precious, we don’t waste it. We, the followers of Jesus, we live today like when it’s over, it ain’t over. -that there’s something else waiting for us after this life is over, and the rewards carry with us into eternity. In fact, what we learned is that the way that we spend our lives determines how will spend our souls. What’s important to you here on Earth points to what eternity is going to look like for you. That’s why weird people are different when it comes to our time.
• I want to spend eternity in Heaven. I surrendered my soul to Jesus for the first time.
– My schedule has become out of control. Pray for me to eliminate some things that don’t matter in light of eternity.
+ I will give my best time to Jesus this week.
- What do you consider a waste of time?
- Does your life feel rushed? If so, what is taking the majority of your time?
- If you had 25 hours in a day, what would you do with the extra hour?
- How did you “invest” your time this week on something that will pay off in the future?
- The phrase “time is money” is used to describe how valuable time is. What is your most valuable time of the day?
- How does your schedule look different from the schedule of someone who is not a Christian?
- Pray that we would honor Jesus with the way we spend our time.