Sunday, August 16, 2015

A sermon on Time, time , time

This Sunday's sermon is one that my husband wrote and as I had a crazy week with the wedding of all weddings, I am using with a little editing of course!
Ephesians 5:15-20
Have you ever talked with someone who has had a near death experience?  Nearly everyone who has lived when they should have died will say that through their experience they have learned to put into perspective what really matters in life.  This unexpected brush with death has helped them understand that those little things in life that are such a big deal aren’t really that important.
What is really important is a question that we all wrestle with? There are those little situations that come up all of the time, like those little messes that someone else makes and we have to clean up.   Is that little mess as important as a lifelong friendship?  Or what about that messy bed that our kids can’t seem to make up, is that messy bed as important as showing your children the depth of your love for them?  Then there is my favorite that nearly every one of us has had an issue with, is the toilet paper not coming off the roll properly as important as proper communication with our spouse?  In each of these situations what is really important?
But these are not the only situations that we have to put into perspective. Is that lazy coworker really as lazy as we think or are they just not doing what we think they should do?  Is the new dress code really as important as having a job that provides for our needs?  Are those few extra hours at the office as important as quality time with our family?
Work and home aren’t the only places that get out of focus.  What about our spiritual lives?  Is that must have as important as returning to God what is God’s through our tithe?  Is that TV show we have to watch as important as our quiet time with God every day?  Is the building we worship in really as important as the ministry contained within its walls?  Is the method of worship really as important as the act of worship?
At times our lives can get out of perspective and we have to pause, reflect and refocus.  With all of this in mind let us then consider our text for today.  In our text this morning Paul advises us to "make the most of the time".  Paul was convinced that the Lord would return during his lifetime, so he worked tirelessly to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God. He understood that time is a gift, that our lives are like a canvas on which God can paint beautiful pictures. So he urges us to make the most out of the chances that we get to do something right in this life. 
The Greek word used here for time is the word kairos.  The word kairos is a word that is used in ancient Greek when referring to a significant moment, or an unexpected opportunity or a critical turning point in one’s life.  There’s a different word in Greek chronos that’s normally used when clock or calendar time is intended.  Chronos time is something we use to mark time passing, kairos on the other hand is heart time; the time when the ticking of the clock doesn’t matter; it is quality time.
These two words are important to remember when trying to put those little things in life in perspective.  Paul was speaking to Christians who lived in Ephesus, in the midst of a pagan culture in a time where he believed that Christ was coming back soon. Because of this Paul was urging his listeners to keep things in perspective and make the most of their opportunities to tell others about the power of Jesus. The neighbors of the Christians in Ephesus weren’t very open to hearing the gospel. So Paul advised the Ephesian Christians to make good use of what few opportunities they have to share Christ.
We are called to do the same.  While our culture may be different from that of the Ephesians there is no shortage of opportunities to tell others about the gospel.  But there is a problem; we are not doing a good job of taking advantage of those moments when they arise. We can get so caught up in the chronos of our day that we don’t take advantage of our kairos.  Likewise we don’t do a good job of managing our kairos so that we can take advantage of our chronos.
If Paul were writing today, he might have rethought the matter of kairos and told us instead to use our chronos wisely.  In these few brief verses this morning he is teaching us how to put things in perspective, and make better use of our time so that we may be able to live life full and abundantly and in our text this morning Paul gives us the blueprint for accomplishing this.  
First Paul warns us against being foolish. "Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish. To be “foolish” in the Jewish tradition means throwing away the chance for salvation.  When we let those little things get out of focus we are throwing away our chance for salvation.
Jesus had something to say about those who were wise and those who were foolish. ASny one remember the story in Matthew 7:24-27about the wise man and the foolish man who built houses? (A house built on the sand will fall when the storms of life approach)  This can happen to us if we are foolish, this is why Paul warns us against being foolish. 
Paul continues in Verse 17 when he says, "So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." The opposite of being foolish is understanding the will of God. If Christians are to be different from the rest of the world, we have to know "what the will of the lord is." We have to know what is pleasing to God. The "will of the Lord" is the standard for all Christian behavior. Since we have so little time, let's live every day oriented toward the will of God.
Next Paul says that Christians are not to live like pagans who get drunk to induce a religious experience; rather they are to enjoy the ecstasy provided by the Spirit of God. The Christian, then in a sense, is to be “drunk,” not with wine but “with the Spirit,” as the believer is to “be filled with the Spirit.”
We are to do these things because every day is a gift from God.  When we view every day as a gift, we have a new appreciation for living "in the Spirit." This should result in singing, making melody and giving thanks. These activities are not isolated, personal experiences, but community events. Living in the Spirit will help us put into perspective those little things.  Living in the spirit will result in a life filled with worshipping God daily.
It is no accident that Paul emphasizes the importance of thanksgiving in worship. The natural outpouring of the Spirit-filled Christian is "giving thanks to God the Father." The Christian lives in a constant state of thanksgiving, giving praise to God for what God has done.
We have so few opportunities to create something beautiful. Every moment counts.    We need to watch out, take advantage, stop doing that which can distract us, and make the most of all of our chronos and kairos time.  We need to make sure we don’t squander our time with the seductive evils of the world that destroy both body and soul. Instead,  we are to seize the moment, redeem the time of our living, and center our time in worship singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among ourselves, giving thanks and praise to God at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." 
The Christian faith is a way more than it is a law. It is a lens giving vision, rather than a fortress providing security. It is a mantle of identity, rather than a manual of operations. This Christian faith is rooted in a relationship and not a rule. In addressing the fast paced, multicultural materialistic world of first-century Ephesus, Paul makes it clear that Christian living must be distinctively in the world but not of the world.
This relationship with a living God must be given a time and a place of its own so that the weeds and tangles of secular living don’t strangle and destroy the Spirit. And what is the most distinctive behavior in this lifestyle?
It is worship. It is taking the time and finding the place to acknowledge that which is ultimately worthy. It is taking the time and finding the place to offer praise and thanksgivings, to experience wonder and awe, to sink into the rich soil of God’s grace, to allow the water and warmth of the Spirit to nurture us and grow us in God’s image. When we worship we change, we learn to look at the world from God’s wide perspective, rather than from the narrowness of our own. 
Paul’s point this morning as he summarizes the Christian life is this. Christian faith is distinctive at times separate from the world, so that it can then be used to infiltrate the world with Holy Spirit. The distinctive Christian language is the language of praise and thanksgiving. The distinctive Christian ethic is the ethic of holiness. And distinctive Christian time is time full of God and not full of self. 
I close this morning asking you to imagine with me that there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening it deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do?
Draw out every cent, of course!!
Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this 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. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the "tomorrow." You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today.
To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a medal in the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time. And remember that time waits for no one. You’ve heard the saying:
Yesterday is history ...
Tomorrow is mystery ...
Today is a gift ...
That's why it's called the present!!
Paul says, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”  Let us as we end our service this morning and pay closer attention to our chronos and kairos, let us seek to reconcile with those whom we have hurt here in the church, let us be careful, let us make the most of our time, let us not be foolish, let us seek the lord in prayer seeking God’s will not ours, let us not get distracted, let us be filled with the spirit, let us sing songs, and let us give thanks.  Amen

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