Dear Visionary Leader:
Thousands of years ago, a wise man said this: “Look well to this one day, for it and it alone is life. Yesterday is only a dream, and tomorrow is but a vision, yet each day lived well makes yesterday a dream of happiness and tomorrow a vision of hope.” The Bible says, in verse 15, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:15).
Just as we need an alarm clock to get us up in the morning, we at times need our Lord to wake us up! God has provided for you an opportunity. You see, it is God who is the creator of time. God’s great gift to you, number one, is Jesus, and number two, is time. God has given us time to work, time to serve, time to love, time to laugh, time to labor; but, like any gift, how you use it is really up to you. And, we need to see every day-this day and every day- as a gift from God.
Has it ever occurred to you that for you to cease living, God would not have to take your life? All God would have to do is to stop giving you your life.
Message Continues In Visionary Coaching
Paul tells us to redeem the opportunity. Redeeming-do you see it? “Redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:15). What do you do when you redeem something? You pay for it. I mean there is something you must give in exchange, if you would live up to the opportunities that God has given you. We must see how valuable time is. To waste time is to waste life, because time is the stuff that life is made out of. A person who is killing time is not killing time; he is killing himself. He’s committing suicide by degrees.
III. Time is a Precious Opportunity
A murder, in the true sense, doesn’t take someone’s life-that person is going to die anyway. What he takes is that person’s time. Do you understand what I am saying? He just causes that person to die sooner. You see, time is life. How precious it is? When I give you my time, when you give me your time, you’re giving me a piece of yourself. When I give you time, I give you something that even Heaven can’t give. In Heaven, time makes no difference. You see, time is so valuable. Time is so important, and, therefore, we need to redeem the time.
Do you know what wisdom is? Wisdom is the art of spending time wisely. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Let me show you how to redeem the time.
A. The Prayer Principle
How important that you let prayer be the key that unlocks the door of the morning, that you begin your day with prayer. As the poet said, “Lean your arms upon the windowsill of Heaven, and gaze at the face of God” (paraphrase of Thomas Blake). As you greet the day, begin the day with prayer, spend enough time every day, in the morning, to get God’s will for your life. Prayer must be in the morning. You see, it’s not a waste of time to wait on God any more than a woodchopper is wasting time when he sharpens his axe.
It’s an insult to God to say you don’t have enough time. If you don’t have enough time, you’re doing something God did not intend for you to do-either something that you’ve imposed upon yourself, or you’ve allowed others to impose upon you. So, what you must do in prayer every morning-the principle of prayer-is to get quiet before the Lord, and let God speak to your heart.
B. The Priority Principle
Now, after the prayer principle, there comes the priority principle. I mean, after God speaks to you, it’s very obvious that you’ve got some priorities. You see, life would be simple, if life were a choice between good and bad. Most of the choices that I have to make are not choices between good and bad-they are choices between good and best. Isn’t that true? I mean, I don’t have time to read good books for I haven’t read the best ones yet. I need to find out what God wants me to do.
Most of the time, management books tell you how to do more things. How you can play and work, and how you can read, and how you can do all of those things, are fine; they all have their place. Yet, what you do is far more important than how you do it.
We have to get our priorities correct. Jesus, who lived only to the age of 33 in His humanity here on earth, said, when He bowed His head, “It is finished” (John 19:30). And, the Lord Jesus said to the Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).
Notice it was the work that God gave Him to do. There were many villages wanting Jesus to come and teach, there were many places that wanted Jesus to heal and so forth, but Jesus didn’t do everything. Jesus didn’t go everywhere. Sometimes, when the crowds were clamoring after Jesus, He just got alone. But, He could say, at the end of His ministry, “I have finished the work thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).
Now, what is more important-the plumbing in your house, or your quiet time with God? “Well,” you say, “my quiet time with God.” What’s more urgent-your quiet time or your toilet that’s overflowing? You say, “That’s more urgent; I’ve got to get that fixed.” Your wife calls you and says, no matter what you’re doing, you go in there and you’ve got to stop it.
The overflowing of the toilet is something that is urgent. And, it is the urgent so many times that keeps us from theimportant. Isn’t that true? I mean, in all of life, we have these things, that somebody calls, and you’ve just got to do this, you’ve just got to do that. It takes such incredible willpower, such an incredible prioritizing of priorities, to see the difference between the urgent and the important. Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important things.
C. The Promptness Principle
This deals with the sin of procrastination. The Bible says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Sin is not just merely doing wrong; it is failing to do what you ought to do. Did you know that procrastination and disobedience are different shades of the same sin? In my life, what I want to cultivate the habit of instant obedience.
Where do most of us fail? It is in this area of willpower. Isn’t that correct? I heard a good definition of willpower: “When you have a job to do, begin this very hour. You supply the will, God supplies the power.” When there is something you know you ought to do, do it, and do it now.
D. The Power Principle
Paul says, “Redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16)-that’s the promptness principle. In verse 17, he says, “Be…not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17)-that’s the prayer principle. Look in verse 18: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)-that’s thepower principle.
The power principle is to do God’s will in the power of the Holy Spirit. Most of us don’t need to learn to work harder-we need to work with more power. We need to learn to work with more effectiveness.
IV. Time is a Passing Opportunity
The days are evil. Time is passing away. This day is passing. I must give an account for this day. Time is such a strange commodity. You can’t save it. You can’t borrow it. You can’t loan it. You can’t leave it. You can’t take it. You can’t give it. All you can do is use it or lose it.
Time can’t be stopped. In a football game, you can call time out. But you can’t call time out in life. Time can’t be stored. You can put your money in the bank, but you can’t put your time in the bank. Time can’t be stretched. You can add another cup of water to the soup, but there’s no way that you can stretch time. Time can’t be shared. I can give you my books, I can give you my money, I can give you my automobile, but I can’t give you my time. I can give you a part of my time; but, when I give you my time in that sense, I’ve not added anything to your time. So, in that sense, time can’t even be shared.
Time is a passing opportunity. What do you intend to do? Do you intend to be a soul winner? When? Do you intend to be a good steward? When? Do you intend to make reconciliation with that estranged friend? When? Do you intend to call your mother? When? Do you intend to write a letter to your daddy and tell him how much you love him, and thank God for the sacrifices that he’s made for you all these years? When are you going to do it? Time cannot be stopped; it cannot be stored; it cannot be saved; it cannot be shared. “We are to redeem the time, for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
It was Horace Mann who wrote these words: “Lost, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours studded with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are lost forever.”
I would pray to God that I could get you and your pastor to live in the eternal now. Cut yourself loose from yesterday. Last year, with its heartaches and its failures, is gone. Forget those things which are behind, confess them to the Lord, and bury them in the grave of God’s forgetfulness. Tomorrow is a time nowhere but on the fool’s calendar. Stop saying, “If I had the time.” You do have the time; use it.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking