Charles Stanley - A Balanced Schedule
To become the person God wants you to be and to achieve the things He wants you to achieve in life, one of the things that's very important is the way you utilize your time. Because you see, your time is your life. It's irreversible, you can't go back in time. It's irreplaceable, there's absolutely no substitute. And either we will invest it wisely or we will waste it foolishly. Because you see, time is a gift from God. And the Bible says that our times are in His hands. And while it is a gift from God and while He does govern our time to some degree, in fact, He governs when we're gonna die. And yet He leaves us some bit of freedom to choose about how we're gonna live our life.
And so, when you begin to realize the value of time, if you're going to make the most of your life, make the most of your opportunities, then you have to put a value on time. You have to recognize how very important that is. And that's what I wanna talk about in this message. And you'll recall that we have been in this series of how to come to the place in your life where you reach the potential that God has for you, that you make the best of those opportunities and those times. And so we've talked about a clean heart, we've talked about a clear mind, and today we're talking about "A Balanced Schedule".
Very important how we utilize our time. And so I want you to turn, if you will, to Ephesians chapter five, and just a couple of verses or so here, the Apostle Paul is writing to the Ephesians and admonishing them about the way they live their life and the way they invest or spend their time. He says, "Therefore be careful how you walk," how you live your life, "not as unwise men," or women, "but as wise," men and women, "making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is". And it is certainly the will of the Lord that you and I live our lives out right and we make the most of our time.
Now, when he says here, "Making the most of your time," what he's saying in essence is this: take advantage of every opportunity, make the most of the opportunities God has given you. Don't waste your time. And so, when we think about how we reach our potential, how we become the persons God wants us to be, achieve the things He wants us achieve in life, it's very evident that a balanced schedule is essential to making that happen. And when I think about what Paul was saying in his day, how essential it was. What about today when we are pressured by so many things? We're driven, oftentimes, by the clock, and the second hand as much as oftentimes the minute hand. We live in this kind of a pressurized society.
Well, we have to be very careful that we govern our time, that we use it wisely, or we'll never reach the potential God has for us, never achieve those things that He has in mind. And when I think about that, I think about the fact that, oftentimes, we think seconds and minutes are not important. And oftentimes you'll hear people say, "Well, whatcha been doing"? "Well, I hadn't been doing anything". When I hear that from somebody, something inside of me rises up. Haven't been doing anything? What have you been doing? Wasting your time.
So I want you to think about it for a moment because seconds tick away into minutes. Minutes tick away into hours. Hours tick away into days and days tick away into weeks, and weeks tick away into months and months tick away into years, and before you know it, your life is over. And what you have to decide is what have you done with it? But now's the time to decide, right now.
This is a season to think about your life while it's still before you. Somebody says, "Well, I'm only in my twenties, I've got a long time to live". You don't know that. You have absolutely no guarantee of the next breath. You say, "Well, but I'm still young". Has nothing to do with it. You could die by accident, you could die of some fatal disease, something, you could have a heart attack. You don't have to be sixty, seventy, eighty to die of a heart attack anymore. You ask the people who are in their forties what's happening to them, what's going on in our society. The use of our time is very important. In fact, your whole life can be transformed when you begin to recognize, listen, that a balanced schedule is the will of God in order for you to become the person God wants you to be and achieve the things that God wants you to achieve.
Now, what we have to ask is this: What does a balanced schedule look like? Somebody says, "Well, what do you mean a balanced schedule"? Well, let's think about what we think in terms of schedule. A schedule is just increments of time that you and I have allotted to an activity or activities, and an order in which we want to carry them out. So if a person has a balanced schedule, they have decided what the activities are and then they have allotted the proper amount of time to each one of those and to keep it balanced. And so when I was thinking about that, I was thinking about Jesus, thinking about a pattern.
Did Jesus live a balanced life, or was it all just one thing? When you look at the scriptures, oftentimes, you read it pretty fast. You say, "Well, you know, all I see that Jesus did was preached and healed and taught and fed five thousand and performed all these miracles". But I want you to notice something. Jesus lived a very balanced life, very balanced life. And when you begin to look at it, you and I have to ask ourselves: Well, what kind of life do we live? What kind of schedule do we keep? Are we overextended in one area and while we're lacking in another?
And so, when somebody says, "Did Jesus have a good time in life"? Yes, He did. Did He have an awesome time of tribulation and trial? Yes, He did, but you know what? He knew how to walk through it. And He, listen, He balanced His life among time with the Father, private time, time training those disciples with a small group, time with individuals like Nicodemus, the woman at the well and others. Always, always doing what He knew the Father would have Him to do. He knew exactly where to be at the right time, why? Because He had lined His will up with the will of the Father. And as He began His days, He began His days asking for the Lord's direction and guidance in His life. So that's the wonderful pattern of Jesus.
Now, what about your life and mine? Would you say that your life is balanced well? Well, let's see if it is. So we have to ask ourselves this question. Do you begin the day with the Lord Jesus every morning? We certainly ought to. If you're gonna have, listen, if you're gonna become the person God wants you to be, do the things that God wants you to do in life and achieve those, the most important thing you can do is the time you spend alone with Him. That oughta be our priority in life. You say, "Well, I'm just not a morning person". Well, just whenever you wake up, get up, don't just lie there. Or, if you reach over and pick up your Bible and begin to read some or speak to the Lord while you're still in the bed. Okay, but don't make any excuse for not spending time with the Lord.
Listen, if Jesus Christ the Son of God felt like that He needed to begin His day with the Father, seeking direction and guidance, listening and talking and fellowship with Him, how much more do I, how much more do you? Because you see, the truth is we all face those pressures and those challenges in life. And He did and you do and all of us do. And the wisest thing He did was to begin His day in that fashion. Why should not we? And Joshua, one of my favorite passages, he says we're to meditate upon God's Word, listen, day and night. Don't depart from it. Jesus took those early moments of the early morning hours, oftentimes a great while before day, just to be with the Father. A second part of your schedule and mine ought to be time with our family and friends.
You say, "Well, my family's gone," or whatever it might be. I understand that. But so many people do have families. You've got children, you have your wife, your husband. And so when you assume the responsibility of marriage, you assume the responsibility of developing your schedule in such a way that you could use or spend, invest the right amount of time with your wife, your husband. And when children come along, of course, with them. And that is a vital part, that's a responsibility we have. And so God expects us to spend, invest time with our family and our friends.
Now, somebody says, "Well, I just don't have time to have friends". Yes, you do. Longer you live, the more you're gonna understand how very important your friends are. Because your friends are a different kind of relationship. Friends are a different kind of relationship because you can share sometimes with a friend something you can't share or don't feel like it's proper to share or you want to share with somebody closer to you than that. Friends are very valuable. They encourage us, they enable us to be able to relax, for example. And oftentimes challenge us, giving us new views and helping us see things a little different than we would normally see or maybe that our family would see. Sometimes encouraging us and sometimes reproving us.
Friends are very, very important. Jesus had His. Stopping at Mary and Martha and Lazarus' home for having a meal. Very important. And so, when you think about how we live, our friendships and our families are very important from God's perspective. Then I think about this whole idea of work. And this is where we oftentimes can get overboard. And I have to confess that when I first began in the ministry, I thought if I were not praying and preaching and studying to get ready to preach, I must be sinning against God because I'd read all these books of all these biographies of all these great preachers and how they spent their life, and the biographer, whoever he was, didn't give, oftentimes, the inside.
And so, I have to admit that, you know, took me a long time to realize that God did not hold me accountable as sinning because I wasn't working at some particular point. And I express my failure here because what happens would be that I would get sick pretty often. And as I look back and realize it was just work, work, work, work, work and not taking the time to do just what I've been talking about. Now, spending time with the Father, I did. But, if I were not doing that and working and studying and doing something ministerially, I thought somehow I was wasting my time, which was absolutely, totally in error.
Now, you and I have the responsibility of working and we have responsibility of knowing and believing we are doing God's will in the place He has us at this particular time. We have that responsibility, not just to work but to do the best job we can possibly do, to have a sense of direction, a sense of purpose in our life, to know that we're going somewhere, we're headed somewhere, we aren't just filling time with activity. We are working diligently, giving it our very best because, you remember, Paul admonishes us to work as unto the Lord. Because you see, He placed us here to fulfill His purpose. And whatever your vocation, whatever your job may be at this point, doesn't make any difference what it is. You're responsible to God to give it your best. Responsible to the person who trusted you with the privilege of working, to give it your best.
You say, "Well, I don't like my job," or, "I don't like this and I don't like that. Treat me this way, that way, and the other". You know what? If you're where God wants you to be, ask yourself the question: God, what are You doing to me, with me, and in me or to me at this particular point in my life? If you're not where you oughta be, tell God you're willing to move, you're willing to change, whatever. But while you're working where you're working, you owe it to God, you owe it to the people who trusted you with the responsibility to give it your best.
And you see, if you don't give it your best in your job, how do you think that God's going to bless you by helping you to reach your potential, becoming the person God wants you to be? Because if you don't do your best, you're cheating yourself, living in denial, and you're costing yourself more than you realize. Likewise, in the life of Jesus, there was time for worship. So you think about this. When somebody says, "I don't have time to go to church. I work six days a week and I don't have time to go to church". You don't know what church is. Maybe you've been to the wrong one. Worship is a very important part. And the scripture says, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as some do". It's the will of God. It's, listen, that's why He put the church together.
Somebody says, "Well, you don't have to go to church to go to Heaven". No, but you know what? If you're saved and you're in love with the Living God, you will be in love with His people. Listen, you'll want to go. You desire to go. What does He say about loving each other, loving one another? What you fail to remember is this, and that is, it isn't just for you. It's for somebody else. You walk into fellowship and you shake someone's hand and say, "I'm glad to see you, happy to see you". You don't know what one handshake may mean. So it's also for someone else, not for you. But worshipping together is very important, very vital.
Now, I recognize there are some people who live a long ways away, especially in some western states, maybe, from a church. I do understand that. In fact, one lady said to me when I asked her where she went to church, it was at a book signing somewhere, and I said, "Where do you go to church"? She said, "I go to Bedside Baptist". I said, "What"? I didn't get it. I said, because she told me where she lived, I said, "Where's that"? She said, "Bedside Baptist". She said, "I wake up in the morning on Sunday, I turn on the television, I watch 'In Touch.'"
I guess she thought I was just gonna rejoice. I said, "Well, that's good, but it's not good enough. You need to be in the midst of a bunch of people who love God. There's an atmosphere, there's a fellowship, something goes on in our midst when we're together". And so Jesus certainly had that part in His life. Then I think about this whole idea of rest and relaxation. Somebody says, "Well, you know, I don't have much time to rest with all the things that I do". Well, let me just give you an idea about rest, two things.
Number one, the value of rest is not only that your body needs it, but that's the times you become the most creative, when you're rested. And this is why I say to you the most valuable time to me is from about three, three-thirty in the morning, four o'clock, somewhere between that three and four or four-thirty in the morning. Because I'm absolutely, totally unconscious sleep, and all of a sudden I wake up. And what happens? It's like God begins to speak. My mind is clear, my heart is open, I'm resting, and I become very creative.
In fact, there's something about rest that makes it a time that we can listen carefully, be very creative. The body needs it, and we certainly saw that in the life of Jesus. And when I think about what happened to Him, I think, "Well, Lord, if He needed it, we certainly do". Then I think about this whole idea of fitness and health. We're all responsible for the way we treat our bodies. Now, we think and we... you hear people say, "Well, that's my body. I can do with it what I choose".
Number one, it is not your body, it belongs to God. You're only the steward, you happen to inhabit it. Number two, you do not have the right to do with your body what you choose. It belongs to the Living God. And here's what He said. The body was created to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Living God lives on the inside of us to live out in this life the purposes of God. That means it is not your body. He says you're bought with a price. He says you're the purchase of God. He saved you in order to live in you and to live out His purpose in your life. So we're responsible for how we treat these bodies. What we place in it, what we relate to it, whether we keep it healthy or not. We're responsible. And listen, to have a balanced schedule, we cannot neglect the body.
Now, what I would like to do is to give you a short list here of things and attitudes that will indeed hinder and prevent you from reaching your potential when it comes to what we're talking about here. So, number one is this: a divided mind. If your mind is divided, if your mind is divided, listen, it's fragmented in your thinking. You're not focused and you're not gonna do your best no matter what you're doing. And so a divided mind is a detriment. A second thing is slothfulness. That is just being pure lazy. And if you meet people, for example, and say, "Whatcha been doing"? "Well, I been... just as little as I can get by with".
When a person... listen, it's one thing to be inactive for a season because you're resting in relaxation or whatever. It's something else just to be goofing off, wasting your time. You're not resting and relaxing on purpose, with purpose in mind, but you just don't wanna work. And we've got lots and lots of people who don't wanna work. They're just absolutely downright slothful, lazy. No commitment in life, just sort of moving through life and whatever comes. That's not the will of God for anybody, no matter who you are.
You say, "Well, I'm not even a Christian". Doesn't make any difference whether you are or not. Slothfulness and laziness is a sin against Almighty God because, remember, your life is your time, your time is your life. And to waste time is to waste life, a God-given, precious gift from God, to live out His purposes. And when you waste it, you sin against Him. So a divided mind, slothfulness, the influence of other people. Listen, you can't live your life according to the influence of other people. That is, unless it's godly influence. When people tell you you oughta do this and you oughta do that, the issue is this. What's God's will and purpose and plan for your life, at this season of your life, what is God's plan and purpose?
So, people are always gonna give you their idea of what you ought to do. And I can remember at a time in my life when I'd get letters from people who'd say, "Well, you oughta get out of the ministry and you oughta do this and you oughta do that and you oughta do the other". And I'd get on my knees and God says, "You keep doing what I called you to do until I tell you to do something else". And I think about what I would have missed, what I would have lost if I had listened to other people tell me how to spend or invest my life. That's, listen, I would never tell you that. You have to do what God wants you to do.
All I'm saying is this. In light of the fact that God has given you the gift of time and opportunities, it is your responsibility to live them out well, do your best to reach your potential. Give it all that you've got in every single area of your life. And when a person neglects that, something happens. Listen, one of the things that'll prevent you from reaching your potential is neglecting that private time between you and God. Because that, listen, that's when you get a sense of direction. That's when you set the rudder for the day. That's when God can give you warnings about what you're gonna face, encourage you for the day, cheer your heart if you've had a bad day the day before. In other words, that's a very important time.
Did you know one of the greatest detriments to not living it out and having a balanced schedule in your life is a lack of commitment? Now, listen carefully what I'm gonna ask you. I want you to answer the rest of this sentence. You listening? Say amen. Today, at this time in my life, I am committed to... Is it somebody? Is it something? In other words, have you ever decided in your life what you are genuinely committed to above everything else in life?
You say, "Well, I'm committed to lots of things". What's the priority? What is it you're really committed to? There are some folks who are committed to having fun, their pleasure. Some are committed to their work. They have a cause, whatever it might be. So, I would never set myself up as an example, but I can tell you what I'm committed to because it governs everything I do. I'm committed, listen, I'm committed to being obedient to God no matter what.
Now, you say, "Well, that's too simplistic". No, it's not. Here's what that does. That covers everything. If you're committed to being obedient to God, you live under the canopy, listen, of God's guidance and direction in your life. He's living on the inside of you. If you're committed above everything else to being obedient to God, you know what? Everything else gonna fall in place. And so I ask you the question: What are you committed to? Because what you're committed to is the way you're spending and investing your time. Somebody says... and what... you see, the whole purpose of this message is this: to get you to think about what are you doing with your time? Is it acceptable to God? Is it the way God wants you to spend your time? Will it get you where you believe God wants you to be and to go in your life? What are you committed to?
Because listen, if you're not committed, it's not gonna happen. Lack of commitment, lack of discipline. Lots of people start out well, but they don't end well. They start a good habit, and after a while, what happens? They don't feel like it. Or it's just too much of a challenge. If it's a God-given challenge, listen, discipline is required in most everything in life that's worthy, listen, worthy of giving your time and your talents and your abilities and gifts. It's very important. Lack of commitment, lack of discipline, you won't get where you oughta be.
If you have a wrong sense of values, God'll never get you where you wanna be because the most valuable thing you have is your relationship to Jesus Christ. The value you place on your family, the value you place on your friends, the value you place on your own human body, your mind. You don't wanna grow old in your brain. You wanna keep it active all of your life, thinking godly thoughts, thinking the way God wants you to think, thinking about the possibilities. Because you remember we said in the very beginning: our potential refers to our possibilities, the things we're capable of achieving in life.
And then I think about one of the things that will absolutely keep you from being and achieving is misplaced priorities. What are they? Has to do with your values and all the rest. But let me just spend a little moment or two here. One of those things that'll keep you from becoming what you oughta be and doing what you oughta do is unbridled ambition. Unbridled ambition. There's nothing wrong to have ambition. But if that ambition throws you out of sync and out of balance, there's something wrong. You say, "Well, what is unbridled ambition? What is ambition anyway"? Well, when we look around us today, unbridled ambition is that inner need to work yourself to death in order to reach the world's standards. That will not get you where you wanna be because that is not a balanced schedule.
Now, you say, "Okay, I gotcha, and I understand all the things need to be involved. And so I make a commitment, and my commitment is to be obedient to God and to find out how I can live a balanced life to achieve and to become what God has in mind. How do I maintain that"? Number one, are you listening? Accountability. If you're not willing to be accountable to somebody, it's not gonna work. Accountability says: I trust you enough that I wanna make myself accountable to you to help me when I need it, encourage me when I need it, reprove me when I need it in order to have a balanced schedule and to be the person God wants me to be.
You see, if you can't trust your life with a God-given, trustworthy, confidential friend. And the only thing, in other words, you're gonna do it your way, you're gonna control your life, you'll decide what you'll do and what you won't do. Well, you know what? None of us are perfect, and all of us need encouragement. And all of us need somebody on the outside of us, looking on the inside of us, listen, not to be critical, but to be helpful. You know what, someone who will love you because they wanna see you become the best you can be and reach your God-given potential. And sometimes a few people I've tried to help that way.
And I would make suggestions to them and maybe somebody who's a friend of mine or had been or was or is or whatever. And I would say, "Don't go there, because I care about your future and I care about your life and I care about what you become and what you're able to do in life. Don't do that. That's not wise". And I would say to you if you wanna reach your potential in life, one of the greatest assets you'll have is a confidential, unconditional loving friend who is godly in character, has your best interest at heart, and who will only, listen, only challenge you to do those things that are godly, that fit the purpose and plan of God for your life. It's one of the most valuable assets you have.
A second thing is an ongoing review. For example, at night before you go to bed, make a list of things. Now, you may say these things a thousand times. If you don't do it, you're the loser. Before you go to bed, make a list on a three-by-five card of the things you intend to do the next day. You know what you've done? Is you ask the Lord, "Now, Lord, give me direction about this and show me this," or, "no, I shouldn't put that down," or, "I ought to".
What you've done is, listen, you've already got your mind thinking, and all night long, your subconscious mind is doing what? Gearing you up for what's gonna happen the next day. You've gotta have priorities, stick with them, and one thing I would say is this. Discipline. You have to make yourself do things you don't necessarily want to do. But to get where God wants you to be and to do what He wants you to do, you have to make yourself do some things that sometimes are difficult, very hard. One of those things for some of you is just getting out of the bed. Right? It's just tough. It just happens to be where you are physically or whatever it might be, or some other things.
And somebody says, "You know what? I just don't have time to just sit down and read the Bible". Yes, you do! It is a matter of balancing your time. And I would simply say this. You wanna get where God wants you to be? You wanna do what God wants you to do? Be the person God wants you to be? Live your life, invest your time, make it fruitful, make it progressive. Look back one of these days and thank God that amidst all of your mistakes and failures and sins, look what He did in your life. The time to get started, right now. And I wanna challenge you, ask yourself this question: What am I committed to? And when you answer that question, you set aside some time to think about how can I do this? And you know what'll happen? Here's what'll happen.
Now, watch this. Frustration, worry, fretting are gonna drift by the wayside. You can take my word for it or you can wait till you're my age till you learn, which'd be a mistake. You do not have to worry and fret and fume about things. When God is in absolute control, you don't have to worry about it. And you know what happens? You balance out the schedule, and you tell God that you're on... listen, you're lining up with His will and His purpose for your life. And you know what happen? Your life'll change. There'll be more joy, more peace, more happiness, more fun. God'll bless you in ways you've never been blessed before. You know why? Because you're in sync with the will of God and on God's timetable. And it's yours for the asking.
And Father, how grateful we are that You can take us from all kinds of circumstances in life, amidst all of our weaknesses and frailties, and when we're willing to line up with You, You're willing to do so much more, but we have to discover it by faith, and taking that first baby step. I pray the Holy Spirit sink this message so deep in every single heart, that not one of us can be satisfied with less than our best, and not one of us can be satisfied until we know we have lined up our life in line with Your will and purpose for us, in Jesus's name, amen.