Joel Osteen — Redeem The Time
I want to talk to you today about "Redeeming the time". Time is one of the most valuable commodities that we have. It's more valuable than money. You can make more money, but you can't make more time. The scripture tells us to redeem the time. That means don't waste it. Don't live this day unfocused, undisciplined, unmotivated. We have a responsibility to use our time wisely. We're not always going to be here. This day is a gift.
Are you living it to the full with purpose and passion, pursuing your dreams? Or are you distracted, indifferent, just doing whatever comes along, in a job you don't like, hanging out with people that are pulling you down? That's not redeeming the time, that's wasting the time, and just like you spend money, you are spending your life. You're either investing it or you're wasting it. The first step is you need to set goals: short-term goals and long-term goals. What do you want to accomplish this week? Where do you want to be five years from now? Do you have a plan? Are you taking steps to get there?
Don't go another three years on a job you don't like, doing something that you're not passionate about. Life is flying by. This is your one shot. You don't get a do-over. We can't relive our 20s, relive our 30s. Once this day is over, we can never get it back, and Paul said in Ephesians: "Make the most of every opportunity, don't be vague and thoughtless but live purposefully and accurately," and if you're going to reach your highest potential you have to be an on-purpose person. You know where you're going. You're not vague, distracted, waiting to see what happens. No, you're focused. You're making the most of each opportunity.
Let me put it more practical. Staying on social media hours a day, catching up on the latest gossip, is not redeeming the time. Playing video games hours a day when you could be studying is not redeeming the time. Talking on the phone hours a day to a friend that's not going anywhere, that has no dreams, is not redeeming the time. God has given you a present. It's called today. What are you going to do with it? This is a call to action. Get focused, get organized, set your goals, make your plans. God could have chosen anyone to be here, but he chose you, and the scripture talks about living well-spent lives. When we go to bed at night, we should ask ourself, "Did I live a well-spent day? Did I take steps toward my goals? Was I a blessing to someone else? Did I invest my time or did I waste my time"?
I read where the average person spends over 80 hours a year looking for things they misplaced, car keys, cell phones, glasses, receipts, children. Somebody said, "The reason God gives babies to young people is because older people would forget where they left them". Do yourself a favor, save yourself 80 hours a year and get organized, redeem that time.
I know too many people that are incredibly talented. They have great potential, but they're not disciplined when it comes to how they spend their time. They have good intentions, but they're easily distracted and they end up off course. There are 1000 good things you can give your time to each day. You have to be disciplined to stay focused on what's best for you. If not, you'll end up chasing the latest trend, trying to keep up with your friend, distracted, entangled in things that are not a part of your destiny.
That's like a man I heard about. He was walking through the airport on the way to his flight. He saw a sign on the terminal wall that said, "Know your future, 25 cents". He was intrigued by it and he walked over and put a quarter in the slot. The computer readout said: "Your name is John Smith. You're on the 2:20 flight to Boston". He couldn't believe it. He thought, "How does this thing know my name? How does it know my flight number"?
A friend was walking by. He called him over and said, "Look at this," and put another quarter in. Did it again: "Your name is John Smith. You're on the 2:20 flight to Boston". His friend looked kind of puzzled, shrugged his shoulders, and went on. The man reached in his pocket to get another quarter out. He's going to do it again. Didn't have any more coins. He had to walk way back to the newsstand to get change. It's a long line. He waited and waited. Finally he got that quarter, came back, put it in the slot. It said, "Your name is John Smith. You just missed the 2:20 flight to Boston".
Stay focused. It's easy to get sidetracked by things that pull you off course and you look up and the day is gone, or the year is gone, or 20 years have gone. Nothing will be sadder than to come to the end of life and think, "Why did I waste so many days? Why didn't I live focused"? No, make this decision with me that you're going to redeem the time. We have a responsibility. God has entrusted you with his life. He breathed his breath into you, he's put gifts and talents on the inside. You have seeds of greatness. You're not just on planet earth taking up space. You're a person of destiny, and with that gift of life comes a responsibility to develop your talents, to pursue your dreams, to become who God's created you to be, and on a regular basis, you need to reevaluate what you're doing, refocus your life.
Get rid of any distractions. Paul said in another place, "I run with purpose in every step," and when we understand the value of time and see each day as the gift that it is, it helps us to keep the right perspective. You realize every battle is not worth fighting. You don't have time to get engaged in conflicts that are not between you and your God-given destiny, and if somebody has a problem with you, as long as you're being your best, doing what God's put in your heart, with all due respect, that's their problem and not yours. You don't have to resolve conflict with every person. Some people don't want to be at peace with you. That's a distraction. Don't waste your valuable time fighting battles that don't matter.
When you realize your days are numbered, you don't respond to every critic. You don't try to convince people to like you that are never going to like you. You accept the fact that some people are never going to give you their approval, but that's okay, you know you have almighty God's approval. When you're redeeming the time, you're not trying to keep someone happy that's never going to be happy. Some people, no matter what you do for them, it's not going to be enough, but their happiness is not your responsibility. Always be kind, be respectful, but your attitude should be if you don't want to be happy, that's fine, but you're not going to keep me from being happy. I know this day is a gift and I'm not going to live it trying to change things that I cannot change or trying to fix people that don't want to be fixed. That's redeeming the time. When you realize your time is limited, you don't get offended, you don't get upset because somebody's playing politics, stressed out because somebody's trying to make you look bad. You let it go and trust God to make your wrongs right.
A lady was telling me how a family member had done her wrong. She was very negative and starting to get bitter. I told her what I'm telling you. Life is too short to live that way. Let it go and God will be your vindicator. She didn't want to hear it. She said, "No, I'm not going to be happy until he apologizes". What she doesn't realize is she is wasting valuable days. I don't know, he may never apologize. I wonder, like her, how many days that we've wasted. We can't say that we redeemed the time, we didn't appreciate the day. We just drug through it, upset, offended, discouraged.
The scripture says: "Don't let the sun go down on your anger". The reason many people have no joy, no enthusiasm, is because they go to bed each night with unforgiveness in their heart, reliving their hurts, thinking about their disappointments. Here's the problem. If the sun goes down with bitterness, it will come back up with bitterness. If it goes down with resentment, it comes back up with resentment. That's blocking God's blessings. It's keeping you from seeing the bright future.
And if you want the sun to shine brightly in your life once again, before you go to bed each night, you need to say, "God, I'm releasing every negative thing that's happened to me today. I'm releasing every hurt, releasing every worry, releasing every disappointment. I'm forgiving the people that did me wrong. God, I'm going to bed in peace". When you do that, the sun will go down with nothing blocking it. When it comes back up the next morning, you'll have a new spring in your step, excited about the day, ready for your future. Don't go to bed at night with any kind of defeat still in your mind.
I talked to a young lady. She's a television reporter at a local station here in town, and during hurricane Ike, she was out covering the story and her assignment was to find people that were down and out because of the hurricane and people that were having a hard time finding food, and she was at one of the food drops, talking to people in line, but nobody had a sad story. They were all grateful that they were alive and talking about how they were going to make it.
Well, Victoria and I and some Lakewood volunteers happened to be there, and she came over with the camera and asked me what's the worst thing that I'd seen, and I said, "Yes, some people are struggling, but they've got faith, they know they're overcomers, they know they're victors and not victims". She thought, "Well, I knew Joel wasn't going to tell me anything sad," so she went and found Victoria. Victoria was worse than me. She said, "These people are fired up. They know God's in control and something better is coming their way".
She got back to the station and she told her supervisor, "I couldn't find any sad stories, but I got Joel and Victoria Osteen commenting on the hurricane". She thought they would be excited, but it was just the opposite. They didn't want us. They wanted sad stories. She ended up getting terminated over that incident. They let her go, and she could have been discouraged, depressed, bitter, but she understands this principle that every day is a gift from God. She started thanking God that new doors were going to open and thanking him that favor was coming her way.
Not long after that, she received a phone call from a very prestigious broadcasting company. They saw her report on the hurricane, the same one that got her fired. They said, "We'd like to offer you a full-time position to come and head up the department that does all of our documentaries". That was a dream come true. She couldn't believe it. She gave me a big hug and said, "Joel, I just want to thank you and Victoria for getting me fired". I've heard it said, "Disappointments are inevitable, but misery is optional".
No matter what kind of setbacks you face, no matter who does you wrong, you don't have to drag through life defeated, depressed, bitter. Start redeeming the time. Do like she did: start thanking God that he's in control and thank him that new doors are opening. Thank him that favor is coming your way. The truth is we all go through the valleys, but the valleys are what lead us to higher mountains. They're not permanent, they're only temporary.
Here's a key. When you're in the valley, instead of sitting around thinking about your problems, go out and do something good for somebody else. Volunteer while you're in the valley. Usher while you're in the valley. Cheer somebody up when you're in the valley. Mow somebody's lawn while you're in the valley. When you invest your time the right way, in helping others, those seeds that you sow will create the harvest you need, not to just get out of the valley, but to come to a higher mountain, to come up to a new level of your destiny.
It's important not only how we spend our time, but with whom we spend it with. To redeem the time may mean you have to prune off some relationships that are not adding anything to your life. Don't hang around people that are not going anywhere, that have no goals, no dreams, people that are not focused, not disciplined, they compromise, take the easy way out. If you tolerate mediocrity, mediocrity will rub off on you. If you hang out with jealous, critical, unhappy people, you will end up jealous, critical, and unhappy.
That's what it says in proverbs: "When you walk with wise men, you will become wise". Take a look at your friends. That's what you're going to be like in a few years. If your friends are winners, leaders, givers, successful, if they have a spirit of excellence, integrity, positive, motivated, then those good qualities are going to rub off on you. When you're with them, you're investing your time. They're making you better. But if you hang out with people that are sloppy, undisciplined, unmotivated, not going anywhere, let me give you some great advice. Find some new friends.
You cannot become who God created you to be, hanging out with them, and they may be a good person, they may have a good heart, but your destiny is too great, your assignment too important, your time too valuable to let them drag you down, and some people, the only thing that's keeping them from a new level of their destiny is wrong friendships. You cannot hang out with chickens and expect to soar like an eagle. You don't have to make some big announcement and go tell them, "Hey, man, I'm cutting you off. Joel said to get rid of you," no, do me a favor and leave my name out of this, but you can just gradually spend less and less time with them.
"Well, Joel, what if I hurt their feelings"? What if they keep you from your destiny? I heard about a lady that was reevaluating her friendships. Her answering machine said, "I'm sorry I missed your call. I'm making some changes in my life, and if I don't call you back please know you were one of those changes," and I'm thinking about all the people that haven't called me back.
But here's the key. If you don't let go of the wrong people, you'll never meet the right people, and sometimes we can outgrow a friendship. It was good at one time. For a few years you were fulfilled but now you've grown more than they have, you're running at a different pace. Your gifts are coming out in a greater way. That doesn't make them a bad person, it's just a new season, and human nature likes to hold on to the old, we like to keep everything the same, but the truth is, it's healthy for seasons to change.
It doesn't mean you can't still be their friend, you just know you cannot spend as much time with them and become all you were created to be, and there are people that come into our life that are like scaffolding. They're designed to be there for a period of time. I'm not talking about a marriage situation, I'm talking about friendships. Yeah, some of you thought you got your word from the Lord today, but these people, for a period of time, they help us grow. They inspire us, they motivate us, but like that scaffolding, at some point, it's got to come off the building. If the scaffolding stayed up, the building would never be what it was meant to be.
Appreciate the people that have helped you, always honor them, but be big enough to recognize when their part in your story is over. On a regular basis, you need to reevaluate your friendships, the people you choose to spend time with. Are they in the right position? Has the position changed? Perhaps could it be that it's a new season? When Jesus was on the earth, he was very selective with his friendships. Everyone, of course, wanted to be close to him, but he chose only 12 men to spend most of his time with, the disciples. Out of those 12, three were his close friends: Peter, James, and John. One could be considered his best friend, John. He was described as the disciple whom Jesus loved, and you may know a lot of people, have a bunch of acquaintances, but you have to be careful who you allow in your inner circle.
You can't have 20 best friends. The higher you go, the more successful you are, the tighter your circle needs to become, and you may have 20 people you call friends, and that's great. But the two or three you choose to be close to you, you need to make sure they are 100% for you, they believe in you, they stick up for you, they're with you through thick and thin. It could be that you're not seeing God's best because your team is weak. You're investing valuable time in people that were never supposed to be a part of your inner circle. You have to evaluate your friendships, get the right people in the right positions. If your team is weak, you're going to be weak.
Mark chapter 5, Jesus was traveling to another city to pray for a little girl that had died. When he arrived at the home, the scripture says Jesus didn't allow anyone to go in with him except Peter, James, and John, his inner circle. Why? Jesus knew when he got in that room where the little girl was dead, he needed people that wouldn't question who he was, people that wouldn't say, "Hey, are you sure you're the Son of God? What if she doesn't get healed, do you have a back-up plan"?
No, when you're in the heat of the battle, when you need God's favor, you need a breakthrough, you need a legal situation to turn around, you cannot afford to have people in your inner circle saying, "Do you really think you're going to get well? My grandmother died of that same thing. Do you really think you're going to get out of debt, business is so slow". No, you need people that are joined in spirit with you, people that will say, "Hey, if you're bold enough to believe it, count on me, I'm bold enough to agree with you".
If you believe you can break that addiction, then I'm not going to tell you the ten reasons why you can't. My report is you are well able. If you believe you can get your degree, you can start that business, you can see your marriage restored, then count on me, I'm on board. I'm all for you. You need people that will join faith with you and not try to talk you out of it, and Jesus got to the home and everyone was so distraught. You can imagine the crying, weeping, sorrow, and Jesus looked at them and said, "Don't be upset. She's not dead, she's only asleep". Their sorrow turned to mocking, ridiculing, making fun. "What do you mean, she's not dead? Of course she's dead".
What Jesus did next is very significant. It's a key to living in victory. Verse 40 says: "They mocked and jeered at him, but Jesus put them out". Notice, the Son of God asked them to leave. He showed them the door. Jesus knew the importance of having people around him that understood his destiny. His attitude was, "Hey, I don't need your doubt. I don't need you telling me what I can't do. I'm going to surround myself with believers, with people of faith, with people that understand my assignment".
If you have people close to you that are constantly pulling you down, telling you what you can't do, how you'll never accomplish your dreams, understand it is scriptural to show them the door. It may be difficult, but you have to have the attitude, "I cannot fulfill my destiny with your critical spirit in my life. I can't become who I was created to be with you dragging me down. I love you, but I can't allow you in my inner circle. I'm going to love you from a distance".
This is what Jesus did. He only took the girl's parents and Peter, James, and John into the little girl's room. He spoke to that girl and she came back to life. But think of this. Jesus could have healed her in front of the whole crowd, laughing, mocking, ridiculing. He's God. He can do anything. But he was showing us this principle. Who you have in your inner circle is extremely important. If Jesus went to the trouble to ask the wrong people to leave, if he took the time to weed out the doubters, the naysayers, the people that didn't believe in him, if he was that concerned about his inner circle, how much more concerned should we be with who's in our inner circle?
You need to pay attention to who's on your team. Who's speaking into your life? Who are you giving your time and attention to? More practical, who are you eating lunch with every day at the office? Who are you talking to on the phone so much? Are they building you up or tearing you down? Are they pushing you towards your destiny or are they telling you what you can't do? Are they modeling excellence, integrity, character, Godliness? Or are they lazy, sloppy, undisciplined? No, you have a responsibility to redeem your time. Don't waste it with people that don't sharpen you.
If you don't politely show them the door, that can keep you from your destiny, and sometimes we know a person's not good for us, we know they're dragging us down, but we think, "If I let them go, I'm going to be lonely", and yes, you may be lonely for a season, but you'll never give up something for God without him giving you something better back in return. God will not only give you new friends, he'll give you better friends, people that inspire you, people that celebrate you, people that push you forward.
Now, this may mean that you have to change who you eat lunch with at the office every day. That person that's always finding fault, critical, bad-mouthing the boss, you don't need that poison in your life. That's not redeeming the time. You may have to change hanging out with that neighbor that's always depressed, defeated, has a sad song. If you stay there, you're going to end up defeated. It's better to make the change and be lonely for a season than to be poisoned for a lifetime, and when we come to the end of our days, God is going to ask us, "What did you do with the time I entrusted you with? Did you develop your gifts and talents? Did you accomplish your assignment? How did you spend your life"?
It's not going to be a good excuse to say, "God, I got distracted, but my friend got me off course. God, I lived bitter, but somebody did me wrong. God, I was negative, but my company let me go". No, I'm asking you to quit making excuses and start redeeming the time. We're not always going to be here. The scripture says our life is like a mist, we're here for a moment, then we're gone.
Make this decision that you're going to be an on-purpose person. Set your goals and be disciplined to stick with it. Don't waste any more days. Prune off those relationships that are not adding to your life, and don't go to bed at night with any kind of defeat, bitterness, negativity, still in your mind. This day is a gift. Make sure you're investing your time and not wasting it. If you do this, I believe and declare the seeds of greatness on the inside are going to take root and begin to flourish. You will rise higher, overcome every obstacle and become everything that God's created you to be, in Jesus's name.