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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Time Regrets

Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Time Regrets

Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Time Regrets
TOPICS: Say Goodbye To Regret

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". If you're like me, you likely find that the days go by too quickly. Sometimes, I get so engrossed in a task that I'm shocked when I finally look up at the clock. If we're not careful, those hours can turn into days and weeks, months, and even years. And we're left wondering where did all the time go? We're discovering how to Say Goodbye to Time Regrets on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Benjamin Franklin once asked, "Dost thou love life? If so, do not squander time, for time is the stuff life is made of". You know, it's interesting when we talk about regrets how many people's regrets center around the use or misuse of their time. Too much time spent watching television, not enough time building my relationship with God, too much time worrying, too much time in an unfulfilling relationship, not enough time with my children. If regrets about time are a major source of regrets in all areas of life, then it seems like we need to talk about what the Bible says is the best way to use our time. You know, regrets about time can be especially painful because we can never regain time that we've lost. If the misuse of time is a major source of regret, how can we use time wisely?

That's what today's message is about. We're going to look at the biblical principles for using our time wisely. But before we do that, I want us to look at three overarching biblical principles about time you find in the scripture. First of all, write this down, time is limited. Time is limited. We forget that sometimes. It takes the departure of a child to college or the death of a loved one or just a brief look in the mirror to remind us that time is quickly passing by. Somebody said life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end the more quickly it goes. Well, that's true. Moses said it a little more eloquently in the earliest Psalm that was ever written, Psalm 90.

Remember what Moses said in verses 5 and 6? Let me read this from the living Bible. He says, "We glide along the tides of time as swiftly as a racing river and we vanish as quickly as a dream". Have you ever gone on a river rafting trip down the Colorado river or something like it? If you've ever been in that experience, you know, you've got a guide who thinks he's controlling the river. He'll even do a few things like use a paddle to push away against the dangerous rock. But pretty soon you figure out he's not controlling the river, the river is controlling him and everybody else in that boat. It's taking you rapidly to its intended destination. Moses uses that metaphor for how our life and our time is. He uses another metaphor. He says, "We are like grass that is green in the morning but mowed down and withered before the evening shadows fall".

Now, in reality grass isn't planted and grows and it dies in a single day, unless you're living in Dallas, Texas, in the middle of the summer, but in most places, it doesn't happen that quickly. It takes a period of time. It's the same way with our lives. We don't live and die in one day, but it seems that way sometimes because life passes so quickly. So, what's to be our response to the passing of time? Panic? Worry? No, listen to what Moses says in Psalm 90, verse 12. So then, "Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are, help us to spend them as we should". And that's what we're going to talk about today. How we ought to spend our time to value the time God has given us.

There's a second truth, and that is we're responsible for the use of our time. This idea of a racing river, that's a good metaphor of time, but we shouldn't feel like we're victims of time. It just Carries us wherever it wants. God wants us to master our time. In Matthew 25 Jesus said, in one of the parables, that one day we're gonna be judged. Remember the parable of the talents? We're gonna be judged according to the treasures, to the opportunities, and according to the time that God has given each one of us. And then, thirdly, a biblical principle, and this is so important, is it's possible to redeem time. It's possible to redeem time. Now, that's the paradox. You can never reclaim time that's been lost, it's gone forever, but you can redeem, you can make good use of the time you have left and, in some inexplicable way, it can even make up for the time you have lost.

When Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus, he was addressing a group of people who had wasted a lot of time in their lives before they were Christians. In Ephesians 2:3 he said, "Among them," that is, unbelievers, "We too all formerly lived in the lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, we were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest". Now, these ephesian Christians, they could have spent the rest of their lives living with regret about their ungodly past. But Paul said, "I don't want you to be prisoners of the past when it comes to the way you lived. Instead, repent of the past and look forward to the future". And he says in Ephesians 5:16, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil".

That's what it means to use time wisely. It is to redeem the time. Now, some of you are gonna say this is nothing more than a positive thinking sermon. But what I want you to see is everything else we talk about for the next 15 or 20 minutes is simply an application of Ephesians 5:16. How do you redeem the time God has given you? Let me suggest to you five biblical principles. Number one, and this is so foundational, learn the lesson of the big rocks. Learn the lesson of the big rocks.

Stephen Covey... yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know he was a Mormon, okay? Don't send me any emails. Even a broken clock can be right twice a day. Stephen Covey is a best selling author and he tells a great story about an associate of his who went to a time management seminar, and in the middle of this lecture, the instructor pulled out from the shelf underneath him a big gallon jar that was empty and then he pulled out a bucket of big rocks. He asked the audience, "How many rocks do you think are in this bucket? How many of them do you think I can fit into this empty jar"? They said three, four, five. So, he took one by one, he got four rocks in there. And he said, "How many of you think this jar is now full"? Everybody raised their hand. He said, "Let me show you why you're wrong".

He then picked up a bucket filled with gravel and he poured the gravel into that jar and the gravel went down and filled in the empty spaces left by the big rocks. He said, "How many of you would say this jar is now empty"? Half of the people raised their hand. He said, "Let me show you again why you're wrong". He then picked up a bucket of fine sand and he poured that fine sand in and it filled in spaces left by the big rocks and the gravel. He said, "Now, how many of you would say this jar is full"? Nobody raised their hand. He said, "You're right and let me show you why". He then picked up a container of water and was able to get nearly a quart of water in that jar. He said, "Now, what lesson about time management does this illustration teach you"? And one student raised his hand and said, "It means no matter how full your schedule is, you can always squeeze something else into it". The instructor said, "No, that's not the lesson. The lesson is had I not put the big rocks in first, I never would have been able to put them in later".

Put the big rocks in first. That is the key to managing your time wisely. To discover what the big rocks, the important things of your life are that you want to devote your time to. Now, those big rocks can be different for different people. Let me help you focus on what your big rocks may be. If you could ask God to give you any four things, what would you ask him to give you in your life? Now, don't give a miss America answer. World peace, end of starvation, love for my fellow men. No, what would you really say? You know, most of our regrets in life have nothing to do with the sand and gravel that fills up our life. It's for what is not in our life yet, those big rocks. And that's why it's so important to know what they are. Secondly, turn your dreams, or your big rocks, into goals.

You know, a dream without a plan is only a wish. We need a way to take those dreams, those big rocks, what we really want from God, and turn them into a goal. By the way, a goal is a specific accomplishment that can be measured by time and date. You know, let's take to have a more intimate relationship with God. That may be a great objective, but it's not a goal. You have to be able to measure it. What does it mean to have a more intimate relationship with God? Well, maybe you would say, "Well, what that takes is time, time spent with God". So, here's my goal. I want to spend 15 minutes a day reading my Bible and praying beginning tomorrow. I wanna spend 15 minutes a day, perhaps you say 5 days a week, reading my Bible and praying to the Lord beginning tomorrow.

Now, that's a very specific goal. Maybe some of you would say, "My goal, one of my goals, is to have a successful retirement, a fulfilling retirement". What does that look like for you? Be specific. Maybe you would say, "My goal is to retire by age 75 in the mountains of Colorado living on 80% of my income". Now, that's a very specific goal. We need to turn our dreams into goals and that leads to a third step for using your time wisely, make your goals a part of your daily schedule. Now, this is where the rubber meets the road. You've got to actually take those plans, those dreams, and integrate them into your daily schedule. Your daily schedule ought to be informed by what the big rocks are in your life.

Now, realistically, you can't spend 100% of your time working on your big rocks. You've got other responsibilities at work and with your family, but at least 60% of your time ought to be spent on what you've identified as the big rocks for your life. For example, you know, take spending time with God. If you're gonna read your Bible 15 minutes a day and pray, there may be some things you need to do to make that happen. First of all, you may need an alarm clock to get up in the morning. You know, some people have trouble getting blanket victory every day. And so, maybe you need an alarm clock or at least how to learn how to use the alarm on your iPhone. You may want a new Bible. Maybe you'd like a paraphrase or a different version of the Bible that would speak to you in a fresh way. Maybe you get a prayer journal to record your request to God and God's answers. Take those objectives, those goals, and make your list of things to do based on those objectives.

Now, there are several ways to do this and I know I'm getting into the weeds here, but again, we're trying to discover how to use your time wisely as the Bible says to do. One is a daily to do list. Now, this is a simple concept. Many of you do it. Before you go to bed the night before, make a list of all the things you need to do the next day. A variation of that is make a list of the five most important things you can do the next day. Even if you don't get through the list, at least you've done the most important things first. Now, that's a good way to manage your time. But there's a problem with it and sometimes the things we do aren't the most important things we could be doing.

President Dwight Eisenhower said, "I've come to understand that the important things in life are seldom urgent and the urgent things are seldom important". And so, another way to manage your day is what some people call the "Eat the big frog first" principle. That is, start your day doing the hardest, most distasteful thing you have to do and get it out of the way so you can go on to other things. Now, here's the problem with that idea. Many times, the most distasteful and hardest thing you have to do is not the most important thing. For example, a salesman wakes up on Monday morning, he's all energized ready to go out and make sales calls, but he remembers he's got to turn in that report from last month to his supervisor and he hates filling out reports. Well, he spends the morning trying to summon up the strength to fill out that report when, really, the most important thing he could be out doing is selling. I think the best way to manage your daily task is using that big rocks principle that I talked about just a few moments ago.

Now, some of you are saying, "Pastor, again, is this really biblical, what you're talking about"? Listen to Ephesians chapter 5, verses 15 and 16, coming from the Phillips paraphrase. I love the way...In fact, I memorized it a long time ago, "Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who don't know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days". That's what we're talking about.

Fourth, how do you use your time wisely? Be realistic in your time management goals. We all know what it's like at the beginning of summer, you have that humiliating experience of trying on your swimsuit for the first time of the season. And you're horrified at what you see in the mirror, so you make a resolve. You're gonna go on a diet. No more sweets, no more sugar. You're gonna quit eating supper for the rest of your life and you go on this diet and it lasts all of a month, a week, or 24 hours and then you give up. Because it's not realistic.

People who talk about diet... no, you need to set a standard that is measurable. It's the same way in our time to say, "I'm just gonna fill up my calendar with big rocks. I'm never watching television again. I'm never doing anything I like to again. I'm gonna work, work," right? That's unrealistic. You need to plan your schedule in a realistic ways. For example, your schedule should allow for times of relaxation. That's God's idea, by the way.

Remember in our study on the 10 commandments we saw in Exodus 20, verses 8 to 11? More space is given to the command, "Remember the sabbath and keep it holy," than any other command. Why? Because it's necessary for our physical and spiritual well being. "There needs to be," God says, "One day a week you observe sabbath". That word sabbath, shabbat, means to desist, to resist working or even thinking about working in any form whatsoever. God gave that, not for his benefit, he doesn't get tired. He gave it for our benefit. There needs to be one day a week we focus on our spiritual and our physical refreshment and relaxation.

I think that principle needs to be applied to every day. There ought to be a time of the day when you say, "Enough". It might be 6 in the evening, it might be 8 in the evening. It's not that I've cleaned every dish that needs to be cleaned, or washed every piece of clothing, or made every phone call, but I've done everything I need to do today and it's time to do something else. Ecclesiastes 2:24 Solomon said, "There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink, and tell himself that his labor is good". God meant for us to enjoy life, not just endure it. Secondly, your schedule ought to be flexible enough to handle bad days. You all know what I mean when I talk about bad days? It's when sickness or fatigue or depression or interruptions... When they just sabotage what you had planned to do.

I know for me, a particular bad day that I can actually schedule every year is the day I get back from vacation. Man, that's just a bad day because everything's piled up and a little disappointed and I know not to schedule anything heavy the day after a vacation. I go through my mail, I return phone calls, I do things that don't require a lot of activity. Just be sure that you allow for bad days. And thirdly, leave enough cushion in your schedule to plan for interruptions. Maybe a drop-in visit, an emergency that you had not scheduled. You know, many times interruptions are God's way of redirecting our lives.

I think about the passage in James 4, 13 to 15, "Come now, you who say, 'today or tomorrow we'll go to such and such a city, and spend a year and make a profit'. You don't know what will happen tomorrow. You're just like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'if the Lord wills, we will do this or that'". Now, James isn't saying don't make plans, don't fill out your boulder grid schedule. He's simply saying, "Realize God may have a different plan and be ready for that". I one time attended a time management seminar led by the late Ted Engstrom, the president of world vision. He made an insightful comment when he said, "Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, but they underestimate what they can accomplish in five years".

Be realistic in your time management. And, finally, to use your time wisely, and this is so key, refuse to be paralyzed by the past. Refuse to be paralyzed by the past. You know, because of Israel's disobedience to God, God said to the prophet Joel that he were going to send the locusts to the land of Israel to destroy all of their crops. Devastating losses would occur, but God looked beyond that judgment to a day Israel would turn back to God and God would bless them again.

Listen to what he says about that future restoration, "Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust, my great army which I sent among you. You shall then have plenty to eat and be satisfied. And praise the name of the Lord your God who has dealt wondrously with you. Then my people will never again be put to shame".

Although Israel's loss was real, and in some ways irreversible, God said, in some inexplicable way, he would make up for what they lost and reward them in the future. Maybe you can identify with that as you look over the past years, decades. You would say the locusts of slothfulness, of indecision, of purposelessness have robbed you of years and even decades of your life. You can't make up for that in the past, but you can reclaim your time for your future. If that's true of you, if you regret the wasted time you've had in your life, confess those mistakes to God, receive his forgiveness, but then start to redeem the time God has given you by putting the principles into effect we've talked about today. Once you've done that, you'll find you're well on the way to the road to saying goodbye to regrets about your time.
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