Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program

Most of us are aware that a couple of times a year we do something to our clocks. We call it changing the time. We set it one direction in the Spring and another in the Fall. In the Spring we set it forward one hour and in the Fall we set it back one hour. What have we really done to time when we do that? Well, the fact is, we have not done much at all, except sometimes confuse us as to what time it is.

What is time?

The writer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow defined it this way. “Time is the shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock, the running of the sand day and night, summer and winter, months, years, centuries. These are but arbitrary and outward signs, the measure of time. These are not time itself. Time is the life of the soul.”

Think about that. Time, a very valuable thing it is indeed. It is our God who set time in motion. It is our Creator, Jehovah, God who has given to us this marvelous thing we call time.

The writer Daniel in that Old Testament prophecy said this in the 21st verse of chapter two about time and about God.

“He changes the times and the seasons. He removes kings and sets up kings, gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to them that have understanding.”

I hope you will understand today as we talk about time that it is Jehovah God who set time in motion at the time of creation, when he placed the stars and the sun and the moon. We know very clearly our astronauts and those who are able to put those men in space in those great rocket ships can know precisely where every planet is going to be. They know precisely the time of the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun and the phases of the moon and all of those things because God has put them there and they are accurate.

You are familiar with the passage written by the wise old man in the Old Testament. “For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven, a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to pluck up that which is planted, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to quit embracing, a time to seek and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast a way, a time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak, a time to love, oh, even a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

Now there might be many mysteries in that passage of Scripture about time. What I would like to do today as we think about this thing called time, first of all, that God says there is a purpose under heaven for the time that he gives you, that he gives me. The minutes, the hours, the days, the weeks, the months. He has put you and me here with purpose, that we might use those time segments wisely.

What I would like for you to recognize today is that it is easy for us to have some fallacies, some false ideas about time. For example, someone says, “If I only had more time.”

Have you thought about that? All of us have exactly the same amount of time, 24 hours in a day. You won’t find 24 and a half or 25. That is all we have.

And I believe, because God has planned it so, it will be time enough for you to do the will of God where you are and who you are and what he might have you to do.

Now, we might be wasting time. Most of us have been guilty of that. We might find ourselves so very busy, our calendars are full and maybe with the wrong priorities, sometime we who are ministers of the gospel, preachers in the pulpit, we neglect some of those important matters that we ought to be doing and we become involved in less important matters. Our priorities are out of whack. Maybe we are just poor managers of time.

Some simply don’t know how to make use of a good hour or two hours to accomplish a goal. You have heard, no doubt, many of you, of Will Rogers, a man in America that was a somewhat philosopher and comedian.

He said this. “I never talked to a man who wanted to save time who could tell me what he was going to do with the time he saved.” He just said that a man was taking a Chinese friend on a trip and they were changing trains and the man grabbed the Chinaman by the arm and said, “If we hurry, we can catch this train and it will save us three minutes.”

And the man from China with a bit of philosophy and truth said, “And, sir, what will we do with those three minutes that we save? How will we use time?”

Time? Oh, if I only had more. You have gotten all you are going to get, 24 in a day. That is the max. That is the limit. God has put it there and it will never change.

But there is a second fallacy. If I just had as much time as other people. That ties in with the first one, doesn’t it? We look at other people and it seems like they have time to fish and golf and play around and do a lot of things, travel. And we just simply don’t have that time in our schedules.

Well, we remind ourselves again they have 24 hours, so do we. And there are various responsibilities that provide us with this use of time and it gives us less time for certain things. If I have to work 40 hours a week, I have to take those hours out of the week and then I have to make time in the hours that remain for the other important things. Will I set aside some hours for church? Will God get a portion of that time? I must worship and study and learn and come to his place of worship? Will I surely have time for my family? Well, they are so important. My children need me. My wife needs me to spend time with her. I need to draw a segment of time out of the 24 hour day, out of the 40 hour week or whatever in order to be able to have time with family.

Oh, and yes, pleasure. God wants us to have pleasure. Jesus rested very often and we need to set aside those times when whatever our pleasure is, if it is fishing or a game of golf or going to a sporting event as long as it doesn’t become overbearing and take, as it often does, too much of our precious time.

God expects us to be good stewards of everything he gives us and that includes time. You have as much as anyone else. You are not going to get any more. Be a good steward.

Thirdly we hear someone say, “Well, I will make up the time I lost.”

Hmm. Now that is interesting. How am I going to do that? Time is not a renewable resource. If you lose your glasses or your wallet or your pen, you can find them. You can hunt and look or somebody else can and you can find those things, but time? My friend, once the second clicks off, it is gone forever. Once this radio broadcast goes off the air, the time we have spent talking to you and sharing the gospel and these facts, it is gone. That time can never be retrieved. We cannot produce more time. We cannot control time.

Again, I would say, we can only manage it as God gives us the wisdom to do it.

Ben Franklin, I believe it was, gave us this fallacy, though it has a measure of truth to it. You maybe have heard it. He said, “Time is money.”

Now in the strictest sense it is not true that time is money. Time is simply time. But we know that time wisely used can make us money. We work at our job or we make a deal with someone to sell something that makes us money and in that sense time becomes money. But we can lose money and it can be gained back. You may lose it in the stock market, in mutual funds or whatever it is and maybe in five years the market picks back up and you regain that or you lose money and you are able to find it. It fell down in the cushions as you sat on the couch or whatever it might be. We need to understand that. But all the money in the world will not buy us one second more of time.

Many have been the rich, the wealthy, the multimillionaires who in their dying days have pleaded all my riches for one more day of time. But their riches simply could not bring back the past.

But I believe there is another fallacy that is extremely important for you to recognize today.

Oh, there is plenty of time. Plenty of time? Says who? How do we know? How do you know there is plenty of time?

In the county right next to us here in central Kentucky, just day before yesterday a horrible wreck occurred. A mother driving a car crossed the center line and hit head on into another vehicle. And in the car with her were her beautiful triplet children, two boys and a girl. The girl was immediately killed, her life taken, and the two triplet boys are in critical condition in the University of Kentucky hospital today.

Time? Oh, surely you would say those little eight year old children have plenty of time. Sadly, that little girl has no more time. She has been snatched into eternity. It happens all of the time. People of all ages have accidents, suicides, all sorts of things bring life to a close and it can happen in an instant. Yesterday is gone. The only time we have is today. Tomorrow, we must face it, may not come.

That book of Ecclesiastes from which we read a moment ago says this in chapter nine and verse 12.

“For man also knows not his time. As fishes that are taken in an evil net and birds caught in the snare, even so the sons of men are snared in an evil time when it falls suddenly upon them.”

Oh, my friends, listen. Time can happen and it can end in just a very little while. Are you aware of that?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow added this thought. “Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowing future without fear and with a manly heart.”

Now think about it. We cannot do anything about our past. It is past. And it is gone. Oh, we might be able to make some things right with someone or make some adjustments here or there, but those events are history. What does Mr. Longfellow say? Improve the present.

Oh, the child of God, the Christian with the Spirit of God and the Word of God and the power of the Lord Jesus living in his life has the capacity to do that. We have the present time.

Oh, and then what? Go forth to meet the shadowy future. Shadowy future? Yes. There is a future for all of us. For many it is deep, deep dark shadows, shadows of an eternal separation from God because they have not put Jesus Christ into their lives and been born again into the family of God.

The child of God can enter that future with a strong heart.

No wonder the psalmist says, “So teach us to number our days that we may get us a heart of wisdom.”

Oh, how important wisdom is and the proverb writer reminds us. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Do you fear God? Do you honor him with your life? Have you responded to the message of the gospel that he has given?

I love what the psalmist says in Psalm 31:15. My times are in thy hands.

Where are your times? Time? Oh, there are a lot of fallacies about time and what we can do with it or can’t do with it. Would you turn your time over to God?

Listen to Romans chapter 13 as we think of time. We must learn to use our time for things that will outlast time. Those are eternal things, spiritual things and Paul gives us a very serious warning. He reminds us in other passages, today is the day of salvation, of change, of the wise use of your time.

Now listen to his words in Romans 13 beginning with verse 11.

And this, knowing the season that already it is time for you to awake out of sleep. For now is salvation come nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent. The day is at hand. Now what are we going to do? Cast off the works of darkness. Put on the armor of light. Walk becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness and chambering and wantonness, strife and jealousy. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not make profession for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof.

Oh, my friends, he says, “Now is salvation come nearer to us.”

Has it come nearer to you today? Is this the first time you have heard about Jesus, the fact that he has died in your place, the fact that he will give you salvation and forgiveness if you will respond to the gospel and salvation has come near? What will you do with it? This is your time to respond to the gospel.

You can inquire at this radio broadcast. The announcer will give you information as how you may contact us or in your town or city there may be a Christian to whom you can go and they will help you make that important decision. To Christians who are listening, use your time. Forget about those fallacies. Go forward into the future with hope. Bring others with you as you share the gospel with them.

May God bless you this day as you think about using wisely the time God has given you.

Julius Hovan preaches for the  Bohon (KY) Church of Christ