Sermon: Make the Most Of Your Time (Series - Make the Most Of It)
Summary: As stewards, God wants us to avoid wasting our time in useless, unfruitful, and ungodly things, and to make the most of our time by ordering it in good and righteous things that are honoring to him. This includes summer time, youth, retirement, and any other time of life
Text: Eph 5:6-12
Scripture Reading: Ps 90:12-16
1. Start series as spin off of last weeks sermon - "Make the Most of It"
a. We been blessed with so many blessings
b. Time, friendship, food, church, freedom, Bible, etc.
c. Want to reflect on how to make the most of our blessings
2. Text: Eph 5:6-21
a. Context: Chap 4:22f - Put off old self, put on new self
b. 5:2 - Walk in the way of love as Christ did, self-giving love that is a fragrant aroma to God (think about fragrant aroma - emotional response)
c. We are of the light, not darkness - (Great sunny day, honesty, nothing to hide, joy - Days are going to get longer from here forward - more time every day)
3. v.16 - Make the most of every opportunity
a. Redeem the time
b. Make the most of your time. How? Ways:
I. Avoid Meaningless Stuff
A. That is a theological, scholarly word - "stuff"
1. v.6 - Let no one deceive you with empty words - avoid meaningless stuff
2. Useless stuff robs you of most precious gift - time
3. Without time, you cannot enjoy any of the meaningful stuff
B. Passage mentions lots of useless stuff
1. v.7 - Do not be partners/partakers with the disobedient
a. Don't run with them
b. Running with them is like trying to swim upstream
i ILL: Ever try to swim upstream?
ii I tried in the Platte, poor swimmer, tired
iii Got swept downstream
c. Easy to get tired, to get desensitized
d. Your closest friendships NEED to be brethren
i ILL: Mr Anderson - "I had a friend once"
ii Prov 18:24 - A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother
iii We need that friend, a Christian
2. v.11 - But rather expose them (deeds of darkness)
a. Not going to happen if closest friends are not Christian
b. True Christian friends are the light of your life
i Light will expose that is wrong, hurtful, stupid
ii As a true friend, we need to be light, not darkness
3. v.18 - Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery
a. CSV - which leads to reckless living
b. The path to meaning, joy, is not in alcohol, or drugs
c. It is not found in anything of this world
d. Jas 4:13f - Life is a vapor, here a little while, gone
i Vanity/meaningless in Hebrew is literally "vapor"
ii Used figuratively - Something with no substance
iii Meaningless/vanity/useless - Everything under the sun
C. ILL: Have you seen the music video, "Hurt?"
1. Originally by Nine Inch Nails, but later by Johnny Cash
a. Nine Inch Nails does not do the song any more
b. Johnny Cash made it his own - powerful interpretation
2. Video recorded shortly before his death. Chorus lyrics:
a. What have I become, my sweetest friend
b. Everyone I know, goes away in the end
c. And you can have it all, my empire of dirt
d. I will let you down, I will make you hurt
3. The video interprets these lyrics powerfully
a. Sitting along at a table, huge feast that has rotted
b. Camera shows Cash museum, gold records, framed awards, broken glass on floor
c. Scenes from his life, concerts, events flashing by
d. Idea - It is all meaningless in the end
4. "My empire of dirt" expresses the sentiment well
a. What does it all amount to in the end?
b. Has little more meaning than dirt
D. Make most of time by avoiding meaningless pursuits
1. Whether it is substance abuse, or partnering with things that are not godly
2. Nothing inherently wrong with much of what we do
a. Making money, next project, enjoying good things of life
b. Many things are only ungodly when have wrong motivation
3. Our pursuits, and our enjoyment of them should be to his glory
4. Bring us to next point . . .
II. Embrace meaningful stuff for God
A. V.10 - Find out what pleases to the Lord
1. v.17 Do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is
2. Wisdom is pleasing God
3. What does it take to do meaningful stuff for God?
B. v.9 - You are light, so Bear fruit of the light - What fruit?
1. Consists of Goodness - Agathos - good, useful, upright (not kalos - aesthetically good, beautiful)
a. Other passages about what is "good" in Ephesians
b. Eph 2:10 Were created in Christ to do "good" works
c. Eph 4:28 Do something useful (good) with your hands so that you can share with those in need
d. Eph 4:29 Not let any unwholesome talk out of mouth, but only what is helpful (good) for building up
2. Consists of righteousness
a. Means what is right, as opposed to what is wrong
b. Warning - Prov 14:12 - There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death
c. God is the definition of righteousness
3. Consists of truth
a. Yes, there is such thing as truth!
b. Eph 4:15 - When speak truth in love, we grow
c. Can't grow based on lies
4. Focus on what is good, right, true. . .
C. ILL: Teacher once did an object lesson with jar and rocks
1. Asked if all the rocks would fit into the jar? Seemed it would
2. He put in pebbles, then larger rocks. Not all fit
3. Started over, put in largest rocks first. It all fit
4. Do the meaningful stuff first - little stuff not fit, not big deal
D. Make the most of time by embracing meaningful stuff first
1. Several years ago, I saw a chart that helps to do this:
1 - DO NOW
Subject to confirming the importance and the urgency of these tasks, do these tasks now. Prioritize according to their relative urgency.
2 - PLAN TO DO
Critical to success: planning, deciding direction and aims, etc. Plan time-slots and personal space for these tasks.
3 - REJECT AND EXPLAIN
Scrutinize and probe demands. Help originators to re-assess. Wherever possible reject and avoid these tasks sensitively and immediately.
4 - RESIST AND CEASE
Habitual 'comforters' not true tasks. Non-productive, de-motivational. Minimize or cease altogether. Plan to avoid them.
2. Start filling it in - What is important? Which is urgent?
a. Fellowship with your brethren - be here, attend, participate
b. Ministry in the name of Christ - How can I serve God?
c. Family, marriage - Time together as family
d. Bible reading
3. Summed up with love God, love neighbor
III. Wake Up & sing
A. Don't want to go through life like zombie, going through motions
B. Quotation, probably from a hymn, "wake up sleeper, rise . . ."
1. ILL: Made me think "Rise and shine and give God the glory glory"
a. Not sure what kind of tune for this
b. "Wake up Sleeper and rise from the deady deady"
2. Wake up - How?(v.13-14) Open the curtains - Let in light of Christ
C. Think about the imagery of light
1. ILL: Granddaughters - Read bedtime story - lights out, asleep
a. But minute the sun peeks in the window - they are up!
b. Not just awake - but alive, smiling, ready to go
c. Chain reaction - their energy transfer to all in the house
2. Those who let in the light become a light as well
a. Doesn't just affect you, it affect those around you
b. You can help to energize your brethren
3. ILL: We don't live in a black and white world
a. Ever notice when in extreme low light - no color?
b. Bright sunny day - brilliant colors
c. Green grass, trees, blue sky - Lifts your spirit
4. Song: Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sun Shine In
a. My mommy told me something a little girl should know
It's all about the devil and I've learned to hate him so
She says he causes trouble when you let him in the room
He will never ever leave you if your heart is filled with gloom
b. So let the sun shine in, face it with a grin
Smilers never lose and frowners never win
So let the sun shine in, face it with a grin
Open up your heart and let the sun shine in.
c. When you are unhappy the devil wears a grin
But oh, he starts a running when the light comes pouring in
I know he'll be unhappy cause I'll never wear a frown
Maybe if we keep on smiling he'll get tired of hanging around.
D. Make Most of Your Time by Letting His Light in your Life
1. Light of truth, light of joy, light of life
2. It will brighten up your life and life of those around you
1. Make the most of your time. God has given time to obey the Gospel (inv)
2. ILL: I remember when boys were little, travel home for a visit
a. During the day, we often alone - Parents at work
b. I began to notice when kids a bit older, Dad always at home
c. Dad's explanation - He prioritized what was important - Took time off to be with family
3. Thing about time is you don't know how much of it you have
a. I remember doing to the funeral of a 10 year old child
b. Nothing more tragic and sad than funeral of a child
c. Each of those 10 years with him was precious
d. You don't know how much you have, make the most of it
4. What are your plans this year?
a. Don't bury your time in the ground or go with flow
b. If you do, will have nothing to show for your time
c. Budget and prioritize your time
i. Put faith, family, church first - Those are the big rocks
ii. Then start putting everything else in
iii. If do this - will have lasting joy, peace, with time you have
- - - - - - -
About the Song, "Hurt"
The writing credits to Hurt belong to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails; the song was first introduced to the world in 1994 on the album The Downward Spiral. NIN’s version is heavy, and takes you to drug induced haze. It is a man desperate, lost in the world of drugs – stuck reliving his hurts with an addiction. This version has so much intensity, and so much emotion in Reznor’s voice.
In 2002, Cash covered Hurt and Reznor was in awe and announced in Rolling Stone magazine that Hurt belonged to Cash. Country singer Johnny Cash covering a Nine Inch Nails song is so odd that it’s perfect. In 2011 NME named the music video for Cash’s Hurt the best video of all time. The video captures the essence of the song perfectly; Cash’s life is explored with flashbacks of the past, and images of his present self in 2002. The video depicts a great long life, filled with pain, love and regret.
I have outmost respect for Reznor for writing such a timeless song that has transcended genres and generations to allow for reinterpretation and multiple meanings for different musicians and listeners. That is the mark of a great songwriter. The Nine Inch Nails version has an entirely different connotation that speaks to a different audience. NIN’s version speaks primarily of self-loathing, self-harm, and drug addiction while Cash focuses on the universal feeling of pain and deep sadness that makes you hurt. Cash has a tone of redemption; he is a man that is at the end of his life that is sending out a message to make life beautiful, and not to have regrets.
It’s amazing how artists can interpret songs so differently and bring a whole new meaning to the same lyrics. The only changes to the lyrics Cash made were the removal of profanity, to reflect more on Cash’s devout Christianity. It’s shocking, how the absence of just a few words made for an entirely different song. That’s the art and beauty of music; just as no one sees a painting the same way, we all feel music differently.
Cash’s rendition of Hurt is haunting. It was recorded shortly before Cash’s untimely death, which makes it even more evocative and striking. The power of the song lies within its intoxicating tone, as soon as you hear the first bar, the song has you. You are taken into a world of extreme sadness, into a world meeting its end. You meet a man looking for redemption, to change his life—but it is too late. He would give everything up to go back and do it all over, simply to live his life, to have more time. The chance to correct wrong doings in the past, but he’s trapped in his “empire of dirt”. It’s his own hell created by his own hand.
He indulged in drugs, suffered the repercussions and the “hurt” his choices inflicted to those around him. Every action, every decision led to pain, whether it be to himself or those he loved. He is lost so deep in sadness that “pain is the only thing that’s real.”
Although it was tragedy that inspired him, it was tragedy that robbed him of his happiness and faith in himself. There is no interpretation needed to decipher the fact that Cash is an obvious creative artist and intensely deep-thinker. He reflects not only on the sadness of his life, but of sadness itself. The sadness of a lifetime of memories that will vanish. Cash implies that life is fleeting; everything that we endure or experience is temporal. The world will still continue on, with or without us. This thought is so intense and heavy, the lyrics haunt you and make you wonder: “what have I become?”
Some may say this song reads like a suicide note, with notes on depression. If you look deeper, you will find this song is a message of wanted hope, someone finding a reason to live. A man so lost in his sadness he feels the world is moving by as he stands still.
We can all relate to loneliness, to feeling left behind, “you are someone else, I am still right here,” this haunting verse makes you think deeper into your life, and the root of your own sadness. Actions done by others that you deem as unforgivable may need to be forgiven in order for you to find your own peace, to rid your heart of pain. Feeling “Hurt” is not always by actions from your own hand; sometimes it’s the choices of those around you that trap you into their downward spiral, where you are brought into their “empire of dirt”.
Cash’s rendition makes you re-think your judgment of yourself and others. Everyone gets lost, but it doesn’t mean there is not still time for a second chance, an opportunity to “start again” and “find a way”. In such sadness and despair, hope can be found. No one is ever truly a lost cause; hope should never be written off and disregarded. We have one life; Hurt reinforces the notion to make that life everything we want it to be.
A lyrical life lesson, in a four-minute song that will always stay with you, and remind you to push past your sadness and your “hurt” to meet your destiny, whatever that may be.
Which version of the song do you prefer? Or like Lisa do you feel that both artists have managed to make this one song their own? Leave us a comment and let us know.
All words by Lisa Lunney. You can read more from Lisa on LTW here.