Holistic part 3
Honouring God with Your Schedule
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
September 26, 2010

This is week three in our messages series called “Holistic” in which we’re talking about having a holistic faith. That means that our faith impacts every part of life every day… it’s not just reserved for certain activities or for an hour on Sunday. It’s all-encompassing. It’s God-honouring in every way.

This morning, we’re talking about how to honour God with our schedules… the way we use our time.

On average, we will experience 40 million minutes over the course of our lifetimes. Some of us have already experienced a good number of those minutes; others of us still have a lot to go. I’m kind of right in the middle, waiting for my mid-life crisis.

40 million sounds to me like a pretty big number. But it’s amazing how quickly they seem to pass by us, isn’t it?

Our time is important, and it’s limited. We only have so much of it. Once time has passed us by, we can never get that time back again. We can never take it back and use it in another way. When you give your time to someone, that’s the greatest gift you can give them. Because it’s irreplaceable. You’re telling that person just how important they are to you by giving them your time.

So let me ask you this: How does the way you spend your time express how important God is to you?

VIDEO – video25598.40MillionMinutes.mpg

This morning, we’re talking about how to honour God with our schedules. And so what I want to do is lay out for you five ways in which we can honour God through the use of our time. And you can use your notes to follow along and fill in the blanks as we go. Okay?

How Can I Honour God in the Way I Spend My Time?

1.    Participate with His Church every weekend.

In other words, what you’re doing right now. You are honouring God by being here this morning. And it’s honouring to Him because He has asked you to be here and so you’re here.

Back in the Old Testament book of Exodus, number four in the Ten Commandments, is to remember the Sabbath.

Exodus 20:8 (NLT)
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”

That’s not a word you hear a whole lot anymore. It’s kind of an Old English term, but it literally means to “stop” or “cease.” It means, “Knock it off.” And basically it’s referring to taking a full day off from all our work and busyness and investing that time in finding ourselves refreshed and renewed as we devote the time to worshipping God and to God-honouring activities.

For the Hebrews who were the first to receive this Commandment, their Sabbath day was from sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night. For Christians, dating back all the way back to the apostles and their disciples, the Sabbath has traditionally been Sunday because that was the day of the week when Jesus rose from the dead.

Let me give you a little history about the Sabbath…

According to the Synod of Elvira in Spain from A.D. 306, if you missed three consecutive Sundays from church you could be excommunicated. By the 16th century, they had figured out exactly how late you could be arriving at the service to still be counted as being in attendance.

In the mid-1600s, the Puritans of England developed a rulebook governing their Sunday activities. This rulebook dictated how far you could travel on the Sabbath, how you should dress, and what household chores were acceptable. This rulebook took up 13 pages of fine print.

Some of these rules have survived at least in spirit and exist in our society today. Many sincere Christians, for example, will not read a newspaper or watch TV on Sunday. Others will not buy any unnecessary products on Sunday, including going out to a restaurant for dinner. Some believe that it’s not really a Sabbath unless they literally rest by having a nap. Still others believe that the entire day should be spent in spiritual activities and not just an hour or two. So they devote the entire day to worship, study, meditation and prayer.

So throughout Church history a lot of regulations were developed to tell people what was and what wasn’t appropriate on the Sabbath. But none of these rules hold a candle to the rules developed and held by the religious “experts” of Jesus’ day. Here are some examples…

People were not permitted to pick a single stalk of grain and rub it in their hands to retrieve the kernels because technically, that was considered harvesting. And the religious leaders were shocked when Jesus did just that.

The distance a person could travel on the Sabbath was defined as 2000 paces, or about 1.2 km (¾ of a mile). To travel any farther was considered a sin.

The prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament had preached against carrying a “burden” on the Sabbath, so the religious establishment felt they had to define exactly what a “burden” was. So they determined that a “burden” was equivalent to the weight of a dried fig. And since nails were heavier than dried figs, it was considered a sin to wear shoes manufactured with nails. Anyone carrying any change in your pocket today? You’d be violating the Sabbath.

Walking in the grass was on the list, too. You couldn’t do that because that could be considered threshing, and that’s work.

Here’s an interesting one I read: dipping a radish in salt and letting it remain for any longer than a quick dip was forbidden , since this constituted pickling, which of course was work.

I even heard one time that you couldn’t spit on the ground because the spit would curl the dirt which would mean you were tilling the soil.

(most of these examples were taken from “What Jesus Said About…” edited by Stephen M. Miller)

So there have been some rather strange restrictions that people have tied to the observance of the Sabbath. Pretty absurd, really. Because those kinds of regulations end up enslaving us to the day of the week, whereas the day of the week was meant to serve us.

Mark 2:27 (NLT)
“The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath.”

So how is the Sabbath meant to benefit us? Well, for one thing it gives us the opportunity to rest. It’s a time to take a break from work and relax. And I realize that it may seem impractical or even impossible for people today who because of the nature of their job to take Sundays off completely. To them, I would still say you need to find a 24-hour period of time each week when you’re going to take a break. If you have no choice but to work on Sunday, then find another day, because you need that break to recover physically, emotional, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually.

But even if you have to work later in the day on Sunday, you should still make it a priority to gather with the Church to worship on Sunday morning. Because the God who created you, gave you life, gave His own life for you, redeemed you, forgave you, and gives you the promise of a future home in Heaven has asked you to. We even call it The Lord’s Day… it’s Him day, not mine and not yours. So honour Him in the way you use it.

Plus, as part of the family of God, you need to be here. It’s our time to worship God together, to encourage each other and spur each other on, to support each other and pray for each other… As Hebrews 10:25 says…

Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

2.    Spend time with Him daily.

Mostly what I’m talking about here is spending time with Him through prayer and reading His Word, the Bible. We’ve already talked about spending time with Him on Sunday morning, but spending time with Him needs to be a daily occurrence for us.

VIDEO – Re-Fuel (from SermonVideos.com)

You need to spend time with God every day in order to refuel. Otherwise you’re just running on fumes. So determine a time in your day every day when you can spend it with Him. Maybe for you it’ll be first thing in the morning. You wake up 10, 15, 20 minutes earlier and spend that time with Him. Or maybe it works better for you to spend that time just before you go to bed at night. For others of you, maybe a break or lunchtime at work, or right after supper, or whenever. You know what works best for you, when you’re more likely to keep it up, so figure it out and do it. You may even find it helps to use the same location each time. Maybe you have a chair or a room in your home you can use. Or maybe you’ll want to sit on your deck, at least until it gets too cold. Try to set up a time and a place that’s removed from distractions and devote that time to God.

And beyond that, you can sprinkle short prayers throughout the day. You can pray as you go about your day, asking God for His help, praising Him for His blessings, talking with Him about your plans, seeking His direction in life, asking Him for spiritual strength, and just listening for His guidance.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Underline “Pray continually.” That means that it’s a regular practice for you. It’s ongoing. It’s common for you to shoot off a sentence prayer throughout the day.

So pray daily. The other part of this is reading His Word.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Several keywords you can underline in there… “inspired”, “useful”, “corrects”, “teaches”, “prepare”, “equip.” Those are reasons reading the Bible is important, how it can benefit you, and how it helps you live a healthy, God-honouring life.

You see, what you feed your mind is what you think about. It’s what shapes who you are. And there is nothing better for you to think about than the Word of God because it has the power to transform your life. It helps you connect to the Creator of the universe and discover true meaning in life. As you read the Word of God, as you study the Word of God, as you meditate on the Word of God, it will infiltrate your thinking more and more, and you will be left with a better understanding of who God is, a stronger relationship with Him, better relationships with friends and family, a better self-esteem, more direction and purpose in life, a clearer sense of right and wrong, and more. It will improve every area of your life, guaranteed.

So every day, make it your goal to read some of it. And I’m not even talking about reading a huge amount. If you can only get through a paragraph or two, that’s a pretty good place to start. It’s not so important that you get through a lot as it is that you understand and apply what you do read. So use a translation that’s easy for you to understand… I’d suggest the New Living Translation… and as you read see if there are lessons you can apply to your own life.

This was the norm in the early Church. Take a look at how the first believers invested their time…

Acts 2:42 (NLT)
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

So four things right there that were central to the life of a believer in the first century. They were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, which has been passed on to us in the form of the Bible. So we read that daily and come together on Sundays and perhaps groups through the week, too. We’re devoted to fellowship, which again happens on Sunday morning but also as we simply live life together, supporting, encouraging, challenging, and uplifting each other. There’s the sharing of meals… when was the last time you invited other believers over to your home for a meal? And then there’s prayer, which as we’ve already said should become part of our activity each and every day.

Okay, so you can honour God in your schedule by spending time worshipping Him on Sunday with the rest of the church, and by working some time with Him into every day… maybe just a few minutes or maybe an hour.

But you know what? It’s not just the time you spend with Him that’s important. It’s how you spend the rest of your time, too.

3.    Invest time only in God-honouring activities.

Let me put it this way: If I committed one hour every day to my wife… and gave her that time free of any other distraction and just focused on our relationship for that hour… would I be honouring her? Sure, that sounds like a pretty good idea, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t that show her that she’s important to me? Wouldn’t that enrich and enhance our relationships? So that would be honouring her.

But what if after I gave her that hour every day, I went and spent another hour with another woman. Would I still be honouring my wife? Of course not. In fact, I’d be dishonouring her. I’d be cheating on her. And nothing I could say or do during the hour I spend with her could excuse the hour I spend cheating. It’d be hypocritical.

You see, it’s not just how you spend the time with God on Sundays and when you pray or read the Bible; it’s also how you spend the rest of your time. If you’re truly going to live a holistic Christian life and honour God in every way… which, by the way, is what He expects of each of us… then you’re going to spend every minute of every day living to please Him.

You don’t put in your time with Him and then figure that you can do whatever you want after that. You don’t cheat on Him in that way. Instead, you want to express your love and devotion to Him in every word, thought and deed.

So what does this mean? It means that when you work, you work hard and don’t cheat your employer.

Ephesians 6:7 (NLT)
Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

At the same time, you refuse to cut corners or act in unethical ways even if it means you risk losing your job. You don’t get ahead by lying or cheating others; you succeed because you do your best.

And in your relationships, you treat people with dignity and respect. You don’t strike out in anger or in seeking revenge, but instead you learn to express compassion and love.

In your recreation, you participate only in activities that do not compromise Biblical values. Whether you’re in public or in private, you make it your goal to please God.

And you remember at all times that as a Christ-follower you are a representative of God. You represent Him to every person you come into contact with. So you’re not going to do anything or say anything that’s going to bring Him shame. You’re not going to embarrass Him that way.

Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT)
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

Hebrews 12:14 (NLT)
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

Okay, so living a holistic Christian life means that everything on your schedule… everywhere you invest your time… is going to be focused on honouring God. That doesn’t mean that you have to walk around acting all super-spiritual all the time; it simply means that God is going to have a priority place in your schedule, and His values are going to be expressed in everything you do in life.

And perhaps you’re already there. Maybe that’s the way you live your life right now. You’re a Christ-follower and you’ve made it your goal to please Him in every word, thought and deed.

For others of you, maybe you’re not there yet. But you want to be. And so today you’re choosing to up the ante a bit. You’re going to strive to live for Him from this point forward. You’re going to choose to follow Him beyond just an hour or two a week, because you know that’s not really following Him. Instead, you’re going to follow Him every day in every way.



Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2010 SunriseOnline.ca