Time is the great leveler of humanity. Some people live under a bridge, others rent a room, some own their own home, and some live in homes as large as hotels. Some families walk to their destination, others ride a city bus, and some have cars to get them where they are going. We work in a wide variety of jobs. We are mechanics, nurses, doctors, roofers, teachers, lawyers, cooks, engineers, salespeople, stockbrokers, police officers, volunteers, lawn care workers, secretaries, stay-at-home moms, and the list goes on and on. Some of us dropped out of school almost before we got started, others graduated from high school or college, and some have a G.E.D., Ph.D., or an M.D. As small of a church as we are, we are all across the board when it comes to economics, education, and employment. We are different people, but there is a great leveler of humanity and it is “time.” Time is such a wonderful gift. It’s a priceless commodity given to all people by God with no regard to their status whatsoever. Time is a treasure that most simply overlook. Harvey MacKay once said, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” (Harvey MacKay) Regardless of who you are or what you have, materially speaking, you have 24 hours in each day. That’s 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds each day…no matter how you slice it. Even though we all have the same amount of time each day there are two different approaches to the experience of time. Let me explain by sharing our Scripture for today. Turn with me to John 7:1-13 and let’s read together.
1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. 6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. 10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders. (John 7:1-13 NIV)
We spent some time with this section of Scripture last week. Do you remember the great plan Jesus’ brothers shared with Him about how He could maximize His ministry? Jesus had a different plan. Jesus’ use of time was a waste of time to His brothers. Why focus on the few when you could spend your time reaching the masses? I want us to use Jesus and His brothers as representative of the two different ways that we can understand and utilize the time God has given to us. First, let’s take a look at “time.” Biblically speaking there are two different ways to view time. First, there is time that passes by the hour, day, and year, the chronological passing of time. Secondly, there is what is better described as the “right time, the time of opportunity, or a decisive moment in time.” Let’s read John 7:6-8 one more time so we can see which kind of time Jesus was referring to when He spoke to His brothers.
6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” (John 7:6-8 NIV)
Jesus told His brothers, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.” Jesus uses the Greek word, “??????”(kairos) when He refers to “time.” The two most common Greek words for “time” are “??????”(chronos) and “??????”(kairos). We get our word, “chronological” and “chronograph” from the word, “chronos.” It is sequential time, time that is measured by a clock and a calendar. On the other hand, “kairos,” is sometimes translated as “opportunity.” It is used to describe “an opportune time, a fixed and definite time, a season of time, the right time, and a decisive moment in time.” Let me show you the difference by taking a look at Scripture. First, let’s look at an example of “chronos” by turning to Matthew 2:7. Herod was trying to figure out at what moment in time Jesus was born when he called in the Magi. Read along with me.
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.(Matthew 2:7 NIV)
The last example I want to show you is such a powerful example of the Sovereignty of God. Jesus didn’t just happen onto the scene of humanity. God didn’t see a window of opportunity and seize the moment. Before the foundation of the world, God in His determinate counsel, set the time of Jesus’ coming, His crucifixion, resurrection, and return. Remember, we are looking at the word, “chronos,” time that is measured by a clock and calendar. Turn with me to Galatians 4:4-5 and let’s read together.
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Galatians 4:4-5 NIV)
“When the time had fully come,” when the predetermined date arrived, when the page on the calendar turned to the exact moment in history, God sent His Son to redeem us. The other measure of time that is most prominent in the Bible is”kairos” time, time as an opportunity or a “season of time.” We’ve heard people say, “She was in the right place at the right time!” or “You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot!” These are both examples of the meaning of “Kairos.” Now, let me show you a couple of examples of the word, “kairos,” from God’s Word. In 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul wrote to the young pastor and described a coming “time,” or season or time, when people will no longer have any desire for the truths of the Word of God. Listen to this.
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.(2 Timothy 4:3 NIV)
The last example I want to show you is found in Ephesians 5:15-16, where Paul urges the people of Ephesus to make the most of the opportunities that God brings their way. Listen to this.
15 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV)
We are to be careful, we are to live with our eyes wide open, we are to be cognizant, aware of the windows opportunity, the open doors that God places before us. Now that we understand these two approaches to “time” it will make it much easier for you and me to understand the point Jesus was trying to make with His brothers. Jesus said, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.” Jesus used the word, “kairos,” and not “chronos.” There was a time set by God for His arrest, execution, and resurrection, but the opportunity, the “kairos,” that would set those events in motion had not yet arrived. Six months later, at the Passover, Jesus would enter Jerusalem in a big way. He would enter the city riding on the back of a donkey with the crowds shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The religious leaders would be whipped into a frenzy to make sure they got rid of Jesus once and for all, but the Feast of Tabernacles, the time in which Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to make a big scene, was not the time for these events to begin to take place.
Time Has No Purpose or Meaning
For Jesus’ brothers and for unbelievers in general, any time that seems “right” has to be the right time. We have to remember that at this time they didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They respected Him, believed that He was a miracle worker, but they were more like His agents than His disciples. Jesus’ brothers are representative of the way that unbelievers view time. Time really has no meaning other than how we can best use it to benefit ourselves. For the unbeliever, time has no transcendent meaning or purpose. Life, and time, is just a series of random events that take place. My time and your time doesn’t fit into any larger plan at all, it just is. And the use of time is totally up to you and me. So, if I’m working at my job and a better offer comes along, then it must be the right time to change jobs. If I’m single and someone comes along that I like then it must be time to get married. If I have some extra time then I should decide what I want to do with it. Do you see the point I’m trying to make? The unbeliever views “time” through the lens of their own wants, desires, and ambitions.
Time as a Gift
On the other hand, for the followers of Jesus, we are to view “time” as a gift from God to be used as He has planned and purposed for each of our lives. We are to echo the Psalmist who said, “My times are in Your hands;” (Psalm 31:15a NIV) We are to live life always thinking about what God is doing in our life and how He desires for us to respond to what He is doing. I’ve often heard people ask, “How can I know God’s will for my life?” That’s a great question. I’ve been thinking about that question this past week. Can we rephrase it, “What time is it?” Think with me just for a minute. Our lives are scheduled and our schedules oftentimes “order our steps.” Our schedules dictate what we are to do and when we are to do it. Our schedules give us direction in living our daily lives. The alarm goes off and I know what time it is. I know what I need to get ready for first thing each morning. I have my schedule on my phone and it reminds me throughout the day what’s coming up next in my life. How about you? You have to be at work at a certain time, you have to pay your electric bill at a set time, you have a doctor’s appointment that you don’t want to miss, you have meetings at work that have been scheduled, you have to pick up the kids, go to the grocery store, deliver the kids to soccer practice, dance recitals, football practice, etc. Our schedule orders our steps. Wouldn’t we love the same direction from God? Wouldn’t it be great if God would just give us a schedule of what’s in store for the rest of the day? If God would give us a “to do” list for the week? I just don’t find God working like that in the lives of His people.
Living in God’s Timing
If God doesn’t give us a schedule of what’s to take place in each of our lives each day, then how are we to live life with an awareness of the timing of God? First of all, let me say that there are plenty of folks that you can find who will disagree with me. They will say that God will reveal His will for the most minute details of your life just like He revealed His will to Abraham in Genesis, Moses in Exodus, and the prophets of the Old Testament. First of all, it wasn’t very often that God gave His servants a schedule of the day’s events. Secondly, it certainly wasn’t an across-the board practice with all of His people. If you will remember, Moses lived many years before we find God raising him up to deliver the slaves in Egypt. He spent 40 years on the backside of the mountain taking care of his father-in-law’s flocks before he ever told Pharaoh, “Let My people go!” God used Moses to accomplish His purposes not just for Moses’ life, but for God’s purpose in history. The closest thing to our daily schedules that we find in the Bible was when Moses was leading the Children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years. The schedule was as follows: During the day you will be led by a “pillar of cloud,” a visible reminder of God’s presence with you. When it moves you move. When it stops you stop. At night you will be led by a “pillar of fire.” Once again, a visible reminder of God’s presence. When it stops you stop and when it moves you move. Each morning you will go outside and collect enough manna for you and your family for the day. That’s the kind of schedule we are accustomed to in our daily lives. I think we would love that kind of direction from God. Just tell me what to do and when to do it and I’ll get after it! Another example of a person who walked and talked with God is Abraham. In Genesis 12:1 we find God telling Abraham to leave his homeland and go to the land that God would show him. By the time we get to Genesis 25:8, when Abraham draws his last breath and dies, we find that Abraham had built a long history with God. God had cut a covenant with Abraham, led him to the Promised Land, and God had given he and Sarah the son He had promised, but Abraham never got a schedule for the day. As a matter of fact, as Abraham and Sarah were making their way to Canaan land, we find them making wrong turns, bad decisions, and God didn’t intervene to try and stop them. In the New Testament, when we run into Saul of Tarsus, we find that he is the greatest antagonist and adversary of the followers of Jesus in the land. When Jesus changed Saul’s life on the road to Damascus and made him the chosen instrument to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles, He already had a plan for Saul’s life. First, He changed his name to Paul. Second, He raised up Ananias to go and pray for him. Ananias was hesitant. Then the Lord revealed His call on Paul’s life to Ananias. Listen to this.
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16 NIV)
We don’t find any record of Jesus ever revealing to Paul all that He revealed to Ananias. In Acts 13, Paul told the crowd that the Lord had commanded him, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47 NIV) How would he be that light to the Gentiles? What about the details? And what about that bit about “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Where do you find that Jesus ever told Paul what He told Ananias about suffering? Paul learned God’s plan and God’s timing for his life as he lived it. And this has been my experience as well.
We Learn God’s Timing as We Live It Out
When I accepted Jesus into my life I had no idea what I would be doing today. I thought I knew what I would be doing for my life’s work, but it sure wasn’t being a Bible teacher. When Connie and I got married we had some plans for our life, but they were different than what we’ve experienced during the past 31 years. I could go on and on listing how things have turned out differently than what we thought. I find this to be right in line with God’s Word. Listen to this.
9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NIV) 24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? (Proverbs 20:24 NIV)
I’ve learned that living life according to God’s timing has much more to do with living in the moment, walking with the Lord throughout the day, spending time in His Word and in prayer to develop a greater intimacy with Him which will lead to a greater awareness of His presence, and being faithful to Him throughout the day, than it does with knowing the big picture for my life, the 5-10 year plan for my life.
Trust In The Uncertainty
I’m also learning that living with God’s timing in mind means to trust Him. Did you know that there are those in the Bible that God revealed His plan to, but God’s plan didn’t unfold in the way they thought it would? One of the best known examples of this is Abram and Sara. God promised the childless couple that they would have a child. God was true to His promise, but they didn’t welcome their newborn son, Isaac, into their arms for 25 years. They knew God’s will, but they didn’t have any idea that it would take 25 years for God to bring it to pass. Another example of what I’m talking about is King David. We read in 1 Samuel 16 about the day where the prophet went to Jesse’s house to find Israel’s next king. David was the one chosen by God. He was anointed on the spot! Josephus wrote that David was ten years old when he was anointed by Samuel, but most Bible commentators believe he was closer to fifteen years old. You can only imagine the thoughts that ran through the minds of his family at David’s anointing! Yet, David didn’t become king over Israel for another fifteen years. David spent the next 15 years of his life either serving in the king’s house or running for his life from King Saul. David knew God’s will and purpose for his life, but he didn’t have a clue about God’s timing. David continued to trust God, he walked with God, and in time he became king. There have been so many times in my life that I thought I knew what God was doing, I thought I understood how things were unfolding in my life, but I was wrong. I’ve learned to simply trust in the Lord rather than conclude that I know what’s taking place. The wisdom of Proverbs can be such a help to us. Listen to this.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
There are many of us who are here this morning who wish we knew what God is up to at this time in our life, but it just isn’t clear. I want to encourage you this morning. You don’t need to seek out a Medium, find a modern-day prophet, or read your horoscope. You simply need to stay in God’s Word, continue to pray for guidance and understanding, and focus on walking with Him throughout each day. Remember the wise counsel from David in Psalm 31, “My times are in Your hands;” (Psalm 31:15a NIV) All of our times are in His hands. He knows the number of days you will live and He alone knows the opportunities that He will bring your way to grow in your walk, to witness to His faithfulness, to minister to the needs of those He will bring your way, and to experience His Sovereign hand which is leading you through this life. When life is unclear and uncertain, when it seems like He is distant, and you’ve lost your way…wait on the Lord. Don’t flinch, falter, or become frenzied in your pursuit of making sense of the uncertainty…wait on the Lord. Listen to the counsel of God’s Word to you and me.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV) 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14 NIV) 1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:1-2 NIV)
“Wait for the Lord.” Far too often we run out ahead of the Lord when times are uncertain and we don’t know what to do or where to turn. If we will simply choose to trust Him, knowing that our times are in His hands, that He will open and close doors as He sees fit, then we can rest assured that we can live our life in God’s timing. The best road map I have of God’s activity in my life is to look back over my life. As I look out ahead I’m not certain about what the future holds although I know the future is firmly in His hands. As I look back I see His fingerprints everywhere. In the best days of my life I can see that His gracious hand was at work. During the darkest hours of my life I can see that He sustained me. I can see God’s fingerprints on my life from before I ever came to know and love Him. Knowing that He has been at work in my life since before I was born gives me great confidence and peace in knowing that He is at work even now, even now. Before you can ever trust Him with your future and the “times of your life,” you first have to trust Him with your heart. Have you ever confessed to Him that you’ve lived your life for you, but now you want to live your life for Him? Are you willing to be honest with God and confess to Him that you are a sinner, lost and finally willing to acknowledge that you don’t know the way? If so, then tell Him and invite Him to come in and take the reins of your life, take up residence in your heart, cleanse you of your sin, and lead you throughout the rest of your life. Mike Hays Britton Christian Church 922 NW 91st OKC, OK. 73114 September 21, 2014 firstname.lastname@example.org