The following is a summary of “Making the Best Use of the Time,“a sermon preached at Redemption Church on 12/31/17.
It’s a new year, 2018. Maybe you, like many others, have spent a little time reflecting on the prior year and setting some goals for the future. As you plan 2018, what are you deciding are the most important things to make happen this year? And why? Are you making the best use of your time?
I keep a jar of 52 marbles in my office as a visual reminder of the 52 weeks I have each year. The idea is that when you can see the time you have you tend to make better use of it. Ann Voskamp, in her book The Broken Way, does something similar with her daughter by filling a jar with seeds representing the days of any one life. She makes some observations that are helpful as we decide how we will use the time that we have. She writes:
You have only one decision every day: how will you use your time?… I’ve thought of time as something you have to wring the very most out of, drain to the last drop. Carpe Diem, people, Carpe Diem.
But what had Jesus said? ‘My time has come.’ What time? The time of His death? For Jesus, time was not something you seize as much as something you sacrifice….It’s not something to grab; it’s something to give.
How are you going to make the best use of your time? Are your goals focused around seizing or sacrifice, grabbing or giving?
In Colossians 4:2-6 says:
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Paul exhorts toward continual prayer and walking toward outsiders to make the best use of our time. In Matt Perman’s book, What’s Best Next – How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, he makes a Biblical case that the most productive thing we can do is to do good for others. Perman says that “The guiding mindset of our lives is to be: how can I do good for others? How can I benefit my neighbor?” and that “The good of others is ‘what’s best next.’”
How are you going to make the best use of your time? Are you seeking to prayerfully walk toward outsiders for their good and the glory of God? Here is what I want us all to believe more fully this year; the most abundant life is the life given. Following the way of Jesus, doing good for others, becoming last, to the glory of God is actually the way of the truly blessed life.
At Redemption Church we are stepping into 2018 following the exhortations of Paul on how to make the best use of our time, and we want every one of you involved. Will you join us in praying continually and walking toward outsiders?
Ways for us to practice together:
We want to pray together continually this year. As we move through 2018 please continue to pray with us throughout each week that:
- Doors would be opened for people to hear the gospel in downtown Augusta. Paul asks the same in Colossians 4:3. We are on Broad Street for a reason; we want to see this place saturated with the gospel. Let’s pray in that direction.
- We would be a unified body of believers representative of the diversities of our community. We want to see the church reflect the community we live in. We want Redemption to be a place full of people who “once were not a people, but who are now God’s people” (1 Peter 2:10) because we believe that the gospel is proclaimed more fully from such a community. Would you pray with us toward a united body made up of a diverse people?
- Church planters and missionaries with The Alliance and A29 around the globe would see doors open for the gospel. We want to be a church that plants churches. We believe it is the best and most sustainable way to send missionaries into other neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries. God hears our prayers, and who knows the hearts that would be open to the gospel elsewhere because we simply ask? Specifically, let’s pray for Paul and Lindsay Murphy and our friends at Sojourn Uganda.
- God would provide for Redemption Church with people and finances to see the gospel advance in and from our community. We believe that the harvest is plentiful, so we are asking that God provide people who are willing to go with the gospel among us, locally, and beyond. Financially, we’re asking God to give us more in order to do more in the way of discipleship, blessing the city, and church planting. That can look like many things from taking care of roof leaks and hiring staff to funding other ministries and organizations.
Walking Toward Outsiders
For Redemption Church this immediately means walking toward the people of downtown with the grace and with the seasoning of the gospel.
There are a lot exciting things happening in downtown Augusta, and we have a tremendous opportunity to steward the gifts God has given us toward blessing our city. Nothing will make Augusta a great city like the advance of the kingdom of God here. The effects of the gospel saturating this district would be exponential and beyond our wildest imaginations.
Here are a few ways we can walk intentionally toward downtown together:
- Stay Informed. There are several avenues, from social media groups to newsletters, that will help you keep up with what is going on downtown. Here are a few. Make and effort to pay attention to what is happening down here. People are participating in community all around us, we just have to join them where they are.
- Participate in #LOVEdowntown. Once a month we will come up with a way to bless downtown together. We may ask you to bring a $10 bill, or come prepared to stay downtown for 30 minutes. It may be buying a $10 gift card and giving it away, or commissioning a local artist to create public art in some form, but each month we will bless downtown together. This is a real tangible, practicing, way to walk toward downtown with the flavor of the good news of Jesus.
- Serve downtown with your Missional Community. There are a lot of ways to do this. You can pick up trash on Sunday mornings at 9am with Operation Clean City. You can plan to eat downtown together on Sundays and invite a guest to go with you. You can play pickup games of ultimate frisbee in The Common. Just prayerfully build some rhythms in downtown spaces individually and with others, enter graciously, and go with the gospel on your lips.
So, what might be the best use of your time in 2018? The way I see it we have 52 weeks full of opportunities to sacrifice and give the gospel away. We have 365 days to spend for the good of others and to the glory of God. And that is life giving for us.
As you’re making plans for 2018, it may seem counterintuitive, but the message of Jesus is clear
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 5:16
The purpose of life is to do good for others to the glory of God. Let’s prayerfully walk toward outsiders seeking Jesus and His Kingdom together. Let’s wear the “new self” of Jesus together; doing good works for His glory, clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, love, peace, and thanksgiving (Col. 3:12-17).