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It’s a New Year! – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

In November a man in Janesville, Wisconsin purchased ad space on a highway billboard and put up these words: “Enjoy life now: There is no afterlife.”In December, after this sign came down, two area churches got together and put up their own message on this same billboard: “Life is short. Eternity is not. – God.”

Life is short, isn’t it? Or, as Dr. Seuss put it: “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness, how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

We can’t really slow life down, but we can slow down so that we live life to its fullest. We can’t go back to the glory or the guilt of the past, but we can move forward. My guess is that you’d like some things to change in 2018. Much of what will happen will be beyond your control but there are some things you can control. While we all want a Happy New Year, what God wants is a Holy New You. Spiritual growth is intentional, not automatic.

We’re going to draw out some life lessons today from Ephesians 5.  In the first three chapters, Paul establishes the importance of doctrine and in the second half of the book the focus is on our duty to do what we know to be true. With that as a very brief explanation of the context, let’s look at our text.

Ephesians 5:15-17: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Three truths from these verses are that we should live wisely, leverage out time, and learn God’s will. Here’s the message of this in a sentence: Since our time on earth is limited, let’s make the most of the time we have left. The word “circumspectly” means to be skillful and to be on guard, to look very closely so as not to stumble. It has the idea of exactness, precision, and accuracy. Let’s face it. Too many of us are spiritual sluggards, living sloppy lives. Instead of fighting sin and staying on the right road, we take exit ramps all the time.

So many today are living for simply gaining more money and material possessions.  We live in such an affluent and media-saturated culture that I think we have forgotten what is really most important.

We are overwhelmed with information because of Google. We are overwhelmed with relationships because of Facebook.  We are overwhelmed with interruptions because of our phones. We are overwhelmed with videos because of YouTube. We are overwhelmed with music because of iTunes. We are overwhelmed with movies because of Netflix. Maybe in our society – the most important skill we can learn is deciding what to pay attention to.

We see this in verse 16: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” To “redeem” has the idea of buying up a bargain. The word used here means an “appointed time, a fixed or special occasion.”It refers to a period of opportunity that is open for a while and then closes. It’s not clock time, but kingdom time.

Since our time on earth is limited, let’s make the most of the time we have left.  Obviously, only God knows the number of days we have left, but we are called to live with a sense of a countdown according to Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” To number means to “weigh” or “measure” our moments so that we live them for God’s glory and for the good of others.

Billy Graham was once asked what he was most surprised by in life. He answered, “It’s brevity.” It’s too late to redeem the time that is past, but not the time that is passing. Friends, let’s not just ‘mark time,’ but use the time we have left to make a mark for the kingdom.

Here’s a principle. Every time you can do something good you should.  Time is a very precious possession and it’s very easy to lose it or to allow activities to steal it. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived and we will never have any time but the present.

Wishing you a blessed 2018.