Don't Waste Your Time
An elderly pastor was watching his fourteen month old grandson stumble around the church building after service one Sunday. He marvelled as the boy dodged legs and purses and occassionally grabbed a pant leg to keep his balance. Another older man approached the pastor and said of the grandson, "Isn't is sad that your grandson has to grow up during these times. American is such a different place. I feel sorry for the boy." The elderly pastor straigtened and looked the man square in the eye. "I don't feel sorry for him," he said, "for this is his time. This is the time in which God has appointed him to live. This is his time."
I had the privilege to to preach to the graduating class of Atlanta High School at their recent baccalaureate, and I chose to preach from Paul's sermon on Mars Hill. During that sermon, Paul confirms what the elderly pastor believed about his grandson: "and He made from one man every nation of makind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him" (Acts 17:226-27).
My charge to the students, and to all who were present, was simple and direct, "This is Your Time. Don't Waste it." God has appointed that you should live during one of the strangest periods in world history. A time when the most powerful nations were brought to a complete standstill by an invisible enemy known as COVID-19. A time when racial tensions are extremely high. A time when definitions of marriage, family, and gender are being radically challenged and redifined. A time when the Western world has witnessed the first under-ground church. It is a strange time indeed, but God in His wisdom has placed each of us here and the worst thing that could happen is that we waste the time He has given us.
Paul's interraction with the people in Athens provides us with four realities that can help us flourish in this life for the glory of God.
KNOW YOUR TIMES (Acts 17:16-21)
Paul's sermon takes place in the ancient city of Athens. Athens was considered by many to be the centerpiece of culture and intellectualism. The city was known for its art, philosophy, and religion. It was home to numerous idols and the temple of the goddess Athena. It was also home to many philosophers, like the Epicureans and the Stoics, who loved to get together and share new philosophies on life.
We are not so different from Athens. America is viewed by many around the world as the hub of culture and intellectualism. Our cities are full of churches, temples, and synogogues devoted to many different gods, and of course the most religious folks try to include them all. We have many philosophers who are more or less decendants of the Epicureans and the Stoics, who although they have their own unique views of god and truth, they share a common philosophy of gaining as much pleasure as you can during your brief stay on earth because this life is all you have. You need to be aware of your times or you will be deceived by corrupt philosophies and false religion.
GOD IS LIVING AND RULING HIS CREATION (Acts 17:22-29)
Some people say, "There is no God!" Others with a livelier view say, "There is a "higher power", but this being is indifferent to our lives." Then their is the apostle Paul who says, "God made the world and all things in it and He is actively sustaining it."
Our world is bombarding us with the philosophy that God either doesn't exist or doesn't care. This always leads to loneliness, anxiety, and despair. However, when we submit to the reality that God is living and ruling we are able to remain stable through the different seasons of life knowing that God is actually "holding all things together" (Col. 1:17)
YOUR LIFE IS IN HIS HANDS (Acts 17:28)
God gave you your start in life and He is sustaining your life. You may be on top of the world today, but tomorrow you may receive the worst news you ever imagined. Contentment and sanity comes from knowing that whatever each day brings, you are in God's hands, and that is the safest place to be. Only when you submit to God's sustaining rule in your life will you realize the "peace of God, which urpasses all comprehension" (Phil. 4:7).
GOD IS COMMANDING REPENTANCE (Acts 17:30-31)
"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent" (Acts 17:30). This is not an invitation. It is, as R.C. Sproul pointed out, a "divine subpeona." God is commanding that every person bow before Jesus Christ as Lord and King.
Why is God commanding repentace? "He has fixed a day in whch He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). There is a coming judgment day. God has marked it on the calendar, and on that day He will judge all people everywhere with a righteous judgment through the Man He has appointed. Who is the appointed judge? Jesus Christ whom God raised from the dead!
Will you swear allegiance to Jesus Christ? You're response to this question will determine where you live, what career you take, who you marry, how you invest your money, and where you spend eternity. God has sent His only begotten Son into the world to redeem you from your sins through His death on the cross. Repent by trusting Him as Lord and you will be saved, you will spend eternity in heaven with Him. God will not tolerate anyone who treats Jesus casaully, but He will extend mercy to all who bend their knees in repentance and faith in Jesus.
HOW CAN YOU USE THIS SERMON REVIEW THIS WEEK?
1. If you are battling anxiety and fear, read this passage and comtemplate the reality that God is sustaining your life.
2. If you are a parent, talk to you children about repentance and faith in Jesus.
3. Examine your personal philosophy of life. Are you holding on to any non-biblical views?
4. Tell someone you encounter about how to escape the coming Judgment Day.