I preached this last week-- Our Sr. Pastor became ill with the stomach flu, so I was able to step in and preach in this sermon series. Thankfully he is much better now!
Sermon Series “The Me I Want to Be”
Week 3 “Redeeming My Time”
January 23, 2010
Rev. Elizabeth S. Anderson
Ephesians 5: 15-20
“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. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I love Ephesians- because it is filled with practicality. Paul is not just sharing some nice, pat answers, this is not just a good idea—this how you should live—this is about a practical divinity in your life—this isn’t theology for the sake of heady theology- this is about right living- allowing God’s word and God’s presence to make a difference in your life—its about living into the me God wants you to be—the very best me you can be….
The Greek word used here for redeem is “ex-a-gor-ATZ-o" (I wrote it this way to help me say it better!)
Ex-a-gor- ATZ- o is a marketplace term. When you redeem someone from slavery, as Christ redeemed us, you are purchasing them – purchasing them out of their slavery. You are paying the price to take them out of a bad situation.
We are to take back- time—take it-- out of the hands of the evil days.
The word for time being used here is karios, which means time- but not just any time kind of
time. Karios isn’t about minutes and seconds and wristwatches and sundials (that would be
chronos.) It’s not about the flow of time or a specific measurement of time—rather kairos is about being in the flow of the Spirit --- a right time- an opportune time- pre-determined time.
It’s about being in- aware, open, intentional, to God’s presence in time.
Karios is a time prepared for, directed by, and appointed for you by God.
Redeeming the time, you are purchasing out of slavery the fleeting opportunities that you are
presented with. In other words, you “make the most of every opportunity” or “make the most of
But as I read through this text, I couldn’t help but wonder—why didn’t Paul say, utilize your time, or seize the day!—why was it this imagery of purchasing from slavery?
The why is found in the because – “the days are evil.” Paul looked around and saw evil times—Impurity, covetousness, idolatry—we look around and see this too- we see resentment, anxiety, greed, superiority - we see horror, we feel shame, we experience insatiable desires… The days, the time is not evil- rather it is all that seeks to steal time and turn it into anything other than God’s glory.
Picture a tug-of-war where opportunity (kairos) is in the middle, and we’re pulling one way while the evil of the days are pulling the other way.
But you see—That’s not what’s happening here.
Opportunity to make the most of your time- Karios- is not in the middle. It is not the in neutral ground – it’s in hostile territory.
Because of the evil in these days, the opportunities we have to do good and to bring glory to God are already on auto-pilot and on a course to be swallowed up by busyness and our worldly mindsets.
So pervasive is this evil that our opportunities to do good (our kairos) are slipping away—they will be consumed by darkness unless we act.
Can you sense the urgency here?
A rescue needs to take place—it’s us—our time—it needs to be rescued – to be redeemed.
We can “go with the flow” of busy culture and time- chronos- or we can “be in the flow of the Holy Spirit.”
What is the evil of your days?
Where and what does your time need to be redeemed from?
Maybe you heard the news this week that DC traffic has won the award as being the worst in the nation. Perhaps you have not attempted to total the number of hours wasted/ lost in traffic, but the Texas Transportation Institute has, and the number isn't pretty. According to a recent study, people in the Washington area spend 70 hours a year sitting in traffic -- that's nearly three days!
Perhaps you have purchased time saving devices- as an attempt to redeem your time. And yet,
our smart phones sometimes seem to chain us to more work and give us less time with the ones we love.
OUR TEXT “Be very careful then, how you live---See then that you walk circumspectly (exactly, with accuracy and awareness), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time---making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Walk intentionally—live in the flow of the Spirit—for “When the Spirit flows in you, you are giving power to become the you God designed.”
Paul says, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord
How do we do what Paul has exhorted us to do?
We understand the will of the Lord through prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul tells us about time and prayer-- we are to, “Prayer without ceasing.”
Whenever most of us hear that- what do we think?
Impossible, how, etc…
—we always feel guilty…
When someone says, “How is your prayer life?” How do you know? How do you answer?
How to you measure the effectiveness Prayer?
Is it how long you pray- how often- how many hours- how many answered prayers?
You know, if you believe in God, you have already begun to pray—because believing in God means believing he is always present, always listening to what you say. If you even think that there is a God- if you even breathe a hope of “Help me” or “I’m scared” or “I need to know I’m not alone” you are praying—and you already know God is with you.
That’s faith. It is believing and knowing. It is assurance.
Prayer isn’t about measured time and statistics, rather “the goal of prayer is to live all of my life and speak all of my words in the joyful awareness and presence of God.”
In the flow of redeemed karios time – God opportune time-- we have a constant understanding of
the constancy of God’s presence.
This is what Paul means when he wants us to “to be filled with the Spirit speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 15: 18-19). That’s how we are to act—and speak- and live.
So why aren’t we in this flow of prayer? Why are we not always aware of the presence of God?
If our time needs to be redeemed, it means that somehow we are pulled out of the flow of the Spirit…by something else.
Have you ever been fishing?
I used to sit on bridge down the hill from our farm and fish with my Dad.
If you want to fish= you have to think like a fish. To a fish- life is all about the maximum gratification of appetite at the minimum expenditure of energy—so, to a fish, life is “see a fly, want a fly, eat a fly.”
A fish only thinks about what he want wants in that moment. The fly… The fly—pulls the fish in that moment to focus on nothing else but the fly—who notices the hook? Nope- fish sees fly- fish goes after fly—oops- there was a hook…
What are we tempted to do- what are we tempted to go after in this moment are the next? We stray from a flow of listening in and being in the flow of the Spirit and we chose the flow we want- whatever will quench our current desire.
“Temptation seems to promise us that we can be free if we only give in to our appetites—“see a fly, want a fly, eat a fly” Temptation promises freedom, but it makes us a slave. There’s always a hook. Real freedom is not the external freedom to gratify every appetite, it is the internal freedom not to be enslaved by our appetite.”
Our soul seeks satisfaction—that is what we were made for “soul satisfaction.” If we do not find soul satisfaction in God, we will look for it somewhere else… because we will look for it…
And we’ll cling to it and let our lives get wrapped in it…. but it will not last and it will rob us and enslave us.
Augustine of Hippo wrote in the 4th century, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in thee.”(UMH 423) This is what Paul is speaking about when he says in our text that we should be “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Later, a Christian Missionary in India by the name of Sundar Singh wrote, “In comparison with this big world, the human heart is only a small thing. Though the world is so large, it is utterly unable to satisfy this tiny heart.
The ever-growing soul and its capacity can be satisfied only in the infinite God. As water is restless until it reaches its level, so the soul has not peace until it rests in God.” (UMH 423)
There is a reason, the Devil is often called Tempter—tempting you, luring you to think you’vefound the cure, a false sense of peace, the end all and be all to what you want. But the devil isalso called the Accuser- because once you’ve given in—once you’ve swallowed that hook-- he’lltry to convince you that you’re too far gone—that you’re beyond redemption.
Yet this is never the case.
Recognize Your Primary Flow-Blocker
What is keeping you from knowing that?
What’s blocking us from experiencing life in the flow of the Spirit? Greek mythology….and of course comic books have taught us about the nemesis—that person who is your mortal enemy. Your nemesis is like you in almost every way, except that he is the ruined version of you. You are your own nemesis, your own biggest problem, because there is a relationship between the best version of you and the worst version of you.
What they have in common is that both of them are you.
For example- someone who is spontaneous is great at going with the flow and adapt—but they may also be prone to struggle with impulse control, gambling, addition, etc.
When we recognize what is blocking us from being in the flow of the Spirit, we can redeem our time and live in the karios time God has designed for us.
Jumping back in the flow
Psalm 90 says, Lord, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Teach us to number the days—teach us accountability, awareness, - teach us to
listen – and be wise—to hear and take action!
We are to examine our soul and examine our days.
How is it with your soul?
I want you to turn to your neighbor and ask them--
How is with your soul?
What do you feel like saying?
It’s really hard isn’t it..
You may think… “I’m good—let’s move on…”
But its worth doing- We cannot do it alone--- “Trying to tell the truth about myself- is like trying to see the inside of my own eyeballs.”
“Who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults,” the psalmists asks of God in Psalm 19. We cannot always see it for ourselves.
Late, in the middle of the night there was a loud beeping sound, John’s wife elbowed him in the ribs and said, “What’s that sound?” He played dumb at first and did not acknowledge it—“What sound?” But he had to say it so loudly to speak over the thundering beeping. So he gets up and checks it out and comes back to bed. She asks, “What was it?” “The smoke detector,” he says. “Why did it stop?” “I took out the battery,” he says. //They had a discussion about this and he said, “Look there’s no smoke, there’s no heat—it was just a battery malfunction….go back to bed.” The next day he left early to go to a breakfast meeting and about a half-hour into his meeting- the server asked if he was John Ortberg—yes he said== “Your wife called, she’s asked that you come home. She said the house is on fire.”
It turned out that a few delinquent birds had settled in and built a nest inside the chimney casing.
It eventually began smoldering and set off that strange loud beeping noise they had heard the night before.
Because nothing was done—a fire started behind the wall and did unbelievable damage.
You see, we need help to examine and determine the loud beeping in our lives.
We need detectors in and around us.
We need mutual accountability, we need to give ourselves permission to be honest with ourselves, and we need to allow the Spirit to examine us and listen to what we hear.
In the new movie “Tron”, Jeff Bridges character often says, “I’m going to go knock on the sky and listen to the sound.”
Sometimes we knock and then put in the ear plugs.
Or we’ll talk really loud and say, “What sound? What beeping?”
When you become convinced and convicted of the loud beeping sound –when you listen and are ready to do something about it- know that you can be redeemed!
Life can be different---things can change.
You’ve heard the beeping- you know where the sin is- you
know what is wrong—the way to experience the redemption comes through repentance.
Some people think repentance means beating themselves up—Repentance is not low self-esteem.
Low self-esteem causes me to believe that my response doesn’t even matter.
With repentance, though, I understand that being worth so much to God is why my response is so important.
You’re worth so much to God- God created you, made you, God has redeemed
you- purchased you at a great price- brought you and bought you from sin.
The evil in this world—the days that are evil as Paul has said--- the days seek tempt you, pull you, block you from experiencing time as God desires--- they tell you that you don’t matter, that you can’t change, that your time is wasted and gone—but Christ says otherwise.
Christ says that change is possible, that redemption is real- that all the
chains that bind us,
all the debts that frighten us,
all the shame that hides us
—can and will be wiped away.
There is a you, God is wanting to claim!
This is the time God has appointed for you—a time such as this—a kairos time-- a time of living, being, breathing in God space-God time- God created opportunities for you.
The time is here for you to claim, to redeem, to take back – out of enslavement –release yourself from all that tempts you and experience true freedom— buy back every possible moment out of the hands of sin, and cast out all that blocks you from God.
Christ says no longer will you be enslaved by the evil days—Redeem this time—- Rescue your time—Do not be hooked by temptation—and swallowed by sin-- stay awake, be aware, Redeem your days from evil and flourish in the flow of the Holy Spirit!
Thanks be to God! Amen.
For Some reason- footnotes didn't copy throughout sermon...but here they are for the sake transparency:
Greek and Translation Here: http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/NTpdf/eph5.pdf
Loren Pinilis- Great article
Posted by Loren Pinilis on December 17, 2010 Posted in: Foundational
Orbert lists these as R.A.G.S. (resentment, anxiety, greet, superiority) on page 161 and gives a helpful checklist
Ortberg – 40
In Ortberg’s “Part Four “Redeeming my Time” he lists four chapters, the first being Chapter 11 “Let your Talking Flow into Praying”
In Ortberg’s “Part Four “Redeeming my Time” he lists four chapters, the second being Chapter 12 “Temptation: How Not to Get Hooked”
In Ortberg’s “Part Four “Redeeming my Time” he lists four chapters, the third being Chapter 13 “Recognize Your Primary Flow-Blocker”
In Ortberg’s “Part Four “Redeeming my Time” he lists four chapters, the fourth being Chapter 14 “When you Find Yourself Out of the Flow, Jump Back In”