The Bucket List

Sun, Aug 23, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:24 mins 22 secs

Message text

Ephesians 5: 15 – 21

Did you realize all the things we do with time?
We “MAKE” time,
and we TAKE time, for things that are important to us.
We “SAVE” time with all kinds of gadgets and doodads.
We “MARK” time,
we “KILL” time,
we “RACE AGAINST” time.
AND (someone noted) that the worst thing you can do with time, is “WASTE” time.

ILLUS: One little girl complained to her mother after her first WEEK at school “I’m wasting my time. I can’t read, I can’t write--and they won’t let me talk!”

In our text today Ephesians 5: 15 – 16 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

We may think that Paul was SIMPLY saying don’t waste your time. But it’s more than that. The Greek word Paul uses here is “exagorazo” which means to “REDEEM” the time. It’s the same word Paul used in Galatians 3:13 “Christ REDEEMED us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us...”

To REDEEM means - to purchase, to buy, to obtain by making a payment. Paul is telling us that our time is so crucial, so critical, that we must treat it like a valuable and precious commodity that MUST NOT be squandered and wasted.

We must redeem the time (he says) - but why?
What’s so critical about time that it must be redeemed?
Most of us would think the reason time is valuable because we only have so much of it. Sooner or later, we’re all gonna die. Now, if you’re blessed you may live 80 or 90 or100 years, but sooner or later your time is gonna run out. So don’t waste your time!!!
But that is not really what Paul says here. “Redeem the time... because the days are evil.”

ILLUS: What does that mean? Well, think about it this way.
Do you have a bucket list? A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.”

And what people have on their bucket list tells you a lot about their priorities. They want to go to Europe,
make a “Hole In One”, swim with dolphins, go deep sea fishing, meet a famous person or jump out of an airplane.

There’s all kinds of things you could put on your “bucket list” - and there’s nothing wrong with those things (except maybe jumping out of an airplane).

It’s a wish list, and God’s OK with that kind of thing. But He warns us not to be foolish. He warns us NOT to leave one thing OFF that list. What is that ONE THING we must not leave off our bucket list?

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:17
Everything else you put on your bucket list is just for fun, but this one – this “understanding the will of the Lord... this one is serious. We live in an Evil time, and the choices we make have eternal consequences. We live in a world of evil. All you have to do is watch the news, or spend some time on Social Media, and you KNOW things aren’t right!

It’s an evil world and since God has saved you and I.... he asks us to do something about it –
and that SOMETHING is for us to shine our light into this dark world. Ephesians 5:8 & 10 tells us “At one time you were darkness, but now you are LIGHT in the Lord. Walk as children of light... and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

Jesus said “You are the light of the world”. That means you and I are called to reflect HIS LIGHT into this dark world, and the only way we’re going to do that effectively is to UNDERSTAND what God’s will is.

So, how do we do that? How do we learn God’s will?
Well, you’d think the answer would be - read your Bible. Memorize huge passages of Scripture.
Meditate on God’s Word day and night.
And that is good stuff because that’s what God expects of us.

But the problem is, if that’s all you do (immerse yourself in Scripture) you could end up like the Pharisees. The Pharisees knew more of their Bible than most of us, but there was something missing in their lives. And so, in place of asking us to Memorize and Meditate... Paul writes this in Ephesians 5:18:
“... do not get drunk with wine, for that is sin, but be filled with the Spirit”

What? What’s he talking about here? Well, he’s saying that in order for us to fully understand God’s will, we must be totally controlled by God’s Spirit. And then he makes an odd comparison: “don’t get drunk on wine” he says. That seems illogical until you understand what he’s trying to say.

ILLUS: Have you ever seen someone who’s been drunk? How can you tell if they’re drunk if you’ve never seen them take a drink? Well, you can tell they’re drunk by how they walk, by how they talk, by how they think and by how they act.
Everything about their drunkenness is obvious by their behavior. They are FILLED with alcohol... and it controls them.

By contrast Paul says, don’t be filled with alcohol (don’t get drunk) but be FILLED with the Spirit. In other words, the Spirit should so fill you that it controls how you walk and talk and think and act. That is crucial for Christians - we need to be so filled with the Spirit of God that people know it when they see our behavior!
So, how do we get FILLED with the Holy Spirit?
Well, first we need to understand that we already have the Spirit inside of us. Acts 2:38 promises us "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Ephesians 1:14 tells us - God’s Spirit “is THE GUARANTEE of our inheritance.” You can’t be a Christian without God’s Spirit inside of you. So, first we need to realize we already have the Spirit inside of us.

But here in Ephesians it says we need to be “refilled” with Spirit. What’s that all about? Well, first let’s examine what Paul tells us to do, and then I’ll try to explain WHY this is so important.
First, Paul says that in order for us to be filled with God’s Spirit we need to... SING. We should be “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” Ephesians 5:19

One group that I particularly enjoyed listening to was a trendy folk group called “Simon and Garfunkel.” As I listened to their music more critically, I discovered that one of their songs went this way:
“I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain, it's laughter and it's loving I disdain... Hiding in my room, safe within my womb, I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock - I am an island.” (I Am A Rock).
It’s a Great song... but really depressing.
Another song declared: “Hello darkness my old friend .....
I’ve come to talk to you again!”

The Bible teaches us that music has a spiritual power over the Spirit world!
One of the greatest singers in the Bible was a little shepherd boy named David. The book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs (or Psalms) that the Jews sang, and David wrote half of them.
He was so good at singing that people began to pay attention long before David ever confronted Goliath.
In the meantime, King Saul (the King of Israel) had decided to stop listening to God, and run his kingdom his own way.

So, God withdrew His Spirit from him and the King became plagued with an evil Spirit. He plunged into depression, and that EVIL SPIRIT so tormented King Saul that (on the advice of one of his friends) he sent for David to sing for him. And we’re told in 1 Samuel 16:23 that “David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.”

Music has power over evil. And it has the power to bring peace to my heart and soul. So, when you’re depressed or struggling - find a song that glorifies God and sing it.

ILLUS: One song we could sing in most any situation in life is “This World Is Not My Home.”
“This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; The angels beckon me from heaven's open door. And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.”
The chorus “O Lord, you know I have no friend like you, if heaven's not my home, dear Lord what will I do? The angels beckon me from heaven's open door, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore.”
Now, it doesn’t matter if you can sing well and with much power. The point is: find a song that glorifies God... and sing it. Use the power of GOD’S music to lift your soul out of despair and sadness.

Secondly - Paul tells us, that in order to be filled with God’s Spirit, we need to be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” Ephesians 5:20
Now, quiz time: HOW OFTEN do should give thanks? (ALWAYS), and FOR WHAT should we give thanks? (EVERTHING). There’s a lot of people who have a hard time doing that.

ILLUS: Rudyard Kipling was a great writer and poet who made a lot of money for his writings. One time a newspaper reporter came up to him and said, “Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over a hundred dollars a word; Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, “Really, I certainly wasn’t aware of that.” The reporter cynically reached down into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred dollar bill and gave it to Kipling and said, “Here’s a hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now, you give me one of your hundred dollar words.” Mr. Kipling looked at that hundred dollar bill for a moment, took it, folded it up, and put it in his pocket and said, “Thanks.”
He’s right! The word ‘thanks’ is certainly more than a hundred dollar word. I would say it is more like a million dollar word. Thank you is one word that is too seldom heard, too rarely spoken, and too often forgotten. If we would all adopt an attitude of thanksgiving into our lives – our lives would be changed. We would cherish each day.
ILLUS: Studies have been done over the years where people have been asked to write down 10 things they’re thankful for and after an extended period of time the list is often still incomplete. Many people become so negative they struggle think of 10 things they’re thankful for. BUT, when given a tablet of paper and asked to write down things they were unhappy about, or disappointed with, or frustrated about, they could fill out an entire tablet of paper... and ask for another.

Why? Why are they so unhappy? Well, because most folks aren’t used to being thankful for what they have. For example, they don’t express thankfulness for the fact that they have 2 hands. Why should they? They’ve ALWAYS had those two hands.
And they’ve always had the ability to run and laugh and hear and see and sing. Why be grateful for those things?

By contrast, these folks tend to focus instead on what they DON’T HAVE.
They dwell on the wanting of a better job, or a better car, or a better spouse, or a better ... whatever. And that’s why they’re so depressed – there is ALWAYS going to be stuff that they don’t have, or that they can’t possess! So they end up being miserable/unhappy people.

Philippians 4:4-7 says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice... do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Learn to be grateful for what you have (and quit focusing on what you don’t have) and you’ll be so filled with God’s Spirit that it will change how you think and how you behave. And the world around you will notice.

Now, there is a 3rd item Paul mentions that we can do to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit, but we’re going to address that next week (you can read ahead... it will spoil the surprise, but go ahead and read it anyway).

CLOSE: But, I want to close by explaining WHY it’s so important to be “Filled” with Holy Spirit. We talked about HOW we could do that, but I promised to tell you why it was so critical to do that.
The Bible tells us that Spirit is a very powerful force. He teaches us, He comforts us, He helps us in our prayers when we don’t know what to say.

Romans 8:11 tells us that We have the same power living in us... that raised Jesus from the dead!!!! “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Being “filled with the Spirit” is all about laying hold of the full power of the Spirit God has given us. You see, in order for the Spirit to operate fully in our lives, we’ve got to make our hearts decent places for Him to reside.

ILLUS: For example, let’s say I invite you to come to my house. But when you come in the door, the first thing you see is my clothes scattered everywhere, the dishes are piled high in the sink and all over the counters.  I have cats all over the place... 3 or 4 of them... and I have not cleaned up after them for weeks. Now, how comfortable are you going to be? How willing will you be to spend time with me and share with me? Not very.

The same is true for having the Spirit FILLING our lives. If we don’t clean up our lives by filling our hearts with singing and praise and such, God’s Spirit is NOT going to feel real comfortable with you. But when we learn to sing songs about God’s glory, train our hearts to be grateful and filled with thanks THEN God’s Spirit can be COMFORTABLE inside us, and be able to work His POWER fully in our lives.
But that’s only if you’re a Christian. If you don’t belong to Jesus, His Spirit isn’t going to be inside you anyway. That’s why we need to respond to His free gift of salvation as Acts 2:38 tells us "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Sermon Contributor : David Dykes


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