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John part XXI

I don’t know about you, but as each day draws to an end…
I think about all of the things I had hoped to get done that did not get done…
And that mental list is something we take into the next day.
No matter how old or young you are…
No matter how rich or poor you might be…
the limitation of time is something we all understand.
We’ve heard every quote about time…
No matter what you may want to accomplish today…
No matter what you may want to experience today…
you only get 24 hours.
Tomorrow, you’ll only get 24 hours…
As a teenager, there were a few occasions when I didn’t get my homework done.
And, as if it were yesterday, I can remember heading for bed & hoping against all hope that Mom would forget to ask me 2 questions:
First question would be, Daryl, did you have any homework?
If I said yes, then question #2 was… did you get it done?
On those occasions where I had not done my homework…
without thinking, I would tell her that I hadn’t had enough time.
And as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew exactly what she was going to say next: “You have time for what you want in this life”.
Talk about a conversation killer!
What can you say to that? Of course, I knew she was right.
Of course there had been time for me to do my homework, but I spent that time doing what I wanted to do!
Time is a valuable commodity…
we cannot save it or exchange it or return it.
Since we have a limited amount of time…
I think we can all agree that each day we live is as precious gift…
We seem to forget this on a regular, if not daily basis…
So, how can we make the most of our time?
God’s Word gives us great insight into how we can best spend our time.
Last week, you might remember that up until the feeding of the 5,000, the crowds who followed Jesus were increasing with each miracle & each sermon & each town He would go through.
But, @ the end of chapter 6, Jesus started teaching some tough truths.
And now going forward in the book of John, Jesus’ crowds will decrease instead of increase.

Listen to…
John 6:66 “At this point many of His disciples turned away and deserted Him.” (NLT)
         And as we jump into chapter 7, Jesus’ brothers, His ½ brothers from Mary & Joseph, try to give Jesus some marketing advice.

John 7:3-4 “…and Jesus’ brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, where Your followers can see Your miracles! You can’t become famous if You hide like this! If You can do such wonderful things, show Yourself to the world!’” (NLT)

They tell Jesus that He needs to go to Judea because that’s where the disciples who had just left Jesus had gone.
In other words, “Hey Jesus, you’d better run after Your followers & get them to follow You again. You know, do a few miracles & we’ll get this thing rolling again.”
Can you picture this?
Jesus’ brothers are telling Jesus what He should do!
It’s not like a sibling to tell their brother or sister what to do, is it?
But seriously, isn’t this rich?
I was sharing this story with another volleyball Dad yesterday & he said, “Didn’t they know who they were talking to?”
Well, they should have because Jesus is God & He had just announced that He was God… & His brothers are telling God what to do…
         Now, why would they… tell God… what they thought He should do? Could it have been fear?
Were they afraid Jesus was going to lose everything they had built?
Were they afraid they were losing their status, their popularity as the crowds left?
Or did they tell Jesus what to do because they really thought they knew what was best?
         I’m just going to go out on a limb right now & say that there are times that we think we know more than God what is best for our lives.
Now, some of you are thinking… no way, God is God… He knows WAY more than I do.
But, I think we do this without even realizing it.
For example, there are times I do this when I’m working on a sermon or a bible study lesson.
I knew we were going to be in chapter 7 this week.
So, I eagerly jump into this passage & I start reading commentaries to try to figure out if I properly understand what I just read & I start writing some notes down & I contemplate how these verses intersect with our lives on a daily basis & I & I & I…
& I have to hit the brakes…
& I confess to the Lord that I’m running way ahead or way behind of Him…
& I say, “Lord, help me understand what this means. Help m
& I ask Him what He wants us to hear & how we can apply it…
Lord, You know who is going to be in church… You know what each of them needs… will You show me what that is? Will You give me the words? Will You prepare my heart for this message? Will You help me to live this message?
Having that kind of a prayer is a little bit different than just jumping in there & doing it yourself, isn’t it?
         Jesus’ brothers jump in there & start telling Jesus what they think is best…
Do we ever jump in there & get ahead of God?
As businessmen or women, we jump in there & figure out what direction to take the business because we know best…
As college students, we jump in there & figure out what career to pursue because we know best…
And as parents, we jump in there & figure out what discipline or guidance our kids need in almost every given situation because we know best…
And as single people, we jump in there & decide if we’re going to date & who we’re going to date & how we are going to date because we know best…
But we don’t always know what is best… do we?
God knows best… & He wants to give us His best…
We can see that we don’t know what is best from this story because Jesus’ brothers telling Him to go to Judea makes no sense at all…
yeah, Judea, the same place they told Jesus that they wanted to kill Him for healing the man by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath… nice call my brothers!
They might have forgotten that little detail, but I can assure you that Jesus did not.
You’ve got to love how Jesus responds to His siblings’ marketing plan…
John 7:6 “Jesus replied, ‘Now is not the right time for Me to go, but you can go anytime.” (NLT)
         Jesus knew that it was not His time yet to go there because He knew He would be crucified as soon as He went there.
Jesus continues:
John 7:7-8 “The world can’t hate you, but it does hate Me because I accuse it of doing evil. You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because My time has not yet come.” (NLT)
         The next verse, v.9 says that Jesus stayed in Galilee.
As you study the life of Jesus, one of the awesome things you’ll notice is that His entire life was on schedule… you ever notice that?
He was born @ just the right time…
He died @ just the right time…
And every part of His life in between those two dates was right on schedule…
So, Jesus says… I can’t go there because it’s not time yet.
Jesus wants to be in lock step with the Father’s plan for His life.
Think about when Jesus’ friend Lazarus was really sick & was deathly ill.
And Jesus gets word that hospice has been called in & it wouldn’t be long & if You want to see Your friend, you’d better get here now.
What did Jesus do?
He stayed right where He was a few days longer & by the time He arrived, His friend had died.
Mary & Martha thought that Jesus was way off schedule…
But Jesus was right on schedule…
Jesus told Lazarus to come out of the tomb…
Miracle of resurrection trumps the miracle of healing…BOOM!
Instead of healing Lazarus, Jesus brought Him back to life!
Jesus was right on time & that brought glory to the Father.
We would do well to remember that when we think God shows up later in our life.
You see, if we let God guide, He will provide.
In the book of John, Jesus tells us 5 different times that His hour has not yet come.
In the book of John, Jesus tells us 5 different times that His hour had come.
Jesus was always right on time.
May we always do what Jesus wants each day from us.
For dear ones, each day, we have just enough time to do God’s will.
And because Jesus was always on time, He didn’t get discouraged.
Even hours before He knew He would hang on the cross…
before He would suffer grief like the world has never known…
betrayal, scourging, rejection, turmoil, pain, agony & distress like no other…
for He was about to take on the sin of the entire world…
Jesus let the Father guide & provide…
John 12:27-28 “‘Now My soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, “Father, save Me from this hour”? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to Your Name.’” (NLT)
In the midst of His anguish, Jesus submits to the schedule of the Father.
Jesus was fulfilling the purpose for which He was sent…
Are we fulfilling the purpose for which we were sent?
You see, dear ones, as long as we have breath, we have a purpose to fulfill on this earth for our heavenly Father.
I think people get discouraged when they don’t feel their life has a purpose.
But, when you live according to God’s schedule, nothing can discourage you.
Even though Jesus knew what He was about to face during Holy Week, He didn’t get discouraged because He was knew it was what He had been called to do.
Because God is in control of the schedule when we let Him!
In the midst of His suffering, Jesus knew He would not be alone…
Hebrews 13:5,6 “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’” (NLT)
         Jesus didn’t have to be discouraged knowing that everyone would leave Him because He knew it was part of God’s plan… it was part of “The Schedule”… and He knew the Father was in control of The Schedule.
So many people have shared with me over the years how they would have never chosen God’s schedule at the time, but in hindsight, we have often been able to see what God was trying to accomplish.
When we try as much as we know how to follow God’s Word & live His way, we can’t be defeated because we’re obeying God.
Other people may not understand what God is up to…
You may not understand what God is up to…
But we have seen what God can do when we don’t know what He is up to.
Jesus kept to the schedule & He completed His mission.
Listen to part of His prayer to the Father in…
John 17:4 “I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do.” (NLT)
         You’re probably thinking, of course Jesus completed the work…
He’s Jesus!
Well, the Apostle Paul said the same thing @ the end of his life too…
II Timothy 4:6-7 “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (NLT)
         As I get older, because I’m not getting any younger, I think more & more about these verses because I want to be able to say these words with Paul.
When God gives us a schedule…
And we follow it faithfully…
We can come to the end of our days with a sense of fulfillment…
And we can say as Paul, the work You gave me to do is done…
         So, whose schedule are you going to keep?
The schedule others would have for you?
The schedule you would have for yourself?
Or the schedule the Lord would have for you?
         How do you do that?
You let God guide & He will provide
Start your day by giving it to Him…
Tell Him you’re not going to get ahead of Him or behind Him…
Tell Him your desire is to be in lock step with Him…
because you don’t want to miss His best for your life that day…
         But are we doing that?
We have a choice… God gives us a choice…
Submit your life to the schedule God has for you.
God made you to live for Him in the schedule He has set for you.
And if you want freedom, that’s where you will find it.
Mothers, you take care of things that seem so incidental on a daily basis, but they are such a part of God’s plan… & that glorifies God.
Men, you take care of things in a different way, but what you do is so vital to God’s plan for your family… kind of like my Uncle Art took care of things for his family in his unique way…

My Uncle Art died of a heart problem on April 1st, April fool’s day, while working out on a treadmill. As soon as we landed @ the airport in Orlando, Florida for a Spring Break Vacation, my Mom reluctantly shared the news that her brother, my Uncle, had passed. What a shock. As Mom & Dad drove us from the airport, I began to think about the memories I had of spending time with my Uncle Art.
He was intelligent, clever, witty in a very dry way, hard working & somewhat of a quiet & reserved man.
He worked for decades @ the Ford Plant in Flint.
Uncle Art & Aunt Esther had two children, a boy & a girl.
And I know that Uncle Art loved them dearly, but he rarely expressed his love verbally, nor was he physically affectionate. But, like many fathers, he showed his love by providing for them & caring for their every need.
When my cousin Emily was going through college, she had one year remaining to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher, but she was maxed out financially.
About this same time, my Uncle Art was gearing down & preparing for retirement.
And once you circle that date on the calendar, I think a lot of people start to really get ready for retirement… they start gearing down emotionally once they make that decision…
Well, Uncle Art knew about Emily’s situation & her dream of becoming a teacher & so he decided to work an extra year after he intended to retire just to pay for her last year of college.
And when my Mom reminded me of that story, I really thought about the sacrifice it took for him… all ready to retire… counting the days… gearing down just to gear back up again… working every day… not for himself… but for his daughter… every order he filled for her… every time he clocked in or out… for her… so that she could fulfill her dream to be a teacher.
I don’t think my Uncle Art had one regret about doing that for Emily.
It was part of God’s plan for Emily… & for Uncle Art… on schedule…
May we, at the end of every day, be able to say, Lord, this was Your day.
Today, I lived life on your schedule.
And I didn’t do some of the things people wanted me to do…
I didn’t even do some of the things I wanted to do…
But, Lord, I did some of the things You wanted me to do & it feels
good.
That can happen when we let God guide & provide.
Moses prayed in Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
If we could see God as He is, we would give Him the reverence He is due.
If we could see God as He is, we would be more careful with the time we have been allotted… this gift of limited time we have been given.
And we would trust Him with it… we wouldn’t get ahead of Him…
But we don’t think like this.
It is good to pause & think about how brief life is.
When we think about the brevity of life, it will indirectly & eventually directly impact what you decide to do with your time.
“Teach us to number our days.”
What Moses is praying is, Lord, teach us to live as if our days are numbered.
We live as if we are going to live forever…
We spend our time as if we are always going to have our spouse or our kids or our parents…
We spend our time as if we are always going to have our job…
We know its not, but how we schedule as if our days are not numbered.
Moses says ‘teach us to live as if our days are numbered’ & then Moses gives us the result… ‘so that we might gain a heart of wisdom’.
Teach us to live as if our days are numbered because if we live as if our days are numbered we will gain wisdom as to how we use our day & what we should put in & what we should leave out & what our priorities should be.
Andy Stanley says: “If you live as if your days are not numbered, you will fill your days with things you wished you had not filled your days with. But when you number your days, you gain wisdom…”
Where do we get wisdom? From God.
Because He knows better than we do about life…
So when let Him guide our day, He provides the wisdom for us to know, dude, I can’t spend my time doing that…
Or, I need to spend more time doing this…
Remembering our time is limited provides us with wisdom to know how to spend our limited time through His eyes.
Why?
Because your heavenly Father knows the pressures you have at work…
Because your heavenly Father knows that you’re single & you want to get married…
Because your heavenly Father knows you want your kids to have every opportunity to maximize their potential for Him…
What would happen if we woke up every single morning & said, “I know what my limits are… there’s a lot that’s not going to get done…
& I’m going to trust you with what should get done & what doesn’t have to get done today… because I know that You, O Lord, know what I need.”
That’s letting God guide, so He can provide what we need.
That is exactly what Your heavenly Father is inviting you into.
And then, you will have less stress… and then you will be able to exhale…
And while trying to get the most out of each day, you will not lose control of your life.
And you will not trade your peace for progress or prosperity…
That’s letting God guide, so He can provide what we need.
That is exactly what Your heavenly Father is inviting you into.
And He has already promised to provide when we let Him guide…
Jesus said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
The only question is, will you accept His invitation for you to give Him your day… every day… & trust that He will lead you & guide you…
& provide what you need to live for Him… follow Him… & point others to Him…
Let God guide your schedule… your day… & He will provide!

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