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TEXT: Ephesians 5:15-16

SUBJECT: Baxter on Redeeming the Time #3

Tonight, with God's grace, we'll carry on in our study of Richard Baxter on Redeeming the Time. Last week, I heard a sermon that used many terms and named many names without explaining any of them. I won't be guilty of that tonight!

Richard Baxter was an English Puritan pastor and author; he lived from 1619 to 1691. When it comes to practical living for Christ, nobody outside of the Bible wrote more or better than he did.

Redeeming the time means to put it to good use. Not in sin or idle pursuits, but in serving God from the heart. The Perfect Example for us is Jesus Christ, Who

"Always did those things which pleased the Father".

You and I are not going to do that. Even if your heart flames for God and you focus all your attention on serving Him, you'll waste plenty of time. This is not about perfection; it's about improvement. It's about

"Growing in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ".

Do you want to do that? When it comes to time, do you want to devote it more fully to God's glory? If you do, Richard Baxter can help you. The Puritans were called many things, but nobody ever called them "lazy". They redeemed their time; now it's your turn to redeem yours.

REMEMBER THAT, IN WASTING YOUR TIME, YOU'RE ALSO WASTING GOD'S MERCIES.

The Lord's mercies are eternal. He loved us before He made the world; He'll love us long after it "melts with fervent heat". The Psalmist celebrates His unchanging grace,

"The mercies of the LORD are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him".

But even though God's mercies are eternal, they come to us in time. We are justified at a point in time; we grow in grace over time; our prayers are answered in time. God's grace is not bound by time, but our reception of it is.

That means: When you waste time, you lose the mercies you would have had if you'd spent the time well. For example, if I pray from 11:00 to 11:30 tonight, I'll receive a blessing from that half hour. If I spend the same thirty minutes watching the news, I'll receive less of a blessing. If I spend the time gossiping, I'll get even less from God.

Thus: If you want very little from God, waste as much time as possible. For wasted time is another word for lost mercy.

Baxter puts it this way,

"Consider that, in your loss of time, you lose all the mercies of that time. For time is full of great mercies. It is the cabinet that contains the jewels. If you throw away the purse, you throw away the money that is in it.

Oh! What you might get in those precious hours, which you throw away! You might be soliciting God for life eternal. You might be using and Increasing grace. You might be viewing by Faith the heaven and heavenly fellowship you will enjoy forever. All this-and more- You are losing while you are losing time".

He uses a good illustration here: What would you think of a man who wanted money, but threw away the purse in which the money was found! You'd think he was a fool! If he wants the money, take the purse where the money is! In this life, the mercies of God come to us in time! Hold on to the time and you'll have the grace that is in it.

If you want to use your time better, remember that wasting time is also throwing away the mercies of God that are in it. That's Number One.

REMEMBER WHERE TIME COMES FROM AND WHAT IT'S FOR.

God created time and gives some of it to you as a gift. What does He want you to do with it? He wants you to spend it well. Spending it well means using it for Him and His glory.

There's a parable in the New Testament that makes the point rather uncomfortably to me. It's about a king who goes abroad to take possession of another kingdom. Before he leaves, he gives his money to three servants who are to "occupy till [he] comes". The first two men invest his money wisely and have double the amount when he gets home.

The third man, however, took his money, wrapped it in a napkin, and buried it. When the king came home, the man had the same money he'd been given. The king is none too happy! He's not satisfied that the man didn't gamble it all away! He wanted him to improve on the money he was given.

That's what the Lord wants us to do. Of course He doesn't want us to spend our time in gross sins. But that's not all He wants. He wants us to use our time to maximize His glory.

Time is a gift of God.but not only a gift. It's also a stewardship or a responsibility. Methuselah was obliged to spend 969 years glorifying God. You and I aren't. But we are required to use the time we have-90 years for some; 30 for others; maybe 12 years for some others. Time is God's gift to you, but not for you. It's for Him.

Baxter said,

"Consider soberly the end for which your life and time are given you by God. God has not made you for nothing; He never gave you an hour's time for nothing. Do you think that your time is given to you in vain? When you're idling or playing it away, do you think you are wisely answering the end for which it was given? He redeemed us and preserves us that we might `Serve Him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives'".

If you want to use your time better, just remember where it comes from and what it's for: It's from God and for God. That's Number Two.

THINK OF HOW THE HOLIEST PEOPLE-ESPECIALLY THE LORD-USED THEIR TIME.

This one speaks for itself. Let me cite a few examples. We have John the Baptist. Except for the Lord, who did more than this dear man? By God's grace, he "Prepared the way of the Lord" and "Turned the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers". Do you know how long it took him to do it? Less than a year! He was "a burning and shining light"-burning himself up in the service of God.

Another example is Paul. He was a sick man with many other handicaps. Yet he described himself, "In labors more abundant and in stripes without number". Largely through his efforts the Gospel reached the whole known world in one generation!

If you go into later Church History, you'll find that the great men and women had many difference-in personality, in calling, in ability, in visible fruit, and so on. But on one point they all agreed: They kept busy! It shames me to think of how much David Brainerd or Robert Murray M'Cheyne did in their lives-though neither one lived to see thirty!

As he lay dying with emphysema, John Calvin was told to take it easy. He'd done the work of 100 men already; at least he could rest on his death bed. But Calvin shot back: "Do you want my Master to come and find me idle?"

What was partly true of John and Paul and the others was fully true of Jesus Christ. He was never hysterically busy; never running around like a chicken with its head cut off, yet He was always

"About His Father's business".

Though He could not die until God was finished with Him, yet He felt a sense of urgency, a spur to His work,

"I must work the work of Him who sent me while it is called Day. Behold, the night is coming when no man can work".

These examples are not in the Bible and Church History for nothing. God put them there so that we would imitate them. Philippians 3:17 says to

"Note those who so walk, as you have them for examples".

If you want to put your time to better use, think of how holy men-especially the Lord-used their time. And "Go and do likewise".

Here's the quote,

"Think seriously how Christ, the Apostles, and the holiest saints in all ages spent their time. They spent it in praying, preaching, and holy conversation; in doing good.not in cards or dice or dancing or stage plays or in pursuing the profits and honors of the world. If Christ and His holiest servants spent their time in works of holiness and obedience, have you not a greater need to do so than they? Have you not more need to pray, and learn God's word, and prepare for death than Christ?"

That last word is a sharp one! If Jesus Christ needs to pray and to read the Bible, how much more do I?

That's Number Three

REMEMBER THE DEVIL NEVER WASTES TIME.

Think of two men in a footrace. One is busting it from the starting gun all the way to the finish line. The other is sprinting at times, jogging once-in-a-while, and sitting down when he pleases. Which man is more likely to win the race? The one who's going all out.

The devil is going all out against you. If you waste half your time, how are you going to beat him? Peter, James, and John-I guess-thought they were so holy that they could sleep when they ought to be praying. They were in for a rude awakening! That night-the night they spent snoozing in self-confidence, they quit the Lord, Peter denying Him with an oath!

If Satan is busy against you, you'd better be busy against him. In other words, you'd better Redeem the time.

Baxter says,

"The Enemy will not make a truce as long as you sit still. Lose no time, therefore, and allow for no interruptions of your work until you can persuade the devil to do the same".

You can goof off when Satan lays off. But until he becomes lazy, you'd better stay active. That's Number Four.

THINK OF HOW PRECIOUS TIME IS TO THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE ANY MORE.

Not everyone has time to repent of his sins and to believe in Jesus Christ. What do you think those in hell would give for five more minutes of life? Quite a lot, I suppose. Well, you have the five minutes they don't have. Why don't you spend it as they would-if they had the time.

"Do not forget how time is esteemed by the damned whose time and hope are gone forever. Would they sleep through it or be at their games if God were offering them Christ and grace? Don't you think they set a higher price on time than sinners on the earth do? Doesn't it tear at their hearts forever to think how foolishly they used their time? Do those in hell think them wise who are now idling or playing away their time on earth?"

The implied answer is "no they don't". People in hell know how stupid and dangerous it is to waste time on earth. If only we knew as much as they do. How differently we would live; how much more actively and consciously we would Redeem the time.

I pray their loss would be our gain. You have every reason to redeem the time. And no reason to waste it. Now, let's move on from hearing the Word (or preaching the Word even) to doing it.

The Love of God be with you all. For Christ's sake. Amen.

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