During our last lesson, I deviated from my prepared notes and ventured onto the subject of punctuality and its importance especially with regard to the body of Christ, that is the church.
Of course this subject is a life subject, for in all of life being punctual is a characteristic which will aid in bringing success in any venture.
A man named Charles Simmons said this, "Promptitude is not only a duty, but is also a part of good manners; it is favorable to fortune, reputation, influence, and usefulness; a little attention and energy will form the habit, so as to make it easy and delightful."
Another man, Samuel Smiles said, Lost wealth may be replaced by industry,
lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is
There are many reasons for being prompt but the best reason is that it is the right thing to do because it is the honest thing to do.
Now last weekís teaching on this subject was extemporaneous and brief but its mention and prayer thereafter caused me to consider going a bit deeper into this subject.
So today I will expand on the subject of punctuality for I think all of us require at times an awakening to the need to be punctual, whether it be in church, at work, appointments or any venture where times are set.
Punctual is another word that is disappearing from our culture because it is connected with personal responsibility.
This is not the age of personal responsibility but instead we find ourselves immersed in the age of personal rights.
Punctuality is being on time; it is a sensitivity to timeliness.
Punctuality is very closely related to dependability and responsibility.
It is related to the stewardship of our time and other resources.
It is also related to our love for others, for lack of it can show disrespect and cause frustration, confusion and interruption of fellowship.
To be on time is to keep your word and proves that you can be trusted and regarded as a reliable person.
It shows that you respect the people that you're meeting, and that you care as much about their time as your own.
In other words, it demonstrates that youíre not a selfish person who thinks
he is more important than everyone else, and that everyone else ought to wait
around for him.
When you entered this building this morning you were given a church bulletin.
It is full of information about events where start times are listed.
9:45 Sunday School, 11:00 Morning Worship, 5:30 Prayer Gatherings, 6:00 Evening Service. 7:00 Wednesday night service.
Only start times are given and therefore it is assumed that start times are important.
Those times, along with other times in your life, are given as corner posts of life.
Morning Worship is promised to start at 11:00 and that promise ought to be honored by being present and accounted for by 11:00.
Those who conduct the service are as responsible to honor the starting time as those who attend the service.
Those times are like a contract.
Those who serve do their part and those who are served do their part.
The most indispensable qualification of a cook is punctuality.
The same must be said of guests.
In the grand houses of the past the kitchen staff who prepared the meal expected those who were to eat the meal to be there at the appointed time, for the meal is only perfect at one time.
Too soon, not done, too late, cold!
For one to labor for a full day in preparation of a grand meal and to have those who will eat the meal come late, is a great disappointment and borders on insult.
God in His word makes it clear that He desires His children to let all things be done decently and in order.
This directive is of course time oriented.
Let all things be done in order is related to time.
Time is to be used efficiently and without waste.
We are told in the epistle to the Ephesians to redeem the time, because the days are evil,
This word redeem means to rescue from loss.
It means use your time so that a profit will come instead of waste.
In other words donít waste the time God gives you and donít participate in wasting the time of others.
Of course none of us are perfect in punctuality and we all will have an occasional lateness due to unforeseen circumstances.
But what does the habitual practice of being late reveal?
Is it a lack of concern regarding faithful service to the Lord?
Is it a yielding to the pull of culture and its "whatever" mentality?
Let this "whatever" mindset have its way and it will have an adverse effect on the spiritual growth and health of the church body.
Seeing how rapid things are changing these days I wouldnít be surprised if one day I saw a church named the Living Church of the Whatever!
Many churches these days have a traditional service and another one described as casual.
Isnít it inevitable that this pattern will lead them to the Church of the Whatever?
Now we have heard on many occasions that God is never in a hurry but is always on time.
Think upon this statement.
Never being in a hurry.
Were you in a hurry this morning?
Are you habitually in a hurry?
Are you always in a rush to meet a schedule or appointment?
Are you a child of God and if so have you been made in the image of God?
You certainly have been created in Godís image and as one born into the family of God you are being conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.
If this is true doesnít it seems we ought not to habitually be in a hurry for our Father nor His Son are never in a hurry.
Why is this? Well being in a hurry is connected to being on time.
It seems clear that being in a hurry interferes with punctuality and promotes tardiness.
Isnít it true that those who are habitually in a hurry are usually those who are habitually late?
You would think it the other way around but I think it is true.
So following in the pattern of our Father who is never in a hurry but always on time we should strive to plan our use of time to never be in a hurry.
And this will be a lot easier if we remember to whom we are responsible.
Remember Colossians 3:23,24, which tells us this: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Think about this: If Jesus Christ were preaching in church today wouldnít we all strive to be in our seats with plenty of time to spare?
Certainly we would, but we are to remember that those who do preach to us, are they not preaching in the name of Christ?
Are they not servants of the Most High?
Should not honor be given to those due, those who preach Godís word, those who serve the Lord Christ?
They are to serve heartily as to the Lord and not unto men.
And you and I in whatsoever we do are also to do it heartily as if we were personally serving our Lord.
What does it mean whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord?
It means to do as if God were watching - because He is.
Isnít that verse in Genesis 16 that says "Thou God seest me! still true?
So as His children we are to understand that every deed, whether small or great is done for Him and in His name.
Taking on the name "Christian" means that Christís reputation is at stake when you show up at work fifteen minutes late or leave ten minutes early or have a reputation of being known as a habitual latecomer.
Regardless of being right or wrong people draw conclusions about your Savior from the way you do your work each day.
We unfortunately live in the age of "whatever."
This is the age of the casual.
This is the age where many people think punctuality is old fashioned.
This is the age of donít sweat the small stuff.
But for the Christian is there any such thing as small stuff?
Details matter, deadlines count, promises must be kept, assignments must be completed, orders must be filled, records kept, and bills paid.
Jesus Christ at the young age of twelve knew this, for remember he told his parents who were upset about his absence, I must be about my Fatherís business. At 12 years old!
Jesus knew that the blind man, Bartimaeus, would be at a certain place along the highway outside of Jericho on a particular day at a particular time.
Jesus had an appointment with this man and Jesus kept that appointment without the aid of a modern vehicle, without cell phones or email.
Jesus always kept his appointments even the appointment with the cross.
He is the perfect picture of a man who was never in a hurry, yet never late.
He was totally committed to doing his Fatherís will and he moved with purpose from one place to another, always in place to do His Fatherís will.
So it seems one of the absolutes to do Godís will is to be in the right place at the right time.
As Ephesians 5:15-17 tells us to look carefully at your walk.
Do you have habits that guarantee tardiness?
Simple changes in habits like committing to be at appointments 10 or 15 minutes early will make earthshaking improvements in your life.
The English Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson said "I owe all my success in life to having been always a quarter of an hour before my time."
Having this kind of habit may even save your life and the lives of your family as you now are able to obey speeding laws and drive without the stress that rushing brings.
All of us know that being late adds unnecessary stress in our lives and breaking the habit will remove stress which will be good for you and others in your life.
We are to live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise sensible, intelligent people.
We are to make the very most of the time because the days are evil.
God is telling us that the time we are given is very valuable and limited and must not be wasted.
Psalm 90:12, So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
We do not know how long we are given to serve God and therefore every minute is to be considered valuable and not to be wasted.
And much of the time God gives us is for applying our hearts unto wisdom and some of that is done in our church services.
We are to be where we ought to be according to our contracts with life.
I am united with other believers in Grace Bible Church.
The body of Christ meets as one.
Is the body as capable without all the members as it is with some members absent or tardy?
Would it do if I were to go chop wood and my left arm stayed home?
Of course not.
God has pointed our minds to our own bodies to show us how the body of Christ is to fit together and operate together.
Just think how easily it is to despair when one part of your body fails and how much that affects the other parts of the body.
This is the lesson for the body of Christ, the Church.
The whole body rises or falls on every part of the body.
All are needed to make the body function at its best.
Rescue the time, redeem the time, donít waste the time, be on time.
I Corinthians 12:12-26, For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.