Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Time Robbers

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I want to say a huge thank you to every Revive Our Hearts listener who has heard about the finanacial need we've been facing here at the end of this year and has responded by sending a gift to help meet that need.

Thank you so much for sharing this burden with us, and with your partnership in making this ministry possible. So as we thank the Lord for His gracious provision throughout this month, we're also asking Him to meet the significant remaining need.

As we have been sharing with you in recent weeks, our revenue has been down across a number of channels. But our team is continuing to pray and is excited to see all that God has done and all that He is going to do to meet these needs.

I want to just remind you that it’s not too late to make your tax-deductible gift if you contact us today. And it’s not too late to pray that God will meet these needs, as only He can do.

By praying and giving today, every listener can participate in some way. Would you ask the Lord right now how He wants you to participate? Be part of meeting this need and make a huge difference in our ability to minister throughout 2011.

Our phone lines are open today, so just give us a call at 1-800-569-5959, or if you'd rather give online, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, “Whatever you have to do today, do it passionately!”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If it’s time to weep, weep hard. If it’s time to rejoice, rejoice with all your heart. If it’s time to work, work with all your heart, with all your energy, as unto the Lord. If it’s time to take a break and celebrate, then take a break and celebrate. But whatever you do, if it’s God’s time for that in your life, enter into that moment fully.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, December 31.

You probably have locks on your doors, maybe even a security system. It’s wise to be careful and guard the possessions you’ve been given. But locks and alarms don’t do anything to guard one of your most valuable assets—your time.

Nancy will open your eyes to some time robbers as she continues in a series called, First Things First.

Nancy: There’s a little phrase in the Old Testament that’s been real helpful to me in determining how to manage my time. It’s that phrase that says, “Little foxes . . . spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15). It’s often not the big things that destroy the sense of order in our lives, but sometimes it’s the little things.

We’ve been talking this week about the matter of priorities and how to get our priorities in order. We’re doing that by looking at the word priorities, taking each one of those letters, and attaching insights to those.

We’ve looked at the letters P-R-I-O-R-I-T, and now we come to the “I”—priorities. Here is where we want to identify time robbers—the little foxes. What are the time robbers that are sapping my energy, robbing my time, and keeping me from doing the truly important things in life?

We need to identify those time robbers, and then—here’s the hard part—then we need to eliminate them. Get rid of them. Get rid of unnecessary clutter in our lives—simplify. And again, this isn’t something we do once for all. It’s something we need to do on a regular basis.

I have certain drawers in my house, certain closets in my house where things just tend to get piled up. I don’t know how it all gets in there, but it just gets in there. Then I have to go through the de-cluttering process. So we need to identify, as it relates to time, the things that clutter up the drawers of our lives.

Now, let me suggest some of the things you may want to consider. The Lord has to show you which are the time robbers in your life. Perhaps the biggest time robber in most Americans’ lives is the television.

I made a decision a number of years ago to turn off the television in my house. Anytime that I was alone, I would not be watching television. Now, I live alone. So I knew that if I was with someone else and we purposed to watch a particular program, that would not be so much of a time robber.

But television had become a huge time robber in my life. It wasn’t so much an issue of what I was watching as the fact that it was taking time that really needed to be invested in things that were much more important. Television and entertainment can be huge time robbers.

Novels. Novels take time to read. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to decide in my life that if I’m going to glorify God in my life and fulfill that purpose for which He put me here on earth, there are some good things and some okay things that I just don’t have time to do—certainly, not a lot of time to devote to things like novels.

Now, I love to read. I actually enjoy reading novels. Occasionally, I will read a novel. But I have to make decisions. “Is this the time of my life to do this? Or is this, at this time of my life, a time robber?”

Email and other forms of technology have become time robbers for so many people today. The phone, the computer, Internet, and various other types of technology. Now, these things can be tremendously useful tools. In fact, the Internet can be a useful tool for helping you fulfill some of your God-given priorities.

I use the Internet for doing research sometimes, for materials I’m teaching other women. It can be useful, but we can waste a lot of time wandering around on our computers. By the way, train your children not to let these things control their time. It’s important that you help them manage the time that they are spending playing computer games as children if you want them to develop good habits that will go with them into their adult lives.

The phone—it’s a blessing and a gift in so many ways. But how many hours do we spend on the phone in conversation that is not meaningful? It’s not important; it’s not necessary. If it’s a time robber, then cut back on it. Ask God to help you control it.

There are certain people who can be time robbers. That doesn’t mean you get rid of people in your life. But it may mean, at times, you need to say, “I can’t spend this much time just doing things together that you may like to do because God has given some priorities in my life that I’m not fulfilling, and I have to put the first things first.”

Your children’s activities—those can be time robbers. Remember, as a mom, your children do not have to be involved in everything there is to be involved in. They don’t have to be involved in every good thing there is to be involved in. It’s not all part of God’s priority for your family.

That’s why you and your husband together need to say, “What are God’s priorities for our family?” What are the one or two or three things that our children are most bent toward—each of our children? What are the things we want them to focus on developing? Help them choose activities that will go with them into life. Things that they will use later to perhaps produce income or as a means of service or opportunities for ministry.

Another time robber is bad attitudes—moodiness, complaining, whining, and an ungrateful spirit. Those things sap energy, life, and time unnecessarily. I find that I could get more done in many of my days if I didn’t spend so much time whining about all that I have to do. Ask God to help you approach your tasks with joy and in the fullness of His Holy Spirit. You’ll find that your day really does go further.

Unnecessary distractions of various types—it’s so easy to get sidetracked. That’s why we need to exercise self-control, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to let Him direct our steps. I’ve found, recently, that I’ve had to be more careful about some of these time robbers because the ministry of Revive Our Hearts is taking so much time. I’m having to say “no” to other things that I’ve had room for in other seasons of my life.

I love to do jigsaw puzzles. I’ve done a number over the years. I started one not too long ago and got halfway through it—and for me that’s a nice way of relaxing. In the process of working on that puzzle, I realized, “This is not the time for me to be working on a jigsaw puzzle.” As hard as it was, I put that half-finished jigsaw puzzle back in the box, put the box on the shelf, and said, “There will be another time when perhaps it will be the season for this.”

Now, as we talk about time robbers, let me just mention something about interruptions. Some interruptions are from the Lord, and some are not. That’s why you need to be flexible, as God may want to change your agenda.

Plan your day, but then ask the Lord to direct and control those plans. Learn to be discerning and wise. Shoot those “moment prayers” up to the Lord and say, “Lord, is this from You? This phone call, this opportunity, this interruption that seems like an emergency—is it truly important? Is it something You’re sending into my day? If so, I will stop, and I will take care of that interruption.”

I got a phone call last night as I was getting ready to leave my house—someone who wanted to meet for dinner. I had to make a quick judgment call in light of the plans that I already had for that evening. “Is this something that should be a priority for tonight? Is this an interruption from the Lord, or is this something that is a distraction?”

In that case, I felt—as I sought to discern there on the spot—that this was something that was from the Lord, and I should take advantage of this opportunity. In another instance, I would have to say, “I can’t do that tonight—much as I would love to, I just can’t. That’s not the priority for tonight.”

Jesus had one overall agenda: Do the Father’s will. But as you go through the Gospels, you see that His day-to-day plans changed constantly. He’d set out to do something. Then someone who had a need would come up and interrupt. You’ll find that God will bring people into your path that you don’t expect.

If you are stuck on your plan, your agenda, you will probably miss much of what God is wanting to do through your life.

Now, the letter “E”—experience this season and this moment fully. Fully experience, fully enter into whatever season, whatever moment God has put you in. Ecclesiastes says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (3:1).

So here’s the counsel. Whatever it’s time to do right now, do it with all your heart. Be focused; be all there. If it’s time to be coloring with your children, do it with all your heart. Be there, and don’t be thinking about all the other things you could be doing with your time.

Don’t waste time by living in the past. Don’t waste time by living in the future. You don’t have the future; you don’t have the past; you have this moment.

And one word to you mothers: I would just caution you against pushing your children so quickly from one season into the next, rather than enjoying the season God has them in right now. Allow them to be children while they are children. Even as you’re training them to become adults, enjoy and enter into this season.

If it is time to weep, weep hard. If it’s time to rejoice, rejoice with all your heart. If it’s time to work, work with all your heart, with all your energy, as unto the Lord. If it’s time to take a break and celebrate, then take a break and celebrate. But whatever you do, if it’s God’s time for that in your life, enter into that moment fully.

Ask God, those of you who are mothers, to make you a joyful mother of children. I think of the verse in Psalm 113 that says, “He maketh the barren [or the fruitless, or the dry] woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children” (verse 9, KJV). Let God make you a joyful mother—whether your children are toddlers; teenagers; out of the nest, but you’re getting their phone calls from college; or now they have their own children, and you’re investing in their lives in a different way. Ask God as you’re in whatever the season is to make you a woman of joy, a woman who is full of the Holy Spirit and who fully enters into whatever experience God has given you at that time.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and she’ll be right back with the second half of today’s message.

Nancy’s been talking about putting first things first. If you’ve been listening for any length of time to Revive Our Hearts, you know that Nancy has a passion for spending the first part of every day in prayer and in God’s Word. That needs to be the first thing for all of us.

She wanted me to encourage you to make the Bible a priority in 2011. Just read some every day through the year.

If you’re more ambitious and want to read it through, we’re offering some help. You’ll find some reading plans at ReviveOurHearts.com. If you’d rather use a one-year Bible, we have those, too. The important thing is that you are into God’s Word each day. Would you commit to reading the Bible every time the earth takes another spin?

Nancy’s been giving us a point for every letter in the word priorities. Now it’s time for the grand finale.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I couldn’t resist. I’ve got to give you two “S’s” to complete this study on insights into ordering our priorities. The first is the word “sabbaths.” By this I mean that we need to take periodic time-outs—time out to get refreshed, to regain perspective, to reflect, to evaluate where we are, to re-prioritize as needed, to make adjustments in our schedules.

As we look at the Old Testament, we see that God has made provision for sabbaths in our lives. God told the children of Israel to take one day every week—one day out of seven—as a Sabbath, consecrated to the Lord.

The Sabbath day is a gift that God gives us to help us keep our priorities ordered. I suggest, before even one day in a week, that you look for time in each day to set apart. It may be just a few minutes here and there to stop, to breathe, to reflect, to think about what you are doing, to think about the decisions you are making, to just stop and take stock. Regain your perspective on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, and periodically, throughout the year.

That’s what holidays are supposed to be about. That word really comes from the phrase “holy days,” which comes from the Old Testament feast days. For example, three times a year all the Jewish men were to go to Jerusalem and take time out for a holy day, a feast day.

There were different purposes for those days, but one was just to have time to breathe in the cycle of life and to evaluate—to make sure you are rightly connected to God; to make sure you are rightly fulfilling His agenda for your life. It’s important that we take time out to breathe.

When you get onto an airplane and the airplane is getting ready to take off, the flight attendant will come on and tell you that if the plane loses oxygen, there’s an oxygen mask that will fall from over your head.

What will the attendant say? She’ll say, “First, place the mask over your own face and breathe, and then turn and help children and others around you.” Now, those of you who are moms . . . if you think about that, your instinct would be to help children and others first. But the fact is: If you don’t breathe yourself, you can’t really help your children.

In fact, you won’t be alive to help your children if you don’t breathe yourself. You won’t be of use to others; you’ll be a burden to them.

Look at the times in the Gospels when Jesus would go on boat rides, when He would take long walks. I think the fact today that we can get to everywhere so quickly is not always good for our souls. It’s not always good for our spirits.

We need to take time as we have opportunity. When we come to those days or those seasons of life where it is so full, we will have stored up a reservoir of grace for those periods. Now, don’t let it be too long in-between these sabbaths. It may be just a few minutes here and there—a few minutes of quiet in your car. Don’t just jump into your car and all of a sudden push in a tape or turn the radio on. Maybe you need a few minutes of quiet.

You may find that you don’t need as much alone time as you think you do, if you take advantage of the few moments you do have when you do have them.

Being in the center of God’s will is what is really refreshing. So make sure that you are taking those moments here and there of sabbath rest, to stop and ponder what God is doing in your life and what He’s saying to you.

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, came to a season of life where, it was said, he had four times the amount of work that he could do. And at this particular season of life, he had dysentery; he had multiple projects. One of the workers on the field had been called back home, so he had to do that man’s job. He had deadlines pressing in on him.

One writer said that at the end of the day, which was sometimes at two or three in the morning, Hudson Taylor would sit down at his little harmonium—his little portable organ—and he would play his favorites hymns. Often the one he would play would be:

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

("Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting" by Jean Sophia Pigott)

In his little booklet Tyranny of the Urgent, Charles Hummel says,

If the Christian is too busy to stop, take spiritual inventory, and receive his assignments from God, he becomes a slave to the tyranny of the urgent. He may work day and night to achieve much that seems significant to himself and others, but he will not finish the work God has given him to do.

So ask the Lord to show you how to take sabbaths—sabbath breaks during the day, during the week, during the course of your year.

Now let me give you just one other “S.” I think this is so important. That is that we stay sensitive and surrendered to the Spirit of God.

As we walk through our day, it’s so important that we stay sensitive and surrendered to the Spirit of God. Let God direct your day. If you are His and you’ve committed yourself to Him, then the Scripture says, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15, NIV).

He’s the one who controls the times and the seasons. God’s never in a hurry. He’s never late; He’s always on time. So ask the Lord at the start of your day to direct your day, to order your steps. Then, throughout the day, be listening. Not for an audible voice, but for the Spirit speaking within your heart: “Here’s an interruption that you need to avoid; this is just a distraction.”

But at another point, He may say, “Here’s someone that I’ve brought into your path. I want you to take time out from what you are doing to stop and listen. Take time for that individual or that project that wasn’t on your 'to do' list for the day.”

The Lord really can be trusted. Trust Him in relation to the interruptions. Trust Him in relation to the opportunities. Yield yourself to Him. If there is something that I find that most of us as women need today, it is a spirit of rest.

I don’t think that it’s so much physical rest that we need much of the time—although you may be at a season of life where you need physical rest. Maybe you’re nursing an infant or you’re giving round-the-clock care to an elderly parent. There are some times that are just physically weary times.

More often than not, it’s rest in our souls that is lacking. It’s rest in our spirit. That’s why we need to be sensitive to the Spirit of God—attuned to Him; surrendered to Him; yielded to Him; resting in Him.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art.

If we will live by these insights, if we will live according to God’s priorities and His agenda for our lives . . . That doesn’t mean that our days will never be hectic. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be more to do in the day than we can do. It won’t mean that our lives will just be all easy and easily controlled and easily managed—we’d like them to be that way! But God wants to keep us in a place where we need Him.

There will be times where it is not easy to figure out what are God’s priorities for me at this moment. Even when it is difficult, we need to look to Him and say, “Lord, show me Your ways. Teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth. Teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long” (Psalm 25:4-5, paraphrased).

Then we can come to the end of our lives, and we can say as Jesus did, “O Father, I have glorified You here on earth. I have finished the work that You gave me to do” (John 17:4, paraphrased).

Leslie: If you want to say those words at the end of your life, you need to be purposeful in the way you spend every day.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been providing biblical, practical counsel on time management. She’ll be right back to pray.

If you’ve missed any of this helpful teaching from Nancy, I hope that you’ll order a copy on CD at ReviveOurHearts.com. And while you're there, you can also subscribe to our podcast. Each day's program can be set to download straight to your computer. Get the details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

I hope you have a meaningful New Year's celebration, preparing to set priorities in the year to come. Then join us again in 2011 for Revive Our Hearts. Now, let's pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, on this final day of 2010, I want to thank You for Your incredible blessings throughout this year—for the great fruit You have brought about through the many different outreaches of this ministry, for the lives that have been transformed, the marriages that have been healed, the people who have found the gift of salvation, for hearts that have been restored and reconciled and revived. That You, Lord, You are such a great God.

Thank You for how You've meet our needs, that our bills have been paid. Thank You for putting us in a place over these last few months where we've been stretched, where we've had to cry out to You for daily bread, and trust You in a greater way for provision. Thank you for every listener, for every friend of this ministry who has partnered with us, who has given generously to help make it possible for this ministry to continue.

I pray Your blessing on each listener, each person who shares in this ministry with us. We pray together that as we close the door on 2010 and open the door in to a new year in 2011, that it will be a year of great grace, great growth, fresh new love for Jesus, and that in everything You will be glorified and honored through our lives.

We pray it in Jesus' holy name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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