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How to Waste 2018… and the rest of your life

Luke 21:34-36


I remember the first time I attended an awards assembly in middle school.  The principal recognized a large group of students for their academic accomplishments, their efforts in the Math Bee, the Spelling Bee and the Honors List.  Because I was new and nobody had ever acquainted me with this kind of thing.  I was a bit overwhelmed and I remember thinking, I hope they call my name for something.  I was left out.  I had no honors, no prestige, no accomplishments to show or to be recognized.  And I remembered thinking to myself, I can’t let this happen again.  So throughout the year, I had a new purpose and focus to my studies.  I remembered the ache of not being recognized, of not being someone who had accomplished anything worthy of note and I strived all the harder to make the year count.


Lest someone immediately lash out and say that desires for an award are purely self serving, what if God put those emotion in us for a purpose?  What if these desires are actually part of God’s plan?  What if our desire to achieve is rooted in a God created drive to compel us to build and strive?


Hebrews 12:1 – 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.


1 Corinthians 9:24 – 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.


Philippians 3:14 – 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


God created our desires to run and run well.  Competition is not a dirty word in the Bible.


I think in our home school environments, if our kids are not participating in some kind of speech, debate, Bible Bee, Spelling Bee, track, cross country, basketball, etc. they are likely missing the impact of much of the content about Scriptures that adjures them to look forward to the future and to work hard and to run with passion with their hearts bursting.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to do the right things well.


Our passage in Luke 21:34-36 is really about looking forward to the future and making our race count.


Living with an end in sight – with the finish line right in front of us – is extraordinarily important for human beings.  Look at Luke 21:34-36 with me.


34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

  • Jesus gives us a direct warning. How many of you think it is likely important when the Son of God who fashioned the universe through Words gives you a word of warning?
    • o Here is His word of warning, “Watch yourselves”.
    • o There is a consistent message of being vigilant about yourselves in the Bible – not being a busy body about others, but watching your own life.
    • o People get fixated on fixing other people’s problems.
    • o I tell people who have been hurt in counseling all the time that they cannot fix their spouse, they cannot fix the internal motivations of their kid, they cannot turn a heart of steel into a heart of flesh, but they can watch their own heart. You are responsible for you!
    • o You can’t control their bitterness, their temptations, their anger or lust, but you can help your own. You are to watch yourself.
    • o You have no control over what comes out of someone else – no matter how many rules you apply and how many rebukes you give. God has, however, given you power over your own heart – how you react and how you behave when bad things happen.
    • o In the 10th century, an Abbot by the name of Moses said “They who are conscious of their own sins have no eyes for the sins of their neighbors.”
    • o There are many people who never watch anything. They never take time to reflect on where their heart is or where they stand with God.
    • o Do you live a self-examined life?
    • o Plato was credited with the quote, “An unexamined life is not worth living”.
    • o Charles Spurgeon said of the examined life – ““Thorough examination will do the healthy no harm, and it may bless the sick.”
    • o Jesus tells you to watch yourself.


Transition:  Here in Luke 21:34-36 are the things that God tells you to watch out for in yourself.  These are the negative things we are to watch out for – things that can cripple us.  Hearts weighed down, dissipation, drunkenness and anxiety over the cares of life.  They seem almost petty, but people can waste years in these things and never know they aren’t really living for anything. If an unexamined life is not worth living, an unlived life is not worth examining. 


  • Jesus talks about “hearts that are weighed down” – by dissipation, drunkenness and the cares of the worlds.
    • o Hearts weighed down is about complicating our lives and constantly carrying burdens that are not ours.
    • o A sprinter who races with two fifty-pound barbells and has any expectation to win a race would be considered a fool. How much more foolish is a Saint who is running the race who thinks they can do anything by being weighted down with items that are not theirs to carry.
    • o And yet daily, people strap onto themselves things that make their race harder. They place obstacles in their own way.  They are their own worst enemies.


Transition:  The first thing we are told to watch out for that we often afflict ourselves with is dissipation.  Dissipation is the one-ton barbell you are trying to haul as you run the Christian race.


  • What is Dissipation? – Destroying and not using your God-given productivity and the resources God has given you. If I had to boil down how we dissipate ourselves, I could boil it down to a few key areas:
    • o Distraction – Distraction is dissipation through following the wrong causes or having the wrong past times.
      • An example of a wrong past time – Modern Netflix binging.
      • Let’s face it, life in America is distracting. We have TV and gaming systems and iPhones and the latest gadgets, soccer practice to take the kids to, work. We try to squeeze spending time with the family in there, but even that is mostly taken up by staring at the television together.  None of these things are bad in moderation, but they tend to distract us from what truly matters; our relationship with God.
      • If you can’t spend time with God or doing God’s work for even an hour a day down here, what expectation do you have for a million years with God in heaven.
      • The slow incremental effect of focusing on the wrong things steals from your productivity. You come to the end of another year and you have nothing to show for it.
      • Finishing the final episode of a Netflix binge feels great – you have a sense of completion, but what have you created that is real and lasting in life? Nothing!
      • That is why video games are such a delusion. Studies have shown that young men and women who play video games are playing with their brain chemicals.  The same substance that is released when someone completes a hard workout or completes a massive project, is the feeling that is released when a video game player finishes a level or defeats an obstacle like a boss.  Video games are playing on your chemical reactions that God has given you as an award and celebration for hard work done.  But you have accomplished nothing in the real world – nothing that will last.  And in that sense, while I’m not telling you to never enjoy a video game occasionally, we have an entire generation of young men who are now adults that are frittering away their eternity on video games.
      • Distraction leads to dissipation.
    • o Diffusion is another form of dissipation. Diffusion is spreading yourself thin across a lot of things.  You are wasting God’s resources by doing too much – spreading yourself too thin to do anything well.
      • David Ramsey has said that “Focus is the difference that makes you productive. Focus is like a laser that takes light, tightens it down and cuts through steel like butter.”  Without purposefully focusing your life, you are dissipating your efforts across a million things – None of which you can do well.  You are doing a myriad of half jobs.
      • Worst advice I ever heard was to spread oneself over a bunch of different businesses. Recipe on how to not get any one thing done with quality.
      • You need a handful of life focuses that you can juggle and do well. Not even a half dozen.
      • Mom’s sometimes you have too much on the agenda to do any one thing well. Narrow it down and focus.  Even too many good things can cause you to not have the critical focus needed for true progress.
      • Diffusion is dissipation. You have wasted the energy that God has given you in a dozen different directions.
    • o Being Directionless also leads to dissipation.
      • You scurry one way and then turn and go in the opposite direction. Your efforts are not just diffused, you never commit to any one course.  You start out on a 5 mile trail and you only go a mile and loop back never having reached the waterfall or the majestic view.  Worthless living is directionless living.
      • People switch hobbies, switch ministries, switch churches, switch jobs, switch causes every moment – and they wonder whey they feel that they have accomplished nothing.
      • If you never commit to anything in life….If you keep switching tracks every time you encounter resistance or an impediment… You are creating the recipe for never accomplishing anything in life – much less for the Kingdom.
      • Jonathan Edwards had direction! His life had purpose.  He had his famous resolutions that gave him a clear path in life.
      • Being directionless leads to dissipation. You have wasted the very time that God has given you.
    • o Dissipation has the illusion of accomplishing something when you are not going anywhere at all.
    • o Don’t dissipate the precious life that God has given you.
  • What kills dissipation. Purpose kills dissipation.  Purpose kills distractions, diffusion (involved in many things) and being directionless.
  • God has given you a purpose. Watch out for “that day” as our passage calls it!  The Second Coming is right before us.  Get ready for the day of vindication and award.
    • o That Day will bring vindication. People who have reviled you and the Christian faith will suddenly see the rightness and certainty of your great cause when they see God Himself affirm truth.
    • o That Day will also bring judgment. It will be the worst day of many people’s existence.
    • o Your purpose in preparing for that day is defined by the relationships that God has given you.
    • o As you wait for that day, you must understand your purpose. God has created you as a member of a family – you have a role there – and as a member of a church body – you have a role there.


Transition:  Another danger we are to watch out for is drunkenness. 


  • What is drunkenness? I would define it as seeking refuge in any mood altering substance to escape hearts weighted down (worry/anxiety) or the harsh realities of the world.
    • o In our day and age, this one has become so serious because we are facing the opiate crisis. People are dying daily because they want that feeling that helps them escape this world.  Many people didn’t even know how much they desired to escape this world until they were prescribed pills that were supposed to address legitimate pain.  They now find themselves hooked on a substance that makes the world livable in their eyes.  This is drunkenness.
    • o Drunkenness is an escape mechanism. God does not want you to merely escape.  He wants you to conquer and put to death sin.  He wants you to redeem the times, not elude them.
    • o God intends to heal you so that you can live in this real, broken world and so that you can minister to other hurt hearts and souls. He does not want you escaping from the reality He has given you.
    • o Sexual addiction is in this same bucket. It actually is in the dissipation bucket, the drunken escape mechanism bucket and in the cares of this world bucket.
    • o Drunkenness leads, obviously, to a wasted life. Not dealing with the real things of this world.


Transition.  We are to avoid dissipation and drunkenness but we are also to avoid the ensnarement of the “Cares of Life”.  Verse 34. 


  • With Cares of this life – What does Jesus mean? Jesus means that we cannot let ourselves be weighed down and drowning in being overly worried about the circumstances that you find yourself in or more than likely other people’s circumstances.
    • o “Cares of life” can be external – Carrying things that are not yours to carry. Know who you are in Christ and run your race without dragging a ton of weight around with you.
      • Know your identity in Christ – what he made you to be – and don’t carry things you don’t have to.
      • Here is an example from Church and the eldership – People try to draw you into arguments in other churches. People try to get you to join a half dozen para church movements.  People try to add to the elder duties – become a glorified board member with only financial duties, media director, sports activity director, general activity director, an activist for some pet cause.  There is a constant pressure to carry many burdens that God did not design you to carry in your God-given role.  Get rid of these things.  Try not to strap them on to begin with and if you find yourself struggling under the weight of one of these things, don’t feel guilty about cutting it loose.  It is a “Care of Life” making you unfit and exhausted in running the race God has given you.
      • Know your identity in Christ. God has given you an identity by your role in a church, your role in a home as a mother, father or child.  Knowing your identity and not straying from it, is an incredible way to not stray into the care’s of life outside what is yours to carry.  Your burden is what God created you to be and the direct obligatory circumstances He has placed you in..
      • You are not someone elses’ mom. You are your children’s mom.  God did not give those other people’s children to you.  Don’t carry that burden to the extreme so that your heart is weighed down and you neglect the true race you were meant to run.  Sometimes, other people’s problems are theirs alone to resolve.  They got into them and you can’t fix them by taking over their responsibilities.
      • Don’t be a busy body. Don’t strap on burdens that will wear you and your family out.
      • 2 Thessalonians 3:11 – “For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.” There is a lot of hard passages that tell us not to invade in areas that could increase our burden.
      • Some of us, myself included, get wrapped in world politics – another external care. We vent lots of steam about matters that we can’t fix.  We spend countless wasted hours perusing news that we can’t do a single thing with.  We carry the world’s burdens and we feel good about exhaustively taking about public policy.  Think if we reduced our obsession with news down to a minimum and redeemed those daily half hours or hours.  What could we do in prayer, Bible study, leading our families?  Carrying burdens not our own is destructive and it steals from us without our even acknowledging it.  Cut your news addiction!
      • Ultimately, this issue of heart’s weighed down is about worry and how we deal with anxiety in this world.
      • You must watch to make sure that you are not carrying burdens – worry or anxiety – that are not yours to bear.
    • o Cares of life can also, of course, be internal – Worries that you have about yourself and your day-to-day affairs. We can worry about jobs, health, children, conflicts and we can drown in them.  They can appear to engulf everything in life.  We even lose sight of Jesus and the day to come.
      • Want to waste your life? Stress out.  Become so bitter and angry and paranoid about life that you can no longer function.  Stop finding joy in the good things God has given you.  That will waste your life in a catastrophic way.  When the joy has departed, stress and the cares of life have almost always made a home.  Pursue joy.  Pursue trust in God.
      • Jesus, of course, dealt with this directly in Matthew 6:26-27 – “6 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
      • We get wrapped in ourselves and lose our joy. We lose our focus on running the race.  When we miss our life’s purpose, is it any wonder we grow even more unhappy?


Transition:  Dissipation, drunkenness and cares of this life can blind you to the Second Coming.  These things steal your purpose and your anticipation of Christ’s re-appearance.  They lead to a wasted life.   For those that drown in these things, they will be swallowed up by “That Day”.


“That day” per our passage is like a trap.

  • Why will it be like a trap?
    • o It will seize you and not let you go.
    • o A trap surprises you. People who set off traps generally don’t want to set them off.
  • For Christians, that day of the Second Coming should not be like a trap. They should welcome it.  They should see it coming.
  • But if your life is marked with dissipation, drunkeness and the cares of life, then you will miss seeing it coming or you will dread it coming because you will take stock of your life and you will find it empty. It will become to you a trap.  It will be a horrible day for you.
  • You will have little to show. Your life will be wasted.  And yours, even though you may be saved, will be the life for whom Christ must wipe away tears.
  • Who wants to be a 1 Corinthians 3:15 kind of guy or gal? You know what I’m talking about?
    • o 13 …each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
  • These are saved people who don’t have a lot to show for their decades of life. Sad.  Tragic.
  • This day is global in scope – “all who dwell on the face of the whole earth” will experience it.
  • We recently had a day that came upon people like a trap.
  • The people of Hawaii had their cell phones going off telling them that an intercontinental ballistic missile – likely nuclear – was heading their way from North Korea. People paniced in the streets.  Their regrets and fears and mistakes all flew up before their eyes and memories.  People who had not prayed for decades all the sudden were praying and beseeching forgiveness.  They thought something terrible was coming and they were shocked into a brief moment of spiritual reflection.
  • But, it passed. After 38 minutes, they discovered that some technician had hit the wrong drop down message on a computer screen and had triggered a real alert rather than a test of the alert system.
  • All these people went back to their daily existence. They are actually angered by the warning and they will never take to heart what was revealed about themselves in those 38 minutes.
  • How about you? This sermon has revealed a warning from the Lord of the Universe.  The intercontinental ballistic missile is coming.  The day of vindication and judgment is in flight.  What are you doing with the life that God has given you?
  • When he appears, when the warning is no longer a mere warning, but a reality, will you have a flash of regret? Or will you have a feeling of pure joy and confidence?
  • That is what Jesus is talking about when he states “36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”


Transition:  Get rid of dissipation, drunkenness and cast away the cares of life.  Jesus has given you the tools in verse 36.  ‘


In contrast to having hearts weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness and the cares of life.  Jesus is calling you to stay awake!  Keep alert!  Keep clear minds with a competitor’s focus on the great day that is just around the corner.

  • The strength for this does not come from you. Your efforts will fall flat if the Lord Himself does not strengthen your hands.  He gives strength to His children.
  • Pray for strength from the only source of strength – God. God can give beautiful strength and confidence.
  • Pray to escape. Pray that you will not have to go through fiery trials.  It is not a shameful thing to pray for God to deliver you entirely.  I actually pray this daily.  Lord, I’d rather not learn from pain.  Help me to be pliable to your Holy Spirit and to learn without resorting to the rod.
  • Pray to stand. Standing is the quiet confidence that comes from welcoming Jesus Christ.  In contrast, those that are caught on that day will fall on their faces in dismay and horror.  May you welcome Christ as your Lord, but also as the friend you have been walking with confidently all the days of your life producing things that come from the Holy Spirit – all your efforts bearing fruit, never trying to escape God’s work and purpose in a broken world and living above the cares of life that swallow so many.