Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Making The Most of Our God-given Opportunities"


EPHESIANS 5:14-17

“Time is precious. Ask the coach whose team is behind in the final seconds of a game. Ask the air traffic controller in charge of scheduling takeoffs and landings at a major airport. Ask the news reporter who has just received a breaking story from the AP wire. Ask the cancer patient who has recently learned they have only two months left to live.

Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have. Our days are identical suitcases—all the same size—but some can pack more into them than others. No one has a magical ability to make time, but if our lives have direction, we can make the most of the moments we have been given.” John Maxwell

“Opportunity is rare, and a wise man will never let it go by him.” —BAYARD TAYLOR.

There are two great days in a person’s life -- the day we are born and the day we discover why. William Barclay


The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. William James

Missed opportunities: Noah’s Ark, Sodom & Gomorrah, Promised Land, Rich man with Jesus, ETC.

“The opportunity to do mischief is found a hundred times a day, and that of doing good once a year.”

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

We have access to more spiritual growth tools than ever before, but it seems the Devil has lulled us into a spiritual slumber and sleep.

The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is "look under foot." You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world. --John Burroughs

SOME VERSES THAT CHALLENGE US:

Jn. 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night (the night of death - see next verse) cometh, when no man can work.

Ec 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

“Many do with opportunities as children do at the seashore; they fill their little hands with sand, and then let the grains fall through, one by one, till all are gone.” REV. T. JONES.

Col 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

IPe 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Regarding Time: The scripture says,

Ja 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed.

Proverbs 6:4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

Proverbs 6:9-10 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? [Yet] a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Proverbs 19:15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.

“Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good actions; try to use ordinary situations.” RICHTER.

Proverbs 20:13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, [and] thou shalt be satisfied with bread.

SOME CONSIDERATIONS THAT SHOULD MOTIVATE US: There are four motivations given in Romans 13:11-14 It comes through the realization of:

1. The Brevity of time Romans 13:11 “knowing the time”

Ps 90:10 The days of our years [are] threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength [they be] fourscore years, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Our English word {opportunity} comes from the Latin and means 'toward the port.' It suggests a ship taking advantage of the wind and tide to arrive safely in the harbor. The brevity of life is a strong argument for making the best use of the opportunities God gives us. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 391.

2. The Goodness of God Romans 13:11 “our salvation”

In an item in a recent issue of Fortune magazine, quoting the New York Times: After his butcher shop in Brooklyn was robbed four times in one month, William Levine bought a bulletproof vest in 1980. Other business proprietors asked him where they could get a vest like his. Mr. Levine began taking orders as a sideline. Today the 32-year-old Mr. Levine is out of the butcher business and full-time president of Body Armor, International. He supplies 40 sales representatives across the country, he says, and is selling 500 to 600 vests a month.

3. The Activity of Satan Romans 13:12-13 “the works of darkness”

It’s time to quit glorifying the Devil (talking about all the things he’s doing) and start glorifying the Lord (talk about all that He’s doing) Main thrust of sermon

4. The Vanity of life Romans 13:14 “make not provision for the flesh”

Ps 39:4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it [is; that] I may know how frail I [am].

Ps 78:39 For he remembered that they [were but] flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Ps 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust.

We’ve begun the journey of a new year. The question we should consider is where will this path end at the conclusion of the year? Will we reach God’s destination for our lives during the course of this year? If we are to achieve His ultimate destination, then we must make the most of His opportunities. To me it’s a fearful and disheartening thing to think I could end this year at a different destination than the Holy Spirit intends. Here’s what I know - He wants the very best for us and for lives to have eternal significance!

“It’s tragic that you have to get older to understand what you should have done when you were younger.” Dennis Deese

Even worse, is getting older and knowing what you should have done and you still don’t do it.

“Let us endeavor to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”~ Mark Twain

SOME ESSENTIALS THAT HELP US
“Twenty years from now you be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain Executive Speaker, February 2005

What is needed in order to make the most of our God-given opportunities? What have we got to do?

I. WE’VE GOT TO REVIVE OUR SPIRITUAL COMMITMENT 5:14 In entails: A

Mt 25:24-29 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, [there] thou hast [that is] thine. His lord answered and said unto him, [Thou] wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and [then] at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give [it] unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

A. Call 5:14 “he saith, awake thou”

Mt 13:44-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Mr 8:34 And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

“Some men go through a forest and see no firewood.” English Proverb

Eph. 5:10 Our lives are to be living testimonies (so becoming of Christlikeness and godliness they are attractive, fascinating, interesting, and alluring before the eyes of the world “we are to be the light of the world Ephesians 5:8") of what is acceptable and pleasing to God.

1. Callous response (blind)
2. Critical response (distracted)
3. Careless response (deceived)
4. Cold response (indifferent)
5. Careful response (changed)

It’s a movement of God (it’s a God thing - no human can do it. It is achieved by:

1. The Word of God 5:14 “he saith”
2. The Spirit of God 5:18 “be filled with the Spirit”
3. The Light of God 5:13 “made manifest by the light”

B. Confession 5:14 “thou that sleepest”

C. Concern 5:16 “redeeming the time”

II. WE’VE GOT TO RESUME OUR SPIRITUAL COURSE 5:15

Eph 5:15 - Circumspectly (199) akribos {ak-ree-boce'}: perfect 1, perfectly 1, 5; exactly, accurately, diligently.

5:15, 16) “See” is blepō (βλεπω), “to discern mentally, observe perceive, consider, contemplate, look to in the sense of taking care, take heed.”

“Circumspectly” is (199) akribos {ak-ree-boce'} akribō (ἀκριβως), “exactly, accurately, carefully.”

“Walk” is (4043) peripateō (περιπατεω),”to order one’s behavior, to conduct one’s self, or occupy.”

"Time" is 2540 (Karios) “time as regarded in its strategic, epoch-making, seasonable, opportune seasons.”

The translation reads, “Be constantly taking heed how accurately you are conducting yourselves.” That is, see to it that your conduct is accurate with respect to the demands of the Word of God. It is like a motorist accurately following on the right side of the center line dividing traffic.

What are the road signs that indicate we’re on the right road?
A. Submission 5:1, 21
B. Sacrifice 5:2

“If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God, it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it? You call this Christianity? We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be paid.” Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (January 11).


C. Separation 5:3-4, 7, 11
D. Sincerity 5:8-11
E. Service 5:16
F. Steadfastness 5:17
G. Soul-winning 5:13-14

III. WE’VE GOT TO RENEW OUR SPIRITUAL COMPREHENSION 5:17


When you are eighty, sitting on that porch rocking, and looking back on your life, how will you feel? You won’t have to answer to anybody but yourself. . . not your parents or your spouse or your business associates.

What did you do with this gift of living? It will be an important question to you then. So, you should make it an important question now.

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.

You renew spiritual comprehension in order that:
A. God’s word is practiced 5:14
B. God’s way is prioritized 5:15
C. God’s will is pursued 5:17

A LIST OF WORDS THAT CONCISELY DEFINE GOD'S WILL:
1. Salvation - I Tim. 2:4
1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

2. Stewardship - Phil. 3:15-16, I Thess. 5:18
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Philippians 3:15-16 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

3. Spirituality - Eph. 5:15-18
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

4. Sanctification - I Thess. 4:3, Rom. 12:2
1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

5. Submission - I Peter 3:13-17
I Peter 3:15-17 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
a. for Character
b. to God (I Peter 3:17, Matt. 26:39) "Jesus in the Garden"

George Truett F.B.C. Dallas
"the greatest knowledge is to know God's will"
"the greatest achievement is to do God's will"