(September 9, 2018) Tim Edwards shares a challenging thought…
Paul’s great challenge in Ephesians 5: 15-17 should hit home to Christians of every generation! The apostle warns, ‘Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.’
What do these verses say to us today?
- What does Paul, indeed any pastor, want Jesus’ followers to know? To realise that no matter how long we’ve been following and serving Jesus, God has more in store for us!
- And what does Paul, again any pastor, want Christians in any age to do? To understand that we should be asking God for more of himself and what is his plan for our life!
I have a little thought to share here that I trust will both bless and challenge those who are truly aware that the days are indeed evil and that there is still much kingdom work for us to be involved in before the return of our Saviour, King Jesus. My little thought? There is more! Let me share…
Relevant relationships today
Ephesians is such a great Bible book to read and meditate on – in fact it is just so good, and there is a huge amount we can learn, even from the text above. Basically the book is a letter to the church at Ephesus in which Paul is endeavouring to –
- Encourage… and
- Challenge that church.
And although Paul authored this book centuries ago, what he wrote back then can still be accessed and understood today. It still makes sense and is still applicable for you and me for our lives (and for our church) today.
Paul is talking about relationships in the home, the community and the church discussing…
- And so much more.
Effectively he is asking readers of this letter, including you and me, to focus on living for God, living in the light of his word and will, and to reflect God’s love out into our troubled world beginning on our doorsteps, our Jerusalem (remember Jesus’ Acts 1:8 direction… ‘You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’).
Six simple but powerful words!
I’ve personally been particularly impacted by some words found in Ephesians 5:16 above – ‘…making the most of every opportunity… .’ Short, sharp and strong!
Let me put some context around these powerful words by listing the verses which follow that tiny fraction. – verses 18-20 urge this: ‘Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Overall Paul is urging Christians to think clearly, to make great choices and to live wisely. There may plenty of difficulties all around you but don’t get caught up in them – focus instead on God and make the most of the opportunities he gives to you. Thank him, relate to him, and get to know him more. Understand what he is doing and get on board. Remember… there is more!
Actually that’s the reality that I’d like all of us to remember and focus on no matter what’s going down around – that there is more.
I believe Paul is reminding us – and God himself with the prompting of his Holy Spirit – to think outside the box and realise that there is more for all of us, more of God in our lives and more of God to experience.
Not ‘me, me’ greed!
This is not a greedy, selfish, ‘I want more’ type of attitude where the emphasis is on self-accumulation, getting, taking, and grabbing – no, this is a heartfelt sense that God himself is offering us opportunities and asking us to receive his offer, accept his invitation, and to make the most of the opportunities he is presenting. That there is…
- More to learn
- More growth to see
- More moments to share
- More people to bless
- More communities to serve, and
- More joy to experience!
So, let’s open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds and receive.
We all have the opportunity each new day to step closer to God and know more of him in our lives!
Listening and responding
Maybe some Christians may simply need to know that God has positioned us where we are for a reason. That just as members of a sporting team begin the game in positions set by the coach, so God have placed us where he want us to be right now. That we will not be in this same position forever, so we’re to remain flexible and open to change – knowing with all confidence that God will finish what he has begun in and through us at present before he repositions us.
Whoever we are, wherever we are at this time, we all need to listen – and respond. We will know without being frightened to stand still and listen to whatever God may ask of us. And in listening carefully we will realise and understand that above and beyond everything else he simply wants us to know how much he loves us. That in Jesus Christ we are loved, accepted, valued and forgiven! And that we can step into a new season with him; a wonderful future of health and strength in our relationship with him.
Despite many challenges that arise in life, even if we feel at times we’re in a difficult obstacle course, we need to realise that such obstacles will result in our spiritual growth as we know and trust our loving God!
Maybe some readers are already aware that your capacity is already expanding, and you can sense it; your understanding is growing, and others have noted it; and your strength and focus are increasingly stronger.
I believe God’s encouragement is to stand tall in the midst of any difficulty, any challenge; trust God and persevere, knowing that he will not walk away but will continue to support you. That there is more for you, indeed for all of us – if we choose to walk with God.
And how do we recognise there is more for us that we’re into at present? For me personally I can tell when there is more coming in God when I’m experiencing feel a certain feeling of ‘discontent.’ Not sadness or anger or frustration just dis-content… a state of being unfinished, unsettled, slightly disturbed one might say. Something is incomplete, and I know then that there is more coming… which is exciting!
The questions for us all then to consider are –
- Am I ready to receive more?
- Is my attitude as it should be in preparation to receive more?
- Am I prepared to ask God for more?
- How will I respond when he honours my request to receive more?
Passing blessings on
In other words, can we be like the character Oliver Twist in Charles Dickens classic novel, holding out our hands, saying, ‘Please sir, I want some more.’?
God will not be like the keeper of the porridge in the novel and angrily question our right to ask – not at all.
He will graciously and generously respond because he loves us and because we are not asking for ‘stuff’, we are asking for more of him, more of God, more love, more learning, more growth; and not for our own sake… but so that we can be blessed and pass on these blessings to others.
Let’s know that our loving God has more in store for us – individually and collectively in our church… more of him in our lives and more opportunities! Let’s work together as one to make the most of the opportunities he is currently presenting to us.
The challenge is… are we ready to receive more of God in our life today? May we indeed be filled with the Spirit as Paul urges in verse 18 above and open to God’s more!