A man purchased an ad space on a highway billboard and put up these words: “Enjoy life now: There is no afterlife.” After this sign came down, two area churches got together and put up their message on this same billboard: “Life is short. Eternity is not – God.”
Life is short, isn’t it? In a matter of 363 days, a year gets over and what you choose to do determines how you end the year. Therefore it is very important that you maximize this year in your life.
Today we are going to see how to live so that we can maximize God’s blessings upon us. Open your Bibles to Ephesians 5. In the first three chapters, Paul establishes the importance of doctrine and in the second half of the book the focus is on our duty as a believer.
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In those verses we have some good advice for living our lives this year. So let’s maximize our life. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, shared it with the believers at Ephesus. See how Paul starts the text:
Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful…How many times have you heard those words? I have no idea how many times my mother said those two words to me, almost all the time as I was growing up.
As a small child I was so excited to use the knife. One day I volunteered to skin an apple and mummy was busy with something else. She shouted at me from the other side of the house, “Shine, you are using the knife, be careful.” “Mummy, I am careful, you always treat me like a kid,” I said. As I was peeling I cut my fingers. That experience helped me understand a little better what those words mean—“be careful.” And I know she said those words because she loved me. Paul loves these people. He wants the very best for them. He says, “Be very careful.”
If we want to live meaningful & rewarding we will have to exercise some diligence & caution.
What are the areas to be careful in life?
Here are some basic but very important areas we can look into:
1. Be careful how you live.
Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live.So, how should we live our lives in the year?
a. Wake up and live wisely.
Ephesians 5:14-15 14“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise. Apostle Paul tells the believers here be careful not to have a spiritual sleep. Be spiritually awake.
Speaking to the church at Sardis Jesus said: Revelation 3:1-2 1 I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
I wonder how much we miss out on because of our spiritual slumber. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told the disciples, “Watch and pray. . . .” Then He went a few feet away and began to pray. When He came back, they were all sleeping. They were missing out on a significant event in the life of the Lord. Like the disciples, similarly we, too, can miss out on what God wants to do in and through us. We need to be awake, alert, and paying attention.
Revelation 3:3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
b. Live in order to please God.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Writing to the church at Thessalonica Paul said this.
How do I please God?
i. Live a holy life.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
ii. Love one another.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. This speaks of unity and team spirit.
iii. Live a quiet life.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
2. Be careful to manage your time.
Ephesians 5:16 ..making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Psalm 90:10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Psalm 39:4 “Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. Since our time on earth is limited, let’s make the most of the time we have left.
A year back Amazon set up a 50% sale. I wanted to buy some items and felt by the last day the discount would increase to 60%-75%. However, by the time I logged in the final day all the items I wanted had been sold out. I lost the time and I lost my purchase. Likewise, we’re to make use of the time before it’s too late.
Life in Christ
Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. It says, “…which God has prepared in advance for us to do.”
So, God already knows the opportunities He is going to give us. He has made all the preparations for the opportunities. And what is our part? To maximize our life in God. Ephesians 5:16 ….making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
The Greek word here: kairos, refers to an appointed time, a fixed time—those moments or seasons when opportunity knocks! When opportunity knocks, don’t let those occasions pass by you. therefore, Seize the opportunities that God has planned for you.
The Wise men
The wise men from the east experienced a “kairos” in their lives. The star appeared and they recognized it as an opportunity to see the One born King of the Jews. so they made the most of that opportunity.
In contrast, priests and teachers in Jerusalem also experienced a “kairos” when asked, where this Messiah would be born. In their preoccupation with other things and indifference to the will of God, as a result they missed their opportunity. And It went straight by them without any significant impact.
Israel missed an opportunity of a lifetime when they spied out the Promised Land and decided it was too risky to go in. In your circumstances do you see an excuse or an opportunity? Every season of life is an opportunity or an excuse depending upon what a person is looking for. in other words You will find what you’re looking for if you really want to.
Therefore, do not miss any God-given opportunities.
In other words pay attention to what’s happening. It is interesting that the Bible tells us to do this “…because the days are evil.” There are evil influences at work in the world we live. So if we’re not careful we can be turned aside, derailed, from our true purpose.
Now for example, Esther found herself in an evil day. where Haman had gotten a decree from the king, which authorized genocide of all the Jews. That included Esther. It looked like a disaster however, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. God had prepared her for such a time as that.
So, what has God been preparing you for? How will you respond in the moment of truth? Make the most of your opportunities. and make use of your time. As a result you will Maximize your life.
Due to microwaves cooking has been made faster, mobile phones made connectivity faster; and internet helps us send messages faster. We feel we save time because of the latest inventions. But in contrast where is the time that is being saved from all these inventions? Certainly we have used it for something else – YouTube, whatssapp, Facebook, TV all uses our time.
A time management expert was teaching a seminar for executives. He placed a large, clear open-mouthed jar in front of the group. Next, he put seven or eight large rocks into the jar until it was full. “Is the jar full?” He asked. Everyone nodded. Then he took pebbles and filled up the jar with the small rocks until they reached the rim. “Is the jar full?” By now, they didn’t answer. So, he poured fine sand in. “Is the jar full?” Some nodded. He proceeded to take a pitcher of water and filled up the jar again.
So, “What’s the lesson about? About time management?” he asked. Hands shot up, and all agreed “No matter how busy you are you can always fit more things into your schedule.” “Wrong.” he replied. “The lesson is: unless you put the big rocks in first, they never will fit in.
Therefore, You must figure out what the big rocks are for you and give time for those big rocks. My personal big rocks are giving time to God, giving time to my family, and giving time to church. Similarly if you too can give time for those big rocks, automatically everything else will fit in.
Now another area to be careful on is,
3. Be careful to do the Lord’s will.
Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
What is God’s will for my life?
Firstly, to be saved
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
ii. Holy and transformed.
Secondly, to be holy and transformed.
Romans 12:1-2 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.
iii. Give thanks.
Thirdly, to give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
iv. Do good.
Fourthly, to do good.
1 Peter 2:15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
v. Be just, love mercy, and be humble.
And God’s will is also to be Just, to love, mercy and be humble.
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
So, God wants you to delight in doing His will. Psalm 40:8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. Let your focus be in what the Lord wants.
Walking in the will of God is like a baby learning to walk. As a baby did we give up when we first tried to walk? No, our parents helped us to walk. We would fall, we would hurt ourselves but again our parents gave us a supporting hand every time we fell. Similarly it is with God; we have to take initiative like a baby to be in the general will of God and as we proceed, God will lead us into his specific will.
4. Be careful to be filled with the Spirit.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
He contrasts that command with these words: “Do not get drunk on wine…” Why do people drink? They are not coping well with the realities of life. People are using alcohol to bring stimulation from the outside into their lives to overcome loneliness, rejection, failure etc. They resort to alcohol, drugs, lust or gambling to bring temporary relief or temporary pleasure but in the end they damage rather than cure. The problem is artificial stimulants lead to excess, addiction, and reckless living. Hence, they are ultimately destructive.
Therefore, Paul says, “Don’t stimulate your life with things like that. There is a much better alternative. Be filled with the Spirit.”
Do you know why we are tempted toward these artificial stimulants? Because we are not filled with the Spirit. Also due to not getting our basic, internal needs met in our relationship with God—so we seek out other things to fill the need. What we need is to be filled with the Spirit, we need God. We need God to saturate our beings with His love, with His peace, with Himself. When that’s not happening there is a spiritual and emotional vacuum in us—and we are vulnerable to temptation.
Be filled with the Spirit.
In the first half of this chapter Paul has already warned us against behaviors that are destructive to our spiritual well being. Here he tells about, what everyone can and must do to be fully satisfied – “Be filled with the Spirit.”
To be filled in the Spirit is an individual command, every believer is commanded to be filled with the Spirit. It is not just for an elite few. but for all because God wants us to be filled with the Spirit, empowered, and refreshed in His Spirit.
To be filled in the Spirit is in present continuous tense. It is not a one-time thing and then you’re done. Many Pentecostal believers think they are Spirit filled because twelve years ago they prayed and spoke in tongues. Twelve years ago they were filled with the Spirit
But God’s question for every one of us is not have you been filled with the Spirit but are you full of the Spirit right now?
In Acts 2 Peter was filled with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. In Acts 4:32 he prayed and was filled again. Why, because yesterday’s experience is not adequate for today’s challenges. Peter needed a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit in his life for the challenges he was about to face. We are to stay filled! Continually filled. That’s one of the reason to come together in a service like this on a regular basis.
Being filled is something God has to do in us. We can’t make it happen. But He is ready and willing. If we will; He will. God wants us full of the Spirit now.
Are we filled with the Spirit?
How can we know that we are filled with the Spirit?In Acts 2 when they were filled with the spirit they spoke in tongues.
Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
Psalms was the songbook of Israel. Hymns are Christian compositions. Spiritual songs are spontaneous outbursts of inspired singing. Worship must have sudden overflow with spontaneous, unscripted songs of praise. A parallel passage in Colossains3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Therefore we see how Paul gives us four directives to maximize our lives and maximize God’s blessings upon us, to maximize each year and those four directives are:To be careful as to how you live,Manage your time,Be careful to do God’s will,And to be careful, to be filled with the Spirit.
Therefore lets be careful as to how you live, be careful to manage your time, be careful to do God’s will, and also be careful to be filled with the Spirit. And in this way you can maximize your life.