I have big plans which I would like to accomplish in my lifetime. There are books to write, trips to take, lessons to teach, and sermons to preach. There are so many things that I would like to do and places I would like to see. The problem is that as I look at my life I see the time gradually slipping away. Life, quite literally, is passing me by.
Forgive me for assuming, but I would bet most of you have projects and dreams you would like to accomplish. You want to be able to look back on your life and know that it counted for something. Just like me you look at life and realize that another day has passed without any of these things coming true.
Why does life seem to gradually slip away? I believe it has much to do with the choices which we make. I am not necessarily talking about good and evil, often those are the obvious choices to make. Rather, I am talking about the choices in how we use our time. In our society we feel like we don’t have enough time to get everything done. We have so many different ways to use our time, that we cannot do everything that we would like to do. The truth is we don’t make good use of the time we have been given. A Nielsen Media Research study, mentioned in the January/February 2004 issue of Men’s Health magazine, found that the average American spends 2 months a year watching TV. That is around 1440 hours of television a year, or approximately 4 hours a day. With things like the internet and video games we can sit down and get up two hours later not realizing so much time has passed. Americans spend billions of dollars on camping, golf, and entertainment each year. It is not that these things are bad, but that we allow them to consume the time God has provided to us. When we constantly choose to use our time in this manner we make it possible for the impact God wants us to make to pass us by.
Erwin McManus in Seizing Your Divine Moment wrote; “This may sound too simple, but the abundant life that Jesus promises is ushered in through the choices we make in the ordinary moments of life.” Time continues to come our way, it is a constant. This has led us to take time for granted not giving to much thought to each moment. If we are going to use our lives to their fullest potential we must stop going along with the flow of time. Instead we must choose what to do with the moments we have, making a conscious decision to use them for God’s glory. If we continue to choose the path of least resistance, to get caught up in the hectic pace of life, we will miss out on the life God wants us to have. We will look back on our life and wonder: “Where has my life gone?”
So what is the answer? “Seizing your divine moment,” is the phrase Erwin McManus coined to describe our impact in the world for God’s kingdom. The Apostle Paul put it this way in Ephesians 5:15-17; So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (NLT). “Make the most of every opportunity,” is what Paul wants Christians to do. But what does it mean? How do you “seize your divine moment”?
John 5:1-15 is an example of what it means to “make the most of every opportunity.” Jesus is in Jerusalem to celebrate one of the Jewish holy days. While Jesus was in the city he went to the pool of Bethesda. At this pool gathered people who sick: blind, crippled, or paralyzed. It appears that these people came to Bethesda for the hope of a miraculous cure, or at the very least to have some soothing for their condition. Among all the sick, Jesus singles out a crippled man, who had been crippled for thirty-eight years. “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!” (John 5:8; NLT), is what Jesus told the man to do. At this point the man has a choice, this is a divine opportunity, given by the Son of God, and the man can either seize it or let it pass by. The man stands and is instantly healed. To make the most of our opportunities, to seize our divine moments, we have to obey the command of God. The opportunities we have to serve, love, and to speak the truth are not chance events, but they are divinely appointed tasks for us to accomplish.
For us to obey the will of God we first need to know what God’s will is. We will miss the divine opportunities in our lives if we are ignorant of what God wants us to do. When it comes to knowing God’s will I think we divide it up into two categories. First, there is the board category of God’s universal will, which will help all of us understand the characteristics that should define our lives and should inform our lives enough for us to make decisions for the everyday opportunities that come along. This aspect of God’s will comes to us through Bible as we discover His desire to see all the nations of the world blessed through Christ Jesus and His desire that everyone come to know and love Him.
The second category is the God’s specific will for our lives. Since God’s specific will for our lives will never contradict God’s general will means that we have be students of God’s Word so we can properly evaluate God’s specific will for our lives. Too many people have been led astray because they heard a voice, had a dream, or saw a sign and did not evaluate what they thought was being said to them by the truth of God’s written Word.
The Bible reveals to us that God has spoken to people in many different ways through out history to provide them with specific guidance for their lives, so I think it is still valid to seek God’s guidance for our lives and expect Him to provide it to us. So a prayer that has become part of my life is Colossians 1:9, 10; So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better (NLT). Notice how Paul’s prayer for the Colossians not only included a knowledge of God’s will, but also spiritual wisdom and understanding. We need both if we are going to live a life that honors Christ Jesus by making the most of the divine opportunities that God gives to us.
Seeking wise counsel and evaluating our circumstances are two other essential actions that we must take as we seek to discern God’s specific will for our lives. I believe that if we are honestly searching for God’s will, and not just putting God off because we don’t want to do what He asked us to do, then He will honor our search and provide us with the answer that we seek.
There is one more things I would like to mention. We miss many opportunities because we have forgotten that we have been created for a purpose, that God has a divine plan for our lives. Remember what the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians; For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10; NLT).
There are two truths from this verse I believe are vital for us to make the most of the opportunities we are given. The first is we have to realize that God has created us for a reason. He has planned for us to do good and to bring glory to His name. Our lives are not accidents and the moments we live are not chance events. There is a purpose and plan to your life. The second great truth is that we can only accomplish that purpose through Christ Jesus. Yes, God has created us for a reason, there is a purpose behind our lives, but sin has wrecked that purpose for us. In other words we cannot accomplish God-given purpose by our own strength, we need the blood of Christ Jesus to free us from the bondage of sin, and we need the power of His resurrection to transform us into new creations. We will never be able to discover God’s purpose for our life apart from Jesus.
We were created to make a difference in this world. Too often we think we can only make a difference in some big or spectacular way, but that is simply not the case. The way we have influence in this world is through the small everyday opportunities we have to encourage, serve, love, and help those around us. Don’t miss the opportunities for you to leave your mark in this world because you are looking for the big opportunity that might never come along. Seize the divine opportunity that is just around the corner.
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