Sun, Jan 23, 2011

Redeem the Time! Ephesians 5:14-17 12/29/02

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

REDEEM THE TIME!

EPHESIANS 5:14-17

 

            As we prepare for the New Year, 2003, in just a few days, I felt the Lord leading me to this study in Ephesians chapter 5 that deals with our Christian walk, the opportunities we have in the days we are living in.  As you are turning there, listen to this story to help illustrate what we will be studying.  The story goes like this:

            “An ancient Greek statue depicted a man with wings on his feet, a large lock of hair on the front of his head, and no hair at all on the back. Beneath was the inscription; ‘Who made thee? Lysippus made me.  What is thy name?  My name is opportunity.  Why has thou wings on thy feet?  That I may fly away swiftly.  Why has thou a great fore lock?  That men may seize me when I come.  Why art thou bald in back?  That when I am gone by, none can lay hold of me.’”

            With that said, let’s pick up our study this morning in Ephesians chapter 5 starting in verse 14 and let’s see what the Lord has for us as we prepare for the New Year!

EPHESIANS 5:14-17

 

            As you look back over this past year, how has it been for you?  Now I am not speaking of the trials and tribulations that you have been through, those will always be there in this life. I am speaking of growing, of walking in the Lord and using those opportunities to share your faith with others. And yes, we can and we do grow through trials and tribulations.

            For some of you, God is calling you to rise up and walk, get involved, allow Him to use you.  It is not a time to beat yourself up or put yourself down, but be aware of the things you did or didn’t do and move on, grow, learn from it.  Paul put it this way in Philippians 3:12-14,Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 

            You see, we are to let our light shine, and if your light is dim, arise and God will give you the light you need. Now, specifically, Paul is speaking here of the spiritually dead who have come to Jesus and are made alive again, spiritually speaking, they are born again.  Paul put it this way in Ephesians 2:1-3, And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.    

            It is then that Paul tells us that we are to walk circumspectly, which is the Greek word AKRIBOS and it carries with it the idea of being exact, cautious, careful, attentive. You know how it is when you don’t pay attention when you are walking, you can trip, stumble, fall, stub your toe and-so-on. Thus, as we are walking through this life we are not to walk with blindfolds on but we are to be aware of the things that are going on around us!

            Now in verses 15-17 of Ephesians chapter 5 Paul gives to us four reasons why we should walk circumspectly, constantly aware, alert to every danger that Satan puts in front of us.  Those four reasons are as follows:  We are wise; The time is short; The days are evil; and To know the will of God for our lives.  Thus, with the remainder of our time this morning we are going to focus on these four areas with the hope that we can walk circumspectly in the coming year!

1.  WE ARE WISE – EPHESIANS 5:15

            Before we deal with what wisdom is all about, listen to what Proverbs tells us regarding the ways of a fool.  In Proverbs 1:28-32 we are told, Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.  Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD, They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke.  Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies.  For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. 

            Do you see the point that Solomon is making here?  He is saying that a fool seeks after a knowledge that satisfies his own desires; he does not seek the things of God which leads to life.  It is a knowledge that puffs up and does not edify.  Paul tells us in               II Timothy 3:7, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  You see, puffing up, satisfying self and not seeking the truths of God that will lead to life!

            But remember what Paul said, he told us to arise, we are alive in Christ and thus, we are no longer fools, but wise in the Lord.  Wisdom is not just having information, but applying the right information correctly.  Many people have the right information, they just apply it wrong. Take for instance, a Microbiologist who sees the complexities of life, is understanding these things and then says life just evolved from nothing to all this!  He has the right information, he just applied it wrong! 

            In Proverbs 1:7 we are told, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.  And then in Proverbs 8:12-13 we are told, I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And find out knowledge and discretion.  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate. 

            What Solomon is trying to tell us in these verses is this.  First of all we need to look to what God means by the word “fear” here in Proverbs.  It does not mean terror, freight, apprehension or something to be afraid of in this text, although if you don’t know the Lord, you should fear Him!

            The Hebrew word that is used here for “fear” is YIRAH and it speaks of a reverence, a feeling of deep respect towards God.  Thus, as we come to the Lord, as we bow before Him, He begins to impart His wisdom to us by His Spirit as we read His Word and pray. And so as we have this wisdom imparted to us it is then manifested in our lives, the things we do, the things we say, to hate evil and to love what is good!

            As we look to Jesus to pattern our lives after, we look to the Word of God for that guidance.  It is a time of growth that begins the moment we get saved and continues on till we go to be with the Lord.  Luke 2:52 tells us this of Jesus, And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” 

            Notice, as Jesus progressed in His life He grew in wisdom. He was not stagnant and neither should we be in our walk. If some of you feel you have been short changed in this area of wisdom or are just not growing, not sure what to do in situations, you lack this wisdom from above, then do as James tells us to do, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:5-8. 

            Thus, our walk should be in the wisdom of God and not as the fool, not sure where he is going. It is part of our new birth and Peter tells us, he commands us to but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. . .”  II Peter 3:18.  May we be wise in the Lord and continue to grow in this area, applying those things that God has shown us correctly in our lives!

2.  THE TIME IS SHORT – EPHESIANS 5:16

            Paul tells us that we are to redeem the time or take advantage of it.  The Latin word from which we get our English word “opportunity” means “towards the port” and it carries with it the idea of a ship that takes advantage of the wind and the tide to arrive safely in the harbor.

            We are to take advantage of the situations that are before us, using all the available resources to a positive outcome.  We are to take advantage of the time that is before us. Now the Greek word that Paul uses for time is not CHRONOS which is a continuous time that is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, years and-so-on.

            Paul uses the Greek word KAIROS which carries with it the idea of a fixed period of time. You see, God has set boundaries on our lives.  There is a time for us to be born and a time for us to die and in-between those two points God has placed opportunities for service.  If we let them pass by they then are gone.  Psalm 39:4-5 put it this way as the Psalmist said,LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.  Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.  Or as The Living Bible puts it, Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.  My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. 

            Let me show you what I mean with the story of Esther.  After her parents died her cousin, Mordecai raised her. And through a series of events, Esther became queen in Persia. Now on the dark side was Haman, who was like the Prime Minister to the king of Persia and he developed an unnatural hatred for the Jews, especially when Mordecai refused to bow before him.  Thus, Haman developed a plan to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom and he got the king to sign a decree to wipe out all the Jews on the 13th day of the 12 month, 11 months after the decree was signed!

            As Mordecai gets wind of this evil plan he let’s Queen Esther know, but she was afraid to approach the king without being summoned, she could be put to death if he didn’t want to speak with her!  But Mordecai lays it all on the line and says to Queen Esther, And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews.  For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’   Esther 4:13-14.

            And you know the rest of the story, Esther heeded the words of Mordecai and Haman was hung on the very gallows he made to hang Mordecai on, his plan was foiled!  The point is this, if you refuse to listen to the voice of God, to redeem the time, you will miss the opportunity that has been placed in front of you by God.  Who knows if you were born for such a time as this?  And what happens is as you don’t step forward is that God will raise up someone else for the task, someone who is willing to redeem the time, to take those steps of faith.  James tells us, Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’  James 4:13-14.

            God has a course for each of us to follow for our own lives. It is up to us if we want to follow it or be foolish in our walk and not redeem the time.  Paul was able to conclude his life by saying For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.  II Timothy 4:6-8.  May each and every one of us be able to say those words as our lives close in these bodies of flesh. That we took advantage of the opportunities that the Lord has given to us, we have redeemed the time and are using it for His glory!

3.  THE DAYS ARE EVIL – EPHESIANS 5:16

            It is no big surprise that the days are growing more evil, they are very evil!  All you have to do is look at the local newspaper or watch the news and you see plastered all over it the different evils that are being done in this country and throughout the world. I will just give you a couple of examples that happened several years ago to show you what I mean.

            In Massachusetts, a 15-year old was accused of murdering a college student during a mugging, then bragging to his two high school-age accomplices that the knife he used went all the way through the body.  After the boy’s first appearance before the court, his friends cried – not for the person who had been murdered, but because a high bail had been placed on their friend.  Someone asked one of the friends what an appropriate punishment would be for a murderer.  “Counseling,” he replied. Another friend, a girl, said, “What’s the big [bleeping] deal?  People die all the time.”  The days are evil!

            Actor River Phoenix collapsed and died outside of a fashionable Los Angeles hot spot, but his death hasn’t slowed down the club scene at all.  Cliff Cantor, a co-owner of the club Dragonfly said, “Nothing’s changed.  Look around.  Nobody’s talking about it. The people who go out and do drugs are doing them. . . Business as usual. The week started out on a really glum note.  But it’s really reassuring to see that people aren’t going to wallow in remorse.” One 20 year-old named Carol said: “People are pretty jaded about the whole thing.  I mean, we’re sad, you know? But what are you gonna do?”  “Order another drink,” quipped her male companion.  The days are evil!

             So what can we do?  Hide ourselves?  Say nothing?  Do nothing?  No, we are to take advantage of the days we are living in and be salt, be light to the people of this world.  Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:13-16, You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

            First of all we are to be salt on this earth.  Salt is a preserving force and in those days, since they didn’t have any refrigeration, they would put a heavy layer of salt on their meat to protect it from rotting.  We are that preserving force to help prevent this world from rotting away, decaying more than it already has.

            Salt also adds flavor to things and I think we should too!  We should add some flavor to this world, give it some real life!  Too often Christians are looked upon as complainers, gloom and doomers, there is no joy at all and that should not be.  I will tell you this, when my wife goes into a place, she adds flavor to it, she spices things up you might say in a good way!  One woman put it this way as she said of Julie, “You are the most un-pastor like pastor’s wife I have ever met.  The ones I know all have a sour look upon their face and they didn’t know how to crack a smile, they were so uptight!”  We need to lighten up, have some fun, show people there is joy in the Lord and that is one thing that I can say about my marriage, we do have fun, we do like to laugh!  Add flavor to this world!

            Also, salt does sting and irritate and as we stand up for what is right, not everyone will receive it with joy, but some will receive it as it stings them, and because of that they receive the healing, a cure that is only found in Jesus!

            And lastly, Jesus says we are to be a light in a world that is in spiritual darkness, to shine the love of Jesus to people and as we do God gets the glory!  Don’t hide your light, don’t let your salt lose its flavor, its punch, but redeem the time, take advantage of the days we are living in and be salt and light to the people!

            You see, there is coming a day when the salt and light will be removed. It is when the church is taken home to be with the Lord, when the Bridegroom comes for His Bride, the church, and the work of the Holy Spirit working in and through the church will be completed. Paul, in II Thessalonians 2:5-8 said, Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?  And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 

            At this point and through the 7 years of the tribulation period, evil will increase more and more because the salt and the light have been removed and it will get worse and worse until the Lord steps in and stops this evil.  But, until that time let us shine brightly and let us be salt; preserving, adding flavor, and causing some sting to heal while there is still time!

4.  TO KNOW GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES – EPHESIANS 5:17 

            Just as there is a fixed period of time for our lives, God also has a plan for our lives. Paul tells us For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

            We are created for good works; God has a plan, a purpose for our lives.  But you see, there is God’s perfect will for our lives and God’s permissive will. His perfect will speaks for itself – it is perfect!  It is what is best for our lives.  His permissive will is obviously not His best for us, but if we want it bad enough, He will give it to us.  But remember, there are consequences to His permissive will, it is not what He wants us to have but what we want!

            We can see this in the life of King Hezekiah, a godly king in the Southern Kingdom of Judah who broke down the idols and removed idol worship from the land. He even took the bronze serpent that Moses made some 690 years earlier and broke it into pieces because the people were worshiping it and he called it a thing of brass! It had become an idol to them.  So Hezekiah brought reform to the nation, brought the people back to God.

            Things were going well until one day Isaiah the prophet come to Hezekiah and told him, “. . . . ‘Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’  II Kings 20:1.  Hezekiah was not very happy with the news when he heard it and he went tearfully back to the Lord and asked, begged for his life to be lengthened and the Lord did add 15 years to his life.  But during those 15 years he showed the Babylonians the treasures of his kingdom, which gave them incentive years latter to come down and invade Judah!  Also during those added 15 years he had a son by the name of Manasseh, who became a very wicked king; he destroyed all the work his father did in bringing reform to the nation!

            You see, Hezekiah settled for God’s permissive will instead of God’s perfect will for his life because of his own desires and not what God wanted for him.  It did cost him.  But how do we know God’s perfect will for our lives?  I think there are 3 areas that God does show us His will for our lives.

            A.  GOD SHOWS US HIS WILL THROUGH HIS WORD

            In Psalm 119:133 we read, Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.”  Our Christian walk should be in accordance with His Word and not deviating to the left or the right, which will only get us in trouble and that is not God’s perfect will for us!

            In Colossians 1:9-10 we are told, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” 

            I have been the pastor here at Calvary Chapel now for 7½ years and each year I encourage you to read through the Word of God, and this will be our eighth time together that we have gone from Genesis through Revelation starting in January.  I will encourage you once again to follow along with us each week, looking at the chapters you need to read from the bulletin, which amounts to about 2-3 chapters of the Old Testament and 1 chapter of the New Testament each day, about 15 minutes of your time, and in 1 year you would have read the entire Bible, the whole counsel of God!  It is important if you want to know God’s will for your life, to be directed by Him!

            B.  GOD SHOWS US HIS WILL AS HE SPEAKS TO OUR HEARTS

            In Colossians 3:15-17 Paul tells us And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  God’s still small voice speaks to our hearts as we spend time with Him, not outside His Word or His counsel, but in accordance to His Word, and thus, His counsel is perfect!

            C.  GOD SHOWS US HIS WILL THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCES

            Paul, in Romans 8:28 tells us, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  You see, He teaches us through the things we go through, learning lessons of faith as He leads us.

            If we are diligently seeking the will of God for our lives, we will find it. He will show it to us.  Paul said in Romans 12:2, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  And that is done as we read His Word, spend time with Him, listen to His voice, and watch what He is doing in us and through us, renewing our minds!

            As this New Year approaches may we learn the lessons from 2002 to help us for 2003, to help us to be wise and walk carefully, taking advantage of the days we are living in, the evil days, knowing the will of God for our lives.

            Let me leave you this morning with this poem to think about. It goes like this:

                        Another year is dawning,

                        Dear Father let it be,

                        In working or in waiting,

                        Another year with thee.

                        Another year of progress,

                        Another year of praise,

                        Another year of proving

                        Thy presence all the days.

                        Another year of mercies,

                        Of faithfulness and grace,

                        Another year of gladness,

                        The glory of thy face.

                        Another year of leaning

                        Upon thy loving breast,

                        Another year of trusting,

                        Of quiet, happy rest.

                        Another year of service,

                        Of witness for thy love,

                        Another year of training

                        For holier work above.

                        Another year is dawning,

                        Dear Father, let it be,

                        On earth, or else in heaven,

                        Another year for thee.

                                                                                                            - Frances R. Havergal

            May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in this coming year 2003, and may He bless you and use you for His glory!

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