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Make the Most out of Every Opportunity

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2008-04-13 Ephesians 5.8-21 Making the Most of Every Opportunity

          How can we make the most out of every opportunity?  In our series on Ephesians, the Apostle Paul has continually reminded us of who we are in Christ.  Again, this morning, he’s telling us that, by God’s grace, we are God’s offspring.  We are Children of light, so Paul tells us, live as children of the light!

          In order to make the most out of every opportunity, we have to know who we are.  There are great hockey players who can readily make the most out of every opportunity, right!  You see them skating toward the opponent’s net.  The defenseman is doing everything he can, within and outside of reason to stop our hockey player from scoring.  But still he drives to the net.  The defenseman is practically standing on his head, but our guy keeps on skating.  So in desperation, the defenseman hooks our guy and drags him to the ice, and yet, somehow, our guy keeps his stick on the puck, his eye on the goal, and long after we’d expect him to be able to get a shot on net, with a flick of the wrist he scores!

          How?  How are those plays possible?  Of course, there is skill and ability involved, years of diligent practise and exercise, training and discipline.  But there’s also confidence.  The player believes in his abilities.  He knows what he can do!  So he goes out there and does it!

          Paul isn’t just telling us that we’re good players in life.  He’s telling us that we are like Christ!  We are like the perfect one!  We have the Holy Spirit in us, therefore we are in the light, we’re able to live as children of the light!  Therefore we ought to live as Children of the light!

          So often, though, we tend to look at ourselves as we formerly were.  We tend to think of ourselves as children of wrath!  But we are not!  We are children of God!  We believe that God has called us!  We believe so strongly in the power of God to transform us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!  But we’re not still sinners; we’re saints who sin sometimes!  We are saints!  Not by our own merit, but by the sovereign, rich, wonderful grace of God, this is so powerful, so sovereign, that we confess our trust in God by baptising our children!  No, we don’t choose God; God chooses us!

          So, as children of the light, God expects us to live as children of the light.  Every day, we live in the attitude of this principle idea.  We need to live in the true knowledge of God, allowing that to shape our daily living.  Our mindset, our thoughts, our speech, our deeds should be characterised by righteousness and holiness, because of who we are: Children of light.

          If we are Children of light, do we need to fear darkness?  If we’re children of God, do we need to fear Satan?  If we’re children of light, do we need to worry?  Not at all!  Because we know, we are eternally secure!  Martin Luther wrote in his hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still; his kingdom is forever!”

          Martin Luther understood.  He faced persecution.  His life wasn’t easy.  He struggled.  But through it all he had the Joy of his salvation!  He had the Joy of Christ’s life, Christ’s light in him!  That no matter what he faced, he understood that he was part of God’s eternal kingdom and that he would be going on to glory!  That kept him going!  That enabled him to write those powerful words!

          Paul explains that the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth!

          So, examine your life.  Is it full of fruit?  Are you abounding in goodness, righteousness and truth?  What are you doing to learn the truth?  Are you reading the Bible?  Are you listening to sermons?  Are you attending Bible studies?  Are you doing devotions, are you praying?

          Does your daily living show that you are a Child of light?  If so, praise God!  If not, you need to ask yourself why not.  Is it because you don’t really believe that God claimed you, that your baptism proclaims this reality?  Is it because you don’t really know who you are in Christ?  Are you ignorant of the sacrifice that God made, that your parents made, that your church made, your friends made in order to get you into this place, to tell you the truth?  If you’re not living in truth, righteousness and holiness, you’re like a practise pylon.

          You know what a practise pylon is?  A pylon is one of those orange cones hockey coaches put on the ice for the skaters to practise skating around.  When I played shinny hockey at college, I was much more like a pylon than a player, people could skate circles around me!

          If in the Christian life, we’re not living in righteousness, holiness and truth, then we’re not players, we’re pylons!  But according to this passage, we’re not pylons, we are players!  We can do what God has created us to do, do the work he prepared in advance for us to do.  In Christ, we’re like that power forward, who despite being hauled to the ice, still managed to shoot at the net and score!

          So, produce good fruit, and then you’ll know you’re in the light, a child of the light.  Paul talks about all goodness, which is Spirit-created moral and spiritual excellence in every way.  Righteousness is the JOY in doing what is right according to God.  It is taking the narrow road, and sticking to it!

          We walk, that is, we live, as children of light live.  Verse ten seems strange in this context.  Here Paul’s telling us to live or walk as children of the light, but then he says, find out what is pleasing to the Lord.  Well, don’t we know what’s pleasing to the Lord?  Didn’t he just describe it when he said, truth, righteousness and holiness pleases God?

          The way to understand verse 10 is, proving or verifying what is pleasing to the Lord.  Or experiencing, learning, understanding, that what we do in truth, holiness and righteousness is in fact pleasing to God!  And in doing this, we’ll experience God’s joy!

          Look back on your experiences as a child.  What gave you joy back then?  Wasn’t it doing what your parents asked you to do, even if at the time you didn’t feel like doing it?  But what happened when you did the wrong thing?  You felt terrible.  There was no joy, no peace!  You waited to get caught.

          So, since we know that what gives us joy is doing the will of God, doing the things that we’re created to do, as children of light, we ought not to have anything to do with darkness!  Darkness doesn’t bring joy!

          The deeds of darkness are fruitless.  They don’t produce anything!  The deeds of darkness don’t produce fruit.  The deeds of darkness seem to produce joy and satisfaction, but they don’t really!  They simply leave you desiring more and more.  The deeds of light, fill you with satisfaction, making you want to do more because they are so satisfying.

          Does that make sense?  If we, though we are children of light, and so therefore it ought to be impossible for us to do dark deeds, if we turn to sinful things, a little later, Paul uses drunkenness as an example, if we try to find satisfaction in the dark things, in ungodly things, then we’ll keep on looking.  We’ll keep pursuing the next long weekend, the next one night stand, the next party, the next boyfriend, the next girlfriend, the next new purchase, the next best thing.  We’ll not have any satisfaction from what we actually have, we’ll be empty.

          But in contrast, being in the light, doing the deeds of light, we’ll find true satisfaction in what we have, and we’ll hunger to do more good deeds!  Not as though we’ve been lacking, but rather from the out flowing of our hearts, we’ll hardly be able to keep from doing the good deeds of God.

          But maybe, you’re still worried still wondering if you’re doing what’s pleasing to the Lord.  Listen to what Scripture has to say, “Do not worry or speculate or philosophize or argue. Just go right ahead and do the will of God as he has revealed it. The proof or evidence for which you are looking will then be abundantly supplied to you. You will have the verification in your heart. The assurance or peace will be distilled into your life as the dewdrops are distilled and impearled upon the leaves” (Rom. 8:16; 12:1, 2; II Cor. 5:9; Phil. 4:6, 7, 18; Col. 1:10; and II Peter 1:5–11).   God the Father was pleased with His Son, and said so, at Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration.  Now, when we please God by our faithfulness, holiness and righteousness, we probably won’t hear God’s acclamation from heaven, but we will receive encouragement from the Holy Spirit, within us, giving us great joy!

          The works of darkness don’t bear fruit.  They don’t glorify God, they don’t win souls for Christ, and they don’t bring peace or satisfaction, which I’ve mentioned already.  But the purpose of the Christian life is to give glory to God, and to be witnesses of Christ to the world.  Doing sinful things makes us hypocrites, and turns people off of God.  Notice that Paul doesn’t give options here.  There’s no gray area.  You’re either doing godly things, or evil things, there’s no in between state.  You’re either a believer or an unbeliever.  You can’t be halfway.  The deeds you do either reflect that you’re a child of light, or a child of darkness.  If you’ve been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God’s placed your claim on you, just has he placed His claim on Mattias.

          Furthermore, if you’ve publically professed your faith in Jesus Christ, you’ve acknowledged before God and people that you accept Christ’s righteous sacrifice on your behalf, that he paid for all your sins, and that He’s made you in to a child of light, then live like it.  It’s that simple!

          Now, Paul says, it is not simply enough to avoid darkness and live in light.  We need to expose the darkness by shining the light of Christ on it.  That means we are to fight against darkness!  We resist everything that is an attempt to put stuff alongside the light, alongside the worship of God.

          What example can I use?  We live in an affluent society, right?  Aren’t we told, by the world, and even by some Christians, that it is okay to serve both God and money?  However, according to scriptures, we cannot serve both God and money.  So, we need to examine our lives, “are we falling under the influence of the world?” 

          I admit I’m very susceptible to this.  Not so long ago, Ipods came out.  Then there was the Ipod with video, then there was a smaller Ipod, then there was a smaller Ipod with video, then advertisements said you now needed the smaller Ipod with more memory.  They hook you with a product, then before that product is very old, they come out with one that is very slightly better, but they sell it as though you need it.  Mark Driscoll describes this very well in his sermon, “The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Poverty, it’s available on our website, listen to it!

          Do you recall the example I used a while ago about going to a doctor because of an illness?  In that example, I asked what you would have thought of a doctor who did nothing to correct your deadly condition out of fear of hurting your feelings.  You’d be rather angry at that doctor, wouldn’t you?  What about our friends and family members who are living in sin?  Shouldn’t we tell them the truth?  Shouldn’t we say that the wages of sin is eternal death?  Even if they don’t want to hear the bad news, as children of light we’re called to shine light onto the darkness, so that we can tell the truth to our loved ones, and allow the light of Christ to shine on them and transform them.  But if we lie and say sin isn’t sin, we’re helping the darkness, not the light.  There’s no middle ground in sin.

          What’s the best way to expose deeds of darkness?  The best way is to live as children of light!  Then there will be such a sharp contrast, that those who are doing dark deeds will be exposed, and their horrible practices will be revealed for what they are.

          Paul quotes Isaiah 60:1, saying, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  In Isaiah, it reads, “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of God has arisen upon you.”  That glory is Christ!  And when the light of Christ shines through us on those who are in the darkness, watch out!  The dead will rise to life!  Glorious praises will ascend to God!  Let the light of Christ shine on you and through you!  Then people will see your testimony for Christ!  The Holy Spirit will work in their hearts, and they will come to know Jesus through you!

          So, be careful how you live!  Be wise, not unwise.  In your wisdom, follow God!  Do righteousness, be holy, live for truth.  Make the most of every opportunity.  That hypothetical hockey player, could have quit.  He could have allowed the defenseman to stop him from shooting.  But he made the most of it, and scored.

          Until Christ, returns the days will be evil and full of evil.  Listen to the news, there’s not much good going on.  But as children of the Light, we can make the most of every opportunity.  That’s what we’ve done this morning.  We baptized Mattias.  When I say we, it is not just Renee and I, but us as a congregation, us as part of the universal church.  We’re declared that Mattias belongs to God.

          We belong to God.  We have the Holy Spirit in us, empowering us to make the most of every situation, every decision, every day of our lives.  How are you living?  Are you in the light or the darkness?  Live as children of the light!  It’s great!  Amen.

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