Thursday, September 20, 2018
Download MP3 (right click to save)
Okay, try to picture it. Maybe you don't have to picture it. Maybe you've been there. It's the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, just before doors open at, let's say, Walmart. It's still dark, but a lot of people are lined up, anxiously waiting to enter. It's the day of those fabulous sales that stores like this have to encourage your early Christmas shopping. And for a short time after the doors open, there are some absolutely amazing prices on many popular items. But you have to move quickly and scoop them up. One year recently, I remember the crush of people was so great, at one store a lady was nearly trampled to death when the doors opened. And at another store, another year, a man actually was trampled to death. Once you're in the store, you know what to do. No browsing. No chatting. You're on a mission! Just look for those sales opportunities and grab them while you can!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Grabbing Opportunities."
Aggressively seizing opportunities because time is short-that's not just a picture of a sale day shopper. That's supposed to be the picture of every follower of Jesus Christ. Not just browsing and cruising through our days, but really making them count...really making a difference with your life.
If you read our word for today from the Word of God in the original language of the New Testament, you can see just that kind of urgency and intensity. It's Ephesians 5:15 and 16, "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise, but as wise, (Now what follows is God's definition of what it means to "live smart.") making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." The original Greek conveys the idea of aggressively buying up every opportunity you have to do something about the darkness around you.
Near the end of this letter that Paul wrote from a prison cell, probably chained to a Roman guard, he gives us a living example of this "make a difference" mindset in action. He says, "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel...pray that I will declare it fearlessly, as I should."
In another letter, we learn that there were believers ultimately in Caesar's household; likely some of those soldiers Paul spent so much time with. He saw his imprisonment, not so much as an ordeal, but as an opportunity to tell people there about his Jesus and to rescue them from evil.
Life is full of life-saving opportunities for those with eyes to see them; for those who understand that we're supposed to be looking for them wherever we are. I know when one member of our family was in the hospital, the reason seemed clear. There was a patient who left a trail of Jesus all through that hospital. There just to get well? No. They were there positioned by God to help spiritually rescue some of the people in that hospital.
If you want to make the greatest possible difference with the rest of your life, and I hope you do. If you want to help some people be in heaven with you, and I hope you do. If you want to obey your Savior, and I really hope you do, then each morning pray for natural opportunities to bring up your Jesus. "Lord, open a door." Then look for those opportunities to open up. Buy them up like an alert shopper.
When someone shares a burden or a concern with you, don't just promise to pray for them. Ask if you can pray with them right then. Chances are they have never heard their name in a prayer all their life! I've never had anyone turn down that offer by the way. And if God opens the door, tell them after you pray that you weren't always able to talk to God like that because there used to be a wall between you and Him that Jesus took down.
Look for opportunities to share your personal hope story, which is the story of the difference Jesus has made for you in certain life situations, particular needs, and certainly your eternal situation. Look for those opportunities. Pray for those opportunities. Grab those opportunities. Why? Because God is putting people in your life so they can have a chance at Jesus...and a chance at heaven. That's an opportunity you just must not miss.