Text: Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV)
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 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Introduction: There was once a television commercial for a telephone company that shows a drive-through window such as you would see at a fast-food restaurant? Over the window are the words: TIME "R" US. One customer drives up and says, "Gimme a couple of seconds." Another one drives up and with great weariness says, "Can I have another day?" It's a great commercial, because we can all identify with it.
~Citation: "Now is the Time," Preaching Today, Tape No. 73.
I. Watch your Step! (vv.15-16)
A. Watch Your Step Carefully
*Time is life--nothing more, nothing less. The way you spend your hours and your days is the way you spend your life.
~Citation: John Boykin in The Gospel of Coincidence. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 5.
*We are always complaining that our days are few and acting as though there would be no end of them.
~Citation: Seneca, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 1.
*Let the year be given to God in its every moment! The year is made up of minutes: let these be watched as having been dedicated to God! It is in the sanctification of the small that hallowing of the large is secure.
~Citation: G. Campbell Morgan, quoted in 12,000 Religious Quotations, compiled by Frank S. Mead. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 1.
B. Watch Your Step Critically
*Jimmy would say, "God trusts us to make the best use of the time we have, to try to live like Jesus and to make our lives meaningful and beneficial to others no matter where we are."
~Citation: Rosalynn Carter, quoting Jimmy Carter, Marriage Partnership, Vol. 5, no. 1.
1. Take Strides of Wisdom
2. Take Strides of Worth
a) Against Waste of Time
b) Against Evil Times
II. What are you thinking? (v.17)
A. The Way of the Fool
*If your mind should go blank, don't forget to turn off the sound.
~James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 473.
B. The Will of the Lord
III. What’s your pleasure? (vv.18-20)
*A drunken man got on the bus late one night, staggered up the aisle, and sat next to a woman who was clutching a Bible.
She looked the wayward drunk up and down and said, "I've got news for you, mister. You're going straight to hell!"
The man jumped up out of his seat and shouted, "Oh, man, I'm on the wrong bus again!"
1. Powerful Spirits
2. Powerless Stupor
1. With Spirit Indwelling the Believer
* There are overshot waterwheels and undershot. In the one case the motive power falls from above; in the other the water turns the wheel from below. The first is more powerful. Men, like wheels, are turned by forces from various sources, and too many move by the undercurrent--mercenary desires and selfish aims drive them. But the good man's driving force falls from above; let him endeavor to prove to all men that this is the most mighty force in existence.
~Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
* A woodpecker tapped with his beak against the stem of a tree just as lightning struck the tree and destroyed it. He flew away and said, "I didn't know there was so much power in my beak!" When we bring the Gospel there is a danger that we will think or say, "I have done a good job." Don't be a silly woodpecker. Know where your strength comes from. It is only the Holy Spirit who can make a message good and fruitful.
-- Corrie Ten Boom in Each New Day. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 3.
2. With Voice Outpouring to One Another
* Each year in Washington, D.C., someone rents a hall, hires an orchestra, and advertises a sing-along production of Handel's Messiah. People stand in line to get tickets. The choir numbers five thousand. They pay for the privilege of singing Messiah. Of course, it is always a privilege to sing of the Christ or to speak of the Christ. Why do we not take advantage of our opportunities to do it?
~Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
3. With Heart Exalting The Master
In the middle of the soloist's number at church, my young grandson Chandler tugged on my sleeve and whispered, "She can't sing very well, can she?"
Knowing the woman had a deep love for the Lord, I said, "Chandler, she sings from her heart. That's what makes it good." He nodded thoughtfully.
Several days later as he and I were singing along with the car radio, Chandler stopped and said, "Nana, you sing from your heart, don't you?"
Citation: Barbara McKeever, Urbana, Ohio. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."
4. With Thanks Overflowing To God
*Author Bob Reccord writes:
As I write this book, I'm having to exercise the faith of dealing with the prison of pain. Unexpectedly, I suffered a severe cervical spinal injury. The pain was so excruciating, the hospital staff couldn't even get me into the MRI until they had significantly sedated me. The MRI showed significant damage at three major points in the cervical area. The orthopedic surgeon's assistant later told me, "Bob, your neck is a wreck." He said there was hardly any way I could avoid surgery.
Because of the swelling of injured nerve bundles, the only way I could relieve the pain was to use a strong, prescribed narcotic and to lie on bags of ice. Sleep, what little there was, came only by sitting in a reclining chair.
Approximately 48 hours from the onset of the injury, doctors estimated that I lost about 80 percent of the strength in my left arm. Three fingers on my left hand totally lost feeling. Even the slightest movements would send pain waves hurtling down my left side and shoulder. To add insult to injury, physicians said I had to step away completely from my work (which I love), and begin to wear a neck brace…24 hours a day for five weeks.
About halfway through that experience, I found myself sitting on the screened-in porch behind our home. The day was cold and blustery, but I was committed to being outside, just for a change of scenery. Suddenly a bird landed on the railing and began to sing. On that cold, rainy day, I couldn't believe any creature had a reason to sing. I wanted to shoot that bird! But he continued to warble, and I had no choice but to listen.
The next day found me on the porch again, but this time the atmosphere was bright, sunny, and warm. As I sat, being tempted to feel sorry for myself, suddenly the bird (at least it looked like the same one) returned. And he was singing again! Where was that shotgun?
Then an amazing truth hit me head on: the bird sang in the cold rain as well as the sunny warmth. His song was not altered by outward circumstances, but it was held constant by an internal condition. It was as though God quietly said to me, "You've got the same choice, Bob. You will either let external circumstances mold your attitude, or your attitude will rise above the external circumstances. You choose!"
Citation: Bob Reccord, Forged by Fire: How God Shapes Those He Loves (Broadman & Holman, Nashville, TN, 2000), p. 112
* One man gets nothing but discord out of a piano; another gets harmony. No one claims the piano is at fault. Life is about the same. The discord is there, but so is the harmony. Study to play it correctly, and it will give forth the beauty; play it falsely, and it will give forth the ugliness. Life is not at fault.
~James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 39.