"CHRISTIAN LIVING WITH A PURPOSE"
Four pastors were discussing the merits of the various translations of the Bible. One liked the King James Version. Another liked the American Standard Version best because it is more literal and comes nearer the original Hebrew and Greek. The third liked the Moffatt's translation best because of its up-to-date vocabulary. The fourth minister was silent. When asked to express his opinion, he replied, “I like my mother's translation the best.” The other three expressed surprise. They wondered what he was driving at. “Yes,” he replied, “Mother translated the Bible into everyday life, and it was the most convincing translation I ever saw.”
A Hindu student said to Billy Graham in Madras, India, “I would become a Christian if I could see one!” Said Graham, “And when he said that, he was looking at me! That was the greatest sermons ever preached to me!”
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S BEHAVIOR V. 15
Looking back at what he has said in verses 11-14, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to pay special attention to our behavior as Christians. Why is this necessary? Because of the illumination that Christians have received from the Holy Spirit, we are to be mindful of the way we behave. In other words, we are to give great attention to the way we live our lives as Christians. When you became a Christian, you changed masters. Before you were a Christian you used to be in charge of your life. Now you are no longer in charge. Now Jesus Christ is your Master, who has given His Holy Spirit to help and guide you to live the Christian life. As a Christian, you have transferred allegiance and devotion to Christ. God has given you a new way of life and perspective. The Apostle Paul presents two assumptions in this verse. First, he says that Christians are wise people, not fools.
Second, Paul says that Christian wisdom is practical wisdom, for it teaches us how to behave. The Hebrew concept for behavior is the phrase to walk or to love. Our Christian walk or behavior must no longer be according to the world, the flesh and the devil (Eph. 2:1-3), or like pagans (Eph. 4:17). I like what Chip Ingram, Life on the Edge, says, “It is not what you think that is important, but the way you behave.” The world has produced many thinkers or philosophers whose lifestyle contradicted everything they said or wrote.
Paul says that you must be careful how you behave or how you live your life, not as fools but as wise Christians. We who follow Jesus Christ must live life worthy of God's call, in love, and as children of light (Eph. 4:1:5:1; 5:8). Be careful how you walk, live, or behave is a general exhortation to you and me, who are credited with the wisdom of God. In other words, everything worth doing requires care. You give great importance to things that matter to you—your job, education, dress and appearance. Is your Christian life important to you? If your Christian life is important to you, you will watch the way you behave toward others, especially outsiders or unbelievers.
Someone has said that, “the Devil is willing for a person to confess Christianity as long as he does not practice it.” In the New Year 2012, which is just around the corner, are you going to be wise by the way you behave or live your life? Christians are not to behave as simpletons or fools because God's wisdom is available to us. Make a great difference in the way you live the Christian life. Your life as a Christian can attract or repel others from Christ. You must live the Christian life on target, the target being that which pleases Christ and fits His purpose. The Christian life is a life that is focused on Christ. If Christ is the center of our lives, the circumference will take care of itself.
What therefore are the marks of Christians who take time to cultivate their Christian discipleship?
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S USE OF TIME V. 16
First, wise people make the most of their time. Paul is saying that we should make profitable use of every passing opportunity. We are to use time well. You are to make your time count for Christ. Time is going by, and evil will use it if Christians do not. Our contemporary society is the hurried society. We have drive-through restaurants, drive-through banks, drive-through ice cream and snack bars, etc. We are too busy for life. Nevertheless, we must reconsider how we use time. Most households in our society spend at least four to five hours a day watching TV, though we may not care for what we watch. Today the Internet has become some husbands and wives' companion as such their children don't know whom to talk to about things going on in their lives. There is no wonder many people are lonely today more than any time in history. We are surrounded by people and yet many feel lonely because nobody is ready to listen. We are busy for nothing that makes eternal difference.
Many of us pray to God for children, and God blesses us with children, yet we don't have time to chat with our children. Many of us have been bachelors and spinsters for so long. We have fasted and prayed and God has blessed us with spouses, yet we do not see each other. In some Christian home as the wife is coming home, the husband would be leaving. Our children barely see us. The question you and I need to answer is this, is our work more important than our children? Is the Internet more important than the welfare of your children? Is the big house you are building more important than the education of your children? Some school children come home with work from school, but sadly, none of the parents is there to help them do their work. When you are home, you are always on the telephone. When something is happening to your children in the house, you are not even aware of it. Some of you have time for everything, except prayer. Some of you have time for everything, except the reading and studying of the Bible. There is no wonder many Christians are stressed out. You have time for everything but you don't have time for prayer and devotion with your family. You have time for everything but no time to tell your neighbor about Jesus Christ. How much time do you give to life with God, or to learning about the Christian life? How much time do you invest in people or do something beneficial? You must invest time in your Christian faith if your life is to have great impact on your family and others.
Certainly, wise people know that time is a precious commodity. All of us have the same amount of time at our disposal, with sixty minutes in every hour and twenty-four hours every day. None of us can stretch time. But wise people use it to the fullest advantage possible.
A driver stopped his car at an intersection and waited for the green signal. When the green light came, he waited further to confirm it. That is, he waited until the light turned green a second time! After that, he waited still further until the green light flashed a third time, before he proceeded on his way. Absurd! Of course, No one would drive like that. But are there not Christians who live like that driver? They are so overcautious that they wait for signs from God, wait to reconfirm the signs, and then wait for an auspicious moment to act. They are waiting almost perpetually and can never redeem the time they wasted or opportunities they lost. Let your life count for God and your family in the coming year. Invest time in God's Word, work, and people's lives and you will be fulfilled.
III. THE CHRISTIAN'S DISCERNING OF GOD'S WILL V. 17
Second, wise people discern the will of God. Christians, who are wise, are aware that willfulness is folly, but wisdom is found in God's will and nowhere else. Nothing is more important than to discover and do the will of God. Moreover, in seeking to discover the will of God, it is essential to distinguish between God's general and His particular will. God's general will is the same for all Christians. For instance, one of God's general will is to make us like Christ (Rom. 8:29). His particular or specific will is different for each of us, for example, what career you should pursue, whether you should marry, and if so whom. What school you should attend and why.
Only after distinguishing these can you find out what the will of the Lord is for your life. God's general will is found in Scripture; the will of God for the people of God has been revealed in the word of God. But you shall not find his particular will in Scripture. To be sure, you will find general principles in Scripture to guide you, but detailed decisions have to be made after careful thought and prayer and the seeking of advice from mature and experienced believers. If your life is in tune with the Holy Spirit, it won't be difficult to discern God's will for your life.
IV. THE CHRISTIAN'S SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE V. 18
God's word warns against the folly of overindulgence in alcohol or any strong drink. Drunkenness was common in the pagan world and cautions in the NT show that it presented a serious temptation to Christians. The prohibition of drunkenness is directly applicable and possibly even more needed now than in Paul's day. The danger of drunkenness lies not only in itself, but also in what it may induce. Drunkenness has no place in the life of a Christian. How can you watch closely how you live when you are drunk? Drunkenness, to say nothing of alcohol addiction is a major problem in our society. A person who is drunk is under the influence of alcohol; and certainly, a Spirit-filled Christian is under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. Under the influence of alcohol, you lose control of yourself. However, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, you do not lose control; rather you gain it. Many families have become casualties to drunken drivers. Some people use drunkenness as a form of escapism. Our society has a strange notion that to have fun we ought to get drunk. Drunkenness impairs your judgment. You are not to get drunk because it causes dissipation (the story of the prodigal son). Drunkenness causes you to let down your guard (e.g. the terrorist attacks). The Ashanti adage, "When a chick is drunk, it soon forgets that it is within the reach of the hawk." The Police would arrest many people in December 31st night because of drunkenness. Drunk drivers would put many people's life in serious jeopardy on December 31st night. Therefore, be sober minded and focus on Christ in the New Year that is soon to dawn on us. Why are you to be filled with the Holy Spirit and not get drunk with wine? The answer is found in Ephesians 6:10-20. There is a formidable adversary who is prepared to destroy you. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God and resist his every move in your life during the New Year. Happy New Year.
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