Let us pray: Dear Savior, our time of grace on this earth is the most precious commodity we possess. And yet, our times are in Your gracious hands. So, today inspire us to use that time for a positive, beneficial purpose. Cause us to make the most of each day by focusing on Your goodness, Your love, Your forgiveness, and the peace of heart and soul that it brings. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF YOUR LIFE-TIME!
TEXT: Ephesians 5: 15-20
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Like you, I take my body for granted. Until, that is, pain tells me otherwise! Recently I hurt a tendon in my left thumb/wrist area. Like most men, I sort of ignored it, thinking it would soon go away. But, it hasn’t gone away and now I’m left to babying my left hand for the next few weeks. Suddenly the simple things in life—buttoning up a shirt, grabbing the seat belt, or even chopping vegetables hurts. I find I must always be aware of exactly what I’m doing so as not to stress that area. Yes, one simple hurt tendon is disrupting my routine.
This has reminded me that our body is an interconnected machine, created by God. When one part is not working right, the whole suffers. And that is not just true in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense, as well. You might not think that angry words directed toward your spouse or kids affects your physically. But, those restless nights prove otherwise. You might not think that dabbling with some secret sin is causing you to be unhappy. But, God knows better. Our body and our soul are interconnected. Yes, internal pain shows itself in many ways.
I find it fascinating that stress leads to hypertension which leads to heart disease and stroke. Could America’s ignoring of God and worship be a contributing cause? And how much depression could be alleviated by the simple act of heart-felt repentance? For if your soul is not at peace, how can your psyche be at peace? Let’s not be foolish. God made the whole human. Everything about us is interconnected. And since He’s the source of life itself, life cannot be lived to its fullest apart from Him.
Well, that brings us to this wonderful little lesson in which St. Paul addresses this problem by reminding us all to:
MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Who does not find the news depressing? Terrorism, hurricanes, car crashes, triple EEE, domestic violence—such stories dominate the news cycle. It makes you want to crawl into a hole and pull a rock over your head. At work we are forced to labor with disagreeable people. On the highways we are joined by a car-length to imminent danger. Good manners and civility have been replaced by brusque “me-firstism.” Our fast-paced lifestyles have turned the simple act of staying home and reading a book into a forgotten memory. And reaching out to another and actually getting to know them as a person, well, who has time for more than the meaningless: “Have a nice day?”
Elsewhere Paul writes that “what is true, noble, excellent, or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Folks, that is true wisdom! In evil times we need to rise above the selfishness of the world and make a difference. We need to show the world and to show ourselves that there really is a better way to live—a way toward true happiness. It is God’s way. It is living the unselfish love of Christ. It is reminding everyone within earshot by word and action that God Almighty made us special. That He gave His life for ours in Christ. That dwelling on the positive is much more productive toward happiness than dwelling on the negative. Yes, make the most of every opportunity to do so!
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
Archeologists have discovered that literally every known culture used alcohol. Why? You know the answer.—To drown their sorrows. To escape from reality. The same is true of drug abuse today. Human vices are beyond my ability to recount. But it is very telling that in our culture of pleasure for pleasures sake pornography, gambling, sex without commitment, cheating in schools, and the athletic steroid scandal have all risen. Likewise, stress, anxiety, worry, depression, and eating disorders have all reached epidemic proportions. Apart from God’s truths about right and wrong, apart from His truths about how to live and be content, apart from knowing you’re forgiven by His blood—well, if our souls aren’t right with God, the rest of us won’t be either. And pain will ensue.
Of course, God’s antidote to all this pain is to give us the Comforter from on high, the Holy Spirit. Today a little baby girl was given that blessed gift, just as you were when you were baptized. And the Spirit enables us to ennoble one another, to rise above the mundane, to make an eternal difference in each other’s lives, and to make God smile. Think about that. You always feel good when you make another smile. It brightens your day. So, too, with God. By focusing on the fact that we can give Him joy by making the most of every opportunity, we are given the ultimate in “uppers” every single day!
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
When I was a little boy I heard this text and thought: “That sounds kind of boring. Who wants to go around quoting the Bible or the hymnbook all the time?” But, or course, that misses the point. The real point is that when we dwell on all of God’s goodness, those truths ennoble us. When we share such “uppers” everyone around us is lifted to a higher plane. When we receive the comfort of knowing God has made us right with Him, peace and happiness, equilibrium in life comes our way. For the body and soul are then in sync. And when we utilize such gifts to ennoble others, they, too benefit and God is glorified.
The bottom line is this: you can go through life in internal pain, which also brings on external pain, or you can make the most of every opportunity God puts before you and be at peace. What will it be? Will you be wise? Or foolish? Amen