A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on September 6, 2015 by Pastor Dale Raether
Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net
Make the Most of Every Moment
Ephesians 5:15-20

  What would you do with your time if you lived to be over 900 years old? That’s how long people lived before the Flood. Adam made 930. His son, Seth, only made it to 912. With living that long, think how much knowledge a person could accumulate and pass on to his children. In fact Adam lived long enough to know Noah’s father, Lamech. Also I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamech helped Noah with the ark, because building it took 120 years, and Lamech was around for the first 95. A lot of people have scoffed at this. They say it’s impossible for anyone to live that long, and this just proves the Bible is full of myths. Recently genetic researchers found a gene that if they could get it to turn on, would allow a person to live up over 900 years. Would you want that for yourself? Assuming a person in his 800s would still look and feel like he’s in his 40s, would you pay to have that gene turned on in you? Also, if you could live till the year 2915, what would you do with your time? Play golf? Raise a couple of hundred more children? Or just keep working at Harris or whatever?

After the Flood God began dialing back how long people lived. Noah’s son, Shem made it to 500. Job made it to 294; Abraham, to 177. By the time of Moses, the average life expectancy was down to what it is today, 70 or 80 if we have the strength, and even at that, those years go by fast. So, given that our time here is short, St. Paul urges us to make the most of every moment. 1. Make the most of every moment to share Jesus with others! 2. Make the most of every moment to grow in His Word!

1. Make the most of every moment to share Jesus with others!

Our text reads: Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. – Ephesians 5:15-17 There’s a lot of spiritual life and death stuff going on. Our loving creator doesn’t want anyone to be living in the misery of sin, or worse, to die and suffer the consequences of sin forever. But sin is powerful! The people, who lived before the Flood, knew God was real. Yet they choose to live in rebellion against Him and indulged in whatever immorality they could invent. The people, who lived after the flood, also knew God was real. Yet they “reinvented” God to look like a man or an animal or half and half. They also came up with all kinds of myths that pretended to answer life’s questions, and then they would worship their idols by breaking every commandment, God had written in their hearts. Unfortunately, there’s no reasoning with evil. There’s no talking anyone out of their corrupt was of thinking or their vicious self-centeredness. That’s because, as Paul said, all are by nature dead in their sins, and Satan isn’t willing to let go of anyone.

This is the evil world into which God the Son was born. But He lived here in perfect love, and then the Father made Him be the sacrifice that pays for everyone’s sins. Also, in the case of the Ephesians, God broke through their hard hearts. Through this very message of what His Son had done for them, God made the Ephesians spiritually alive! As a result the Ephesians saw God as their dear Father, and now they had meaning and purpose in life. It was to live as God’s children and be channels of His power and blessings for the people around them.

The world hasn’t changed much in 2000 years. Just as the Christians in Ephesus were surrounded by spiritual darkness, so are we. For example maybe you’ve been following the news about this clerk of courts in Kentucky, who refuses to issue marriage licenses for same-sex marriages. Many have asked, “Why doesn’t she just resign?” Maybe she feels she can’t. When she became Clerk of Court she took a solemn oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the laws of Kentucky. If this clerk really believes that the Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage violates the constitution, and there are people who say that, she is simply following her conscience. But we don’t know what’s actually in her heart. What we do know is that we must all follow our conscience as guided by God’s Word. Also, we must not judge someone else’s conscience, if in our conscience we disagree with how they’re handling something.

But there’s a bigger picture. Satan’s real goal is to use this same-sex marriage issue to undermine the Bible, and get people to think that the Bible is out of date, or that God is unloving, or both. This same-sex marriage issue is just Satan’s tool for this at the moment. In 25 years he’ll probably be using some other issue for the same purpose. But why does Satan do this? God’s Word reveals His love. God’s Word is also His power to give spiritual life and light, so people may see His love. They’ll also then see the foolishness and misery of sin, as well as their own sins and weaknesses, so that they cry out to God for help. Then through the Word, God helps them. He assures them their sins have been paid for by Christ, and that Christ’s righteousness is now THEIR righteousness.

How we rejoice in these facts! How we wish everyone could know these things and believe them! And so let’s be wise! Let’s be wise, so we don’t get sucked into the thinking patterns of this world, OR buy into Satan’s lies about the Bible. But let’s also be wise about not getting side tracked by issues, to where we forget what this war is really about. Now, I am not saying the issues aren’t important. The issue of abortion attacks the 5th Commandment, and the issue of same-sex marriage attacks the 6th Commandment. But while we’re dealing with those issues, let’s not loose sight of our own need for daily repentance and forgiveness. Let’s also remember to love our fellow sinners as Christ loves them, and to be completely humble and gentle as He was.

For example, what did Christ do, when at His trial a soldier struck Jesus in the face? Did Christ curse him? No! Jesus used His being hit as opportunity to encourage everyone present to think about His sinlessness. He said: If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me? – John 18:23 Or, when the court condemned Jesus to death, did He lash out at them in anger? No! He used that as one last opportunity to call them to repentance and faith. He said: For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” – Matthew 23:39

We are following a sermon series entitled, “Working together, we can make a real difference in the world.” The way WE can make a difference today is understand what God’s will is. But God’s will is much more than knowing the Commandments, which of course are important. God’s will is also that we use every attack against His truth, as another seg-way or bridge to tell more people about Jesus, so that HE can work through His Word to bring even more to faith.

This is urgent! People today can’t put off getting right with God for 8 or 900 years before they start thinking about it. Also, the souls in hell do not get a second chance. The day of salvation for each person is that day when he/she hears the Word. But this puts a heavy burden on us. On the one hand, we want everyone to know the freedom from sin and guilt, and the hope of heaven we have. On the other hand, sometime we’re held back from sharing Jesus by our own discouragements and fumbling with the Word, or by our poor memories, and our getting side-tracked with things that aren’t really that important. How can we stay focused so that we do make the most of every moment to share Jesus? Paul would say be wise, and also:

2. Make the most of every moment to grow in His Word!

Our text reads: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:18-20 There’s a play on words in the original Greek. It says literally, “Don’t be filled with spirits, as in alcohol, but be filled with THE Spirit, as in the Holy Spirit.” Now this isn’t saying that it’s wrong to have a drink. It’s saying is wrong to put anything into our body that lowers our judgment, so that we do foolish things, or not have the energy to say anything about the foolish things others are doing. Also Paul isn’t just speaking against the misuse of wine. He would include misuse of beer or mixed drinks or drugs, whether our government legalizes them or not.

Well, then, how do we deal with the pressures of life? Or, how do we deal with the even greater pressures of being witnesses in a sinful world that hates God’s Word? Be filled with the Spirit through music! Certainly one way we can do that is by participating in singing our hymns. But maybe some of us don’t like hearing our own voice. If that describes you, please don’t just sit there planning out your day, while everyone else is singing. At the very least, follow along with the Words! This is how God creates clean hearts in us and restores our joy in His salvation.

Also, notice in our text that Psalms and hymns aren’t just for worship services. They’re for speaking at home as well. For example when we’re scared about the direction our country is going, we can speak these words from Psalm 91: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2 Or, when we’re feeling guilty, because Satan is attacking our conscience over our past sins and failures, here’s a hymn verse we can read for ourselves: Bold shall I stand in that great day – who can a word against me say? Fully through you absolved I am From sin and fear, from guilt and shame. (CW #371, v2)

Don’t you see how the Holy Spirit uses the Word to ground us in His mercy? And so, as we plan our busy days or our busy weeks, let’s make the most of opportunities to grow in the Word. Then, we will thankfully avoid every kind of evil, no matter what the earthly cost might be. Also, then instead of Attention Deficit Disorder Christians, we will be focused Christians, who can sort out the importance and priority of everything that’s going on. And finally, as we rejoice in our salvation, sharing Jesus with others becomes pure joy, even though we are our weak, because God is making the most of everything we do. Think about that for a moment. As we make the most of our moments, God makes the most over everything we do. God grant it in Jesus’ name! Amen.

 

Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net