How† many† times have you heard† the expression opportunity only knocks once. In many cases this expression is true. Bill gates is one of the richest men in the world and he will tell the reason why was because he was in the right place at right time and he took advantage of his opportunity. However, many today do not take advantage of their opportunities. Lets take a look at a example.
Do your remember Aesopís Fable concerning the grasshopper? The story goes like this.
One bright day in late autumn a family of ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out grain they† had stored up during the summer, when a starving grasshopper, with his fiddle under his† arm, came up and† humbly begged for a bite to eat. ďWhat!Ē cried the ants† in surprise, ďhavenít you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?Ē I didnít have time to store up any food, : whined the grasshopper; :I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone. ďThe antes shrugged their shoulders† in disgust. ďMaking music, were you?Ē they cried, ďVery well; now dance!Ē And they turned their backs on the grasshopper and went on with their work.
We learn several things from this fable. First of all there is time to work and there is a time to play. We also learn from the fable that if we fail to take advantage of an opportunity when it is available it will soon be gone forever.
This same principle is taught in the Bible.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
You see as Christians we have a responsibility watch for opportunities to do good for those who around and we must realize that now is the only time that we have. We are going to examine several verses that show how urgent it is for us to take advantage of opportunities while it is still today. Notice what Jesus says in,
John 9:4 †"I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.
Jesus was a man that understood the urgency to do good works for those around him which in turn† glorified his father in heaven. Jesus being our master example we should see the importance of using our opportunities every single day.†
Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so.† 28 Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it," When you have it with you.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 †Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
You see, not only are we not to withhold good from those around us, when we do something for someone we need to do it with all our might. Another reason we need to take advantage of our opportunities today is because we donít know if we will be here tomorrow or not.
James 4:13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit";† 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
From this passage we can see the urgency for every Christian to do Gods will today and not try to put it off till tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. Even Jesus teaches us that we should focus our efforts on today and not tomorrow.
Matthew "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
One opportunity that we donít want lose is warning the non-Christians and those who have fallen away about the dangers of not being right with God. Notice what the book of Ezekiel has to say about this.
Ezekiel 3:17 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:† 18 "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.† 19 "Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.†
Too often we wait to long
to share with our friends and our loved ones what the word of God says about
salvation because we keep thinking a better opportunity will come along to
teach them. Or perhaps we are scared that will make the mad and they wont want
to talk to us. I know that itís difficult to overcome these fears but we need
to realize that we are not doing our friends or loved ones any favors by not
sharing with them the good news that will make the difference of where they
spend their eternity. The apostle Paul tried his best to teach everyone about
the word of God. Notice what he tells the Elders from
Acts "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.† 27 "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
So, not only are we take advantage of our opportunities to teach those around us today we must also strive to teach them the whole council of† God and not watered down version of it.
One more concept we need to learn about teaching those around us comes from.
Matthew "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Lets face there are some people that we try and try to teach but they never seem to be interested and they always seem to blow us off. Now I am not saying that you should give up on them entirely, but that you should not use all your opportunities on the same few people. We need to expand and reach out and find new opportunities with other people. Paul put this into practice in.
Acts 18:5 When Silas
and Timothy had come from
The Jews were Paulís people and he could relate to them. However, they resisted Gods truth over and over again so Paul starting going to the gentiles instead taken advantage every opportunity he could to teach them about Jesus Christ and he had great success in bringing more lost souls to God.
Another thing we donít want to have loss opportunities in is serving God
After all we are going to be judged on how we served God on this earth.
Matthew 25: 31 " When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.† 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.† 33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:† 35 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;† 36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'† 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?† 38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?† 39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'† 40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'† 41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:† 42 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;† 43 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'† 44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'† 45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'† 46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Jesus makes it very clear that on the judgment day our eternal destination will depend on how we served God and part of that service will be based on how we treated the brethren. When you really stop and think about what Jesus has said here it should really make you think† twice about how you treat your brethren. According to Jesus whatever we do to our brethren it just like we did it to Jesus himself. In fact let take this thought a little further. If Jesus our savior was in human form today sitting in our congregation how would you treat him? Would you be concerned about how he looked or how he dressed? Would you make an effort to go talk to him after the worship service was over? I would hope that all of all us would care less about his looks or dress ware. I would hope that all of us would desire to go talk to him. Since Jesus has told us that what we do to our brethren we are doing to him shouldnít we have the same outlook and the same desire for brothers in sisters in Christ.
Let me give another quick example where Jesus teaches this concept. It comes from Saulís conversion.
Acts 9:3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.† 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"† †
Notice Jesus says why are persecuting me. Was Paul literally persecuting Jesus. No he wasnít and he couldnít be because Jesus was in heaven. But, Paul certainly was persecuting the Christians and that was the same as persecuting Jesus. So, the next time you think about doing something mean spirited to one of your brethren I want you to try remember that what you are doing to them is like doing it to Jesus. So less try our best not lose opportunities to serve God.
Another† thing we donít want to loss opportunities is remaining prepared for the judgment day.
A great example for this comes† from
Matthew 25:1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.† 2 "Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.† 3 "Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,† 4 "but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.† 5 "But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.† 6 "And at a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'† 7 "Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.† 8 "And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'† 9 "But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'† 10 "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.† 11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'† 12 "But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'† 13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.††
The five foolish virgins in parable represent those who are† just kind of committed to God even though they knew that master would be coming. Of† course just as the virgins we donít know when our master will return and we learn very from the Parable that there is great need to stay prepared for the master return every day. Again, we see the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities while it is still today. There is great need for us to continually prepare for Jesus return. The we remain prepared is living a faithful life to God every single day. This includes studying Gods Word, prayer, attending every worship service we can, doing good to others and loving God enough to obey his commands. If we are not committed to serving God with our whole heart we may find ourselves being like the 5 virgins who were not prepared and when they came back and knocked on the door the master would not let them in.
I think we need to ask ourselves from time to time am I prepared to meet the Lord today? Am I doing what I can to prepare for his coming or am I losing my opportunities to prepare for his coming?† †
So far this† lesson has been directed at Christians and I hope that it has really made you think about the opportunities you have lost and has encouraged you try harder not lose anymore opportunities. But now the last point in my lesson is directed at the non-Christian. So, I hope that you pay close attention.
The last point is this. You donít want loss the opportunity to obey the will of God and be saved. †
2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.† 2 For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
I want you to under this clear teaching of Paul because all you have is today. Today is your opportunity to become saved and to have a hope that is more precious than anything you can find on this earth. Think about how much peace will be in your life if you know that are saved and that heaven will be your home. Lets take look at the lesson that Jesus teaches in
Luke 14:16 Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,† 17 "and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.'† 18 "But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.'† 19 "And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.'† 20 "Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'† 21 "So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.'† 22 "And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.'† 23 "Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.† 24 'For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.' "
Jesus teaches us many things in this parable but what I want to point out to you is that those that were being invited to this feast were making excuses of why they would not come. Many of Jews in the first century rejected Christ but the a lot of gentiles accepted him. Jesus said those who made excuses would never taste his supper. Well, you no what the same thing is true today. Do you keep making excuses of why will not become a Christian today? Ask yourself the question what is preventing me from becoming a Christian today? If† you cant think of any reason then why not make today your day of salvation?
Jesus says John "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
Jesus also says, Luke 13: 5 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
Jesus also says Matthew 10:32-33† 32 " Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.† 33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Mark "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
These are things that you must be willing to do in order to accept salvation from God. So, if you are willing obey these commands and nothing† is preventing you from being saved donít loss this opportunity because you may never have it again.