Tuesday, October 18, 2016


            When I was a child, people seldom locked their doors, children played freely all through the neighborhood without fear, and murders were only heard of in the big cities, and that was few and far between. Times have changed.  We lock our doors and install security systems.  Children have to be watched carefully so they will not be abducted.  Murders happen on a regular basis even in small town neighborhoods. The places that used to be considered safe havens are no longer safe.  Because the days are evil, we have changed how we live, how we think and how we act in order to protect ourselves and to survive.
            We need to have the same diligence in protecting ourselves spiritually.  Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  In these two short verses, we are given a clear message of who we are to be, what we are to do, and the reason it is all so urgent.
            First, we are urged to walk circumspectly. We don’t hear the word ‘circumspectly’ very often anymore, but it simply means to walk carefully, cautiously and discreetly.  There are several characteristics that show up in the life of one who is walking carefully.
            The Amplified Bible says they live their lives with honor.  Those who have the Spirit of God in them have high standards of behavior because they have high standards of godly principles established deep within them.  We are so used to people flaunting their evil lifestyles, but true followers of Christ still honor and love Him enough to live respectfully toward His Word, themselves, and other people…even the people who choose evil over honor.  Honor and respect seem to be lost in our world, so we should be careful not to shift into that gear, like blending into traffic on a highway. Living life with honor may be abnormal in our culture, but it is normal among those surrendered to Jesus.
We also need to be careful to live our lives with purpose.  What do we want to have accomplished when we reach the end of this life?  We cannot wait until the end and hope it comes to pass.  We have to work closely with Jesus toward that goal on a daily basis.  If you set a goal to make a cake, you can’t just sit back and wait for everything to come together.  You have to gather the ingredients and then follow the directions before you will reach your goal.  Jesus guides us through life to give us the provisions for the work He has called us to do, but we must cooperate with Him, draw close to Him and listen for His voice.  Only then can we hear and follow His directions.  Although our primary purpose in life is to make the gospel known to everyone, there is no rubber stamped method to carry it out.  Jesus equips each of us with just what we need to accomplish our part.  There is a diversity of methods, but one main purpose - to take the gospel to the nations.
Courage is another character trait of one who is walking carefully in this world.  We must be bold and intentional about how we live our lives and share the gospel.  When God speaks to us through something we see in the Bible, we need to immediately obey.  It takes boldness to stand when we face opposition.  There is plenty of opposition in the world, but God will give us the boldness and wisdom to overcome.
The Amplified Bible also tells us that those who walk carefully and discreetly will be “shunning those who tolerate and enable evil.”  If we blend in with those who choose to live apart from the Word of God, we will find ourselves on a downward trend.   When we become like those who do evil, we have ceased to show them the truth by our lifestyle, and we have ceased to speak truth to them.  We cannot make a person change inwardly by forcing them outwardly, but we are not to partake of their evil deeds in any way.  Accepting sin is enabling the sinner.  Jesus was clear about sin and its wages.  He was equally as clear about His love for every person and His desire that all would be saved.
Another characteristic of those who walk carefully in these evil days is discernment.  Discernment enables us, by the Spirit of God, to see through a thing whether it is right or wrong, whether it will bring harm or good.  Have you ever felt a warning in your spirit about a certain situation or an alliance with a person, but you saw nothing that should make you feel that way?  That is how discernment works.  God shows us things we have no way of knowing on our own.  He doesn’t show us things about people so we can tell everybody else.  He may show us so we can avoid making a wrong choice as who to align ourselves with.  Or He may show us so we can help guide them to Him.  When we have discernment, we can make choices with our eyes wide open rather than in uncertainty and confusion.

Redeeming the Time
If somebody gives you money, you probably want to get the best value for whatever you exchange it for.  We are to do the same with the time God has given us by exchanging our time wisely for things of eternal value.  Misuse of time keeps us from reaching our goal of what we want to accomplish with our lives.  Also, if we use our time frivolously, we won’t hear God speaking to our spirits, and we can’t be obedient to a voice we haven’t heard.
The Amplified Bible says, “making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence].”  God gives us certain commodities to use in this life to accomplish something of value.  Time, money, and talents are definitely some of them.  Opportunity is also one of those commodities.  Opportunities come to us daily.  Every time we have an opportunity to pray for someone, share Jesus with them, or be in God’s presence to hear from Him, we need to take advantage of that opportunity.
My family and I often have opportunities to share with congregations, nursing homes, on the internet, and on television.  We seize those opportunities to proclaim the word of God.  But we also have opportunities to pray for individuals and share encouraging words with people one-on-one.  Every opportunity is important.  We can’t afford to miss them.
Years ago, I met up with a friend in the grocery store.  I hadn’t seen her in quite a while and was glad to see her.  She told me that the Lord had been bringing me to her mind, and she had been praying for me. I hugged her and cried.  I had been having some problems at the time, and it was so encouraging to know God had spoken to her to pray for me even when she had no idea what was going on.  I don’t remember what the problem was, but I do remember the faithfulness of God and one of His saints to lift me up in prayer.  Seize the opportunities that come up, no matter whether they seem insignificant or overwhelmingly significant, whether they are big or small.
Many opportunities are open to us.  We need to open our eyes to see them and set our hearts to redeem the time.  It’s time to start buying everything of eternal value that we can with our allotted time on this earth.
Before we leave this idea of redeeming time and recognizing the opportunities God gives us, let’s consider social media and the internet.  People spend many hours there, but what do we use it for?  I know there are a lot of bad things on the internet, but we don’t have to visit those places.  We have the power to take the opportunity some are using for evil and use it for something good.  Be careful what you read, what you post and what you like.  Recognize even the common opportunities that are right before us.
What will we do with the time we have?  What will we leave behind of eternal value?  Today is the day to seize every opportunity we have.  Life goes by faster than we realize. 
            The days are evil, so what we do matters.  Why is that so urgent?  Because someone needs to point the way to Christ.  Someone needs to live in such a way that others can have hope of a better life.  Someone needs to let others know there is a place of peace even in the midst of turmoil, freedom in the face of physical restrictions, and a way to fill the void that every soul hungers for.  We don’t have to keep struggling and failing on our own.  Jesus is the only One Who can satisfy our soul hunger.
Live life carefully and discreetly.
Don’t miss any opportunities to share Jesus Christ.
Use your time to ‘buy’ things of eternal value.

Because the days are evil.