Thursday, July 26, 2012

Touching Base! Part 174

Rigorous Faith in Turbulent Times, Part 13
Be A Wise Guy!– Ephesians 5:15-21

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Two thousand years ago in a port city, bolstered economically by tourism, Christ followers were finding it difficult to stay the course. From within, they were experiencing relational challenges. From without, the city of Ephesus was not exactly “Christian friendly”. The temple promoted worship that was contrary to the values and teachings of Christ. Being a port city made it vulnerable to every form of new thought or wayward lifestyle that came ashore. Rigorous faith was needed!

Life has not changed. To follow Christ today demands the effort of swimming against the tide of culture. I think Paul would say to us exactly what he said to the Ephesians, “Be VERY careful…!” (5:15) Even two thousand years later there is a need for each of us to Be A Wise Guy! Indeed, to be very careful how we live so that our faith in Christ does not get shipwrecked.

Text: Ephesians 5:15-21
What does it mean to live with wisdom in these days?

Before answering this question, think about what makes following Christ challenging for you. Where do you feel the most vulnerable? Where would you say the waters are choppy, where you need to be very careful that you don’t run aground?

Okay, back to our question.

1. Carpe diem (v.16)
This is a phrase from a Latin poem by Horace meaning to “seize the day”.
Notice how Paul describes the days. Then note the action encouraged – “making the most of every opportunity,” This is an interesting statement. It means to buy back or take off the market.
To make the best of the opportunity for God’s purposes not evil. Take it back from the enemy! What I want you to note is that you cannot put life on auto-pilot but you must be active, intentional, calculated, planned, deliberate, fight the current of evil, walk upstream - make the most of every opportunity. The idea is of redeeming something that has been used for dark purposes and instead, using it for the glory of God.

Being a wise guy means not sitting back and saying "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” but seizing the day, the moment, the relationship, the CITY for God’s purposes.

Where personally do you need to “carpe diem”? Is there a relationship that you need to take back? Is there a personal issue in your life that you need to carpe diem? Possibly you have been indifferent to issues of your own soul that the enemy has used as his playground. It is time to carpe diem!

Corporately we can see how evil is destroying a sector of the city and so we “carpe diem”, and use our resources to steer people and situations in a more redemptive direction. Think of our partnership with Salvation Army that helps us touch kids’ lives with the gospel, and also enables us to be involved with alcohol recovery through the Bethel House ministry. In partnership, we are making the most of every opportunity because the days are indeed evil.

2. Pursue God’s Purposes (v.17)
Notice that this point is deeply connected to point number one. The action encouraged here is to not be foolish but understand the Lord’s will. Certainly being a wise guy is rooted in knowing God’s will for every situation in life. This verb form, “to understand”, means:
  • to give your mind to something
  • it implies an effort has to be made and that you are walking close with God
  • “try to grasp”
  • to bring together- like pieces of a puzzle

Do you have any situations in life where you need to know God’s will?
Here are some filters to use as you attempt to be a wise guy!

A.     Is this prompting truly from God?
         Does this square with who I know You (God) to be?
         Is it consistent with Your (God’s) character?
         Is it aligned with Your (God’s) attributes?
B.     Is it Scriptural?
C.     Is it Wise?
         i.e. the wise one seeks knowledge
D.     Is It In tune with your character?'
         - Education, wiring, expertise, experience
         - He may lead you in a 180 different way but....
           often his lead builds on past experiences.

E.     What do the people you most trust think about it? (note seeking the Lord’s will in
        Ephesians is in the context of community)
        - The godly counsel test will save you boat loads of heartache.

(From The Power of a Whisper, Bill Hybels)

3. Be aware of your P.O.V. (Point of vulnerability) (v.18-21)

As you read these verses what would you imagine to be the POV of many of Paul’s Gentile listeners? Not hard to figure out - alcoholism leads to debauchery. This is not a nice word but one that means destruction and excess. Your POV might not be alcohol but I am sure you could identify at least one issue that if you are not careful can be intoxicating, compromising your relationship with God.
People can become intoxicated on careers, materialism, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, pornography, self-adoration. These and many others can rival our relationship with God.

On Sunday I contrasted the effects of alcoholism vs. the effects of being filled with the Holy Spirit:

The brain - Chronic alcohol abuse actually causes the brain to shrink. As it is a depressant, alcohol can trigger episodes of depression, anxiety and lethargy.
Medical Morbidity: Alcohol can be a significant contributing factor to medical conditions such as hepatitis, hypertension, tuberculosis, pneumonia, pancreatitis, and cardiomyopathy. One half of all cases of cirrhosis in the US are due to alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increase in the risk of most cancers.
Economic Costs:
The total cost (direct and indirect) to the US economy from alcohol abuse and dependence was estimated to be $185 billion for 1998. Annual costs include the cost of treatment, associated diseases, crime, maternal abuse and neglect, perinatal care, food stamps and other federal and state benefits, foster care, and loss of work time.

The Holy Spirit is the seal of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13)
God fills our hearts with his love through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5)
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16:8)
The Holy Spirit guides us in all truth (John 16:13)
The Holy Spirit teaches us everything and reminds us of everything Jesus taught (John 14:17, 14:26)
The Holy Spirit establishes our unity with other believers (Ephesians 4:3)
Living by the Holy Spirit will produce fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
The Holy Spirit gives guidance in every part of our lives (Galatians 5:25)
The Holy Spirit controls us, controls our minds (Romans 8:6, 9)
The Holy Spirit helps us to pray (Romans 8:26)
The Holy Spirit gives us power to witness for Jesus (Acts 1:8)

In our text (v.19-21) Paul lists examples of the impact of the Holy Spirit that illustrates relational health with people and with God.

As we are aware of our POV’s we need to actively seek to be filled/controlled by the Holy Spirit. The actual Greek language gives us some clear instruction on what this looks like. V18
a. The imperative makes it clear that this is a command for all Christians. Don’t allow other vices to compromise this relationship.
b. The present tense rules out any once-for-all reception of the Spirit but points to a continuous replenishment (literally, "go on being filled"). Ask God to fill you every day. All Christians have the Holy Spirit - but there is a need to daily yield. “Filled” means getting at the issue of control, not an amount like a liquid. The Holy Spirit is a person not a fluid.
c. Finally, the verb is passive: "Let yourselves be filled with the Spirit." This is not a manufactured experience, though it can be rejected (cf. Gal 3:2, 5).
Be a wise guy! Carpe diem, knows God’s purposes, be aware of your P.O.V. and instead be filled with God the Holy Spirit.


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