BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Ephesians 5:16 says, “Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days” (New Living Translation). God’s Word Translation renders the verse thus: “Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days.”
In this scripture, there are two concepts I want to call your attention to. One is positive and the other negative. They are “doing good” and “evil days.”
Whereas doing good represents the positive, evil days represents the negative. The scripture shows the two forces that operate on earth. God stands for good, and the devil stands for evil. Until the tenure of the Satan is over here on earth, he must continue with evil work. Despite that, good will still be in operation. Good will not surrender to evil.
Thus, Ephesians 5:16 tells you to prepare to make the most of every opportunity to do good notwithstanding the evil that may be pervasive. The pervasive evil should not be any excuse for you not to do good.
This also applies to every department of your life: your spiritual life, academics, destiny, ministry, marriage, career, business, etc. There may be evil, problems, challenges, etc, but you must determine to make the most of your opportunities. Don’t fold your arms and let opportunities pass you by.
There will be open doors, but there will also be challenges around them. Take advantage of the opportunities while you attend to the problems associated with them. Paul said, “Because a wide door for effective service has opened to me [in Ephesus, a very promising opportunity] and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9 Amplified Bible). Don’t lose your wide-open doors because of the many adversaries. Greatness does not come because the journey is smooth.
Four truths on making the most of your opportunities
1.Forget about yesterday; face today. Some people are fond of backward looking and backward talking. They’re either talking about the good old days, when things were better or they’re wishing that they had been around in those good old days they’ve been told life was easier and opportunities abounded. However, whether it is true or not that such periods existed in the past, it is a waste of time brooding over the past because the past is gone, and it’s gone.
Face the reality of your moment. Accept your present season. Embrace the opportunities it offers. This is your generation. It is the time for you to arise, shine; this is the season your light is meant for; the glory of Jehovah God is about to rise upon you (Isaiah 60:1). Ecclesiastes 7:10 says, “Don’t long for ‘the good old days,’ for you don’t know whether they were any better than today” (New Living Translation). Don’t live in the past.
There are others who do nothing today, because of their belief that tomorrow will be better than today. It’s what you do today that determines your tomorrow. In a way, there is actually nothing like tomorrow, because when it comes, we call it today. Today is the tomorrow you spoke about yesterday. Today is your best day, your best week, your best month, your best year. This is the right attitude to have rather than engaging in wishful thinking.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 New King James Version). Face today; make the most of its opportunities, and you’ll be creating a glorious tomorrow for yourself.
2. Avoid procrastination. As it is often said, procrastination is the thief of time. Beyond that, procrastination is the thief of destiny. Don’t postpone till another time or day what you should do today. Make hay while the sun shines. “Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day’” (Luke 9:62 The Message).
Many, by procrastinating, have missed their opportunities. In Jeremiah 46:17, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is described as a “loudmouth who missed his opportunity!” (New Living Translation). You won’t miss your opportunities in Jesus’ name.
Felix, the Roman Governor of Judea, was guilty of procrastination. He was quite familiar with Christianity (The Way) prior to Paul’s arraignment before him, but he didn’t take the necessary decision to give his life to Jesus. When Paul made his defence before him, he had another opportunity but procrastinated and adjourned the hearing.
Instead of asking Paul to lead him to Christ, the Bible says he was holding private sessions with Paul, hoping to receive a bribe from him. “As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified. ‘Go away for now,’ he replied. ‘When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again.’ He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him” (Acts 24:25-26 New Living Translation). There is no record in the Bible that he ever got saved. He lost his office thereafter and was succeeded by Porcius Festus. But that is not to say that all other governors were saved.
Have you given your life to Christ or you’re postponing it? Stop postponing your salvation. That is dangerous. Now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Repent of your sins. Accept and confess Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Invite Him into your heart today. Romans 10:10 says with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and other things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
Are there other things you’re convinced you’re supposed to do but you’ve been procrastinating, postponing doing them? This is one sure way to regret later in life. Don’t postpone till tomorrow what is better done today.
3. Shun laziness and excuses. Laziness and excuses are twins. Laziness doesn’t make people do anything or do enough. If you don’t want to do anything in life, you’ll have enough excuses. Therefore, if you’ll make the most of your opportunities, you must overcome laziness and excuses. “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’” (Proverbs 22:13 New King James Version). The New Living Translation renders it thus: “The lazy person is full of excuses, saying, ‘If I go outside, I might meet a lion in the street and be killed!’” How did he know? What an excuse! The lion only existed in his imagination.
Proverbs 26:13-16 tells us more about the lazy: “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!’ As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed. The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly” (New King James Version).
Hard work is a constant requirement for success in life. According to Lamentation 3:27, “It is good for someone to work hard while he is young” (New Century Version). Why? Because the glory of young men is their strength (Proverbs 20:29a). Why should a young person waste away his youthful strength in unproductive ventures?
Proverbs 12:24 says, “The diligent will get the upper hand, but the slothful men will end as serfs” (Moffatt Translation). Hard work will give the diligent upper hand in life, and the lazy will become a slave to the diligent. Proverbs 13:4 also says, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” (New King James Version). Success doesn’t come by dreaming only. After you’ve dreamt, you must set out to execute your dream. “The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession” (Proverbs 12:27 New King James Version). Devote yourself to hard work; don’t let laziness steal your opportunities. “Be sure to stay busy and plant a variety of crops, for you never know which will grow — perhaps they all will” (Ecclesiastes 11:6 New Living Translation).
Paul said when he came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord gave him “tremendous opportunities” (2 Corinthians 2:12 The Living Bible). That is all the Lord would do. It was his responsibility to take advantage of these tremendous opportunities. If he liked, he could make excuses why he couldn’t do what he should do. Laziness and excuses are part of the reasons people waste tremendous opportunities. Be alert!
In Colossians 4:3, Paul also said, “Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about his secret plan — that Christ is also for you Gentiles” (New Living Translation). It is one thing to pray for opportunities and another thing to fully utilize them. You must ensure that you don’t waste the opportunities that God brings to you in answer to prayer.
4. Don’t concentrate on the problem; focus on the opportunities. A lot of people don’t make the most of their opportunities because they’re looking for a perfect condition. Unfortunately, there is no perfect condition. Every good opportunity also comes with its own challenges.
Businesses, which yield high returns, also come with high risks. When married women get pregnant, that’s a thing of joy for them. But carrying a baby in the womb for nine months is not easy. Many women have to endure pain and discomfort until they’re delivered of their babies.
Don’t let the problems associated with the opportunities discourage you from seizing your opportunities. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (New Living Translation). If you want to possess your Promised Land, you must realize that the giants are already there! (Numbers 13:33). You will have to contend with them to possess it. If you’re afraid to fight the giants, you only have a pipe dream (self-delusion) of possessing your Promised Land.
Conclusion: Don’t forget the four points I have limited myself to in this message: Forget about yesterday; face today. Avoid procrastination. Shun laziness and excuses. Don’t concentrate on the problem; focus on the opportunities.
Prepare for your God-given opportunities and utilize them, because poor preparation precedes poor performance. Don’t depend on luck. The more you prayerfully prepare and implement your plans, the ‘luckier’ you’ll become! As you go out each day, be sensitive to your opportunities. When you prepare, divine opportunities come your way; when you prepare, you provoke divine opportunities.
Maybe you missed or wasted some opportunities in the past, don’t brood over that. All hope is not lost for you. Ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy. God, in His mercy, will open new doors of opportunities for you again, and ensure you make the most of them. It shall be well with you in Jesus’ name.
If you’re not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my LORD and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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