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Try to picture it. Maybe you don't have to picture it. Maybe you've been there. It's the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, just before doors open at Wal-Mart. It's still dark, but a lot of people are lined up, anxiously waiting to enter. It's the day of those fabulous sales that stores like this have to encourage early Christmas shopping. And for a short time after doors open, there are some absolutely amazing prices on many popular items. But you have to move quickly to find them and scoop them up. One year recently, the crush of people was so great, at one store a lady was nearly trampled to death when the doors opened. And at another store, another year, a man actually was trampled to death. Once you're in the store, you know what to do. No browsing. No chatting. Just look for those sales opportunities and you grab them while you can!
Aggressively seizing opportunities because time is short - that's not just a picture of a sale day shopper. That's supposed to be the picture of every follower of Jesus Christ. Not just browsing and cruising through our days, but really making them count...really making a difference with your life.
If you read our word for today from the Word of God in the original language of the New Testament, you can see just that kind of urgency and intensity. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise, but as wise" - now here's God's definition of what it means to "live smart" - "making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." The original Greek conveys the idea of aggressively buying up every opportunity you have to do something about the darkness around you.
Near the end of this letter that Paul wrote from a prison cell, probably chained to a Roman guard, he gives us a living example of this "make a difference" mindset in action. He says, "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel...pray that I will declare it fearlessly, as I should." In another letter, we learn that there were believers ultimately in Caesar's household; likely some of those soldiers Paul spent so much time with. He saw his imprisonment, not so much as an ordeal, but as an opportunity to tell people there about Jesus and to rescue them from evil.
Life is full of life-saving opportunities for those with eyes to see them; for those who understand that we're supposed to be looking for them, wherever we are. When one of our family was in the hospital lately, the reason seemed clear. This was a patient who left a trail of Jesus all through that hospital. There just to get well? No. They were also there positioned by God to help spiritually rescue some of the people there.
If you want to make the greatest possible difference with the rest of your life, if you want to help some people be in heaven with you, if you want to obey your Savior, then each morning pray for natural opportunities to bring up your Jesus. Then look for those opportunities to open up. Buy them up like an alert shopper.
When someone shares a burden or a concern with you, don't just promise to pray for them. Ask if you can pray with them right there. Chances are they have never heard their name in a prayer in all their life! I've never had anyone turn down that offer. And if God opens the door, tell them after you pray that you weren't always able to talk to God like that because there was a wall between you and Him that Jesus took down. Look for opportunities to share your personal hope story - the story of the difference Jesus has made for you in a particular need or life situation.
Look for those opportunities. Pray for those opportunities. Grab those opportunities. Why? Because God is putting people in your life so they can have a chance at Jesus...and a chance at heaven. That's an opportunity you must not miss.
Would you like to live without fear, worry and discouragement? In this free audio download titled "The Game Changers", Ron Hutchcraft explains how because we have an amazing Lord and we can live amazing lives. In the book of Mark, it confirms the authority of Jesus, and to know the commanding authority of our Savior and His heart of compassion are real "game changers."