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P r a c t i c a l L e s s o n s f o r U n d e r s t a n d i n g t h e Wo r d o f G o d

When Opportunities Appear

KEY PASSAGE: Ephesians 5:15-17 | SUPPORTING SCRIPTURE: Psalm 37:4 | Matthew 4:18-20 | Mark 10:17-22 Luke 5:17-26; 10:38-42; 19:1-10 | John 6:1-14 | Acts 16:30-31; 17:22-34

Do you sometimes feel bored by the Christian life?
That isn't what our heavenly Father intends for His children. Our lives, from the moment of salvation until we see Jesus face to face, should be characterized by excitement and adventure. How? Through the invitations the Lord provides to draw closer to Him and to participate with Him in touching the lives of others. God commands us to be careful in how we live. He instructs us to be wise in our decisions and alert to the opportunities He provides (Eph. 5:15-17). Lets look at seven biblical passages in which men and women had the choice whether or not to respond to the Lord. Through their examplesgood and badwe can learn more about how our lives can be characterized by adventure and promise.

would bless him and others. In a similar way, you and I will rarely anticipate how God wants to use us, so be alert to opportunities to experience the joy of giving.

Serve the Lord: When we are offered the chance to serve our heavenly Father, we may feel unprepared and afraid. Surely, Peter must have felt similar emotions when Jesus called him to become His disciple (Matt. 4:18-20). The Son of God was not asking for a small act of obedience; Peter would be leaving his successful fishing business and embarking on a risky new venture. But because he stepped out in faith, God used him in powerful ways to help establish the early church. You and I can also be confident that no matter how unqualified we feel, the Lord will always enable us to walk through the doors He opens.

God provides every believer with the opportunity to . . .
Share: When the disciples and Jesus encountered a crowd of hungry citizens, a young boy nearby got the request of a lifetime (John 6:1-14). Was he willing to offer his lunchfive loaves and two fishin order to meet a need? Yes. The boy gave sacrificially and witnessed a miracle when Jesus multiplied his offering.

Grow in intimacy with Christ: Most of us can relate to the story found in Luke 10:38-42. Martha felt slighted when her sister Mary stopped helping her prepare a meal and instead sat at Jesus feet. When Martha complained about this, the Lord replied, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:41-42). He affirmed that Mary had done the right thing to drop everything and spend time with Him.

When the young boy left home that morning, he could not have imagined how his generosity

We also have a choice to draw near to Jesus. In fact, we are more equipped than Mary to deepen our walks with the Lord. We have the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer lives in which Jesus

speaks to us personally as we listen for His voice. We should never let busyness rob us of our chance to know the Savior better.

Help others: When the paralytics friends heard Jesus was in town, they recognized his chance for healing had come (Luke 5:17-26). Yet when they arrived at the house where Jesus was teaching, it was too crowded to enter. Rather than giving up, they ripped a hole in the roof. Driven by love, they were determined to make a way for their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. As a result, they had the joy of seeing their friend not only healed but also saved from his sins. At some point, every believer is called to help someone else. Sometimes that involves facing a challenge or pressing through a hardship, but we should be willing to do whatever God asks of us to help others.

tors life was transformed, and his story is recorded in Scripture because he was determined to catch a glimpse of Jesus, no matter what it cost. Dont let other people or difficult circumstances discourage you from responding to the opportunities God sends your way. Accept salvation: In Mark 10:17-22, a rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus knew that the mans wealth was a stumbling block to his faith, so He answered that he should sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him. Unfortunately, the ruler chose not to heed Jesus instruction and missed his chance at salvation.

Choose to witness for Jesus: In Acts 16, Paul had the opportunity to tell his jailer how to be saved (vv. 30-31). The apostles willingness to witness brought not only that man but also his entire household to salvation. Paul didnt always enjoy such success when sharing the gospel. In another city, he tried to tell the people about an unknown godthe Creatorbut many of them rejected his message. Only a few of them wanted to hear more (Acts 17:22-34). However, he realized that his responsibility was to preach the gospel and leave all the consequences to God. We, too, must share our faith without worrying about how people will respond.

The wisest choice a person can make is to receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. If you have never accepted the Lord as your personal Savior, I pray you will. There is no greater thrill in life than to have a vibrant, personal relationship with the Maker of the universe.

What opportunities has the Lord set before you today? Did He convict you to draw near to Him through time alone in His presence? Did He bring to mind someone who needs to hear the gospel, despite your fears of what he or she might think? Or maybe your compassionate Father is asking you to endure a circumstance He knows will bring about good, but one that brings with it a measure of difficulty. Regardless of what God is prompting you to do, my prayer is that you will realize the promise and excitement of the Christian life as you walk carefully, make wise decisions, and lay hold of the opportunities before you.

Understand who Jesus is: Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector for the Roman government. He exacted more than was required from his fellow Jews and was therefore viewed as a traitor. When Jesus came through town, it was no surprise that no one in the crowd moved aside so that the short-statured Zacchaeus could see Him.

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But Zacchaeus didnt let that stop him: he climbed a tree, and his tenacity was rewarded when Jesus reached out to him. The tax collec-

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