Featured Items Ritchie Christian Media

September 2005

From the editor: Character Studies in the Assembly (7)
J Grant

The Presence of God
H S Paisley

The First Book of Samuel (4)
J Riddle

Book Review

Eternal Punishment (4)
E W Rogers

Samson (2)
D Parrack

Question Box

The Offerings (5)
J Paton

Notebook: The Prophecy of Haggai
J Grant

Whose faith follow: Henry William Soltau (1805-1875)
W Soltau

Into All The World: Witnessing (2)
L McHugh

Meditation on the Word
W H Bennet

With Christ

The Lord’s Work & Workers

Notices

Into All The World: Witnessing (2)

L McHugh, Belfast

Grasp the Opportunity

What would hinder us from seeing opportunities? I suggest three things.

Put in another way.

Living lives in expectation - Esther 4.14

It is possible to miss opportunities simply because we are not looking out for them. We often think only of ourselves, and of how situations affect us, and we are inclined to ask, "Why is this happening to me?". The devil and the flesh would always have us think of ourselves, rather than consider that the situation is for a purpose and that someone else may benefit from our witness in reaction to specific circumstances. Esther is a good example of that and Mordecai stands in marked contrast to her. In Esther 4.14 we read the expression, "such a time as this", or we could read it, "such an opportunity as this". We see here the principle that every problem can be looked on as an opportunity in disguise. In Esther 4 there is a great problem, but there is also a great opportunity. An opportunity is not merely the coming together of circumstances and good timing, it is a matter of spiritual perception and spiritual discernment. Mordecai saw it but Esther did not. If Mordecai had not spoken to Esther she possibly would never have seen the opportunity for God to use her, perhaps because she was not looking for it. She had been taken up with her position and God’s blessings in her life. God had remarkably advanced her in the kingdom and brought her into a position of great prominemce, so that when the opportunity arose she could use it to do good. Mordecai saw that opportunity; Esther did not.

God has a purpose for our lives, far above all that we think or at times are even ready to accept. The Holy Spirit has to change our dull minds and thinking, so that the full potential of what God has for us may be brought out in our lives. Notice that this has to do with our minds, our thinking, or our perception, what we might call being ‘tuned in’ spiritually. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit within: "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom 8.9). But the question is not so much have we Him, but has He us! Paul writes, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal 5.25). This involves our minds and our thinking, being conscious of His leading and His guiding every day in our lives, in every situation.

Note how often the mind is spoken of in the Scriptures. Just look up the nouns and adjectives that are associated with the word "mind". We read of a right (Mk 5.15), willing (2 Cor 8.12), ready (2 Cor 8.19), and sound (2 Tim 1.7) mind; of lowliness (Phil 2.3) and humbleness (Col 3.12) of mind. So the Spirit of God works to produce in us that right, ready, sound mind, marked by lowliness and humility, by which we perceive the opportunities that God brings before us. We can miss them if we are not looking for them. May God help us to live our lives in expectation of opportunities that He presents.

Living lives in separation - Genesis 3.9

If we allow sin in our lives, however, we will also miss those opportunities. "Where art thou?", are the words of the Lord to Adam. A wonderful privilege and opportunity is presented to Adam to come, walk and talk with the Lord God. Imagine that this was you. What an opportunity! Would you not race out to meet Him? But look at v.9. God calls Adam to do just that and where is he? Why is he not taking advantage of this tremendous opportunity? It is because of sin. He is no longer comfortable with the taking of that opportunity, in fact he hides himself from it. Is it not true that when we are a little cold in heart, perhaps because we have not been reading or praying as we ought, or because we have been reading the wrong material or taken up with the wrong visions and sights, that we allow ourselves to slip into worldliness or even carnality? Is the sin that so easily besets us allowed and not confessed? As a result do we hide from the opportunities? We do not really want them because we know that we are not right ourselves and that we are not enjoying salvation, therefore we are not inclined to speak to anyone else about it. If we are not living in the good of the joy of His salvation, we will not look for opportunities and when they arise we will possibly even, like Adam, hide ourselves from them. That coldness of heart, disobedience, or sin will only be a hindrance to the grasping of opportunities. We have need in such a case to fall upon our knees like David and cry, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation" (Ps 51.12). May we live our lives in separation to God, clean vessels fit for the Master’s use.

Living lives in preparation - 1 Peter 3.15

Is it also possible for opportunities to arise for which we are not ready or prepared? Are we taken by surprise and so miss them? The Lord said, "Be ye also ready" (Mt 24.44), and Peter wrote, "and be ready always" (1 Pet 3.15). We have read the Apostle’s wonderful words: "I am a debtor…I am not ashamed…and I am ready" (Rom 1.14-16). Titus is exhorted to "be ready to every good work" (3.1). This is an encouragement to be prepared to grasp every opportunity as it arises.

Recently the government posted a little booklet, Preparing for Emergencies, to every home in Britain. In it they give advice on how to be ready and prepared in case of an unforeseen emergency arising. This little motto is given: "Go in, stay in and tune in". Now, that is good advice as to how to stay ready in the physical world, but consider it in relation to the spiritual world. How is one to be ready and prepared for every opportunity and every good work? Go in to the presence of God; stay in the will of God; tune in to the Spirit of God.

Think of Peter in Acts 3 as he went into the Temple and the crowd that gathered around the healed, once lame, man. In v.12 we read, "And when Peter saw it…", that is he saw the opportunity and he immediately grasped the opportunity to speak to the people about their souls. He was ready and was not taken by surprise. How often have we been surprised by someone’s interest in spiritual things but, after reaching into our pockets, we discover that we have no gospel tracts with us. It is so easy to assume that no one will ever speak to us about spiritual things or that no one in the office or neighbourhood will want to know that there is a God. As a result we are not ready. We stop sowing and stop living in faith that God can, and will, use us. How many opportunities have been missed because we have not been prepared? There is something living, energetic, and exciting about seeking opportunities. I do not only mean standing up in a crowd to preach, but grasping little opportunities to sow the good seed of the Word of God. Just a word or a verse or a tract or a little gospel calendar. A little seed dropped as we look for good soil. Like the honeybee, do we seek the nectar of interest, trying one flower here and another there? He does not get upset if he does not find any nectar, he just moves on to the next one. He knows there is nectar to be found, and he is determined to find it. Would that we acted like that with opportunities! May this be ingrained in our minds and our thinking, that there are opportunities out there. We must be determined to grasp them, going from opportunity to opportunity dropping little handfuls of purpose, and hoping to discover nectar when someone shows an interest in the things of God. May we live in preparation for such opportunities to arise.

To be continued.

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