Making the Most of Every Opportunity

Sunday, October 16, 2022
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier 

Ephesians 5:6-17

This month we are exploring stewardship through the lens of our annual theme, Imagine the Power Within.  Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

God’s Spirit residing in us is so powerful, it is beyond our imagination. We simply cannot comprehend all that God is able to do.

But the coolest part is that God wants to use us – you and me – in the process.


Just Imagine what God can do through you and me when we are brave enough to let go and trust God with our lives, our gifts, and our time. Talk about an adventure.

Last week, in chapter 4 we saw that God has gifted and called each one of us. Ministry isn’t just something we pay the pastors and church staff to do.

You are also called to ministry – one that uses your talents and passions to build the kingdom of God here on earth – in love.

This week, in chapter 5, Paul exhorts us again to live a life worth of our calling. By walking wisely – in the light – and making the most of every opportunity.

But exactly HOW DO we live wisely and make the most of every opportunity?

What it does NOT mean, is always saying yes to every good thing that comes along.  Why? Because we can be SO busy doing good things that we miss out on what is truly most important.

Good things can rob us of the time to attend to the most important things.  The things God has called us to.

Remember the story of Mary and Martha, two sisters who were friends of Jesus?

Martha welcomed Jesus and his disciples into their home. Hospitality was a super big deal in that culture, and women were expected to cook and serve. Here we have a big crowd, an important guest and it is an hour or so before dinner with pots on the stove and lots to be done.

So, Mary plops down at Jesus’ feet to listen to his teaching.  This did NOT sit well with Martha!  She came to Jesus and said (This is from Luke 10)

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her, then, to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, 42 but few things are needed—indeed only one.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”


My guess is that most of us are a bit like Martha. Urgent tasks and to-do lists demand our attention. But so often that busy-ness keeps us from truly important things like visiting an elderly relative or neighbor or taking time to listen to a child about their day.  Our relationships and health can suffer when we run from one thing to the next until we collapse into bed at night.

And inevitably, we will rush right by many of the opportunities that God has put in front of us.

This has been called the “tyranny of the urgent.”

The tyranny of the urgent. We think we are in control, but our busy schedules end up ruling our lives. And when we are too busy for God, well. We are too busy.

October is stewardship month.

We often think of stewardship in connection with our money. But the stewardship of our time is just as critical.

Imagine that there is a bank that every morning credits you with $24,000. But there is a hitch. Not one penny can be carried over to the next day. At the stroke of midnight, whatever money you did not use during the day disappears. Poof!

What would you do? You would be sure to draw out every dollar each day and share it or invest it in something worthwhile, right?

We do get a deposit like this every day – not 24,000 dollars but every morning 24 hours are given to us, as pure gift.  Every night whatever we failed to use that day, is lost. We can’t go back, nor can we borrow against tomorrow. Each day, we are given a gift of time to invest in or to waste.

God is calling us to steward our time wisely. Our scripture for today tells us:

15 …be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly. 16 Make the most of every opportunity because these are evil times. 17 Because of this, don’t be ignorant, but understand the Lord’s will.

How do we live wisely? It begins by prayerfully examining our priorities and asking those deeper questions. How and with whom has God has called me to invest my gifts, talents, and time? Depending on your life stage and situation, and your gifts, and passions, this will look a bit different for each of us.

If you are not sure of your gifts, calling and priorities, spending time with an older or wiser spiritual friend can be helpful. Augustana is also going to have a seminar later this program year that will help you discern your gifts, so be on the lookout for that as well.

Our passage tells us that living wisely involves understanding God’s will as well as discerning and making the most of the opportunities God puts before us. But that is hard to do that without taking the time to connect with God.

I think Mary had the right idea.

When we set aside time to spend with God in prayer and reading Scripture – it helps ground us in truth. Many people do this first thing in the morning – committing their day to God. When we do this, it becomes easier to notice what God might be up to during the day. We are more apt to discern the Spirit’s promptings and opportunities God puts before us.

And just Imagine – what might unfold in our lives if we truly pay attention to the Spirit’s promptings?

Imagine -What might happen if each time we entered a room, we silently asked God to show us who might need a silent prayer, a smile, a greeting, or word of blessing?

Imagine – What our lives would look like if we ruthlessly eliminated busy-ness and no longer worried about overcrowded schedules that push out the most important part.

Imagine – What the Spirit can do through us, when we daily give God our talents, our hearts, and our time.  Scripture tells us It is immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to God’s power that is at work within us.

Let us pray:

Lord God, thank you for the gift of time.

Help us to live each day wisely. Show us what is truly important and of you. Open our eyes and hearts to the prompting of your Holy Spirit so we make the most of each opportunity.  And give us the grace to rest, to sit at your feet and discern your will and what you would have us to do – to the glory of your holy name. Amen.

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