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Monday, April 29, 2013
"What are you staring at?"
Up close view of a purple finch outside our office window.
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"Making The Most Of Every Opportunity"
"A Lesson From An Opportunistic Squirrel"
"And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:3-6).
Several weeks ago we shared in a message about our interest in birdwatching. Within direct eyesight of our office we have five bird feeders. We almost always can look up and see birds of all types feeding, as long as we tend to the feeders.
We don't dislike squirrels but we sure don't buy the feed for them, although we welcome them to eat what falls to the ground. All of our feeders now have some type of squirrel-proof design but the squirrels are not aware of it so they persistently seek to make the most of any opportunity to get to the feed. Several squirrels have been ardently scooping up their share of sunflower seeds the last couple of days and since my activity has been limited by back pain I have done more watching than usual. An admirable trait of the squirrel is their making the most of their opportunity.
The squirrel illustration might be a stretch, but today we want to consider the phrase in our daily text, "make the most of every opportunity." Among our chaplaincy duties we seek to encourage and equip Christians to serve and let their light shine in the marketplace. With interest in organized religion and "going to church" declining in America it is more vital than ever for believers to be salt and light in our secularized world.
What a blessing in the course of our ministry to see this taking place. A woman who worked in the HR office of a company was diagnosed with cancer. I recall periodically speaking to her when I'd visit the company; a very quiet lady with a pleasant smile. She was able to work a while after her cancer diagnosis but then her condition worsened to the point she was no longer able to work and she eventually passed away.
She used this period in her life to serve God faithfully and made the most of the opportunity to share her faith. Her last day in the office she left a remarkable message to her fellow workers thanking them for their association with her. She also included this clear witness of her faith:
"According to the doctor I may not have real long to live, however that is ultimately in God's hands. I want you to know that although I don't want to die yet, if that occurs I am ready. I'm ready because I'm reconciled with God. And that is because of Jesus, and the fact that He died on the cross for me. I believe in Him, and that He's paid the price for my sins. This is a wonderful gift of mercy and grace available to us all. Because of this, I am not afraid of death and know that when I die I will go to heaven. My hope and prayer is that each one of you will also accept this gift from God. Believe me, it's what really matters."
Wow, what blessed peace and assurance she conveys even after she is gone. What clarity in sharing this message with others!
It just so happens that the Director of Human Resources in this company is also a believer and he sent a moving notification out to the entire company informing them of her death and included her written witness. I can just imagine how many in this company were impacted by her thoughtful words that made the most of the opportunity.
I want to focus on just a phrase in our daily Scripture portion, "make the most of every opportunity." These are the opportunities to "proclaim the mystery of Christ." The apostle Paul requested prayer from the Colossian believers, "that God may open a door for our message."
That should be a daily request for us as well. This is not just for those in formal positions of "ministry" such as a pastor or missionary, but for all who follow Christ and seek to let His light shine through them just like that dear lady who is now with the Lord and that Human Resource director.
May the Lord help all of us this day to indeed "make the most of every opportunity."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You supply us with many opportunities to be a witness for Your kingdom. We must make the most of these opportunities to be light and salt in this darkened world. Since our lives are the "only Bible that some people read" we must be careful of what we say and do. May our attitudes reflect that of Christ and our words bring truth, hope and guidance to those traveling on the broad road that leads to destruction. By the power of Your Holy Spirit we can make a difference to those whose path we cross today. Amen.
Brooksyne's note: We often pray for "opportunities" but the truth is they're around us every day. Whether it's our communications at work, in the public square, our daily correspondence or the choices we make in the way we live our lives. Since I memorized the text over 25 years ago I've tried to implement it in my life much like balanced meals. Paul tells us to use salt and grace – salt being the preserving Word of God and grace being the way in which we present our message to outsiders. When we use both there will be less door slamming in our face and we'll see opportunities grow as we present the balanced message of Christ's salvation for mankind.
Another photo of one of our many opportunistic squirrels! He kept trying to jump on the red feeder and it would swing out and tip him over.
Strategizing what to do next.
The Purple Finch also enjoying sunflower seeds from this colorful bird feeder we have out of our front window and the squirrels have a harder time even getting close to this one!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Save My Family, Save My Friends" Video Tribute Quartet
"What the World Needs to Hear" Video Booth Brothers
"I'd Rather Have Jesus" Video George Beverly Shea
George Beverly Shea passed away two weeks ago after many years of faithfully serving Christ in this life. Here's an article
"The Yankee Flipper" The most interesting and probably effective squirrel-proof feeder I've ever seen! Video (esp. 2:00 and on). But then... again squirrels are very opportunistic and persistent!!! See this video
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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