Maximising The Moment
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: John 21:15-21
Sunday 27th December 2015
As we wrap the series, ‘The Defining Moment’ today, here is a list of the messages we’ve shared so far: ‘From Lack To Overflowing Abundance, ‘An Invitation To Dine with King Jesus Parts 1 & 2. Last week we focused on the message: ‘Stepping Into Significance’. Simon Peter was addressed by Jesus shortly after breakfast with this simple but profound question: ‘Simon, do you love me?’ Jesus asked him this question, three times. Besides, Jesus called him by his former name: ‘Simon, the son of John’, to remind Peter of the long way he had come with Him.
As Christians, we need to regularly recount how far we’ve come with the Lord, and be grateful for all He has done for us. Besides, we need to make it a priority to embrace our God-given priorities, shunning every trace of worldly values that are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. As the New Year approaches, it is imperative that we understand the purpose for which God has placed us here on earth, and live to see it fulfilled, every day. Like Simon Peter did to embrace his significant assignment, we must also (i) Lay aside every distraction (ii) Re-affirm our commitment to God and lastly (iii) embrace our higher calling.
Today, as we round up this series, let’s read our foundation scripture once again, John 21:15-19: ‘After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
Having encouraged Simon Peter to live purposefully, Jesus rounded up this conversation by taking things with another instruction. He reminded Peter of the realities of old age and the necessity to spend the younger years he had left wisely. This same alarm is being sounded in our ears today; the days of being able to move around freely and do all we would love to do is very short, hence we cannot afford to waste any moment. As we step into another New Year full of promise and opportunities, it is undoubtedly going to be a great year for each of us. However, we must be careful to listen to God’s voice and obey Him, as He leads us towards those opportunities He has already prepared for us.
In our foundation scripture, we come across the word ‘when’ twice, a word connoting time. Again, let me re-emphasise this fact that we do not have forever to fulfil our God-given assignment. And as such, we ought to maximise the moment we’ve been given. The days are coming when our energy levels would not permit us to dash around like we do right now. In other words, these are the days to make hay while the sun shines.
Time is the most precious resource that God has given mankind. Our lives are measured by time. Every moment we live is a portion of our lives, gradually ebbing away. Jesus' words to Peter could be rephrased thus: ‘If you miss this moment, there is no substitute’. Once a person is advanced in years, there is little one can do about it. Having said this, it needs to be stated that senior citizens are not necessarily always invalid. Some of them live actively well into their later years. Comparatively though, the younger years are the days to live and invest time wisely and productively. So make these days and years count for something substantial.
As we step into another New Year, can I encourage you to make it a year of great and wonderful experiences? Maximise every opportunity you’ve been given. Ecclesiastes 3:1 puts it this way: ‘There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth’ (MSG). Seize every moment. Jesus spoke in John 9:4 saying: ‘I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work’. It is imperative that we prioritise our lives. As you advance into this coming year, can I encourage you to set priorities? Ephesians 5:15 reads: ‘Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people) Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil’ (Amplified). Every single working hour ought to be maximised, with an ultimate goal of optimum productivity.
Here is verse John 21:18-19 once again: ‘Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” The key to a successful year and life is in simply following Jesus. Remember that the Lord has already been through the days and years we are yet to live. He is the Ancient of Days, the One who is and has been before the beginning began. Hence, it is wise and sensible to follow the One who knows the path to success in the incoming year(s). He is aware of all the difficulties, challenges and obstacles ahead. Yet, he has already figured out how best to navigate through the problematic terrains ahead, to bring each of us to our predetermined destination. For the days ahead of us, our willpower, experience and wisdom may not suffice, and as such we must be careful to depend on Christ’s leading.
The word ‘follow’ is from a Greek word that means: ‘to trail someone who precedes, one who is ahead of you’. The life of the Israelites in the wilderness is a perfect depiction of this definition – foreshadowing the life that God desires Christians to live today. God guided the Israelites by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, illustrating how the Spirit desires to guide us today into our Promised Land, if we listen to His voice. The word ‘follow’ also means to be an attendant, a waiter or waitress. An attendant or waiter/waitress simply takes and delivers orders. To follow is to be called into a life of denial and self-sacrifice. Life would not necessarily be convenient all the time, as God would demand some sacrifice from us. The true life of faith begins with following Christ. Jesus’ command to Peter highlights this principle: ‘And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (ESV).
Proverbs 29:18 reads: ‘If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves. But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed’ (MSG). The coming year is full of opportunities that will only be obtained when we follow Christ. To follow Christ, here are some things we must all live by:
(a) Deny yourself, and take up your cross daily: Our call to obey and follow Christ will not necessarily be made at the most convenient of times. Sometimes, the call to obey may not necessarily be fully understood, yet once God’s voice is clear on the matter, I encourage you to obey Him. This was the situation in which Peter was, when Christ called him to step out and walk on water. Another scenario was the command to march around the wall of Jericho. Such was the thickness of the wall that houses were built on it! Yet it came crumbling down upon the obedience of the Israelites.
(b) Be willing to seek Him with all your heart: Seek God with all your heart. Read His word, the bible. Have a time devoted to study and examining scriptures as God speaks to you. Jeremiah 29:13 reads: ‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart’.
(c) Trust God with all your heart: Sometimes, you could be led by God to take a bold step that seems to oppose conventional wisdom. Oftentimes, God has already prepared the way, and once you’ve obeyed, you will discover opportunities waiting for you. Whatever God says, do it.
(d) Be Obedient to Him.
Here are the benefits of following Christ: (i) An experience of a purposeful life: Apostle Peter on obeying Christ, led three thousand souls to the Lord on the Day of Pentecost. (ii) Guidance into a life of inheritance: When Christ is followed wholeheartedly, you will be led into the ‘Promised Land’ (iii) Victory in Battle: God gives the strategies to win life’s battles. (iv) Access to Divine Revelation: We all need divine revelation in order to live our lives successfully. (v) Access to Divine Insight: John 5:19 reads: ‘Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner’. It is vital that we see beyond the natural, seeing things invisible and hearing things inaudible. It is vital that you can see beyond the natural realm. Here is the demarcation between God’s people and those who are of the world.
I declare that as you step into the coming year, you go in the name and power of the Lord. I declare that you will excel, succeed, prosper, flourish, go further and be all that God has called you to be in Jesus name (Amen).
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