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Sunday, July 22, 2012 am

 AS WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY

 In Galatians 6:10 we read, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  This is a verse we quote from time to time to remind us of our responsibilities toward others.  It is a text directed toward the individual Christian reminding us that our stewardship as Christians is not self-serving.  We have to think of others!

Today, we want to talk about the word opportunity as it relates to our lives as Christians.  Opportunity is part of the “formula” associated with our responsibilities for which we will give an accounting when we stand before God.  The formula is easy: Ability + Opportunity = Responsibility.  We all have responsibilities which are based upon our abilities.  The question is are we seeking opportunity to fulfill our responsibilities?  Let’s ponder this for a few moments.

  I.                    Opportunities

a.        What is an opportunity?
1. An appropriate or favorable time or occasion.  2. A situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.” (Collins Dictionary, © 2012, via:
www.dictionary.reference.com)
The word deals with the idea of circumstance presenting itself in such a way that if you take advantage of it, you can accomplish something.
in the New Testament there are at least 3 different Greek words translated “opportunity” in the NKJV.  The most prevalent word καιρός, (kairos) is used more than 80 times and is usually translated “time”, as in the appropriate (or opportune) season.  OF the 14 times the NKJV uses the word “opportunity”, 7 of them are derivatives of this word.  Opportunity is associated with time.
You also have the word, ἀφορμή, (aphorme), which is translated 5 times as opportunity.

b.       Opportunities can be good or bad

                                                   i.      Good – Our text – Gal. 6:10 – opportunity to do good.
The desires to help Paul were hindered (Phil. 4:10)
The Good Samaritan – Luke 10:29-37
Acts 3:1-10, as Peter enters the temple he sees a lame man begging alms.  Rather than giving him alms, Peter heals him.  It becomes an opportunity to proclaim Jesus.
Jesus is the ultimate example as He healed the multitudes.  Many accounts of miracles show opportunities taken advantage of, He cleansed a leper in Mark 1:40-41 who said, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Jesus  said, “I am willing;
  In the city of Nain, Jesus sees a dead man being carried out, who was the only son of his mother who was a widow.  Jesus touched the coffin and raised the man (Lk. 7:11-16)

  He sees Zacchaeus in a tree and goes to his house to teach him  (Lk. 19:1-10)

                                                  ii.      Bad – Gal. 5:13 speaks of an opportunity for the flesh to take advantage of your brethren.
Herodias –sought opportunity to kill John.  Herod’s lusts provided that day. Mk. 6:21
The devil, having failed to tempt Jesus, sought “an opportune time” to try Jesus again (Lk. 4:13). 
Judas sought opportunity to betray Jesus (Mt. 26:16)

c.        We all have opportunities – every day we are faced with choices.  Often those choices come with opportunities.  Will we seize our opportunities when they present themselves? 
Even the one talent servant had opportunity to do something – Matt. 25:15 – he had ability and opportunity to prove himself to his master.  But recall how he failed to fulfill his responsibility and was thus condemned as both wicked and lazy.

d.       Are we looking for opportunities?

                                                   i.      Be alert – the Christian life calls for soberness, which involves alertness.  1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 
WE have to have our eyes open, not just for the things that will destroy us, but also for opportunities to do what we need to do or simply what we can do.   We need to be looking for our opportunities.   

                                                  ii.      Learn to recognize opportunities  – There are many in the world that seek opportunities to get rich, move ahead, etc.  They are thinking of their own well-being.    The Christian seeks first the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).  That is the direction we are concerned about when we speak of looking for opportunities.
Col. 3:1-2 is one of many passages that tells us where our mind needs to be.   We ought to be looking for opportunities to further that.

                                                iii.      Be prepared – if you looking for opportunities, what will you do when you recognize that one is there?  Will you be ready to act?  Or will you be unable to do something, or you do the wrong thing, because you have not prepared?

1.       Matthew 25:1-13 – the parable of the wise and foolish virgins demonstrates the tragedy of being unprepared.  While dealing with our Lord’s return, the principle applies whenever we have opportunity to do good for others. 

2.       Paul is a great example of being prepared.  Wherever he went he looked for “prospects”.  And he acted when he found them. 

3.       He lived his life so that he could do maximum good - Consider 1 Cor. 9:22 where Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means win some.”   

4.       In 1 Cor. 16:9, Paul said, “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”  2 Cor. 2:12 speaks of a door being opened to him while at Troas.  The point he made was that when the door opened, he walked through it.  Why?  Because he was ready!   

5.       The church at Philadelphia was praised because an open door was set before them that no one could shut (Rev. 3:8).   

6.       When a door opens for us, we need to be prepared to walk through it.

                                                iv.      Be willing – often opportunities are not about you, but someone else.
Sometimes, taking advantage of an opportunity means you might have to sacrifice something you want to do, etc.  Will you?  How much do you want to help others? 
Redeem the time – Eph. 5:16, Col. 4:5 – associated with this principle is our understanding of stewardship.  What we have actually belongs to God.  We need to be willing to sacrifice the things of this world, and even our own conveniences to avail ourselves of godly opportunities.  What will you sacrifice for Him? (Cf. Rom. 12:1-2)

e.       Don’t let them slip away!

                                                   i.      Opportunities usually come with time stamp. They only last so long.  That is why when we have an opportunity, we need to take advantage of it.  Jesus in John 9:4 said, “The night is coming when no man can work.”  He was talking about His own work.
Rom. 13:12, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.  Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

                                                  ii.      Missed opportunities often come with regrets.

                                                iii.      The easiest way to miss out on an opportunity is to do nothing.  Just like the foolish virgins who did nothing to prepare their lamps, and just like the one-talent wicked servant – if you do nothing, you GUARANTEE failure!  You will miss out on your opportunities.

 II.                  We need to look for opportunities to…

a.       Do good to all (Gal. 6:10, etc.)

                                                   i.      The text we began with issues a serious challenge to every Christian. 

                                                  ii.      Jas. 1:27 associates our conduct toward others with “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father...”

                                                iii.      WE understand that when we stand before God, our salvation is not earned.  (cf. Eph. 2:10)    Our only hope is God’s grace!  BUT, it is abundantly emphasized that God will look at the way we have lived our lives – and He expects us to care about others.   IT is one way that we OBEY Him!  He expects us to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).  We are reminded in Matt. 25:31-46 that he will consider what we have done for others when we stand before Him. 
But let us never forget what Jesus said in Luke 17:10, “So likewise you, when you have done all those thing which are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants.  WE have done what was our duty to do.’”

                                                iv.      1 Pet. 2:12 tells us that by our “good works” God can be glorified among “the Gentiles”.

                                                  v.       A challenge we face as brethren is to look for and take advantage of opportunities to help others.  That needs to be one of the motivating factors in our lives.  We need to be about helping others, both spiritually and physically.

                                                vi.      How can we do good for our neighbors?  Say a kind word of encouragement - the impact of kind words cannot be emphasized enough!  Be an example to them in all things (Matt. 5:16) 
Look for ways to help the needy.

b.       Do good for our brethren

                                                   i.      Galatians 6:10 says, “especially those who are of the household of faith.”  Do we prefer our brethren?

                                                  ii.      They need encouragement  - “therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11); Heb. 3:13 speaks of exhorting one another daily, “while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Also Heb. 10:24, consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.

                                                iii.      They sometimes our brethren need HELP!  Physically they may have needs that we can help them with.  Whatever our blessings, we must never forget we are a family.

c.        Grow spiritually –

                                                   i.      2 Pet. 3:18 says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Sometimes it is a challenge, but we better find time to develop spiritually.  This is an example of MAKING opportunities. 

                                                  ii.      We need to study God’s word – 2 Tim. 2:15

                                                iii.      WE need to find time to pray – 1 Thee. 5:17, Eph. 6:18

d.       Worship and assemble with the saints

                                                   i.      Thanks to the foresight of our elders, we have plenty of opportunities to assemble both to worship God and to edify one another.   Do we take advantage of these opportunities?

                                                  ii.      The privilege of assembly cannot be overemphasized.  Heb. 10:25.

                                                iii.      It is something that requires planning.  The opportunity is there, will we make it happen.

e.       Share God’s word with others

                                                   i.      Let us never forget the great commission with a responsibility of every Christian.  Matt. 28:18-20

                                                  ii.      Acts 8:4 describes the disciples going everywhere and preaching the word.

                                                iii.      1 Pet. 3:15 – be ready to give a defense.

                                                iv.      This ought to be on our minds continually, and we ought to be praying for “open doors” and walking through them when they present themselves.

 

Conclusion.  And thus we can see that as we have opportunities, we need to do good and take advantage of them while they are there.  Will we? 
Since you are here, I ask are you ready to stand before God and face Him in judgment?  IF not, you have opportunity right now to obey the gospel.  And you don’t know if this will be your LAST opportunity. 
Similarly, if needed, we have opportunity to repent. (Ac. 8:18-22, cf. Rev. 2:21) 

If you are subject to God’s invitation, why not avail yourself of this opportunity RIGHT NOW?