January 2, 2015
Navigating the New Year
By Skip Heitzig
There's a harbor in Italy that is extremely narrow and precarious for ships to get through because of hidden rocks and shoals underneath the water. So many shipwrecks have happened in the area that the people decided to put three poles in the harbor at strategic locations. The idea was that as a ship entered the mouth of that channel, the captain would align the lights on those three poles, and once they were all perfectly aligned, then the ship could safely proceed to port.
That's a good way to look at three principles for the New Year (and for life) that I find in Ephesians 5:15-17: "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." If we line up with these three principles, it will show us the way to navigate the rest of our lives with the Lord.
First of all, walk carefully. Circumspectly (v. 15) means to watch and look around as you make every little step. It's a call to live with exactness and precision. The Christian life is not to be lived haphazardly. It should be lived very carefully, with life principles governing all that we do and with a purpose to each step that we take.
Paul qualifies this statement: "Not as fools but as wise" (v. 15). That is, walk with wisdom. When the Bible speaks about wisdom, it is speaking about more than human intelligence or knowledge. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, and that will affect every choice you make, the places you go, the things you buy, the movies you watch, etc.
Here's the second pole: watch faithfully. "Redeeming the time" (v. 16) means that you are faithfully watching for opportunities, seizing them, and making every moment count spiritually.
One day we'll leave the realm of time and enter the realm of eternity. Then those opportunities to affect others for Christ will be gone. So, whatever time we have left, make it an opportunity that you seize for the glory of God.
Jesus put it beautifully: "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4). Ask, "What does the Lord want here?" Keep an eternal perspective. Remember that this life is like an airport that you're just passing through.
The third pole in the harbor to navigate the New Year is work thoughtfully. "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (v. 17). That seems like a pretty tall order. We want to know what the will of the Lord is, but we don't in some areas, so we walk by faith and not by sight.
If you want to be a wise person and live a wise life, you will follow the life-governing principles that God has already revealed in Scripture. Let's call it God's general will. If you know God's general will, you'll find that His specific, particular will, will just take care of itself.
Here are some areas that the Bible reveals to us exactly what God wants, with no ambiguity.
God wants unsaved people to become saved people (see 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). God wants saved people to become holy people, especially in the area of their sexual morality (see 1 Thessalonians 4:3). God wants holy people to be humble people, submissive to spiritual and governmental authority (see 1 Peter 2:13). God wants all people to be thankful (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
If we decided that in the coming year we would concentrate on these things, it would revolutionize our city, our state, and our country, because it would mean we'd be preaching to lost people, we would become more set apart for Jesus Christ, we would become humble and submissive, and we would be thankful in all things.
We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we can rest in the fact that God does know...and that makes all the difference in the world. We're navigating some waters that are pretty rocky, but if we keep these three principles lined up, it's full steam ahead!
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