Challenging Truth for Changing Times

Bible Book: Ephesians  5 : 15-21
Subject: Christian Living; Commitment; Purpose; Times, Changing

Robert D. Smith, author of 20,000 Days and Counting, shares, “IN 2009, MIDWAY THROUGH MY FIFTY-FOURTH YEAR LIVING on this planet, I came to a realization that changed my life forever: I had been alive for nearly 20,000 days!
That’s 480,000 hours.
28,800,000 minutes.
1,728,000,000 seconds.”[1] The following six words, Smith confessed, “. . . made a huge impression on me.”[2]:

“‘No reserves, No regrets, No retreats!”



B. NOVEMBER 1, 1887, D. April 9, 1913


According to the 20,000 DAYS CALCULATOR[4], I have been here 19,835 days as of (03/13/16). Ironically, Terry Wilhite, gave me an autographed copy of 20,000 Days and Counting this past week and I stand at this moment almost exactly at the same point in time of the author when he wrote the book and I have found encouragement from the story of William Borden of Yale for many years, or days. I do not just want to count time; I want my time to count! How about you? Psalm 90:10-12 reads, “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Remember, those words were written by Moses, who lived 120 years. Even Methuselah, who lived 969 years, could confess, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14b).

As many of you know, my mentor, Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004), the man to whom I dedicated Don’t Miss the Revival! profoundly influenced my life and ministry. Dr. David L. Olford, Stephen Olford Professor of Expository Preaching at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, shared the following in a message titled, “Waste, Worship or What?”: “Many years ago when my father was a student, he was in a motorcycle accident. He developed double-pneumonia and was very ill. While at home in Wales, he received a letter from his father, Frederick Ernest Samuel Olford, who was in what is now Angola, West Africa. Fred Olford knew nothing of his son's physical crisis, which actually occurred at a time of spiritual crisis, as well. It took months for news to travel back and forth in those days. In the letter missionary Fred Olford wrote were words written directly to Stephen: ‘Only one life 'twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.’ These words pierced young Stephen’s heart. He surrendered afresh to God, prayed for healing; and God graciously wrote the rest of the story. These words have a message for us all. It is really true that what is done for Christ and to Christ will last. It will be remembered. It will last; it counts; it matters.”[5]

Tom Hearon, former Baptist Student Union Director at my alma mater, William Carey University, recently shared that his most memorable chapel service from his college days at Mississippi College was when Bible professor, Dr. Philips McCarty, said, “Life is short. Use your time well and choose wisely. You are dismissed.” Hearon explained it was, “A one-minute message that has stayed with me.”[6]  

Ephesians 5:15-21 reads, “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. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

Note three challenging truths for changing times.

I. The challenge of following under the Lord's command.

(Ephesians 5:17-18) “. . . do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is” and “do not be drunk with wine, but be being filled with the Spirit.” The issue is control. Who is in control of your life? People fall into two categories: those who are out of control and those who are under control. While self-control is beneficial to individuals and to society, there is a more excellent way. What is it? It is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, which is the essence of “being filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18b). Literally, those words could be translated, “be being filled with the Spirit”. Romans 8:9b reads, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” While He is resident in all believers, is He president? Remember the word of Stephen recorded in Acts 7:51, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” Are you retaining the controlling interest of your life from the Lord? or are you releasing the controlling interest of your life to the Lord? The contrast is clearly seen in 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

II. The challenge of fellowshipping in the Lord's community.

(Ephesians 5:19, 21) “. . . speaking to one another in psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs” and “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Regrettably, much of what passes for fellowship has nothing to do with the Word of God or the fear of God. Dr. Jim Phillips writes, “Most churches have reduced fellowship to mean cold drinks and cookies in the social hall. If you go on a picnic, that’s fellowship. If you laugh, sing, slap back, tell stories, that’s fellowship. But is it? Of course, these things are fine and in some way related to fellowship, but there’s nothing distinctively Christian about them.

What is biblical fellowship? The answer to that question is given in the ‘one another’ statements in the Bible. More than fifty of these statements command, illustrate, and detail biblical fellowship. These statements can be divided into four categories: (1) supportive, (2) confrontive, (3) preventive, and (4) prohibitive.”[7]  

Evangelist and Bible teacher, Joe Nieboer, writes, “Submission to others is contrary to the nature of man. Very early in life children manifest a desire to do their own will. Yet a great part of Christian life is submission to authority. . . . We should at least respect one another’s judgment and seek to follow it, if at all possible. If a number of the Lord’s people pass judgment on a certain matter, unless we can prove them to be positively unscriptural, we would be wise to submit to them. Sometimes one man can obstruct real progress in the work of the Lord.”[8] Neiboer explains, “When we submit one to another we bring honor to His name. If in pride we insist on our own way and quarrel rather than submit, we bring dishonor to Him.”[9]

Have you ever seen the “one another” passages in the Bible? Here is a sampling:

Mark 9:50 reads, “. . . have peace with one another.”

John 13:34 reads, “. . . love one another. . .”

Romans 12:10 reads, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
Romans 12:16 reads, “Be of the same mind toward one another. . .”

Romans 15:7 reads, “. . . therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”

Romans 15:14 reads, “. . . admonish one another. . .”

1 Corinthians 12:25 reads, “. . . that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.”

Galatians 5:13 reads, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Galatians 5:15 reads, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”

Galatians 5:26 reads, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Galatians 6:2 reads, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Ephesians 4:2 reads, “. . . bearing with one another in love. . .”

Ephesians 4:32 reads, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Colossians 3:9 reads, “Do not lie to one another.”

Colossians 3:13 reads, “. . . bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.”

1 Thessalonians 4:18 reads, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 reads, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another. . .”

Hebrews 3:13 reads, “. . . exhort one another daily. . .”

Hebrews 10:24 reads, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”

Hebrews 10:25 reads, “. . . exhorting one another. . .”

James 4:11 reads, “Do not speak evil of one another. . .”

1 Peter 3:8 reads, “. . . having compassion for one another. . .”

1 Peter 4:9 reads, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”

1 Peter 4:10 reads, “. . . minister it to one another. . .” (Emphasis Mine)

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9b), which reveals our relationship with those who are related to God the Father through salvation. On other occasions Jesus referred to God as “My Father” and “Your Father” (John 5:17-18 and 20:17).

III. The challenge of fulfilling of the Lord's commission

(vv. 15-16; 17b; 19b-20) “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. . . . understand what the will of the Lord is. . . . singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The challenge of fulfilling of the Lord's commission involves understanding the will of God. The following is a collection of the will of God passages in the Bible:

Romans 8:26-27 reads, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 reads, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 reads, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Peter 2:13-16 reads, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.” 1 Peter 3:13-17 reads, “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 4:19 reads, “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” (Emphasis mine) If you do the will of God you do know; you will know the will of God you do not know. “Obedience is the organ of spiritual knowledge” according to Dr. Frederick W. Robertson (1816-1853) who explains, “In God’s spiritual universe there are no favorites of heaven who can attain knowledge and spiritual wisdom apart front obedience.”[10] John 7:17 reads, “If anyone wills to do His [God’s] will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” Deuteronomy 29:29 reads, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

The challenge of fulfilling of the Lord's commission involves undertaking the will of God. Understanding the will of God means little until there is an undertaking of the will of God!

Are you undertaking the will of God in practice? Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. . .” Recently I read the following clipping from the files of Dr. Michael Guido (1915-2009):

“Two Englishmen were cruelly arrested and cast into a cold, dirty, rat infested dungeon.

One swore, the other sang. One pouted, the other prayed. One wasted his time, the other redeemed it.

The Christian supported his family by making shoelaces. In his spare time he wrote religious books.

One of John Bunyan’s [1628-1688] books, Pilgrim’s Progress, has been translated into over a hundred languages and dialects, more than any other book except the Bible.

Why don’t you make use of every opportunity you have, and let the Lord lead you from trial to triumph!”[11]

In a message titled, “Redeeming the Time”, Dr. Stephen F. Olford shared, “David Brainerd [1718-1747] who died at age 29, cried, ‘Oh how precious is time; and how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misimproved it, or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity.”[12]

Are you undertaking the will of God in praise? Ephesians 5:19b reads, “. . . singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

James D. Smith III begins an article titled, “A Singing Faith” in the following way:  

"I will sing with the spirit, I will sing with the understanding also." (1 Cor 14:15) The components of any spiritual experience are heart and mind—the heart to will and the mind to grasp; the heart to sense and the mind to comprehend. Both are needed. All heart and no mind means fanaticism. All mind and no heart means pharasaism. These songs will warm your heart, for they comprise tried-and-true favorites of our generation. They will stimulate your thoughts, turning them to Calvary and the Christ of God.’

With these words, Dr. Bob Cook [1912-1991], president of Youth for Christ International, offered a foreword to the spiral-bound Singing Youth for Christ songbook of 1948.”[13]

Are you undertaking the will of God in prayer? Ephesians 5:20 reads, “. . . giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Emphasis mine) God is in control! 


Although the times change God's Word remains the same. Isaiah 40:8 reads, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

God through Paul issues challenging truth:

The challenge of following under the Lord's command.

The challenge of fellowshipping in the Lord's community.

The challenge of fulfilling of the Lord's commission.

May we take to heart this challenging truth for changing times.

[1]Robert D. Smith, 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 5.

[2]Smith, 20,000, 21. 

[3]Smith, 20,000, 19.

[4]20,000 Days Calendar Accessed: 03/13/16 .

[5]David L. Olford, “Waste, Worship or What?” Sermon Notes (Mark 14:1-11). Accessed: 03/09/16 .

[6]Tom Hearon, Notes from a Personal Interview (03/08/16), Used by Permission.

[7]Jim Phillips, One Another: How the One-another Principles of the Bible Can Transform a Church (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1981), 9.

[8]J. Nieboer, One Another or How to Get Along with Other Christians (Erie, PA: Our Daily Walk Publishers, 1953), 113-115.    

[9]Nieboer, One, 116.

[10]Frederick W. Robertson, “Obedience the Organ of Spiritual Knowledge” Sermon Notes (John 7:17).

[11]“From Trial to Triumph” Read Ephesians 5:16-21, Guido Gardens Library, Ephesians 5, #550.

[12]Stephen F. Olford, “Redeeming the Time” Sermon Notes (Ephesians 5:16) Guido Gardens Library #538-539.

[13]James D. Smith III, “A Singing Faith” Accessed: 03/09/16 .

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & /   / (251) 626-6210

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