Summary: As we enter 2021, Ephesians 5:15-20 gives us six advice to do this year and the rest of our lives: 1) To be Careful, 2) To Be Fruitful, 3) To be Wise, 4) To be filled with the Spirit, 5) To Praise God, 6) To be Thankful

Happy New Year! As we enter a new year, let us focus on what the Apostle Paul said to the Ephesians that I believe we should do too. Let’s read Ephesians 5:15-20. There are six things that Paul wants us to do this year and always:

I. To Be Careful (V. 15 "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise").

First of all, we must be very careful how we live because our time on this earth is limited. Moses wrote, "Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." (Psalm 90:10). Therefore, Moses asked God to "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12). I was surprised to know that 20 of my middle school friends already died before they reached 60. Yesterday, Kane Tanaka, the oldest person in the world, celebrated her 118'th birthday. She has lived long, but she will not live forever; not even will reach 200 years. Our lives on earth are not only temporary but short too. That is why we need to be careful about spending our lives.

The second reason why we should be careful is that we cannot take back what we have said and done. We all have regrets. Only people who think they are perfect in everything don't have any regret! When we looked back at our lives, we may say, "I wish I could have been more patient with him/her," or "I wish I didn't say that to her," or "If I knew their situation, I could have done more," etc. Sadly, we cannot take back what we have said and done. We can turn a clock back but not the time!

The third reason we have to be careful in spending our lives is that we must account for our lives to God on judgment day. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, apostle Paul said, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." As believers, we will be saved (see Ephesians 2:8-10). But how we live in this world will determine how many rewards we will receive from God.

Therefore, let us be careful in spending our time on earth. We should think first before we say and do something. We need to ask God every day for His guidance and strength to do His will so that we can live carefully!

II. To Be Productive and Fruitful (V. 16 "making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.").

We don't always have the opportunity to do something good. If we have it, many opportunities don't come twice. As I prepared this message, I remembered an opportunity that God gave me to minister to someone. When I went to my home country six years ago, I served at my previous church there for a few days. One day, around 8 p.m. I was informed that Mrs. X was just admitted to the hospital at the ICU. I was exhausted after preaching several times and met many people that day, so I thought to visit her the next day. But I sensed the Holy Spirit moved me to see her that night. She was in her fifty's. She used to be a worship leader at church, but she stopped going to church for years because of a marital problem. When I came, she was still conscious and surprised to see me. That night I read a couple of verses and reminded her that God loved her and wanted her to keep trusting in Jesus and her need for forgiveness. Praise the Lord, with tears in her eyes and oxygen tubes inserted in her nose, she said with a weak voice that she wanted to ask God’s forgiveness and expressed her faith in Jesus. She also was willing to forgive her husband, who had betrayed her. The next day, I got the news that she had gone. Early in the morning, God took her home. I was sad but grateful to know that she went to be with the Lord.

Let's do God's will. Jesus said in John 9:4, "we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." Also, in John 15:16, Jesus said that He chose us so that we can bear fruit. God willing, we still have 362 days this year. Let's make our lives more productive and fruitful this year. Jesus warned us that Satan is a robber and a thief, and one of the things he tries to rob from us is our time because time is a very precious possession. Just think of the time wasted in sinning. Think of the time wasted in bars or gambling casinos or playing games or social media or gossiping or spreading rumors. Or think about all the time wasted worrying about our family, job, health, and future. Satan is a thief and a robber!

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