Summary: As a Christian travels the path of life, God encourages us to be careful.

FOCUS: 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. QTR 1: 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

Ephesians 5:15-20: 15 Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How many days are left until the end of the school year? Has anyone started counting yet? We've only been in school for one week, but there's probably somebody out there who's thinking, "I'm getting tired of school. I wish I could sleep until noon again, like I did during the summer." And then that person looks at the calendar and starts counting. Maybe that's you - you're already looking forward to the end, even though we've just begun.

Our Scripture lesson for this week is perfect for people who are just starting out on a journey. I don't know how many days there are until the end of the school year, but I know how many weeks - it's 39 - it's easy to remember because every year, there are 40 weeks until graduation. We're just starting out on this journey we call "school." And really, your journey lasts longer than 40 weeks. Look beyond graduation. There is the world of college, jobs, dating and marriage, family, growing older, all the ups and downs along the way, and eventually, there is going to heaven and being with Jesus forever. All of these things lie before you. And so what does God say to you as you start out on this journey?

Ephesians 5 has a lot to say. Today, we're going to focus on what God says to us in the first couple verses of this section: Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Be very careful how you live. The Greek literally says, "Carefully watch your step." The picture here is someone just starting out on a hike - maybe they are going to climb up a big mountain. And there's a big sign at the beginning of the trail, and the sign on the trail says, "Be careful!" Why? Because this mountain that you're about to climb has a lot of dangerous places along the way. You need to be careful as you start hiking on this trail - "not as unwise but as wise…" The mountain that we call "life" can be a dangerous place - the Bible says that "the days are evil."

There are some pretty cool mountains that you can climb in this world - there's Mt. Everest, and they've made movies about climbing that mountain. Right now people are attempting to get to the summit of Kilimanjaro in southern Africa. All of these really high mountains have two things in common - when you get to the top, it's really awesome - that's one. And the other - the hike to the top is very dangerous. There are steep drop offs, avalanches, unexpected storms. You can't go into something like this with a reckless attitude - you need to be very careful.

Do you see the comparison? You are climbing the mountain of life, and when you get to the top, when you get to heaven, it's awesome. But the hike to the top can be very dangerous - "the days are evil." There are all kinds of ways you can lose your faith in Jesus - all kinds of temptations on this hiking trail, and if you fall into one, then you're killing your faith. For example, there is the steep cliff of dishonesty - cheating - lots of Lakeside students fall into this sin - lying to your teacher, lying to your parents, lying to yourself, and ultimately, lying to your God. Will you fall off that cliff this school year? Be very careful how you live. There is the avalanche bad language - the obvious 4 letter words that come out of people's mouths, and then there are those less obvious misuses of God's name that you hear people say, like "O my God," or "Jesus Christ." It's wrong, but it's less obvious because it's so common in our culture to throw around God's name. Will you be swept away by this avalanche of bad language? Be very careful how you live. The mountain of life that you are climbing has so many places where you can sin, and hurt your faith. You can get caught up in the storm of sexual immorality - remember the big assembly we had last spring with Pastor Novotny when he talked to us about that topic? Will you be swept away by that sin this year? Be very careful how you live, now as unwise, but as wise.

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