Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Ephesians 5: 15-20 (NIV) The parents of 20 year old Megan Marotte await the word from police if the body found in Willowbrook Park yesterday is indeed their pregnant daughter who has been missing for two weeks now. While those who know the Staten Island woman pray it is not Megan, it most certainly was someone. It was someone's daughter. It was someone's friend. Somebody took her life and left her in the park. It seems we have become anesthetized to these stories. The experience of the Newtown massacre or the Cleveland house of horrors makes us numb. It is reported almost matter of fact now as the cost of human life has been so devalued in popular culture. Some kind but empty words offered for the suffering and then let's move on to the weather. But this was someone's child. The days beloved are indeed evil and I think sometimes we minimize exactly how evil they are. Maybe to make us feel better on some level. Regardless, God has provided us with assurance, and comfort in His Word about how we are to live during these evil days and they are contained in the key verses above. First off we need to be very careful about how we live, not as unwise but as wise. The Bible teaches us the the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. That must be where we must always start. The sad truth is that the fear of the Lord is rapidly disappearing in this country and in the church. When you are brought up in the seeker-friendly, friend of God theologies, reverential awe is simply not a topic that is preached or taught. The consumer mentality church realizes that it doesn't sell well but the reality is that it is what protects us. When you do not have a healthy fear of God then we do not respect the power of sin and the enemy in our lives. That is how we end up in situations and suffering we should not be in. But living carefully also means that we do not take unnecessary risks with the world. There is a reason why God says that we are to be sojourners and pilgrims in this world. There is a reason why the Bible teaches us to not be in fellowship with the darkness of this world. Why we should not be yoked with anyone in this world. The days are evil. The world is evil. Be careful even within the church because many have infiltrated in these last days and do not have the true Spirit of God within them. Check their fruit. Check their fruit. Secondly, because the days are evil we need to make the most of every opportunity. The root origin of this phrase is actually to "redeem the time." The truth is that we do not respect time anymore. The devil has convinced many of us that we always have tomorrow. Yet what does the Bible teach us: Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. - James 4: 13-14 (NLT) Tomorrow is promised to no one beloved. The days are evil so we need to respect and redeem the time God has given us. We need to make the most of what God has blessed us with. One of the deeper problems in the new American churchianity is that it is so busy chasing the next blessing while it hasn't used the ones it already has. When it comes to our family and loved ones, we need to redeem the time. Stop making excuses for why we do not call each other or spend time with each other or tell the ones we love that we love them. Redeem the time with the lost. Every day we think we will witness to that person tomorrow is another day closer to death for both of us. Live wisely, the days are evil, redeem the time. Next the key verses instruct us to not be foolish but understand what the will of God is. These are put in opposition for a reason. So many Christians never bother to seek the will of God in most of their daily activities and choices. God is plainly saying here that strategy is foolishness. Too often we seek God with our problems resulting from our poor decisions. This admonition here is saying that we need to start giving God our decisions so we can avoid the problems. So, how do we find His will then? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12: 2 (NLT) Once again we come to the point of denying the world and embracing the things of God. The truth is that there is too much carnality in the church today. Too many churches are trying to hard to be relevant to the worldly culture. This is at the core of the problems with the purpose driven church model. That model seeks to grow the church horizontally, not vertically. The result is that the church starts to copy the customs of the world which is the opposite of what the Bible says here we should be doing. We have to change the way we think by letting God transform us. That transformation occurs through the reading of His Word and obeying it. The next instruction from the key verses is another oppositional statement. Do not get drunk on wine which leads to reckless living but rather be filled with the spirit. In these evil days we will always be seeking to fill ourselves with something. The world will always have its enticements to fill us up with. The example in the verses is alcohol but it really can be anything the world offers because it all corrupts. It all leads us down the wrong path to debauchery. The archaic definition of debauchery is to be seduced away from virtue! That is what the world seeks to do beloved - lead us away from the virtuous. The lead us away from God. Whether it be alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal), fame, money, career, lust or any other device Satan uses to seduce us, we need to instead be filled with the Spirit of God. Our cup needs to overflow with the things of God so that there is simply no room for the seduction of the world. Lastly, from the key verses we see that filling ourselves with the Spirit means that we must stay focused on the things of God. We need to speak to each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Well what does that mean? It means we are supposed to be speaking about the things of God, not the things of this world! Fellowship is often the forgotten discipline we are to be practicing. Prayer, praise, and the Word are crucial but so is fellowship. It was an underpinning of the early church: All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. - Acts 2: 42 (NLT) Fellowship is not going out for coffee after church and discussing the latest reality television show or church gossip. It is discussing the things of God. Does that mean we should not discuss anything in our lives, which are lived in the world? Of course not, but we should be trying to bring everything back to God. The days are evil - we cannot keep our minds focused on evil. The key verses conclude by promising us that if we do these things it will be like music from our heart to God Himself! It will develop a thankful heart within us if we were to constantly focus on God, and all that He is and all that He has done. One of the most glaring problems within the church today is the lack of thankful hearts. Our thankful hearts will not be constantly seeking future blessings but instead will be joyful in the ones we have received. The days are evil beloved - we see that every single day. With every news story and every body discovered. We need to be careful about how we live. We need to redeem the time God has given us. We need to seek His will in our decisions - not just our problems. We need to fill ourselves with the things of God to the point that there is no room for the things of this evil world. Fellowshipping with each other about the things of God. Thanking Him that despite the days being evil, we know that His goodness will always overcome. Rev. Anthony.