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"Missed Opportunities"

Luke 2:1-2:7

“Missed Opportunities”
Text: Luke 2: 1-7

Some years ago at a Resort Area along the East Coast, a small community was having an open town meeting about some financial problems that they were facing.

Among the two dozen or so people was one man no one seemed to know who was apparently visiting in that area & had just dropped in on the meeting.

He started to make a comment once as various projects were considered, but he was interrupted; so for the rest of the time, he kept still, & he left early.
Just as he went out someone arriving late came in, & said breathlessly, “What was he doing here? Is he going to help us?”

The rest of them said, “Who are you talking about? Who was that man?” The person who had just arrived said, “You mean you don’t know? That was John D. Rockefeller.

His yacht is in our harbour. Didn’t you get his help? In despair someone said, “No, we didn’t get his help; we didn’t know who he was!”

Have you ever kicked yourself in the Seat of the Pants, because you missed a golden opportunity? I think all of us can relate here!

1. We missed an opportunity to make a Positive Difference in Someone’s Life.

2. We missed an opportunity to be a Blessing to Someone who was Hurting.

3. We missed an opportunity to Witness to a Lost Friend.

4. We missed an opportunity to get a certain job because we weren’t prepared.

5. We missed an opportunity to Minister to our Spouse or Children because we were too preoccupied.

6. We missed an opportunity to make an Eternal Difference in a person’s life because we didn’t seize the opportunity.

Has an opportunity ever knocked on your door & you were so caught up in other things, that it slipped through your fingers?

I’m convinced that it has happened to all of us! But I pray that we would wake us to the opportunities around us!

Andy Stanley made the statement in his book “Visioneering”, “We don’t need to pray for more Miracles, we just need to be more Sensitive to the opportunities that God brings our way.”

Why is it that some people seem to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way, while others allow opportunities to pass them by?

It’s easy to say, “Well, they were just Lucky.” I don’t think Luck has anything to do with it, they were just more sensitive to the opportunity!

I’ll never forget the story about the Shoe salesman that went to Africa. He was there two weeks & he wrote his company back a letter saying, “Please bring me Home, nobody wears shoes over here.”

They sent another salesman in his place & in a couple of weeks, he sent a letter back to the company saying, “Please send all the shoes you can, because nobody where shoes here......”

Some of you might not realize it, but you have the Power to be a Blessing in Someone’s Life even Today! There is opportunity all around you!

-But everyone is looking for the “Big Ministry”.
-I’m just waiting for God to Show Me!
-While we are surrounded by Needs!
-Don’t wait for someone else to be a Blessing!
-You be a Blessing!

-Just be faithful in Little Things.
-This Church was Build One Block At A Time.
-People are Touched “One At A Time”.
-Who can you Touch Today?

Matthew 10: 42
“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a Disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means Lose his reward.”

I. The Bible Is Full of Examples of People
Who Missed Golden Opportunities.

1. The People of Noah’s Day Had a Chance To Come To the Ark.

-But they were too busy with Life.
-They had other things to do.
-They didn’t have time to Listen to the preacher.
-They saw the Ark being built.

-They laughed at Noah.
-But one day, it started to rain.
-They were laughing anymore.
-And God Shut the Door!
-All of a Sudden, they had Time!

2. The People of Sodom & Gomorrah Had a Chance To Repent.

This is a powerful story in the Bible. God was going to destroy this city, but before He did, He revealed his plan to Abraham.

Abraham began to pray & intercede for the city. When Lot told his son-in-laws to Leave Sodom because God was going to Destroy it, they didn’t take him seriously.

You see, when you camp in Sodom people aren’t going to take you seriously.
3. The Two Thieves on the Cross both Had an Opportunity.

One Thief realize that this was no ordinary man that was Dieing beside him. He looked at Jesus & said, “Would you please remember me when you come into Your Kingdom?”

The other Thief said, “If you are really the Son of God, get us out of this mess! He didn’t want to serve God, he just wanted out of his discomfort!
But both men had an Opportunity!
4. The Story of the Good Samaritan.

We know this story well. It is a Story about Opportunity. A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, & he fell among thieves.

-They Stripped him of his clothing.
-They Stole his money.
-They Beat him up & left him to Die.
-It’s a picture of many people today!

Now by chance, a Certain Priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Why did you do this fellow?

Likewise a Levite, when he Arrived at the Place, came & looked, & passed by on the other side. He stopped & looked, but he didn’t want to get involved......

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was! And when he saw him, he had Compassion on Him! This is where Ministry Begins.

It’s amazing the things that we will begin to see when we are moved by Compassion! The Bible says;
-He ministered to him.
-He bandaged up his wounds.
-He set him on his own animal.
-He took him to an Inn.
-He paid the guy out of his own pocket!

Jesus looked at the Crowd & said, “Tell Me, who do you think was a Neighbor to him?”

Two Thousand years ago, God sent His Only Son into this World to become our Savior. It was such a wonderful event that Heaven could not remain silent.

Luke 2: 9-15
“And behold, an Angel of the Lord stood before them, & the glory of the Lord shone around them, & they were greatly afraid.
“Then the Angel said to them, Do not be Afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
“For there is Born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a Manger.
“And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the Heavenly host praising God & saying;
“Glory to God in the Highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
“So it was, when the Angels had gone away from them into Heaven, that the Shepherds said to one another, “Let us go to Bethlehem & see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

The Shepherds had a choice that night. They received the message of the Birth of “The King” and they said, “Let’s go see for ourselves. But not everyone was so Excited!

II. How Did Most Of The World Receive The Savior?

I want to give you 3 Examples;

1. How Did They Receive Mary & Joseph?

You know the story. There was a Special Decree that went out from Caesar Augustus that all of the world should be Taxed. Everyone had to register in their own city.

-Joseph had to go to Bethlehem.
-Because he was of the house & lineage of David.
-When he got to Bethlehem it was Busy!
-Mary was in the 9th month of Pregnancy.
-She was ready to deliver this baby.

But when Joseph knocked on the doors of the Inn’s, he continued to get the same message, “I’m sorry, but we don’t have any room.”

Joseph knew that this baby wasn’t just an ordinary baby, this baby was the Son of God. I had to ask myself, “Why did everyone turn them away?” Why do many still turn Him away?

-We get too busy with Life.
-We get caught up in other things.
-We get preoccupied with other things.
-And they don’t have to be bad things.
-If they would have only realized who this Baby was!

1. This Baby is the Son of God.
2. This Baby is the Savior of the World.
3. This Baby came to Redeem Mankind.
4. This Baby came to offer us Life.
5. The Baby came to Reconcile us back to God.
6. This Baby came to offer us Eternal Life.
7. This Baby came to be our Light.

Isaiah 9: 6
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His Shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

You know something, I’m afraid that many times even those of us who know Him, don’t fully realize what He came to do & what He wants to do in our Individual Lives.

2. How Did Herod Receive The Savior?

When Herod heard about the Birth of Christ, he was troubled & all Jerusalem with him.
-He gathered the Chief Priest & Scribes.
-He inquired where the baby would be born.
-They told him what the Scripture Said.

Herod secretly called the Wise Men & asked them what time the Star appeared? He said, “Go to Bethlehem & search diligently for the Child & when you have found Him, let me know so I can come & worship Him.”

-He had no desire to Worship the Baby.
-He looked at this baby as a Threat!

3. How Did most of Jewish Nation Receive Him?

John 1: 10-11, 12
“He was in the world, & the world was made through Him, & the world did not know Him.”
“He came to His Own, & His Own did not receive Him.
“But as Many as Received Him, to them
He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His Name.”

III. How Can Christians Take More Advantages of the Opportunities that we have been given?

1. I believe that we have got to realize who we are in Christ.

-We have been Redeemed.
-We have been Adopted in God’s Family.
-We have been given the ministry of Reconciliation.
-We have the greatest news in the world.
-Jesus Christ offers us Eternal Life!
-We’ve got to believe in what we are selling!

2. We Have Got To Realize that Christ Though Us Can Make A Difference in A Person’s Life.

-We are the Light.
-We are the Salt.
-And we are here to Shine.
-We are here to make people Thirsty.

3. We Have Got To Realize That It Is Our Responsibility To Reach Out.

You know, it’s been two thousand years since the Angels first announced the Birth of Jesus. But I want to ask you, “You have heard the announcement, who are you telling about His Birth, His Death & His Glorious Resurrection?”

A Teacher Who Seized An Opportunity

Teddy Stallard certainly qualified as “one of the least”. Disinterested in school, musty, wrinkled clothes, hair never combed. One of those kids in school with a deadpan face, expressionless, sort of a glassy, unfocused stare.
When Miss Thompson spoke to Teddy he always answered in monosyllables. Unattractive, unmotivated, & distant, he was just plain hard to like. Even though his teacher said she loved all in her class the same, down inside she wasn’t being completely honest.

Whenever she marked Teddy’s papers, she got a certain perverse pleasure out of putting Xs next to the wrong answers & when she put the Fs at the top of the papers, she always did it with a flair. She should have known better; she had Teddy’s records & she knew more about him than she wanted to admit.

The records read:

1st Grade: Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but poor home situation.

2nd Grade: Teddy could do better, mother is seriously ill. He receives little help at home.

3rd Grade: Teddy is a good boy but too serious.
He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.
4th Grade: Teddy is very slow, but well behaved.
His father shows no interest.

Christmas came & the boys and girls in Miss Thompson’s class brought her Christmas presents. They piled their presents on her desk & crowded around to watch her open them. Among the presents was one from Teddy Stallard.

She was surprised that he had brought her a gift, but he had. Teddy’s gift was wrapped in brown paper & was held together with Scotch Tape. On the paper were written the simple words, “For Miss Thompson from Teddy.”

When she opened teddy’s present, out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet, with half the stones missing, & a bottle of cheap perfume. The other boys & girls began to giggle & smirk over Teddy’s gift, but Miss Thompson at least had enough sense to silence them by immediately putting on the bracelet & putting some of the perfume on her wrist.

At the end of the day, when school was over & the other children had left, Teddy lingered behind. He slowly came over to her desk & said softly, “Miss Thompson.....you smell just like my mother....and her Bracelet looks real pretty on you too.

When Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees & asked God to Forgive her. The next day when the children came to school, they were welcomed by a New Teacher. Miss Thompson had become a different person.

She was no longer just a Teacher; she had become an Agent of God. She was now a person committed to loving her children & doing things for them that would live on after her.

She helped all the children, but especially the slow ones, & especially Teddy Stallard. By the end of the school year, Teddy showed dramatic improvement. He had caught up with most of the class & was even ahead of some.

She didn’t hear from Teddy for a Long Time, then one day, she receive a note that read:
Dear Miss Thompson;
I wanted you to be the first to know
I will be graduating second in my class.
Teddy Stallard

Four years later, another note came:

Dear Miss Thompson;
They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.
Teddy Stallard

And four year Later:
Dear Miss Thompson;
As of today, I am Theodore Stallar, MD. How about that?
p. 25
I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I want you to come & sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year.

Teddy Stallard

Miss Thompson went to that wedding & sat where Teddy’s mother would have sat. She deserved to sit there; she had done something for Teddy that he could never have done!

This Christmas Season, don’t let opportunities pass you by. In the Shadow of These Steeples---people are Dieing without Christ.

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