Many of us are where we are today, with the attendant challenges, not because God has not given us opportunities nor answered our prayers but because we have squandered heaven-sent opportunities. Families, communities, organizations and even nations are not left out in this quandry.
So many times in the course of this life, we fall into diverse difficulties and from the jaws of pain, humiliation and want, we make vows to God. But as soon as our prayers are answered, we prefer to forget God and our promises. Many from sick beds and other traumatic circumstances have sent ‘hot-mails’ to heaven pleading…God, if you see me through this pregnancy… If I come back safe from this hazardous trip… if only this business pulls through…If I ever pass this exam…if the only thing you do for me is to save my child, my spouse, I will serve you diligently all my life. But as soon as God keeps His own part of the bargain, we will choose to abandon our vows thus squandering God’s opportunities. Whenever we misplace the blessings of God, choosing not to invest our lives and opportunities in God’s thriving business of holiness and righteousness, rather choosing the fleeting pleasures of life, we eventually end up the losers God has not intended us to be. In such pitiable instances of misplaced priorities and warped choices, we block God’s light from reaching us and wallow in darkness and the mud hole of squandered opportunities: living on a merry-go-round, starting but never finishing . At such times, the only solution is genuine repentance and true biblical confession. Consequently, there has to be a holistic and verifiable change in lifestyle: away from sin and towards God. The prodigal son is a case in point.
We are going to look at the travails of a nation that squandered the opportunities and resources God gave them and from their lives we will examine our own and make necessary amendments, now that there is still time. In Isaiah 5:1-2 we read: “Let me sing my beloved a love song concerning his vineyard: my beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He digged it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.”
If only some of us will take a retrospective step in thought, we will remember where God plucked us from. Some from the clutches of death, others from a bland, purposeless life and yet others from the quicksand of bad companions and destructive habits. Some of us were not better than the beggars or miscreants out there but God plucked us up, planted us on fertile ground and dug around us making sure that we were well taken care of. Today we are well placed. We have the basic necessities of life, if not more. And the least God expects from his vineyards is good grapes. Nobody makes investments who does not expect encouraging returns, so what do you have to show for all that God has invested in your life? House, motor, fat bank account. An empire, or perhaps power and earthly authority. If all these are what God requires, He does not need man to get them. The Bible said that; “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof and all the people that dwell therein”. If all you can show to God as fruits are the transient things of life then you have lost out. If all that we can show are the same kingdoms of the world, their authority and glory which Satan still promises and gives to them that worship him (the same temptation that Jesus overcame in the wilderness), then there is a serious need for prayer of salvation. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul, the most expensive thing on earth. If all that God requires of man is to make wealth, He wouldn’t have sent His only begotten Son, through whom all things were created.
What are those choice grapes that the Lord expects from us and what are the wild grapes we produce instead? Jesus Christ is the true vine and none can bear the true fruit if he is not a part of that vine. And the only criteria for being grafted on to that vine is submitting your life to Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit as a seal. It is this Holy Spirit whom you receive when you are born again that produces the fruit you bear. The true fruit is the life of Jesus Christ manifesting in the life of anyone who has consciously and willingly given his life to Christ. One who is not born again has no part in the true vine. Those who are not born again can only produce wild grapes which come from the evil one, for he cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.” – Gal. 5:22-23. Satan can give pleasure and leisure but he cannot give the love of God or the joy that comes even when there is no sheep in the pen or bread on the table. He can give gifts and presents but he cannot give kindness or faithfulness that come only from knowing God.
Many today may have all that the world can offer but without peace of mind; you can get all the pleasure and comfort in the world but without Christ, you cannot have the inner joy that truly satisfies. There is nothing that man can acquire through his efforts that can take the place of God in him. You can still go on trying, but I advise you to take the word of our Lord Jesus Christ for real! Unless a man gives his life to Christ, he cannot have life and have it more abundantly for of a truth there is no other way. The irony is that time is running out. Now is the time to give your life to Christ. God has been digging around you and adding manure and He is expecting choice grapes.
“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard that I have not done in it?? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes. And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedges and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall and it shall be trampled down.” – Isaiah 5:3-5
It is not in the power of man to determine God’s move, for his thoughts and ways are higher than man’s. Thus when God says that He will remove the hedge around his vineyard so that it will be devoured, have its wall broken down and have it trampled upon, we should take it seriously and quit squandering these God-given opportunities. Come to Jesus and be saved. There is nothing anybody can do for himself that God has not done for us and even more. Some of us he saved from difficult childbirth, others from devastating accidents. Some of us He gave the opportunity of a good education, good health and even a means of livelihood, yet we forget that why He dug around us and cleared us of stones, planting choice vines, is for us to yield good grapes. We must stop yielding wild grapes.
Remember when you were in school and it looked impossible to finish; you made promises to God concerning what you will do for Him if He sees you through. Now He has done that, why have you defaulted on your promise? Remember your vow in that turbulent air travel…, on that sickbed. Remember how like Hannah, Samuel’s mother, you made promises to God? Now you have your Samuel, what becomes of your vow? One major problem for some of us who are very religious is to rationalize and therefore modify our vows. This is dangerous. Think for a moment that Hannah refused to release Samuel for the service of God; God would have found another prophet, but it would not have been Samuel. In more ways than one we squander God’s opportunity and pass on our blessing to others who are willing to re-invest God’s opportunity in God’s business.
For some, God has already removed the hedge and has stopped digging around us; no wonder our lives are in shambles, no wonder the devil has found in our business and family easy prey. All of a sudden you find yourself in such a mess that it beats your imagination. The Lord says, I will remove the hedge, and it shall be devoured, I will break down its walls and it shall be trampled down. When you squander God’s opportunity and the hedge is removed, the enemy will package tailor-made problems for you.
I do not know what opportunity God has given you that you have squandered or are squandering now, but I believe that there is yet another opportunity that God in his love is offering you today. If you have not consciously and willingly given your life to Christ, it means you have been squandering God’s precious opportunity. Now is the time of salvation and as you hear the gospel harden not your heart.
You who claim to be a Christian, how many of God’s opportunities have you squandered? Come to Him in brokenness and contrition of heart and He will not despise you. He says in Isaiah 1:18-20, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though the are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. IF YOU ARE WILLING AND OBEDIENT, you shall eat the good of the land; BUT IF YOU REFUSE AND REBEL you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (emphasis is mine).
This article is adapted from a message given by Bishop Dr. Amaechi Nwachukwu at the Zodiac Outreach of Amazing Love Assembly