Monday, February 18, 2013

Diligent Service


Diligent Service

 

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,
so you do not know the works of God who makes everything” – Ecclesiastes 11:4-5

It’s February, the heart of winter, and yet buttercups are blooming!  I saw them this weekend and they were such a welcome surprise shining bright yellow in the dead brown grass.   While it’s not their season to bloom, they seemed to say “Hang on! Spring is coming!” Here in February, they were an unexpected blessing. 
Ecclesiastes 11:4-5 tells us that He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything”.  Just as the buttercups were God’s creation, blooming when they were not expected, we are expected to be diligent in our service to Him, even when no harvest is expected.  We don’t know God’s ways and His timing.  We are to sow, and allow Him to harvest.

Paul was such a wonderful example of diligence, travelling from one place to another, preaching the gospel as a free man and in chains.  In Acts 24 he has been arrested in Caesarea.  The Jews had accused him of creating dissension among all the Jews” and being “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” and profaning the temple.  Yet at every opportunity to be given time to speak, Paul preached.
He stands in court before Felix, the brother to the richest man in Rome, and husband to Princess Drusilla.  When it came time to speak against the accusations of the Jews, his hearts intent was instead to preach.  In Acts 25:14 he says “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”  Paul readily gave his testimony, without fear of self-incrimination. 

Felix didn’t know what to do with Paul.  There was no evidence of rioting or disruption of the peace.  So he told the centurion to keep Paul, but let him have liberty and allow his friends to visit.  Felix said he would hold him till the commander, Lysias, came. Then after his wife Drusilla came, he calls Paul back in front of him several times to be heard.  In Acts 25:25 we read that as Felix “reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”
Felix felt conviction and “was afraid”.  But he had an ulterior motive in continually calling Paul back.  It wasn’t to learn of God’s word.  He had hoped Paul would give him money, a bribe to go free.  How sad that Felix’ eyes were set on a different prize, and yet Paul was trying to give him something more valuable than money, eternal life. 

This went on for two years.  After two years, Felix still had Paul in chains, and Paul was still preaching to Felix every time he got an opportunity.  But after two years, Felix was succeeded by Festus, and taken out of office. 
Two years.  Two years of being sent out to sow, and returning without a harvest.  Few of us would have the stamina to continue witnessing to one person for two years with no hope of salvation in return.  Continually Paul must have heard “when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”  He must have crafted many sermons knowing Felix would again call for him again, and yet Felix refused to apply the knowledge he had gained for salvation. 

Paul’s student, Timothy, writes in 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” When times are good – preach the Word.  When times are bad – preach the Word.  When it’s easy – preach the Word.  When it’s hard – preach the Word.  When you expect nothing to come from it – continue preaching God’s Word.  We don’t determine the seasons of man’s heart, and we don’t know the inner workings of God in the heart.  If we only sow when we expect a harvest, we have missed the point of our service.  Our job is to sow.  God will reap the harvest.

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