Monday, 5 May 2008

Acts 18:5,6 - "When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."

Life is filled with lots of choices and decisions to make and there's times when those decisions can be influenced by others around us. For example, if we're in a certain place and we're carrying out a role or task, its good to know we're being acknowledged, particularly if its a valuable one. When it comes to the stage where nobody is respondant to our tasks, then we may decide to go elsewhere.

Its a self-respect thing, isn't it? But not only that - we want to enjoy what we do and we can really only do that if we're shown encouragement. It makes it that bit easier and more fun to get on with things.

Let's say you're in a job - the money's good, the location's good and the company's good but the work itself isn't nice in the slightest. Or lets replace the actual work with the location, or anything else for that matter. There's a slight drawback there that doesn't make work so comfortable. Now you apply for another job - its an attractive position; in fact its the total package. Its ideal to get to, the wages are a dream, the porspects are endless, the people are the best banter ever and the actual work is just what you wanted.

So you go for the interview. Things run smoothly, things look promising. You're in your present office when the phone goes.... Its your potential employers - "Congratulations! You've got the job!" Marvellous! (I have to point out that the workplace isn't always as easy going as this but I'm taking it as an example.) Now you've to report back to your current boss - "I've got the job and I'm getting this, this and this along with it. Its great." And suddenly your boss turns and says to you "What will it take you make you stay here?" Not to leave but remain here, with us".

"Well you can give me less of that rubbish work to do, I wouldn't be doing that in this new place!" "Oh but that's already in your current job description"

"Well, how about a salary increase? I'm getting offered X amount over there and I'm only making X amount here at the minute." Erm...I dont know, its a bit much out of your current grading, isn't it?"

So that's money out of the picture, still the less glamourous tasks in the way too. What about...."can I not work with Dave or Allen any longer please? I get distracted easily by them and I don't get on particularly well with them either." "What?! You've gotta be kidding - they're the best we've got! The quality would suffer otherwise!"

The writing gradually becomes more and more clear on the wall. An element of empathy can be felt towards the employer as well. Face it - he doesn't want to lose you. And you certainly don't want to leave him either! After all, you've been there for so long and you're so comfortable where you are. Realistically, however, what you've asked for as extras aren't just what you want, they're what you need. And, as heartbreaking as it may be, its time leave that behind. Something new is available to you, and its fresh and exciting. Its giving you what you want.

Paul wanted his audience to accept his teachings. He wanted to take this awesome news, the word that Jesus Christ is saviour. Jesus Christ is King! These were Paul's kind of people - a lifestyle and a way of life which he had grown up in. A frame of mind so traditional that it was merely comfortable in it's ways. These people wanted the Messiah to come; their idea of Messiah was a warrior in armour and on horseback, ready to do battle and save them all with his sword. Their Messiah was going to be their knight in shining armour! And they were awaiting his arrival.

But the fact was he had already arrived! The Messiah which was read about, spoken about, taught about and prophecised about was alive. He died on a cross to save his people's sins - and he'd RISEN AGAIN! The word of Christ has been entusted among many people to preach and Paul was one of them. So he took it to this community but they rejected it and they were despondent of Paul. They didn't take heed to what he has to say. They didn't want to listen to his teachings. They didn't care. They were happy how they were! Their knight in shining armour was on his way and thats what mattered. They didn't appreciate Paul's ministry, they didn't appreciate what he had to offer, they didn't recognise him for being a preacher or messenger of the truth.

The audience that day, present were Paul was, could potentially have been subject to showers of blessings but indtead they put up their brollies and dug out their raincoats. Remember in chapter two of the same book - the day of Pentecost! Where people were saved; thousands! Lives were changed. The spirit was well and truly alive. These people could've had the same experience! And they turned their back on it. So Paul took off. "From now on, I will go to the Gentiles" - and he walked out the door. Those people had a blessing so special, so marvellous and wonderful awaiting them. And God removed it, due to their ignorance.

Do I think it was hard for Paul to do this? Definitely. Heartbreaking and agonising. If you study his epistles to the churches in Corinth and Galatia, there is pain laid bare there because people were blind to the way. But Paul had to make a decision - to either stay where he was and bang his head on a brick wall or take his watering can and soak the garden dripping wet. He took that word elsewhere all over Europe and the church grew. Christianity grew! And the kingdom of Heaven expanded because there were people open to the word; people not too comfortable to raise their hand and say, "Yes, I believe!"

For any female adults reading this, young or old(er) I don't know if in your courting days gone by there was always a strapping young gentleman who persistently requested time to have your company and you kept knocking him back. And kept trying and trying for a date, yet the answer you gave him was a "No" or, worse, you just ignored his existence. After a while, this gentleman comes to the realisation that he's wasting his time and, in due course, another girl takes his fancy and the two of them couldn't be happier together. Girl no.1 had an opportunity, possibly for an extended period of time because the guy just didn't give up, but it started to become apparent that she wanted nothing to do with him, his interest in her was pointless, and therefore the blessing of this young gentleman that was awaiting Girl no.1 was lifted and placed on Girl no. 2.

Now, sometimes in these situations, a lot of "what if"s and regrets set in. "What if I'd gone with Joe Bloggs...", "what if I'd said yes to his request for lunch", "what if I'd actually said 'thanks but no thanks' as opposed to not saying anything to him at all. When Paul quit preaching to those to who the word was intended for, and his blessing was fulfilled elsewhere, I wonder if there were any regrets or "what if"s. I wonder if they were happy; I wonder if they got the fulfilment they seeked. I wonder if they got another chance. That's all we can do now; wonder what happened to those rejectors of the word.

Perhaps God's got a blessing waiting for you today. Do you know that? Do you know if He's got something in mind for you? If so, then my challenge for you is go and grab hold of it; make it your own and be happy with it. "His love has no limits, his grace has no measure..." but you have to want it because if you don't, He'll remove it from you and grant it to someone who does. He did it with Paul's ministry in Acts and He can do it today. Talk to God today about the decision you have to make and be open to his offerings.

dw :)