It’s hard to imagine, but there’s an appointed time for everything happening in your life today. From the very important to the mundane, each matter has been carefully created by God to fit perfectly within His purpose and timetable. In verse 11 of this chapter we read that God has made everything beautiful in its own time…in its right and proper time. For with the Lord, there is no unplanned or unintended actions…that’s because His timing is always perfect.
Felix, the Governor of Judea, was well acquainted with the “Way”…in fact he was even married to a Jewess named Drusilla. So as he listened to Paul speak about faith in Jesus Christ, conviction hit a little too close to home. Conviction by the Holy Spirit is an intense persuasion…a laying bare of our personal sin, and the realization of the judgment to come if we don’t repent. Paul saw this force at work by the Holy Spirit first hand and later wrote to the Thessalonians, “Because our Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (I Thessalonians 1:5) Never underestimate the power of conviction by the Holy Spirit…for it is unrelenting and able to reach where no human words can.
The selfish human nature is always striving for the liberty of self-determination. “I want to do what I want, when I want to”, is our mindset. But with that enticement comes deception and seduction as we wander farther and farther off the right path. And sooner or later, we find ourselves in the middle of perversion, and wonder just how we got ourselves into such a mess. In the search for freedom, we have instead become a piece of property…owned and controlled by depravity and lies.
God had sent the Prophet Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s seven sons as King. As six strapping young men paraded past Samuel…each time he thought to himself, “This has to be the one!” But God reminded Samuel in verse 7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” It wasn’t until the youngest son, David, was called from the pasture, that God declared, “He is the one.” This should give all of us encouragement…especially those who have said to themselves, “I have nothing to offer God.” The Lord doesn’t consider outward appearances. He looks only at what He can do through us if we’re a willing worker.
Even though Paul was addressing this letter to the Church in Thessalonica…he probably could be speaking directly to any modern-day Church you know. Certain members of the Thessalonian Church, in anticipation of Christ’s return, had become careless and neglectful of their responsibility to work and support themselves. In other words…they were sitting around, waiting for the Rapture! Now, we may not see that degree of slothfulness in Church today…but what you can see is the attitude that “It’s me and Thee, God, and I’m not worrying about anybody else.” Paul warned that laziness and apathy would contribute to the downfall of any Church. Secondly, as the Church Body, we are to be Spiritual Cheerleaders for the fainthearted…the worry-warts…and those who can only see the cup half empty. We are to be encouragers of each other. Finally, as the Church, we are all to be ready with a helping hand for those who are weak spiritually, for when they grow, the Church grows.
God looks carefully at what we offer Him. But He looks even more closely at what we don’t offer Him. Are you withholding some area of your life for fear He’ll tell you to stop it? Are you denying Him a corner of your world because you enjoy it way too much? What we offer up to the Lord is much more important to us than to Him…for what He’s looking for is a total surrender…a relinquishing of ourselves…and a giving up of control. As I Samuel 15:22 states, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” God’s looking for our obedience not some ritual.
A man goes to his friend’s house at midnight looking for bread…but is told to “Go away!” In this story, his friend appears not to care about the man’s dilemma. Likewise for us, there are times when it appears to be a shrouding of God’s friendship for us…or at least times when we go through seasons of spiritual confusion. The Lord will seem like a distant, unkind and uncaring friend that won’t answer our calls. It’s during those times of spiritual confusion that we need to hold steadfast to what we already know…that God is faithful, trustworthy, and true. And we need to keep doing the right things…reading our Bible, praying, and maintaining our walk…all with tenacity. For later on in the story, because of the man’s stubborn persistence…his friend did get up and give him bread.