Sunday, July 24, 2016

Making the Most of Your Circumstances


Scripture

 
Acts 28:30   He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him,  31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Observation


These two verses bring to a close what we officially know about the life of the Apostle Paul. There is much speculation as to what happened after this writing — whether he was released for a period of time and traveled to Spain — or whether he was soon executed by the Roman authorities. We don’t know, but we know that from beginning to end the book of Acts is one of proclamation. The good news about Jesus Christ is preached by his apostles. They are empowered by the Holy Spirit and sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God. They preach and they teach and when filled with the Holy Spirit they are able to do this “with all boldness and without hindrance.” This was the experience of Paul and so many others.

Paul makes the most of his circumstances. He was under house arrest in Rome where he could have complained that he was unable to get out to the synagogue to preach on a regular basis. That doesn’t seem to have stopped him from preaching. He could also have complained that no one was backing his work financially but instead, he used his own personal resources to provide a place where he could continue to minister. Day in and day out he welcomed those who came to him and remained an effective minister of the kingdom and the Lord.

The story ends abruptly, but in this way remains a challenge to those who are to come later. The story of the Acts of the apostles is not yet complete for we are called to become participants in that story. Each is invited to add chapters as this becomes an on-going witness to the activity of the Holy Spirit in and through believers today. Paul is an example that we are called to follow.

Application
 
Paul is a man of few excuses. He doesn’t seem to allow anything that life throws his way to become a hindrance to preaching and teaching. This was his calling — to preach and to teach — and therefore he would find a way to continue to fulfill his calling, no matter what! He made great sacrifices in his personal life to be able to continue to minister.

I hear far too many of us these days complain that we are unable to minister or share Christ because the circumstances aren’t “just right.”

“The church we attend is not conducive to inviting new folks.”

“We don’t have the financial resources to put on the type of events that are needed.”

“Our church doesn't have a lavish multi-age children’s programs.”

“I haven’t been taught how to present the Gospel to someone.”

“I can’t invite people to my house because it’s too small and I don’t have the financial resources to fix it up nice.”

“I’m not a good cook so I can’t have people over.”

“I don’t have time to clean my house thoroughly so I’d be embarrassed to have people around.”

And the list goes on!

Paul could have had a long list of excuses. The man was under house arrest and he had to pay for the house himself. That is certainly not a situation that’s particularly conducive to doing ministry but he never let it stand in the way of his calling. The call of the “priesthood of all believers” is very real. Paul isn’t supposed to be an anomaly, instead he’s an example to us all. The first chapters have been written and now we are to make the most of our circumstances to write our own chapter. Will it be short, long, or multiple chapters? It’s really up to us and our willingness to live wholeheartedly into the calling before us.

Prayer
 
Lord, please help me not to make excuses but to follow you anywhere you lead. Amen.

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