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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

There's no time like the present!

Have you ever put off making a decision - and, later regretted having done so? I suspect that I am not alone in being able to look back over my life, and have some regrets. In Dr Luke's record of the acts of apostolic men, he tells of one particular man - a Roman governor named Felix.

"... Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but should have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess; and he sent for Paul and heard him speak upon faith in Christ Jesus. And as he argued about justice and self-control and future judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present; when I have an opportunity I will summon you.” At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. But when two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison." (Acts 24:22-27).

This man, by all accounts, was notoriously ruthless in suppressing opposition. He was also avaricious, and was prepared to curry favour to gain cheap popularity. The historian, Tacitus, writes: "He exercised the power of king with the mind of a slave." Drusilla was his third wife - and she was already an adulteress before she grew out of her teens. It is quite likely that it was this renegade Jewess who prompted Felix to send for Paul. As Calvin comments: "apostates of that sort are tickled by a certain curiosity, rather than moved by a s sincere desire to learn." 

However, neither Felix nor Drusilla had bargained for the kind of talk that Paul gave in their presence. What the apostle knew they most need to hear was not at all welcomed by them, but filled Felix with alarm. Sadly, like so many who come under conviction of sin, by God the Holy Spirit, he postponed any action. "Go away for the present; when I have an opportunity I will summon you." As far as we know, that further opportunity never presented itself! This kind of delay is something against which God warns us in His written Word: "Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts ..." (Heb.3:15).

That decision is one that no individual can afford to postpone. 

We may also see, from Paul's words, that he preached a full Gospel! There is a contemporary danger of cheapening the Gospel message by painting only a part of the picture. Paul spoke, not only of faith in the Lord Jesus, the Christ; but also of justice (God's standard for mankind), self-control, and future judgement. He knew that it is only against this backcloth that the splendour of God's amazing grace may be seen in its true light.

In my personal devotions, I  am still reading in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus, given by Father God, to John. In what we know as chapter 6, we read these words of warning: "... I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?” " (vs.12-17).

Don't find yourself in that situation - come to the Son now, and know forgiveness of sin, and new life in Him. It's the most important decision that you will ever make!

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