A Sermon That Made a King Tell the Preacher to Stop
Today’s Reading: Acts 24
Recently I read a quote about being good stewards of our time and made me sit back and really think about what I do with the time God has given me:
Each new day brings us 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds, each moment a precious gift from God . . . each calling for us to be good stewards, mindful that one day we must give an account for how we spent the time God loaned us, how effectively we “bought up” the opportunities He provided.
William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but what, alas! we use worst.”
Acts 24 is about a man who did not use time effectively. The man, Felix, was a king, and he heard a three-point sermon preached by one of the best, the apostle Paul. It was a sermon that made a king tell the preacher to stop:
Some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. (Acts 24:24-27)
Listen to an old Methodist preacher, Halford Luccock, and what he makes of Felix’s mistake:
There is a unique characteristic about time which we overlook: We can lose time, but we can never find it. We have to make it. Felix found lots of moments for what he wanted to do—to satisfy his curiosity about Paul and open the way for a bribe. We read that he would send for him “pretty frequently” (Acts 24:26), but he found no moments to face the big issue squarely and render a judgment. Such moments are never found. They must be made.”
And what we conclude from the passage is that Felix never found time to deal with the most important issue of his life—eternity. Here is how it reads in The Message, and it’s raw:
As Paul continued to insist on right relations with God and his people, about a life of moral discipline and the coming Judgment, Felix felt things getting a little too close for comfort and dismissed him. “That’s enough for today. I’ll call you back when it’s convenient.” (Acts 24:25)
To say, “I don’t have time,” is like saying, “I don’t want to” or “I’m not interested.” I read something that is only too true: “Time is a strange commodity. You can’t save it, borrow it, loan it, leave it, or take it. You can only do two things with it—use it or lose it.”
Felix lost it.
A. W. Tozer said it like this: “When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.”
Felix heard a sermon that keyed in on righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. And he got frightened. I know that feeling. It happened to me. I was twelve years old and picked up a comic book at a youth camp, called The Late Great Planet Earth. It was the kid version of the book by the same name by Hal Lindsey, that dealt with the end times and the judgment to come. I was struck with such conviction and fear that I was not ready for the rapture that I sought out my counselor to get things right with God.
What I learned was this, when you don’t do something about the conviction of the soul, the intensity does not get stronger. The opposite happens and it lessens. The more we ignore the voice of God toward obedience, the more difficult it is to act.
When God speaks, respond. When you feel convicted about something, do something. Felix got convicted and all he did for two years was listen to Paul but would not respond. It seems he never felt that way again, and by verse 27 he was out and another king came in.
Make use of time wisely, especially if it is dealing with your soul and eternity. As Mother Teresa allegedly said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Amen.