Summary: Part 14 of "Being the Church," focusing on the importance of following God’s leading when He asks us to make spiritual decisions.
Stephen N. Collins
Millville – 9/21/08
Being the Church
The Worst Excuse Ever
Scriptures: Acts 24:10-27
Intro: The prophet Joel described life as a valley of decision, (Joel 3:14) “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.”
Icebreaker: “A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagonload of corn in the road. The farmer who lived nearby came to investigate. "Hey, Willis," he called out, "forget your troubles for a spell and come on in and have dinner with us. Then I’ll help you get the wagon up." "That’s mighty nice of you," Willis answered, "But I don’t think Pa would like me to." "Aw, come on, son!" the farmer insisted. "Well, okay," the boy finally agreed. "But Pa won’t like it." After a hearty dinner, Willis thanked his host. "I feel a lot better now, but I just know Pa is going to be real upset." "Don’t be foolish!" exclaimed the neighbor. "By the way, where is he?" "Under the wagon.".
-Some of you may be like the central character in the story that we are going to examine today. You are in the valley of decision, you are in the place that you need to make some decision or decisions that may effect how you will live the rest of your life. You would do well today to pay attention the story of Felix and the disastrous decision that he makes.
-Felix was a public official faced with a big spiritual decision, and he used the worst excuse ever…but many of us use the same excuse all the time.
-Let’s define the worst excuse ever. The worst excuse ever is, “Someday.”
“One of these days is none of these days.”
-18th Century British Publisher H.G. Bohn
(READ ACTS 24:10-27 AND PRAY)
The 2 Worst Things People Do
When Faced with Spiritual Decisions
1. Making no decision when they know the facts. (Vs. 22)
Illustration: I have always been a master at putting things off until the last minute. It always catches up to me, though. One time my sophomore year of college, I put off studying for all of my finals until finals week. I had gotten away with this before, only this time I was taking 21 credit hours instead of the usual 15. So I was forced to stay up all night finishing final projects and cramming for exams the week of finals. Everything went okay until the final day of exams. I was completely zonked. I went in to take my last final of the semester, and in the middle of the most important test for that course…fell asleep. The only way I finished the exam was because my friend next to me elbowed me when I started snoring.
Questions: Have you ever put off something important? Something you knew needed to be done? Have you ever known that you needed make a change in your life, but decided to put it off until later? How often do you actually follow through with making the change that you put off?
Main Point: As much pain as indecision and procrastination can cause us in the little things in life, when it comes to matters concerning us and God, it becomes life and death.
-And knowing this, many still make no decision even when they know the facts. Governor Felix did the same thing:
Scripture: Acts 24:22-23
“Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. "When Lysias the commander comes," he said, "I will decide your case." 23He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.”
-Even this early in the story we see that Felix habitually postponed decision even when he knew what he knew he needed to do. He made the decision not to make a decision even though his mind was informed with the facts, the text says, “having more accurate knowledge of the Way,” Felix had a passing knowledge of the facts of the gospel.
-Felix could hardly find Paul guilty of any offense against Roman law, and since he was a Roman citizen, he had to at least make a pretense of protecting Paul’s rights. He should have released him, but by postponing a verdict he hoped to pacify the Jews and perhaps wrangle a bribe from Paul.
2. Making no decision even when their heart tells them to make one. (Vs. 25)
Illustration: When I was 7 years old, I felt that God was calling me into ministry. For the next 11 years, I ran from that call, using the excuse that preachers didn’t make enough money…even though in my heart, I knew that pursuing that call was what I needed to do. Time and time again, I chose to make no decision about yielding my life to God’s purpose for me. And when I got older and started to think about possible careers, I became increasingly frustrated, because it just didn’t seem like there was a job out there that would leave me fulfilled. Luckily for me, God put up with me until I finally gave in at age 18.