First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, November 7, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“When I Find It Convenient!”
We are drawing near the end of our journey in the book of Acts – this fascinating book which tells us what kind of God we have come to believe in; a God who sends His Spirit and creates and renews the face of the earth. As we have been caught up in the excitement of the events of God’s Kingdom, in its rapid movement, and in the triumph and deliverance so evident in the lives of people of that day, we should never lose hope today. We should never give up on our world. In fact, we should pray and long for something similar to take place in our world today
In the 24th chapter of Acts we find the Apostle Paul a prisoner of the Romans, scheduled to appear before Governor Felix, the governor of the Roman province of Judea. You may remember that Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem as a riot was about to break out in the temple courts. Paul made many unsuccessful attempts to testify to his fellow Jews and to preach them the good news of Jesus Christ. They refused to listen; and now, after a plot against his life, he has been brought down to the province capital, Caesarea, on the coast.
In Caesarea, Paul comes face to face with Felix. Felix was a successor to Pontius Pilate. He is an interesting character. We know something about him from secular history. He had been governor of the province of Judea for five years at the time this encounter with Paul took place. In Acts 24:22, Luke tells us that Felix was “well acquainted with the Way.” In other words, he knew very well what Christianity was all about.
Historical accounts tell us that Felix had been married to three different wives. The third wife appears with him in this account. Her name was Drusilla. She was a Jew, the daughter of Herod Agrippa, the king who had put the Apostle James to death. Drusilla had been the wife of the king of Emesa, but Felix had seduced her and now she was living with him as his wife. This man was completely corrupt both morally and politically. He was known to hire thugs to eliminate even friends who happened to get in the way of his political ambitions. It is before such a judge that the Apostle Paul must appear.
Paul appears before Felix, and Paul being Paul, he seizes every opportunity to share the gospel. Felix hears the gospel from Paul and the message made him uncomfortable. The message struck a chord with Felix. In Acts 24:25, Luke says, “As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
“That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” This is one of the saddest and most poignant verses in all the Bible. Instead of coming on his knees crying for God’s mercy and forgiveness, Felix put it off. The real tragedy is Felix never found that “convenient time” to make up his mind. One single thought that I would like to underscore this morning as we consider Paul’s account with Governor Felix and it has to do with our response to the gospel.
The Gospel Demands a ResponseAs simple as this truth may seem, it has always been challenging. Hearing the gospel demands a response. The gospel message demands a response. Knowing the facts of the gospel is not the end of the story. In fact, it’s the very beginning.
Frustrated by the crowds who listened to His teaching, witnessed His miracles, but they never made their mind, Jesus said these words in Matthew 11:16-17 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’” Through the faithful proclamation of the gospel, God calls us to repent, to grow, and to serve. When the gospel is preached, a response is expected.
In Ezekiel chapter 33, the Lord lamented the fact that the people hear the message but they never respond. The people got excited about their preacher, and they even invited their friends to come and listen to his messages. Ezekiel 33:30-32 state, “As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.”
Friends, like many of us today, Felix waited for the perfect time to make up his mind about the gospel. “You may leave now. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” Over the years, I have met many people who have fallen into the trap of the “convenient time.” They want to commit but waiting for the convenient season. They want to give but they are waiting for the convenient season. They want to serve but still waiting for the convenient season. They have unfinished business with the Lord but waiting for the convenient season. I am afraid it won’t come. Procrastination could be tragic. In Ecclesiastes 11:4, King Solomon reminds us, “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” Friends, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” 2 Corinthians 6:2. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.