It had been thirty years since the young man had set out on his journey to Damascus to arrest Christians. He was focused. As he packed his bags and locked the door behind him, he turned to Damascus and set his course. He left Jerusalem with legal documents in hand and he rehearsed in his mind what he would do once he arrived. It was a long trip, about 150 miles, and he was preoccupied and distant from those who were traveling with him. He was a man on a mission and nothing would interrupt his plan.
Then, out of the silence, a voice rang out, ?Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?? He asked, ?Who are you Lord?? Saul?s life would never be the same again. Saul had set out for Damascus to arrest Christians, but along the way he was arrested by Jesus?and his life was forever changed.
For the next thirty years he proclaimed the Good News, traveling from town to town, and sharing his story of the One who had changed his life forever. He was not welcomed in most towns. He was persecuted and harassed. In Lystra, he was beaten and left for dead outside the city (Acts 14:19). In Philippi, he was severely flogged and thrown into prison. (Acts 16:22-24). He was shipwrecked, mocked, and scorned. Yet, in 2 Corinthians 6 he wrote,
3We put no stumbling block in anyone?s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 11We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. (2 Corinthians 6:3-11 NIV)
After meeting Jesus, Paul knew that his life was not his own. His mission had changed. His passion remained at a fever pitch, but focused in an entirely new direction. His purpose had been redefined. Detractors couldn?t distract him. Critics couldn?t cause his love to grow cold. The taunts couldn?t weaken his tenacity. Set backs couldn?t slow him down. Enemies opposed him, but they couldn?t silence him. Officials harassed him, but they couldn?t stop him. He was a man on a mission?a mission of love, a mission of grace, a mission of salvation?and he was marching under the orders of His King.
When you study the life of the Apostle Paul you can easily see that love was the driving force of his life. The love of God had been poured out upon his life and it had radically affected everything about his thinking and the way that he lived. The experience of knowing Jesus was so overwhelming that Paul wanted everyone to come to know the Savior that had transformed his life. Because of what he had experienced and what he believed, he was able to endure, he was able to thrive in threatening situations, and he was able to maintain his focus throughout his life– regardless of the circumstances or situation.
After thirty years of ministry Paul knew that his days were numbered. He sat in a lonely prison cell in Rome and wrote letters to his friends. He was a battle scarred warrior who had faithfully served the Lord for thirty years when he wrote these words,
6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day?and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV)
Paul never threw in the towel when it came to serving the Lord or blessing those the Lord had put into his life. What a stark contrast this is to the day in which we live. So much of the goodness that we see and the goodness that we do is a reciprocal goodness. ?You scratch my back and I?ll scratch yours. If you do good for me then I will do good by you.? That is not the mentality of the Apostle Paul and it is not the essence of the Scripture that we are going to study today. Won?t you open your Bible and turn with me to Galatians 6:9-10 as we begin our study.
9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV)
Last week in our study we looked at ?Lessons in Sowing and Reaping? and the universal truth of that principle. If a farmer sows wheat in his fields then he will store wheat in his silo when harvest time comes. If a person sows from the sin nature then he or she will no doubt reap destruction. If we sow to please the Spirit of God then we are promised that we will reap abundant, eternal life.
Our lesson for today begins by continuing Paul?s teaching concerning sowing and reaping. Paul writes, 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.? As I have studied this passage this past week there are some glaring lessons that have emerged for me and I would like to share them with you this morning.
First of all, we see that we are not to become weary and we are not to give up. If you look at verse 9 you will see that the heart of the passage is ?doing good.? We who have been blessed are to bless the lives of those around us. Bracketing this central thought are two cautions: Do not become weary and do not give up. Why would Paul reemphasize, with urgency in his pen, this call to stay the course? You don?t have to think too long to know the reason why. We tire easily. We will throw in the towel quickly if we do not see a return for our efforts. Our experiences and emotions divert our attention and cool our passion to serve. John Calvin wrote,
This precept is especially necessary because we are naturally lazy in the duties of love, and many little stumbling blocks hinder and put off even the well-disposed. We meet with many unworthy, many ungrateful people. The vast number of the needy overwhelms us; we are drained by paying out on every side. Our warmth is damped by the coldness of others. Finally, the whole world is full of hindrances which turn us aside from the right path. Therefore Paul does well to confirm our efforts, so that we do not faint through weariness. (John Calvin, Calvin?s New Testament Commentary. Vol. 11, page 114.)
The Greek word that Paul uses for weary means, ?To be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, or exhausted.? I have seen this type of exhaustion in the lives of my brothers and sisters on many occasions. God calls us to get involved in sharing our lives with others. He leads people who have needs into our lives and we get excited about an opportunity to help, to be used by God. The needs of the person being helped are overwhelming and those of us who were so excited to be used by God suddenly feel used up and taken advantage of. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever looked into the mirror after feeling used up and say to yourself, ?You?ve lost that loving feeling??
There are all kinds of scenarios that drain us and lead us to become weary in doing good. Let me share with you an example from the life of the Thessalonians. In 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 Paul writes,
11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 NIV)
There were believers in Thessalonica who were working diligently, they were volunteering down at the food pantry, they were ushers and deacons down at the local church, they were providing for their families by working long hours in the fields, and as they worked they saw deadbeats who didn?t lift a finger. Sometimes they wondered why they were beating their heads against the wall and trying so hard to do what was right. They were frustrated and in the midst of their frustration they received a letter. ?And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.? Never give up! Don?t become weary in doing what is right! Never give up!
There isn?t a soul here this morning that has not become weary at some point in the past. Maybe you are weary this morning. How do you avoid getting worn out by the world and those who will take advantage of your kindness, forgiveness, and generosity? How do you avoid becoming so weary from serving that you forfeit the joy and blessing that comes from doing good in the name of the Lord? That is a great question and I have an answer. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:1,
1Therefore, since through God?s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 4:1 NIV)
Paul didn?t lose heart because the important thing for him was not how people responded to his help, but how faithful he was to God?s assignment. Paul didn?t lose heart because he felt overwhelmed that the Lord in His mercy would give him an assignment to serve Him. A little later in 2 Corinthians 4 Paul writes about how he avoided losing heart once again.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)
Paul knew trouble. He knew those who would love to watch his demise. He felt the pain of pouring his life out as an offering to the Lord and having others believe that he was a menace to society. He suffered and yet his eyes were not set on those around him. They were fixed in laser-like fashion upon the eternal glory of serving His King.
Mother Theresa of Calcutta gave her life to serving those who could never return the favor. She served those who were dying all alone on the streets of Calcutta. Yet, Mother Theresa never looked forward to the day she could retire and head out to Sarasota where she could sip fruit drinks. Mother Theresa once said,
By blood and origin, I am all Albanian. My citizenship is Indian. I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the whole world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to Jesus. (Mother Teresa, quoted by Ruth A. Tucker in Guardians of the Great Commission. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 17.)
How did she do it? Well, all you have to do is read what she said. ?As to my heart, I belong entirely to Jesus.? Jesus had changed Mother Theresa?s heart, He had changed her life, and as a result she wanted to serve Him for the rest of her days.
Another man who knew what it was like to experience the joy of surrendering his will and life to Jesus Christ was William Borden. In 1904, William Borden, a member of the Borden dairy family, finished high school in Chicago and was given a world cruise as a graduation present by his family. As he was traveling through the Near East and Far East, the Lord broke his heart for those in the East who didn?t know the love of Jesus Christ. When he got home he spent seven years at Princeton University. He spent four years doing his undergraduate work and then he spent three years in seminary.
While William was at college, he wrote these words in the back of his Bible: ?No reserves.? When William graduated from college his family pleaded with him to come home and take control of the family business. William told his family that God was calling him to the mission field. William felt called to get rid of all of his earthly belongings before he left for China. In the back of his Bible, right under the place where he had written, ?No reserves,? he added ?No retreat.? On his way to China to witness to Muslims there, he contracted cerebral meningitis in Egypt and died within a month.
Many would say, ?What a waste.? A bright, young man with loads of promise dies in his prime because he wants to chase a fantasy of becoming a missionary. What a waste! Oh no my friend, William Borden?s life was no waste. Many would follow in his steps after he was gone. The Gospel would be shared in China and many would come to know the love of God. After his death, someone looking through William Borden?s Bible discovered another line added to the back cover. William Borden had written under ?No reserves? and ?No retreat? these final words: ?No regrets.? God does not ask us to change the world, He only asks us to be faithful to His assignments.
Never give up doing good. Never allow circumstances, people, or hardships to stand in the way of allowing the blessings that have flowed into your life to flow right on out of your life and into the lives of others.
In the last verse of Galatians 6 that we will study for today we can clearly see that all of life is an assignment given to us by Almighty God. Read along with me as Paul writes,
10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10 NIV)
Here in verse 10, Paul continues with his emphasis on ?doing good,? but he does so with an added emphasis. We are not to do good just because we will reap a harvest.
The second lesson that we need to learn this morning is this?every opportunity we have is an appointment arranged by God. If you will take a look at the little word, ?opportunity.? The Greek word for ?opportunity,? means, ?a measure of time, a fixed and definite time, opportune or seasonable time, or the right time.? The Bible is very clear that all of our times are in God?s hands. The time of our birth as well, the time of our death, and every time in-between?they are all God?s time.
Dawson Trotman was the founder of the Navigator?s ministry that has been used in a powerful way across the world. Dawson had a passion for discipleship and he left a legacy that was truly remarkable. Dawson Troutman died in Schroon Lake, New York. His death was ironic in that he died doing something in which he was an expert?swimming. He was an expert swimmer. Dawson was out in the lake when a boat capsized with two little girls in it. Dawson immediately dove into the lake to try to rescue the girls. He made his way to the first little girl and lifted her out of the water to those who were waiting to pull her into their boat. He went back out and got the other little girl and lifted her out of the water before he went under himself. Dawson?s body wasn?t found until the dragnet found his body a few hours later.
A man named Larsen was on the boat when Trotman died, and he said, “The entire United States Navy couldn’t have saved Dawson that day–it was God’s time.” Time magazine ran an article on Dawson?s life the next week, and they put a caption beneath his picture. The caption read, “Always Holding Somebody Up.”
Mr. Larsen was right. Dawson Troutman?s time came and nothing but the hand of Almighty God could have lifted him from the water. Our times are in God?s hands my friends. This can lead us out of fear and into the deep waters of faith knowing that we don?t have to fear what will come.
It is not only our birth and death that are in God?s hands, all of our times are planted firmly in the Sovereign hands of Almighty God. If you read the Word of God then you will see that God does things at just the right time. God?s chosen people suffered in Egypt for 400 years, but at the right time God raised up a deliverer and led them out of captivity. Abraham and Sarah had been childless their entire marriage, but at the right time God appeared to the elderly couple and said, ?I?m going to bless you with a child.? The world struggled under the weight of sin with no power to gain its freedom until the time came for the Savior to be born. God acts in His time and His time is the right time. Those times may not seem speedy enough for us, but God?s Word tells us that His time is the right time. Let me show you some of the instances of the ?kairos? of God. In Romans 5:6 we read,
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6 NIV)
When was it that Jesus came? It was the ?right? time! Jesus came at the time appointed by God, in God?s time.
In Ephesians 5 we read about Paul encouraging the folks in Ephesus to make the most of their times, the opportunities that God has given to them. Paul writes,
15Be very careful, then, how you live?not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord?s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV)
The same idea is shared with those in Colosse. Paul asks for prayer that God would open a door of opportunity for him to proclaim the Gospel and then he urges the people of Colosse to make the most of every opportunity. Read along with me in Colossians 4:2-6.
2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6 NIV)
We are not to live casually. We are not to live life as it comes. We are not to live randomly, but we are to live with purpose. We are to live with our eyes wide open, fully alert to the opportunities that the Lord will provide for us each and every day. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.
Have you ever bought a car and suddenly you saw cars like it all over the road? I remember when I first got the pick-up I have now?a Nissan Frontier. I was driving an old brown Chevy pick-up at the time. She was affectionately called, ?Brown Sugar.? I hadn?t really seen too many Nissan pick-ups?that is until I started driving one. Man, they were everywhere. The moral of the story is this?you see what you are looking for.
If we realize that it is the Lord who opens doors for us and that it is the Lord who gives us opportunities to do good, to serve those around us, and to be a blessing then we will see His hand opening doors all around us. When was the last time that you saw the Lord open a door for you?
It is so important for us to recognize the ?Kairos? moments of the Lord in our life. We need to realize that we need to pray for the Lord to give us eyes to see the doors that He opens for us each and every day. We need to pray that the Lord will give us the discernment that we need to recognize the ?Kairos? moments of God. Let me give you the most startling example of what I am talking about.
The Savior was born and He came to save His people from their sin, but they didn?t recognize Him. They rejected Him. Towards the end of Jesus? earthly ministry He looked out over the city of Jerusalem and we read His assessment of what had taken place in the Holy City. Turn with me to Luke 19 and let?s read together.
41As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42and said, ?If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace?but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God?s coming to you.? (Luke 19:41-44 NIV)
Jesus said that darkness would fall on the Holy City. Horrible times were ahead for the Holy City. Why? It is spelled out as plain as the nose on your face. Jesus said, ??because you did not recognize the time of God?s coming to you.? You failed to see the ?Kairos? moment of God and because of that you have missed out.
Oh my friend, I don?t want you to miss out on the appointment God has made with you this very morning. If you are here and you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of your life then know this?your being here this morning is not a coincidence?it is a God incident, a God appointment. Won?t you invite Him in?