The Truth is Out There… read a little slower

Because our Pastor has encouraged us to read our Bibles with a little more involvement, I have been intentionally slowing down the pace with which I travel through the verses of Scripture. I must admit that I’ve been missing some pretty significant stuff.

My most recent encounter is an event in Paul’s life, one that would probably play out much differently today with our current evangelistic strategies. A door had been opened for the gospel in Troas and things were looking really good (2 Corinthians 2:12).

From the way this is worded, the adjoining statement we expect to hear is that Paul sees a great number of people come to faith in Jesus Christ. Instead, what comes next leaves the reader with raised eyebrows. Here is a city ripe and open to the gospel!

So what does Paul do? He leaves! He packs his bags, leaves Troas, and heads for Macedonia. Personally, I’m thinking at this stage it’s time for the Super Apostles to convene and do a little chastising of this man’s ministry! “Have you lost your mind, Paul? The door’s wide open!”

He doesn’t hear my protests… he departs.

We learn that Paul is concerned because Titus hasn’t shown up, so he moves on to find him… away from the open door (much was obviously said of this by the church in Corinth: negatively).

How then did Paul respond to the missed opportunity in Troas? Against my expected reading, he responds in much the same way as he responds to everything that occurs in his life; with absolute optimism. (Huh?)

Read the verses that follow for yourselves. All of a sudden, Paul is in a victory parade! He shouts, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ…”

At this point, I’m thinking “What a failure,” and Paul… he’s setting off fireworks. How can he manufacture this kind of attitude in the face of such discouragement?

Could it be that he believed we play a very small (if any) role in God’s work… that we’re simply vessels as he explains? He goes on to describe how he can be so optimistic even in what looks like a serious Casey-at-the-plate-strikeout… because the aroma of Jesus was left in the air. (Wow!)

“Hey Paul, didn’t they beat you in that city and cast you out-of-town?”

“Yeah, but the aroma of Jesus remains there.”

“Didn’t you leave town before the great revival could break out?”

“Yeah, but the aroma of Jesus was left there.”

“Aren’t they about to kill you for preaching the gospel?”

“Yes they are. Do you smell that pleasant aroma?”

What I’m desperately trying to share here is that the effectiveness of our lives in Christ can’t be judged fairly by what we often deem as profitable evidences. Even further, isn’t it amazing to realize that the Apostle could find such confidence in his simply being an aroma of Christ wherever he journeyed?

It is as though Paul knew without doubt that God is the author and finisher of salvation, and His work couldn’t be thwarted by human choices. Paul had to make a decision. He chose to walk away from an open door and look for his missing friend. But the aroma of Christ went with him… and remained in Troas.

What then is the definition of an effective and competent ministry? At its apex, it must be a ministry that leaves no doubt that Jesus has come near.

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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13 Responses to The Truth is Out There… read a little slower

  1. Thought provoking . . . challenging!
    Too often we think about our ministry from OUR perspective. Sometimes we think we are not achjieving and want to give up; sometimes we think we are achieving . . . and BOTH are wrong thoughts. It is not up to us. We should be concerned ONLY about what God wants and how and where Holy Spirit is leading.

    The results aren’t up to us either. We obey. We sow the Seed or we water the Seed, but in most cases we are not to know the end result. It is HIS work and we follow His leading. We know that He CAN’T be wrong!

  2. Jeff says:

    Excellent post, my friend!

  3. SPTP2011 says:

    Good Morning
    Isn’t it just like “us” to try to finish every project?
    Isn’t it just like “the Finisher” to guide Paul into his next step without doubts.
    that’s why its so important for us to listen for God’s plan in our lives, right?
    We need to begin His work and step out in faith but we need to step back and let Jesus finish His work – He is the ultimate finisher!
    God Bless
    susie

  4. Susan Michaels says:

    powerful!

  5. This is probably my favorite post yet by you. Sometimes we don’t leave open doors and instead ignore our friends, and we wonder what kind of aroma we have left character. Wasn’t it later said that Titus and Paul had a disagreement of some kind, or am I mistaking Him for someone else? Very thought provoking and very interesting perspective. How many times have we forgotten our “Titus’s” in our life, and instead pursued the open doors, and gotten away grieved or upset. Sometimes people pursue the things of Christ, but they forget, the basic simplicity of Christ – thanks for pointing that out. People have been divided so many times because of all this foolish doctrines, and sometimes people have anointing and callings on their life, and God given promises and sometimes even open doors and we all have our “Titus’s”

    • mtsweat says:

      You make some very good points here, good friend. We often think every thing is cut and dried if we can just find the direction God is leading, but in this case, it seems Paul had to make a choice. I have no doubt he made the right one, but it does open the door (no pun intended) to question whether every open door is meant to be gone through. I believe Paul used wisdom and his emotions to determine that he needed to go find Titus, rather than continue in Troas. But hey… I’m out here trying to figure this thing out with the rest of ya’ll. Thanks and God bless.

  6. Lyn Leahz says:

    As I always say..the Holy Spirit is the one who is always at work…we are the feet, carrying the Holy Spirit, and the message…which is the good news. After all, once we call upon Jesus as Savior, He lives inside of us.

  7. Lyn Leahz says:

    Yes, indeed very thought provoking, as our brother hear mentioned. Furthermore, and I’m hoping this kind of goes with the post here..but even when something I tell someone gets rejected, or we as Christians rather, forget about me; but when we as Christians minister to someone, and they reject us, we’ve planted a seed. That person someday might be far away from us, many years down the road..something happens in their life, and suddenly, that seed that was planted pops up. They remember…they think about it…they ponder it…and before long, they’re feeding it miracle grow by seeking out that echo from yesterday. The aroma of what was left. The Holy Spirit moved in our heart. We spoke it. We walked away rejected, but still full of hope knowing God has a purpose. And still, the Holy Spirit down the road held that seed deeply in that persons heart, waiting for just the right time to make it sprout.

  8. Wayne Augden says:

    This a very thought provoking post. I think it depends on where and what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. You’re only doing God’s will if He’s in the lead.

  9. cc says:

    You ask us a very hard question…”What then is the definition of an effective and competent ministry?” Eugene Cho, founder of One Day’s Wages, answers with something just as hard…he said…”Don’t be obsessed with measuring up to measurements. Measure up to faithfulness.” Great post.

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