When they [speaking of the elders from Ephesus] arrived...
Thoughts for Today:From the island of Miletus, Paul had called for a Pastor's conference. He knew he would not see the elders of Ephesus again so he felt a sense of urgency, but what about the elders? What did Paul expect them to do, drop whatever they were doing and rush off to meet with him? We find by the way they responded two of the greatest keys to Christian service -- Priority and Availability. First let's look at the dictionary definition of these words:
* Priority -- somebody or something that is ranked highly in terms of importance or urgency.
* Availability -- the condition of being easily accessible or obtainable.
Would anyone who called you to an important meeting at church describe you in that way? Or instead would the excuses begin: What about my job? I can't take time off of work. What about my wife? She doesn't like it when I'm away. What about my stuff (material possessions)? I need to paint my house this weekend. What about my safety? I could get hurt on the way there, or by whatever job you asked me to do. Provided our heart is right, one of the greatest challenges we face in order to participate in Christian ministry is to get our priorities straight. We do that when we dedicate these four areas to the Lord: Work, Family, Material Possessions and Fear (or insecurity).
Although we may have our priorities in order, many of us are so tightly booked that it would literally take an act of God to make a schedule change. It is always interesting to watch the building anxiety of Godly men and women who want to serve in ministry but can't find the time. That brings us to the next key to Christian service and that is availability. How much free time do you really have? Have you ever thought about creating some space in your schedule? I know that for many of us the concept of "free time" seems either impossible or an extraordinary waste, but is it?
The elders of Ephesus came immediately when Paul calledÑthey had appropriate priorities set for their life and also (perhaps more importantly) had control over their availability. How would you respond? How could you?
Questions to Ponder:If you were called today to Miletus for a Pastor's conference? Would you come? That's priority. Could you come? That's availability. If you couldn't attend because of one of the big four problems with priorities (job, family, possessions, or fear), or instead just didn't have the time, you might want to consider Romans 12:1, "Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship." To what degree do you need to offer your priorities and availability to God? What needs to change today about your priorities and availability to make it possible for you to participate in ministry in the future?