Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In Prison...Or not!

   …my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel…
 Philippians 1:7 NKJV

Paul wrote this from prison, “…my chains are in Christ…” (Philippians 1:13) Paul did not feel bound by the restraints of prison because his chains were in Christ. As for us today, we need not necessarily be in prison to feel imprisoned and hopeless. Maybe some circumstances, such as an illness or lack of a particular skill may leave one feeling as though they are trapped, unable to live with joy or accomplish something of value. Oh how discouraging this can be. I have to ask, how is it that someone in prison could write a book about “Joy?" The Apostle Paul did just that. The book of Philippians is often called “The Book of Joy,” which was written by Paul from prison. Spend some time studying the book of Philippians and one could discover some clues. In this post however, I am going to focus on just one of them. Paul saw being in prison as an opportunity to glorify the Lord because his chains were in Christ, not the prison. 

I know if I was in prison, I would not be a happy camper. However Paul had an entirely different attitude. Paul rejoiced in the work Jesus was doing through his circumstances instead of being discouraged over what he was going through. Paul set his eyes upward on the Lord and outward on other people, not inward and self pity. Paul took the attitude “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain…” (Philippians 1:21) and counted all things he lost as rubbish for the knowledge of Christ. (See Philippians 3:8) Because Paul’s chains were in Christ, he trusted the Lord through the trials he faced and the Lord used him greatly. This brought Paul great joy.

so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ  Philippians 1:13 NKJV

“and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Philippians 1:14 NKJV

“…Christ is preached; in this I rejoice, yes, I rejoice.”
Philippians 1:18b NKJV

When one chooses living for Christ regardless of the circumstances, God will use their life for His good purposes. God’s purposes are always good. Whatever situation we are going through, it is only temporary and God will work it for good. Another wonderful thing, one may rejoice through the situation which they face because many lives may be changed. The hurting may be comforted. The lost may come to know the Lord. God will use us to advance His kingdom if we are a willing vessels trusting the Lord while having faith that He knows what He is doing.

When I choose living for Christ, advancing the Gospel and glorifying Christ becomes my main mission in life. I can live to advance my wealth, fame, popularity, have more fun, or live a more comfortable life, all of which is only temporary. One day, all the earthly things I build will all come to an end. But the treasure I store up in heaven will last forever. What is going to be my main mission in life? Remember Jesus said, “I have come to give life, and to give it more abundantly.” (See John 10:10) If I choose developing the attitude of Paul’s, how can I fail in life? Jesus will be with me. It is not by my strength I succeed, it is by God’s strength and Jesus working through me that I succeed. Through Christ, I have an abundant life, regardless of the circumstances I may face in life.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Natural Man

 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)

When I was reading this earlier today, something occurred to me; "At times I can be that natural man." Since I can be that natural man, I must ask myself this question: "When am I that natural man?"

A. When I ignore scripture or twist it to my liking because I do not want to give something up. Then there are them times I do not want to do something God is calling me to do. "But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." (Jonah 1:3 NKJV)

B. When I trust my heart instead of trusting the truth of God's Word. “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?." (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)

C. When I am worried. Worry is a powerful distraction, isn't it? It can consume ones thoughts leaving no room for anything else. "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" (Matthew 6:27 NKJV)

The thing is, we serve a infinite God with all knowledge and wisdom. He spoke all of creation into existence by the word of His mouth. He said,"Let their be..." and it was. God knows the beginning from the end and He wants nothing but the best for us. He came down from heaven to earth to die for sinners like me. Why in the world would I let the foolish things of this world distract me from receiving what God has for me?

One last thought; maybe today God wants to give me some wisdom. Maybe He wants me to avoid something harmful. Then again, He could want to give me peace and comfort. Or else, maybe He wants to equip me for something. How would I know if I am not willing to come to Him in prayer and open His word, the Bible?

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, 
and a light unto my path."
 (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

"Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble."
 (Psalm 119:165 NKJV)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Invest in Others

Photo Credit: FreeFoto.com

Be Generous and Do Good

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:6-10 NKJV)

I remember conversations with my neighbor a number of years back, this was before I was ever married or saved. At this time in my life I had no significant other either. My neighbor was a woman getting divorced. Although I would see her around quite often, I had no desire dating her, as I felt that would be a disaster. Anyway, she would brag of how she took her husband for all his money, she was quite proud of it. Then she would go on bragging about how she planned to do the same to the next unfortunate guy who came along. I didn't know her long, but that attitude most likely lead to a life of misery and problems. This I knew, she was constantly dealing with problems and very few even people wanted to be around her.

Just think for a moment, how much trouble do we bring into our lives by taking the "It's all about me!" attitude? I believe a lack of concern for others and living for one's self is at the root of many problems, heartaches, divorces, broken families, and so on. When one is wrapped up in self, we fail to see the needs and feelings of others. It is not only what we say or do to someone, we fail to do what is good or right. Some may not even care how their actions effect someone else. If we let this self centered attitude grow, not only would it destroy relationships, it could lead us to commit crimes landing us in prison.Our prisons are full of people living for themselves. That got them a long ways in life didn't it? Then to take that further, a prideful self centered life may keep one from coming to the cross of Jesus Christ resulting in an eternity separated from God.

Maybe most of us do not go to the extreme as my ex-neighbor or those in prison, but we all have to battle with keeping self in the right place. I know I do. The Bible instructs us to do good and plant good seeds. In another words, invest in other peoples lives. When we help a believer in Christ who is in need, it is remembered in heaven, forever. When we have the opportunity to do good for an unsaved person, this might open the door to sharing Christ while making this person more receptive to the message of Jesus. This too, will be remembered in heaven for all eternity. Keep sharing the gospel, no telling how many eternal destinies God will change through it. When we invest in our marriages and families along with living life to bring glory to God, this leads to strong relationships. This too will remembered in heaven for all eternity. Our intercessory prayers will also be result in good things here on earth and remembered for all eternity.

Lord, your word say's I will reap what I sow. I desire to sow to the spirit, for I want to reap a bountiful harvest, not corruption. I must ask myself, am I going to sow to the flesh and reap corruption, or listed to God and sow to the spirit and reap a harvest which will last for all eternity?