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Faith like Paul

Recently I was part of a conversation where my father-in-law was talking about seeing a prison similar to the one it is beleived Paul was held when he wrote the Book of Philippians.  I read again through Philippians 4:4-13 today.  It says:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

As you read through this I want to refer you to the description of the prison.  My father-in-law described it as an area smaller than the size of a two-car garage.  It was carved out of the rock, basically a man-made cave.  The only source of light and fresh air came from a small hole in the ceiling covered by a metal grate.  He described it as a sewer grate. 

The first word in verse 4 is “rejoice.”  To stress his point, Paul says it again:  “Rejoice” in the Lord always.    So here’s paul stuffed in a cave with who knows how many other prisoners. The conditions have to be detestible.  I figure there is disease and sickness and rats.  I imagine the darkness would be completely oppressive.  And yet paul can proudly proclaim that God is his All in All; His strength; his shield; his very source of life. 

I’d like to think that I’d be like Paul in this situation, but if I’m honest with myself, I would have given up.  I would have given up on God and on any hope of seeing Heaven.  I would have been bitter and really angry–  With everyone.  I would have sat there and pouted and crabbed and moaned about this and everything else bad that had happened to me.  I would have doubted everything I believed up to that point.  But not Paul, he had God’s strength, not his own. 

So, I’ve got to ask you this question.  If it feels like the present situation is bad, how are you going to react?  (I am asking this of myself as well).  Are you going to be like Paul and rejoice or like me and complain?   Will you say ‘do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God’ or will you take it on yourself and try to fix it?  As I look at a number of Scripture verses lately (Psalm 46:1-5, Philippians 4:4-13, Matthew 7:15-16, Isiah 30:18, Psalm 33:20), I find that I am being drawn unto him.  I believe that he is calling me to soar with him above the storm.  The question is will I really give in or will I continue to take it back?

What will you do? 

I pray that the Spirit of God will fall upon me and make me humble.  I pray that I will cast all of my doubt on Him.  I pray that I will let him be my strength and my shield.  I pray that I won’t be anxious.  I pray that I will have enough sense to give it all to him and not take it back.  I pray that God will use this time to break this generation–that he will draw all men unto him as their source of strength.  I pray that he will convict people of their sin and that he will break their chains.  I pray we can all live for him 100%.  That means you too!

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One Response

  1. Amen! I’ll accept that prayer and my voice to it. That part about not being anxious for anything, that’s a tight fit, but it’s good medicine.

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