Tuesday, November 06, 2007

There is freedom in chains

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Acts 25, 26; Proverbs 2

Proverbs 2:1-5 (NIV)

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

Acts 26:29, 32 (NIV)

29 Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Good morning!

I love to read about Paul and the amazing ministry Jesus called him to fulfill. He spent a good deal of his time behind bars, in chains, bleeding from beatings and being stoned in the streets. His battle scars were deep, and yet, it never seemed to stop him from speaking words of salvation. In fact, Paul chose to stay in chains because he knew his testimony would have a profound impact on the rulers and prisoners alike. Even in the chains that held Paul’s body captive, his soul was truly free!

Have you ever thought that maybe the burden you carry is actually an opportunity for ministry? Maybe you find yourself today in a dead-end job, totally discouraged and frustrated with your co-workers, or your supervisors. Maybe you deal with hateful people over the telephone each day, so much so, it makes you not want to pick up the receiver and answer. Maybe you are sitting in a classroom today, frustrated with the teacher who seems to be verbally attacking you in front of the entire class, or you are embarrassed by the students who continually make fun of you, whispering behind your back. Even pastors and those who work in the life of the church can run headlong into personality conflicts. We don’t think alike and we certainly don’t act the same. Still, there are some who believe a pastor’s gift mix should be all things to all people, and when their pastor doesn’t perform the way they think he or she should, they begin to carry resentment, maybe even bitterness. Some leave the church because they can’t stand to listen to the one preaching in the pulpit. Have you ever wondered whether God might be calling you to leave those chains on just a little bit longer, so that you might make a lasting difference in the heart of someone who is hurting you? Are you willing to return love for hate? Do you care more about the soul of that testy neighbor than personal payback? How much more could God use you in an adverse situation? Will you let Him use you?

When Paul was accused of breaking Jewish laws in court, Paul appealed his case to a higher authority. He appealed to Caesar. Standing before King Agrippa, Paul retold his life’s story, explaining how Jesus himself had appeared to him as he rode toward Damascus. Paul said, “I stand here on trial on account of my hope” (Acts 26:6). What was Paul’s hope? Was he hoping to be released? I believe Paul’s hope was to share the Good News of salvation with all the world, and that included the Roman government. He could do more living in his chains, than living free. Everyone’s eyes were on him as he spoke. Every ear was opened, listening intently to the prisoner’s words. Would you be willing to remain in chains if it meant someone might find Christ in the middle of your imprisonment?

There is freedom in the chains we carry. There is hope for the burdens we bear. If you are struggling today with an illness, a family crisis, a job that is simply difficult to do each day, take a minute to look beyond the pain and see the opportunity for servant leadership. You can make a difference right now, right where you are. Let the living Christ shine through you, not only in the things you say, but the things you do.

May God give your courage to tell your story to everyone you know. Share it with love. Remember who it is you are serving, and ask God to help you see others the way He sees them. Not only will you find His peace that passes all understanding, but you may leave an eternal mark in the life of another lost soul.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of my shame. He carried it all to the cross to save me from myself. And when I grow up, I want to be more like Him. This is my humble prayer today.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


Pray for: courage to wear your chains well. His freedom exists, even in the most difficult of situations. Trust Christ completely to lead you today. Allow Christ to take your weakness and make you strong through it. He will do it, if you just ask Him. Ask Him to help you now.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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