Monthly Archives: October 2010

Taking Up Your Cross


Daily Bible Reading – Job 22; Mark 7,8

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  How powerful are Jesus’ words in this passage as he gives us the ultimate direction in our lives?  In our world surrounded by wrong thinking, our Lord and Savior gives us a choice to make.  He tells us that we can choose to follow Him today, even though it may be difficult, or we can choose to live far from Him.  We all have the choice to make individually – no one can make this choice for us.  Sometimes it is not easy to live the life of a Christ follower.  Sometimes there are obstacles in the way.  Sometimes there are people who try to stop us or try to attack us for our faith.  The easy way out is to simply live a life dominated by sin and to live the way the world tells us to live.  The world tells us that possessions in this life are king – that the more you have the happier you will be.  Jesus tells us that possessions in this life mean nothing.  He says “what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”  Taking up our cross means that every day of our lives we make the decision to live for Jesus.  We make the decision in faith to surrender everything to Him, even when our situation seems difficult or impossible.

For a lot of years, I chose to live my life according to the world’s standards.  I worked daily for ME.  I tried to gather more money and more possessions and focus on the pleasures of this world, and left little time for God.  In those days of my life, God was merely an afterthought at the end of the day when I went to bed at night and said a brief prayer.  The more money I made and the more possessions I acquired, the more I wanted.  Nothing was ever enough.  Things that once tasted sweet lost their flavor after awhile.  Thus is the way of sinful living.  But I finally learned to listen to God’s Word.  I finally came to a place in my life when I was able to admit that I was broken.  I was able to see that living for ME was short-sided and foolish.  That pleasures of the flesh are nothing compared to pleasures of the Spirit.  One day, I decided to pick up my cross and follow Jesus.  Every day since that day, I have tried to once again pick up my cross and follow Him.  Don’t get me wrong – I am far from perfect.  I still fall down.  I still have bad days, and I still have struggles.  But I know now that God is with me.  I know that when He sees me, he no longer sees me as a broken mess.  He no longer sees me as a sinful man.  When God looks at me, he sees the perfection of Jesus Christ.  This is what Jesus did for all of us on that cross.

When Jesus died on the cross, he made a way for all of us.  I would guess that most of the people reading this have been saved.  Most of the people reading this have found Jesus Christ as their answer and are also washed in His blood in the sight of God.  If you are reading this and you have not found Jesus, I pray that you will search for Him.  I pray that you will reach out to Him and find the grace and mercy of God that can wash all of your past clean.  For those of you who know Jesus and who have been saved, I ask you a question – are you taking up your cross daily?  Are you following Him?  These are the questions I ask myself every morning.  It would be easier to live in a bubble and hide the light that Jesus Christ gave me when He saved me.  It is much more difficult to let that light shine to the world.  How can you let that light shine today?  How can you witness for Jesus Christ today?  How can you take up your cross today?  These are the questions we all must ask as we do our work for the Kingdom of God.

 

Please post your thoughts and reflections in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.  Feel free to like, comment, and share this with your friends to help spread the Word of God.

 

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Afraid to Face Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Job 21; Mark 5,6

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ “ But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:24-34)

The stories about Jesus were beginning to spread.  Word had gotten out about all of the people who had come to Jesus asking to be healed and all of the wonderful miracles that He had performed.  Because of this, large crowds followed Jesus most of the time.  The bleeding woman heard about Jesus, and was hoping that He could heal her of her affliction.  While we don’t know exactly, the bleeding may have been a uterine disorder, and if that was the case Jewish law would have said she was unclean.  If that was the case, Jewish law would have also said that Jesus would have been made unclean if he touched her, but she desperately wanted His help.  Instead of asking Jesus for his help, she came up behind Him and touched his cloak.  When Jesus realized that power had left him, he asked the crowd who had touched him.  We then see in the next verse that Jesus “kept looking around to see who had done it” which indicates that some time passed before the woman finally fell at His feet and confessed that she was the one who touched him.  Both before and after touching Him, the woman was afraid to face Jesus.

There are many people today who are still afraid to face Jesus.  Some people know that they are living a sinful life.  They know that they need a Savior to rescue them from their sins, and they know they need to come to Jesus.  But they wrongly think that before they approach Jesus, they need to “fix themselves up”.  They think they have to stop sinning before they come to Jesus or they might not be accepted.  The problem with this kind of thinking is that as human beings, none of us have the power to stop sinning without Jesus’ help.  Fortunately, Jesus is always willing to meet us wherever we are.  Jesus will never reject us, regardless of where we are in life or what we have done.  Jesus will heal us just as he healed the bleeding woman, and will free us from our suffering.

Do you know anyone who is afraid to face Jesus?  Has anyone ever said to you “I want to go to church, but I really need to clean up my act first”?  Let them know about Jesus’ grace and His mercy.  Let them know that they do not have to do anything to fix themselves up before asking Jesus for help.  Let them know that they have nothing to fear.  Then help them to face Jesus and ask for help.

 

Please post your thoughts and reflections in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.  Feel free to like, comment, and share this with your friends to help spread the Word of God.

 

Calming the Storm


Daily Bible Reading – Job 20; Mark 3,4

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)

Most of the disciples were fishermen by trade before following Jesus.  They were used to sailing in the Sea of Galilee and had no doubt encountered storms before.  Yet, when this particular storm hit, they panicked.  They thought their boat would be capsized and they would all drown.  But Jesus immediately calmed the storm with three simple words – “Quiet! Be Still!”

In our journey through life, we can be sure that storms will come.  Bad events will happen to us all during the course of our lives that will test our faith.  Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a bill we can’t pay.  In these times when the storms come and the waves are crashing against our boat, we have two choices.  We can panic and we can believe that we will drown in the abyss of our current situation, or we can go to Jesus for help.  We can put all of our faith and trust in Him, regardless of our current circumstances, and ask Him to help.  God is all powerful and all knowing – he knows exactly what we need at any given time and he has the power to help us get through to the other side.  Jesus not only had the power to silence the wind and the waves, he can also silence every other “storm” that pops up along the way.  Have faith in Him to help you, and He will show up and tell the storm “Quiet! Be Still!”

 

Please post your thoughts and reflections in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.  Feel free to like, comment, and share this with your friends to help spread the Word of God.

 

Healing the “Leprosy” in Us All


Daily Bible Reading – Job 19; Mark 1,2

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere. (Mark 1:40-45)

In the time of Jesus, people with leprosy were not very highly regarded.  In fact, according to the laws laid out in Leviticus 13 and 14, people with leprosy were viewed as unclean and were not permitted to participate in any social activities, including worship.  The law also said that if anyone touched a person with leprosy, then that person would become unclean as well.  Because of this, the notion of someone reaching out his hand and touching a man with leprosy was completely unbelievable.  Yet Jesus not only reached out His hand and touched the man with leprosy, He also completely healed him of the terrible disease and make him completely clean.

In a way, every single human being who has ever lived could have been seen by God as a leper.  In the same way that a leper has been disfigured with leprosy, every human being since Adam has been disfigured by sin.  God is a perfect being who is wholly just, and we know from the Bible that He abhors sin.  Because of God’s perfection, sinful humans were separated from Him at the fall of man in Genesis, and an “unspannable chasm” was created between us and Him.  Just as the Jewish leaders refused to reach out to a man with leprosy, God could have refused to reach out to sinful humans.  Fortunately for all of us, God had a different plan in mind.

Just as Jesus reached out to the man with leprosy, He also reached out to all of us.  Just as He healed the man of his leprosy and made him clean, Jesus healed all of us of our sins and made us clean.  The man with leprosy was so overcome with joy at being healed, that he could not help but go and tell everyone he could find the good news of his healing.  If this man was this joyful over being healed of a disease, how much more joyful should we be for being given the gift of eternal life that Jesus Christ offered to all of us when he cleansed us of our sins at the cross.  Just as the leper felt compelled to spread the good news, so should we all go and spread the good news of the Lord.

 

Please post your thoughts and reflections in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.  Feel free to like, comment, and share this with your friends to help spread the Word of God.

 

 

 

Planting Seeds


Daily Bible Reading – Job 18; Psalm 114; Acts 27,28

They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. (Acts 28:23-24)

Paul is arguably the greatest preacher of all time.  He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in many different lands and to many different people in the days of early Christianity, and his preaching brought many people to Christ.  But even Paul with his superior preaching skill was not able to convince everyone to believe.  It is mentioned many times in Acts that following Paul’s preaching certain people were convinced and got saved while others would not believe.  Though he was not able to convince every person he spoke with to turn to Christ, Paul never got discouraged about preaching the Gospel.

It can be easy for us to get discouraged when we are not able to convince another person to turn to Jesus.  There are times when despite our best efforts, we are simply not able to win people over for Christ.  There is a temptation in these times to just give up – to stop preaching the Gospel and to stop trying to save others.  But this temptation is simply the lies of the enemy.  The enemy tells us that we’re not good enough, or that we don’t know enough, or that it’s simply not worth the pain of rejection.  But we have to realize that these are all lies.  We have all been called by Jesus to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  Our job is to “plant the seed” by telling others about Jesus, but as any farmer can tell you, planting a seed is not enough to make it grow.  For a seed to grow – for a person to turn to Christ – they need the seed to be watered.  Watering the seed is the job of the Holy Spirit.

In John 16:7-8, Jesus said “It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment”  We recognize in this passage that Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit.  The English word Counselor is a translation from the Greek word paráklētos, which means “one who is called alongside”.  The Holy Spirit is dwelling with all people prior to their conversion.  The Holy Spirit walks alongside people, and convicts them of their sin and convinces them that Jesus Christ is the only answer.  Once a person accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit moves inside the person and lives IN him instead of walking beside him.  In this way, the Holy Spirit is watering the seeds that we have planted and ultimately convinces people to accept Jesus Christ.  On our own, none of us are able to turn someone to Christ, we need the Holy Spirit to do that.

The next time you tell someone about Jesus and they choose not to believe, do not be discouraged.  Be encouraged in the fact that you have planted the seed.  Then pray for the Holy Spirit to come into that person’s life and water the seed to make it grow.

Waiting on God


Daily Bible Reading – Job 17; Acts 24-26

Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison. (Acts 24:22-27)

I don’t know anyone who likes to wait.  We live in a society fascinated by the idea of immediate gratification.  We want everything to happen RIGHT NOW.  Every Monday morning, we silently (and sometimes not so silently) long for Friday.  We revel in the rare instances when there is no traffic to slow us down on our way to work or back home again.  When we walk into a restaurant and give our name to the host or hostess, our usual next question is “how long is the wait”.  We do not like to wait.  Perhaps that is why the idea of waiting on God is so prevalent in the Bible.  Paul had to wait for more than two years in prison at the hands of Felix, when what he desperately wanted to do was go to Rome to preach the Gospel.  But instead, he had to wait.

Waiting on God is one of the most critical things we can do as Christians.  When we wait on God, we put our faith in Him.  When we wait patiently for Him, we actively declare our dependence in Him.  The Bible is literally filled with verses that stress the importance of waiting on God:

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him… Those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”  (Psalm 37:7,9)

“I have waited for Your salvation, O Lord.” (Genesis 49:18)

“Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord, have we waited for You. The desire of our soul is for Your name. With my soul I have desired You in the night. Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early.” (Isaiah 26:8-9)

“It is good that one should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:26)

“So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually.” (Hosea 12:6)

God is the sovereign ruler over the entire universe.  He takes care of everything in His own time and by His own will, so sometimes we will have no choice but to wait on God.  Learning to wait patiently for Him is the mark of growth as a follower of Christ.  Put your faith and trust in Him everyday, and wait for Him to bless you always.

 

I Didn’t Know…


Daily Bible Reading – Job 16; Acts 21-23

The next day, since the commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them. Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” Those who were standing near Paul said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’ (Acts 22:30-23:5)

Much like our current US criminal law, in Paul’s day Jewish law said that no man could be punished for a crime without being found guilty during trial.  Ananias, as the high priest, was charged with representing all of the Jewish laws, yet he commanded his men to hit Paul.  This was a violation of the very law Ananias was supposed to be upholding.  Paul immediately snapped at Ananias and accused him of violating the law.  When the people of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were outraged that Paul would insult the high priest, to which Paul responded by saying that he didn’t know Ananias was the high priest.

Biblical scholars offer a few different interpretations for this verse of Scripture.  Some say Paul did not know Ananias was the high priest because Paul had been away from Jerusalem for a few years.  Other scholars say that perhaps Paul’s eyesight was poor.  One other interpretation of this verse is that Ananias’ actions of commanding that Paul be struck were so far from the duties of a high priest, that Paul never imagined that this man could be the high priest.

All of us have experienced times when our actions did not line up with our duties as Christ followers.  When we yell at the guy who cut us off in traffic, act rudely to the cashier who is not checking us out as quickly as we would like, or judge someone else harshly for a mistake we are not acting the way Jesus would expect us to act as His disciples.  One of the worst things a Christ follower can hear from another person is “I didn’t know you were a Christian”.  When another person is shocked to learn we are Christians, it is usually because our actions are so far from the duties of what a follower of Christ should be that the person was unable to recognize that we might be Christians.  The best way we can help draw people to Christ is by our actions.  We can talk all day long about how wonderful it is to be a Christian or about how much God has changed us, but if our actions don’t reflect that then we are not being good witnesses for Christ.  When we let the Spirit flow through us and we remember that while we are IN this world we are not OF this world, we can help draw people closer to Jesus Christ and to salvation.

 

 

The Incomplete Believer


Daily Bible Reading – Job 15; Acts 19,20

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. (Acts 19:1-7)

When Paul arrived at Ephesus, he encountered twelve men who were believers in Jesus Christ.  They believed in Jesus as the Messiah, but they knew little about the significance of his death and resurrection and knew nothing about the Holy Spirit.  They said they received the baptism of John, but were not yet baptized into the name of Jesus Christ.  Once they learned more about the whole story of Jesus, they were baptized into His name and received the Holy Spirit.

These men were incomplete believers.  They knew part of the story – they knew that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and that they needed to repent, or turn from, their sins.  What they did not know was that they also needed to turn to Jesus Christ and put all of their faith and trust in Him.  Without this knowledge, they were incomplete and were only halfway to where they needed to be.

I lived most of my life as an incomplete believer.  I knew the story of Jesus Christ.  I knew about His life, death, and resurrection, and I knew that He died for my sins.  I was taught all of this as a child in Sunday School each week.  Unfortunately, I had a very limited understanding of the Bible and almost no understanding of repentance or of turning to Jesus in faith.  I believed that because I knew about Jesus and because I always apologized to Him in prayer when I sinned, that I was a “good person”.  Sadly, my beliefs were flawed and incomplete, and my life was empty and meaningless.  When I finally saw the light and got the complete picture of what it really means to be a follower of Christ, I got the missing piece of the puzzle.  The Holy Spirit entered my life and radically changed me.  I spent the first 33 years of my life living for me.  Now that I know the Way and the Truth and the Light I plan to live the rest of my life for Him.

We all probably know people who, like the twelve men Paul met in Ephesus, are incomplete believers.  Maybe they know part of the story, but they don’t really know Jesus.  Maybe they have never walked with Him, and maybe they have never felt the incredible feeling of His unconditional love.  Our goal as followers of Christ should be to not just reach the people who have never heard of Jesus, but to also reach out to the incomplete believers.  Paul didn’t just pass by the twelve men in Ephesus.  He knew they could  find greater purpose and meaning if they knew the complete picture, so he took the time to tell them about the real Jesus.  We can do the same thing today.

Job’s Hope


Daily Bible Reading – Job 13,14; Acts 17,18

“At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant. But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep. “If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin. (Job 14:7-17)

In Old Testament times, there was not a lot of talk about the resurrection of the dead.  At this point in history, Jesus Christ had not yet lived as a man, died, and been resurrected, so there was a lot of pessimism about what happens to a man after death.  If you know the story of Job, you know that he was dealing with a lot of turmoil in his life – physical pain and emotional pain.  This pain was not due to anything he had done wrong as some of his friends believed, but he still had to deal with it.  In the passage above, you can clearly see some of Job’s pessimism about death, but more importantly you can also see Job’s hope for eternal life.  Given Job’s current pain and suffering, he was hoping for life after death.  He was hoping for a time when he would be renewed and when his sins would be forgotten.  In John 14:19, Jesus said “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.”  Obviously Job did not know about this because it hadn’t happened yet, but Job still had hope that this would come to pass.

We have a distinct advantage over Job.  We no longer have to hope for eternal life.  We do not have to wonder about what will happen when we die.  We have God’s Word that tells us exactly what will happen.  We know about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we know what that means for us.  Aside from John 14:19, we can also look to other areas of the bible that tell us exactly what Jesus said about the subject.  Here are two of the many examples:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)

We have God’s divine Word that tells us that we CAN have eternal life.  If we choose to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and if we repent of our sins, we can all be saved.  We WILL have eternal life.  How powerful is it that we can move outside of just “hoping” for something to happen and it can instantly become truth.  Do you know people who are still “hoping” for eternal life?  Are there people in your life who do not know about the promise of Jesus Christ?  YOU can help them today.  YOU can help them move past hoping to truth.  YOU can share with them about the gift of God’s mercy.  YOU can tell them what Job didn’t know to be fact – that they can live forever with Jesus Christ.

Finding the Silver Lining


Daily Bible Reading – Job 11,12; Acts 15,16

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family. (Acts 16:22-34)

During Paul’s second missionary journey, he and Silas were in Philippi preaching the Gospel and bringing people to Christ.  As was common in the early days of Christianity, they were beaten and thrown in jail.  Paul and Silas could have spent their time in prison pining away for their freedom.  They could have become mired in self pity due to their circumstances, or even cursed God for allowing them to be imprisoned.  But Paul and Silas didn’t do any of that.  Instead, they spent their time in jail “praying and singing hymns to God”.  When the doors flew open, they could have immediately run away, thankful for their freedom.  But instead, they stayed and told the jailer “We are all here!”.  Paul and Silas knew that being imprisoned was a bad circumstance, but instead of dwelling on the dark clouds of their present condition they decided to find the silver lining.  Due to their imprisonment, they were able to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the jailer and save him and his entire family from ultimate destruction.

We often find ourselves in bad situations.  For those of us who have been brought to our knees by bad circumstances, we know what it is like to feel completely helpless and out of control.  When we find ourselves in those situations, we have a choice.  We can pine away for better circumstances.  We can become mired in self pity.  We can even curse God for allowing us to be in our current circumstances.  Or, we can find the silver lining.  We can stop and realize that everything that happens to us is for a reason and is part of God’s plan.  Instead of dwelling on our circumstances, we can try to figure out how we can use our present conditions to further the Kingdom of God.  When a woman is hospitalized for a serious medical condition and uses her time to preach the Gospel to the nurse she sees everyday and leads her to Christ, she has found the silver lining.  When a man loses his money and his possessions and must live on the street and he leads someone he meets at a soup kitchen to Christ, he has found the silver lining.  We can all search for the silver lining, and when we find it, it will make all the difference in the world.

 

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