Friday, November 20, 2009

2009 – Day 323.Nov 20 – Despite Your Circumstances

Passage for Study: Acts 16: 16 - 40 … Acts 16 linked for study …

2nd Scripture Reference: Philippians 1: 12 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today: After reading the passages for today, without even reading Chuck Swindoll’s devotional message for today, I think I could have predicted what his slant would be. And his title, “Despite Your Circumstances,” confirmed my prediction. When one reads what Paul and his companions went through in Philippi; and then to read from his letter to the Philippians (in Phil. 1: 12) written in reflection later in his life from another prison, one has to be impressed with how Paul, the former Christian hater, had been transformed into one of history’s model evangelists. But beyond that transformation, it is Paul’s ability to live with hopefulness and contentment, despite his circumstances, which is a very convicting lesson for me.

I don’t know about you; but when things go wrong for me, especially when it involves physical or emotional pain, I can be the master of the personal pity party. And it can lead me to begin waning in faith, questioning God, … even at times to the point of anger. Thankfully, thus far in life, I haven’t gotten to the point of bitterness or movement away from my faith; but then again, my life has not had multiple imprisonments, the pain, the floggings, the shipwrecks, and one could go on and on about Paul’s incursions into the horrors of life we all wish to avoid. Paul had them all, many, many times; and yet, we see no evidence in Scripture that he ever drooped into self pity or got angry at God. Oh, we know, from 2nd Cor. 12, that he was not a masochist, praying over and over again to be spared from some physical “thorn.” However, even then Paul sought and learned (and then taught) a lesson from God about humility and God’s grace.

But Paul’s life is a shining example of how to do exactly what he himself preached later to the Philippians in Phil. 4: 11 – 13 … that contentment can only come when we choose to rely on the strength Christ gives believers when they choose to depend upon, receive, and use God’s empowering, enabling grace. Paul had learned and lived the truth of his own declaration, “I can do all things through Christ, Who gives me the strength.”

I’m learning that lesson; but I still have a long way to go to avoid self pity, anger, and bitterness as I come under various circumstances. But Paul is a one of my character models from my Bible, the best One, of course, being Christ Himself, that we can – and should – live ABOVE the circumstance. Only Christians have that choice and that ability; but it only comes when we, like Paul, can rely upon, believe in, and draw upon God’s grace to be overcomers in life, just as Jesus and Paul were overcomers.

My Prayer for Today: My Lord … my Savior, You know I desire to live like You, … to shine Your light … to rise above my circumstance, especially when they are painful. Empower me. Enable me with Your grace to be that light in this darkened world. Amen

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