Men with fleshly attitudes will always rail against God’s plans. It is true from time immemorial. Man stood in opposition to God in the garden and in the days of the Kings of Israel. They stood against Christ in his birth and in his life. They stood against the spread of the Gospel. They have stood, times without number, against revivals led by the Holy Spirit. How’d all that work out?
Men of the flesh act like clay in the potter’s hands telling the potter, “You don’t know what you are doing. Your hands have no skill.“ No matter, God continues his program of mercy and Redemption. There will be no refuting God’s work among men. Those who refute God will be dishonored. “The Lord of Heaven‘s Armies has spoken!“ Lord you are my Creator, my Deliverer, my redeemer. Mold my life according to your will – I yield to your skilled hands.
We could spend all our time bemoaning our circumstances, thinking, we are better than this or that; thinking we deserve more, better. We sometimes compare ourselves to others. We ask God why “those people“ have all the good fortune.
Paul, writing from prison no less, for simply preaching the Good News, doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He doesn’t spend his time criticizing and judging “those people.“ Those preachers, whose egos are bigger than life, who are free to go where and when they want. No. Paul sees the bigger picture. He trusts God completely to care for, guide and use him. Lord, I surrender my circumstances to you. May I not complain, but stand in faith and rejoice in knowing that you are always at work for my good and your glory.
This is my free translation of Paul’s message in these few verses. “I’m in prison but everything that has happened to me here is helping to spread the Gospel. Everyone here in prison knows my mission to spread the Gospel…even the prison guards. Believers here with me in prison are emboldened to share the Gospel message – WERE WINNING! NO FEAR!“
Never underestimate the power of your influence for Christ. Your voice, your countenance, your message, your encouragement, your passion for sharing Jesus can help others to face their troubles and fears. What great opportunities to share the Gospel await me every day. Lord, may I face every situation, not with fear but, with fearless faith.
Revival, awakening, under Hezekiah had long lasting effects. Those who had been touched by revival were RADICALLY CHANGED. The hearts of these people were refocused on purity and righteousness. Altars to pagan gods all over the land of Judah and Israel were torn down. There was an outpouring of generosity and giving toward the work and ministries of God. Such is the work of God in revival and awakening.
The same can happen in America. It has before, in the Great Awakenings of the 1700s & 1800s. Sweeping moral and ethical changes in society took place. Lying, cheating and corruption in business and government ceased. Bars and brothels were shut down. A new and benevolent generosity occurred. People gave with abundant joy to the work of God in the world. Great mission organizations were founded. Many new ministries were begun. The work of evangelism was renewed and expanded. There was a renewed hunger for the word of God and worship. it can happen again. It must!
Lord Jesus, the broken heart of this aged sentry is in need of an out-pouring of your Spirit. My beloved nation, America, is in desperate need of such a touch of your Spirit. Renew us Lord.
Some of Paul’s closing words to the Christians in Rome are, “I am eager to visit you, to enjoy your fellowship“ (v23,24). But first he must go to Jerusalem. Paul’s final prayer request is that he be “rescued from unbelieving Jews” there. Then, “BY THE WILL OF GOD,” he would go to Rome with a “JOYFUL” heart to rest and enjoy time with them.
Paul expects one thing. But God works according to his own will and purposes. In Jerusalem, resentful Pharisees incite a riot against Paul (Acts 21:27,30). This leads to his arrest and appeal to Cesar. Ultimately Paul’s trip to Rome became reality, but as a prisoner in chains. Paul’s response? “I am [JOYFULLY] willing even to die for the sake of Christ” (Acts 21:13). Lord, keep me joyfully flexible along the path of the journey.
This sentry’s prayer may be limited by perspective, but it’s unlimited by God’s eternal scope.