It is one of the great causes of concern / stress when circumstances in life are changed out with our control!
When circumstances are changed out with our control – people often react by attempting to return the circumstances back to a familiar norm, they often fail, increasing still further their anxiety.
With that in mind an American Bible teacher many years ago phrased the serenity prayer:
‘God give me the courage to change the things I can change
The serenity to accept the things I can’t
Wisdom to know the difference’
When we try to return to the way things were we often fail to grapple with the questions:
Should we be going back to the way things were? Is it worth it? Did it work? Fail to critically assess where we are going back to – the PROBLEMS of where we were.
What about the way things are now? Is there not PURPOSE in Divine PROVIDENCE? How can we seek to serve God in the circumstances which are?? We fail to understand where we currently are!
Down through the pages of scripture many have ‘misread’ circumstances, misread the signs, mislabelled the circumstances they are in and missed the point!
Israel in the wilderness
Saw the wilderness as an unmitigated disaster
Wanted back to Egypt
Recalled the food and meat in Egypt
Failed to accurately recall the problems, persecution and slavery in Egypt
Missed the point of God’s disciplinary dealings with them in the wilderness (Deut 8:2-3)
Mary and Martha (John 11)
‘if you had been here’ (John 11:21) – just go back to the way things were
Unable to discern any good what so ever in the current circumstances
What had happened was merely an accident / over sight and ought not to have happened
In fact it was for the Glory of God (John 11:4, 40)
Two on the road to Emmaus
Perhaps the greatest case ever of missing the point, mislabelling events, failing to see the purpose / potential in events and circumstances
Let us not be naïve about the problems of the past
Ignorant of the potential / purpose of present
‘I would ye should understand brethren’(1:12)
Don’t be naïve about the past nor ignorant of the potential in the present!
There was blessing you see:
In the wilderness not in spit of …
In the backside of the desert not in spit of …
In the belly of the whale not in spit of …
In the cave of Adullam not in spit of …
In the storm tossed boat not in spit of …
Paul looks at the circumstances through which he is passing in the light of:
People have heard the gospel who never would have heard it before
Paul had been brought to the epicentre of the world – Rome and Caesar’s household
Set off an explosion at the heart of the empire
Through providence Paul reaches the untouchables
There was many an untouchable in the Bible whom God reached and touched:
Pharaoh – Egypt
Goliath – brought down
Saul of Tarsus – Acts 9
No one is untouchable by God!
These men in the palace reached by the LIFE and the LIP of Paul
“bonds in Christ” (v13)
Paul the servant is hold fast his service and faithfulness to Christ
Not only his “bonds” made manifest
Not only the fact that he is “in Christ”
But these bonds were because he remained unflinchingly “in Christ”
In a sense everyone could see represented externally what was true internally and eternally!
The invisible bonds of his discipleship are being clearly seen by the physical chains of his captivity!
He hasn’t sold out / buckled under
He has stood firm and sure
The MAN gave authenticity to his MESSAGE
That message may have cost him his life
It was, he was paying the price.
The saints are inspired and challenged to preach
Should they not have been more afraid by Paul’s imprisonment rather than less afraid??
Paul’s imprisonment challenged their:
Uncertainty -> anxiety -> fear -> panic -> paralysis
Remove the uncertainty and replace it with certainty no matter how unpalatable and the results can be remarkable!
“speak the word without fear” (1:14)
Looking after number 1
The deception of lies
Keep low, keep quiet, compromise and you’ll be ok!
First they came for the socialists and I did not speak because I was not a socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me