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We sat together talking about faith in Christ and spiritual matters. As the hours passed I forgot where we were sitting and became absorbed in our discussion about what it means to be a committed Christian. But soon reality set in as a guard announced the end of visiting hours. We hugged and he returned to his prison cell and a guard escorted me to the visitor entrance.

As I walked through the metal detector and then watched the guard wand me, I thought about how as believers in Jesus Christ we are one in the Spirit. Even though my friend was paying the consequences for his poor choices, I was was no better than him. As Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

That is the beauty of the Kingdom of God. Despite our differences; despite our history; despite all our failings, we are one in the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-5). Galatians 3:26 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 

As I drove away from the prison, I looked at the towering fence and razor wire that separated us. It was a blessing to be able to visit my friend. It encouraged me greatly to see how God was working in his life through other believers in prison and the prison ministry in the area. I left with greater empathy for his struggles and an understanding of how to better pray for him — a better understanding of what it means to be one in Christ.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. — Hebrews 13:3

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Occasionally, someone asks me, “What is your life verse?” Some people I know will instantly answer that question, but not me. For years I wrestled with trying to identify one verse that would encompass my life — a verse that would inspire and motivate me to continue my walk with Jesus Christ.

I found it difficult to identify one verse in the Bible that could contain such an infinitely powerful God whose mercy and love for me never fails. Then it hit me that this is at the heart of my faith. A God who never gives up on me, even though I have given up on Him many times. From the fall in Genesis through Revelation, we find a just and loving God who constantly seeks to restore mankind to Him. As we dig deeper into scripture each page reveals more and more about the Character of God.

This is the God that Moses remarked, “For what God is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do (Deut. 3:24, NIV)?” The same God that caused Naaman to say, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel (2 Kings 5:15).” The God who Mary described as “…the Mighty One who has done great things for me (Luke 1:49).” The God who Paul said is filled with great love and mercy, the God who made us alive in Christ when we were dead in our sin (Eph. 2:45). The same God who the Psalmist wrote, “…what God is as great as our God (Psalm 77:11)?”

Now when people ask me what my life verse is I tell them, “Gen. 1:1 – Rev. 22:21.” The typical response is, “But that’s the entire Bible. You can’t do that! A life verse has to be one verse.” That’s when I explain that the Bible is my life verse. It is the story about how the God of Israel, the creator of all, cares enough about me to reach across the millennia to save me from my own destruction. A God who continually strives to restore me to a right relationship with Him. Through his grace he gives me the way to join him in eternal life.

This is the God I want others to know. A God who never gives up on trying to save us from destruction. A God who constantly pursues us even though we may push him away. The infinite God who created the universe is infinitely interested in us to the point of sending his son Jesus to sacrifice his life for us in order to save us. The Bible as a life verse causes me to ponder how far I will go to bring salvation to those around me so they can understand the height and depth of God’s love for the people of this earth.

When we don't have faith in God's purpose, we can act like the boy in Judy Viorst's children's book.

In her children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst tells a story about little Alexander and his bad day. From the moment he wakes up, nothing goes his way. “I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,” he says on the first page. Sure enough, from there on, a series of bad things happen to him from not getting a window seat in the car to the Dentist finding a cavity. Alexander’s solution is to move to Australia, but his mother reminds him at the end of the book that some days are like that – even in Australia.

Like Alexander, sometimes we wake up with the attitude that it’s going to be a bad day. Why? Because we decide things that don’t go our way are bad. We get frustrated at the obstacles we face and angry about unfulfilled expectations or lost dreams. Left unchecked, this attitude can taint our view of life and put us into a downward spiral.  We become like the beaten down woman in Paul Simon’s hit song “Slip Slidin’ Away” who says, “a good day ain’t got no pain” and “a bad day’s when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been.”

Yet how often do we lie in bed and think of what might be if we focused on God’s purpose instead of our own expectations. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And now we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” If you “trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV) then your expectations will center on God’s purpose for your life. You will be better equipped to understand that God has a purpose for everything, even the terrible, horrible, no good very bad things that happen to us.

In 2 Cor. 11:24-26, Paul describes the many bad days he experienced in his ministry. “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.” Even though Paul experienced many horribly bad days, he continued to trust that God had a purpose for everything. He remained focused on spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus told us that those who follow him will have bad days. “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” (John 15: 20-21 NIV) How well do you know Christ? How much faith do you have in Romans 8:28 that “God causes all things to work together for His purpose”, not ours. Do you trust that God is in everything, even the horrible stuff? The way we view each day can say a lot about how we view God in our lives.

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