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December 13 – “But You Don’t Know My Circumstances”

Paul had been obedient to his call in Jesus Christ. He was preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He was doing what God had asked him to do. Then, because he was preaching the gospel, he was arrested on false charges. Knowing that the Jews wanted to kill him, he invoked a right available to Roman citizens: he appealed his case to Caesar. The result was that he was now sitting under house arrest in the custody of two Roman guards who were chained to him. He didn’t consider himself to be a captive, though, he considered himself to have a captive audience. Instead of complaining about his circumstances, he shared the gospel with his captors. I imagine after a while, when Paul started proclaiming Jesus to the new ones who rotated in, they said something like, “Oh, you’re the one they were talking about. That crazy old guy who’s in chains because of his faith and wants to share that with us, too.” Paul, in the midst of circumstances that would put most of us into a state of depression, shared the joy of Christ. He rejoiced in his imprisonment because it gave him the opportunity to share the gospel and it emboldened others to share their faith as well.

I must confess that I let circumstances bother me too much. When it’s too hot, I complain, longing for the cold. When it’s too cold, I complain, longing for the heat of summer. I don’t have enough money to do all the things I want to. I have too much to do and I’m worn out. I don’t have anything to do, so I’m bored. Anyone else have any of these problems? Would I seem insensitive if I said that these problems were unimportant in life when compared to the joy of sharing the gospel? You might say, “Oh, I know those problems aren’t bad, let me tell you my circumstances. Your circumstances might be terrible. I’ve heard from and seen people who were in dire situations. And yet, they first survived and then overcame those circumstances they were in. We may not have control of our circumstances, but we always have control of our reactions to them. We can choose to complain about our lot and stay mired in those terrible situations, or we can face them with faith, turn them around, and use them to share the greatness of God. Choose to live above your circumstances.


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