“I want you to know that what has happened to me has served instead to advance the Gospel… Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” ~Philippians 1:12-14
The Roman government had put Paul in chains to bind him and the Kingdom of Christ. They had imprisoned Paul to restrict him and the Kingdom. But you and I both know that God cannot be bound, his Kingdom cannot be restricted by any circumstances! Our God uses whatever he wants to do whatever he pleases.
God uses Moses’ rod and David’s slingshot and Gideon’s pitchers. God uses Joshua’s trumpet and Ruth’s mother-in-law. He uses Hosea’s unfaithful wife and Elijah’s water jugs. He uses a Roman cross. He uses a Jerusalem tomb. God uses whatever he wants. And now he’s using Paul’s chains.
“It has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ… I am put here for the defense of the Gospel.” ~Philippians 1:13-16
If Paul is chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day, and if those guards are changing shifts, Paul’s living in and for Jesus with anywhere from four to maybe even a dozen different men every day. Imagine being one of those soldiers. You’re chained to a guy who prays without ceasing. You’re bound to a man who is constantly sharing with you his experiences with the risen Jesus. You’re tied to a guy who is continuously writing letters of encouragement to little churches all over the Empire. Some of the soldiers in this elite unit had come to believe and submit to Jesus as Lord. Some of Caesar’s own household had come to Christian faith. And it wouldn’t have happened if Paul hadn’t been locked up!
How is God using your circumstances right now to expand the Kingdom? How is God using your current situation right now to take his love and salvation to others? How is God using your chains? Your sickness? Your loneliness?
Oh, that doesn’t apply to you?
OK, how is God using your blessed and unrestricted freedom to expand the Kingdom? How is God working through your good health and your wonderful family to bring his love and salvation to others?
Our God can use whatever he wants. Are you letting him use your situation to do his will for others? You may be chained right now, but God’s Word is never chained (2 Timothy 2:9).
A pretty great day for our Central church family and our particular small group on Sunday when Beau Baer returned to us from a ten-month stint in Kandahar, Afghanistan. We rejoice with Shirlene and Creed and Chloe and their whole family with his safe return. And we continue to pray for safety for all those on every side of the conflict in this world and for God’s peace to overcome.
Click here for a short story from KAMR Fox-14 on the emotional scene at the airport. And click here to see the story Fox-14 did a couple of months ago on Shirlene bringing Beau to church every Sunday via Skype.
We also were forced this weekend to say “goodbye” to Matt & Sara Richardson and their sweet girls, Ellie and Amy Kate. We’ve known the Richardsons since just before we moved to Amarillo and we’re really grieving the loss. Sara was a key member of the search committee that helped bring my family to Central and Matt has become a really good friend and ministry partner over the past three years. Sara always pushes me; Matt always challenges me. Valerie and Carley have both spent extensive time at Richardson Manor babysitting those rapidly growing girls. We’ve laughed and prayed together, dreamed and cried, blessed and been blessed, and shared more than a few Sunset Enchiladas at Ruby T’s. Tough to see them go.
We send them to the booming edges of Dallas-Fort Worth with our love and appreciation and admiration. We send them to join the disciples of Jesus in Argyle, to bless and encourage them as they have us. And we send them to join God’s Church in Denton County and to partner with them in reconciling that part of the world back to the Father.