The Single Mind - Cont'd.
We can truly experience Paul's joy when we can say with him,
"For to me, to live is Christ
" (vs. 21).
If we say that to live is money, family, possessions, power, health, even
ministry -- anything other than Christ -- we are depending on circumstances
to provide our joy. Joy will never come from these. There can be no greater
joy than to live, or die for that matter, for Christ. Life comes from God
and nowhere else.
It seems that often it is our chains that give us the greatest opportunity
to advance the gospel. Think of someone like a Joni Erickson Tada who is
chained to a wheelchair, but still has an effective ministry for the Lord.
Think of the mothers chained to their children, but through their ministry,
numerous souls have been added to the kingdom of God.
And all of us are chained to our personalities; nevertheless, God can and
does work through us in spite of ourselves. There are numerous ways we can
be bound, but we may rejoice, because we are considered worthy to suffer
with Christ, and also because God uses our trials to advance the gospel.
"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you
are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.'"
the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after
you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong,
firm and steadfast" (1 Peter 3:14, 5:10).
The secret to joy, then, in the midst of circumstances, is clarity of focus.
We must walk in the truth that all life comes from God; that is, to live
is Christ. It is as we examine our life in light of this truth, and the call
to advance the gospel, that we can rejoice.
This doesn't mean we are talking about a life centered on the verbal
dissemination of the message of the cross, but a life that demonstrates the
reality of Christ's presence in how we respond to all circumstances. And
as we grow in our walk in Christ, we will find we truly will become freed
from circumstances. The joy-stealer circumstances will find it much more
difficult to steal our joy.
Unfortunately though, we still have to deal with another joy stealer. Or
as one rack said: "This would be a great place except for the people." But
that's another story for the next study.
Personal Application: "Throughout history, people have given their
lives for such things as God, country, family, ideas, friends, love, science,
adventure or compassion. For which of these things would you be willing to
die? What issues are involved in forming your answer?" 1
Prayer for the Week: Lord, I pray that Christ will be honored in the
difficult circumstances that I face. And accordingly, I also pray for brothers
and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their