A Passage and A Prayer 2/11/19

19 For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 
 (Philippians 1:19-20)

Paul sits in prison.  He waits.  He is in prison for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, claiming Him to be the One and only God.  And now, Paul waits.  He is waiting to see if his appeal to Caesar will result in his release from incarceration or if he will be sentenced to death.

Paul doesn’t mention Caesar.  Paul doesn’t hang his hopes on appearing before the emperor on a good day when the Roman leader’s spirits are high and his attitude is good.

Instead, Paul is placing all his hopes on the Holy Spirit.  In other words, he is putting his life in the hands of the Lord who created him, redeemed him and called him into a lively faith.  It is this trust in the Lord that moves Paul to a confidence that he will be delivered.  But what does it mean to be “delivered?”  Paul can use the word to mean he will be leased from all charges and be freed to return to his daily activities with no legal repercussions.  Or, Paul could mean that he would lose his life at the hands of the Roman government, yet the Lord would take him to heaven where he would be delivered from the imperfections of this world and into the beauty and joy of heaven.

Paul figures that either way he wins.  He will either go to heaven and be with Jesus or he will be released and go back to see his friends in Philippi.

This should be our attitude in the midst of crisis.  I remember visiting someone in the hospital who was confronted with a serious diagnosis.  “I’ll be just fine,” the person told me, going on to explain, “either I will be cured and return to my family or I’ll die and go to heaven.  Either way, I win!”

This is the attitude of faith that carries us through the crises of life.  This is the truth that Christians claim as they cling to the cross of Jesus.  This is the peace that passes all understanding.  This is life!

Gracious Jesus, thank You for Your life, death and resurrection, which give me the confidence to face the challenges of life without fear, knowing and trusting that Your will is always for our good.  Give me Your Holy Spirit that this may be my confidence today and every day.  Amen.

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