Did you ever notice that when you focus on one thing, other things can slip by you without notice? I’ve learned not to talk to my husband when he’s engrossed in the TV because he won’t hear me anyway. I’m just as bad, I don’t like to be bothered when I’m paying bills or trying to read or write.
Whatever we tend to focus on blocks other things out. It was that way for Paul who after meeting Jesus after he’d overcome death went from being a soldier who killed Christians to being a disciple for Jesus. He was the one who was sent to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.
Paul found himself in some tough circumstances. He was arrested illegally in Rome and found himself in prison. But when they realized he was a Roman he was sent to be tried in Rome.
He was shipwrecked off the coast of Malta and spent 3 months on the island. Despite these predicaments he found himself in, his focus was for Christ. He was content in his circumstance because his focus was to proclaim Christ. Paul could do that just as easily in prison as he could in freedom!
Paul’s circumstances opened up opportunities to share the gospel with people who might never have heard of Christ. How about you? What circumstances have you found yourself in that you were able to reach others for Christ? Perhaps your relationships with family members allowed them to see Christ through the way you have lived your life, work, or hobbies that you’ve been involved in.
I thought I had my life all planned out. I was going to get married and raise my children in the church. I went to college to be a teacher and I did that for 36 years. God brought so many people into my life that I was able to show the difference He had made in my life. Co workers, students, athletes, were all witnesses to the way I lived, not that I was perfect. But I never backed away when someone asked me about my faith.
God had different plans for me as I neared retirement age. I wondered how I’d be able to influence others for the kingdom when I no longer taught. Several years before I retired, God put it on my heart to become involved in our praise team at church. I’m not the best singer or guitarist, but God has done an amazing job in preparing me for each “next step” in my journey. I take no credit. As a kid, I hated to practice playing my trumpet or for piano lessons, but it was different with guitar. At first I played bass. I was not very good to begin with, but I caught on quickly and after 4 years realized I’d gotten as far as I could on my own.
I’m still amazed when I think about the evening my husband and I went to a local concert. Realizing that we knew the bass player, I asked him if he would give me lessons. I feel like seeing him that night was a “God thing”. It was just what I needed to propel me to the next level as a bassist. But then I was asked to learn to play an acoustic guitar. I’d had lessons in the past, but never gotten very good. It’s funny how things can go so differently when your focus is on God!
The God that works in our lives is the same God that used Moses’ staff to part the Red Sea. He causes us to grow when we spend time with him in prayer, and worship and in His Word.
But you think life has been hard for you and God doesn’t even know you exist? He knows every hair on your head. He’s been there with you through the tough times and he’ll help you through it. After something has been broken you can celebrate the healing.
Those bad breaks have been God-given opportunities to share and live out what you believe. Things may not have turned out the way you thought, but God had a plan.
While Paul was in prison, he rejoiced because he saw how God was using his circumstances to further the kingdom. Paul did envy the lives that others led, he was content in his circumstances.
Yeah, Paul probably would have liked to be in heaven, but as long as he was on earth, he had a job to do. It’s the same for you and me? As long as you’re still living, God’s not done with you yet.
I can remember sitting with my mother-in-law in the nursing home in her last days. She asked me, “why am I still here?” I told her that she still had work to do. And do you know that God was working through her every day she was on this earth. She shared wisdom with the nurses and staff that she came in contact with while she was there. She was a wise woman, for sure!
Someone needs you to show them Christ. I think God is capable of defending the gospel himself, But we are the telescopes that can help others see Jesus more clearly. You magnify Jesus for your kids.
When Damar Hamlin’s heart stopped during the first quarter of the game between the Bills and the Bengals, God was glorified! I’ve never seen a time when more people were on their knees praying for God to work a miracle…and he did!
People want to believe in Jesus. The world wants to see the hope we have in the God we believe in.
What platform of opportunity do you have? Who are you in contact with that needs Jesus to be brought into focus?
How can you glorify God? Do it today!
I’m thankful for the opportunities to grow in my faith and the people who have helped me do that. And for the opportunities to share the glory of my God.
This post is written in response to my pastor, Jon Porter’s sermon at Milan Christian Church on 1/15/23.