First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Confined but not confined.

May 2, 2016

    Words are unique in that I can use mine and the one reading this has to read them. I have applied meaning to my words and the one reading needs to interpret them.  The goal it to have my meaning and the reader's comprehension match. Take for instance the title of this blog. It is a paradox. How can something or someone be confined but not confined? 

                                                     (Ascension window at First UMC, Lewistown, PA)

    The apostle Paul knew about paradoxes. He lived one for some time. His life changed forever the day he met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).  He pledged allegiance to make Christ known at any cost. One would think that following Jesus should be a cakewalk.  Paul was captive and chained to Roman soldiers at times in his ministry. Have you thought about your own life and situation? Do you feel defeated at every turn? Does life seem overwhelming? If you think your current situation is so difficult, take a look at this short list of things Paul dealt with in his life and ministry for Jesus Christ.

*been in prison

*been flogged

*been exposed to death again and again. 
*Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 
*Three times I was beaten with rods

*once I was stoned

*three times I was shipwrecked

*I spent a night and a day in the open sea

*I have been constantly on the move.

*I have been in danger from rivers

*in danger from bandits 

*in danger from my own countrymen

*in danger from Gentiles

*in danger in the city

*in danger in the country

*in danger at sea 

*in danger from false brothers. 
*I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep

*I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food

*I have been cold and naked. (2 Corinthians 23-27, NIV)

 

Paul would write many letters to many churches to encourage them to embrace their sufferings because through the embrace one would experience the closeness of Christ. He encouraged churches to put on God as soul armor so they could combat the meanness of the world (Satan's evil). Take a look at Paul's teaching here in Ephesians.

 

        Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your

        ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled

        around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the

        readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with

        which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the

        sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of

        prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also

        for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the

        mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains (confined but not confined). Pray that

        I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:13-20, NIV) [emphasis added]

 

We have the Good News of Jesus in our hearts. Let's share this Good News even if it means we might suffer persecution. We have not suffered to the point of arrest and incarceration. Even then we would be confined but not silenced. Share Christ's light and love to those around you who are confined in the grip of sin's darkness. 

 

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