Use your troubles and other people’s troubles as a springboard for prevailing prayer. I am certain that God allows us to get under some pressures in order that we might seek Him and get to know Him better.
We’re in the last verse of Colossians 4, 4:18, “The salutation by the hand of me, Paul.” We talked about that yesterday, the importance of the personal touch. Then he says, “Remember my bonds.” Paul never complained. He disdained talking about himself unless it was absolutely necessary. You remember the statement he had there in Corinthians. He said, “If people are going to talk, I suppose I have to talk, too. If they’re going to talk in terms of status and things they’ve done, well, I’ll give you a list of things I’ve done.” And then he went on to say what happened.
He said, “I have been stoned. I have been shipwrecked. I have been in hunger and persecution and distresses for Christ’s sake. If I must needs glory,” he said, “I’ll glory of the things which concern my infirmities, the things where God made me strong even though I was weak.” He said, “I speak as though we had been weak.”
“Well,” he said, “I can be bold, too. I’m in labors more abundant, and stripes above measure, and prisons more frequently, and death saw. Five times I received 39 stripes. Thrice I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times shipwrecked. A night and a day I’ve been in the deep journeying, perils of waters, perils of robbers, perils by my own countrymen, perils by the heathen, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brethren, weariness, painfulness, watchings, hunger, thirst, fastings, cold and nakedness, and then taking care of all the churches.” That was his listing there of the things that he had gone through.
But he said, “I’m sorry, I have to say this, I wouldn’t talk about it except that other people are making a point of it.” He never complained. And yet he wasn’t above reminding people that he was in prison, for example. Philippians, for instance, he said, “I want you to know that the things that are happening to me have turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. My bonds,” see, there is the bonds. He was shackled. What they did was they would take metal shackles, strips of metal, heavy and they would actually rivet them to the prisoners wrist and ankles so that the wrist was connected by a chain to the other arm and the ankle was connected by a chain to the other ankle. That prisoner wasn’t going get away. Shackles.
So he says, “My bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace and in all other places. Many of the brethren are waxing confident by my bonds much more bold to speak the word without fear.” “Well,” he said, “I’m set for the defense of the gospel, however Christ is preached.”
What about this matter? “Remember my bonds.” Well, first of all, no complaint. My father used to say, “It doesn’t take any brains to complain, boy.” I can just hear him say it. I suppose because of that constant pounding away when I was in my little boy and adolescent years, I, to this very day, have a dislike for complaints. Now, that is a management hazard because if you’re not willing to listen to complaints, you’re not going to be a very good manager. And I’ve had to learn to listen sympathetically not just waiting for the person to get through. It’s a very important matter. And many a complaint is a legitimate complaint. Have you discovered that? Many a complaint having to do, let’s say, with job situation or whatever it is, is quite legitimate.
I remember the day a delegation of students came into my office and they were all angry and I said, “What seems to be the trouble?” They said, “There’s a dead mouse in the kitchen.” I thought, “Oh, Lord. How can I be held responsible when some mouse decides to go to glory and picks the wrong place?” But I didn’t say it. I said to somebody, “Well, has anybody given him a Christian burial?” “No, he’s still there.” So I said to one of them, “John, you go down and pick him up by the tail and put him in the ash can and give him a Christian burial,” I said with a smile and wink and he went on out and the tension was diffused for a moment.
And then we’ve talked about some things and I found that they had… The mouse was simply what the psychologists call the aggravating cause. And they had a number of other concerns that ranged all the way from certain types of food that they didn’t like, to a shower curtain that hadn’t been repaired on the fourth floor.
Well, there are some things you can do if you listen and some complaints are entirely legitimate and we ought to listen to them and do something about them. There’s always something constructive you can do when you face a problem, remember that. You don’t have to just cave in or blow up or give up.
Having said that, you and I — all of us know people who are chronic complainers. When you ask them how they are and they’ll tell you for goodness’ sake. Oh boy. Have you ever become the prisoner or one of these dear souls who when you greet them and ask how they are, they’ll hold you… You’re shaking hands with them, they’ll hold on to you and tell you how they are. Well, I suppose they need therapy of telling somebody about how much they’re hurting, and we ought to sympathize with folk like that but a complainer, a chronic complainer is an accident going somewhere to happen, I do declare. Try not to complain.
If there is something that needs fixing, face it honestly, quickly and constructively. Don’t just talk about it; do something. Every married man has been told that at least once in his life. “Don’t just stand there; do something.” Well, if there’s something that needs fixing fix it or try to, and don’t just complain about it.
Paul didn’t complain about his handcuffs and neither, indeed, should you nor I complain about the things that come our way because of Jesus. You can tell just about how far a person has gone with the Lord by the tone of his testimony when he comes around to talking about the cost of being a Christian.
Young Christians and I would say young in chronological age as well as perhaps just young in spiritual life, but oftentimes, you’ll hear high schoolers and even college people say, “Well, pray for me. It’s so hard to be a Christian on campus.” And you do pray for them because you know it is hard. But by and by they learn to know the Lord Jesus a little better and the tone of their testimony changes and now they’re sharing His victory. Oh, the Lord was so precious to me. The other day I went through this and that and the other and it happened and He helped me,” and the tone of their testimony is one of victory, not complaint because they know Him better.
And now, if you’ve been a complainer — and I’m not scolding; I’ve done my share of complaining, too, you know that. We’re all human beings, aren’t we? But if God gently speaks to you even in these moments by His Holy Spirit, ask Him to make Jesus so real to you that even in circumstances that are difficult or painful or both, you’ll have the victory that God can give. And you’ll be able to praise your blessed Lord. “Remember my bonds,” he says.
Now, there are two things that he wanted out of that, I’m sure. Number one was he wanted them to realize where he was so they would appreciate the seriousness of what he was saying to them. He wasn’t on a picnic somewhere and he wasn’t writing them a picture postcard from a vacation. This was something very serious which he was writing while he was shackled to two Roman soldiers, one on either side, in prison. That was one thing.
The other thing I’m sure, although it doesn’t say this specifically, he says elsewhere that he wants prayer for himself that he might be bold in spite of his bonds. He says, “Pray for me.” This is Ephesians 6:19, “Pray for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds,” in handcuffs, in shackles. “That therein,” that is in these shackles, “I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Now, that’s the background of this phrase here “Remember my bonds.” He’s letting them know that he’s serious about all of this, that’s for sure, but he’s also reminding them of the conditions so that they’ll pray for him.
Use your troubles and other people’s troubles as a springboard for prevailing prayer. I am certain that God allows us to get under some pressures in order that we might seek Him and get to know Him better. Someone wrote me a hot letter not too long ago when I mentioned this but I simply have to say, beloved, that I’m sticking with the Word of God and I’ll quote you the passage that gives me this idea.
God says, “He led you, He allowed you to hunger, and He fed you with manna that thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
He led you, He allowed you to hunger, and He fed you. You want to think about that? Here are some millions of people in the wilderness and if there’s anything that will break a parent’s heart is to hear the baby cry and you have no food to give to that precious little mite. You can’t because you haven’t got any or if you’re a nursing mother, there’s been no nourishment for yourself and so the flow of mother’s milk is drying up. It just breaks your heart to think about it even, doesn’t it?
That’s what God allowed, He said, “That He might feed thee with manna which though knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”
God let them get hungry so He could feed him. God let them get thirsty so that He could bring water from the rock. God lets you and me get under pressure so that we’ll seek Him. Gentle, loving, fatherly discipline that He exercises because He loves us.
So if you’re in handcuffs, so to speak, would you remember to seek your heavenly Father and pray so that He might bring victory and blessing out of it all? Pretty good idea, wouldn’t you say? Yes, a very good idea.
Dear Father, today, oh, may we be people who exercise Thy love, who pray under pressure, who are walking miracles of the grace of God, in Jesus’ name I ask, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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