A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Monday, September 27, 2021
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Ester took this photo at the Hilltop Acres Farm Market in Manheim, PA
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"Turning Downtimes into Uptimes"
Message summary: Today we want to encourage any of our readers who may be going through a "downtime". Submit to God and He will use this experience in your life to grow you in ways that you would not expect. Nothing is impossible with God!
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“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
We deal with a wide variety of human need in our chaplaincy ministry. For many having a "downtime" in life often brings special receptivity to pastoral or chaplain care.
Several weeks ago we received word that an employee's husband had been attacked in a road rage incident. Another vehicle had bumped against him and he stopped to examine the damage to his car. Unbeknownst to him the other driver had also stopped and came at him with a knife. Raising his hands to protect his face the knife-wielding man sliced several of the driver's fingers till his anger was apparently satisfied.
The driver's injuries were so serious it required surgery. He is now undergoing physical therapy and is in a slow recovery from a "downtime" he never scheduled or chose.
In the providence of God we will all have periodic "downtimes" in life. We are not referring here to emotional ups and downs (which is another topic altogether), but rather those times and seasons when our normal routine is interrupted and circumstances, often beyond our control, slow our pace of life.
The Apostle Paul was an active man; prior to his conversion he vigorously persecuted Christians in the young New Testament church. Luke paints the picture of a ruthless zealot in the following verses: “Saul began ravaging the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison” (Acts 8:3). “Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord…” (Acts 9:1).
Only through a miraculous encounter with God could Saul’s venomous, hate-filled messages of death turn into the positive, life-giving messages of salvation. He was no longer motivated by hatred but motivated by love for mankind. No longer an enemy of the disciples of Christ he became a co-worker in the cause for Christ!
As a result of his remarkable conversion Saul became known as Paul. He remained very active, but he was now adding to the church instead of subtracting from it! He traveled, establishing churches and testified for Christ wherever he found an open door.
But then doors closed (seemingly) and because of his stand for Christ he was persecuted and imprisoned. It was a major "downtime" in Paul's life. Now on the receiving end of that which he dished out for years he was beaten and dragged into prison.
We read of his imprisonments in Acts and at least three of his epistles were written from prison including Philippians. This must have been emotionally, spiritually and physically trying for him apart from the obvious discomforts and entrapments of a prison cell. Before his imprisonment Paul was constantly on the move. He was an achiever and now his zeal for spreading the gospel message was confined to the four walls of a jail cell, it would seem.
Did he wallow in his despair and bitterly complain about how unfair life was? We do not detect even a hint of such an attitude from his writings and in our daily text he writes, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”. Paul found ways to be useful for Christ's work and a variety of Scriptures indicate what Paul did in his “downtime”:
In Acts 16 Paul, along with Silas in his first recorded imprisonment in Philippi, had been severely beaten, thrown into an inner cell and had his feet fastened in stock.
Paul chose contentment over resentment and productivity over inactivity regardless of the circumstances!
In additional times of imprisonment, unable to preach, apart from his interface with guards and prison inmates, he wrote letters! And these letters, born out of downtime, have become his greatest legacy as part of the Holy Scriptures for all generations to follow. Countless millions have found guidance, comfort, perspective, energy, forgiveness, wisdom, and spiritual growth through the inspired letters of Paul.
A period of confinement may slow down our physical capacity, but it can also accelerate our spiritual capacity if we spend that extra time hearing from God; less time doing, and more time being fashioned into God’s image. These can be defining moments in the lives of sincere believers.
Today we want to encourage any of our readers who may be going through a "downtime". Submit to God and He will use this experience in your life to grow you in ways that you would not expect. Nothing is impossible with God!
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we are thankful that You are present not only in the often busy daily routine of our lives but also in the quiet, seemingly inactive periods when we are forced to slow down, think more, or do less. Your Spirit is at work in us as we invite You into the throne-room of our mind and into the recesses of our heart to shape us into Your likeness. You take negative circumstances and make them work for our good, when we acknowledge that “all things work together for good to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.” We pray that You will achieve Your intended purpose in our lives as we fully submit our circumstances to Your divine plan. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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