Summary: With Jesus at the helm of his life's ship Paul had a bountiful supply of assets for living above his circumstances.
“Living a Joy-full Life; Use Your Assets”
In Acts chapter 3 John and Peter are about to enter the temple courts when a crippled beggar asks them for money. Peter’s response is fabulous! “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Peter did not focus on what he lacked; rather he utilized his asset - the power of Jesus Christ. The result was healing and rejoicing. Peter overcame the human tendency to focus on what we do not have while ignoring or minimizing what we do have - which leads to anything but joy.
The apostle Paul was also a master at using his assets – and his biggest asset, like Peter’s, was Jesus Christ. The reality is that with Jesus at the helm of his life’s ship, Paul had a bountiful supply of assets for living above his circumstances. He had, first of all, A PERSPECTIVE FROM WHICH TO LIVE. (12-14) Our perspective determines our viewpoint which determines our attitude. What we look for we tend to find. If we look for the negative we’ll find the negative; if we look for the positive we’ll find the positive. There’s an old story of a king who called two men into his presence. To the first he said, “I want you to take six months; travel the length and breadth of the kingdom and bring back a sample of every weed you can find.” The man quickly departed to carry out the king’s order. To the second man he said, “I want you to take six months; travel the length and breadth of the kingdom and bring back a sample of every flower you can find.” The second man departed to carry out the king’s order. At the end of six months both men again stood before the king. The first man said, “Sir, I have carried out your command. I didn’t realize there were so many weeds in the kingdom – in fact, I now realize there is nothing but weeds in this kingdom.” The second man said, “Sir, I have carried out your command. I didn’t realize there were so many beautiful flowers in the kingdom – in fact, I now realize there is nothing but beautiful flowers in this kingdom.” Each man found what he was looking for. Their PERSPECTIVE DETERMINED THEIR ATTITUDE.
Consider Paul’s perspective. (12) “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me…” What has happened to Paul? He’s on trial for his life. He’s awaiting the verdict. Until it comes, he’s under house arrest, chained to guards 24 hours a day. I wonder this morning – TO WHAT ARE YOU CHAINED? What binds you? Your job has been eliminated; an important relationship has broken apart; or you’ve suffered a big financial loss; or your peers are pressuring you to do what you know is wrong; maybe illness has changed your entire life; perhaps your marriage is in the tank and it’s future uncertain; or death has struck a mighty blow in your family circle; maybe you’ve taken a stand for Christ and been shot down. Whatever it is, you’re chained, held in bondage.
Listen to Paul. “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” Paul’s perspective is that CHAINS CAN BE PULPITS. Paul points not to what he is suffering but to what is being accomplished for Jesus. Paul’s chains were pointing others to Jesus. Paul is like the eagle. Put an Eagle in a cage and he will soon make his way to the highest perch and there will spend his enforced leisure looking out toward the sun. So Paul was chained and caged but he climbed the heights and his soul was free. Because of his imprisonment, the gospel was advanced - and that’s all that mattered to him. How was the gospel advanced? Paul was chained to guards - but that meant they were also chained to him! So he dictated letters, he prayed, he preached, he sang. He wasn’t captive; they were. And the guards were changed! They became chained to Jesus! And the word spread! Talk about a chain reaction! When our chains become pulpits, PEOPLE WILL BE CHAINED TO JESUS.
Yet it’s not just that Paul was witnessing to Jesus Christ – notice verse 14: “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Paul’s chains ENCOURAGED AND STRENGTHENED OTHERS TO WITNESS TO JESUS. Because Paul used his assets, others began using theirs! And Jesus Christ was changing lives! Paul knew that God has a purpose behind every problem, a reason for every chain. Our problems become pulpits, and our chains become messengers that point to Jesus.