Thursday, May 23, 2024

Orange Moon Thursday, May 23, 2024 "Prison Epistles?"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"Prison Epistles?"  

"We can be sure that Paul was ever and always a freer man in jail than were most folks able to go about as they pleased."

    "Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" serves as the measure of God's provision through the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:20).

    It does not always appear to be this way, of course.  God's administers His bountiful supply in accordance with His perfect wisdom, as opposed to our limited awareness of how He should best work in our lives.  Consider the "prison epistles" written by the Apostle Paul (Ephesians; Colossians; Philippians; Philemon).  In technical terms, the description is true.  The Apostle wrote these masterpieces of light and life in Christ while incarcerated.  However, we can be sure that Paul was ever and always a freer man in jail than were most folks able to go about as they pleased.   "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).  In this sense, "prison epistles" could be viewed as a misnomer.  

    Certainly, it would have appeared to be best for Paul not to have been hindered from freely going about to preach the Gospel, as God had called him to do.  However, had the Apostle not been in prison at the time of writing the letters mentioned, they might well never have existed.  This would have been tragic, as any consistent reader and student of Scripture would attest.  Indeed, imagine a Bible without Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon.  The thought brings a shudder - and the realization these gifts of God exist because God worked "exceeding abundantly above" all Paul could ask or think by allowing His servant to be incarcerated.  "I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound" (II Timothy 2:9).

   Let us apply this to each of our lives.  If we have prayed, "Heavenly Father, I belong to You.  Work in my life for the glory of the Lord Jesus, the fulfillment of Your will, and the blessing of others," God's immeasurable answer may often flow with our expectations.  However, often it may not.  Sometimes, His answers flow in currents that seem like non-answers.  When Paul prayed, "Thy will be done" regarding his life and ministry, he likely did not expect prison (or ultimately, martyrdom) to be the mode and measure of his Lord's response.  It was, however.  Indeed, the epistles that will be read by millions today, more than twenty centuries after Paul's earthly journey, confirm that God's working in the lives of those who trust Him far exceed our understanding and expectations.

    We must apply this to our own experience.  Some wonderful blessing that makes possible our easy awareness of God's presence and purpose may grace our hearts and lives in this day.  However, it may also be that case that bewildering conditions and circumstances no less fulfill the abundant measure of the Lord's working.  We may be writing our own prison epistles, so to speak, as He answers our prayers "exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think."  This way is hard, no doubt.  But it is best - "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).  Paul would tell us that it is the only way a God of super abundance can act in this present world, and in accordance with our limited awareness of what truly needs to happen in our lives.  Our brother of old would not change a thing regarding his experience, whether in going about to preach to his generation, or in being imprisoned to communicate "prison epistles" that actually reveal Paul's unbound liberty in Christ.  As we trust and submit to God through Christ, we will also find "the Word of God is not bound," regardless of circumstance, condition, or situation.

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

(John 10:10)

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."

(II Corinthians 9:8)

Weekly Memory Verse

    "Thy gentleness hath made me great."

(Psalm 18:35)


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