Paul was in an actual prison in Rome requesting prayer for opportunity, strength, and boldness to continue witnessing for Jesus. He wanted to carry on the work that God had called him to do. He was chosen as the apostle to the Gentiles and wanted to set the example for unbelievers. Even in that situation Paul wanted to be kind and pleasant. Even though his cell was cold and uncomfortable, He refused to complain so that his lifestyle would attract others to Christ. Even though we live in the land of abundance, we are in prisons of our own making. We are held captive by our own fleshly desires, pride and public opinion. Our fear of what others think of us has sealed our lips. We are more concerned with pleasing our families and our friends than we are with pleasing Jesus. We need to pray that we will be like Paul, he didn’t witness because of an obligation, he witnessed because of his love for his Lord and Savior. Pray that God will release us from our fleshly prisons and that our love for Him will override our doubts and fears and our lips will be loosed to praise Him.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
God never tempts us. So, if God isn’t tempting us, then where do those temptations originate? That’s right, they come from our fleshly desires and from satan. We know that satan was allowed to tempt Jesus with promises of wealth and grandeur. Jesus, being human, yet perfect, did not give in to those temptations. Why? Because Jesus had one desire and that was to please our Father, God. We are not perfect, so when satan tempts us with his beautiful pictures of what could be if we only let him in, we give into those temptations. Why? Because our fleshly desires are stronger and more immediate than our desire to please God. We are enticed and we allow our desires to mislead us. We think that we can turn our desires off and on like a water fountain. But, we find that once we have compromised with satan, we lose control. Then that sinful idea or thought starts to happen more often and soon it takes on a life of its own. So, we grab a little pleasure here and a little pleasure there. Suddenly, those little pleasures have grabbed us and we can’t shake them. That is when sin latches onto us, takes us further than we want to go, and keeps us longer than we want to stay. Pride says “I would never”. But reality says we did and we must confess our sins.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.—1 Cor. 10:12-15 NASB
God exalts those He chooses to exalt for times and purposes that He chooses. Just because we prayed for someone’s healing and they were healed, we should not get the idea that we can decide who to pray for and when they will get healed. We need to understand that we can do nothing for the Kingdom unless we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. God often times can’t use a person for a particular job because it would cause that person to become prideful. God only allows those things in our lives that He knows He has strengthened us to handle. There is nothing happening in our lives that has not happened to others before us. Yes, there is a larger quantity of ways to present the temptations. but as King Solomon said “there is nothing new under the sun”.(Ecclesiastes 1:9). When the tempter comes with his temptations, we need to look for the open door and run, just as Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife. This is wisdom, we need to get wisdom and with it, get understanding.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.–Prov. 4:7 NKJV
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.—1 Cor. 1:18-21 (NIV)
God raises up and God brings down. He uses those that the world rejects to accomplish His purposes. The world has access to more information in a few seconds now than we use to be able to get in weeks. But more and more information without the wisdom to use it is dangerous. To non-believers, Christianity is frustrating. They wonder how people believe in a God they can’t see, while at the same time they believe in all kinds of “gods” that are of their own making. Pride keeps people from believing in Jesus because once we believe, we become accountable to Jesus for our actions. So, God allows those that refuse to humble themselves to continue in their sins. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.—Romans 3:28-32 (NIV)