June 16, 2022 – Joni And Friends Daily Devotional | Wednesday Message
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TOPIC: High Stakes Attitudes
Let’s talk about a few facts of life.
Tires have blowouts, computers crash, toddlers get colds, and picnics invite rain. If that isn’t enough, somebody gets a promotion ahead of us, a long-planned vacation gets canceled at the last minute, our child doesn’t make the team at school, and our plans with friends fall through on four consecutive weekends.
Some things simply can’t be avoided.
Now, we aren’t always responsible for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. When things happen they just happen, and many times there is little we can do about it.
But before we think we’re totally absolved from any responsibility in a difficult circumstance, let’s look at one additional fact of life. We are responsible for the way we respond to those everyday setbacks. We can either choose to indulge ourselves in depression, backbiting, or bitterness…or we can choose to look to our sovereign God who has everything under our control and holds “out times” in his hand (Psalm 31:13-14).
You see, we are not without choices!
I’m impressed with the way the apostle Paul assumed responsibility over his attitude toward the disappointments and hard blows of life. In the midst of an undeserved prison sentence and in the face of an uncertain future, he went on record saying,
“I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered.” Philippians 1:12, The Message
Paul must have realized that he had very little control over the sometimes devastating circumstances of his life. He couldn’t have avoided the shipwreck. He had no control over the phony apostles who were jealous of him and tried to slander his reputation. He never asked to be dropped unceremoniously over the city wall in a basket. Nor did he enlist the service of a demon-possessed girl to follow him around Philippi, shouting at the top of her lungs. And when he answered people’s direct questions, could he help it if the truth made them angry?
Yet Paul realized that his reaction—how he responded before many watching eyes—to negative circumstances was serious business. His reactions could either advance Christ’s kingdom or set it back. In other words, there was much more at stake than simply Paul’s life. Other lives would be influenced by his calm, faith-filled response to the adversity, injustice, and pain he experienced. The reputation of Christ’s Message was at stake. Angels were watching. God was taking notice.
What then, about me? I’m not in prison as Paul was. No guard stands outside my bedroom door. No chains dangle from my wrists, and no manacles bite into my ankles.
But I do have a wheelchair. And as with Paul, I can’t claim direct responsibility for this particular circumstance.
But please hear me. I am responsible. I am responsible in a deep, profound way, with implications reaching into eternity. I will be held accountable for my response to these “chains.” In company with Paul the apostle, I’m learning to embrace joy by faith, because my paralysis—much like those chains—is being used to advance God’s cause. Of that I have no doubt, and because of that, I can find reason to be thankful.
No, you may not be responsible for that irritating phone call from your neighbor, or for the fact that your husband will be late getting home from work, or that your wife can’t seem to balance the checkbook. But you are responsible for how you respond to those things, and you will be held accountable by the living God for the choices you make.
If you keep a good attitude in the tough times today, it will, in effect, turn out for the advantage of the gospel. As others see, as your husband takes notice, as your children observe, as your neighbors look on, as you speak out with boldness and humility—you will advance God’s cause.
There’s so much more at stake here than simply your own life. Others can be influenced to make eternal decisions. The Good News of Jesus Christ has a reputation, and angels are observing
So is God.
June 16, 2022 – Joni And Friends Daily Devotional || Wayside Interlude
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.” – Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT
Who are these “witnesses,” this huge crowd which watches our life of faith from the grandstands. Could this mean angelic hosts, the Bible heroes of old, or even our own loved ones and believing ancestors who have gone on into eternity before us? We may never know on this side of heaven. But we probably do know many of those who watch us carefully—without our even knowing it. Our spouse. Our kids. Our neighbors. Our coworkers. The lady at the espresso hut and the man who fills our gas tank. How WE run our race, cling to our faith, and fix our eyes on Jesus may change THEIR lives forever.
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