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Not In Your Own Strength

According to Levi, the disciples left the Last Supper singing a hymn as Jesus led these men to the Mount of Olives, Matthew 26:30. In the hours that followed, Jesus unveiled a powerful message to those who were listening. “The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak, Matthew 26:41. The context of this comment helps explain why the disciples couldn’t stay awake to pray for an hour late at night. Each of these disciples were relying on their own strength.

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight, Philippians 2:13.

While writing a letter to members of the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul appears to point to this spiritual principle. As a former Jewish zealot, Paul understood his own human limitations, Romans 3:10-12. Old Testament prophets spoke of man’s sinful tendencies, a nature that no one is immune. Rather than develop ungodly beliefs, Paul is clear that it is God who is the source of your desire and energy.

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency], Philippians 4:13.

Two chapters later, the apostle Paul repeats himself with slightly different terminology. Instead of focusing on external actions that are visible, Paul concentrates on the internal. If human bodies are willing, it is Jesus living side of human hearts that empowers Christians to change for the better. Therefore, the next time you hear “it is Christ who gives you strength,” it is not you, but the Lord who is the human energizer.

by Jay Mankus

A P.O.W.

The earliest recorded usage of “prisoner of war” dates back to 1610. Belligerents held prisoners of war in custody, often isolating them from enemy combatants still in the field. In primitive times, the captured were considered the personal property of the captor and were forced into slave labor. However, these practices continued during the Vietnam War as officers were taken and held in remote locations.

The crowd [also] joined in the attack upon them, and the rulers tore the clothes off of them and commanded that they be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. 24 He, having received [so strict a] charge, put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks, Acts 16:22-24.

During a visit to Philippi, the apostle Paul finds himself behind bars. However, Paul isn’t escorted to the dungeon as a prisoner of war. Rather, Paul casts a demon out of a fortune teller whose owners realized that their cash cow was now gone. Instead of becoming bitter for this religious persecution, Paul turns to the Holy Spirit to become a Person of Worship. At midnight, Paul and Silas start singing hymns that triggers an earthquake.

But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened. 27 When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here! – Acts 16:25-28

Afraid that prisoners were going to escape, the head jailer was about to take his own life. This would have been his fate if just one of the inmates under his control escaped. Yet, before falling on his sword, Paul cries out to inform the jailer that everyone is here and there are no plans to flee. Perhaps, the worship service awoke Paul’s spiritual senses, using this unique opportunity to lead the jailer and family to faith in Christ. This is what can happen when a person becomes a Person of Worship.

by Jay Mankus

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