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Encouraging Boldness
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(Philippians 1:12-14)

The Philippians were troubled by Paul's imprisonment. He reassured them that circumstances can't defeat God's people. Paul has turned his prison into a revival center where Christ, through Paul, has converted the prison guards.

God's plan transcends obstacles. While one would doubt that God wanted Paul jailed, God turned the adversity to his divine purposes. Jailers and prisoners were saved.

Such activity encouraged boldness in other Christians who then proclaimed the gospel with more certainty and power. Revival broke out in many places.

Are we too quick to give up? Where is the gospel being proclaimed with power? How can we participate? Do we have friends and acquaintances who might listen if we told them about Christ? Are we willing to risk anything (such as embarrassment) for Christ?

Our First Priority

As Christians, our model placed prayer at the pinnacle of his priorities: "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed". (Mark 1:35) Prayer to Jesus was not the after-thought; it was the forethought. Prayer was given the first place---that one activity that must be done before all else.

This is true in the life of every Christian. "We can do more than pray after we've prayed, but we can't do more than pray until we've prayed." Our work and warfare are spiritual, not carnal. The ministry we're called to do requires the anointing of the Holy Spirit, an anointing that can't be obtained in books, on cassettes, or through personal acquaintance with popular charismatic personalities. Someone has said, "God's work done with our strength never succeeds."

Prayer, real intercessory prayer, is never easy. It requires a decisive act of the will, our determining to experience the power of prayer. For some, it will require a rediscovery of what "praying through" means. We're not required to break through the will of God, for God desires our often coming to him. Praying through is necessary because of our calloused unconcern that tends to encapsulate us. Professional status, academic accomplishments, and popularity or prestige have a way of becoming barriers between us and prayer.

Yes, God's always willing to hear and answer our prayer when and if we're willing to pray through. Someone has said, "Praying, true praying, costs an outlay of serious attention and of time, which flesh and blood don't relish... Hurried devotions make weak faith, feeble convictions, questionable piety. To be little with God is to be little for God."

God's Mysterious Ways

"I'm not going to school today," I announced to my mother one morning of my freshman year in high school in Ownsboro, Kentucky. "Today is the last day to pay the fifty cents for my English workbook. I can't pay for it--- so I'm just not going."

"Yes, Sarah, you're going to school," said my mother. Mother ran a rescue mission strictly on faith. My minister father had died seven years previously.

Mother continued, "We're doing what God has led us to do and you know how he takes care of our needs. I don't have the money for you, but you must go on to school, Sarah. He'll take care of this need, too."

How do you talk back to such a saintly mother, I wondered. There was nothing I could say or do. I reluctantly---and very unwillingly---left for my two mile walk to school. How could I tell Miss Mobberley I still didn't have my workbook money?

Tears of frustration filled my eyes till I could barely see the railroad ties on which I was walking this cloudy, wet morning. Stopping to wipe my eyes, I looked down at the ground. "What is that?" I wondered. I saw something shiny, partly covered by mud from the recent rain.

I stooped down to see. I wiped mud off a shiny, new- looking fifty-cent piece. My workbook money! Just as mother had said--the Lord had provided for this need, too.