Saturday, 15 May 2010

Being useful in the place of affliction

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....But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there Genesis 20b -22

Now I want you to know brothers, that was has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains FOR Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly Philippians 1: 12-14

I, John your brother and companion of the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos BECAUSE of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord's day, I was in the Spirit, and I heard...Revelation 1:9-10a

Daddy, I thank You for Your word because therein are divine truths on which we can have a fulfilled life in You. One of my favourite Scripture passages is Colossians 1:9-11 because it so aptly summarises what my purpose is as a believer. Upon further study, I found it interesting to learn that Paul wrote this letter (amongst others) to the church at Colosse from jail. I include an excerpt from my journal,

'Paul wrote this book from prison. What have you done in your valley? Have you cried and gotten angry with God? Have you settled into despair and depression? or Have you been productive in your captivity? David was sidelined in his own father's house and yet he managed to pen psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to the Father who promised never to leave or forsake him. In his obscurity, he was being prepared for his destiny. Do not despise the days of aloneness for it is in quiet and rest you gain confidence for your soul. Learn to embrace ALL seasons of God.'

All three men in the Scripture passages at the beginning of the post found themselves in jail not because they committed a crime, except in the case of Paul and John where speaking the word of God could be considered a crime! However, their approach to their circumstances are worthy of reflection and emulation.

I see Joseph being thrown in prison and wondering how this fit in with the dreams of greatness he had seen as a boy. It seemed like when he was finally getting there, he took a thousand steps back. He had enough reason to say 'Enough is enough, why must I continue to be persecuted for living a righteous life?' which is more similar to the lyrics I play in my own heart even when my lips refuse to sing but from his life I have learnt that the soul that has full confidence in God is able to sing that 'Everything is working together for my good'. So there in jail, with the favour and grace of God, Joseph was useful. It was his ability to connect with the prisoners and work with his giftings even in the place of limitation that eventually saw him end up in the palace. The favour and grace of God upon our lives is not for us to bask in pride as 'children of God' but to be useful in the kingdom.

Paul and John share a similar story, put in jail for sharing truth from the word of God. Father forgive me, for even now in the days of 'freedom of speech' how often do I really share your words with those outside the Kingdom? Father, please give me the grace. The island of Patmos was not a luxury island on the Carribean, John was exiled there because he had refused to obey men instead of God. He was true to the calling of God over his life whether it meant him living a 'comfortable' life or not. I am beginning to be careful of the definitions I use these days because I read the bible and look around me and there is sometimes a big difference. What does success mean? What does the good life mean? Success for me is to discover and then fulfill God's purpose for my life, wherever that may take me, whatever it requires. A life totally surrendered to the will of God. Dear God, I pray like Jesus that whatever cup you give me to drink that I may say 'Not my will but thine be done.' It was on this island that John received a revelation that we still discuss and debate about till this day. You can be useful in the place of affliction.

Paul said something interesting, that because of his chains, people were encouraged to share the word more fearlessly. No matter where you are in life, no matter how disadvantaged you think you are or the lack that you perceive in your life, God can use you as a source of encouragement in the lives of others. I recently became aware of an issue a friend of mine, who I admire greatly was facing and I was inspired by her faith in God. God has used her to bring healing in my life through prayer and encouraging words and I was surprised at what she had been through. God whispered to me that she was being useful in the place of affliction, go and do likewise.

So by His grace I will. I will continue to pray, I will continue to praise, I will continue to write what I have heard. Today I encourage you, don't allow the devil lie to you and make you focus only on the situation and lose sight of Christ. As long as we are in this world, we will suffer, its truth, its scriptural but we are told to be of good cheer for Jesus has overcome the world. This means irrespective of whatever, we can have joy that knows no limits and a peace that cannot be understood. Reach out in your home, reach out at work, at the gym, in your church and be a blessing with the gifts that God has given you for you can be useful in the place of affliction. God sees you, you have to believe that.

Remain blessed and highly favoured

Zoe B

Update: Jaycee (Thanks dearie) sent me this link a few hours ago about a practical example of being useful in your place of affliction. Testimonies like these put things in proper perspective for me. Need time to reflect. Check out Pastor Zac's story here

5 comments:

Blowing Blessings Your Way said...

Very well written Zoe! When we're "going-thru" it so much easier to focus on what we don't have and/or our limitations instead making sure that our story will be bring glory to God. Its easier to wallow in self-pity instead of stepping out in faith, knowing that God will never leave us nor forsake us.
At the end of the storm, we end up being stronger, wiser, and better.
We must learn to dance in the storm or like you rightly said: Be useful!,instead of waiting for it to pass by.

Jaycee said...

Hmmm...Hmmm...Hmmmm....

Even before I started to read this, the title ministered to me. That I must be useful in my current state...that it's in the journey, not in the physical state...that Joseph still reached the pinnacle. That he was useful even in prison.

Halellujah. This blessed the socks outta me. Lol.

Jaycee said...

You guys need to read this: http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/god-is-good-and-he-is-enough/

jhazmyn said...

Oh my Zoe...this is just God sent...been learning from God all weekend how to quit focusing on how what i desire hasn't happened yet and rather Focus on him and allow His Spirit work through me (Acts1:7-8), and this just hit it right "there" for me.

God's word is just so amazing...I sure hope I would be useful through this...AMEN

LE DYNAMIQUE PROFESSEUR said...

"In his obscurity, he was being prepared for his destiny"

"no matter how disadvantaged you think you are or the lack that you perceive in your life, God can use you as a source of encouragement in the lives of others"

For me, those were the nails of the post. Zoe, that was absolutely God-spoken. The Genesis 20:22 said God was with Joseph in the prison and even gave him favour there. In other words, no matter our situation, God is there with us. If He (The mighty God, the hope of the hopeless, the well of inspiration and salvation Himself) is there with us, oh my oh my! we cannot be useless even in our valleys. I am so loving this post. I have to force myself to stop here. God bless you Zoe. More grease to your elbow.

PS: Jay, thanks for that video. Me love it :)

- LDP