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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Word For The Week

One of the continuing travesties occuring in this nation is the disenfranchisement of felons in America. It is true that in many ways America was fashioned after Rome, but how is it that the United States of America treats its citizens worse than did the Roman Empire? In Rome, once obtained, a citizen never lost his citizenship — even if he was convicted of a capital crime. Rome had many cruel and unusual methods of killing people — they transformed the science of killing into a perverse form of art — but a Roman citizen could only be executed by means of beheading - the quickest and least painful method known to the Romans.

The Apostle Paul, while awaiting his date with Nero's chopping block, had some words of encouragement for the church in Phillipi. He was about to be executed for his faith, yet he told the Philippians to be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, they should let their requests be known to God. Paul didn't sell them a song and dance about having their every request granted — he did, after all, have a date with the executioner — but he assured them that the peace of God which transcends all understanding would guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace with which Paul faced certain death was evidence of God's provision for him.

Earlier, when Paul had asked God three times to remove a problem, God's response was, "My grace is sufficient for you." Americans generally aren't trying to hear that. We want what we want and we want it right now — it's all about self from the American POV — but Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always, not in ourselves. Self-centeredness led to the original sin — Adam and Eve took their focus off of God and focused on their own desires, but we are to rejoice in the Lord.

So rejoice! In good times and bad, in sickness and health, for better and for worse — rejoice! Like Paul, we have to learn to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Here's the secret: I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

So again I say, rejoice! As a man thinks, so is he. If you focus on how bad things are then they will continue to be unpleasant and become all the more unpleasant, but if you focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — anything that is excellent or praiseworthy — things will not be as bad, and may in fact get much better. You cannot always choose your circumstances, but you can choose how you deal with the circumstances.

As Paul says and again I say, Rejoice!

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM

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