Strength for the Journey | Week 2 | Choosing Joy | Jeff Manion

Just another WordPress site

Strength for the Journey | Week 2 | Choosing Joy | Jeff Manion

hey this is Philippi in northern Greece and the apostle Paul traveled here sometime around 50 ad now while Philippi is in Greece in the first century it would have had a thoroughly roman feel You see, there was a major battle that took place just outside of town in the plains of Philippi the farmland just a few miles from here and roman military veterans had been rewarded with property with land in the area and then the city of Philippi was turned into a Roman colony which gave its residents Roman citizenship which which was a major deal You see, to be a Philippian was to be proud of the status that came with being the resident of a Roman colony and this behind us would have been the Roman Forum open-air plaza in the middle surrounded by administrative and civic buildings as you wander through the size of the paving stones I mean they’re just they’re just massive and you get the sense you know that this place was built to last and a major highway cut through here a paved Roman Road it was called the Via Egnatia or the Egnatian way and this connected Philippi with trading points both east and west as it was nestled on this trade route and just about ten miles this direction is where Paul and his team Paul, Luke, Timothy and Silas, they would have landed at Neapolis and then taken the Egnatian way right here to Philippi and when they come they are carrying a message, they are caring news about how a connection with the crucified resurrected Jesus can totally transform your life and what happens here in Philippi will be really rewarding and really painful and so much of life is like that isn’t it that doesn’t it ever seem that those seasons that are marked by the greatest growth and opportunity are often accompanied by major setbacks and painful challenges so uh let’s explore what happened here in Philippi and let’s discover how they found strength for their journey and in the process let’s talk about how you can find strength for yours oh hey I hope you’re having a fantastic weekend those of you worshiping with us at our other campuses so pleased that we get to jump into part two of this series called called strength for the journey and so last week I went by my younger son’s house and I retrieved a volume that I read to them when they were kids The Hobbit if you read The Hobbit when you’re a little or at least watch the movie that came out well while back right the novel begins with these words in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit now opening scene V Hobbit Bilbo Baggins is outside of his hole he’s smoking on his pipe smoke rings are drifting up into the air and out over the hill and a wizard a wizard by the name of Gandalf stops by and the wizard says very pretty but I have no time to blow smoke rings this morning I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging and it’s very difficult to find anyone I should think so in these parts we are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures nasty disturbing uncomfortable things they make you late for dinner and after reading The Hobbit a couple times to my kids when we were on a family adventure or outing they got a little out of control all I had to do

was say to the back of the minivan adventures make you late for dinner and we all knew what part of the Hobbit we were referring to but did you notice that Hobbit says – Gandalf adventures adventures what was a nasty disturbing uncomfortable things remember that remember that as we join the journey the adventure that is taking place today that not all adventures are comfortable in this series strength of the journey we’re following a team paul silas timothy is picked up here luke joins the team and they are messengers spreading news of the crucified and resurrected jesus it’s it’s about 50 AD as near as we can tell and if Jesus is crucified in around 30 AD many of these towns have never heard the story that Jesus came for them and so they’re carrying a message they’re carrying a message about the generosity of God though when we couldn’t reach up to God God reached down to us that when Jesus dies on the cross for us he died to pay off debts that weren’t his but debts that were ours and there’s an opportunity to give your life to the one who gave himself who gave his life for you this is the message they are carrying when they end up intro as I think they’re confused they’ve had a roadblock and a detour and another roadblock and another detour and I think they end up intro as without direction trying to figure out what’s next and it is their intro as that as the Apostle Paul sleeps he has this dream but it’s like this hyper colorful three-dimensional it’s like a dream on steroids it’s like his industrial-strength dream he calls it a vision there’s this guy saying come over to Macedonia and help us please help us in Macedonia was across the Aegean Sea from where they were in Troas and Luke who chronicles the events in the book of Acts writes this he says after Paul had seen the vision we got ready and wants to leave for Macedonia concluding that God had called us to bring the news to them as well to preach the gospel the good news to them as well can I ask you to do something with me here and at our campuses as well can you read with me what’s highlighted here beginning with the word concluding ready concluding that God had called us remember that they think God wants them to travel to this place they think they’re being directed they think they’re being led they are responding to what they believe to be God’s movement in their lives and they end up across the Aegean right over here in Philippi it’s a Roman city not not necessarily friendly – traveling Jewish teachers ethnically Paul Silas or Jewish I say Paul tread lightly in Philippi bad things could happen there but remember something they end up in Philippi because they believe directed by God to go there now when you receive Direction from time to time you might enter a phase in your life where you you ask God for direction you try to figure out what his leading is what his prompting is we use word the will of God what his will is in a certain situation now when you feel you have direction from God this is incredibly reassuring particularly when things begin to fall into place and you have the approval of those around you but when you believe you’re following the direction of God and the nudge of God and the movement of God and things don’t fall together they begin to fall apart this can mess with you I mean wouldn’t you think that if God was leading you to do something maybe that here just do a little bit better job protecting you and what do you do when that doesn’t happen there’s a couple they get the phone call and it comes from a brother or a sister in Iowa who says listen man our teenage daughter is having a rough year and things are just spiraling out of control we think she needs a new school we think she needs a new environment we think she needs a new atmosphere we’re wondering if she can come and finish out the school year with you and you say we’ll get back to you on that and you talk about it and maybe you pray and you say Lord what do you want us to do here and maybe you seek counsel from somebody else who

tried to get good advice and the next day you call back and say it would be an honor to have her in our home now if she comes to spend the school with you and things are outstanding and there’s great and there’s growth and things get reset or do you go yes but what happens if she moves in and thinks in your family begin to unravel because of her presence this not bring you just a little bit of confusion when you try to do the very thing you think that God is leading you to do and it’s confusing and it’s awkward what were the words of The Hobbit the situate the adventure ends up being nasty disturbing and uncomfortable and if God led you somewhere don’t you think he’d do a good job protecting you what if he doesn’t what if he doesn’t where does the heart go then that my friends is the question of Philip I this job eh it’s decent there’s an opportunity for job be you sense a prompting you sense a leading you quit job a and you switch company a thrives company beat the company you’ve just joined they fold two months after you go there what’s up with that we prayed about this we thought we felt led here and it’s unraveling on us one thing you must remember as we travel through the story and Philip I together Paul and received a vision they felt led and they’re gonna hit some that that is nasty that is disturbing and that is highly uncomfortable and this provides us with a wonderful opportunity to talk about those seasons in life where we believe we’re doing the right thing and we find ourselves in a world of hurt and we don’t even have a vocabulary to build a process such a thing that’s the conversation we get to have today now as we travel to Philip I together this this journey that we’re following is gonna take us to Philip I to Thessaloniki it’s Maria to Athens and to Corinth Philip I is probably the location that you might be familiar with more than any other for two reasons number one there’s something that happens there that made the Sunday school papers for children I mean it’s just highly popular Bible story that happens in Philip I so it might ring a bell for that reason but secondly exactly two years ago as we were studying together correspondence that Paul would later write back to this Jesus community the book of Philippians in our Bible we spent time right here in Acts chapter 16 and so those of you that have been with us for a couple years and we’re there then a lot of this will register as something that you’ve heard before but today’s story an important conversation it unfolds with three characters three encounters three life-changing encounters that happen in Philippi and that’ll provide the pathway for our conversation today if you’ve got your journal page 9 and 10 or where you will find the verses for today’s study page 11 I think it’s where you’ve got some space to scribble to draw to write down a couple notes today three encounters three life-changing encounters encounter number one is the business Woman encounter number one the business woman paulin’s team arrived in Philippi it’s a Roman colony they leave town because they hear that outside of town next to a river there are people of Jewish origin that meet out there as a place of prayer and so Paul and his team move out there they sit down Paul begins to talk to women who have gathered there and the story Lazer’s in on one woman in particular a business woman and we’re told that her occupation is that she was a trader a seller of purple cloth not not made in Philippi but made across the Aegean Sea in an area called Thyatira which is her hometown place where she was probably raised so she’s importing this person purple cloth and involved in selling it she’s one of the individuals that is sitting there by the river listening to Paul speak as Paul begins to tell the story of the generosity of God because a conversation is a conversation about grace is a conversation about that aspect of God’s character that is wildly generous he gives and he gives and he gives and Paul is telling story about the generosity of God and sending Jesus for us and something in the woman opens up – what’d he say we read these words in acts 16 it says one of those listening was a woman fight from the city of Thyatira that’s her hometown named Lydia that’s her name a dealer in

purple cloth that was her occupation and then her spiritual movement her spiritual status is mentioned here it says she was a what does it call her it says she was it was she was a a worshipper of God now that’s a technical term because in the Greek Roman world you could worship Zeus you could worship Athena you go to the Temple of Apollo you go to the Temple of Poseidon you could worship the Emperor but here what it says she was a worshipper of God this is a descriptive term for a non-jewish person a Gentile person who is pursuing the invisible God of Israel and not doing the idle Temple thing and so this is a Gentile woman a non-jewish woman who has attached herself to this Jewish community in order to pray to and to seek now we have no evidence that she knows anything about Jesus but she’s there to learn she’s there to grow she’s there to listen and we read this incredible statement it says the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message it doesn’t say that Paul was so convincing in his argumentation that she had to believe it says that the what the the Lord opened her heart that’s a beautiful expression see because I think God wants to be known he wants his creativity to be known he wants his generosity to be known he wants his kindness to be known he wants his love to be known and here it’s like the Lord opens her heart to respond to Paul’s message now if you ever get a chance to visit the archaeological site of Philip I you leave the archaeological dig and yeah you go I he’s probably like half a mile up the road maybe a mile it’s a short walk and you arrive at a place where there’s a river and there’s a chapel and what they’ve done there is they’ve channeled part of their River into an area where there’s steps that you can walk it down into and here groups often come together and people go down there into the water to be baptized in the place that they believe Lydia heard Paul’s message and his baptized church tradition said this is the place where Lydia responded to Paul’s message and was baptized and whenever I’m in a place like that the skeptic takes over and I go yeah right I how do you know I mean who knows where it actually took place but standing there in that spot because yeah you maybe it wasn’t here I mean maybe was 1/4 mile that direction maybe is 200 yards that direction but somewhere around here this woman heart opens to the kindness of God she steps down into the water of the river it is baptized and what baptism represents it by the ways it’s a it’s an interesting observance you believe in Jesus now we’re going to dunk you in water think about it but what it represents is that it represents washing it represents cleaning it’s like because of Jesus standing in for you and being being your substitute sufferer it’s like the grime is washed away the grime of the past the dirt of the past so the water of baptism but also I believe that when someone is baptizing baptized it’s like the person saying this changes my life direction I really want to give my life to the one who gave himself I want to give my life to the one who gave His life for me so I’m not gonna follow perfectly I’m gonna follow imperfectly but it I desire to give my life to the one who gave His life for me I think that’s what happens not only for Lydia’s baptism but as we practice baptism today at ADA Bible Church people say I believe that he died for me and he’s got my heart he’s got my life I want to give my life to the one who gave his life for me and immediately immediately we see Lydia in action check this out with me it says when she and the members of her household were baptized it doesn’t say anything about a husband but were their kids does she have a sister that lives a third is this a servants is this colleagues that lived under one roof which she and the members of her household were baptized she invited us to her home if you consider me a believer in the Lord she said come and stay at my house and she persuaded us I don’t know what kind of ratty hostile Paul Silas Timothy and Luke are saying it but using enough of that my house is open to you come stay at my house and eat at my table as an image here I just want to

sink in a little bit just offical to have this number of guests coming I I think she’s been fairly successful in the purple cloth sales business she seems to be affluent wealthy this will be the epicenter of the Jesus community and Philip I but they didn’t have church buildings for at least a couple hundred years after the time of Jesus you’d someone in the community would have a house large enough to host your gatherings lydia opens her home I love this sequence the Lord opens her heart she opens her home I love that the Lord opens her heart she opens her home it’s like already she’s going my life and my resources are at God’s disposal it’s a beautiful picture of responding to grace responding to God’s goodness with our goodness it’s like she’s saying okay Lord I’m yours today I don’t even think her hair is dry from her baptism and she’s trying to figure out how to get her resources into play for this news that she’s just received hey so far it’s a pretty awesome story I mean what did the Hobbit say adventures are nasty disturbing and uncomfortable there’s nothing nasty disturbing or uncomfortable at this so far you come you sit by the river you talk someone’s open sir heart and she feeds you this is a cool sort and sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn’t second encounter is with the psychic encounter number one the business Woman encounter number two the psychic so here we go once when we were going to the place of prayer you leave the city gates you go out to the river that’s where people gathered for prayer once when we were going to the place of Prayer we met a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future now this is a young woman who is under demon influence in fact I would go so far saying that this young woman is demon possessed through this demon she’s able to tell the future the next statement is interesting it says she earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling by predicting people’s future I get the impression that in philip i if you wanted to know what the future held for you you don’t go to demon girl you go to the ownership group and you say hey listen i’ve got an olive orchard we’ve got this olive oil we’re interested in shipping this to rome it’s late in the shipping season lots of storms I wonder if this is a risky investment I want to talk to your girl and find out what’s gonna happen on this voyage to know whether my investment is gonna go down or whether is gonna prosper basically how much is worth to you you go I think it’s worth 500 bucks and they say okay more like a thousand and you weigh it and you go okay a thousand I’m in and you go to demon child and apparently her predictions were accurate enough that people are forking over huge amounts of cash to try to figure out what was in store for them now it just mentions here that this girl met they met a girl who had this demon by which she predicted the future and made a bunch of money for the ownership group this woman starts shouting things when Paul and the team walked by she began shouting these men these men are slaves of the God Most High and they have come to tell us the way to be rescued check out the verse it said she it said she followed Paul and the rest of us shouting she’s yelling here she’s screaming these men are servants of the Most High God who are telling you the way to be saved now if you’re from Greek culture or Roman culture the Most High God is Zeus who lives on Mount Olympus these men are slaves of the Most High God emotional they well they’re servants of Zeus if you’re from a Jewish culture this would be the invisible creator of the universe these men are slaves of God Most High and they are telling you how to be rescued and I think Paul is like okay just keep your head down just ignore it just keep walking this is PR but it’s not the kind of PR that you’re looking for just ignore it just keep walking just ignore it just keep walking but she kept at it day after day after day she kept this up for many days finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit he doesn’t address the girl he

addresses the demon he says in the name of Jesus Christ I command you come out of her at that moment the spirit left her God is at work in this story the power of God is at work in this story and if this is where the story ended you would just go yay God it’s not where the story ends the demon exits her the income stream exits the ownership group the demon leaves her and the money leaves them no longer telling fortunes to demonic power and they are angry they are livid they are irate and they’re like listen we’re not gonna get our money back but we’re gonna make you hurt we’re gonna make you bleed the two words that are used it said they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace that’s that Roman Forum that was on the video where the administration buildings were that open-air Plaza seized and dragged does that sound kind of physical to you they dragged them in front of the magistrates and Rome was not obligated to make sure that your investments were profitable so rather than framing this in financial terms they frame it in political terms these men these men these men are Jews and they have come here to our Roman city to teach us customs that are not lawful for us Romans to follow or to observe and all of a sudden people start yelling thing the crowd gets in on the action the crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas and the man you straights ordered them to be what two words stripped and what beaten with rods at least it wasn’t a whip at least it well beaten up with a stick I mean how bad could that be really this was public I don’t know I don’t know how to phrase this in Grand Rapids terms but imagine having your clothes ripped off and being beaten in like Rosa Parks Circle in the middle of the day with people heckling this this was not just physically damaging I think this was psychologically and emotionally damaging and the guy whose responsibility it was to go after you with this his job was to mess you up the term that is used here is after they were severely beaten and it wasn’t just welts and it wasn’t just bruises they have open cuts on their back from the speeding well now you let him go no no no a little jail time would be good just let them consider what they’re doing they grab a jailer and they tell the jailer you keep close track of these guys watch them carefully it says the jailer put them in the inner room of the jail not like out in a courtyard where you can see outside an inner room would have had no windows which means no light which means no ventilation how bad did that place stink he puts their feet in stocks which means if your back is messed up you can’t lay down on your stomach to try to fall asleep it just means you’re sitting there your body’s in shock the aromas terrible you’re hungry you haven’t eaten why are pollens psilocin Philippa what scent Paul and Silas to Philip I they had come to the conclusion that God was sending him there what are we to do with this when you sense that you’re following God’s leading in your life and you end up in the House of Pain you end up in a world of hurt that you otherwise would have avoided had you not followed that leading and prompting and direction what do we do with this a few weeks ago Chris and I we sat in my backyard our back yard okay it’s her backyard to her house I get to live there and we had some guests we had four couples with

a husband wife who all were in like church church ministry it was interesting as we talked about our stories all of the couples they’re not like jump from one thing to the other we’re talking like pretty consistent pretty stable pretty faithful but three out of the four had had stretches of their adventure when they had moved to a church ministry situation and found out really quick than it was going to be a disaster and then moved out of that I’m talking here you sell a house you move your family you get them your kids in new schools you buy a house you go this is a mess this is wrong you then resign your post you sell that house at a loss you take a beating on the resale because you’ve owned it from us and then you move to a new ministry post that happened to three out of the four couples so my question was how long were you there before you knew how many weeks how many months before you went this is bad this is a bad situation and you pulled the plug and left its we’re having this conversation and then one of the guys said well I think everyone was thinking he says you know you know what’s really troubling you know what’s really troubling what’s really troubling is that we believed God had called us to that ministry and the others are going like yeah that’s what’s really messes with you if you feel you’re following God’s leading no no listen this isn’t just about church this isn’t just about church work it’s about leaving a job for another job in the new situation in PLO’s this is about feeling like God is leading you to throw down with a non-profit and you join the board and at least to some very very sleepless nights and to some something said about you that aren’t that fair and perhaps are not true in Grand Rapids you know area we get too big for schooling decisions you know you public school home school charter school Christian school you get a 13 year old you say you know we really sense that it’s time to move out of this kind of schooling and go to this kind of schooling and you do your research you your homework you seek advice you pray about it and you make a shift and it blows up I mean wouldn’t you think wouldn’t you think that if God led you to do something that he might be interested in protecting you once you get there Paul and Silas bleeding backs vulnerable to infection can’t sleep and they’re there because of the vision not because they were running from God but because they were attempting to pursue God and is leading in their lives what are we to do with these moments I don’t know who started it but it was one of them lets it be the Lord her God the maker of heaven and earth who meets us in our pain who sustains us in our suffering who lifts us from despair they start to pray and then they start to sing hymns to God my friends this is strange behavior about midnight Paul and Silas were praying singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them interesting tidbit they have an audience about midnight they begin to offer their hearts and their voices to God with backs that had been shredded in a smelly stinky hungry situation how exactly do you pull that one off I think the single word that I’m drawn to more than any other and I love it expression for that this that I’ve used over the years it’s called praise from the pit offering praise from the pit I think the singular most defining word is the word focus where is your focus in

this moment because I’m telling you the automatic uninvited direction of the heart is to focus on what has been stolen I have been robbed I’ve been we’ve been robbed of a fair trial we have been robbed of our dignity we have been robbed of our health we’ve been now we’re being robbed of our sleep and there’s an opportunity in these moments not to obsess about what has been stolen but to obsess about what has been given even though they’ve taken a beating I believe they still have an obsession with the generosity of God I believe they were absolutely convinced in their spirits that the God that they served was good and that somehow through this mask God would show his goodness to them in a hundred unexpected ways I think this is one of those things that’s important to get settled before you take a beating because if you don’t believe in the goodness and generosity of God before the beating comes it is very difficult to become a believer in that in this situation I believe that they were clinging to the generosity and the goodness of God rather than obsessing over what had been stolen I think they were focusing on what had been give and powerful powerful thing happens in that ugly space what did the hobbits say adventures adventures are nasty disturbing uncomfortable things that make you late for dinner sometimes they are this is the resolve to believe that God may show His goodness in keeping you away from a mess but this is the resolve to believe that your gracious God may be at work in and around and through the mess which is what happens in their story there in the jail praise from the pit God is at work in them and very rapidly God is going to be at work in somebody else their tectonic plates shift the ground begins to move no earthquakes are common in that part of the world but this earthquake seems eerily connected to these dudes singing in jail and there is an earthquake and the hinges come unloose from the jail doors jail doors swing open shackles chains start dropping out of walls anybody in the story you think might be interested in the fact that they think all of the prisoners have now run out of the jail any anybody in the story whose attention this might this might galvanize maybe the interaction number three the corrections officer who had been told you watch them carefully or are you gonna pay when he wakes up and he sees doors open literally he takes out his sword to suicide himself because he said I would rather kill myself than have the Romans kill me he races and then Paul yells no no don’t harm yourself don’t harm yourself we’re all here we’re all here it says the jailer he called for lights he gets some torches he rushes in false because you can’t see in that inside room so he needs torches there trembles before Paul and Silas then he brought them out like out into the courtyard and said what must I what must I do to be saved what must I do to be safe now what must I do to be saved demon girl had been yelling these men are servants of God Most High which from his worldview was Zeus or something like that and she said they are telling you the way to be saved now here’s what’s going down in this story if through this earthquake he believes that they really are servants of God Most High and that he has messed with them by putting them hungry in shackles in an inner cell it’s kind of like I’m in trouble so what do I have to do to appease the gods the god Poseidon in that culture was in charge of earthquakes do I need to run to a temple of poseidon and offer five lambs as a sacrifice what do I have to do to avoid the wrath of the gods and I just love this what do i what do I do because what do I do is the question of religion what do I have to do to get on the good

side of the Almighty what I have to do in order to appease the wrath of the gods show up in church more so I I probably I start swearing less they control my temper maybe do better with that Golden Rule thing treat others like I want to be treated what what do I have to do to get in the good graces of the Almighty that’s the jailers question what do I have to do Paul and Silas they respond right there in the courtyard they replied belief in the Lord Jesus and you will be rescued you and your household just interesting what I have to do they said you need to believe in the one who came for you see this isn’t just about offering sacrifices to the gods this this is the kind and generous and gracious God who sacrificed himself for you see what they’re describing is a difference between two words he wants to know what do I do and they explain what has already been done this is the God who sacrificed him believe that he did this for you you read on in the story it says that they then began to explain to him and to his family so does he have co-workers colleagues slaves children spouse the way of the Lord beautiful picture he and his family get baptized the water representing God washing away the grime and the intent to give your life to the one who gave his life for you he washes their backs that are prone to infection cleans up their wounds and their lacerations and then he invites them into his house for something to eat which is a beautiful story God opened his heart he opens his home this was rare for jailers to do so describe your job well I lock people up put him in stocks and from time to time we invite him in for dinner this doesn’t generally happen he feeds them the next morning when Paul and Silas are leaving town they go to Lydia’s place after Paul and Silas came out of prison they went to Lydia’s house why Lydia’s house is the the gathering place for this new community there they met the brothers and sisters and encouraged them then they left then they met with the brothers and sisters then they met with the brothers and sisters again no church building so the gathering is probably in a space like this if Paul and Silas met with the brothers and sisters who’s there who’s there I think these people might be there the businesswoman the corrections officer and the psychic does that seem like a weird combination of people to you to be gathering in one space under one roof radical different backgrounds radically different perspective radically different social economic structures there is only one thing that would bring those people together under one roof what they had in common was this they had been radically flawed they were incapable of self rescue and they had come to experience the grace the generosity of God through the Lord Jesus this community would look like no other community in the city of Philippi which inevitably gets cliquish and divisive depending on your background your upbringing your wealth your lack of wealth kind of job you have and they’re all thrown into one community welcome to the beauty and the weirdness and the challenge of the church this new community when Paul and Silas leave they’d need some follow-up some years later the Apostle Paul writes this right here we call it the book of Philippians the narrative is in acts the correspondence is in Philippians right out of gate Paul’s encouragement to this new community he writes this Philippians chapter 1 verse 6 being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus he says this I’m so confident I am confident confident confident that God will finish what he started Lydia whether it’s you in your house whether it’s the jailer whether it’s your house whether it’s the demon-possessed girl that has been delivered I am so confident that God was at work that he is at work and that he will be at work right up until that time when you see Jesus face-to-face I am confident that he who began a good work will carry it on when Paul was writing that letter he’s incarcerated

he’s in prison it’s a letter from an inmate be stunned then in Chapter four when he writes these words I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation well what do you mean by that well whether well fed or hungry whether living in plenty or in want I have learned the secret of having a heart that’s alive to God and alive to other people whether I’m enjoying a three-course meal at Lydia’s house or whether I’m sitting in a stinking cell dude I’m sorry I don’t have the strength for that Paul would say neither neither do I very next verse I can do all this through him who gives me strength years later Paul is still trying to find strength for the journey he’s still finding strength for the journey he’s an inmate he says I’ve learned the secret of contentment being alive to God and other people well fed or hungry whether living a plenty or in want you don’t understand it I just don’t buck up and do that I can do that through the one who gives me strength he’s still finding strength for the journey and that is why it is my hope that you will find strength for yours particularly if life happens to find you in this space right now where you’re attempting to follow you’re attempting to listen you’re attempting to move your heart is open to God and quite frankly it’s not going well may God give you that other earthly capacity to lift your heart to be able to say blessed be the Lord our God the maker of heaven and earth who helps us in our weakness who sustains us in our pain who lifts from despair may God strengthen you to give praise from the pits may you find strength for your journey and so we ask that our gracious God would meet us this very week that he would give us courage that he would give us stamina that he would give us a heart of focus that never lets go of his goodness gracious God we asked this in the one who gave himself for us Jesus our Lord amen we’ll see you next week