Friday, June 29, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Chains

Remember My Chains
A devotional by Nathan D. Maki

The Apostle Paul was by nature a free spirit. He refused to be bound by physical limitations, geographical difficulties or borders, or social prejudice. In his missionary journeys, he traveled approximately 20,000 miles, relentless in his mission to push the Gospel to the far reaches of the Empire. Yet as this man who preached and exercised liberty and freedom prepared to return to Jerusalem, the Spirit and men of God began to warn him that chains awaited him there.

But Paul was bound before he ever set foot in Jerusalem.

Before the riot broke out. Before the Romans came crashing in with shield and sword and clamped chains on his hands and feet. He was bound in the spirit because God had told him to go. So knowing that a chain awaited him, still, he went. Why? Because he wanted to finish his race with joy, testifying the gospel of grace.

Paul was determined not to be disqualified by veering off the God-marked course to take a shortcut or an easier road. That’s why at the very end he could write to Timothy with confidence from the dungeon beneath Rome. He wrote these words, “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness!” 
~2 Timothy 4:7-8, KJV

That is not the last, relieved sigh of an old man glad his suffering is over. No, that is the victorious shout of a marathon runner, who has shunned the easier road, has pressed toward the mark, broken through the finish line, and is ascending the victor’s podium.

Chained in Rome, Paul sat and wrote to the church at Philippi, these beloved believers who had recently sent a love offering to pay for his food and lodging.

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.” ~
Philippians 1:12-14 (NKJV)

Paul planned on going to Rome as a preacher, not a prisoner! He could have proclaimed his innocence, decried the injustice of the Sanhedrin, described the abuses of the Roman justice system, and lamented his long incarceration. He could have become bitter and angry.

Paul’s chain could have become something that he constantly tripped over in his walk with God.

It could have become a symbol of failure or he could have taken it as a sign that God had forsaken him. But instead, Paul saw his chain as an opportunity. A ministry tool.

So my question for you today is this. What is your chain? What physical or mental or emotional or spiritual chain does it seem like you just can’t break free from? We always view chains as negative, but Paul consecrated his chain to God to use it for His glory!

Do you believe God could free you from the chain that binds you? God could have freed Paul. In Philippi, the very city Paul was writing to, Paul and Silas were bound in prison when God shook the earth, opened the doors, and broke off their chains. Paul might have even cried out to God, “Why not this time?”

But God was shaking the earth!

Shaking the very foundations of Roman society, as even the Praetorian Guard and Caesar’s household were being converted right under Nero’s nose!

God was opening doors!

Paul’s chain was a key that opened doors that nothing else could have. What else besides a chain could have ushered him into Emperor Nero’s presence to preach the gospel?

God was breaking chains!

All over Rome, chains of fear were dropping off believers. Encouraged by Paul’s boldness, they too began speaking the Gospel. And all over Rome, chains of spiritual bondage and sin were falling off new converts and shattering!

What if you surrender your chain to God to use it for His glory? Remember that what you see as a chain might just unlock a realm of ministry, anointing, and opportunity unimaginable and unattainable by any other means.

“Remember my chains.”

Not, then, a plea of an Apostle afraid of being despised and forgotten because of those chains, but a three-word challenge to all believers, everywhere and throughout history.

“Remember my chains.”

Author Bio:

A life-long love for historical fiction and a passion to create high-intensity, realistic novels from a Christian worldview has propelled Nathan into his writing career. 

He is the author of the War Within series of novels set in Ancient Rome and most recently The Keeper's Crown, a novel of the Apostle Paul. 

A recent trip to Rome to walk the ancient streets, explore the Catacombs, and stand in the Coliseum plunged Nathan even deeper into the ancient world he brings to life for his readers.

Nathan's novels combine the faith and romance of Francine Rivers's Mark of the Lion trilogy with the action and adventure of Bernard Cornwell or Conn Iggulden.

Nathan lives in Ontario, Canada, with his wife, son, and three very spoiled dogs. He pastors a church and manages his own business in addition to his writing. Sometimes he even sleeps.


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