Chances in life

Paul has many chances in his life. We also have our own chances and many people look on it as an opportunity because at times it comes only once, or rarely, so people easily grab a hold. In this study, it is my intention to show how we can learn from the life of Paul the apostle and how he responded to some chances that he has encountered.

 “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” ( Ecc. 9:11 )

     

 Paul had a chance of keeping a servant

Phm 1:17-18 ” If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;”

     Paul beseeched Philemon concerning Onesimus. He is Philemon’s servant who could have wronged him in the past  or became unprofitable for him (Phm.11, 16, 18). In the course of Paul’s ministry, Onesimus became one among the believers during his imprisonment (10). Paul said concerning him that he is a faithful brother (Col.4:9) who ministered unto him (Phm.13). But though he has chances of keeping him he sent him back to his former master who is Philemon (11-16). So with this we can see how he set aside that chance for the sake of other.

Paul had a chance of escaping

Act 16:25-26 ” And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”

     When Paul was imprisoned with Silas, and when they sang praises unto the Lord, there came an earthquake that led prison doors to open and to loose every one’s bonds(Acts 16:23-28). The keeper of the prison, when awakened, saw that every door was opened and he thought that everybody escaped. He intended to kill himself but Paul stopped him (v.26-28). Here we can see that Paul had a chance of escaping. He will just let the guard for a suicide then they are all free. But this chance was overlooked by Paul for a better chance of sharing the gospel to that man. As a result he and his household were saved (Acts 16:31-34).

Act 24:26 ”He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.”

Paul had a chance of freedom

     Paul in another prison experience had another chance (Acts 24:22-27). He had another chance of freedom, being that time bound under the governance of Felix. Felix heard from him about the faith in Christ through his wife. He professed to be a little convinced so he often send somebody to commune with Paul offering freedom in exchange for money or a bribe. Paul has this chance of being freed and he could have solicited help from the beloved or used the contribution that was shared to him but he never did so. So Felix left him bound for two years.

 

Paul had a chance of being exalted before man.

Act 14:11 ”And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.”

      It was when he encountered a crippled and was healed (Acts 14:8-18). The Lycaonians mistakenly thought him as among the gods and they came to offer sacrifices. He never took this lightly but said words and done things to rebuke them. In fact if he gave in, he could create a following, yet he never did so, but pointed them to worship the Creator. So with this he paid the price of rejection and he was stoned and could have been dead. He longed to be abased than exalted (2 Co.11:7).

 

Paul had a chance of being famous

1Cor. 2:2 ”For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

     Some ministers today are boasting of who they are and what they had accomplished. But Paul preached Christ only and His salvation (1 Co.2:1-5). He pointed his audience towards the Lord and not to himself. In fact he is considered as fool being defamed, as off scouring and a no man ( 1 Co.4:10-11, 13). Popularity is just for a time and apart from Christ it is nothing.

 

Paul had a chance of more friendship

Gal. 4:16 ”Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

     Paul had a chance of having more friends. He can do it by being neutral, by being a prosperity gospel preacher, by overlooking the evils done by others and by not being hard on serious matters, but he rather be counted as their enemy than being friends with them yet an enemy of God (Gal.4:16). That is why there was an instance that during one of his court trials none came on his behalf ( 2 Tim.4:16-18) and in one part all Asia turned away from him (2 Tim.1:15).But a true friend will tell you that you are heading a wrong direction and will not wait for your destruction before  he speaks up.

 Paul had a chance of becoming rich

Act 20:35 ”I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

     Paul had a chance of being rich. Being a Pharisee in his former life he could still profess to embrace the fundamentals of Pharisees in order to gain influence for a better job. But he didn’t do so. A lower form of work was a part time job and it is by making tents (Acts 18:3). But even if he works in this craft he did not save it for his own selfish use but share it to others (Acts 20:34-35).He could have kept all his money but he didn’t. He could have demanded for more collections from many local congregations and saved a portion for himself. In fact he is careful in receiving collections by sending another to serve as witness (2 Co.12:16-18). He could have private Mansions, yacht, ship, shares in stock exchange or business firms as some ministers have airplanes, global businesses and more bank accounts today. He coveted no man’s silver and many things (Acts 20:33) but was contented in uncertain dwelling place (1 Co.4:11).

 

Paul had a chance of not experiencing poverty

1 Co. 9:14-15 ”Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.”

     Paul had a chance of not experiencing poverty, or hunger or thirst, but he mentioned he has a lot of them, even with nakedness and forced fasting (1 Co.4:11; 2 Co.11:27-29). He could demand for more contributions to save for himself yet his food he gave to others (2 Co.12:14-15). He could have been well nourished but he appeared as weakling (2 Co.10:10).

 

Paul had a chance to retaliate

2 Co. 10:3-4 ”For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)”

     Paul had a chance to retaliate with his own fists when others aggravated him. He had experience that he was stoned and had never thrown one stone to those who stoned him (Acts 14:19) or fight with his own fists (2 Co..11:24, 26) but he fought not in the manner of the flesh (2 Co.10:3; 11:26) and rather be defrauded than to defraud others (1 Co.6:7), forgiving others ( Col.3:13) and blessing even those that cursed them (1 Co.4:12).

 

Paul had a chance of VIP treatment

Acts 21:13 ”Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

     Paul had a chance of being treated as VIP or one who is always safely secured like ministers today who were surrounded with convoy of police, private guards and goons, a bullet proof best and bullet proof cars and a hand carried pistol but he chose to armed himself with the armor of God (Eph.6:10-18). He often experienced perils ( 2 Co.11:23- 27) and near deaths (Acts 14:19) and imprisonment. What seemed to be a “convoy‟ provided by Lysias who is the chief captain, was a one time experience and he was still bound ( Acts 23:23-24), but ministers today almost have their own private guards every minute. What a difference.

 

Paul had a chance of unwinding

Eph. 5:15-16 ”See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

     Paul had a chance of unwinding, vacation, or tour, to relax him from being wearied in ministry, but he never cared for that. When he was allowed to be refreshed in this situation it was when he is still bound (Acts 27:3). He has no enough rest but weariness (2 Co.7:5; 11:27). He could just go to a nearby place to save energy and money but he went further to make Christ known (2 Co.10:14, 16). He is more abundant with labors (2Co.11:23) unlike many ministers today who boasts on others work ( 2 Co.10:15) or their so called “subordinates‟ or their “workers‟ instead of fellow laborers, but they claimed the credits not supposed to them.

 

Paul had a chance of going back to the Law

     Paul had a chance of going back to the Law just to gather more collections but he never did so ( Gal.2:18). He had a chance of gaining more wisdom of this world to have Doctorates or Masteral degrees but he learned that it is nothing (Ps.62:9) ,and this worlds wisdom can’t even match what others can say as foolishness with God ( 1 Co.1:23) though He doesn’t have that any. He doesn’t want wisdom of this world (1 Co.1:17-21; 2:4-6). In fact few collected books are what he only had (2 Tim.4:13).

 

Paul had a chance of spending life o earthly things

     Paul had a chance of spending most of His life on earth yet he even did not consider to love his own body as others today are doing (Acts 20:24). When it concerns dangers that awaits him he is even ready to face death (Acts 21:11-14; Php.1:20-21) all for Christ’s sake. He knew that our life is not just to be spent on this earth as some thought of it ( 1 Co.15:19).

Acts 20:24 ”But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

 

     What could be our chances at this moment and for what reason we are doing it? We may have different chances. We can have opportunities (Gal.6:10) or lack (Php.4:10).May we all learn to yield this “member‟ for the chance of serving as an instrument for doing His will unto His glory (Rm.6:12-22). May we be like Paul who is the pattern for us.

 

Eph. 6:19 “ And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, “

Col. 4:3 “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

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