Captive of Christ
What an amazing conception of himself – was this label Paul adopted personally: “The Prisoner of the Lord” – a Captive of Christ. Paul was not a reluctant prisoner nor was he press-ganged into service. His was a life that willingly and cheerfully walked the way of the cross. He was not captive to jail or jailer; dungeon or detention; Caesar or Rome. His captivity was God’s foreseen and foreordained purpose and divine plan. His body may have been in chains, but his spirit was in heavenly places. He may have been under lock and key, but he boasted the truest liberty of all. For in all situations he lived and worked and had his being in the Spirit of God.
Living in spirit and truth does not limit, but multiples spiritual effectiveness, and Paul was able to say in all situations: “I am content..” even in incarceration. I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Phil.4:11 Paul is the most astonishing example of a man that was utterly dependent on God, He is an example and sign that his life was not his own, but hid with Christ in God. Both his physical body and inner being depended on the quickening of the Spirit. The Spirit of Life that raised Jesus from the dead, was Paul’s total dynamism.
This prisoner of the Lord had no life of his own – the sentence of death was on him. The enemy sought to destroy him at every step but he was energised by the risen Lord. His life becomes the typical example.. of those prepared to be prisoners of God. Trials; tribulations; distresses and death will shadow all who follow this path. Indeed, it seems that all whom the Lord uses greatly, must shadow this standard.
But there are guiding principles for all who willingly become – prisoner of Christ. And over and again Paul points out the dark and difficult way – is by death to self. So much has been written of Paul’s amazing intellect; powers and purposefulness. No-one but a man like Paul could have walked this painful path through life – yet Paul himself would vehemently argue that all his strength was drawn from above.
Christ in Me
He of all men would discriminate between man’s reason and God’s revelation. He of all disciples would distinguish between man’s reasoning and God’s wisdom. He of all apostles would cry out – it was not he that worked but Christ working in Him. He is the one that penned: I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” He is the one that wrote: It is not I that live but Christ that lives me.” He is the one that cried: “If God be for me who can be against me.”
God is no respecter of persons and He will work through all willing captives. The one that is prepared to adopt Paul’s attitude will be used mightily of God. Paul demonstrated through his life a total abandonment to the Lord. Revelation only came as human reason and self-reliance was unreservedly rejected.
Abandoned to Him
Paul established the only principle, upon which the prisoner of Christ can stand – complete and utter imprisonment and abandonment to the Lord Jesus and His will.. so that every word that is spoken – is as from Him.. so that every step taken is guided from above – so that every undertaking shall be out from Him and not of ourselves.
Thy Will Be Done
This is not the path for one that is fearful of the uncertain future. This is only for the one that is prepared to live each day in utter reliance upon Him, no matter what the circumstances – no matter how dark the way ahead. This is not the route for the one that is discouraged by mountainous problems. This is the course for one that is prepared to take God literally at His Word – no matter what storms are brewing – however hard the path may be.
God’s will, God’s plans, and God’s purposes will be carried out to completion. If we are not willing to be His prisoner, He will find other willing captives, He will enlist another one who will trust Him entirely and follow Him completely. But we must beware, lest the challenge thrown at Esther – is levelled at us, for who knows whether we have been called to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
4 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
2 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
11 And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
12 Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
17 Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
18 Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.
19 Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
20 But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.
21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.
22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
8 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
2 I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.
3 Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.
4 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.
6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.
7 For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?
8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.
9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.
10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.
11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:
13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.
14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.
16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)
17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
9 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.
2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
11 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 favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:
14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:
15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.
31 At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
2 Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
3 The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
5 Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
6 For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God.
7 For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
10 Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
11 For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.
13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
14 And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord.
15 Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
16 Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.
17 And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.
18 I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God.
19 Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.
20 Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.
21 Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.
22 How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.
23 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.
24 And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.
25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.
26 Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.
27 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.
28 And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord.
29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.
30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
35 Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name:
36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
37 Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.
38 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.
39 And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.
40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.
25 Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.
8 Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
12 What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
15 Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
20 O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.
28 Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.
3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.
4 Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.
5 Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.
6 Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
8 The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.
9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.
34 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.
11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.