I started getting sick on the airplane and by the time we got here I was feeling terrible. I went fishing for a couple hours and then came back to camp and went to bed and stayed there for 20 hours straight except for the hourly trip to the outhouse. It is now 5:30 pm and the other guys are eating dinner, but I am going to hold off on any food for awhile. We are going to leave for fishing about 7:00 pm and how long we stay will be determined by how many fish we catch. We are just on the front end of the sockeye salmon run and there aren’t a lot of fish in the river yet. They tend to come in slugs so if we get there and we are catching fish we could stay all night. If I get tired I will go sleep in the van, I am bringing an extra coat in case I get cold sleeping. I am once again reminded of the verse in Proverbs, ” man plans his way but God directs his steps”. A little bit of a glitch in my plans of catching millions of salmon, Oh well, we will make up for it this next week. Life is good. God is good.
I am leaving in the morning for Soldotna, Alaska where I will be with about a dozen guys from jbc fishing for Sockeye salmon, commonly called reds. I have gone up to Alaska every year for over 20 years fishing for sockeye during this time. I usually come home with a 50 lb box full of fish and some years 2 50 lb boxes, this year my goal is to have 2 50 lb boxes of salmon and a third box full of halibut. Of all,the things that I do each year, bicycling, hunting, fishing, this trip, in the middle of July to Soldotna is by far my favorite. I am not sure why, but it is. We catch lots of fish, we eat really good food, we have great fellowship, the country is beautiful, the facilities are super, but I go on other trips that is all true as well. For what ever reason it is my favorite and I can’t hardly stand myself I am getting so excited about leaving in a few hours. I will send you pictures of the fish I catch.
Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter of Philippians. It was a special kind of prison situation in that He was chained to a Roman soldier instead of being in jail with bars. Can you imagine being chained to Paul, what you would hear. Talk about a captive audience. Paul says, ” the whole Praetorian guard” heard. Paul was rejoicing in his difficult situation because as he says, ” my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel”. Not only did he get to share about Jesus with soldiers that couldn’t get away from him, but he goes on to say that many other believers were sharing the gospel with great courage and without any fear because of Paul’s example. Paul‘s driving desire was to share Jesus with those who didn’t know Him and were not believers so that they would come to believe in Him and follow Him so that they could live for all eternity with Jesus, and not be lost forever in the “Lake of Fire”.
Trials and difficult situations in a person’s life don’t automatically result in greater opportunities to share the gospel. A person must respond correctly to their trials if they want to be used by God to attract people to Him.
Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
This verse says that if you “do all things without grumbling” you will appear to those around you as perfect, people will know that you are connected to God, and you will be a light that will attract people to your faith.
The greatest joy in all of life is being used by God to attract and influence another person to a saving relationship with Jesus, but those who grumble and complain about trials, problems, and difficulties will probably never experience that joy. Paul rejoiced when trials came because he knew God was setting him up for some cool ministry and witnessing opportunities.
This Fall I am going to teach the book of Philippians on Wednesday night at 7:00 pm and on Sunday morning 8:00 am. It is going to be a very good series of teaching with some very practical pointers from Paul on how to have joy all the time in your life. He is in a Roman prison when he writes this letter, and they were not know for comfort and accommodations, yet the letter is overflowing with joy and positive statements on how good life was for Paul. In this letter he,twice says ,” rejoice always” and in chapter 2 he says, “don’t grumble about anything, ever”. In the letter he doesn’t just say “rejoice”, he gives very practical guidelines on how to be full of joy in spite ofyour circumstances. I am in the process of writing these down as I study this book. I think I will call the sermon series, “A Dozen Ways to Have Joy in Spite of Life.”
I don’t like to admit it but at 70 years of age I am definitely in the category of “old”. I have observed that old people tend to be set in their ways, that they have definite opinions on most everything, they are often difficult to get along with, and they have regular bouts of grumpy. I have worked hard at not letting another characteristic of old people be part of my life, and that is “fat and out of shape”. So if I can do that, I certainly should be able to keep the “hard to get along with and grumpy” out of my life. A part of my personal mission statement is, ” pursue peace with every person, no matter what”. It is based on these Bible verses:
Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
1 Peter 3:11 He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it.
“Pursue peace with all men”, that is a very hard command, but a command from the Lord, therefore we must take it seriously. To be at peace with every person in our life will require a bunch of apologies, and those are always difficult. It will require that we admit we were wrong. Sounds to me like pursuing fish
I have read one chapter in the book of Proverbs, along with other passages in the Bible every day for over 50 years. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs so by reading 2 chapters on the last day of the month on months with 30 days I am able to read Proverbsthrough once a month. So 50 years multiplied by 12 months equals 600 times I have read the book of Proverbs. Proverbs has some themes that go through the book, and once you discover what the themes are it opens up some great Bible studies in those themes. One of the themes in Proverbs is diligence vs laziness and there are lots of verses to study on the topic. I have collected all of the verses in Proverbs that have anything to do do with diligence and laziness and occasionally I read them all. If you have been even a little bit lazy in the past week and then read these verses it will feel like someone hitting you on the head with a 2×4. The verses are very motivational and also very convicting, but even reading them through once each month is very profitable, and will move you towards being a hard working person. Whenever I feel myself getting even a little bit lazy, unmotivated, or even just casually complacent I read through the verses and whamo, my can of spinach.
I am memorizing the book of Philippians and Colossians in the New Testament because I am going to teach through both books this Fall. Memorizing them well and then going over and over the verses in my head all through the day really helps me understand the meaning God wants us to get from these two books. 4 verses that I memorized yesterday and have been going over since is Philippians 1:21-24
” For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”
Paul says, “to die is gain” and “I have the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better!”
That is quite an amazing attitude to have. It would give a person a freedom from fear of dying, and a peace in the face of the worst problems life can bring on us.
I am pretty sure that by memorizing these two books and meditating on them, especially verses like those I did yesterday, that I will become like Paul. That will be something.