Palace or Prison? (12/31)
Mark Barbee

If you’ve ever watched The Crown, or other shows about royal families, it makes you wonder whether they live in palaces or prisons.  They seem discontent much of the time.  For all the money, palaces, pomp and circumstance, you wouldn’t think they would feel trapped.

It just goes to show that money can’t make you happy.  Thankful people are happy, not the other way around. (Dennis Prager)  The Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy me love.”  It’s still true.  (For those in my generation, it’s hard to believe they sang that over fifty years ago!) 

It’s far better to believe that God has us where he wants us, rather than resist him or always want something “better”.  David writes some wonderful words in Psalm 16:  Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance…You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

 What a Psalm and attitude of contentment!  

Thirty-six years ago God made a promise to me that he would open a door of ministry and provision.  That happened when I was hired as one of the ministers at Fairfield Christian Church.  Thirty-six years later, after ups and downs, victories and disappointments, I can echo David’s words.  God has been good to me and my family.  This church has been my field of discipleship and service.  

I appreciate our veterans who have been laboring here with me the whole way, or much of it.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  Whether, engineers, doctors, factory workers, housewives, etc. you have become my friends.  The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.  As for the saints in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is my delight.  (verse 3)

Looking at this prison/palace issue another way, some have gone from prison to palaces.  (Many of our saints have already passed from the limitations of this life to eternal life.)  Joseph in the Old Testament went from a prison to Pharaoh’s palace.  Jesus descended to earth, humbled himself as a helpless child and a most humble birth.  He was later arrested and tried and thrown into a temporary prison.  (A few years ago in Jerusalem we gazed into the limestone dungeon into which he was thrown at the house of Caiaphas.)  But the story didn’t end there.  From prison he went to the cross.  After the cross, he rose from the dead and ascended on high to his Father’s palace.  The rest of Psalm 16 celebrates that God did “not leave his chosen one in the grave, nor did he let his Holy One see decay.”

Someday we will all go from the limitations of this life to the Father’s palace.  Praise His Name.  And to all my friends and family, Happy New Year.  May 2021 be a better year for all of us! 

Lord, thank you for your provision in our lives.  And despite the setbacks of this life we are still thankful.  We are still joyful with the deep joy of knowing we are saved, both now and for eternity.  Lord, as we face a new year, we pray for your continued provision and inspiration.  Help us to rise above our circumstances because of the Baby that was born on that first Christmas.  Thank you that so many of our “lines have fallen to us in pleasant places”.  And even though we may feel at times like we are in a temporary “prison”, thank you that you raise us up above our temporary challenges.

Thank you for a church family to walk with and share with in the days to come.  We pray that we may soon be reunited in services, classes, and outreaches and that the church can move forward once again.  Our brothers and sisters are the “glorious ones in whom we delight”.  

We pray that the gospel will free many of those around who are in prisons of sin or the emptiness of a mere secular world.  We pray that they too will experience the light and life of Jesus.  In His name we pray, Amen.