In the 1980s, we were all “lookin' for love in all the wrong places” together with Johnny Lee and the Urban Cowboy, weren’t we? At least for those of us old enough to be around during that era. But honestly, have you ever been looking for love and found that you were looking in all the wrong places? It is difficult to find love, be it from a friend or a lover; and when we don’t find it, there is an emptiness inside that makes us feel like we are just like this.

“And I was alone then, no love in sight
n' I did everything I could to get me through the night
don't know where it started or where it might end
I'd turn to a stranger just like a friend.”

I know what you are thinking. I am about to tell you to turn to Jesus and all will be well, right? Well, no. Unfortunately, as many of us have discovered, the love of Jesus can sometimes be elusive. How can we find the love of Jesus in our broken marriages? How can we find the love of Jesus in our failed relationships? How can we find the love of Jesus in our stresses at work? Or in our financial challenges? The love of Jesus can really be difficult to find, until we get reminded of this…

Made you think didn’t it?

When Paul was in prison, he too was looking for the love of Jesus. But unlike us, who would probably be having half a mind to give God a piece of ours if we were ever in that situation, he found the love of Jesus right there in prison. How did he do it? Let’s see.

“I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.” Philippians 1:12-14 [MSG]

Paul had, what I would call, a ‘Joseph moment’. Joseph was sold by his brothers to be a slave, yet ended up being in charge of all matters in the household of Pharaoh’s head butler. Then he got thrown in jail again because he refused to sleep with his boss’ wife. Yet he found favor with the fellow prisoners and word of him got to Pharaoh who eventually made him head over all, second only to Pharaoh himself. And that was why Joseph could say to his brothers when they eventually were reconciled again,

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20

Paul certainly had a ‘Joseph moment’ right there in prison. And not only was Paul getting famous through preaching and turning lives, there was even competition to preach the Gospel, right there in the prison.

“It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.” Philippians 1:15-17 [MSG]

Now who would have thought that evangelism would be spear-headed in a prison by the prisoners themselves? Surely it was the love of Jesus that made them spread the word. They must have been so impacted by the message in the Gospel, which is the message of the love of Jesus and His redeeming work on the cross, that they could look beyond their bondage, look beyond their clear and present situations when they experienced the love of Jesus. Surely, it was the wrong place, but it was the right love.

And since,

“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” John 3:27

And because,

“…no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:3

So is it little wonder then that Paul responded this way, even to those who were preaching to try and outshine Him.

“So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!” Philippians 1:18-21 [MSG]

Now, if we were in Paul’s position, would we be so gracious? Surely Paul must have had a real experience of Jesus’ love to know that when we are loved by The Best, there is no need to look for love from the rest.

So how about us? When we look at the wrong places in our lives, can we see the love of Jesus? Can we see His fingerprints in that situation? Can we see His loving guidance behind the closing of that door? Have we had our ‘Joseph moment’? If you cannot see it now, yet surely, with time, you will see it; just like all your other bad experiences in the past have shown you; because

He “…is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]”. Ephesians 3:20 [AMPC]

And because He has already begun a good work in you when you accepted Christ, He will continue, until the day when Christ returns, to develop that good work, perfecting it and bringing it to full completion in you. (Philippians 1:6)

And as He works in you, your eyes will be opened and you will begin to see the love of Jesus, even in the darkest of moments. Then you see how protected you really were when He closed that door for you; then you will realize that you can look for His love, even in the wrong places; because wherever you are, be it in glory or gory, Jesus is always there with you, as He has promised,

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor, forsake you.” Deuteronomy 3:16

So look for His love. There is never a wrong place to look.

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