Monday, March 19, 2007

Joy in the Journey

Philippians 1:12-14

Paul has focused on the relational aspect of the church in the first eleven verses of his letter to the believers in Philippi. He now turns his attention to the proclamation of the Gospel.

"Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear."

He begins with an amazing statment, "My circumstances (i.e. imprisonment) have actually advanced the Gospel". This should help us to find hope in the midst of our own difficult circumstances. It is the purpose of God to expose more people to the Gospel story and He will take us through difficult places to see it occur. Perhaps, more often than not, the purpose of our pain is to give us a platform for sharing Christ.

Paul says that the Gospel has progressed in three clear ways:
  1. Paul has become well-known throughout the Roman guard and everywhere else because of his imprisonment. His notoriety has become his vehicle for sharing Jesus. How can you use your own experiences of suffering to share Christ?
  2. Paul insists that some have trusted in the Lord because of his imprisonment. He has not only been sharing Jesus--but people are responding. He has found a field to harvest in the midst of his prison. What about you? Are people attracted to Jesus by the way that you respond to difficulties? I don't think that there could be any greater purpose in your pain than to see someone's life transformed because of it.
  3. Paul says that the other believers have become courageous and bold in sharing the gospel because of his example. What effect is your suffering having upon the church?

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