S: Philippians 1:12-14
12Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
O:First, we have to look back. Paul here, is saying in light of what happened. . .so, what happened? We must remember first, that Paul is writing this letter while a prisoner in Rome. (When he wrote the letter to the Church in Rome (Romans), he spoke of how much he wanted to go the Rome to minister and preach there, but the Lord hadn't opened a door for that ministry, instead sending Paul elsewhere. (Romans 1:9-13).
What dire circumstances he faced (though, he faced worse, being beaten at times, stoned once, imprisoned several times, run out of many different towns, and ultimately crucified upside down on a cross. . .all for Christ! Surely a lesser man would have been defeated after facing even a few of these things, but not Paul. These trials and persecutions almost seemed to make him stronger in his resolve to serve God and preach Christ to all.
We see in verses 12-14 how Paul used his imprisonment to be a witness to the very guards who were imprisoning him. . .and that because of his consistent Christ-like attitude and continualy sharing of the Good News of Christ, many of these Roman Guards came to have a relationship with Christ as well. How awesome is that!
It seems as if Paul's imprisonment is serving to advance the gospel on 2 fronts. Outside of the church, as in the guardsmen who are hearing Paul preach about Christ and coming to know God because of it, and in the Church itself. Paul states that his "brothers" are more courageous and fearless because of Paul's imprisonment. These Christians saw God protect Paul, even in prison. They saw Paul's ministry blessed, even in these horrible circumstances, and they were imboldened in their own ministries.
A: If the Christians in Rome were encouraged through Paul's sufferings and imprisonment, shouldn't I be, too? I don't face imprisonment for sharing the gospel. Public ridicule? Maybe, but not likely. . .being "left out" of activities and conversations. . .possibly, but are they really activites or conversations that I want or need to be a part of, No. Paul found joy in the worst of circumstances, because he was serving the Lord, and sharing in the suffering of Christ. How can I find joy in my circumstances? I have great opportunities everyday at the hospital to minister to people in need. Some are not believers and need the hope, comfort, and healing that ONLY God and give. . .I am joyful that God can use me to share with them His LOVE and POWER. Some are believers, but are physically hurting. . .I am joyful that God can use me to pray with them, and that God can use me to perform his healing and comfort to these families. I can share my life with my church family, with my co-workers, and with other moms around me, so that they may be encourage by God's faithfulness in my life.
P: Heavenly Father, You alone are Worthy. You are faithful to me, even in my most dire circumstances, when I am overwhelmed with life. You give me strength to endure. I ask that you will bring people into my life, at church and at work, that need to know You. I love to share your Love and Salvation with others, give me the courage to do this, like Paul had. In the name of Your precious Son, Jesus, Amen.
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