Let's talk more about the book of Philippians. The context here is that Paul was in prison for preaching about Jesus. He was being persecuted for his faith. For a lot of us, that would have deterred us from continuing our talks about God. Instead, Paul gives us an amazing example of what it looks like to have big faith in God, and to honor him with everything we do. While imprisoned, he writes a letter to the church at Philippi. This letter details what it means to be firm in your faith and to use your circumstances all for one purpose. To glorify God.
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.
Paul shows us here that nothing should derail us from living out the gospel. Just as Paul is being persecuted in this text, the reality is that as Christians, we will face persecution. The question we all need to keep in mind here, is what are we doing with that persecution? Are we using it like Paul, to advance the gospel? Or are we letting Satan win by letting that persecution break us down? We have to remember that all of that persecution and negativity that we face is all coming from one source, Satan. In Paul's case, he is using his circumstances to speak the word of God. Can you say the same? Are you taking even the seemingly bad situations in your life and using them to God's glory?
That is a tough thing isn't it? As humans, our flesh tends to get imprisoned by our circumstances and that becomes all we can see. We can't see past it and realize that no matter what is going on in our lives that God really is using it for good. We should be taking each one of the trials in our lives and using them all for one purpose, to advance the gospel.
And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
It seems strange to think that in Paul's time, he was actually thrown into prison for his beliefs as a Christian. Did you know that this sort of persecution still happens in our world today? Our friend Matthew Ward is a part of a ministry called Every Nation Education. They take the gospel into Islamic nations and proclaim God's word. Matthew told the church about one of the ministry's current goals, and that is to put a Bible and a believer on every island in Indonesia. Indonesia is a very heavily populated Muslim country, and they are seeing souls won for Jesus. Matthew tells an inspiring story about a former ISIS member who has been saved, and is helping the ministry deliver God's word to the islands of Indonesia. I would encourage you to learn more about this ministry, and to visit their website above.
This story reminds me of Philippians 1:14. Because this man, who now goes by Pastor Is, has been saved, he is helping this ministry to boldly proclaim God's word. Shouldn't we all be more like Pastor Is? He has been transformed and wants to get out in the world and tell people about the good news of the gospel!!
Ask yourself: Could you be doing more to advance the gospel today?
Ask yourself: Are you using even your negative circumstances to glorify God and His word?
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
One of our biggest struggles as humans is to let our pain effect our purpose. That is a tactic of Satan whether you see it at the time or not. A great example of this is everything that is happening in our society today. There is so much negativity, hurt, and fear in our world. We have to be careful not to get sucked into all of this and let it get in the way of the purpose we have been given to spread God's word. Our God has not given us a spirit of fear, we shouldn't be afraid of our circumstances if we have confidence in God. Remember that your life was meant to be a defender of the gospel.
If you have to lose your character to win, stop trying to win
-Pastor Brian DiCicco
Pastor Brian outlined three key ways we can use what has happened to you all for one purpose. To glorify God.
1. No matter what, keep your focus on sharing Jesus
It was clear that Paul's life was all for one purpose. To share Jesus. Can others say the same thing about your life? Can they see it on your face and feel it when they meet you? That your life is about Jesus? As believers it should be written all over us that we are saved because of the grace of our God and we should be doing everything we can to let others know! Don't you usually want to share good news with the people around you?
2. No matter what, focus on the good over the bad
Paul is seeing a situation unfold where some people are preaching the gospel with good intentions, and others are doing it for evil reasons. In verse 18 Paul makes a bold statement. He says that it doesn't matter what their intentions are, that even though their intentions are to harm Paul, that the gospel is still getting preached!! Paul is able to take a frustrating situation, and see the good that will come of it over the negative intentions of those around him.
Your mind can get consumed with the bad things in your life. You have to make a conscious decision to focus on what is good. Do you ever ask yourself what can you count on to be good? You can count on God!
3. No matter what, do not lose confidence in what God will do.
Take a moment to think about all of the things that God has done for you. He has given you breath. He let you wake up today. He sent his son to the Earth to die so that you could be free of your sins. The list goes on really. No matter what your circumstances are, no matter what you have going on in your life, God is still at work. No matter what, God will do good for you. If you don't lose confidence in this simple fact, you will be in a better position to use your circumstances all for one purpose. To glorify God.
What has happened to you? Are you using it to advance the gospel?