“And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.”
Philippians 1:12 NLT
As we sat around the tables in Bible study class sharing prayer requests, it was almost depressing. Health issues resulting from disease, trauma, or unknown reasons; loved ones who needed Jesus in their lives; job and financial woes; relationship issues; a need for more affordable housing; personal struggles; ministry opportunities. The needs were real and sobering.
The apostle Paul was certainly a man who understood the hard stuff of life. Imprisoned for his faith in God, many scholars believe Paul was literally chained to a guard 24/7. Despite his chains, his letter to the Philippian church was filled with encouragement and joy; it revealed his great love and constant prayers for the believers.
While in confinement, Paul is not found whining and complaining about his bonds. Instead, his letter records him giving thanks to God because people are hearing about Jesus. Even the new believers were finding courage to speak out about Christ because of Paul’s example while in prison.
As Jesus followers, we are never promised a life of ease. We certainly see that all through the Bible and specifically in Paul’s life. Hardships are going to come sooner or later. Like Paul, will we use those circumstances to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ?
As we learn from the examples of others in the Scriptures, we should ask ourselves, “What are others learning through my example?” Are they seeing the love, peace, hope, and deep joy of Jesus regardless of my difficulty, or are they seeing worry, fear, anger, and anxiety instead? Our lives and situations influence others one way or the other depending on our actions and reactions to adversity. Only with God’s help can our lives bring support and encouragement to others.
May the following prayer be a source of strength during the tough times as we seek to proclaim the message of Christ despite our circumstances.
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NLT
[Digging deeper – Philippians 1:12-30]
Proclaiming Him in all things,
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