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Paul sees God’s movement throughout unfortunate circumstances

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12 I want you to know, brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

15 
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

 

From Paul’s letter to the Philippians, there is one phrase you hear repeatedly, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain(Philippians 1:21). This pithy phrase has gone down in history as the Apostle Paul’s life mantra. Perhaps you remember when Paul came about this sharp declaration. He’s writing from prison – sitting under Roman house arrest. Since this was Rome’s attempt to interrupt Paul’s advance of the gospel, they sought to control Paul and his mission using methods of restriction, abuse and shame.

Yet, by taking away Paul’s formal hands-on influence, God reveals how Paul’s spiritual influence is advancing all the more. Encouraged by this unshakable hope, Paul is able to see his life from God’s perspective. He begins to see how his own imprisonment has inspired others to courageously take up the gospel call and how the gospel is going forth even among those in dispute. Then, God shows him a new mission field among the prison guards. Paul’s perspective shifts and he begins to see God’s movement throughout unfortunate circumstances. Paul sees his situation as opportunity instead of opposition. This is the perspective Scott Wenig mentioned on Sunday.

God can give you a Philippians 1 perspective too – where you can see your life as opportunity to live for Christ and your death as opportunity to be with Christ. Everyday you have the opportunity to look around you, like Paul did, and courageously walk through open doors to advance the kingdom. You can look around for ways God has been working and for how God is presently at work. As long as you are still living, you can live for Christ. Then, even if your life comes to a screeching halt, your spiritual influence will continue on. Ask the Lord to give you a perspective shift today and note the open doors God is giving you to advance the gospel in your current circumstance.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Yvonne Biel 

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