Rising Above Circumstances July 26, 2020
Philippians 1:12 – 21
Reading of Psalm 1
A little background about when and where the letter to the Philippians was written:
Scholars believe that there are good grounds that Philippians was written while Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus rather than Rome.
1) Paul’s reference in 1 Cor 15:32 about fighting wild beasts in Ephesus
2) Evidence of a detachment of praetorian guard and members of Caesar’s household in Ephesus at that time.
3) Distance and relative ease of communications between Ephesus and Philippi, a journey of 7 – 10 days as opposed to an 800 mile overland plus an ocean crossing.
4) Paul’s determination to “push west” with the Gospel doesn’t make sense if he was already in Rome when he wrote that he desired to return to them when he was released.
If he was indeed imprisoned in Ephesus then he wrote Philippians around 54 A.D.
Current circumstances can’t circumvent God.
Challenging times and conditions can be the best time for God’s Good news.
When a person who’s following God goes through hard times -especially situations out of their control, other Christians will rally around.
The focus changes from self to other.
What would be the natural reaction of the Philippians on learning that Paul, the stalwart apostle and evangelist was imprisoned? The man whom they loved and respected had been arrested and thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel in a town only a week’s journey from them.
What was going to happen to the fledging movement now?
What would happen to them?
Paul doesn’t focus on himself. He doesn’t write about the conditions, what food he has to eat, if he’s sleeping okay, or not.
Instead he writes a letter from a heart and perspective filled with joy. Why?
Joseph Clair spoke on Psalm 1 during the NWYM Monday evening service.
Especially during strange and hard times do we need to be like the tree planted by the waters of life. Jesus said in John 15 that He is the vine, we are the branches. He is also the living water.
Take all of these pictures and apply them to your life: be the branch deeply and firmly grafted into Jesus the Vine, who is like a solid Tree as well as the Water of life!
Paul was firmly grounded in Jesus who was his life, his confidence, his savior and future. Paul’s life was entirely in Jesus.
Paul had a positive attitude about his situation. Having a positive attitude changes perspective and helps us to see beyond self. Because he was rooted in Jesus he didn’t stop sharing the Good News of Jesus.
“My circumstances have turned out the greater progress of the gospel!
What propelled the expanding of the gospel? A mega church? A revival? A thriving mission field?
No Paul being arrested and thrown into prison results in the spread of the story of Jesus.
“My imprisonment has reward in people coming to know Christ!
Doing the right thing caused Paul to get arrested. God used Paul’s arrest to spread the Gospel to people who wouldn’t have heard it firsthand. The Praetorian guard throughout the system heard the good news of Jesus.
And other Christians become bold in sharing Jesus.
Other believers caught the zeal of Paul’s sharing the gospel also began spreading the Good News which introduced even more people to Christ.
The remarkable thing is that some shared with the wrong motive – they wanted fame, to shift the focus from Paul to self. But their personal insincerity didn’t change the truth of the Gospel. Motive will not negative true truth. The story of Jesus spread, and Paul rejoiced!
He didn’t allow himself to be discouraged by those who wanted to undermine him, instead he viewed it as a positive: God’s gospel was being advanced! Rejoice!
Paul’s story is Christ, and Christ alone! He didn’t fixate on the injustice done to him; he used the opportunity to share Jesus. Paul’s focus and message was Jesus – always Jesus.
21 For me to live is Christ, to die is gain!
1) Sink your roots into Jesus, draw strength, courage, wisdom from Jesus
2) No situation is outside of God’s knowledge or presence
3) Share Jesus’ story anywhere and everywhere.
4) When Jesus is proclaimed the Spirit of God harvests!