Philippians 1:12-14 ESV
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. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Not everything that is bad ends badly. As humans, we are going to go through all kinds of stuff, and it isn’t all going to be good. We are going to go through tough experiences, trials, and tribulations, as well as we may have positive, encouraging and delightful experiences, too. Some of us, for example, were abused as children. That is not good. But, God can bring good out of it. He can use it for good in our lives.
Many people are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ and for their testimonies for Christ and for this gospel, too. I have faced this much in my life. But, because of all the persecution and rejection I faced in my life, I am now on the internet sharing the Word of God with people I would have never encountered in any other way. Because of all the rejection and the persecution, which I have faced in my life, the gospel of Jesus Christ is advancing through the ministry the Lord has given to me on the internet.
So, it has all worked out for good. It has not been easy, though. It has been very hard, at times, and painful, and lonely, too. But, God has carried me through it all, and he can carry you through all of your difficulties, too, and he can turn them around for good, as well. For, he can take your hard times and turn them into a blessing. Because of your suffering, he may use you to minister his love and his grace to others in a way you never thought possible. For, God uses our suffering to prepare us for what he has called us to do, to get us ready in advance for what lies ahead in our future.
Philippians 1:15-18 ESV
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. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
If we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and we are walking in his ways, and if we are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness so that others can come to faith in Jesus Christ, too, there are going to be people who are not going to like us. And, they won’t want to be around us. Or, they may vehemently attack us or try to falsely accuse us.
But, they may be jealous of us, too, not in the sense that they want to live like we are living exactly, but they may resent our relationship with the Lord, or they may be bitter in spirit against us because we are walking in holiness, and that is an offense to many who are not. And, so they may crusade against us like the Pharisees did against Jesus in order to bring us down.
Yet, others who are bitter against us may take a different approach. They may actually pretend to be walking by faith in Jesus Christ, too, but while they are secretly engaged in sinful practices. And, they may even pretend that they are for us, and that they are with us. And, the pretense is to impress others that they are doing well spiritually, but it is a cover-up for what is really going on in their lives behind closed doors. For, betrayal is being plotted and carried out while loyalty is being professed on the surface.
And, they may, on the surface, even be preaching the same gospel we are, i.e. the one Jesus and his NT apostles taught, but it may be a façade to impress people, to deceive people into thinking they are living righteously, and as a cover-up for something underhanded, devious and despicable which they are doing undercover to try to dissuade others from us or to try to discredit us so that people won’t like us, but so they will like them.
Philippians 1:19-26 ESV
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 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. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Life has its ups and its downs. Some days are good. Some days are not so good, i.e. they are filled with troubles, heartaches, difficulties and pain. And, this applies to all people. And, then when you add on faith in Jesus Christ, then there are added sufferings, too, such as rejections, persecutions, false accusations, abuse, mockery, and slander, etc., just because of our walks of faith, and just because of our testimonies for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But, we have to not let these persecutions undo us. We have to realize that Jesus promised us that following him would be like this. And, we have to trust him through it all. We have to believe that he truly does work all things for good for those who love (obey) him and who have been called according to his purpose. And, we have to trust in his sovereignty over our lives, and believe that what we are going through is not without purpose or meaning, and that our Lord can carry us through it all.
Following Jesus Christ, therefore, means laying it all down for him. It means that truly to live is for Christ but to die is gain. And, this isn’t just talking about physical death when we go to be with the Lord, but it is talking about death to sin, and death to self, and being willing to be hated, persecuted, mistreated and falsely accused for the sake of the gospel in order to see other people find true freedom from addiction to sin in Christ.
But, I can attest to what Paul expressed here in that he was torn between wanting to be with his Lord and remaining for the encouragement of the saints of God, i.e. his fellow believers in Jesus Christ. And, the older I get (I will be 70 this year) the more I long for my heavenly home and will be glad for the day when Jesus takes me home to be with him. Yet, I know I will remain as long as my Lord still has work for me to do here, and as long as I can still be an encouragement to others in their walks of faith, too.
Philippians 1:27-30 ESV
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
And, this is the encouragement we should be giving one another for the time we have remaining on this earth. We should be encouraging one another to let our manner (our habits, our practices) of life be worthy (praiseworthy) of the gospel of Christ. And, what is the gospel? It is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness – all by his grace and in his power and strength. So, we should be encouraging one another to daily die to sin and self, and to daily live for Jesus, and to walk in holiness and in obedience to our Lord and in submission to his will and purposes for our lives.
And, we should be encouraging one another to remain steadfast in our faith and in our practices, that they may be for the glory and praise of God. And, that we should be united in mind and heart with one another, but that mind being the mind of Christ, and not the thinking of humans. And, we should be urging one another, too, to not be afraid of persecutions and opposition, but to be strong in the Lord and to daily put on that armor of God with which he has supplied us so that we can fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us.
For, suffering for the sake of the gospel has been granted unto us by our Lord. For, through suffering we are humbled, we cry out to God, we learn to rely on him and not on ourselves, we are being made holy, God is pruning us, and he is making us into the people of God he wants us to be for his praise and glory and also for the advancement of the gospel. So, be encouraged! If you are suffering for Christ, let God use it for his purposes.
He Lifted Our Burdens
An Original Work / February 15, 2014
Based off Isaiah 9:2-7
People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.
Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.
Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.
We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.
Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.
He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.