The Peace of Paul: “What has happened… has actually resulted in…”

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“And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” –Philippians 1:9-11

As we dive into the letter to the Philippians, we find the apostle Paul writing to the church at Philippi.

In the above verses, Paul is praying for the welfare of the church at Philippi. Interceding for them. Encouraging them. At first read, this seems ordinary and normal considering this is the Bible after all. And Paul is a great man of God. Of course Paul would be praying for the Philippians. What else would he be doing!

But did you know that the apostle Paul was actually in a jail cell when he wrote this?

That’s right.

A jail cell.

Paul had been imprisoned by Rome for preaching the words of Christ. For doing what God had instructed him to do. For doing the right thing.

So it seems that Paul would be upset, right!?

Wouldn’t he be angry at God for orchestrating his landing at a Roman jail?

Especially considering he had been appointed by God to carry out the mission of God. Wouldn’t God have wanted Paul to not be captured and keep preaching and ministering? Couldn’t God rescue him? Couldn’t God have stopped him from being captured and imprisoned by the Romans?

Surely God could have.

God could have prevented Paul from going to prison unjustly. But He didn’t.

Why?

To Paul, the answer is clear:

“Now I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is for Christ.” –Philippians 1:12-13

Wow.

Paul isn’t angry.

Now that is a faith in Christ that cannot be shaken.

What has happened…has actually resulted in…

Hmmmm…

It seems Paul is starting to think about how this can be used for God’s glory…

Hmmm….

It seems Paul is starting to see how others can hear about Jesus by him being there in the prison…

Hmm…

It seems Paul is finding joy in jail…

It seems Paul is seeing God at work…

It seems Paul trusts God’s hand in his life in any and every situation he goes through…

Wow…

What has happened…has actually resulted in…

Plug in your situation… has actually resulted in…

Being in jail…is actually helping others hear about Christ.

Being persecuted by others… is helping me fellowship with Christ in His sufferings.

Experiencing conflict… is actually growing stagnant areas in my life.

Not having what I think I need… is actually elevating my trust in God as my provider.

Feeling unloved… is actually drawing me nearer to the Lord who loves me extravagantly. 

Remaining in a difficult situation… is actually shaping me into the person God wants me to be.

Whatever has happened…God will use to result in something beneficial! For you and for His glory!

“No one takes up the case for your sores.

You have nothing that can heal you.

But I will bring you health

and will heal you of your wounds…” –Jeremiah 30:13 & 17a

Remember: love seeks the welfare of others. And God is love. So God seeks our welfare. No matter the situation, God seeks our welfare in that. Aren’t you glad to know you have one person on your side in this life seeking your welfare? And not just anyone! But God! The God of the universe is seeking your welfare!!! And He’s never gonna stop.

Paul may be limited to a jail cell.

But God is not limited.

God is still seeking the welfare of Paul.

Even in the jail cell.

God is using Paul’s situation to do exactly what He intended all along.

And in the middle of it, Paul also starts to reflect the love of God by seeking others welfare as well. Paul starts to pray for others even in the midst of his own suffering.

Do we?

Are we seeking the welfare of others when we are in pain? When we are upset? When we feel ignored, rejected and passed over?

Paul did.

Paul demonstrates the purity of love by praying for others and seeking their welfare, instead of dwelling on his own unfavorable circumstances.

In verse 10 of the first chapter, Paul says something very meaningful that particular sticks out to me: “so that you can determine what really matters…”

What really matters.

What really matters.

Paul discovered what really matters.

Paul found that what has happened… is actually helping him to discover what really matters. 

→ Saying yes to God at all costs.

That really matters.

“For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain,” (1:21).

So whether Paul is alive: he says yes to Jesus.

And whether Paul is dead: he sees Jesus.

Either way, he says yes to Jesus.

He follows Him.

Are you?

“So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” –Philippians 2:12

Are you following Jesus at all costs? Am I following Jesus at all costs?

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the songs I listen to that talk about my faith in God.

Songs that say, “take it all…”, “you can have it all, Lord…every part of my world…”, “I surrender all…”, “should this life hold nothing but my Savior, I will praise you always…”… And to me, these words are very serious words. These are not just songs on the radio to sing along to. They are serious vows. Serious vows to the Lord.

When I sing “You can have it all, Lord…” do I really mean it?

If so, why am I surprised when God takes it all??

When we sing “I surrender…” do we really mean it?

If so, why do we try to take control over God and do things our way??

What we commit to in our relationship with Jesus is very serious. It’s not to be said whimsically. If I say to the Lord that he can have it all, I better expect for Him to take it all and I subsequently find joy in that. Just like the apostle Paul did.

Paul meant what he said when he said “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Paul walked what he talked.

Paul sang praises to Jesus while chained in a jail cell!

Paul found joy in God taking everything from him. And I just can’t get over it. It helps me so much to learn from Paul’s contentment in the Lord when his situation could have been incredibly miserable. From Paul’s humble submission to let God do anything to him, no matter how much it hurt. From Paul’s willful obedience to follow the Lord even unto death. To choose Jesus over every other thing he could have. His whole life revolved around Jesus.

Paul would go on to be executed by the Romans.

For him, saying “to die is gain” would be a quick reality.

And Paul was ready.

Paul was willing.

Paul was joyful.

Paul was glad to give his life for Jesus.

Are we?

I pray we would think about what really matters. And that our inclination during a difficulty would be to say “what has happened…has actually resulted in…” for the glory of God.

→ Just like the picture above after a forest fire, the flames were hot and the devastation discouraging. But the forest will regrow. And look at what you can see now. Beauty is just along the horizon. What has happened… has actually resulted in… 

May our confidence in the Lord blur every over worry, discouragement, stressor, anxiety and assailant of our joy. God is fighting for you and He’s on your side. Let us recall the posture of Paul’s heart when we go through what seems like hopeless situations in our lives. For surely, God it doing something glorious.

 

“But our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.”

–Philippians 3:20-21

 

Questions for Today:

  • What did Paul say that redirected his potential misery into peace?
  • How can I learn to be thankful in the midst of unfavorable circumstances?
  • How can I fill in this sentence to reflect my own response to my current situation? → “what has happened…has actually resulted in…”
  • What next step can I take in my relationship with the Lord today?

 

“Fullness” (Acoustic) by Elevation Worship

Stress and Frustration: The Accompaniments of Greatness

 

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David was deemed “a man after God’s own heart” in 1 Samuel 13:14.

Yet reading through the psalms, we get to know David as a man who knew much frustration. Much agony. Much stress.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest.” –Psalm 22:1-2

How interesting that one of the most powerful men in all of the land at this time, – David, the King of Israel – would be crying out to the Lord in such despair.

A couple weeks ago my kindergarten students took their first standardized math test.

Halfway through I started to hear sniffling then crying then bawling. One of my best students was very upset that he didn’t think his answer was correct and he wanted to quit the test. I couldn’t tell him that he actually clicked the right answer! All I could do was remind him he could do it and was doing an awesome job.

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever been so upset while striving towards a goal or calling that you want to quit before you accomplish it?

I can relate.

It’s so easy to doubt yourself.
To doubt your ability.
To doubt your competence.
To doubt your worth.

To struggle with the pressure of trying to be perfect.

The pressure that intensifies at very benchmark of success.

 

This student went on to score the highest score of all my students. Yet he was the only one displaying signs of stress and frustration, and wanting to quit.

Much like King David.

Much like so many men and women of God, both now and throughout history.

Yet this remains relevant to each one of us!

God has placed greatness and exponential potential inside of you. But the closer you get to reaching your goal, the more pressure you will experience.

Greatness is accompanied by heavy stress and frustration.

But ultimately, victory is just around the corner.

Peace is just around the corner.

Rest is just around the corner.

Recall the agony of David:

“Lord, how long will you continually forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me?” –Psalm 13:1-2

Yet David learned to redirect his thoughts toward the God bigger than His agony.

The God bigger than his anxiety.

The God bigger than his stress.

The God bigger than his frustration.

By the end of the same psalm, David goes on to declare with confidence, “But I have trusted in Your faithful love; my heart will sing to the Lord because He has treated me generously.” –Psalm 13:5-6

And David kept going.

David did not give up.

Will you?

 

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

-James 1:2-4

 

Questions for Today:

  • Will you embrace the stress and frustration that accompanies greatness?
  • What is one thing you can do to redirect your focus on the Lord and off of your stress and frustration?
  • What next step can I take in my relationship with the Lord today?

 

“Every Line” by Newspring Worship