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

fim8720

“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

It’s been a Bad Day…So that…

Team of climbers in danger.

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to have a bad day.

Shipwrecked, thrown in prison, flogged, beaten, stoned, in danger from people, in danger from nature, hungry, thirsty, cold, weak…

You can read about his perils in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33.

Paul learned something about his perils. His most profound statement in all of the epistles rests in the next chapter following the documentation of his harsh circumstances. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says this:

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When I am weak, then I am strong, he says.

Hmmmm.

Keep this in mind as we progress.

This wasn’t new for Paul. He writes of his perils in 1 Corinthians as well. Paul really knew what it was like to have a bad day. And again, he gives God glory. He declares that his perils taught him how to rely on God more.

 “For we do not want you to be unaware brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despised of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.

But that was to make ourselves rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.” – 1 Corinthians 1:8-10

Even though Paul had a bad day – a lot of them actually – he always sees the good God is doing.

Seeing the good God is doing on your bad day can seem quite daunting at times.

I know it is for me.

Confusion, despair, self-pity, anger, can be some of the perspectives I absorb on a bad day. It’s easy to be that way too. And the devil capitalizes on that. The devil wants us to settle into a negative state of mind on a bad day. We can’t see the good God is doing in our midst through the clouds of negativity.

Seeing that Paul demonstrates an increasingly encouraging response to his bad days as we read through the New Testament epistles, always finding the good God is doing in his midst, I think we need to learn a little more about what Paul is doing.

Let’s take a look at Philippians… a letter the apostle Paul wrote while in prison.

Talk about a bad day! Or a bad sequence of days really. A bad season of life. But the reader would never say that’s the case while reading Philippians.

Ironically, Paul is extremely joyful and positive in every word he writes in this epistle.

Paul expresses a tone of rejoicing, thankfulness, excitement, love, compassion for others…such unusual characteristics from someone thrown in prison unjustly and unfairly.

Remember Paul’s idea of when I am weak, then I am strong – this idea permeates Philippians as we read about how Paul sees every single that happens to Him as a part of God’s purposes.

Paul starts off Philippians with thankfulness in chapter 1 verse 3: “I thank my God in every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy…”

Joy!?

Paul talks about praying with joy here… I just don’t get it.

He’s stuck in prison and the very first thing he writes is about praying with joy?

Maybe praying with confusion would sound a little more reasonable…praying with anger…bitterness…a chip on his shoulder…regret…loneliness…frustration…

But Paul prays with joy. It’s one of the first phrases penned.

Paul goes on to explain in chapter 1 verse 12-13 how his imprisonment is serving 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.”

Wow he is so optimistic and faithful to the Lord that he sees his suffering through the lens of God’s purpose. Shouldn’t he be angered and resentful towards the hand he has been dealt? The unfair circumstances? The unjust treatment? The Lord allowing it? Not helping him at all? But Paul just overflows with a tone of happiness throughout this entire book! It’s just mind-blowing to me!

It seems that Paul’s previous perils spoken of in 1st and 2nd Corinthians have developed his trust in God despite his circumstances so that his experience in prison now recorded in Philippians is nothing new to Paul – rather it’s just another useful tool in that hands of God to bring him closer to Christ and see others saved.

What I’m finding is that Paul had a “so that” mentality.

In everything he writes.

In everything he experiences.

Yeah… a “SO THAT” mentality.

Paul says this phrase over and over again in Philippians.

We saw “so that” in the verse above (1:13).

“So that” is used in this epistle 6 times by Paul, “that you may” is used 2 times, and “that I may” is used 2 times.

10 times, Paul uses this transitory/explanatory phrasing to point towards the purpose of either an occurrence or an action. Paul will make a statement concerning 1) reality (what is happening) and then utilize a 2) transitory/explanatory phrase of “so that/that I may/that you may” (why its’ happening) in order to 3) point towards God’s purpose (what God wants to happen). In other words, This is happening so that this will happen according to God’s will is the model of his verbal explanation. And it makes so much sense!

For example, let’s take a look at Philippians 3:8-11:

*The initial statement concerning reality will be bolded.

*The transitory/explanatory phrase will be bolded and italicized.

*God’s purpose through it will be bolded, italicized and underlined.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

No wonder Paul is so joyful amidst persecution!

Dang!

I want you to notice how many bolded phrases there are in comparison to the italicized/bolded and bolded, italicized, underlined phrases in Phillipians 3:8-11.

How many bolded phrases did you find?

One.

Yes, one!

Paul has 1 statement concerning reality. Yet 4 transitory/explanatory phrases pointing towards 6 phrases concerning God’s purpose in it!!!

Paul has 6 times more reasons to be joyful than his 1 suffering!

His suffering is pretty large, considering he has “suffered the loss” of all things. All things is a lot! Paul could have listed all the things he had lost to make it more dramatic and look greater than his reasons for joy. But Paul would never do that because he is a “so that” person.

Paul cares more about the “so that” than the reality of his circumstances.

Paul lists all the many purposes that God is revealing to him through his 1 suffering because he gives more weight to God’s purpose than to His own suffering. And this is extremely encouraging and inspiring to me.

What would happen if we gave more weight to God’s purposes than our own circumstances?

I guarantee we would absorb joy and so overflow with it.

I guarantee it would brighten our bad days.

Paul sees his bad days and bad circumstances as ingredients for what God’s creating in the earth to accomplish salvation and redemption. So he remains joyful. I love this.

Again, remember what he said in 2 Corinthians 12 – when I am weak, then I am strong – I think Paul is really onto something here.

We need a “so that” mentality.

Like Paul.

A “so that” mentality.

We need a “so that” mentality that turns our worst days into reasons to glorify God.

Our weakness makes us strong.

Strong in the Lord.

We experience pain.

So that we may empathize with others.

Weakness turns into strength.

We fail.

So that we may rely wholly upon the Lord.

Weakness turns into strength.

We get hurt.

So that we may experience the afflictions of Christ and have fellowship with Him in His sufferings.

Weakness turns into strength.

We lose.

So that Christ can be victorious in us.

Weakness turns into strength.

We have a bad day.

So that Christ’s sufficiency can be made real in our soul.

Weakness turns into strength.

Weakness turns into strength.

Weakness turns into strength.

Yes.

Weakness turns into strength.

Let your bad day be fuel that catalyzes your weakness turning into strength!!!

However, we need to understand this correctly…It’s not that God makes bad things happen to you so that this weakness-into-strength-conversion can take place.

No!!

That’s the wrong perspective.

God is not trying to harm you. Look at it conversely…

Something bad happens to you. Period. It’s done. And now, you can learn to say “so that…” after-the-fact. You can let this already inevitable weakness be turned into strength after-the-fact.

You and I having a bad day is inevitable.

It’s going to happen eventually, 100% guaranteed.

You can’t avoid bad things or bad days in this broken world. You just can’t. And that’s okay.

So…are you going to let those bad days and/or bad things become useful in God’s hand so that He can make something good come out of it? Or aren’t you?

Are you going to let him convert your weakness into strength? Or aren’t you?

Many bad days have already come and gone in your life. How are you going to handle a bad day from here on out?

It’s your decision.

Your perspective.

Your mentality.

Your peace to choose.

Your joy to fight for.

Don’t give up!

Don’t let a bad day fuel despair…

I’ve done that before. I’ve let 1 bad day turn into a whole bad week… and it doesn’t lead you anywhere but into more despair.

Learn to say “so that” to your bad day…to your bad circumstance.

Fight for joy!

Fight for peace!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice,” says Paul in Philippians 4:4.

Let your bad day be offered up to the God who knows how to make beautiful things from even the most hopeless circumstances.

So that you may be filled with joy!

So that you may be content in Christ!

So that you may be a light to someone else who needs it!

So that

So that

May we never run out of “so that” reasons to praise God’s power and purposes.

I pray that you and I would learn to say “so that” to every bad day. I pray that you and I would let God have our weaknesses so that He can convert them into strength by His power, mercy and grace. I pray we would find joy in this! Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus. May we learn to say “so that” to our bad days, knowing there is a purposeful reason on the other side. And You will redeem us from every war waged against us. You are surely working for the good of those who love you. We praise You.

 

 

“holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

-Philippians 2:16-

Questions for Today:

  • Why is Paul so joyful on really bad days?
  • What does Paul mean by when I am weak, then I am strong?
  • How many times does Paul use the phrase “so that/that I may/that you may” in the letter to the Philippians?
  • How does this point to God’s purposes?
  • What is a “so that” mentality?
  • Why do I need a “so that” mentality to experience joy on a bad day?

“For A Moment” by Elevation Worship

Getting to Know Jesus: Philippians 2:1-11

IMG_20140619_144847074

Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while imprisoned for preaching the gospel in Rome. Formerly a man who persecuted Christians, a conversion experience on the road to Damascus wrecked his whole purpose in life. He met Jesus right then and there. Saw the radiance of His glory. Felt the magnitude of His presence. And Saul was never the same. In fact, he became Paul… the writer of nearly half the New Testament and a champion evangelist for the cause of Christ. His faithfulness, dedication and perseverance are evident in the sincerity of his letters. In Philippians, Paul encourages the church in Philippi to live for Christ no matter the circumstances. It’s saturated with practical advice, testimonial encouragement and motivating exhortation. It’s short, simple and reassuring, which surely inspired 1st century Philippians living under Roman rule. Nobody knew what it felt like to be persecuted for the faith like Paul… and his words of heavenly citizenship and pressing on towards the goal of Christ Jesus helped to remind the Philippians that their sacrifices were not in vain. Jesus would be the ultimate reward. Paul always wanted to encourage his church to continue walking towards Jesus in conduct and character, while teaching them how to do so. Philippians exhorts the reader to focus on the sufficiency of Christ and trust in His provision, as Paul himself explains that he has discovered the secret to contentment. That Christ is always enough. Philippians also includes one of the most profound passages of scripture describing the humility and noble character of Christ. As we read this passage in Philippians 2, while thinking about the way that Jesus embodied the human condition, it provides an encouraging example of how we should live our lives. We see Jesus as the humble servant despite a pedigree of royal Kingship. Obedience and submission despite authority and power. Humility. Grace. Love. We see Jesus for who He is. The lion and the lamb. And it compels us to do the same.

Summary: Philippians 2:1-11

Paul reminds the Philippians of the uplifting benefits of Christ, encouraging them to embrace these benefits and have the same mind; Paul encourages unity and selflessness, while he discourages selfishness and conceit; Paul reminds the audience that they have the mind of Christ and thus are able to attain all of these things previously mentioned; Paul then describes the attributes of Christ, emphasizing His humility, obedience and noble character; Paul highlights that Jesus chose to become a servant rather than take advantage of His power and royalty; through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Paul declares Jesus Christ as Lord and the One whom every knee will bow, to the glory of God the Father.

You can also read Philippians 2:1-11 here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=philippians+2%3A1-11&version=ESV

 

Jesus in Philippians 2:1-11

Jesus is full of encouragement (v. 1)

Jesus’ love brings comfort (v. 1)

Jesus’ Spirit partners with us (v. 1)

Jesus is affectionate (v. 1)

Jesus is sympathetic (v. 1)

Jesus wants us to live in unity (v. 2)

Jesus enables us to embody humility (v. 3)

Jesus helps us to desire the betterment of others (v. 4)

Jesus enables us to think and live with this new mind (v. 5)

Jesus is the form of God (v. 6)

Jesus never took advantage of His rightful role as God (v. 6)

Jesus always thought of others before Himself (v. 6)

Jesus emptied Himself of everything he deserved and was selfless in how He interacted with others (v. 7)

Jesus chose to be a servant (v. 7)

Jesus was born in the likeness of men (v. 7)

Jesus was human (v. 7)

Jesus displays humility in everything He does (v. 8)

Jesus is obedient (v. 8)

Jesus embraced the plan to die on a cross (v. 8)

Jesus is exalted by God (v. 9)

Jesus name is higher than any other name (v. 9)

Jesus’ name will cause every knee to bow before Him (v. 10)

Jesus’ name and Lordship will be confessed by all (v. 11)

Jesus is Lord (v. 11)

Jesus brings God glory (v. 11)

 

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

– Philippians 2:3-

Questions for Today:

  • What surprised me or stood out to me about these attributes of Jesus?
  • Why do you think Jesus chose to come as a servant instead of a regal King?
  • How can I imitate Jesus’ humility in the way that I think… talk… and live?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my walk with Him?