The most recent articles published here explore the storms of life, stepping out in faith, and trusting in God to walk by faith not by sight. Scripture quotes are from New American Standard (NASV) from biblehub. Adrian Rogers reminds us in How to Handle Stress
“sometimes you cannot tell what is happening by outward appearance,and so the storms of life that come to you may be the things that God is bring to you to deliver you, and to help you, and to cause you to rise higher.”
Source of quote: https://www.lwf.org/pdfs/2205-How-to-Handle-Stress-PTR.pdf
Consequently, I would like you to consider that perhaps the storms and difficulties that we face are not just for our own good. What if God sends you difficulties and trials in order to strengthen your faith so that you can more effectively proclaim the Good News? Often it’s the humble, broken, and contrite souls that most diligently share the Good News! Can we really share news if it isn’t Good News to us personally?
Philippians 1:12-14 NASB
1. Paul’s Attitude-No Matter What Proclaim the Good News
12Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14and that most of the brothers and sisters, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
God “engineers our circumstances” to suit His purposes for our lives. Oswald Chambers speaks: April 23 Devotional
“We have no right to judge where we should be put, or to have preconceived notions as to what God is fitting us for. God engineers everything; wherever He puts us, our one great aim is to pour out a whole-hearted devotion to Him in that particular work. ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.'”
Even imprisonment was no hindrance to Paul’s message! While he was in chains, chained to a Roman guard awaiting trial, he had a “captive” audience. God works even in our most difficult circumstances to provide witness of His Goodness and Grace!
2. Romans 5:1-5
The Certainty of Hope and Proven Character
1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Because of Christ’s Atonement and God’s love poured into us through Holy Spirit, we can glory even in our trials! Tribulations are those fiery trials and temptations that come against you. The idea of being”pressed or crushed” comes to mind. Paul reminds us that we can celebrate in those hard moments. He then explains how we benefit from tribulations. The logic flow is below:
perseverance– cheerful, hopeful endurance
perseverance brings character–proven character
character brings hope–expectation, trust, confidence
The term poured out here means to “gush out, or spill.” Holy Spirit literally gushes out God’s love into our hearts! He fills us up to overflow!
3. Romans 5:6-8 The Extent of God’s love
6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God saves us when we are powerless to change ourselves. It’s God’s love, mercy, and grace that saves us! We can endure trials because He has saved us when we were helpless and powerless. God’s Redemption is our firm foundation to stand when the storms of life rage against us.
4. Philippians 2:21-30: Exalt Christ with Your Life!
Verses 15-20 Paul explains how he finds joy in the Gospel being proclaimed even if by people with wrong motives. His source of joy is the knowledge that v.20 “according to my eager expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Paul’s one ambition is that Christ be exalted in his life regardless of his life or death. This leads to his statement: “21For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul mentions his desire to be with Christ in heaven, yet wants to continue living to serve and encourage others. Paul’s life is about more than just Paul’s human desires! What is your life all about? Are you living for Christ and making a difference in serving others?
Got questions explains the concept of living for Christ and what it means that to die is gain:
Paul concludes chapter 1 with several profound truths to encourage the believers at Philippi. First, there is joy in seeing progress and joy in others being faithful to God. We need to celebrate other’s progress in the faith. Second, we need to live worth of the Gospel, united with other believers, and striving together for the faith. God established and sustains the church to nourish believers. The church isn’t a building or institution, but a community of like-minded individuals who come together to worship, fellowship, and serve God together.
The last truth seems to be contradictory. Paul writes:
God shows us favor and kindness in having us to not only believe, but to suffer for Him as well. The word “grant” here literally means to show kindness, favor. This seems to make no sense that God would be acting in our favor by appointing us to suffer for Him. It’s suffering that causes us to hunger for Him! Prosperity, comfort, and easy times causes us to lose focus and seek to maintain the “good moments” of life.
Paul’s sufferings as recorded in his letters and the book of Acts press him forward into being a bolder witness for Christ! The conflict he is talking about is his desire to be with Christ but wanting to stay behind to love and serve his fellow believers.
It is through our weaknesses that God truly shines His glory! While that’s a subject for another article, let’s focus our eyes upward. Suffering makes this necessary as we realize that we don’t have what it takes to press ahead in ourselves! God sends difficult storms to ground us in Him! It’s a great act of love and mercy that leads us away from ourselves and the things of this world to seek something far greater in Christ!
May God’s love and hope overflow into your heart to overflow onto those in need around you! I write these words to encourage you to press ahead in your difficult moments and trials knowing that God will get the glory as you persevere!