Philippians 1:18-21 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.”
Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, yet, his imprisonment served to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ further. For, it had become known that his imprisonment was for Christ. And, this also encouraged other followers of Jesus to be much bolder to speak the word of God without fear. So, his imprisonment served a good purpose. Amen!
Paul, rather than being down about his imprisonment, was encouraged by it and by what was resulting from it. So, he chose to look at the good that God was doing through it rather than to focus on the negatives of his difficulties. Rather than wallow in his misery, he chose to rejoice in his suffering.
And, he maintained a positive attitude that was hopeful that his suffering would turn out for good in his life, for some spiritual benefit in his life, to help him to grow in his walk of faith in the Lord, and perhaps to strengthen him spiritually so that he would continue to have courage and boldness to preach the gospel message despite persecution, and perhaps death.
For, his attitude about it all was that for him to live is Christ, but to die is gain. His life wasn’t about himself and what he wanted. He wasn’t in it for the popularity, the esteem, the recognition, or the money, either, for those were not part of it. He was often criticized, and he continually battled with those who kept lying about him to try to discredit him and the gospel.
So, he knew what he signed up for, and he was ready to pay the cost for following Jesus and for teaching the true gospel of our salvation. And, that is because he knew the joy of serving our Lord in ministry and of seeing the fruit of his labors in the lives of others who also dedicated their lives to Christ as Lord of their lives.
And, we can be encouraged here by Paul’s example for how we should respond to the difficulties of our lives. We, too, should see the hand of God in our lives, and in how he is using our persecutions for our good and to help others to grow in their walks of faith in Jesus Christ, and to help them be bolder in their testimonies for Jesus and for his gospel of salvation, too.
Philippians 1:22-26 ESV
“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.”
While we still have life, and we are on this earth, we, too, should be living our lives for Jesus Christ. Our lives should be about Jesus, not about us. And, we should be dedicated to getting out the message of the gospel to as many as possible before Jesus returns, too.
But know this! The true gospel of Jesus Christ is not some feel-good message that others are going to embrace naturally. It isn’t the broad road and the easy path that the majority follow, either. It is not the message that tells you that you don’t have to repent or obey the Lord and that you don’t have to submit to Christ as Lord, as well.
The true gospel, the one we should be spreading, is about dying with Christ to sin, and living with Christ to his righteousness. And, it is a life of suffering for Jesus and for his gospel, for Jesus said so, and so did his apostles. Jesus said that if we follow him, we will be hated, rejected, persecuted, and even put to death for the sake of his name, and for the sake of righteousness.
Yet, the fruit that will come from that will not only be spiritual growth in our own lives, but we will be able to impact other people’s lives for Jesus Christ, too. And, some of those we influence will believe in Jesus, and they will surrender their lives to him, too, for his service. And they, as well, will minister God’s love and grace into the lives of others and so on and so forth.
But, especially the older we get, and the harder it gets, and the more opposition we face, the greater our longing is for our eternal home with our Lord, and the more our desire is to want to go home and to leave all this pain and suffering behind us.
But because we love our Lord, and we love other people, we want to continue serving our Lord in sharing his gospel and in encouraging (urging, compelling) our fellow Christians to walk with the Lord in holiness, and to live godly lives pleasing to him in all their conduct. For, why we are all here is to give glory to God in all that we are and say and do.
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.”
All of us who profess faith in Jesus Christ are to be living our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, in all holiness and purity of devotion to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And, we are to be of one mind with our Lord Jesus, and then we are to be united in heart and mind with those who are also of one mind with our Lord Jesus. But we are not to be united in mind and heart with the world.
And, we need to be encouraging one another, too. For, if we are out there on the front lines, like many of us are, teaching or preaching the whole counsel of God, we are going to be opposed, and more and more as we see the day approaching for our Lord’s return. So, we need to urge one another on to love and good deeds in the Spirit of God and to not lose heart.
Why So Downcast?
An Original Work / December 21, 2012
Based off Psalm 42
Why so downcast, O my soul,
And why so disturbed now within me?
Put your hope in Jesus Christ,
For I will praise His name.
He’s my Savior and my God,
So therefore I’ll remember Him through
Storms and tempests sweeping o’er me.
Still I’ll praise His name.
Put your hope in God.
By day the Lord sends forth His love.
In the night His song is with me.
I pray to the God of my life.
I will praise His name. I say to God my Rock,
“Why must I be called to suffer this way?”
Foes attack me; Satan sneering.
Still I’ll praise my God.
Put your hope in Him.
As a deer pants for the waters,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God who’s living.
When can I meet Him?
My tears have been my food at night,
When men say, “So, where is your God?”
I pour out my soul to my God.
I’ll still praise His name.
Shout with joy to Him.