Saturday, September 15, 2007

For the furtherance of the Gospel...

Phil. 1:12-14 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.

Paul was in prison.

Those of us who have fervently prayed for imprisoned kingdom workers over the past weeks can understand how the church at Philippi must have felt: "Get them out of there, God, so they can do your work!"

And yet, Paul remained imprisoned. God had a change of scenery for his ministry. Rather than the familiar synagogues and town squares of the cities of Asia and Europe, Paul's view was the inside of a home in Rome. Instead of evangelism and discipleship in small and large groups, Paul's audience was scattered throughout the Empire. Instead of a preacher, Paul became a writer. One of his manuscripts was to the church at Philippi.

Paul didn't write to solicit their assistance - he wrote to encourage them. "Rejoice" is the theme of the book, and Paul doesn't make his circumstances an exception. Instead, he demonstrates to them specifically how his circumstances have served to advance the Gospel: by giving him opportunities from within (tradition says that the Roman legion had to keep replacing Paul's guards because he would convert them), as well as giving others opportunities outside. The bottom line: Paul's circumstances were submitted to God's sovereign purposes, and God kingdom was advanced.

What circumstance are you facing today that seems to undeniably restrict your ministry, your significance for the kingdom of God? Ask God to give you His eyes to see how He may already be using this circumstance for the advance of the Gospel. Submit the situation to Him and allow His sovereignty over your circumstances to wipe away all fears that you are not furthering the kingdom. When you see it from God's eyes, you'll learn how it really has advanced the kingdom of God - even if your role looks very different than you are used to!

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