Good morning everyone. I hope you are ready to start this great day of adventure knowing that Jesus is with you because he promised never to leave us alone. As we continue to look at Philippians 1 this morning I pray you will gain the attitude that it's all good.
It would make a great difference each day if we entered it with that attitude, it's all good. No matter what happens today it will all be used for good. The scripture says:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
So yes, if he uses all things, the good, the bad and the ugly of your day, then all things matter. The spilled coffee, the angry boss, the sick child all used by him for our good. It doesn't matter if we see it or even understand it, just accept it on faith as we have accepted everything else from Jesus. Understanding this can also help us understand this passage this morning.
Paul was writing this letter of joy and encouragement to the Philippians from jail. His concern was that the believers would be discouraged by his arrest and impending trial so he wanted them to see it through different eyes. He wanted them to understand it was all good:
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. (Philippians 1:12)
That's an interesting attitude coming from a guy in prison. I dare say not many of us have this perspective when we get sick, have a flat tire, or get fired. Not many of us have that deepening relationship of trust with Jesus in which we daily live the truth that in all things he works for our good. So how can sitting in jail advance the gospel?
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. v. 14
If you ever want to convince people that God's love is real and that your dedication to him is just as real, serve him with joy on the bad days. Paul's perseverance in jail provoked other believers to be bold in their faith, to speak up so that where there was one voice there were now many. Sometimes God, in his infinite wisdom, will use one of his children to provoke something in the rest of his children. How you handle your tough day or the difficulties you face could be provoking your brothers and sisters in the Lord to do the same. Perhaps someone in your workplace needed to see your example of joy in suffering to know it is possible. What other lessons are being taught through your faithfulness, dedication, determination and love?
Paul's attitude and vision was not a one off. He modeled for us the real possibility of living a life to God's glory and of becoming like Jesus. He showed us what one man of faith, totally convinced of Jesus' love for him, can do to impact the world for God. He showed us that there are no obstacles to the gospel except hardened hearts. Jail, ship wrecks, stonings, angry mobs, persecution from the religious, whippings, heartache, illness, poisonous snakes were not enough to stop the advancement of the gospel. How does this compare to our lives?
Our lives are filled with bills, overwork, time crunches, car problems, discouragement, crying babies, sleepless nights, heartaches, brokenness, spilled coffee, stress, illness, disease. Are we really about to say that these things are greater than our God? How did Paul do it? How did he gain such a view of life? It is not how he saw life but instead how he saw Jesus:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Is that not an incredibly encouraging passage to read this morning? The reason Paul could have such an attitude was because he kept Jesus on the throne at all times. His great desire was to be with Jesus and to make Jesus known to as many people as possible. He realized that everything was only temporary and would pass. He would not allow these temporary things to distract him from the mission and his purpose. Instead he saw how God used everything for good and he was encouraged by it.
If we could reach a place of maturity in our faith where we understood that Jesus really is everything to us then we too would be able to say of the circumstances of our life, it is all good. Try it out today. Trust that, regardless of what happens, the Father is in control and he is using everything for his glory. As you do this, put on an attitude of worship so that you may have joy throughout your day. You may be amazed at what it will provoke in your fellow believers. However, this attitude and perspective are only possible when Jesus is everything to you at the same passionate level of relationship that Paul had with him. It is the only way to gain the perspective of temporary things being light and momentary. It's all good!