Good Morning Friends
For those of you who are joining us for the first time we are in a series called "Forgetting What Is Behind". We are concluding today Chapter 3 "God uses what happens to us for our deliverance". Thank you for joining us I hope you enjoy it. If so please pass it on to friends. Lets get started:
Our Attitude in difficult times
Let’s take a look at Paul's attitude when he faced difficult times. Paul teaches us that though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control our responses to them. Philippians 1:19-26
This passage speaks to our deepest fears in our times of loss. Listen again to Paul's words, I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. (Philippians 1:19-26)
Some Key Attitudes:
1. Paul recognizes that he cannot do anything in his own strength. (Surrender & Humility) He is depended on the prayers of others and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
2. He is confident that what has happened to him will turn out for his deliverance. (trust & confidence). He chooses to believe that the Lord Jesus knows of his circumstances and that he has a plan that will deliver him.
3. He is eagerly hopeful and expecting that he will not be ashamed because of his situation. (Paul recognizes this situation is not about him even though it is happening to him). (Selflessness) His eyes are not on himself but on Jesus.
4. He knows that God will give him the courage he needs regardless of the outcome. He only desires that Christ will be exalted in his body whether that is through life or death.(Letting go of control) It is ok with Paul if he stays on earth or goes to heaven. Either way he is with the Lord.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:5-7
How do we view ‘our circumstances’?
1. Do we fear what may happen next? Fear of the unknown… those things that are beyond our control. When we have had bad life experiences, those bad experiences can cause us to become skeptical fearing everything. This is called (unrealistic fear).
2. Do we look at our circumstances from a victim perspective? If we view our circumstances as being; “something that has happened to me”, then my view will be one of ‘I can’t do anything about the situation I am in’! We will just lay down and take what comes to us without doing anything at all. We also have the view/attitude that God will just intervene at some point and take care of our problems for us.
One of the most difficult spiritual lessons to learn is that in our own strength ‘we can’t do it’, but that Christ “can/will do it through us”. Paul knew that without God's strength the trials of life would be too difficult for him. But Paul learned to lean not on his own strength but on the strength provided to him through Christ. He chose to focus on the blessing rather than the burden. His desire was to rejoice in the promise rather than to despair over the problem.
3. Is there ‘hope’ in your circumstances or just despair? We must be deliberate and steadfast in the midst of our circumstances. We must focus on the outcome (hope) not on what is happening (anxiety) at the moment. If we can keep our focus on what is being ‘gained’ instead of on what we think we are ‘losing’ we will get to the other side. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Paul’s view of life was one of hope because he knew the ONE who was hope. When we know the one who gives us hope our view of life and our circumstances are viewed differently.
4. Are you determined to live a productive life? Well, let’s take a look at what Paul says about this. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body, Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.
Paul’s attitude here is one to be admired. He is determined that if he is to continue on in life he will live it as productive as possible. He believed that if he was given more days on earth, it was for a purpose, a purpose higher than him-self.
What has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance!
You see Paul knew that his imprisonment was not an accident and that he was right where he was supposed to be. He was not a victim of his circumstances. He knew that what was happening to him was going to turn out for his deliverance. He was confident of this because he knew that his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would work it all out for good. Paul was so convinced of this that whether he lived or died didn’t matter because he was right where he was supposed to be “in the arms of his Lord”.
We all have good days, bad days and experience various trials throughout our life. But what we are learning here from Paul is “what or who are we putting our trust in”? Hopefully it’s not in ‘other people’, ‘other things’, other past experiences’, ‘our own knowledge’ and especially not in our own strength to get us through life and difficult times.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:1-6
Max Lucado writes:
Only in seeking his Maker does a man truly become man. For in seeing his Creator man catches a glimpse of what he was intended to be. He who would see his God would then see the reason for death and the purpose of time. Destiny? Tomorrow? Truth? All are questions within the reach of the man who knows his source... [GOD CAME NEAR quoted in INSPIRATIONAL STUDY BIBLE]
This will conclude our lesson on chapter 3. thanks you for joining me and we will continue on next week with lesson 4 called It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Have a great week, here are some things to things about...
Things to Ponder
1. Do you believe that all things work out for your good? Think on those things that are going on in your life and family at this time. What are you believing God for right now?
2. How do you usually handle difficult times when they come knocking on your door?
3. Does your attitude change along with your circumstances?
4. Do you have a spirit of perseverance and endurance and pressing through hard times, or do you view yourself as being helpless?