“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
– Philippians 1:12-14
I’m always amazed when I read what has been deemed Paul’s “Prison Epistles.” I’m so encouraged when I hear about his faith in God, despite his dire circumstances. Not only did he have complete faith in God, but he decided to make the most of his time in prison and lead others to Jesus, despite his circumstances! Then, I also remember that his influence went well beyond the walls of the prison. His letters were read around the known world at the time and are still read by millions every day!
It makes me think of times in my life when I have felt down in the dumps and beaten up by the world. Or, of times I’ve been angry with God because of something I thought was too much to bear. Instead of looking at the circumstances and seeing the opportunities to exhibit my faith in God, I’ve sometimes just wallowed in pity and despair. Yet, God always shows up and delivers me from whatever “darkness” I have faced. He never fails, even though I fail plenty. He never forgets me, though I may have forgotten Him at times.
When I read these words, I’m encouraged to trust in God and make the most of every opportunity. If Paul can make such an impact in the world, while in chains…I can surely impact the world around me through the testimony of what He has done in my life.
When we read Paul’s words, may we be spurred on to continue striving for Jesus, no matter what circumstances may come our way. May we choose to believe in the promises of God and fight through every difficulty. And, no matter what we’re going through, may we choose to glorify God so that others may be encouraged in their faith and led into the arms of Jesus!
Pastor Mike Gentry