January 31 – God’s Will – God’s will and prison experiences

Read Philippians 1:1-26

Paul’s letter to Philippian believers is categorized as one of the “prison epistles.”  In other words, this was a letter he wrote from a prison cell.

So what do you write from a prison cell?  Paul described some of his experience and his greatest desires starting in verse twelve.  He said, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that . . .”  So what followed the “that . . .”?

Yes, it’s true, he communicated the uncertainty of his own future.  God’s will was unclear to him.  Would he live?  Would he be executed?  Good question.

Yes, it’s true, he described a rising opposition.  There were people intent on adding to his affliction.  They tried to make things worse for him by taunting him (v. 17).

But rather than camping negatively on either of those realities that flowed from God’s permitted will for his life at that point, Paul really wanted the Philippians to know something else.

  • He wanted them to know that his prison was a mission field.  That is the way he saw it.  It provided him with a captive audience for talking to others about Jesus.  He wanted them to know that the word of God had spread as a direct result of his imprisonment.  Even when the permitted will of God takes you places you wouldn’t choose for yourself, do you recognize the associated opportunities that are opened up to you?
  • He wanted them to know that he was choosing joy.  It was a choice, you know.  He could have allowed his life situation to dictate his response.  If he had done so, the obvious response would have been one of anger, frustration, and bitterness.  Instead, he chose a different response . . . a joy-filled one.  When God permits the undesirable in your life, are you able to lift your eyes above the situation and choose joy?
  • He wanted them to know that he was going to honor God regardless of his circumstances.  If he lived, he would honor Christ in living.  If he died, he would honor him to his last breath.  In that way, his life situation did not affect him.  In the midst of unwanted or the most desirable of circumstances, do you seek to bring Him honor?

Steve Kern

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