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Friday, June 12, 2015

Philippians 1:12-14 & 29-30 A Devotion

12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 
13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 
14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 
30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Paul began this letter with thanks and joy for Philippian Christians. Even from prison, he encouraged and praised them. Paul recognized that he could die and that would be all right with him, but to live was better for these people and others so they could hear the Gospel of Christ and mature in it, bearing the fruits of the Spirit.

Paul explained that his imprisonment turned out for the good. Many of the Roman guards then had the opportunity to hear the Gospel, which might not have occurred if he was not imprisoned. So when he said he was in chains for Christ, it was not a lament, but a joy and praise that God used him there even if he had to endure the hardships of prison.

Paul continued this passage by adding another benefit to his being in prison. He said that his imprisonment in chains encouraged others of his brothers and sisters in Christ to tell the Gospel without fear and with boldness. Because in Paul’s imprisonment Christians saw the grace God gave him and the boldness of his proclamation that led many to become followers of Christ, this gave courage to others to increase their proclamation of the Gospel without fear.

At the end of this chapter, Paul told them because of their great faith, people came to see them as strong Christians worthy of receiving persecution. His brothers and sisters in Christ should be proud they were counted as one of Jesus’ followers. They stood strong and bold for Christ and were seen as His followers. Not only did this mean they endured suffering because of their faith, but they could know for sure the hope of Christ Jesus – His promise of strength now and eternal life for the future. In addition to this, they could have the hope of making it through the earthly suffering because Paul expressed his joy and assurance that God was not finished with him yet. If Paul could do it, they thought, they could go through persecution and suffering, too.

Paul’s endurance in prison by God’s grace and his continued proclamation because of his hope and faith encouraged other Christians not to let the threat of imprisonment stop them from proclaiming the Gospel. It increased their desire to tell the Good News boldly and fearlessly. Do we feel this when we hear of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted by intimidation, imprisonment, and death? Do we react to their persecution to be more determined to share the Gospel?

Another thing we need to ask ourselves is, if we were imprisoned, would our testimony in prison cause our guards to become Christians? Would it cause those who hear about us to be encouraged and emboldened to share the Gospel more, in the face of fear and possible persecution?

Paul was an evangelist, apostle, teacher, encourager, and model to the people of his time. He continues to be these now. We can be encouraged to be bold in the face of persecution. We can continue to stand strong and proclaim our faith knowing that when we proclaim the Gospel of it will be heard and more people will know about Him. Our standing strong and continuing to proclaim can encourage others to be and do the same. We can become "Pauls" for someone else so that more people hear the Gospel.

Are you bold and fearless in proclaiming the Gospel? Do you speak no matter what? Do you hold on to the joy and hope of your salvation no matter your circumstances? Can people look up to your life and model themselves after you because of your boldness and fearlessness in telling the Good News? If you are a Christian, then you have the hope only Christ can give – life and strength while on the earth and eternal life with God the Father and the Son. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. What will it take for you to have this boldness and fearlessness so others will hear the Good News and so other Christians are encouraged and emboldened?