Philippians 1 v 12 - 18

This passage gives us a glimpse into Paul's world, not only does he face persecution by the Jews and Romans, but he receives challenges from those who think they can outdo him in their preaching, the power of their rhetoric. He can write freely to the church at Philippi, because he knows they support him unequivocally. One of the many impressive things about Paul was his ability to see what God was doing in him and through him. Here he is thankful because the message of the Good News has benefited from his imprisonment. We may ask, 'Why was Paul in prison and what did that mean in his case?' Reading through the book of Acts, we learn that Paul, understanding the perils of his position, had decided to appeal to Caesar, which he could do as a Roman citizen. Once he had arrived in Rome, he had been put in the care of a soldier who was his guard. He would have been chained to this man day and night. Eventually, Acts 28 v 30 records that he was allowed to have his own rented lodging and, although still under guard, could receive house guests. Paul had known that he would one day witness to Jesus Christ at the heart of the Roman Empire and this had come to pass! What I find particularly impressive about Paul was that he wasn't possessive of the many believers who had come to know Christ through him. He loved them, was concerned about their welfare, worried about their safety, but he was happy for any person to preach to those who hungered for salvation as long as they preached the Good News. It is a very difficult balance: to love your spiritual children without reserve, but to be always willing to say goodbye, to wish them the best sincerely and to enjoy their growth in a different church fellowship. The message for all of us here, is how central is God to your life? Is He just one more part of what makes you who you are or is everything you do revolving around your loving obedience and worship of Him? We spoke of joy yesterday and true, lasting joy can only be found when we constantly lay ourselves as living sacrifices before the living God.

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