(Tuesday November 20, 2018)
TOPIC:On the Wrong Side?
Read: Philippians 1:12–18
Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 14–15; James 2
What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. Philippians 1:12
When the bridge to Techiman, Ghana, washed out, residents of New Krobo on the other side of the Tano River were stranded. Attendance at Pastor Samuel Appiah’s church in Techiman suffered too because many of the members lived in New Krobo—on the “wrong” side of the river.
Amid the crisis, Pastor Sam was trying to expand the church’s children’s home to care for more orphans. So he prayed. Then his church sponsored outdoor meetings across the river in New Krobo. Soon they were baptizing new believers in Jesus. A new church took root. Not only that, New Krobo had space to care for the orphans awaiting housing. God was weaving His restorative work into the crisis.
When the apostle Paul found himself on the “wrong” side of freedom, he didn’t lament his situation. In a powerful letter to the church in Philippi, he wrote, “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). Paul noted how his chains had led to “the whole palace guard” learning about Christ (v. 13). And others had gained confidence to share the good news of Jesus (v. 14).
Despite obstacles, Pastor Sam and the apostle Paul found God showing them new ways to work in their crises. What might God be doing in our challenging circumstances today?
Lord, sometimes we feel as though we’re on the wrong side of a particular situation. We know You are everywhere. Help us see You.
God is at work in the mess. That’s the message of the Bible. Matt Chandler
By Tim Gustafson
Scholars believe Paul was reminiscing about his ministry in Rome when he wrote Philippians 1:12–14. According to Acts 28:16–31, Paul was under house arrest but “was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier” (v. 16 nlt). In those two years, Paul had the rare opportunity to proclaim “the kingdom of God” and to teach “about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (vv. 30–31). In particular, he proclaimed God’s truth to the palace guards, Caesar’s elite troops (Philippians 1:13). Paul hinted of an unspecified number in “Caesar’s household”—court officials and dignitaries—who had come to faith (4:22). Writing from Rome, Paul’s primary concern was not his freedom, but being faithful to preach Christ (1:18–19), to be fruitful (v. 22), and to glorify Christ, whether he lived or died (v. 20). In a later Roman imprisonment (2 Timothy 1:17), Paul wrote that though he was “chained like a criminal . . . . God’s word [was] not chained” (2:9).
K. T. Sim
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