Verse for the Week: “Now I want you to know brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Gospel.” Philippians 1:12
Scripture Reference for Small Groups: Philippians 1:12-19
Have you ever felt like a dark cloud was following you? Maybe for years? That nothing was going right? When I look at Paul I see what some may say is a large black cloud, that he has really bad luck and there is no way that God is on his side! Paul was thrown in jail many times; he was shipwrecked, lied about, beaten, and persecuted. But his LOCK was loaded. He never let all the obstacles and locked doors squelch his desire to spread the Word of God. Paul capitalized on his circumstances and that produced confidence in him, a godly confidence allowing him to find purpose in his prison. Can you say that about yourself? Do you find opportunity around you even in dark times to be used by God? When we look at Paul’s message to the Philippians we can see that he viewed his imprisonment and his sufferings as ways to advance the Gospel of Jesus. When my life hits a rough spot, like the one we are in now as a family, as a community, as a nation, I thought I really had to squint to see the good happening around us. But I realized that doing that creates a tunnel that I now look through to determine if things are good or bad. I can’t even look around me because I am squinting! If I open up my eyes and actually look I can see there are other people suffering around me, that there are opportunities to serve others and that by trying to view good or bad through my own lenses that it changes my perspective. Paul knew that following Jesus wasn’t going to be easy but he didn’t care. He was viewing things with eyes of faith and not how the world would view things. He ministered to people while he was in prison, when he got out of prison, when his circumstance changed and when it didn’t. He left himself open to be changed when things around him stayed the same. Sometimes that black cloud following us is just opportunity to draw closer to God and to reach out beyond ourselves to minister to others. Paul’s journey gave other believers confidence and courage to speak about God without fear, even if they risked something terrible happening to them. My prayer is that you seize each moment as a Paul moment and preach the Word. Look for a God-given opportunity to speak joy and peace to those who need it. Don’t allow your lock to stop you from seeing God’s purpose for your life.
Questions for Application:
What are some ways that your trials and afflictions have served to advance the Gospel as we read in Philippians 1:12?
Both action and confessing can help to change your perspective on your situation. What are some actions or positive confessions you can think of to get your mind off yourself and onto someone else?
We read in Philippians 1:1-11, Paul talks about his prayer life and how he prays for his friends in the church. This week challenge yourself to pray like Paul for your friends, and family as you continue to encourage others during this crazy time!