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The Progress of the Gospel

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How do you not lose heart, when nothing seems to go right?

It’s the middle of the 1600’s, and we are in England.
You may not realize this, but England didn’t have freedom of worship.
The official church of the time was the Church of England.
And it was illegal to practice religion outside of the Church of England.
You couldn’t preach without a license.
And you couldn’t have a religious gathering of more than 5 people.
If you did, you could be sentenced to jail.
And if you continued, you could even face execution.
One of the men of this time was John Bunyan.
He had a young wife, 4 children, and one of them was blind.
He was also a rather poor man.
Bunyan was not ashamed of the Gospel, and knew that it was better to obey Christ than man.
Therefore, he refused to stop preaching, even though it was against the Law.
You can probably see where this is headed.
He was arrested for holding religious services and preaching outside of the Church of England.
He’s brought before the judge, Judge Wingate.
He’s found guilty, and the judge gives his sentence.
Judge: The evidence I hold in my hand, even apart from your own admission of guilt, is sufficient to convict you, and the Court is within its rights to have you committed to prison for a considerably long time. I do not wish to send you to prison, Mr. Bunyan. I am aware of the poverty of your family, and I believe you have a little daughter who, unfortunately, was born blind. Is this not so?
Bunyan: It is, M’Lord.
Judge: Very well. The decision of the Court is this: In as much as the accused has confessed his guilt, we shall follow a merciful and compassionate course of action. We shall release him on the condition that he swear solemnly to discontinue the convening of religious meetings, and that he affix his signature to such an oath prior to quitting the Courtroom.. That will be all, Mr. Bunyan. I hope not to see you here again. May we hear the next case?
But John Bunyan wasn’t looking to be silenced. “M’lord, if I may have another moment of the Court’s time?”
Judge: Yes, but you must be quick about it. We have other matters to attend. What is it?
Bunyan: I cannot do what you ask of me, M’lord. I cannot place my signature upon any document in which I promise henceforth not to preach. My calling to preach the Gospel is from God, and He alone can make me discontinue what He has appointed me to do. As I have had no word from him to that effect, I must continue to preach, and I shall continue to preach.
Judge: I warn you, sir, the Court has gone the second mile to be lenient with you, out of concern for your family’s difficult straits. Truth to tell, it would appear that the Court’s concern for your family far exceeds your own. Do you wish to go to prison?
Bunyan: No, M’lord. Few things there are that I would wish less.
Judge: …Can you comply with this condition, Mr. Bunyan? Before you answer, mark you this: should you refuse, the Court will have no alternative but to sentence you to a prison term. Think, sir, of your poor wife. Think of your children, and particularly of your pitiful, sightless little girl. Think on these things, and give us your answer, sir!
Bunyan: M’lord, I appreciate the Court’s efforts to be as you have put it - accommodating. But again, I must refuse your terms. I must repeat that it is God who constrains me to preach and no man or company of men may grant or deny me leave to preach.
Judge: Very well, Mr. Bunyan. Since you persist in your intractability, and since you reject this Court’s honest effort at compromise, you leave us no choice but to commit you to Bedford jail for a period of six years.
The goal of the court was to silence John Bunyan.
He was illegally preaching.
He was illegally teaching.
He was illegally proclaiming the Gospel.
The goal was to silence him.
Do you know what the result of that imprisonment was?
He did spend 6 years in jail.
And that 6 year term, turned into a 12 year term.
And while in prison, he became even more serious about preaching … the very thing they didn’t want.
He wrote the classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress.
He would go into the jail courtyard and preach.
His fellow prisoners heard the Gospel.
In fact, citizens of Bedford, the town the jail was in, would come to hear him preach from inside the walls.
And when his time in jail was through, he even became the pastor of the church in Bedford.
Never was John Bunyan asking, “Why me?”
He knew exactly why what was happening was happening.
He was in prison for the progress of the Gospel.
And he took every opportunity to see the Gospel spread.
He put it into print.
He put it to story.
He preached it.
Those within the jail walls and those outside the jail walls heard it.

How do you not lose heart, when nothing seems to go right?

Have you ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?
It’s about Clark Griswold and his family, and their escapades at Christmas time.
If you ask the casual Christian it’s:
Having a clever bumper sticker on your car.
And poor Clark, nothing goes right him.
Maybe it says, “Jesus is my co-pilot”, or “In case of rapture, vehicle will be unattended.”
His inlaws are crazy.
There are squirrels in the Christmas tree.
It’s playing Christian music when others are around you.
Christmas lights don’t work.
It’s wearing a cool Christian T-shirt with some kind of pun on it.
The cat gets electrocuted chewing through an electrical cord.
The turkey deflates.
Maybe instead of a shirt that says, “Gold’s Gym” it says, “Lord’s Gym”.
And then to top it all off, the Christmas bonus doesn’t come through, the one that he receives every year.
And so, the big climax of the movie is him losing it.
Instead of saying someone’s an idiot, it’s saying, “Bless her heart.”
He’s at his breaking point.
And yet, the casual Christian easily loses his joy.
Because nothing goes right.
When he faces disappointment and dissatisfaction, he becomes bitter, fearful, and negative.
And he loses it.
This morning we are going to be in Philippians 1:12-20.
And here in this text, we meet Paul, who it seems like nothing goes right for.
He was all about the Gospel.
Paul was formerly an important Pharisee.
He called himself a Hebrew of Hebrews, Pharisee of Pharisees.
And he gave it all up for Christ.
And instead of becoming rich and famous:
He lost his friends.
He lost his health.
He lost his freedom.
All for Christ.
Paul had started the Philippian church about 5 years earlier, and a lot had happened since those first days of the church.
A lot had happened to Paul.
He was taken to Rome, and there in Rome, put under house arrest.
That doesn’t mean it was an easy prison term.
There were no GPS ankle bracelets at the time to monitor his location.
There was a Roman guard, chained to his side, the original GPS ankle bracelet.
He lost all privacy.
He was forced to pay for his own apartment, which served as his jail cell.
He wasn’t even sure if he would get out of there alive.
The Philippians want to know how Paul is doing.
Is he healthy?
Is he going to make it?
Will he ever get out of there alive?
Has he lost it?
And on top of that, there is division within the church.
There are some people, who are jealous for the fame that Paul has, and have started preaching, trying to rob Paul of his influence.
Nothing is going right for Paul.
But Paul doesn’t lose it.
This letter is Paul telling the Philippians, that he’s okay; that he hasn’t lost heart.
And at the same time, we learn how to stay Gospel focused through the worst.
Let’s go ahead and read .
Read .

The first thing we learn is to look for Progress of the Gospel.

John Bunyan
It’s England in the middle of the 1600’s.
You may not realize this, but England didn’t have freedom of worship.
The official church of the time was the Church of England.
And it was illegal to practice religion outside of the Church of England.
You couldn’t preach without a license.
And you couldn’t have a religious gathering of more than 5 people.
If you did, you could be sentenced to jail.
And if you continued, you could even face execution.
One of the men of this time was John Bunyan.
He had a young wife, 4 children, and one of them was blind.
He was also a poor man.
Bunyan was not ashamed of the Gospel, and knew that it was better to obey Christ than man.
Therefore, he refused to stop preaching, even though it was against the Law.
You can probably see where this is headed.
He was arrested for holding religious services and preaching outside of the Church of England.
He’s brought before the judge, Judge Wingate.
He’s found guilty, and the judge gave him his sentence.
Judge: The evidence I hold in my hand, even apart from your own admission of guilt, is sufficient to convict you, and the Court is within its rights to have you committed to prison for a considerably long time. I do not wish to send you to prison, Mr. Bunyan. I am aware of the poverty of your family, and I believe you have a little daughter who, unfortunately, was born blind. Is this not so?
Bunyan: It is, M’Lord.
Judge: Very well. The decision of the Court is this: In as much as the accused has confessed his guilt, we shall follow a merciful and compassionate course of action. We shall release him on the condition that he swear solemnly to discontinue the convening of religious meetings, and that he affix his signature to such an oath prior to quitting the Courtroom.. That will be all, Mr. Bunyan. I hope not to see you here again. May we hear the next case?
But John Bunyan wasn’t looking to be silenced. “M’lord, if I may have another moment of the Court’s time?”
Judge: Yes, but you must be quick about it. We have other matters to attend. What is it?
Bunyan: I cannot do what you ask of me, M’lord. I cannot place my signature upon any document in which I promise henceforth not to preach. My calling to preach the Gospel is from God, and He alone can make me discontinue what He has appointed me to do. As I have had no word from him to that effect, I must continue to preach, and I shall continue to preach.
Judge: I warn you, sir, the Court has gone the second mile to be lenient with you, out of concern for your family’s difficult straits. Truth to tell, it would appear that the Court’s concern for your family far exceeds your own. Do you wish to go to prison?
Bunyan: No, M’lord. Few things there are that I would wish less.
Judge: …Can you comply with this condition, Mr. Bunyan? Before you answer, mark you this: should you refuse, the Court will have no alternative but to sentence you to a prison term. Think, sir, of your poor wife. Think of your children, and particularly of your pitiful, sightless little girl. Think on these things, and give us your answer, sir!
Bunyan: M’lord, I appreciate the Court’s efforts to be as you have put it - accommodating. But again, I must refuse your terms. I must repeat that it is God who constrains me to preach and no man or company of men may grant or deny me leave to preach.
Judge: Very well, Mr. Bunyan. Since you persist in your intractability, and since you reject this Court’s honest effort at compromise, you leave us no choice but to commit you to Bedford jail for a period of six years.
The goal of the court was to silence John Bunyan.
He was illegally preaching.
He was illegally teaching.
He was illegally proclaiming the Gospel.
The court’s goal was to silence him.
So he was sentenced to jail in an effort to silence him.
Do you know what the result of that imprisonment was?
He was originally sentenced to 6 years in jail.
And that 6 year term, turned into a 12 year term.
And while in prison, he became even more serious about preaching … the very thing they didn’t want him to do.
He wrote the classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress.
Which at one time was the second most read book in history, behind the Bible.
He would go into the jail courtyard and preach.
His fellow prisoners heard the Gospel.
In fact, citizens of Bedford, the town the jail was in, would come to hear him preach from outside the walls.
And when his time in jail was through, he even became the pastor of the church in Bedford.
Never was John Bunyan asking, “Why me?”
He knew exactly why what was happening was happening.
He was in prison for the progress of the Gospel.
And he took every opportunity to see the Gospel spread.
He put it into print.
He put it to story.
He preached it.
Those within the walls and those outside the walls heard the gospel.
He never lost it.
Look how Paul starts this passage.
He’s in jail, but he doesn’t begin by saying:
“Get me out of here.”
“You have no idea how bad things are.”
“You have no idea what I’ve been through.”
Instead, he says, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,”
He’s not complaining.
He’s trying to say, “Things aren’t that bad, because there has been a progress of the Gospel.”
Sure things have been bad, but instead of complaining about how bad things are, he praises how well the Gospel is spreading.
He says that the praitorian (praetorian) guard has heard the Gospel.
The praetorian guard were elite soldiers for the Roman emperor.
They almost functioned as his own private guards.
They would serve the emperor for about 16 years and at the end of their 16 years, they were awarded Roman citizenship.
This means not only were they a special group of soldiers, but they were an international group of soldiers, coming from all over the world.
And now they’ve heard the Gospel.
By them hearing the Gospel, it’s naturally going to spread out throughout the world.
Eventually, their families and their homelands will hear of the Gospel.
And Paul praises God.
He’s says it’s worth it.
In addition to the praetorian guard, at the end of verse 13 he says, “and to everyone else.”
It’s England in the middle of the 1600’s.
You may not realize this, but England didn’t have freedom of worship.
The official church of the time was the Church of England.
And it was illegal to practice religion outside of the Church of England.
You couldn’t preach without a license.
And you couldn’t have a religious gathering of more than 5 people.
If you did, you could be sentenced to jail.
And if you continued, you could even face execution.
One of the men of this time was John Bunyan.
He had a young wife, 4 children, and one of them was blind.
He was also a rather poor man.
Bunyan was not ashamed of the Gospel, and knew that it was better to obey Christ than man.
Therefore, he refused to stop preaching, even though it was against the Law.
You can probably see where this is headed.
He was arrested for holding religious services and preaching outside of the Church of England.
He’s brought before the judge, Judge Wingate.
He’s found guilty, and the judge gives his sentence.
Judge: The evidence I hold in my hand, even apart from your own admission of guilt, is sufficient to convict you, and the Court is within its rights to have you committed to prison for a considerably long time. I do not wish to send you to prison, Mr. Bunyan. I am aware of the poverty of your family, and I believe you have a little daughter who, unfortunately, was born blind. Is this not so?
Bunyan: It is, M’Lord.
Judge: Very well. The decision of the Court is this: In as much as the accused has confessed his guilt, we shall follow a merciful and compassionate course of action. We shall release him on the condition that he swear solemnly to discontinue the convening of religious meetings, and that he affix his signature to such an oath prior to quitting the Courtroom.. That will be all, Mr. Bunyan. I hope not to see you here again. May we hear the next case?
But John Bunyan wasn’t looking to be silenced. “M’lord, if I may have another moment of the Court’s time?”
Judge: Yes, but you must be quick about it. We have other matters to attend. What is it?
Bunyan: I cannot do what you ask of me, M’lord. I cannot place my signature upon any document in which I promise henceforth not to preach. My calling to preach the Gospel is from God, and He alone can make me discontinue what He has appointed me to do. As I have had no word from him to that effect, I must continue to preach, and I shall continue to preach.
Judge: I warn you, sir, the Court has gone the second mile to be lenient with you, out of concern for your family’s difficult straits. Truth to tell, it would appear that the Court’s concern for your family far exceeds your own. Do you wish to go to prison?
Bunyan: No, M’lord. Few things there are that I would wish less.
Judge: …Can you comply with this condition, Mr. Bunyan? Before you answer, mark you this: should you refuse, the Court will have no alternative but to sentence you to a prison term. Think, sir, of your poor wife. Think of your children, and particularly of your pitiful, sightless little girl. Think on these things, and give us your answer, sir!
Bunyan: M’lord, I appreciate the Court’s efforts to be as you have put it - accommodating. But again, I must refuse your terms. I must repeat that it is God who constrains me to preach and no man or company of men may grant or deny me leave to preach.
Judge: Very well, Mr. Bunyan. Since you persist in your intractability, and since you reject this Court’s honest effort at compromise, you leave us no choice but to commit you to Bedford jail for a period of six years.
The goal of the court was to silence John Bunyan.
He was illegally preaching.
He was illegally teaching.
He was illegally proclaiming the Gospel.
The goal was to silence him.
Do you know what the result of that imprisonment was?
He did spend 6 years in jail.
And that 6 year term, turned into a 12 year term.
And while in prison, he became even more serious about preaching … the very thing they didn’t want.
He wrote the classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress.
He would go into the jail courtyard and preach.
His fellow prisoners heard the Gospel.
In fact, citizens of Bedford, the town the jail was in, would come to hear him preach from inside the walls.
And when his time in jail was through, he even became the pastor of the church in Bedford.
Never was John Bunyan asking, “Why me?”
He knew exactly why what was happening was happening.
He was in prison for the progress of the Gospel.
And he took every opportunity to see the Gospel spread.
He put it into print.
He put it to story.
He preached it.
Those within the jail walls and those outside the jail walls heard it.
Who’s everyone else?
Those are those who live in Rome.
Remember when John Bunyan was put in prison in an attempt to keep him silent?
Instead, he preached more boldly, and was possibly more productive for the Gospel than had he not been in prison.
Now we have Paul, in prison, and what’s happening?
The international bodyguards for the Emperor, the praetorian guards, they’ve heard the Gospel.
As well as the people of Rome, they’re hearing the Gospel.
Why doesn’t Paul lose it in jail?
Because he can see that his imprisonment is actually spreading the Gospel.
And now you have Christians
He’s there for the progress of the Gospel.
And so a Christian can have joy and not lose heart, when his joy is found in the spread of the Gospel, not his own personal comfort.

The next reason why Paul doesn’t lose it while he’s in prison is because he Trusts in God’s Plan.

Before John Bunyan went to prison, his thoughts were to go to a spot in the park and preach the Gospel.
But what was God’s plan?
For him to go to prison.
And there in prison he had a greater ministry then he would have had in a park preaching.
John Bunyan ministered to the world through his writings.
He ministered to the inmates.
And somehow, through God’s providence, he ministered to the town of Bedford, all while in jail.
Wouldn’t have been my plan, but it was God’s plan.
And it seemed to work out pretty good.
says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Now here you have Paul, in Rome, in jail, and the Gospel is going out.
And how does he not lose it, because he knows that this is God’s plan.
He says this twice.
In verse 14, he says that most of the Christians are becoming bolder to preach the Gospel without fear.
They aren’t afraid of the consequences.
And maybe that seems weird.
You’d normally think that if Paul were thrown in jail people would become more timid and less likely to preach the Gospel.
That was the courts goal in sending John Bunyan to prison.
Lock him up.
Punish him.
Show him that there are negative consequences to preaching.
And surely Christians will be silenced.
But they weren’t.
And here with Paul in prison, the same thing happens.
The Christian’s aren’t silenced; they’re bolder.
But they aren’t, they’re bolder.
Why?
Verse 14, “… most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have more courage to speak the word of God without fear.”
Why are they bolder?
Because they are trusting in the Lord because of his imprisonment.
They have bought into the truth, that his imprisonment is a part of the sovereign the plan of God.
In some way, there are Christians praising God because Paul is in prison, because they are seeing the progress of the Gospel as well.
Then skip down to verse 16, “the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;
He’s predestined for this purpose.
God had placed Paul on this earth so that he could go to Rome and there in Rome preach the Gospel.
By trusting in God’s plan then you can take positive action.
This comes back to the truth that we must remember Who God is.
If we think too small of God how are we ever going to trust Him.
This is why it’s so critical to be in God’s Word, and to be in it daily.
It’s within the pages of Scripture that we learn of His eternal plans, His actions, and how He fulfilled His plans.
When I read God’s Word I find out that I can’t figure out all His reasons.
Israel stands outside of Jericho.
God tells them to walk around the city once, each day for 6 days.
Then on the 7th day, walk around it 7 times.
After that 7th time walking around it, have the priests blow their trumpets, then the walls will fall down.
That’s a weird plan, but it was God’s plan, and it worked.
Joshua says, “Here’s what we are gonna do.”
And it showed God’s power and that the people needed to depend upon Him.
They hear what Joshua says, then say, “Ok and when that doesn’t work what do we do?”
How do we keep from losing it when things don’t go according to our plan?
By trusting that God is on His throne and knows exactly what He’s doing.
They
In the middle of this passage, there is a dramatic pause.
What’s a dramatic pause?
Think of William Shatner … he’s one big … dramatic … pause.
He … was … the … actor who … played … Captain James Kirk … in Star Trek.
Here in the middle of this passage, Paul gives a dramatic pause that is similar to William Shatner.
Paul’s speaking about the progress of the Gospel and how Christians in Rome are becoming more bold in their preaching and evangelism.
But then verse 15 shows up, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife ...”
“Some, to be sure” is an interruption.
He interrupts his own thoughts, to break into another line of thought.
He addresses the motives of people.
There are some Christians who are boldly preaching the Gospel out of love and trust.
Then there are some other Christians who are also bold in their preaching, but their motives are wrong.
Verse 15 he says that they preach from envy and strife.
Then later in verse 17, he says that they proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition.
The question is who are these people?
They are people who are jealous for Paul.
He says they have envy and strife.
They are jealous for his popularity.
They are jealous of his influence.
They are jealous of his ministry.
He’s not saying they aren’t Christians, but their motives certainly are sinful.
They are filled with envy.
They are seeking division.
This kind of attitude is certainly not loving.
, “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not …” what? “ love is not jealous ...”
They aren’t false teachers.
They aren’t wolves in sheeps clothing.
But they are envious and jealous Christians.
Can I tell you a dark secret?
Jealousy is rampant in ministry.
Pastors love to compare each others churches.
My church is better than your church.
Your church only has 100 people, mine has 500 people.
And it’s not just pastors who get this way.
It’s normal Christians.
We see other churches growing, or famous and we get envious.
We see other Christians excelling.
We see another Christian using his gift.
We wish we had another Christian’s gift.
And we get jealous.
There are two groups of people here.
There are those who trust the Lord, and believe that God has sovereignly gifted Paul and placed Paul exactly where he needed to be.
Then there were those who acted not out of trust, but out of jealousy.
I wish I was Paul.
I wish I had Paul’s reputation.
Then there are Christians who do the same thing with each other.
Why is he up there?
I wish I was him.
Why does he get all the recognition?
You see when you are jealous of others and envious of them, you aren’t acting out trust for God.
Instead you are trying to take matters into your own hand.
I’m going to try and have what he has.
May we as a church be all about trusting in the Lord’s provision and gifting.
encourages us to pursue unity within the body.
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
The only way for their to be true unity within the Body is to trust in the Lord’s plan.
Which includes:
How He gifts.
And Who He gifts.
So He might make another church really big.
And He might make us really small.
And this is His plan.
And we trust in it.

Our next point is because Paul trusts in the sovereignty of God, He Rejoices.

Look at verse 18, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,”
Paul’s goal is that the Gospel be proclaimed.
Whether he’s chained to a Roman guard under house arrest, whether it’s by jealous Christians, or by Christians with loving motives.
He just wants to see the Gospel go forth.
And his response is he rejoices.
He is so content with the sovereignty of God over his situation at the present time that he is able to rejoice.
So as he is writing these things:
In a jail.
With a Roman guard.
Unsure of the future.
He rejoices.
If Christians are bold and preach … he rejoices.
If there are Christians, who are preaching from bad motives, based off of jealousy and envy … he rejoices.
Not only is he content to trust God, but he’s content to worship God.
When things don’t go the way we want them to go, the right response is to trust in the Lord, and not only trust in Him but to rejoice and to thank Him for His sovereign plan.
There’s the old hymn, It is Well With My Soul.
Some of you probably know the story behind the words to that song.
Horatio Spafford was the father of 4 girls.
His wife and daughters were going to England for vacation and to hear DL Moody preach.
As they sailed across the Atlantic, their ship was struck by another boat.
12 minutes later, the ship sank, and all 4 daughters died.
The wife made it to England and telegrammed her husband, Horatio.
Her message was only two words, “Saved alone.”
Mr. Spafford, took his own trip across the Atlantic to be with his wife.
As he came to the place where his daughters died, he wrote these words.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”
There’s the trust.
He doesn’t lose it when things don’t go his way.
He doesn’t throw a temper tantrum.
He trusts.
He’s okay.
It is well with his soul.
And he continued, “My sin, oh, the bliss, of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”
He trusts in the Lord, and therefore can rejoice through whatever comes his way.
Jonathan Edwards, is considered by some to be one of the greatest American minds to have ever lived in the United States.
He went to Yale University when he was only 13.
Later on, became the president of Princeton University.
He was a gifted preacher, evangelist and minister.
He died before his wife died.
In her heartache she wrote these words to one of her daughters to tell of his death.
She said, “What shall I say: A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left to us! We are all given to God: and there I am and love to be. Your ever affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards”
What shall I say: A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left to us! We are all given to God: and there I am and love to be. Your ever affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards
In her mourning, she turns to the Lord.
She trusts in His plan.
She rejoices.
How do you keep from losing it when things don’t go the way you want them to go?
You rejoice.
You don’t just rejoice now, but you rejoice in the future.
Paul says, “… and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.”
He rejoices now.
And he is resolved to rejoice into the future.
We must have it resolved in our mind, and you must have your mind made up right now, that you will submit to God’s great and sovereign plan, no matter what it is, and how it lines up with your own.
Right now, we rejoice.
What if the future is bleak?
What if it involves:
Hospitals.
Death.
Trials.
Suffering.
And death.
“… in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.”
This kind of rejoicing is the affirmation that Jesus is in fact Lord.
If He’s Lord, then that means we don’t question Him.
He make the plans.
We surrender to them.

Lastly, Paul aims to exalt God in his life.

Let’s recap where we’ve been.
He is eager for the progress of the Gospel.
He trusts God’s plan.
He rejoices.
And together this means he knows he will be delivered.
He say in verse 20, “according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything ...”
You can see his trust in God in that statement.
“I will not be put to shame ...”
He’s in jail, chained to a Roman guard … but he’s not in shame yet.
As bad as things are he doesn’t lose it.
This means there is something worse than what he’s going through now.
You think, what could possibly be worse.
What is worse?
A life lived in vain.
A life outside of Christ.
Because a life without Christ has no hope for eternity.
It’s a life that is condemned.
We sure do worry about silly things.
If all of creation and eternity were a giant football field.
This life, is just one spec of dirt on one end of the field.
And we worry so much about that spec of dirt don’t we?
Because in the grand scheme of things, eternity is so much bigger than this one life.
And if you aren’t in Christ … the rest of eternity is worth worrying over.
Verse 19 says that He has been delivered through their prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
He has fellowship with the Philippians.
And He’s received something by Jesus Christ.
He’s received forgiveness of sins.
He’s received a right standing from God.
And the result of this is that Paul is not ashamed.
So he’s tied to a Roman guard.
So he’s arrested.
There’s something worse, and that is an eternity without Christ.
Paul’s entire goal is to glorify God, to exalt him in his body.
This means as he lives … it’s to exalt Christ.
Everything he does is for Christ.
If he’s in jail …it’s for Christ.
If he’s chained to a guard … it’s for Christ..
Everything he does is for Christ.
And if he dies … it’s to exalt Christ.
Before Jesus’ was betrayed, he was in the home of a man named Simon.
A woman came up to him with a very expensive bottle of perfume.
Very expensive.
She took the bottle and anointed him with it.
It ran down his head.
It was done as a gift, as an act of worship to our Lord.
The disciples became upset.
They said that that bottle of perfume could have been sold for a lot of money and used to feed the poor.
They were upset, because they saw other uses for it.
But Jesus commended the woman.
Many of us view life the way the disciples viewed that jar of perfume.
Things don’t go the way you want, and you become bitter.
We think that we can use our life differently.
When all Jesus wants is for us to pour out our lives in worship to Him.
Shortly before Paul was beheaded by Nero, he wrote these words in , “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”
He saw his life as a gift to God, as a drink offering.
And he says he’s being poured out in life and in death.
In life and in death.
He wants to live and to die to the glory of God.
And here we see the standard for a good life.
It’s a life of boldness.
It’s boldly living to the glory of God.
And it’s boldly dying to the glory of God.
How does your life line up to this standard?
You haven’t died yet, but are you even living to the glory of God?
If not, why?
I don’t want you to live a life that is one misstep away from disaster.
Trust me, I want to see you succeed.
Looking for the progress of the Gospel
I want you to boldly live and to boldly die.
How do we do this?
By looking and living for the progress of the Gospel.
By trusting in God’s plan.
By rejoicing now, and covenanting to rejoice in the future.
And living a life that aims to exalt God in life and in death.
Would the Holy Spirit align our hearts with God’s heart.
Would you lay down your life.
Would you cease to be your own God, thinking that all things are yours, and instead, know that there is one God.
Trust in Him and give Him your life.
Pray
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