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How To Make Lemonade From Life's Lemons

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            This morning we continue our study of Philippians.  Last week we studied Philippians 1:1-10.  Here we discovered a man who had every reason not to be happy, but yet he was filled with joy.  Over 18 times in this short four chapter book Paul talks about rejoicing or joy.

            Last week we observed that Paul has a life of joy because he measured himself by his relationship with Jesus, not by his relationship to his churches, or his relationship to other men, but by his relationship with Jesus.   He said it so simply, Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ. 

            Second, we discovered Paul's path to joy was a path of prayer.  He was a man who breathed prayer.  In fact as we exist on air, Paul survived on prayer.

            Someone has said, “The Christian can no more survive without prayer then he can survive without air.”

            Third, we found out Paul's practice was to focus on others.  Where we are taught to only be concerned about ourself, to look out for number one, Paul was devoted to the people around him.

            Now, this morning we turn our attention to Philippians 1:12-30.  Here we see a man who is living out what he said he believed last week. 

  1. As I said, earlier, Paul had every reason to be sad. Do you remember where I said he was last week? That is right, Paul is in prison, and not just any prison, he is in a Roman prison guarded day and night by the imperial guards. 
  2. Paul is not just in prison, but he is facing death.  He may not live even one more day.
  3. Finally, Paul has been forced out of the preaching ministry.  He was a free spirit, traveling the known world, establishing churches in every major city. Now he is chained between two Roman guards.


            If anyone could say life had given them a bowl of lemons, it was Paul.

            We have all felt like life has given us a bowl of lemons at times.

  1. Our education might be lemons.
  2. Our cars might have been lemons.
  3. Our homes might have been a lemon.
  4. Our spouse... well maybe I should not go there.

            This morning if we can learn how to make lemonade from life's lemons it will increase our joy.  If anyone can teach us this lesson, it will be Paul.

            Paul shows us three attitudes that will turn your lemons into lemonade.


            Look with me at Philippians 1:12.

And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.

            Paul said, everything that had happened to has helped spread the Good News.

            Not just some of the things that happened to him. Not the things he liked that happened to him.  But Paul said all things.  That had to, some how, include the fact he is in prison, the reality he may die, and he would leave behind all the churches he started.

            How painful it must have been for Paul, yet he confesses, all these things has helped to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

            Not only has the Gospel spread it is continuing to advance. 

            This part of the Bible Paul wrote in the Greek language.  The word he used here is προκοπή  prokopé̄ . It means to drive forward.  It is the beautiful picture of pioneers cutting there way through the wilderness.   This is the team that slashes their way through the underbrush and pierce it so the troops following them can have a save trip.

            There was a movie in 2006 that illustrates this principal of driving the gospel forward. 

            This true story of a group of Christian missionaries in Ecuador who set out to reach the Wadani tribe (a violent Ecuadorian tribe defined by revenge killing). When the 5 men from this group are speared to death by Mincayani and others in the tribe (who believe all foreigners are cannibals), the wives and children of those men move into the Wadani tribe to teach them about God. End of the Spear is an amazing story of Truth, Love, and Forgiveness.

(Video Clip from movie)

            Those five missionaries, even though they died for it, were the first to cut the path for the gospel message to the Wadani. 

            This is how Paul saw himself, as he is sitting in a prison, he believes he is a pioneer cut the way for the Good News of Jesus to spread.

TRANS: Paul kept a positive attitude in his current situation, but he did not stop there...



            Look again at Philippians 1 but this time it verses.

Philippians 1:13-14 ( NLT ) 13For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.

            The awesome thing about Paul is he refused to let anyone box his attitude in.  Even thought they boxed in his body, his attitude was still free.  Listen to what he sees has happened because he is imprisoned. 

  1. He said the soilders in the place guard are hearing the Good News of Jesus.

1.      How else would these soldiers ever hear about the gospel if Paul had not been casts into prison.

2.      He said many Christians had gained confidence and were now out spreading the Good News.   While Paul was going about from place to place preaching the word, there were gifted men who held back.  They thought, “If I can't preach on the par with Paul, I should not preach.”  They permitted the timidity and backwardness to hinder their launching out in a work to that God was calling them to.

3.      Maybe they had felt  they did not measure up to Paul's ability, but now that he is behind bars, they had step up to the plate.  Paul said this brought him real joy.

4.      Some had taking up preaching  for  all the wrong reasons. These men who had not commended themselves as being fit for the work of preaching and teaching.  While Paul was free, these men kept in their places.  But now, with Paul out of the way, they came to the forefront.  They went forth preaching Christ with their lips, even though their hearts were filled with envy and strife.  But jealously and envy does enter the mind of Paul.  He instead rejoices in those who preached the word through goodwill and out of love, knowing that their were appointed to the task.

5.      He even rejoices over the men who are preaching with hearts filled with envy and strife.  Not because of their motives, but because even with wrong motives, there are preaching Christ.  Paul was thankful for every voice telling out the story of the cross, and he would not permit anything to rob him of this joy.

            If we are not careful, people will box our attitude in.  It happens to us the moment we are born. Excited family members press their noses against the nursery window in the hospital and begin playing the game, “Who does he look like?” After much discussion, it is decided that their red-faced, wrinkly, toothless, bald baby looks like “Uncle Harry.”

The labeling of the little child increases as his personality develops. That is a normal human reaction. We all do it. It becomes hurtful, however, when we start placing limitations on our child because he is a “C” student, a “fair” runner or a “plain” child. Unless parents exercise care, their children will grow up selling themselves short because of the “box” parents have put them in, the expectations parents have placed upon them.

One “boxed in” child was Adam Clarke, who was born in the eighteenth century in Ireland. When Adam was a schoolboy, his father told the teacher that Adam wouldn’t do well.

The teacher said, “He looks bright. ”

That statement changed his life—let him out of the box his father had put him in. He lived to be seventy-two, and he became a great scholar, an English Methodist preacher and an author of commentaries and a book called Christian Theology. When Adam Clarke preached, it was said, people listened.

Both Paul and Adam Clarke refused to let people box in their attitude. 

Paul not only kept a positive attitude in his current situation, and kept a positive attitude about his calling...


3.      Look at verse 29 in chapter one.  Lets read it.

4.      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.

5.      Paul used the greek word ἀγών agó̄n; for struggle.  It means strife, contention, contest for victory or mastery it is the picture of the greek  games of running, boxing, and wrestling.  It the word we get agony from.

6.      Listen to what Paul said, he said the same struggles, and agony he was going through, they would experience.    Paul, in prison and suffering, has a vision of the victorious Christ, so he can talk about being granted the privilege of suffering. No doubt he remembered Jesus’ beatitude: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”

Even though we may not be imprisoned for the cause of Christ, and we don’t hear much of martyrs in our day, don’t miss the meaning of this. Because of the love Paul received from the cross, he was also to love, in spite of the cost. It costs to love, in any time, in any place. The costs may not be chains or death, but they are no less real.  It costs to be “on call” for prayer and listening and counseling as your church seeks to minister to those outside the church as well as those within.

The word of Paul for us here is that the love of Christ on the Cross is both the means of our salvation and the mandate for our ministry.

So this morning we too can turn lemons of life into lemonade by following Paul's example.


Second keep a positive attitude concerning your call.

Third, project a positive image others can follow.




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