2019-01-16 / Religion

God’s Word says rejoice in all circumstances

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Philippians 1:12-21

It is easy for a person to “rejoice” when circumstances are pleasant. However, much of life does not fall into this category. The Apostle Paul knew difficulties and pleasantness throughout his ministry. He wrote to the Thessalonians, “In (Note: used of location or condition) every thing give thanks: for this is the will (desire) of Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. He, also, wrote to the church at Ephesus that we should be “Giving thanks always for (over) all things.” Ephesians 5:20a. He wrote words of assurance to the believers in Rome, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. The words of the apostle are not simply “platitudes of pleasantries.” His personal experience reflected the divine principles.

As the apostle to the Gentiles wrote his letter to the church at Philippi, he was under “house arrest” in the city of Rome. See Acts 28:30, 31. Since he could not visit the churches that he had established, his only communication was through letters. The Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21) allowed copies of these letters to be made, and circulated among the congregations. He, also, allowed some of these letters to be preserved, and passed to succeeding generations.

The church at Philippi sent an offering to the imprisoned apostle. This gift was delivered by the man, Epaphroditus. Philippians 4:18. In this letter, Paul shows his gratitude. As we read these gracious words, there is no hint of a Woe-is-me syndrome.

After the apostle gave his usual greeting and introduction to the young church, he turned the thoughts of the readers/hearers to his personal view of his situation. “But I would (wish [that]; desire [that]) ye should understand (recognize), brethren, that the things which happened unto me hath fallen (turned) out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12.

While Paul was under house arrest, soldiers were assigned to guard him at all times. Obviously, the guards would serve in shifts. The indication in the Greek is that four groups of four soldiers guarded this preacher. This fact presented Paul with a “captive audience” that would be forced to listen to his teachings. He reported, “So that my bonds in Christ (Note: not of Rome) are manifest (open to sight) in all the palace [guard], and in all other places.” Philippians 1:13.

The fact of the powerful witness of Paul under these conditions was help to all of the believers in that city — “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing [growing] confident (i. e., convincing) by my bonds, are the more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:14.

Paul knew that the teachers of false doctrine had reached the city of Rome. Even though their doctrine was not correct, they were continually expressing the name of Jesus Christ to the people. Paul saw the “positive side of negative preaching.” “Some [of them] indeed preach (proclaim) Christ even of envy and strife (contention); and some also of good will.” Philippians 1:15. There are two pictures of the message — “The one preach Christ of contention (faction; strife), not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set (appointed) for the defence of the gospel.” Philippians 1:16, 17. He, further, rejoiced in the fact of the declaration of the name of Jesus — “What then? Notwithstanding, either way, whether in pretence (outward show), or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:18.

The apostle, obviously, knew the “charges” that had been brought against him by the Jewish leaders. He was, also, familiar with Roman law. He knew the possible outcome of his appearance before Caesar. “For I know that this [trial] shall turn to my salvation (deliverance) through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest (eager) expectation (longing) and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death.” Philippians 1:19, 20.

His next declaration is not one of resignation, but of divine submission — “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. He explained his attitude, regarding these possibilities. “But if I live in the flesh, this [his present conditions] is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot (come to know) not. For I am in a strait (restricted place) betwixt (out of) two, having a desire to depart (to leave), and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” Philippians 1:22, 23.

By faith the apostle anticipated his deliverance from Rome. “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.” Philippians 1:25, 26.

One victory does not guarantee complete success. All believers must be diligent in fellowship with Jesus Christ. Paul gave a warning to these believers of old. The instruction applies in our day — “Only let your conversation (manner of life) be (exist) as becometh (worthy of) the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27a.

Today, we might not face the same difficulties that plagued the apostle, but everyday problems continue to exist. How do we respond to difficulties of life? Some people “blame God” for their problems. This attitude is always in error. The Apostle James wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” James 1:17a. The “Most Perfect Gift” is that of our Heavenly Father — the Creator of the universe — giving us His “only begotten Son.” John 3:16. In all of the difficulties that we face, we know that the divine love of God never fails. Please accept this fact into your life, today.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ ames@yahoo.com

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