Summary: Paul allowed the Lord to use his chains to further God’s kingdom.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
Turn to Phil. 1:12-14
Paul allowed the Lord to use his chains to further God’s kingdom.
Paul had his problems but in the process of accepting his situation he allowed the power of God to better the situation, not change it but better it, and through it all gained a godly perspective on what he was going through.
Read verses then pray.
Helen Keller was 1 ½ years old when she became seriously ill, modern day drs feel she probably had scarlet fever or meningitis. Due to her illness she lost her sight and hearing. She became a blind, deaf, mute. People say she was out of control as a child. She threw constant temper fits, ate like a savage, terrorized the house by throwing things and screaming – her family thought she was a monster who needed to be institutionalized.
Helen’s mother – Kate – sought help for her daughter and ended up consulting Alexander Graham Bell for direction. We know Bell invented the telephone but he considered his true vocation to be teaching deaf children. Through Bell’s advice the Keller’s ended up hiring Anne Sullivan to be Helen’s teacher.
At the age of 6, Helen became Ms. Sullivan’s first student. Anne taught Helen how to finger spell but Helen had no idea what was happening. Yet, a month later the “miracle” occurred. Helen wrote of this moment later, “As someone was drawing water my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten, a thrill of returning thought, and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me.” She began to understand and she was able to learn at astonishing rates.
She became a reader, writer, author, famous worldwide and even won an Oscar in 1954. Against all odds, she learned to overcome debilitating circumstances.
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
• The Apostle Paul’s chains were literal chains. He was chained to prison guards all day. Helen’s chains, like ours, have to do more with the difficulties and adversities we experience in life. Paul said, “I want you to know what has happened to me.”
• Can I get a little personal, what has happened to you? What has happened to you in your life? Do you have a horror story to tell? Were you abused? Do you struggle with the past, what others did to you or what you did to others? Do you have a hard time letting go? What memories plague you? What has your life been like? How do you feel right now, like a failure or an overcomer? Are you discouraged this morning? About ready to give up?
I. The Problems We Face
A. M. Scott Peck penned the very famous sentence in his book, The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult”. (Pause on that.) Peck tells us that This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult--once we truly understand and accept it--then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
B. The problems we face in our lives vary from person to person. One persons chains may be internal struggles, or a marriage, or a divorce, trouble with the kids, finances, work, relationships, health, mental health – depression, anxiety, fear, addictions, being raised in an alcoholic home (ACOA). Some problems are our own fault and others are not.
C. Paul’s adversity, his chains, his burden, his weight, his “Life is difficult” situation was being imprisoned for preaching the faith. Punished for doing the right thing. “This is the thanks I get God? This is how you treat those who love you whole-heartedly?”
D. We can get like that you know. We feel God owes us. He owes us big time. When things go well we’re happy when things start going sour we get angry. “God, how could you?”
E. A Puritan wrote “Let Wrath Deserved be written on the door of hell but the free gift of grace be written on the gate of heaven.” GOD OWES US NOTHING (I worked this a little bit when preaching.)God owes us nothing but yet gives us so much.