Summary: Paul mentions some negative things that are going on in his life - unpleasant circumstances, unreasonable people, & his uncertain future. But Paul shows that God was able to use those negative things in a very positive way. (Powerpoints Available - #357)



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TEXT: Philippians 4:8; Philippians 1:12-23

ILL. Someone wrote, "One day I got into a taxi & we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when a car suddenly sped out of an alley right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, & missed crashing into the other car by inches!

The driver of that car stuck his head out of the window & yelled at us. My taxi driver just smiled & waved at him. So I asked, “Why did you just smile at him? That guy almost caused a wreck & then began cursing you!”

That was when my taxi driver taught me what I now call the “Lesson of the Garbage Truck.” He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger & disappointment.

As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it, & sometimes they’ll dump it on you. Don’t take it personally. Don’t take their garbage & dump it on other people at home, or at work, or on the streets. Just smile, wish them well, & move on. (Adapted from Davon Huss on Sermon Central)

You see, what you pay attention to, what you dwell upon in life will generally determine the kind of decisions you make.

Ella Wilcox wrote:

"One ship sails east & another west with the self-same winds that blow.

'Tis the set of the sail & not the gale which determines the way they go."

The apostle Paul gives us great advice in Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things."

Now we ought to memorize that verse, realizing that what so many are doing today is the exact opposite. Look at the TV programs, popular magazines, even newspapers & you will often see glorification of things that are impure & untrue.

PROP. People focus so much on the negative that the media seldom features positive news because they’re afraid they’ll lose their audience. But let's break that pattern this morning, & look at the Apostle Paul as he focuses on the positive.

In Philippians 1:12-23, Paul mentions some negative things that are going on in his life unpleasant circumstances, unreasonable people, & his uncertain future.

But Paul goes on to show that God was able to use those negative things in a very positive way.


A. Paul begins by talking about unpleasant circumstances. In vs. 12 he says, "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."

We think we have troubles, don't we? But how does your list compare to that of the apostle Paul? How many times have you been shipwrecked? How many times have you been beaten near unto death? Or how many times have you been arrested, chained up & imprisoned 24 hours a day?

Yet Paul says, "I remember all these trials, & I see that they have all served to advance the gospel."

Now the Greek word translated "advance" in vs. 12 has an interesting history. It originally was used for wood cutters who go before an army, clearing a way through the underbrush so that the army can proceed unimpeded.

Paul is saying, "All these things that have happened to me have resulted in clearing the way so that the gospel might be preached more effectively."

B. In vs. 13, he says, "As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard & to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ."

Now here is the situation. For 24 hours a day Paul is chained to Roman soldiers, each serving a 6 hour shift. So every 6 hours a new soldier comes in & chains himself to Paul. The soldier was doing his duty, making sure the prisoner couldn't escape.

But Paul saw this as a wonderful opportunity to tell the soldier about Jesus. There was no way that the soldier could escape. And it worked, for in the 4th chapter of this letter, vs. 22, Paul writes, "All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household."

Now that tells us that some of these soldiers became Christians, & the gospel made its way into the pagan household of Caesar all because Paul was in prison.

C. There was a second positive result. In vs. 14 he says, "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously & fearlessly."

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Donald Moore

commented on Oct 21, 2018

Rev. Newland has written another powerful thought provoking message solidly based upon the word of God. Bro. Newland uses anecdotes from history and and recent events with great skill to illustrate his points.

John Mcclendon

commented on Aug 2, 2019

This is a wonderful sermon to aid the hearer that is going through problems with circumstance or difficult people. It is very helpful to look down the road. The illustrations are great.

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