Summary: We learn from Paul's experience with his Roman imprisonment that God can use bad things that happen to us for good.
A. Today, we are continuing in our sermon series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians called “Joy for the Journey.”
1. I want us to continue to understand how attitude makes a difference in whether or not we experience joy for the journey.
2. But by attitude, I don’t mean a foolish optimism like we find in the self-help books that peddle the “power of positive thinking.”
3. I heard about one man who ascribed to the power of positive thinking fell off a 40 story building and as he fell past the 10h floor he was heard to say, “So far so good!”
B. The kind of attitude that leads to joy for the journey is the kind of attitude that is the difference between keeping your eye on the doughnut or the hole.
1. Think about it for a moment – a doughnut has two parts – the round piece of fried dough and the empty hole in the middle.
2. Each of us have a choice to make – we get to decide which part of the doughnut will attract our attention.
3. We can choose to focus on the circle of fried dough that we have, or we can focus on the missing fried dough in the middle.
4. We can focus on what we’ve got, or we can focus on what we lack.
5. And in addition to that we can trust that whether we have the doughnut or the hole, God can work with and through either the doughnut or the hole.
C. Consider the story of Raymond and Yvonne Bailey.
1. At just 22 years old, their marriage was dying and they met in a restaurant to discuss divorce arrangements.
2. When their meeting was over, Raymond agreed to give Yvonne a ride on his motorcycle to Yvonne’s mother’s house.
3. On the way, they were involved in an accident and both ended up in the hospital.
4. When the nurses learned of their impending divorce, they put the couple in the same hospital room.
5. The nurses were determined to patch up more than their broken bodies; they wanted to patch up their broken marriage.
6. And guess what? It worked!
D. Who would have believed that something as bad as a motorcycle accident could save a marriage?
1. But the truth of the matter is that sometimes the most difficult experiences in life produce the best results.
2. This isn’t a popular message if we are looking to Christ for an escape from life’s problems, but it is a revolutionizing insight into Christian living if we are willing to make it our own.
3. My main point today is that God is able to use any situation in our lives for our good and for the good of His Kingdom.
4. My hope is that all of us can develop the right attitudes toward our circumstances and difficulties so that God might be able to be glorified through them.
5. Paul is a prime example of someone who had the right attitude toward all his circumstances.
6. And when Paul wrote to the Philippians, he shared with them many lessons and principles about trusting God to make something good from something bad.
7. Let’s learn the lessons that Paul learned and shared with the Philippians.
I. Lesson #1 is: The Way of Christ is the Way of the Cross.
A. Paul understood that the most basic teaching of Christ is: Anyone who wants to follow Christ must pick up their cross daily and follow him. (Mark 8:34)
1. The Christian life is truly a challenging life.
2. It is easy to draw people to Christianity if you give them the false notion that it is a life of ease.
3. There are certainly wonderful and thrilling promises from God to those who put their trust in Him.
4. However, coupled with those positive promises is the startling realization that the Christian life is not easy.
5. The Christian life involves a cross.
B. The apostle Paul knew the reality of this truth in a personal way.
1. When Ananias was sent to Paul after being blinded on that Damascus Road, the Lord said to Ananias: “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16)
2. Paul was suffering as he sent this letter to the Philippians – he was suffering imprisonment.
3. Periodically in Paul’s letters, he reminds his Christian friends of the sufferings he has experienced; including all kinds of danger, beatings and imprisonment; he almost died on several occasions.
4. When Paul wrote to Timothy he reminded him, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12)