Summary: This series of messages addressed the "gift" of suffering. I have included the notes from several messages on the topic.
Chico Alliance Church
UNWRAPPING A STRANGE GIFT
Paul is in prison simply for preaching the resurrected Christ in a pagan world and a religious world blinded to the truth of a transformed life. From a seemingly negative circumstance, he is able to continually live the joy of the Lord. I ask, how can he do it? How is he able to experience joy in the middle of all the world's junk? As we delve deeply into his personal letter addressed to a local group of people in Philippi we too can find the secret of: Maintaining the genuine joy of the Lord while managing the grating junk of a fallen world. In short, Maintaining the joy while managing the junk. Paul's letter revolves around 4 central issues that effect my joy.
My axis, my perspective on life, the exaltation of Christ
My attitude, the servanthood of Christ
My life goal, knowing and being like christ
My source of power, the strength of Christ
When these four are properly aligned and adjusted, I will maintain joy in spite of any, I mean any circumstance. Besides, anyone can do back flips when they win the lottery. Few can genuinely live the joy of the Lord when the bottom falls out. The first key, is to maintain the RIGHT AXIS, the supreme perspective. That axis is, the exaltation of Jesus Christ.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Phi 1:20
Paul lived it.
He rejoiced through his imprisonment
He rejoice in spite of improper preaching
He rejoice in the face of impending death and impossible life.
He was able because his focus was Christ-centered.
His imprisonment progressed the cause of Christ
Even improper preaching was getting the name of Christ out
To die would take him to Christ
To live would continue to experience Christ's work in Him.
Paul commanded it
Conduct yourselves worthy of the Gospel
By diligently preserving kingdom unity
"standing in one spirit"
By jointly pursuing kingdom goals
"striving together for the faith"
By Continually persevering against kingdom foes
"struggling together against the enemy"
That brings us to our text this morning.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. Phi 1:30
This is the motive behind a worthy walk. This is not a private stroll in wonderland, spiritual Disneyland. This is a corporate struggle in a brutal war against a formidable foe. We have no choice, we must work and fight together for two reasons. God has gifted us with who wonderful gifts and strange gifts indeed.
Before we unwrap these gifts this morning, we need to pray.
Everyone loves to receive gifts. Why? They have the element of surprise. They express care. They fill a need. They supply something useful.
God has provided us with many gifts. In fact, part of the job of the Holy Spirit is to aid us in understanding just what we have been given.
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1Co 2:12
This morning we are going to unwrap two of God's gifts and take a closer look. Perhaps, one of the gifts may surprise you and may even scare you. But hopefully by the time we are done reading the manual that accompanies this spiritual tool, we may learn to find joy in it. First look at our text.
"for to you (individuals) it has been granted.
Referencing each individual member of the body.
To show favor to freely give
The verb tense here indicates a point time action. At a point in time, every believer has been given two gifts for Christ's sake. Even though these are gifts, they are gifts granted to us so that we can touch others on behalf of Chtrist. This is something that we must alwayw remember when we feel tempted to use the gifts of God for personal gain.
FIRST -- to continually believe for His sake.
Faith is a gift. "Believe" is the verb, "faith" is the noun taken from the same Greek root. The verb tense here indicates continuous action. Faith is not only an initial gift, but a continuous one. We need the grace of God even to believe. No one comes to the Son unless the Father draw Him. No one can lease God without continual faith. This faith is not primarily for our benefit, it is for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.