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Summary: In this message the "stages" of experiencing pain are examined, with the goal of God using our pain to point others to him

INTRODUCTION

* God’s sovereignty: he is in control of all; clearest demonstration of God’s sovereignty is making good come out of bad

* How God demonstrated this in Scripture:

- Joseph’s life (innocence - sold into servitude - rises in power in Egypt - incident with Potipher’s wife - official in Pharaoh’s court) // Joseph’s response = Gen. 50:20

- Israel: their apostasy led to captivity, but God raised up some “good” during that time (i.e., Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther)

- The trial and death of Jesus Christ: salvation (good) came from his death (bad)

* God’s expertise in making good come from bad = Rom. 8:28

- Not all things are good, but everything works for our good

- Not everyone enjoys this privilege, but those who love God and are called by God

* Our familiarity with pain, suffering, and trails (not a new experience)

* The early church, with all the excitement and good, was familiar with pain

- Chapters 4, 5, 7, 8, and 12 reveal persecution and pain

- The result of their pain: expansion and growth (good from bad)

* Our text reveals what God does with the pain we experience in life...

- Paul’s ministry in Europe gained footing in the city of Philippi

- Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke evangelized a group of women, one of which was Lydia

- Her conversion (and that of her household) began the Philippian church (v. 14-15)

* In this city and in the midst of this “good,” Paul and Silas experience pain and persecution

* From their experience we can see what God does with pain as we move through three stages of watching God make good come from bad

STAGE 1: We experience pain (v. 16-24)

* Paul and Silas experienced paid: (1) physical; (2) emotional; (3) spiritual

* Their pain was the result of someone else’s decisions and choices (seems unfair)

* There is a need for us to face the reality of pain in this life

- No “Pie in the Sky” theology

- John 16:33 (emphasis on “you will,” not “you might” or “you could”)

- James 1:22 (emphasis on “whenever,” not “if”)

* Not facing this reality skews our view of God; we falsely assume that if you’re good to God, God will be good to you

* What we CAN assume: pain and trials are a part of our existence

* What we CANNOT assume: WHY we experience some of the pain we do

- Some pain might be our own fault

- Some pain might be the result of the actions of others

- Some pain might be the result of living in a fallen world

* God does not take pleasure in our pain. But we must accept the reality of pain if God is going to do something with it.

STAGE 2: We choose to praise in the midst of pain (v. 25-32)

* Paul and Silas had two choices: (1) complain about their pain; (2) praise in the midst of their pain

* Their choice to praise reveals several things to us...

A. Praise can occur at the darkest hour of our lives (v. 25a)

- Paul and Silas are in the inner cell (v. 24) at midnight (v. 25), yet their praised God

- How they were able to praise: their praise centered on their God, not their circumstances

- They praised because God was in control of their darkest hour

- They did not base their theology on their circumstances, but evaluated those circumstances in light of what they knew to be true of God

- They knew that their darkest hour was nothing compared to their bright, eternal future

- 2 Cor. 4:16-17

B. Praise in pain gets the attention of others (v. 25b)

- Their praise pointed others to the God they trusted

- C. S. Lewis, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

C. Praise summons the presence of God (v. 26)

- Something about suffering brings us into God’s presence in a way we can’t experience otherwise

- Why Paul had a certain desire = Philippians 3:10

D. Praise always opens the door for the Gospel (v. 27-32)

- Satan’s goal is to stop the Gospel (hence the persecution Paul and Silas experienced); God accomplished just the opposite!

- Our pain is an opportunity for us to show the world the truth of the Gospel: that belief and trust in Christ enables us to face any pain or trial

STAGE 3: As we praise, God provides (v. 33-40)

* Because Paul and Silas understood the reality of pain, and because they chose to praise God in the midst of pain, God provided exactly what HE knew they needed.

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