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Summary: Taking a healthy look at the "chains" and other difficulties we face and finding what God’s purpose is behind them...both IN us and THROUGH us.

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“When Chains Bring Gains”

Philippians 1:12-21

PHP 1:12 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. 15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 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. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

INTRODUCTION

• As we learned last week, Paul wrote this letter to Philippi from prison…talk about a pretty bad situation

• The great preacher, the one who was called by God to do a great work, found himself in chains in a prison

• Yet, I find that Paul’s response to the chains around his wrist tell a lot about his character

• The same goes for us. A true test of your character can be found in the times you face the chains in your life.

• What can we learn from Paul as we face times of hurt, unfair treatment and difficulty? Let’s break this passage into two different parts this morning:

I. ADVANCEMENT {vs 13, 14}

• Paul spoke of three particular groups of people who had been touched in a positive way as they saw his seemingly very negative situation:

1. Those who had HURT him (13)

• Let’s start off with the most difficult group of people that exist for us to impact for Jesus…those who have hurt us

• Paul identified the palace guard…these were the ones whose responsibility it was to make Paul’s life miserable.

• Yet, Paul made a concerted effort to share Jesus with these people

• Did you know that the people who hurt you need Jesus just as badly as you needed Him?

2. Those who had HELPED him (14)

• Paul’s commitment to Christ in the midst of his chains served as an example and as an inspiration to other preachers…other Christians

• Friend, the way you choose to handle your chains will speak very loudly to the believers that are near you!

3. Those who had HEARD about him (13)

• Believe or not, there are perfect strangers out there who are watching every move you make to see how you respond to your chains

• Your spiritual impact is greater than you think.

• If you are not concerned about your spiritual impact, friend, you need the heart and love of Jesus in your life!

II. ATTITUDE {vs 15-21}

• This is a key issue! If we are going to maintain any kind of spiritual impact, we need to keep the right attitude of four key areas:

1. Our WORSHIP (15-18)

• In the midst of all he was facing and the controversy that was stirred among other preachers, Paul could still say he chose to rejoice

• Some of us will immediately lose any sense of praise and worship because of the circumstances around us

• Friend, our worship is not conditional…we are to bless the Lord at all times!

PS 34:1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.

2. God’s WILL (19)

• Paul had a confidence in God’s will that he would be delivered from the situation that he was in

• Friend, keep this in mind…God had a plan and He knows what is best in your chains!

3. Our WITNESS (20)

• Unbelievable! Paul COULD have faced some further bad treatment. But, he was concerned about Jesus being exalted in his life and death.

• Do we put our witness on the shelf when the chains come?

ILLUSTRATION

Those Who Remain Will Be Killed

During the Chinese revolution, a group of Christians were worshiping in hiding from the revolutionary army that was collecting and imprisoning all who worshipped God. As they were praying, a pair of soldiers burst through the door and with their weapons ready they announced that all who would reject their God could leave, the remaining would be killed. Most left, leaving behind a faithful few who knew that they would die for their faith. With the less faithful absent from the place, the soldiers set down their weapons and asked that they be allowed to pray with them, as they were also Christians. Their entry was to protect them from certain death if the truth of their faith ever was known, and they knew that those who remained could be trusted.

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