Our limited human knowledge doesn't always allow us to see our purpose in every circumstance we find ourselves in, but God does not waste our time.
Paul was in prison for two years, but God had a purpose. Paul writes Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians during his time in prison and even gained confidence in his chains. He said, "What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel." (Phil. 1:12) He also writes, "...most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear." (Phil. 1:14)
Paul knew that the Lord was in control of all things; he knew the Philippians were praying for him, that the Holy Spirit would meet all his needs, and that Christ would be glorified in his situation no matter what. Paul shows us that no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, our lives must reflect Christ. Even if we suffer, we must suffer with joy so that God is glorified through our lives.
As Christians, we can expect suffering to occur because we know that we live in a fallen world. However, Paul takes it one step further and tells us we should rejoice in our suffering for three reasons:
1. Believers can rejoice because it is a privilege to suffer for Christ. If our ultimate desire in life is to live as Christ lived, then we must suffer for righteousness as Christ did. Scripture says that it is a privilege to suffer in the name of Jesus and to be treated as He was.
2. Believers can rejoice because we will be rewarded at Christ's second coming. Our suffering here on Earth will make the glory of Heaven immensely better. We will be overjoyed at the return of Christ and will be rewarded for suffering in the name of Jesus.
3. Believers can rejoice because the Holy Spirit rests on us during trials. When we suffer for Christ, we experience a new level of intimacy with Him. The Spirit of God rests on us in such an intimate way that we are changed to reflect His image. In the midst of trials, we are refined and matured to look more like Christ.
The question is how? How can we endure and find joy in the times of suffering and uncertainty? How can we "press on" and "fight the good fight," as Paul states in 1 Timothy?
In Philippians 3:10, we can see that the simple plea of Paul's heart is to know the Lord: "I want to know Christ-yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."
Knowing Christ-that is Paul's secret weapon. We battle our own selfish desires, temporary things of the world, and Satan's lies daily, but knowing Jesus is what equips us to fight the good fight. Knowing Jesus means knowing the power of His resurrection, which is available to us now. Knowing Jesus also means experiencing the fellowship of His suffering.
As believers, we are called to be confident in the promises of God, believing that He always has a purpose and that He will never waste our time. We are called to press on and encourage one another to fight the good fight, knowing that our present sufferings will lead to future glory.
~ Kelsey Bekermeier
December 9th Readings
December 10th Readings
December 11th Readings
December 12th Readings
December 13th Readings
1 TIMOTHY 1:1-2:15
December 14th Readings
1 TIMOTHY 3:1-6:10
December 15th Readings
1 TIMOTHY 6:11-21
2 TIMOTHY 1:1-18