But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
THE WITNESS OF THE BELIEVER
- The Example of Paul, the Apostle
- Circumstances were bleak; he was a prisoner in Rome. The circumstances were immediate, not something in the future. He waited for trial, day after day, not knowing the outcome. For over two years he waited. One of the most difficult of all circumstances is knowing the problem is there, but not being able to do anything about it except to wait and wait for the final resolution.
- Note the following:
- in spite of waiting trial,
- in spite of being under house arrest,
- in spite of false accusations,
- in spite of trumped up charges,
- in spite of not having his freedom;
- Paul did not grumble or complain,
- he did not question God and wonder why,
- he did not whine and murmur,
- he did not fall to pieces,
- he did not curse God and give up his faith.
- Paul, instead, used this two years, with a dark cloud hanging over his head, to spread the Gospel.
- One of the saddest verses of Scripture is found in Jeremiah 8:20 – “The harvest is past, the summer has ended and the gathering of fruit is over, yet we are not saved!” Paul used the time that he had to the best of his ability. He could not go to distant cities and spread the Gospel message. He could not travel land and sea as he had done before. He could not because of his imprisonment but yet he used the time he had to do all that he could. He realized that he might not have much time left to do the work to which he was called.
Matthew 9:37-38 – “Then He (Jesus) said to His disciples. The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Mark 4:26-28 – “And He said, ‘The Kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’”
Luke 10:2 – “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!’”
- Perhaps, we should follow Paul’s example. Maybe we could use the short three phrase statement that in times past we have mentioned.
- START WHERE YOU ARE!
- USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
- DO ALL YOU CAN!
- If you have not yet done what you are to do as a Christian, witness, invite, and tell others of His great love, START WHERE YOU ARE.
- If you don’t seem to have any strength, no power, no energy, no talents, no nerve, USE WHAT YOU HAVE. As you begin to exercise the little bit of ability that you do have, God will give more ability as you begin to do for Him.
- Then, you must DO ALL YOU CAN for the Lord, everywhere, every time, anyway that you can do.
Acts 28:30-31 – “And Paul lived two years in his own house, (he was under house arrest), and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
Mark 16:15 – “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
John 20:21 – “Then Jesus said to them again Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you.”
1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
OUR STATEMENT OF FAITH BEFORE THE WORLD
- Are we positive, upbeat, joyful, at peace, or are we negative, down, sad, in turmoil? In our behavior, actions, lifestyle, are we at peace with ourselves or are we always in a dither? When we are conducting ourselves in any position of authority, small or great, do we come across to others as God’s great gift to humanity in our know-it-all style or is there a prized possession of humility at work?
- Paul stated “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We all know of course what the last portion means. It will definitely be our gain when we go to be with Christ. No more problems, heart-ache, pain and trials will we have to go through. But what did he mean “For me to live is Christ?” What does that question speak to you? I believe Paul was saying that he had a purpose in life. He had a reason to live. Christ was his most prized possession. Christ was first in his thoughts. Is that our feeling about life? Is life more than a meager existence on this earth, then it is over? Is life drudgery? Is life something that must be endured or is it to be lived – lived in its fullest sense, in Jesus Christ?
Romans 14:1 9 – “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
Romans 15:2 – “Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.”
- Let us be ready to always glorify Christ in this life by the way we live. Let us be ready to hear Him say – “Well done, good and faithful servant; because you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things; enter into the joy of the Lord.” Matthew 15:23