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Do you believe in the sovereignty of God? Do you believe our God and Lord Jesus Christ is far above all rule and authority, power and dominion? And, that Jesus Christ is before all things, and in him all things hold together, and that in everything he has the supremacy? Do you accept that He is the ruler of God’s creation; the head over every power and authority; and that all angels, authorities and powers are in submission to him? Can you rest secure in knowing that God rules supreme over all? Then, you must know that nothing can happen to us but God allows it, and for his purposes.

The Purpose

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Phil. 1:12-14 ESV

When we go through troubled times, and we face hardships, tragedies, disappointments, heartaches, and/or persecutions, and the like, we might find it difficult to see beyond our pain, in those moments, to recognize the sovereignty of God in our circumstances, and in our lives. The cloud may be so thick all around us, in those times, that we cannot see anything outside or beyond our own situations. So, we may have to pray through the darkness in order to see the light of day.

But, when the light begins to dawn, God may begin to show us his purposes in it all, and how he is using our tragedies or our difficulties for good in our lives and/or in the lives of others whose lives are touched by ours. For, God has a way of turning our sufferings into blessings of his grace. What Satan means for evil in our lives, God means for good to purify us, to make us holy, to mature us in Him, to teach us his ways, to humble us, to get us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and so other people’s lives may be impacted for Christ because of what God is taking or has taken us through.

I know that, in my own life, God has used the difficulties of my life to grow me in him, and to make me the person he created me to be for his purposes, and for his glory, to be used of him to spread the love and grace of our Lord to many other people. And, in turn, other people’s lives are being encouraged, strengthened, and comforted through what I have shared with them regarding God’s grace to me, through what he has permitted in my life.

Thus, because of what God allowed in my life, and due to what he taught me through it all, the gospel is being spread far and wide through me and through what God gives me to share. All glory to God! I pray, too, that what he gives me to write is helping others to be bold in their witness for Jesus Christ. Amen!

To Live is Christ

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. Phil. 1:18b-26 ESV

We are all put here on this earth for a purpose, and it is not for ourselves, to do what we want, for our own pleasure and praise. We are here because God created us to glorify, honor and worship him. It is his will that none of us should perish in our sins, due to our own rebellion against God, but that we should turn from (repent of) our sins and turn to follow Him with our lives, in obedience and in surrender to God’s will for our lives.

And, for those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are called to holiness, purity and righteousness. We are called to live lives worthy of the calling we have received from God, too. Jesus Christ is not something or someone we add on to our present lives, but when we die to our old lives of living for sin and self, and we are born again of the Spirit of God, then Jesus Christ becomes our lives.

If Jesus Christ is our life, and now our old lives are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and resurrected with Christ, to newness of life in Christ, then for us to live is Christ. Our lives are about him, his purposes, his grace, his love, his Word, his will and his ways. They are no longer about us and what we want out of this life in our own flesh. Our desire is for him, to do his will, and to minister his love and grace to others, so that they, too, can come to know him as Lord and as Savior of their lives. So, the question is not what we have planned for the day, but what God has planned for us today.

Standing Firm

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Phil. 1:27-30 ESV

What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? If I had to summarize it in one verse, I would choose 1 Pet. 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” ESV

This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation that Jesus Christ died on that cross, not just to deliver us from the punishment of sin, and not just so we can go to heaven when we die, but that you and I might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died, not just to forgive us our sins, but to deliver us out of bondage (addiction) to sin. His purpose in saving us is not just for the afterlife, but for the here and now, that we might be for the praise of his glory; that we might honor him with our lives in all that we do and say.

So, if our manner of life is to be worthy of the gospel, this means that we are walking (conducting our lives) according to the Spirit of God and no longer according to our flesh. We have been rescued from darkness, and we have been brought into God’s wonderful light, and so now we honor God with our lives. We don’t live like we did before we trusted in Christ as Savior of our lives. We now live in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives in making us holy vessels fit for God’s service.

If we are walking in a manner worthy of our calling, and of the gospel of our salvation, we should be following in Jesus’ footsteps, doing the kinds of things he did, and teaching the kinds of things he taught. If we do this, we should be hated and opposed, as he was, and even from family, friends, neighbors, fellow Christians and even from church leaders. We should expect to be persecuted and misunderstood. The world should not love us and embrace us because we are teaching that what the world does is evil, and because we are calling people to repentance and obedience to Jesus Christ.

In our suffering, though, we should be growing in our walks of faith, becoming stronger in our Lord, and we should be ministering God’s love and grace to others, standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow believers throughout the world who are all suffering because of their faith in Christ. But, in order for us to do this, we must first be abiding in Christ and in His Word, for this is where we get our strength and endurance to keep pressing on in the faith and to keep sharing Christ with others and to keep witnessing for Christ, even in the face of much opposition and rejection. Glory to God!

Abide With Me
Henry F. Lyte / William H. Monk

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 4:30 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word. May we all walk worthy of You in Your power and strength.