Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Our Suffering Can Advance The Gospel

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Usually this time of the year is a sweet time. I love me some Orioles and enjoy watching them – even staying up late when they are on the West Coast playing late into the evening (or early into the morning). This year – their record has them on the bottom – not just of their division – not just in the American League – but in the whole of Major League Baseball. They are vying for the #1 draft choice it seems for next year. As fans – we are suffering – yet with little hope for the future.

I try to watch or listen to the Birds – but the drive or interest doesn’t seem to be there this year – and it is not because they are losing so much. It has to do with how they are losing – how they are playing – with little hope for the future. I find myself yearning for the Raven’s season to begin. Often – I typically would miss early Raven games if they were on at the same time as the Orioles – but probably not this year. Maybe if the Birds trade some of their veterans and get some young players that will be here for the future – I might watch again. They wouldn’t need to win to get me back – simply have a plan for the future – so that my suffering as a fan had a purpose. Simply show a plan for the future with players who will be here in the years to come.

At times the pain of losing can bear fruit – in baseball and in real life. Paul was in chains many times for the gospel. He suffered for the cause. He was beaten and jailed for his faith in Jesus. Yet – his suffering bore fruit in his witness. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. Philippians 1:12–26 – 12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually 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 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. 15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of 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 God’s provision of 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. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Paul believed that the pain he went thru helped to advance the gospel. What he was put thru was for God’s glory. This might help us to see our sufferings in a new light – if we are suffering for the Gospel – suffering for a purpose. Whether young or old – a new Christian or a seasoned Christian – if we face hard times for Jesus – we can allow that to be used to advance the gospel. Rather than seeing our suffering as simply suffering – if we are focused on Jesus (on the future) we can bring Him glory!

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

June 21, 2018 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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