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Opposition Builds Opportunities

Philippians 1:12-14
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 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. (NIVUK)

The Christian life is no fairy-tale of undiluted bliss!  Problems do come, and they are usually bigger than we want to deal with.  So, when difficulties arise, we usually pray for them to be removed. That is natural and even the Apostle Paul prayed like that (2 Corinthians 12:8).  Sometimes God answers our prayer, but sometimes He allows the problems to remain for a purpose.  Paul found that out too: 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Today's verses give an example of how the power of Jesus Christ worked through Paul during his time in prison.  Far from extinguishing the gospel light, it was burning even more brightly.  There was no disguising the fact that Paul, who was a Roman citizen, had committed no crime and was only on remand because he preached about Jesus.  Even the guards were curious to find out more; and the local believers in the city found that people were really interested to discover more about Jesus.  The reputation of the Lord Jesus Christ had spread like wildfire, and most of the people in the church were glad to answer questions from inquisitive city folk in Rome (Acts 4:29).

Paul wanted to encourage the Philippians that opposition against Jesus actually builds opportunities for the gospel.  It is the gospel that should set the Christians’ and churches’ agenda.  Behind the scenes, the Lord is allowing the circumstances and people to come together so that the gospel may be released to a new population (Acts 8:1-4).  At the time, it may seem as though events are out of His control, but the Lord brings everything together to bless people (Romans 8:28).  If some had been tempted to think that Paul’s ministry and gospel was a failure, the apostle wanted to make clear that It was all part of God’s plan for him, and for them too (Philippians 1:29).

The question is not, 'am I safe?', but 'how will the Lord use this opposition so that the gospel will reach more people, so that they may be saved?'.  That principle has fired missionary movements for 2000 years; it has given courage to the oppressed and new life to their former oppressors.  Your courage in difficulty will help others to be courageous.  It may be like that in your office or factory, school or hospital, farm or oilfield. This Word is designed to encourage us not to stop witnessing when the problems come, but to be ready to explain why Jesus is Lord (1 Peter 3:15). So, pray with believing colleagues and friends, that you will see and seize the gospel opportunities in every difficulty.

All-knowing God. Thank You for the problems which You allow to come my way, because I know that You intend good to come from them, and especially that the gospel will be heard. Forgive me for being confused or discouraged by the problems that I cannot see Your Gospel objectives, Help me to encourage my Christian friends to see these truths, to work with them in sharing the truth about Jesus and to pray with them for Your kingdom to come. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams