Welcome back to “Friday Feature!” Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and enjoy today’s devotion! If you missed last week’s devotion, you can read it here!
Jessica Waters brings us today’s devotion titled, “Trials Turned to Testimony.” Jessica, a proud mom of 3 handsome boys, is happily married to a pilot. Jessica has also taken several flight lessons in pursuit of becoming a pilot herself one day. Not only that, Jessica is the owner of Wings Coffee Co. She uses this as an avenue to minister to her community. Her coffee is delicious! I’m proud to have partnered with her coffee company to share it with all of you in my gift boxes! Jessica is such a great friend! Her dedication to God and her family are so admirable with her number one goal of keeping Jesus and her family first. Give Jessica a follow for some travel, home decor, and coffee inspo! @jessica.r.waters
Trials Turned to Testimony
When I was asked a couple weeks ago to write this devotional, I immediately thought about a recent study on Philippians. Paul is the perfect example of a Christian who endured suffering & trials but still brought glory to God in a spectacular way. After some in depth study on his letter to the Philippi church I have been personally convicted and hope it will encourage you as well during this interesting time we are living in.
Philippians chapter 1 begins as a thank you letter to the Philippi church for their long term support and participation in the gospel with him. The apostle doesn’t dwell too long on that subject though and begins to relate what the effects of his imprisonment are. Contrary to what the Philippians may have thought or expected, his “chains” have really served to advance the gospel. Instead, he takes comfort from the positive, exciting events that are taking place because of his imprisonment.
Paul was held either in a Roman building or under house arrest (Acts 28:16). There’s some dispute about where he was -Rome, Ephesus, or Caesarea. In the Roman world Paul’s imprisonment was legally not considered a penalty for a crime, but a sort of “holding tank” used to detain those awaiting trial or execution. Presumably, Paul was imprisoned in Rome awaiting his trial before Caesar himself (or one of Caesar’s personal representatives) which was a right he claimed as a Roman citizen.
Though guarded during this time, he was granted freedom to entertain guests (Acts 28:17, 23, 30) and carry on his preaching and teaching, at least to those who came to where he was (Acts 28:17-31). According to Roman custom he was bound by the hand to the soldier who guarded him, and was never left alone day or night. As the soldiers would relieve guard in constant succession, they were one by one brought into communication with the ‘prisoner of Jesus Christ’.
Can you imagine being a soldier alone with and chained to the Apostle Paul for a straight six hour shift? We all know Paul wasn’t ashamed to talk about Jesus! Many soldiers, no doubt, became Christians as a result, and their influence began to spread throughout their entire unit, to their families, and beyond. Whether or not they became Christians, they all knew that Paul’s imprisonment was because of his testimony for Christ, not because he was some kind of political prisoner.
Note 5 ways Paul took comfort from being in his bonds:
1. Unto the furtherance of the gospel (12)
2. It opened doors of opportunity in normally unreached places (13)
3. It inspired his co workers to become more bold in their preaching (14)
4. His bonds inspired others to pray for him (19)
5. Christ was magnified by his chains (20) Paul’s attitude throughout the book of Philippians can be summarized in eight words: “To know Christ (3:10-11) and to make him known (1:22)!
It is so easy to contemplate our circumstances right now and become discouraged. Our world has changed drastically within just a few months and it’s hard to say if things will ever be the same again. Many have been affected by the virus, whether it be from losing a loved one, unemployment, loneliness, or depression. Paul’s attitude during suffering is such a great example though! I personally have been convicted to take an outward look and use this opportunity to do my best to direct the lost to Jesus, the Author of Peace. So many are living in fear and don’t have the hope that we as Christians have. I keep thinking of Jesus’ last words to the disciples- “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) This was the very last thing He commanded us to do so it must be important!
Instead of focusing on our own trials, let us follow Paul’s example and use our suffering to advance the Gospel and bring glory to the Lord.
“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future only HE can see.”
-Corrie ten Boom