No Dusty Bibles

Menu Close

Category: Philippians

Advancing the gospel through difficult circumstances

Hand Giving Bible

Every circumstance – whether we perceive it to be good or bad – can be used for God’s purposes and for advancing the gospel message. It’s not the circumstances themselves but rather our attitude and response to them that can be useful in advancing the gospel.

The Apostle Paul shared his perspective in his letter to the Philippians:

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel

Paul’s imprisonment (regardless of how unjust and inconvenient it may have been) was not only useful in advancing the gospel into the heart of Roman government and culture, it also created a boldness in those who observed Paul in the midst of his time in captivity such that they felt more free and courageous to share the good news in their own context.

When things don’t go our way and the whole world seems to be conspiring against us, will we have eyes to see God-ordained events or will we see inconveniences? Will we, through eyes of faith, see opportunities to bring glory to God or will we see an unfair derailment of our own plans?

God has allowed the circumstances and He can use them to glorify Himself and to fulfill His good purposes for us if we are willing to submit all things to Him, acknowledging His sovereignty and goodness.

Will we trust God in the midst of circumstances that may be perceived as challenging and overwhelming? Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Will we believe this?

In his book Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts Jerry Bridges says, “If God controls the circumstances of the sparrow, how much more does He control the circumstances that affect us? God does not walk away and leave us to the mercy of uncontrolled random or chance events.” He also acknowledges, “If we are going to learn to trust God in adversity, we must believe that just as certainly as God will allow nothing to subvert His glory, so He will allow nothing to spoil the good He is working out in us and for us.”

The next time you find yourself in the midst of challenging or unpleasant circumstances, anticipate how God will use them to further complete the work of sanctification in your life and to advance the gospel and bring glory to Himself. Lift your eyes off of the wind and crashing waves around you and keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus. Trust that He will work all things together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Allow the testimony of how you suffer and respond to difficult circumstances advance the gospel and cause others who witness your suffering to praise your Father in heaven.

Daily Bread

“give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,” Proverbs 30:8

This has been a verse that has stuck with me since the very first time I read it as a “baby” Christian. I’ve often made this my prayer as I have sought contentment and satisfaction with the Lord’s provision in my life. The idea that the eyes of man are one of the things in this world that are never satisfied is not lost on me as I find it a constant struggle to not get caught up in the rat race of keeping up with the Joneses. Because after all, as has been previously pointed out, even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.

I think when most people consider this idea of the Lord providing them with their daily bread it’s in the context that God will provide enough for their daily needs. They think of it in terms of the quantity of His provision and are focused on measuring the volume or amount of what has been provided. I think that perhaps it can go beyond that. I think that maybe it means that not only will God provide you with enough but also with the right kind. Not only will God provide enough food to satisfy my hunger but He will also provide the right kind of food such that I will be adequately nourished. I could stretch my grocery budget a lot farther each month if I fed my kids fast food each day instead of organic fruits and vegetables and it might satisfy their hunger but would it nourish them appropriately? Probably not. I think my Heavenly Father is just as concerned with what type of daily bread I’m consuming.

Perhaps, there are times where it is not necessarily about nourishment but also growth – in faith and trust in Him. Maybe there are times where my daily bread yields a surplus and is useful for revealing things about the condition of my heart. Will I, motivated by fear about tomorrow, stockpile the surplus for my own comfort? Or, will I gladly share it with others who have need? Does God use His provision of my daily bread in this way?

I think about God’s instructions to the Israelites when they were collecting manna in the desert. They were only to collect what they needed for that day. Some would be able to collect more and others less but that was to ensure equity among all of them as those who were unable to collect enough could receive from the all-star manna collector team. It was also a way to ensure that they continued to trust in God as their provider rather than trusting in their manna-collecting abilities.

I also notice that God has never asked me to set my daily bread threshold. I’ve never had to submit a daily bread request form. I’ve never sat down with a Heavenly business analyst to help me define my daily bread requirements. God the Father, as the loving and faithful provider that He is, gives me my daily bread and I trust Him to do so. It’s my hope that I will always receive it with thanksgiving and that I will always receive it as satisfactory. I know that I will never lack any good thing.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Do not be anxious

Today I had an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) or Upper Endoscopy performed. I had some blood work that indicated a very high probability of having Celiac Disease so they wanted to confirm the diagnosis by taking a biopsy of my small intestine. For some reason, I was more worried about this than the colonoscopy that I had back in November. Although I was never excited about the latter, the thought of having a tube snaked through my mouth, down my esophagus and into my stomach concerned me. I have a pretty sensitive gag reflex and was anxious about the entire thing. However, as I lay on the bed having oxygen piped into my nose and the I.V. of sedative administered, I found myself repeating the following scripture verse over and over.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7

I didn’t repeat it over and over because it’s some “magic” incantation. I repeated it over and over because it’s God’s word, it’s the truth and because I believe it. And, at a time when I was feeling very anxious, I needed to remind myself to not be. I needed to remind myself that I have been encouraged (commanded even?) to not be anxious about anything. Now, I’m a Bible literalist so I think that means what it says. It means that I should not be anxious about a medical procedure, or a mortgage payment, or finding a job, or unpleasant conversations, or [fill in the blank].

My Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following definition of the word, anxious:

characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency

The verse that I was reciting from memory in the exam room provides an antidote to this uneasiness of mind and in fact, promises to transform an uneasy mind into one that experiences a peace that transcends all understanding. Our response to anxiety is to pray. It seems simple but it is oh so powerful and effective. When you are worried, talk to your Heavenly father who made you, and knows you, and loves you, and cares for you. Allow Him who is sovereign over all things, to provide you with a peace that not only transcends all understanding but one that guards your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.

The last ingredient to all this is to do this all with an attitude of thanksgiving. Sometimes as we are crying out to God in our distress it can be difficult to have an attitude of thanksgiving. But what I have found (at the risk of sounding like Pollyanna) is that in most situations, I can always find something for which to be thankful. I just need to be purposeful about finding it. How this played out for me this morning was that I was thankful that I have health insurance, I was thankful that I was able to have the procedure done so that I could adopt a proper course of treatment moving forward, I was thankful that my wife would be meeting me in the recovery room to take care of me and ensure that I got home safely and I was thankful that I had the privilege of crying out to a God that hears my voice and is wise and loving in all His ways.

If you are anxious about anything right now, I encourage you to let your requests be known to God. Be vulnerable and transparent with someone else and allow them to pray for you. Whatever you do, don’t bear the burden alone. Don’t be characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency. Your loving God and Heavenly father desires you to know and experience a peace that transcends all human understanding. Will you humble yourself before Him and allow Him to do that for you?

© 2017 No Dusty Bibles. All rights reserved.

Theme by Anders Norén.