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Christ in Our Problems

FATHER— How precious it is to belong to you and to know that we not only are born of earthly parents who loved us and indeed gave of themselves for us; for we’re thankful You loved us and You gave of Yourself, indeed gave Your very Son for us that we might have eternal life through Him. And, we’re thankful that He came, not just that we might have life [but we are thankful for that and grateful, that is, eternal life], but we’re thankful that we can have it more abundantly; and we’re grateful that in this epistle to the Philippians, this more abundant life is so clearly set forth and portrayed for us, and even exemplified by the apostle Paul himself. Bless us then, Father, as we open this portion of Your Word. May our hearts also be open to receive that which You have for us. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Open your Bible, if you have not yet with me, to Philippians chapter 1. We considered that portion of the Word of God last evening. We, of course, first introduced the book and gave some background on the founding of the church at Philippi as recorded in Acts chapter 16— that God by His grace established a church there in a fairly unlikely place, but being the first church in the area of what is now we would call Europe. God, by His grace, brought forth a people for His Name from that area. The charter members of that church may be rather unlikely [if you go back and check them out], and yet God has chosen oftentimes to use the weak things to confound those who are mighty and base things to bring to naught those that think that they are something.
Paul had received, while he was in prison....and he writes this letter while he is in prison....I believe in Rome in prison. He received, from these dear saints at Philippi, a gift. Now, it doesn’t say the exact amount of it, but it was sufficient and undoubtedly impressive to the apostle Paul. This is the one church from which Paul was willing to and did receive gifts for his ministry as well as through him to give to others as they did when he took a gift to Jerusalem. And so, Paul writes this letter as a gift-response, a response of gratitude, to these Philippians for their having given to him to promote his ministry and to enable him to continue on in the work to which God had called him, even though he was confined in prison at this time.
We pointed out that the theme of the book is found in one verse, and I think most of you know what that verse is. It’s in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Literally in the Greek, it’s “For me to live Christ!” Christ was the overwhelming passion of Paul’s life, and Christ is the overwhelming theme of this book. That is why as we address ourselves to the book in the eight sessions that I will have with you, we’re taking CHRIST to each of the portions that we’re dealing with. Last evening, we saw “Christ in People,” and we emphasized from that portion of the Word of God, that God has chosen to work in and through people. He does not pour out His Spirit upon programs or plans or projects. He pours out His Spirit upon people, and it is Christ in people that makes the difference in this world. Now, I often emphasize that wherever you have people, you have potential if they are indwelt by the Spirit of God. But you also, wherever you have people, you have something else that’s negative and that’s problems; because people have problems, and oftentimes people are problems; and many of the problems, that you and I have to contend with in life are in a word— people! They are people-problems. In their relations and reactions to us, they create problems with us; and in those situations, we need the personal presence and power of Christ. So, in this portion that we are going to consider beginning in verse 12, we’re going to deal with this matter of “Christ in Our Problems.” Then tomorrow afternoon, we will be going on to “Christ Our Power” in the concluding part of the chapter.
The section that we want to consider begins at verse 12 and continuing through verse 20 (a total of 9 verses). Follow me as I read this portion of the Word of God, “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”
In these nine verses we see the theme: “Christ in Our Problems.” You might immediately say, “If you’re a Christian, should you really have problems?” Do believers have problems? Sometimes if you listen, maybe not too attentively, to an evangelist, it will almost sound as if you would simply receive Christ as your personal Saviour and make Him your Lord, then you’ll have no more problems. Now if an evangelist says that, it’s not quite true. In fact, it may be true that you may end up having more problems after you’re a Christian than you had before you were a Christian. Because as they say, “Any dead fish can float with the tide, but it takes a very live, vigorous fish to swim against the tide.” And, when you become a Christian you become immediately opposed to the things of the world and the tide of this world, and you’re headed in a totally different direction from the world; and thus, it comes to pass as Jesus Christ Himself said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have [What?] tribulation [Now, that’s not the great Tribulation. It may be great to you...but it’s tribulation that comes in life.]: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” [I have a message of three cheers from Jesus....that’s three cheers for Jesus!....but I’m not going to preach that.]....but here’s one— “....be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” While we’re in the world, we’re opposed to the world and the world system and we’re not a part of it or not to be a part of it; and when we oppose that, we come into a conflict with it.
Paul, in writing to Timothy in II Timothy chapter 3, tells Timothy that in the end time, there are going to be very difficult times; and he goes on to indicate that he had faced affliction himself. He says in verses 10 and 11, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, [love], patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord” delivered me. You know?....that’s one hope for every believer, that ultimately you’re going to be delivered. You say, “Suppose I get killed?” Well, that’s the greatest deliverance, because then you’re delivered right into the presence of the Lord which is far better! But now notice what Paul adds here, when he says in verse 12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall [What?] suffer persecution.” And so, the child of God is destined to suffer. Paul says this later in Philippians chapter 1 and verse 29, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him [and we emphasize that and we love that and are grateful for that....that we can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, as Paul said to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31, not only to believe on Him], but also [What?] to suffer... for...His...sake.”
I rather naively thought when I was a younger person, a younger Christian, that if you were only true to the Lord and consistent to His Word and watched and prayed, you’d eventually avoid all problems and difficulties and distresses;....but I tell you one thing, it didn’t quite work out that way. (I guess from a human viewpoint, I wish it had. But, it didn’t.) You see, the life of faith isn’t always an easy life. O, there are times of blessing, times of prosperity, times of delight; but there are also times of difficulty. I’ve often preached from Psalm 116. It’s one of my favorite psalms, and I call it: “The Saint’s Love Life,” because it begins, “I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice....Because He hath inclined His ear unto me [literally, turned down and listened to me], therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.” But, do you know what it goes on to say then in verse 3, and I often preface this by saying, “The course of true love never runs smooth.” And, the course of the Christian life doesn’t run smooth! He goes on to say, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell [literally in the Hebrew, Sheol, the place of the dead] got hold upon me: [and notice what he adds] I found trouble and sorrow.” I want to say to you folks— It’s a little over 40 years since I came to know the Lord, and I found blessing and delight and joy; but I also have found trouble and sorrow. And Paul found it in his life. We often idealize the men of the past and think that.....oh, they were great spiritual giants who never had any problems or difficulties. They all went off alone somewhere and studied the Word and had no opposition. But remember, Paul was writing this when he was in prison...a man who loved to be out preaching and proclaiming the Word of God, now shut away from the crowds, probably not even able to see very well, not having any crowd before him to speak to; but he did have one person there, and that was....the Roman soldier, chained to him....and that became his captive audience. In this very passage he indicates “that the [very] things [that have] happened unto me have [happened, what?] they have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” It is a little over four years ago that I was speaking to the graduates of Lancaster Bible College on their retreat, and I wanted to share with them something that I felt I wished somebody would have told me when I was graduating from Bible school; and the thing that impressed upon me was that a lot of the things that are going to make a tremendous difference in your life are things you never anticipated or planned for, or maybe you weren’t even prepared for; and I prefaced that with the reference to a young man who at his wedding reception was asked to say a few words and he was very nervous and he didn’t know what to say and hated to speak before a crowd; and so putting his arm around his recently acquired bride, he said in regard to having been asked to say something, he said, “This thing was thrust on me unexpectedly.” Now I want to say sincerely folks, that many things in life that will make a tremendous difference in your life will be thrust upon you unexpectedly; and they were for the apostle Paul. When Paul went up to Jerusalem, he thought that he was going to take this gift there for the saints and then he’d have a time of ministry there and then he’d move on and eventually get over to Rome. Well, he got to Rome, but not the way he had planned. He ended up on the way being shipwrecked and just making as it were by the “skin of his teeth,” but he got there.
I know in my life, sometimes the way the Lord has worked things out, have not been at all the way I would have planned. Now I believe in planning, and I think the churches and work oftentimes don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan; and I believe in planning. But, God oftentimes will interrupt our plans to bring about His plan. I have a thing in my office at home that says— “My interruptions are my work.” Maybe I ought to change that: “Our interruptions are oftentimes His work.”— and this is what happened to Paul.
Now, there are nine verses here, and I think it divides easily enough for three sections of three verses each; and I want you to see that Christ in Our Problems first shows the Demonstration of God’s Working, verses 12-14. Notice he says, “I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happen unto me have fallen out [It just seemed like they fell into place—] rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” Now one thing that persecution and difficulty and distress will do if you bring Christ into your situation, and if He is real in your life, it will result in the Extension of the Gospel. This was true in the early church. Turn back to the book of Acts chapter seven, and you have the record of Stephen’s martyrdom....you have how having given a sermon, he was taken by the Jews of his time and stoned to death; and as he knelt down [and at the end of verse 60] “....cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” He was killed!
Now in chapter 8, “Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time [that is, at the time of the martyrdom of Stephen] there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and [as a result of that persecution, what happened?] they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles” [And what did they do?] Skip down to verse 4, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad [What did they do?] They “went every where preaching the Word.” What caused the Extension of the Gospel? Persecution. You see, they had been given a commission to go to Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria....but they didn’t go. They settled down in Jerusalem, and they enjoyed the fellowship and the breaking of bread and all that which was great. But, God wanted them scattered. And how did He bring it about?....through persecution. God will often stir up you as an individual or even a church through difficulty, through distress, through persecution....so that you’ll get scattered out and the Word will be proclaimed. This is what happened to Paul, and so Paul in writing to Timothy in the concluding book that I believe that Paul wrote....II Timothy 4, he says beginning in verse 1, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the Word; be instant [or urgent] in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine [Teach the Word]. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto fables [myths].” Now folks, people are turning their ears away from the Truth, and they want to add something more to the very Word of God. Well, there are some verses in the Word of God that tell you about that: Proverbs 30, verse 6, “Add thou not unto His Words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” And of course in the book of the Revelation in chapter 22:18, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” I certainly hope and trust that in a world in which a lot of stupid things are being done today, that those who add to the Word of God will gain no following. But it is amazing how people will turn away from the Truth; but God nevertheless challenges us oftentimes with difficulty and persecution to extend the gospel.
Then secondly in verse 13, there is the Exhibition of God’s Grace. “So that by my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places.” Several months ago, I heard Dr. Epp on Back to the Bible say, “One of the greatest things, that God could ever do for you, is to give you a terrible difficulty that you have to live with, but you demonstrate the grace of God in it.” And you know in a sense, that’s what happened to Paul. He ended up in the midst of a difficulty that he had to live with, but I believe he lived with it triumphantly; and allowed God to work His grace in and through him so that he became a very Exhibition of God’s Grace.
Remember Paul tells in II Corinthians chapter 12 how this “thorn in the flesh” had been given to him, and how he besought the Lord three times, that that would be removed from him?.....but the Lord didn’t answer those prayers of the apostle Paul. By the way, those who think that everybody’s prayers are going to be answered in just the way that they want it, might look at this; because Paul’s prayer, in fact, three times over, was not responded to the way that Paul wanted it answered. But instead, II Corinthians 12:9, “He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” And, when you’re in difficulty and accept the grace of God, you bring glory to God. Somebody said, “A Christian is like a tea bag. His true flavor comes out when he is in hot water.” And, oftentimes God will let you get into hot water, so that the true flavor of His grace will come out....as I believe it did with the apostle Paul, to the very extent that people in Caesar’s household came to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior....even those there in the palace, came to know the Lord as a result of Paul’s faithful and fervent witness for Christ in the midst of his own difficulty.
Then thirdly, not only is it an Extension of the Gospel, the Demonstration of God’s Working, and the Exhibition of God’s Grace, but there’s the Encouragement of God’s Servants, verse 14, “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear.” Here were those, who holding back before, maybe saying, “Well, this didn’t go right for me or I had this problem or that problem.” When they saw Paul in the midst of his great difficulty, still being a faithful and fervent witness for Christ, they said, “Well, I don’t have any excuse for my not witnessing. I’m going to get to it myself; and I’m going to take encouragement from someone else who found courage in the Lord.”
One of the reasons that God gives us difficulty in life, is that we can help others with their difficulties. In II Corinthians chapter 1 beginning at verse 3 Paul says, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer, whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” And so when you and I suffer in the will of God and receive the grace of God, then others are encouraged to receive the same grace. I mentioned that a few years ago, actually it was four, when I spoke to the graduates of the College about things being thrust suddenly upon you. It was just a matter of weeks after that, as some of you know....that our daughter who was then fourteen was discovered to have a lump on her neck, and my wife who is a nurse became concerned about it and contacted a physician. Eventually Becky was placed in a hospital, and on July first of1975....it was discovered that our daughter had Hodgkin’s Disease, which is cancer of the lymph glands, normally fatal. I had experienced much of triumph in the work of the Lord, but I tell you....when you get hit with a trial like that, it’s like a bolt of lightning that hits you at the top of your head and goes right down through your body, and you feel it just like an electric shock. I must confess that I wasn’t ready. That was thrust upon me unexpectedly; and while outwardly I kept a good face and a good front, when I went into Becky’s room, right after that and she was still up in recovery, I talked to the Lord and I wasn’t too pleasant. And I said, “God, not Becky!....I never thought that I would react that way, but I did. I often preached from Genesis 22, and offering your son; and when I preach, I try to put myself in the place of those who were there; and I often said to the Lord, “Lord, if You ever wanted my son, make me willing. Make me willing to give my son to you. But you know somehow, I never prepared myself to offer a daughter......and I wasn’t ready....but God was ready....and in the midst of that trial, do you know what He used? He used His Word, which is what He’ll always use, to strengthen and stabilize you in time of trial. Here’s three verses. One is our life verse, Psalm 34:3, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together.” The second was from this very passage from Philippians 1:20 where Paul says that, “...Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” And, it was only by the grace of God that He enabled us to say, “Lord, if You’ll be more magnified in Becky’s death than in her life, we just want You to be magnified.” And you know, you don’t say that in the energy of the flesh, because you can’t.....but by His grace, if Christ really does mean all to you, then you do want Him to have all that you have, regardless of what it is or who it is; and it was only by His grace that we were able to say that. And then, He gave us a blessed verse to cap it all— I Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” And, we thank God, that after intensive surgery and radiation treatment, Becky is now symptom free. She has some physical problems that she’ll always have to live with....one of which is having had some of her salivary gland production destroyed. But as I said, Becky takes a positive outlook on life. She said, “I’ll never get fat!” God, by His grace will sustain you through His Word, and don’t go running off to some fortune teller or something like that. Go to the Word of God, and God will strengthen and stabilize you therein and demonstrate that He is working in this situation to extend the gospel, to encourage God’s servants, and to exhibit His grace! I said then and I’ve said many times since....that I’m convinced that God’s grace is sufficient. I’m not even convinced that we have to pray that it will be. I’m convinced that it is. The question is that you’ll either take God’s grace and become better as a result of it, or you won’t and become bitter.....and it’s all a matter of receiving His grace.
Now secondly, “Christ in Our problemsStimulates Men’s Witnessing. In verses 15-17 he says, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will.” Now he refers here to two types of witnesses: some who are not really thinking well of the apostle Paul and maybe thought that he is getting all that he deserved, after all he thought he was so great and the rest of that; and now he’s down in prison, “Let him take his “lumps.” And some of them said, “Well, now that he’s down and out, maybe we’ll preach and show him up for what he is.” Well,....some of “envy and strife.” Some of “good will”.....and they said, “Well, if God has set aside the apostle Paul for a time, then we’ve got to preach the Word.” So, two types: one for him and one against him. I’ve called these two types, one— “The Trying Type,” verse 16, “The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds”— wanting that things would even go worse for the apostle Paul.
You know, it’s amazing that even among Christian leaders, sometimes there is envy and strife. These things ought not, brethren, so to be. But I’ve been in the Lord’s work long enough to know that it is true.....and some even rejoice when somebody else falls or stumbles along the wayside. I tell you folks, I take no joy in someone else’s fall. I take no joy in somebody else’s having been put aside; and friend, you don’t always know the reason why somebody’s put aside. Some could say that Paul’s out of the will of God and going there to Jerusalem....and maybe he was. Some of us do question how wise it was for him to do what he did. And you’d say, “He got what he deserved.” Well friends, if any of us got what we deserved, we’d get the Lake of Fire!
Whatever we have, is by the grace of God, and it’s by the grace of God that we stand, and it’s by the grace of God that we serve. It’s by the grace of God that we’re sustained. God in His grace will bring glory, even out of darkness as He did out of this dark prison when Paul wrote this tremendous epistle; and he said, “But the other of love.” You know one thing I have found in some of the difficulties that I’ve had to pass?....is that you have found that there are some dear people who truly love you. When others turn aside from you, you will find some who love you truly; and they will faithfully and fervently proclaim the Word of God, maybe even when you can’t; and they’ll be out there on the firing line, loving you, loving the Lord, and serving Him. That’s “The True Type.” “The Trying Type” and “The True Type!” But even in this, Paul says, “I rejoice. I’m happy that the Word of God is being preached.” You see this in verse 18, “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
I heard my good friend, Lehman Strauss [Of course he’s preached here many times] say something that I’ve known for many years, but he articulated it very well. He said, “Do you know that you can have spiritual gifts and exercise them and not be spiritual?” And that’s true, folks. I heard a man preach, after he had been openly convicted of adultery [He’d been a pastor. He’d been removed from his church.]. I heard a man preach....and I saw people get saved. He had the gift of evangelism. Now I don’t know how spiritual he was....maybe he got right with the Lord, but I don’t know. But, I tell you, pray for those who minister the Word of God. They’re always the objects of the Adversary’s attacks, and he will use various means and methods to seek to make them unspiritual, even in the midst of their ministry;.....and trust that those who minister the Word of God will witness in the power of God!
Now the third thing I want us to see [beginning at verse 18 and going through verse 20 is that “Christ in Our Problems” will Concentrate on True Worth. Notice verse 18 he emphasizes that Christ is preached, regardless whether there is contention and difficulty and distress, “....Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice...” And, I thank God, when Christ is proclaimed, maybe not so well by some as by others. Maybe there are other things that somebody else does that I don’t approve of, but...is Christ clearly preached? If He is so that people can get saved, then let’s praise God, and let’s pray for that person who is preaching the Word of God.
Notice the second thing.....Christians pray! Verse 19, “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” One thing that as a family we have always felt led to do when God has allowed difficulty to come into our lives [and in Becky’s situation], we immediately asked people to pray.....and people did, pray....and God answered. Shortly after Becky’s problem, I had my own problems: I lost my voice, I had vocal chord surgery twice in 1976, I had it again in ‘78 and ‘79; and my latest operation was in February twenty first of this year— I guess they’re always “down in the mouth” with me, putting the tube down my throat and all that.....and we’ve always asked people to pray. Now I guess one thing that I’m still not clear about, is that when people prayed, each of the four operations I had, something went wrong. Now, I don’t know whether they prayed wrong or I didn’t believe right, or what it was; but somebody said, “You might be surprised what would have happened if they hadn’t prayed at all.” Well, thank God that He does come through! And I will say this, that I have found in difficulty that I really am not anything. And I will say this, in my last operation, I was utterly down at the bottom. I couldn’t take any credit for anything. It was just the grace of God that brought me through that. Then, when I got back to my room after the operation, they’d broken off a tooth, and they took me down to ex-ray to try to find if I had any inside me or in my lung; and then while I was down there, they were painting, and I am allergic to paints. So I came back to my room very sick after that. I guess some of us are just hard to teach, maybe; but, “God knows.” And you know folks, sometimes that’s all you can say when you go through difficulty. You can say, “God knows.” That’s the first thing I said when my wife told me that Becky had Hodgkin’s Disease. I said, “God knows.” And He does know. And He does care. And He will bring you through. And, even if you die, you’re brought home to glory, and that’s the best; for that’s the best that’s yet to come! But, get Christians to pray, and thank God that they do pray when you’re in difficulty.
And then thirdly, Christ becomes precious! Christ becomes precious! During our difficulties and our problems, our late pastor, dear Dr. Ralph Stoll used to often say, “It’s hard to be optimistic when you have a misty optic.” In other words, it’s hard to be optimistic when your eyes are filled with tears. And it is! But you know what folks? Sometimes the Lord Jesus is never more precious.....than when you see Him.....through your tears! And sometimes I believe God allows our health to be broken, sometimes our hearts to be broken— that the Lord Jesus will become more precious to us than He ever was before! And I believe Paul experienced that. I believe that his imprisonment and all that went against him....he said, [“It’s] turned out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” God was working in all of this, that the gospel would go forth, that God’s grace would be exhibited, that God’s servants would be encouraged, and it stimulated men’s witnessing, even though there were two types— the “Trying” and the “True.” And it brings out and concentrates true worth: Christ proclaimed, Christians pray, and Christ becomes precious to us.
Notice in verse 20, and with this I want to conclude.....He becomes precious in our anticipation. He says, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness “ [And you know when other things fade from view and Christ becomes precious, you become bold in Him.] Then in our anticipation, blessed boldness; in our concentration, “Christ....shall...be...magnified;” and then in our expectation, “whether it be by life, or by death.” You know, one thing that is true for the child of God, he doesn’t need to be afraid to die. If your time comes to die, if you know Him Who died for you and rose again from the dead.....What is it?.....[verse 21], “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is [What?] gain.” You receive your promotion into heaven; and I’m looking forward to that. I don’t know how long it will be, and I’m hoping it will be....not by the undertaker but by the Uppertaker.....and I’m hoping and trusting that the Lord Jesus is going to come maybe even before this week is out, maybe before this day is out. But if He doesn’t, and if difficulty comes and it could, and if the Lord Jesus doesn’t come soon, we may face some difficulties that we never thought about before, folks; but in them all, God designs these difficulties to make us diligent, dependent disciples of our Lord, so that He will be magnified in our lives. Let’s bow in a moment of prayer.

FATHER— We’re so thankful that You are a faithful God; but even more than that, and more intimately, You are a faithful Father; and how we rejoice that we can call ourselves Your children and call You our God. How gracious You are to us. How great, how grand, how glorious You are. We realize Father, it will take the endless ages of eternity for us simply to begin to plumb the depths of Your greatness and Your glory and Your goodness, but we’re thankful that You have already revealed to us in the Scriptures how great You are and how marvellously great is Your Son. And, as we looked to this epistle once again in which our Lord Jesus Christ is exalted, we know Father, that as we exalt Him, we exalt You. And so, we ask that the Holy Spirit, Whose delight it is to take the things of Christ and reveal them to us, that He will do that and we will go forth from here being more preciously devoted to Him Who devoted Himself and indeed His life to us and gave it for us. May we in turn, give our lives for Him, out of devotion to Him. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Dr. Stuart E. Lease
August 1979
Central Manor Campground, Mountville, PA

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