Before you start reading this devotional, take a moment to stop what you’re doing, slow down and focus on Jesus.
Pray and ask him to open your eyes to see as you read the scriptures, and to open your ears to hear as you wait on the leading of the Spirit.
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. Most of the brothers have gained confidence in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word fearlessly.”
If you were imprisoned for preaching the Gospel and were able to write a letter to your church family, what would you write? How would you ask them to pray for you? How would you start and end the letter?
For most of us, I think our letters would be short and desperate. On a rough day, I think I would write something like this:
Dear Church Family,
You won’t believe this! I was put in prison for preaching the Gospel. What has happened to me has delayed the gospel. Please help me get out of here by contacting anyone you know who can help.
Woe is me,
Thankfully, the Apostle Paul had an entirely different outlook while imprisoned for proclaiming and demonstrating the Good News of King Jesus. Yesterday, I decided to read Philippians with one main goal: listen to how Paul dealt with his forced quarantine in prison. One of the passages that had a powerful impact on me was the passage quoted above. Instead of Paul viewing his imprisonment as a season of pause on the Gospel movement, he sees it as an opportunity for the Gospel’s advancement! He rejoices that the Good News of King Jesus has reached the entire imperial guard. He uses his season of suffering to bless his enemies – It is safe to say he learned that from the very King He was proclaiming.
While some of us are working more hours than ever before, some of us are stuck at home feeling like life is on pause. Our sheltering at home is exponentially easier than what Paul was facing in an ancient Roman prison, yet he found a way in the difficulty of it all to keep his eyes fixed on Jesus and seek first His Kingdom. It is essential to get this: the normal rhythms of your life may be on pause, but the Gospel is not.
Jesus loves the world too much to take a season off of the advancement of His Kingdom. He loves you too much to let you put your faith and obedience on the backburner. After getting in trouble with the religious leaders of His day for healing a man on the sabbath, Jesus replied, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” While we are in need of regular rest and sleep, our hope is in our Savior who doesn’t. He sustains all things by the power of His Word. For our good and His glory – He will not stop speaking.
Who are the imperial guards in your life right now that need to hear and see the sweet news of Jesus crucified and risen for them? Maybe a spouse or a child? A neighbor or grocer? Whether it be face-to-face with a family member or a Spirit-filled text message to a distant friend, would our faith and bold witness be an encouragement and source of confidence to our brothers and sisters.
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and descended from David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer to the point of being bound like a criminal. But the word of God is not bound.” – 2 Timothy 2v8-9
Respond to God in prayer by speaking to Him about what stood out to you from this passage this morning.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you this morning?
By God’s grace, led by the Spirit, what are you going to do in response to what God is saying to you?