PASTOR WOOD’S Message notes
Message Notes: September 24, 2023
Title: “God Shaped Circumstances”
Text: Philippians 1:12-14, 19-30
Opening: Sitting with Solomon in a Palace we get Ecclesiastes—“Everything is a chasing after the wind.” Sitting with Paul in prison we get Philippians and an emphasis on joy in the Lord.
I. How did Paul end up in chains for the Gospel?
A. Purification ritual in Jerusalem.
1. Paul accused of defiling temple with Gentile company (Acts 21:28).
2. Riot breaks out.
3. Romans arrest Paul.
B. Paul gives a personal testimony to the crowd.
1. The crowd shouts for Paul’s death (Acts 22:22).
2. Paul brought back to barracks near Temple.
3. Commander threatens a flogging but repents—Paul is a Roman Citizen (Acts 22:24).
4. Paul speaks to Sanhedrin (Acts 22:30) with much the same results (Acts 23:6-8).
5. Acts 23:11–“‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome’”.
C. Paul taken to Caesarea.
1. Governor Felix keeps Paul two years hoping for a bribe.
2. Governor Festus takes over (Acts 24:27).
D. Under Festus
1. Jews want Paul back in Jerusalem
2. Paul appealed to the supreme court of Caesar.
3. King Agrippa hears Paul (Acts 26)
4. Paul sent to Rome (60AD) (Acts 27)
E. House arrest in Rome for two more years.
1. Acts 28:31 Paul “welcomed all who came to see him.”
2. In Chains preached to the palace guard.
F. Three ways to see all of this.
1. A series of unfortunate events.
2. Exactly the thing that helped Paul get all the way to Rome to preach the Gospel to those nearest to Caesar, himself.
3. Both—“For Christ.”
4. “I will continue to rejoice.”
II. Another perspective–Learn from Paul. Brave like Paul. Choose to rejoice like Paul.
A. Two conversations.
B. “Sufficient courage.”
1. What courage is and is not.
2. The perspective of a dying friend has many lessons.
4. Lean into Jesus more.
5. Filled with more gratitude.
C. Paul’s prison and one man’s cancer.
1. Both suffer and seek release.
2. The possibility of death lingers each day.
3. Paul not immune.
4. “My grace is sufficient…” “Lean in.”
5. However it turns out is a win.
6. Paul chooses to rejoice because the Gospel is being preached and people are being encouraged.
D. Isaiah 55:8-9
1. “What is the wisdom of this?”
2. May never know—lean into what is known in God’s Word.
3. What might lessons might be for us?
E. Why we waste so much time distracted from faith on the trivial pursuits that have no real value.
1. Lewis Screwtape Letters.
2. “What’s for lunch?”
3. Devil’s tool—keep your heart and mind preoccupied.
4. Such things are made to look more relevant and meaningful than our faith.
III. Heaven is not just for later and faith isn’t only a spiritual thing.
A. Phil 1:27ff Conduct yourselves (present tense) in a way worthy of the Gospel.
1. πολιτεύεσθε, politeusthe, “conduct,”
2. Keep on conducting yourselves.
3. Citizenship—Literally, “as citizens of heaven live now.”
4. Roman citizenship equals freedom.
5. Let people know where you are from.
B. Courage is rare and will stand out—be courageous in your conduct.
1. Centurion witnessed Jesus.
2. “Surely this was the Son of God.”
C. The same struggle and suffering.
1. Struggle– ἀγῶνα, agona,
2. An athletic contest.
3. Hebrews 12:1—”let us run with perseverance”
4. 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
D. Heaven a greater, more lasting reality than chains and imprisonment.
Wrapping Up: Zoom in. See the reality of Solomon’s palace. Zoom in. See the power of Paul’s chains for the Gospel. Philippians invites us to focus on the reality of Jesus, and to choose to rejoice in our citizenship in heaven. And to this fact; everything can be turned into a powerful opportunity for the Gospel if you are looking for it.
Taking it Home:
1. What “chains” do you endure? Being introverted. Illness. Being overweight. Being broken somehow. How have you managed it?
2. What do you rejoice in most? Does God get the credit for it? Do you rejoice in sufferings as Romans 5 teaches?
3. Where to you see the Lord most active in your conduct as a citizen of heaven? How has this blessed you?
Consider Reading Acts 24-27
PRINTABLE PDF: MNSept24.PDF
Dear Grace Congregation
I am very humbled and grateful to have been in the Lord’s service for 25 years. I am grateful to have served here at Grace for twenty of those years. Thanks to all of you for making our family a part of Grace’s family these twenty years. Thank you for the kindness, the fun, and the joy of last Sunday’s celebration. Thank you for the great meal and fellowship. Thanks to the youth for remembering Michigan Jones so fondly. Thank you for your cards and gifts and for the many expressions of love. Thank you for putting up with all my VBS ideas and hanging in there with me each year. Thank you for your patience when I am a little slow or dull. Thank you for including us in your own milestones. Thank you for allowing me to continue to work side by side with you in this ministry. The family of Grace has been very consistent in its support of its staff and is a big reason I remain here as pastor. We love this congregation and look forward to many more years together with you.
Love in Christ
Pastor Matthew Woods (PW)