It has taken me five days to read and study one chapter! Are you still with me? lol! But seriously, if this is ministering to you or you feel like God has spoken to you through this study, please leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you!
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you." (1:27-28) Christians at the time of Paul's letter were being persecuted, IE: Paul is in jail for the Gospel. He is encouraging them to stand together and to stand firm in what they believe. Two words of advice: 1. No matter what happens- be Christ like in your response to the circumstance. 2. Do not be frightened by those who oppose you. I know I am not being persecuted by my faith compared to those at the time of Paul or those around the world today, at all, but I was cut-off by my family for my faith, and I have been misunderstood and horribly mistreated because of my faith. And in both situations I cannot say that I was able to 'conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,' and not only that, I was completely frightened by those who opposed me! I moaned and groaned. I cried and cried. I talked about it endlessly. I muttered the words like I hate them, I held onto bitterness, I wanted revenge and I allowed confusion and fear to be a part of my daily life. In essence I was a complete and total mess until God healed my heart. But Paul writes these words and knows that it is possible to to go through a trial "in a manner worthy of gospel of Christ' and not to be afraid because he himself was living it. It is possible. It may not seem possible, but he assures us it is. Lord, I pray that I will go through my next trial 'worthy of the gospel of Christ.' Help me hold my tongue. Help me to have self-control. Help me to have joy in the midst of my trial for I know that you will be with me and see me through, Amen.
"This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved-and that by God. (1:28b) Paul, in verses 27-28, encourages the believers to not be afraid and "stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel" for if they do it'll be, "a sign to them that they, (their persecutors) will be destroyed, but that you will be saved-and that by God." (1:28b) By standing together amidst persecution, not running away, not becoming divided, not leaving the faith, but actually being strong together in the faith, they will be a witness and testimony to the unbelievers who will be condemned for their unbelief.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." (1:29-30) The commentary says, "granted...to suffer" Given as a gift or privilege. Christian suffering, as well as faith, is a blessing." As Christ suffered, we suffer. We should look on suffering for the gospel as a privilege and blessing. It should not be something feared. It's amazing to me how far my thoughts are from God's thoughts. I look at my trials and think, 'That's scary- let me run and hide. They hurt me, let me protect my heart. I will never trust again.' But God says, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)
I am not strong.
I am not brave.
I am fearful.
I am insecure.
I am worried of being hurt again.
BUT I know that you can change all that. I want to stand firm in my faith of who I know you are and not run. I want to be at peace that you will protect my heart. I want to be at peace in who you have made me. Trial or no trail, I want to be ready and faithful. Change my heart, oh God, and make me new. In Jesus' name, Amen.