Philippians 1:12-20 – “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this, I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”  NASB

Long text short devotional!  Years ago, I had an elderly preacher tell me that if you use a long text preach a short sermon, and if you use a short text preach a long sermon.  He did not explain why but probably had more to do with the ability of people to stay focused on the matter at hand. 

Paul says something here that reminded me of the adage, “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”  This adage is directed at the idea that you can choose to make of life what you will, and you can opt to turn your circumstances into opportunities.  Here Paul tells the Philippians that his difficulties had been turned by the Spirit of God into opportunities to further the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  It was a source of encouragement to others facing trials and difficulties to stay strong and faithful.  He even said that some who were coming against him were preaching out of envy or strife, but he rejoiced because the Gospel was being preached.  I guess if God can use a donkey to speak in the animal kingdom surely, he can use a jack*** in men to speak His word.

Paul’s heart and focus were to see the Word of God spread throughout the world and as many won into the Kingdom of God as possible.  He wanted all men to HEAR!  He wanted to encourage those who were in the battle to NEVER give up but to stay strong and faithful.  Sometimes when life hands us lemon after lemon it is hard to make lemonade and not become despondent and discourage to the point of despair, but we have a choice and if we choose God HE WILL NOT FAIL!

So, whatever you are facing or will face in this upcoming year know that God will NEVER leave you nor will He forsake you so STAY STRONG! Take those lemons that the devil brings to you and allow the Holy Spirit to transform them into lemonade.  Remember the promise that “All things work TOGETHER for your good….”

Blessings as you go through your day!

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