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For I am in a strait betwixt two,
having a desire to depart, and to
be with Christ; which is far
Nevertheless to abide in the flesh
is more needful for you.
And having this confidence, I
know that I shall abide and
continue with you all for your
furtherance and joy of faith;
That your rejoicing may be more
abundant in Jesus Christ for me
by my coming to you again.
If you had the chance to change
your financial, physical, spiritual,
or social circumstances, would you?
Many would say “yes” without
While we can’t change some of our
circumstances, we can choose to
live above rather than under them.
The apostle Paul learned how to be
content in every situation and gives
us a powerful example of how to live
victoriously through difficult
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I
have learned, in whatsoever state I
am, therewith to be content
II. Paul learned throughout his trials that there
were three things he should do in order to live
above his circumstances and gain peace and joy.
1st Focus on Christ rather than the
2nd Dwell on the sovereignty of God,
not the will of man
3rd Consider the positive results
rather than the pain and loss
I. Focus on Christ Rather than
When Paul wrote to the Philippians,
he had many reasons to complain.
He was wrongfully imprisoned,
chained to a Roman soldier at all
times, and threatened with
However, Paul rejoiced in the Lord
and continued to spread the gospel.
The entire book of Philippians is
only 104 verses long, and in them,
the name of Jesus (or Christ) is
mentioned fifty-five times.
Despite his hardships, Paul chose
to focus on Jesus and to rejoice.
His troubles allowed him to reach
people who might otherwise never
hear the Word—the Praetorian
Guard, the Roman soldiers who
guarded the emperor—and to do so
with “all openness, unhindered”
And Paul dwelt two whole years
in his own hired house, and
received all that came in unto
Preaching the kingdom of God,
and teaching those things which
concern the Lord Jesus Christ,
with all confidence, no man
In Philippians 1:21, Paul states, “For
me, to live is Christ, and to die is
He had learned that, whatever the
result, he would win.
If they released him, he could
continue to preach, and if he died, he
would go to be with Christ. Either
way, he would rejoice!
Paul could have chosen self-pity
and complaint, but he focused on
Jesus Christ instead.
No matter how difficult our
circumstances, we can make that
II. Dwell in the sovereignty of
God not on the will of men
Paul didn’t focus on Nero, the emperor
who could call for his death, or the laws
of Rome. Instead, he remembered the
truth that God is sovereign;
His throne is in the heavens and He rules
The Lord hath prepared his throne in the
heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
Paul understood “God causes all
things to work together for good to
those who love Him” (Rom. 8:28).
It doesn’t mean the Lord causes
He allows them so we can grow
closer to Him and learn to rely on
our heavenly Father for strength
We may not understand why God
allows certain things to happen in
our lives, but we must remember.
He knows our needs before we ask
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for
your Father knoweth what things ye
have need of, before ye ask him.
we can always trust He is working
in our lives for good.
For it is God which worketh in you both
to will and to do of his good pleasure
Instead of asking the Father why
something happened, we should
ask what we should learn.
Pain, difficulty, and hardship gives
God a way to plow up our old
hearts, to till them like soil, and
prepare them for something good to
III. Consider the Positive Results
rather than the Pain and Loss
Paul’s circumstances gave him a
ready audience for the gospel, the
soldiers who were with him every
moment of the day.
So that my bonds in Christ are manifest
in all the palace, and in all other places;
His wrongful imprisonment also
served a purpose for other believers
who gained “courage to speak the
word of God without fear”.
And many of the brethren in the Lord,
waxing confident by my bonds, are much
more bold to speak the word without
Paul could see the hand of God at
work in his circumstances, and it
led to an amazing season of
fruitfulness in his ministry.
We should always remember God is
still in control, working things out
according to His will.
Paul’s struggles, and his reaction to
them, allowed the gospel to be
spread in the heart of the Roman
It also provided us with the letters
that serve as the foundation of
Christian theology we study today.
Focusing on your situation only
causes pain and heartache Are you
willing to let go and live above your
You can start by raising your eyes
and focusing on the One who loves
you and controls the universe.
Looking unto Jesus the author
and finisher of our faith; who
for the joy that was set before
him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is
set down at the right hand of
the throne of God.