We have a sovereign God
We arrived 2 weeks ago from overseas being away for 90 days. It was a blessed experience particularly following the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul from Israel, Turkey and through to Greece. It moves you to see some of the ancient ruins where Paul and his associates preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of the places we visited were unique and have a historical and archaeological significance. Two places that really had a great impact were Neapolis (present Kavala) and Philippi in Macedonia Greece. Neapolis was the port of Philippi. The port is not far from the ancient city of Philippi where Paul shared the gospel. Philippi derived its name from King Philip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. Thirteen (13) kilometres from the south of the city was the famous Egnatia Way which was a military road that joined Rome and the East. It was used for military and economics purposes. But in God’s sovereign way it was also used for the rapid expansion of the gospel. Paul’s witness in Philippi took place during his 2nd missionary journey, when he had a vision and was invited to come to Macedonia. The church at Philippi was the first Christian Church in Europe.
When Paul went back to Jerusalem he was accused of inciting riots and disobeying the Jewish laws. For that reason he was imprisoned in Caesarea for a while. To make the story short, as a Roman citizen he appealed to be tried in the highest court in Rome. (See Acts 21) Yet it is amazing that while a prisoner in Rome he wrote many Epistles of encouragement and instructions to the people and churches that he established. One of those letters is the book we have in our hands, the book of Philippians. The key words of this book are joy, or rejoice. The key verse is 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” There is no doubt that the secret of Paul’s joy was his consistent fellowship with the Lord Jesus, who is the centre of his life, whatever the future may hold. While he was in jail, he remembered with joy those beautiful memories when he was sharing the gospel. Paul said in chapter 1 vs 3 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Every remembrance means my total recollection of you. He remembered the conversion and hospitality of Lydia, the conversion of the demon possessed girl and the conversion of the jailer and his family who were baptised, etc. It is very interesting to note that Paul didn’t just sit in jail feeling sorry for himself, rather he thanked God and remembered with joy those people who followed the Lord. Sometimes we need to encourage ourselves when we go through challenges in life to step up out of ourselves believing that God is sovereign and continues working through our lives. Paul remembered the blessings of conversions. We should also remember the blessings of our conversion and the good things that follow. Remember them with joy giving praise and honour to God. It is when we remember, that we can see the hands of God working in and through our lives. I have seen this in my life and hope you have experienced that in your life as well. Remember, it is all by grace and by grace alone.