Wednesday, June 19, 2019 -
This morning I had to go to another unit to get something notarized for my lawyer in Vermont. My heart was touched when I heard in the notary’s office Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God” playing in the background. I told her I liked her music. She was the case manager for the “K” unit.
On the way back to my unit, the Lord impressed heavily upon my heart that my days here in Ashland are numbered. I do not know if that means I will soon be going home, or somewhere else. This is on the heels of the news yesterday that the judge dismissed the lawsuit in Virginia, for which we had just hired an attorney.
It was then an encouragement this morning, after reading Ephesians again, that I began to read Philippians. And I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically echo Paul, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel…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” (Philippians 1:12, 14).
I can truly say, after this experience of incarceration, now going on seven months, I have much more boldness and courage to proclaim Christ to those I encounter. Not enough, but more!
But Paul gives a warning and an admonition after writing these words, that “some are preaching Christ even from envy and strife…out of selfish ambition” (Philippians 1:15, 17). Others preach Christ out of “goodwill…out of love…pure motives” (Philippians 1:15-17). Paul ends this chapter, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of Christ; so…I may hear of you standing firm in one Spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents – which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For you it had been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Philippians 1:27-30).
It is as a guard confided in me earlier this week, “You shouldn’t be here, but you won’t be the last, there will be many more. This country needs real revival.” I told him, “True, but the revival needs to begin in the church,” to which he agreed.
Paul hits on part of the problem here in this chapter. No longer do believers have the “courage to speak the Word of God without fear” (Phil. 1:14). Others are preaching Christ with the wrong motives, even envy, strife, and selfish ambitions” (Phil. 1:15, 17)! And so, those who preach the gospel must daily examine our motives and our hearts. God wants us to be “sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of the righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:10, 11). And so we must examine our hearts daily, and ensure our lives exemplify the fruit of the Spirit, which are “love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24), If we fall short, we must recognize that it is only Christ’s power through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:25) that will provide the victory. We are weak in and of ourselves but it is Christ who gives us the victory, and His Holy Spirit who molds and shapes us, “filling us with the fruit of His righteousness, which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God: (Philippians 1:11)!
It is now late evening. I spoke to Kathie, who reminded me that two weeks ago she had a very vivid dream of me standing at the foot of our bed. Today, the same day I had this strong send, Kathie told me of the dream Debbie, a long-time co-worker at Response Unlimited had of me talking, smiling, and unexpectedly walking through the front door of the office!