Pre-Summit Bible Study
Week 3: Suffering
Read Philippians 1:12-17
Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel. The whole Praetorian Guard and everyone else knows that I’m in prison for Christ. Most of the brothers and sisters have had more confidence through the Lord to speak the word boldly and bravely because of my jail time. Some certainly preach Christ with jealous and competitive motives, but others preach with good motives. They are motivated by love, because they know that I’m put here to give a defense of the gospel; the others preach Christ because of their selfish ambition. They are insincere, hoping to cause me more pain while I’m in prison.
Imagine Paul in prison. The food may be a bland broth with a stale piece of bread. There are likely rats and the stench of unclean, unwashed prisoners likely permeates the air. It probably smells like human waste, and sounds of disgruntled, wounded, angry prisoners likely fill the air with complains and moaning. If you think prison today is an undesirable place to be, imagine prison around 62 A.D.
1. Paul is in prison for preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. What is the good news of Jesus Christ, and why would Paul be imprisoned for sharing this message?
2. Paul states that different people are motivated for different reasons to preach the good news. What are the different motives people are preaching in Paul’s day? What are the different motives people may consider preaching the message of Jesus today?
3. Paul’s confidence in the gospel has grown through his suffering and others are more confident to share the good news because of Paul’s imprisonment and suffering. What is it about Paul’s response to his suffering that increases the confidence of others? Think of someone that praised God through their suffering. How did this motivate you in your faith?
God, you promised the Holy Spirit to comfort us and to meet us in our suffering. Right now, I pray for those around the world for whom suffering is a part of their daily lives. Be with the broken, hungry, poor, sick, lonely, disparaging people in the world, and show me how to use my gifts and resources to be your hands and feet to the hurting in the world around me. Amen.
What injustice in the world breaks your heart. Is it sex trafficking, orphaned children, abandoned elderly people, unwanted animals, those with food insecurity? What breaks the heart of God and breaks your heart, too? Do a google search and start researching organizations in place to meet the needs of those suffering the world. Consider how you will act to alleviate the suffering of others. Will you donate money, time, or resources? Will you give a week or two of your summer to serve in mission or sign up to be a weekly volunteer? Consider how God wants you to end suffering around you, stop talking about it, and do something!