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As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.


Philippians 1:13,14


I started cooking as a young kid by helping my mom in the kitchen. It started small but grew to more tasks and more complex techniques. One of the most important things that she taught me was that cooking was never about one big thing. Cooking is always the result of a lot of small things.


Whether it was her making spaghetti or ravioli by hand, there were many things that had to be done. There was an order to how things were made. One thing always led to another. You didn’t roll out the dough until you let it rest. You didn’t cook the pasta until everyone was ready to sit down and eat.


Now that I do a lot of cooking in our house, there’s always many steps to preparation, cooking, and serving food. And you have to do things in the right order. You don’t cut up vegetables until you first wash and peel them. You add sugar to eggs or butter only after they’ve been whipped up for a while. You don’t put pizza in the oven until it’s been heated for a good while.


And like most things in my life, I had to learn things the hard way. I once forgot to add sugar into some cookie dough at a certain step. Me being me, I thought, “Sugar is sugar. I’ll just add it later. It will be ok.”


Well, it wasn’t ok. The dough never came together. It never got stiff, it just oozed all over the place. And it got worse when I tried to cook the dough. It almost became liquid and ran off the cookie sheet, falling onto the hot stove itself. This led to a long and extensive cleaning of the stove.


Paul says the same thing, results come through a whole lot of other things being done. And when it came to sharing his faith, telling people about Jesus, it also comes as a result of many different things. So, how did it happen in Paul’s life?


Paul was a Roman citizen, a well-educated guy, and yet he’s in prison. There were guards around him all the time. They saw how he lived. How he acted towards the guards. They overheard him talk about Christ with the visitors that came.


  • Christ, the one who made the universe.

  • Christ, coming from his heavenly throne.

  • Christ, dying for our sins.

  • Christ, rising from the dead.

  • Christ, coming again soon.

Christ was the single most important person in Paul’s life. There was no hiding this from the guards. Paul’s relationship with God through Jesus leaked out all over the place. And some of that was soaked up by the guards. So, when the guards wondered why Paul had been arrested and was now in chains. It wasn’t for stealing. It wasn’t for murder. It wasn’t for treason. There was only one reason that Paul was in prison, and that was because of Christ.


And this fact, that Paul was in chains because of Christ, was not just known by the guards. It was clearly known. There wasn’t any shadow of a doubt about why Paul was in prison. They understood it without any doubt. But Paul’s deeply personal relationship with Christ did more than just impact his guards. It also encouraged the Christians in Rome. When they heard and saw Paul in chains, it energizes them in their faith.


They lived more openly and freely for God. They were willing to tell their friends, families, and even complete strangers about Jesus. How he came to pay the once-and-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world. That everyone could find peace with God through Christ.


This is the way that it’s supposed to work. One person walks with Jesus, who then encourages someone. Who then encourages someone else. So on and so forth. What one person does touches another. Encourages another. Energizes another.


Our lives and faith are all the result of the people in our life. There have been literally hundreds of people that have touched you and your life. None of them have been an accident. The impact of living for Christ is never a one-on-one thing. It’s always, always, always a community thing. It’s never only just about us and what’s going on inside us. Our living for Christ will forever and always be seen and experienced by those around us.


Which leads to the question, who is Christ to you and how are you living for him? Is your life a reflection of God’s kindness in your life? Or is your life a tarnished image of Christ, smeared with disappointment, bitterness, and shame?


The answer, the solution is simple. We need to return to the God who loves us. The God who came for us. The God who died for us. And as we reunite with him, his once-and-for-all payment cleanses us from all unrighteousness[1]. When we return to God, the results are guaranteed. We won’t be able to help ourselves. There’s no stopping us.


Noodling Questions


  • Describe two life lessons that you’ve learned the hard way.

  • How is Jesus becoming more and more important in your life?

  • Where is there a holdout area in life that Jesus is being kept out of?

[1] 1 John 1:9


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