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Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.


Philippians 1:12


I grew up in and around Baltimore. I’m a city kid at heart. The only country things in my background were my dad’s garden in our backyard and the park near my grandparents. I don’t like to drive on the dirt – that’s what concrete and asphalt are for. I still don’t like to walk on the grass. After all, it gets the bottom of my shoes dirty.


So, when we moved to a wooded area in Danbury, CT, I was way out of my element. All these trees were standing up and lying down on the ground. It needed to be cleaned up. They needed to be thinned out, so we had a view of the lake.


So, I pulled up my big boy pants, screwed up my courage and bought the most frightening piece of technology known to mankind. A chainsaw. Yes, it made lots of noise. Yes, it tore through my pants and grazed my leg. Yes, it made me shake with fear every time I started it up.


But you know what? It did a job. It changed everything. We cleaned up all the downed trees and limbs in nothing flat. We dropped the trees that blocked our view of the lake. And to top everything off, we had lots of firewood to heat the house.


That’s what’s going on here with the Apostle Paul. He had lots of things and people stopping him on his journey to share Jesus. Some people were up in his face, disrupting him and his work for the kingdom of God. Some were lying in wait for him, ready to pounce at the worst possible time.


Paul’s enemies weren’t just sitting there at a coffee shop, sipping on a latte, wishing that someone would do something against him. Oh no. And they were doing more than just lying there, being in his way. They were actively moving around and doing things to stop him. They wanted to make him fail at his God-appointed mission.


But God is a God who laughs at anyone who tries to stop him or his plans[1]. He protects and gives strength to the faithful[2]. The Lord will never leave or forsake his people[3]. I could go on and on about how God takes care of his own. He took care of Paul, and he’s taking care of us.


But it doesn’t end there. If that’s all God did, that would be good enough. But God doesn’t stop there. He does a whole lot more. He’s not limited by just protecting us. He does something that takes a lot more wisdom, knowledge, and power.


He takes the evil plans and actions of our enemies and turns them into something great. Something that will give him glory. Something for our good.


God is like a chainsaw. He’s powerful enough to cut through a thick forest that no one can hack their way through. There’s nothing that can stop him. No matter how big or small the trees are, no matter how many there are, the chainsaw of God can cut through them.


But he doesn’t just let the fallen enemies lay there on the ground. If they’re just left where they fall, then they can slow us down. We’ll have to go around or craw over them. Or they can cause us to trip and fall.


God does more than just cut down his and our enemies. He clears them away. He makes a clear path through them. And not just a path for one person, but for his army to go through.


And where does his path go? To places that don’t know him. To people who have yet to hear about how great and loving he is. How he sent Jesus to die for them even before they ever heard about him. God is very interested in the advancement of the gospel.


Yes, he’s our rock in and through life when all hell is breaking through[4]. He’s our anchor through the storms of life[5]. He is our protector and strong fortress when the enemy comes in like a flood[6].


There is a time to hunker down and wait out the storm. A time to hide from the enemy. A time to hide and pray. A time to wait. To wait on the Lord[7]. God sometimes tells his people to wait for something[8].


But then there is a time to get out and spread the word about how great and mighty God has been to us. Think about the shepherd’s reaction to seeing Jesus for themselves. What did they do? Did they write a blog? Did they post a video? They spread the word. They hit the ground running. And like a path cut down and cleared by a chainsaw, they covered lots of ground.


Is it time for you to go through the path that God’s chainsaw has opened up for you?


Noodling Questions


  • What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever used? Why?

  • Describe three times that God has protected and given strength to you.

  • How can we more actively spread the word about God’s faithfulness to us?

[1] Psalm 59:8

[2] 2 Thessalonians 3:3

[3] Deuteronomy 31:6

[4] Psalm 18:2

[5] Hebrews 6:19

[6] 2 Samuel 22:2,3

[7] Psalm 130:5,6

[8] Exodus 12:3, Luke 24,49


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