Between THE ROCK and Hard Places (Traditional)

April 28, 2024 | Traditional Worship Service

Rev Clement Ong
Between THE ROCK and Hard Places (Traditional)

April 28, 2024 | Traditional Worship Service

Rev Clement Ong
Scripture Passage: Philippians 1:12-18 (NIV)

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Summary l How we respond to difficult relationships and situations shows whether or not our living is “all about Jesus”, and “to live is Christ”.

Despite his dire circumstances – brutally chained and neglected in a dark Roman prison reeking with the stench of death, Paul wrote to the Philippians from a place of physical restriction, with no control over his circumstances. Yet, his letters were joyous and hopeful! Do we find ourselves confined and helpless, chained to hard places? What principles can we learn from Paul’s example to turn our struggles with people and situations into opportunities for discipleship?

1. God Uses Our Troubles to Accomplish His Purposes

Knowing God is sovereign, Paul’s focus was not on his chains but the opportunities they presented for the gospel’s advancement. Precisely because of Paul’s imprisonment, the entire palace guard and everyone else knew he was in chains for Christ. This emboldened many brothers and sisters to become confident in the Lord and dare proclaim the Good News without fear. (v12-14)

True faith is inconvenient for it compels us to deny ourselves for the glory of God. We trust and obey God by standing firm with integrity when trapped in an ethical dilemma, or showing unconditional love to maintain relations that are less than harmonious. Shine the light of Christ so others might see God’s holiness, and know of His loving, redeeming grace.

2. Knowing and Making Christ Known Direct How We Relate with Others

It didn’t matter to Paul whether the motive for preaching Christ was true and sincere out of goodwill and love, or insincere because of envious rivalry and selfish ambition to stir up trouble for him in prison. He continued to rejoice that Christ was being preached – that God the Father in His great mercy had given mankind new birth into a living hope, along with an eternal heavenly inheritance, through the resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Difficult relationships did not hinder Paul in the advancement and ministry of the gospel. Having only Christ in mind, he could surrender everything else that may have affected his authority and reputation – to God to handle. Christ mattered more than his personal grievances.

3. Love of Christ Motivates Us to Rejoice in Affliction

Throughout his trials, Paul made it a point to testify of his hopeful, joyous faith in Christ. Compelled by his Saviour’s sacrificial love, he chose to live not for himself “but for Him who died for (us) and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) Will we, likewise, capture every opportunity to make Christ known? “Whatever happens”, will we conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”? (v27) “Joy in affliction is a clearer witness that we treasure Christ more than comfort, than joy in comfortable sunny days.” (Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts)

We begin to love all that God loves when we are so moved by the selfless love of Christ who died for us that we begin to selflessly live for Himnot as a victim but as a victor, to love others and stay faithful in adversity. For “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Let us choose to glorify God in our hard places by clinging to the everlasting LORD, the Rock of Ages for as Betsie Ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper.” When we allow God to navigate us through our hard places, purposeful, joyful living becomes our new reality. For “He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (v6)

(Sermon notes by Marjorie Tan)


Let’s recall, reflect, consider, and commit! 

  1. Recall a time when you faced a difficult situation at work. How did you see God working through that “hard place” to advance the gospel?
  2. Reflect on Paul’s joy in Christ being preached, regardless of motives. How does Paul’s perspective challenge the way you view your own work and the actions of others?
  3. Consider the workplaces of today as our mission fields. What are some practical ways you can demonstrate the love and message of Christ in your daily tasks at work? 
  4.  Commit to one change you will make this week as a disciple of Christ in your workplace. What specific action will you take to live out the gospel?
    • Share it with your small group, ministry team, family or loved ones who can hold you accountable and pray with you.
Wesley Communications Team
Posted by Wesley Communications Team

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