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March 01, 2021 | NATIONAL Pastor Fernando Villicana, Correspondent

Well, we find ourselves well into a new year - 2021. Looking back at 2020 we can only hope that this year will be far less challenging and that things will return to what we have always called “normal.” We have faced civil unrest, economic challenges, political confusion and continue coping with a global pandemic. How do we grow through what we go through? The answer - a healthy perspective, focus and faith. Is there meaning to the madness? I would say YES.

Philippians 1:12 (GN) I want you to know, my friends, that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the gospel. v18 It does not matter! I am happy about it whether from wrong or right motives. and I will continue to be happy.

The background of the story today is that Paul for the last four years has been miserable in circumstances. He just spent two years in prison in for a trumped up charge. Then - on a ship to go to Rome to appear before Nero (notorious for his cruelty to Christians) he's shipwrecked, stranded on an island, bitten by a poisonous snake, continues on to Rome, spends another two years in prison awaiting trial to be executed. During this two year period in Rome he is chained to a guard for 24 hours a day. At this point, most people in our society would wonder if life was worth living. Yet in spite of all of these situations, Paul says in "And I will continue to be happy” (Philippians 1:18). What’s Paul's secret? How does he stay positive in prison, triumphant over troubles and delight in difficulties? How does Paul stay so happy, positive, joyful in spite of the fact that things went wrong in his life?
Paul gives us on major reason for joyful living in spite of adverse circumstances The number one reason - a healthy perspective. The truth is, every one of us has been adversity affected by the recent crisis. But the way you look at that problem is much more important than the problem itself. Your perspective makes the all the difference in the world.

v12 “I want you to know, my friends, that the things that have happened to me (negatively) have really helped the progress of the gospel.”

In other words: I can see the best even in the worst. I can see God at work in the problems and when things don't go my way. If you don't choose your priorities, you'll go around putting out one fire after another, living your life simply from problem to problem and not choosing what's most important.

Listen to what Paul said: “It doesn’t matter! I am happy about it, and I will continue to be happy. Was Paul insane? Delirious? No! Paul said he had to set his priorities, his values, not let problems steal his joy. Have a perspective to live from and a priority to live by. Know what is important, and like my wife often tells me - “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Here is the best priority anyone could ever live by:
Proverbs 3:6 (LB)"In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success."

Is there meaning to the madness? Yes, as long as you put God first (a priority to live by).

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Pastor Fernando VillicanaCorrespondent

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