Today we will begin the letter that Paul wrote to the church at Philippi. Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote this letter. Paul wrote this letter to all the christians, to the overseers (some translations say Bishops) and the deacons of the church at Philippi.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:” Philippians 1:1
He began his letter by offering grace and peace and then he prayed a prayer of thanksgiving over them.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3
The people of Philippi had been a faithful people and had apparently done a lot for Paul and for his ministry. They were a people that when Paul thought of them, it made him happy. He thought of their ministry and their faithfulness and Paul was grateful for them. The next verse is also one of those well loved and well quoted verses.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
Paul had seen the good work take root in the Philippians. It seems they embraced the gospel immediately and Paul felt confident that what had begun that Christ would see it to completion. This is a verse that we can find comfort in, when we are praying for our loved ones. When you know Christ has worked in the lives of your people before, you can remain confident that Christ will continue to work in those people until he sees His will for their life complete.
Another verse in this passage that I have prayed over my people is this:
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
The next passages of this chapter show Paul’s confidence in the things that have happened to him and it’s place in his story.
“I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” Philippians 1:12
Oh to have that kind of faith that Paul had. Here he was imprisoned and we see it over and over that he was content wherever he was that Christ was using his circumstances. I have had times where I could look back and see God’s hand on circumstances in my life, but it is harder for me to see God’s hand in the present tense sometimes. Maybe it is just my own stubborn way that won’t see it. I don’t know, but I do know that when I can see God’s hand and when I can see glimpses of Him along the way, and Him using my pain, it does make present day circumstances a little easier to walk through. And maybe easier is not the word I am looking for but a little more fruitful.
The next few verses of this passage show us that Paul may have been getting a little tired though too. Paul is showing the Philippians that he is ready for the deliverance however it may come. In death or in life.
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
It’s not that Paul has a death wish here or that he would want to end his life early. But Paul is ready to go to be with Jesus whenever that time may come. However, he also realizes that as long as there is still breath in his lungs that he has work to do for Christ. Oh that we may all know that. That our work on this earth is not done until there is no more breath in our lungs. I think of a dear sweet lady here at our lake who passed not too long ago. She was loved by many and she was learning and teaching and speaking about Jesus as long as she had breath in her lungs. I received a note of encouragement from her earlier this year that I cherish because of her heart that she shared with me.
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.” Philippians 1:27-28
Christians had then and we, as well, have now opponents on every side. All you have to do is turn on the news or scroll Facebook and you will see opponents to our Christian faith. Paul is praying for the Philippians to live in a way that is worthy of the gospel. He wants them to know that they are accountable and that he wants to hear good things about them and their faith and their unity. We, as well, should live in a way that is worthy of the gospel. We should do our best to live in unity and in faith of the gospel so that our faith is a clear sign of our salvation to our opponents.
Oh sweet Lord, that we may live in unity and in faith and that we will know that you are in our circumstances whatever they may be. I pray Lord that my life will be worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Please pray for the small businesses and the service industry today. There have been many hard hit by the pandemic. If you can shop local, please do and if you eat out, please tip well.