PROMISE: ".. he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (1:6)
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: I choose to live today by the truth of the gospel of Christ - today, tomorrow, and forever.
In chains from prison, Paul could have looked at his situation and felt he was sidetracked, a failure, losing the battle for advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, Paul was praying and writing a letter about joy to the church of Christ in Philippi, Greece. Didn't the Torah say obedience to the LORD brings blessings and abundance? Whatever did Paul have to rejoice about?
1) Paul knew he had partners in Philippi who also loved the Lord, and were increasing in His love, knowledge, insight, and discernment.
2) Paul was obviously in prison because he followed Christ, and many were talking about Jesus because of it.
3) Paul knew believers in Philippi were praying for him because he was receiving help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
4) Paul chose to rejoice in God while hoping for courage to face the possibility of death in prison. "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
5) Paul chose to survive imprisonment so believers would see how to continue progressing and rejoicing in the faith, no matter what the opposition.
Paul taught that no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the opposition, believers are to choose to live by the gospel of Christ, not by any situation. Believers are like siblings who may argue with each other, but join firmly together as one whenever anyone fights against their family. Individually giving up personal agendas, under opposition their outlook moves to the welfare of others. Moses was humble like this, but an even better example is Jesus. Jesus knew He was God, but didn't find it necessary to spend time arguing with others about who he was or about his position with the Father. Looking like a man, Jesus accepted being humble, even to the point of dying on a cross. Looking like a failure, Jesus actually was raised up by God, resurrected and repositioned. We have read so much about the LORD and the Name (HaShem) in the first five books of the Bible. Now God shows us that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father. God gave Jesus the Name that is above every name, worshipped in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. So Paul encourages believers to continue to obey, being serious about working out their salvation by recognizing God at work in them.
The world was (and is) in the midst of cultural warfare. You will be tempted to complain or argue. Don't. Yes, you are surrounded with crooked and depraved people, but how different you are, holding out the word of life. Grumbling is typical in the world. Be encouraged - yes, rejoice! - that God has a different plan for you.
Epaphroditus who came from Philippi to bring news and supplies to Paul had risked his life and almost died, but God spared him. Paul planned to send him back to Philippi, and when there was news about the outcome of Paul's prison term, he also wanted to send Timothy. Even more reason to rejoice in the Lord!
Remember that putting confidence in being a circumcised Hebrew (as Paul could) had been replaced by being invited to worship the Father by the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ. Paul once relied upon the law for pleasing God, but that method had now either actually been lost or considered lost. Now righteousness is offered through faith in Christ from God by faith. What's more, Paul wanted to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, suffering, dying, and being resurrected as He was. Paul was willing to forget the past to press on toward the goal, the prize: Jesus Christ. As you mature, keep learning from Christ and keep putting His gospel into practice. Join with others who are learning and living the pattern of this gospel.
There are many enemies of the cross of Christ. They prefer earthly rewards, like being well fed. Would they ever fast and pray? Do they consider life beyond what they see and hear now on earth? Staying apart from them is the last point Paul gives for how to stand firm in the Lord.
Paul concludes, asking two Christian women to agree with each other in the Lord, and for the others to help them. What solution could there be? Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!" Let others experience your gentleness. The Lord is near. Give up being anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petitiion, with thanksgiving, let God know your requests. And the peace of God, transcending all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and of good report, if anything excellent and praiseworthy think about these things. What you have learned from Paul's teaching and example, practice it and live it. Like him, we can learn the secret of being content in whatever the circumstances. Do everything through him who gives you strength. Take opportunities to actually meet physical needs of other believers; don't just be concerned thinking and praying about them, but doing nothing. Sacrifice offerings please the Lord. God will supply your needs in this same way. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever!