Let's start at the beginning...
"This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace." (V.1-2).
If you're anything like me, you've tended to read over the first verse or two at the beginning of each book. It usually isn't filled with much "content", but oh, what we miss out when we skip over it! I have learned that it is important to have a complete understanding of who is writing the book so that you can understand the full context of what you're reading. In Philippians, we're reading the words of Paul that are inspired by Christ. Although it says from Paul AND Timothy, Paul is the one that is writing. It's like when YOU write birthday card and sign it from you AND your husband. He didn't write it, he is just supporting what you're saying. Make sense?
Paul begins the book of Philippians by talking about the relationship he has had with them. Togetherness and fellowship with other believer is critical, and we can see how that is lived out in verses 3-5, but we will read 3-4 first.
"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy..."
Because Paul had such a close relationship with the church of Philippi, his prayer life was impacted. His thankfulness for them drove him straight to his knees in prayer. But, these relationships aren't just for our earthly pleasure, they are designed by God to impact the world for him.
"For you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now." (v.5)
Not only did the relationships he had with the people at the church of Philippi impact him, but it also impacted the world for the glory of God. I love how the Lord has designed relationships with other believers that way. They impact us on a personal AND global level. I love how Paul uses the next verse to encourage the church...
"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." (v.6)
I love how this verse is encouraging and challenging all at the same time. On one hand, it reminds the church of the hope they have through Jesus and that He'll continue to be at work in their lives. On the other hand, it challenges them to continue on the path of faith that they've been walking.
Girls, we need to have relationships with other believers that can encourage us AND challenge us like Paul did with the church of Philippi. Just look at what he has to say about them in verses 7 and 8...
"So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God know show much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus."
I don't know about you, but I can just feel the love radiating off of the page. Do you have relationships with others where you "share the special favor of God"? Do you have Jesus loving gals in your life who are so special to you that you love them with "the tender compassion of Christ Jesus"?
Verses 9-11 take a more personal turn. I'm going to start from verse 11 and then back my way up to verse 9.
"May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation- the righteousness character produced in you life by Jesus Christ- for this will bring much glory and praise to God."
Along with producing fruit, let's back up to verse 10 and see what else brings glory and praise to God.
"For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return."
Changing your lifestyle and your priorities to match a life that is "pure and blameless" brings glory to the Lord.
"I pray that your love will overflow more and more and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding."
And one of the most important ways we can bring glory to God is by living in love. In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus is telling the most important commandments. First, love Jesus first and with everything you have. Second, love your neighbor as yourself. One of the greatest commandments we've been given is to love. Love Jesus, love people.
1. Are you a part of a body of believers? If yes, pray that you would have relationships like Paul had with the people at the church of Philippi. Pray that you would be challenged by it. If you are not a body of believers, pray that you would be open to the where the Lord is calling you and pray that you would have the boldness to step out in faith and jump in to where ever He has placed you.
2. Are you living a life that brings glory to God? Is their fruit in your life? Is your lifestyle different from an unbelievers? Are you loving others? Evaluate your actions and your thoughts.
Girls, there is so much to be gained from just reading scripture for what it is. No sugar coating around here, no making scripture a little easier to swallow. Praying that we will be gals who take Jesus for who He is and fall to our knees in repentance when our lives aren't bringing glory to Him.
Love you girls. So much!