Vs. 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Throughout the book of Philippians we are reminded to have joy and rejoice in all situations. Despite Paul’s own imprisonment, despite conflict in the Philippi church (vs. 2-3), despite worry and anxiety (vs. 4-7), they were to cast all their worries in prayer. Paul reminded the Philippians to stop thinking of all the negative things and focus on the good (vs. 8-9). This leads Paul to self-reflect on his own life. God was good to him in plenty and in need (vs. 10-20).
Regarding application…Power Source. Vs. 13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I dug out my old stand-alone microwave from the recent move this morning. The last two places I’ve lived at had/have built in microwaves in the kitchen. I brought the microwave to church this morning and spent about 20 minutes cleaning it out. It now sits very nicely on top of my mini-fridge ready for action! However…There is one problem. There is not a power source nearby. I’ve plugged in a power-strip, but it is barely long enough to reach it. The cord from the microwave dangles awkwardly in the air when plugged in. My solution: keep it unplugged only until I need it. In the meantime, it has no power source until I take the initiative to plug it in and use it. Whenever I want to cook or heat up anything, I must ensure I plug the cord to the power source. Likewise, just like Paul, we are to ensure we are relying on the Lord in all situations!
Vs. 14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Though Paul is in prison and faces an unknown future, this does keep him from giving up. In the first section of our chapter (vs. 1-11), Paul doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to addressing the Judaizers (Early Jewish Christian converts who tried to force Gentile believers to adopt Jewish customs). Paul of all people could understand their way of thinking and reminded all who were tempted in such a way that this method was nullifying the cross. Having experienced both a works of righteousness and now a justification through faith in Jesus (vs. 7-14), Paul exhorts them that Jesus is far better! We see the urgency that Paul has with tears (vs. 18) that they renounce the enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul reminds us that we are not citizens of this world, but our identity is in heaven (vs. 20).
Regarding application…What’s Important? Vs. 7, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” Question: What did Paul lose? Everything this world had to offer: His reputation, his heritage, his achievements, his friends. Question: What did Paul gain? Jesus. Jesus trumped anything this world had to give and that is what made Paul consider everything else garbage (vs. 8). Question: What is important to you? When I worked at the bank, there was a time it was very important for me to gain more titles to my name. I went from Teller, Sr. Teller, Personal Banker, Sr. Personal Banker, Assistant Manager, Sr. Assistant Manager. I was on my way to becoming a Branch Manager. But, the Lord reminded me in 2011, what was most important in my life. It is not an easy journey, Paul’s imprisonment is proof of that, but it is a journey of joy! Pray today that the Lord would continue convicting your heart and reminding you who should be #1 in your life!
Vs. 8, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Question: Who is our role-model? Jesus. Paul cuts through all distractions and reminds us what Jesus did with Incarnation (God becoming human in Jesus) (vs. 6-11). There were relational issues in the church at Philippi, so Paul wanted to appeal to the highest example we could have. We should value others above ourselves (vs. 3). When we do that, we will stop naturally focusing on ourselves and stop complaining about our own lives (vs. 14). Paul then goes on to commend Timothy and Epaphroditus as examples of those living out the faith (vs. 19-30)
Regarding application…WWJD. Vs. 5, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” This reminds me of the 1990’s! The WWJD bracelets were quite popular in many churches at the time. It was a token reminder to have the mindset of Christ. My recent message on this section was entitled, “Thinking like Christ”. I used my sister Joyce from Mississippi as my opening illustration. Though she grew up in my family in Indiana, she is now a true southern gal! If I hadn’t met her before, I would have thought she had grown up in the south. As Christians, we are transformed into new creations (II Corinthians 5:17). Having the mindset of Christ is making the conscience effort to be changed in every aspect of our lives. Question: How are you thinking today? Let Christ change your thoughts and attitudes!
Note: We will be moving on to the Old Testament to Song of Solomon tomorrow!
Vs. 1, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Even in the midst of all of our trials, Paul exhorts us to stand firm and be confident in the Lord. It’s all about looking at the cup as half-full rather than half-empty. We can throw pity parties for ourselves all we want, but what will that accomplish? When we are not rejoicing and trusting…we are like little child who is worried that their father will drop them when He carries them in His arms. We of little faith. Let us stand firm in the Word of the Lord this week and in prayer!
Regarding application…Secret to Life. Vs. 12, “...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” In this world of sorrow, tribulation & struggles…Paul is about to share a very important secret to life! He’s not doing a Biblical Infomercial and selling it for $29.99…it’s a secret that we all could apply so that we can have the strength to live this life. Question: What is that Secret? It is found in the very next verse. Vs. 13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Huh??? But…that is such a simple answer?!?! But that is exactly the reason why it is so profound! It isn’t about how well versed you are in His Word (though it is good to be)…it isn’t about how long you pray every day….it isn’t about serving faithfully every Sunday…. It’s about realizing that the only way you can be content…the only way you can find success is allow Him (Jesus) to strengthen you! Isn’t that great? We don’t have to go spiritually do some crazy exercise or go through a bunch of hoops. We simply have to let go and let God do his amazing spiritual transformation in our lives! And when that happens, the reading of His Word, prayer and service will follow. That is one very powerful secret to live this life for Jesus!
Vs. 7, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” Perspective…Paul had the advantage of seeing both sides of life. Seemingly having it all…the reputation, the education, the righteousness, the citizenship, etc. But all those gains…all those things were nothing compared to what he now has in Christ. Paul had to lose that which he had to gain that which Christ has. But he didn’t rest on his laurels…he pressed on and realized there is always more to gain and learn (vs. 12-14). We need to stop looking at the world as our example and start remembering who we belong to for we are citizens of Heaven!
Regarding application…Your Role Model. Vs. 17, “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” Question: Who are your role model’s? Growing up, I looked up to Michael Jordan. I wanted to be “like Mike”. We look at successful people whether athletes, movie stars, singers, etc. and envy their life. But, Paul reminds us that we are to not be that way. We must look to those who set the example and model for Christ. It could be your parents, Pastor’s, friends at school…these are the people we look up to. These are your role models.
Vs. 2, “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”In a world where we can so easily lose our joy because of the hardships of life, we are reminded to join together!What reason would spur us to do this?The example of our Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 5-11).The best motivator is someone who has shown it through their own life.Jesus could have attempted to rule with power and strength, but rather…he came and humbled himself so that we could see how we too should live.Paul tried to do his best to set the example as he was in prison, but still found ways to rejoice and encourage (vs. 12-18).He also points to two others in Timothy & Epaphroditus who were leaders in the church to take up the torch!
Regarding application…Attitude of Christ.Vs. 5, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”When we choose to be humble, we shine like stars in a dark night to this world (vs. 15).Don’t we make it more confusing than we should?Simply have the attitude of Christ.He loved unconditionally, had incredible patience, served wholeheartedly, looked to others with compassion, sacrificed completely, etc.So many of us know what Jesus did and the life He lived…but we believe it is impossible to live in such a way.We can’t be Jesus, but we sure can adopt the attitude in our lives.Little by little bit everyday…my Jesus is changing me~~~.
This was to be the first European city that Paul planted a church in. Philippi was a Roman city that Paul was able to plant on his second journey and visited it 5 years later on his third missionary journey. Paul had a deep love for this church and they were concerned for him while he was in house arrest in Rome. Paul wrote this letter to them while he was in house arrest. The theme of Philippians is about joy and it is mentioned some 19 times in this short letter. When we have the mind of Christ, we can have the joy….and that is what Paul is really trying to remind them…despite the sad times of the day. This is all about encouragement and not once is sin mentioned in this letter.
Vs. 6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” What a great verse! Paul didn’t have much to be joyful for from a human perspective. He had been illegaly arrested, taken to Rome and was awaiting trial. To make matters worse, there was some division in the church at Philippi. But he remained focused and selfless…and his message was one of a person who had a single mind to do the right thing. His encouragement was the same to others. The church will always have its detractors & naysayers, that is why Paul all the more exhorted them to not be frightened (vs. 28) of consequences or the enemy. And of course you can’t help but see the emphasis that Paul had on the preaching & sharing of the Gospel!
Regarding application…Suffering to Encouraging. Vs. 14, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” What a awesome reminder & perspective Paul had! Rather than feel sorry for himself & his bondage…Paul would use that as a means to encourage all the more. If Paul had sulked, complained & given up…imagine how all the churches in the Roman provinces would have reacted. They too would have been dismayed and live in fear of their own life. But because Paul was so confident & caring of others, that would and did, encourage others that might not have had the strength to do it.
I think we underestimate the power of one person. Yet, time and time again…You, I, each of us individually can make such a powerful witness! It’s easy to doubt the power of one small human being, but when you put Christ at the helm…anything can be done. It’s not just about those “feel good” extraordinary stories of amazing people who did wondrous things (Mother Teresa, Jim Elliot, Billy Grahm, etc…) But there are so many untold stories of people like you & I that can make such a difference when we go through struggles. Rather than feel sorry for us or try to hide them out of shame or embarrassment…we stand up over them and let Christ heal & take control. When others see the faith & trust we have despite our circumstances, that indeed is a powerful things. So the next time you go through a specific trial…remember that how you deal with it can directly affect not only yourself, but also be a very opportune moment to let Christ shine brighter than the trial!