Philippians 1:15-18

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

What is going on here? Some are preaching with the right motives and some with wrong ones. There may have been a faction that, though believers, did not like Paul’s leadership or methods. They may have wanted the people to follow them, not Paul. We see this elsewhere when Paul comments on the groups in Corinth who were dividing over Paul and Apollos.

What are your motives? How are you showing the unity of Christ? We now have denominations that divide the body. We have superstar preachers and those who are unknown. It can cause envy and rivalry. In our day, a preacher might want to be as well known as Rick Warren or Billy Graham. It can set up an envious spirit in some of us.

Some, on the other hand, preach Christ out of their pure love for him and his gospel message. Their names may never be remembered, their ministries forgotten, but through them Christ and his message will continue.

Paul says that it doesn’t matter what a person’s motivation as long as Christ is preached. That’s hard for us to get. My ego may be driving me to be a better, more well-known speaker or writer, but if I preach the truth of the gospel, Christ will still be honored.

What is the lesson here? First, while all preachers, teachers, and leaders are not perfect, their love for Jesus can shine through their imperfections. If we lift up the name of Jesus, others will hear and respond. This was always Paul’s goal. He rejoiced in even the most flawed person who still proclaimed Christ.

Second, we need to learn from Paul’s example. Not everyone is a Paul, or even an Apollos. Not all of us can be a Beth Moore or a Billy Graham. It does us no good to want to be someone else, nor does it do any good to try to damage their ministry in favor of our own. Paul could say what he did because he knew what God wanted from him. His humble response to the motivations of others, teaches us to respond in like manner.

Where do you stand on the continuum? Are you sharing Christ because of ambition, a need to be admired or famous? Or, are you humble enough to realize that God will use you where and when he wants? Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Remember, God will use you if your faith is true, but seek, like Paul, to be used because of God’s great love for you, not out of your own needs. And pray for your leaders, that their motivations might be pure.

Philippians 1:12-14

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

What things have happened to you? What struggles have you experienced? What has made you think that you have been side-lined?

In these verses, Paul gives us a new mindset, a new way of thinking about our trials and disappointments. He says it so clearly: “What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” Can you say that of the things that have happened to you?

Paul has been tied to a guard, day and night. His freedom has been taken, He has been accused of causing trouble, yet he sees God’s hand at work in his circumstances. His position, his chains, are seen by the whole palace guard. As they watch and listen to him, they see the chains in a whole new way. Instead of being chained because of his behavior, he chooses to see himself as wearing the chains as a badge of honor. He is wearing them for Jesus himself.

The outcome? Most of the believers who know Paul have become more confident, more willing to proclaim the good news to others. Paul’s example has encouraged them to hold fast, to be bold and to go forth without fear. Even the guards are becoming believers.

What a testimony to Paul’s faith and trust in God to complete the work in him. His desire is that all who believe will have this mindset.

So, how about you? Can you see God’s hand at work in your dark times? Can you see believers being strengthened by your attitude in tough circumstances?

Lift up your head and look to the Lord, for he is ready to do mighty things through you. Feeling down? Look up! Feeling sad? Put on a garment of praise! Feeling side-lined? Don’t believe it. God is working in and through you for the furtherance of his gospel.

Don’t think of yourself as stuck with your pain, heartache, struggles. Instead, take those things as “chains for Christ.” Wear them with grace and let the light of Jesus shine through you.

As it says in Hebrews 12, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” God is not finished with you. Get up and do what you can where you are.

Philippians 1:7-11

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may 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.”

Wouldn’t you like to get a letter like this? We often think of Paul as standing in the city square preaching the Good news, but do we think of him as a person who loved the people who heard his message?

Paul’s experiences with imprisonment taught him many things, but I think the most important was that earthly chains meant nothing compared to the love of Christ. As he experienced that love he was able to pass it on to others. Isn’t this what the gospel is all about?

Who do you have in your heart? Is it someone who came to Christ through you? Is it someone you hope will call out to be saved? It doesn’t matter what your situation is, you can still have a great impact on those in your circle of influence. You can still be salt and light in the world.

Paul shares that he longs for the Philippian believers, wants to be with them, share more of God’s grace with them. His life was that of a traveling preacher. He must have had some amazing stories to tell (some of which we can read in God’s word). But do we think of the stories of tough days and lonely nights spent in jail for Christ? Do we think about how exhausted he must have been, or how his heart hurt when those he cared about didn’t believe?

Maybe there is someone you long to see. They might have moved away or maybe you did. In our day we can send a text or make a call, but for Paul there were only letters. Those letters took a lot of time to get where they were going. As he waited in jail, Paul could only hope that his friends were standing firm in Christ. He could only wait for a return letter from them.

During that time of waiting, Paul prayed. Prayer is something we all can do, and Paul gives us an example of what to pray.

We can pray for Spiritual growth, in love, knowledge and insight. Love must abound in us, growing deeper each day. Pray that your friends grow in love and forgiveness.

We can pray for the ability to discern what is best, the best path, the best words, the best timing. Pray that those who live for Christ will always be able to discern these things.

We can pray that our friends will be continually filled with the fruit of righteousness, shining forth the truth and the light of Christ for the world to see.

Who will you pray these things for today?

Philippians 1:3-7

I thank my God every time I remember you.In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,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.”

How do you start a letter? Do you start by talking about yourself and what’s happening, or do you start with a prayer for the person who will receive that letter?

Paul gave us a wonderful example of what prayer should look like. He thanked God whenever he thought of his friends in the places he visited. Remembering his friends brought a profound sense of gratitude to God. Do you think this when you think of your friends?

Not only was Paul grateful for his friends but his prayers were filled with joy because of their work for the gospel. Wow! When I think about prayer, it often seems like the lists are so long and the burdens so great that joy is difficult to find. Not so with Paul. His joy in the knowledge that the work of Christ continues needs to pervade our prayers as well.

Are you struggling with dark times, difficult relationships, health issues? Are your friends overwhelmed with life trials? Pray with joy for them. Joy that they are able to keep going in Christ despite the trials. Joy that God will use their life experiences to help others, to draw others to himself.

The Philippian church was growing but there were still issues that needed work, yet Paul could still pray with joy for them and their efforts. Why? Because he knew God was able to work it all out. We quote verse 6 often but do we believe it?

God has begun a good work in you. He began it even before you were created in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139 reminds us that God knew us and had plans for us. The good work he began in you will be completed. Do you believe this?

Sometimes our lives just feel too overwhelming to bear. How can God use us when we are such a mess? But God. But God is carrying out his plan in you even when you can’t see it. He is making your life into a message for others. If you don’t believe it, just keep going and he will show you.

A number of years ago, my life seemed too hard to bear. Tears flowed all day long and I didn’t know how things could get better. Fast forward. Today, I get to write each day. I get to thank God for you and your part in his plan and purpose. I get to rise up each morning, knowing that he is completing his plan in me and he will do it in you.

Today, take some time to pray with joy for all of your friends, remembering that God is doing a work in each of them, and his is faithful and will complete it.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians

Introduction

Written by the Apostle Paul, this letter sent greetings and gratitude to the church in Philippi. Paul visited there on his third missionary journey and several people accepted Christ including Lydia and the Philippian jailer.

Paul wrote this letter from prison, but the exact location of his confinement is uncertain. The Philippian churches sent funds to support him, thus his thanks for their faith and their generosity. Scholars have dated the letter to 61 or 62 A.D.

The theme of Philippians is “living the Christian life.” Throughout the letter, Paul takes the opportunity to encourage and direct the believers in correct behavior. Rivalries and quarrels had occurred, and Paul pleaded with them to act in the way Christ would have. Jealousy, personal ambition and quarreling were not acceptable in the body of Christ.

As we read through this short letter together, take time each day to read the passage, look for key words and phrases and journal yourself.

Philippians 1:1 indicates that Paul and Timothy were together. In his opening Paul refers to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. His readers were called saints in Christ. The word “saint” did not mean sinless, rather Paul considered them “set apart” for Christ through their faith. He also mentioned overseers and deacons. These were the leaders of the churches who were shepherding the flock in Philippi and caring for the needs found in the church.

Paul continues with his usual opening of “grace and peace.” The order of these words is significant. Before we can have true peace, we must accept the grace of God given through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May God’s grace and peace be evident in your walk with the Lord as we study this book together.

WELCOME!

I am so glad you’ve come to my site! This site has been renewed and restored, just as Christ renews and restores each of us as we take the step to believe in him.

Over the years, I have journaled my way through Scripture, seeking God’s guidance and wisdom. As I begin again on this site, I invite you to join me in the greatest adventure of all – discovering who God is and what he has done!

This adventure will be filled with thoughts and journaling through God’s Word and about topics of interest. It is a work in progress, just like us.

Enjoy!