Friday, 19 September 2014
First the bad news…
On Wednesday I found out I am not just a teacher. I need the book of Philippians. I woke up troubled and tired. I was troubled by duties and tired of my sin. What could I write in my journal but, “Thank you, Lord, that you never tire of me.”
Next, I wrote down the list of troubles, downloading them before the Ever-patient One. With my mind cleared, I read all of Philippians one more time. As I read I asked question #3, What am I bringing to this book? That was obvious! I was bringing troubles. Troubles tempt me to feel discouraged about my life. They remind me how incomplete I am, how far short I fall from being the kind of Christian I would like to be.
With my need before me, I began to connect verses from the beginning, middle, and end of the book. God lined them up to speak courage to my heart.
For 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. I am incomplete, but God is not finished yet.
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith…” My progress in the faith is the will of God and will bring me joy.
Work out your own salvation…for it is God who works in you…The fact that he is working gives me confidence to work out my salvation in specific obedience.
I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. The fact that Jesus has grabbed a hold of me, makes me bold to grab hold of him.
I can do all things through him who gives me strength. My strength in troubles and sin comes from Him, not from redoubling my efforts.
I brought discouragement to the book; it gave encouragement in Christ (2:1) to me.
Now on to some other matters:
Background. If you don’t have a study Bible, here are a few background notes. Paul wrote this letter from prison in Rome about AD 62. He spent his time chained to a guard in a small home. He could have guests, but he could not leave. As the guards changed shifts, he had the opportunity to share the gospel with many of them. Apparently some were converted. (Phil 4:22).
The church at Philippi was the first church in Europe. God redirected his plans in a vision (Acts 16). Philippi was a big city, located on the “Egnatian Way”, an important Roman commercial route. That’s why a woman like Lydia, who traded in expensive fabric, lived there. The city was a mix of socioeconomic classes, and so was the church. The first members were a jailer, a former demoniac-medium, and a wealthy merchant. That made unity a challenge to be met in the power of the Spirit.
Overview. According to the ESV study Bible The chief theme of Philippians is encouragement. I think we would agree with that. The comments that were posted on the blog landed right on 2 of the 3 other characteristics of the book (thanks Natalie and Candy…) Philippians is unified by 1.) its joyful, almost exuberant mood (the words for “joy” or “rejoice” occur more than a dozen times.) 2.) by the strong personal relationship between its author and its recipients (a relationship that is almost constantly in view, from the beginning of the letter to the end); 3.) and by the many connections Paul draws between the saving work of Jesus Christ and the servant ministry of his followers, who are called to live and die according to His pattern.
What about you? What in your life or in this letter spurs you on to receive the encouragement God has for you?