…like finding treasure at a yard sale

I’m a yard sale novice.  When we were moving from our tiny Portland bungalow, we decided to have our first yard sale so we wouldn’t have to move so many things across the country.  Except because of the rain (Oregon, remember), we had a basement sale instead.  As I was setting up and pricing my junk, um, treasures, I paired  a salt and pepper shaker on a table with other breakables.  A more savvy flea market friend dropped by early and shook her head.  “You have to separate that set.  Of course they belong together, but you can’t make it too obvious.  Otherwise it won’t feel like a find. One of the joys of yard sales is finding treasure.”  I took her advice.  You should have seen the excitement of the lady who discovered the matching pair.  “Doris, look at these! I bet they didn’t even know that these two go together!”

One reason I don’t want us to start off using tools for our study of Philippians, is that I want you to experience the joy of discovery.  Jesus knew that, “finding treasure buried in a field” would make a man so excited he would run off and sell everything to buy the field.  How much more does he want you to find treasure in your bible.  For example, a concordance is a wonderful tool, but in a way all the fun part has already been done for you by the scholar who put it together.  How much more fun to be studying along in Philippians and say, “Huh, that sounds familiar…I think Paul used those exact words in the previous chapter…”  Eureka!  You just discovered a nugget, a discovery you can confirm by checking your concordance.

This week we are going to do an overview and background of Philippians.  It’s a short book, so here’s what I would suggest:

1. Overview.

Read the book all the way through several times this week.  Use the following suggestions as ways to focus your attention, and write down what you see:

  • Read Acts 16:11-40 for background on Paul’s first visit to Philippi.
  • Pretend you are a member of the Philippian church and this is the first time you have ever heard this letter.  (Read it aloud if possible).  Are you glad Paul took the time to write to you?  Does he sound mad or happy?  Are you in trouble?  Do you feel encouraged? What tone of voice to do hear as you read?
  • Read between the lines.  What prompted Paul to write about the things he did?  For example, he reassures us that his imprisonment is turning out for the best.  Why did he say that?  Was he worried about us that his trial would make us fearful or upset?
  • Pay attention to repeated words or phrases.  We all tend to repeat ourselves when we want to make a point.  We also all have favorite words that we tend to use.  What are some of Paul’s favorite words?  What does he seem to be emphasizing?


Once you have observed the book, you can read more background information from a study Bible.  Topics such as the theme, purpose, people, and places are all spelled out for us there.  I’ll post some of it for you at the end of the week.  I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve already picked up yourself.

3. What are you bringing to this book?

That’s the last question I’d like us to think about this week.  God wants to use this portion of His Word to speak to me right where I am–discouraged, busy, fearful, in conflict with my husband, fighting anger, lacking self-discipline, suffering, indifferent.  If you aren’t used to looking inward, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see what type of food your soul needs.  If you tend to gaze at your navel often, keep it short sweetie!  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you label your mood without endless self-analysis.

Please feel free to comment with a discovery or question.  You also might want to subscribe to this blog to make checking the posts easier.  We’ll talk again at the end of the week.

7 comments on “…like finding treasure at a yard sale

  1. Natalie Cooper says:

    I am very encouraged and touched my Paul’s discovery to be content in all circumstances. His joy was found in the people being saved even though he was in prison. This hits very close to home for me and I feel like I am relating to Paul in a new way through his experience in prison and I am very encouraged.

  2. rondi says:

    Wonderful! Contentment and joy are relevant themes for my life, too. Can’t wait to see more about them and receive strength to press on. Thanks for sharing, Natalie…

  3. Candy Stokes says:

    The warmth and love that is shared between this church and Paul is a balm to my soul. They seem utterly devoted to one another….

    • Chris D says:

      Reading the background in Acts I was thinking about how far Paul traveled and all of the people that he must have met along the way. They didn’t have the internet or modern forms of communication, but a simple letter was a powerful connection with people he loved who were far away. They must have been so excited to receive it. And that letter is still here to encourage us today. It provokes me to write some long overdue letters (or emails!)…

      • rondi says:

        I agree, Chris. Paul’s letter was a treasure to them, and it certainly is a strong encouragement to us. In fact, this little book is packed with “power verses,” as Becky Priest pointed out to me today. And in God’s hands, my email to a sister who is struggling could bring His strength and comfort. How motivating!

  4. Courtney says:

    I am so blessed by this blog!

    This week I was very “discouraged, busy, fearful … lacking self-discipline” and suffering because of it. I prayed hard and often for the Lord to lead me to scripture either in my heart from past meditation and study or something new.

    Philippians has been such a great resource for joy because the truth in it keeps me balanced. My situation in life is a result of my foolish decisions over many years, yet God allowed it… I am discouraged more often then not, and yet God is allowing that as well… I try so hard to be disciplined, and yet I fail constantly….

    Thaaaaankfully, the truth in this book reminds me of the source of joy: Jesus. Knowledge of Jesus including how he would never let me have more than I can handle. Grace from Jesus knowing that it is good to understand the standards set by God to be his example, but only by his power.

    So the path to contentment isn’t even the goal, as my flesh would desire as it seeks to find ways to change my situation rather than go to the source of life and joy. The goal is to go to Jesus who will then lead us on the right path, at his pace. We repent, obey, pray and trust.

  5. rondi says:

    Welcome, Courtney, thanks for sharing. “The goal is to go to Jesus who will then lead us on the right path, at his pace.” Well said. He will.