What I need first of all…

“What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news? That is the question that I ask of you. I know your exhortations will not help me. But if anything has been done to save me, will you not tell me the facts?”

J. Gresham Machen, Christian Faith in the Modern World, 57 from Of First Importance

Our next section of Philippians, Philippians 1:17-2:11, begins with the first exhortation of the letter so far, “only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” If you are like me, you want to pounce on that phrase with a sense of  “at last! now I know what I am supposed to be doing!”  Then I will spend the rest of my week trying to figure out what it looks like, feeling bad every time I forget to think about it, and feeling either pride or condemnation depending on how I am doing with remembering and obeying at the present moment.  Now more than ever I need to keep my obedience grounded in the gospel.  I need to see that my sanctification flows from faith in Christ every bit as much as my justification does.

The good news is that our passage ends with one of the most magnificent sections about Christ in the whole Bible.  So even though a chapter division seems to separate the two thoughts, don’t let that keep you from connecting them.

To blog or not to blog.

I know that even though we are only a few weeks into our blog experiment, some of you are already feeling behind and may be tempted to give up.  Or you may be thinking, I like reading the stuff other people say, but I don’t really know what to post. Or even, I would love to jump in the discussion, but by the time I’ve gotten to the computer, it seems like it’s too late. Allow me to release you from any sense of needing to keep up.  This is a tool, not a rule, remember?  The main thing is to feed on Christ in his Word.  If stomach flu or unexpected guests or a broken washing machine put you on overload, be assured that Jesus wants to draw near to you even in that…and he will satisfy your hungry soul even if you only have a brief moment to turn to him.

Discussion Question of the week:

OK.  We are up to question #3 in our systematic use of the Feasting On Christ Daily Worksheet.  Even though this question may not seem to be the best one to focus on this week in order to open up the passage, I think you may be surprised by what you will find. What do I learn about the people in this passage? Expanded version:  What are their circumstances?  What are they doing or not doing (observable behavior)? Why are they acting this way (what is motivating them)? Where have they placed their trust?  How are they just like me?

It’s such fun to hear what God is teaching each of you…and to hear you encourage each other.  Keep up the good work!

17 comments on “What I need first of all…

  1. Natalie Cooper says:

    I just have to say how encouraging this blog study is 🙂

    So as I was studying and answering the questions I saw something. What are they putting there trust in? Perhaps the Phillipians were putting there trust in Paul and his circumstance. Then starting in Chapter two I noticed a change in Paul’s letter as he began to point the Phillipians to Christ…verses 5-11
    “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [1] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, [2] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
    Then as I began to look at how the Phillipians are just like me. So often I turn my eyes off of Christ and onto man.. where I am left discouraged and dissapointed. But the ending of this passage is so beautiful because Paul ends it looking at Christ and what He has done and giving God all the glory.
    I dont know if I am making sense or wording my thoughts correctly….any thoughts?

    • rondi says:

      That’s so cool, Natalie, and very similar to what I saw in the passage today. Even starting in 1:27, it seems to me like Paul wants them to respond directly to Christ himself and his gospel (what he did for us). In a sense Paul steps out of the way to remind them that being connected to Jesus is the source of their comfort and continued obedience. That’s a message I need today, too.

  2. Nichole says:

    Are the discussion questions only supposed to apply to the passage for that week or everything we have read so far. I am assuming the latter but just want to make sure.

    • rondi says:

      Thanks for asking. I’m sure others have wondered the same thing. The discussion question is meant just for this week’s passage, but feel free to also share stuff from previous passages if that’s where God is speaking to you. As they say, “It’s all good!”

  3. Monica McFarlin says:

    Rondi!! Thank you so much for the encouragement; it almost brought me to tears! I have been feeling like giving up because I haven’t been following the blog for almost two weeks now. The past few weeks have seemed very overwhelming to me and I am just trying to keep up with life. I keep saying to myself that something is better than nothing at all, but it still doesn’t take away the guilt and feeling of failure for not keeping up with the commitment. I feel like I am so far behind and don’t even know where to start. I love this blog idea because I feel like I get so much out of other people’s observations and comments. They go so much deeper and see much more than I do, so it really helps me to think outside of the black and white text in front of me. I am so thankful that you are willing to guide this project and meet all of us at our different stages. **HUGS**

    • rondi says:

      I’m right there with you, Monica! I often feel guilty over those kind of “failures,” too. Our commitments can function like a law that speak condemnation to our consciences. Even if they are not a Law from God, but just a rule we have made for ourselves, they can bring guilt. But Jesus is the end of the law for us, all laws, because he fulfilled every law of God’s and died for our lawbreaking. He is the one who gives us a clean conscience every time we feel condemned. Isn’t that great news?! How fun to share grace together. Hugs back!

  4. Lissa White says:

    Rondi, I have not been following this study at all but the other study that I am doing is no longer possible with Adoniram. Is it ok to jump in with you gals? I understand either way, but just wanted to check. . . thank you!!

    • rondi says:

      Yes, of course, Lissa. Jump right in! You can find the overall plan on the Oct 1 post and the tool we are using under “Finding Christ in my Bible resources” at the top of the page. The pdf you’ll need is labeled “Feasting on Christ Daily Worksheet.” Don’t worry about catching up. Just read Philippians up to 2:11, where we are now and begin studying with us this week. Or if you’d rather wait for a Monday morning, begin next week. So glad to have you!

  5. Nichole says:

    So since this week focuses on the people of this passage; their circumstances, what they are doing or not doing etc… I am trying to figure out what Paul actually is trying to say in regards to what he believes will be the result of his imprisonment. He seems to say he will be delivered (from prison) through their prayers and the Spirit’s provision (1:19), and then he says Christ will be exalted either way (by life or by his death) and goes on to talk about the conflict of remaining on in the flesh or dying to be with Christ, (1:21-24) which I am assuming could happen to him after his imprisonment, being put to death by the authorities. But then he says he is convinced that he will remain and be with the Philippians again because it is better for them (1:22-26). Does any one have any thoughts on this? Maybe I am missing something.

    • rondi says:

      Hey, I just realized there is a typo on the passage address this week. It should have read Phil 1:27-2:11, not Phil 1:17-2:11. My apologies! Nevertheless, your question is a good one. Paul does seem to be going back and forth on what he believes will be the result of his imprisonment–mostly because the word “deliverance” is ambiguous. I know I read that somewhere, but can’t remember where. Deliverance could be from prison or it could be from this life into Christ’s presence. This fits in with what he says next, “for me to live is Christ…to die is gain”. But then he seems to reason from faith that God will keep him alive because the Philippians still need him. Perhaps an impression from the Spirit? Sounds like the way we all talk when we are still thinking it through. Other thoughts anyone?

  6. Mireille says:

    This morning verse 3 in chapter 2 caught my eyes. I have read it and heard it maybe a thousand times but somehow it sunk in a little bit more today. “in humility consider others better than yourself” That means i cannot be prideful or judgemental and look down on others and at the same time obey that verse and consider others better than myself. Consequently if i don’t obey that verse i am sinning. It is sad to realise how often i sin in that area. I was thinking Lord have mercy, but then i realised He had mercy. He died on the cross for that very sin so my prayer is Holy Spirit help! I want to change, be humble and consider others better than myself.

    • rondi says:

      And that, my friend, is proof that Christ is living in you! Thanks for sharing.

    • Lissa says:

      God used that verse very clearly to me too this week. He showed me that in my pursuit to “make a name” for myself I in turn, put myself before others. For example this week (this sounds so ridiculous but it is my sin none the less) my sister was telling me about something she made and how she found an improvement for it and the first thing instead of me being glad for her was to tell her how I knew that it would have been better to be made that way! WOW, talk about putting myself before her…. and there have been many more examples such as that one this week. I am so thankful for the cross and the grace that He shows us!

  7. Courtney says:


    i am soooo blessed by your honesty! this semester has been the most difficult and i have had the hardest time being joyful and keeping focus on what is most important!

    my largest frustration has been phil 1:27, i desperately want to do everything i do in such a way to honor God. it has been enlightening and encouraging to see what God has showed you!

    these verses have challenged me to find comfort from his love, fellowship with the Spirit, tenderness and compassion… rather than showing these things towards people in my life, which was my goal, God allowed me to experience these attitributes from the people that love me and love Him.

    Having people around me in one spirit and purpose, i have been encouraged with truth and love to change my thinking and walk in obedience. I have been humbled by outside perspective of my life, looking at how my motives are selfish or not etc.

    looking to others as better than myself has been humbling and encouraging me to go to God with how I can change in light of the humility and obedience shown in others lives. God has been at work, it has been beautiful.

    Thanks again ladies!!

  8. Lissa says:

    This morning I was thinking about verse 27 and Rondi how you said how you are tempted to then ponder what does that then look like in my life and how do I do that and then by the end of the week it is like wow I couldn’t do any of that.
    And I am that way. I want to do all these things and then check off how I was “worthy” of the gospel because of the things I have been doing. Oh, and if I didn’t read today, or I didn’t work on my memory verse today then it means I am not “worthy” today. Or something crazy like that (my mind can be so weird).
    BUT, today I saw in my bible notes in Greek it says, Only behave as Citizens worthy, and that triggered my thoughts, what does it mean to be a citizen of God? That is the blood of Christ and Him alone makes me worthy. Matthew 9:13 says, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    So to live in such a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ made me wonder if that is 1. Recognizing our unworthiness & 2. To bank all that we have on Christ and His righteousness? So maybe then it is not what I “do” today that will make me worthy of the gospel, but my recognizing myself as a broken vessel apart from Him. He is the sweet glue that holds me together. So even in my day to day chores (that can seem SO mundane at times) when I am doing them with complete surrender to Him; seeing my depravity of soul, heart, and mind apart from him, then I am living in a manner worthy of the gospel. Lord Jesus make me to drink of you alone! For I am empty without you.
    Sorry for a ramble of thoughts, I hope that makes sense you guys. .. .

  9. rondi says:

    Beautiful! Yes, we live worthy of the gospel when we trust in his worthiness, not our own. I love how your meditation burst out in worship! Thanks for drawing our hearts to Him.