Someone suggested that I write on Philippians 1 for this Thanksgiving Season. How fitting. Let’s break the passage 3-11 down and see how far we get today.
Philippians 1:3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
Stop. Think about the last time you heard someone say they thanked God for you. You may need to think about this some, but I’m sure someone has. How did it make you feel? I bet it made you feel pretty special, didn’t it? Not only that someone would thank God for you, but that they would also TELL you about it! That shows how much they care about you. In my opinion, we would be wise to start thinking about doing the same, like someone who blessed me just this morning.
v. 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
Huh. The thought of me makes it a joy to pray. Somebody would actually say that? Wow!
v. 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Ok, so now I’m going to brag on my church just a little bit. I’m telling you, I simply can’t wait to go to church because I see people that I know truly love me. They know I have baggage, but they don’t care. We are there to worship Jesus, and that’s all that matters. We are joyful because of Him, and being together to praise him makes it all the better. It’s one thing to be with people you know, but it’s another thing completely to be with people who are excited about Jesus. Just sayin’. And that’s what I find at my church, The Open Door of Decision Hills. Sure, there are lots of good churches out there, many that I would feel just as comfortable in. I’ve belonged to others like it and have visited many others, but I like this one. If you have trouble saying that about yours, well, maybe it’s time to make a change. I know many, many people who secretly wished they attended a church that is alive but don’t, simply because they don’t want to ruffle feathers. Look at it this way. The Body of Christ isn’t just the people that go to one building; it is ALL the people who follow Jesus. If a local congregation can’t get fired up about Jesus, for whatever reason, then move on. It seems to me to deny yourself the joy of a spirit-filled church is to look back while on the plow. I know this isn’t a matter of salvation that Jesus referred to in Luke 9:62, but isn’t it applicable to working out our own salvation? I think it is. Let’s face it. There is nothing like a church that is alive.
v. 6 And 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.
This, my friends, is yet more scripture to take note of with regards to salvation. You can’t lose genuine salvation. Paul is sure of it. Can we say Spirit-inspired? You can cooperate with your transformation or not, but the Holy Spirit WILL bring it all to completion. My advice is to go with the program. The journey is so much more enjoyable when we do.
v. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
To me, this tells me that Paul is encouraged by the love he receives. Yes, he speaks of loving others, but he is also loved by them. That comforts him, no matter his circumstances. He doesn’t need to actually be physically present, yet he still enjoys that love and joy.
v. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
These aren’t all empty words that people want to hear. He means what he says. He truly desires to be with these people. That’s what he wants.
v. 9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so 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.
We see thanks and praise of God and to God, now we see supplication. Paul asks for love and wisdom so that we may enjoy a Spirit-filled life. To the full.
While I think it may be awkward to share this passage with those you love, we would be wise to try. Wouldn’t it be better if we truly understood what Paul is saying so that we may weave the message into a conversation with others? Or to summarize it, something like this:
[So-and-so], I don’t know if you know this, but I thank God often for the joy you bring me as we grow in our faith in Jesus. Not only you, but all of our church. Even when I’m not there, I feel that I am and want to be there with you. I pray that you may continue to grow in Jesus and experience all the fruit he intends for you. One day we will see Jesus. Won’t that be a day to remember!
Make someone’s day, as someone, today, made mine.
Father, just as Paul leads me, I thank you for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. My heart is warmed by their love, and this keeps me encouraged. Keep transforming their lives to the image of Jesus. Grant them knowledge so that they may know your will and do it. Send them into the world as a testimony to your great love and forgiveness. Thank you, Jesus, for your church, and thank you for allowing me the privilege of being a part of your family. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers