Welcome to the Book of Philippians – 6-27-22

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Philippians chapter 1 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Greeting

Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the [a]bishops and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thankfulness and Prayer

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Christ Is Preached

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole [b]palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 [c]The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

To Live Is Christ

19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I [d]cannot tell. 23 [e]For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

Striving and Suffering for Christ

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but [f]to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 1:1 Lit. overseers
  2. Philippians 1:13 Or Praetorium
  3. Philippians 1:16 NU reverses vv. 16 and 17.
  4. Philippians 1:22 do not know
  5. Philippians 1:23 NU, M But
  6. Philippians 1:28 NU of your salvation

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Acts 4:12-

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Welcome to the book of Philippians. Paul and Timothy, well it was more like Paul and his whole team effort (just like all of his letters), wrote to the church in Philippi. This letter was written in response to a generous offering this church sent to help support Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome and unable to work for money. You might remember at the end of the Book of Acts, Paul was imprisoned under a form of house arrest in Rome waiting his trial before Cesare. He needed money for food and survival as well as for his lawyer and legal fees. Yet, there is no record of Paul asking for money. This church felt compelled to take up a collection and give – and what is so amazing is that these people were needy and they still took up an offering to give to help Paul.
While Paul was under house arrest, he had access to his team, to visitors, and wrote many letters to the churches.

Let’s talk for a minute about the city of Philippi. It was not like Corinth. Corinth and Ephesus (and others) are Greek cities which when Rome came through conquering, became “civilized”; which is the Roman word for Romanizing a different culture. Rome took over by letting people keep their beliefs and values and slowing twisting and assimilating them into the Roman way. But in order for Rome to be successful in maintaining areas, they had to build strongholds – planting ROMAN cities that had no Greek law or process or area King. These Roman cities had full Roman rights as if they were the actually city of Rome and answered directly to Cesare.  Philippi was one such city. It was a mini Rome. It was located a little bit in land, but strategically placed, as it originally was a fortressed, major Greek city on a major trade route of roads.  But over the years, being slightly in land, with only foot and chariot traffic and no sea traffic, the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” grew, with more “have nots” and the city had a poverty issue.

From their struggles and Paul’s gratefulness sparking a desire to write to thank them for their gift and edify them we get some of the strongest promises of God to stand on for provisions and strength. The overall theme of the book is to be encouraged to be a mature Christian and continue to grow, even as a mature believer.

We do not grow in the Lord, and reach maturity and stop growing and struggling and trying. The human experience is about struggle and interactions and overcoming, no matter how mature you are – and understanding this and continuing to grow is fundamental to maturity.

1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”

I am not sure if we discussed titles in the early church before, but some weird things happened in the texts from the time Paul wrote them and we received them. First of all, there were NO titles when Jesus walked the earth, except ‘disciples’ – which means disciplined student. They turned into ‘apostles’, meaning a type of teacher/leader. Those stem from Greek words with those meanings we were not really a formal title as much as a general description.
Bishops is NOT actually in the Bible. The original Greek word is: ἐπισκόποις (episkopois) which comes from ‘epi’ and ‘skopos’ meaning an overseer. There is some debate about the 1st century structure as to if the bishops were overseeing the deacons of if they answered to the deacons. Originally it was thought that the bishops over saw everything – but in typical Pauline humility, it may be they were listed first because they were lower on the chain of command and the last was actually the first.
Deacons are in the original text from διακόνοις (diakonois) meaning attendant or waiter, a server. It seems the original pastors/teachers were called deacons, but the slave who served you at the local restaurant or and of the slaves who served the upper class Romans were also called διακόνοις (diakonois). They had developed the title of the servant – and had an everyday reminder by title to be humble and serve the people. This word may have come to use from Jesus asking Peter to feed His sheep – to be the waiter and server.
Over time, as the Bible was translated and man made positions came to be the overseer was called (in the Holy Roman roots of Catholicism) the Bishop. And from there when translated to King James and other some other versions, the new man made title was inserted over the term overseer.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,”

I never tire of the importance of prayerfully greeting someone by speaking grace into their lives. Why have we put aside this tradition? Why aren’t we praying down grace and more grace while we are still in the dispensation of grace – while grace is bountifully available? How much more can we do with a bit of extra grace?!?!

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

And boom! Before Paul is even done with the greeting we are hit with the first life changing promise of God in this book. God will finish what He started.
Did he call you as a child, but it isn’t happening yet? It will. Is God a man that he should Lie? NO (Numbers 23:19)! Will God finish what he started in my life? Yes! Will He fishing what He started in you? Yes! Will he abandon us half done? Nope! God is so Good. This is one of those verses you can stand on whenever you are in a waiting period, a growing period, and even when you are having victories – there are more to come!! Because God will not just finish the first part – He will finish It all with COMPLETE VICTORY! Completely finished! Hallelujah!

just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.”

Just because Paul was under house arrest, did NOT mean he had it easy. You cannot take a man who has run, run, run and make him hold still and not be with those he loves. I can imagine how much he longs to see them. Years ago I was drawn back to God and a church in NJ had a huge part in my return. I still join their prayer times and online services. I have gotten to know many of them and I am now, even friends with them on Facebook. But as much as I long to go visit them – I have been prevented. First it was my car (which was bad). I got a new (new to me, but old in age, used) car, but then it was an icy bad winter. As spring approached, 2020 lockdowns began. Things open up and I had covid for so long. Finally now… and gas and finances are an issue. If I long to see a body of believers who I have never met but love dearly, I can imagine that knowing them and missing them must be worse!

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Paul’s letters also often have amazing examples of ways to pray for each other. Yesterday, a pastor I know personally but do not know well, lost his mind and publicly called out a handful of false teachers and every person ever seen in a photograph with them. Wisdom, be careful who you get photographed with. But many preachers / teachers are at these big event full of many different denominational pastors preaching. None of them agree with everything the others are saying. And IF there are false prophets in that group, the men and women of God agree with what is godly and pray against that which is not. Being at the same conference, being in photos together, interviewing each other, having a conversation, etc. does not mean they agree on everything (or even anything for that matter).
So my friend who lost his mind (I always say we are NOT heresy hunters – God lets false teachers rise up to test His elect, as we have studied – Let God expose them and bring them down. DO NOT GET IN GOD’s WAY!) Anyway, my friend, failed to expose the truth, by muddling it up with speculation and association – SO HE EVEN FAILED AT EXPOSING THE FALSE PROPHETS.
The problem was he threw in the name of another dear pastor friend of mine who I know that I know is a man of God. So now anyone who knows that is wrong, and possibly others in that list are wrong, they dismiss the whole list and never take the time to discern if anyone on that list IS ACTUALLY A FALSE PROPHET.
Here is the point – BE CAREFUL. And pray “that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment”. Operative word is LOVE. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  And discernment and knowledge – OH LORD, OPEN OUR EYES AND UNDERSTANDING, PLEASE!
I pray this for you – pray it for me too!
Paul is praying this over a church of mature believers! Mature! It is SO POSSIBLE that mature believers can be deceived. I cannot warn on this enough as we see it over and over in all of Paul’s letters and in the gospels where Jesus warned of how easy we can be deceived! Do not be so proud to think it can’t or won’t happen to you.
Please spend time in the word of God seeking Him about who you should follow and pray about it. Ask for discernment for yourself as well. Let God call out the evil, most of us are NOT called to that and there are only a few examples of prophets who are called to being a heresy hunter and God blinded their audiences so no one listened to them. Just let God handle it.

I want to move on – but this also says “without offense” and unto “fruits of righteousness”.
Good warriors, war. They fight! They take an attack on a friend as an attack upon themselves. But God grace in suffering it only for the one who is offended. We literally just saw that verse the other day (God’s grace is sufficient).  I do not have the grace to fight your battles. I have just enough grace for my own job here. Do not offend and do not take on offences. Taking on another’s offense will cause offending! Woe what a snow-ball effect that will have. Instead have peace and know God is able to fight his own fights. Our friends have the grace to endure their struggles. We must stay out of God’s way, and have peace. It is right and is our righteousness. Then grab this verse and pray it over all parties involved. Because only God know what is truth – and only God can reveal it to you. Die to flesh – have no opinion and let God speak.  (During the conflict I am referring to – it has been hard to hold my tongue. I will let God work. But then it comes up here and I have to speak.)

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,”

Paul is saying that being held a prisoner has actually worked out to further the gospel! So many times in our physical eyes we see a situation as something bad, a hindrance, or even a setback – BUT God is working all things for our good, while we are in His will. So it is HIS good too!
The second promise we can affirmatively stand on in this book is that God can turn any test into a testimony, can turn any situation into His glory, and can work all things for our good.
That means this heresy hunting pastor I know, upsetting a section of the believers and attacking a closer friend and pastor can actually work out for the glory of God. But we need to submit to God’s plan and shut our mouths. It is great to be lions and generals in this time, but we must also be gentle:
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16
We know there are wolves – and the wolves ARE NOT in the midst of us, but WE are in the midst of them! They are all around. Be wise and gentle – trust God to be God over it.

13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

Back to what Paul is saying – many of the guards are becoming believers or are seeing the life witness of Paul, through Paul’s imprisonment. Moreover, Paul is becoming more bold. Which is so interesting – but he has an armed guard at his side to keep him from escaping – but also, as a Roman citizen, to keep him alive until his trial. So Paul NO LONGER has to flee for his life when he upsets the status quo (something God’s presence does often)!
Paul started his ministry recklessly proclaiming the gospel! He told everyone and ran for his life! Then Jesus took him aside and taught him. Paul became more and more careful and humble in his service.
As Paul matures in the Lord, and as you and I mature in the Lord, we slowly become more and more zealous, and fearless again. This time, fearless; not reckless!
As we watch the signs of the times unfold, as we fight the good fight of faith, we end up at a point where either it is forced upon us, like Paul’s imprisonment or it is a decision like Queen Esther – we just stop being afraid and we walk in faith! ‘If I die, I die’ (Esther 4:16)

15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

Honestly, I never considered this before… even if Christ is preached from someone with wrong ambitions – at least Christ is being preached and therefore people can have the opportunity to choose a relationship with God through Christ! And let God be God over that relationship! I can sit under a false teacher and still grow! And once mature enough to hear God’s voice God can move me to someone preaching a clean unadulterated word. But even then, man is fallible and may make a mistake – BUT GRACE, GRACE is abundant and Christ is being preached. Do you get that?! It is the second promise we can stand on in this book, as long as Christ is being preached God can work with it! Thank you Jesus!

That is a mature concept. When we are young in Christ we are offended by false prophets. As we mature, although offended for the blight on righteousness – we can be in peace knowing God’s sovereignty.

Here is a little history that I think is interesting. Certain Jews who had it out for Paul and hunted him from city to city, were without a purpose once Paul became a prisoner to the Roman government. They were NOT going to give up on making life hard for Paul. So they pivoted and discovered that IF they preached Christ a certain way, it caused problems for Paul with Rome. This is actually documented. But what they preached exactly is unknown. Some think they were causing division in the church like we saw in Corinth (years earlier). Some believe they were preaching Christ ‘better’ than Paul, preaching down to Paul and making him look back to the Roman government. I guess it would be like going to a prayer meeting where people pray corrections on the others in the room. Paul is saying, at least they are praying. (I personally haven’t matured enough to say that, and still struggle to keep my peace and not get judgmental in prayer meetings like that. But God will help me. Meanwhile I avoid meetings like that and participate in prayer meetings with Christian more mature than me, and hopefully learn from them how to pray effective fervent prayers.)

19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.”

Phew! This is so raw from the heart. To live means we can continue the Lord’s work – but to die means a big hug from Jesus. I know that the choice is NOT in my hands. and Thank you God for that! I mean, depending on the day, who knows what I would choose. Some days I just get so homesick for a place I have never seen – the arms of Jesus!
But our deaths are written in God’s books. When he calls us home he calls us home. When I got sick with Covid and was at the worse part… all I could do was repeat “help” prayerfully – caught in a loop in my head, without voice from the sore throat, with so much pain and such a struggle for breath. It was HIS breath in my lungs that blew me past that point. But one thing I never doubted was my life. Never did it even dawn on me that I could die. Because I know the plans the Lord has for me and I know it is NOT yet time. There is a level of boldness that comes with that understanding. God finishes what He started.  

Oh this is meaty – I hope you are grasping the full bite of this! It is a lot – big bites! Maybe we should cut it up smaller and chew on it over the course of today and really enjoy it!

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,”

Striving, Determined, Go-getting, Ruthless, Pushy, Motivated, Struggling, and Endeavoring together, in one mind and one spirit. Humanity is a condition of struggle, and out of that struggle comes growth and all that is good about people. But not if we gripe and complain through our struggle. We must strive together.

28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.”

Let’s flash back to a couple years ago when I worked for that lady who threatened me almost daily because I was a Christian. It was difficult, yes. I cried – I did. A lot! God knows. But I never feared her. If I did, she could say I did not trust my God to take care of me. AND as I wrote here a few time: God is my provider, not that job and not that lady – moreover I sought God, my provider and NOT my provisions. And I still do today. What is there to fear when you are in the hands of the most powerful being? It is not just my salvation from that situation – it is such a beautiful friendship and love! I have rejoiced and thank God every day for taking me out of that Egypt. And NEVER once have I looked back and said take me back because at least I had financial security. Oh no, in the hands of a living God is so much cooler!

29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”

And we finish today with that word “suffer”. And I know a few of you cringed when you read it.
I know many who believe Jesus will return for His church before the tribulation because he doesn’t want us to suffer – and others think Paul’s obsession with speaking of human suffering means not only will we endure part, of not all of the tribulation, but that we will have suffering before the tribulation – and then there are many schools of thought in between. I personally prefer to live believing the rapture will happen later, so I am ready and not surprised by the suffering.
BUT – the suffering Paul speaks of is just the human struggle – or trial and tribulations – it is the life we must live and the growth we must endure to be Christlike.

The human struggle was Paul surviving on the missions journeys, or us living out our assignments. And Jesus described the human suffering, and struggle, as:

35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25: 35-40 NKJV

It’s like watching those videos on the internet of people rescuing each other caught on video, where you see the best in humanity come out of a moment of suffering and struggle. Or the animal rescue videos, which are more common – where people work together to save something. Working together to save each other from hell is our mission – we are all in it together. The struggle is human suffering.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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