This week we are beginning our time in the book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi while he was in prison. This letter is often characterized by themes of joy. Even in the midst of his inprisonment and suffering, Paul keeps his perspective focused on Jesus. He is able to find joy and hope in Christ even in difficult circumstances.
During college, every time that I came home for a break, whether for summer or Christmas, I often heard the same refrain from friends and family: “You’re so different!” Sometimes, I could feel the changes and growth, and other times, their words baffled me. But being placed around people that encouraged and taught me alongside my studies, I grew closer to God, and others could see my heart change on the outside. College is an incredible time of growth, discovery, hardships, and exposure to new ideas, so why wouldn’t you change? God used my 4 years in college and the friends I met there to shape me into a completely different person, even when I couldn’t see it happening.
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 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. 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. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- What do you observe Paul’s attitude towards the church in Philippi? Why is it that way?
- What is the outcome of knowing God’s love?
- How do you think it would feel when the church of Philippi received this letter from Paul?
- What are ways that you begin to see the work that God’s doing in you?
The Apostle Paul was of great encouragement to the church in Philippi. As he writes this letter from jail, there must be a lot of emotions and questions. I’m sure they’re scared for their friend and hope that God will keep working in them as they see the church grow. But Paul reminds them that despite their separation and despite the hardships, God has not left them. God has begun a work in them, and he will not walk away! And it’s the same for you and me. Even when we can’t see what God’s doing in and through us, God has a plan. And he will continue to bring his work through you. We are never stagnate, because God continues his work!
Can you feel yourself changing as God works in you? Take some time to reflect and pray this week, using these questions:
- Think back over the last couple of months, how are you different? How are you the same? Ask a friend or family member if it's hard for you to identify these things in yourself.
- Are you becomming more like Jesus or less like Jesus? Why do you think that is?
- Read the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. What "fruits" have you grown in this year? Which ones are difficult for you? Which fruit do you think God might want you to grow in? Ask him to help you grow in that fruit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23