Philippians 1A: A series of reflection on scripture
Insights - May 3, 2021 Author: Jeanette Green

Philippians 1A: A series of reflection on scripture

Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi, while he was in prison. Seeing that all of us are at this time imprisoned in one way or the other – by the global pandemic, the COVID-19 lockdown, fear, illness, poverty (I through ill-health and financial difficulty), I thought Paul is just the guy we can learn from.

How do we walk out our journeys of faith, while we are imprisoned? Where is God in our suffering? How do we keep hope and stay joyful?

Let’s take a journey over the next couple of weeks, through Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Philippians – overview>
Paul is in prison, yet he writes to the church in Philippi to encourage them. His words exude gratitude, strength, trust, and peace. How does Paul stay so positive, despite his imprisonment? It breaks my mind, I cannot understand it. But the words Paul penned fall into my heart, where God shines His light on them and helps me see a few things.

Paul knew his life was not his own. He was a servant of Christ Jesus. With that knowledge came the understanding that his Master decided what happened to him. And he trusted God to work for the good of the church, even using his imprisonment. Thus, Paul, being fully surrendered to his Master and fully trusting Him, could focus on God’s purpose and continue his work for the gospel, while in prison.


Chapter 1

Verses 1-11 - Introduction

Php 1:6> And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.

Plenty of times along my journey of faith, I felt like I could just as well give up trying to follow after Jesus. Because I was useless. I kept failing, kept sinning, kept doing everything wrong. But God used those times to help me understand that I was walking with Him, by His grace. And so, also by His grace, will I continue until I make it to the finish line. This verse has become an anchor of hope for me, along the way of doubting, and failing, and almost giving up.

But today, as I read the text once more, a few other thoughts become clear.

1)Paul’s prayers
The church was being persecuted. But instead of praying for God to stop the persecution, Paul prayed differently. He asked God to give them grace and peace. And that their love, their knowledge, and their judgement will keep growing, so that they will be able to make good choices. Because that would result in their lives bringing glory to God.

2)Unity
Every member of the church, together with church leadership, are in union with Christ Jesus. Paul pointed out that they all shared in the privilege God gave Paul to defend the gospel, both while he was free and while he was in prison. This emphasis on unity brought to my mind two other scriptures:
Rom 12:15 - Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.

Joh 17:21 - I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
(From the prayer Jesus prayed before He was crucified.)

3) Love comes from God
Paul recognized that the strong feelings he felt for the church, came from God’s heart.

Php 1:8 God is my witness that I tell the truth when I say that my deep feeling for you all comes from the heart of Christ Jesus himself.

When I read this verse, it reminded me of the last verse of Jesus’ prayer:

Joh 17:26 - I made You known to them, and I will continue to do so, so that the love You have for me may be in them, and so that I also may be in them."


Conclusion
I must confess, there are many times during my years of affliction with chronic pain, that I felt my life was worthless. How could God get any glory from my miserable life? At times, I even felt cut-off from the body of Christ.

But, God changed my mind to look at my life, differently. Today, He used the first few verses of Philippians, to renew my mind. I realize afresh, that even though I might have felt like I wasn’t a part of Christ’s body, I still am. We are all connected, in Christ. Whether we have physical contact, or not. And, although I won’t stop asking God to deliver me from my trials, I ask now, for His grace and peace, more. Also that I will grow in His love, knowledge, and judgement. I pray this for myself, and also for you, my family in Christ.

In whatever ‘prison’ we find ourselves, today, Paul sets an example for us. He is in prison, yet he encourages the church. We need not see these places or times of oppression or testing in our lives, as seasons when we are of no use to God. Rather, we can trust God fully to accomplish all He planned to, through our lives. And while our hearts trust in Him, we can perhaps get glimpses of how He is working for good, even in our difficult circumstances.

Next week, I journey further through Philippians. I’d love for you to walk along! So, if you’d like, read Philippians Chapter 1:12-30, this coming week.

Prayer:

Father God. Thank you for all the examples in the Bible of other believer’s lives that we can draw strength from. God, please open up Paul’s letter to the Philippians to us. Teach us how to remain steadfast, to trust You, when we go through times of ‘imprisonment’. And help us to continue what You called us to do, no matter what conditions we find ourselves in. To love You, with everything we are, and to love our neighbours, as ourselves. We thank you, Lord, that no matter our circumstances, that we are free. Because those the Son has set free, are free indeed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Read next> Philippians 1B

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