What does living as a #citizen of #heaven look like while here on earth?
Philippians 1:27a “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Philippi was a Roman colony, and the people there took pride in their Roman citizenship. Even though they were 800 miles from Rome, they answered to Roman authority; they followed Roman laws. Paul was speaking to their unique sense of citizenship. The phrase he used for “manner of life,” also translated as “conduct yourselves,” literally meant “live as citizens” in the original Greek. Paul was saying that no matter where we live geographically, we must conduct ourselves as citizens of our homeland, namely heaven. Everything about the Christian life must mirror those things worthy of our Lord. We live to serve and please our King. It is inordinately sad when the church blends in with the world around it in matters of morality and behavior. Whereas we are called to be a part of the world so that we might share the gospel with it (1 Corinthians 9:20-23), we are to behave always as citizens of heaven, distinctly holy and set apart. As Paul stated elsewhere, we are to be ambassadors for Christ, representing the heavenly kingdom in all that we do. (2 Corinthians 5:20) After all, how can we draw others to the freedom only given in Christ if we are still living in bondage to the very same things from which we wish to see them freed?
Study/Meditation: Read Galatians 5:16-26. What does Paul say in this letter about a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ”?
*Father, forgive me for the times when I do not live as one set apart as holy unto You. Give me wisdom and discernment to see the areas in my life where I must repent and live as a citizen of heaven. Amen.
#Joy comes when we glory in #Christ and advance His kingdom.
Philippians 1:25-26 “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”
What is ardently clear in verses 22-26 of Philippians 1 is that Paul’s only and central concern was the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course he would rather be with Jesus, but he equally wanted to remain with the church here on earth, so that through his work he could to build them up in order to bring more and more glory to God. When he said, “Convinced of this,” the language does not suggest that he had some supernatural revelation that he would escape death. More it suggests that he felt it deep inside, and that he had the abiding impression that his work on earth was not quite finished. However, instead of focusing on how or what Paul knew, it is so much more vital that we see on what and whom he was focused. Everything was about Christ for Paul, bringing His Savior glory and honor, and all to “progress and joy in the faith.” You see, Paul knew what so many of us either need to realize or at the very least, need to remember: The only avenue to joy is in sanctification and the advancement of the gospel in and through our lives. Paul loved the Philippians, and in this love he wanted them to experience peace and joy. He knew that Jesus was the only way to these precious states, so in his undaunted devotion to the gospel and love for his readers, he wanted from his life or death only those things that would serve to advance both. Do you seek joy today? If the answer is yes, then seek Jesus and seek to advance His glory, and joy will come. In fact, this is the only place where joy truly exists.
Study/Meditation: Where do you typically seek joy in your life? In what ways can you either change those ways to be about Christ or alter them to be so?
*Father, thank You for providing joy in my life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to see the ways in which I can advance Your glory through the gospel. Amen.
Where is true #joy?
Philippians 1:22b-24 “Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”
In these short sentences, Paul exemplifies what it means to be “in Christ” as described in verse 21. He has already written to the Philippian church in verse 18, “I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.” He was encouraging them even as he was near death and in chains that his joy remained, not because of his circumstances, but in spite of his circumstances. How? Because this man knew that joy is a state of mind that revolved around his Savior. This is a man of God whose entire focus was Christ. He said in verses 22-24 that he was torn between two equally enticing desires—to either leave this world and so be with his Lord personally, or to stay in this world and continue steadfastly and joyously in His Lord’s work. He didn’t look to death with fear and angst; nor did he look to his life and wish for death. The point is that when we find our purpose in Christ, our situations—no matter what they are—do not constitute our joy in Him. Our joy is in whatever serves and glorifies the One to whom we belong. When Jesus is your life, then your life can only bring joy. Doesn’t that sound enticing? Don’t we all wish for such contentment in the midst of pain and sorrow and death? If you answered yes to those two questions, then there is good news. There is no secret formula you must uncover or an exclusive club to which you must belong. If you are a Christian, then this life is available to you. You simply need to look to Christ, focus on Him, and live for Him. In short, then, you’ll find constant joy in Him.
Study/Meditation: What is your attitude about joy? How can Paul’s attitude in his letter to the Philippians help you find the joy you seek now?
*Father, thank You for the biblical examples we have such as Paul. Help me see the ways in which I can live now so as to know only joy in You and Your Son. Amen.
The #Christian life is to be defined by #God and His purposes.
Philippians 1:22a “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.”
In order to truly understand what Paul is referring to in this verse, we have to look more closely at what he means by living “in the flesh” and why that “means fruitful labor” to him. In the previous verse, Paul had said that to him, “to live is Christ.” In other words, if God’s will was for him to continue living here on this earth, then his life would be all about Jesus; his life would be utterly defined by his Savior. The Apostle Paul had a crystal clear picture of what the Christian life is to look like, and his view of it should serve as a guidepost for the rest of us. Jesus said that others “will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35), and that “every healthy tree bears good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17) Christians are to be defined by how our lives manifest Whose we are, and that manifestation is projected in the necessary results in these lives. Paul knew that if God ordained that he continue living on this earth that it wasn’t to persecute him or punish him or leave him. If God orchestrated events so that Paul remained on earth a little longer, it was because He had work for Paul to do in His Kingdom. Paul would never have seen death as an escape or life as about his comfort. He accepted that God’s perfect plan was indeed perfect, and that he would bear fruit to the glory of God for however long God desired. In this, God’s ultimate and merciful sovereignty, Paul rested, and so should we.
Study/Meditation: How does Paul’s attitude about life and death portray absolute peace in the sovereignty of God? How does this instruct you about your attitude today?
*Father, thank You for keeping me in Your sovereign hand. You are merciful and kind and just. Amen.
Can you say that your life is #Christ?
Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Basically Paul is proclaiming here that while he is breathing this air, his life is Christ, and when he breathes his last, that communion will be perfect and far better than he can even imagine now. What does it mean to say that your life “is Christ”? It means that Jesus is your all in all, your all-sufficient One. It means that all that is true of Christ is all that is true for you. As Paul writes in Romans 6:10-11, “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Truthfully, we need to grow in our understanding of this reality. We do so by actively communing with Christ and depending on Him for everything. We must grow to intimately know Christ (Philippians 3:10), to love Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), and we must submit all our thoughts, words, actions, and deeds to the lordship of Christ so that we seek only to please Him in all our lives (Colossians 1:10). In other words, the glorious person of Jesus Christ is, and nothing less, the Christian life. This is a process, of course. Every believer has periods in his or her life where there is a struggle to live according to this wonderful reality. Paul writes that he had not attained it either (Philippians 3:12), but like him, we press on toward the goal of Christ because He has made us His. In this, our lives become more and more centered on our Savior.
Study/Meditation: What does it mean for you to practically, in your day-to-day life, live a life that is Christ?
*Father, help me see the areas of my life where I am struggling to live Christ, and give me the wisdom and discernment to move more in line with my Savior. Amen.
#God will never let His children be put to shame.
Philippians 1:20 “As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Paul’s trust in the provision and promises of God were unshakable, even in the face of death. He knew God’s Word, and he knew that Jesus had said, “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,” (Luke 12:8) but that He also said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38) Paul had an earnest expectation, an unfaltering hope that he would never be disappointed by Christ, that Christ would never abandon nor let go of him. He knew that because he had been faithful to the gospel, that Jesus would not be ashamed of him and that he would never be left ashamed before man. Paul would have also known God’s promise given in Isaiah 49:23, “Those who wait for me shall not be put to shame,” even quoting this same verse in Romans 9:33. Imprisonment or defamation or torture or even death did not thwart Paul’s unwavering trust in God’s promise to be with him and to be faithful to His Word. Do we rest like that today? In the midst of a scoffing world, can we believe and eagerly go forth, knowing that God will not let us be put to shame, no matter how things appear on the surface? Let us pray and live with these truths in mind, facing whatever perils come our way in this life with this same peaceful expectation and courage as is demonstrated in the Apostle Paul. God will not disappoint.
*Father, I trust You. You are my Deliverer and my Rock and my Strong Protector. You are ever faithful and trustworthy. Thank You for choosing me. Amen.