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.
Do you #trust in the unquestionable #deliverance of #God?
Philippians 1:19 “(Yes, and I will rejoice), for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.”
Joy can sometimes be so slippery in this life, can’t it? It slides down slopes of pain and heartache and loss, and then it shoots like a meteor when all is favorable and good. This sort of language and reality would have been nonsensical to the Apostle Paul, for his joy was consistent, no matter his circumstances, because it was founded on the Word of God. As long as “Christ is proclaimed” (v. 18), Paul says that he will rejoice. How? He does and will continue to be full of joy because he trusts God’s Word as well as knowing it. When he says that he knows that the prayers of the saints and Jesus Christ will invariably bring about his deliverance, he is quoting directly from Job 13:36. This is when Job prayed that he be delivered, or “saved,” from the horrors he was facing because he knew the faithfulness of God. Whether Paul meant “saved” as in from prison or accusation or life, the point is that Paul trusted God’s Word as well as knowing it. He rejoiced in knowing that his present trials and troubles were only temporary. Job was a righteous man, and the bible declares that God will deliver the righteous. (Job 36:7; Psalm 5:12, 34:15, 17) Paul knew that he had by imputation received the righteousness of Christ, and so he could be confident in his deliverance no matter the circumstance. We should know and trust in this too, for this is the place of joy. This confidence and trust in our Father is the steady ground upon which we rejoice.
Study/Meditation: Using a concordance, do a word search of the word “righteous,” looking for all of the places where God’s Word declares that He will deliver the righteous. Use this list in your study time every day as trials hit, taking comfort from and trust in God’s promises to deliver His children.
*Father, thank You for giving me the gift of Jesus’ righteousness, which results in receiving Your deliverance. Amen.
Fully Saturated with Christ
What does it mean to be fully saturated with #Christ?
Philippians 1:18 “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, I will rejoice.”
Paul had just told the Philippians that he was aware of the different men who were preaching the gospel while he was in chains. He knew that some of them did so out of love for Christ and that some did so out of vanity or rivalry with him. What was Paul’s response? He literally asked, “So what?” He quite literally was so Christ-saturated and Christ-centered that his only concern was whether or not the gospel was being preached. Slander and false intentions could not deter him in his single minded goal of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone possible. Furthermore, his response wasn’t ambivalence to the cruel intentions and slander thrown his way. He wrote that as long as Christ was being preached, “In that I rejoice.” His joy was a direct result of the proclamation of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice. He said he rejoiced then, and that seeing and knowing that Jesus is preached will determine his joy in the future: “Yes, I will rejoice.” Do we have that kind of dedication to the Great Commission? Can we look past the sometimes cruel actions and intentions of others and how those things make us feel and live only in terms of Christ glorified? Let us come to the Throne of Grace over and over as we strive to be more like Paul, fully dedicated only to our Lord, with self securely out of frame.
Study/Meditation: Why do you think Paul could dismiss those who were preaching with wrong motives? How can you apply that to your life today?
*Father, help me each day to look beyond my own feelings toward the only true purpose, which is to glorify You. Amen.
The Battle Against Self
Our #battle as #believers is against self as much as it is against Satan.
Philippians 1:15-17 “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.”
Paul’s imprisonment was leading many to Christ, and it was emboldening some to preach the gospel more fearlessly. Unfortunately, some of that fearlessness was prideful and self-seeking. Some felt a boldness to preach now that Paul was out of the way, seeing it more as an opportunity to get in on what they saw as his influence or even his fame. One of the saddest realities about humanity is its propensity toward self-exaltation. We are creatures of self. Without constant diligence, everything we do and think and say will be about our own comfort, happiness, and advancement. It is who we are naturally. Only by way of sanctification in Christ can we move out of our own way and place Him at the center of our lives and of our motivations in our lives. Many apparently struggled with that during Paul’s day. Many of us struggle with that today. As we move through our lives now, let us be aware of our propensity toward self-centeredness, while at the same time offering grace to our fellow brethren who struggle with the same things.
Study/Meditation: In what ways might you preach the gospel out of selfish ambition rather than to show the perfect glory and grace of God? What should your response be to such things?
*Father, forgive me for my selfishness. Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life so that I have the avenue by which I can see beyond myself to You. Amen.