Our lives as #Christians should be examples to believers and unbelievers alike.
Philippians 1:14 “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
The Roman Christians were truly persecuted. They were scoffed at, ridiculed, and disrespected at every turn, and even more than that, their lives were in danger because of their Christian beliefs. They found themselves discouraged and fearful, often remaining quiet in the face of such peril. However, Paul once again demonstrated the clear and correct attitude after which we are to seek in our Christian walks, which is one of selfless endeavors toward proclaiming the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was in prison, and there he was continually speaking of salvation and the changing power of the blood of his Savior. As a result, not only were many of the prison guards coming to know the Lord, but his brothers and sisters in Rome who were witnessing his bold confidence while in chains were becoming more confident themselves. Consequently, they too were benefiting from Paul’s unrelenting dedication to preaching the gospel. Yes, unbelievers watch our lives. They will many times take their cues about Christianity from the way that we behave and the things that we say, and then we praise God when some of them come to know Him through those things. What we must remember is that our fellow believers are also watching, and when we persevere selflessly and in joy, looking ever forward to the eternity that awaits us, often they gain courage and strength from our lives. The Christ-centered life of a believer is an influential one, and it is in this that we remain ever diligent.
Study/Meditation: Read Colossians 3:12-17. (http://www.esvbible.org/Colossians+3/) How does this directive from Paul to the Colossian church help us present good examples in our lives for our fellow brothers and sisters?
*Father, thank You for Your saving grace. Help me to know better how I can display Your majesty, glory, and love to all those around me. Amen.
A Life that Advances the Gospel
Does your life serve to advance the #gospel?
Philippians 1:12 “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
The Philippians were concerned about Paul’s well-being. They had not heard from him in almost two years, and then they got word that he had been imprisoned. They sent Epaphroditus to check on him and see how they might help. In reality, Paul was in prison. As a matter of fact, he was chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day, but Paul’s only concern in his corresponding letter to the Philippian church was that they rest in knowing that the gospel was being advanced. Paul demonstrates what so many cannot fathom: The Christian life is not about a life concerned with self, about what will bring us fulfillment or the most pleasure. The Christian life is one of self-sacrifice where we continually say no to self and yes to those things that proclaim God’s glory. Paul writes to reassure the Philippian church that what was most important—that the gospel was being proclaimed—was happening because of his imprisonment, so he and they were to rejoice in that. His reaction was not, “What is happening to me?” but “What is happening to the gospel?” As James Boyce puts it, “In one deft sentence Paul shifts the legitimate interests of the Philippians from himself to the great undeterred purposes of God in history.” (Philippians: An Expositional Commentary [Zondervan], p. 60) In all of our lives, let us focus not on the comforts of self and determine our joy from that, but let us take our example from Paul and make everything we do and the measure of the joy in those things dependent solely on the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Study/Meditation: In what ways can you improve your attitude when it comes to finding joy not in your circumstances but in the work of God in your life?
*Father, forgive me for losing focus sometimes. Help me remember that all I do and all the measure of what I do is about You. Amen.
Are You Sharing the Gospel?
What prohibits you from sharing the #gospel in your everyday life?
Philippians 1:13 “…so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ”
As stated yesterday, Paul was chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day and the guards changed every four hours. His restriction was a complete one, and many of us might be tempted to think in terms of this restriction. However, Paul saw it as an opportunity to advance the gospel. Whereas we might think, “How limiting to his evangelism to be imprisoned like that,” Paul thought, “What an opportunity to share Christ with these men who are with me every minute of the day!” These guards would have been accustomed to hardened criminals, men who had little or no concern for any humanity, much less the guards themselves. However, Paul was different. He asked about their families, prayed for them, and shared the love of Christ with them at every turn. Word spread throughout the Praetorian Guard about the gospel and this very different prisoner, and many of them believed. (Philippians 4:22) We may often think that our vocations or our lives are devoid of ministerial opportunities because we are surrounded by unbelievers or because we aren’t in “ministry.” Paul would tell us that every area of our lives is to be seen as a place where Christ can be shared, and there are no such things as situations or people who prohibit our sharing the gospel.
Study/Meditation: With whom can you share the gospel this week? What has prohibited you from sharing with this person thus far? What might Paul tell you in terms of this seeming “prohibition”?
*Father, help me to see where I might share Your love and the good news of salvation through Jesus with someone in my life. Thank You for those opportunities. Amen.
Imputed #righteousness will always result in fruit in the #Christian life.
Philippians 1:11 “…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
What a beautiful thing that Paul prayed for his fellow Christians in this way! He prayed that they abound in a love for one another that is true and right so that they would be able to discern all that is excellent, and then he prayed for the sanctification that will surely take place in their lives because of Jesus. We received the full measure of Christ’s righteousness upon justification, but the fruit that is displayed because of that imputed righteousness is not instantaneous but a process. Paul’s prayer, which should also be our desire, is that our lives are characterized by actions and deeds that exemplify our regenerated hearts, attributes which are only possible “through Jesus Christ.” These deeds will certainly be manifested in discerning and correct love for one another, and our lives will be filled continually with the fruit that can only come from Christ’s imputed righteousness. Finally, all of these things are ultimately given so that our lives glorify the one, true living God, displaying His majesty to the entire world. In this we praise Him, and it is for this that Paul prays for us.
Study/Meditation: How can you display fruits of righteousness in your life today that will bring glory and praise to God?
*Father, thank You for giving me, through You, the ability to love and bear fruit to Your glory. Help me to see the ways that I may do this today. Amen.
Loving in Excellence
How are we to #love one another in excellence?
Philippians 1:10 “(And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment), so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
One of the biggest obstacles to purposeful Christian living is getting sidetracked onto things that aren’t relevant, or as Paul calls them, “excellent.” D. Martin Lloyd Jones said, ““The difficulty in life is to know on what we ought to concentrate. The whole art of life, I sometimes think, is the art of knowing what to leave out, what to ignore, what to put on one side. How prone we are to dissipate our energies and to waste our time by forgetting what is vital and giving ourselves to second and third rate issues” (The Life of Joy [Baker], p. 54). Paul’s prayer for his brothers and sisters in the Philippian church was that they would cultivate and express Christ-like love toward each other that is centered on knowledge and discernment so that they would not be diverted onto worldly things of little or no importance. It is our goal to apply a laser-like focus onto the things of God, recognizing the areas that both bring Him glory and show others His kingdom. When we do so, we live as “pure and blameless.” This does not mean that we live as perfect and faultless, but as with integrity and right thoughts. It is interesting that Paul’s focus for the Christian displaying these excellent and God-honoring qualities is in the way that we love one another. We do all of this with the understanding that Jesus is returning, a day when we will both be called home to Him and where we will be held to account for how our love abounded correctly for each other.
Study/Meditation: How does what Paul writes to the Philippian church in these verses much like what Jesus told His disciples in John 13:34-35? (http://www.esvbible.org/John+13/)
*Father, help me to see how I should love my brothers and sisters with excellence. Thank You for loving me this way. Amen.
Biblical #love is a balance between head and heart.
Philippians 1:9 “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.”
“Love” is often misused and misidentified within the Christian community. Some think that real love is devoid of intellect. They believe that we are to love by accepting the beliefs of anyone and everyone with no regard to the doctrinal authenticity of those beliefs. Love for these people is all heart and no head. Still others have gone to the opposite extreme, sacrificing kindness and patience in favor of strong doctrine. They feel love is intolerant to the extreme; it is all head and no heart. Paul realized that there is to be a fine balance between head and heart when it comes to biblical love, and it is in this kind of love that we are to “abound more and more.” Biblical love that is Christ exalting is in displaying kindness and self-sacrificial behavior toward others, but it is guided by “knowledge and all discernment.” Knowledge that drives true love does not anchor itself in culture but in God. It is spiritual knowledge that finds its source in God’s Word and in all Holy Spirit driven insight. True discernment comes only upon the foundation of Godly knowledge. One is discerning if he or she can correctly understand and identify truth as it is portrayed in the bible. Consequently, Paul’s prayer for the Philippian church, which should also be our prayer for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ, is that we love one another with a Godly love, a love that is based on God’s Word and that in that knowledge can identify the differences between good and evil. This is love that combines both heart and head in order to truly glorify our Lord.
Study/Meditation: How can an incorrect balance between heart and head cause damage within a church?
*Father, help me to love correctly with my head and my heart. Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit so that I might know these things. Amen.