Love One Another
Why must believers seek to #love one another?
Philippians 1:8 “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
There is no argument that just because we are brothers and sisters in Christ that loving each other can sometimes be difficult. Yet Paul uses the word “yearn” to describe how desperately he misses his Philippian church family. The Greek usage of this word was used to speak of one’s intestines or inward parts. In other words, Paul was saying that his longing to be with them came from the deepest part of him. Do we have that kind of longing to see our church family when we are away from them? The truth is that we should. Surely not everyone in the Philippian church was easy to get along with, so how could Paul yearn for their company so deeply? The key to this dilemma lies in the phrase “with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Jesus cared for all of His children, regardless of their personality quirks, and He did so with such ferocity that He quite literally died for them. We love each other through Christ. We look beyond our own sinful responses to the personalities and actions of our brothers and sisters toward the sin-erasing, wrath-removing love our Savior has for them. As we obey by seeking to eradicate our own judgmental, unloving reactions and instead move toward Christ’s love for others, the feelings of love will naturally, and in time, follow.
Study/Meditation: Think of at least one brother or sister in Christ that you have a difficult time loving. What steps can you take so that you can grow to love this person through the love Jesus already has for them?
*Father, forgive me for being unloving and judgmental of my brothers and sisters at times. Help me as I endeavor to love with Your love. Amen.
How We View Church
How do people sometimes treat going to #church like shopping for a new car?
Philippians 1:7 “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.”
It is fully unfortunate that consumerism has permeated our idea of church today. The notion that church is the place where you go one or two times a week to have your needs met and then go home to your regular life would have been completely foreign to the Philippian church and to Paul. Often today we “church shop,” going from church to church looking for the “right” one that satisfies our personal criteria for church. Then we take our seats in the pew and receive for an hour and half at which point we go home to our lives. Nervous pastors fret when members leave to go down the street to another church that seems to offer full service programs, so they get busy revamping their own services to further meet the public needs. Church is not a place we go to be entertained or to have our needs met or to reflect mainstream society in whatever fashion is prevalent that day. Church is where we go in fellowship with other believers to worship and serve our risen Lord who bought us with His blood. Sometimes, as Paul indicated in his letter, that includes being persecuted. Paul tells the Philippian church that he remembers them with joy because they were partakers with him in both the grace they received from God but also in persecution. Let us not be infiltrated by the world’s idea of church, but instead be consumed with passion of like-minded believers who long for nothing else but communion based on Christ, a communion that shares in both the joy and the hardship.
Study/Meditation: How do you see church services in contemporary society often straying from what Paul would consider correct church focus? What attitudes in yourself need to be altered when you attend church so that you are there for the right reasons?
*Father, thank You for giving me my local church. Help me attend as a worshipper of You and of the Lord Jesus Christ, not for my own needs to be met. Forgive me when I attend selfishly. Amen.
The Church Family
Do you feel that your #church is your family?
Philippians 1:5 “…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
The following analogy was given some years ago: A family went to the movies together. They went in and sat down, but the youngest of the sons stayed in the lobby to get some popcorn. When he finally got through the long line at the concession stand with his refreshments, the movie had already begun. He stood at the back of the dark, crowded theater, looking unsuccessfully for his family. Finally from the back of the auditorium he yelled, “Does anyone in here know me? Does anyone recognize me?” Unfortunately, that is how many people feel when they enter their local churches. It is supposed to be filled with their brothers and sisters in Christ, but when push comes to shove, they don’t feel like anyone in the crowded room even knows them. That is not the way it should be when we meet together as a church family, and it is not the way it was in Philippi. Paul began his letter by telling this church that he thanked God every day for them, for their partnership with him in ministry. He remembered them in love because they were his family and they made sure he knew it. When you walk into your church, do you ever feel like that little boy in the movie theater, searching desperately for someone who might know you? Or are you one of the members who are content to sit in the pews, looking straight ahead, making no effort to either greet your family or be greeted by them? Our church is our family, our God-centered family. Let us strive to greet one another as such, making sure every member of the family knows that they are known.
Study/Meditation: What active plan do you have to make your church more like your family in Christ?
*Father, thank You for giving me brothers and sisters in You. Help me to both seek them out as well as avail myself to them as they seek me out. Amen.
Joy in Prayer
How often do we seek #joy by praying for others?
Philippians 1:3-4 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy.”
Paul knew the secret to attaining true joy, and it is founded in the Holy Spirit and through the outpouring of relationship. Don’t misidentify joy for happiness. Being happy is a response to circumstance. Joy is the result of right relationship. Paul was sitting in prison upon writing this letter to the Philippian church. It’s a pretty sure bet that he wasn’t exceedingly happy in his circumstances. However, he knew how to seek joy, and that was in remembering his brothers and sisters in Christ and praying for them. The ability to do this sort of remembering and focused prayer can only come from a joy that first originates with a right relationship with God. When we have peace with Him, being assured of our salvation and eternity with Him, then joy permeates our situations in life and naturally pours forth in joy toward those who share this experience with us. As a matter of fact, we know that trials and persecution don’t touch joy if it’s the joy of the Spirit in a Spirit-filled life. On the contrary, these circumstances may become occasions of deeper joy because they cast the believer totally off his circumstances and on to his God. It’s in that relationship, its depth, that real joy is found. Are you looking for true joy today? If so, look no further than to your relationship with your Father and then remember and pray for your fellow brothers and sisters. Your circumstances, no matter how dire, will not permeate your state of heart in this eternal perspective.
Study/Meditation: Think of at least two fellow Christians you can pray for today and lift them up in prayer. Why do you think this is a path to the joy we all have in Christ?
*Father, my hope and my joy is in You. I love You and I give You all the praise and glory and honor in my life. Amen.
Peace in Grace
#Peace is only available through the #grace of God.
Philippians 1:2 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This greeting, which appeared in some form using “grace” and “peace” in all thirteen of Paul’s letters, was a combination of traditional salutations in the Jewish and Greek societies. Paul begins this letter to the church in Philippi with the clear intention of not only introducing himself and providing the appropriate greeting, but with uniting them as Christians who have available to them grace and peace that only comes from God through Christ. Grace is that gift one receives due to unmerited favor. If you think you’ve done something to earn favor or reward, then you do not receive grace. Grace is given to us by God due to His own character and of His own will. We deserve His wrath. He chooses to give us His grace. If for some reason you think that you can gain God’s favor by being good enough or living cleanly enough, then you do not yet know God’s grace. Only by seeing how undeserving we are of eternity can we be the recipients of this gift. Peace, on the other hand, is the result of receiving God’s grace. True peace comes when a person knows that God’s grace has been bestowed upon him, and he thereby can live in contentment now with God, with himself, and with others. Grace and peace begin vertically, but will always extend horizontally. Those of us who know God’s grace and have peace with Him because of it will naturally seek to both show grace to others and live peaceably with them.
Study/Meditation: Read Romans 4:1-8. (http://www.esvbible.org/Romans+4/). How does Paul connect faith and grace?
*Father, thank You for giving me Your grace so that I can experience peace with You and with others. Help me to extend grace to others as I have had it shown to me. Amen.
Christians as Saints
How is it that every true Christian is a saint?
Philippians 1:1b “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.”
You may read a greeting like this from the Apostle Paul to the Philippian church and think he was greeting some special select group there, some “super Christians” who had done a great work or a glorious service so that they had received the title of “saint.” Unfortunately, the word “saint” has often been misused; it was biblical in its usage when referring to all true Christians. In fact, Paul had written to the saints in Philippi, Ephesus, Rome, and even Corinth as he wrote to the entire church. The word “saint” simply means “holy one.” To be holy means to be “set apart.” Christians are those who have been set apart for Christ. Believers have been set apart for Christ in that they have accepted His sacrifice and His lordship so that God has forgiven them of their sins. They have been therefore “set apart” from this evil world, set apart from serving themselves and their sinful natures, and instead set apart in Christ to do His will. Paul was greeting all of those who had been set apart by God in Christ to do His will and to live to His glory. Christians, or saints, are to live in the world but to live as one who is set apart from it. That doesn’t mean that they are to remove themselves from the world as in a monastery or somewhere else away from the rest of “ordinary people.” On the contrary, they are to be in it to testify to Christ’s saving work while they are obviously set apart as His. All believers, therefore, are saints, or holy ones set apart in Christ.
Study/Meditation: How are you to live day by day as one “set apart” for Christ? What does that look like practically?
*Father, help me in my endeavors to live in this world while set apart from it. Forgive me for the times when I fail and give me strength and wisdom to live correctly for You. Amen.