Paul was under house arrest in Rome. His future was unclear but there was some indication, as he wrote this letter to the church in Philippi, that he would be released soon. Sitting in prison, restricted from visiting the people he had grown to love, Paul’s only connection to the churches he had helped to establish was through letters such as this one to the Philippians. Even in isolation, Paul had heard enough good news concerning the progress of this, perhaps his favorite church, that he wrote this encouraging letter of joy.
Key Verses: (NIV)
3-4: “I thank God every time I remember you, praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you…” – “Joy is the quiet, confident assurance of God’s love at work in our lives.”1
5: “because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.” – Spreading the Good News of Christ’s victory over death is only one element of sharing. Paul is stressing the concept of partnership and the importance each person’s role plays in the living out of the gospel in our lives and in the community around us.
6: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” – God’s faithfulness to work through us and to grow us into fully devoted disciples of Christ, purified and made holy by His love, is a promise we can rely on.
9: “And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight…” – Abiding in the Holy Spirit expands our knowledge and understanding of God’s plan for our lives.
11: “having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” – The Fruits of the Spirit are only produced through the righteousness available when we place our entire lives into the hands of Jesus Christ.
Points to Contemplate:
Are you filled with joy? What is joy?
Is it a gleeful happiness that only occurs when everything is going your way? Does it only happen when things are seemingly going smoothly and you are able to set aside worries and frustrations? Or is joy deeper than that? Can you be joyful in the midst of pain and agony? When you suffer, when you are imprisoned inside the walls of self-pity, worry, hate, apathy, disgust, or hopelessness, can you still be filled with joy? Do you see how joy reflects the deep understanding that God is always working within you and through all circumstances of your life? Does the recognition of God’s love for you, regardless of your failings and sin, fill you with joy?
Are you “sharing in the gospel?” Do you see how important every person’s role or task is in building God’s kingdom? Do you accept that you are in partnership with other Christians? That all work, all the things accomplished in His name, are intricately interwoven pieces of the gospel in action? Do you under estimate the value of your contribution to this global ministry? Are you able to rejoice in the successes of all your brothers and sisters in Christ?
Are you joyful that Advent and Christmas are here? Or are you immersed in the thoughts of all the work you need to do over the next couple of weeks? Does the busyness of the season take away your joy? This season, in the midst of all your tasks, the preparation for worship services, the organizing of parties, the decorating, choir rehearsals, the shopping and baking, the run, run, run, run, run…; can you promise yourself to set time aside to reflect on the joy? Can you allow the reassurance of God’s love to fill your heart? Can you look at your “To Do List” and count it all joy?
Is your love and knowledge of God growing?
Is this your constant prayer? Do you ask God to expand your understanding and knowledge of Him? Do you pray for His guidance and inspiration? Do you pray for other Christians in this same way? Can you see the importance of Paul’s intercessory prayer? Do you accept that your prayers for other Christians are an important element to the building of God’s kingdom? Do you see the results of His harvest being produced through the community of faith as a result of these prayers? Promises of the Gospel: