Philippians is one of four letters that Paul wrote while in prison in Rome. Unlike other letters of his where he writes to correct a problem, Philippians is a positive and affirming letter. The Philippian church had helped support Paul’s missionary efforts and this letter reflects that partnership. Throughout Philippians, Paul appeals to the example of Jesus and the cross as the pattern for how Christians ought to live, think, and interact. Often described as the “book of joy,” Philippians reminds us that true joy is found in what Jesus did for us and experienced best within the context of Christian community.
September 13, 2020: The Life God Offers
What kind of life does God want his people to experience? When we surrender our lives to Jesus, God begins a work in us that he has promised to bring to completion (1:6). This life is characterized by three specific transformations: 1) having a love for God and others that is based on knowledge, 2) being able to discern what is best and living holy lives, and 3) being filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.
September 20, 2020: Reframing Adversity
When most people encounter struggle or difficulties, they see them as annoyances or something to avoid altogether. The Apostle Paul saw them as opportunities to for Christ to be exalted and the gospel advanced. These difficulties included personal struggles, opposition, and facing death itself. In all of these situations, our challenge is to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27).
September 27, 2020: Jesus the Great Example
Philippians 2:6-11 is believed to be one of the oldest Christian hymns and not only helps us understand Jesus better, but also how we should live our lives. In the opening verses, Paul addresses how Christians should treat one another. As he does in other letters, Paul appeals to the gospel as both the standard and the pattern for Christian relationships. The cross should shape our heart, attitudes, and actions. In this sense, we are to be cross-shaped people.
October 4, 2020: Shining Like a Star
Christians should not be known as grumblers and people who love to argue. Though we live in a “warped and crooked generation”, we are to live in a way that reflects the glory of God – thus shining like starts. We do this in partnership with the transforming work of the Holy Spirt and the word of life, as God works in us to fulfill his purpose for our lives.
Philippians 2:12-30 (especially 12-18)
October 11, 2020: Living for What Matters Most
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). These words point to the reality of Paul’s conversion. He no longer valued the things he prized before surrendering to Jesus. The grace of God had reoriented his entire life – priorities and purpose. For Paul, the ultimate pursuit in life is “knowing Christ Jesus” and experiencing the power of his resurrection.
October 18, 2020: Awaiting a Savior
In Philippians 3, Paul contrasts people who have their minds set on earthly things with the people of God whose citizenship is in heaven. When we think of Jesus as Savior, it’s often in reference to Jesus saving us from our sins – which is certainly true. But Jesus not only saves us from our sins; he will ultimately rescue us from this present age. In light of this, Paul encourages us to live with eternity ever in mind – eagerly awaiting a Savior from heaven.
October 25, 2020: The Power of Practice
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the “10,000-hour rule” and how people who become successful in their fields spend countless hours practicing. We often talk about “practice makes perfect” – but that’s only true if we’re practicing the right things! In Philippians 4, Paul commands us to “put into practice” the right thoughts and attitudes. When practiced consistently over time, these thoughts and attitudes become God-honoring habits.
November 1, 2020: Finding Contentment
We live in a culture that actively discourages contentment. Our natural pull is to want more, bigger, and better … of anything. Advertisers understand this and use it to their advantage, creating discontentment as a way of selling products and services. Although it may seem like a strange way to end a letter (talking about contentment), Paul recognizes that unless we learn to find our contentment (and identity) in Christ, we will always be restless and unfulfilled.