Lessons from the Book of Philippians
Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and giving thanks to the Lord God Almighty for all of His goodness to you. Today we will be continuing our journey through the New Testament Book of Philippians. We are studying this book verse by verse. I believe this is the best way to study the Word of God, the Bible.
We will begin in chapter one verse twelve. Philippians 1:12-18 tells us the reasons for which Paul is writing to the Church at Philippi. “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”
It is important to remember that Paul wrote this letter from a roman prison where he had been put for the preaching of the gospel. He knew not if or when he would be sentenced to death, yet he was able to write to others encouraging them to be rejoicing in the Lord and in what God was doing for him while in prison. How many of us could have such an attitude of thankfulness to God in such adverse conditions, be encouraging others, and be at such peace?
How could Paul do it? How could he have what many today would call a “positive outlook” on life? His immediate future was unknown, bleak at best. Most people would be totally bummed out, depressed and stressed out crying, “woe is me” and claiming “I’ve been framed.”
But not Paul, he was able to maintain such an outlook and a joy and peace not known to many. Let me share with you Paul’s secret to this. Whenever the outlook in front of you is dim, try the up look. Paul refused to allow his circumstances to dictate the degree of joy and peace he would experience. His focus was not upon his present circumstances and situation, rather it was upon the one who promised to never leave nor forsake him. Paul’s focus was upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
Look at some of the other things that Paul wrote while in similar situations. While in prison again just before he would be executed for his faithful witness of Jesus Christ, he wrote the following. In 2 Timothy 1:12, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:17-18, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
Paul had what the Bible, the Word of God calls “The eternal perspective” on life. He knew that this place (this earth) was not his home. As he wrote in Hebrews 11:13-16, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” And in Romans 8:18 he writes, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” And in
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Tragically many people today, including many that profess to be Christians, are living only for the pleasure of the moment, never looking on beyond tomorrow. Living with the motto: “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die”. It is noteworthy that those who chose to live like this have no peace, joy, nor purpose. Simply put, they are miserable.
With the “eternal perspective” and his eyes, hope, and trust in Jesus Christ, Paul was able to see the good things that God was doing in the midst of his seemingly bad circumstances. First he reports that because of his imprisonment, every guard in the prison had come to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ. You see, the custom for a prisoner like Paul was that a personal guard was handcuffed to him 24/7. Each guard did an eight-hour shift. Some church historians tell us that a number of these guards came to place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. They in turn told others about Jesus Christ which led to many putting their faith in Christ for Salvation.
Another “positive” outcome of Paul being in prison was that many of the believers who were not in prison became bolder in their witnessing to others of Jesus Christ. This of course allowed many to turn to faith in Christ.
This would not go unnoticed by the enemies of the Gospel. Paul would also tell of those that did not love or trust Christ as Savior but began to tell others about Jesus anyway thinking that this would cause Paul more problems while in prison. How did Paul take this news? He rejoiced for he knew that God would even take the preaching of the Gospel by someone like these and use it to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
How do you view difficult and trying circumstances that come into your life? Maybe you’re going through some right now. The answer to this question will be determined by what your relationship to Jesus Christ is. If you know Him as your Lord and Savior, have surrendered your life to Him, have the eternal perspective on life, and are trusting in Him for your peace and joy. Then like Paul, you are able to rejoice in whatever your circumstances are, for your joy and peace are not found in circumstances rather in Jesus Christ and His faithfulness.
But if you do not know Jesus in this way then you are not able to rejoice in your circumstances. You can know Him today in the same way in which Paul and countless other Christians over the ages have known Him. Repent of your sins right now, admit to Jesus that you are a sinner incapable of saving yourself, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and come into your life to be your Lord and Savior. Place all of your faith, hope, and trust in Him. He will forgive you of your sins, come into your life, and begin to do a work in your life.
Next week we will continue our study in the Book of Philippians. Until then may the Lord richly bless you beloved of the Lord.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine