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. There is no better way to study the Word of God, the Bible.

            We will begin in chapter one, verse 19 through 26. Philippians 1:19-26, “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.”

            Paul uses the word confident no less than 5 times in this short letter. He uses it in both the negative and positive. In the negative he says, “I put no confidence in the flesh”. The “flesh” is our old nature; it’s abilities, capabilities, achievements, and strength of mankind. What Paul does put his confidence in is the power, abilities, faithfulness of God and God’s Word.

            In verse 19, Paul expresses the confidence he had in the Lord, in particular that he would be delivered from his present situation (imprisonment for the Gospel’s sake) because of the prayers of the Christians at Philippi. He knew God would deliver him because of the faithfulness of God. What he didn’t know was how God would deliver him.

            Like the three young Hebrew boys of the Book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Paul knew God would deliver him one way or another. In Daniel 3:16-18, we read, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

            It is important to note that like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Paul was ready to accept whatever deliverance God desired to give. It might be like for the three young men a miraculous deliverance out of the hot fiery furnace, or it might be through the furnace (death). It was a win win situation for Paul. If he would be delivered out of prison some way, that would be good for he would be able to continue to be used of the Lord to spread the Gospel. If he were to be delivered through death, he would go to be with Jesus, which as Paul said, “is far better”.

            Because Paul knew the Lord Jesus Christ, His faithfulness and promises, and that God ALWAYS has the best in mind for His children, Paul could be at perfect peace and rejoice in his circumstances, no matter how bad they may become.

            Oh precious ones, God so wants all of His children to have this confidence and to know His peace. Read carefully the following verses. Isaiah 26:3-4, “You (God) will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever.” Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Hebrews 13:5-6, “For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" 

Matthew 28:20, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”

            The faithfulness of God and His Word are what enabled Paul to persevere in spite of his adverse circumstances. The promises of God are for every child of God. He gives grace upon grace to His children. The question is, are you one of His children today? Are you “Born Again”? If you were to die this moment, are you absolutely certain that you will go to Heaven? Are all of your sins forgiven? They can be, you can know for certain, you can have the peace that surpasses all understanding guarding your heart and mind.

            There was one other thing that enabled Paul to persevere in the midst of trying circumstances, he was single minded, totally sold out to the cause of Jesus Christ. There are any given number of individuals and groups that are sold out to this cause or that cause. As I write this article, I am sitting in an office in Jerusalem, Israel and I just heard that another homicide bomber just blew him and a number of others up on a bus. He no doubt was totally sold out and single minded. Tragically for him and those that he murdered, he was sold out to the wrong cause.

            In further expressing this single mindedness, Paul writes in Philippians 3:6-14, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

            A mind set upon anything other than Jesus Christ is lacking purpose and meaning. So many people today have their minds set upon themselves and are totally miserable. They are constantly thinking about themselves as to what they will wear, eat, go, do, and be. I can’t think of any worse bondage to be in. There is wonderful peace when you entrust your entire life to the care of Jesus Christ. It frees you up to concern yourself with the things that concern God, namely, others. God is others centered. 

            We see this exemplified through the life of Paul. In the closing verses of our the text that we are studying today, we read in verses 23-26, “But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.”

            Paul was living his life in such a way that others would be blessed and benefit from his. In this he was following the example that was set for us by Jesus Christ. And as he submitted himself to God’s will, he found joy, true joy. You can serve others and have no joy. Many people that are in the service industry are not happy people, they lack joy in their life. So serving people is not the key to joy rather submitting yourself to the will of God is what will bring joy regardless of what you do or who you serve.

            Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ today? Are you serving Him through serving others? You can, it takes an act of the will, and it is a conscious choice that we make. When you make that choice you will begin to know the joy that Paul experienced and countless others like him.

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 ccalpine@juno.com

Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine