Philippians 4 Part 1–How to Recapture Hope

Did you ever have one of those days…Paul did, every day. He lived chained between two guards and was simply waiting for the final word from Ceaser–and then he would die.  In the midst of that, Paul continued his letter to the Philippians with some very practical tips for life.
The Goal–Stand firm in the Lord! If we brace our lives on anything other than Christ, we are doomed to collapse. The picture is of a sailor on the ship during a violent storm braced for the rushing waters determined to sweep him out to sea–standing firm braced to the immovable anchor that is our Lord and Savior. 
 
How does a frail human find the where-with-all to stand firm…Paul gives us some direction:
 
First, be unified. He asked these women that were now enemies to embrace and align in Christ. It would make them stronger and take away the divide among the rest of the church. When it is difficult, we look to blame, to justify, and to escape. Feelings get hurt, friendships tested and lives destroyed. We have to be united and gracious people; building each other up not picking each other apart.
 
Second, rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, I repeat rejoice! Easy to say difficult to do. It feels so disingenuous to cheer from one’s sickbed, from the bottom of the emotional barrel. with empty pockets or in a quiet lonely place. The critical piece is the ability to rejoice no matter what circumstances are front and center. God’s grace builds us to a place of peace rejoicing because Jesus IS and is all we need.
 
Third, Be gentle to all! knowing the Lord is near! We do not have to be harsh, defensive or demanding! There is enough of that from so many sources. Being gentle is so refreshing, endearing and unique–it draws people to Jesus! 
 
Fourth, do not be anxious–Pray, seek God’s counsel, and be thankful. Everything can go on the list–NOTHING is too big or too small! Petition God, He expects it and does not take offense! When you do, peace will overtake you. like the eye of a hurricane, there will be sunshine and stillness in the center of chaos.
 
Finally–Think about whatever is true, nobel, right, pure, lovely and admirable! Think about the excellent and the praiseworthy! If the thought does not fall within those bins–take it captive and destroy it.  Dark thoughts allow dark attitudes to take hold! Be practical, be pragmatic but don’t swirl down the drain of self-pity and become useless. If we focus on what is right and right with our lives–in time, we can navigate through the treacherous currents that seek to draw us away from land and into the depths of despair. We must choose to focus on the things that are solid like the Rock that is our salvation!
 
A friend challenged me to be still, I confess I am a fidgeter, But our Lord reminded me tonight I seek God and His counsel–not man’s opinion or man’s approval. Thanks for the word, my Savior and friend!
 
God Bless You

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Final Exhortations

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 3 Part 2–Pressing On Toward Heaven

It is so tempting to hover in our lives at a place that is comfortable.  Even if the place one is hovering in is a bad place, it is often easier to languish than it is to press on.  Paul told the Philippians that they had to press on.  they had to forget what was in the past.  In other words, do not live in nostalgia of the glorious days of yesteryear!  We always look back fondly but often forget each part of life has had its struggles.  No matter the trial or pressure, Paul encourages us to press and strain forward to reach the goal of becoming like Christ.
 
In addition, do not become attached to this world and this culture.  This simply is not our home.  Life hear is temporal, self-centered and the culture Godless. Our citizenship is elsewhere! We are citizens of Heaven. Christ rose to give us that.  He is preparing a place for us that is eternal and perfect.  So we live as citizens of eternity, not as if tomorrow is all that we have.  We make the most of our life, but, never think that this is as good as it gets.  We recognize this world is self-centered, Godless and proud of it.  We should never fit in.  While we are here, we need to live as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We implore others to know the Lord and we live lives that honor Him. That was Paul’s example and that was Christ’s example.  Help me, Lord, to make it my example.
 
God Bless You

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Following Paul’s Example

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Philippians 3 Part 1–Bragging Rights

Paul was the super pharisee.  If one wanted a poster child for how to “do religion” Paul was easily that guy. He was circumcised, Part of the tribe of Benjamin, trained by Gamaliel the ultimate Rabbi.  He knew all the traditions, all the law and exactly what to do.  He attacked the Christians with zeal and complete abandon. Any Jewish leader would be proud of Paul’s record.  Paul, however, realized that it was not his knowledge or performance that made him righteous.  Paul went as far as to say that stuff was bio-waste compared to the surpassing greatness of Christ,  Paul no longer needed to flaunt a resume–He simply needed to trust God and allow God to transform him into the image of Christ.
 
We are the same.  We are not a product of our accomplishments.  We can never “DO” Christianity to a level that our actions bring us justification.  In fact, as Paul so elegantly articulated it, our efforts to earn salvation look, smell and feel like bio-waste! We need to know Christ! As we get to know him we quickly see that it is His grace and His mercy, not our background or performance that brings us salvation. If we will simply trust and follow His lead–He will restore our relationship with God, and he will prepare us for the journey that lies ahead.  In addition, the Lord will change our hearts and our desires to conform to His image.  There is simply no greater gift than the salvation we receive by trusting Christ alone.
 
God Bless You
 

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 2 Part 3–Working Out Our Salvation

Next, Paul puts practical steps into this idea of having Christ’s attitude.  First is to continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.   The ongoing transition from a Godless life to a Christ-filled life.  The technical term is sanctification.  It is the process we experience as we come to be like Christ.  It is a difficult process because it runs counter to current world culture.  Paul reminds us, however, that it is God at work in us that makes sanctification happen.  His spirit aligns with ours and slowly makes us over into His image.  It is that verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “For if anyone is in Christ, they are new creatures.  The old has passed away and behold all things become new.”
 
The other command for us is to do what we do without grumbling or disputing.  It is the idea that as a church we learn to be content in our circumstance and do our lives humbly trusting God to finish the work He has started.  It is easy to get frustrated in training. It is easy to doubt, complain and to lose hope.  But God is greater than any circumstance, no matter how difficult.  We simply have to trust the Lord and follow Him despite the emotion and trial.  When we do, we not only honor God but also we honor those who have poured into us all our lives.  Help me, Lord to humbly allow You to do the work in me that You have planned and allow me to do it without a bad attitude or complaint.
 
God Bless You


 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2 Part 2–What Being Like Christ Really Means!!!

One would think it an easy command–have the same attitude as Jesus. After all, are God’s chosen called “Little Christs”? That is what Christian means. So when Paul tells the Philippians to have the same attitude as Christ, it does not seem like a big change. Well, at least until you realize what Jesus actually did to save His folks.  Jesus was God! He emptied Himself of all His Godly traits and became human. Imagine His power, His authority and His immortality and became a simple human. As a human, Jesus humbled Himself further by taking on the selfless attitude of a servant and took on life and ultimately chose to die for our sinfulness. Not just any death but the heinous death of flogging and crucifixion.  
 
Since Christ was willing to pay that price, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him a name that was above every name. At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and all will confess that Jesus is Lord to God’s glory.  That is the attitude we are to have.  We are called to be selfless and humble. God asks us to be obedient to His leading. We must be willing to die for Christ, but also willing to live with a servant’s heart.  If we will live as Jesus lived, we will enjoy the rewards of being His chosen.  We will not have to worry about what happens after we die, We can focus on Christ and His mission.  He will take care of us, lift us up and allow us to walk with Him.  What an amazing promise! What a great God we serve!
 
God Bless You

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2 Part 1–Unity and A Like-Minded Church

Two of the greatest gifts Christians can give to God are the gifts of selflessness and unity.  Paul told the Philippians that nothing would bring Him more joy to have them be a church filled with selfless and unified folks.  He had the Philippians to look deep within themselves to find the selfless nature within.  In that, he called them to look to gain the same purpose.  Be of one mind. Act selflessly and consider others interests more important than their own. Sadly, none of those traits come naturally.  Paul knew that the church would need to look at Christ and his nature to discover the need to be selfless.
 
In our culture, it is the same. Like the church in Philippi, we are surrounded by a culture that screams individuality. It tells us to look out for old number 1. It breeds conflict and drives churches apart. That is why the call to unity is as critical today as it was in Paul’s day. The world would love to see the end of the church and its antiquated ways. The world hates to see selflessness. It loathes unity. Those things are boring and tend to bring folks together and make them stronger.  Both strength and unity allow the Church to grow and to give hope in an otherwise hopeless life.  Paul knew it then and we know now that the three great gifts from God are faith, hope, and love. If the church becomes selfless and unified, those gifts will flourish. If unity is absent, those gifts wither and die. We must, therefore, follow Paul’s lead and seek to live united and selfless lives.
 
God Bless You
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 1 Final–Living A Life Worthy of the Gospel

Paul was at the end of his life. He was imprisoned and awaiting final judgment from Rome and Nero.  It was hard to keep a stiff upper lip, as it were.  Still, Paul demonstrated to the Philippians the critical choice we each need to make each day. We have to choose to rise above our circumstance and live. We cannot give up on life when it is difficult. We must not only live but live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel. In Paul’s life, that meant that he was not afraid to share Christ with each of the palace guards that were chained to him each day.  Paul reminded the Philippians that their rising above the circumstances of each day showed their enemies that faith is stronger than anything life can throw at them.
 
In our lives, we have to live our lives in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel. We have to face each day with peace and faith. Knowing that ultimately, if we remain faithful we will stand firm and see His hand. He will meet our needs and help us to live above whatever the world throws at us. It is difficult to remain faithful through trials.  But, God does difficult better than anyone.  Like Paul, we have to decide to live and not only live–but live in a manner worthy of the Gospel.
 
God Bless You

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Life Worthy of the Gospel

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[e] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.