This morning as I prayed and studied I got caught up in the power of the Lord and the wonder of His love for us. My prayers, like always pushed me to the Word. Not that I needed the push, but more than the Word, as well as prayer, praise, encouragement, and meditation, are essential parts of a balanced meal for the soul.
The body needs sleep, food, water, and exercise. I can get by without some of these things for a while, but over time the body suffers. The same is true of my soul. I need prayer, worship, meditation, and the Word. I can get by without some of these for a while, but my soul suffers.
This morning the Lord used Philippians to point this out to me. I will tell you that was NOT what was on my mind this morning to discuss, but it is now! I read all of Philippians this morning after prayers, and after some struggle, I realized my plans had changed.
Prayer and Encouragement
Paul almost always opens his letters with a prayer of encouragement. Philippians are not different. You can feel the love that he has for the Philippians as you read Phil 1:3-11. I love verse 6 in this passage and verses 9-11
Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul is in prison, and this is the prayer he has for the Philippians; one of love and encouragement to keep them focused on the love Jesus despite their circumstances. From there he speaks of his condition.
The Advance of the Gospel.
Paul is in prison, and he does not complain. Instead, he explains that God has made it work out for the good. It has served to advance the Gospel. It has made most brothers bolder in their teaching, and it has given him a chance to share the Gospel with the whole imperial guard. He knows he has little time left, and he struggles with that too. Philippians 1:21 is such an amazing thing to ponder.
Philippians 1:21 (ESV)
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Paul had suffered so much in his life, but He knew the value of each path. To live meant to continue to spread the gospel and to die to mean rest and he was sure that he was destined to live longer.
Philippians 1:24-26 (ESV)
24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
I read on in Philippians and Paul spoke of humility. The example he chose was Jesus. When I look at what he wrote I struggle to find words to describe how it impacts me. I think of things I have tried to surrender, and they pale by what Jesus did for me.
Philippians 2:1-7 (ESV)
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
I read this passage over and over, and I am humbled because of Paul’s plea in the first few verses than after he reminds me how I should live he reminds me of what Jesus sacrificed. That is humbling, and that is the ultimate example of placing others before myself.
Paul doesn’t limit it to people we like. He talks about everyone, as Christ Jesus did.
Philippians 2:8 (ESV)
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
I worked my way through the whole book this morning. I found new passages that I had not seen as significant before. My focus on others was slightly different than before. I looked at Paul’s declaration in chapter three and God’s provision in chapter four, and I was thankful for having this Holy Word. I was also happy to have a church family to worship with on Sunday and Wednesdays and small groups of believers that just enjoy getting together to discuss God’s Word. I ached for those that were alone whether they believed or not. I also thought how blessed I am to have the Word of God to fill my spirit.
You know in the first century when the Apostles were taking the message of the Gospel to the world they gave their testimony to the people, and people believed. They were baptized and received the Holy Spirit and, yet it is obvious that in the absence of the teachers the churches need encouragement and correction and the letters from the Apostles was the tool to do that.
Today we hear the Gospel and testimony of believers to bring us to Christ. But just like the ancient church, it takes more than a one-time event to keep our faith growing. We need the Word, Prayer, Worship, and Meditation as well as discussion to grow our faith and keep it strong against the distractions of the world.
Without it, we leave ourselves open to the attack of the adversary. Paul reminds us:
Philippians 2:12-18 (ESV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
I cannot help but seek the strength and truth that I find in God’s Holy Word.
Father, I pray simply that my hunger and thirst for your Holy Word never be satisfied. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen!