This is post #1 of a 26-session blog series entitled Two Joyful Pastors – One Great Work of Christ: A Journey with Paul, Timothy, and the Philippian Church. It was Eugene Peterson who said that Philippians is Paul’s happiest letter. Join us as we explore this joyful work of Christ as it manifest itself amongst Paul and Timothy, and the early church of Christ-followers in Philippi. Just maybe, we might learn a few secrets to finding true joy in the midst of our lives as well. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: Paul and Timothy, both of us committed servants of Christ Jesus, write this letter to all the followers of Jesus in Philippi, pastors and ministers included. We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ. Philippians 1: 1-2 (MsgB)
Have you ever noticed that when people quote verses from the Book of Philippians, we always say, “Paul said this…” or “Paul said that…”?
While it’s true that the author, assumingly Paul, does indeed pen much of this letter from a first person viewpoint, we must also recognize that in the very first sentence of our text, we find two people actually teaming up to write this beautiful pastoral letter to their friends in Philippi, not just Paul!
It’s Paul and Timothy.
Father and son.
Two committed servants of Christ Jesus, connected at the hip.
Two pastors, from two separate generations, working together as one.
Two church leaders who labor amongst a larger team of women and men, all serving Christ, for the greater glory of God.
So, as we undertake this new adventure, blogging our way through the Book of Philippians, it’s important to remember that this whole thing called Christianity is not about the holy trinity of Me, Myself, and I. No, this letter, and most of the New Testament for that matter, is all about the us in Christ, not just the me!
From the least to the greatest, from the smallest to the largest, from the most mature to the…well, let’s just call it…less mature!
All of us, journeying together for the cause of Christ Jesus.
Now, before we go any further, let’s review a bit about the who, what, when, and where of this ancient letter from two joyful pastors to the Philippian church, and why it is so important for us today.
First of all, here’s a few facts.
Paul and Timothy, were long-time traveling companions, on the road with Jesus. Paul of Tarsus was the first missionary sent out by the newly-established church of Christians in Jerusalem. Upon his second trip to Lystra in Galatia, Paul invites Timothy to join him on mission with Christ. (You can read more about this story by clicking in the link found here on this web post https://contemplative-activist.com/2017/10/09/3-1-the-son-i-love-so-much/ ) By the time we get to the date of the Philippian letter (approximately 62 A.D.), Paul finds himself imprisoned in Rome, and Timothy has apparently joined him there for a short season, caring alongside other brothers and sisters in Christ for Paul’s immediate needs.
Philippi was a major city on the western shores of Macedonia on the Aegean Sea. Paul and his traveling companions, which included Timothy, had not originally planned to go west into Macedonia, but one night in Troas (on the eastern shores of the Aegean) Paul had a very vivid dream. Using Luke’s words, found in Acts 16: 9-10 (MsgB), here’s what happened…
A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.
So off they went, crossing the Aegean, eventually setting up camp in Philippi. In the 16th chapter of Acts, Luke offers us a couple of wonderful stories from all God apparently did as Paul, Timothy, and the team responded the Holy Spirit’s invitation to go west.
On the first Sabbath day, as the team met and prayed together, dialoguing with a few of the women who had gathered at a nearby river, one devout listener opened her heart to respond to the Message of Jesus. Her name was Lydia, and apparently she was a woman who was well-respected as an area merchant. A dealer in purple fabrics, Lydia ended up becoming one of the traveling team’s highly respected benefactors, hosting the team in her home as long as they were in Philippi. (see Acts 16: 13-15 for the full story)
Luke’s second account is an amazing one. After casting a devilish spirit out of a slave girl who was making money for her owners through the use of fortune-telling, the locals saw Paul and his team as an immediate threat to their economy. Quickly, they grabbed Paul and Silas, dragging them in front of a kangaroo court, where they were quickly sentenced to prison. While imprisoned, Paul and Silas, who decided to sing hymns in the midst of their woes, were miraculously delivered by one powerful earthquake that shook all the jail cell doors open! The jailer, who knew he’d be held responsible for any escapes, was reassured by Paul and Silas that everything was still A-OK, and in the process led this frightened man, and his whole household, into the loving arms of Jesus: the Way, the Truth, and the Life! (see Acts 16: 16-40 for that story)
So, you see, my friends. Paul, Timothy, and the entire church of Philippi came together, not by the power of words or by powerful persuasion, but by the power of God alone. And it’s that power of God’s work in their midst that not only brought them together, but also set the stage for a long-term relationship that was full of faith, hope, love…and of course, joy.
So, join us, my dear friends, as we look a bit deeper at the joyful work of Christ as it manifest itself amongst Paul, Timothy, and the early church of Christ-followers in Philippi. Just maybe, you and I might learn a few secrets to finding joy in the midst of our work as servants of Christ Jesus in our generation.
Today’s Prayer: Lord, thank You for this powerful story that has been left for us. All You did, Jesus, in establishing Your church in Philippi was amazing. And thank You for the reminder that God’s work is not done through our own strength but through our humble obedience by simply following You where You want to go. Holy Spirit, equip and empower me to bravely respond, as Paul, Timothy and your friends in Philippi did, to go… in Your Name and for Your Glory. Amen.
Today’s Questions to Ponder: So, how have I typically been led into ministry assignments? Have I simply come up with a few good ideas and then asked Jesus to bless them? Has my focus been on only me as a servant of Christ versus Paul’s “we” approach to ministry? Am I willing to change this and be led more by the Spirit, as Paul, Timothy, and these early followers of Christ were led? What might it look like for me to wait for God’s direction in my life and ministry today, asking for comrades to come alongside me before venturing off on my next new adventure?
So, how are you experiencing Jesus as we ponder together on this journey into the Book of Philippians?
Two Joyful Pastors – One Great Work of Christ: A Journey with Paul, Timothy, and the Philippian Church. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 26 blogs. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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