This is post #2 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: Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.
It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does! Philippians 1: 3-8 (MsgB)
Can’t you just feel the deep love and appreciation Paul has for his good friends back in Philippi?
I can just imagine the conversation that Paul and Timothy were having in Rome, remembering all the highs and lows of their church planting days in Philippi.
“Hey Paul.” Timothy recalled, “Do you remember that first Sunday afternoon down at the river when we began chatting with that group of women? Gosh, just think? We had been taught that only men were spiritually minded, but here we were talking God-stuff with all those ladies! And do you remember the look on Lydia’s face when you told her all about Jesus? We all got so excited when she said she wanted to be one of His followers as well! Heck, my face turned as purple as all of those beautiful garments on Lydia’s sale cart!” (see Acts 16: 13-15 for this story)
“Oh Tim, what a day!” Paul chuckled. “Yet, that was just the beginning of it all!” Remember the look on all of our faces when the earthquake shook the jail cells open? I thought Silas was gonna bust a gut!”
“Yeah,” Timothy chuckled, “But you know what? Those good people of Philippi sure shocked me when they took in that jailer and his family. What compassion they had for Brutus and his family.” Amazing stuff, Paul…just amazing!” (see Acts 16: 16-40 for this story)
“Amazing people,” Paul responded, “those folks are all gems. Dang, I miss ‘em.”
“I know. Me too!” replied Timothy. “I sure wish you and I could go pay ‘em a visit.”
After a long pause, Paul looks down at his foot shackles, and suddenly shouts out, “Hey Tim, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s write those good folks a letter!”
Well, friends. I must readily admit that this conversation is only found in my imagination, but suffice to say, from the gracious words found in Paul’s text today, I gotta believe that there was one special relationship going on between Paul, Timothy, and the good church folks in Philippi.
Take this one line, for example (Philippians 1: 6):
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.
What a beautiful hope Paul, Timothy, and the entire church planting team must have had for these Christ-followers in Philippi.
As a pastor for over 30 years, I’m struck by such a great hope that Paul expresses here for His friends. One great hope that certainly doesn’t find its origins in the goodness of the human beings he’s speaking about, but only in the greatness of a loving God who can accomplish such an amazing work of sanctification in the midst of, and let’s be honest, very ordinary people!
May you and I hold to this one great hope for both ourselves and those in our circles of influence today.
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Today’s Prayer: Father God, I’m thankful that Paul and Timothy, in their great love for their good friends in Philippi, found language to express their One Great Hope for the Christian life. I’m so thankful, and yes, can even be confident that You, who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It’s that Hope which keeps me going…for Your Name’s sake and for Your Glory. Amen.
Today’s Questions to Ponder: From time to time, it’s good to go back and recount the amazing ways that God began a good work in me? Just as Paul and Timothy did that remembering from a jail cell, how might I push through any obstacles today in order to recount God’s good work? How might I find words of encouragement for others today, helping them be certain of this One Great Hope in their lives as well?
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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