I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,
in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now
(all Scripture quotations are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.)
-Paul is thankful for the saints in Philippi, and filled with joy whenever he prays for them.
-he is joyful because of their "participation in the gospel" from the very first day he met with them and shared the Good News of Jesus life, death, and resurrection.
Joy. Paul uses the word joy six times in Philippians, more times than in any other book. It seems to be a theme. Paul uses the word gospel nine times in Philippians. Do you think there could be a connection? I most certainly do.
Remember that Paul is in prison as he writes this letter. It is not prison like we think of today. He was basically under house arrest in quarters he rented in Rome. He could not leave the house to preach the gospel, but was allowed to have visitors with whom he could freely share. He was also chained to a member of the Roman guard and I can't help thinking "talk about a captive audience." How many guards must have heard Paul share the gospel!
Paul was in prison awaiting the decision of whether he would be set free or sentenced to death. And yet he had found joy. Not in some outside influence, not in something that temporarily makes one happy. He had found the true source of joy- faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior- a joy that comes from inside, from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. No matter the outcome in the Roman court, Paul would not be robbed of this joy. As long as the gospel was being preached, as long as people like the Philippians were participating in the gospel, as long as he was doing what God had called him to do, he had joy. It didn't matter whether he was being beaten and arrested as in Philippi, or whether he was sitting in the company of people who had come to pray; Paul's single-minded devotion to the gospel brought him unshakable joy.
So how does all of this apply to me? If I want to know joy in all circumstances I need to have this same mind, this same mind that was even in Christ, to do the Father's will. To be wholly devoted to the Lord. Not just an act on Sunday mornings, not just going through my check list of things a devoted person does: read my Bible, pray, meditate, fast, and whatever else might be on today's to-do list for the Christian; rather it is having the attitude in myself which was also in Christ Jesus. (We will come back to that in Chapter 2 of Philippians.) Jesus took the form of a bond-servant, the same term we discussed yesterday in Philippians: By Way of Introduction. Can it really be that to have joy in any and all circumstances I need to take on that role myself, and take it on seriously?
Yesterday I said it was time to go to the Lord in prayer seeking His will and releasing my own. I confess I did not do that in my prayer this morning. These Scriptures are really convicting me here to make it a daily part of my prayer time, not to add another check mark for a job well done, but so that one day I can truthfully, joyfully, introduce myself as Debra a bond-servant of Jesus Christ. It is too easy these days to say we are Christians, one only needs to "believe in God" and maybe attend church twice a year. I am challenged by these verses, by the lives of Paul and the Lord Himself to be more than that.
Grace and Peace,
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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