A Walk Through Philippians, Prayer for Philippi
Have you ever been in a painful situation where someone hurt you or let you down? Of course you have. We all have. The bigger question is, how did you handle it?
I start today with Philippians. It’s the letter Paul wrote to the people of Phippi. Read the back story (the short version) of Saul/Paul in the previous post. If you don’t know the story of how Saul, now called Paul, once a Jesus condemner turned avid Jesus follower, please read that first.
First things first, before I continue. I am not a Bible scholar. I don’t have a degree in theology. I am just a woman who desperately wants to understand the Bible and develop a deeper walk with Jesus. I try my best to state truth and understanding. I pray that anything I say here that is untrue or misunderstood will be forgotten and only the good stuff is remembered. Amen
Let’s pick up with Paul in Philippians 1. Philippians was written in approximately AD 61. The traditional view is that Paul is believed to have been in Rome under house arrest while awaiting trial. Paul wrote four books while in prison or house arrest and which books where written during which prison term has been up for debate. You can dive deeper here.
Scripture: Slowly read and color code Philippians 1:1-6. If you are using the S.O.A.P. study tool, write this verse out as well. (See below for my new Bible Study journal available on Amazon.)
Observation: The tone is warm, encouraging, and uplifting. Here Paul is in an oppressive condition yet, he starts the letter out with blessings and thankfulness. Paul chooses to praise God and Jesus Christ instead of feeling sorry for himself and the situation he has found himself in.
Philippians 1:3-4 “I thank God in all my remembrance of you. In every prayer of mine I always make me entreating and petition for you all with joy.”
He starts off praying for others. I mean, he could be praying for himself to get out of house arrest, and pass go, but he is thinking of others first. It’s obvious to me that the people of Philippi hold a special place in his heart. That he had a great bond with them and experienced something profound while with the Philippians. Remember, he was called in a vision (Acts 16:10) to go Macedonia, thus starting his journey in spreading the Word ending up in Philippi.
Scripture: Read and color code Philippians 1:7-8. Why does Paul feel the need to say, “It is right and appropriate for me…to feel this way about you all…”? Paul’s unfavorable and uncertain situation prompts him to justify himself in regards to the Philippians.
Observation: I don’t think he is inappropriate in his feelings. He feels great love toward them and feels the need to state it’s okay. He feels great joy because the joy of Christ is in him, and he is extending this to them. He goes on to defend his “attitude of gratitude” by saying, “…you have me in your heart and I hold you in my heart.” He wholeheartedly loves them like Christ loves them. That is a beautiful thing.
Scripture: Explore and color code Philippians 9-11. What does Paul pray for the Philippians?
Observation: Paul prays that the Philippians’ love will “abound yet more and more” and they see what is “excellent and of real value” which comes through Jesus Christ. He is praying for others this whole time.
And, what is the “real value”? Remember the story of Martha and Mary? Martha is upset that Mary isn’t helping prepare supper. (Luke 10:38-42) Instead she is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening intently to Him. That’s the real value. It’s not getting caught up in this world and what we are told is of value.
It’s love for one another and love for our savior.
Application: Right now is an anxious time for the world. Life as we know it has changed. How has living with the reality of COVID-19 and seeing the suffering of others affected your perspective on the world in general? Is it negative or positive? Do you tend to see more bad than good? Do you have to seek out the good stories?
Times of great suffering has a way of bringing out the worst in humans, but also the best. It’s easy to let the negative over-take your thoughts and cause negative reactions. I see a lot of anxiety, depression, stress, and sadness around me. Seeing this will negatively affect how I also feel. Keeping the negative from weighing us down is hard work.
The good news is this: Jesus paid the ultimate price of suffering for us so that one day the suffering will be over and we will be in the loving arms of God.
What would it look like if you took part in seeing God’s joy and grace everyday? To say, “Yes, this bad thing is happening, but I see this good thing too.” Because bad things are always happening. We can’t stop the world from that experience. But through Christ we can be a little light in the world of darkness. How do you do that? How are you like Paul?
If you have a hard time seeing the light (like me) then be the light. I baked eleven pans of brownies and delivered one each to all my neighbors. I included a little encouraging note as well. I am not tooting my horn. This was an active choice I had to make to stop the anxiety monster from running a mock in my head.
When everything feels out of control, sharing something that I can control feels good. It has a way of shifting your perspective. Instantly.
I am not saying brownies are the answer to world peace. (Or maybe I am.) I am saying to put your blessings to good use. Can you sew? Then sew masks. Can you spare $20 to the beggar on the street? You know what to do. Can you write beautiful notes in chalk on your sidewalk? Can you decorate your window with cut-out hearts for your neighbors to see? Can you shop for your elderly neighbor? Can you bring them a meal?
Sharing our blessings and spreading joy will transform others who are in need of it.
Read again Philippians 1:9-11. Imagine Paul is saying his prayer to you. (And I think he is, really. It was written to the Philippians but we can apply this prayer to all of us.) What would his answered prayers look like in our life?
Prayer: Dear Lord, I imagine that Paul is saying this pray for me. That I too will see what is of real value in this world. I want to know the love that Paul shows to Philippi. Lord help me open my heart and be filled with the suits of righteousness [of string standing with You and doing what is right] which is through our savor and Your son, Jesus Christ. In God’s name I pray, Amen.
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