Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 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. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
This Sunday we began our new preaching series: 'Joy Has A Name', going through the book of Philippians. At this point in the story, Jesus has gone back to be with the Father but has sent the disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, out into the world to share the good news of the gospel.
Philippians is a letter written by Paul to the church that he had started in the city Philippi several years earlier. Philippi was a colony in Rome meaning that the people were Roman citizens, giving them a sense of prestige and status. However, Paul encourages them with the message that though they are inhabitants of Philippi, they are citizens of heaven and therefore they should be bringing about the culture of Jesus where they live. This goes against the culture of Rome, but Paul wants them to see that they are on the same journey as Jesus, who did not look for acceptance and status in this world, knowing that His true home is in heaven.
The church in Philippi was miraculously brought about by the sovereign power of God, interrupting Paul’s plan and sending him on a new journey to make disciples in a new place. Though we may feel like we have control over our lives, God has the final authority and His Will is going to be done. Every good thing in our lives has been brought about by Him and we can find confidence in this, that He will bring to completion every good work that he has started. Paul knows God will finish what He started in Philippi. However, this does not make him complacent. He feels the weight of responsibility and so prays for them often that the love of God would transform the hearts of the Philippians and that the church will continue to become more and more like Jesus, bearing fruit and demonstrating His glory.