Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Philippians 2:20

For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (Philippians 2:20, ESV)
Paul tells us that he has no on quite like Timothy, and the particular aspect of Timothy, that earns him this recognition, is that Timothy is genuinely, authentically concerned for the welfare of the Philippian Church. Timothy is a living example of what Paul has been teaching in this letter.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Philippians 2:19

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. (Philippians 2:19, ESV)
Here we are, right in the middle of this letter to the Philippians, and Paul jumps to some travel itinerary business. This may seem unusual, until you realize that, in conjunction with this itinerary, Paul is also giving some real life examples of the ideas he has been teaching.

In this verse, he reminds the Philippians of Timothy. He will be the first of two human examples of the ideas that have been presented. In this particular statement, Paul is also reminding them that cheer (joy) can come from the little things as well. He acknowledges that the simple reality of hearing news of the Philippians, will bring him joy. Sure, we are called to have joy in our sorrows, but that doesn't mean that we won't be joyful for those little moments as well.

What little things do you have to be joyful over? Have you thanked (and acknowledged) God for these things as well?

Monday, August 07, 2017

Philippians 2:18

Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:18, ESV)
There is an interesting play on words here in the greek. In the previous verse, Paul states that he will "be glad and rejoice" with the Philippians. Now he tells the Philippians to "be glad and rejoice" with him.

In verse 17, "be glad" is χαίρω (chairō). Meaning, "to rejoice" and the tense of this verb is that it is happening right now. "Rejoice with all of you" is συγχαίρω (synchairō). Notice that it is basically the same word, with "syn" at the beginning, hence the "rejoice with." It is almost as if Paul was saying, "I am joyful and my joy is synchronized with yours."

Now, in verse 18, Paul restates these two verbs, with the slight change into imperatives for both. Now they are commands. As if he is now saying, "You should be joyful... choose to be joyful... and let's get it synced back up with my own joy!"

The application: Choose Joy!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Philippians 2:17

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (Philippians 2:17, ESV)
I am going to borrow from the words of D.A. Carson, in his book Basics for Believers (a commentary on Philippians) to speak to the symbolism of the drink offering:
"In this metaphor, the actions of the Philippians constitute the primary 'sacrifice.' They give themselves to Christ and commit themselves to pleasing him, whatever the cost. Then, if Paul has to give up his life, his sacrifice is merely a kind of libation poured out on top of their sacrifice. Such a libation is meaningless unless it is poured out on a more substantial sacrifice. But their Christian living is that sacrifice; Paul's martyrdom -- should it occur -- or the pains, sufferings, and persecutions he faces as an apostle are the complementary drink offering poured over theirs."
As a Pastor, I am aware of this. There is much sacrifice in ministry, though I have not come near the sacrifices that Paul made. Yet I get that idea... when the people of my church work hard in their Christian life, I do feel as if any sacrifice that I have made is just a drink offering, poured on top of theirs. My sacrifices, of time and stress and study, draw their significance from the sacrifice of the people that I am ministering to.

Let your life, also, be a living sacrifice, not only for the sake of Christ, but to also give meaning and depth to the sacrifices of your pastor and those others who have taught you and ministered to you.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Philippians 2:16

holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:16, ESV)
Remember, we are not grumbling or complaining, so that we can be lights in the world. This is a difficult task. This is an important task. How are we to do this? Or, I guess I should say, in what way are we to do this? "... holding fast to the world of life..."

This phrase is more important than one might assume. The avoidance of complaint in this life, the ability to keep this life's woes at bay and not allow its frustrations to overcome us and flow from our lips is a great challenge. We do this when we hold on tightly to the word of life, the good news of the gospel message.

What does this look like? There are a variety of ways that this can be accomplished:


  • When we feel overwhelmed by the bad news that bombards us each day, remember the good news that this world will be made new and ruled by our King Jesus (Revelation 21:1-3). 
  • When we weep at the losses that we face, whether of people or relationships or the dreams that we thought might have been, hold on to the truth that every tear will be wiped away (Revelation 7:17). 
  • When we are ill and our bodies aren't functioning the way they ought to, remember that this is only a tent that we live in, we will one day be given a permanent dwelling, a new body (2 Corinthians 5:1-5). 
  • When we sin, and we will, and the guilt of that sin seems overwhelming, remember that the actual guilt of sin and all of its penalty was poured upon Jesus on the cross: He bore our sins (I Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5). 
  • When we are tired, when we are weary, when we are burdened by the tasks that this life sets before us as we attempt to live it God's way, remember that Christ calls all who are weary and heavy laden, that he might give them rest (Matthew 11:28). 
Whatever it is that is beckoning you to grumble and dispute with those around you, hold fast to the world of life. Those that have shared with you these words, those that have taught and preached to you the gospel, those that have, themselves, suffered through this life in order to share with you the good news... they will rejoice on that day!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Philippians 2:15

that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:15, ESV)
Don't grumble or dispute was the command in the previous verse. If for no other reason, we ought not to do that, simply because God has commanded that we not do that. But here we can see one of the glorious benefits of avoiding the grumbling: when grumbling is absent, we get to shine!

Think about it this way: When we share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, we are sharing something that ought to surpass any and every bad thing that we may encounter here. God has made a way for us to get to know him, and it is completely separate from our ability to accomplish this. He didn't just pave the way to salvation, He IS the salvation. ... God Saves People!  He saves them from their sin, he saves them from the power of sin, he saves them from the penalty of sin, and he grants them the good favor that his one and only Son deserves. He accomplished all of this good grace while continuing to be absolutely just and righteous. His son, Jesus Christ, bore all of the wrath of God on our behalf. What more could we ask for?!?

How can we show the glorious nature of what we are recipients of, if the little things of this life (or the big things of this life), bog us down in such a way that we walk around grumbling and disputing like the rest of the world?

Your glorious acceptance of the course of this life will speak to the glorious nature of the great gift you have received in salvation. This world is crooked and twisted, but if you can walk around blameless and innocent... Children of God... You will shine as lights in this dark world.

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:2-3, ESV)

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Philippians 2:14

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, (Philippians 2:14, ESV)
OK. Does this passage really need commentary? Probably not. The teaching is clear: All of the things you do... your work, your play, your ministry, your sleeping, your communication, your conflict resolutions, your interactions with annoying people, your challenges with difficult bosses, your family reunions that you want to go to, your family reunions that you don't want to go to, your chores, your boring times, your fun times, your difficult times, your sad times... All Things... Do them without grumbling or disputing.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Philippians 2:13

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13, ESV)
Why do we work out our salvation? Why would we take that salvation that God has freely bestowed on us and work it out into the rest of our lives? Why would we work it into our homes, our families, our work places, our friends, our churches, and our neighborhoods? Why? It is because (for) God is working in us on two levels: the will and the work.

For many, the thought of God's sovereignty in our lives seems to be a dis-motivation toward effort. In the scriptures, this is never true. Anytime a biblical author discusses God's sovereign hand in our daily lives, it is a motivation to even higher effort. This can be noticed in evangelistic efforts: Paul the Apostle, after a discouraging time in ministry, was motivated by the Lord to continue his efforts because the Lord told him that, "... I have many in this city who are my people." (Acts 18:5-11)

If you look at God's sovereign hand at work in your will and in your work, and it doesn't encourage you, then you must be looking at it wrong. It ought to be, the way it was for those Biblical characters, an understanding that you will be given the exact success that God has foreordained for you.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Philippians 2:12

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12, ESV)
Paul is encouraging them. He is drawing attention to their previous obedience: He has seen their obedience first hand. He has experienced their loving care, as they, in obedience to God, had provided for Paul's needs, on more than one occasion.

So, what he says next is not because of a lack of obedience, but it is an encouragement to "keep on." Very much how one would see a runner, near the end of their race, a runner who had been running and was showing no signs of stopping... one might still encourage them as they were passing by, "Keep at it! Keep going! Don't stop!" Or how a coach might actually say, "Pick up the pace!" These words do not discount the previous effort, but acknowledge that effort and encourage it to continue.

And what is his encouragement? It is to "... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..." It's yours! You have been saved! Live like it. Have that salvation that is in you, work it's way out into the world around you.

The "your" is plural in the Greek. This means that Paul has a church-wide "working out" in mind. He is seeing this church in Phillipi bringing their salvation into their work place, into their homes, into their social circles. Your salvation ought to be impacting your friends and your enemies.

One final thought, this verse, along with the next verse, are in my opinion, one of the most important passages in the scriptures, related to our understanding of man's responsibility and God's sovereignty. As we will see in the next passage, the motivation to work out our salvation comes from the sovereignty of God at work in that salvation.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Philippians 2:11

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11, ESV)
As the knees bow... the tongues will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Let's not forget the context of this verse though. The Apostle is encouraging us to be humbly obedient. He has told us to put others ahead of ourselves and too look to their needs, not just our own. He tells us to do this the way Jesus did... to have his mind... his thought process. And then after he describes the great lengths Jesus went to in order to be obedient to the Father, he tells us this: Christ was and will be glorified.

Why?

To help us to think beyond as well. To think past this life. Yes, Jesus suffered the cross and the humiliation. Yes he endured as a man, but he also knew the end result. God would be glorified and he would be lifted up.

If you are looking for motivation or encouragement to continue, then consider the end and your final state.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Philippians 2:10

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (Philippians 2:10, ESV)
This truly amazing humble obedience of Jesus... The result? He is given a name. A name that is above every other name... and according to this verse, having a name that is above every other name will result in every knee reaching toward the ground. In the end, we will all bend the knee. In the end, all creatures, in heaven and on earth and under the earth... the living and the dead... the physical and the spiritual... we will all bend the knee, because this name is not only given, but because of the humble, loving obedience of Jesus Christ, it has now been earned!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Philippians 2:9

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,(Philippians 2:9, ESV)
"Therefore..." What is it "there for?"

According to the previous verse, Jesus has done the ultimate in an act of humble obedience. Now, Paul tells us that his obedience is has resulted in God's recognition of him. He has been highly exalted. On him a name has been bestowed that is above every name. Not meaning that he has a different name, but simply referring to the fact that his name is now a name that is above every other.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Philippians 2:8

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8, ESV)
How far was Jesus willing to humble himself? Was it far enough, just to be a man? Was it low enough to bear the frailty of humanity? How far did his Father call him to go?

This verse answers, for us, the extent of the humble obedience of Jesus Christ. Don't be confused by the way this is phrased. For our ears, "... to the point of death..." sounds like he came all the way up to that, but didn't cross over. That is not what this statement means. He was willing to go to death... even a humbling, humiliating death... a death on a cross. Like a common criminal, he was crucified.

No matter how much humility it might seem like it takes to be obedient to these commands of loving others and caring for others, it will never come to reach the extent of Christ's humble obedience.