Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:22

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:22   If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.

If. What a huge word. The unknown “if”, of course, implies choice, options, possibilities. Some options are out of our reach, only to be completed by the One who has the power to direct our lives. Some options are open to us, and yet knowing the Lord’s will, may become untenable though possible.

Paul speaks of choosing in this passage, and it seems he is considering the desires of his heart, not the actual decision to live or die – No that is beyond him. Authorities above him will determine his time of death. I speak as a fool here, for we know the Authority Who determines our time of release.

It is the desire of living for Christ or dying that he is hashing out in his mind. He is looking at two options, both of which a good options in his mind. This is instructive to consider.

When you approach a fork in the road, do you consider one way to be wrong and one way to be right? Surely this may occur, yet I would suggest that forks in the road of your life may both be beneficial. The decision may be difficult only in that you seek God’s will, but that either path will be of good effect on your life.

This is the conundrum Paul faces. Are you in the midst of a conundrum? Work it out, looking to the Lord for resolution, or to find peace in the matter.


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:21

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:21   For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

One of my first memory verses, primarily due to its shortness. Yet it packs a tremendous truth.

Life and death. How does a Christian view death? Is it the enemy? Yes. Yet Jesus conquered the effects of death on our lives. We still have to pass through death’s door, and it is important to realize that the enemy (death) is not to be entered on a whim. It is a great reality!

What are you speaking of Carl?

Consider the Lord’s entrance to the experience of death. He sought the Father’s will, and yet asked for “this cup” to be removed from Him. Death was staring Him in the face, and He sought God’s will above succumbing to the very real presence and fear of death.

Paul was also looking death in the face, and realized that without Christ, He may succumb to fear and shame. Yet His hope was in Christ, who entered death and rose the victor.

Death will come knocking my friend, either through natural causes or other means. Look to the One who has supplied all your needs for the strength and courage to avoid a shameful death.


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:20

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:20   as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

From the previous verse Paul stated he expected deliverance. He now speaks of his expectations and hope of not being ashamed. Might the deliverance Paul speaks of in the previous verse be a deliverance from shame?

The next phrase seems to clear up the issue of Paul’s expectation of physical deliverance, since he is suggesting this deliverance may be accomplished by death.

Paul seeks to honor Christ in his body.

If I am reading this passage correctly, he is more concerned of experiencing shame than death. This is enlightening to me, since shame is not a topic we speak of in the modern church to often. Shame and courage are directly linked in this verse, and associated with the Messiah. To be courageous is to relegate shame to the rear. We all have areas of our lives that we have experienced shame, those times when we performed deeds we want no one to know of. Yet the Lord knows and forgives.

Paul is looking to avoid the need for forgiveness, through faith and courage. As death approaches Paul, he resolved to look to the Master for his strength.


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:19

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:19   for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,

Paul is here speaking of the divine human cooperative. The prayers of the saints, and the work of the Spirit of Jesus Christ will cooperate with each other in the deliverance of the apostle. Paul knows this will produce a deliverance for him, he is confident in this. He does allow for some leeway in the type of deliverance, allowing God’s will to be done. This is acceptable to Paul, since he seeks to be under the will of God, and realizes the promise of God, when saints join together in prayer, God listens and acts.

Paul ties these two parties (man and God) together in expecting his deliverance, although he has yet to define the deliverance. This generality in Paul describing his delieverance, especially in the next verse, allows freedom to recieve God’s will in his life.

I have often heard the statement, “Be specific in prayer, in order for God to specifically answer” Many times the Lord has answered specific prayers in our lives, and yet there is wisdom in allowing God’s will to play a part of the answer.

Paul was general in his expectation, and yet had confidence in the working of both the prayers of the saints and of the Spirit of Jesus.


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:18

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:18   What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,

Paul comes to a conclusion, that admittedly, I do not understand. It must be a deliberate decision on his part, that given the circumstances, he has concluded he has nothing he can do at this time but to rely on the Lord for working in the brothers of rivalry, and to give thanks for those who are preaching Christ out of good will.

In both cases, he rejoices in that Christ is proclaimed. The name of Christ is published amongst folk that need to hear of Him, and Paul realizes this is God’s work, and God’s will is being accomplished, even in the midst of bad relations and wrong motivations.

This is somewhat relieving/encouraging for myself, for this exhibition of the greatness of God in working with the less than perfect seems to fit in with my situation. In case you may not know, I am less (far less) than perfect. And although I do not knowingly harbor any rivalry with Paul, I am sure my motivations are not always of the highest good will. Nevertheless, God is good and he works with both donkeys and prophets.

How about you? Do you seek to take another’s place in the kingdom, seek to have power over someone, or simply an ambitious Christian, looking for status amongst the brothers and sisters of the Lord?


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:17

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:17   The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.

Paul returns to the brothers who were preaching out of envy and rivalry (vs 15). As mentioned earlier, these brothers were fueled by selfish ambition.

In our modern church, I fear we are witness to the same two types of brothers. Those that preach out of good will include many godly, humble men who serve silently and without fanfare. Thiers is a life of servanthood and quiet periods of prayer, visiting with those who are hurting, and seeking to encourage those who are downtrodden.

There also are those who, by Paul’s own description, see the ministry as a career, an opportunity to have influence over others, to chase after the larger congregation, the larger church, a TV / Internet ministry, to be n the spotlight, and to draw attention to themselves, (for the sake of Christ of course!)

At this point in my Christian walk, I am somewhat jaded toward these so called ministers. I understand that the prevailing winds of Christianity almost require this conformity to seeing the church as a corporation, a business venture, or a organization. I get that, but I can’t seem to give up on the idea that the church is a living organism, and that those who preach for selfish ambition are not the highest example of Christianity.

I need some of Paul’s vision, (see vs 18) in understanding the will of God, even amongst brothers who base thier ministry on rivalry with their brothers, even seeking to afflict their leader for their own benefit.

To afflict the apostle? What is going on with these guys?


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:16

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:16   The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

The brothers who found confidence in the life of Paul during his imprisonment, preaching Christ with boldness and of good will, were doing this service out of love. Love was the root of this service, and the fruit of righteousness was developing in these brothers!

As we have spoken of love in this epistle, note the number of times this topic repeats itself, over and over again as Paul shares his heart with the Philippians. These brothers were preaching Christ, in part due to the life of Paul in prison and their devotion to him and the Savior.

Paul could not have been happier, or to put it in the language Paul preferred, he could not have had greater joy.


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:15

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:15   Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.

Some of these brother’s, those that had become confident due to Paul’s example, these brothers reacted to Pauls example in two ways.

Envy and Rivalry

To envy is different than to be jealous. See Love like Jesus – Without Envy for further details. To envy is to want what someone else has or is. Some of these brothers saw personal opportunity since Paul was off the circuit, to rise in the ranks of importance within the fledgling church. With Paul out of the way, these brothers might gain influence and personal power over others. If I appear to be a bit harsh in my estimation of these brothers, consider verse 17. I will not comment at this time.

These brothers also preached out of rivaly. Strife, contention or debate seems to be the idea here, and though this is not the highest goal for the preacher, at this time, Pauls was looking for victories, and the name of Christ was being published. For this, he was thankful.

Good Will

A portion of the brothers were preaching of good will. For this Paul was much, much, more thankful. They were mimicking the apostle, not seeking him harm. But either way, the name of Christ was being published abroad and the gospel was advancing.


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:14

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:14   And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

In our last verse we considered the effect Paul had on the imperial guards, while in this verse we are considering Paul’s impact on the brothers, at least on most of them. Seeing Paul react to his imprisonment with joy and focused on the advancement of the gospel, lit the brothers up also.

I was in a class this morning where a brother spoke passionately, and with great volume and force, of our responsibility to evangelize, that it is incumbent on all believers to evangelize, and if you don’t shame on you (to be fair, he didn’t say it – I just felt it!)

While I wholeheartedly agree, I don’t remember a time when he brought someone to church, asked for prayer for someone he shared Christ with, or exhibited any burden to reach out in a ministry to the lost. Granted, I am guilty in many ways also. In my past, I used to do bunches of neighborhood evangelism, and occasionally share the gospel with others I rub shoulders with, but my passion has dwindled. I have grown cold and need to straighten up.

With all that being said, my point in speaking of this is to share that Paul may have never taught the brothers the Romans road, or provided the four spiritual laws tract to distribute. But the brothers caught a glimpse of Jesus in Paul, realized that the imprisonment of Paul was beneficial, and caught a wiff of the joy exuding from Paul. It was contagious, not due to teaching, but to the focus of Paul’s life.

The brothers “caught” what couldn’t be taught. Paul’s example led the way.


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Joy · New Testament · Philippians · Unity

Philippian Bits – 1:13

For this series in Philippians, I am going to limit each post to one verse, and hopefully produce a short, succinct read for my friends who follow.

1:13   so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.

Paul’s imprisonment was common knowledge. Nothing was hidden from those who were in his vicinity. Of course, some of the imperial guard would know of Paul’s imprisonment through their direct orders to guard him. The remaining imperial guard depended on gossip through the ranks.

Yet, it is hard to imagine (and this is my imagination!) the soldiers in the imperial guard, hardened disciplined men of the highest caliber of soldier, would be susceptible to common gossip. Paul’s imprisonment caused a major stir that rippled through the ranks, primarily due to the conversions of those guarding him. Those who had no contact with Paul, were in contact with guards that had become believers.

This, if understood by the leadership of the Romans, would give reason for concern, for the Caesar was to be considered god, and the guards were changing their allegiance.


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