Philippians

Philippians: Paul's Prayer for the Philippians

This devotional is written by Alex Perkin. Alex is married to Hannah-Rivkah and was once an extra in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. He was cast member 116 and, though his face didn't make the director's cut, he's somewhere amidst the crowd robed in Gryffindor attire.

Philippians 1:1-11

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God's holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons[a]:

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Reflection

Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi from a prison in Rome. It's a message of hope, joy and peace in spite of his suffering, hardship and anxiety. The overarching narrative of the book is Paul's longing for Christians to see their lives as lived expressions of Jesus' life.

So, how can our lives be lived expressions of Jesus' life today? Paul gives us some indication: it's about what God does AND what we do. In other words, we must [1] allow Jesus to work in us and [2] choose to live like Jesus.

[1] Be open to Jesus transforming us to be like him (verse 6). This happens through the Holy Spirit who will continue to work in us (forgive us, strengthen us, fill us with his love, joy, peace, ... cf. Gal. 5:22-23) until Jesus "returns or calls us home", as the song 'In Christ Alone' goes.

[2] Not only does Jesus work in us but we must also choose to live like Jesus:

• Thank God (verse 3),
• Remember one another (verse 3),
• Pray (verse 4),
• Share the gospel (verse 5),
• Have others in your heart (verses 7,8),
• Be pure and blameless (verse 10).

You can't do the second bit without doing the first. You can try to live like Jesus, but without his Holy Spirit in you, you will get tired, frustrated and disillusioned. To be like Jesus we must first receive his love.

Take a moment to stop. Breathe. Breathe deeply.
Ask God today to fill you with his love.
Ask him to replenish you where you feel tired.
Ask him to give you his peace where you feel anxious.
Ask him to fill you with hope where you feel despair.
Ask, quite simply, for his presence to be with you and go with you.

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