Philippians Study (Lesson 6)
In Philippians 1:4-5, we learn something about Paul’s prayers and we find out what he chose to dwell on when he thought of Philippi. Verse 4 reads, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
The first thing we notice is that Paul was still praying for them. It had been ten years since he had founded this little church. He had experienced only one brief visit with them in all that time; but his prayer for them was constant. Prayer is important and Paul prays with joy. My grandmother used to say, “You haven’t done anything until you’ve prayed for them.”
On their part, the Philippians had become partners with Paul in the gospel. They stood with him. They contributed financially to his ministry. In Philippians 4:15-16, Paul wrote, “Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.”
Now, Paul was in great trouble. False charges have been brought against him, but they are not ashamed of him. Even though they had stayed home, they had supported his work with their money, with their sympathy, and with their prayers. In this way they had shown themselves to be true missionaries and someday they would share in Paul's reward. This brings home to us the importance of supporting our missionaries, with our money and with our prayers. Paul moved out on his missionary journeys and the other churches forgot all about him, but the Philippians had missionary hearts. Today our missionaries come, speak to us, and leave on their journeys. May we be faithful to support them.
Now we come to verse 6, and here we read, “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.” Bible scholars interpret this verse in two ways. It could be translated, “He who began a good work AMONG you will perform it or perfect it or carry it to completion.” This gives the verse a general meaning. He who planted Christianity in the world will preserve it as long as the world stands. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
However, there is an individual interpretation as well, and I love this verse as it speaks to us. God, who began a good work in us, will continue it throughout our lifetime, and will finish it one day when we meet Him face to face.
God’s work FOR US began when He sent His only begotten Son to live on this earth and to die on the cross in our place. God's work IN US began when we first believed in Him as our own personal savior. His work in us CONTINUES as the Holy Spirit lives in us: teaching us, leading us into the truth of God’s word, changing us, and enabling us to be more like Christ every day. Here we find described for us THE PROCESS of Christian growth toward maturity which began when we accepted Jesus, and will continue until Christ returns.
You have probably all seen the motto that reads, “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” A Christian man used to say, “The Lord always looks at people as they will be when they are done - as saints in HIM.” If only we could learn to look at one another that way! Then it would not be hard to, “in remembering, give thanks.”
The story is told of an artist who had conceived in his mind a picture that was meant to be a great masterpiece. He was working on a large canvas, putting in drabs and grays that were to compose the background. A friend stopped by, and the artist said, “What do you think of this? I intend it to be the greatest work I’ve ever done.” The friend burst into a laugh. “To be frank, I don’t think much of it.” “Ah,” replied the artist “but you can’t see what’s GOING TO BE there and I can.”
So it is with God our Father. He sees in every believer, that which will be brought out in eternity. He is working, even today, toward that end . . . TO MAKE US LIKE JESUS CHRIST. He has committed HIMSELF TO BRING THAT TO COMPLETION IN EACH OF OUR LIVES.
Have you ever felt as if you are not making any progress in your spiritual life? Maybe you don't do a very good job of remembering others with thanksgiving. Maybe you can’t always pray with joy.
Believe me, I’m sure that every Christian who has ever lived has experienced time of discouragement; times when they wonder if they ever will amount to anything! Yet God completes every project that He begins. He promises to finish what He has begun. When your shortcomings discourage you, when you feel you will never be the person you want to be, remember God’s promise as we find it here, as well as his provision for you. God will never give up on us, so we must never give up in trusting Him.
Don’t be disheartened. Don’t allow a spirit of defeat to rob you of the joy of Christ, our Life. Place your faith and your hope in His promise and keep on growing day by day, closer to Him.