I can feel the joy and exuberance, as Isaiah writes what he sees and hears. He must have been filled to overflowing with great anticipation as to what God was about to do…deliver his people from their trouble (note vv 1,2 again). No doubt, Isaiah could hardly wait to herald the good news announcement to Jerusalem from the mountain tops, “Help is on the way!” “Your God is coming!”
How good to know that help is coming your way to deliver you from your life extremity. The Lord shall deliver his people, all those who love him. He did then, he will today and he will in the future. Lord, it is for me a joy to deliver God’s message of mercy and redemption in these days. May I be an effective voice for you.
How quickly public opinion changes. But God‘s word never changes. Men make promises and do not keep them. But God‘s word is true and he keeps his promises. Men are like grass that withers and flowers that fade when the heat and drought comes. But the word of the Lord stands forever.
God keeps his promises to deliver this ancient people. He kept his word to send a deliverer in Christ Jesus. He came to deliver men from the curse of sin. He will keep us until the day of our salvation. God’s word will never fail. Oh Lord, you are faithful even when we are not faithful. You are utterly reliable.
“I have learned how to be content…“ This is a parenthetic statement given in the midst of a gratuitous statement of deeply felt thanks to the Philippian church for their financial provision to Paul. Paul’s joy (expressed so often and so well in this letter) informed his sense of contentment.
Joy is detached from circumstances. It comes from a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. So contentment is detached from other inner desires for more and for abundance. It comes from the One who alone gives us strength and courage every day. Therein lies the secret of joy and contentment. Fully rely on God for EVERY need. Lord, fill me with your joy and contentment today.
I learned this lesson long ago from, Beggar At The Banquet, the story of Hong, Woo Joon. He, his parents, brothers and sisters were severely and unspeakably persecuted Korean Christians as communism took over Korea in the 1920s-40s. Hong’s story is told by Donald B Sheley.
The book opens with this quote from Hong. “Life is like a banquet in a strange land. Great expectation preceeds some of the [banquet] dishes while caution hinders the complete enjoyment of others. As the guest, one is expected to taste and experience each course. Some of the courses are delightful, and others are not, but all are given by a concerned host [the Lord] and must be received and appreciated. That is my philosophy of life, a philosophy which I have been practicing at life’s banquet for 52 years. Some of the courses have been wonderful, others have been bitter.”
I always want to hear what the Holy has to say to me directly. But this morning the New Living Translation Bible study notes ring the bell: “Ultimate joy comes from Christ dwelling within us. Christ’s coming is near, and when he comes we will fully realize his ultimate joy.“
In the meantime, “We are to be considerate (reasonable, fair minded and charitable) to those outside the church as well as those inside. This means we are not to seek revenge against those who treat us unfairly, nor are we to be overly vocal about our personal rights. [Christ] who lives within us will fulfill his final purposes for us“ (NLT study notes).
“The years teach much which the days never know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Lord, may the faithful sentry be always mindful to walk by faith and not by sight (2Co 5:7).
Having noted several divisions and disagreements in the church at Philippi, Paul moves to some more practical instruction. “Joy“ being a major focus of this letter, Paul begins there. “Always be full of joy in the Lord; again – rejoice!”
“Joy” is not happiness with no gloom. It is the victory of faith, the confident assurance of the soul secure in Christ Jesus. It is often related to and/or out of times of affliction.
Joy “In the Lord“ – God himself is the ground and object of the believer’s joy (Neh 8:10). This joy is like a storm cellar in the midst of a storm; safe, secure, from the tempest outside. Lord, be my joy, my source of strength in turbulent times; at all times.
Standing in apposition to those who have corrupted the Gospel are those whose lives clearly represent the kingdom of Heaven. They are ambassadors of Christ Jesus in this world. This is a temporary home and soon the savior from Heaven’s Kingdom, Jesus, will call us home.
Our mortal bodies will put on a immortality like that of Christ. He will, by his power, bring all things under his control and we shall be like him in our resurrected bodies. Lord, while I am in this world may my life be a true reflection of your Kingdom.
We have the written word of God to guide us. But faith is more than a book of code to follow. How that “Code“ is followed, lived out, is also important. Therefore, we have examples to follow. Paul says, “Follow my example” (follow me as I follow Christ – 1Cor 11:1). Paul says we may also follow the example of others (like Timothy and Epaphroditus).
I have had a lifetime of examples to follow – parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, associates, friends – many godly examples of the “Code,” the word of God. I in turn am an example to others of that “Code.” I have witnessed the “Code” at work In others. Lord, may I honor and live out the sentry’s “Code” for others to see.
Paul reflects momentarily on his past. But he does not dwell there. He mentions some things for which he was ashamed. Are we not all dogged by shameful things? But Paul‘s point of view is that the past ought not haunt us today and paralyze our movement forward in Christ.
Paul strives for maturity. He labors now, not for salvation, but for knowing Christ more fully. Like a track athlete, he disciplines himself and pushes himself toward the crown of victory to which Christ has called him. Lord, this old sentry is encouraged by Paul to let go of my past failures and hold nothing back from fully knowing and serving Christ.
Paul mentions two men here, Timothy and Ephroditus. Timothy has been a selfless and faithful co-laborer. Paul looks on him as a son. Epaphroditus is also a faithful co-worker, compassionate and honorable “fellow soldier.” He risked his life for the work of Christ. “A Few Good Men?” Yes, but more. They are “The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful.”
God has blessed me with some great companions in ministry, both men and women. I am so very thankful for the incredible contributions they have made in me personally. I can only hope to be a fraction of what they have been to me. They are, “The Few, The Fearless, The Faithful.” Iχθύς (ichthus)*
*Ichthys or ichthus, from the Greek ikhthū́s (ἰχθύς, 1st cent. AD Koine Greek pronunciation: [ixˈθys], “fish“) is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish. The symbol was adopted by early Christians as a secret symbol. It is now known colloquially as the “sign of the fish.” The Greek letters are the initials of the words I ēsous C hristos th eou hy ios s ōtēr meaning, Jesus Christ Son of God Savior.
Paul pleads with his dear friends in Philippi to “live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.“ He could easily have been speaking to Christians in the 21st-century (2021).
Christians today ought to hold firm to the word of life and live clean innocent lives. We ought to pour out our lives in faithful service to God. Then we may rejoice to you know that out light shown brightly all the way to the end. Father, I pray that my light will shine brightly for Christ in all that I do.
*This simple song, written many years ago, challenges Christians to Brighten The Corner Where You Are!
Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar;
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.
Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!
Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
Jesus Christ is the supreme example of humility. He was the Son of God. He did not surrender his deity to become a man…He set aside his rights as deity. He willingly put the needs of humanity for salvation ahead of his own rights as deity. Paul says we ought to have this same attitude towards others.
To set aside our rights in favor of another’s is not looking down on ourselves as somehow inferior. It is to simply put others first, out of genuine love for them and NOT demand our rights first. It is a choice we make. [What would America look like if everyone did that?] Father, may I honor you in my choices to serve others.
Dealing with life, especially in extraordinarily difficult times, is always more tolerable when someone else you know is struggling just as you. Paul relates well to those facing challenging, even perilous times; just as Jesus did. What could be better than to know that every follower of Christ is standing with each other, loving each other and working toward the common goal of making the Gospel known?
Paul is encouraged by his relationship with Christ. So too can any believer be encouraged. Paul was comforted by Christ’s love, the intimacies of Christ’s Spirit and the tender compassion of Christ’s heart that reaches out to those in need. So too, can any believer. Lord, there is never a need for encouragement that you cannot fill as I walk daily according to your Spirit.
Not much will make the heart of the leader know more true satisfaction than for co-laborers in Christ to be “wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”
The leader who can realize that, has found a path for personal engagement in the lives of others that most never seem to have time for. It’s not the easiest or most direct route, but it is the most satisfying. Lord, may I be a leader like that in my family, my church and my community.
Paul knows his release from prison is possible, but not a “slam dunk” (v27a). So he encourages the Philippian church to make their conduct becoming, as they are citizens of Heaven. They represent the Gospel of Christ. No matter the circumstances, they should stand united in faith. They should not be intimidated by those who deride them and the entire cause of Christ.
Your life and witness is a challenge to the pagan culture around you. It serves to reveal that the enemies of the cross will be destroyed and believers will be vindicated, both by God himself. You can take that to the bank! So stand firm as Kingdom citizens. Lord, may This old sentry stand faithful and be found worthy of the Kingdom in the face of persecution and difficult times.
Seated here in my quiet place, in the early morning watch, it is difficult for me to grasp the conflict in Paul’s spirit. Words and emotions escape me. I am challenged even to write. The brokenness of Paul’s thought patterns serve only to express his inward desire to glorify Christ, whether he lives or whether he dies. Such a deep state of faith I can only imagine.
Paul is in prison and will be on trial for his life. His thoughts move from his imminent martyrdom to emotions expressing great exultation (it cannot be exaggerated) and rejoicing that he will be released. That he will see these beloved believers again is not assumed but expected. When they see him they will be doubly encouraged in their growth and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, may the state of my faith be deep enough to glorify you whether in life or death.
Paul Clarifies what he expects as his deliverance, his vindication, as a result of prayers and God’s guidance (may be quoting Job 13:18). Paul’s earnest, eager, expectation* and hope (ignoring all other interests, straining to see beyond his circumstance) is not so much his release but that he unashamedly continues to exalt Christ.
Prayer is not about getting my own way. It’s about getting God’s way, worked out in life. For Paul, God’s will is accomplished whether he lives or whether he dies. Even Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but thy will be done“ (Mat 6:10; Luke 2:42). To live is Christ, to die is gain. One is as good as the other. Lord, may I not be so preoccupied with my circumstances that I preclude the glory of Christ.
* Martin, Ralph P., Philippians, Tyndale NT Comentary (1959), suggests this may have been a word coined by Paul himself.
Prayer: Fear not dear people of America. No oppressor shall have power over you that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies does not allow (2 Kings 6:16-18). #BidenVsPutin
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
It matters not the weakness or strength of the leader of the free world; if God is for his remnant in America (or any other country), who shall stand against her? Do not be afraid of the enemy from Russia (or any where else). For greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1Jhn 4:4).
Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if the remnant of God in America shall be victorious open the eyes of President Vladimir Putin when he meets with President Joe Biden today, June 16, 2021.
No matter the state of President Biden’s mind, feeble or strong, when they meet, may Putin see what the servant of the Man of God saw as he coward in the face of the Aramean military might. [He saw that the Hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire – 2 Kings 6:16-18]. May Putin see that those who are with us are more and more than those who are with our him.
May the entire camp of Vladimir Putin be thrown into confusion as in the days of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies caused three super powers of the day to turn on and destroy each other (2 Chronicles 20:20-24). So the Lord is able to do today.
World leaders and world super powers come and go. But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will stand forever. May the Lord stand in the gap today as Joe Biden meets with Vladimir Putin. The Lord will stand with truth, justice and righteousness on the world stage. May the world be convinced today of the power of the Lord God.
What kind of person would be motivated to preach the Gospel to make someone else miserable? Who would be so malevolent as to use preaching as a cudgel to hurt someone else? Who would guess that ministers/preachers would be so jealous, so envious of another as to use their ministry to somehow cause harm to another minister and his/her ministry?Paul here identifies some as just that.
These jealous, envious preachers were standing in judgment of the apostle; using Paul’s imprisonment to cause him pain (we’re not told how) and advance their own ministry. Ecclesiastes 4:4,5 says the envy of others will only lead to ruin. In Philippians 2:3,4 Paul will exhort to do nothing out of envy. In the meantime Paul is content to lean on the prayers of others and the careful guidance of God.
Someone has said, you won’t make your candle shine brighter by blowing out somebody else’s candle. Father, give this old sentry a heart of genuine love.
We could spend all our time bemoaning our circumstances, thinking, we are better than this or that; thinking we deserve more, better. We sometimes compare ourselves to others. We ask God why “those people“ have all the good fortune.
Paul, writing from prison no less, for simply preaching the Good News, doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He doesn’t spend his time criticizing and judging “those people.“ Those preachers, whose egos are bigger than life, who are free to go where and when they want. No. Paul sees the bigger picture. He trusts God completely to care for, guide and use him. Lord, I surrender my circumstances to you. May I not complain, but stand in faith and rejoice in knowing that you are always at work for my good and your glory.
This is my free translation of Paul’s message in these few verses. “I’m in prison but everything that has happened to me here is helping to spread the Gospel. Everyone here in prison knows my mission to spread the Gospel…even the prison guards. Believers here with me in prison are emboldened to share the Gospel message – WERE WINNING! NO FEAR!“
Never underestimate the power of your influence for Christ. Your voice, your countenance, your message, your encouragement, your passion for sharing Jesus can help others to face their troubles and fears. What great opportunities to share the Gospel await me every day. Lord, may I face every situation, not with fear but, with fearless faith.
Prayer: Stand faithful to the call of God on your life (Col 4:17,18). #AChargeToKeep #StandFaithful #LastWords
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
These are Paul’s last words to the Colossians. They are directed to Archippus: “Carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” A similar charge is given to Timothy (2Ti 4:5). It is not known for certain what role Archippus played in the Colossian church. He was an early convert to Christianity. He may have been the pastor of this church. To be faithful to the call of God was a solemn “Charge To Keep” by Archippus.
Finally, Paul, in his own handwriting, asked that the church “remember [his] chains.” He asked that they be mindful that he is in prison for preaching the gospel and to pray for him. He may also have meant that he was giving his very life for the truths that he has expressed in this letter to these Colossians. Father, the prayer sentry can give no less to his/her call to ministry and the living out of faith.
*It is worthy to note that George W Bush, then Governor of Texas (1999), wrote a book entitled, A Charge To Keep; named for the old Methodist hymn** by Charles Wesley – 1762 (based on Lev 8:35).
A painting of the same title (by artist WHD Koerner), on loan to Bush, hung in the Oval Office of President George W Bush. Bush states that the scene of the cowboy charging up the hill “epitomizes our mission. We serve One greater than ourselves.” Also interesting to note is that a closer look at the painting reveals that the charging cowboy looks a lot like Bush himself.
Aside from the general need to be devoted in prayer, alert to any specific circumstances requiring prayer – pray with a humble and grateful heart. Paul also makes a request for prayer for his own efforts, even as he is in prison.
Paul requests prayer for open doors to share the gospel; that he might speak clearly for Christ and the Gospel message. How mindful am I of many ministries, mission efforts and church planting teams? It should be my goal to spend time praying for these organizations, the men and women who lead these efforts. Lord, give this sentry open doors to share the Gospel and be clear in the message.
This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me and given me life. (Psalm 119:50) https:www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Psalm%20119:50&version=AMP
I always think of those who gave the last measure of sacrifice when I place Memorial Day remembrances around my house.
I always think as well, of those families who endure the daily absence of a loved who will never be at the breakfast table again. This is the ultimate sacrifice a family may pay. All others owe prayers and remembrances to them for our freedom and liberty.
This home is secure because of the blood spilled for our freedom. Wherever these colors fly is SACRED GROUND.
Here, Paul moves from the ideal of “death to self“ (v3) to the practical working out of that principle in reality, in the believer’s daily life. Every day this body of flesh will challenge the right of God to be in control. This is nowhere seen more clearly than in sexual sin, immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. All of these sins of the flesh say, “SATISFY ME!”
Self is obsessed with itself, the adoration and worship of itself. This is what brings God’s displeasure. These sins will not only be judged in eternity, they will also incur their own judgment here and now. Who has not felt that condemnation? Father, I rely upon your strength to turn from sin to you. I reserve the “right to refuse” service to self.
For this I came, to suffer any hardship for the cause of the Gospel. Paul clearly understands his call from God. That is, to proclaim the message of Christ – it is now no mystery. Christ came in human form. He died a real death, that all men might know the riches of the glory of God.
“Christ lives in you.“ Paul and every Christian are called to tell others of Christ’s love and forgiveness. It is up to me to use every resource God gives me in life to carry out this call. Lord my call is clear, “Do the work of an evangelist – influence men for Christ.“ Lord, with your strength, I will strive to fulfill my call, all the way to the end.