September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“I thank my God every time I remember you. 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, 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.”—Philippians 1:3–6 (NIV)
Did you know Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter? He wasn’t lying on a beach. He was essentially in a dungeon chained to a Roman soldier at all times with his body torn up and his back covered in scars from being whipped and beaten with a rod. This is a man who by this time had been shipwrecked, robbed, betrayed, mocked, hated, beaten, and even stoned to (almost) death by the Jews.
He had every right to be miserable, angry, depressed, hopeless, resentful, and so many other things. How would you feel? What would your demeanor be like?
If I’m being honest, I’d probably be a combination of miserable, angry, dejected, and even a little bitter about it. But not Paul. Why? Because as he said in chapter 3, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3:8–9 NIV). Because of this, instead of feeling sorry for himself and letting his present situation consume his every thought, Paul was able to recognize God’s love, grace, and mercy at work through the Philippians.
Sometimes, when something bad happens, all we can do is talk and think about it. Our lives become consumed with it. This is our nature. But Paul is showing us a different nature, one surrendered to Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit. Instead of focusing on all the negative, Paul goes out of his way to thank the Philippians for their love, faithfulness, generosity, and for sharing in the gospel with him. And he also tells them he is constantly praying for them and thanking God for them.
Again, it’s easy to be consumed by our own struggles and trials, but when we shift our focus on others (when we, through spiritual eyes, look for the blessings of God and pray for others and lift them up and intercede for them), the Lord ministers to both them and us! But as we saw in Philippians 3 (and as we’re about to see), the key to our attitude to our situation, the world, and to those around us is to walk in intimate relationship with Jesus!
In Philippians 1:6, Paul offers the Philippians encouragement saying that he knows God will continue to love, grow, guide, and bless them, sharing that what God has done in our lives up until now is only the beginning!
The best days of your life with Jesus are always ahead of you. Why? Because even when things are bad, you can have joy when you know that God is with you and in you. Because each day, you can know Jesus, experience a deep intimate relationship with Him, and enjoy Him a little more than you did the previous day! And as you walk in this abiding, intimate relationship, He will transform you, renew you, and fill you with peace, joy, patience, and every spiritual blessing!
Pause: How can having an attitude of gratitude make a difference in your life?
Practice: Be intentional to lift up the people in your life to the Lord in your prayers.
Pray: Father, I thank You for the believers in my life whom You have blessed me with. I thank You for their partnership in the gospel and for how You’ve used them to minister to me and draw me to Yourself. I pray You would continue to bless and pour into them and sanctify them by Your Word and Your Spirit. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.