Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

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

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.

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. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. - Philippians 1:1-11

The letter to the Philippians from the Apostle Paul is both meant to encourage and to challenge. Some of Paul’s letters focus a great deal on what the community needs to fix, needs to change, and or needs to stop doing and to be refocused on the Gospel. The letter to the Philippians is quite different.

Paul challenges the believers to actions of peace. Paul challenges the believers to rejoice through any and all circumstances without grumbling. And, he encourages the Philippians, and us, to truly realize the greatness of God as we live our lives. It is through our understanding of who God is that we both live for Him and shine through our grace for and peace with others.

As we read through this letter we get a glimpse at how Paul perceived the Lord and the church as he was imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel. When Paul first was in Philippi he was just a guy looking for a place to pray, which lead to him sharing the Gospel, then to being unlawfully imprisoned as a Roman Citizen in the Roman Colony of Philippi Paul has seen wonderous and frustrating things with the Philippians. He now takes joy in partnering with them for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus being known!

And so, Paul displays a tremendous amount of trust, joy, and confidence in the Lord. This trust, this knowledge, and this understanding of God guides Paul and inevitably it is what defines his purpose. This understanding of God also defines why he not only has peace about where he is going it is what causes him to have peace with others.

His understanding of the gospel is what shapes his interactions with others, and it is what he challenges those who believe in Christ to define their lives by. There is no cost to great to bear for one person to know the gospel of Christ.

Jesus is the God of the universe made man. So, the God of the universe was willing to become man, to endure hate, to endure disrespect, even physical attacks, and to eventually die knowing that all the disciples He would leave behind would suffer and die, well, all but one would die from a tortuous death. All so that the world could have grace and forgiveness.

Ask yourself this, if the cost of the gospel for you was God’s bloodied death on a torturous cross, what cost are you willing to pay so that those who know the truth and those who don’t could have salvation?

Paul’s answer throughout the whole of the letter to the Philippians is that the Gospel is worth more than our reputation. The gospel is worth more than our comfort. The gospel is worth more than our complaints and frustrations. The gospel is worth more than you.

That can be a hard thing to think about. The God of the universe died so that you can have eternal life, so what is worth more than you?

The person sitting next to you. The person who attacks you. The person who encourages you. The person who hurt you or those you love. Each of those people are worth more than you, they are worth the Gospel, whether they know the truth of Jesus or not.

It is remarkable how this letter discusses peace, because peace is not a feeling, peace is an action. Do not cheapen the peace of Christ. Peace is more than peace of mind for the believer it is being at peace with others no matter what they are trying to do to you.

This letters peace is found in the purpose. And, the purpose is that of making God known!

Peace for the believer is found in God!

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The introduction to this letter is similar to many that Paul writes, it is also extremely different. To the Thessalonians Paul does not declare a title, but to the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians Paul is an apostle. An apostle which is a messenger of sorts and in the biblical landscape and authoritative messenger.

But, when Paul addresses the Romans and the Philippians he comes as a servant of Christ. He was not coming with authority, instead Paul’s purpose was to serve, to encourage, and to point to the great hope found in Christ. Though Paul and Timothy had clout, authority, and even reason to stand up and defend this too the Philippians he addressed them with humility.

The humility that Paul addresses the church with will be addressed thoroughly throughout the whole of the letter. Humility is centrally seen from the God of the universe and so Paul only aims to imitate the Lord. And so, Paul and timothy are declaring themselves to be first and foremost servants of Christ.

This servanthood was not to one particular group of the church, instead Paul addresses the whole of the Philippian church as a servant. He specifically points out that there are leaders, but that this letter is for all the church. All the church should know and see the humility of Christ replicated in the lives and hearts of His servants, His messengers of the Gospel.

 Paul is writing them with a purpose, the purpose is to present grace and peace from God the father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of the letter will be marked by these simple yet profoundly transforming principle purposes. Paul is bringing grace and peace as a servant and messenger of God the father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The authority of the message does not depend on Paul. The purpose of the letter is surrounded around putting God first, to not be distracted by the messenger or their failures, to not prevent the gospel by your actions and life, and that nothing in life can or should diminish the grace and peace found in and through Christ.

We must be determined around these truths ourselves. Truly determined that the grace and peace of Christ be found in and through our lives and our words. What are you willing to give so that others can see this grace?

You should know that the name of Jesus is greater than our life, that is why we have had martyrs for centuries. People who are willing to give their lives for the name and greatness of Jesus. But, are you willing to celebrate to sacrifice your respect, your opportunity to defend yourself, your purposes for the greater purpose which is that of grace and peace in Christ Jesus?

Peace with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Who in the family of faith have you failed and refused to work with because of a past disagreement? You are both aiming to glorify the Lord. You are both aiming to proclaim the freedom and forgiveness in Christ. How can you proclaim the greatness and forgiveness in Christ if you can’t forgive and support others who are promoting the name of Jesus?

As you so richly and excitedly embrace the grace of Jesus for yourself you must also rejoice and excitedly share and show that same grace and forgiveness to others in order to have peace. It is costly, it is difficult, and most of all it worth it!

You will make Jesus known more through your ability to forgive than all your religiously acclimated life choices.

Who have you partnered with for the sake of the Gospel?

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.

The time Paul stayed in Philippi was brief, Luke records their time with the Philippians Acts of the Apostles as several days. In that time, they were able to transform whole households to the Lord. People were believing in Jesus! But, in order for Paul to share the gospel with one of the families he first had to endure a great deal of pain, though not by choice.

 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. – Acts 16:22-23

It’s funny isn’t it that some of the best relationships we have are produced through some of the most difficult times of our lives. It is often through great turmoil overcame or endured that we produce the greatest ties of friendship.

Often when these verses are read we get hyped and excited about how God will keep the believers in Philippi steadfast to the end. But, don’t lose site of the text as a whole. These are believers who have partnered with a man sent to jail shortly after coming to them. This was a man who was ran out of town after town, stoned outside of one, and let down from a basket to save his life.

The Philippians believed in who Jesus is and what He did on the cross and through rising again, but they also trusted Paul as the messenger. Paul is writing about his joyful remembrance of his former jailor who almost killed him. But, he even takes joy in those who mock and scoff his imprisonment for the sake of the gospel.

So, we must be challenged, we must remember that believers whom we partner with for the sake of the gospel are not always those who trust us, who think highly of us, and even those who mock us. Do you pray for those whom you do not get along with, with joy?

You a minister of the great news of the humble King. Jesus, God, who died on a cross to pay the price for your imperfect life and rose to give you a perfect eternal life. You who believe and love the Lord have this hope and He will keep you strong to the end.

This hope is meant to be shown, to be shared, to be so treasured that it is apparent to everyone how fantastic it is. These church services, these gatherings of worship should inspire all who see. Not because they are fantastic, rather because they see your joy. Your joy for and with each other and your zeal for the Lord. How great your God is to you is seen in how you praise Him.

Think about what you get excited about. If I see a person wearing Cubs gear I get stoked. Last week on the first of the opening of Husker football I saw someone in Cubs gear. And immediately I was connected and if Kate wouldn’t have thought I was crazy and creepy I would have yelled go Cubs and looked for a high five. (I’m allowed to be excited as a cubs fan, I waited 30 years of life to see a World Series win…I also got an official World Series Cubs jersey with my last name on the back. There was a player with the last name Chapman)

Get excited on Sunday! Get excited as you remember those whom you have partnered with for the sake of the Gospel. For a month we celebrated the missionaries we partner with for the sake of the Gospel. We prayed for them, wrote letters to the, read letters and watched videos from them, and most of all we remembered them with joy.

When you see a believer in Christ, talk about Him. Be excited that you know someone else willing to die and give up everything in their life for the sake of the name of Jesus.

Your united access to grace and peace is a far greater source of joy than anyone who does not have Him to whom loves you enough to become man in order to suffer, die, and rise from death for you!

Encourage those who you have helped see the Lord?

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. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

One of my greatest joys of sharing the gospel and sharing in the message of the gospel with others is lives transformed, including my own.

If you have ever shared the gospel with someone and seen them years later or heard of what God is doing in and through them you probably understand what Paul is talking about.

Once a month I reach out to several guys I have been close to over the years to see how God is working in them and through them. There are others that I reach out to every couple months. And, there are even others that I only speak to annually. Still, there are others I only randomly see. What is the most remarkable thing is how excited I get about hearing how God is using them.

Some who did not take their faith serious desperately gave all they had to the Lord. Not simply mission trips, which they do, but whether away or at home they take advantage of moments, the little things, to share the Gospel and display grace. When you see lives transformed through the lives that God used you to help transform you can’t help but be excited.

But, part of that is reaching out and continue to encourage those whom you have poured into. Remember that last verse, you are confident that God will complete the good work started, but do you continue the good work you started?

You who have partnered in the message of the Gospel with both those whom you easily have peace with and those whom peace is a joyful sacrifice, do you continue intentionally encouraging and coming alongside those partners in the gospel?

We share in the same grace with each other. We who share in the great promise of the savior have much to celebrate together. In the darkest moments of life, through torture and imprisonment, we have the greatest hope and the greatest Joy found in Christ. Let’s praise Him at all cost.

Let us encourage each other boasting in this great promise this great peace this great purpose we have through the death and resurrection of Christ the creator Lord!

Knowledge of God should translate to more and wiser actions of love by you.

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

If you believe you are knowledgeable about who God is and yet lack the quantifiable ability to love those in your life, then you should severely question whether you know God. And, by love I mean biblical love.

Love that believes in truth and with complete and utter disregard for it would rather be broken into pieces than fail to be kind, to be gentle, to be generous, and to forgive, yes to forgive at your expense that is love. If bitterness, frustration, distrust, and concern for self guide your decisions your love fails to meet the caliber of biblical mandates.

Christ is returning. That is our great hope, but what will define you when He does?

When you go before the throne of God and plead Jesus I love you, and I rest in your great grace. Yet, will the God of the universe see this love and grace in you?

Remember what the Lord said.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ – Matthew 7:21-23

Miracles, people who spoke of God’s greatness, and did great deeds in the name of the Lord will not enter the kingdom of God were welcome in the Kingdom of God. And, in Luke 6:37 Jesus proclaims, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” And again in the Lord’s prayer from Luke 11:4 “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” This is how you live out the kingdom of God here and now.

See, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 4:31-5:2 (ESV)

       Walk in the sacrificial, forgiving, peace driven love of God.

       This is the message of the cross, grace.

So, who is your Jesus? How great is He? Is He great enough, is the grace given you fantastic enough, is His peace strong enough to unite you with anyone in the world? Because the answer is yes, but your life must also display that.

This is the message of Paul’s letter to the Philippians peace with all and joy in all circumstances because of the greatness of the Lord in life. Join with all the saints, the believers, throughout time who have shown the love of God through their own unabating love for God through loving His precious image bearers, every person you meet and know.

That is the purpose of the peace we have in Christ to share it and share in it with each other!