Philippians 1:1-2

This month we will be reading and exploring the book of Philippians, commonly known as the ‘Epistle of Joy’. Written by the apostle Paul during his imprisonment in Rome, it is a remarkable letter to the Philippian church.

Founded by Paul on his second missionary journey, the Philippians had a deep affection for Paul, as he did for them. He wrote the letter to encourage this newborn church in the midst of persecution and poverty, and to share in the joy he found in God, even while he was restrained and guarded by Roman soldiers.
In this season our hearts are especially hungry for happiness, joy and satisfaction, as many things appear to be elusive and uncertain. In Philippians, Paul clearly delineates the biblical theology of joy, where it comes from, and how it is experienced.

So, grab your Bible, and perhaps a notebook or journal as we walk through this very relevant book.
Read Philippians 1:1-2
Paul and Timothy shared a special relationship as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and refer to themselves as bond-servants of Christ Jesus. Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith, a protégé but also a cherished companion, and Paul trusted Timothy with a spiritual legacy and ministry. The word ‘bond-servant’ is translated from the Greek word doulos, which describes a person owned by another, subservient and dependent on that person. The New Testament uses it to speak of a willing, determined, and devoted follower of Jesus, and for Paul and Timothy, this was a completely positive description of their position. This ‘community of two’ was vital, both for Paul and for Timothy, as they labored to share the gospel in difficult situations and perilous times.
Addressing the letter to ‘all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi’, Paul’s use of the word saint indicates those who are set apart by God for Himself. The word is also translated as ‘holy’. These believers were saints, not because they accomplished religious activities or attended religious gatherings, or even because of their spiritual maturity, but because they were called by God for salvation; they were in Christ.
It's no surprise that Paul’s salutation begins with ‘grace to you’. He wanted to remind the believers that they were loved and saved by God’s grace. In the midst of the troubles, doubt, confusion, and even failure, grace must be the believer’s stronghold: always remembering that relationship with God and salvation from God starts and ends with grace. Every day, every hour, and even every minute.  The conscious focus on God’s grace and love results in peace - another gift and great blessing.
It’s easy to forget to remember that we too are bondservants of the God who called and saved us. And not difficult to see ourselves as servants of God, in the specific areas we choose to serve. But we must remember that a bond servant was never self-directed. The master never inquired as to which tasks the servant might be interested in, or when the service would be convenient, or how long a task might take. The bond-servant did what the master asked and complied with the master’s timetable. He wasn’t ‘on the clock’, beginning and ending service at predetermined times, but rather his whole life was available for service to the master.
Perhaps, just for today, we can view our day as only made for serving the Master. What might God be asking of you today? Perhaps there are everyday tasks he is calling you to, things of a physical nature. Or maybe he is asking you to serve him by showing undeserved love and care for someone in need. The key is to ask, ‘What would you have on your mind for me today, Lord?' We may need to remind ourselves repeatedly, ‘I live to love and serve God’. ‘I live to love and serve God.’
How wonderful it is that we serve a gracious, loving, patient, powerful and kind master.  He wants us for all eternity, not just for service but also for relationship. This is grace to us.
Questions for reflection:
  1.  Do you have a ‘Paul’ in your life? Someone who encourages you, or perhaps leads you by example, as one who is a servant of Christ? If so, make time for that relationship in the next week or two.

If not, make time to ask God for that person.
  1.  Do you consistently see yourself as a full-time servant for God? On call 24/7? How can you remind yourself of this?
Linda Miller | Ministry Development

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