The question for today is: Are you going through a hard time in your life? Right now, people are suffering, feeling unsure of the future, and maybe a little weary of resuming life as we knew it before this virus shut down our lives, and stole loved ones from us. (I am so over seeing and saying COVID19 that I refuse to type it, except this once.)
I asked my teenager today if she thinks that when there is a vaccine for the virus will we go back to our old ways and priorities, or will we have learned what is important from being forced to slow down? Paul examines his priorities in Philippians 1; and this is a great time for all of us to do the same.
What is really important to you?
Before we continue on with Philippians, first things first, before I continue. I am not a Bible scholar. I don’t have a degree in theology. I am just a woman who desperately wants to understand the Bible and develop a deeper walk with Jesus. I try my best to state truth and understanding. I pray that anything I say here that is untrue or misunderstood will be forgotten and only the good stuff is remembered.
Scripture: Slowly read and color code Philippians 1:12-14. What has Paul chosen to focus on despite his unfortunate circumstances?
Observation: Paul is in prison and is saying, “Don’t worry about me and my pain, look around at what is happening in the name of God.” His pain and suffering is “advancing and giving the renewed impetus to the good news.”
I seriously have a hard time seeing the “good” in really bad circumstances. I think prison is really bad. This “problem” I have steams from the lifelong fight against depression and anxiety. Most days, I have to force myself to see the light. It’s pretty easy for me to go down that rabbit hole of despair. But not Paul. His top priority is not getting out of prison but to share the good news with anyone who will listen. He has a captive audience too.
How about you? Are you a glass half-full or half-empty kinda gal? Do you think you’d react like Paul if in his situation?
Scripture: Slowly read and color code 1:15-18. What stands out to you about the people Paul is writing about?
Observation: I find it a bit funny that Paul doesn’t care that some people are preaching insincerity and with a “partying” spirit. They are teasing him, making fun of him, but don’t realize they are still proclaiming the Truth. And Paul rejoices in that. Like, the joke’s on them.
Are there places in your life where people may make fun of your beliefs or even challenge them with opposing beliefs? How do you handle that or how might you handle it better?
Scripture: Explore and color code 1:19-26. Paul has faith that no matter the outcome, “…the Spirit of Jesus Christ [his time in prison] will turn out for my preservation and avail toward the saving work of the Gospel.”
Observation: What are the two ways one might be saved by prison (besides escaping)? Release with time-served and death, right? What does it mean to you when Paul says,  “For me to live in Christ and to die is gain.”?
Think about your situation now. Are you living for this world or are you living for the eternal world? To me, this verse means to live in Christ is everything. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Read on verses 27-30.
Scripture: In Verse , Paul is sounding the alarm to live in a manner worthy of the good news. He is saying to stand firm in your purpose and faith.
Observation: There is strength in numbers among believers. Just like we are “Alone Together” to beat this virus, we must “strive side-by-side” with a “united spirit” to beat the devil. When we fail to support one another we start looking out for only our interests and that sets us all up to fail.
 “And do not be frighted or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries…” In other words, don’t back down from those who challenge the Word of God. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground and speak truth.
Side note: Did you know the phrase “do not be afraid” or something similar, is written 365 times in the Bible? That’s how important it is…one for every day of the year.
Is there a place in your life where you are afraid to say something “religious” because you might “offend” someone else?
Paul encourages us not be afraid to speak up.  “For you have been granted for Christ’s sake not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer in His behalf.” Yep, they will ridicule and mock, and might make you feel bad, or ashamed, or guilty, or scared. But do it anyway, for Christ’s sake.
 “So you are engaged in the same conflict which you saw me [wage] and which you now hear to be mine [still].
What does this verse say to you? I feel Paul is saying the tables have turned. He was once the persecutor and now he is the persecuted.
We all have problems in our lives. Being a Christ follower doesn’t shelter us from that. But how we approach the situation as a Christ follower makes the challenge that much easier because we have Christ on our side. He is the ultimate back-up.
Prayer. Dear Lord, Help and guide me to be more steadfast in my faith that whatever this world throws at me, I know I can handle it because I have you by my side. In God’s name I pray, Amen.
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