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. Philippians 1:1-2. (EHV).
Welcome back, my friend. I’m very, very glad you’re here. To echo Paul (and Timothy), grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Whew! That’s a pretty weighty way to begin a chat, isn’t it? Here’s another weighty thing: I’m not being very original here. In fact, I’m following in the footsteps of my friend, Phil McKay, who pastors a Calvary Chapel in Paris, Texas. Listening to his sermons inspired me to dive into Philippians, which has become one of my favorite books of the Bible. If you haven’t read it, do yourself the pleasure of reading it today. It’s only four chapters, only a few pages in the New Testament; it won’t take very long.
But it may just change your outlook today. That may just change your life. It isn’t me doing it. It isn’t the Bible. It isn’t even the Apostle Paul. If your life is changed, it’s because God Himself is at work in you. Philippians is about joy. It’s about expressing joy over other believers living out their faith in Jesus. Philippians is about real, practical Christianity at work in skeptical people. It is about thankfulness, and humility, and standing firm in the faith, and about putting the Gospel to work in our world.
Or Paul’s world, to be specific. Specifically in Philippi: the same Philippi mentioned by Shakespeare in Julius Caesar 1500 years later. The armies of Rome had fought a civil war battle near the Roman colony of Philippi (in Macedonia) after the assassination of Julius Caesar. The outcome of that battle saw the primacy of the emperor rise because the victor, Octavian, soon crowned himself Emperor Augustus: the same Augustus who reigned during the birth of Christ. Philippi sat at the intersection of two roads that brought trade out of Asia Minor and to the western parts of the Empire.
Philippians was written only a century or so after that battle. It was a crossroads of the Empire. It’s no coincidence, then, that God would use Paul to plant a church there. Think about it: there were multiple paths for people to carry the Gospel further throughout the known world. That could change lives everywhere because it already had in the pagan area around Philippi.
And it’s still happening in our world today. You and I live near crossroads. Because of where God has us, the Gospel can literally travel anywhere because people everywhere still need to hear it. Philippi was an early success story in receiving that Gospel. Paul knew it; so do we. Welcome back my friend. Let’s dive in.
For further reading: Acts 16:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Philippians 1:3
Lord Jesus, I praise You for Your grace at Philippi and in this letter.