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Philippians 1:21-26

“For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ — which is far better — but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.”

Paul jumps right into the nitty-gritty with the church in Philippi. He had a great love for them and they had a great love for him, yet one of the first things he talks about is his longing for his heavenly reward. Paul knew that he was working for a heavenly reward and not one that he would receive on this earth. Have you ever been working toward a goal or some kind of reward so hard that you just can’t wait to get it? You know what’s coming to you because you know the effort you have put in and you are just looking forward to the day when you get to finally receive the reward you had been working so hard for.

That is exactly where Paul is in today’s verses. He is stuck between his love for serving people and going to his eternal reward. He says, “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” Threaten Paul with death, he welcomes the idea. Simply put, his death would lead directly to his eternal reward. That’s his confidence in Jesus and his hope in the promises of God. But he continues, "Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both.” He loves the idea of receiving his eternal reward but he also loves the idea of continuing the work of Jesus Christ here on earth. He looks at living as fruitful and beneficial to the people he loves and dying as the ultimate goal. He is in love with both ideas. The ultimate thought here is the idea that no matter what he wants to serve Jesus. Whether it is serving Him through ministry or worshiping Him in heaven.

This is the heart of what our relationship with Jesus should be. We should long for our heavenly home but understand that we are alive and well to do the work of Jesus Christ while we are here on earth. This is the great idea of loving God and loving people. Our love for God points us to an eternity with Him but also a passion to tell others about Him. Our love for people pushes us to share the love of God with them so that we get to see them in heaven along with us. It’s the two sides to the same coin. The thing to think about is, are you ok with however the coin lands when it’s flipped. When we are fully focused on Jesus with our lives we will be. We will have the attitude that Paul had. To live is to live for Christ. To die is to be with Christ. It’s a win-win situation.

Nobody likes to think about death. You begin to think about all the people you will miss and the scariness of the unknown. Today, let’s take some time to think about how we are first living for Jesus and then think about how that life will be rewarded in heaven. What will heaven be like? What friends are we bringing with us? Take these thoughts and allow them to push you to live a life that honors and glorifies God knowing that every breath you have on this earth should be lived for Him.

Philippians 1:27

“Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel,”

Have you ever thought about being worthy of something? Maybe it’s being worthy of a promotion at work or maybe being worthy of a certain position at school. Maybe you have thought about being unworthy of something. Like being unworthy of the life you have been given or the family you have. Being worthy is how we can be motivated to work hard or we can see blessings in our lives.

When we think about Jesus and the idea of being worthy, I would say most of us would come to the conclusion that we are unworthy of the love we receive from Jesus and the blessings that come with that. Thinking this way allows us to appreciate the things that we have been given and have joy in our life even when things become difficult.

Paul wants to play off of this thought in our verses today. He says for us to “live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” This calls for a comparison to happen. To live a life worthy of the Gospel we have to first realize what we have been given through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have been given freedom from the bondage of sin, we have been forgiven, we are loved, we are one with God through Jesus, we are valuable because we have been bought for the price of the death of Jesus. So this means we should live worthy of these things. We should live free from the chains of sin, striving not to sin and repenting quickly when we do. We should love others because we are loved. We should forgive because we are forgiven. We should live in unity because we have been unified with God. The comparisons are almost endless.

The thing to take home from this passage is that we are not worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are made worthy because Jesus made us worthy. Because of this, we should be motivated to live for Him. Without Him we are slaves to our sins, damned to an eternity in Hell, separated from the love of God and completely lost. Because of Him, we are worthy.

Have you accepted Jesus as your savior? Are you living in a way that is worthy? In Philippians 2:17 Paul talks about being poured out as a drink offering. The image he is trying to show here is one of being a part of the main sacrifice. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb the was killed for the sins of the world. Paul calls himself the drink offering that is poured out with the main sacrifice. He is trying to show that he is wanting to be that living sacrifice for Jesus Christ because Jesus has made Paul worthy, he pours himself out completely for Him. This should be our mindset in living a life worthy of the Gospel. We are a living sacrifice poured out daily for the cause of Jesus Christ. Think about this today. Are you pouring yourself out for Jesus Christ or are you holding back to live for yourself. Take some time today to evaluate what you are doing and if you are living a life worthy of the Gospel.

Philippians 2:6-11

“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow — of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth — and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Paul has focused much of this letter on the truth of Jesus being the messiah and those who follow Him, following well and in a manner that is worthy. Paul uses himself as an example of his heart for Jesus but in today’s verses, Paul focuses on who Jesus is and how it is His actions that will help us to live a life worthy of the Gospel. Everything in Paul’s letters is about Jesus so it only makes sense that he would take this time to share exactly who Jesus is and how we can strive to be just like Him.

Paul starts the challenge with “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus.” So the question would be, What is that attitude? It is humility. Jesus humbled Himself by leaving His throne in heaven to come down to earth. The creator of the universe humbled Himself by becoming His creation. He could have come down as God in the flesh, the conquering king of the world but He came down in the form of a slave. Humbling Himself before God, man and even the death on the cross. The one who created life itself humbled Himself to the point of death. This is mind-blowing when you really think through it. But, it was this humbling that lead to his exaltation. He humbled Himself and because of this ultimate humbling, God exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name. It is because of this that He is exalted to the position of King of Kings and Lord of Lords so that at His name, every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. His ultimate humility led to His ultimate exaltation.

This is what Paul wants us to do when we make our attitude that of Christ. We should have an attitude of humility. If Jesus can humble Himself from His throne in heaven, we can humble ourselves off our favorite seat on the couch. If Jesus can humble Himself below those who He is far superior, we can humble ourselves below our peers and surely below our creator, Jesus Christ. It’s all about perspective. We look at humility as a weakness but we should view it as meekness, power under control. It is defined by love and carried out the same. When we humble ourselves before God and man, it allows God to use us in great and amazing ways. It is then and only then that we will be exalted by God. I don’t know about you but I want to be exalted by God way more than I want to be exalted by man. How are you doing with humility? Remember, humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Let’s humble ourselves before God and continue in our pursuit of living a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus.

Philippians 3:8-10

“More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ — the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,”

Have you ever had the opportunity to think of the value or worth of something? Maybe it’s a trading card you found in a freshly opened pack or a car you’re thinking of buying. The purpose is to see if it’s worth the cost. For the trading card it’s the question of how much do I protect, care about, and hold on to this card. For the car, it’s is this a smart purchase and worth the money they are asking for it. In both cases, you take the time to evaluate but also to place a value on the item.

In today’s verses, Paul puts a value on following Jesus and all of his earthly accomplishments. Most people would have taken Paul's earthly accomplishments and placed them of high value. They would look at his heritage, schooling and experience and say that those things put him at a higher value. If Paul was applying for a job at the local Jewish university, his resume would have put him as their first pick. Look at the value Paul put on these things. He says, “I also consider everything to be a loss” and “I consider them filth.” What many others thought of as high value, Paul thought of as filth. Why? Not because he thought they were worthless or that he wasted his time with them or that they had truly no value. He said this because in comparison to Jesus and knowing Him as Savior, they were of little value. This isn’t degrading the value of his earthly accomplishments. It is highly valuing his relationship with Jesus. All the sufferings this world brought Paul, all the difficulties that he faced were of no worry to him because he says, "My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,”

To Paul, it was all about Jesus and living for Him. Nothing else matters. When he compared the life he could have had verses the life he had in Christ, there was no comparison. Even the suffering for Christ was better than the greatness this world offered. He was able to have this mindset because he understood the value of what He had with Jesus and the eternal significance of that. This world could give us upwards of 100 years of life, but that pales in comparison to eternity. This life can give us temporary riches and relationships but that pales in comparison to the eternal riches and relationships in heaven. It’s all about earthly perspective and heavenly perspective. Take some time today to ask God to give you more of a heavenly perspective. When we look at everything as temporary value vs heavenly value, the heavenly value will always win out. Life becomes more about the legacy you leave and less about the money you make. Life becomes more about the people you have impacted for Christ and less about the number of followers you have on social media. Life becomes more about making Jesus famous and less about seeking fame for yourself. It becomes all about Jesus. Let’s go out and make much of Jesus!

Philippians 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul focuses a lot on setting our minds and actions to Jesus in this letter to the Philippians. This church is one that had a great love for Paul and a great love for God. They were doing a lot of good things and following God properly. It’s like Paul is working through the fine-tuning of the Christian walk with them. He focuses his attention on setting our minds on the proper path and then acting out the Gospel in a worthy manner. This continues throughout chapter 4.

In today’s verses, you see that Paul starts with the attitude of rejoicing. He says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” When times are great rejoice in the Lord. When things get bad REJOICE in the Lord! Rejoice always because He is worthy, He is near and He is listening. Paul continues with how we can do this and it starts with prayer. Prayer with thanksgiving in our heart and mind, while laying down everything at the feet of Jesus. It is this action that will give us peace and it is this action that will guard our hearts and minds against the chaos of this world.

The answer is always prayer. When we come before Jesus with all of our burdens and lay them at His feet, He will begin to work. I like to look at prayer in the acrostic of ACTS. We start with Adoration, praising God for who He. We then move to confession. This is reminding us who we are in light of Him and confessing our sins to Him. After confession comes thanksgiving. This is the time when we talk to God about all the things we are thankful for. Then, at the end of the prayer, we seek supplication. This is when we ask God to take care of our burdens, our problems and meet our needs. It’s interesting when you pray in this order how many times you already have the answer to your needs before you get to the end of your prayer. This is what strengthens you and leads you to rejoice. Think of a prayer like this for example, “God you are my provider, you own the cattle on a thousand hills, I know you love me and care for me. I am unworthy of all you have given me, forgive me. God, I thank you for how you meet my needs every day and today I ask that you will meet this need.” Do you see how the prayer was answered before you got to the end? If God is your provider, He has met all your previous needs and you can be confident that He will meet your current need. Praying like this brings a thankful and praise-filled heart that allows you to rejoice even when the times are tough.

Take some time to pray in this way today and watch how Jesus works in your life. Lay it all at His feet and know that He cares for you. Come with thanksgiving and leave rejoicing!

Philippians 4:8

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.”

Have you ever thought about how a filter works? Think about a water filter. The idea is to put dirty water through one end and get clean water on the other side. There are many different ways to do this but the idea is the same. Something inside the filter grabs the dirty parts and keeps them inside. Now think of a water test. A water test is simple, it says this water is good or this water is bad. Did you know our mind is like a filter? When we are living a life for Christ we will have to filter things through our mind and God's word so that we don’t repeat and act on the bad things. That’s just part of living in a fallen world. The thing about a filter is the dirtier the things are that you put through the filter the dirtier it will be when it comes through the other side. This is when the test comes in. If the water is highly toxic and you send it through the filter it will be toxic on the way back. This will be the same with our brains. If we put too much garbage in we will get garbage out and that will lead us to dishonor God with our words, actions and thoughts. That’s when a test is necessary.

Today’s verses are what I call the Philippians 4:8 test. As Paul established in His letter to the Galatians and Ephesians, we are set free from the law and we are given liberty to live in grace. Many would want to take this and live however we want but to those who follow Christ as their Lord and Savior, this should not be the choice we make. We should decide to live a life free from the burden of the law and sin. We should live forgiven, free, grace-filled, God-honoring lives. Simply because that is what Jesus deserves. Philippians 4:8 allows us to take the things this world offers and say whether it is right for us to take part. We can test things like music, movies, tv shows, events, relationships and many other things. We look at the thing we are testing and ask, “does this _______  make me think on the things in Philippians 4:8 or not. If our mind can think on truth, honor, justice, purity, things that are lovely and commendable, then it passes the test.

There may be some things that are bad, mixed into things that pass the test, that’s when you filter with your mind and God’s word but make sure to run them through the test first. When you allow too many things to enter in to your mind, eventually they will come out. Eventually, they will become your thoughts and your actions. God is worthy of us putting these things to the test to be able to serve and honor Him to the best of our ability. What are some things that you need to put to the test? Does your music, movies, shows, YouTube channels, TikTok’s, and much more pass the test?

Philippians 4:12-13

“I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

We are reaching the end of this letter to the Philippians. Paul has taught them and us many different things. We have been allowed to see into his heart for Jesus and serving Him. We have also been challenged to live a life that honors and glorifies God from the way we act, think, pray and speak. As he closes off this letter, he wants to make sure that everyone knows that He cannot do this and we cannot do this apart from Jesus.

Today is the famous verse of, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Paul had been through good times and absolutely horrible times. He had been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and imprisoned yet he always made it through. Paul says, before you want to start talking about how strong and dedicated I am, realize that I did not do this through my own strength. It was done only through the strength given to me through Jesus Christ. It is He who deserves the glory and praise for carrying me through this life. This is why Paul says, I know both how to have a little and how to have a lot. His contentment is in the fact that Jesus will strengthen him for the situation that is at hand. That is what Paul means when He says, “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Paul can accomplish whatever task is put before him because it is by the strength of Jesus and not his own.

This is true for us as well. Whatever task God has put before us, we can and will get through it when we rely on His strength. When we rely on our own strength we will falter and fail. When we rely on the strength of Jesus we will flourish and pass every test and task that is put before us. Take some time today to evaluate whether you are relying on your strength or on the strength of Jesus.