It has been a busy summer here at Crossroads Church. As a result, I took a bit of a break from writing in the month of July, but am glad to be back with you in the month of August. I pray that this time of study can be a blessing to you! In July, our campuses entered a new series called Discovering Joy: A Walk Through the Book of Philippians. We hope you enjoy it!! Click Here to Watch Sermons in this Series.
The Apostle Paul was converted in the Book of Acts Chapter 9 around the year A.D. 36, where as he traveled on the Road to Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. God began to miraculously transform Saul into Paul, and into what New Testament believers would call a new creation. But, let’s be very clear about something, Saul was still Paul, his name change was to reflect the transformation that had occurred in his Spirit, no longer did he identify the god he worshiped before Acts 9 (himself), instead he identified with the God of Jacob (YHWH). Saul had consciously rejected Christ, but God being rich in mercy, radically turned him in a different direction. Leading us to the truth, that regardless of our iniquities God is ready to use us for His greater glory.
So Paul, who was once the greatest opposition to the Early Church in Acts, was now taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In fact, Christ described Paul as his, “chosen instrument to carry My name before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel.” So Paul, eager to tell the good news, begins proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth. On the First Missionary Journey in Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas are traveling through Antioch, and the Jews and proselytes beg Paul to preach, because he is preaching something that provides eternal life. But some Jews instigated persecution against Paul and Barnabas, ultimately removing them from their region. The same was true of their efforts in Iconium. Infact, Paul would preach in the synagogue and would later suffer severe persecution for his teachings. This continued in Lystra, where they stoned Paul and left him for dead. But yet, he continued to Derbe and made a return trip through Iconium, Lystra, and Antioch, where he would establish elders over each congregation.
Kostenberger notes, “Like every genuine new movement of the gospel into new lands or people groups, God is the one who instigated the irresistible spread of the gospel in the mission of the early church.” Paul was out on his Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16-18) around A.D. 52), when the spirit called him to go to Macedonia through a dream. So, Paul crossed the Hellespont which was in Northwest Turkey, which at the time served as a dividing line between East and West, and the first stop was a massive metropolis called Philippi.
While writing Philippians, Paul was sitting in Caesarean imprisonment, and was unlikely to be released, due to the severe unrest between Rome and Christians. It was at this time that the Emperor Nero was ruling over the Roman Empire, and he had a specific hatred toward Christian people, because many of them would not bow to his leadership. Many of his officials throughout his empire were harsh and shot severe hatred toward those who disrupted the peace. They were operating under the Pax Romana, which said, “Kiss the ring and all will be well.”
Philippi prospered, because it was situated along the Via Egnatia, which was the land route between Rome and the East. So, what was Paul seeking to do in this letter. Paul was looking to bring wisdom to the ears of the church in Philippi, because there had been severe disunity between two women in the church as well as various false teachers and teachings around the city that were impacting this group of people. Overall, there was a lack of unity and fellowship amongst the congregation. Therefore, Paul is urging the church to unite to ultimately fight against anything that threatens the greater progress of the gospel. And so Paul earnestly urged the saints of Philippi to be united in Christian Fellowship. Why? Check this out…. D.A. Carson explains, “Christian fellowship, then, is self-sacrificing conformity to the gospel. There may be overtones of warmth and intimacy, but the heart of the matter is this shared vision of what is of transcendent importance, a vision that calls forth our commitment.” Paul is calling people to be committed to one another, for the sake of fighting off the threats of this world. And at Christian Fellowship’s root is abounding JOY only found in Christ Jesus. This entire book is about finding the FULLNESS OF JOY. And so the kernel of truth for us is…
We can discover the fullness of joy, when we discover Christ is the key to all of life, beginning to end.
Read: Philippians 1:1-18
Understand: Four Pauline Truths
- We Can Discover Joy in the Sainthood of all Believers (Vv. 1-2)
- We Can Discover Joy in the Future Completion of Salvation (Vv. 3-8)
- We Can Discover Joy in Unconditional Love for Christ and One Another (Vv. 9-11)
- We Can Discover Joy in the Greater Progress of the Gospel (Vv.12-18)
Pray: Devotion (Valley of Vision)
Devotion GOD OF MY END, It is my greatest, noblest pleasure to be acquainted with thee and with my rational, immortal soul; It is sweet and entertaining to look into my being when all my powers and passions are united and engaged in pursuit of thee, when my soul longs and passionately breathes after conformity to thee and full enjoyment of thee; No hours pass away with so much pleasure as those spent in communion with thee and with my heart. O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life is a spirit of holy watchfulness and godly jealousy over myself. when my soul is afraid of nothing except grieving and offending thee, the blessed God, my Father and friend, whom I then love and long to please, rather than be happy in myself! Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper, worthy of the highest ambition, and closest pursuit of intelligent creatures and holy Christians, may my joy derive form glorifying and delighting thee. I long to fill all my time for thee, whether at home or in the way; to place all my concerns in thy hands; to be entirely at thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own. Help me to live to thee for ever, to make thee my last and only end, so that I may never more in one instance love my sinful self.
Penned By Tim Goodwin (Associate Pastor)