good quote

" In my opinion, the great single need of the moment is that light-hearted superficial religionists be struck down with a vision of God high and lifted up, with His train filling the temple. The holy art of worship seems to have passed away like the Shekinah glory from the tabernacle. As a result, we are left to our own devices and forced to make up the lack of spontaneous worship by ...bringing in countless cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people." ~ A.W. Tozer

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 5

Philippians 2:1-4
    "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."

A Humble Heart and a Helping Hand
Humility and concern for others are key qualities of the Christian Life.

   We all have heard about the man who was humble and proud of it, or about the man who was so humble that his coworkers gave him a large button that read, "I'm humble." However, as soon as he wore it, his coworkers made him return it. Apparently they thought he was not humble any longer.
  One dictionary defines humility as "the absence of pride or self- assertion." I don't know how that definition compares with yours, but I like it. I especially lik the latter part of the definition; the absence of self-assertion. I think the apostle Paul would have liked it too. He certainly exhorted the Philippians to avoid putting their own interests ahead of others'.

Be like-minded
   Sometimes it's frustrating to try to make someone happy. I'm sure you agree. I've worked for some people that never seemed happy. They don't even smile. I often wonder what would make them happy. The Philippian believers did not have to wonder what would make Paul happy. He wrote that his joy would be complete if they functioned as a like-minded group of Christians (Philippians 2:2).
  "Likeminded" is a key word in this section of Philippians. It means to think the same thing. Of course, it is more important to know what think means in Philippians 2:2. It doesn't quite fit the definition of thinking that a little boy gave. He described thinking as something that occurs "when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking to itself." There are, of course, different kinds of thinking. Some thinking never goes beyond the conceptual stage. You think about doing some work around the house, but you never do it; you just conceptualize it. You may continue to think about that project, but you just never do it. On the other hand, there is a kind of thinking that results in actions. You think about getting something to eat or to drink, and you follow through by "raiding the refrigerator." Or you think about going somewhere, and you actually drive there. You think about doing your income tax, and because the next day is April 15th, you complete the income tax forms and mail them to the IRS by mid-night of the 15th. The thinking that produces action was the kind Paul wrote about.
   The word "likeminded" in Philippians 2:2 expresses not merely a mental process but an act of the will. It denotes thinking that affects one's whole being in such a way that he makes a decision and acts. By engaging in the same action-oriented thinking, the Philippians would experience unity.

Here's how it works
  Was it really possible for the Philippians to have unity? Of course it was, but wherever people congregate, problems congregate. Someone has said that the removal of friction from interpersonal relationships is 90 percent of the solution to the problem of how to manage people. Although the Philippian church was an outstanding fellowship of believers, it wasn't perfect. The Philippians needed to remove some friction ( verses 3:2, 18, 19; 4:2).
   Before exhorting his readers to be like-minded, Paul mentioned four conditions that make unity possible (verse 2:1). Each condition begins with the word "if".
   The first condition that contributes to unity is "consolation in Christ." Consolation means encouragement. The Philippians' relationship to Christ encouraged them to think the same thing.
   The second condition that contributes to unity in a local church is "comfort of love." The meaning of "comfort" is similar to that of "consolation"; it means encouragement or exhortation. Christ's love for the Philippians encouraged them to love one another. Jesus had told His followers: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).
   The third condition that contributes to unity is the "fellowship of the Spirit." This fellowship is the Spirit-forged bond that believers share as members of the Body of Christ, the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Gal. 3:28). Spiritual equality in the Body of Christ was a strong incentive for the Philippians to stand together as one unit in the work of the gospel.
    The final condition that contributes to unity is "bowels and mercies." "Bowels" in Philippians 2:1 means tenderness, and "mercies" denotes the outward expression of compassion. Most likely, these words refer to the tender mercy and compassion of Christ, which the Philippians had experienced when they trusted in Him as Savior. Since they had received these kindnesses from Christ's hands, they needed to extend them to one another.
   Paul believed the Philippians would strive to be like-minded if they thought soberly about these four conditions. If we reflect adequately on the grace, mercy and love God extended to us in saving us and placing us into the Body of Christ, we, too, would make every effort to be like-minded-- to work harmoniously in the local church to advance the gospel.

Like-mindedness Described
   Paul described like-mindedness to his readers. He wrote first that like-mindedness means "having the same love" (verse 2). This refers to the Philippian Christians' love for one another [and their love for God and the things of God]. If they were like-minded, they would love one another as Christ loved them.
  They would also be "of one accord" (verse 2). They would share a united spirit or attitude. They would live together in harmony. Finally, they would be "of one mind" (verse 2); literally, they would think the one thing. This word translated "of one mind" is the word previously translated "be likeminded" in the same verse. Being like-minded, the Philippians would strive together to reach the goals God had established for them.
  Think about your church. Does it reveal unity in its fellowship and ministry? Are you and your fellow Christians united in the work of the gospel? Are you all like-minded? If not, why not? Bob Richardson observed that the basic problem most people have is that they're doing nothing to solve their basic problem. If a lack of unity is a basic problem in your church, why not begin today to solve it? Try to establish like-mindedness.

Some Products of Like-mindedness
  Amazing things happen when Christians are like-minded and strive together to reach important goals. There is less self-ambition and more self-abasement. Nothing is done through "strive or vainglory" (verse 3a). Strife means self-ambition, a lust for profit and power. "Vainglory" denotes an attitude of pride and the desire for personal prestige. These two attitudes presented a problem in the church in Philippi; they threatened the church's unity. Like-mindedness is the antidote for pride and love of prestige.

Gentle Consideration
   Paul challenged his readers to esteem others better than themselves (verse 3b). Esteem means to consider and denotes having an opinion about something. Not only were the Philippians supposed to consider others; they were supposed to consider others better than themselves.
   "Better" in verse 3 means to stand out. The Philippians were to think of other Christians in the church as "standing out" and therefore, better than themselves.
  This considerate attitude was possible only through "lowliness of mind" (verse 3b). "Lowliness of mind" describes someone with a humble opinion of himself; someone who is not arrogant of assertive. It describes a person who sees himself as God sees him. The way that a person perceives himself determines how he perceives others. A person who holds an inflated opinion of himself usually holds a deflated opinion of others.
   How do you see yourself? How does God see you? How similar or dissimilar are God's perception of you and your perception of yourself? How can you begin to see yourself as God sees you?
  Not only were the Philippians to consider others better than themselves, they were to care about other people's interests (verse 4). To develop this concern for others, the Philippians needed to stop focusing exclusively on their individual interests. The word "look" in verse 4 means to look attentively or to take note. It implies a desire to respond appropriately to what one sees. It's possible to see a need and ignore it. Paul wanted the Philippians to pay attention to people's needs and to help meet those needs. Like-mindedness would produce a single-minded concern for others and their needs.

A Servant's Heart
  An old Quaker, walking along the street, saw a cartman's horse suddenly fall dead. It was a serious loss, for the horse was essential to the cartman's livelihood. They bystanders shook their heads and clucked sympathetically. The Quaker removed his broad brimmed hat, placed a bank note in it, and said, "Friends, I am sorry for this man ten dollar's worth. How sorry are you?" The Quaker looked on the need of the cartman and did something about it. That's the kind of concern Paul wanted the Philippians to have.
  Someone remarked that a person all wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. Although each of us ought to respect himself and carry a healthy self-esteem, no one should worship himself or live to serve his own interests. If you worship yourself, think constantly of yourself, live entirely for yourself, you can not be like-minded. In order to be like-minded, you need to be lowly minded. You need to begin to see you as God sees you. When you see yourself as God sees you, you will see others as persons to whom you can minister. Lift your eyes today, look around and see burdened and lonely people. Develop a servant's heart, and help somebody today.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 4

Philippians 1: 27-30
    " Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries; which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me."

Chapter 4 Good Citizenship
  Christians should live as citizens of Heaven
Alexander Graham Bell
             March 3, 1847
           A Citizen of the U.S.A.
   For his epitaph, Mr. Bell could have selected a few of his numerous honors. He was, after all, an extraordinary inventor. Just place a phone call or answer one, and you are in debt to his inventive genius. But Alexander Graham Bell considered U.S. citizenship his most cherished accomplishment; so he chose to have that identification engraved on his tombstone.
  Likely you are proud of your national citizenship. But, as a Christian, you are also a citizen of Heaven. How important is that citizenship to you? Is it more important than any of your accomplishments? Is citizenship in Heaven so important to you that it affects the way you live? It should be. Paul reminded the Philippian Christians that they were citizens of Heaven and should live accordingly.

Live it!
  After Paul informed the Philippians about his confinement and shared his triumphant attitude with them, he addressed the specific needs of the church at Philippi. "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ," he exhorted (Philippians 1:27). Although the Philippians needed exhortations about retaining sound doctrine and about getting along together, Paul gave top priority to the important matter of representing Christ well by living in a Christlike manner.
  "Let your conversation be" translates one Greek word meaning to live as a citizen. The Philippian believers must have immediately perceived the relevancy of this exhortation. Philippi, their home, was a Roman colony. So they possessed both the privileges and responsibilities of Roman citizens.
   Because Philippi was a "little Rome," every resident was expected to live as a Roman citizen. However, Rome didn't have to coerce residents of Philippi to conform to Roman ways. Most Philippians eagerly copied the customs and styles of their counterparts in Rome. It was, after all, the "in thing" around town to live like a Roman.
  Picking up on the familiar theme of citizenship, Paul urged the Philippian Christians to live as citizens of Heaven. Just as Philippi served as a model community for the spread of Roman culture, so the Christians at Philippi needed to function as a model community for the spread of the gospel.
  Like the residents of Philippi, Christians hold citizenship in a distant place. We are citizens of Heaven. And just as the Philippians were expected to live like Romans, so we ought to live like citizens of Heaven.
   How should citizens of Heaven live? "As it becometh the gospel of Christ" (verse 27). "Becometh" means in a manner worthy of or in accord with. Paul wanted the Philippians to live in a manner worthy of the gospel or in accord with the gospel.
  We all live according to some standard, whether we realize it or not. Paul urged the Philippians to live according to the standard of the gospel. The gospel, of course, includes more than salvation; it includes sanctification. It tells Christians how God wants them to live. Paul wanted the Philippians to live as God wanted them to live. He wanted them to live worthy of the gospel. He wanted them to live as Christ lived.
  One star in our northern sky never sets, and for thousands of years it has shone the brightest and been the most reliable guide for travelers, especially for sailors. It is Polaris, or the Pole Star. Better known as the North Star, it is located directly above the North Pole. You can find it readily on a clear night by following with your eye an imaginary line through the pointers of the Great Dipper. Long ago, Phoenicians and Vikings and sailors of the North used this method to find Polaris when they started to sail the seven seas. Since the first century, the gospel has given flawless direction for the Christian life. If a believer's life fails to reflect his heavenly citizenship, the fault lies with him and not with the gospel.
  It is easy to slip into the habit of looking at life from a worldly viewpoint instead of getting our direction from the gospel-- the Polaris of our faith. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God " (Romans 12:2). The world's philosophy condones-- sometimes advises-- self-seeking. The gospel instructs the believer to seek first the kingdom of Heaven, to honor God and put others' interest ahead of his own interests (Philippians 2:3,4). The world's philosophy stipulates that wealth and possessions offer security and happiness.  The gospel teaches the "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6). The world's philosophy targets sinful pleasure as the ultimate thrill. The gospel declares that true and lasting joy is found only in Christ (John 16:22-24). The world's philosophy insists that "you only go 'round once in this life, so reach for all the gusto you can." The gospel cautions that judgment follows death (Hebrews 9:27), and affirms that "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1John 2:17).
   Knowing the truth of the gospel, the Christian ought to live it!

    Occasionally we wonder how a professional sports team cam have so much talent bot so few wins. Then we learn that many of those gifted athletes lack teamwork. Success demands teamwork. Paul was in Rome, and his readers were in Philippi. But, whether he was absent from them or present with them, he wanted to hear that they were working as a team, standing fast in one spirit (Philippians 1:27).
    The words "stand fast" probably brought to the Philippians' minds the picture of soldiers refusing to desert their posts and standing firm in the heart of battle. Of course, soldiers see no reason to hold their ground unless they share common values and a common goal. Why would they stand firm without a cause? Paul urged the Philippians to stand firm "in one spirit"; that is, having the same attitude.
   Standing fast demands not only unity but also a willingness to join in a struggle. Paul advised the Philippians to strive together "with one mind" for the faith of the gospel (verse 27). Striving together is synonymous with "struggling together."  The Philippians were engaged in a contest as they did the work of the gospel. The goal of their struggle was "the faith of the gospel"-- the doctrinal truths of the gospel.
  At the end of a Sunday morning service, a choir began the recessional, singing as they marched in perfect unison up the center aisle to the back of the church.
  The last young lady in the women's section was wearing a pair of shoes with spike heels. In the aisle lay a grating that covered the hot-air register.
  Without a thought for her heels, the young woman sang and marched. One heel sank right through a hole in the register grate. Instantly she realized her predicament. She knew she couldn't hold up the whole recessional while she back-stepped to pull out her heel. She did the next best thing in the emergency. Without missing a step she slipped her foot out of her shoe and continued up the aisle. There wasn't a break in the recessional. Everything moved liked clockwork.
  The man following that young woman noted the situation and, without losing a beat, reached down and picked up her shoe. The entire grate came with it. Startled but still singing, the man continued up the aisle bearing in his hand the grate and the trapped shoe.
  Just like that choir, the Philippians needed to move in unison in the ministry of the gospel and not let anything distract them.
   Standing fast involves steadfastness. Not only did the Philippians need to be united, they needed to steadfastly resist their opponents. Standing fast, they would not be terrified by their adversaries (verse 28). As the Philippians worked together in the ministry of the gospel, they faced opposition. Friends might come and go, but adversaries would only increase. Paul did not want the Philippians to be frightened or intimidated by these opponents. If the Philippians stood fast against them, their steadfastness would be a sign of destruction to the opponents and a sign of salvation to the Philippians (verse 28b). Both sides would recognize the ultimate results of the conflict. The adversaries would be destroyed; the Philippians would be delivered.
   The world has many religions, but it has only one gospel. These religions oppose the gospel. Recently, when someone attempted to share the gospel with an unbeliever, he was told that the unbeliever had their own religion and if the Christian continued to tell them of the gospel, then their friendship would suffer. As you do the work of the gospel, you will meet opposition, and you need to stand fast in attitude and purpose. You and your fellow church-members need to be united as you spread the message of the gospel. You need to stand fast against opposition. United, Christians stand fast; divided we fall fast.

A Reminder
   Some Christian leaders teach that the truly spiritual life is trouble-free. "Believe in Jesus Christ and your troubles will be over," they insist. However their prosperity message is foreign to the Scriptures. Every Christian suffers in one way of another. In fact, sometimes "troubles" increase when one becomes a Christian. When we suffer, though, we need to recognize that suffering can be viewed either as a misfortune or as a discipline. God uses suffering to make us strong. He uses trials to build us up, not to tear us down.
  Paul reminded the Philippians that suffering because of the opposition they faced was "given" by God (verse 29). It came as a gracious gift from Him. They were suffering for Christ's sake. They were not suffering because of who they were but because of what they were. They were suffering because they were Christians. Suffering accompanied their salvation. They were given the opportunity to believe on Christ and to suffer for Him (verse 29b).

  The Philippians' experience with suffering was similar to Paul's. They experienced "the same conflict" (verse 30). The word "conflict" denotes an athletic contest. It emphasizes struggling. paul struggled as he did the work of the gospel, and the Philippians struggled as they did the work of the gospel. They both needed to remain steadfast in the struggle in spite of the suffering.
   You are a partner in the work of the gospel. You are involved in a struggle. When you go to work, to the store, to a ball game, you meet opposition as you do the work of the gospel. You engage in a struggle, and you suffer. However, you need to stand firm. You need to unite with your fellow church members and stand against the opposition. You need to live as a good citizen-- a citizen of Heaven. Are you a good citizen?

More to come in my study of Philippians...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Joyful Life; Study on Philippians chapter 3

Philippians 1:12- 26
   "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again."

Rejoice Regardless
The gospel advances in spite of difficult circumstances.

Matthew Henry, the famous scholar, was accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse. He wrote these words in his diary: "Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and forth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed." [Let me add one more, though they took what he had, they left more room for some later on]
 Matthew Henry was able to rejoice in a very difficult situation. We might say that he "rejoiced regardless." We often find ourselves in situations we would not choose to be in. Although we can't control those circumstances, we can control our response to them. If we remember that God controls our circumstances according to His purposes for our lives, we will look for His purposes and rejoice in them. Remembrance of God's purposes brings rejoicing in present circumstances.
   Paul found himself imprisoned-- not a good circumstance-- and yet he rejoiced. How did he do it? Philippians 1:12- 26 answers this question.

The Progress of the Gospel
  Paul assured the Philippians that what had happened to him happened for "the furtherance of the gospel" (Philippians 1:12). Although Paul was not in prison when he wrote to the Philippian letter, his circumstances at Rome were far from normal. Acts 28:30 reports that he was living "in his own hired house." In other words, he was living in a private dwelling at his own expense. Furthermore, he was under house arrest there, having been falsely accused of sedition (Acts 24:5). Confined to quarters, he was chained to soldiers continually (Acts 28:16), while he awaited trial. Yet, he perceived that something beneficial had resulted from this nasty situation. He perceived that the gospel was spreading because of his unjust confinement.
  Paul rose above his circumstances and saw what was happening around him. Too often, we are so overwhelmed by our circumstances that we cannot see how God is using them for our good and His glory. We should look at circumstances from a spiritual viewpoint.

The Results of Paul's Imprisonment
  Paul identified the first result of his imprisonment as "My bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace" (Philippians 1:13). The word "palace" most likely refers to the "palace guard." Likely, the soldiers chained to Paul were members of the palace guard. They realized that his arrest and confinement had come about because he was a Christian. He was suffering for the faith. He wasn't suffering for a crime. It's quite possible that some of the palace guard had come to know Christ when they were "closely linked" to Paul (4:22).
  Paul added that other people had become aware of who he was and why he was in Rome. "My bonds in Christ are all other places," he wrote in Philippians 1:13. The gospel was spreading to people beyond the palace guard in spite of Paul's difficult circumstances. God was in charge of Paul's life! He's in charge of ours too!
  The second result of Paul's confinement was that many believers were "much more bold to speak the word without fear" (verse 14). Somehow Paul's imprisonment had charged many believers in Rome with the courage to speak the Word of God, and Paul rejoiced because of this sudden evangelistic impetus.
  After a heavy snowfall, a man saw a boy skiing with one ski. He asked the youngster, "Don't you know your suppose to have two skis?"
  Looking up with a happy grin, the boy replied, "I know I ought to have two skis, but I ain't got 'em. But mister, you can have a lot of fun with one ski if you ain't got two."
  Although Paul was unable to preach the gospel beyond his rented quarters, others were spreading the word, so he rejoiced. Like the boy with only one ski, he made the best of his far-less-than-perfect circumstances.
  If we depend upon ideal circumstances for our happiness, we'll never be happy. We must look beyond our circumstances and see the One Who is in charge of all of life. When we understand that He controls the circumstances for our good, we can rejoice.
  Are you rejoicing?

The Reaction of Paul's Brothers
    As you read further in chapter one of Philippians, you develop a greater appreciation of Paul's rejoicing in hard circumstances. Verse 15 informs us that not everyone was preaching Christ with pure motives. Some saw Paul's imprisonment as an opportunity to advance themselves. They preached Christ "even of envy and strife." "Strife" means rivalry, and along with "envy" it suggests a bad relationship. Paul added that they were not preaching sincerely but rather out of "contention" (1:16). "Contention," a negative word, denotes a mercenary attitude and a partisan spirit. It indicates self-seeking-- selfish ambition. The self- seeking preachers declared Christ because they believed that by doing so they would add anguish to Paul's imprisonment. Their message was correct, but their motive was incorrect.
  A lesser man than Paul would have resented the self-seekers' activity, but Paul rejoiced because the gospel was advancing. While men of impure motives tried to take advantage of Paul's misfortune, Paul rejoiced.
  Do some Christians today minister out of a wrong motive? Is it possible for you to minister out a wrong motive?
  Happily, some preached Christ out of a right motive. They were preaching out "of good will" (verse 15). Their motive was love (verse 17). They preached to show their support of Paul, knowing that he faced an impending trial. What he could not do because of his confinement, they endeavored to do in his place.
  At the conclusion of a concert, two ushers applauded longer and more loudly than anybody else. Concert-goers smiled at the ushers appreciatively until one of the ushers stopped applauding and then the other one shouted, "Keep clapping, Harry. One more encore, and we're on overtime."
  Think about your motives. Why do you do what you do in the ministry of the gospel? Fellow Christians may see your deeds, but God sees your motives.

Paul's Response
  Paul looked at the big picture. He saw that some were preaching for personal gain while others were preaching with pure motives. He refused to let those with impure motives discourage him. He rejoiced because Christ was being preached (verse 18).
  Are you able to see the big picture? Instead of getting discouraged because some Christian workers seem to have impure motives, do you rejoice because a growing number of people are hearing the gospel? Are you willing to let God deal with those whose motives are wrong?

The Prospect of Paul's Release
   Let's review. Paul was in prison, or more accurately, imprisoned in a house at his own expense. His ministry was somewhat interrupted. However, the ministry of the gospel was not curtailed; the gospel was still circulating. Because Christ was being preached, even though he was not doing the preaching, Paul was rejoicing. He rejoiced, even though he was imprisoned and waiting trial. But what about his imprisonment? How was he handling it? What did he think about it? How did he respond to it? Was there any chance for release? 

Paul's Deliverance
   Paul believed his unfavorable circumstances would culminate in his salvation (1:19). "Salvation" in verse 19 does not seem to refer to Paul's release from imprisonment. Rather, it seems to refer to the future, final realization of Paul's spiritual salvation. [ so there's no confusion, it is not through Paul's works that he was saved, it was through faith in Jesus Christ] His present circumstances were part of God's working in his life. They demonstrated the genuineness of his salvation. He was not in prison because he was a criminal, but because he was a Christian. Consequently, his circumstances indicated the certainty of his salvation, a salvation that had a future aspect. Someday, Paul would be present with the Lord. Then he would be free from every trace of sin's power and presence.
  In the meantime, Paul wanted to magnify Christ in his body "whether it be by life, of by death" (verse 20). He did not want to be ashamed in anything. He wanted to honor the Lord throughout his confinement and court trial. He testified that this prospect was "my earnest expectation and my hope." For Paul, living was Christ and dying was gain (verse 21).
  Charlie Brown commented that it always gets darkest just before it gets totally black. Sometimes your circumstances seem totally black. And they may be. How do you respond when they are totally black? Do you remember that God is controlling your circumstances? Do you realize that God is using those circumstances to perfect you? Realizing that your circumstances underscore the certainty of your salvation, do you trust Christ in your circumstances and reflect His presence? Perhaps no one exasperates us more than the person who sees the bright side of our misfortunes, but we Christians need to see the right side of our circumstances and rejoice in them.

Paul's Dilemma
  Paul wanted to magnify Christ in his body, whether he lived or died, but he did not know whether he wanted to live or die. He realized that if he lived, his ministry would bear more fruit, but he still was not sure whether he wanted to live (verse 22). He was "in a strait" between living and dying (verse 23). He meant he was under pressure from two sides. He felt like a traveler on a narrow road with a wall of rock on both sides and unable to turn either way.
  Paul had "a desire to depart, and to be with Christ" (verse 23). If he died, it would be to his gain, because he would be with Christ. However, he realized that it was "more needful" for the Philippians that he live (verse 24). It was necessary and indispensable. Dying was beneficial for Paul; living was beneficial for the Philippians.
  Although we don't grapple with the life-or-death dilemma every day. We must decide between what is good for us and what is good for others. How do you choose when you face this dilemma?

Paul's Decision
  Paul made a choice. He put others' interests ahead of his own. He was convinced that he needed to live to increase the Philippians' spiritual growth and joy (verse 25). He assured them that he would live and continue with them; he would come and visit them. He would do what was best for them.
  Two brothers, John and Charles Calvin, were born at Noyon, France. Even at an early age, John was studious, thoughtful and reverent. At twenty- seven he wrote one of the world's greatest books, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. When he died at Geneva in 1564, he bequeathed to the world the great principles of democracy and religious freedom. However, Charles pursued a course of profligacy and dissipation.
  How do you explain the difference between John and Charles Calvin? Not by heredity or environment. The brothers had the same parents, the same home and the same early influences, but they made different choices. Each brother's choice set the direction he would follow in adulthood.
  Each of us experiences different and difficult circumstances. How we respond to those circumstances is a matter of choice. We will choose correctly if we remember that God controls and works in our circumstances.
  We are partners in the work of the gospel. The gospel is the priority, we are not. Our circumstances can further the work of the gospel. Therefore, as the work of the gospel progresses, we should rejoice in our circumstances. Like Paul, we should rejoice regardless!

This was taken from Chapter 3 of " The Joyful Life; Study of Philippians."

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 2

Philippians 1: 1-11
   " Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every rememberance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."

Chapter 2: God's Work Force
  God is working in every believer's life.

  Longfellow wrote, "Life is real; life is earnest." He was right. God didn't put us on the earth primarily to have fun, although having fun seems to be the chief ambition of so many. God put us here to honor Him, and that noble purpose involves dedicated work.
  This responsibility impacts our everyday lives and the life of our local churches. In order for the church to carry out the work of the gospel, Christians must work together. [this doesn't just mean each church with it's own members, but all true Christians together as ONE body.] In order for Christians to work together, they need to love one another. You need the other believers in your church so that you can work together with them in the gospel. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul endeavored to forge a strong link between Christian love and cooperation in the Philippian church.

Paul's Greeting to the Philippians
  As he did in each of his letters, Paul began his correspondence by identifying himself as the sender and by greeting the recipients. In his letter to the Philippians, he included Timothy's name with his own as the senders (Philippians 1:1). Perhaps he included Timothy's name because he planned to send Timothy to Philippi soon.
  Paul called Timothy and himself "servants of Jesus Christ" (verse 1). The word he used for "servants" signifies slaves. Slaves were considered the masters' possessions. Their masters made decisions and choices for them, established their schedules and told them what to do. Masters owned and controlled their slaves. Paul and Timothy were Jesus Christ's slaves. They submitted gladly to His control. They did what He told them to do. Although they figured prominently in the life and ministry of the early church, they regarded themselves as servants--slaves. How different their attitude was from that of so many today, who occupy prominent positions and expect to be served rather than serve.
  Are you a servant of Jesus Christ? How can you serve Him today?
  Paul described the Philippians as "saints" (verse 1). Contrary to popular belief, saints are not holy persons who have died and gone to Heaven and later been canonized by a church. When Paul used the word "saints," he was writing to living Christians at Philippi. The word means set apart unto God. The Philippian Christians were set apart unto God "in Christ Jesus."
  If you are a Christian, you, too, are a saint. When you trusted in Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit set you apart in Christ. Does your behavior reflect the truth that you have been set apart unto God? Are your ambitions, attitudes, actions, vocabulary and views different from those who have not been set apart? Do you think, talk and act saintly?

Paul's Gratitude for the Philippians
  After greeting the Philippians in his traditional manner- "Grace be unto you, and peace..." (verse 2), Paul indicated that he thanked God for them "upon every rememberance" (verse 3). When he thought about the Philippians, he thanked God for them and joyfully prayed for them (verse 4).
  What do you do when you think about other Christians? Do you thank God for them? Do you pray for them? i find that if I thank God for other believers and pray for them when I think about them, my attitude toward them keeps improving. It takes a positive posture instead of a negative one.
  Why did Paul thank God for the Philippians? He was thankful for their "fellowship in the gospel" (verse 5). Paul was not reflecting upon time spent with the Philippians over coffee and cookies. The word "fellowship" means partnership- a joint participation in the Lord's work. The Philippians had fellowshipped with Paul by supporting his ministry. Specifically, the philippians had sent him money "from the first day until now" (verse 5b). They had cooperated with him from the time he visited Philippi.
  Each believer in a local church is a partner with his fellow Christians in spreading the gospel. Each is a partner with his church's missionaries in spreading the gospel. Are you cooperating by thanking God and praying for your fellow church members, pastor and missionaries upon every rememberance of them? Do you cooperate by giving to your local church for the work of the ministry at home and abroad? Partnership in the ministry of the gospel involves serving, praying and giving. A Christian cannot accurately claim to be in fellowship with other believers if he is not a partner with them in the work of the Lord.
  Perhaps today you can send a brief thank you note to your pastor telling him that his ministry has blessed you and assuring him of your desire to serve God in your church. You may wish to write to a missionary to assure him of your prayers. Or, you may call your Sunday School teacher and volunteer to host a class social or contact absentees.
  The Philippians were partners in the gospel because God had begun a good work in them and would "perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (verse 6). This was the second reason Paul thanked God for the Philippians. The good work God had begun in them was His work of grace in saving them, in sanctifying them and in leading them to serve Him in partnership with one another and with Paul. God would continue His work of grace in them until the Rapture, "the day of Christ." God always completes what He begins.
  The Philippians were right to think highly of Paul and to send him money, because he had them in his heart (verse 7). He had a strong affection for them. Since they were partners with him in the gospel, they were partners with him even in his imprisonment (verse 7). They didn't drop Paul's missionary support when the authorities placed him under house arrest in Rome. They weren't just fair-weather friends; they stood with Paul even when ominous clouds engulfed him. No wonder Paul had a strong desire to see them again (verse 8).
  God began a good work in you also when He saved you. He continues to work in you to equip you for significant partnership in the gospel. He wants you to grow in your spiritual life; He wants to perfect you. Are you cooperating with Him as He continues to work in you?

Paul's Prayers for the Philippians
   A Christian once told a non-Christan friend, "You sure swear a lot." The friend replied, "Yeah, but I don't mean anything by it. You sure pray a lot, but you don't mean anything by it either."
  Paul prayed a lot, too, but he meant something by it. I find it interesting that he told his readers what he was requesting for them. I'm not sure that I would want to know what another person was asking God to do in my life. However, by knowing what Paul requested God to do in the Philippians' lives, we recognize what we need in our lives.
  Paul prayed that the Philippians' love would "abound yet  more and more" (verse 9). A popular song several years ago suggested that "what the world needs now is love, sweet love." Of course, the songwriter wasn't refering to God's love, but Paul was, when he prayed for more of it in the Philippians' lives. Today, as then, what the church needs is love, God's love.
  Every baby is born with a need to be loved-- and never outgrows that need. Love is a necessary quality for all stages of life. The young need love; the middle-aged need it; and so do the old. The church at Philippi must have included believers from all stages of life- and they all needed love. Abounding love leaps over age barriers, gender barriers, racial barriers, social barriers and economic barriers and it tells the world that Jesus truly is present with Christians.
    Paul wanted the Philippians' love to abound in "knowledge and in all judgment" (verse 9). "Judgment" means insight or discernment. Judgment is an essential quality in effective human relationships. Both knowledge and judgment refer to man's capacity to discern and make right decisions. Paul wanted love to govern both the Philippians' decisions and their personal relationships. He wanted love to influence their impressions and opinions of others. Love would enable them to overlook the shortcomings of other believers and to perceive them as cherished brothers and sisters in Christ. Does love abound in your discernment? Does it influence the decisions you make about your personal relationships?
  If the Philippians let their love abound in knowledge and judgment, they would "approve things that are excellent" (verse 10). "Approve' means to put to the test and then to accept as tested. "Things that are excellent" are things that really matter. Paul wanted the Philippians to base their relationships in the work of the gospel on things that really mattered. They would accomplish this if their love abounded toward others.
  Too often we base our relationships with others on things that don't really matter. We like people who are like us. We like people who think a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way and dress a certain way. If they don't fit our mold, we tend to criticize them or even shun them. We may excuse our lack of cooperation by saying, "If he's a deacon, I don't want to be one." "If she sings in the choir, I won't join." "If he ushers, I won't serve as an usher." "If she works in the nursery, count me out." "I won't go on visitation with him or her." As a result, the work of the gospel suffers. Love, on the other hand, leads to wholehearted cooperation.
  If the Philippians let love govern their relationships, they would be "sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" (verse 10b). They would be without blame at Christ's coming. Also, righteous acts would characterize their lives (verse 11a). Paul reminded the Philippians that these righteous acts are made possible by Jesus Christ. He produces them in Christians for the glory and praise of God (verse 11b).
  Sydney Harris said, "In the arithmetic of the stomach, half a loaf may be better than none; but in the calculus of the heart, half a love is incomparably worse than none." Paul's goal for the Philippians exceeded half a love; his goal for them was abounding love. Are you abounding in love toward others? Are you and your fellow believers working together in your church as partners in the gospel?

More to come on Philippians later...

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians

Acts 16: 6-40
   "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord has called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which restored thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days, But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers. And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed."

Chapter 1: A Vision and a Visit
Believers should cooperate with God as He intervenes in their lives.

  Some years ago a publisher released a book titled The Chance World. The book describes a world in which everything happens by chance. One day the sun rises; another day it doesn't. When the sun does rise, it appears at an unexpected time. The book also describes the moon as appearing at unexpected times. Sometimes the moon appears in the morning instead of the sun. Some children are portrayed in the book as having one head, while others are portrayed as having twelve heads. One child's head rests on his shoulders. Equally bizarre are the book's descriptions of daily occurrences in human life. A child jumps up one day and come down again, but the next day he jumps, he doesn't come down. A man rises from his chair one day, but another day, when he sits down, he and his chair crash through the floor and land in a basement.

  Fortunately, or our world doesn't operate that way. Things don't happen by chance, do they? Do you just happen to meet someone? Do you just happen to hear about a job opportunity? Do you just happen to find about a good deal? Do things just happen? No! Things don't just happen. Our lives are not a sequence of chance happenings. We believe that God intervenes in our lives. Theologians call this phenomenon the immanence of God. He is present and active in His creation. He intervenes in our lives.We should recognize this fact and cooperate with Him as He seeks to accomplish His will.

God's Intervention in Paul's Life

  On his second missionary journey and accompanied by Silas and Timothy, Paul wanted to journey east and preach the word in Asia (Acts 16:6), but the Holy Spirit forbade this. He also kept Paul, Silas and Timothy from entering Bithynia (verse 7). So the three men kept traveling west until they came to Troas (verse 8). At Troas, Paul received a vision, in which a man from Macedonia appeared to him. "Come over into Macedonia, and help us," the man earnestly pled (verse 9).
   This vision was not an unplanned event, a happenstance. It came as a divine intervention into the lives of Paul and his missionary companions. Twice God had prevented them from going east. Now He was directing them west, across the sea to Macedonia. He had interrupted their travel plans, and now interjecting His plan.
   How did the missionaries respond to this interruption? They concluded that God had in fact called them to preach he gospel to the Macedonians (verse 10). they then cooperated with Him by sailing immediately to Macedonia. After landing at Neapolis, they went inland to Philippi, a leading city in Macedonia (verses 11 & 12). There, they began to preach the gospel (verse 13).
  Although it is wise to plan ahead, we must do so with a sensitivity to God's will, knowing that God may intervene and interrupt our plans at any moment. Do we contest His intervention or cooperate with Him? Paul's example teaches us to cooperate with God when He changes our plans. But why? Because God has a reason for changing our plans. We see that in Paul's experience in Philippi.

The Conversion of Lydia
  God directed Paul and his coworkers to Philippi because a woman named Lydia lived there and needed to hear about Christ. She and other women had gathered for prayer by a river outside Philippi (verse 13). When Paul met her, he shared the gospel with her. She listened receptively, because the Lord had opened her heart (verse 14). God moved in her reason, emotions and intellect in such a way that she responded in faith to the gospel.
   Lydia became a believer because God had intervened in her life to save her. But first, He had intervened in Paul's life to direct him to Philippi and specifically to Lydia. We may not understand immediately why God intervenes in our lives, but we can be certain that He does so for good reasons. Such interventions may lead to our serving as instruments in His hands for directing others to Him. So we need to be alert to His interruptions and cooperate with Him as He directs us.

The Confrontation with the Slave Girl
  If everything always turns out as well as the conversion of Lydia, it would be easy for us to cooperate with God when He intervenes in our lives and changes our plans. The problem is that everything doesn't always turn out that way for us. It didn't for Paul either. Although Lydia responded positively to Paul's preaching, others responded negatively.
  After Paul preached to Lydia and the other women, he met a slave girl who was possessed with a spirit of divination (verse 16). Most likely, she predicted the future, and like a ventriloquist, spoke with a different voice. Her occultic activities directed a steady flow of cash to her masters' pockets. But God would soon hang a "Closed for Business" sign over her life.
  The slave girl followed Paul and his coworkers. As she dogged their steps, she screamed, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation" (verse 17). This scenario repeated itself day after day after day. Finally, having put up long enough with the slave girl's antics and knowing that the unbelieving Gentiles might relate her statements to their own gods and their own salvation, in the name of Jesus Christ Paul commanded the spirit to come out of her (verse 18). Overwhelmed by the authority of Jesus' name, the evil spirit departed from the girl.
  Although this exorcism was for the slave girl's good, it was bad for her masters' business. Because she was no longer able to predict the future, their source of income dried up. As suddenly as their revenue supply had fizzled, their tempers flared. They seized Paul and Silas, dragged them into the marketplace to appear there before the magistrates (verses 19, 20).
   The slave masters accursed Paul and Silas of two things. They alleged first that the missionaries "do exceedingly trouble our city" (verse 20), and secondly that the missionaries "teach costumes, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe" (verse 21). The second charge probably confused the missionaries' evangelism with the act of converting Romans to Judaism. These charges were extremely serious, because the Romans insisted on peace and order in their colonies and strongly disapproved of Jewish proselytism.
  The charges were a smoke screen. The slave masters weren't concerned for Roman law and order; they simply wanted revenge. They had lost a lucrative business, and they would not be satisfied until Paul and Silas paid a heavy penalty for their "crime."
  We can only conjecture the kind of animosity preachers today might face if their preaching resulted in the closure of casinos, crack houses and prostitution rings. The Devil doesn't accept defeat graciously!
   The slave masters won their case in a kangaroo court. The people "rose up together against" Paul and Silas (verse 22); that is, they joined in an attack against them. The magistrates responded to the mob action by commanding their enforcement officers to beat Paul and Silas and then cast them into prison (verse 23).
  So far, no good from a human perspective had come form the exorcism. God had intervened, but now two of His servants were in prison. Their feet were held fast in wooden blocks (verse 24), and the pain was excruciating!
  Men of weak faith might reason that cooperating with God doesn't pay. After all, Paul and Silas had cooperated with Him when he changed their plans and led them to Philippi. That cooperation landed them in a heap of trouble. They were doing God's will, and look where they were. Was ther no justice?
   Have you ever attempted to do God's will and ended up in "trouble"? How did you feel? How did you respond?

The Conversion of the Jailer
   Paul and Silas were men of faith. They didn't blame God for their circumstances. Quite the opposite. They kept praying and praising God in song (verse 25). This was the first prison gospel concert in history! and verse 25 states that "the prisoners heard them."
  Because the word "heard" (verse 25) means to listen with interest, we know the prisoners didn't object to the singing, even though it was a midnight concert.
  What a testimony! Paul and Silas were doing God's will and ended up in prison. Nevertheless, they were praying and praising God. Would you do the same thing in a similar situation? Do you do the same thing in tough situations?
  An amazing thing happened in the Philippian jail. Actually, it didn't just happen; God caused it to happen. A sudden earthquake jolted the prison (verse 26). The doors of the prison flew open, and the prisoners' chains fell off.
  Alarmed and dismayed because he thought that all the prisoners had escaped, the jailer prepared to kill himself (verse 27). He knew the prisoners were his responsibility; and if they had escaped, he most likely would be executed.
  However, before the jailer had time to commit suicide, Paul intervened. "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here," he shouted (verse 28).
  The jailer's interest shifted dramatically from suicide to salvation. Instead of wanting to destroy his life, he wanted to save it- eternally. Trembling, he fell at the missionaries' feet and asked: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (verse 30).
  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved and thy house" (verse 31), Paul and Silas replied.
  The word "Believe" implies urgency and denotes the orientation of one's mind and heart toward Jesus Christ. It does not mean to give mere assent to some propositions about Him. Therefore, by instructing the jailer to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, they admonished him to trust Jesus Christ to save him.
  The jailer and his family, too, believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and then were baptized (verses 33, 34). Their conversion to Christ had resulted from Paul and Silas' incarceration. Paul and Silas were in prison because Paul had cast a demon out of a slave girl. Paul was able to cast the spirit out of the girl because he and his coworkers were in Philippi. They were in Philippi because God had intervened in their lives, changed their plans and directed them to Philippi. Interesting sequence! Did all of this just happen? Of course not. God had intervened in the missionaries' lives, and they had obeyed Him. He worked in their lives, and they cooperated with Him.
  But the story of the missionaries' visit to Philippi didn't end with the conversation with the jailer and his family members. Paul and Silas were still in prison.

The Confrontation with the Magistrates
   For some reason the magistrates decided to release Paul and Silas from prison. So they sent word to the jailer to let them go (verses 35, 36). However, this release didn't go smoothly. Paul and Silas had been condemned and beaten without trial (verse 37a). To make matters worse, they were Roman citizens. Roman citizens were exempt from beatings and guaranteed a fair trial. So Paul refused to leave the prison unless the magistrates came in person and escorted them out of the prison (verse 37b).
   When Paul's demands reached the magistrates, they feared (verse 38)-- and rightly so; they had wrongly beaten Roman citizens. Timidly they went to the prison, escorted Paul and Silas from the prison and urged them to leave Philippi (verse 39). The missionaries complied with the request, but first they went to Lydia's home, where they met with the believers and encouraged them (verse 40).
  God's work at Philippi had begun with Paul's brief missionary visit that produced a few converts. God had intervened in Paul's life to place him where He wanted him. Also, He had intervened in several lives in Philippi by saving them. These interventions were not trouble-free for Paul and his coworkers, but they were productive. In time, the infant church at Philippi became a thriving church of "saints in  Christ Jesus... with the bishops and deacons" (Philippians 1:1). God's interventions are always well timed and purposeful. Things do not just happen.
  Some years ago, a man's wife and he were out shopping for a house. Eventually they found a house they liked. It was small, but because they had only two children, they thought it was adequate. They made an offer; the sellers accepted it; and they anticipated their moving into the house. However, the bank told us the appraisal value fell below the selling price. Consequently the deal to buy the house collapsed. Today they have five children. They live in a nice neighborhood in a house that accommodates their family. The house they had tried to buy earlier would not have met their needs.
  Chance or intervention? I believe God intervened. He changed their plans. He had a reason for putting them where He did. They needed to cooperate with Him to accomplish His purpose for directing them as He did. As God intervenes in your life and changes your plans, I encourage you to cooperate with Him to accomplish His purposes.

Other chapters ahead as I study through Philippians...