Jesus Church
Citizens: A Study On Philippians (Part 4)
July 5, 2020

Citizens: A Study On Philippians (Part 4)

July 5, 2020

Citizens: A letter to the Philippians

(Part 4)

  • We are in part 4 of our series on the letter to the Philippians
    • If you missed last week… please go back and listen
    • I believe in our day/age it is crucial to the cause of Jesus
  • We talked about how Paul starts this letter… Grace and Peace
    • My challenge to myself and all of us
    • Paul starts all 13 letters by speaking grace and peace
    • If it is that important… we should start our convos w/ the same

We left of last week in verse two (moving right along)

Phil. 1:3-6



It is amazing to have people in your life that care enough to pray 4 you

  • I know many of you pray for me and my family
    • I can’t thank you enough for those prayers
    • B/C those prayers are an act of pure love
  • And I think we find Paul as someone who does the same thing
    • He says right out of the gate
    • “Every time I think about you… I pray for you

Phil. 1:4

Now how can Paul say that… that he prays with JOY

  • Because where is Paul while writing this – He’s in PRISON!!!
    • And not an American prison – beds… gym… tv reruns from 80’s
    • This is a ROMAN PRISON… no food… water… clothes
    • Left to rot and die alone in the dark
  • And Paul says: I always pray with Joy
    • JOY?!?! That would be the last word on my lips
    • Yet Paul is telling them how much joy their lives bring to him
  • I have a hard time w/ how can Paul say that… so lets keep reading

Phil 1:5-6


Paul is a Jewish rabbi… meaning his world view is Jewish 2 the core

  • He is born and grows up in a city called Tarsis (Turkey)
    • Tarsis has THE TOP university in the entire Roman Empire
    • So Paul grows up around philosophers and professors
  • And from a young age it is very obvious that Paul is very intelligent
    • Paul is given opportunity of a lifetime to go down to Jerusalem
    • Study under the most famous Rabbi of the day called Gamalial
  • Meaning Paul knows the Old Testament better than anyone
    • Paul would have memorized entire Old Testament (imagine)
    • B/C of that Paul’s writings echo back to Genesis… Exodus…
    • Paul is amazing at bringing to life the OT through Jesus

The way Paul writes – there are layers, play on words, illusions, hints

  • Meaning its about “THIS” what’s on the surface
    • But it’s also about “THAT”… what is underneath
    • Which is why we are always asking “what is he really saying”
    • So if u take that understanding – Aim it back at our text

Phil 1:6

  • On the surface: God’s not done… at work in ur life… its not over
    • But what is Paul saying UNDER the surface

If u were a 1st century Jew – 3 WORDS would pop off page at you

    • So lets turn back in time to the book of Genesis

Gen. 1:1 

  • The story begins with a CREATOR GOD WHO BEGAN a good work

Gen 1:10

Gen 1:12

Gen. 1:18

Gen 1:25

Gen. 1:31

Gen. 2:1 (sums it all up)

  • Now back to Philippians… plug all that into Paul’s line in verse 6
    • He who BEGAN (Think Gen 1:1 – In the beginning)
    • A GOOD work (God calling all he had made “Good”)
    • Carried on to completion (the heavens & earth are completed)
  • What is Paul saying… he is saying that exact same creator God
    • Who spoke the universe into being is at work in you

The life-giving, awe inspiring, over powering, creative bursting energy that made the universe, breathes life in ur lungs / pulsates thru ur veins

  • Here is a picture of the adromina galaxy – Macbook desktop [PIC]
    • How amazing it that… and who made it… God
    • Where is God (at work)
    • He’s at work in you
  • Here is a picture of our own beautiful Sedona [PIC]
    • The God who made those red rocks
    • He is at work in me and you
  • Let that sink in your mind… the God who made all of this
    • He is at work in this church / in this city / in human history
    • Paul says: He is alive… at work and will carry it on to completion

Paul sees creative evidence of God in ur past & future

Past – “ur partnership in the Gospel from the 1st day”

Remember how Paul starts the church a decade before this

  • A jailer/slave/business woman
    • Paul: He sees fingerprints of God all over their lives and story
  • And he uses this word PARTNERSHIP – famous greek word Koininia
    • Really means: Active participation or shared responsibility
      • It was a business term for a BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP
      • If u started a business w/ someone & put money together
      • It was called Koininia (business partnership)
    • Paul says we are in business together (the gospel)
      • When I was about to die in prison all alone
      • You gave me food/clothes/money

Paul sees that as evidence not just of “nice” people

  • But of the creator God at work IN and THRU the people
    • The line “he who began a good work IN you”
    • Can be translated “he who began a good work THRU you
  • Paul can look back at the last 10 years relationship w/ church
    • And he can see over and over God’s work shows up
    • Look back at the last year of YOUR life
      • In the moment… life can be very confusing
      • But when I look back I see clearly how God was working

Tag: Paul sees the past as evidence that our creator is not far away

Future – Paul sees evidence of creator in the future

Phil 1:6 

That phrase is also super loaded

  • All over the OT they talk about “The Day of the Lord”
    • It’s also called judgment day… which sounds super scary
    • In Hebrew – Judgment day means to put the world to right
  • And although it is intense… it’s also GOOD NEWS!
    • Paul believed a day is coming that will conclude our reality
    • Start a new reality where Jesus comes back to Earth
    • Rights every wrong / destroys evil, injustice & even DEATH
  • Ushers in a new reign of peace and harmony and righteousness
    • Bible says the “GLORY” of God will cover the earth
    • As the waters cover the sea
      • In that day we will live in a world made new

What Paul does – Talks about this day… but swaps out Lord for Jesus

  • Because to Paul – Jesus is Yahweh in flesh & blood
    • To Paul the “Day of the Lord” was Initiated in the resurrection
    • And that kingdom is here and now in “BITS AND PIECES”
    • But it isn’t all the way here yet – it is coming in entirety
  • Paul says… yes this is EVIDENCE right there
    • When I looked back I see the fingerprints of God all over
    • When I look forward I see the fingerprints of God all over

Because to Paul: Human history is always going somewhere

  • And it isn’t random – Its on track to detonate at that “DAY”
    • What a crazy thought… with the news where it is today
    • Truth is that all of this is going somewhere
  • There is a narrative arc to human history as a whole
    • And Paul sees this as evidence
    • Our creator is by no means done… he is working everywhere
    • And creation is bursting at the seams for redemption

Now because Paul believes all that (past & future)

Phil. 1:4 

If he didn’t believe God was still at work – He could never say that

  • The guy in the physical has a really terrible life
    • His churches all over are being attacked… friends killed
    • But b/c he believes GOD IS NOT DONE… he can pray w/ JOY

2 thoughts on that line on JOY

1 – Lets talk about PRAYER for a few minutes – Why do we pray

  • We pray because God started a good work… but its not done yet
    • B/C there is a gap between: What is – What could be… Think of…
      • Marriage: Gap b/w what it is (its great) and could be…
      • Kids: Gap b/w what kids are (amazing) and could be…
      • Church: Gap b/w what Jesus Church is and could be…
  • And prayer closes the gap… prayer pulls it all into one
    • The danger talking on prayer (we all think: I should pray more)
  • Problem is I think for many – reason prayer is area of weakness
    • Its not because we are lazy
    • Its not because you are bad
      • I think its because our concept of prayer is off
      • And we have misconceptions on prayer

ONE: We don’t believe that prayer can actually change anything

  • Idea that many believe (teach) what’s gonna is gonna happen
    • That mindset comes from Greek philosophy – Western theology
    • In the secular world its called: FATE
    • In the religious world its called: Sovereignty of God
  • And don’t get me wrong: I believe God is sovereign (rules/reigns)
    • But this idea that its already all be set in stone & has happened
    • That is not found in the NT writings
  • And it leads to: It’s gonna happen anyway so what does it matter
    • Looking at Paul: His writings show that Jesus rules & reigns
    • Paul doesn’t think… it’s gonna happen regardless of what I do
  • Paul is a Jewish rabbi who prayers 3 times a day
    • He actually believes that when he stops and prayers
    • The creator of the cosmos stops and listens
    • And when that prayer generated by the Spirit of God
      • Lines up with what God is doing
      • God steps in – responds – makes it happen
        • That’s what Paul believes… and I need to believe

TWO: I actually believe that I CAN change things

  • And there is some truth in that… I’m partnering with God/Spirit
    • But if we thinkI can change my kids/spouse/boyfriend/boss
      • If I say the right things to my boss
      • If I get my kids into the right environment
      • If I make things easy enough for my wife
  • And when it falls apart… and then u circle back & say: Ok lets pray
    • I don’t know about you… I pray when I’m desperate/crisis
      • We want to pray b/c something is really wrong
      • When we are completely out of options
    • But what if we started with prayer?!
      • The VERY FIRST THING Paul says is “I am praying for you”
        • I tend 2 end w/ prayer… meeting/convo/sermon
        • It’s sorta like our wrap up
      • What if we started with prayer…
        • When we have to have a hard conversation…
        • When we engage in differing points of view
        • When we have been hurt or wronged…

Do you think it would change things???

  • This coming week… where is there a GAP in your life
    • Where is there space b/w what is and what could be
  • And don’t do it just because you should (although that’s true)
    • But do it because the creator of the universe stops and listens
    • And then moves in response

2 – Lets talk about Joy

How do u get Joy in prison… let go… divorce… pandemic… kid hates God

  • B/C Paul is able to say that he always prays with JOY
    • And he goes on to use the word Joy 16 times in 4 chapters
    • Joy is a theme… melody throughout all of this letter
  • And we will learn over all our studies – All kinds of stuff about JOY
    • How to live with Joy

Here is one: If you want to live with joy… BELIEVE

  • Believe that God started a good work… and its not over yet
    • And even believe that “the best is yet to come”
    • Because with Jesus… the best is always yet to come
  • Believe that – because Paul does… either that or he’s crazy
    • In chapter 4 – 2 members of the church can’t stand each other
      • There are whispers of a church split
      • Paul isn’t worried… they are just works in progress
      • God isn’t done with either of them
    • In ch 3 – Talks of these legalists that hate grace/love works
      • Paul isn’t worried… I know the Philippians
      • God is at work in you… story is still being written
      • And I am confident in what God’s up to… he started it

Paul is the ultimate optimist (diff b/w idealism and optimism)

  • Idealism is when you are obsessed with perfection
    • And its setup 4 failure b/c life is not ideal… never good enough
      • Your marriage isn’t perfect
      • Your job isn’t perfect
      • Your church isn’t perfect (God’s at work.. but not ideal)
    • Why idealism always leads to depression
      • Because you will keep getting disappointed
  • Contrast that with optimism… or HOPE
    • Hope is honesty about life – it’s hard but the tomb is empty
    • And because Jesus is alive… anything is possible

Author: Im not an optimist or pessimist… Jesus Christ is risen from dead

  • I have to constantly remind myself of that… we live in a story
    • And that story isn’t over yet… I’ve read the ending… its good
    • Jesus back with his kingdom – no more bad stuff – I’m there
  • So maybe there are parts of my story that are pretty dark
    • But what makes a story good… conflict
    • You learn that in elementary school (protagonist/antagonist)
  • You are not at the end… you are a work in progress
    • Your life… body… progress… understanding… its all in front of u
    • Get your eyes up on the horizon – Look to Jesus and his future


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