Thanks be to God!!

thanks-be-to-god

The opening of Paul’s joyous letter to the Phillipians.   Made all the more powerful, of course, because Paul wrote this while “suffering” in a Roman prison.  I put “suffering” in quotations because while we would certainly consider being in that prison to be suffering, Paul does not see it that way.  It seems that Paul was thankful simply for the fact that Christ had broken into the world for the salvation of all who would accept, and for he fact that Christ will be coming again to being the work into completion.  Being a part of that in any way, even through languishing in a prison hole, was cause for enough joy that no human punishment could darken Paul’s light.

thank-god

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  Did you know that in Paul’s time, it was customary to include a thanksgiving section in a letter?    In every letter Paul wrote, you will find some kind of prayer and thankfulness to start.  In some it was much shorter, but it’s always there.  Just as we have our “forms” in writing letters, this was a form used by all during Paul’s day.  1600+ years before the first Thanksgiving, they still were better at expressing thankfulness than we are today.  With all we have to be thankful for, we would rather gripe and complain about the brake light that is out than give thanks that we can travel twenty miles in twenty minutes.

Paul here gives thanks that the Phillipian church is such a great partner with him, sending supplies and prayers, and joint him in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.   One of our favorite verses in the bible, I think.  It is a great promise of the bible that no matter what we do, what struggles we go through, how far we wander, how much we doubt, the day of the Lord will come.  I don’t think we will truly know the significance of this verse until the second coming of Christ comes, until we see the fulfillment of Revelation 21 – “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” Revelation‬ ‭21:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬.   We may not fully understand until the New Jerusalem is completed, but we can know that on that day, He will fully complete the work He began in us.   All thank and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ!!

grace

It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.   By helping and encouraging Paul through his imprisonment, the Phillipian church was fully participating in that with him, just as we fully participate in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ when we are baptized into faith in Him.  We all take in of the Grace given by Jesus, we all feel the suffering of Christ.  When we support and pray for those suffering in Christ today, we all taste the grace, and we taste that bitter sponge offered to Jesus on the cross.  When we continue in our witness of the power of Christ in the face of Christian suffering, when we defend and confirm the Gospel on behalf of those suffering for the Gospel, we lift up those who are actually suffering.   This is what the church in Phillipi did for Paul, and this is part of the thanksgiving prayer he makes.   (I’m going to be truthful here – I hope what I am saying on this is led by the spirit and makes any sense.  I’m not so certain I understand fully).

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And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.    What a powerful prayer!!  May we all pray for one another that love abound more and more.  Because we know that God is Love, and the more we truly walk in love, the more we walk in the footsteps of Jesus Himself.  May we all walk with the knowledge and discernment that can only come from the light which came into the darkness.  May we not love the dark more than the light.  May we walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.  And through it all, whether we be suffering or rejoicing, prospering or whithering, succeeding or perceived failing, may we do all with thanksgiving and praise for the love shown to us by Jesus on the cross.  Thanks and praise to the Lord, Amen!!


“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Philippians 1:3-11 ESV

http://bible.com/59/php.1.3-11.esv

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9 thoughts on “Thanks be to God!!

  1. “When we continue in our witness of the power of Christ in the face of Christian suffering, when we defend and confirm the Gospel on behalf of those suffering for the Gospel, we lift up those who are actually suffering.” I agree wholeheartedly! We can count on the truth of the Gospel based in no small part to the suffering endured by the apostles and first Christians. Indeed, they referred to martyrdom as being “fulfilled” and counted it a great honor. When we share the Gospel of Christ, we affirm and validate their sacrifice as not having been in vain.

    Liked by 1 person

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