Hello and welcome to a new week of Foundations Daily. My name is Liam, I’m part of the staff team here at STC and it’s a real privilege to be able to share some reflections from the Bible with you as we dig into God’s word together.
Last week, our team leader, Mick, shared some thoughts with us as we began a new year with a new vision for 2020 – ‘join us for the better life’. Do take the time to listen back to that if you haven’t yet done so. And with that in mind we now begin our new series this week as we focus in on Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Our passage for today is Philippians 1:1-11. We are going to focus on verses 4-6.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Have you ever had those moments when you observe someone and you just think, ‘Wow, how you’ve grown.’ An obvious place where we might experience this is as parents. Watching your child learn to sit up, walk, talk, ride a bike, swim or when they wear that first school uniform. These are defining moments. We also see this in other ways in those we have a connection with– a student who grasps a really tricky concept, an apprentice who finally nails a skill they’ve been practising or a friend who has come through a really difficult time and now sees things in a new way. Watching growth happen is a beautiful and humbling thing. We treasure those moments don’t we? Even more so when we think and reflect on how we may have played our part in this process through patiently, sometimes stubbornly, encouraging that child/student/friend along the way. Growth takes time, and it takes effort. But when we see it – boy do we know it’s been worth it.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one of encouragement. The Philippians were the first Jesus community that Paul started in his mission to Eastern Europe. There was clearly a special bond between them and him. Even though they were apart and Paul’s situation was grave (at the time of writing this letter he was probably under house arrest in Rome) his love for them and what God was doing in their lives was clear to see.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…
Paul is reflecting here on just how thankful he is to have seen and heard about the community that God has grown in Philippi and for the way in which they are expressing and living out their new found faith. He writes that it brings him ‘ joy’ when he prays for them. That word ‘joy’ means to have an awareness of God’s grace. It’s like those moments we get when we see someone grow/ learn. When we see some becoming more. It’s a God thing!
At STC we’ve been engaging with a discipleship tool – the Grow Project. For both Jo and I, it’s been so encouraging as we’ve engaged with the different modules to look back over these past years following Jesus and to see how much God has done in and through us. In the same way, we rejoice in how we have seen that also in the lives of our friends in community. God is doing a great work. We’ve seen people (particularly young people) come to faith, step out in faith, and experience breakthrough. It’s been amazing to reflect on it all. This has really strengthened our faith as we seen and experienced God’s grace. It’s brought us real joy.
But we also really get the sense here in Paul’s thanksgiving prayer for the Philippians’ that God has just got so much more for them. That he’s not done yet! Paul writes this…
‘that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
There’s an assurance, a confidence in Paul’s prayer here that the God who has started that great work in the Philippians, brought about such growth – that he will finish it. For us as individuals, as communities and as church this should be a great encouragement to us at the start of the new year as we seek not only to invite others join us for the better life, but to continually experience more and more of that for ourselves. Its right for us to give thanks for what has been but we can pray with confidence and expectation that what God has started in and through us will be brought to completion one day when Jesus returns
So as we begin 2020, where and how might be God calling us to grow this year? Where and how can we look to play our part in bringing about his kingdom in the places he has put us?
God, thank you that you who began a good work in each of us – who’ve revealed to us this better life, who rescued us and brought us into your heavenly family – thank you that you’re not done yet! That with you there is always more! God, help us to seek after you and your kingdom this year. Help us to grow bigger in our faith in you. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Philippians 1:1-11
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may 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.