APPRECIATION

“Every recollection that I have of you is a cause for thankfulness to God. In every petition of mine on your behalf, my prayers are full of joy, thankful for your partnership in the Gospel right up to this present moment. Of this I am fully persuaded, that He which has begun a good work in you will keep on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is completed on that day when Jesus Christ returns. I have a right to feel this way about you, because you are close to my heart. Even though I am in prison, we are sharing the blessings of God as we defend the Good News. God is my Witness how I yearn for you with the tender affection of Jesus Christ Himself.”   (paraphrased)

One advantage of incarceration is that it provides time for meditation. Though isolated in a dungeon, Paul’s heart is still at liberty to rejoice in Jesus Christ, so he thanks God for sweet memories. Though he is a prisoner, he is concerned about his beloved Philippians. He thinks about them but not with superficial sentimentality. Paul links his gratitude for others with prayer in introductions in each of his epistles except Galatians. Constant remembrance of his friends in Philippi culminates in joyful praise. 

These wonderful recollections not only comfort Paul, they help perpetuate his thankfulness to God. In this Roman prison, Paul is still cultivating an intense prayer life. The Holy Spirit is not bound by prison walls. He thanks God for the Philippian Christians because of their consistent fellowship from their initial conversions continuing up through the present hour (v. 5). They are more than just friends, for they have labored with him in previous evangelistic efforts. Paul’s phrase “fellowship of the Gospel” is a single thought, indicating he loves the Philippians because they have their priorities straight. Paul and the congregation at Philippi enjoy great fellowship as they spread the Gospel message in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The primary reason the Spirit comes is to empower us to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). No church is a true church if it is not a soul-winning church.

In these opening verses, Paul writes in terms of team leadership. He does not see himself as a big leader surrounded by small followers. He accentuates their positive attributes, loving them as God loves them. Paul admires their consistency, convinced they want God to complete their maturation process. He knows Jesus will finish what He starts—and that the Philippians will allow Him to do so. The optimistic spirit conveyed in this letter overshadows any dissentions within the church at Philippi.

Paul expresses inclusiveness by his use of the term “all.”  He uses this word 26 times in this letter. He does not express blind faith in this church, but faith in Jesus with his eyes wide open. With tears of gratitude, Paul acknowledges their soul-winning endeavors and with characteristic sincerity thanks God for each one of them. Paul knows the Philippians are with him in his circumstances and he “yearns for them with the heart of Jesus Christ” (v. 8).

 

 

 

APPRECIATION - STUDY QUESTIONS

MULTIPLE CHOICE

1. What prompts Paul to thank God? (v. 3)
A. the many churches he has founded
B. his sufferings
C. his memories of the Philippians
D. his past victories
E. none of the above

2. What accompanies Paul’s prayers for the Philippians? (v. 4)
A.  doubts concerning their zeal
B.  joy
C.  doctrines of false teachers
D.  frustration and consternation
E.  none of the above

3. Of what is Paul confident? (v.6)
A.  that there will be great persecution
B.  that they will begin to tithe
C.  that they will visit him in prison
D.  that God will continue to work in their lives
E.  none of the above

4. In verse 8, Paul calls upon God to witness:
A. how he longs to see the Philippians
B. how he longs for release from prison
C. how he longs for comfort
D. how he longs for travel funds
E. none of the above

 

 

 

 

APPRECIATION - REFLECTION


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR COUPLES

1. Paul indicates he yearns to see his beloved friends at Philippi. Discuss with your spouse things that he/she does that make you yearn for their companionship.


2. Paul writes to the Philippians concerning joy. Each of you jot a love note right now, letting the other know how they can bring you joy.


3. Paul is thankful to God for his friends in Philippi. List for your mate things they do that you are grateful for. Then exchange lists and discuss them.

 


4. Paul writes to the Philippians in terms of team leadership. Discuss ways in which you and your spouse work together as a team.

 

ESSAY QUESTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS

1. Paul indicates he yearns to see his beloved friends at Philippi. Make a list of your best friends. Beside each name, write the attributes each one has that causes you to appreciate their friendship.

 

2. Paul writes to the Philippians about joy. Make a list of the things God does for you that bring you joy.

 

3. Paul is thankful to God for his friends in Philippi. List some things that friends do for you that you are grateful for. Pray over this list and thank the Lord for each of your friends.


4. Paul writes to the Philippians in terms of team leadership. List ways in which team leadership can be exemplified at your workplace and in your church.

 


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