Cherishing People

I thank God every time I remember you” Philippians 1: 3 (NIV)

Paul was genuinely grateful for the people whom he encountered in his life. He cherished them and made sure that they knew about it. That is why in most of his letters we see this phrase about praying for others and remembering others’ good deeds.

When Paul was writing this, he was almost at the end of his ministry and in prison. He did not have much material achievements to cherish. Only thing he could find boasting about was the relationships God had given him with people through the apostolic ministry. He had earned many people through gospel.

When he remembered Philippian church and all their love, he was bubbling with joy and praising God for their lives.

God has given many people in our lives – Big or small, influential or normal. God expect us to cherish them in our lives. We should remember them and thank God for them.

We also need to remember the love of Philippians towards Paul. How much they warmed his heart. Are we living a life which bring smile to others? Will there be people who say “I thank God for you in my life and without you my life would not be enriched like this”?

Let us strive to remember who love us and cherish them.

Let us also live a life which would bring smile to others.

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Grace and Peace

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 1: 2 (NIV)

Grace and peace are words which are loaded with theological meaning. But it could simply be said that these two are the essence of a content life. After all what a man needs except God’s grace and God’s peace to make the life happy.

Paul is greeting the Philippian church members with the wish that they might have this grace and peace. It is the common greetings he uses in most of his letters. In this way he also reminds the readers that his desire for them is to receive these two important things which Christ offers.

Paul defines the gospel to the Ephesian leaders as gospel of grace of God (Acts 20: 24) and gospel of peace (Eph 6: 15). It is the gospel or the good news of Jesus Christ which brings grace of God to us through salvation and ultimately results in bringing peace between God and man.

This peace is the result of Grace of God!

This peace is the unshakable peace!

And this peace is not dependent on the circumstances and it is given to us as a gift from God because of the Grace.

The modern man is driven by many ambitions in life. He is too busy pursing happiness without realizing that it is only by receiving Grace and Peace from God he could be happy. This is what we strive for throughout our lives through our jobs, families and other activities. God is giving these things free through the gospel of his son. When we humbly receive this, we will have a fulfillment in our jobs, families etc.

Let we also desire to experience this grace and peace which God gives through Jesus Christ every day.

We are separated for Christ

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons” Philippians 1: 1 (NIV)

Holy people essentially mean separated people. By mentioning overseers and deacons, who are leaders of the church, on one side and calling all other ordinary Christians as holy or separated, Paul is making a point here. Each and every Christian is a separated person in Christ.

Every Christian knows that there are some in the Church who are separated for special ministries for the edification of the Church. They commit their lives fully for God’s work according to the talents and calling given to them. They live a dedicated life for this particular task. But by calling all the normal Christians holy, Paul is pointing that it is not only the ministers who are separated for God’s work but every Christian who have accepted Christ.

By accepting Christ and being in Christ, a person essentially commits his whole being to be under the lordship of Jesus Christ. He is separated for God. It is not only the full time ministers who are to live a holy and separated life but it is the duty of every one who claims to be in Christ to do His bidding and live a separated life.

It is common to separate ministry from secular work. But here the implication is clear. As much as a minister has a holy work to carry in his ministerial duties, a lay person also has same type of duty in his office or business because he is also a separated person.

God has separated each and everyone of us from the world to be his. We should recognize this fact and be faithful to that task for which we are separated.

May God help us to live this separated life for His glory where ever we are. May we be reminded every minute of our lives that we are separated people.

 

 

Our common status in Christ

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus…” Philipians 1: 1 (NIV)

Paul was the founder of Church at Philipi (Acts 16: 15). Though he had a special status in the heart and the history of the church at Philipi, he describes himself and Timothy as servants or slaves of Christ. He is consciously putting himself down as a servant/slave so that Philippians would know that in God’s kingdom no one could claim superiority.

Everyone at Philipi must have known what it meant to be a servant or slave. Because slavery in the first century Roman world was very common. But it must have been quite a shock for them to hear a powerful apostle like Paul calling himself a servant. But this instance had a great lesson for Christians at Philipi and now has for us.

By calling himself and Timothy as servants, Paul emphasizes that they are to obey their master. They cannot have any mission contrary to the mission of their master. Their purpose in life is which is given by the master.

This consciousness made Paul to be humble in spite of his successful ministry and life. This fact made him to look at his fellow workers as partners and not as rivals. This undisputed obedience to Jesus, like a bonded slave to his master, made him the greatest apostle of the first century through whom Christianity spread like a wild fire.

Partners in Ministry

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus…” Philippians 1: 1 (NIV)

The opening of the letter to Philipians shows the acknowledgement given by Paul to his co-workers. Though he was a successful and famous Apostle, Paul knew that in the kingdom of God we are all dependent on others to fulfill our destiny.

God’s plan for Paul in his ministry would not have been fulfilled without the aid of different partners who were traveling with him time to time. There were also co-workers who took care of the congregations and their needs at different places where Paul established churches.

Paul was powerful and successful in his ministry, but he was so only because of all the help from different saints of God who gave their time, resources etc for the mission.

By calling him and Timothy as servants of God, he also shows that despite of seniority and popularity in ministry, he and Timothy were equals before the Master as servants.

Sometimes talent and popularity make us think the we can do great things in life without the help of people. But Paul reminds us that others are partners in the mission of life. To fulfill our purpose of life we need to look for partners and utilize their strengths for the furtherance of God’s kingdom.

Let us learn to respect the partners God has given to us in the Church, neighborhood and workplace. Let us love each other, grow in fellowship and utilize their unique gifts so that ultimately God’s name would be glorified and our purposes in lives would be fulfilled.

God’s Grace and our responsibility

by Rev. John Jebaseelan

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
1 Corinthians 15: 10 (NIV)

Paul here acknowledges the role of God’s grace in his life at the same time talks about the hard work he has done in ministry. By doing this he is showing us the true path to success in any area of life, be it ministry, family or work.

Paul was graciously saved by Jesus Christ through a supernatural act of God. No one could have any credit in it. God’s grace was abundant in the life of Paul. He says that he was the worst sinner and God chose him to show His unlimited patience (1 Tim 1: 16).

But he also had to put in lot of effort to know God in a better way and to serve him in ministry. For three days he wrestled with blindness before getting direction from Ananias (Acts 9: 9). Though a learned man in Scripture, before starting his ministry he had to prepare himself for three years (Gal 1: 18). His ministry was also filled with hardship (2 Cor 6: 3-5). He often worked as a tent maker for his sustenance and fulfilled his ministry (Acts 18: 3).

Paul’s success was not easy. He utilised the God’s grace given to him. That is why he says that “his grace to me was not without effect.”

Hard work combined with God’s grace produced success in Paul’s life and ministry!

Christians need to avoid both the extremes. On one side we cannot forsake our responsibility by blaming God and on the other we cannot claim success without giving credit to His grace. We should be careful in doing things we need to do by using his gracious opportunities and laying down things, which are beyond our control, in his hand.

God’s grace + Hard work = Success

Prayer of the Early Church

by Rev. John Jebaseelan

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him”
Acts 12: 5 (NIV)

Early church was going through a crisis. King Herod had beheaded James. Now their leader – Peter was imprisoned. In midst of this hostile political situation the believers are praying earnestly. They prayed through the night.

But why didn’t they believe the servant girl Rhoda, when she said that Peter was at the door?

Was it their unbelief? If so, their prayer was without faith.

Can a faithless prayer be called earnest? Was the miraculous deliverance of Peter in some way connected with this prayer which lacked the faith? Or the deliverance was just a coincidence?

Based on the context of the text we can say that the early church indeed prayed in earnestness. They had the commitment to gather at an odd hour of the night at a believer’s house to pray for Peter.

Only our presumption about the content of their prayer that it was for the deliverance of Peter makes it look like a faithless prayer. But they could have prayed to God that Peter would be faithful witness to Jesus in the trail next day. Or their prayer was to keep Peter strong so that he would not deny Christ like the previous time when he would be killed like James.

If we look at their prayer in this way their reaction to the announcement of Peter’s presence would make sense.

When Peter met them, he did not condemn them for lack of faith but he explained to them how God delivered him.

Thus the prayer of the early Church for Peter was not for his deliverance but for God’s strength in midst of possible death.

How is our prayer? Do we pray with right intention or only with some material benefit in mind?