This week we are going to begin studying the book of Philippians on Instagram. Each morning I will share what I studied and would love for you to share as well! Each week I will put up one blog post with information about the book and our study. My goal in studying the book of Philippians is to learn more about Jesus Christ and the life He has granted us to live through His death on the cross. Jesus should be at the center of our lives, but what does that mean? How do we live with Him being our goal, our prize, and our joy? My heart is full and expectant at the work God is going to do in us as we open up His Word daily.
I will be using the 40-day Give Me Jesus journal to study with each day. The way each post will be broken down is how the journal is broken down. One of the most common questions I get asked is “how do you study the Bible?” I hope that even through this study we will become more confident as women of God in the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we open up the Word to find truth. You do not need to be a Bible scholar or seminary student to study the Bible. The Word of God is living and active and the Holy Spirit is the best Teacher. We will go first to the Word to see what it says and will also learn from those who have studied this book in-depth as well! You can purchase your journal here to learn that daily discipline of Bible journaling, prayer, and study as we drink deep from the Well of God’s Word. If you are new to studying the Bible, you can find resources and suggestions on how to study in the “Well-Watered Women” series here.
Grab your reading guide here, your Bible, a pen and journal, and a cup of coffee or tea and let’s ask the Lord to do a mighty work in our hearts.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:1-2
Be Still And Know
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believers, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” // Romans 1:16
Before you begin your study (or sometime during week one), read through or listen to the entire book of Philippians. What words do you see repeated? What themes are woven thoughout the book? What does this book say about Jesus? Who is the author and who is it written to? Why was it written? Ask these questions as you study through the Scripture.
Drink Deep From The Well
As a preface to this study, I feel it necessary to explain that I am simply a student of the Word and follower of Christ. I hunger, thirst, and crave the Word of God to saturate my soul, because I know that nothing else will do. The book of Philippians has long served as a haven to my heart. I run here when I am distracted in my walk and need to refocus. I dwell here when I need a reminder that Jesus is what this life is all about – He is the prize. I am sharpened here when I need correction, encouragement, and truth to fill my heart. This book has been written on, circled, and highlighted many times, and still I have not even begun to skim the surface of the depth of of this text. I write this post and begin this study completely humbled. That is the best place to start when approaching God’s Word.
We begin simple, only examining the very first two verses of the book. In studying the Bible, the most common verse to be overlooked are those in the beginning and end – the introduction and the farewell. Yet these verses are included in Scripture for a reason. Understanding who the author is and who the audience is are vital to having a full understanding of the text. Context is key. The author of the book of Philippians is the apostle Paul, formerly a persecutor of Christians transformed into a preacher of Christ (Acts 16). Paul’s conversion in the book of Acts is a glorious display of salvation.
As followers of Jesus, we have gone from death to life, from sinner to saint, because of the blood Christ spilled on our behalf on the cross. Knowing who we once were and who we are now is an important part of living out the gospel every day. We once were enemies of God, lifeless in our sin and helpless in our fallen state. But God, in His rich and perfect grace, saved us through Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6). Paul never got over his conversion. He never got over the glory of the gospel that radically saved his soul. And we should never get over our salvation as well. The gospel is that good.
In Acts 9, we read of Paul’s miraculous conversion in Damascus. Prior to knowing Christ, his name was Saul. A little background to Paul’s history shows us that he was born in Tarsus (Acts 22:3), was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28), and was also Jewish. He was a Pharisee, a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3), and a studier of the law (Phil. 3:5). His childhood and upbringing led him to be a hater of people who followed “the Way,” meaning those who followed Jesus Christ. Paul used his power and his knowledge to persecute and kill Christians. In Acts 7, we read one of the most powerful sermons in Scripture, given by Stephen right before he was stoned at of Paul’s approval (Acts 8:1). However, Saul’s efforts to kill Christians were not above the power and sovereignty of God. Persecution does not stop salvation or the work of Christ; it furthers it. This is seen throughout Scripture and is still seen in our world today (learn more about praying for the persecuted church here).
Saul, in his prime efforts to thwart the church and stop the teaching of Christ, was radically converted himself on the road to Damascus. As he neared Damascus, “a light from heaven shone around him,” and Jesus appeared to him, asking “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3-5) Jesus instructed Saul to go to the city, where he would be told what to do. Saul was left blind from the encounter with Christ. Three days later, Jesus appeared to a disciple named Ananias and told him to go to Saul and lay hands on him. Can you imagine how Ananias felt? Jesus had just told him to go straight to the person who was killing his brothers and sisters. Even in his uncertainty, Ananias went confidently to Saul, trusting the guidance of his Savior and Lord. When Ananias laid his hands on Saul, he immediately was able to see again, was baptized, and he “immediately” began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues (Acts 9:20). Death to life. Sinner to saint. Persecutor to preacher.
When Saul became a believer, he was given the new name of Paul (Acts 13:9). He traded his old identity for a new one in Christ Jesus. We, too, are given a new identity when we follow Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tell us this: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Paul was made new, and so are you. And Paul never ever got over how good the gospel is. He never forgot who he once was and who Christ made him. He never lost the vision of Jesus.
y do we?
There was a time in my life when I became numb to the gospel. I had heard its truth so many times after growing up in the church that I no longer understood why it was so important. In my mind, I was already a believer, so now it was time to move on. I was saved when I was seven, and in many ways I left it there. John 3:16 had become nothing more than a VBS verse in my head than a revolutionizing truth in my heart. In college, the Lord broke me once more and revealed to me the depravity of my sin through an eating disorder (read more of my story here). I stumbled my way into bondage and God not only broke the chains of my “good girl/law loving” mentality, but He also broke me again over the state of my sin that Jesus saved me from. Through that struggle, God brought new life to my soul. He took John 3:16 and made it the joy of my heart again.
“For God so loved the world…”
Rich, scandalous, perfect love collided with our sin when Jesus died on the cross and radically saved us. God’s love is not a notion to be dismissed, it is a fact to build our life and hope upon. God loved us while we were sinners. He saw who we were and who we would be in Christ. In the book of Hosea, we read the story of Gomer, a prostitute, marrying Hosea, a righteous man of God. Over and over Gomer left Hosea to go back to her worldly lovers, and over and over Hosea goes back to get her. The entire book is a display of God’s love. We are like that prostitute, running back and forth to the lovers in this world. But God. God SO loved us that He runs after us. And He forgives us in Christ Jesus.
“…that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Whoever. This includes Saul, the persecutor of Christians, and this includes you and me. When we believe in Jesus Christ, He washes us completely white as snow and wipes clean our transgressions. Saul’s slate was clean and so is yours. This is the glory of the gospel. This is the truth that we should never ever get over. This is our life. Jesus is at the center of the gospel, therefore Jesus is at the center of our life.
When Jesus captured my soul and stamped His name on me, I was given a brand new identity and message to teach. No longer do I proclaim “I”, but I proclaim “He.” Paul’s message to the church at Phillipi was no longer “I,” but “He.” Jesus. Jesus is the Key. Jesus is the Prize. Jesus is the center.
The gospel was not just good the day of your salvation. The gospel is good every moment of your life. May we live our lives around the goodness of Jesus Christ and proclaim Him with our words, actions, and breaths.
Ask And Apply:
- What is your salvation story? Does your soul need a refresh of the glory of the gospel? Ask the Lord to open the eyes of your heart to the hope of Jesus Christ once more. Pray Psalm 51:12.
- Read Ephesians 2:8-10. What do these verses tell us about salvation? How does this affect everything that we do?
Today I Learned:
The gospel affects everything – my identity, my life, my ambitions, my pursuits. It is not just good the day of salvation, it is good every single day.
today I will:
Today I will preach the gospel to myself. Instead of looking to myself, I will take ten looks to Christ. I will take time to look back at my story and share with someone how Christ has changed me.
Father, I pray that we would never lose our sense of wonder at how You have saved us. If we have, re-ignite a passion in our hearts. Help us to feel again and restore the joy of our salvation to our hearts. Write the gospel story on our hearts so it is what flows out of our lives. Thank You for sending your Son for us. We can never give you enough thanks, but we will praise You with every breath we have until the day we go to be with You and worship at Your throne forever! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Philippians & Colossians by J. Vernon Mcgee
Philippians by Hans Bayer