Friday, February 19, 2016

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. Philippians 4:1

I have read and re-read all four chapters of the New Testament Book of Philippians, to gain an insight into exactly what Paul’s letter to the Philippians was intended to mean including the history of the times and the geography of Paul’s being in prison in probably Rome and the destination of his epistle to Christian Philippians residing in Philippi. Philippi is located in northeastern Greece (Macedonia) and Paul was associated with a group of Christians there. He called these people his “joy and crown.”

Paul had been imprisoned because he was a servant of Christ. But he did not give up. His letter shares significant messages and still has great relevance to us Christians today, more than 2,000 years later, even though it was written in a jail cell about 60-62 CE (Common Era), our AD (after Christ’s death).

For several reasons the theologian Paul wrote to his friends – he wanted the church to know how he was and what his plans were if he should be released. Paul wanted his letter to help ward off negative teaching in his absence and also to commend Timothy to the church. And, too, to send thanks for the concern these Philippian Christians expressed when they sent him gifts while he served his sentence.

Paul hoped to dissolve the discord within the church and encouraged humility within his group. He was promoting unity among fellow believers. He urged the Philippians to remain loyal to their faith just as we Christians today, right here and right now, at St. John’s on 141 South Potomac Street, are called to do.

The verse “my brothers and sisters” is used by Paul to refer to all Christians, both men and women. His words are a reminder that they all belong to one family, the family of God. How meaningful to us now!! We are ALL part of that same family. It is our purpose to come together in one camp, one tent – not in separate camps or tents, so we can gain strength as one and continue to follow the Lord’s intentions for us, no matter what. Just as the Christians were to look forward to Christ’s second coming and were to remain steadfast in their faith, so we are called to follow that same direction. Did you know that the words “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” comes from Philippians? Ever hear these words before? Ever stop and think on them? Ever just be still and l-i-s-t-e-n???

Paul sent great hope to his brethren then, and we can take that same hope off the page of his letter and apply it now in our daily lives, as we await the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! What a joyous day this will be! Did you know that God loves you so much that he has 3 photos of you – one on his mantel, one in his wallet, and one in his heart!! HE sacrificed his own Son, Jesus, so that we could LIVE. There is no greater love.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father – Please encourage us to continue in our daily prayer (not just during Lent but all year long) and follow your example to us, that of humility and of hope. Grow our faith even stronger with your presence in our lives and through the Holy Spirit help us to never become discouraged. May our sincere and dedicated efforts at becoming more like you as we continue your work here in Hagerstown, our home base, be put to good use as you guide and direct us, a “believing” congregation, through this Lenten season, and through all seasons. Thank you always for our many blessings. As we fast, reflect and repent, forgive us our many sins and help us to grow your kingdom in a very troubled world, one day at a time, one shift at a time, one hour at a time. AMEN.

Lois Weil Kaufman

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