Call to Celebration
Grounded in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians
Ask each person in the group to say his or her Christian name and to explain either what it means or how it came to be given to them.
- Have you got a funny story to share? Maybe something that’s happened recently. Share it.
- To find out something about Paul who wrote the Letter to the Philippians look up the following passages : Philippians 3:5-6; Acts 21:39; Acts 22: 6 – 16.
- Read Philippians 1: 3 – 11 and the comment that goes with this guide.
Philippians 1: 3 – 11
vv. 3-6 : Isn’t it great to be able to give thanks to God every time you remember someone? It’s a good habit to get into – to think of the things for which you can give thanks when you meet up with various people, or even when you don’t meet up with them. Perhaps you could practice this during the coming week.Paul says his prayers were tinged with joy because he was praying for people who had shared with him in the gospel from the beginning. The church at Philippi had come into existence as a result of Paul’s preaching there, so he had a particularly close bond with those believers. But we can all find fun in remembering the people who shared the gospel with us or with whom we shared Christian discipleship along the way.Paul expresses confidence that God who, through the activity of the Holy Spirit, has brought the people of the Philippian congregation to faith will complete what he has already started in them. He expected Christ to return fairly soon. Irrespective of when the return might take place, Christians always live in between the two comings of their Lord and Saviour The Second Coming is a way of speaking about Christ completing what he has started to accomplish through his life, death and resurrection.
v. 7 : Translations vary. Some speak of Paul holding the people in his heart, while others speak of the people holding Paul in their hearts. Whichever it is, it expresses the depth of love that Christians may feel for one another. Do you hold fellow members of your congregation in your heart? Your Minister? If you do, that love will surely flow into prayer for them. Paul speaks of the people at Philippi sharing with him in God’s grace. God’s grace is at the heart of the gospel – the generous, overflowing, amazing, unmerited love of God.Paul has experienced this grace of God in his imprisonment, through all his pleading on behalf of Jesus Christ and in all the evidence which proves the gospel.
v. 8 : Paul shares in the compassion which Jesus Christ himself has for the Philippian Christians. As the Spirit moves within us we too share in Christ’s love and compassion for other people.
vv. 9 – 11 : What does Paul pray for when he thinks about the Philippian Christians? That their love may overflow and that their love may be coupled with knowledge, insight or discernment. Love and knowledge – both are needed in the life of the Christian. Not one without the other. We need love and discernment if we are to follow Christ in his way of life.God’s desire for us is that we produce the fruits of righteousness, that we live Christlike lives, that we follow daily in the way of Christ. We sould seek to live each day as if Christ were returning that very day. Such holiness brings glory and praise, not to ourselves, but to God.Righteousness refers to being right with God and describes a life lived in trust and obedience. While we can desire it and we can put some of our own effort into it, it is not attained simply by our own effort. It is a gift. It is a sharing in the righteousness of Jesus. It is the life of God’s kingdom as experienced here in this world. It comes by God’s grace through the activity of his Holy Spirit working within us.
1. In verse 6, Paul talks about his confidence that God will accomplish what He has set out to do in the Philippian church. (a) On what was his confidence based? (b) On what is your confidence in God based?
2. In verses 7-8 Paul talks about mutual compassion between himself and the Philippian Christians. (a) Why is compassion important in a Christian? (b) Give an example, if you can, of some way in which the compassion of Christ has touched you through other people. (c) Why is love so fundamental to Christian ministry?
3. Paul prays that his readers may have love and that they also may have insight or knowledge (Verse 9). (a) Why is it necessary for us to have both love and insight? (b) How does a person get this love and insight?
4. In verse 11, Paul uses the image of plants and harvest. If we are like plants, the crop which God wants us to produce is righteousness. (a) What do you think he meant by righteousness? (b) How does righteousness come about?
5. Are there obstacles to God’s work of righteousness in your life or in the life of your church and what can be done about them?
- Paul says that he thanks God for the people in the church at Philippi and prays for them. In silence read out the names of the people in your group, pausing long enough after each name to give people time to focus attention on that person, to thank God for him or her and to pray that their love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight and that God may produce in each one a harvest of righteousness.
- Pray that love, knowledge and goodness may flourish in your church.