River City Spokane


Prison Bars and Joyful: Philippians 1:3-8


What’s up everyone! It’s Pastor Kerr Howell Jr. here. Welcome to Gospel Home Brew a resource from River City Spokane. Once again, let us let the word of God brew in us, so that we can stir it in others.

We continue our study through Philippians, the letter of indestructible Joy. So let us read the section of Scripture we will look at together. Open your Bible again to the letter to the Philippians and turn to chapter one verses three through eight. Let’s read it together.

I thank my God is all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-8)

The Drive of Thanksgiving, Joy and Affection

I love how Paul opens up this letter. This is a happy man! And this man is writing these words with chains on his hands. With that simple fact let me ask you a question: what do you allow, that is in your life right now, to rob you of your joy? Another question: Where is your joy fixed on? How do you display your joy?

Paul displays this indestructible joy through a life of gratitude—even though he above all others has a right to complain.. I mean he is prison because of the One he loves.

But what drove Paul?

The Gospel did. The good news of Jesus! So where do you find joy? The quest for joy is in the very fabric of our culture and nation. Everyone is looking for joy, but very few find it. The reason for this is because many of us look for eternal joy in temporary things. So what do these verses say to us today? Consider this. The happiest man in Rome was in jail! Ancient Rome is not very different from our country: a consumeristic Disney land filled with all types of games and sport, sexual pleasures, lavish living, and entertainment, yet the author of this letter had a joy a billions times stronger than all of this. Right from the start of this letter we see that joy is the main theme. In many of Paul letters we see him express key topics to focus on in his prayers and his tone, but this letter is different with a different tone.

This is a letter he cannot wait to write and pass on. He longs for the Philippians to receive this letter, because he desires for them to see what he feels for them. Looking at where Paul is when he writes this letter, so that true joy is found in Jesus, not in a trouble and stress free life or even a life filled with stuff. But the truth is: even Christians servants (those in ongoing abandonment) often misplace their causes, hobbies, and possessions for joy. I know this is at least true for me.
Paul is letting them and us know right from the start that we should not derive our joy from our performance, our popularity, our gifting, or our accolades. We must rejoice in the fact that we have a relationship with God through Christ. This is a affectionate reminder to all of us. When we focus on Jesus, we then find true joy in Him and our service to others. In these verses, we see Paul displaying his vibrant love and communion with Jesus and his personal affections for the Philippian community.

Paul’s cup overflows with joy in thankfulness to God and love for the Philippians. IF we really long to know the joy that Paul had for Jesus and the church, we to need to know the joy that lies in prayer, partnership, and affection. I know that we will not be able to go as deep as we can with these things, but that is what gospel home discussion is for. However, lets dig through these things for a little bit.

Joyful Prayer 1:3-4

This is remarkable. We get to pray to our God. And God hears our prayers. Our prayer life can reveal to us the state of joy in our hearts toward God and others. How does your heart look? In these verses we can see Paul’s heart for Jesus and others. Paul loves the fact that we can commune with Jesus anywhere at any time—even in pain and affliction. Most of the time we are looking to be strengthen by God to walk this life, and God is holding our strength waiting for our prayers.

Paul as blessed memories of the Philippians. Remember, he got to actually watch this church be birthed right in front of him. Moms and Dads, do you remember what is was like watching your children be birthed into this world? There was so much joy for most of you. This is what Paul feels, he says, every time he thinks about the Philippians.

Despite his internal conflict he is filled with gratitude. Paul was thankful for the Philippians. He was thankful how Lydia came to Jesus. He was thankful how the slave girl came to Jesus. He was thankful how the jailer came to Jesus. He was thankful for the different ways Jesus rescued them. He was thankful how God made these three different people with different ethnicities, life circumstances, and jobs, into one family. This week in your gospel homes or churches look around at the different faces with different stories, and know that these are your family, and be thankful. Will you give thanks to God in prayer for others? Paul says in his prayer to Jesus that he is joyful for them.

Do not look for perfection before you show gratitude, look for the evidences of God’s grace in people lives. So no matter the internal conflict—or imprisonment—Paul is able to rejoice in Jesus. Showing us that we better have a well of joy that is greater and much more satisfying and sustaining than a fountain filled with a comfortable life. And the gospel is the only place that holds this kind of joy. You can grieve and still rejoice. So Paul instead of praying his list of concerns for the Philippians—which we do more often than not—he prays from a thankful heart about the goodness of God in the lives of others. This is a joyful prayer: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy. Our prayer life would be more joyful, if we prayed from gratitude instead of ingratitude. When was the last time you thanked God for the people he has brought to your gospel community?

Joyful Partnership 1:5

In this verse Paul provides us with one of the reason for this grateful joy. He is not for his friendship with the Philippian church, but he thankful for there gospel partnership. I know for many of you this is a new term or for some it is a term that you have read in this letter and have no idea what it means.

So what is gospel partnership?

If you have grown up in the church culture, you probably heard this word tossed around more than you would like. The word I am talking about is the word fellowship. For most fellowship is brought down to mean just hanging out and spending time with each other. But, Paul is not talking about this because the Philippians are in Philippi and he is in Rome. Fellowship means way more than mutual interest of a group or sharing of things. The drive of true fellowship is pursuing self-sacrificing conformity to a shared vision. Fellowship means friendship on mission.

In chapter 3 verse 10 Paul shows that Christ established their and our friendship. They and we are united together by the Spirit (2:1). No matter how different they were or were from, they could be brothers and sisters because of these spiritual facts. Everybody can have friendship—this is the common grace that God bestows on all. And you should have friendship with all types of people—believers and nonbelievers, just as Jesus did. However, gospel partnership is massive different. Gospel friendship as much deeper than the “me too.” We share in a common Savior, united by the same spirit, and are headed somewhere together.

Think of marriage for a minute. When a couple get married, God is uniting two sinners into one. Then the conflict on a different level begins. Now look at your church. When a bunch of sinners come together, even though they are redeemed, and form a church, then there can be trouble. Just look at the Philippian and Corinthian church. However, from the gospel we learn about sin, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, what love actually is, and self-sacrifice service.

Being in gospel partnership is seeing that life is not about shock and awe, but lowly acts of service and love (Philippians 2:3-4). Gospel partnership is not about me and Jesus, but we and Jesus. Gospel partnership is not looking at what the church ought to be, but seeing that Jesus loves us just the way that we are. Gospel partnership is not about walking the road alone, but walking on it together. Gospel partnership is not about being busy bodies, but resting and living life together.

Yes we need friendships, but we need so much more. We need gospel partners on mission with you.

Before one can really understand being a people on mission together, one must dwell on what God’s mission actually is. Paul later in chapter one calls the Philippians to suffer for the gospel, and then in chapter four he rejoices that they are sharing (fellowship) in his troubles for the sake of the gospel. When you work with people at a job, a bond is created. You have a different relationship with your co-workers than the customers. Paul rejoices that their level of friendship superseded the customers view. Sadly, many see the church as an audience of customers to please rather than a group of co-workers who spread the gospel all week and then gather together to rejoice and encourage on another. It is one thing to have gospel-centered friendships, but it is entirely different to have co-workers on mission with you.

God’s mission is to make His Son known on the earth. What is your mission? Where do you lack in your walk with Jesus? How about this: stop trying to walk alone and link about with a gospel partner. A true gospel partner longs for you to look more like Jesus. He or she will find no greater joy than if this happens. What are you afraid of? Changing? Yes changing! In order to have gospel partnership one thing must happen. We must put the gospel first. This means making Jesus the center of the conversation. I know this sound cheesy, but it is true. It was true for Paul, the Philippians, but why do you think it needs to be different for you?

When you are around the table, at a restaurant, playing video games, at your moms group, hanging in your dorm, at a ball game, or doing a project talk about Jesus. Find out ways that each of you can carry one another’s burdens for the sake of gospel spreading in your lives and those in your life. You will see that there is so much more to talk about than just movies and your achievements.

In this letter, Paul is talking about three ways the Philippians have displayed gospel partnership. They were the church the financially provided for the gospel to spread. They suffered alongside and encourage on another. And they prayed for another (1:19).

Paul is thankful and joyful about the people—his friends and co-workers—in the mission. In your heart have you joined God’s mission? True joy comes from cascading yourself in the fact that you are Jesus’ and in Jesus and in community with those who are Jesus’ and in Jesus.

Joyful Affection 1:6-8

Paul’s affection comes from his anticipation of what Jesus is doing in the Philippians. Showing that fellowship is the work of God to form a people for Himself. He is getting his bride ready for Him. Here Paul is truly joyful that God saved these people. And he anticipates and knows that God will finish what he started. God is not like us, in the fact, that many times we start something without the anticipation of finishing. Thank God, God is not like this. If Jesus saved you, He will continue to save you, and will completely save you. Even though you may not see it right now. We live in and already not yet calling. God sovereignly intiates, sovereignly continues, and sovereignly finishes His work. And you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). God does not get incompletes. Your salvation is God’s work and His name is on the line. He will finish what he started in you, and all we have to do is follow Him. And one of the ways we follow Him, is by living in community with gospel partners on mission together. Notice that Paul does not just say it is God’s work, but that it is His good work. The wirk that God begins and completes is good because salvation and transformation flows from the goodness of God. Think about how God saved you and those you know. Do you brush this off as not that great or do you brew in the fact that that this is God’s work. And it is good.”

What fruits have you seen in your life? This is evidence that the good work continues. Sure, you may have notice any lately, but ask you self this are you putting notice on God or on yourself? Notice that Paul was not homing in on the Philippians, but the God of the Philippians. He knew that if God was in them, then God was working in them, and if God was working in them, then God would continue working in them, and if he continue to work in them, then God would work in them until his work was completed. Every Christian’s life is a work in progress. This truth is what stirred Paul’s passion to write down: “I hold you in my heart…I yearn for you all with the affection of Jesus (7-8).

Paul’s and the Philippians affections for us model for us what it means to have Christian gospel partnership centered on Jesus. It involves a willing to sacrifice for one another. The word Paul wrote down is not a word that has staleness in it, but a word that exploded with passion. He wrote down the word affection. This word talks about the inward parts of the body that holds emotions of love and deep compassion. Because Paul is united to Jesus, he shares Jesus’s passion for Jesus’ church. Do you have affections for those in your gospel community? Jesus does. He has affections for His children and desires for His children to have affections for each other. Showing us that such affections lead to indestructible joy.

This is Pastor Kerr. I love you. And hope that by trekking through these verses God has caused your affections to stir, has caused you to yearn for gospel partnership, will change your

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