Understand their story
This is our last week studying this little letter to the Philippians that Paul sent as a ‘hello,’ a thank you note, and an encouragement!
Read Philippians 4:10-23. Then focus on verses 10-13.
- Who is Paul rejoicing in? Why is Paul rejoicing?
- How does this connect to Paul’s reference to rejoicing in Philippians 3:1 and 4:4?
V11-13 is a little side trail from Paul’s main thought.
- What virtue does Paul say that he has learned?
- Look up this virtue in the dictionary – how is this different or similar to how you would have defined it?
- Make a list of the examples of situations he notes that have helped teach him this virtue.
- What secret does Paul share as the reason for his contentment?
- How does this encourage or challenge you?
Pray in adoration today as you seek to rejoice in the Lord who strengthens us.
Understand their story
Read Philippians 4:10-23. Then re-read verses 10, 14-20.
- What is Paul thanking the Philippian church for?
- What words does he use to describe their aid in v14-15?
- What words does he use to characterize their gifts in v18? In addition to Paul, who else received their gifts?
- Despite showing gratitude, in v17 Paul is quick to clarify that he is not seeking their gifts – what does he say he is seeking instead? Read this verse in a few translations to help you understand.
- What is Paul confident in for them in v19?
- How does this connect to his lesson in contentment in v11-13?
- Where does God’s supply come from?
- Paul ends the letter with a greeting and a blessing.
- What is significant about from whom some of the greetings are coming, considering Paul’s current state of imprisonment?
- What does Paul bring attention to with his final blessing?
Pray in thanksgiving for the ways that God has supplied your needs and for Christ’s marvelous grace.
Connect to His story
The call to rejoice and be content in all things is a difficult one at first. Let’s look at a few different passages to fill in our understanding of contentment:
- Hebrews 13:5-6
- What is the command prior to the call to contentment? How are they connected?
- What reason(s) does the text give for why Christians are able to be content? Do you live like these comforts are true?
- 1 Timothy 6:3-16
- What is contentment linked to in v5-6? What reason does this text give for contentment? How is contentment different than the description of the person in v3-5?
- What warnings regarding money do you see in this passage? How are they connected to contentment?
Paul’s contentment is closely linked to his trust in God for strength and provision.
- Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 and reflect on how descriptions like this and Philippians 4:11-13,19 can encourage us. What do they teach us about God and how He strengthens and supplies us with all we need?
Pray today in confession as you consider the ways you are frequently discontent.
Connect to His story
Paul says that the gift from the Philippians was a “fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” This terminology originated in the old testament sacrificial system when the Israelites would bring sacrifices to offer before the Lord, the aroma of which was pleasing to Him and accepted as atonement for sin (Leviticus 2:1-2). Let’s look at a few passages in the new testament to help us understand:
- Ephesians 5:1-2
- Who brought the fragrant offering to God?
- Why did Christ sacrifice himself?
- What are we to do in response?
- 2 Corinthians 5:15
- Who brings the pleasant aroma?
- Whose aroma are we bringing?
- What do you think this means?
- Romans 12:1-2
- What does Paul ask Christians to do?
- How does this add to your understanding of a sacrifice that brings a pleasing aroma?
- What does this mean for you?
The Philippians appeared to have taken to heart the encouragement to present all of themselves as a living sacrifice for God and His people, through providing Paul with aid and partnership in the gospel. How does this challenge or encourage you today?
Pray today in supplication for the Holy Spirit to help you present your whole life – time, money, resources, thoughts – as a living sacrifice to the Lord.
Apply to our story
If possible, read through the entire book of Philippians in one sitting and reflect on the following questions:
- How does Paul’s exhortation to stand firm challenge or encourage you today?
- Is your life characterized by rejoicing in the Lord in every circumstance?
- If not, how can you remind yourself to rejoice more regularly?
- How does Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians’ partnership in the gospel encourage you to consider how you can intentionally partner with pastors, missioinaries, and others working within the Church?
- How would you summarize this letter in one sentence?
- What’s one thing you’ll remember from the book of Philippians and carry forward with you?
Pray today in adoration, confession, and supplication as you reflect on these applications.