Greetings in the name of Jesus! I hope you are all staying healthy and hopeful. To try to keep us all growing spiritually and somewhat connected, I am going to write a series of devotional readings based on Philippians. I plan to send one every other day or so, maybe three each week for as long as we can’t be together for worship and fellowship. I will also be mailing these each week to people in our church who don’t have access to email. I hope these devotions will encourage you and draw you closer to Jesus.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Paul wrote to his friends in the Philippian church while under house arrest in Rome. He was there awaiting trial before Caesar on charges stemming from his public witness about Jesus Christ while in Jerusalem. It might be a stretch for us to compare social distancing and stay-at-home orders to Paul’s imprisonment that led to his execution, but we can find some solace in how he endured a time of confinement, cut off from family and friends.
First and foremost, while Paul was not able to travel or join large gatherings of fellow believers, he stayed in touch with those he cared about. Paul actually credited Timothy as the co-author of Philippians, suggesting that his young protégé had either traveled to visit him in Rome or had written his own greeting to the Philippian church that Paul incorporated into the letter. Either way, Paul found ways, even while under arrest, to communicate with his friend. In the same spirit, Paul also expressed to the church in Philippi how he remembered them often, prayed for them regularly, partnered with them in ministry, held them in his heart, and longed to be restored to them in fellowship. All this, from hundreds of miles away and while literally “in chains.”
I’m sure many of us are feeling anxious or depressed, frustrated or impatient – maybe all of the above – as we wait for the health situation to clear up. It feels in some ways like we are under house arrest, cut off from people we care about and the fellowship of the church. But you are not alone, and you are not forgotten. The God of grace and power watches over each of us and binds us together by the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus our Lord. May we remember one another in love, pray for each other in faith, and together hold to the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Father in heaven, You comfort those who mourn and walk with those who suffer. With You, I am never alone. May You connect my heart to Your people through prayer and devotion. Give me patience, faith, protection and hope to overcome all the troubles of this life. I pray this, along with my church family, in the name of Jesus. Amen.