Friday, March 2, 2007

Thankfulness for the Work of God

Philippians 1:3

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…”

A story is told of a pastor on a short-term mission trip that was leading worship in a leper colony. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around. “It was the most hideous face I had ever seen”, said the pastor. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, “Can we sing “Count Your Many Blessings”?” Overcome with emotion the pastor had to leave the service. He was followed by a team member who said, “I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.” “Yes I will,” he replied, “but I’ll never sing it the same way.”
You will not pick up the marvelous words of Paul in Philippians unless you understand his situation as he is writing this. More than likely as Paul is writing he is either shackled to a Roman guard or one who is close by, restricting Paul’s movement. Even though Paul is in prison he still “thanks God”. We find later that he is not only thanking God but also thanking Him with joy.

What causes prisoner Paul to bust out into joyous thanksgiving? The first thing you need to know about Paul, and if you do not catch this then nothing else will make sense, is that when Paul calls himself (and Timothy) a servant of Jesus Christ, he means it. He really does mean that his will is completely given over to another. He is consumed and captivated by Jesus Christ. Paul has one passion, and that is for Christ to be honored (or to put that another way for God to be glorified). Paul’s passion in life is that he personally might know God and to be used by Him to spread His glory to the nations. If you miss this then you are going to miss everything else.

It is because Paul is seeing his passion fulfilled, and living with the knowledge that his desire (that God be glorified) will never be thwarted. Furthermore, Paul is filled with joy because he loves the Philippians and is seeing fruit of the work of God in their lives. He loves Christ and His kingdom and is seeing it advance in the lives of the Philippians. Therefore, he is thanking God for His work in advancing the gospel. As Paul is remembering the work of God in the lives of the Philippians, he breaks forth in praise to God!
  • Does the work of God in the lives of other believers cause you to burst with joy and thanksgiving? (If not you should be concerned for your soul).
  • Are you as passionate about the glory of God as Paul was: so that, in all circumstances you can praise God because His glory is being spread?

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