I would like for us to begin considering three things that Paul described as being essential to True Christian Fellowship.
He said – “I have you in my mind.” (Philippians 1:3-6). I believe we can agree that this is utterly amazing. The apostle in dire straits himself was thinking of others, not himself. He is in prison and awaiting trial in Rome. However, his mind goes back to the city and people of Philippi. He is focused on the believers there and those thoughts cause his level of joy to increase.
If you read Acts 16 you gain some insight as to some of the events that transpired at Philippi. Some of the events could have caused immense sorrow rather than joy. Paul was illegally arrested and beaten in Philippi. He was placed in stocks and humiliated before the city. However, those memories brought joy to his heart. Why? The jailer received Christ. Lydia and her household became Christians. A demon-possessed slave girl was set free! Joy flooded his heart. He made the choice to rejoice!
I believe a legitimate question for each of us is, “Am I the kind of Christian who brings Joy to my pastor’s heart when he thinks of me?” Paul reflected on, with gratitude, their financial help (v.5). But lest we misapply the principles and think that it is works that produce salvation, I suggest turning to Philippians 2:8-9. Here we are not saved by good works. Then in Philippians 1:6, we realize that the good work is Salvation. Then back to Philippians 2:12-13, he teaches that God continues to work in us by the Holy Spirit.
I suggest to you that Salvation includes a three-fold work. The work God does for us – Redemption. The work God does in us – Sanctification. The work God does through us – Service. This work will continue until we see Jesus Christ at His return and then the work will be completed. 1 John 3:2 declares, “We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”
It was a source of Joy for Paul to know that God was continuing to work in the lives of his fellow believers at Philippi. The true basis for Joyful Christian Fellowship is having God work in our lives day by day.
Let me give an inadequate but revealing illustration. A woman went to a marriage counselor and said, “there seems to be friction in my home, and I really don’t know what the cause is.” The counselor looked at her and said, “Friction is caused by one of two things.” Then to illustrate he picked up two sticks of wood from his desk and said, “If one block is moving and the other is not, there will be friction. Also, if both are moving in the opposite direction there is friction. Which is it with you?”
The lady looked at him and replied, “I’ll have to admit I’ve been going backward in my Christian life and my husband has been growing.” She then said, “What I need to do is get back into Fellowship with the Lord.”
God working in our lives daily is the basis for Christian fellowship. As He works in us, we are enabled to focus on others not just ourselves.
I fear making this study longer than I had planned but will pause here and take up the second thought in the next devotional.
God bless you as you allow the Holy Spirit to work out the kinks in you and as you enjoy this day He has provided. Have a Great Day!