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Philippians Week One

April 7-13, 2024

Gratitude Beyond Your Circumstances

Podcast

Listen as Pastor Ben and Pastor Evan discuss Philippians 1:1-11

Study Guide

Grow individually or in your group with a guided study through this week's portion of Philippians.

Read

Read Philippians 1:1-11 in Your Bible

When was the last time you felt grateful for the church? These have not been easy times for the church. There is so much for us to be critical of in the modern church. And yet, for millions of people, the church continues to be a home of healing and hope in a world of trouble. How can we cultivate gratitude in Jesus’ church even in the midst of challenging times?

Paul knew exactly how to do this. As we open the book of Philippians we read of the love and passion Paul had for a church that he had helped establish, but now he could only engage with from the distance of a Roman prison cell. The church in the city of Philippi had plenty of reason to be discouraged, despondent, and disconnected, however, Paul opens his letter with a flood of gratitude for this beleaguered group of Jesus followers.

I thank God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6 NIV

It might be easy to dismiss Paul’s passionate words as only a kind courtesy to his friends but remember Paul’s circumstances while he is writing this letter. Paul is imprisoned as an enemy of Rome for preaching the gospel of Jesus. The Roman Empire saw Paul as a direct threat for proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus over that of Caesar. As we read later in this chapter, Paul is very clear-eyed about his situation, “…I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death.” (1:20)

Where does this courage, love, and perspective come from? Paul answers this question for us, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (1:21) Paul had a heavenly perspective of his life that saw beyond his circumstances and the brokenness of the church. With this heavenly perspective, Paul is able to rejoice and bestow gratitude regardless of his situation.

Reflect

Reflection Questions

When is the most recent time you have experienced deep gratitude?

If gratitude is difficult for you to experience, what do you think is keeping you from it?

Can you relate to Paul’s heavenly perspective? If yes, talk about how that perspective shapes your experiences in good times and bad. If no, what does shape your experiences and how is that working for you?

Take a moment to close your eyes and consider Paul’s words: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” As you sit with these words, what does this mean to you? How does it challenge you? How does it encourage you?

Pray

Pray to yourself or aloud in your group

O Faithful God, always working for my good, I choose gratitude at this moment.

Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Ask the Lord to bring to your mind one or two things to be grateful for.

Even if I can’t feel it, I choose it, and I thank you. I thank you for your ways, though they are higher than mine. For your work, though I might not always be able to see it. For your love, though I may not always feel it.

Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Think about the love of God for you. In what ways have you sensed or felt this love? Ask the Holy Spirit to bring one or two instances to your mind.

Thank you for speaking to me, God. May I trust You in every circumstance, believing that You who began a good work in me will complete it.

Amen.

Memorize

Add the bold section to memory each week

Philippians 2:5-11

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Westside Kids

Word of the Week: Gratitude

Just as Paul expressed gratitude for the Philippians in his letter, we can teach our children to be thankful for the people and blessings in their lives and to appreciate their family and friends and all the good things they have. When they learn to say “thank you” and appreciate what they have, they’ll understand the importance of gratitude. And just like Paul shared his happiness with others, our kids can learn to spread joy and kindness wherever they go.

Ask: What is something you are thankful for today, and how does it make you feel?