Philippians 1:4

I.

1. The outward circumstances of St. Paul's life, at the time of his writing this Epistle, were singularly joyless. A prisoner in Rome, awaiting his trial, deprived of the power of freely preaching the gospel when and where he would, compelled to be in the society of his Roman guard night and day.

2. Notwithstanding these untoward conditions he is inwardly full of joy. The key-note of the Epistle is rejoice.

3. The joy which fills him is not merely a selfish joy at his own acceptance with God; it is a sympathetic joy which rejoices in the growth of God's kingdom. This is the joy of the angels. This is the joy of Jesus himself. This is the joy which he promises to bestow upon his disciples, (John 15:11; John 17:13). This is the joy of the Lord into which they who have used well the talents entrusted to them are to enter. This joy is not mere selfish exultation in our own rescue from the pains of hell, but a sense of bliss at the victory which God has won, and a joy at being permitted to minister more entirely to his glory.

II.

1. We can possess this joy here and hereafter if we are filled with the unselfish desire that others should be blessed and that God should be glorified in them. We deprive ourselves of it if we are guilty of envy at the spiritual progress which they are making, and at the evident tokens of God's grace working in them.

2. We can contribute to this joy. By our own steadfastness in the faith we add to the treasury of joy which is the possession of the whole Church. We give joy to the angels. We are able to increase the joy even of our Lord, who, seeing of the travail of his soul, is satisfied. - V.W.H.







Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy
I.JOY ALWAYS.

II.JOY IS EVERY PRAYER.

III.JOY OVERALL.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I.SPRINGS from Divine communication.

II.SUCCEEDS a previous sorrow.

III.IS SUPERIOR to human surroundings.

IV.IS SUSTAINED by answered prayer.

(G. C. Ballard.)

I.AN EXALTED PRIVILEGE.

II.A HOLY DUTY.

III.A HAPPY EMPLOYMENT.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I.WORK DONE creates grateful remembrances.

II.GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCES create a zest for prayer.

III.PRAYER deepens JOY.

(G. G. Ballard.)

Weekly Pulpit.
I. FELLOWSHIP.

1. The bond of union — Christ. The attraction was irresistible to all who had come near enough to feel the force of the magnet of Divine love. This power directed all faculties, possessions, desires, in the same course. As He had not lived for Himself neither did they. The result was brotherly union. As all the rivers flow to find one common rest in the sea, so their melted hearts ran into the one fellowship — the Church. Here they found protection from the chill of the world and the storm of persecution. Weak faith was strengthened; the timid heart emboldened; unity begat strength and numbers, and augmented influence. The communal life brought together a vast capital to be invested in the cause which was so dear to their own heart.

2. Concerted action. The Christian communities existed as much, if not more, for external labour as for internal edification. As no Christian lived to himself, the whole Church could not possibly confine its wealth of power and influence within its Own circle. They lived one for another that all might live for the salvation of the world. The idea generally attached to a community is that it exists exclusively for the benefit of its own order, but the Christian society is built on the principle of give in order to receive. The Christians at Philippi met for prayer and for general improvement, in order to give the light of the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus to the world.

3. The transmission of moral influence is only possible through sympathetic media. The best cable chain would not convey an electric message any distance, but a small copper wire would do so round the globe. Divine truth must proceed from the heart of the Church, and be anointed with the unction of pure motives and tender sympathies, to accomplish its mission among men. The experimental expression of the truth is the most powerful and successful.

II. PERSEVERANCE — "from the first day until now." The converts had not relapsed into idolatry, nor were any idolatrous practices incorporated in their worship. They had resisted all worldly influences. The converts held on their way, progressing in knowledge and the Christian graces. When the apostle looked towards this Church, he saw signs of growth and increased vigour.

1. True Christian fellowship absorbs the whole man, thought, desire, association, and progression. It is the family of God, with ample room for the development of human nature. Of all fruitfulness, true manhood is the greatest. The consummation of fellowship is found in the man Christ Jesus.

2. Christian fellowship absorbs all time and service. From the first day to the last, and from the last day on through eternity its bonds are unrelaxed. It is not a temporary engagement, but an everlasting covenant. Some of its forms must undergo changes, but its essence is the same, even fellowship with the Father and the Son, and communion with the saints.

(Weekly Pulpit.)

I.HOW ORIGINATED.

II.WHAT IT IMPLIES.

III.WHAT IT REQUIRES.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

1. Lives which adorn it.

2. Hearts which beat for it.

3. Lips which testify for it.

4. Hands which work for it.

5. Gifts which extend it.

(G. G. Ballard.)

While his life was one of unexampled activity, it was also one of continual prayerfulness. These two aspects of his life are mutually explanatory. His activity was unwearied, just because his prayerfulness was unceasing. His religion was a life, and the heart of that life was prayer. The risen and exalted Saviour's words uttered regarding him at his conversion held good ever afterwards: "Behold, he prayeth." "As a good soldier of Jesus Christ," he had all prayer as the weapon of his warfare.

(J. Hutchinson, D. D.)

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