Saturday, December 2, 2017


Philippi, was the first place in Greece where we have recorded of Paul teaching. The first person being recorded as baptized in Philippi is Lydia: “On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us” (Acts 16:13-15). The above picture is Dr. Huff teaching down by the river where this event took place.

It's poignant to see the powerful influence that Lydia and others like her will have on the church (see Acts 17:4, 12). One way that the wealthy make a difference is by supporting Paul in his missionary journeys. Lydia hosted Paul at her home. In a letter to the Philippians, Paul refers to the help he had received from the Philippians, writing, “You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was in Thessalonica [Acts 17:1-9], you sent me help for my needs more than once” (Philippians 4:15-16). Similarly, wealth saints today have financed the growth of the church in other nations.  

While still in Philippi, Paul cast a demon out of a slave girl and was then prosecuted by her owners because they lost revenue now that she wasn’t able to tell fortunes. Paul was severely flogged and cast in to prison. That night there was an earthquake; Paul and his companion Silas were free. However, they did not escape; rather, they stayed, converted the jailer and his family and rejoiced with them. The next morning, “The magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” And the jailer reported the message to Paul, saying, “The magistrates sent word to let you go; therefore come out now and go in peace.” But Paul replied, “They have beaten us in public, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they going to discharge us in secret? Certainly not! Let them come and take us out themselves.” The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens; so they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. After leaving the prison they went to Lydia’s home; and when they had seen and encouraged the brothers and sisters[g] there, they departed” (Acts 16:35-40).


In this we see again Lydia’s support, but also an interesting detail about Paul. He could have used his “Roman card” before getting beat, but by being beat unjustly, he was able to use this as leverage, possibly to protect the Philippian saints from further troubles from magistrates.

Approximately 10 years later, Paul was again in prison (perhaps in Ephesus or Rome) and wrote to the Philippians. We see some connections between his epistle to the Philippians and his experience in Philippi.

Trials help further the work.

Paul writes, “I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me [his current imprisonment] has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14). Paul is definitely looking on the bright side. Similarly, good things had come from his sacrifice in Philippi.

Paul also states, “[God]…has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:27-30). Paul points out that the Philippians are having the same struggle that they saw he had – referring to the persecutions and imprisonment that he had received. Paul is writing them to encourage them to stay strong even in the midst of these trials. In fact, it’s important to note that he refers to suffering for Christ as a privilege.

Paul believes in the power of love and sacrifice. He tells the Philippians, “Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:2-4).

Although trials will come, no loss is greater than the gain of Christ. Paul says, “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8)

Paul concludes with some very powerful advice:
  • ·       “This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). We don’t need to look back on regrets or poor decisions that we have made, but rather move forward with faith into the future.
  • ·       “Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have” (Philippians 4:11). A key to a happy life!
  • ·       “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13). What is the secret to happiness even in “any and all circumstances”? The fact that we can do all things through the strengthening power of Jesus Christ. 

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