Guest speaker Joy Gascoigne spoke from the book of Philippians tonight, teaching on how to ride the roller-coaster of life. We can feel that life is very much like a roller-coaster with its slow ascents and rapid descents, but Paul (writing this letter from prison) is able to give us valuable advice in each chapter.
Chapter 1 speaks of His confidence in God’s faithfuflness and reliability (Phil 1:6). Nowadays, there is a crisis of trust in many institutions (the police, in government etc.) but Paul is confident that He who began a good work in each person will carry that work on to completion. God is always, always faithful and can be trusted, no matter what our personal circumstances.
Chapter 2 reminds us that we must remember to look outward, having the same attitude as Christ Jesus and looking to the needs of other people and not just ourselves. In times of crisis, our natural instinct is to protect ourselves, but we have to learn to live according to God’s attitudes and principles. Nor is life simply about our preferences: Paul would doubtless have preferred not to be in a Roman prison, but he was content whatever his circumstances because he had a big goal that the proclamation of the gospel was the most important thing in his life.
Chapter 3 reminds us to keep looking forward, laying aside our past (both the good days and not-so-good days) and pressing forwards towards Christ. Paul had many things he could be proud of (including his preaching and the way God used him as an apostle) but he would also remember the pain of desertion (Demas) and the difficulties when team members became ill (Trophimus.) We must learn to leave the past behind, because we cannot change it; we must release it to God and move forward.
Chapter 4 reminds us of the importance of thankfulness. Thanksgiving and praise make us bigger than our circumstances and better than our feelings. Paul rejoiced greatly in the Lord, even in prison, and taught us to rejoice always.