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I’ve recently started a study of Philippians. I have read the book many times. It’s one of my favorites in the Bible. Most Bible scholars will tell you the theme of Philippians is joy. I tend to agree, although reading the first chapter, I was surprised to see, or to notice for the first time, how Christ centered it all is. It seems to me that the theme for the letter to the Philippians and the driving force of Paul’s life, is Christ Jesus. In the first 30 verses Paul mentions Christ Jesus 18 times. To get a sense of the overwhelming importance of Christ Jesus for Paul and the church at Philippi, I have put the verses below:

  1. servants of Christ Jesus – vs. 1
  2. God’s holy people in Christ Jesus – vs. 1
  3. Grace and peace from … the Lord Jesus Christ – vs. 2
  4. the day of Christ Jesus – vs. 6
  5. the affection of Christ Jesus – vs. 8
  6. blameless for the day of Christ – vs.10
  7. fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ
  8. I am in chains for Christ – vs.13
  9. some preach Christ out of envy – vs. 15
  10. (some) preach Christ out of selfish ambition – vs.17
  11. Christ is preached – vs. 18
  12. God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ – vs. 19
  13. Christ will be exalted in my body – vs. 20
  14. For to me, to live is Christ – vs. 21
  15. I desire to depart and be with Christ – vs. 23
  16. your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me – vs 26
  17. conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ – vs. 27
  18. on behalf of Christ you believe in him and also suffer for him – vs. 29

Can you imagine writing a letter or sending an email to someone and mentioning Jesus 18 times in the first eight paragraphs? I can’t. Paul was a man obsessed with Christ Jesus. Jesus influenced every thought, action, word, motivation and desire of Paul. His whole life revolved around the Messiah in a way that is hard for me to wrap my mind around.

Thinking about Paul’s obsession with Christ reminded me of another letter Paul wrote to the Romans. I think we are all encouraged by Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” But what is “the good” exactly? Paul goes on to clarify what the good is in the next verse, “be conformed to the image of his Son” who is, of course, Jesus Christ.

There was nothing more important to Paul than to be like the Messiah Jesus. To be conformed to his image. What a challenge that is to me. Reading Philippians 1 shows me how incredibly I fall short in being conformed to the image of Christ; how far I have to go in the faith; how much I have to learn and experience to be the man of God that Jesus wants me to be. Lord have mercy!

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Oh that Thou wouldest altogether by Thy presence, kindle, consume, and transform me into Thyself; that I may be made one spirit with Thee, by the grace of inward union, and the melting of earnest love!

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

christmas5

If Christ is in our hearts then Christmas is in our hearts.

 

christmas1

Reminds me of something Jesus said.

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