Prepare – Philippians 1:21-26
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
When I was growing up, my parents had me write “thank you” notes whenever I received a gift. While none of these letters were profound, they taught me the importance of thankfulness. As an adult, I’ve discovered that joyful people are thankful people.
Philippians is Paul’s “thank you” note to Philippi, the first church Paul planted in Eastern Europe. The Philippians had sent one of their members, Epaphroditus, to support Paul in prison, and Paul sent Epaphroditus back with the most profound “thank you” ever written. Paul writes that he is thankful for them (1:3), and that he is thankful for his chains, because they “served to advance the gospel” (1:12). Paul’s fate is uncertain, but his faith is unshaken. If released, he’s thankful to serve Christ longer on this earth. If executed, he’s thankful to be with Christ forever in heaven.
People sometimes ask why I smile so often. I love our church, my family, my friends—but more than anything my joy comes from the Lord. Jesus has given me everything, and I am forever thankful. Life is hard, but the race is easier to run knowing Who waits at the finish line.
JOY is thankfulness: Jesus first, Others second, You third. No matter what you’re facing, you can glorify Jesus through it. How will you thank him today?
~ Pastor Steven Dunkel