Welcome to the second week of our fall series Philippians: Choosing Joy Under Pressure. In this series, we walk through Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi who were struggling in their faith. This week we unpack Paul’s three reminders and his prayer for this struggling church.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
A safe environment is an important element of every small group. What will make your group a safe place for you? What can we all do to make our group a safe place?
Share part of your story.
When you were in high school, who was usually your “partner in crime”? What is a memorable thing you did together?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Look back to Acts 16. Have someone retell the story of how Paul first connected with the people of the Philippi. Who were the main characters? Describe what happens during Paul’s first visit.
Ten years later, Paul writes to a letter to the congregation that grew out of his first visit. Read Philippians 1:1-11. Identify the main themes, big ideas and key words in Paul’s opening words of his letter.
Reminder #1: Their Past Faithfulness
From the beginning, the people of the church of Philippi responded generously within their new-found faith. Lydia’s hair is still wet from being baptized when she invites Paul and the team to stay in her house (Acts 16:15). Why do you think service and generosity immediately followed Lydia and the jailer’s belief?
After Paul left, the young church in Philippi continued to support the gospel through the work of Paul. They don’t just like Paul, they believe in the Jesus message. They send him gifts while he is 90 miles down the road in Thessalonica and while imprisoned in Rome. What does the recurring Philippians support for Paul tell us about them and how the gospel impacted them?
Whether we have been a Christ-follower for a few hours or many years, we should be committed to recurring service and generosity rooted in the service and generosity of Jesus. How can serving and being generous help us become more like Jesus?
Reminder #2: Their Certain Future
Sitting in a prison cell, Paul is looking forward to the day when Christ returns. He realizes on that day that those who follow Jesus will be whole, because God finishes what he starts. One day we won’t have to deal with the things about ourselves that frustrate us or seem incomplete anymore. What are some things that trouble you about yourself? What are some areas you desire God to bring to completion in you?
How can knowing Jesus promises to make his followers whole give us joy in the midst of difficult situations?
Reminder #3: His Deep Affection
Paul reminds the struggling believers that he really cares about them. That he loves them. How do you think this made them feel?
Paul’s encouragement showed he hadn’t stopped caring. What happens when people stop caring? Are there any areas of your life where you have stopped caring? How can you being caring again?
What are some of the things Paul’s prayer models for us as we pray for our friends and ourselves? How does this compare or contrast with how you are praying now?
Paul prays that the Philippians would have a smart love. What’s the difference between a discerning love and how our culture portrays love?
Paul prays that the Philippians would pursue what’s best. What’s the difference between asking “is it wrong?” compared to “is it best?” What are some things you often see people pursuing in life that won’t really count in the end? What are some things we should pursue because they will count? How do we know the difference?
Paul closes his prayer asking that the people be filled with the right fruit. Everyone produces fruit—Paul wants them to produce the right kind. What is one area where you want to see yourself produce more fruit for God? How can your group help you take the next step in this area?
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
As the fall series continues, take a few minutes to consider if there is someone outside your group who would really benefit from what your group has to offer. Think through all your social circles. The fall series would be a great time to plug in a new member or two.
This week we learned how service and generosity helped the Philippian church get off to a great start. What does it mean for you personally and as a group to serve and be generous? Creatively think through ways to use what God has given you to “partner” in the gospel.
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