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  • Remember, Paul is in prison in Rome, accompanied by his friends and fellow servants in Christ. They are not prisoners, but since Paul is a Roman citizen, he is allowed visitors who can feed and take care of him. Since most of the letters Paul wrote were dictated to others, I'd say that is a very important point to remember. It is reasonable to assume there was some collaboration in the phrasing and emphasis of these letters, but we must also remember the chief author is the Holy Spirit.

    Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord always, as I do. There is no fault in this, and I write this to you so that you will return that message to me. Build one another up in faith, even as you have built me up in your compassion and good works for the cause of Jesus.

    Watch out for evil workers, dogs who want to separate you and overcome your souls, and beware of the Jews who want to return you to their rituals. They are no longer the chosen of God, marked by their circumcision, but we are the children of God, circumcised in our hearts. We worship God in the Spirit, the Spirit of God which is indwelling to believers. There is no longer any validity to the markings of the flesh.

    Remember who is speaking here, for I was once one of them, a Jew circumcised on the eighth day, of the tribe of Benjamin. And not just a Jew, but also a Pharisee, educated by Gamaliel. I was so zealous of the faith that I was given a commission by the Sanhedrin to seek out and imprison all those who preached contrary to the Law of Moses. I was blameless under that law, and was seen by Jews as blameless and righteous for my efforts.

    But all that is in the past, and it counts for nothing as far as I am concerned, for what I was in the past has no bearing on what I have become for the cause of Jesus. I have suffered for the cause of Jesus and count that as gain. My goal now, and my calling, is to preach the word of Salvation through our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Messiah foretold by the prophets. All that I was is wasted time, but all I have done is for the excellence and power of Christ.

    My purpose is clear; I will continue in the Spirit, and let His righteousness define my life, and not my own. If I do this, I will know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. I have no righteousness except to follow after the Lord and to know His power in the bringing of all things to His perfection. So I have chosen to leave my past behind me, and instead follow the Lord to glory so I may know Him perfectly. And so I keep my eyes on the prize, the unity of my soul with the Lord, Jesus, who is the Christ.

    Join me in this quest, brothers and sisters, for if you do, God will reveal to you the truth of salvation and the love shown to us by Jesus. Stay strong in your faithful ways and continue as the true witnesses to the glory of the living God. Be followers with me, dear children, and look for others who also set the example, so you will be strengthened daily.

    There are many who say they are Christians, as I have told you before, but their walk does not reflect Christ in their lives. They are the enemies of the cross, and their purpose is to corrupt and deceive you from the truth. Their God is in their stomach and their mouths. They dwell on earthly things and not on the things of God.

    We are the children of God, and our goals are in heaven, not on earth. We wait for the return of our Lord, who will transform these fragile bodies into vessels fit for eternity, so we can be with Him and serve Him for His holy purpose.

    You are my crowning achievement in the body of the church and I am thankful for you always. Stand fast in your faith and in your love of the Lord, Jesus.

    I ask for Euodias and Syntyche to put aside their differences and work together in the building of the church.

    And I also ask all the men to listen to and respect the women in the church who work tirelessly in the gospel. Work with Clement and the others who have labored without rest and whose names are written in the book of life.

    ”Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice! Let your moderation be know unto all men.” For God will come without warning.

    Don't worry about anything. Pray about everything, pray with thanksgiving, pray with humility, let God know your every need, and the peace of God, which cannot be understood in human terms, will comfort and sustain you in all things.

    Whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is known to be good, if there is any virtue in it, if there is praise for God in it, let these be the things you think on as you go about your day.

    Whatever you have seen me do, do yourselves, and the peace of God will sustain you.

    I rejoice in the constant care you show for me, and thank God for your gifts always, for they have sustained me and kept me going. Not that I desire comfort or excess, for I have learned to be content no matter what my situation. If I am mocked or hungry or cherished or sated, there is no difference for me, for I can do all things through Jesus Christ, who strengthens me. But your gift is appreciated, for I know it is given with the blessing of the Lord.

    As you know, you are the only church from the beginning of my ministry who has sent me offerings for my support, not that I have ever asked them of you. The souls you bring to Christ are reward enough for me, and your desire to serve the Lord is well known by all. But your gifts were delivered by Epaphroditus and were like a sweet sacrifice on the altar of God. I thank you for your generosity, and I know that our God will return these gifts to you according to His riches in Christ Jesus. To God, the father, may all glory and power and praise be forever. Amen.

    Say hello to everyone for me in the name of Christ Jesus. Everyone here sends their love and prayers to you all. The saints of Caesar's own household send their love as well.

    May all grace and mercy of the Lord be with you all. Amen.

    Written by Epaphroditus to the Philippians from Rome.

    REJOICE!

    Again and again, Paul returns to that word. And it is a phrase well worth thinking about, especially from a man who is being held under arrest in prison awaiting Caesar's decision for life or death. Instead of worrying about the outcome, Paul is encouraging and thanking others for their faithfulness and refusal to abandon their faith. In spite of a sentence which could some at any time, Paul continues to praise the Philippians for their willingness to share in his sufferings by remaining Christian witnesses before the Romans and the Jews.

    Rejoice! Is it an accident that word is used so many times in the New Testament? Even in the translations from the original manuscripts, the word is the same. Rejoice, celebrate, be thankful for the blessings of a Creator who loves his creations so much he is willing to sacrifice himself to reunite them with him.

    I hope you will rejoice today. I hope you will learn to rejoice every day. Rejoice in family, rejoice in friends, rejoice in the fact you got up this morning (the way Pete did today in his story in Cowbird).

    ~Fred~
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