If your group has not had a chance to listen to the full sermon related to this discussion guide, they can find it in our sermon library. This week’s sermon was preached by Rev. Adam Hamilton.
Lord Jesus, as we gather to study your Word open our hearts to hear your voice through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Help us to be humble and open to what you wish to teach us. Guide us as we learn together and grow into the kind of love and connection Paul had with the Philippians. In your name we pray. Amen.
Philippians 1:1-30 (CEB)
- Pastor Adam said Philippians is often known as Paul’s “letter of joy.” He said “Happiness is often defined as the pleasant feeling or emotional state that arises from positive circumstances….Joy, on the other hand, might be defined as the state of well-being that arises from what we believe, our hopes, our mindset or outlook on life.” Do you believe it was possible for Paul to experience joy even when in prison, even though those conditions were not pleasant or positive?
- Paul wished his readers “grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:2). That greeting linked grace (charis), the Greek wish for a lovely life, with peace (eirene, Greek for the Hebrew shalom), the Jewish wish for total well-being, and said only God gives us those great qualities in full. Even in a pandemic, what is helping you live in God’s grace and peace? How can you help each other?
- Paul wrote, “I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). Pastor Adam said Paul “looked for the silver lining. He’s chosen to focus on the opportunity behind adversity.” Can you name at least one opportunity you, individually or as a group, have found in the adversity of the last few months?
- Pastor Adam said, about Philippians 1:20-26, that “Paul’s joy comes in believing that he wins either way. If he is set free after his trial, it is a win–he’ll keep on serving God. But if he dies, he wins, because “death has been swallowed up in victory” because of Christ’s resurrection.” We likely aren’t on trial for our lives—but how can we adopt Paul’s win-win approach to have more joy in life?
- Paul urged the Philippians to “live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel” (Philippians 1:27). He used a Greek word that referred to citizenship. How do you as a group help encourage and uplift one another to live together in a manner worthy of citizens of Christ’s kingdom?
- Pastor Adam closed the sermon by saying, “We can have joy in the midst of adversity.” We know that in a variety of ways we have adversity right now. Do you have joy in the midst of it? Are you open to God’s joy-giving presence?
For deeper study read through all of Philippians 1, taking note of the affection and wisdom Paul expressed to those early Christians.
Lord Jesus, you gave your all to open the doors of your kingdom for every one of us. We have a lot to learn and grow in, but we want to be citizens of your kingdom, people who live in a manner worthy of your gospel. Count us in! Amen.