First Things First

From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. To all those in Philippi who are God’s people in Christ Jesus, along with your supervisors and servants. May the grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭1‬:‭1-8‬ CEB)

This has been an interesting couple of weeks for me. It seems as if everything happens all at once. Then I get to read the letter to the Philippians that Paul wrote while he was in prison and things have been put into better perspective. 

Paul is writing this letter in prison and he starts it off, like most of his letters, by offering God’s grace to the recipients. Then, he opens the letter with a statement of his prayer of thanks and praise for the people he is writing to. 

So many things happen in our lives that I sometimes wonder how things would be different if we began every situation with a prayer of thanks and praise to God. How much our mindset would change and better equip us to handle each situation. 

Life is not easy but God is with us and there are people praying for and supporting us even when we don’t know. Our situation may not feel like we can make it; but the love we have from other people can help us go through anything because it’s a great reminder God is with us. 

Paul is being very encouraging and supportive of his congregation and this is encouraging to me also. So, I will end this post similar to Paul:

I thank God for you. I praise God for how He is working in your life. Be encouraged that God is with you and is working through you and in you. There is a great work He wants to do through you. I hope and pray you let God’s power and Spirit work and move in you so everyone around you will be able to see and experience the light of Christ through you. 


Published by Ryan Stratton

Ryan Stratton is a pastor in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves with his wife, Amanda, along with their children. He writes about life, faith, and leadership through his blog.

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