One of the many benefits of reading the Bible chapter by chapter — as we did in Proverbs and are now doing in Philippians — is that you are teaching yourself to read the Bible better. How is it better? Glad you asked.
- Reading the Bible chapter by chapter through an entire book gives logical and rhythmic view of the book. Most books of the Bible — including Philippians, but not as much Proverbs, is written in a logical form. It has a message, along with subtopics, that unfold as you read. You are training yourself to pick up that message as you read chapter by chapter. This cannot be done by reading portions of a chapter or book, or random places in the Bible.
- Reading the Bible chapter by chapter places what you read in the proper context. The message is framed by the book, not by random or topical readings of it.
- Reading the Bible chapter by chapter, several times over, helps you to discern what is being said, and how it is being said. This can provide historical and grammatical (or syntactical) context that can yield insights that might have otherwise remained out of reach of casual reading.
- Reading the Bible chapter by chapter, perhaps several times over, can coax application points out of their warm resting places within the text.
With those things in mind, here are some application points, and things to pray about from, chapter one:
- Verse 3 – Which fellow believers are you thankful for? Hopefully, some will come to mind. If not, wow, you must be a crusty old … (insert uncouth noun of your choice here). When fellow believers that are dear to you come to mind jot their names down, send them a card or email of encouragement, or call them. Let them know that you are thankful for them. Be specific. Generic encouragement means little. It might be a bit awkward at first. But, their pounds of joy from it will outweigh your ounces of nervousness about it.
- Verse 5 – Who are you currently “partnering with” in the gospel? You can support folks serving Christ with prayer, encouragement, and money. Consider taking your pastor out for coffee, or lunch. Send a small donation to a mission organization, or go volunteer at a Christian ministry. Consider sharing some spare hundred dollar bills with your favorite Bible study blogger. Hehe. On second thought, twenty dollar bills will do. Seriously, make it a point this week to encourage someone working hard for the Lord.
- Verse 6 – Trust God to complete His sanctifying work in you and cooperate with Him. As He is doing the work in us, we must cooperate by submitting to His Word and Holy Spirit through Bible study and prayer.
- Verse 7 – We are all in Christ because of God’s grace, there is no status or hierarchy among believers. Treat your fellow believers as better than yourself.
- Verses 9-11 – Pray to grow in love (an informed and wise love), to learn to approve and follow what is excellent (see Philippians 4:8), to foster purity and blamelessness, and to bear fruit for Christ.
- Verses 12-14 – View your situation through the wide angle lens of God’s vantage point and purposes, not through your keyhole-sized point of view.
- Verse 21 – What/who are you living for? What needs to be thinned out or removed to unclutter your spiritual life?
- Verse 27 – Pray for a life and walk worthy of the Gospel and Christ.
- Verse 29 – As you grow in Christ anticipate hardship as the norm from today’s world — it does not honor or want to follow God — expect some persecution.
As you prayerfully consider these points of application God will show you areas of your life for living them out more faithfully. Take some time. Sit still. Re-read the verses listed above. Listen. God takes delight in nudging and directing His children through His Word.