Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 25, 2015
Open your Bibles to Philippians 1:18-30. Today, I am preaching on my favorite verse in the Bible, Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I believe this simple statement should be the heartbeat of every Christian, in every moment.
To begin today, I want to start where we left off last week, joy. Last week we discussed the joy found in the Gospel. Once again, the gospel being the good news that we are saved from God’s wrath and receive eternal life if we place our faith in Christ alone. Paul, despite being imprisoned, was rejoicing because the name of Jesus was being proclaimed and preached. Despite Paul’s chains, the gospel was advancing, in fact Paul being chained was giving people courage to speak Christ more boldly. And this made Paul rejoice. Why? Because Paul was loved Jesus more than anything in all the Universe. The mention of his name brought him joy.
We see this expression of joy in our first verse today, verse 18, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” However, Paul does not stop there, and neither will we.
Paul continues to express his joy by saying, “Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
With this statement Paul continues to express his joy, but transitions to another source of his joy and that is living and dying for Christ. And this is what I am going to be talking about today. The title of my sermon is “The Joy of Living and Dying for Christ.” This sermon may be difficult for some of you, not because it is theologically difficult, but because it is radically counter cultural.
Honor Christ in Your Body in Every Moment
The goal for every Christian is to honor Christ in your body in every moment. As a new creation our new orientation is to exult Jesus with every fiber of our being no matter what your circumstances are. Over the last month we have been soaking in this truth. Four weeks ago we examined Romans 12:1 where it says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” The next week we examined Philippians 1:1, and we looked at what it means to be a servant of Christ, which in Greek is doulos, which is actually best translated as a slave of Christ. And then last week we read about Paul’s four year imprisonment and how even his significantly dire circumstances were God ordained means by which Paul was to fulfill his calling. The over-arching theme of today’s text is Paul’s hope to honor Christ in everything he does.
As you recall, Paul is imprisoned, and as he sits there chained to a Roman guard, life and death hangs in the balance. There is no guarantee that he will make it out alive. In verse 19, Paul says, “for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.” Many of us assume that deliverance means released from jail and ongoing life, but that is not how Paul is thinking. Paul sees deliverance to include deliverance through death. Paul’s life truly hangs in the balance, the Romans were not known for their mercy, at any moment the command could come down to kill Paul. If you want an example, just think about John the Baptist.
Paul’s mindset as his life hangs in the balance a desire to honor Christ through it. This is his primary concern, to make the name of Christ great, no matter how bad it gets, and it does not get any worse than the threat of death. Is this easy for Paul? Absolutely not, let us not worship Paul, he is flesh and bone just like you and I. He saw himself as wretched and the chief of sinners, recognizing that he was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He was a person who depended upon the prayers of his brothers and sisters and the power of the Holy Spirit to produce in him the full courage necessary to exult Christ in midst of the valley of the shadow of death. So how does one magnify Christ in their life? Let us start with the statement, to live is Christ.
To Live is Christ
The statement by Paul, “to live is Christ” is, in my opinion, the most profound yet simple reality every to be expressed. You cannot summarize existence more succinctly than this. What is life? Christ. What does it mean to live? Christ. What is my purpose? Christ. What is the point of the Universe? Christ. Paul says the same thing, yet more completely in Colossians 1:16.
So what Paul is saying is that to live is Christ is to live in such a way that everything you do matches the reality you have been saved from Hell and your citizenship is in Heaven. You live as if this is not your home. When people meet you, they think, “You are not from around here are you.” You talk different, you work different, you love your spouse different, you raise your kid different, you spend your money different, you dress different, you respond to problems different, you spend your free time different. Everything about you screams different. Everything about you screams follower of Jesus. This is your new orientation. As the world revolves around self, we revolve around the hope we have in Christ.
And make no mistake that this life that is completely, and entirely oriented around living for Christ is a life of faith. This faith is a backwards and forward faith. It is backwards in that we place our faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. We believe and trust in his completed work on the cross. Our faith is also forward in which we have assurance in our salvation and that on judgment day we will not be sent to Hell, but will be invited into the presence of the living God, where there is abundance of joy and pleasures forevermore. We believe that through the blood of Jesus we are God’s adopted children, and therefore will receive and inheritance that is unfathomable and dwarfs the dust of this world.
To live is Christ is a life of faith. In fact, the greater the faith, the greater the honoring, the magnifying, the making Christ look great in your body. And the more and more and more you truly believe in the reality of what Christ did and what awaits you through Christ the greater your joy.
To Die is Gain
Satan hates the gospel. For the gospel is the good news of His defeat. The gospel is the story of Christ crushing his head. It is the gospel that reminds Satan that Christ now has all authority on heaven and on earth and the clock is ticking until the end comes and Satan is thrown into Hell.
Because of this Satan goes to all extents to stop the gospel from being proclaimed. He begins very subtly. Perhaps he will tempt you with the cares of this world. When that doesn’t work he will give you some social persecution, such as glances or jokes at work about your faith. When that doesn’t work he will resort to name calling, intolerant, unloving, bigot, hate monger. When that doesn’t work he gets physical. He may burn down your house or church, lock you up or beat you. However when that doesn’t work, and you still persist to proclaim Christ, he reaches for the last straw and he threatens to take your life. What happens when even that won’t work? What happens when you stare Satan in the eyes and say, make my day, for to live is Christ and to die is gain? What happens when even God takes the wages of sin, which is death, and uses martyrdom to magnify and make great the value of Christ in your life? I’ll tell you what happens, it makes Satan shutter.
The song we sang today, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is based upon the last words of a man in northern India who was called to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. He began to sing “Though no one joins me, still I will follow." His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, "The cross before me, the world behind me." This is what it looks like to magnify Christ in your death. It is said that the display of this man's faith led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.
The very last conversation that Peter had with Jesus is found in John 21. The Wednesday night small group discussed this passage last week. In the conversation, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter says, “Yes.” Then Jesus ends the conversation by saying this:
If you can't, then you don't know my Jesus, for He is worth it. He is better than anything this world can offer, and I encourage you to know Him more.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 18, 2015
Open your Bibles to Philippians 1:12-19. As always, we have a lot to get through so lets get right to work.
As you can see in our text, this section is about the Gospel. As we start today, I thought it would be wise for us to talk briefly about what the Gospel actually is in its purest sense. The Greek word for gospel is euaggelion. This is where we get out word evangelism. Euaggelion is the word chosen by God to describe the proclamation of the blessings found in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. It is important to understand that gospel is not just the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but it the declaration of it, the telling of it. This is why gospel can also be translated as good news. News is only news when it is communicated. The gospel is telling of who Jesus is and what He did.
So what should be said when proclaiming the Gospel? Here are six points that
In our text we see Paul say in verse 12, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” So the first question is what has happened? If you recall from previous sermons, this letter by Paul is written while he is chained to a Roman guard. Paul is a prisoner. The practice during those times was to rotate guards about every 6 hours. So in one day Paul would have four different men chained to him for an extended period of time. However, the question is how did Paul get there?
To be honest, it is a long story. But it begins in Acts 21 and ends at the end of the Book of Acts. Due to time we cannot read the whole story, but I encourage each of you to read it on your own tonight. Here is the quick overview.
Around the year 58 A.D. Paul was in Jerusalem and he decided to go to the Temple. A group of Jews from Asia stirred up the crowd against Paul and like a wild mob seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple with the intent to kill him. The Roman officials caught wind of this commotion and sent soldiers to calm things down and they took Paul into custody, which most likely saved his life. From there, Paul’s journey to Rome began, but it was not an uneventful one. It was one that lasted for four years. From the point of his arrest to the point he wrote to the Philippians, it is estimated four years had passed.
Can you imagine this? Can you imagine showing up to Church next Sunday and being drug off and eventually sent to a prison 1,400 miles away? And not only was he imprisoned for four year but during his imprisonment 40 Jews took an oath not to eat or drink until one of them had killed Paul. Obviously, they were unsuccessful. In addition during Paul’s journey as a prisoner to Rome he was shipwrecked and they almost perished. After the shipwreck that soldiers plan was to kill all of the prisoners, Paul included. A Centurion intervened and Paul’s life was spared again. They swam to an island called Malta. While at Malta Paul was bitten by a viper, but he did not die or get sick. This caused the locals to think Paul was a god. Eventually, Paul found his way to Rome, where Paul continued to be chained to a guard for the next two years.
This is the “what has happened to me” that Paul is referring to in verse 12. My guess is that this extreme journey was not one that Paul had intricately coordinated and structure. It was not his orchestration. It was something that Paul found himself in the midst of. They question is, was this just bad luck? Was this just a series of unfortunate events? Was this an obstacle that interfered with God’s calling? Was Satan winning? Absolutely not.
This was God’s doing. It was God’s agenda. This was the pathway by which Paul was going to take the gospel to the gentiles. Listen to what Jesus told Ananias about Paul in Acts 9:15.
No matter what Satan throws our way, whether it is an angry mob at work, government oppression, broken down transportation, or unexpected snake bites, we must remember that God is not absent from these things, but he uses them for good, so that people will live by believing in Jesus Christ.
What is interesting about the gospel is that it is not like any other news. It is not like reading the newspaper or watching the local news. The Gospel is not just informative, but it is transformative.
Some of you have heard a statement that is attributed to Sir Francis of Assisi that goes like this, “Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary.” First, there is no evidence that Francis ever said this. Second, it is not biblical. The correct statement should be, “Preach the gospel at all times, use the word.”
Just look at our text for today: “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed.”
The gospel must be proclaimed. We must take courage and do what Christ calls us to do, to bear witness of him, to testify of him to preach him, to proclaim him. This is the beginning step of making disciples.
Because Paul had been given the eyes to see the beauty and worth of Jesus. When Paul gazed upon his Christ, everything else looked like garbage. He saw Jesus in his exultation and his humiliation. He saw him as the Lion and the Lamb. He saw him as Sovereign God and obedient servant. He saw him as Savior and His King, who bled and died for him so that he could live with Him for all eternity with fullness of Joy and pleasures forevermore.
Does this describe your heart? Do you rejoice knowing that the name of Jesus is being proclaimed throughout the world? Do you long to hear stories from your fellow Church members of preaching Christ at work? If not, I encourage you to pursue the knowledge that is Jesus.
Many of you may not realize this, but our slogan at Cornerstone Church is “Pursuing, Treasuring and Proclaiming the Glory of God.” Once you are born again, I truly believe this is the everyday sequence of events in your Christian life. We pursue the knowledge of God. We do that in two ways, the Word and the Spirit. This in turn causes us to see the beauty and worth of the Trinity. The more we fall in love with God, the more we tell others about Him.
Imagine if we were a Church of 100 Pauls. There is no reason we can't be. Talk about the gospel advancing. We should be like those who were encouraged to speak Christ more boldly due to Paul's imprisonment. Let's pray that God would make it happen.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 11, 2014
Open you Bibles to Philippians 1:3-11. Last week we began our journey through the book of Philippians, and we focused our attention on how the Church in Philippi began. In doing so we examined Acts 16 where we saw Paul, Timothy, Silas, and Luke setting sail and landing on the continent of Europe with the express purpose of sharing the Gospel to anyone they could find. This path of obedience led them to a Jewish business woman named Lydia. Upon God opening her heart, Lydia was the first convert in the continent of Europe. And from that point the Church in Philippi began.
Today we are going to continue to examine this relationship. So let us read out text, pray and see what God has to say to our hearts this morning.
This intimate relationship that he has with these people is not a superficial one. It has roots, it has strength, it is authentic and it produces in Paul joy. Verse 3 and 4, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,” Every time he brings to mind, when he remembers these people he experiences joy in his life. No matter where he is, what he is doing, how hard his circumstances are, when he closes his eyes and remembers the people in Philippi his heart rejoices.
Let me ask you, do you have someone in your life like this? Is there someone that no matter how bad of a day you are having, you can close your eyes and picture them in your mind and instantly joy washes over you? For many of you, you might say yes, but I am guessing the ones that bring you joy are your children, maybe your spouse. But what about your Church? Take a moment and look around at the people in this room. Do you yearn to be with them? Do you have an affection of Christ for them. Do you rejoice when you walk in these doors and see their smiling faces?
I don't know about you, but I have been to some Churches that have broken my heart. You walk in, and everyone is mindlessly going through the motions, like robots. No one is conversing, no one is smiling, no one looks like they want to be their. They look like slaves tied the the pews; burdened by the requirement of attending Church. It is a sad, sad picture. For Church is not suppose to be that way. Church is to be alive, vibrant, flourishing, hopefully, exciting, and abounding in love, both towards God and towards each other.
The assembly of God's people in worship should be like a shining city on a hill, whereby outsiders will be either repelled by it like cockroaches or drawn to it like moths to a flame. And the love of God and the love of others should be the fuel to that fire, as I hope we will see today. So with that, let us look at why did Paul love these people so zealously.
Partnership in the Gospel
Which brings me to the question, how many of us have unsaved people in our household? I am guessing every single one of you. Perhaps they are not living in your house, but I am sure that everyone has aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws that do not love Christ; relatives that are destined to Hell if God does not open up their heart. What are you doing to save them? Are you praying every day for their salvation? Are you praying that God would open up their heart to receive the gospel? Have you proclaimed the gospel to them? Have you shared your testimony with them? Have you sat down and opened up the Bible and talked about who Jesus is and why they should care? I will be the first to admit that I have failed miserably. In fact, my lack of boldness and courage makes me sick! My lack of love for their souls makes me sick!
When God saved you, he did not mean for you to be a hoarder of His grace. You are meant to be a conduit of his grace. He saved you to be about his work. You are the God ordained means to a God ordained salvation.
What is the next thing we see after everyone in her house was saved? She persuades Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke to make her home their gospel headquarters. She didn't just ask them to come by for an hour to hang out, she asked them to stay. This was going to be the new home base. This was going to be the brick and mortar for the Church, and she did this without hesitation.
Think about this. Lydia appears to be a single, jewish, business women and within a short time meets four random men down by the river and insists that they stay at her house. Who are these guys? Can you trust them? What baggage do they bring to the table? Are they wanted? What will people think? Is her house clean? Does she have enough food? What about her business? What about the mouths she has to feed? None of that seems to cross her mind. Once God opened up her heart and made Jesus preeminent in her life, everything else was trivial. She instantly leveraged what she had to offer for the sake of the expansion of the Kingdom, no matter what the cost.
This radical love of Lydia, however, was not isolated. If you continue reading in Acts 16 we see a second story of conversion. Look at Acts 16:25-34. Paul and Silas found themselves in some hot water and ended up being beaten and thrown in jail.
After the jailer placed his faith in Christ what happened? He took them home, washed their wounds, feed them and introduced him to his household which, once again, led to his family being saved. Just like Lydia, we see instant partnership in the Gospel, right out of the gates. And once again, let's not forget that the jailer did this at a great risk. What do you think his Roman boss was going to think about this jailer taking the prisoners home and giving them a bath, feeding them, and having a big joy filled party?
Don't forget that this was the same guy who almost killed himself because he thought he had let the prisoners escape, talk about pressure at work. That guy that almost committed suicide because he was having a bad day didn't exist anymore, he was now a new creation in Christ. God had taken out his heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. A heart that instantly loved God and loved his new brothers in Christ. He no longer cared about what people thought, or what consequences he would be facing tomorrow at work, his primary focus was on the good news of Jesus Christ.
Partakers of Grace
So let us ask why. Why do we see such a radical step of faith in the partnering of the Gospel in the lives of the jailer and Lydia? Flip back to Philippians 1 and look at verse 7.
And in light of the love of God that he lavishes upon us, there is only one logical, consistent, fitting, or worthy response, and that is for the love of God to break forth like a river busting through a dam and washing everyone down stream. Who cares about your job, who cares about your business, who cares about what the neighbors are saying, who cares about what your family might think. You want everyone to experience Christ. And this is exactly what happened for Lydia and the Jail. The question is, has it happened to you, or are you just going through the motions?
Paul's Prayer and My Prayer
I do not want Cornerstone Church to go through the motions. I can't do it. I can't survive as your Pastor emotionally if we just play Church. Your partnership with me in the Gospel is a means of grace that flows straight to my heart, and produces in me joy. My prayer today, is Paul's prayer.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 4, 2015
Today we begin our journey together through my favorite book in the Bible, Philippians. Before we get started, I want to encourage all of you to resist the tendency to be passive in this journey. I want you to be actively engaged in the soaking of this book. Don’t just sit and kind of listen to me preach for 45 minutes. Bring your Bibles to church, read along with me, use your pen to make notes, memorize some of the passages, figure out ways to be doers of this Word not just hearers. Make a list of action items. Live out the Word of God. You will not regret it. With that said, lets jump in we have a lot of ground to cover. Turn with me to Philippians 1:1-11.
The book of Philippians is known as the letter of joy. In this short, four chapter book the noun joy, “chara” is used five times and the verb rejoice, “charein,” is used nine times. Only the book of Luke uses “charein” more than Philippians. What is interesting about this is that this letter of joy is written by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison, most likely in Rome. And not only was he in prison, but his life laid in the balance. His release was not guaranteed. Paul was staring death right in the face. Everything about Paul's life in that moment screamed pity party, not joy, yet what do we find Paul doing while chained to a Roman guard, rejoicing.
And it should be noted that this joyful disposition was not unique for Paul. This was not an anomaly. Paul's life was one of joy, day in and day out. This was despite his trials and tribulations. Paul had joy in the midst of imprisonments, beatings, lashings, stonings, being shipwrecked, adrift at sea, constant dangers, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure to the elements. Perhaps no one said it better than Paul himself, he is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” His joy was not dependent upon his circumstances. His disposition was not a prisoner to happenstance.
So what was the source of his joy? His relationship with Jesus Christ. No matter what took place in Paul's life, it could never separate him from the love of God found in Jesus Christ. The love of Christ was better than wealth, food, comfort, freedom, and life itself. Jesus was the greatest treasure of his life and everything was garbage compared to knowing Him. As we walk through this book I want you to keep this in mind, that despite Paul's circumstances he always had joy. Why? Because he had Jesus.
My guess is that many of you in this room are struggling. The circumstances in your life have become a weight that you are about to break under. Perhaps it is your job, your finances, your marriage, your singleness, your health, or just the monotony of life. Whatever it is your heart craves joy and you have searched the world for something to satisfy its hunger, yet time and time again you come up empty. Why? Because the joy of your heart is not found in this world, it is found in something out of this world. You need to stop focusing on your circumstances and start focusing on Jesus. So if you are tired of a joyless life, lean in and listen the words found in this wonderful book of Philippians, a true letter of joy.
Doulos of Christ
Lets start right at the beginning. Verse 1, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.” The word servant in Greek is doulus. In some translations this word is translated to bondservant, however, the best translation is actually slave. “Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.” Our English translations have chosen not to use the word slave due to its negative connotations, however, the word actually means slave. This is not the only time Paul began a letter with this description of himself. He also began his letter to the Romans and to Titus the same way, “Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ. Likewise, he was not the only apostle to refer to himself as a slave. Peter, James, Jude and John all used this description of themselves, slaves.
So what do these disciples mean when they call themselves slaves of Jesus? Perhaps to answer this question we should begin on the road to Damascus, where Paul was chosen by His master. Turn with me to Acts 9.
Why? Because God had shown the light of His glory into Paul's life and caused the the scales to fall from the eyes of his heart and for the first time he beheld the glory of God in the face of Christ. And when he beheld the glory of Jesus the Christ, and the mercies of God as directed to him, the Chief of Sinners, he knew of only one thing left to do, pick up his cross every single day and follow Him.
This call to radically follow Christ is not exclusive to Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John. All disciples of Jesus are called to abandon all things for Jesus. All Christians are called to be a doulos, a slave to Christ.
And this is exactly what Paul did in his life. His life was a drink offering poured out at the feet of Jesus. He was a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. And the fruit of this obedience were, as verse 1 says, “the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi”.
Saints in Philippians
Phillipi was a northeastern city in Greece. It derived its name from Philip II, the Father of Alexander the Great. The town itself was under Roman authority and was patterned after Rome itself. Having said that Phillip was more of a colony as opposed to a thriving commercial epicenter. Prior to Christianity, Phillipi was an eclectic mix of religion. However, many in Philippi worshiped the Greek gods, however identified by their Latin names: Jupiter (Zues), Juno, Mars, Artemis. The question is how did the gospel get to Philipi? For that answer turn to Acts 16:6-10.
It was in the midst of these failed attempts to take the gospel to certain parts of Asia, that God gave Paul a vision. A man from Macedonia urging Paul to help them. Paul's response was doulus like. He immediately started making arrangements to get to Macedonia. Once again, notice what he didn't do. He didn't say, let me pray about it. He immediately started making plans. And what were his intentions when he arrived? Dig wells? No, Paul knew that the help they needed was found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. So once again, we see in Paul a gospel default.
When they arrived, they went to the river to look for a place of prayer. Seems odd, does it not? You can pray anywhere, why seek out a special place? The reason is because in towns where there was no synagogue, it was a Jewish custom for Jews to congregate at the nearest river on the Sabbath. Paul, being a Jew, knew this and went to see who he would find. And there he found Lydia.
Upon finding Lydia, what did they do? They shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ, just as God had called them to do. Once again, notice that they didn't hesitate. They didn't first build a relationship with her before talking about Jesus. They engaged and got right to what is of first importance, the gospel.
And what happened? Verse 14, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Folks, I know some of you struggled with our sermon series on the Doctrines of Grace, but you can't argue with what God's inspired word says in verse 14. Absent God opening up Lydia's heart, she does not hear the gospel message. The first domino that falls in conversion is always God. We are passive recipients of God's Grace. This was true for Paul, the twelve disciples, Lydia and it is true for all who are in Christ, including you and including me.
Just as Paul says in Philippians 1:6, our text today, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” It was God who began the work in Lydia's heart. Without God performing a miracle in your life, you will never be a saint. And lets make something abundantly clear, every follower of Jesus is a saint. The Catholic Church has once again created confusion around this term, a saint is not some dead person who once performed a miracle. A saint is someone who has been touched by the hand of God and is himself a walking miracle. God, not man, determines who will be a saint, and if you are in Christ, you have received that honor.
The very next thing that happened was she was baptized. They performed a Christ ordained, celebration of the union of Lydia and Christ, both in his death and in his life. And with that we have our very first convert in the Continent of Europe, a Jewish business woman along side a river one Saturday morning 2000 years ago.
And this is how the Philippians Church began, through the obedience of four men willing to risk everything to unleash the gospel in Europe. Lydia was the first fruit of a partnership that Paul in verse 4 says he remembers with joy and verses 7 and 8 says he holds in his heart and yearns for with the affection of Jesus Christ.
Which makes me wonder, how many joy filled, loving relationships are we missing out of when we chose to not serve God, and instead serve our own passions and desires. How often have we exchanged the sweet fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ for the shallow relationships provided on facebook. As I stated earlier, if you long for joy, Paul has something to teach you.