Does God Love you? Philippians 1.3
2/2/2018 11:58:44 AM
Others Hmmm

You?  Philippians 1.3
Does God Love YOU?
God's heart is so full of love for you it is difficult to comprehend.   
God's heart desires one thing-to love and be loved by humanity.  You too!
God's heart shows no partiality; he is an equal opportunity lover. Yep everyone.
There is no partiality with God, Paul wrote. Further, God pays no attention to this world's distinctions.1
The church in old Macedonia serves as a grand expression of God's heart. The story of Paul's stay in Philippi centers around three people-three very different people.  But first, let's consider Philippi herself.  Why did Paul go to Philippi?  The city was a commercial center in the ancient world for several reasons: location, gold and silver mines, her status as a Roman colony, and maybe most importantly, the main road that traveled through the town which linked Rome with her eastern provinces.  All of these made it a prime location for the good news of Jesus Christ.
Upon arriving in a new town, it was Paul's custom to go first to the synagogue, but there was none in Philippi, which indicates there were few Jews in town.2
  So the missionaries went to the river just outside of town to look for a place of prayer.3   At the river, Paul did indeed find a small group of the faithful where he met Lydia, a successful businesswoman from Asia.
Paul and Silas told the group about the Savior, and Lydia opened her heart to Jesus Christ, along with her household, and was baptized.  Ah, the river!  So grateful, Lydia insisted they come to her home to stay; and 'she persuaded us', Paul noted.  Note:  first convert in Philippi - Lydia. 
Day after day, as the Christians made their way to the river for fellowship and prayer, a demon-possessed slave girl shouted their presence as they walked through town.  (Can you picture that?) "Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!"4 And it left ... along with the money she made for her owners fortune telling.  Uh-oh.
Her owners had Paul and Silas brought before the authorities, who ordered them beaten with rods and thrown into prison.  The jailer was sternly warned to carefully guard them, so he put the battered men in stocks down in the bowels of the prison.  But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, and there was a strong earthquake; the jail doors opened, and their chains fell to the ground.  (Look at God's response to Paul and Silas's prayerful praise!)  Sure that Paul and Silas had escaped, the jailer prepared to kill himself, until Paul shouted, 'No...we are all here!  Do not harm yourself.' Wow, wow, wow.
Upon realizing the prisoners were still there, the jailer looked at Paul and then Silas, and realized these men were like no others.  After being beaten, stretched out on stocks in the cold damp prison cell, they praised their God.  That was anything but normal---peace and joy even while they suffered? He wanted what they had. [wait...have you ever looked at someone and thought the same thing?  I want their faith, I want their joy...!]  'Please tell me how I can be saved?'  he urgently pleaded.  Paul responded, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved."  The jailer and all of his family members put their trust in Christ and were baptized, adding to the number of Christians in that town called Philippi. 
Remembering their faces, Paul writes, "I thank my God every time I remember you." Of three of those we are now aware-the wealthy Asian businesswoman, Lydia, the set-free Greek slave girl, and the Roman jailer.  It seems Paul's heart mirrors the heart of God, who loves and draws all of us to himself . . . no partiality, no consideration of gender, race, or social status.  God does not play favorites, and I for one, am glad-otherwise, I would surely be on the outside looking in.
No matter who we are or what we have done, 
God extends great love toward us
Now, let's reach back and experience his love. Amen.
1) Romans 2.11  
2) Remember that all the first believers in Jesus Christ were Jewish
3) When there was no synagogue in town, or it was unsafe for Jews to openly worship God, it was customary to go outside the city and establish a 'place of prayer', often by a river.  
4) Acts 16.18