Calvary Road Baptist Church


Philippians 1.3-6

Though it is just under thirteen weeks until we celebrate Thanksgiving, let me help you plan for it by giving you a suggestion for Thanksgiving when it finally rolls around. You who are heads of household, may I suggest that you make a command decision about how Thanksgiving is going to be celebrated in your home? My suggestion is that you take your Bible to the table, either before the serving begins or after the meal has concluded and before the children have asked for permission from you to leave the table. Whenever you decide to do it, I suggest that you turn to Philippians 1.3-11 and read it slowly and distinctly for everyone present. It will be such a blessing for folks to hear you read from God’s Word a portion of scripture that is given over to thanksgiving. Be sure that everyone present understands that when Paul wrote he was confined to prison in the city of Rome. He was not sitting at a table with friends and family. He was not warm and toasty, anticipating great fun and relaxation with his loved ones in comfortable chairs.

Notice what he wrote. It is not yet Thanksgiving, but we do not need a calendar to tell us when to express thanks. Turn to Philippians 1.3-11, and stand for the reading of that passage when you have located it:

3      I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

4      Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

5      For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

6      Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

7      Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

8      For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

9      And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

10     That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

11     Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

In verses 3-6, Paul reminisced about how it had been between him and the Philippians he is writing to. In verses 7-8, he writes about how it is between him and the Philippians. In verses 9-11, he writes about how he anticipates it will be between him and those church members he loved so much. Would it not be great to have a testimony time around the table? Why wait for Thanksgiving? The next time your family is gathered, ask each member to tell why he is thankful to God for his past relationship with each of you, for his present relationship with each of you, and for what he anticipates will be his future relationship with each of you. You can make it the most wonderful celebration you have ever experienced. Turning our attention to our text for today, in which Paul expresses thanks for his past relationship with the Philippians, I want you to learn how to be a thankful person. Of course, if you are not a child of God you have so much less to be thankful for than someone who is a believer. Whatever your situation, take note of how a genuinely saved person, who knows and does the will of God even from a Roman prison, is thankful.

There are four features of Paul’s thankful remembrance. First, there is the fact that he remembered them with thanksgiving. My, what it must have been like in Paul’s day, when even the unconverted knew to express a modicum of gratitude for blessings. Not like it is these days. We live in the last days, the age of apostasy, in which ingratitude is endemic. Listen to what Paul wrote to Timothy in Second Timothy 3.1-5:

1      This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2      For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3      Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4      Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5      Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Consider that list of wickedness. People who act like that (and being unthankful is on the list), are folks who have a form of godliness, but they deny the power of God. What are you supposed to do with such people? Paul instructs his reader to turn away from them. However, what if you are married to someone like this? Thank God, Paul was such an example of godliness, to express gratitude and appreciation for the Philippians, even in the midst of his own suffering. You and I should be so grateful.

Second, and this is very important, there is whom Paul remembered the Philippians to. My friends, this is a key to understanding genuine gratitude and thankfulness. If you only remember past friendships and acts of kindness you are an ingrate. You are not thankful. People who sit down and eat turkey on Thanksgiving, or those who are happy they live in this country with her legacy and her freedoms, are not thankful. They are only happy. They prefer the USA to Somalia, that is all. Neither are you giving thanks when you only tell the person who befriended you of your appreciation, when you express thanks to the one who helped you, or to the ones who raised you. If you stop there, you have not gone far enough. Of critical importance in thanksgiving is the expression of appreciation and gratitude, not to other people alone, but to God. Remember, folks, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”[1] However, if you are not a Christian you cannot truly thank God for all of His tender mercies which you enjoy, from your health to your breath, from your family to the sunset on a summer day. So long as you remain unforgiven, your iniquities separate between you and your God.[2] He will not hear your expressions of thanks, because until you are reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ all expressed gratitude from you are hollow expressions of appreciation to One Whose Son you reject. Paul remembered the Philippians, and he remembered them to God, thanking God for bringing them into his life and for blessing him through their lives.

Third, we see when Paul remembered them. He remembered to thank God for them “upon every remembrance” of them. Take note of that phrase, “upon every remembrance.” There is a significance to that statement that is sometimes unrecognized. In First Chronicles 23.30, we read these words: “And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even.” Scriptural evidence points to such men as David, Daniel, and Ezra setting a pattern of personal holiness and prayer that pious Jewish men throughout history have followed. It is more than likely that as a pious Jewish man, even before he turned to Christ, Paul had a long established pattern and habit of prayer to God. How it must have saddened him to realize that all those prayers prayed before his conversion were not even heard by God. How he must have prayed once he became a believer.

The point I seek to make is that what Paul is referring to here in Philippians when he uses the phrase “upon every remembrance of you,” was not that he thanked God for the Philippians every time he thought to go to God in prayer. Oh, no. Remember, Paul was the one who taught Timothy to “exercise thyself unto godliness.” Following his own admonition, Paul must have had regular sessions each and every day at which times he ascended to the throne of grace. He prayed every morning. He had a season of prayer every night before retiring. No doubt he had midday prayers, and perhaps even a time of praying in the middle of the night. The point that Paul seeks to make in Philippians 1.3 is that during each of these regularly scheduled times of prayer to God he never failed to thank God for those Philippians. My friends, that is real thanksgiving. Would you like to profoundly affect the depth of a relationship you have with someone? It is rather easily done. You just get on your face before God three or four times a day and, while praying, thank God for that person and the impact on your life he or she has had. Such gratitude expressed to God will make for a relationship with that person that will span time, geography, and every other obstacle that might threaten.

But what, specifically, did Paul thank God for about the Philippians? Just saying “Thanks, God,” three times a day, is shallow and vain repetition. In verses 4, 5, and 6, Paul gets more specific with the Philippians regarding the things he was thankful to God for about them. How did Paul remember them? He remembered them always. “Always in every prayer of mine for you.” Besides remembering them always, he remembered them all. “Always in every prayer of mine for you all.” Notice his attitude while thanking God for them. “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” Folks, these Philippians were not perfect people. However, how wonderful it must have been for them to read that they had a guy they had not seen in ten years who prayed for them multiple times a day, and every time he prayed for them he thanked God for them, and he had great joy doing it. What was it that fostered this attitude in Paul to so thank God for and to so pray to God for these people with such joy? It was their actions. He prayed always, for all of them, with a great heart attitude, because of their actions, for want of a better word. Read verses 5 and 6 again with me:

5      For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

6      Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Three things we find here. First, what we might refer to as their arena. “For your fellowship in the gospel.” Beloved, those people were in the struggle with Paul. “Fellowship” does not mean they had social activities together. The word means they were joint participants in the gospel enterprise. They got people saved, and they gave money to get people saved who were beyond their personal reach. Second, there is reference to their faithfulness. “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” Those people were in the fight from the moment they were saved until this present day. Can that be said about you? Have you been a participant in this great gospel enterprise from the beginning of your Christian life? If not, get on board right now and start your witnessing, start your giving, start being faithful in every area of Christian life and service. The Philippians were exerting themselves in the right arena, the gospel effort through their church. They had been faithful. Paul closes out his thanksgiving about how it had been between him and the Philippians by commenting on their faith, verse 6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Though the word faith is not found in this verse, it does underlie what Paul has written. When a sinner comes to Jesus Christ by faith, he is immediately cleansed in the blood of Christ and justified in the sight of God. At that moment, he is saved and on his way to heaven. However, that is only the first of the things God will do to him and for him throughout his Christian life. In verse 6, Paul reminisces about the beginning of their Christian lives, and about that process of growing and maturing that he knew God would take them through until it was time for the Lord Jesus Christ to come, snatch them from this world, and take them to heaven.

Do you want to be thankful? Then, thank God, thank God at your regular prayer times, for the people He has brought into and out of your life. Get specific about the words, actions, and accomplishments of those people who you thank God for. In this manner, you will become a thankful person and not an ingrate. On the other hand, would you like to become the kind of person other people thank God for? Then be like the Philippians. Jump into the gospel arena. Only saved people are really thankful, and they will thank God for those who they lead to Christ, for those who lead them to Christ, and for those with whom they work to lead others to Christ. Second, be faithful. Third, show your faith by the way you grow spiritually over time. O that God would work in your life to serve in the gospel arena, to serve faithfully, and to serve with a faith that continues to grow as God works in your life.

These things being true, I direct your attention to Philippians 1.3, where we find the innocuous little phrase, “I thank my God.” He says, “my God.” How intensely personal Paul is when he writes of his prayers to his God. What is it like when you pray to your God? When you pray, are you willing to prostrate yourself before your God in a physical attitude of humility? Are you willing to pour out your heart to your God? Such was the way Paul prayed. Want to know why Paul prayed the way he prayed? He prayed the way he did because he recognized something that each and every human being needs to come to grips with at some point in time in your life. Do you realize that somewhere, at some time, you must stand before God all alone. That is right. No matter how much you try to run from the subject, by pretending that you are a Christian, or by pretending that you are so very, very tough, or by pretending that you are too sophisticated for such things as this, you will someday face God all by yourself. Some people run away. They transfer, they retire and move away, they go off to college somewhere, they go into the military, they take another shift at work, they divorce their spouse, they jump into the party life, or they do something. However, what they are really doing is running from the idea that they will someday stand alone before God. Perhaps standing before God alone does not bother you. Perhaps it does not impress or frighten you. Maybe you are unaffected by the thought of what will transpire on that fateful day when you stand alone before God. However, does it bother you that your daughter will stand alone before God alone? Does it concern you that your son will stand alone before God someday?

This evening I want to spend a few moments addressing what it will be like for you when you stand alone before God. There are two kinds of people who will stand alone before God:


I am not a person who is gifted in describing scenarios so that you can picture yourself there, smelling the aroma, hearing the sounds, and things like that. However, I would like to give to you facts that you can ponder:

If you are a convert, if you are saved, I can tell you about the place where you will be alone before God. It will be when you are before the throne of grace, Hebrews 4.16:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Understand that you will still be right where you are on earth, physically. However, when the child of God approaches the throne of grace in prayer, God miraculously transports him from wherever he is to the throne room of heaven, to His very presence. Understand also, that when you come before the throne of God’s grace in heaven, it will be just you and God. Why so? Because it will be a meeting between a child and his heavenly Father, private and intimate. Ever watch an encounter between a caring father and his little child? Later on, the encounters become self-conscious as the child becomes aware that people may be looking. However, in the beginning, when you are looking into daddy’s eyes and daddy is looking into your eyes, he becomes your universe, and you think of no other thing and no other person but him. My friends that is what it is like at the throne of grace during prayer. It is just you and your heavenly Father.

As to the time you will be alone before God. It will be when you pray. Not when you pretend to pray. It will be when you really pray. Do you ever, really, pray? You see, when you really pray, at that time you are transported to the throne room of heaven to stand before the God of all grace, to fall before the God of all grace, to kneel before the God of all grace. Do you realize that when you pray, when you really pray, you are unconcerned about what is going on around you? You are concerned only about the Father. Not the time, not who is watching, and not how long it is taking. However, this is only when you really pray.

As to the purpose of standing alone before God, still considering Hebrews 4.16. Like Paul, you find yourself in need. What you need is grace and mercy. Of course, grace and mercy are needed to live for God and to serve Him. If you have no desire to live for God, and if you have no desire to serve Him then it will be rare, indeed, that you are overwhelmed with the sense of need that drives you to your knees in prayer. Such as these pray only is response to catastrophe. However, if your desire is to serve God then you will constantly be reminded of your inadequacy, of your impotence, of your weakness, and you will pray to cry out for help. “Father, help me.”

However, what gives you the right to stand alone before the thrice-holy God and ask of Him? You are justified, Romans 5.1: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” You stand before God, pronounced by Him to be just in His sight because of the justifying work of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who you trust. You make no claim of your own to stand before God, First Corinthians 6.9-11:

9      Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10     Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11     And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

You have a high priest who has made a way for you, Hebrews 4.14-16:

14     Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15     For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16     Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

If you are saved from your sins through faith in Jesus Christ, if you are what we call a convert, you are alone before God, at the throne of grace, during your times of prayer, for the purpose of obtaining help from your Father, because of what Jesus Christ has done in washing your sins away in His Own blood.


Is this the kind of person you are? If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior, if you have never come to Jesus by faith for forgiveness of your sins, then you are condemned. In John 3.18, Jesus said that if you do not believe on Him you are condemned already, because you have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. In Romans 3.19, the Apostle Paul shows that everyone is guilty before God of being a sinner. My friend, that means you. Because you are condemned in the sight of God, and because everyone who is condemned shall someday stand alone before God, you can know from the Bible what that will be like.

According to Revelation 20.11-15 it will be at a specific place. Please turn there:

11     And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12     And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13     And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14     And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15     And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Notice, from verse 11, that all will attempt to flee to avoid standing before God’s great white throne. The great white throne is not the throne of grace approached by His children, those who have come to Jesus by faith. This, the great white throne, is the place of examination and judgment. This is a place where I will never go to, just as the throne of grace is the place where you will never go to, my friend, unless you are saved. What a horrible place it will be.

According to the Bible, it will be at a specific time. Let me summarize the chronology of events that will take place for you as an unsaved man or woman. Unless you are saved, you will die and go to Hell. You will suffer the torments of Hell for a minimum of 1000 years. During the time you are in Hell, should you die tomorrow; the Rapture will occur and have no effect on you. Then the Tribulation with the antichrist will come and go with no effect on you. As well, the second coming of Christ will occur with no effect on you. Finally, the 1000-year millennial kingdom of Christ on earth begins and ends with no effect on you. All during those events, you will be in Hell. It is at the end of all those things, when the final judgment of the unsaved dead takes place, you and others like you will be brought forth to stand before God . . . alone. Before the magnificent One, the majestic One, the omnipotent One, the holy One, the eternal One, the immense One, the righteous One, the One who is a consuming fire, you must stand . . . alone.

According to the Bible, it will be for a specific purpose. Revelation 20.13 declares that when you stand before God alone you will be judged. You will be judged according to your works. Romans 2.2 declares that this judgment will be according to truth. And Romans 2.16 reveals to us that even your secrets will be judged at that time. Why will these and other things about you be judged? To determine the severity of your torment for all eternity.

Because, according to the Bible, there will be a specific provision. What will God’s last words to you be as He dispatches you to your eternal destiny? In Matthew 25.41, the Lord Jesus Christ tells us: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Separation from God. Cursed. Everlasting fire.

I am a plain preacher. I cannot bring to you the smell of sulfur by my words. Neither can I make your heart sob with stories. I can only present to you the clear and unadulterated truth and invite you to trust the Savior Who loves you, Who died on the cross for you, Who directs you to come to Him by faith for salvation from your sins.

[1] James 1.17

[2] Isaiah 59.2

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