This is really awesome! I love Philippians....and there is so much in this first chapter!! I remember years ago when I did my first really in depth study of this book. I was going through a really hard time in my life, mush like I am now, and instead of letting that get the best of me, I was determined to press in to God. As I sought where to study during this time, I felt that God was leading me to Philippians, and boy was it ever affirmed when I read the first chapter.
At that time, when I studied it, I read it in several translations, read several commentaries about it, and used my Greek & Hebrew transliteration, as I intended to study it as in depth as possible, and the only way I knew to do that was through a thorough scholarly approach. I gained a lot from that, and learned a lot about the context, etc. The life-changing things I gained from it were far beyond the scholarly things I learned, though. As I took in God's word and He began to speak to me, personally, it really changed my perspective about the situation that I was in, and what God wanted me to gain from it and do while in the situation.
One of the greatest things I got was about Paul's attitude in his situation. He was in a much, much worse situation than me. He was in a Roman prison, chained to a guard 24 hours a day. It was not like our prisons. There was no cable tv, no gym, no basketball. Not even basic sanitary considerations like a toilet, etc. Yet, in spite of that, he was full of joy, and chose to look at his situation in a positive light, and more than that, as part of God's plan to further the Gospel.
That is much more than the "glass is half full" philosophy. It reminds me today of another scripture he penned, Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." That really spoke to me about the tough situation that I was in and the perspective I had in regard to it. Regardless of how bad it was, because I love God and am called according to His purpose, God either allowed or ordained that situation, and it was for MY good! I even told God, "I don't see that, but because You said it, I am going to believe it." And because my perspective changed, everything about the situation changed as well.
The other thing that God spoke to me about Paul and his situation is that not only was Paul's perspective right, but he used the situation for God's glory. As I read background information in the materials that I had, I saw that Paul was chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day, and that, according to the historical information, they Romans had to keep changing the guards because Paul kept converting them. Can you imagine being chained to the Apostle Paul for hours on end? He was doing exactly what he admonished the Ephesians to do in Eph. 5:15-16: "Be very careful, then, how you liveónot as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." He made the most of every opportunity to spread God's love.
So, what God spoke to me from chapter one was to change my perspective about the situations I find myself in, and not only to see them as something positive He is working in my life, but to use those situations for His glory and to show others the love of Christ. I am headed to the hospital for my son's heart surgery with that as my goal. God is truly awesome, and I am glad He is constantly speaking to us, changing us, and helping us to become more like Jesus!