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|Posted on February 10, 2016 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
Philippians 2:19 (NIV) I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Paul planned to send Timothy back to Philippi to serve as an example of being a servant leader. That way Timothy could take them further news of Paul and send news back to Paul about the Philippian church. Timothy stood out above all the rest that Paul had mentored. When persecution came, the others sought self-preservation at the expense of the Gospel. Their interest was only in saving their own skins. Their fear prevented them from continuing with Paul. Timothy would prefer the interests of the Philippian believers above his own. He would model the things Paul had written and taught in Philippians 2:1-5.
Q - You've heard the old cliche, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." When persecution comes, (and I believe it will), will you be rooted and grounded enough in the word of God to stand firm? Workers had desserted Paul in favor of "looking out for number one." Will you flee when things get tough or will you continue with the Lord?
Philippians 2:22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
During the time of Paul, fathers often mentored their sons as apprentices in the family business just as Joseph taught Jesus the skill of carpentry. Timothy was Paul's protege, his son in the faith. He had worked faithfully beside Paul and learned from him. Timothy also was hungry for some male companionship because he was being raised by his mother and grandmother, so Paul provided something for Timothy that otherwise he would not have had, a fantastic father figure. Timothy's adopted dad was in the "business" of spreading the gospel and passed on all he knew to his spiritual son. Timothy must have been visiting and ministering to Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome because Paul had the ability to contact him and send him out to the Philippians. He had not fled in terror but persisted in the work. Paul hopes to send Timothy soon, and his expectation was that he would be able to follow shortly. Paul is confident the Lord will release him from prison so he can continue to minister to the churches he had established and have opportunity to begin new works as well. He realized God was sovereign over his future plans but felt "confident in the Lord" that his release was what God was providentially accomplishing for him.
Q - Taking someone under one's wing to instruct them in serving the Lord is not just for a pastoral mentoring program. Is there a person who is younger than you in the faith that you could be mentoring (discipling)? Do you need to ask a more seasoned believer to disciple you?
Philippians 2:25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.
This passage is an example of unity and compassionate concern among believers. Paul calls Epaphroditus his brother, in other words family in the Lord. The second connotation is co-laborer to advance the Gospel. Thirdly, he calls him a fellow soldier. Remember, it is Paul, directed by the Holy Spirit, who gave us the excellent instruction on the armor of the Lord. (see Ephesians 6:10-20). Next he refers to Epaphroditus as the Philippians' messenger because they had sent him to take Paul a monetary gift and to minister to his needs. Perhaps on the way to Rome, he had fallen ill and was even near death. Epaphroditus was concerned that his home church would be distressed by this news. God spared him which Paul says was a blessing for himself because he would have had extreme sorrow if Epaphroditus had died. Paul knows that when the Philippians see Epaphroditus again, they will be relieved and will rejoice. This will cause Paul to rejoice and have less concern about them because he knows that they are caring for each other. This entire circle of concern between Paul, Epaphroditus, and the church at Philippi shows the attitude of putting others before yourself and having unity among the believers. In a perfect world, in mature church communities, this is how we should function.
Q - Do we express true concern when a brother or sister is down due to illness or other distress?
Philippians 2:29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
Paul thought Epaphroditus should be given a welcome home party. He instructed the church to honor people like him.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) "We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor amng you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves."
I Thessalonians 5:12-13 (VOICE) "Brothers and sisters, we ask you to show appreciation to those who are working hard among you and those who are you leaders as they guide and instruct you in the Lord - they are priceless. When you think about them, let it be with great love in your heart because of all the work they have done. Let peace live and reign among you."
We should respect and honor our church leaders. Unfortunately, we often do the opposite. Instead of highlighting what our leadership is doing right, we rant and rave about their minor offenses which usually boils down to their human frailty. It is little wonder that leadership burns out so quickly with this kind of treatment. We must take the tactic as congregants to war on behalf of our leadership through prayer. We also need to encourage them verbally and/or through notes and cards, and speak well of them to each other and outsiders. Ministers are the most underserved part of the family of God. The undershepards are lead by the Good Shepard, but they still need the love of the sheep. They have needs that need to be prayed for and met just like the rest of us. It takes more than the occasional Sunday dinner of fried chicken! Our pastors and other leaders are pouring their lives into ours. We need to reciprocate.
Paul was not saying in verse 30 that the Philippian church had failed him in any way. He was applauding Epaphroditus for bringing their gifts since they could not all travel to Rome at that time.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. In order to stand firm when faced with trials, study Ephesians 6:10-20. Each day mentally go through the pieces of armor and ask the Lord to remove any hindrances to your service and place His armor on you. Do not give up when things get tough. Trust in the Lord to hold you up!
2. Are you in need of help to grow in the Lord? Attend Sunday school and maybe even seek out a believer you respect and ask them to instruct you one hour per week and pray for you. Perhaps you are that respected believer. If so, pour your life into at least one younger Christian to help them walk more closely with the Lord.
3. Express true concern for others. Instead of glibly saying, "I'll pray for you," stop and pray with them right when they share their need. This can be done in person, over the phone, or via email. Those few minutes will encourage them greatly and insure that you do not forget to pray as you have promised.
4. Honor your spiritual leaders. Take time to speak to them when a message blesses or challenges you. Write a brief note of encouragement or send an email. Speak highly of them to other members of the congregation and to the community. Do not engage in gossip or negativity about them. Walk away. If you have a true concern about something they had said or done, talk TO THEM not about them.
|Posted on February 3, 2016 at 12:55 AM||comments (0)|
Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since this is a letter, it begins with who it is from, who it is to, and a greeting. We spent quite a bit of time familiarizing ourselves with Paul in the introduction. So who was Timothy? His name means “one who honors God.” His mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were devout Jews who trusted Jesus (2 Timothy 1:5). His father was a Greek (Acts 16:1). Paul led Timothy to Christ and described him as “my true child in the faith” 1 Timothy 1:2 (NIV). Timothy had served alongside Paul in Philippi, so they would be familiar with the young man. Although he probably did not co-author this letter, Timothy may have written it down as Paul dictated since Paul usually used scribes for writing. Paul describes himself and Timothy as servants of Christ Jesus.
“servants1401 – dŏulŏs – a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency) – bond (man), servant.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (a good tool for looking up the meaning of words can be found online at http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/strongs-exhaustive-concordance if you do not have a print version of Strong’s.)
As noted in our introduction, this letter was written to the church at Philippi. Paul addressed it to the body of believers as a whole but also specifically sent it to the overseers and deacons of the church. It is addressed to “God’s holy people” which in other translations may be rendered “all the saints” which is accurate either way because “saint” is one who has been set apart, sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.
If we greeted people with Paul’s greeting today they might call the men in white coats which is sad. What was Paul really hoping for them in this greeting? My favorite definition for grace is a portion of that found in Strong’s 5485 – “The divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” Peace implies rest, quietness, and wholeness. This Greek word for peace is similar to the Hebrew word Shalom which included the thought of “nothing missing, nothing broken”. Paul is urging the Philippians in his greeting that the Father and the Son desire this kind of peace and unity among them and that their relationship with Jesus be evident in their daily lives. This type of grace and peace could only be a result of intimate time spent with the Lord.
Q – How often does your greeting in a letter or even in person remind your friend of their walk with the Lord or their need to know Jesus? What would happen if Christians made a point to speak of the Lord in casual conversation?
Philippians 1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you.
According to J. Vernon McGee in his Thru the Bible commentary, the literal translation of this verse is, “All my remembrance of you causes me to thank God.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your pastor encouraged you with such words?! Paul had a special affection for the believers at Philippi because their changed lives reflected in their actions. They were the only people of all those to whom he had ministered, who made it a point to send care packages to keep Paul’s spirits up.
Q – Do you think your pastor, mentor, or person who led you to Christ thanks God for you? Do you thank God when you think of them?
Philippian 1:4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Apparently, Paul prayed for the Philippian believers on a regular basis. Paul had confidence that in his absence the Philippians were continuing the work of the Lord Jesus. Their faithfulness, not only to Paul, but also to serving the Lord brought him great joy. Paul was actually writing this letter from prison, most scholars agree in Rome, so the fact that he could experience joy in those circumstances may seem remarkable. But we shall see that joy is one of his major themes. Paul could choose despair and depression due to being separated from his disciples in Jesus, but instead he chose joy in knowing that the Lord was continuing to grow the Philippian believers into Christlikeness.
Q – Are you continuing to grow daily in your walk with the Lord? Memorize Philippians 1:6 in the version of your choice to remind yourself that God is not finished with you yet but is “conforming you to the image of Christ.” (Romans 8:29)
Philippians 1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
The believers in Philippi had ministered to Paul both while he was chained in prison and while he was preaching and serving as a missionary. Jesus had given Paul an extreme love for this church. The Father and the Son were witnesses of Paul’s great love for these believers because he was praying to them for these people. Of course, God is all-knowing, but from our perspective, He also is aware of Paul’s affection because of his prayers.
According the notes in the John MacArthur Study Bible, “affection” in verse 8 was “the strongest Greek word to express compassionate love – a love that involves one’s entire being.”
Q – Have you ever loved someone so intensely that you felt it in your entire body, from head to toe (or as Susan would say, “from my head to my remnants")? The Lord can and does bring that kind of closeness to His body when we fully surrender to His work in our congregations.
Philippian 1:9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
A great study would be “The Prayers of Paul” which Susan and I may do some time in the future. The next three verses are Paul’s prayer and encouragement for the believers at Philippi. Paul prayed that their love will grow not sentimentally but with insight into each other and the Lord. Love for and knowledge of Jesus would enable them to discern what was best rather than just what is good. Paul prayed that they would be pure, blameless, and filled with the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) which would be evidence of their relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul’s prayer was that his spiritual children would bring glory and praise to the Lord.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. Try making a habit of bringing the Lord Jesus into your daily conversations this next week. Make a note of how this changes you and/or those you talk to!
2. Be honest with yourself. Are you a church member that would cause your pastor to thank God? If not, pray about how you can better serve the body of Christ. Find ways to encourage others and build relationships. Perhaps you could even write a note or email to encourage the leadership of your local church.
3. Memorize key verses in order to be able to meditate on them and apply them. Scripture memory is not just for children! Suggested memory verses: Philippians 1:6, 1:21, 2:3-4, 2:13, 3:7, 3:20-21, 4:6-7, 4:8. If you find memorization easy, take on Philippians 2:5-11 concerning the humility and exaltation of the Lord Jesus.
4. Examine Paul’s prayer for the believers at Philippi. Pray in a similar manner for the members of your own congregation.