Lessons from the Book of Philippians
Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and giving thanks to the Lord God Almighty. We are continuing our journey today through the New Testament Book of Philippians. We are studying this book verse by verse. I believe this is the best way to study the Word of God, the Bible.
Today we will begin in chapter one verse seven. Philippians 1:7-11, “Just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
In this section, Paul continues his introduction and thanksgiving portion of the letter. In verse 7, he expresses how he is thinking the best for them because he knows the faithfulness of God. Verse 7 is a continuation of verse six which says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul was not thinking the best for the people at the Church of Philippi because he was into the “Positive Confession and Thinking Movement” nor because he thought they had it in themselves to become what God intended them to be. Rather Paul’s confidence was in the goodness and faithfulness of God.
Paul also was a true pastor. He writes to them telling how he has them in his heart. There are some pastors today that are not true pastors. They don’t really care for the flocks that God has given them to serve. They only seek to serve themselves at the cost of their flock. Both Old and New Testaments address the subject of false pastors, which are also known as shepherds. In Jeremiah 6:13, "Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely.” Ezekiel 34:1-10, “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them." 'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: "as I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock"-- therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them."
And then the Apostle Peter and Paul writing in 1 Peter 5:2-4, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Acts 20:28-30, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”
Pastors that do not have a heart for God or for the people of God continue to be a problem today. There are those who pastor just for the money or to be seen and elevated by man. It should be understood that they’re many good pastors out there that are faithfully serving the Lord and His people. I encourage you to faithfully pray for your pastor if you are attending church. (You could pray for me also, I would greatly appreciate it)
Paul’s heart for the people was like that of Jesus’ heart for you and I. He said, “For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
He wanted them to grow in their understanding of God’s love thus enabling them to have a greater love for others. That they might have the wisdom and discernment to know what was good for them and what was not. The word approve comes from the Greek word which means to test, examine, and discern. How great a need this is in the lives of Christians today. As we are living in what I believe to be the “Last Days” when many will go about deceiving and being deceived.
Paul also expresses his desire that they be sincere. This is and interesting word. In the Greek it means “without wax”. This may seem strange to us today but in Paul’s day it had great significance. Pottery as you can imagine was very popular in those days. Popular not for the same reasons it may be today. Pottery was not used for show as much as it had a practical use. The people would store their drinking water in pots as well as their food and a number of other items.
This huge demand for pottery created quite a profitable business for many. There were pottery shops in many places. Among these were some dishonest shop owners who would take a pot that had been cracked during the firing process and rather than discard it, they would take wax and fill in the cracks to where a normal customer would not be able to see it. An unsuspecting customer would purchase the cracked pot, take it home, put water or some other liquid in it and on a hot day the wax would melt causing the contents to leak all over.
The honest pottery shop owners began to identify themselves with the word “Sincere” or No Wax used here written above their doors. In other words they were telling their customers that what they had to sell was genuine and that they were real not phonies.
This is what God wants all His children to be. To be genuine, real, not hypocritical. To have our yes be yes and our no be no; to tell the truth and stand for what is good and right. The world is not like this, as you know. But God has called His children to not be like the world though we live in the world. We are to be in the world but not of it. The world is full of “wax” among other things. The child of God is to be full of the Spirit of God and “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
In al honesty, what is your life filled with today? Are you sincere, without wax, without hypocrisy? Or is your life marked with dishonesty? Do you act one way around a certain group of people and a different way while around another group? The Bible tells us that God looks at the inward man. He judges the thoughts and intents of our heart. He demands truth in our inward part (our heart). Where do you stand before a Holy God today?
Next time we will continue our study in the Book of Philippians. Until then may the Lord richly bless you beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine