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 for all of His goodness to you. In today’s article we will be returning to our study in the wonderful Book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Philippians to the Christians at Philippi while he was in prison for his faith in Christ. Though he had all the reason in the world to feel sorry for himself and be anxious because of his present circumstances, he wasn’t. Instead he was concerned for the people at the Church in Philippi.
You may wonder how could he be concerned with others when his own future was in question (being a prisoner in any Roman prison was not a desirable position). He was free from worry and anxiety over his own condition because he had placed all of his hope, faith, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The same Jesus Christ that promises all today that will trust in Him to “Be with us until the end of the age.” And “To never leave us nor forsake us.”
Paul found this to be true through the many hardships he faced during his life as a Christian. Listen to what he wrote at the end of his life, in 2 Timothy 1:12, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” And 2 Tim 4:16-18, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
This same Jesus that both Paul and I and countless others have found to be faithful to meet all of our needs will be faithful to you also as you trust in Him. Are you trusting in Jesus Christ today for all, everything in your life? If not, what is keeping you from doing so? God is faithful and true to His Word, trust Him today.
Let’s pick up in our study now where we left off last time. We will begin by looking at Philippians 2:19-24, “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.”
Paul had a great deal of love and concern for the Christians in Philippi but because of present circumstances, he was unable to go and see them in person. So the next best thing was to send a trusted fellow worker in the ministry whose name was Timothy. His devout Jewish mother and grandmother raised Timothy but it wasn’t until Paul came along that they understood that the Scriptures spoke of Jesus Christ as being the Messiah. Timothy became like a son to Paul.
Paul invested his life into Timothy (discipled him) and Timothy became a likeminded, faithful, sold-out follower of Jesus Christ. This kind of dedicated person was a rarity in Paul’s day as it is in ours. As Paul says, “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” Unfortunately, this description that Paul gives, is all too common within the Church today as well. It is all too easy to get caught up in the affairs of our life and the age in which we live and neglect the things of God to take second or even last place in our lives. Days, months, even years go by before we know it and we find ourselves having fallen into that all too common trap that Jesus speaks of as He concludes the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:19-21 we read, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And in Matthew 7:24-27, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
In Philippians 2:25-30 Paul identifies another faithful fellow servant of the Lord. “Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.”
This man Epaphroditus was apparently sent from the Church of Philippi to Paul to deliver a message and minister to his needs. Not having the forms of telecommunications we have grown accustomed to today, the most reliable and many times the only form of communications was to send a message by person. This of course could take a long time and many dangers lay in store for the messenger. Epaphroditus was the man for the job because he was as Paul describes him, a fellow soldier. He does whatever it took to accomplish his mission even if it meant his death.
I greatly admire his dedication and devotion to the work of the Lord, as Paul reveals the depth of commitment he had in our final verse. In verse 30 we read, “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.”
All too often the servant of God allows the slightest of ills, pains, and inconveniences to discourage us from completing our service to the Lord. I have found that an overwhelming percentage of Christians today have an unbiblical view of serving the Lord. We have adopted a westernized view of serving God. We think that it should be easy, with little to no opposition, everything run smoothly, no bumps or bruises, and we on a regular basis be healthy, wealthy, and well liked.
When the above mentioned “benefits” do not occur, the typical Christian becomes disenchanted and departs from serving the Lord in any way unless it is of benefit to him or her. It is like Jesus describes for us in the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:16-17, “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble.”
This was not the case for this dear brother Epaphroditus; he was faithful to serve the Lord till the very end no matter what happened to him. I am so thankful for those today who have the same stick-to-itiveness (this word may not be found in the dictionary but I think you understand).
Above everything else, God calls the Christian to be faithful, faithful to all that God has called us to do and be. Are you being faithful to God for what He has called you to do? Are you being faithful with all that God has given you? Maybe you don’t know what it is that God wants you to do or be. The Bible, God’s Word tells us that all that diligently seek the Lord will find Him. This includes seeking Him in order to find out what His will for our lives are. Seek the Lord today with all of your heart and start living for Him.
Next time we will continue our study in Chapter 3 of Philippians, until then may the Lord richly bless you beloved of the Lord.
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 or visit our web site at www.calvarychapel.org/alpine/index.htm
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine