Lessons from the Book of Philippians
Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and enjoying the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In today’s article we will begin Chapter Four of the Book of Philippians. You may access all previous articles on our web site given at the end of this article.
Chapter four has some of the best-known verses to Christians and is full of instruction for all. In Philippians 4:1-3 we read, “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
Here once again the Apostle Paul expresses his love and concern for the Christians at Philippi. Notice Paul begins this chapter with the word ‘therefore’. A simple rule to follow whenever a word like therefore or wherefore is used to begin a sentence, is to ask yourself the question, what is the therefore there for? Looking at the previous sentences will usually give you the answer.
In this instance Paul has just been talking about how the Lord is going to change our vile bodies one day and take us to heaven. Though this earth is temporarily our home it is only temporary. All those that are born again will one day go to be with Jesus in Heaven. In view of this, Paul addresses an all too common problem within every church at one time or another, that of the ability or I should say inability for people to get along.
There were apparently two women in the church that were not getting along; their names were Euodia and Syntyche. We don’t know for sure what the problem was between these two but we know it was big enough for Paul to address it in his letter. After being in the ministry for over 25 years I have seen plenty of instances where two or more people have not been able to get along. I am always amazed and sadden to hear of the petty things that people, whether they be in a church, family, or society to allow to come between them and cause division. I have seen divisions over such things as color and style of carpet, a disagreement over the purchase of an item and many other insignificant things.
I do want to make one thing clear, there are times for which divisions within a church are necessary and must occur. When there is consistent heretical teaching or outright false teaching. Or when the direction of a denomination is away from the Word and God and more accepting of the trends of society.
Another church that Paul was involved with was the church at Corinth. This church had more than its share of problems (you can read about them for yourself in 1 Corinthians. But this is what Paul had to say to them about acceptable divisions within the church. In 1 Corinthians 11:17-19, “Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.”
There was a group within the church of Corinth that were trying to stay true to the Lord and His Word while the rest were falling into all kinds of practices contrary to the Bible. So in order to stay true to God’s Word they separated themselves from those of the Church at Corinth that found nothing wrong with living contrary to God’s Word.
This has happened in our own community of Alpine. Just recently the pastor of the Church of Christ the King, Keith Acker along with its members have made a stand for God’ Word and against the direction of the main denomination. I commend them for making such a stand, God’s blessing be upon them!
In verse 2 Paul’s expresses his desire that they be of the same mind. We looked at this in depth in previous articles; it means to have the same focus and goals. As Christians, this means to get to know Jesus Christ more and make Him known to the entire world. This comes by way of both telling people with our mouth as well as showing them with our lives, how we life our daily lives. Jesus tells us how this is accomplished practically, in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
This is nearly impossible when God’s people are arguing and fighting over foolish insignificant issues. It has the exact opposite effect. People look at those who call themselves Christians arguing and fighting and think, ‘who needs that? They are acting just like everyone else.’ On the other hand, when God’s people obey God’s Word and stand for what is true and good, people see the reality of the Christian life.
Then in Philippians 4:4-5, Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” Once again Paul reminds us to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoicing in the Lord and the joy of the Lord are closely related. The joy of the Lord is the strength of the Christian. In Nehemiah 8:10 we are told, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." And Jesus tells us in
John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
It seems that Christians need to be reminded often of not only the importance of the joy of the Lord but also of the source of this joy, it is the Lord Jesus Christ. It comes and is maintained only by having a close intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. God knows how easily we get distracted by any number of things whether they are people, circumstances, things, or worry. All of these can rip the Christian off of the joy that is ours in Christ Jesus.
Let me ask you something dear ones, do you have the joy of the Lord in your life today? Is the joy that Jesus spoke of being made full and complete in your life? If not, why isn’t it? Could it be that you are allowing one of the joy robbers to rip you off? Are your present circumstances causing you to be anxious and worry? Are there “difficult” people in your life that are robbing you of joy?
Bring these things to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to forgive you for not trusting Him with these and repent. Lay them at His feet and ask Him to work out His good and perfect will in your life and through your circumstances and the difficult people in your life. Don’t be anxious any longer for what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year, simply rest in Him and allow Him to take care of you.
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 or visit our web site to read all previous articles at www.calvarychapel.org/alpine/index.htm
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine