Lessons from the Book of Philippians



            Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and rejoicing in the goodness of Jesus Christ the Lord. Our study of this wonderful book to the Philippians is coming to an end. Last week we ended with verse thirteen of chapter four in which the Apostle Paul states, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” This is one of the greatest truths for the Christian.

            Let me first explain what being able to do all things through Christ does not mean. It does not mean that as a Christian I can do whatever ‘I want’ and be free of consequences. It does not mean that I have a license to sin. Unfortunately, there are some that would attempt to make this verse say such a thing. Attempting such a thing is a classic example of the misuse of the Word of God and is commonly done by the cults and those who want to justify themselves in their sin. A simple rule to follow to detect when this is being attempted, is to examine the context of the verse being used. Look at ten verses before and ten verses after.

            The context of which this verse is used has to do with being able to persevere in both good times as well as difficult times. No matter how difficult your situation may be at the moment, you need to know that as you trust Jesus Christ, He will get you through it. The key is trusting in Christ and drawing close to Him.

To illustrate this, Lord Jesus Christ by way of a parable, paints a picture of a branch abiding in the vine. In John 15:1-8 Jesus says, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

Just as a branch cannot survive upon being separated from a tree, neither can a Christian survive the trial and storms that come in life if we are not close to the Lord.

As we draw close to the Lord we find strength and encouragement in difficult times.

            One of the ways in which God ministers to us in times of difficulty is through other Christians. This is what Paul is referring to when he commends the Church at Philippi in Philippians 4:14-19, “Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

            The people in the church at Philippi had been faithful in supporting Paul in his missionary endeavors and it served as a great encouragement to him. They were making wise investments in eternal things.

There are some important principles addressed here concerning making wise investments.  Many times we invest our time, money, and energies in temporal things at best and foolish things at worst. We allow our spur of the moment impulses to rule our buying habits; this is known as impulsive spending. Those in the marketing business know that a growing number of shoppers are prone to buy impulsively, therefore they gear their advertisements to encourage this kind of spending.

            A simple example of this are the products displayed on the end isles and at the checkout stands. Most of these items are not things that we normally need at the moment, but they have a certain appeal to us any way.

            It takes wisdom, self-control, and an eternal perspective on life to withstand such temptation and foolish spending. The church at Philippi knew first hand of the work that Paul was doing, for they were a product of his ministry. They knew that Paul had set his heart and mind on eternal things, the souls of men, women, and children. This eternal perspective is described for us in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

            The members at the church in Philippi had acquired this eternal perspective on life and were investing in eternal things. This served not only as a blessing to Paul but also a ‘sweet smelling sacrifice well pleasing to God’. Paul knew that their investing in eternal things at the time was done at a cost to them at the moment, but Paul wanted them to know that what they were doing was not going unnoticed by God. God knew what they were doing and would bless them for it. They would share the eternal reward right along with Paul.

            So their act of giving was both a blessing to Paul and God as well as an important example to us. It serves as an example to us of our need to be wise in how we spend our money, time, and energy. To realize that, as we obey God in the use of all that He has given to us,  He will provide for us. This is just what verse 19 is saying,  “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

            I know that it is difficult at times to obey the Lord in the area of finances, I have had my share of difficult times regarding finances but I have come to learn that God is ALWAYS faithful. He will never let me down. As I am faithful to obey Him and follow the guidelines that He has set forth in His Word, the Bible, in regards to finances, I can and do rest in His faithfulness to supply all of my needs.

            Notice if you would, it says all of my needs, not all of my wants, desires, or lusts. God knows what I need and has promised to take care of them. God is both predictable and unpredictable. He is predictable in that He will take care of all my needs. He is unpredictable in how He will take care of them.

            Paul concludes this wonderful letter with the following words, Philippians 4:20-23, “Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

            I do hope that you have been blessed and encouraged by this study through this wonderful book known as Philippians, I know I have.

Next time we will examine the subject of wisdom as we go through the Book of Proverbs. Also I would appreciate it if you would be praying for me, I will be in Cuba next week visiting many of our pastors and churches.

            Until we meet again, 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 ccalpine@juno.com 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