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September 12, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #7

 

“Conduct Worthy Of The Gospel”

 

Up to this point in his epistle, Paul has been informing the church at Philippi about his current situation.  Even though he was in jail, Paul’s attitude was one of joy and confidence!

 

Starting in verse 27, Paul gives a series of practical exhortations concerning the Christian life.  The first exhortation is found in verses 27-30 . . . and it is all about:  Conduct Worthy Of The Gospel.

 

 

Philippians 1:27-30 (ESV)

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents.  This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

 

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING OUR "MANNER OF LIFE" AS CHRISTIANS

 

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 

 

A. “Manner of life” means conduct as Christians

     

In the original Greek language, this phrase literally means “to behave as citizens.”

 

To the people in Philippi, this would have had a very special meaning!  The city of Philippi was a Roman colony, so most of its citizens were transplanted citizens of Rome - retired soldiers who had been encouraged to settle there. 

 

So, though they were living in Philippi, they were expected to “behave as citizens of Rome!”

 

Paul applies this to the life of a Christian . . . whose citizenship is actually in heaven.

 

Philippians 3:20 (NLT)

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.  And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

 

So . . . we may live on earth, but we are to behave as citizens of heaven!

     

B. Our manner of life, as Christians, is to “be worthy of the gospel”

 

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 

 

This implies that there is behavior which is NOT worthy of the gospel!  And, to act unworthy of the gospel brings shame upon the gospel!

 

It’s like a citizen of any country who misbehaves in a foreign country - he or she reflect badly on his or her home country.

 

The apostle Peter wants Christians to remember the importance of proper conduct, as we journey here in a country that is NOT our own:

 

1 Peter 2:11-12 (NLT)

11 Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.  12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors.  Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

 

If we are NOT "behaving as citizens" in a manner “worthy of the gospel” . . . then the only alternative is behaving in an "Unworthy” manner!

 

C. Our manner of life, as Christians, is to “be worthy of the gospel” - with or without other Christians present

 

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 

 

Notice that Paul explicitly said “whether I come and see you or am absent.”

 

Paul obviously did not want their faith to be simply an “environmental faith.”  An environmental faith is a faith totally dependent upon the environment / the situation / the circumstances / etc.

 

Some people only remain faithful to Jesus while in the positive influence of their home, or their church, or their Christian group.  Take that person out of such an environment, and his or her faith fade away!

 

Signs of an environmental faith :

 

1) Praying in public, but not in private

 

2) Studying the Bible at church, but not at home

 

3) A lack of personal closeness and dependence upon God and Jesus Christ

Paul's hope was that the Philippians' “manner of life” was not dependent upon his presence!

 

In the same way, our behavior should not be dependent upon the presence of other Christians, but upon the presence of Christ alone!

 

SPECIFIC OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING OUR "MANNER OF LIFE" AS CHRISTIANS

 

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 

 

A. Our manner of life means to “stand firm” as Christians.  Standing firm against those things which could derail us:

 

The temptations of the world in which we live - the immorality and materialism.

 

The sin of doubt and unbelief, when crisis hits us.

 

The deceitful of false doctrines, which show great promise, but end up leading us away from Christ.

 

We must “stand firm” against all such things!

 

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 

 

Note, also, that we must stand firm “in one spirit!”  We are not to stand strong by ourselves, in isolation from one another, but in UNITY!

 

Conduct unworthy of the gospel usually begins when we neglect the blessings of togetherness / fellowship.  (Paul talks more about the importance of UNITY in our conduct later in this letter to the Philippians.)

 

B. Our manner of life involves “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

 

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel

 

Behaving as citizens of heaven includes aggressively promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ (“striving”); and doing this in unity with other Christians (“side by side for the faith of the gospel”).

 

Our conduct is UNbecoming the gospel if we are:

 

a. NOT striving for the faith of the gospel

b. NOT doing it in unity with other Christians

 

We see clearly here the need for identifying with a congregation and closely working together with them!

 

Are those who drift around from church to church, never joining in full membership & ministry, truly behaving in a conduct worthy of the gospel?

 

c. Our manner of life involves “not frightened in anything by your opponents.”

 

28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents.  This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

 

Christians living in a manner worthy of the gospel will not be troubled by those who may make fun of or even ridicule them!

 

The world may consider such lack of fear as evidence that we are crazy... but, it’s evidence of our salvation!

 

Matthew 5:10-12 (CEV)

10 God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right.  They belong to the kingdom of heaven.  11 God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me.  12 Be happy and excited!  You will have a great reward in heaven.  People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.

 

There may come times when we who believe in Jesus are also called upon to suffer for his sake.  Such was the case with Paul, and evidently the Philippians as well.

 

Should we ever have to suffer for Christ, remember that in God’s economy such suffering is a privilege. 

 

Our attitude should be like that of the apostles:

 

Acts 5:41-42 (CEV)

41 The apostles left the council and were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus.  42 Every day they spent time in the temple and in one home after another.  They never stopped teaching and telling the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

 

So these are some of the things involved in “our manner of life” as Christians / citizens of heaven:

 

Having a conduct worthy of the gospel of Jesus.

 

Standing firm in one spirit.

 

With one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

 

Not in any way terrified by our adversaries, no matter what the environment (moral climate) might be!

 

This is certainly not all that is involved in our manner of life as a Christian.  In chapter two we will learn more of what is expected of us as Christians.

 

BUT, in view of these things today, I must ask . . .

 

Is your conduct worthy of the gospel of Christ?

 

Are you behaving as a citizen of heaven, while on this earth?

 

If you must honestly answer “NO” . . . it may well be because you’ve forgotten the privileges that you enjoy by believing in Jesus and even suffering for him!


 

 

 

September 5, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #6

 

“Magnifying Jesus In Life And Death”

 

As we continue in our sermon series in Philippians, we continue to look into the heart of the apostle Paul.  We find a man who, despite difficult circumstances, still maintained a strong expectation, hope, and confidence concerning the future. In our verses of study for today, Paul expresses that strong hope and confidence.   

 

Philippians 1:19-26 (ESV)

19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.  21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  23 I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.  25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

 

There are several lessons that can be gleaned from these verses, but today we’ll laser in on Paul's expectation and hope that “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (v. 20)

 

Why would Paul desire to magnify Christ” with his life?

 

Why would he want to magnify Christ” in his death?

 

How would he do it?

 

LET’S UNPACK THESE QUESTIONS . . .

 

1. MAGNIFYING CHRIST IN LIFE

 

WHY WOULD PAUL WANT TO MAGNIFY CHRIST IN HIS LIFE?  

 

Because of Christ's love for him . . . 

 

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (CEV)

14 We are ruled by Christ’s love for us.  We are certain that if one person died for everyone else, then all of us have died.  15 And Christ did die for all of us.  He died so we would no longer live for ourselves, but for the one who died and was raised to life for us.

 

Because of the strength Christ gave him for daily living . . .

 

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 

Because of what Christ will one day do for him . . . 

 

Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT)

20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.  And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.  21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

 

OK, SO HOW DID PAUL HONOR (MAGNIFY) CHRIST BY HIS LIFE?

 

By his attitude toward Christ

 

21 For to me to live is Christ . . .  (Jesus was THE main focus of his life)

 

By devoting his life to serving Christ

 

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

As long as Paul lived, he would offer his life in fruitful (spiritually productive) service to Jesus Christ . . .

            

22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me . . .

 

As long as Paul lived, he would give his life to help others progress in their faith . . .

 

25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

 

Paul understood that what we do for others, IN JESUS’ NAME, we do for Jesus!

 

WHAT ABOUT US?

 

Do you desire to honor / magnify Jesus with your life?

 

Are you living in a manner that honors / magnifies Jesus?

         

Does your life encourage others to progress in their faith . . . or does your life leave others thinking, “So what?  What difference is faith in Jesus making in his or her life?

 

LET’S UNPACK THESE QUESTIONS . . .

 

1. MAGNIFYING CHRIST IN LIFE

 

WHY WOULD PAUL WANT TO MAGNIFY CHRIST IN HIS LIFE?  

 

2. MAGNIFYING CHRIST IN DEATH

 

WHY WOULD PAUL WANT TO MAGNIFY CHRIST IN HIS DEATH?  

 

For Paul, because of Jesus, “to die is gain” . . .

 

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

 

To die means to “be with Christ, which is far better.” (v. 23)

 

When a Christian dies, they go to be with the Lord!  

 

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NLT)

9 For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.  10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.

 

Because of this wonderful truth and hope, Paul knows that he would magnify Jesus . . . even by his own death!

 

HOW WAS PAUL WILLING TO MAGNIFY JESUS BY HIS DEATH?

 

By his willingness to die in service to Jesus and his fellow Christians! 

 

Philippians 2:17-18 (NLT)

17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God.  And I want all of you to share that joy.  18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

 

Paul was determined to serve Jesus and his fellow Christians, even if it killed him!  But . . . what better way to die, than in the service of Jesus?  And this is how Paul eventually did magnify Jesus by his death:

 

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT)

6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.  The time of my death is near.  7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  8 And now the prize awaits me - the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.  And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

 

Paul faithfully served Jesus & his fellow Christians.  He died because of his service to them!  (Tradition says that Paul was beheaded by Nero.)

 

WHAT ABOUT US?

 

We have the same motives to magnify Jesus in our death . . . the assurance of eternal life and the assurance of being with our Lord forever in heaven!

 

Will you magnify Christ in your death?

 

Unless Jesus returns first, we will all die anyway!  What better way to die, than in a manner that magnifies the One who makes even death a blessing!

 

How can we magnify Jesus today by our deaths?  It’s unlikely any of us will suffer martyrdom for our faith, BUT I’d rather us wear out in our service to Jesus, than to rust out!

 

Too many Christians “retire” in their service to God when they retire from their secular jobs . . . or they allow the infirmities of sickness or age to render them spiritually fruitless.  Or, they allow the fear of death to make them overly cautious about what they do (the fear of an accident keeps them from coming to worship, etc.).  

 

Paul thought it would be better to die in service to the Lord, than to just “rust” away, sitting at home!  I think that more Christians need to have an attitude like Paul.  

 

It’s true, the way we face our inevitable death, whether we are young or old, can be a means of honoring / magnifying Christ!

 

If we are going to be able to say with Paul, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain, we HAVE TO magnify Jesus both in life and in death!

 

Jesus has certainly given us every motive for doing so . . . so let's encourage one another in our words and in our actions - to live and to die in a manner that truly does honor / magnify Jesus Christ!

 

 

August 29, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #5

 

“Making GOOD OUT OF BAD”

 

As we continue our sermon series in Philippians, we really begin to appreciate the fact that "this epistle is like a window into the Apostle Paul's soul."

 

In the first 11 verses, we’ve already seen Paul's fondness for the saints at Philippi, as expressed in his thanksgiving for them (1:3-8) and his prayer for them (1:9-11).

 

Today, we will see Paul's real-deal JOY, despite circumstances which would cause most of us to be discouraged, dejected, and maybe even defeated!

 

Through the Spirit of Jesus Christ in him, Paul literally made good out of bad.

 

 

Philippians 1:12-18 (ESV)

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.  16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.  18 What then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

 

Paul was “Making Good Out Of Bad”, even when he was . . .

 

IN PRISON

 

Philippians 1:12-14 (ESV)

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 

 

 

Paul talks about the progress of the Gospel (v. 12).

 

The Philippians were aware of Paul's circumstances, but he didn’t want them to be overly concerned.  In fact, he had “good news” for them, not bad news! 

 

The Gospel (good news) was still being shared with everyone who would listen!  Paul certainly could have looked at the bad side of his situation . . . him being in jail, him NOT being able to travel from city to city and church to church, etc.

BUT, Paul looked at life through the lens of the Gospel . . . If the gospel Is spreading, then it really wasgood news!”  The truth was - Paul’s imprisonment was actually increasing the progress of the Gospel!  HOW?

 

There were Paul’s sermons in chains (v. 13).

 

13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 

 

First, being under arrest continually pointed to the cause of Jesus Christ!  Paul was not in prison for loitering, or DUI, theft, or murder.  He was there for preaching and teaching about Jesus!  So, his situation naturally sparked interest and discussion.

 

As a result, the message of the Gospel was being made known to “the whole imperial guard.”  These were most likely the emperor's own guards, who were put in charge of special prisoners waiting to make their appeal before Caesar.

 

Although Paul was allowed some freedom, he was still under constant guard:

 

Acts 28:16 (ESV)

And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.

 

And these guards were under the constant influence of Paul and the Gospel . . . they couldn’t help but overhear what Paul taught others!

 

It’s like Paul knew that the soldiers were really the “captive audience” . . . guarding him . . . and he used the situation to try and teach his these soldiers!  So, it is very possible that some of them accepted Jesus as their Savior.

 

The message was also being spread “to all the rest”

 

13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 

 

OK.  So Paul could see “good out of bad!”  Being in protective custody gave him free rein to preach the Gospel to guards and his visitors!  But, he saw even more “good out of bad.”  Paul’s example was prompting others to action (v. 14).

 

14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

 

Paul’s imprisonment caused many other Christians to be more confident and bold themselves - in their witness for Jesus!

 

They saw that Paul, even though he was locked up, was FREE to teach and to preach about Jesus!  That’s what prompted them to “speak the word without fear” (v 14).

The Gospel was being spread, and to Paul, that's GOOD news! 

 

There is a huge application for us here, but before we make it - let's notice another example of how Paul was “making good out of bad” even . . .

 

IN PERSECUTION

 

Philippians 1:15-18 (ESV)

15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.  16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.  18 What then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

 

Some people were preaching to hurt Paul (v. 15-17).  They were motivated by envy, strife, and selfish ambition.  They wanted to add to Paul’s pain!

 

BUT, we see Paul’s over-coming and conquering joy shining through all of the gloom and doom! (v. 15b; vs. 17-18)

 

Paul did not lose sight of those preaching out of “love” and “goodwill” (v. 15b - 16a ) . . . that is, those who knew Paul was imprisoned because of the Gospel / those who knew their preaching would increase the Gospel message AND encourage Paul. 

 

Because of this, Paul did not fall into the trap of self-pity and discouragement (which, by the way, is very common - especially among preachers).

 

Also, Paul could see that those who were seeking to persecute him were inadvertently spreading the Gospel . . .

 

18 What then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

 

Though in pretense, though from envy and strife, Christ was still being preached!  And since “preaching Christ and him crucified” was Paul's main purpose in life, he could rejoice even when Christ was preached by those who meant him harm!

 

So, we see how Paul was “Making Good Out Of Bad", even in imprisonment and in persecution. 

 

What Applications Can WE Take From This?

 

1) Understand the “key” to making good out of bad

 

For Paul, it was making the proclamation of Jesus Christ his goal, his purpose in life, his highest joy!  If we do the same . . .

 

<>····Many Christians, who know they should speak up to others about Jesus Christ, hesitate to do so - out of fear . . . fear of what to say, or fear that they may say the wrong thing.

 

Yet, we see in our text that God uses those who are imperfect to proclaim Jesus to others. (v.18)  God can use those who are imperfect in motive, and he can also use those who are imperfect in their ability.

 

 

SO, God can use us . . . to whatever degree we will allow him!  And wherever we may be lacking, God can use someone else to supplement our efforts (like Paul had Timothy)!

 

To put it another way, not only was PAUL “making good out of bad” . . . GOD is still able to “make good out bad!”

 

we CAN TOO . . . if, like Paul, we make sharing Jesus with others the major focus in our life! 

 

DO WE make sharing Jesus with others the major focus in our life?

 

DO YOU make sharing Jesus with others the major focus in Your life?

 

If you feel lost in sin today, or if you are a child of God who has strayed away from him, you CAN let Jesus make good out of your bad circumstances . . . simply by obeying his Gospel!

 

August 15, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #4

 

“P4”

(Pastor Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians)

 

Paul was fairly consistent in his style and manner of writing to the various Churches and Christians.  True to form, in this letter to the Philippians, Paul follows his greeting and thanksgiving with A PRAYER for those who would be reading this writing.  This prayer is our scripture text for tonight . . . 

 

Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so 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.

 

In this prayer, Paul is concerned about four things in the spiritual growth and development of the Christians at Philippi.  Remember to whom Paul is writing:

 

Philippians 1:1 (ESV)

. . . to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi

 

In the RSV (that’s the Ralph Scherer Version ) the translation of that phrase “the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi”, is literally . . . “the saints in Christ Jesus at A&D Biker Ministries!

 

Let’s examine these four areas of Paul’s concern:

 

1. THAT THEIR LOVE MAY ABOUND

 

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,

 

 “MORE AND MORE”

 

The scriptures tell us where they’d already excelled in their love toward Paul, and others, in the past:

 

Towards Paul:

 

Philippians 4:15-16 (ESV)

15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.  16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.

 

Towards the needs of saints in Jerusalem:

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (ESV)

1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.  3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints - 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

 

A vital principle of Christian health is that loving help toward others should never stop!  And, in developing the graces of a Christ-like character, we should always be increasing (abound more and more)!

 

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The prayer / admonition, is for us as Christians  to “increase” our love . . . so, Paul prays that their love may abound “more and more!”

 

 

 “WITH KNOWLEDGE AND ALL DISCERNMENT”

 

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,

 

These are the “guidelines” in which our love is to abound:

 

1) “with knowledge” - according to the right moral principles, which comes from God's Word

 

2) “all discernment” - using wisdom to apply these moral principles effectively (this wisdom comes from us asking God for it in prayer) 

 

James 1:5 (NIV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

 

So, Paul's prayer is that the love of the Christians in Philippi would abound for the right things and in the right way!

 

Paul felt that was necessary for the Philippians.  It is just as necessary for us, today!  May we never be satisfied with the degree of love that we may have, but may we strive to increase our knowledge and wisdom of how to love others more abundantly.

 

Paul’s second prayer concern for the Philippians:

 

2. THAT THEY MAY APPROVE WHAT IS EXCELLENT

 

10a so that you may approve what is excellent, 

 

Paul explains the purpose of abounding more and more in love, as he progresses in his thoughtful prayer.  Each of Paul’s 4 concerns are related, and they build upon each other . . . like steps leading upward.  (This is called parallelism, in scripture.)  Paul is now explaining “why” our love should abound more and more . . .

 

Paul prays for Christians to abound more and more in love, “so that we may approve what is excellent.”

 

So, exactly to whom are we approving (proving) what is excellent?  Certainly, to ourselves.  But even more so, to prove to others that God's way is the best way! 

 

1 Peter 2:15 (ESV)

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

 

OK.  So, by abounding in love more and more with knowledge and all discernment, we are able to demonstrate by our actions that God's way is the more excellent way!

 

This is good!  And, this is so true!!  But . . . there is another reason Paul prays for more and more growth in our love. 

 

 

3. THAT THEY MAY BE PURE AND BLAMELESS   

 

10b and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 

 

Being “pure” involves having complete openness toward God and others, with a clear conscience.  (The opposite of being hypocritical.)

 

Being “blameless” means that we do NOT to provide occasions for others to spiritually stumble.

 

Romans 14:13 (TLB)

So don’t criticize each other anymore.  Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something he thinks is wrong.

 

This kind of virtuous living can only happen when we are  abounding in love more and more, in knowledge and all discernment . . . thus, approving the things that are excellent - by our conduct!  (Do you see Paul's progression in thought?)

 

10b and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ

Paul’s big concern is that these virtues in us last until “the day of Christ.”  This is the second time in this letter to the Philippians that Paul has referred to “this day” (1:6, 1:10).  Paul is talking about the day when Jesus returns and this world is done.  That “day of Christ” is a promise for those who are faithfully living in Jesus . . . but it will be problem for those who are not!  Jesus warned us about this, also . . . 

 

Matthew 13:41-43 (ESV)

41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  He who has ears, let him hear.

 

Such a strong warning from Jesus should encourage us to take this prayer of Paul very seriously!

 

Paul's final prayer concern for the Philippians:

 

4. THAT THEY MAY BE FILLED WITH THE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

 

 

THIS IS THE RESULT OF . . . abounding in love more and more in knowledge and all discernment / and approving the things that are excellent / and, being sincere and without offense!

 

Again, notice the clear stair-step-like progression in Paul’s prayer (parallelism)!

 

SUCH FRUIT IS POSSIBLE ONLY “THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.”

 

11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

 

Without Jesus, we would not know what true love really is!

 

Without Jesus, we would not have the ability to approve / live / prove what is excellent. 

 

SUCH FRUIT IS TO BE LIVED OUT “TO THE GLORY AND PRAISE OF GOD.”

 

11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

 

God the Father, through the gift of Jesus his Son, has shown us what love really is / taught us what things really are excellent in his economy / and empowered us to be able to demonstrate the excellence of his will . . . so that we may be sincere and without offense!

 

This is Paul's prayer for the Philippians, a church that had demonstrated its love and faithfulness to him over and over again.  

 

As excellent as the church was, Paul could still pray for them to abound more and more!

 

Take this prayer of Paul’s personally . . . for yourself and for all Christians that you know!

 

Friends, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ at A&D Biker Ministries, THIS IS MY PRAYER FOR YOU TODAY . . .

 

Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so 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.

 

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT I PRAY, AMEN.

 

 

 

 

 

August 8, 2020

 

Sermon Series on the NT book of Philippians - #3

 

“Paul’s Joyful Thanksgiving”

 

Last week we looked at the greeting / salutation of Paul and Timothy to the Church in Philippi (1:1-2).  As was common in Paul’s writings, following his greeting / salutation to the Philippians is thanksgiving (1:3-8).  These verses are where we begin to look into the window of Paul’s soul!

 

Today, let’s examine Paul's salutation (greeting) to the recipients of this letter . . . the Christians in the Church at Philippi.  This is found in the first two verses of chapter 1.

 

Philippians 1:3-8 (ESV)

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.  8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

 

Three things stand out in these verses . . .

 

1. Paul Is Thankful For Their FELLOWSHIP

              

Philippians 1:3-5 (ESV)

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 

 

MEMORIES OF THEIR FELLOWSHIP WAS A SOURCE OF GREAT JOY FOR PAUL.  Apparently, every time he remembered them, it made him happy!

 

The memories were a source of frequent joy, and every time he prayed, he included them!

 

Here we get a glimpse into the prayer life of the apostle Paul.  It evidently included frequent prayers for those with whom he had ministered with in the past.

 

Colossians 1:3 (ESV)

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

 

1 Thessalonians 1:2 (ESV)

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constant

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