Beulah Baptist Church
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Philippians

PHILIPPIANS

 

Outline For Philippians

 

I.                   The Marks Of God’s People [Phil. 1:1-30]

A.    The Marks of a Healthy Church [vv 1-2]

B.     The Marks of Mature Believers [vv 3-11]

C.     The Marks of a Mature and Active Witness [vv 12-19]

D.    The Marks of the Christian Believer [vv 20-26]

E.     The Marks of the Christian Church [vv 27-30]

 

II.                The Steps To Unity [Phil. 2:1-18]

A.    Christ, the traits of His life in us [vv 1-4]

B.     Humbling Oneself [vv 5-11]

C.     Working Out One’s Own salvation or deliverance [12-18]

 

III.             The Examples Of Some Christian Believers [2:19-30]

A.    The example of Timothy, a young man who willingly served in second place [vv 19-24]

B.     The example of Epaphroditus, a man who was not a quitter nor a coward [vv 25-30]

 

IV.             The Pressing On Of The Christian Believer [Phil. 3:1-21]

A.    Pressing on; guarding oneself [vv 1-3]

B.     Pressing on; Paul’s personal testimony rejecting self-righteousness and seeking perfection [vv 4-16]

C.     Pressing on; marking those who walk as examples [vv 17-21]

 

V.                The Secret Of Peace – The Peace Of God Himself [Phil. 4:1-9]

A.    The Steps to Peace Part I: Standing fast, unity, rejoicing and gentleness [vv 1-5]

B.     The Steps to Peace Part II: Prayer and positive thinking [vv 6-9]

 

VI.             The Appreciation For Good Christian Relationships [4:10-23]

A.    Appreciation: For a church that revives its sacrificial giving [vv 10-19]

B.     Appreciation: For God and fellow Christians [vv 20-23]

 

Introduction:

The author is Paul the apostle. Clement of Rome who lived in the first century wrote a letter to the Corinthians and referred to Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Polycarp who lived in the second century wrote the Philippians and mentioned Paul’s letter. Ignatius another early church leader, alluded to the book of Philippians. Paul wrote the book of Philippians in AD 60-63 while Paul was in Rome. The book was written to the saints at Philippi. Paul wrote the book of Philippians for several reasons:

  1. He wished to prevent any criticism against a very dear friend and servant of Christ, Epaphroditus. He had been sent by the Philippian church, with a gift and encouragement to Paul while he was in Rome. But while he was doing that Epaphroditus became so sick that he almost died. His return to Philippi was very much delayed for a very long time and because of this Paul feared criticism of Epaphroditus by the church. They might think he was a weakling or they might think he was a quitter. So Paul wrote to ease the path for Epaphroditus and to prevent any criticism of him [Phil. 2:25-30].
  2. Paul wished to thank the Philippian church for its help throughout his ministry [Phil. 4:15-16, 18; II Cor. 11:9].
  3. Paul wished to call the church to unity and harmony. There were two ladies who quarreled and causing a disturbance [Phil. 4:2]. It was this disturbance that called forth one of the greatest pictures of Christ in the Holy Scriptures [Phil. 2:5-11]. Christ humbled Himself and so Paul says, Euodias and Syntyche, be of the same mind, as followers of Christ we should try to think as He would think and walk as He walked and love as He loved.
  4. Paul wished to deal with some false teachers who were just beginning to arise in the church [Phil. 3:2] and he is warning the people about false teachers who were going to come on the scene.

Special Features of this Book:

The city of Philippi was a gateway to Europe it lay on the great Roman road known as the Ignatian Way. The city was named after Philip of Macedonia the father of Alexander the Great. The site was a natural fortress and the city was a strategic center commanding the Ignatian Way. The city of Philippi fit right into Paul’s master plan because the city was on the Ignatian Way it would ensure the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.

The church at Philippi [Acts 16:1-40, particularly verses 9-12] describes the founding of the Philippian church on Paul’s second missionary journey. When Paul arrived at Philippi he found what he called a crooked and perverse generation [2:15]. He also found a small nucleus of women who had a Jewish background to which he could appeal. From this group came two significant conversions. The first was Lydia a prominent businesswomen and an unnamed slave girl who was possessed with the spirit of fortune telling. Later on there was also a Roman jailor and his household who were converted. Paul was soon attacked and in prison and had to leave Philippi. When Paul left Luke remained with a handful of converts. The church met at Lydia’s house [Acts 16:40]. The converts came from a pagan Gentile world according to [Phil. 4:2-3; Rom. 15:26-27]. The strength in the church is seen in the fact that the church continued to support Paul in spite of the little time he had with them. They supported him even while they themselves were suffering and going through persecution.

Philippians is the epistle of stewardship and joy and it is the epistle that stresses the phrase in Christ.


I.                   The Marks Of God’s People [Phil. 1:1-30]

The aim of this lesson will be to do all you can to help build a healthy church. Memory Verse 1:2

A.                                  The Marks of a Healthy Church [vv 1-2]

Every church needs time to develop into a healthy church some churches develop faster than others and they do so for a variety of reasons. As we look at our own church do not become discouraged if it should look like an unimpressive square of white film. Christ has made a total commitment to our church until it becomes fully complete and mature. What are the shapes and colors that display a picture of a healthy church?

Paul is giving an unusual greeting to a church. He does not refer to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, why? There was no need for him to defend his call from God. His relationship with the church at Philippi was just what it should be a relationship founded and rooted in Jesus Christ and in the love and respect for each other.

Point #1 – A healthy church disciples and nurtures young people [v 1]

In Paul and Timothy we see a father and son in the faith, the adult and the young person work together. There was deep affection that bound Paul and Timothy together and that deep affection found its root and purpose in the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul contributed wisdom and experience and Timothy contributed the hope and vibrant energy of youth. The adult holds the responsibility of taking hold of young people and making disciples of them. This was the command of the Lord’s Great Commission. Therefore the believer must keep his focus on finding young people and making disciples of those young people. Who has been your Paul, your spiritual mentor? Are you discipling a new believer in Christ? If not who could you, be discipling right now?

Point #2 – A healthy church serves Christ [v 1]

Believers are slaves, of Jesus Christ the word servant is bond slave in Greek. There is distinct difference between a servant and a slave. A servant is free to work for whomever he wishes. A slave is bought and purchased completely and totally owned by a master a slave is bound by law to his master.  A look at the slave market of Paul’s day shows more clearly what Paul meant when he said he was a slave of Jesus Christ. First of all he was owned and totally possessed by his master. This is what Paul meant he was purchased and possessed by Christ. Christ looked upon Paul’s dreadful and needful condition and when Christ looked a most wonderful thing happened Christ loved Paul and bought Paul. Therefore Paul was now the possession of Christ.  Secondly, the slave existed for his master and for no other reason he had no personal rights whatsoever. The same was true with Paul he existed only for Christ. Third, the slave served his master and existed only for the purpose of service. He was at the master’s disposal any hour of the day seven days a week. So it was with Paul he lived only to serve Christ hour, by hour and day, by day. Fourth, the slave’s will belonged to his master. He was allowed no will and no ambition of his own. He was completely subservient to the master and totally obedient to the will of the master. And likewise Paul belonged to Christ [II Cor. 10:5]. Fifth, Paul meant that he had the highest and most honored and kingly profession in all, the world. Men of God are the greatest men in history. Servants of God, is, the highest title of Christian honor. The believer’s slavery to Jesus Christ is no cringing cowardly or shameful subjection. In the position of honor it bestows upon a man the privilege of serving the King of kings and Lord of lords. The great need today is for men and women to become slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must become His slaves and do what He says to do [John 12:26; Rom. 12:1; I Cor. 15:58].

How many of you have ever burned out on serving anywhere especially Christ? If you have you might be able to relate to this story. Listen closely.

Burnout was this my reward for giving so much to so many people? I volunteered for every committee duty. Teaching Sunday School class sure and I’ll help with VBS as well. I thought that serving in a civic club would relieve me of the guilt I felt for not caring for the poor, as I should I was sure that my efforts, would be praised, by many. We could change the hearts of men if we work hard and get the right politicians in office or so I thought. I worked hard for those people and only got a generic postcard thanking me for my efforts. Well I’ve had it from now on I’m going to do my own thing and forget about serving other people. So many of them are ungrateful anyway no matter how much I do.

Oswald Chambers has some words of wisdom for those who relate to this story he said, “If we’re devoted to the cause of humanity we shall soon be crushed and brokenhearted but if our motive is love for God no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellowman.

In what area of life do you have the hardest time becoming a slave of Jesus Christ, why?

What differences would there be in your life if every area of your life were enslaved to Jesus Christ?

What differences would there be in your church and the Christian body as a whole if we were all enslaved to Jesus Christ.

Point #3 – A healthy church is full of true saints [v 1]

All believers, true believers are called saints the Bible never uses the word saint to refer to a few people in the church who have achieved unusual spiritual maturity. The word saints, refers to the sanctified, holy ones. It means to be set apart and separated therefore every person who believes in God is to be separated from the world and set apart for God. There are three stages of sanctification. Number one there is initial or positional sanctification. When a person believes in Christ he is immediately set apart for God. Secondly, there is progressive sanctification. The true believer makes a determined and disciplines effort to be set apart for God day, by day [II Cor. 3:18]. Third, there is eternal sanctification. The day is coming when the believer will be perfectly set apart unto God and His service without any sin and failure whatsoever. That will be the day of the believers, eternal redemption. 

Point #4 – A healthy church has leaders who lead by example [v 1]

Paul is addressing the leadership of the church and setting them apart from the membership whom he addressed as saints. The point to see is that believers organize for ministry. The bishop was the pastor of the church and the deacons were spiritually minded men who had dedicated their lives in service to the Lord to the saints of God.

#1- The church must organize for ministry and ordain only persons who have

      proven to be spiritually mature in the Lord.

#2- The two ordained officers of the church must be diligent in both their duty

       and in their sharing the Word of the Lord.

Point #5 – A healthy church experiences grace and peace [v 2]

Grace means the undeserved blessings and favors of God. See notes from I Thessalonians and I John on this point when it comes to grace and peace. Church members must guard against making a false profession of Christ. Guarding against trusting their own works and goodness to save them and make them acceptable to God. We must all make sure that we have experienced the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

D L. Moody a famous evangelist of a former day made this statement while preaching and I quote, “It is well that man cannot save himself for if a man could work his own way to heaven you would never hear the last of it. Why he said if a man happens to get a little ahead of his fellows and scraps a few thousand dollars together you’ll hear him boast of being a self-made man. I’ve heard so much of this type of talk that I’m sick and tired of the whole business and I’m glad that in heaven we will never hear anyone bragging of how he worked his way to get there.

Have you truly experienced Jesus has Lord and Savior?

Are you lacking, God’s peace in any area of your life and if your answer is yes how can your lack of peace be resolved?

What practical things can you do to share the grace and peace of God with people?

Who do you know that needs to be touched by God’s grace and peace?

                  B.  The Marks of Mature Believers [vv 3-11]

The aim of this lesson is to honestly measure your own spiritual maturity. Memory Verse: 1:6

A tape measure is a must when you need an accurate measurement. How long is that bolt, that, you need about four inches or maybe five? If you need one that is four inches you’ll need an exact measurement. A random measurement is not effective when you need to be precise. Do you live your life randomly? Have you measured your maturity in Christ accurately? A random measurement is not enough. The Bible says we are to measure our spiritual maturity. What are the marks of a mature Christian believer? What are the marks of a dynamic Christian church? This passage answers these questions. 

 

Point #1 – The Mark of a thankful heart [v 3]

Paul belonged to a family of believers who constituted the great family of God and they too were living for God and sharing Christ with a lost and needful world. Remember that Paul was in prison in Rome and that he was a great distance from the Philippian believers. He did not have their presence with him all he had was the memory of their time together. Sitting there in that prison cell remembering their love and support he swelled up with thanksgiving for every one of them and he thanked God for them. What a lesson for us. If Paul in dark circumstances thanked God for believers so far from him how much more should we thank God for each other that we see every day? We should be following Paul’s example thanking God for all believers every day. We are not alone in the world God is building up a body of people worldwide who are just like us, carrying the message of God to a world in desperate need [Col. 1:12].

How can you have a thankful heart? Well picture a balance scale with a bowl attached to each side. Now picture this same scale inside your heart. On the left side of the scale the bowl quickly fills up with the various trials of the day. Things like hurt feelings, worries, misunderstandings, financial stress, just to name a few. It seems as if life is not fair. Your scales become to weighty with bad things. But a mature believer knows how to bring a balance to life’s problems. How you say? By deciding to fill the bowl on the right side with a thankful heart. No one ever said it would be easy or that all of our circumstances would be pleasant. A thankful heart comes from two things. Asking and trusting God to bear the trials of life and deliberately choosing to give thanks as the believer acts in faith God comes and fills his heart with an overflowing strength and gratitude.

Why is it so difficult to give thanks during unpleasant circumstances and how can you prepare your heart ahead of time to be thankful?

Who is the most thankful person you know and what makes that person so thankful

Are you thankful for your salvation, friends, family and church and when is the last time you thanked God for these things?

Point #2 – The Mark of prayer [v 4]

Paul said that he always prayed for the church and the idea is that he prayed all throughout the day for them. They were constantly on his mind and in his prayers. What a dynamic lesson in prayer for us to pray throughout the day for all the churches we know. Our prayer life must be consistent and how many of us really pray, as we should? We must pray as if we believe that prayer changes things and not just when we get around to it [Rom. 1:9].

Would you consider your prayer life as part-time, full-time or not working at all at the moment?

What can you do right now to make improvements in your prayer life?

What are the things we should be praying for? What does the Bible tell me to pray for?

Pray for ministers [I Thess. 5:25]

Pray for those in authority [I Tim. 2:1, 3]

Pray for those who are afflicted [James 5:13]

Pray for one another [James 5:16]

Pray for the lost [Rom. 10:1]

Pray for God’s will [Matt. 6:10]

Pray for your daily bread [Matt. 6:11]

Pray for deliverance from temptation [Matt. 6:13]

Pray for good things [Matt. 7:11]

Point #3 – The Mark of joy [v 4]

Paul is in prison yet his heart is filled with joy. Joy means an inner gladness a deep-seated pleasure. It is the depth of assurance and confidence that ignites a cheerful and rejoicing heart. It is a cheerful heart that leads to cheerful and rejoicing behavior. The joy of the Lord is not the same thing as the joy of the world. The world’s joy is more of a temporary pleasure than joy. The world’s joy is always nagged by some incompleteness some missing ingredient there is not the complete sense of assurance of confidence and satisfaction. There is the knowledge that something can go wrong, circumstances can change or some situation can arise to disturb the joy like sickness or death, financial loss or even war. This haunting awareness keeps the world’s joy from being fully complete, assuring and satisfying.

Several things need to be said about the believers joy. First of all joy is divine. It is possessed and given only by God. Its roots are not in earthly material things or cheap triumphs. It is the joy of the Holy Spirit a joy that is based in the Lord it is His very own joy [John 15:11]. Secondly, joy does not depend on circumstances or happiness. Happiness depends upon happenings. The joy that God implants overrides all even the matters of life and death [Ps. 5:11]. Third, joy springs from faith [Rom. 15:13]. Fourth, joy of future reward makes and keeps the believer faithful [Heb. 12:2]. The source of the believers joy, is several fold [I John 1:3-4; John 14:28; Luke 15:7; Rom. 14:17; John 15:11; John 17:13; John 16:24; I John 1:3-4; I Thess. 2:19-20; III John 4; Heb. 10:34; Ps. 16:11]

Do you sometimes allow the happiness of worldly things to replace the true joy of the Lord?

Do you ever allow the small disappointments in life to rob you of the joy of the Lord?

How can you change your focus to the things that are truly important in life the things that bring true joy and that are eternal?

Point #4 – The Mark of fellowship [v 5]

Note two significant points number one the source of fellowship is the gospel of the Lord the great salvation of God. The gospel of Christ is the glorious news that we might live with God eternally never having to die [I Cor. 15:3]. Christian believers have a spiritual bond and a spiritual fellowship because they’ve experienced the same salvation of God and embraced the same faith. Believers are to live and proclaim the same gospel bound together in the gospel of Christ. Secondly, the fellowship of believers is to exist from the very first day of salvation. What a glorious testimony the Philippian church had it had been about ten years since some of them had given their life to Christ and had founded the church. And note the fellowship of the church had continued from the very first day of its founding.

One of the most critical needs facing the church today is the need for peace and unity in the Spirit of God. A strong fellowship rooted around the gospel of Christ. This just doesn’t mean eating, singing and socializing together it means praying together with friends, family congregations and Bible Study groups and converts [Matt. 18:20]

What opportunities do you have to participate in the fellowship of your church?

What kind of things, hinder you from committing yourself to more fellowship?

What are some examples of unity that you have noticed in your church fellowship and what were the results of this fellowship?

Point #5 – The Mark of confidence in God’s salvation [v 6]

God will complete His good work in believers. Confidence and assurance are two of the striking traits of believers. Believers know God personally. God’s Spirit actually lives in the heart and mind of the believer [John 14:16]. The Spirit of God actually bears witness with the spirit of the believer that he is going to be redeemed some day in fact the presence of the Holy Spirit within the believer’s body is the guarantee of the believer’s ultimate salvation [II Cor. 1:22]. The work begun by God is a good work that is it is a work that radically changes or revolutionizes the believer. The good work is incomplete as long as the believer lives on this earth. He is never perfected not while he is in the human flesh. There is always work for God to do. The good work will be completed when Jesus Christ returns to this earth and at that time the believer will be transformed into a perfect man and be given a perfect body and he will worship and serve the Lord in perfection throughout all eternity [II Tim. 1:12].

Have you ever felt useless, unworthy or like giving up?

What kinds of things can cause us to doubt whether God can love someone like us?

Are you more confident in your ability to keep yourself or in God’s ability to finish what He’s begun in you?

As believers we can take heart God is not finished with us just yet. Think of a sculptor who begins a project with a block of clay and each day he pinches and prods away to reveal what he sees inside the shapeless form. He knows all along what the end product will be but no one else does. Likewise we’re like clay in the hands of God He continues to mold us day, by day always working with us sometimes having to patch up the cracks, holes, and dents we make in His creation. But if we have given our lives to God truly believe and trusted in Him to save us we can have confidence that God will save us and not toss us aside. God’s work in us is good not for any evil purpose. God’s work is continuous He is still working in us and on us. God’s work will be completed and perfected only when Christ returns. We shall be conformed to the image of Christ day, by day until He returns and we must always remember this.

Point #6 – The Mark of partnership [vv7-8]

Paul and the church were so closely bound together that they formed a partnership. They were partners at heart. Paul loved them as he loved himself and they constantly filled his thoughts. They were partners in the sufferings of Paul. This means they were sympathizing with Paul in his imprisonment. They were sending to hope to Paul while he was in prison. The point is this that the affection between Paul and the Philippians was so tender that their hearts went out to each other. What one experienced the other felt even the sufferings of each other [Rom. 15:1].

Are you regularly in tune with the needs of others around you?

Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play major league baseball. While breaking baseball’s color barrier he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium of Brooklyn, NY he committed an error. His own fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base humiliated while the fans jeered. Then shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and put his arm around Jackie Robinson and he faced the crowd and the fans grew quiet. Robinson later said his arm around his shoulder saved his career. Who needs your arm around their shoulder today?

They were partners in the gospel. They were actively defending and proclaiming the truth of the gospel. Actively bearing witness of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus [Matt. 28:18-20]. They were partners in the grace of God. Paul and the Philippian church were expressing the wonderful favor and blessings of God. God was pouring the richest blessings on both Paul and the church at Philippi. What was it that caused God to bless them so? This passage explains it they were bearing the marks of true believers. They were partners with Christ. It was the tenderness and compassion of Christ that Paul had for the Philippians. The minister and the church desperately need such tenderness and affection for each other. What a tremendous difference would exist in churches if believers held each other so tenderly. Held each other in the great love of Christ Himself. The great need in the church today is for partnership. Partners with each other and the minister of God. Partners in heart, suffering, in proclaiming and defending the gospel, grace of God and with the Lord Jesus.

How would you characterize your Christian experience, a solo singing a lot by yourself? A duet you’ve been doing music with only one other person? An ensemble, singing, with a small group, of friends; a community choir you sing your part but don’t stand out your absence is not noticed?

What are some ways you can get involved and become a partner in your church?

Point #7 – The Mark of a growing and discerning love [vv 9-10]

Love in the Bible never focuses upon good feelings. Feelings may and usually do come to the person who truly loves another person but feelings are never the focus not with true love. What then is the focus of love? The focus of love is knowledge if we truly love someone then we want to know all we can about the person. The force of love is judgment. The word means intelligence or discernment. If we truly love someone we want to learn all we can about the person. We want to gather all the intelligence and facts possible discerning them so we can please the person. There are three reasons why we need a love that grows more and more. First, a growing love is needed to strive for things that are excellent. Second, a growing love is needed to be sincere and pure. Thirdly, a growing love is needed to keep us from causing others to stumble. We must always guard against being an offence or stumbling block to others.

Point #8 – The Mark of righteousness [v 11]

Righteous means act right. But scripture declares a shocking fact there are none righteous except Jesus. Therefore the believer’s heart is to be focused upon Jesus Christ and His righteousness and that focus must be protected. It is not enough to let the righteousness of Christ cover us. The Christian must protect his heart by living as righteously as he can for the glory of God. Righteousness protects the heart from losing its focus and so the believer is to strive after the righteousness of Christ and believe with all of his heart that the righteousness of Jesus covers him and makes him acceptable to God and live righteously in this present world [II Cor. 5:21]

What practical things can you do to guard your heart?

What kinds of things will interfere with living righteously?

Can you bear fruit without living righteously? Why or why not?

C.  The Marks of a Mature and Active Witness [vv 12-19]

The aim of this lesson is to become a mature and active witness for Christ. Memory Verse: Acts 4:20

Do you ever get a little nervous when you have to share your faith? Do you get butterflies in your stomach? You’re not alone in feeling that way. How many times have you promised that you would learn how to share your witness only to put it off until a more opportune time? Dr. Bill Bright said this: “Witnessing is an activity that we frequently shrink from to intrude in someone else’s life seems not only threatening but blatantly presumptious. We fear offending the other person. Fear, being rejected. Fear, doing an inadequate job of representing our Lord and even being branded a fanatic so we remain silent and pray that God will use someone else to get His message to those around us who do not know Him. Does that sound familiar? Paul has the antidote for the fear of witnessing.

 

Point #1 – He shares the gospel regardless of circumstances [vv 12-14]

Note two significant points Paul faced dark circumstances he was a prisoner in Rome waiting to appear before the, supreme court, waiting a trial before Nero. He had done nothing that should have caused his arrest and yet there was in prison waiting for the Jewish prosecutors with some trumped up charges. True he had some privileges like renting his own house and receiving friends but these privileges were minor when the strains of his suffering are seen. He was in prison for over two years and as the case with all prisoners the days wore on ever so slowly. His life was hanging in the balance but note that Paul did not grumble and complain he did not question God and wonder why. He did fall to pieces or curse God and give up his faith. Secondly, Paul used his circumstances to spread the gospel. Paul did not see himself as a prisoner of Rome or Nero he saw himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ. He did not see himself as a victim rather he saw himself as a conqueror for Christ [Acts 28:20; Eph. 6:20]. Paul was bound to a Roman guard day and night for over two years and what do you suppose he talked about? The gospel and he says so in this verse 12. The gospel was spread through the Praetorian Guard the elite of the Roman Empire and it spread throughout all 16,000 of them.

The superintendent of a mission school read the text my yoke is easy. Turning to the children she asked what is a yoke? A little girl said something they put on the necks of animals. Then she inquired what is the meaning of God’s yoke? All were silent for a moment when the hand of a four year old child went up and said God putting His arm around our necks. What could be more comforting than that?

The lesson for us it this we must never let circumstances get us down and never let them defeat our witness and testimony for Christ no matter what they are. If we are living for Christ then God is in control of our lives and He will strengthen us to bear whatever circumstances fall upon us. We must use the circumstances to witness to the eternal saving power of Christ. We are not the victims of circumstances we are the conquerors of circumstances all through the power of Jesus Christ. We’re not to allow circumstances to discourage us, or others. Paul’s dynamic witness, was being talked about among the Praetorian Guard and all over the city. And of course the converts among the soldiers were beginning to share Christ. Those who visited Paul talked about what Paul was doing [Acts 28:30-31]. His witness made a dynamic impact on all around him.

If the opportunity presented itself would you be comfortable in sharing your faith?

Do you look for any and pray for opportunities to witness?

What can you do to look beyond the circumstances and find an opportunity to witness?

What kind of practical steps can you take in order to improve your ability to witness for Christ?

When is it easiest for you to witness and why?

Personal witnessing is simply finding out where a person is and moving him or her as far as possible to a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Witnessing is a natural outflow of God’s working in our lives.

Point #2 – He holds no personal jealousy nor desire for credit or prestige [vv 15-18]

This is a strange experience shared by Paul and yet it is an experience so often tragically repeated in the church and among believers. Some preachers in Rome were jealous of Paul and envious of the results he was having. They were jealous of the favorable attention and prestige he was gaining from society and the social circles of the community. They were envious and jealous of the loyalty the believers were giving to him. They were jealous of the attention he was receiving from so many of their members. They were jealous of the position he was gaining as the leader of the Christian community in Rome. The preachers were true followers of Christ and we know this because Paul agreed with their preaching. He was grieved because instead of supporting him they were speaking out against him hoping to silence his influence and get rid of him. However not all the preachers opposed Paul some were preaching Christ out of love and they were encouraging their members to visit Paul and support him.

Point #3 – He possesses the assurance of a happy ending which is salvation [v 19]

Because Paul was so faithful to his call in preaching Christ God was honoring his preaching. Tremendous results were occurring. Unbelievers from all over the world were being saved and believers were being encouraged to step forward and become bolder witnesses for Christ. The result was that everyone throughout all of Rome were talking about and holding up Paul esteeming him and talking ever so highly in their minds. So much support attention and loyalty were being showered upon him that some of the local preachers became jealous and spoke out against his present ministry. The point of the present verse is this Paul is sure that God will reach out and save and deliver him from their criticism and from their opposition. He is sure of his deliverance because of two things. First, there was the prayer of those who supported him in Rome and around the world. Secondly, the Holy Spirit would deliver him. Paul knew that the Holy Spirit would supply whatever he needed to get through the circumstance. No matter how great our need is the Holy Spirit will deliver us if we but trust Christ.

The popular story is told about a man who was hiking on the edge of a very high cliff. In his haste to get to his destination he slipped and found himself in a free fall desperately and luckily he was able to grab hold of a tree branch that was growing out of the side of the cliff. Thankful that there was a tree there to save him from a collision with the sharp rocks below he quickly began to plot how to save himself. His options were few hang onto the branch with all of his might. Let go and finish his sure fatal freefall or hope that someone on top of the cliff could hear him. So he said hey is anyone up there? In response to his desperate cry an unseen voice from above called out to him let go of the branch I can help you then. The hiker in peril spent little time meditating on the unseen voices offer he said is anybody else up there? Unlike this hiker when the Christian finds himself out on a limb for God he can have the assurance of a happy ending God will save him.

Who or what do you have a tendency to turn to when things get tough?

When you get in a tight spot what has God promised to do for you according to v 19?

Who prayed for you to become a Christian believer did you know that they were praying for you? Who prays for you on a regular basis right now?

What kind of relationship do you think the Holy Spirit wants us to have with Him and Him with us?

 

D.   The Marks of the Christian Believer [vv 20-26]

The aim of the lesson is to firmly adopt the marks of a great Christian believer. Memory Verse: 1:21

There are two kinds of Christian believers those who marvel and those who are marveled at. Greatness comes to the Christian when he becomes committed to the cause of Christ. Athletes become great when they make a total commitment to their sport and fully understand the need to do whatever is best for their bodies. Greatness comes to the athlete who is willing to sacrifice everything. It is easy to settle for a marginal life. But God wants His people to become great. If a man is ever lived a life of total commitment to Jesus Christ it was Paul. The mark of a great Christian believer is a life of commitment.

Point #1 – There’s one great expectation and hope, to magnify Christ in one’s body [v 20]

Note the words earnest expectation in the Greek it means to gaze ahead with the head erect and outstretched just like a watchman on a tower. It is aiming one’s attention with an eagerness and intensity. It is turning the eyes away from everything else to focus on one object alone. It is total concentration upon a person’s desire. Note what Paul expected and his hope was, he was in prison charged with a capital crime which carried with it the penalty of death the one hope of most prisoners would be release from prison or to have the death penalty reduced to a lesser punishment. But note Paul’s great expectation and hope, and it was to magnify Christ, in his body. Paul’s mind was not upon his terrible plot and circumstances it was upon Christ and as prisoner he wanted to guard his mind and heart from wondering and questioning God. He wanted to guard against becoming discouraged and depressed, complacent and lethargic, inactive and undisciplined, from denying and turning away from God, from reacting and cursing God. Paul knew the weakness of the human body how it tended toward doubt and questioning and self-centeredness, pride, self-satisfaction, extravagance and laziness and enslavement and neglecting and ignoring God. Since his conversion Paul had totally committed himself to magnifying Christ and there was only one place where Christ could be magnified and seen and that was in Paul’s body. Note the reference by life or by death. Paul was facing death he did not know if was going to die or continue living. If he were to be executed he wanted to be as faithful as ever and magnify Christ in his death. If he were to be declared innocent and set free he wanted to continue to magnify Christ in his body. Note why he wanted Christ to be magnified in his body that he might not be ashamed in anything. Paul knew that he was going to face the same thing that ever believer is going to face the judgment seat of Christ. He knew that everyone of us is going to have to give and account of what we have done with our bodies while on earth [II Cor. 5:10]. When believers face Christ in judgment the experience will not be all peaches and cream there will be some believers who will be ashamed [I John 2:28]. And there will be some believers who will suffer loss and look like a burned out building [I Cor. 3:13-15]. This is what Paul meant he did not want to be ashamed when he stood before Christ. He loved Christ with all of His heart and the reason he did is because Christ had done so much for him. Therefore his one expectation and hope was that Christ would be magnified in his body he did not want to be ashamed when he stood before his wonderful Lord [Luke 9:23-24].

What are some things that we as Christian believers do in our bodies that bring shame to Christ?

Are there some things in your life that are bringing shame to Christ?

What are some practical things you can do to magnify Christ in your body?

Point #2 – There’s one great commitment in life and death is Christ [v 21]

Paul made two phenomenal statements. First he declared to me to live is Christ. What did he mean by this? He meant at least five things:

1.      He presented his body as a living sacrifice to Jesus Christ [Rom. 12:1]

2.      He struggled to yield ever part of his body to Christ as a tool for righteousness [Rom. 6:13]

3.      He struggled to control his mind and focus every thought upon Jesus Christ and the great virtues of life [II Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:8]

4.      He committed himself to work for love and justice within all of society [Matt. 7:12]

5.      He gave his life every moment of it to minister and reach as many people as possible during his journey on earth [John 20:21]

The second great statement that he made is this he declared that to die is gain. He knew better than to base his life upon the worldly pleasures and possessions of this earth. He knew that everything upon earth was aging and passing away including man himself. Therefore Paul reached out for a savior one who could give him an eternal world that would never age or pass away in eternity to come. This is the reason he grabbed hold of Christ [John 3:16].

What are you living for? What is your great purpose in life? Are you living for money, clothes, houses, property, if so what happens when you die? When that day comes and it is coming what good will your money and possessions do you then? Are you living for comfort, a good job, a nice place to live, plenty to eat, enough money to do what you desire to do now and at retirement, if so what happens when disease, accident or tragedy strikes or old age comes? And one or the other is coming and it cannot be stopped if you live for comfort what good will it do you then? Are you living for position if so what will you do when you are edged out, removed, demoted, transferred, by-passed, faced with disease or accident, what good will position do you then? Are you living for family, if so what do you do when family has transferred, moved away or various family members die? And it happens to every one of us what good will family do when you face Christ? Are you living for recognition, honor, popularity, recreation, gratification, sensuality, whatever, what do you do when you face the crisis of life and then in the end come face to face with death? At that moment if not before what good will anything on this earth do you? Paul said from me to live is Christ to die is gain.   

Point #3 – There’s one great dilemma whether to live or depart and be with Christ [vv 22-23]

The great Christian believer has one great dilemma whether to live or to depart and be with Christ. The word depart is descriptive and it has a two-fold meaning that speaks to the believer’s heart. First it means to break up as in breaking camp and loosening the ropes of the tent. It is the picture of packing up and moving on to a new location. The same picture is true of the believer when he departs this life. He is not ceasing to exist he is simply breaking loose and moving on to a new campsite. In fact a permanent perfect campsite. Secondly, it means to loosen the moorings of a ship and set sail for another port. Again the believer does not cease to exist he simply loosens the moorings of this life pulls the anchor up and set sail for God’s eternal presence. Paul says, he is caught between two great desires one desire is to live a life of fruitful service for the Lord Jesus Christ. The other is to depart and going to be with Christ which is far better. The natural mind wonders how a person in his right mind could ever go ahead and want to die. The reason is simply answered the genuine believer does not die he never tastes death. When it is time for him to leave this earth he is immediately transferred to the presence of Christ in heaven. The believer is perfected never again to experience pain, suffering, sin, corruption, infirmity, weakness, deformity, disappointment, fear, loss or death. He will be perfected to work for Christ throughout the new heavens and earth and he will serve Christ forever and ever. The promises of God to the believer are phenomenal they just explode the human mind it is for this reason that the believer can say to die is gain. There is the promise of:

-          Never dying [II Tim. 1:10]

-          Of being with Christ Himself forever and ever [John 14:2-3]

-          Receiving a glorious body like the Lord’s [I Cor. 15:50-53]

-          Being made an heir of God [Rom. 8:16-17]

-          Ruling and reigning with Christ forever and ever [Matt. 25:23]

The faithful believer sometimes aches to go on and be with the Lord. It will be a wonderful day of union with our Lord and a glorious day of reunion with all of our loved ones who have gone, on before us. The only word that can adequately express all that God has prepared for us who know Him is the word that is the same in all human languages and that word is Hallelujah [Matt. 24:44].

How strong is your perception of eternity? We live in a day and time where medical technology is keeping people alive who would have died years ago. There are both positive and negative points for the Christian believer to consider, for example look the life of young lady whom we will call Karen. At the prime of her life Karen was stricken by a devastating disease, which put her in a coma. Years went by that she lay asleep the only thing that was keeping her alive was a series of tubes which had become new appendages to her body. Karen’s parents finally made the difficult decision to turn off the life saving support machines and remove the tubes from their daughter’s wasted body. The decision to remove the tubes was not easy. It was so hard to let her go but it was bearable because of Karen’s commitment to Christ. When she finally left this world she fell into the arms of her loving heavenly Father. When you let go of this old world will you fall into his arms also?

May I make and application. Many have gone on before us those who were in Christ will have a glorious eternity together, tragically those who never give their hearts to Jesus will be eternally separated from God and from the saints in Christ. This should be a burden that compels the believer to pray for the lost and share the gospel with them.

 

Are you ready to die and leave this world? Are you confidant where you will spend eternity? What are the things of this world that are the hardest to think of giving up? For now God has permitted you to remain in this world for a reason what would that reason or reasons be? Who do you have a burden for that would miss heaven if they died today? What kinds of things can you do to reach out and witness to them?  

Point #4 - There’s one great willingness to serve sacrificially [vv 24-26]

Sitting there in prison waiting for the trial that would determine whether he lived or died something happened to Paul, either through thinking about the needs that existed in the world and the churches or through some sense from the Holy Spirit, Pail became convinced that he would be found innocent of the charges and be released from prison. But, notice why, it was not for his sake and enjoyment of life but so that he could continue to minister to people. The point to see is Paul’s heart how it longed to reach people for Christ and to meet the needs of a world that reels under desperation [Rom. 14:19].

What kinds of thoughts enter into the Christian believer who willingly serves Christ? I’ll share one example. Dwight L. Moody was the Billy Graham of the nineteenth century. On his first trip to England the young Moody heard these challenging words, which would radically alter his life. These were the words: the world is yet to see what God will do for, through, and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to God. He said a man thought Moody. He did not say a great man, nor a learned man, nor a rich man, nor a wise man, nor an eloquent man, nor a smart man, but simply a man. I am a man and it lies within the man himself whether he will or will not make that entire and full consecration. Moody said, I will, try, by my utmost to be that man.

That’s something to think about isn’t it? Can you decide to be that man? What things tend to get in the way of your service and sacrifice to the Lord? What, has to change in you for there to be a desire to serve and sacrifice? What are some things that you need to sacrifice in order to fully serve the Lord and His people? Are you at a place in your life where you can make the same commitment that Moody made to God? Why or why not?

God has called every believer to be a great Christian. Review the points. My dear friend, are you going to put yourself in a position that you can be used, by Jesus Christ?


E.      The Marks of the Christian Church [vv 27-30]

The aim of the lesson is to make a serious commitment to build a great Christian church. Memory Verse: 1:29

 

What is the mission of the church? The mission of the church is the great commission. Any church that is structured with the Great Commission in mind will become a great church. We have structured too many churches for the sake and comfort of those who are already Christians and are attending them rather than for the sake of those people who are un-churched. Church members without question assume the church exists to meet their needs and they therefore structure their programs and build their facilities with that in mind. Do you think this is true? Are we missing the mark in our churches? What makes a Christian church great? A large physical building with high-tech programs for every age group? Is it a leader with a charismatic personality? Paul did not mention any of this in his letter to the church at Philippi. His approach took on a completely different tone. Paul was in prison. He faced a capital crime and there was a strong chance he might be executed. He did not think so but there was a possibility. He wasn’t sure if he would ever see the Philippian church again so he sat down and began to write to them. What would you say if you were try to write to a group of God’s people for the last time? One of the subjects that concerned Paul was the subject of this passage, the marks of a great church. The Philippian church was a great church and Paul wanted it to remain great therefore he reviewed with them the marks of a great church.

Point #1 – Christian conduct, which is heavenly citizenship [1:27]

The conversation or conduct of a church is very significant, Paul was writing to the church at Philippi about their conduct. Philippi was a proud Roman colony in fact it was famous as a miniature Rome. A city became a Roman colony in one of two ways. At first Rome founded colonies throughout the Roman Empire to keep peace and guard against invasion from, Barbaric hoards. Veteran soldiers ready for retirement were usually granted citizenship if they would go out and settle those colonies. Later on however a city was granted the distinction of being a Roman colony for being loyal and for service to the Empire. The distinctive thing about these colonies was there fanatic loyalty to Rome. The citizens kept all the Roman customs and refused to let any local influence penetrate whatsoever. They totally rejected the influence of the world around them. They were Roman colonies within an alien environment. The Philippian church knew exactly what Paul was saying they were citizens of heaven. Therefore they must keep their close ties with heaven. Speak the clean and pure language of heaven; bear the title of heaven and of Christian; bear witness to the customs of heaven; carry on the affairs of heaven; dress as a citizen of heaven; they must allow no infiltration or worldly influence whatsoever; they must live and conduct themselves as a heavenly colony within a polluted and dying environment [Phil. 1:9-10].

Have you ever traveled to another country? For those who have they understand the need for a passport. If you travel abroad one of your most valuable possessions is your passport. Your passport validates your citizenship, permits you to travel across international borders, grants you all the rights as a citizen of your home country if you should ever need help from your embassy or consulate. Your passport has another important feature it allows you to come home so it is with your heavenly passport. Being sealed by the Holy Spirit it’s for us a precious possession. The Holy Spirit’s work in our heart validates our citizenship is in heaven. We’re just passing through this world we are in but not of it because we belong to Him He has given us His kingdom and all of its rights. When we need help in this world he invites us to call upon Him for help. Finally having a heavenly passport grants us immediate access to the Father whenever we need Him, which is all day long. And when He calls us home forever our heavenly passport the redemptive work of the Son will allow us to walk through heaven’s gate with a song of rejoicing.

Do you truly think of earth has your temporary home?

 

Do you live like earth is your temporary home? Or do you get caught up in this world and it’s material traps? How can you go about your daily life and identify with your heavenly home? Is it realistic? Do you need to make any adjustments to be a better citizen of heaven? 

Point #2 – Honoring the gospel [1:27]

The word becometh means to become fit, suitable, and worthy. The believer’s behavior is to befit the gospel he professes. No church and no believer within the church, is to bring dishonor to the gospel. If a person professes the gospel he is to live worthy of the gospel. We can compare it to a piece of clothing that is becoming to a person. What we mean is that the clothing matches and enhances the person’s looks and the person’s personality. The same is true with the gospel of Christ. If we put on the gospel we are to wear the gospel [Titus 2:10].

How do the people who know you best judge your gospel wardrobe?

Is it on the best dressed list, you wear the gospel well and enhance it? Is it sharp looking threads but you’re a little over-done you’re trying a little too hard act like you are wearing the gospel? Is it about twenty years behind the current fashion? You’re not in tune with what is happening in the world so your efforts are useless? Is it a situation where nothing matches? You don’t even care about what you wear or how you appear to others you just do your own thing? Is it a situation where your clothes do not fit? You are trying to wear something that doesn’t really suit you? Is it a situation where there are more holes than hems? You occassionly put on the gospel but usually you don’t bother? Or you’re a spiritual streaker nothing at all on there is no evidence of the gospel in your life? How can you become more worthy and suitable to wear the gospel? What kind of things can you do to change? What kind of conclusions do you draw when someone is not dressed appropriately?

Point #3 – Standing fast [1:27]

Remember Paul was in prison. He faced a capital crime and there was a strong chance he might be executed. He did not think so but there was a possibility. Therefore whether he was able to return to the church or not there was much needed exhortation that the church must heed and that exhortation was too stand fast. The church must stand fast in unity, in one spirit, with one mind. The point is this, the world it’s families, people and nations may be split and divided, arguing and differing, fussing and feuding, fighting and divorcing, warring and killing, seeking and grasping, but the church is not to live that way. The church is to be unified. It is be one in spirit and one in mind. One in heart and one in purpose [I Cor 1:10], now the church must stand fast in striving together for the faith of the gospel. The word striving together in [v 27] is a word taken from an athletic contest. It’s the picture of a team working and struggling together against strong opposition. The church every member of it is to strive for the faith of the gospel. Strive, work, struggle, push, exerting all the energy possible, every one cooperating together, not a single person pulling aside or walking off the field, the opposition is difficult therefore the faith of the gospel needs every member working and struggling together [I Cor 15:58].

How would you describe your church in striving together? Is it a great team effort where every one contributes? Is it kind of sluggish where there is a lack of energy? Is it one with no teamwork where every one does there own thing? Is it one like most churches with a lot of grandstanding, individual people looking for glory? What do you play on the church team? Can you make a difference? What kind of things can you do to make a difference?

Point #4 – Courage and fearlessness [1:28-30]

Being a Christian believer in a corrupt world is very, very hard. People oppose our stand for Christ and our righteousness. It may be the person next door. It may be in the office, it may be at school, it can be at a hundred other places. The Christian believer is sometimes avoided, ridiculed, mocked, isolated, sometimes he is ignored, neglected, overlooked, by-passed, sometimes he’s cursed, questioned, abused, mistreated, sometimes he’s slandered, persecuted, imprisoned, and yes, sometimes he’s even martyred. Now note the exhortation we are not to be terrified by adversaries and there are four reasons why:

1.      Persecution is a sign that the persecutors are doomed. The Spirit of God is able to take their persecution of us and convict their evil hearts of what they are doing. Their persecution of fellow human beings strikes the fact of doom and judgment to their hearts. It convicts them and by that conviction they stand a better chance of being saved. Example – Paul, himself [Acts 7]

2.      Persecution is a sign of salvation for us. If a believer stands fast in persecution, it is a clear sign that he is being strengthened by, the Spirit of God. And that he is indeed a true believer.

3.      Persecution is a privilege not a terror. When we are being persecuted we are suffering for Christ the Sovereign Majesty of the universe. Christ is not some insignificant rebel. Some leader of men hiding out in some remote spot who embarrasses us and of, whom we should be ashamed. Christ is the Son of God, the Lord of the universe the Sovereign Majesty of all. It’s a privilege to be numbered among His followers and to represent Him. If we happen to be cornered by some who rebel against Christ we are not to deny Him or to be ashamed to own His Name. We are not to be terrified by persecution it is the highest honor imaginable to represent Him and serve the Lord God of all.

4.      Paul and others have left the church a dynamic example to follow in bearing persecution. Paul had been arrested, beaten and thrown in jail when he was at Philippi and the church had witnessed the whole scene. Paul bore all for Christ therefore we are to follow his example and bear whatever persecution is launched against us and we’re to do it all for Christ.

The story is told of a Chinese Christian who lived during the early years when the communist came to power. After being offered his life in exchange for his renouncing his faith in Christ he was finally placed before a firing squad. After the blindfold was in place the piercing chant from the regiment’s officer rang in everyone’s ears. Ready, aim, fire and suddenly this Chinese Christian found himself in the eternal arms of the Savior. Trusting in Christ will carry the believer from this world to the next [John 15:20].

What are some ways you are persecuted in this day and age? Who is it that persecutes you? What kind of feelings rise up inside your heart when you are being persecuted for the sake of the gospel?

History has an outstanding record of displaying God’s power when His church is being persecuted. The apostle Paul is only one of many examples of a persecutor whose heart was turned to the Lord. Who is your chief persecutor? The person who gives you the hardest time about your faith. What can you do or what can be done to reach that person for Christ? Make sure to pray that God will change that person’s heart just like He did with the Apostle Paul.

Review the points.

II.  The Steps To Unity [Phil. 2:1-18]

  1. Christ, the traits of His life in us [vv 1-4]

The aim of this lesson is to embrace the character traits of Christ that is to become more like Him. Memory Verse: [v 3]

In the classic novel by Charles Sheldon in his steps the community is challenged to live their lives just as if Jesus was living with them. The attitudes of the people were dramatically changed as each one began to filter his thoughts and actions through this challenge. Needless to say people began to change and love and unity became the norm just because they were walking in His steps.

What a challenge for us as well Jesus has promised to be with us and offer us the privilege of walking in His steps. As each of us know saying we will do it is a whole lot easier than actually doing His will. The Philippian church was a very strong church and when a church is strong it is always full of vision and planning and it is always working out a strategy to carry forth the gospel. A strong church launches ministry after ministry and program after program its never still and never complacent neither are the minds or the hands of the people. Because of this there is always the danger of differences of opinion, differences in vision, desires, concerns, emphasis and interest. There are always different ideas on which ministry should be started and which one should be supported and a host of other differences. The point is this, the more strength and activity a church has the more attention it must give to unity. Why? Because a strong church has more minds and bodies working and where more people are working more differences are bound to arise. Consequently the members must give more attention to unity. In particular there are seven traits that will keep the church unified.

Point #1 – The trait of consolation [v 1]

Consolation means many things throughout scripture but in the present context it means encouragement, comfort, solace and strengthening. Note that this trait is a characteristic of Christ, Himself. Christ wants no weakening of the Spirit within His church. The Spirit of Christ takes the disturbed or upset person and consoles him, comfort him and encourage him. We are to let nothing interfere with the spirit of unity within the church. But note, we are not only to comfort those who are disturbed we are to let the comfort and courage of Christ flow in us when we are disturbed.  Just imagine the spirit of unity that would flow through the church if all the members would let the consolation of Christ flow through them. There would be no murmuring, grumbling, or disturbance. There would be no disunity whatsoever [John 14:18]. Is encouragement, a part of your daily agenda? My favorite martian was a popular old television program which featured an unusual fellow who could sense incoming signals around him. You see he was equipped with a set of antenna. God has equipped His people with a similar device a spiritual antenna that can pick up the signals from the Lord that direct us to other Christians who need encouragement. What a miracle it is to receive a signal prompting us to minister to the sick and dying, poor and needy, the broken-hearted and backslidden, to the unsaved and lost, to the lonely and empty, and to the orphan and widow.

Name some things that can happen throughout life that can cause people to need encouragement and how can you encourage those people?

When a person in the church is being divisive what can you do to calm, console and help him?

Most likely you will meet someone this week who will need encouragement will you do it? How will it make you feel? How will it make the other person feel?

Point #2 – The trait of love [v 1]

There is a comfort of love that is with in Christ the love of Christ stirs a believer to keep the unity with other believers. The word love is agape love, the love that is selfless and sacrificial. See notes from Ephesians on agape love. Imagine the spirit of unity that would flow within the church if every member would let the love of Christ flow through him. There would be no action that would hurt another person whatsoever. If the brother was, wrong. The church members would sacrifice themselves for him. Note what the verse says we are to have the same love Christ had for you. This is the answer to unity the love of Christ. When someone hurts us the natural thing is to strike back the supernatural thing is to invite God’s love into the situation. If you try His love you will find there is no end to His resources to heal hurting people. What have you got to lose why not try it? [John 13:34-35]

What kind of things, make it hard for you to love people?

Is there anyone in your church whom you need to ask for forgiveness?

Is there something you need to ask forgiveness of?

Are there feelings of bitterness and strife that need to be confessed in the Lord?

Point #3 – The trait of fellowship in the Spirit [v 1]

Once a person trusts Christ as Lord God’s Spirit does, two significant things, to that person. First the Holy Spirit enters the believer’s heart and life to comfort, guide, teach, equip and use him as a witness for Christ. Secondly the Holy Spirit creates a spiritual union between the new believer and other believers. He melts and molds the heart of the believer to the hearts of the other believers so that they become one in life and purpose. They have a joint life sharing their blessings and gifts together focused upon their Lord and His purpose. 

Point #4 – The trait of compassion [v 1]

Compassion is the trait that stirred Christ to reach out for us. Compassion is the force that keeps Christ driving after us time and again even when we are rebellious and stand opposed to Christ. We may be cantankerous, we may even curse Him, we may take arms up against His movement, but His compassion drives Him to stay after us so long as we live. If we allowed His compassion to flow through us can you not see what would happen in the church? What would happen if we were driven by compassion to go after those who have been hurt who have differed, withdrew, and been disturbed? Just think of how many would have been reconciled back to the church if we had gone after them, reached out in compassion when a difference first appeared. The point is this we’re to let the compassion of Christ flow both in us and through us. His compassion will comfort us when we are disturbed and it will reach out to others when they differ and become disturbed. The compassion of Christ keeps the unity flowing in the church and it will also keep our minds together [Rom. 15:1; Gal. 6:2].

It’s been said that the church is not a club for saints but a hospital for sinners who’ve been wounded by the scars of sin. Look around at the people you go to church with every week. Chances are that from outer appearances all is well. The forced smile has been passed on that morning the deep pain has been pushed down in the depths of the heart and the convenient clique I’m fine, how’re you? Fine, that’s fine comes to mind. The church that has unity is that way because they have compassion for people. They have made a decision to become real and vulnerable. They discovered by their own experience that the church should be a place for compassion it is not a place for pretending.

What practical things does your church do for hurting people? A lot of church people fall between the cracks of well-intended programs and some church people just seem to fall off the face of the earth. Can you think of anyone like that person? What would the compassion of Christ have you do about that person? Does a backslidden person deserve a second chance?

Point #5 – The trait of concern for one another’s joy [v 2]

The believers in the church ought to be concerned for one another’s joy and notice the one thing that brings joy to a church quicker than anything else is unity. Paul’s point is simple but direct his joy in Christ would be fulfilled by one thing, the unity of the Philippian church. Joy is always disturbed when there is criticism, murmuring, grumbling, cliques, opposition and a host of other negative devices. We are to plan, build and serve in the joy of Christ. But the only way we can do that is to be like-minded to have the same love and be of one mind [John 15:11]. Do your words fill others with joy? Listen to what Gary Smalley and John Trent have to say to us: “spoken words of blessings are so vital they fortify relationships, they nurture and bolster self-esteem, they stimulate growth and sometimes they can a worn out traveler from stumbling on the road of life. A few carefully chosen words of comfort, encouragement, empathy, or insight perhaps accompanied by a hug can all make the difference between stumbling and moving on.”

How would you define joy? What sort of things, fill you with joy? How can you contribute to another person’s joy? What kind of things, quench your joy?

Point #6 – The trait of humility or lowliness of mind [v 3]

Note two significant points. Number one a strong and active church will always have two problems to stick their ugly heads up. One is strife and the other is empty glory. Some people are just going to strive with others they’re not mature in the Lord not yet. Therefore they give into jealousy, opposition, forming cliques, desire for recognition, position, talking about differences, and loving flattery. If they do not get their way they strive against unity and the other members and the result is divisiveness. One of the most terrible crimes in the church is disunity and divisiveness. Some will seek glory within the church but the scripture calls it vainglory. Some people just want the recognition and they want people seeking their advice, counsel and opinion. [Matt. 23:12] The Spirit that must prevail in a strong church is that of humility or lowliness of mind. In fact the only way a church can be blessed by God is if the people walk in a spirit of humility. Humility means to submit oneself as submissive. A humble person may carry a high rank but he carries himself in a spirit of submission. He denies Himself for the sake of Christ and in order to help others. For some reason men fear humility. They feel it will make them less than another. For this reason men ignore and shun the teaching of Christ on humility. This is tragic for a humble spirit is necessary for salvation [Matt 18:3-4] and its tragic for God’s idea of humility is not weakness and cowardice. God’s humility makes people strong as strong as they possibly can be. By humility God does not mean what men mean. God infuses a strong spirit within that person and causes that person to conquer all throughout life. He just doesn’t want the person walking around in pride. He wants the person to offer himself in a spirit of submission and lowliness not to act high-minded, haughty or arrogant. Humility is to be developed and scripture tells us how [Matt. 11:29]. Now contrary to what the world thinks humility reaps unbelievable benefits. A close study of the above verses will easily show this. Humility results in:

-          A person coming to Christ and learning of Christ

-          It leads to self-evaluation an honest and courageous evaluation

-          In conversion

-          Our being exalted by Christ on the glorious day of redemption

-          Healthy relationships and community and social benefits [Rom. 12:16]

Now what can you do to ward off spiritual pride and work toward a lifestyle of humility?

What kind of things do you need to take pride in? Is pride acceptable in some cases?

What kind of church will spiritual pride produce? What kind of church will spiritual humility produce? How does a humble church leader behave?

Point #7 - The trait of controlling self-interest or concentration upon oneself [v 4]

Very simply a Christian believer must forget himself quit looking upon his own things, his ambition, desires, positions, and wants. He must by-pass on not being looked upon, honored, or given the position. Believers are to concentrate upon Christ and reaching people with His glorious salvation. The world is too needful and too desperate for any believer to be focused upon himself.

Do you know anyone who is focused upon himself instead of others a person who is the center of his own world? What is the focus of your life? [Matt. 16:26]

 

  1. Humbling Oneself [vv 5-11]

The aim of this lesson is to learn a much needed, thing how to let the humility of Christ flow through you. Memory verse: 2:5

Have you ever bought something that was an imitation? It looked like the real thing but lacked the quality of the original. Chances are your imitation wore out, broke or became tarnished before very long. There’s nothing like the real thing whether it be a cherished painting, a treasured piece of jewelry, or a precious relationship. Nothing, quite meets are expectations except the real thing. But there are times in life when were supposed to try to imitate something or someone. Times when we want model ourselves after an ideal or a role model. We don’t expect to be as good or perfect as the original but it is in our best interest to try. Why? Because our sinful nature is so depraved and because we have a perfect model for all we do in Jesus Christ. This is one of the greatest passages ever written about Jesus for it paints the perfect picture of the humility of Jesus Christ. The only answer to the problems of church life is this passage letting the humility of Christ flow in and out of your minds. The first step to unity is letting Christ live in us. The second step to unity is humility. The unity of a church depends upon its members walking in humility.

Point #1 – Christ is the supreme example [v 5]

Jesus Christ humbled Himself and came to this world that knows little else than selfishness, greed and death. Just imagine the enormous step down Jesus had to take to become a man. It is utterly impossible to grasp the humility it took. Yet this is exactly what He did and what we are to do. The very same mind that existed in Jesus Christ that led Him to give up everything He was and had is to be in us. The only the problems of the world can be solved is for every person to let the mind of Christ flood his mind. Consider with me if you would the problems of war, hate, anger, arguing, abuse, and prejudice. Selfishness, pride, cockiness, haughtiness, arrogance, cursing, indulgence, extravagance, hoarding, greed, stealing, envy, hunger, homelessness, poverty, disease, jealousy and immorality and the list could go on and on. Now how can these problems ever be solved unless we step down from where we are to where needy people are, unless we step down and humble ourselves. Realistically most people are not going to do this. Most people are not going to take all they are and have and get down to where the needs really are. But the Christian is to do this and this is the point of the present passage. Jesus Christ set and focused His mind on humbling Himself. He took all He was and has and came down to where we are to meet our need. Now the Bible says [v 5] to take the mind of Christ and let it flow through you. Take all you are and have and get down where the needs really are. Do all you can to solve the divisiveness and cliques, grumbling, murmuring, selfish ambition and pride, desire for position and power, greed and selfishness, hurting and pain both in the church and in the world. Humble yourselves as Christ did and become part of the solution instead of the problem. Do not miss out on the opportunity of an eternity the glorious privilege of possessing the very mind of Christ Himself. Every believer should cultivate the mind of Christ going forth to meet the needs of a lost world.

D. B. Rote worded it well and I quote: “every believer should cultivate a lowly spirit. No one is so much in need of a lowly spirit as servants of the Lord it is one of the first and last qualifications for servants. Learn of Me Jesus said for I am meek and lowly in heart. Though the Lord, be high, yet He has respect unto the lowly and He gives grace unto the lowly.”

Who is the most humble person you know?

In your opinion what qualities do they possess that make them humble?

Are these qualities admirable? Are these areas of your life where you need to be more humble? Humility is an attitude, what kind of things do you need to do to make an attitude adjustment?

Point #2 – Christ is of the very nature of God [v 6]

This is critical to note because it means that Jesus is not like God He is God. It means that Jesus did not just achieve a high level of righteousness when on earth He was the very embodiment of righteousness. It means that Jesus did not just walk more perfectly than other men walked. He was the very essence of perfection. It means that Jesus did not become God when on earth He has been God throughout all eternity. Three points in this verse clearly show that Jesus is God. Number one, Jesus Christ is of the being of God. The word being means existence what a person is within and without. This is a great truth because it means that Jesus is God He is the very being of God [John 1:1]. Number two Jesus is in the form of God. The word form means the permanent constant being of a person. It is the very essence of a person that part of him that never changes. This means that Jesus is the divine unchangeable God Himself. He dwells in the perfection of God and possesses the very attributes of God Himself [Heb. 1:3]. Number three Jesus is equal with God. The word equal means to be on an equal basis with God. To possess all the qualities and attributes of God Himself, note also the word robbery it is the picture of a thief seeking to steal or take something that is not his. When Jesus was on earth He was constantly claiming to be God on earth the very Son of God having the nature of God. He was equal with God. Jesus did not have to rob or grasp after the Deity of God He was already God [John 10:30]. 

Point #3 – Christ emptied Himself and became a man [v 7]

We are dealing with humility and Jesus took one great step down from heaven to earth. The step down was so great that theologians called it the humiliation of Christ. The Sovereign Lord of the universe who existed in glory and majesty, in dominion and power stepped down and became a man. But more than this He who was Lord and Master of the universe who deserved all honor from all living creatures took upon Himself the form of a servant and became the servant of men. Imagine the Lord whom we ought to serve came and served us. The Lord whom we ought to love came and loved us. The Lord whom we ought to adore came and adored us. The Lord whom we are to wait upon came and waited upon us. The Lord whom we are to minister to came and ministered to us. The Lord whom we are to seek came and sought us. The great distance between the majesty of Christ in heaven and the humiliation of Christ upon earth can never be measured. Our understanding of the difference would amount to a small bucket of water compared to a great ocean. But we’re commanded to let the same mind of humility flow through us. Therefore we must study the humility of Jesus and do our best to grasp and practice it. Two statements in this verse need diligent study.

The first is Jesus made Himself of no reputation that is He emptied Himself. The word emptied means to remove the contents of. It is the picture of pouring water out of a glass until it is empty or of dumping something until it is all removed. The very picture of being completely empty describes just how far Christ went for us. What was it that was poured out of Jesus when He left heaven and came to earth? This is what theologians call the kenosis theory. Note what the passage does not say, it only says that Christ emptied Himself other passages however give some indication. Christ did not lay aside His deity when He came to earth He could not cease to be who He was. No person can ever cease to be who he is. A person may take on different traits and behave differently. He may change his nature and looks but he is the same person in being and essence. Secondly Christ laid aside some of His rights as God. He laid aside His right to experience only the glory and majesty, honor and worship of heaven. In coming to earth as a man He was to experience anything but glory and majesty, honor and worship, men would treat Him far different than a heavenly being. He laid aside His right to appear as the Sovereign God of heaven in coming to earth He was to appear as a man on earth. [John 17:5].

The second statement in this verse is that Jesus was made in the likeness of men. The word was made means to come a definite entrance in time. It was not a permanent state Jesus became a man but only for a time. In the fullness of time He made a definite entrance into the world as a man. Note that Jesus did not come to earth as a prince or some great leader on earth. He did not come to receive the homage and service of men. He came as the humblest of men to serve men. His whole life was lived in poverty, humiliation and disgrace. He had nowhere to lay His head and lived upon alms. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

What do you think Christ felt when He left heaven’s glory for earth?

What did Christ empty Himself of when He was made in the likeness of men?

Point #4 – Christ humbled Himself to the point of utter humiliation the very point of

                 death [v 8]

Note two significant points. Jesus humbled Himself to the Father. He was obedient to the Father. It was the Father’s will for Christ to come to earth and to die for the sins of man and Christ did it [John 10:18]. The second point is that Jesus humbled Himself to men. He willingly allowed men to kill Him. He did not have to bear such hostile humiliation and rebellion but He did. Just picture what is involved in the cross. First Christ humbled Himself to die. Second He humbled Himself to come out of the spiritual and eternal world and to the physical and corruptible world in order to die. Third, Christ humbled Himself to lay aside His eternal glory and majesty and become a man for the purpose of dying. Four, He humbled Himself to suffer rejection and denial, cursing, abuse, arrest and torture at the hands of rebellious men whom He had originally created for the joy of eternity rebellious men whom He had come to save. Five, He humbled Himself to take all the sins of men upon Himself and to bear the weight of suffering for them all. Six, He humbled Himself to bear the judgment and condemnation and punishment of sin for every man. Seven, He humbled Himself to have the awful experience of having God the Father turn His back upon Him. Eight, He humbled Himself to suffer the terrible justice and wrath of God against sin. Nine, He humbled Himself to bear the pain of suffering for sin eternally. Christ is eternal therefore His death is ever before the face of God. It is beyond our comprehension but the Lord’s eternal agony is fact because of the eternal nature of God. The point is Jesus Christ humbled Himself to become the very servant of men He also humbled Himself to suffer the ultimate degree of humiliation. He became sin for men and died as their sin before the just wrath of God. In a sense hanging upon the cross Christ was not even a man He was the very embodiment of sin [II Cor 5:21]

Remember the point of this passage is that we must let the humility of Jesus flow in and through us we are to be humble and walk in humility before each other and go to the extreme of humility even if it means before each other. Why? So that the church can be unified, we are to live and breathe unity. There is to be no discord among God’s church.

The only way we can know such unity is to let the mind of Christ capture our mind [Phil. 2:3-5].

What sort of things do we need to die to in order to be humble?

Point #5 – Christ was rewarded highly exalted by God [vv 9-11]

Because Christ was faithful in being humble God rewarded Him by exalting Him ever so highly and the point is well made God will reward and exalt any believer who will walk as Christ walked. Humble himself before God and men. Note how highly God has rewarded and exalted Christ.

  1. God gave Christ a name above every name. His name is the name that forgives our sins [Luke 24:47]. It is the name that gives us access into God’s presence [John 16:23-24
  2. God has given Christ supreme power and authority and has destined every knee to bow before Christ. The day is coming when all the worlds and dimensions of being shall bow their knees in subjection to Christ [Eph. 1:22].
  3. God has given Christ supreme worship. God is going to see to it that every creature confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father [Rev. 15:4].

The Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the ocean when it was launched in 1936. Through four decades and a world war she served until she was retired. Anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California during the conversion her three massive smokestacks were taken down to be scraped and repainted but on the dock they crumbled. Nothing was left of the three inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed all that remained were more than thirty coats of paint that had been applied over the years the steel had rusted away. When Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs He meant that they had no substance only an exterior appearance.

In what ways do people coat over their lives in order to appear humble?

What does, God promise to do for the person who humbles themselves and seeks unity in the church?

Is Jesus really Lord of your life? If you searched your heart would there be any areas where you need to be humble and serve Christ and not yourself?

The Lord means Master, owner and Jesus was called Lord from the very beginning of His ministry [Matt. 8:2] and He accepted the title [Matt. 7:21]. The quality of humility is impossible to obtain unless we allow God to fill us with His Holy Spirit every day.

 

C.     Working Out One’s Own salvation or deliverance [12-18]  

The aim is to learn the practical duties of the Christian life what you need to do after you have been saved. Memory Verse: 2:13

There are some Christians whose lives are liked a parked car if God wants them to move down the road of life He will have to push them Himself. Others live the Christian life by their car washed and polished however they fail to give proper attention to the engine that supplies the power. And still there are others who live the Christian life by holding the steering wheel and patiently waiting for instructions on where and when to go. Their car has been gassed up by the presence of the Holy Spirit who freely gives His power and counsel for the journey ahead. Are you liked the parked car that needs pushed? Or are you like the car that looks good, polished on the outside but no power on the inside? The goal of the lesson is to learn how to sit in God’s presence and use His power and counsel in order to work out our salvation. The only thing the Lord will not provide is the decision to sit behind the wheel and drive the car. This is a choice of the will that each of us must make.

It is God who has saved and delivered us [Eph. 2:8-9] but once you are saved you go to work. You work out your own salvation and deliverance. Salvation is not stagnation and complacent. A saved person is not to b e sitting around doing nothing letting the chips fall where they may. A saved person is to get up and go to work and do all he can to work out his own deliverance. This is the subject of the present passage. If the church is to be unified and the church is to walk in a spirit of unity then they must look at their salvation God has given them and they must do all they can to work out their, own deliverance.

Point #1 – To work out one’s salvation with fear and trembling  [v 12]

Paul was in prison. He faced a capital crime and there was a strong chance he might be executed. He did not think so but there was a possibility. He wasn’t sure if he would ever see the Philippian church again so he sat down and began to write to them. As far as he knows these could be his last words to this church. What does it mean to work out your own salvation? It means to complete the effort and the work begun. To accomplish it perfectly and bring it completion and the point is do not go halfway in salvation do not take bits and pieces when there is a whole parcel. Do not be satisfied with a little when you can have much. Grow until salvation is complete in you. It’s your own salvation no friend can work it out for you. You alone must do it. The point is clearly stated once God has saved a person that person is to get busy obeying God. He is to take hold of the new life in salvation that God has given him and he is to work on it until it is completed and finished. The finish comes when God takes us home and perfects us.

Note also the words to work it out with fear and trembling. Life is not a bed of roses. It is full of trial, accident, disease, sin, evil, corruption and death. Every human being comes face to face with these things. Sometimes life is a bed of roses but the reality life is what has been listed. Life is a journey of trials until the point of death. No amount of denial or camouflage can hide or escape the fact. The only thing that can bring abundance of life is the fact that we shall live eternally in a perfect world. What is the point of mentioning all this? The point is forceful we are expected to work out our own salvation and to do it with fear and trembling. First of all we are to fear and tremble because of the trials and temptations of life. Anyone of them can throw us and cause us to buckle under. The world and its temptations and trials are strong and the flesh is weak. We can slip into sin and failure unless we are constantly working out our salvation with fear and trembling lest we fail. Secondly we are to fear and tremble lest we disappoint the Lord. Therefore when we sin and fail it cuts His heart to no end. For His sake to keep from hurting Him we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling lest we cut His heart again. Then we are to fear and tremble because we will face the Judgment Seat of Christ [II Cor. 5:10; I Cor. 3:11-16; II John 8]. Though we may try to reason away the fact our thoughts about the judgment of God do not affect God’s judgment one iota. Every one of us who sins and fails to work out our salvation shall suffer loss, great loss of reward. For this reason we must work out our salvation [Eph. 2:10] we are put on display for all creation to see what we have done for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Have you ever felt weary and worn as though you were being pulled and stretched in every direction at one time as though you were going to snap? Jimmy was ready for the race of his life. His day had finally arrived he was ready to compete at the peak of his performance. As with any qualified athlete his training had not begun on race day. It had started several years ago when he committed his body to undergo a strenuous training program. Daily he had stretched and lifted weights. He had spent hours and hours running. He had disciplined his mind to eat only the right food. Many times during the process he had wished for an easier and less painful session and training program. Had he wanted to quit? Yes almost every day. Was it easy? Never. Then why did he do it? He did it because he wanted to win the race.

Are you properly preparing for the race of your life?

Are you training and working out your own salvation day, by day with fear and trembling?

Are you even in the race? God wants to be in His training program. It worked for Paul and it will work for you [II Tim. 4:7]. Christian believer this is a race that you have to win. In what areas, are you, being stretched by God, at the present time? Every Christian believer should set reasonable goals for working out his own salvation and for growing in Christ? What goals have you set for the coming year?

Point #2 – To work in obedience to work out God’s stirrings in the heart [v 13]

The word worketh means to arouse and energize. God stirs and energizes the heart of the believer to do His will. This is a wonderful truth because we all experience God’s stirrings in our hearts and gives us the power to do what pleases Him. Our duty is to grab hold of the stirrings and not let them pass. God doesn’t leave us alone to work out our salvation He uses the stirrings to guide us. The point to see is that God is forever working in us moving and working us to complete our salvation. The tragedy is that we sometimes refuse and ignore the moving of God in our heart [John 6:63]. God had never called any of us to be super saints. He knows we have feet of clay and because of sin we are programmed for failure but take heart He has promised His help as we work out His salvation.

What kind of work do you need Him to do for you right now?

How does God help His children learn to obey Him?

I’d like for you to finish this statement it is hard for me to obey God when?

 

Point #3 – To work at not murmuring [v 14]

The word murmuring means to mutter, grumble and complain. Notice it means the kind of behind the back soft undertone of murmuring and grumbling. It’s the kind of criticism, dissatisfaction, faultfinding and gossip that goes along in cliques. The word, disputings means arguments and vocal questionings and expressions and doubt. Note several significant facts in this verse:

1.      Murmurings and disputings are not to be allowed in the church. Murmurings unless they are stopped will lead to disputings turmoil and divisiveness.

2.      Murmurings and disputes are never of God.

3.      Murmurings and disputes were the very things that brought judgment upon so many Jews in the wilderness wanderings of Israel [I Cor. 10:10]

4.      The person who murmurs and disputes is not working on his salvation and deliverance he is doing the very opposite he is working to bring judgment upon himself.

Have you ever been a victim of murmuring? You probably had feelings of hurt and anger and a determination to protect yourself. Listen to this example.

Betrayed the once transparent person of the neighborhood church was crushed. Sue had been so open to trust other Christians with her personal struggles. She had always been taught to share her personal burdens but how could anyone take her personal pain and make it the talk of the church grapevine? She said, never again will I trust my heart with another person. At that very moment another member of the body of Christ withdrew into the hard shell of isolation another victim of murmuring and gossip.

The results of murmuring are far worse than people ever think. This is the very reason God does not allow murmurings and disputes. Murmuring hurts, damages, divides, tears down, misleads people, it opposes God’s will, stymies growth, it elevates selfish opinion, it’s self-centered, it says look at me and pushes people away from Christ and the church [II Cor. 12:20].

What can you do to stop murmuring?

What is it about murmuring that makes it one of the devil’s favorite tools to use on a Christian?

Point #4 – To work at being pure [v 15]

Believers are to work out their salvation by working at being pure. Believers are to work at being faultless above reproach and rebuke. The believer is to live a blameless and pure life both in the church and in the world. No one is to be able to point to the Christian and blame him for anything. The Christian is to be spotless, un-polluted, righteous and pure before men and before God. Our thoughts and our lives are not to be polluted by watching and reading and listening to sexual attractions. Our thoughts and our lives are to be pure and clean and un-polluted by the things of this world [Rom. 16:19]. The Christian is to work at being without spot or defect and this is a word taken from the OT sacrifices made to God. The idea is that the believer is to live and walk upon the earth under the eyes of scrutiny of Almighty God. He is to walk without any blemish spot or defect. However notice a fact the believer lives in a crooked and perverse generation. The world is evil, twisted and perverted. Therefore the believer has a difficult path to walk but he is to be the light of the world and reflect the purity and holiness of God Himself.

The theory that is used for mixing paint at a hardware store is really quite simple. The more color tint that you add to the white paint the darker the paint will become. It only takes a drop of black to change the color of pure white to off white. Once that first drop of tint goes into a can of white paint it can never be taken out that can of paint will never be pure white again it can only get darker. A Christian can work at being pure. True sin is sin and that cannot be denied but unlike the can of white paint the Christian has hope in this truth [Ps. 51:10]. Literally God makes something out of nothing and gives the people who are truly repentant of their sins and gives them a brand new start. In other words He forgets about the can of impure paint and gives us a brand new can of white paint [Is. 1:18]

What sort of things can cause a spot or blemish on your pure life?

Can you remember a time when God gave you a brand new start?

How can we realistically be in the world but not of the world?

Point #5 – To work at witnessing [v 16]

The word of this verse is descriptive, holding forth the word of life, it means to offer the gospel to all that will listen. The terrible tragedy is that so many of us do not hold forth the word of life. We hold back and do not share the message of the glorious gospel of life. The word of life is just what it says it is the message of life in Jesus our Lord [John 10:10]. God does not qualify the qualified He qualifies the called. The one thing we must work at is holding forth the word of life. The word of life is the only hope for a world that reels under so many desperate needs [I Peter 3:15]. 

When is the last time you shared the gospel the word of life with someone?

Why do so many believers fail to witness and share the gospel?

Who will you see this week who needs to hear the gospel?

Point #6 – To work at following the example of sacrificial labor [vv 17-18]

Very simply stated Paul had offered himself as a sacrifice to serve men. The picture is that of the sacrifice and offerings made by the people to the heathen gods. Paul had taken his body and offered it has a sacrifice for people. He lived for nothing else except to hold forth the word of life to the people. His body was totally sacrificed to that cause and purpose [Luke 9:23]. Today’s culture has little comprehension of biblical sacrifice. The conventional wisdom of the day gives everyone the go ahead to be happy no matter what it costs. We often fail to thank God for the blessings He gives us but more importantly we fail to think of the price that was paid to bring us the glorious message of salvation. The sacrifice paid by both Christ and our forefathers. Biblical sacrifice is a reality in the life of the committed Christian. What kind of sacrifices can you make for the sake of the church and the people of the earth?

Is your lifestyle of service and labor an encouragement or stumbling block to others? Only you can explain your answer. Review the points to close message.

III.   The Examples Of Some Christian Believers [2:19-30]

  1. The example of Timothy, a young man who willingly served in second place [vv 19-24]

The aim of this lesson is to make a permanent decision to serve wherever God calls you. Memory verse: Phil. 4:11

The competitive culture, in which we live scorns being number two. It is seen as a failure to live up to acceptable standards of excellence. A national car rental firm is attempting to place a positive sign on being number two for, in their eyes number two tries harder. In other words number two will always be seeking to excel. They will stay responsive to the customers and they will not get lazy. You can count on number two to get the job done for you. In the same sense when God calls Timothy to serve as number two He expects him to serve willingly. It takes a special person to serve in a support capacity and none of us can do it until God calls us and equips us to serve. Nothing challenges the human heart anymore than a faithful example of others.

Point #1 – Timothy, a young man who willingly served in second place [v 19]

Paul is deeply concerned about the Philippian church he loves them deeply and longs to minister among them. Note that his pastoral heart reaches out to them as he mentions their condition twice in [v 19] and he wants to care for them [v 20]. But he is in prison and he cannot personally visit the church so he does the next best thing. He plans to send his co-worked Timothy just as soon as he can. The point to note is the pastoral heart of both Paul and Timothy. Timothy willingly and sacrificially served in second place. Serving in second place is a privilege. The second man not only ministers to those underneath him but he contributes to the ministry of the first man. The ability to be content in one’s life is the key here.

Have you ever been the number two person? What kind of struggle does the number two person have to resolve?

Point #2 – Timothy had a kindred brotherly spirit in caring for others [v 20]

There were many other ministers of the gospel but Timothy’s spirit came closer to Paul’s than all the others. He cared for the churches and their people just as Paul did and it was a genuine and sincere care [Jer. 3:15].

Point #3 – He was willing to deny himself, to be obsessed with the things of Christ [v 21]

In no uncertain terms Paul said, all seek there own not the things of Jesus Christ. Paul is referring to the ministers of that day. But it is the sweeping indictment of believers of all generations. Leeman Strauss states, “there are so few who devote their lives in selfless service. We’re more concerned with our interests, our goods, our getting ahead than we are with the needs of others. Few are seeking to follow in the stpes of Christ and Christ-like men such as Paul, most of us seek our own interest while we profess Christ as name.”  Timothy did not seek his own things. His primary concern was for the welfare of the church but this was not true with the ministers and believers in Rome and tragically down through the centuries. Many have sought their own things first and many have made the things of Christ second in order to protect their livelihood, comfort, acceptance, security, recognition, position, authority, friendships, following, support and possessions [Matt. 19:21].

Point #4 – Timothy was willing to be a son, a disciple [vv 22-24]

There was a close bond between Paul and Timothy. Paul looked upon Timothy as a son and Timothy looked upon Paul as a father. Paul could never have said this if Timothy had acted otherwise. Paul had enlisted Timothy as a disciple a missionary partner on his second missionary journey. From that time forth Timothy became a dynamic minister for the Lord. A minister who was called to serve in second place, the reason Paul and Timothy could serve so well together was because of their friendship. There is great value in Christian friendships as this story indicates.

Is it true asked a student that all the people in the world can live in Texas? Yes, replied the professor if they were friends. And if they were not friends even the world itself is too small. Paul and Timothy’s friendship advanced the cause of Christ not only to Texas, but to all the world. What is important is this: where can you serve? What are you gifted to do? Where has God called you to serve? Are you willing to serve? [I Cor. 4:1]

B.     The example of Epaphroditus, a man who was not a quitter nor a coward [vv 25-30]

The aim of this lesson is to make one great promise to Christ and that is to never quit. Memory Verse: I Cor. 15:58

Have you ever seen things get so bad that you want to quit? If we’re truthful all of us have would admit to having these kind of thoughts at some point in or lives. Listen to this lesson in history. Never, never, never, give up Winston Churchill shouted before the parliament of England. After repeating these passionate words to a post WWII college graduating class, Churchill, the great British leader returned to his seat and sat down. Churchill could speak from personal experience for Churchill was England’s prime minister when England was at the mercy of Hitler’s German war machine. Facing seemingly insurmountable odds he rallied his countrymen to be courageous and fight for the cause of freedom. And under Churchill’s leadership the flow of history was changed. England with her allies was able to overcome and conquer the Axis’s power. Many credit Churchill’s leadership as the key to victory. He refused to lose and he refused to quit and his courage was contagious. If you’re on the edge of despair and ready to quit remember never, never, never give up.

William Barclay points to a dramatic story regarding Epaphroditus. The Philippina church had heard that Paul was in prison and that he was having an extremely difficult time. Their hearts went out to him so they decided to do two things. Take up an offering to help Paul with his needs and to send a dedicated layman who could remain with him to help him. Such a man would have to be exceptionally brave for attaching himself to a man facing a capital crime he would be leaving himself open to be an accomplice. By helping Paul the man would be risking his own life. While in Rome Epaphroditus became seriously ill and came close to his death. And news of his illness reached Philippi and in turn news reached Epaphroditus that the church was concerned over his welfare. After recovering his strength Paul felt for some reason perhaps to keep his illness from reoccurring or perhaps to keep the possibility of him being arrested that Epaphroditus should return to Philippi. But the possibility of a problem still existed if he returned before Paul’s fate was known some would call him a quitter, a coward and a failure. The answer to this criticism is the reason for this letter. Paul gives a glowing appraisal of their minister.

Point #1 – Epaphroditus did not quit nor forsake his brother [v 25]

Epaphroditus was so staunch a believer that Paul gave him five titles. First he was a Christian brother. Second, he was a companion in the work of the Lord. Third, he said he was a fellow solider. Fourth, he was a messenger of the church. Five, he said he was a very special minister. He was an extraordinary minister of God for he ministered to Paul’s needs [Matt. 20:28].

Point #2 – Epaphroditus did not quit nor forsake the church [v 26]

As a true soldier of Jesus Christ he did not quit and would not quit. He was not concerned with his own welfare but with the churches welfare. News of his illness had reached the church back home and he was concerned with the church worrying over him. What a heart of tenderness in ministry and the point to note is this. He was faithful to his call and to the church. Today we are living in a culture that shrinks back from commitments. Most people are non-committal. George Barna points out these eight striking facts. These are signs of reduced commitments in life. 1990, talking about America.

1.      The divorce rate is climbing half of all new marriages will end in divorce.

2.      Adults feel they have fewer closer friends than adults did in past decades.

3.      Brand loyalty and consumer purchase studies has dropped in most product categories and by as much as 60% in some categories.

4.      The proportion of people willing to join an organization is declining in relation to churches, labor unions, political parties, clubs and community associations.

5.      Book clubs and record clubs are less likely to attract new members when multi-year or multi-product commitments were required.

6.      The percentage of adults who sense the duty to fight for their country regardless of the cause has dropped.

7.      The percentage of people who commit to events but fail to show is on the rise.

8.      Today’s parents are less likely to believe it is important to remain in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the children than they were twenty years ago.

Since you met the Lord which commitments have you made to Him and what ones have you dropped?

Why is it important for you to be committed to your local church?

Point #3 – Epaphroditus did not quit nor forsake God [v 27]

Faith in God shines through not when everything is running along smoothly. We can curse God, blame God, abandon God and yes we can even try to sue God but a true Christian believer clings to God in time of trouble he doesn’t forsake God.

Point #4 – The appeal to joy and to receive the person who is not a quitter [28-30]

Paul was sending Epaphroditus back to the church. In no sense of the word were they to question him because he was returning. He was returning because Paul was sending him back not because he was choosing to return. Therefore the church was to joy in him and his steadfast faithfulness. He had courageously self-sacrificed for the cause of Christ [Luke 9:23-24]. Are you a risk taker like Epaphroditus, a man who was willing to risk everything for the ministry of Christ? What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done? For whom did you do it?

The result is if we never quit then other believers will joy and receive us.

 

IV.    The Pressing On Of The Christian Believer [Phil. 3:1-21]

  1. Pressing on; guarding oneself [vv 1-3]

The aim will be to learn how to constantly guard you Christian life. Memory verse: Phil. 3:3

You can take almost any scenario in life, cleaning house, building a house, raising kids, working on the job and understand that each area needs maintenance. It is not enough to do something once and expect that it will keep working forever. It won’t stay clean, stay fixed, and take care of it itself. Everything and everyone needs to be nurtured to stay on track. The same is true of our Christian faith it is a terrible misconception to believe that spiritual growth is a natural thing and an easy thing. Pressing on in our own faith requires hard work and effort. The subject of this chapter is the pressing on of the Christian believer. These are things that the Christian believer must do if he is to keep pressing on. The first thing he must do is guard his life. Now how does he do that?

Point #1 – By rejoicing in the Lord [v 1]

A person who is always rejoicing in the Lord will not go astray. As the believer walks through life two things are always confronting him bad or unfortunate circumstances and false teaching. No matter where he goes the trials of life are always confronting him. He has to stand face to face with the awful trials of life including enticing temptations the lust of the flesh the lust of the eyes, greed, selfishness, arguments, division, inhuman behavior, criminal acts, death, accidents and disease. Note another fact as well no matter which way the believer turns he is confronted with different ideas about how to handle life and its trials. There is the teaching that says eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. There’s the teaching that says discipline and control yourself take care of your body and mind but it ignores the spiritual. There is the teaching that says don’t go overboard enjoy life, join in and do what you want but do it within reason. There is the teaching that says religion is the answer to both life and death join a religious body undergo its rituals adopt its beliefs and live the best you can and God will accept you and the list of false teachings could go on and on. The point is this, the believer is bombarded by trials and false teachings everyday of his life therefore he must guard himself and the first guard is to rejoice in the Lord. If he walks throughout the day rejoicing in the Lord his mind is upon the Lord. He rejoices over what Christ has done for him: his justification, adoption, reconciliation, salvation, loving him, delivering him, guiding him, directing him, securing righteousness for him, dying for him, arising for him, giving him a new life, looking after him, victory over sin and hope for eternal life. Note the great thing that rejoicing does is this it places the person in the presence of Christ. No matter what confronts the believer no matter how terrible the trial he knows that he is being looked after by Jesus’ love and that he will not die but live with the Lord eternally therefore whatever should come upon him can never conquer him. [Ps. 5:11] Rejoicing in the Lord gives the Christian a perspective that the world cannot offer. For example;

A Coloradian moved to Texas and built a house with a large picture window from which he could view hundreds of miles of range, land. The only problem he said is this there is nothing to see. About the same time a Texan moved to Colorado and built a house with a large picture window over looking the Rockies. The only problem he said I can’t see anything the mountains are in the way.

Well rejoicing in the Lord will bring contentment no matter where you are or what is happening to you.

Is it possible to be rejoicing in the Lord when things are going badly?

Why should you walk throughout the day rejoicing in the Lord?

What are some things you have to rejoice over?

Point #2 – By heeding what is written [v 2]

Paul says he is writing some things that he had written before. What he is about to write, is so important that it has to be, repeated. The point is this; the writings of Paul in scripture must be heeded. No person can press on apart from the heeding of the scriptures. If he fails to study and obey the scriptures he will cave in to the trials of life or to false teaching. Only as we obey the scriptures can we show our love and loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ [II Tim. 2:15]. Have you ever tried to bargain with God by trying to find loopholes, obeying Him in the easy things, by passing up His hard instructions, by highlighting the juicy promises of the Bible and overlooking the hard sayings that require tough decisions? Obedience to God is defined as doing. Doing what He says, when He says, how He says, and all He says, anything less than this, is not obedience, but disobedience. The Christian who wants to press on must obey the scriptures in all points anything less than obedience is disobedience.

Why is it important to heed scripture?

Why is it dangerous to pick and choose what scriptures you are going to obey?

Point #3 – By watching out for false teachers [v 2]

Paul was facing false teachers who were savage in their attacks upon him. He lists three groups of false teachers in this verse.

  1. Beware of false teachers who act like dogs. It should be noted that both Jew and Gentile called each other dogs as a term of contempt. The word dogs, was the lowest title possible to convey contempt and ridicule. It is not referring to the house pet of today but to the wild dogs that roamed the city streets at night. They were scavengers who could be very viscous and the point is descriptive. There are some false teachers who are just like dogs. Scavengers who prey upon whom they can and seek all they can and God will consume them because of their false teaching [Matt. 7:15].
  2. Beware of false teachers who are evil workers. The world is full of people who work evil things. This refers to those who hold to and teach high standards of righteousness, morality and religion. They are absolutely sure that they are righteous and good and acceptable to God. They think that there is absolutely no way God will reject them. It also refers to those who teach evil by the way they live and talk about morality, righteousness and religion. Some live base, immoral and extravagant lives. While others try to mix both a religious and an indulgent lifestyle together and the point is this; there are those who are always opposing the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation by grace alone. They do not accept that Christ is God’s Son and therefore they ignore salvation by His blood alone.
  3. Beware of false teachers who are of the concision. This refers to the Judaizer’s or the religionist who refuse to accept salvation by grace alone. These teachers teach the other things like ceremonies, rituals and religion that have to be done, in order to be saved. They erase the value of Christ’s death on the cross by adding to it [Rom. 10:3-5]. We get insight into this verse by turning to [Is. 56:10]. Isaiah was speaking of those false prophets who were telling the people that everything was fine instead of warning against coming disaster. See J. Vernon McGee commentary on this verse. It is disturbing but true that the major recruiting grounds for cults are the Protestant churches of America. This is because so many do not know the basic truths of the faith.

Why is it important for you to know what you believe and why?

What are some basic doctrines that make Christianity distinctive or different from other cults?

     Point #4 – By knowing that you are the true circumcision or the true believer [v 3]

Note that believers are called the circumcision. Now what does Paul mean? First he means that believers are those who really worship God as He wishes to be worshiped in the spirit. That is they have the circumcised to cut away the flesh the means by which they worship God. Think for a moment how do most people attempt to worship God? By attending worship services, by praying, by making occasional gifts to needy causes, by thinking of God occasionally, by being circumcised or baptized or undergoing some other ritual, by keeping the ceremonies and rituals of a church, by joining a church, by keeping special days, that’s how they attempt to worship God. But note a critical point as good as all of these are they are not the basis of true worship. They are things we need to do because we worship. They are the result and activities of worship. True, they may help us to focus upon God stirring us to worship Him but the basis of worship is the Spirit of God. To worship God man must have the Spirit of God living in Him. He no longer worships God externally through rituals and ceremonies he now worships God internally through the Spirit of God who lives within him [John 4:23-24].

Secondly he means that believers are those who rejoice, as God really wants us to rejoice in Christ Jesus. He is God’s only begotten Son. He is the person who gave Himself to die for us, who saved us and made it possible for us to live forever in the presence of Almighty God. Therefore it is only natural that God expects us to rejoice in Christ Jesus. How can we rejoice in ceremony, ritual, and religion when the source and author and finisher of our faith, is Christ Jesus? Therefore the true the believer does not boast in anything physical or material not in ritual or ceremony or religion, the true believer rejoices and boasts in Christ [Phil. 4:4]

Third, believers are those who have no confidence in the flesh. The flesh is only physical and material. Can only handle physical and material things. Can only do good works and keep external rituals and ceremonies and religious practices and can do nothing beyond the physical and material. The flesh cannot penetrate the spiritual world or dimension or being. The flesh ages it deteriorates and is corrupt. Therefore the flesh goes the way of all material and physical substances it dies and decays. And no matter what the flesh does in this world it dies and takes it all with it. Therefore the true circumcision, the true believer has no confidence and puts no stock in the flesh. He has confidence only in Jesus Christ. True worship has to be of the heart and spirit, why? Because a man can attend church and keep all the rituals and ceremonies and still be living in the depths of sin. But if a man’s spirit is right with God he worships God with a clean and pure heart free from all sin and defilement. The truly circumcised person is the person who worships God on spirit [I Cor. 6:19-20].

What are the ways in which you really worship God?

Do you ever just go through the motions without really worshiping God in your heart?

What does it mean to worship God in the spirit?

What can you do to develop your worship so that it is really pleasing to the Father?

Circumcision was given as a sign and could not bring righteousness to any including Abraham [Gen 15:6]. It was a sign of the faith a man already had in God’s promises. Righteousness was credited to a man because he had faith in God’s promises. Then the man was circumcised because of his faith in God. However many abused God’s purpose for circumcision. Some made circumcision a substitute for true righteousness. A man was thought to be safe and secure in the arms of God if he was circumcised. Believing God and loving men had little to do with being a child of God if he was circumcised. Many forgot the circumcision of a pure heart and became Jews of the circumcision in name only. Some used circumcision to divide and categorize. God has done away with circumcision has a sign of righteousness since Christ has come. Righteousness is now in the heart and in the Spirit and not in the letter of rules and regulations. The truly righteous man is the man who is God’s inwardly. The man who’s spirit has been recreated in the nature of God.

 

 

  1. Pressing on; Paul’s personal testimony rejecting self-righteousness and seeking perfection [vv 4-16]

The aim of this lesson is to reject self-righteousness and pursue the righteousness of Christ. Memory Verse: 3:14

All across the world men sense that they need a relationship with God, but some men are never sure whether things are right or not with God. They lack perfect assurance and confidence that they please God enough to be acceptable to Him. They have a hope that God will accept them but they do not know not with absolute certainty. It is these feelings that have stirred the religions of the world. Men want to be right with God. They want to be approved and accepted by God. They want God to look after them and help them and they want God to accept them when this life is over. Therefore they set out to do what they feel like will make them good enough to be acceptable to God. They try to do whatever good they feel is necessary to please their God. Granted the degree to which men feel this difference from among all men, one man will feel that he has to be extremely good while another will feel as if he has to be moderately good. The point to note is this; this kind of religion is a religion of works, of doing good, of being good, of making oneself acceptable to God, of securing God’s favor, of making oneself approved by God. It is a religion of self-righteousness. Of becoming as righteous and as good a person as you can and making yourself able to come into God’s presence. There is of course a severe fallacy with this approach to God. God is perfect and not a single person is perfect therefore no person can do enough to earn, win, or merit the favor of God. If a person is ever to live in God’s presence it will be because God transforms Him and turns into a perfect person and this is exactly what God does through Jesus Christ. God accepts men through the love and grace of His Son. It is this that Paul had missed before his conversion and it is this that so many men are missing today.

Point #1 – Paul had achieved the height of self-righteousness but he had rejected it [vv 4-6]

Paul ranks among the greatest men who have ever attempted to work their way into God’s presence. Paul did all the good he could to obtain God’s approval. Few men have ever attained what Paul did by human effort, yet, it was all to no avail his goodness and attainments could not make him acceptable to God and for one reason he was not perfect. However note what Paul says if any man thinks he can trust in the works and attainment of the flesh I more. I can trust and boast in the goodness and morality of the flesh has much as any man who has ever lived. This is a phenomenal claim but Paul lists seven privileges and achievements, which show the total inadequacy of man to save himself. Paul divided the list under the privileges of his birth and achievements by self-effort. Now the privileges of birth are three in particular.

1.      He was circumcised the eighth day. He was saying he had the right birth. A true Jewish family always had his child circumcised when he was eight days old. Circumcision was a sign that a person believed in God and in his promises. In particular that the Jews were the promised and covenant people of God.

2.      [v 5], Paul was saying that he had the right national heritage and a very special relationship with God. He was born of the right nation, among the right people [Gen. 32:28], when a Jew wished to stress his personal relationship to God he called himself an Israelite that is he was a descent of Israel who had received a special name from God. Paul was saying that goodness and righteousness are not found in ancestors or in social superiority. Yet how many think that being born in a Christian nation and being surrounded by Christian principles carries some merit with God. How many feel the people of a so-called Christian nation are more acceptable to God than the heathen of some idol worshiping tribe in the depths of the jungle?

3.      He said I am of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was considered the aristocratic tribe of Israel because of the tribe’s loyalty when the other tribes were disloyal [I Kings 12:1] and because of the tribes courageous acts throughout history [Judges 5:14; Hosea 5:8]. Paul was saying I am of the highest order of being an aristocrat and among the highest order of the most noble of Israel. He is saying that goodness and righteousness are not found in social or religious status. Yet, how many feel they are more acceptable to God because they are of the upper class or belong to an elite church or a more active ministry.

Then he talked about the achievements of self-effort and there are four of them.

1.      He said he is a Hebrew of the Hebrews [v 5]. He claimed to have the right language and the right customs. When the Jews were conquered and scattered over the world a believing Jew refused to give up his Jewish language and customs. Every Jew did not but Paul said he and his family did. What Paul meant was that he had the mark of faithfulness. In his day this was extremely difficult for the Jews were literally scattered across the world and the world had one common language and that was Greek. But Paul remained steadfast and he was loyal to the elect race of God. He was un-tinged by other philosophies. He was saying that goodness and righteousness are not found in religious faithfulness or spiritual language or the ability to speak in religious terms. Yet, how many think they are acceptable to God. Because they do good and are faithful in being good.

2.      He claimed to have the right religion [v 5]. He said he was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were strict religionist so strict the very name meant the separated ones the most religious sect ever known to mankind. He devoted his whole life to the most religious sect ever known to man. He had achieved separation and exacting separation from other men. Paul was saying that goodness and righteousness are not found in religion not even in being a follower of the true religion. Yet, how many feel the very opposite. A great many people need to lose their religion as Paul did and get converted.

3.      He said he had zeal [v 6]. Paul had zealously stood and fought for his religion. He hotly pursued and persecuted the church. He had, such a zeal for his religion, that he sought to wipe ought any cause that differed from his religion. He was saying that goodness and righteousness are not found in religious commitment or zeal. Few have ever been more committed to their religion than Paul has and was. He was, a, religionists, among religionists.

4.      He said he was blameless [v 6]. Paul claimed that he had sought to keep the law and that he had kept it completely and fully. This does not mean that Paul was sinless. It means that when Paul sinned he obeyed the law and took his sacrifice to the temple. He obeyed all the commandments and ceremonies that the law commanded. He was blameless in the righteousness and ceremony of the law. Paul was saying that goodness and righteousness are not found in keeping all the ceremonies and rituals of religion. They are not even found in keeping all the commandments of the scriptures [Matt. 5:20].

Have you ever felt that your heritage, were going to influential in getting you into heaven?

Have you ever felt that you were good enough to achieve righteousness on your own?

Have you ever felt that you were so bad that there was no hope of your ever receiving the righteousness of Christ?

If you answer was yes to any of these questions do you still feel that way after hearing this message?

Point #2 – Paul sought to win Christ, his righteousness and his perfection [vv 7-11]

The one thing in life that Paul sought was the righteousness and perfection of Jesus Christ. He knew that no matter how good he could become he could never become perfect. He still came short and was doomed to death. Therefore his only hope of living forever was to focus his life upon Jesus Christ and trust the righteousness of Christ to cover his sins. He lived for Jesus Christ and he trusted God to honor his commitment. If God did not do this he was lost and gone forever for he could never gain perfection on his own. His only hope was Christ and this is what these verses are all about. Paul believed if he trusted Christ and sought after the righteousness and perfection of Jesus Christ with all that he was and had God would take his faith and count it as righteousness. God would honor His commitment to his son by accepting him and giving him eternal life. Note five significant points:

1.      Paul had past experience with Christ. There was the time when he had counted his own righteousness as loss in [v 7]. He was referring to the time of his conversion. There was the time when he gave up his own self-righteousness and works and his attempts to become perfect. It was a definite time when Paul made a decision to trust Christ and it meant that Paul tried more diligently than ever to live for God. Genuine faith makes a total commitment to Jesus Christ. A person who truly believes in Jesus Christ strives and gives all he has to Christ [Heb. 11:6].

Have you accepted that you can never achieve righteousness on your own?

2.      Paul had a continuous experience with Christ [v 8]. The word count is in the present tense it is continuous action. When a person has made a decision to seek after Christ he’s to continue to seek after the righteousness of Christ. Note that the knowledge of Christ is said to be excellent. Paul said he had suffered the loss of all things. Paul was of Tarsus and at the time he lived there only families of wealth and reputation were allowed to retain their Tarsan citizenship. This throws a flood of light upon Paul’s early life he was born into a home of wealth and culture. He was living in one of the most progressive of oriental cities. All this Paul left to become a poor itinerant missionary. His parents would have nothing to do with their, son, who became one of those hated despised Christians. He forfeited all that he held dear in order to win Christ.

What kind of things did you give up in order to follow Christ?

 

 

 

 

3.      Paul sought a future experience with Christ. He sought to be found in Christ [v 9]. Paul was looking forward to death or either to the return of Christ. When he came face to face with God he wanted to be found in Christ and not in his own righteousness. Look again at what he said in [v 9]. This is the verse that came to John Bunyon as he walked through the cornfields one night wondering how he could stand before God. He said that suddenly he saw himself not just as a sinner, but has sin, from the crown of his head to the souls of his feet. He realized that he had nothing and Christ had everything.

4.      Paul sought a victorious experience with Christ [v 10]

This verse spells out exactly what Paul meant by knowing Christ. To know Christ is to know the power of His resurrection and to know the power of His resurrection this refers to three great things. 1. The power to raise Christ shows that God has the power to conquer all the trials and temptations of life even the most powerful death. 2. The resurrection shows that God has the power to give man new life. 3. The power to raise Christ from the dead shows that God has the power to raise men from the dead.

Now to know Christ is to know the fellowship of His sufferings [v 10]. Most of us are willing to share in the blessings of Christ but we want nothing to do with the sufferings of Christ. Paul wanted to share the purpose for which Christ was suffering. Christ suffered because He proclaimed the righteousness and salvation of God. He proclaimed the way men could become acceptable to God and live forever and Paul was saying he wanted to suffer right along with Christ and suffer for the same cause. Why does the world persecute those who bring the hope of eternal life to them? Because some persons want to live their lives like they want and a righteous life and message condemns them. Therefore they oppose anything that keeps them from living a life that pleases their own personal desires and flesh. [II Tim. 3:12] – God gives a very special presence to the believer when he is suffering. In fact His presence is so near and dear it is called the spirit of glory and of God, which rests upon the believer [I Peter 4:14]. To know Christ is to be made conformable unto His death. Jesus submitted Himself totally to God. Paul sought to be conformed to the death of Christ. He sought to subject himself totally to God and put his flesh and desires to death and do only the will of God. He sought to deny himself and take up the cross of Christ daily [Luke 9:23; Rom. 6:6, 11; Gal. 2:20].

Have you taken the steps that Paul took to have a victorious Christian experience?

Have you taken up the cross and denied yourself daily?

5.      Paul sought an eternal experience with Christ. He committed himself totally to this one great purpose to attain the resurrection of the dead [v 11]

He was totally committed to that glorious day of redemption and he lived for that day and that day alone. There are two significant reasons why the resurrection the day of redemption takes precedence over our meeting the Lord at death. 1. The glorious day of resurrection will launch the events that will soon bring about the new heavens and the new earth. At death we go to be with the Lord but the world continues on in its sin and shame. 2. The glorious day of resurrection will be the day when the believer will have his earthly bodies transformed and recreated into perfect eternal bodies. At death when we go to be with the Lord we do not receive our perfect eternal body. We will be given temporary spiritual bodies [I Cor. 15:42-44]. How hungry are you for the things of the Lord?

 

In the Antarctic summer of 1908-09, Sir Ernine Shackelton and three companions attempted to travel to the South Pole from their winter quarters. They set off with four ponies to help carry the load. Weeks later their ponies died, rations all but exhausted they turned back to their base goal not accomplished. All together they trekked a 127 days. On the returning journey as Shackelton records in the heart of Antarctic the time was spent talking about food, elaborate feasts, gourmet delights, sumptuous menus, as they staggered along suffering from dysentery not knowing whether they would survive every waking hour was taken with thoughts of eating. Jesus who also knew the ravages of food and deprivation said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”  We can understand Shackelton’s obsession with food, which offers a glimpse of the passage Jesus intends in our quest for righteousness.  

How would you rate your hunger for the knowledge and righteousness of God?

Are you starving that is you can’t get enough?

Are you hungry but it will pass?

Can you take it or leave it? Are you stuffed couldn’t take another thing in?

Or maybe the sight of it makes you sick?

Point #3 – Paul did not count himself as having yet arrived he was not yet perfect [vv 12-16].

Perfection is the great end for the believer. God has laid hold of the believer to make him perfect so that he can live and worship and serve Christ forever. Note a critical point no person achieves perfection on this earth. The fact is so evident, to a thinking, and honest man that it is ridiculous to even make the statement. Yet, too many are so narrow in their thinking that they seldom grasp what perfection would really mean. For example, consider the brain in the mind it has been estimated that man uses only one tenth of one percent of his mental capacity. Imagine how far short this is of perfection. Consider the body, what would a perfect body be like? A body that never desired, thought, or did wrong. That never came up short, never aged, never deteriorated or never died. The examples could go on and on but notice what Paul says he never attained perfection in fact he was always emphasizing how far short he came [Rom. 7:18-19]. No person ever achieves perfection on this earth but notice Paul says five significant things:

1.      Paul followed after perfection after his God-given purpose [v 12]

As long as he was on this earth he was going to do all he could to serve Christ. The word, follow after means to pursue just like a runner in a race. There was no place for comfort or lying around in complacency or being lethargic. Paul was going to do all he could to help the Lord in perfecting him. [I Cor. 9:24-27]

2.      Paul worked at forgetting the past [v 13]

This is a verse that is of enormous help to believers who fail God. I mean miserably failed Him. Paul faced what so many of us face failures and shortcomings and the struggle to forget it and move on. How does a person do this? It is one of the most difficult things in all, the world to do and it is especially difficult if others won’t let the believer put the failure behind him. Paul tells us how to deal with the past by concentrating and focusing the mind on those things, which are before us. In one focused act we must forget those things that are already past and reach for those things, which are before us. The act involves two parts both forgetting and reaching forth. The believer is to focus in on the things at hand and the things that lie ahead and if we do this there is no time to wallow around in the past and its failure [Luke 13:24]. Please keep in mind that in Bible terminology to forget does not mean to not remember. Apart from hypnosis or brain malfunction no mature person can forget what has happened in the past. To forget in the Bible means to no longer be influenced by or affected by those things in the past. When God promises in [Heb 10:17] He’s not suggesting that He will conveniently have a bad memory because this is impossible with God. What God is saying is I will no longer hold their sins against them. Their sins can no longer affect their standing with me, or my attitude toward them.

3.      Paul pressed on toward the goal toward the purpose in Christ Jesus [v 14]

What is God’s purpose for us in Christ Jesus? It is to be conformed to the image of Christ. To be perfect even as He is perfect, once we are perfect we shall be incorruptible and eternal we shall live in honor and glory, we shall live in God’s perfect presence and power. We shall live in perfect righteousness and purity. We shall live worshiping and serving God eternally. A perfect life never ends it just goes on and on doing what God has created us to do [Rom. 8:16-17].

4.                  Paul kept his mind on growing and maturing in Christ [v 15]

All believers are destined by God to be perfected in Christ Jesus and we shall be perfected in the glorious day of redemption. We must keep our minds on perfection and note this is at times difficult to do because we live in a world that is gripped by the lust for comfort and ease, for pleasure and planning, for possessions and recognition, indulgence and extravagance, and more and more. But note this fact God will not let the genuine believer rest until his mind is on righteousness and purity, the gospel and witnessing. God stirs us to get our minds back on perfection to getting back to living for Him like we should [Matt. 5:48].

5.                  Paul maintained the growth he had already achieved [v 16]

Too many live up and down lives we gain some discipline and some growth and then before too long we slip right back. It may involve lying, cheating or stealing. Devotions or prayer, control of thoughts and mind, discipline of body and habits, growth takes place but then some circumstance or interruption takes place and the new man or new growth are forsaken and we slip back into being the old man living just like we used to live. But note the strong exhortation of scripture take that which you have learned and obtained and walk by that rule and walk upon that rule [Rom. 8:5].

 

C.     Pressing on; marking those who walk as examples [vv 17-21]

The aim of this lesson is to follow the positive examples set before us and not the negative. Memory verse: Phil. 3:20

How many times have we heard parents tell their children don’t so as I do, do as I say? Unfortunately we hear the same conversation take place in the church. It has been said that the clearest sermon spoken is spoken by our actions. We are the teachers of the faith, those men and women who instruct by godly example? Your life is a sermon. What kind of an example are you setting for those who follow you? This is one of the most important passages in the Bible it has to do with the example we set before the world and our families and friends. The way we live and what we do influences people. We may not want to influence them but it does not matter whether we want to or not they are influenced.  Family, friends, and children, everyone who knows us watches and they follow both the good and the bad example. It may be conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional but we influence people by how we live and what we do. If we follow good and do good, it encourages them to do good, if we follow bad and do bad, it sets a pattern of bad before others. It even cause some, in particular the young and immature to think that sense we did it and still got along fairly well they can do it and get along fairly well too. The point is this; the life we live sets a pattern for others to follow. Others are going to follow no matter what we do. This says something to us something of critical importance we must live lives on the highest plain possible. We must set the most dynamic example and perfect pattern possible for others to follow. But it also says something else we must follow after those who live on the highest plain of life. We must mark those who are examples and follow after the great traits of their lives. We must take those who live as good examples and dissect the traits of their lives and apply those traits to our own lives and this is the subject of the present passage.

Point #1 – Some walk as good examples [v 17]

We must first mark those who walk as good examples and note what Paul said, he and others followed Christ ever so diligently therefore they were dynamic examples as to how people should walk and live. When a person lives life on the highest plain living as Christ said he is to live he is setting a good example living just like we all should live. Paul was not claiming that he lived perfectly for he had just declared that he had could never stand before God in his own righteousness [v 9]; had not yet obtained [v 12]; was not perfect [v 12]; he had not yet apprehended that for which Christ has laid a hold of him [v 13]; what then did Paul mean? Just what he said he was a dynamic example of forgetting those things which were past [v 13]; of reaching for the things that lay ahead [v 13]; of pressing toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus [v 14]; simply put he pressed and pressed to become all he could be for God. It has been said that we should follow Paul because he was a dynamic example in: forgetting the past no matter how terrible it is [v 13]; of reaching forth to the things that lie ahead [v 13]; pressing toward the prize [v 14]. When we see a person sharing Christ with such dynamic commitment and energy that person is an example for us and we should follow that person. The underlying meaning of the word example is that of an imprint or mark made by some blow or mold or die. The idea is that we should be seeking Christ with such diligence that it would be like a powerful blow on those around us. [I Cor 11:1]

Are people drawn to you because of your witness?

Point #2 – Many, walk as enemies, of the cross [vv 18-19]

Who are the enemies of the cross? Many commentators say they are the hypocritical and false believers within the church, those who are nominal Christians. They say the word walk is used of Christians in [v 17] therefore it also refers to church members in [v 18] it is also said that Paul would only weep for false believers within the church. It is true that Paul could have been referring to false and hypocritical persons within the church. However, every unbeliever whether in the church or out of the church walks as an enemy of the cross. It is a common thing for believers to weep for the lost not just those in the church. [I Tim. 2:1-4] Who are the enemies of the cross? It seems best to take the verse and do just what it says. There are many who walk as enemies of the cross no matter who they are whether within or without the church. The enemies of the cross are many and note what it says about them. There end is destruction if a person stands as an enemy of the cross he will be destroyed it does not matter who or where he is whether in or out of the church. Who is the enemy of the cross? It is the person who rejects the cross of Christ as the only way to God. It is the person who does not accept the death of Christ as payment for his sins. Their God is their belly. That is there appetite, their sensuality for the physical pleasures of this world. Physical and material gratification is their job [Rom. 8:5-6]. Their glory is their shame. This simply means that men boast in their sins and shame. They boast in and pride themselves in their drunkenness, gluttony, conquest, sex, authority and power and their possessions [Luke 12:15]. They keep their mind on earthly things. They are worldly focusing their mind and effort on the things of the world. But notice the things of the world include more than the physical and material gratifications of this world. Worldly things also include the commendable things that are accepted by society such as religious and spiritual pursuits, self-development programs, rules of virtue and morality and the pursuit of ambition and success. The basis of our lives must be the cross of Christ not the things of this world [Rom. 12:2].

Point # 3 – The believer is a citizen of heaven [vv 20-21]

Note three points. First the believer’s life is to be heaven centered for his citizenship I in heaven. The word conversation means citizenship in this context. Remember Philippi was a Roman colony and its citizens were of Rome. The point is the Philippian believers knew what it meant to live in one place and be a citizen of another place. They knew what it meant to speak as a citizen of heaven and not of the earth, to engage in the pleasures of a citizen of heaven and not on the earth to worship the God of heaven and not of the earth. Believers of all generations are to live as citizens as heaven and not of this world. We should keep our minds that this earth is a temporary dwelling place and not our heavenly home [Eph. 2:19].

Second the believer’s life is to be focused upon the return of Christ. He is to be constantly looking every day of his life. Strauss makes this point. He says, the greatest event in any country on earth is a visit from its chief emperor. History records the most elaborate preparations for such an event. Special coins have been minted, commemorative stamps issued and highways built. Looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus is the highlight of Christian expectation we should be dwelling daily in this thought at his return. Image if the President of the United States was coming to your neighborhood I feel certain there would be some special preparations for his coming. Should are preparation be any less for the savior of the world? [Matt. 24:44]

Third, the believer’s life is to focus upon the glorious body he is to receive when Christ returns. Right now the believers body is vile, lowly and humiliating because its origin is out of the earth. It is subject to disease and destruction. However, note the wonderful declaration the Lord Jesus is going to make the believers body just like His glorious body [Phil. 3:21].

 

V.   The Secret Of Peace – The Peace Of God Himself [Phil. 4:1-9]

               A.  The Steps to Peace Part I: Standing fast, unity, rejoicing and gentleness [vv 1-5]

The aim of this lesson will be to learn the steps of securing peace in your life. Memory Verse: Phil. 4:4

The point of the whole passage [vv 1-9] is the peace of God and the presence of God of peace. There are six steps that a believer must take to maintain the peace of God within his heart and within his life. If the believer fails to take these steps he grieves, both the Lord, and fellow believers, those who made a special contribution to his growth, those who look upon him as their joy and their crown. Unfortunately when a believer loses his peace with God several things happen:

    1. He becomes self-conscious. Sheepishly shy and guilty and perhaps discouraged and defeated.
    2. He becomes cantankerous, critical and divisive.
    3. He begins to slip back into sin.

Now the peace he once had with God and man becomes disturbed and relentlessness grips his soul. His relentlessness stirs him into being a troublemaker or into sin or it plummets him into despair and defeat. He has failed therefore he feels unworthy and unable to walk victoriously with God. This is the importance of this passage.

Now what kind of value do you place on having peace? Billy Graham writes about the value of peace and I quote: he said, “I know a man who would write a check for a million dollars if they could find peace. Millions are searching for it. Every time they get close to finding the peace that you have in Christ Satan steers them away. He blinds them, throws up a smoke screen, he bluffs them and they miss it. But you have found it. It is yours now and forever. You have found the secret of life.”  This passage is speaking to Christian believers not unbelievers because unbelievers do not have peace with God. How do we keep the peace of God ruling our souls? How do we stay aware that the God of peace lives inside us?

I.                   Peace comes through standing fast [v 1]

This verse is a transitional verse between what has been said and what is about to be said. Paul has just said that there are enemies of the cross of Christ. He has just said that the believer’s citizenship is in heaven. He has just said the Lord is going to return and take us out of this world and into heaven transforming our bodies. However note how this verse fits in with what is going to be said. If a person wants the God of peace [4:9], one of the things he has to do is stand fast in the Lord. The Christian believer is to stand fast no matter how great the trial, the temptation, the influence, offer and allurement made by others. Where can the believer find the strength to stand fast? First through the Lord Himself because there is only one place the believer can stand fast and that is in the Lord. The believer who prays and keeps his mind and thoughts on the Lord is the believer who can and does stand fast in the Lord. Common sense tells us this very thing. There is no way a person can do his own thing day in and day out and expect to remain in the peace of the Lord. There must be open lines of communication in order to experience the peace and the presence of God.  Secondly there is the encouragement of a minister caring about his brother standing fast. That’s what Paul is caring for the Philippians as he longs to see them standing fast in the Lord. If the believers are to stand fast they must be loved and cared for by the minister and other believers. Nothing encourages us any more than to know that we are loved and cared for. The love of others stirs us to live like we should and to stand fast against temptation and trial. Scripture exhorts believers to stand fast in several things:

1.      Faith [I Cor. 16:13]

2.      Liberty of Christ [Gal. 5:1]

3.      One Spirit [Phil 1:27]

4.      In the Lord, which is the secret of peace [Phil. 4:1]

5.      In holding the teachings and doctrines that have been taught [II Thess. 2:15]

II.                Peace comes through agreement and unity [vv 2-3]

There is no peace if people are arguing, bickering, or biting. Brawling, wrangling, disputing, dissenting, grumbling, and criticizing and Paul knew this all too well and it is a fact that is often ignored by some. Paul knew that there were some in the Philippian church who were arguing, quarreling, the Lord had already charged Paul to have the believers stand fast in one spirit defending the gospel [1:27; 2:1-2, 3-4]. The plea is for quarrelers to agree in verse two. The source of the disturbance was due to two prominent ladies within the church, Euodias and Syntyche. What caused the trouble between them is not known only one thing is known about them they were quarrelers. Two women, who differed, argued, criticizing, murmuring and grumbling. Note what Paul did he pleaded for the two ladies to get their minds together in the Lord. If a person is moving and having his being in the Lord then he is walking with the Lord. There is no time for arguing and divisiveness. In fact it is the opposite that is true he only has time for those who are living and moving in the Lord all seeking to fulfill the Lord’s mission on earth. His thoughts are upon the Lord and His mission not upon other believers and divisiveness. The need is for a yokefellow to step in and help those who are quarreling. Now the word yokefellow is thought by some to be a proper name given to some when they were baptized. It was a common practice for believers to be given new names at their baptism in order to symbolize their spiritual birth. Who this yokefellow was is not known but it must have been a man deeply respected by the church. His name refers to the yoke that was fitted around the neck of oxen for plowing. It attached the two oxen together so that they would pull together getting the work done more quickly. Therefore yokefellow means a person who pulls or works cooperatively with others. He must help because the two women were co-laborers in the gospel who had helped Paul and Clement in the church. They needed to be serving in the gospel not arguing and differing. Therefore every effort possible had to be tried in order to salvage these two believers. Second, their names were in the Book of Life. They were two believers who had slipped back into sinful divisiveness [Eph. 6:7; Gal. 6:1-2]

III.             Peace comes through rejoicing repeatedly and continually [v 4]

A person is to rejoice always and then to do it again. Paul challenges the believers to walk about rejoicing in the Lord no matter the circumstances. Are you waiting for your circumstances to improve before you begin to rejoice?

Is your ability to rejoice related to your happiness? Is your joy radiating?

Dr. J. Vernon McGee says, the fuller brush man calls at our house on Saturdays. He is not a sorrowful fellow by any means. I don’t know whether he is having trouble at home or not but he sure radiates joy. One Saturday morning my wife had gone to the market and from my study window I saw him coming. I thought, I’ll ignore him, because I’m busy and I’m not going to fool with brushes today. So he came and pushed the doorbell and I let him push it. He pushed it two or three times and I thought well he’ll leave now but he didn’t leave. He knew somebody was in the house so he just put his thumb down on the doorbell and held it. Finally in self-defense I had to go to the door. When I got to the door I expected to find him a little irritated because I had made him wait but no he was happy about it, everything pleased him and he greeted me joyfully. He said, Dr. McGee, I didn’t expect to see you today. With a scowl I said my wife has gone to the market she’ll see you the next time you are around. But that wasn’t enough for him. I don’t know how he did it but in the next ten seconds he was in the living room and I was holding a little brush in my hand. Then I couldn’t order him out he had given me a little brush and so I stood there listening to his sales pitch. When he had finished I said now look I don’t buy brushes and I don’t need one. My wife generally buys brushes from you and she’ll probably buy the next time but I don’t have time to look at them right now I’m busy this morning. So he thanked me and started down the walkway whistling you would have thought I bought every brush that he had. I met a man who trains Fuller Brush salesmen and told him about this experience. He said they were so instructed they are trained to radiate joy. Now I do not know whether that Fuller Brush man was happy or not but a child of God ought to have real joy the joy of the Lord in his life.”

Continual rejoicing is impossible if our focus is not on Christ. Our decision to rejoice is not linked to the quality of our circumstances our decision to rejoice is based upon the Lord of our circumstances.

IV.             Peace comes through a strong gentleness [v 5]

The word moderation is a difficult word to translate to English. It is, translated by others, as gentleness, forbearance, reasonableness, consideration, agreeableness, courtesy, patience and softness. There is a tendency to say that either forbearance or gentleness is what we are talking about. Believers are to be gentle and forbearing in dealing with unbelievers. The exhortation in this verse not only deals with believers in the church but with unbelievers also. William Barclay makes an excellent point and I quote: “The Christian as Paul sees it is the man who knows that for him there is something beyond justice. When the woman who was caught in adultery was brought before Him, Jesus could have applied the letter of the law and she should according to the law have been stoned. But He went beyond justice as far as justice goes there is not one of us who deserves anything but the condemnation of God. But God goes far beyond justice. Paul lays it down that the mark of a Christian in his personal relationship with his fellow man must be that he knows when and when not to insist on justice. And that he always remembers there is something beyond justice which makes a man like God.”

We must be gentle and forbearing in dealing with unbelievers. The last thing we must do, is criticize, neglect, condemn, censor and ignore unbelievers. We must reach out to the world with the gospel treating them with a loving gentleness. Too many are harsh and critical or neglectful and withdrawn. Too many are wrapped up in the cloak of religion having nothing to do with reaching out to the lost. The desperate need of the hour is for us to reach out with the gospel in the spirit of love and gentleness [Col. 3:13]. The reason we must be gentle is because the Lord is at hand [v 5]. He is ready to come and His coming is near and when He comes every one of us will need Him to treat us with gentleness. Only if we are forgiving toward other men will the Lord forgive us [Matt. 6:14-15]. Have you wanted to steamroll someone lately figuring they have it coming? Listen to this story.

The classroom became steamy has the heated debate grew more intense with each passing moment. The professor was a meek looking sort of fella, sort of short in stature but long on patience. The arguing student had the audacity to try and prove the mild mannered professor wrong. Brains were not a gift of this particular student for two reasons. One he had all the facts about the subject mixed up. He was just flat-out wrong and number two he was challenging a man who was a leading authority in the field. After hearing enough the professor with the frown upon his face spoke sharply. I know enough about this subject to blow you out of the water. The class sat in absolute silence waiting for the pen to drop, his pen signing the expulsion papers of the arguing student. But in a soft voice the professor humbly apologized to the class for his outburst. He said I had no right to say what I said. What the professor said that day spoke volumes picturing exactly what God expects from His followers. God wants followers who are gentle, followers who master the art of strength under control.

 

What can you do in your life to be more, gentle? Who needs your gentle touch today? 

B.     The Steps to Peace Part II: Prayer and positive thinking [vv 6-9]

The aim of this lesson is to learn to experience and keep the peace of God. Memory Verse: Phil. 4:7

Have you ever tried to squeeze a wet bar of soap? It tends to shoot right out of your hands every time. It’s kind of like the peace of God one minute you think you have it and the next minute it’s gone. The problem isn’t with the soap or with God’s peace the problem is with our grip. Is there a secret that can help us hold onto the peace of God regardless of the circumstances? And the answer is yes. Once we obtain the peace of God how do we maintain and keep the peace of God? How do we keep the peace of God ruling and reigning in our hearts? How do we keep a consciousness of God’s very own presence within us?

This passage discusses two of the most important steps to possessing peace. Above all other passages it tells us how to have peace and maintain peace. If we will take these two steps, the peace of God will rule and reign in our lives.

Point #1 – Peace comes through prayer [vv 6-7]

Note three significant points:

1.      There is the charge to be anxious about nothing [v 6].

The idea is that the believer is not to worry of fret about a single thing. The word nothing means, not even one thing. Humanely speaking the Phillipians had every reason to be anxious they were suffering severe persecution [1:18-19]; they were facing some disunity in the church [4:2-3; 1:27]; they had some carnal members within their fellowship some members who prideful, super spiritual and self-centered [2:3-4; 3:12]; they were facing some false teachers who had attacked their fellowship attacking the cross of Christ [3:2-3, 18-19]; some were having to struggle for the necessities of life [4:19]; there was little else that could come upon these dear believers they were facing about every trial and temptation imaginable. Humanely a person is going to wax anxiety when he is worried about food, clothing or shelter or when he is persecuted, abused, or threatened, or when he is surrounded by quarrels, disturbance, carnality and false teaching. In the midst of such circumstances the only way a person can keep from worrying is to receive and injection of super natural power and this is the point of scripture. There is an answer to worry and anxiety a super natural answer and that is the peace of God. God will enable the believer to conquer worries and anxiety. God will give the believer a peace that will carry the believer right through the trial. This does not mean that the believer is not to be concerned with the trials of life he is but there is a difference between concern and anxiety. Concern drives us to arise and tackle the problems of life with a courage and diligence unimaginable. Concern drives us to tackle and conquer all that we can handle. Anxiety and worry causes all kinds of problems. It causes fear to act, withdrawal, hesitation, it makes cowards out of us, brings about depression, a defeatist attitude, it causes problems like quick unplanned actions, unwise harmful decisions, physical sickness and infirmities, emotional problems, spiritual backsliding, and unbelief and the list could on and on. We all know people who suffer from anxiety and worry and they lack the peace of God. Yet, the charge of scripture is forceful be anxious for nothing [Matt. 6:31-33]. The first thing we need to do is to turn our worry and anxiety into concern for the former is unproductive. Concern gets things done as we act on the problem with God’s guidance.

2.      The remedy for anxiety and worry is prayer.

The word prayer refers to special times we share in periods of devotion and worship. The word supplications, refers to prayers that focus upon special needs. The word thanksgiving, means that we thank and praise God for all that He is and for all He has done for us. The word requests means specific and definite requests. Our praying is not to be general but specific. We’re too lay before God exactly what is needed and not to fear that we are being too detailed with God. Too often believers are afraid to go to God with a specific request afraid that it will show how weak they are spiritually if the request is not granted. In everything we are to use all four ways of praying for specific requests. This means two things:

A.    We are to walk with God and in God and we do this by prayer and we are to do this all day long. We pray in times that are set aside for devotion and worship. We supplicate and struggle in prayer when facing times of deep and intense need. We offer thanksgiving and praise all day long as we walk with God.

B.     We are to pray about everything no matter how small and insignificant it may seem. God is interested in the most, minute details of our lives and He wants us to acknowledge Him in all of our ways because He wants to care for us and look after every single step we take.

If we do this God will continue to infuse us with His peace [Matt. 7:7]

3.      The promise is peace.

Peace means to be bound, joined and woven together. It means to be secure in the love of God and know that God will provide, guide, strengthen, and sustain. To deliver, encourage and save and give real life both now and forever. A person can only experience the peace of God as he walks about in prayer, why? Because only God can deliver a person through the most severe circumstances and tragedies of life and the wonderful promise about the peace of God is two-fold.

a.       First, the peace of God passes all understanding.

b.      Second, the peace of God keeps our hearts and minds.

 Dr. Dickson of Spurges Tabernacle once said this: when we rely upon organization we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence we get what eloquence can do; but when we rely upon prayer we get what God can do.

When God answers our prayers peace floods our hearts and lives. Anxiety is conquered and overcome.

What answer to prayer have you been waiting for? Is it the salvation of a loved one? A broken relationship, that needs to be, healed? Are you continuing to pray about the situation? We must remember to enjoy God’s peace as we wait for His answer.

Point #2 – Peace comes through positive thinking [vv 8-9]

Now the word, think means to consider, reflect, reason, ponder, the idea is to focus our thoughts until they shape our behavior. The truth is what we think is what we become. The truth is where we have kept our minds is where we are and the truth is what we do is what we think. Now as a person who centers his mind on the world and its things will live for the world and its things. Things like money, wealth, land, power, recognition, honor, social standing, fame and a host of other worldly pursuits.

 

The person who centers his thoughts upon the flesh and its lusts will live to satisfy the flesh through such things as pride, greed, pleasure and sex. A worldly mind will never know peace that is the peace of God because God will never allow a worldly mind to have peace, for it is the restlessness of the human soul that He uses to reach men for salvation. The believer is never to allow a worldly, selfish, sinful thought to enter his heart or mind and there is never to be a negative thought in the mind of the believer. Simple and negative thoughts disrupt and destroy peace and for this, reason the believer is to conquer his mind and thoughts. What we think is so important that God tells us what we are to think. The charge is to think and practice positive thinking. Lets take verse 8:

True – real and genuine

Honest – honorable, worthy, reverent, highly respected

Just – right and righteous behavior, right behavior towards God and men

Pure – morally clean, spotless, undefiled, free from filth, dirt impurities

Lovely – pleasing, kind, gracious, things, that draw out love and kindness

Good report – reputable, things of the highest quality

Virtue – excellence

Praise – that’s any in thought

The source of power for positive thinking is two-fold. First there is the Word of God. Paul says he had preached and taught these to the Philippians and they had learned them. What he had preached and taught was the Word of God therefore the source of power for positive thinking comes from the Word of God [II Tim. 3:16]. Secondly, there are noble examples. Paul says that he has lived as a testimony before the Philippians. Therefore they could follow his example because he had kept his thoughts and life on the very virtues of positive thinking [Phil. 3:17]

Point #3 – There is the energy and power of self-effort and discipline.

Note the words, those things do. The believer is expected to control and discipline his mind and to struggle against all sinful and negative thoughts and to fight to think only positive thoughts. Notice the result of positive thinking is that the God of peace shall be with the believer [Is. 26:3]. Does positive thinking really make a difference?

We do not advance upward unless we yearn upward it has been said. Our thoughts shape our lives and we grow little or big by the ideas we cherish and the thoughts upon which we dwell. Avoid worry, anger, fear, hate, and all that normal and depressing mental states said a leading authority on health. This victory over harmful thoughts cannot be achieved by suppressing these feelings but by sub-planting them with right thinking which is coming of the followers of Jesus Christ and which is the out-growth, of a closer walk with the Lord.

What kind of worldly distractions compete for your mind?

Practice doesn’t always make perfect but it does make better?  

VI.  The Appreciation For Good Christian Relationships [4:10-23]

A.        Appreciation: For a church that revives its sacrificial giving [vv 10-19]

The aim of the lesson will be to make a genuine pledge to Christ to always give sacrificially. Memory verse: Phil. 4:19

I’m wondering would you consider yourself to be a generous giver? See if this shoe fits you. C. S. Lewis remarked if our expenditures on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc. equal to those with the same income of our own were probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us they are too small. There ought to be things we like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures, excludes them. What does the Bible say about giving? It says a lot and this passage deals with stewardship, in particular the giving of money to meet the needs of ministers and missions and the spread of gospel to the world. This passage expresses appreciation for a church that is stirred to revive its interest in missions.

Point #1 – Their giving was revived and it flourished [v 10]

Note the words flourished again, it means to revive again. It is the picture of plants and flowers shooting up and blossoming again. The key word is again. When the church had been founded the church had supported Paul and his mission work on a regular basis. But for some reason they had dropped their mission support. It had been over 10 –12 years since they had supported Paul. Why they had stopped is not known but the point to note is the glorious revival of mission support that took place. They picked up the support of Paul once again and their giving flourished and blossomed anew. In a gracious and kind way Paul says that he knew they cared for him but they had just lacked opportunity to support him. Was there lack of support legitimate? That is due to persecution or poverty. Was it illegitimate? That is due to neglect and unconcern for the spread of the gospel and missions worldwide. Being honest about the matter it is difficult to conceive of a reason for dropping mission support. It is especially difficult to see a reason that would last as long as 10-12 years that the Philippian church had failed to support Paul. Whether legitimate or not we all need to search our heart about he support of God’s ministers and missionaries worldwide. The gospel must be supported and carried worldwide. The need of the hour is for churches to become concerned about the spread of the gospel worldwide. The problem is not that we don’t know the truth. We know we are to go and spread the gospel by supporting missions, witnessing, praying for laborers for the harvest fields, the problem is that we do not go. We are unwilling to leave the comfort and security of our homes, jobs, families, to go into the communities and nations of the world. The need of the hour is for laborers who will go into the world and if we cannot go we need to commit ourselves to support those who will go. Think of your budget is the Lord’s work a part of it? For most people, even Christians putting aside money for the Lord’s work is a difficult thing. It is such an easy thing to do to find something else to do with our money but we must remember that only as we support laborers can the gospel be spread. Every person who spreads the gospel is a laborer and every field is a mission field. Do you give until it hurts or do you hurt when you give? Have you had a spiritual checkup lately? Listen carefully to this illustration:

When you go to the doctor for your annual checkup he or she will often begin to poke, prod, and press various places all the while asking does this hurt? If you cry out in pain one of two things is happening either the doctor has pushed to hard without the right sensitivity or more likely there is something wrong and the doctor will say we better do some more tests its not supposed to hurt there. So, it is the same way when ministers preach on financial responsibility and certain members cry out in discomfort criticizing the message and the messenger. Either the pastor has pushed too hard or there is something wrong. In that case I will say my friend, we are in need of the Great Physician because its not supposed to hurt there.

What is the most difficult thing for you to give, money, material things, time, talents? Where can you go to find out more about mission programs for your church? Why is it important for the church as well as individuals to support missions?

Point #2 – Their giving was not necessary but it was needed [vv 11-14]

Very simply this means that God will take care of His servant even if the churches do not adequately care for him. Down through the centuries most churches have not adequately cared for their ministers. This is part of the sufferings most ministers have to bear in carrying the gospel to a world reeling in desperate need. Yet, God’s dear servants have gone forth despite whatever sufferings they have had to bear. Note three significant points:

1.      Giving is not necessary because God teaches His servants to be content no matter the circumstances. This is exactly what it says in [vv 11-12]. The word content means to be satisfied completely detached from circumstances. Note the word learned it is a learning experience. Paul had to learn to conquer circumstances and not let the circumstances conquer him. He had learned contentment. Many Christians today need to learn contentment, have I learned it? In many societies the desire to possess and obtain material goods has grown to the point of obsession. Men feel justified in doing whatever is necessary to do what they want.

2.      Giving is not necessary because the minister can do all things through Christ who strengthens him [v 13]. God’s servant can be content in all circumstances through Christ, but the servant cannot be content in any circumstance apart from Christ. Christ does not do everything for the believer nor does the believer do everything for himself, both Christ and the believer have a part in conquering circumstances. The believer declares I can and he gets up to face the circumstances head on. It is then that Christ steps in to strengthen the believer. Christ steps in hen our strength is no longer sufficient. It is then that He is able to demonstrate His wonderful love and care for His servant. All praise and glory is due Christ and not man. Giving is not necessary because God will care for His servant [II Cor. 12:9] 

3.      Giving is needed and it is work well done according to [v 14].

The minister needs daily provision and the gospel needs to be supported so that it can be carried around the world. Money and support are greatly needed. As stated before they are not necessary God can take care of His dear servants and the gospel without any church. But His will is for every single church to become involved in supporting its servants and worldwide missions. God can do the job without us. God can by-pass us and put us on the shelf just like the useless book. But He wants His people to give and to give generously and when they do they perform a work that is well done and commendable and noble [Acts 20:35].

Do you control your money or does your money control you?

When I left the family business to enter the ministry I turned down a golden opportunity for affluence. I say that with no credit to myself. I felt God’s call so definitely that I simply could not refuse. For two years I ministered with no salary. Lynn, my wife taught music lessons and we took in boarders to cover the rent. Then I began receiving $35 a week and then $85 and we were thrilled, eventually our salary was set at $12,000 a year. I remember thinking, who would ever want more than $12,000 a year? And soon I found the answer it was me. As the church grew and my job description enlarged the board of directors met periodically and increased my salary and each time I thought wow, this is far more than I need, who, would ever want more than this? And twelve months later I would find out it was me, finally in a late night truth telling session I came to grips with an ugly reality the more I had the more I wanted. I’d been believing the money monster’s lie that just a little bit more would be enough but when would the drive to accumulate stop. Lynn and I decided then and there to cap my salary the board agreed to our request and helped us strike a deadly blow to the money monster. Bill Hybels

In this illustration the man was alert enough to recognize the problem, honest enough to admit the problem, and brave enough to do something about the problem and trusting enough to turn the problem over to the Lord.

How many people today would be so brave as to turn down a raise in order to hold their spending down?

Should our income have a bearing on whether we give support to the spread of the gospel?

Point #3 – Their giving was distinctive, they were the only church that gave and they gave consistently [vv 15-16]

This is a point that desperately needs to be heeded by churches everywhere. When the Philippian church was founded it underwrote the ministry of Paul and it was consistent in its support. Notice it was the only church that was supporting Paul the unfaithfulness of the other churches cut Paul’s heart. This is clear from his words that no church supported him but the Philippian church. It was while he was in Thessalonica that the Philippian church had been consistent in their support. Imagine there was only one church that had supported Paul and it was a church that had just been founded. Two questions desperately need to be asked by all of us.

#1 – What are we doing for the Paul’s and missions of today and #2 – Have we made a commitment to support some minister or mission and backed off the commitment [Mark 4:19]. Remember this truth we usually find time and resources for our passions maybe we need to re-focus our passions.

On a scale of one to ten, one being extremely low grade yourself in the following areas:

Worshiping God; personal Bible study and prayer; sharing Christ consistently; fellowshipping with other believers; prayer meetings; mission support; becoming financially wealthy; meeting all of my needs and wants; avoiding any suffering; now based on the above what changes do you need to make and why?

Point #4 – Their giving was sacrificial and it was seen and rewarded by God [vv 17-19]

The gift cost the Philippian church they were a church that gave not by percentage, but sacrificially, this is seen in two points. Their gift is said to be a definite sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God. Their gift is also said to have created a need among themselves and Paul answered and said that God shall supply all your needs [v 19]. Now note three points:

1.      God saw who sacrificially gave to support Paul and He deposited a reward to their account according to [v 17]. This is what Paul desired in giving not a gift for, himself. But a reward for the giver, Paul knew that God saw and rewarded believers who gave sacrificially therefore Paul desired that believers give sacrificially. [Matt. 6:20].

2.      God was well pleased with the giving of the Philippians according to [v 18]. Paul compares it to an Old Testament sacrifice, which a person offered up to God. The person’s sacrificial commitment to God was just like a pleasant smell of the animal sacrifice it was acceptable.

3.      God promised to supply all the needs of His people in [v 19]

There is the Great Provider, God, Himself, no matter what the need is God can and will meet the need. Note the pronoun, my, it is my God who shall supply for all my needs. A person has to make sure that the God who can really provide for his needs is his God, that he knows God personally and well enough that God will meet his needs. There is the great assurance of provision. My God shall supply. There is no question about the provision being supplied. God is, God. Therefore He is able to provide and He will supply whatever provision His child needs. There is the great provision, all your needs. This promise is not only the physical needs of food, clothing and shelter. It refers to mental, social and spiritual needs. It refers to any needs that arise and engulf the believer. No need is to inconsequential for God to meet. There may be a lesson for the believer to learn before the need can be met. Some lessons such as more trust, endurance, love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, or control, there may be some testimony that the believer needs to share. A, testimony, that proclaims, the strength of Christ to carry us through all trials no matter how big or how small. Then there is the great resource according to His riches in glory. Take all the riches and wealth, glory and majesty of heaven, it is all, available to meet the needs of God’s dear people. There is no limit to the great resources at God’s disposal, God can provide for any need. Then there is the great mediator by Christ Jesus. This is critical to note for God does nothing apart from Christ. No person can approach Him without coming by Christ Jesus. This is the key to having our needs met surrendering to Jesus Christ and asking God to have our needs met in Him. God loves Christ so much that He will do anything for the person who honors Christ by sacrificially giving to share the glorious news of His Son [II Cor. 9:8]

Are you sacrificially giving to meet the needs of people and in order to spread the gospel around the world? And if not why not? If you give sacrificially God has promised to supply all your needs, what is your definition of needs?

What should be your motivation in giving?

B.        Appreciation: For God and fellow Christians [vv 20-23]

The aim is to more actively express our appreciation our praise to God and to fellow believers. Memory Verse: Phil. 4:23

 Johnny what do you say? Johnny say, thank you. How many times have you said this as a parent or heard this as a child when receiving a gift or compliment or some act of care and love from someone? Thanking people for being kind and good is ingrained in us and it should be. Paul and the Philippian believers had many memories of such acts. Appreciation for God and each other was very much in order, but notice it is just as important for believers in this generation to express their love and appreciation for each other as it was for Paul and the Philippian believers. Too often we just take things for granted and go about our business without saying a word of thanks to others. Too often we allow our own concerns to get in the way of being gracious, thankful and appreciative. This passage gives us a dynamic challenge we should be far more faithful in expressing our appreciation to God to fellow believers.

Point #1 – God is to be praised as God and as our Father [v 20]

God is to be praised as the Creator and Sovereign Lord of the universe. God has made all and he rules and governs all and He is the only wise God. He is the one whose judgments are un-searchable, who’s ways are past finding out, who has a mind that no man can know, who has such wisdom that no man can be a counselor to Him, who reigns and is closed with majesty and strength, who’s very voice is the embodiment of power and creation, who’s glory is like a devouring fire and who’s glory is declared by the heavens and His handiwork is shown by the firmaments. Just think about the fact that He has adopted us as His sons and daughters. God adopts through faith in His Son. The greatest condescension of God demands one thing that we praise and glorify Him as our Father forever and ever [Rom. 8:15-17]. God, alone is worthy of worship. We owe Him for our very life and we owe Him for adopting us as His children. We owe Him now and for eternity.

Point #2 – Believers are to salute every saint [vv 21-22]

Saint means those who are separated and set apart unto God; those who are different from those who live for the world and its pleasures. Every saint is to be greeted. There is no discrimination or favoritism shown. Poverty, education, handicap, un-attractiveness, clothing, social standing, employment, race, nationality, nothing is to cause the believers to discriminate or show partiality all saints are equally acceptable to God. The point to note is that Christian leaders are to take the lead in greeting every saint. If the leadership shows discrimination and favoritism then others in the church will do the same. The ministry and all the other leaders must always demonstrate love, interest, and care for all. Caesar’s household does not necessarily refer to those of Caesar’s family. The term is very similar to what we call civil service or government employees. As in our day Rome had its government employees scattered all over the world. But notice Paul was in Rome so this means that some government officials had been reached for Christ. The lesson for us is that humility must be demonstrated even by those in the echelons of government no matter how high their position is [Phil. 2:3-4].

What are some ways you can greet and express appreciation to other believers?

All the ground at the foot of the cross is level who do you know in your church that is having a hard time fitting in?

What special effort can you make to help them feel included?

Point #3 – Believers are to wish the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ on each other [v 23]

Paul ends this great message with a strong command share the wonderful grace of God with each other. What an incredible privilege we have. God has entrusted each believer with the priceless grace of God. It is grace that gives hope to the hopeless, joy to the sorrowful, peace to the anxious, and help to the helpless. We must not hoard God’s grace we must share it with the world around us. We must be a channel of God’s grace to the world.

My challenge to the layman is this: when Christ said go ye into all the world and preach the gospel. He did not mean only preachers but every one who believed on Him as the Lord of glory. The division between the clergy and the laity is the division of our own making. It was not instituted, by Christ, nor was it ever evidence in the early church. They believed the word go meant every man and they obeyed the Lord’s command. My challenge for you is to return to this first century Christianity where every believer is a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Has God shared His grace with you? Who can you share His grace with this week?

It is crucial that we worship God properly and learn to do a better job of appreciating every believer.