September 21st Philippians 4 E. My Power – Christ Stand fast in the Lord
1: Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. 2: I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3: And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. 4: Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5: Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9: Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
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10: But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12: I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 14: Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
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15: Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16: For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17: Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18: But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20: Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21: Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22: All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. 23: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Paul says my brothers who l love and who are the crown of my ministry – Stand firm in the Lord. Here we have another military term. One of the favoured tactics of the legions was to march onto the battle field and stand firm. Their strength was in their ability to be rock solid in battle and not to break or run. As they stood firm, they locked shields. This meant that the enemy was fighting against one huge fighting force which acted as one man. Each man was dependant on the soldier that stood at his right and he fought for the man on his left. This was symbolic of their unity. As long as they stood shoulder to shoulder they were undefeated. There strength was in their unity. Now says Paul stand together in the Lord. Then Paul addresses a possible break in the ranks. The first group are two women who are clearly not getting along at all. They might have had a public disagreement. Maybe they are not speaking to each other anymore. Paul does not address the issue or take sides he just tells them to ‘agree with each other in the Lord’. How do they do that? Well they are to come together in sisterly affection. And together they are to agree with each other in the Lord. That is they are to recognise Christ in each other and put away disagreement. The other group of women are Paul’s formidable warriors in the faith. He says they have contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel. There are some people who say ‘Don’t be contentious’. And they always seek an easy life with not contentious issues ever being raised. This is unrealistic. Some of the most important issues are contentious. If we as Christians never address the difficult issues in which honest believers disagree then the ministry of the word is a very small circle. If we never discuss, Gifts of the Spirit. The Ministry of the Saints, Baptism and the Lords Supper, The Sovereignty of God and Prophecy then Christians are deprived of 90% of the teaching of the Word. So let us have to struggle let us have the contention. And let the truth win out. Some say Paul hated women. How ridiculous! Paul here states his highest regard for the women who he calls ‘my fellow workers’. The key Christian experience is Joy. We are to rejoice in the Lord always. When things go right – we rejoice in the Lord, and when things go wrong – we rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice! Paul next says be gentle to all because the Lord is near. The servant of the Lord is to not strive and to be known for gentleness and meekness. That does not mean that righteous indignation will never be found in his life but the predominate thing is gentleness. Christian men should be gentlemen! Here Paul gives the antidote to worry. What is the antidote for worry? Forget about it? Try to put it out of your mind? NO, Paul says face it straight on but do that by Prayer. God does not want us to be anxious; he wants us to be wise and courageous. He wants us to face the difficult issues by Prayer, Petition and Thanksgiving, We are to present our requests to God. So what this means is that we are to come to God with the issues that concern us and we are to present our requests to Him. WOW that’s new. That’s reality. That’s facing up to our responsibilities and doing something about it. That’s bringing God into our lives and then what? Well the peace of God which cannot be explained, it can only be experienced, will stand guard over our minds in Christ Jesus. Do you know something of the peace of God? You may ask, what is the peace of God? The peace of God is the knowledge that God is in control. It’s the realisation that God is going to look after us. That God is now responsible to act on our behalf because we have placed ourselves in his hand. The peace of God is quiet contentment between presenting our needs and receiving the answer. It is the time when heaven is silent waiting for God to answer prayer. When living and working together and when interacting with each other, Let us focus our hearts and minds on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praise-worthy. Let us not think of things that are untrue, beneath us, incorrect, filthy, gross, degrading, poor value and blameworthy. But let us look on each other as Christ sees us. Let us look for the best in each other. Paul says that the Philippian believers are to imitate him. Now he is not saying this in a prideful sense. He is being practical. We all follow examples, we all copy each other. What Paul was saying is copy my life. What you have learned, heard from me and seen me do, put it in to practice. And the God of peace will be with you. WOW that’s the sort of leadership we need. Paul thanks the Christians at Philippi for the gift of money that he has received. He says l know that you wanted to help me before but you had no way of doing it. Paul says my letter of thanks is not a request for more, because l have learned to be content in whatever condition the Lord has placed me in. Both being in need and being in plenty are both difficult in their own ways. Paul says l have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. So what is Paul’s secret? Verse 13 he says I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. How are you going to face unemployment? How are you going to face poverty? How are you going to face bereavement? How are you going to face the strains of your Job? And how are you going to serve Christ? Are you going to rely on experience, on your natural gifts, or on your courage and stamina? Well you can try. But if you rely on yourself then you will be walking after the flesh. But if you lean heavily on Christ then you will be walking in the Spirit. You can face anything if Christ strengthens you. If he empowers you then you will be more than a conqueror you will be unbeatable. If you consciously trust yourself completely to Christ then you will find that he will empower you to simply live the Christian life. Paul says it was good of you to share in my troubles. That is was good of you to share your goods with me in my troubles. Those who bring us to Christ should have a special place in our giving, not as a repayment or because it is expected it’s just that we can share in their ministry and maybe show kindness in return for the greatest gift they could ever give – The Gospel. Paul says that God will meet all their needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus. God is no mans debtor. Paul closes his letter with a prayer that God might be glorified for ever and ever.