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Friday, November 8, 2013

The Lord is at Hand; How are we Standing?


Philippians 4
Having a Generous Heart
Shirley Connolly
 

In Chapter Three we talked about the joy we have in believing - the joy we have in pressing toward that high mark in Christ - the joy we have in remembering that our citizenship is in heaven not here on Earth.

I.                   Standing Fast

Philippians 4:1   Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Paul's endearing statement was to those who meant so much to him…I love it. Here he was in the middle of the Mamartime Prison and chained to a guard and in the lowest dungeon, and yet to the Philippians (and to you and me) he says: Stand Fast in the Lord. Stand fast against what? It is he and Silas who are in the chains. It is he who is suffering. It is he who is bound. But Paul isn’t concentrating on that. How then shall we stand fast?
 
In the last chapter Paul's continual warnings were about people falling for doctrinal error -- against those who come against the freedom we have when we embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His grace. This would not stop being important, but he takes it further in this chapter.

Standing Fast here, moves us on from what to look out for with false teachers to our relationships with others in the Lord…not so much in worldly matters but in spiritual matters.
 
Paul's eyes were not focused on himself. He showed here his care was mostly for the affairs of others.

Are we standing fast?
 

How else do we persevere in our Lord?
·         By reminding ourselves of our heavenly citizenship (Are we continuing on with what's important?)
·         By remembering that it's the Joy of the Lord that gives us strength because of His love for us and the grace He extended to us (Are we continuing on with what's important)? Paul sang and worshipped. What do we do?
·        We stand fast when we count it a privilege to suffer even humiliation because our love for the Lord is stronger than what others think of us or what is going on around us (Are we continuing on with what's important in this way too?)

The Philippian Christians were Paul's joy and crown. He counted it a privilege to know them and to feel he was a part of them. He counted the fellowship he had with them as something precious.  He counted it as a joy to be called upon to minister to them…even while in jail. For Paul it was a way of giving of himself.

What about us? How do we stand fast in the Lord each day?  What are ways we give of ourselves to others…to God?

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not ye even in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming.  For ye are our glory and joy.

our greatest hope, our opportunity for joy, our crown of rejoicing


  • That greatest hope: THAT WE WILL BE IN THE PRESENCE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WHEN HE COMES FOR US. (Boy, will we be singing and worshipping them)  
  • Our opportunity for joy: That we will let Him transform us and have control of us (We don’t have to wait until heaven for that; we can let Him have us now)
  • A Crown of Rejoicing? That we remain focused on the Lord and less on ourselves 

Romans 12:1-2 says it perfectly

II.                The Same Mind

Philippians 4:2-7      I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Euodia and Syntache were two Christian women who served the Lord with sincerity but seemed to be at odds with each other. Paul shows his concern about this, and because he truly cares for these sisters, he writes to encourage Euodias and Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Then he asks the same of the rest of the body there. These two women labored faithfully with him in the gospel; they were highly esteemed (enough so to be included in the scriptures). We can see how much he cares by telling the others to be friends to these two women and to help them (encourage them) in the Lord. Paul is asking the Philippian believers to be there not only for them but for the other fellow works in Philippi whose names are included in God's Book of Life.  

It also comes to how we treat others or care for others in the body of Christ today? We are not called to compromise our faith, but we still do what we can to rectify our relationships one with another.

Other ways to be of the same mind with others in the body.

If we put our mind to doing these things God's perfect peace which goes far beyond our understanding which is available to us and will guard our Hearts and Minds in Jesus.   

  • Rejoice in the Lord always (Rejoice together)
  • Be gentle (not only with those we are close to but with all in the body)
  • Don’t be filled with anxiety (and be an encourager to someone who is)
  • Pray for one another (be sincere -- Latin word for sincerus which means without wax…something that holds together even in the heat.  As we pray for one another in sincerity we are also asking God to help others no matter how HOT it might get for them in trials.)
  • Give thanks for one another
  • Lift up needs as they are brought to our attention. Don't put off for another day

We are reminded that Paul is writing this letter from a prison cell, and yet he is able to tell others what he is doing himself:  

  1. REJOICING,
  2. STAYING CALM,
  3. NOT WORRYING ABOUT HIS CIRCUMSTANCE,
  4. IN PRAYER,
  5. BEING THANKFUL FOR OTHERS,
  6. AND HE DOESN’T ONCE FORGET THOSE WHO HAVE SHOWN THEIR LOVE AND CARE FOR HIM.

  1. Reflection: How do you keep an emphasis on the Joy of Christ rather than the circumstances you are in?
  2. Reflection: How do Paul's words of encouragement here help you when it comes to dealing with faulty relationships?

Nothing should take away our joy in Jesus Christ. Not relationship problems, not anything. This is what Paul's emphasis was on. It went beyond feelings. We also need to remember that Paul is speaking to those IN the church, NOT in the world. God's peace is different from the world's peace.

John 14:27

Look again at verse 5. The last part of that verse says to them and to us: THE LORD IS AT HAND.

The early church sensed that Jesus was coming soon for them, possibly during their lifetime. Just as they were looking for the Lord's coming then, every generation should be living in expectancy for the imminent return of the Lord for His church. I  believe that return will happen soon. Thinking in this way has several beneficial advantages for us and on our lives.  

  • It gives us an urgency to share the gospel -- to get the word out so others can learn the Word as God would have it taught and learned.
  • It helps us keep our lives and our desires in perspective. We receive a healthier outlook on things and on what's important. Material things, worldly values go to the back burner and are more likely to stay there. Spiritual matters go on the front burner.
  • As we have a conscious awareness of the soon return of the Lord for His church it helps us see what matters most. The temporal no longer seems quite as important.
  • As we concentrate on the soon coming of the Lord gives us purity in our walk and with our lives. 
  1. Reflection: If Jesus Christ was coming soon for you, how and where would you want Him to find you?   

Chuck Smith wrote: "I think we are blessed to be in the generation that will witness His coming…my hope is that He will come back soon, and I believe God INTENDED that to be the hope of each generation -- that we would LIVE in this anticipation." 

Yes, the Lord is coming soon. I believe that with all my heart.
THE LORD IS AT HAND
 

III.             A Moment of Meditation

Philippians 4:8-9    Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace be with you.

The minds of the Philippian Christian determined what was coming through their spoken words and through their actions. It is the same with us today as Christian women. What do we keep in our hearts and minds today?

  • To be true
  • To be noble
  • To be just
  • To be pure
  • To be lovely within
  • To be of good report

Each of these represent our virtue, our hope be worthy of praise, and what brings us God's peace far beyond anything we ever have to go through.

IV.             The Generosity of the Believer.

Philippians 4:10-13    But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

Paul speaks at first about how the church takes care of their ministers and how he appreciated what the Philippian Christians but by reading this with 1 Corinthians 9:11-18 he points out that he didn’t minister to receive anything from the body. That wasn’t his purpose to make a living off them. He received from the Philippian body because they willingly gave to him because he had a need.This is an important concept for you and for me.

Paul was content in his circumstances for the most part, willing to build tents to get by on and yet, his focus was ministering to the people. But the Christians who were in the right state of mind had the discernment to see his needs, and it was on their hearts to care for this man who they loved. Paul brings out here what is so important and how a person can be content no matter what

Ø  Whether we are abased or whether we are abounding
Ø  Whether we are hungry or whether we are full
Ø  Whether we are needy or whether we are in plenty
Ø  The fact that we can do all things through Christ who DOES give us the strength to do so.  
      
       John 15:5   I can do all things…without Him we can do nothing

Are you content in the circumstances you face? Paul's secret was drawing on the power of Jesus Christ for that strength.  We can trust God to meet our needs. He WILL supply our needs. But that's the key. It is our needs and not always our wants that God comes through with. If it is our wants we can easily get in God's way and get those things, only to be dissatisfied later because we shouldn’t have them.

1.       Reflection: What was Paul's key to staying so content while he was in that dirty cell?

1 Corinthians 2:13-16  These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

  1. Reflection: The answer to our contentment lies in our priorities, perspective, and our source of power. What are you committed to doing and being? 
V.                 That Sweet-Smelling Savor for Him

Philippians 4:14-23    Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditis the things sent fom you, a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever, amen.  

Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those, who are of Caesar's household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

The Philippian body provided Paul, their teacher with financial support especially while he was in prison. To Paul they were a sweet savor. What a lovely compliment. He emphasizes just how blessed what they were doing was to God. It was their SPIRIT OF LOVE and DEVOTION that Paul appreciated most, not the financial support they gave him. You can read more about thank offerings in  Leviticus 7:12-15

One way you and can become a sweet smelling savor for the Lord is when we too see the need of someone else, especially someone who has ministered to us in some way that drew us closer to the Lord, and we benefit from finding out from the Lord what we can do for them. To God that is a sweet smelling savor, a THANK OFFERING, and WELL PLEASING to Him for we are giving a little SOMETHING OF OURSELVES.

Even when I am worshipping and singing from my heart, it is in this small way I  can also give of myself to God.

1.       Reflection: Think about how YOU are becoming a sweet-smelling savor for the Lord right now.

Let's review once more other ways we can be women of the Lord with generous hearts

v  GIVING OF SEL
v  KNOWING WHERE TO CONCENTRATE OUR HEARTS
v  KNOWING HOW TO BE CONTENT
v  HAVING A SPIRIT OF LOVE AND DEVOTION
v  BECOMING THAT SWEET SAVOR IN CHRIST 

Consider once more this awesome letter from Paul to the body at Philippi and to us.We really can have the joy of the Lord. In the evening, at noontime, and in the morning, by allowing God to help us rise above adversity not just by surviving but by thriving in that Joy only He can give us.

Are you standing fast in the Lord today?
Am I?

1 comment:

  1. thank you for this study. it was very helpful to me for sure today. Linda F.

    ReplyDelete