Philippians on Friday: Cast Your Cares on Him!

Thanks for joining me for our Philippians on Friday! Today we’re continuing with the story of Epaphroditus:

Philippians 2:26-27  – For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

As you remember from last week, Epaphroditus was a man from the church at Philippi. The church had sent Epaphroditus to be a help to Paul who was on house arrest in Rome. Epaphroditus had been a great comfort and support to Paul. But now Paul was sending him back home to the Philippians.

Epaphroditus became very ill when he was with Paul. Paul states in this passage that Epaphroditus was so sick that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him and raised him up! So Paul was sending him back to the Philippians with a testimony – a testimony that God is a healer!

A Testimony to the Philippians: God is a Healer!

May this story remind us that God is a healer! Remember the promises of God’s Word concerning healing:

Isaiah 53:5 (KJV) – But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was upon him; And with his stripes we are healed.

James 5:14–15 (KJV) – 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up…

PhilippiansGod healed Epaphroditus. God is a healer. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is still in the healing business. There is still power in His Name to heal all manner of sickness and disease! If you are sick today, trust in the promises of God’s Word. If someone you know is sick, remind them that God is a healer and pray for them! Like Epaphroditus, you too, can have a testimony of healing.

Seekers of Sympathy

The attitude of Epaphroditus during his critical illness is interesting to me.  We can see from Paul’s remarks that Epaphroditus didn’t want to worry the Philippians about his sickness.

…For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick…

His heart was heavy because the church had heard how sick he was. He didn’t want the church to worry about him. That attitude is so different from the attitude of a lot of people. Many people want you to worry about them! Many people crave attention and sympathy. They are quick to tell you all about their woes and hardships.   They want you to feel sorry for them.

Let’s not be given to drama nor seekers of sympathy.

The situation with Epaphroditus really was a serious situation. He was so sick that he nearly died. Yet he still didn’t want the church to worry about him. Wow! What a refreshing attitude.

We shouldn’t hesitate to share legitimate needs with brothers and sisters in Christ so that they may pray for us – that is Biblical. But let’s learn a lesson from Epaphroditus. Let’s not be given to drama nor seekers of sympathy. Let’s spare our church family the details of every little ache, pain or problem that is shared just to gain attention or pity. Remember, we can cast our cares – large or small – on the Lord!  But let’s make sure our motives are right when sharing needs with our brothers and sisters.  I don’t want to whine so much about every ache and pain that when a serious need arises I’m treated like the boy who cried wolf!  Bearing one another’s burdens is an important ministry in the church, but if I’m just seeking attention, I should stick to casting my cares on the Lord!

~Matthew Ball

The Art of Preaching – Pastor Joe Osborne – Part 1

Today’s video blog is a portion of an interview I did with one of the greatest preachers of our time, Pastor Joe Osborne.  In this first segment, he answers the question, “Should preachers be readers?” Pastor Osborne shares some great insight that will improve your preaching ministry.

I would welcome any comments you have about today’s subject.  Next time, we’ll continue with more from this phone interview with Pastor Osborne.

If today’s video blog has been a blessing to you, please share using one of options below.  Thanks.

~Pastor Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: You’re My Brother!

Thanks for joining me today for Philippians on Friday! We’re moving on to verse 25 of Chapter 2:

25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier  but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

In the past few verses, Paul had been speaking to the Philippians about Timothy and how he was sending him to Philippi as his messenger. In verse 25, Paul speaks of another young man, Epaphroditus.

PhilippiansEpaphroditus was one of the Philippians. He was from the church in Philippi. The church had sent Epaphroditus to be a help to Paul who was on house arrest in Rome. We can infer from this verse that Epaphroditus had been a great comfort and help to Paul. But now Paul was sending him home to Philippi.

There are several interesting and noteworthy points in this verse:

A Brother in Christ

First of all, Paul calls Epaphroditus his brother – just “brother.” Before any mention of what he does, Paul mentions who he is! Epaphroditus is my brother. He may not have the title of apostle or bishop, but he is my brother. Paul is teaching that we should not think of some as being higher than others because of a title or position.

Before anything else, Epaphroditus is my brother. Whether or not he’s a preacher, he is my brother. He may not possess a lofty title, but he is my brother. It’s irrelevant that I’m a Jew and he’s a Gentile – he is my brother.

The ground at the cross is level. We are all equally sinners saved by grace.

What a great lesson! First of all, we are brothers and sisters. Regardless of what we do in the Body of Christ or what positions we hold, we are brothers and sisters. Let us respect, love, and have compassion for one another because we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’ll never forget hearing Billy McCool say to someone who referred to him as bishop, “You don’t need to call me bishop. You can call me Brother McCool.”   While we respect those in authority and give honor where honor is due, we do well to remember that we are all firstly brothers and sisters. The ground at the cross is level. We are all equally sinners saved by grace. Don’t forget about Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 23! Jesus condemned those who worried too much about lofty titles and high seats in the synagogue.

Workers Together

PhilippiansThen Paul refers to Epaphroditus as a “fellow worker.” He was saying that they were workers together. They were not in competition with one another. They were working for the same cause.

So let’s remember that we are workers together in the Kingdom. We are not in competition with one another. Remember that we’re all on the same team! A competitive spirit among the Body of Christ is a detriment to Kingdom. Paul already addressed this in chapter two and verse 3:

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory…”

Strife means rivalry or selfish ambition. We are not rivals. We are fellow-laborers!

Fellow Soldiers

Finally, Paul told the Philippians that he and Epaphroditus were fellow soldiers. He was alluding to the spiritual warfare that we are all in together as fellow Christians. This is war! We are wrestling against dark spiritual forces. We’re not on a cruise-ship, complete with deck chairs and a tropical fruit drink in hand! We are on a battleship. The Christian journey is one of spiritual warfare and battle.

Is there Significance to this Order?

Is there significance to the order that Paul uses in this verse?” Brother…fellow-worker…fellow-soldier. I believe there is! If you are at odds with your brither, how will you be a fellow-worker. If your relationship with your brother isn’t right, you’ll never work together.

And if your relationship with your brother isn’t right, how will you fight the enemy?  You’ll never be effective in the battle against the enemy, when you’re fighting your brother! It’s a trick of the enemy to get us at odds with our brother or sister – it takes our focus off of fighting our true adversary. Remember – your brother is not your enemy!

Let us never forget that first and foremost – we are brothers and sisters in Christ. By honoring and respecting one another and working together unselfishly, we will effectively advance the cause of Christ.

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: Here’s a Mop!

Thanks for joining me for our Philippians on Friday devotion.

Philippians 2:22: that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

We have focused the last few weeks on Paul’s frustration with a shortage of quality leaders and why Timothy was the one sent by Paul to minister to the Philippians. We’ve discussed Timothy’s unselfish attitude and genuine motives.

Before we move to the next passage in chapter two, let’s look at one more reason why Paul used timothy for the important assignment of traveling to Philippi to check on the Philippians: Timothy had proven himself by serving with Paul!

22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

Growing Up in the Church

I grew up in the church. My father was the pastor. As young teenager in a pastor’s family, I did just about every remedial task possible in our small, new church. My dad worked me! He said, “so, you want to do something for God and be used by God? Ok, here’s a mop!” I cleaned the church bathrooms. I cut the church grass. My father and I were at every Saturday work day. I manned the nursery. I taught about every Sunday school class at one time or another. There is probably not any job in the local church that I wasn’t given to do while growing up in the church.

PhilippiansI served in a variety of places long before I ever stood behind a pulpit and preached a sermon. Many times my spiritual ambitions and dreams seemed loftier than the mundane jobs I was given by my father.

I’ve learned a lot since those early years in a small home mission’s church. I’ve learned that dad knew what he was doing when he handed me a broom. Remedial tasks often serve to prove whether a person is ready for greater responsibility:

Matthew 25:21 – …thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things….

A Sign to a Father

A willingness to serve wherever needed proved to my father that I was ready to be given greater responsibility in the church. Those who feel like they’re too good to clean Sunday school classrooms, cut the church grass or pick up people for Sunday school are really not ready for greater spiritual responsibilities like ministering the Word of God or overseeing the Church of God.

Timothy served alongside Paul as a “son with the father.” Typically the son is given what many think are less honorable tasks. But Timothy’s willingness to be a servant and do whatever task given proved to Paul that Timothy was ready for more responsibility.

A Sign to the Philippians

Not only did Timothy’s heart of a servant prove something to Paul, it proved something to the Philippians!

…But ye know the proof of him….

The Philippians knew the heart of Timothy, because they knew his record of faithfulphilippians service. They received the ministry of Timothy because they had seen the faithful service of Timothy. I know young men or women who wonder why some don’t readily receive their ministry. Perhaps it’s because the “some” have been a silent witness of an unwillingness to serve. Or perhaps they’ve seen an arrogant attitude that says, “I’m too good to clean a church bathroom!”

I didn’t do all those remedial tasks in the church to be seen of men.   I don’t think that ever crossed my mind. But the church folks must have seen me doing them. And when the time came to step in the role of the pastor of that church, the saints had no trouble in submitting to my spiritual leadership and honoring me as their pastor.

I’m certainly not likening myself to Timothy nor pinning a star on my lapel. This story in Philippians just reminds me of how grateful I am for a father who knew what he was doing when he gave me the church mower. Looking back now, I’m so thankful God helped me have a willingness to serve. Serving as a young man in our church opened the door to greater spiritual responsibility. Had I not be willing to serve “as a son with the father,” perhaps I wouldn’t be the pastor of Faith Apostolic Church today.

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: Let God Open the Door!

Thanks for joining me today for our weekly devotion in Philippians.

Our topic last week from this passage was the “Leadership Famine.” We talked about Paul’s frustration with the shortage of quality leaders who he could send to Philippi. It was a short list of candidates who would unselfishly care for the Philippians.

Philippians 2:20-21 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. 

But there was one young man willing to go and qualified for the task – Timothy!

Philippians 2:19– But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.

Paul felt comfortable sending Timothy to the Philippians in his stead. Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith and had Paul’s spirit. How did Paul know that Timothy would naturally care for the Philippians? Paul knew Timothy was not like many of the self-promoting young ministers of the day.  Paul’s indictment of these ministers was that they “seek their own.”

Examining our Motives

This passage should make us examine our motives. Why do we do the work of God? Why do we serve in the Body of Christ? Is it for personal gain? Is it for the praise of men or to gain personal notoriety?

What is the litmus test for pure motives? It is serving to bring Glory to God not self. 

Paul was reluctant to send some ministers to Philippi. He feared they would do what was best for themselves rather than what was best for the Philippians. He was skeptical of their motives.

The word “naturally” in this passage is translated in some versions as “genuinely”:

For I have no man likeminded, who will genuinely care for your state…

Paul was saying that Timothy would be genuine in his care for the church. We can infer that the opposite of being genuine is “seeking our own.” When a person’s motives for serving are about self rather than the ones they are serving, he or she is not being genuine.

What is the litmus test for pure motives? It is serving to bring Glory to God not self. It’s ministry that points people to Christ not us. It is when we seek to build up the church and others rather than ourselves.

What Opens the Door of Opportunity?

Think about how Timothy must have felt to be called upon by the great Apostle Paul. What an opportunity! What a privilege – to be given an assignment to visit the Philippians in Paul’s stead.

PhilippiansThink about what opened the door for Timothy. Consider why Timothy was given this opportunity. It was not because Timothy was self-promoting. It was just the opposite – it was because Timothy did not seek his own.

Many people think the way to open doors is to push oneself. They believe if I promote myself and look out for number one, I will go places. Whether that’s true in the secular world is a debate for another time. What is clear in the scripture is self-promotion is not the way to be used of God. Jesus said:

11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)

“Seeking your own” does not open doors – it closes doors! Because Timothy was not self-promoting, Paul used him. Those who were seeking their own, were overlooked by Paul. Their self-centeredness and impure motives actually closed doors of opportunity for them!

Serving the Lord

Perhaps the other men Paul referenced thought they had more distinguished or illustrious opportunities than going to Philippi. But Timothy was willing to serve wherever he was needed. And God honored that attitude. God blessed Timothy, his ministry, and his influence. To those who are faithful over few things, God makes  ruler over many things.

Let us work for the Lord with honorable, genuine motives. May we never be motivated by self-centeredness or selfish ambition. Let us humbly serve wherever we are called upon and allow God to open doors and expand our ministry.

~Matthew Ball