Philippians on Friday: The Preacher is Repeating Himself!

Thanks for joining me for Philippians on Friday.  We’re still looking at chapter one and verse three:

3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Oh No! Not Again!

Last week I interjected a little humor by labeling Paul as a typical preacher.  Long-winded preachers often claim to be about finished but then preach on for a while.  Paul used the word “finally” at the beginning of this chapter even though he had two chapters left to write! Today, as we focus on the latter part of verse one, we see another characteristic of preachers – they often repeat themselves.

PhilippiansAt Faith Apostolic Church, I routinely get some light-hearted ribbing about my teaching approach.  Apparently, I’ve  spent half of my Bible study time on Wednesday nights reviewing the previous week’s material! My standard response is, “We learn through repetition.”   (And, I’m sure I’m not the only preacher given to a lot of review.)

Paul plainly states in this passage that he is repeating something he’d already taught the Philippians:

To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Paul didn’t mind reviewing things he had already told the Philippians. Nor did he apologize for it.  He also told the Philippians it would be to their benefit:

To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

The Value of Repetition

Paul knew the value of repetition in teaching. He knew we all learn through repetition. And there are many truths of God’s Word that we need to hear over and over. Some things are so important we should be reminded of them regularly. Remember what Peter said in 2 Peter 1:12-13:

12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

The Jewish people call it the “Shema.” It is the foundation of the Old Testament teaching:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

The truth of one God and the command to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and might are of upmost importance. God instructed His people to teach these truths repeatedly:

 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

How important are these precepts? We are told to speak them to our children many times each day! There is nothing wrong with reiterating important truths of God’s Word. Paul said there is safety in such an approach.

Lessons from The Lord’s Supper

Why did Jesus establish the sacrament of The Lord’s Supper and instruct His Philippiansdisciples to continue celebrating it until His return? It is because you cannot overemphasize foundational precepts like the Cross, forgiveness, the Blood, grace, and healing.

We certainly hear the philosophies of the world over and over! We are relentlessly bombarded with anti-Christ and anti-Christian sentiment. The constant barrage of the enemy’s agenda as well as the pressures and cares of life can erode our focus.  It’s necessary to be reminded of the very truths that set us free and give us daily victory.

We need to hear God’s Word every day. We need reminded of things we’ve previously been taught. There is nothing wrong with your pastor repeating things you’ve heard before. Don’t ever let the attitude or thought, “Oh, pastor, I’ve heard this before,” cause you to tune out what is being preached. Being reminded of the glorious truths of God’s Kingdom is a blessed thing!

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: Rejoice in the Lord!

Thanks for joining me for Philippians on Friday! We’re moving on today to chapter three:

3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Finally

Paul is definitely a preacher.  He’s only half-way through the Book of Philippians  and he says, “Finally, my brethren!”  When preachers say, “I’m closing,” or “I’m just about through,” look out.  Of course, in the Greek, this passage can be translated as, “Now for the rest.”  That is likely what Paul is saying here.  (Although we know he was long-winded!  In Acts 20, he preached so long that Eutychus fell asleep, fell out the window, and died.  Don’t fall asleep on your pastor this Sunday – even if he is long-winded!  Thankfully the story of Eutychus ended well.  They prayed for him and God raised him from the dead!

But enough humor for today – let’s dig into this great passage.  Paul told the Philippians to rejoice!

Rejoice in the Lord

It was a command without conditions.  Paul simply told the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord.  He didn’t say:

  • You just got a raise on your job – rejoice!
  • God just answered your prayer – rejoice!
  • You just receive a healing – rejoice!
  • An unexpected blessing just came your way – rejoice!

PhilippiansNo, Paul just said, “Rejoice.”  Sometimes you just have to decide to rejoice. Rejoicing is a choice.  You can decide to rejoice.  You can choose, regardless of what’s going on in your life, to rejoice.  David said in Psalms 118:24:

24  This is the day which the Lord hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

The prophet Habakkuk said:

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab 3:17-18)

The last thing people want to hear when their joy is gone or when they are having a bad day is the preacher telling them, “Just be glad.  Just rejoice!”  But often rejoicing is an act of faith.  You make a decision, “I will rejoice.” God honors faith.  And it is a demonstration of faith to say, “I will rejoice.”  I may not feel like rejoicing.  I may not have anything good happening right now in my life.  But I will rejoice.

Joy Will Come

Am I saying we should live our lives as a fake?  Should we pretend to have joy when deep inside it’s not really there?  Of course not.  But I believe when we step out in faith and decide to rejoice, God honors that faith and imparts His joy to us!  It’s like receiving healing – sometimes you have to make the declaration, “I am healed in Jesus’ Name.” You may still feel the symptoms, but you declare your healing in faith.  Is that fake or dishonest?  No.  We are walking by faith and not by feeling.  Oftentimes it is that declaration of faith that brings the healing.

Sometimes we have to make the decision, “I will rejoice!”  

It’s no different with joy!  Sometimes we have to make the decision, “I will rejoice!”  We decide to rejoice in the Lord.  And when we take that step of faith, God honors it and imparts joy.

How Do You Decide to Rejoice?

People certainly can decide not to rejoice!  People choose to be glum or ho-hum.  philippiansYou can choose to rejoice.  You can focus on your blessings (which on any given day still outweigh your trials).  The decision to rejoice in the Lord is yours.  Say it!  Say it right now, “I will rejoice!”  Put a smile on your face.  You can sing, leap, or dance.  Make the decision you have the power to make: I will rejoice!

You can choose to say, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  I believe when you take that step of faith, even when you don’t feel joy, then God honors your faith.  He pours His joy upon you!

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: So You Want a Testimony?

Thanks for joining me for Philippians on Friday! We’re continuing again today with the story of Epaphroditus. It’s incredible how many spiritual lessons can be found in just a few verses about Paul’s Philippian helper:

Philippians 2:28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.

As you remember, Epaphroditus was a man from the church at Philippi. Paul was on house arrest in Rome.  The church had sent Epaphroditus to be a comfort and support to Paul. Now Paul was sending Epaphroditus back home to the Philippians.

Another Book of Philippians Key to Joy

Paul was anxious to send Epaphroditus home. The Living Bible translates verse 28 like this:

So I am all the more anxious to get him back to you again, for I know how thankful you will be to see him, and that will make me happy and lighten all my cares.

Epaphroditus had been a great blessing to Paul, yet Paul was anxious to send him home. Doesn’t it seem strange that Paul would be eager to send his helper and companion back to Philippi?

PhilippiansOnce again Paul was showing us a key to joy:  think of others above yourself. Paul could have encouraged Epaphroditus to stay. But Paul willingly sent him home. Paul was thinking of others. He knew the Philippians would be encouraged to see Epaphroditus and to hear his great testimony of healing. He knew they had been worried about Epaphroditus and wondering about his state.

It would have been a blessing to Paul for Epaphroditus to remain in Rome.  But Paul put the needs of others above his own. He knew Epaphroditus’ homecoming would bring the Philippians great joy.  Paul said that would make me happy and lighten my load.

Don’t overlook this secret to joy.  We can see it woven throughout the Book of Philippians: Joy comes when you put others’ needs above your own!  Self-ish people don’t have joy.  It’s the self-less people that have joy.

No Testimony Without a Test

Epaphroditus had been gravely ill.  But God healed Epaphroditus and raised him up!  Epaphroditus then had a testimony of God’s healing power. Paul sent him back to Philippi with a testimony.

But keep in mind, there is no testimony without a test! Epaphroditus had to go through a grave sickness to have a testimony of God’s healing power.

People want a testimony, but they don’t want to face any difficulty. You actually have to go through the storm to be able to stand on the other side and testify that God brought you over!

You actually have to go through the storm to be able to stand on the other side and testify that God brought you over!

We want to be overcomers. But to be an overcomer, one has to overcome something. We like to remind people that in Christ we are “more than conquerors!” But to be more than a conqueror, one has to actually conquer something. That entails a battle or a struggle!

There’s no anointing without adversity. You can’t be chosen without being chastised. There’s no blessing without a bruising. We want a message to share. But to have a message that resonates with people, you usually have to endure a mess.

PhilippiansThe description of Christ in Isaiah 53 teaches us something about affliction. If you want to be given a portion with the great and divide spoil with the strong – then your soul must be poured out unto death. Jesus, Himself, reminded us: To find true life, you must lose your own life. To bear much fruit, you must be like a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies.

So if you’re going through a storm, stay faithful.  God will bring you through.  And when you get to the other side, you’ll have a testimony that will bring joy and strength to others!

~Matthew Ball

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

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