Philippians on Friday: Pour Your Life Out!

Thanks for joining us today for our Friday devotion from Philippians!  Today we’re looking at chapter two and verses seventeen and eighteen:

17-18 – Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me. KJV

Paul is making a reference in this passage to the Old Testament offering. The drink offering was done in conjunction with another offering, such as the burnt offering or the grain offering.

PhilippiansFor a burnt offering, one would take an animal such as a lamb or ram and offer it as a sacrifice to God. At the conclusion of the burnt offering, one would then offer a drink offering by taking something such as wine and pouring it out on top of the sacrifice.

Paul is making a vivid analogy between his sacrifice and the sacrifice of the Philippians. He is telling the Philippians that their sacrifice and service to God is like the burnt offering. Paul’s life and ministry is like the drink offering being poured out on top of their sacrifice.

What can we learn from this passage?

There is Joy in Sacrifice

Great sacrifice, hard work and personal investment was required for Paul  to establish the Philippian church and for he saints of Philippi to grow the church.  However, Paul did not consider the sacrifices he and the Philippians made to be a drudgery or chore. He was not looking for sympathy in his suffering. He said:

“If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all…”

Don’t weep for me! If my life is a drink offering poured out for the Philippians, then I rejoice! One finds joy in serving and sacrificing for the cause if God’s Kingdom. He then tells the Philippians to rejoice with him! He goes on to say that they should rejoice as well over the opportunity they have to sacrifice and work for the church.

Don’t ever consider the sacrifices you make for the Kingdom of God to be anything Philippiansless than a joy. In fact, in this passage we find a key to joy – unselfishly pouring our lives out for Christ. Those who lack joy in this life are usually the ones who are serving themselves. If you want to find joy – pour out your life for the Kingdom!

Sacrifice Brings Glory to God

Paul has an incredible attitude in spite of his difficult situation. By referencing the Old Testament practices of offering sacrifices to God, he is reminding the Philippians that their work in the Kingdom was to bring glory to God and not self. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were offered to God. They were to give glory and honor to God. The focus of the offering was upon God, not upon the giver. Neither Paul nor the Philippians were working to bring glory to self. Their work for the church and people of Philippi was to honor God.

Don’t ever consider the sacrifices you make for the Kingdom of God to be anything less than a joy.

It’s interesting that Paul implies their sacrifice is the burnt offering and his sacrifice is the drink offering. He is reinforcing that all our work is for God’s glory not ours. The burnt offering was the primary or main offering. The drink offering was the secondary offering or the icing on the cake. Paul never implied that his sacrifice was the greater sacrifice. He was telling the Philippians that they were the main contributors to the work. Paul was not trying to take credit for the church at Philippi. He was giving the most credit to them. He was teaching the Philippians that when we worry about whose sacrifice is the greatest, we are missing the point. All the glory goes to God. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit!

Don’t get wrapped up in measuring your sacrifice against others’ sacrifice. We err in comparing ourselves with others. Always keep in mind that the glory goes to God anyway, not us!

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: Was it Worth It?

Philippians on Friday: Was it Worth It?

Philippians 2:16: “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”

We can see at the end of verse 16, a very transparent apostle. He wants to know that his ministry to the Philippians has not been in vain.

philippiansPaul is not naïve about his situation. He knows he may never be released from prison or that any day could be his last. He can sense in his spirit that the end of his earthly race is approaching.

He’s reflecting on his life and ministry.  He’s thinking about the impact he’s made. It’s as though he’s telling the Philippians:

I will have great joy if I know that all my investment in you has paid off.  I will rejoice if I can be confident that you will continue to the end.

What Paul meant in this verse when he said, “Holding forth the Word of Life” has sparked some disagreement.  “Holding forth” can mean two different things in the Greek language:

  1. To Show Forth or Display
  2. To Hold Fast

Whichever thought Paul had in mind, the message to the Philippians was the same.  Paul just wants to know that his labor was not in vain.  As his time on earth winds down, he wants to know that the Philippians will continue on, either by continuing to show forth the Gospel message or by holding fast to the Gospel message and their faith in Christ.

Paul will have great joy if he knows that all his travels to Philippi and his teaching, prayers and impartation were not in vain.  He wants to feel assured that all his sacrifice was worth it. If the Philippians don’t hold out until the end, Paul’s work would seem in vain.

I don’t want any of those who’ve poured into my life to ever feel like their sacrifice wasn’t worth it.

The Apostle Paul was the spiritual father of the Philippians – he had established the church in Philippi.  But he was concerned about more than just their beginning.  He was concerned about the long term.  He was not just focused on conversion but on discipleship.  His joy would come from them continuing.  He would feel satisfied that his efforts were worth it if they would remain steadfast in the faith.

Will Others Say It Was Worth It?

 Think of all the spiritual leaders who have invested in us:

  • Parents
  • Pastors
  • Sunday school teachers
  • Youth pastors
  • Older saints in the church

We are what we are today in Christ because of those who have poured into our lives.  I’m sure our spiritual mentors will, like Paul, find great joy and satisfaction in knowing that we will continue on with Christ until the end.  I want those who’ve invested in us to feel like their sacrifice was worth it!

PhilippiansLet us “hold forth” the Word of Life by continuing to do the Lord’s work and not wavering in letting the light of the Gospel shine through us.  May we “hold fast” to the Word of Life by remaining steadfast in the faith and being determined to finish the course.  Many people have invested in us and sacrificed greatly to help us get to where we are now.  How sad if we were to throw in the towel and stop short of the finish line.  I don’t want any of those who’ve poured into my life to ever feel like their sacrifice wasn’t worth it.

Paul said in Hebrews 12:1:

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses….let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”

There is a great number of people who are watching us.  Those who’ve poured into our lives are witnesses of the spiritual race that we are running.  Let us endure faithfully to the finish line, and bring great joy to those who have invested into our lives.  I want that great cloud of witnesses to say, “It was worth it!”

~Matthew Ball

Fridays in Philippians: Affliction by Way of a Brother

Thanks for joining me for our Fridays in Philippians Devotion.  Today we’re unwrapping Chapter 1 and verses 15-18:

Philippians 1:15-18: Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. KJV

We saw in our last few devotions that Paul possessed an inner joy in spite of his adverse
philippianscircumstances.  He didn’t permit his difficulties to rob him of joy or his affliction distract him from his mission.  Even though he suffered injustice, was falsely accused, imprisoned, stripped of personal liberties and treated like a common criminal, he kept his eyes on the bigger picture.  He trusted that God’s Kingdom was being advanced in spite of his personal trials.  He saw how his own incarceration was causing other believers to wax bold.  He was able to share the Gospel with the guards and other prisoners around him.  Paul exemplified the spiritual truth that, by keeping your focus on the right things, God can give you peace and joy even in difficult circumstances.

It’s one thing to keep a positive attitude when the source of your affliction and adversity is an unbeliever.   It’s an entirely different thing, however, when it’s your own brothers and sisters in Christ that are afflicting you.  When we’re persecuted by the unbeliever, it sometimes serves to strengthen our joy. Knowing that we are being persecuted for the cause of Christ and that we are in “fellowship” with His suffering can actually bolster our joy in those trials.  But being mistreated and falsely accused by those in the body of Christ is much more difficult to handle.

Paul exemplified the spiritual truth, that, by keeping your focus on the right things, God can give you peace and joy even in difficult circumstances.

But Paul possessed joy and peace when he suffered at the hands of unbelievers or believers.  Neither scenario was able to steal the inner peace that came from his trust in God. He was still able to rejoice (vs. 18)!  He was still able to see that the purpose of God being fulfilled was more important than his own personal comfort.

There were fellow Christians who were taking advantage of Paul’s imprisonment.  While Paul was able to move freely in his proclamation of the Gospel, they hesitated to move against him. But now that he was in prison, they saw it as their opportunity to advance themselves.  They were using Paul’s incarceration as a means to promote their own personal agenda.  They preached Christ, but their real objective was to gain adherents for themselves.  They apparently thought they could enhance their own positions by degrading the apostle – perhaps even implying that Paul was somehow guilty or deserving of his situation.  These divisive and opportunistic “brothers” where trying to steal away followers.

First, Paul was falsely accused and imprisoned by the heathen. And then, his Christian Philippiansbrothers “added affliction” to him rather than bringing him comfort or relief.  What an opportunity for the enemy to plant discouragement, self-pity and even resentment against God.  But Paul would not have it! He chose, once again, to see the good!

He told the Philippians, some people preach Christ for the right reasons, and others for the wrong reasons, but I rejoice because Christ is preached!  What an incredible attitude!  Imagine how many Christians might respond: “How can God let this happen to me?”  “I hope God punishes them for their wrong-doing!”  “I hope they fail utterly!”  But Paul rejoiced!  He saw the bigger picture. He didn’t condone preaching from false motives, but he knew the hearers would be saved when Christ was preached.  False ministerial motives cannot cancel the truth of the Gospel.  It is the power of God unto salvation!

Paul pointed out to the Philippians in verse 18, (in the NIV) “what does it matter?” What a great question.  What a great phrase to ask when suffering persecution or adversity.  If you can say this, it can help alleviate a lot of stress and worry:  What. Does. It. Matter?  Some people get stressed over things that really don’t matter.  Let it go.  It’s not worth stressing over.  It’s God’s business.  My life is in His hands.  He is in control.  All things work together for the good.  His Kingdom is being advanced.  What does it matter that some are mistreating me or that I’m suffering persecution or personal discomfort?  Paul’s ability to keep his eyes on what really mattered was a key to him having a joy that adversity could not erode.

~Matthew Ball

Archeology Update: King Hezekiah’s Seal

archeology There was a great breakthrough this week in the field of archeology.  A piece of clay inscribed with the 2,700-year-old seal of King Hezekiah was found in Jerusalem.  As reported on Friday by Ari Soffer, of Israel National News:

“Archaeologists digging just south of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount have made a historic discovery, unearthing the first-ever seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king ever exposed in situ in a scientific archaeological excavation.

The discovery, made by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of
Archaeology under the direction of Dr. Eilat Mazar during Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, is an impression of the royal seal of the Biblical King Hezekiah, who reigned between 727–698 BCE.

Measuring 9.7 X 8.6 mm, the oval impression was imprinted on a 3 mm thick soft bulla (piece of inscribed clay) measuring 13 X 12 mm. Around the impression is the depression left by the frame of the ring in which the seal was set.

The impression bears an insc‎ription in ancient Hebrew sc‎ript reading: “לחזקיהו [בן] אחז מלך יהדה”//“Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah.”

As Christians, we are people of faith.  It does and always will require a dimension faith to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  Without faith it is impossible to even please God.  We have faith in a God we can’t readily see with the senses of this physical world.  We have faith that His Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us.  We have faith that His Word is true, that He is the creator of all things, and that He is coming back to this earth one day.

We have faith, but it’s not blind faith.  It’s not a faith that is without any basis in fact.  It’s a faith based on reason and evidence.  God created us with the ability to think, reason and seek out truth.  There is nothing wrong with seeking out facts and evidence to support the claims of the scripture and of Christianity as a whole.  That’s why Jesus left us with many “Infallible Proofs” of His resurrection! (Acts 1:1-3)

We have faith, but it’s not blind faith.

We are never discouraged in the scripture from using our minds to evaluate historical, archeological and other facts that confirm our faith and even provide us with a defense and the ability to “give an answer to those who ask us concerning our faith.” (1 Peter 3:15)

As believers, our faith in God’s Word is not contingent upon discoveries in Archeology, but it is definitely an encrouagment to hear of a discovery like the one in Jerusalem this week. Skeptics over the centuries have often claimed the Bible is a hoax and that it’s characters never even existed.  Countless discoveries in Archeology such as the one this week in Jerusalem solidify our faith and provide evidence of the Bible’s accuracy.

~Matthew Ball

Check out the following video about this fascinating discovery:

Video: Copyright Eilat Mazar and Herbert W. Armstrong College