“If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News. I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here. And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon.” Philippians 2:19-24 NLT
Paul had genuine, fatherly love for the Philippian believers. His ministry to them was more than a "rung on the ladder" to the next level of ministry success. His heart was where it was supposed to be: the souls of men. Some preachers, particularly in America, seem to be bent on becoming the next great spiritual "phenomenon". Their motives seem to be popularity, large crowds, and personal gain. This is often done at the expense of compromising the truth. They are always looking for the next promotion. If a better offer comes along, they are gone in a New York minute. Not Paul. He poured his life into the church. After all, isn't that what Jesus did?? He also had a faithful, solid "son in the faith" named Timothy. The name itself literally means "honoring God" (Greek name "Timotheos" from the two words "Timao" and "Theos"). Timothy was recognized by Paul in Acts 16:1-5 for his outstanding Christlike character and was invited to join Paul's ministry team. Timothy remained faithful through thick and thin, good and bad, sickness and health, prosperity and adversity. He was a genuine servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, to have more like Timothy. Young men who simply want to serve under the leadership of a godly mentor with no ulterior motive. Men who want to serve Jesus more than their own personal success. We need more Timothy's.
Paul wanted to send Timothy as a trusted ministry partner to check on the Philippian church and return with a report. The Philippian church already knew Timothy's trustworthiness. What is your character like? Can you be trusted in the things of the Lord or are you just an "ecclesiastical hitchhiker" (from the book "Disciplines of A Godly Man" by R. Kent Hughes) always looking out for a better ride??
But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”
Philippians 2:17-18 NASB
Paul was referring back to the Old Testament drink offering that would accompany offerings and sacrifices to God. In Genesis 35:14 Jacob sets up a stone pillar at the place where God talked with him and he poured wine and olive oil over it as an offering. In Exodus 29:40 flour, olive oil, and wine were to be poured out along with the one year lamb as a sacrifice. In Numbers 15:5-10 we read of three different measures of wine to be used with a lamb, a ram, or a bull. Paul didn't mind being poured out as an offering in service to the Lord! His pouring out of himself in the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Philippians was, indeed, an honor. In fact, it was a joy. He encouraged the Philippian believers to consider their service to God as an offering of joy as well. Jesus blood was poured out willfully for us. In Luke 22:20 we read “And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” NASB In John 19:34 we also read this: “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” NASB The ultimate sacrifice is Jesus Christ. He poured out Himself for our redemption and salvation. Our service to Him is our way of pouring out our lives in thankful offering. We should consider it utter joy to pour out our lives for Him!!
Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.” Philippians 2:16 NLT
Nothing consoles the heart of a minister like watching and knowing that his sheep are standing true to God's Word by living it out consistently. Paul was facing eventual execution for his faith and he wanted the Philippian believers to know that it brought him great consolation to see them faithfully practicing what they were taught. This would help Paul face death with satisfaction because his labor would not be in vain and he would see them again at Christ's return. Paul said it like this to the Corinthian believers: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT Are you working for the Lord and leaving behind a lasting legacy of faith in Jesus Christ? Will others continue to walk the road of faith because of your example? Are you sharing the Word of life with others around you? Does it bring you satisfaction to know that your service to Jesus has caused others to stay the course? Think about this most important responsibility. Don't live your life simply satisfied to call yourself a "Christian" and be content simply to be a "church goer". Live your life as an open Bible for those around you to read. Make a mark for Jesus Christ. What message are you leaving behind? If people follow your example, what kind of life will they lead and where will it take them?
“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Philippians 2:14-15 NLT
God's children should behave like they belong to Him. Our behavior within the family speaks for itself. As others observe our conduct may they see that we strive to live in unity and constantly work at minimizing contentions. Complaining and bickering have no place in God's family. Let us endeavor to live morally pure and spiritually righteous lives. This sinful world is obviously filled with morally corrupt and spiritually perverted people. God wants His family to shine His light into that darkness and dispel it. If you were to walk into a room that was dark, what would be the first thing you would do? You would turn on the light. If the light didn't come on you wouldn't blame the darkness. There would be one of two things happening: 1. You could have a power outage. 2. You could have a blown bulb. Either way, it is the lights purpose to drive out the darkness. Dr. Henry Blackaby has said:"If society as a whole seems to be getting darker and darker the problem isn't with the darkness, it is with the light." As God's family, let us work at peace and harmony in the truth without the bickering and fighting that shamefully testifies to our sick state of affairs. The world doesn't need another fledgling, divided church. What the world needs is the church on fire and burning with righteousness. Let's be the light!!
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:12-13 NLT
What a beautiful picture of the deep personal relationship that Paul had with the saints in Philippi. Paul not only preached the gospel to them, he loved them as the family of God. He was more than a "passing through" preacher. Paul was their spiritual "under shepherd". Someone who was a "Dr." in theology once told me that I shouldn't get too close to my flock. I was appalled at the notion. Immediately, I was taken in my mind to the example of Jesus. He loved us with such "personal" involvement that He actually became one of us to understand what it was like to live in this human world (see John 3:16-18; Hebrews 2:18; 4:15 and 5:1-10). May I be frank here? Any minister who doesn't want to get "close" to his flock should consider whether he is called by God to the ministry. God calls us to love one another like Jesus loved us: enough to die for us. “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 NLT May God help us, who are "shepherds" (the word Pastor literally means "shepherd") to love the sheep. After all, we are sheep too! There is only One True Shepherd - Jesus Christ!!! If we are His servants, we will love like Him!! Lastly, Paul complimented the Philippian believers in their willful obedience while he was there with them. He, now, wants to know that they are steadfast in their obedience, even in his absence. Their obedience was an evident indicator of their genuine faith in Jesus Christ. He reminded them that God was working through them to do His will and for them to remember that God was always with them to help them accomplish their work in Christ. Obedience doesn't save us, but it surely does indicate our understanding of God's holiness and our allegiance to Him. God is with the believers today as well, helping us do what is right in service to Him. Let's be obedient!
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 NLT
There is no other name in all of Creation that is as great as Jesus Christ!!! He is Lord of lords and King of Kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). He is the Way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8). He is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I Peter 2:25). He is the Word of God (John 1:1). He is the Door to heaven (John 10:1-10). He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18). He is the Power of God (Matthew 28:18 and Acts 10:38). He is the Head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). He is God in a human body (Colossians 2:9; John 14:9; 8:58; I Timothy 3:16; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; Immanuel-God with us Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25-26). He is the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36; I Peter1:19; Revelation 5:6 and 35 other places in Revelation alone). He is the Creator (John 1:1-3: Colossians 1:14-17; Hebrews 1:1-3)!!!!!!!
The list goes on and on. There is no other name like Jesus!!!!!! One day, all of creation (saved, unsaved, angels, demons, and even Satan himself will bow in humility before the One True God!!!!!!! Then, and only then, will righteousness reign over all the earth again. He can't be impeached, He wasn't voted in. He can't be voted out. He isn't a politician. He isn't a political party. His reign is righteous. His motives are absolutely pure. He is HOLY!!! He has always spoken the truth. He can never lie! He is all knowing, ever present, and all powerful! He is immutable, incomprehensible, uncontainable, untouchable, yet available, accessible, inviting, and capable. I feel like preaching right now! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Let the children of God rise up and shout Hallelujah!!!!!!!
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 NLT
Jesus is the ultimate example of humility and servant hood. God Himself took on the flesh of a man and became a servant to mankind. He, willingly, came to earth to live as a human being so He could die like a criminal in our place. He was no criminal. In fact, He never sinned!!! (See Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21: I Peter 2:22; I John 3:5). He chose to die for our sins that we may live. He would rather die than to live without us! WOW!!!!!! Isn't that AMAZING?? Have you accepted Christ Jesus today? He loves you and will forgive you if you'll trust Him. Simply ask Him to be your Savior and Lord!
“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:1-4 NLT
If we say we are "Christians" we must understand one simple thing: We are saying we belong to Christ! We, therefore, must consider how our actions demonstrate that profession. Calling yourself a Christian is easy. Acting like one takes discipline. Let me settle one thing right now: We cannot save ourselves by "Christian" deeds. Jesus is the Savior!!! What I'm referring to is the call of God to His children to act like the one who gave them life. When we look at a family there is a distinct genetic link in their characteristics. I've often heard someone say something like "you look like your father". Do you look like your Father in Heaven? If we are the family of God, then let us recognize the reality that we are of the same household and eat at the same table. We need to strive to work together for the good of the home we live in. It should be a place of love, acceptance, forgiveness, accountability, correction, and service. The harmony of the home is dependent upon obedience to the Father and the willingness to recognize how our conduct affects the other members of the family. Let's make our Father proud of us!! He is a GOOD FATHER!!! What makes Him smile upon us is when He sees His family working together in love and harmony.
And in no way be alarmed or intimidated [in anything] by your opponents, for such [constancy and fearlessness on your part] is a [clear] sign [a proof and a seal] for them of [their impending] destruction, but [a clear sign] for you of deliverance and salvation, and that too, from God. For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ’s sake, not only to believe and confidently trust in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, [and so you are] experiencing the same [kind of] conflict which you saw me endure, and which you hear to be mine now.” PHILIPPIANS 1:28-30 AMP
Paul wanted to encourage the Philippian believers to stay confident in their faith, not allowing the opposition to create doubt, fear, or discouragement in them. He reminded them that God was their deliverance and salvation and that they needed to make that known to their adversaries by standing firm. He also reminded them that their suffering for being a follower of Jesus Christ was a privilege. He even alluded to his own suffering as a case in point. They had been witnesses of Paul's imprisonment and God's miraculous intervention by making the jailhouse quake and the prison doors fly open. Paul and Silas had previously been in the Philippian jail because of preaching the gospel (see Acts 16:19-40). In fact, the Philippian jailer and his household came to know Jesus through that event. Paul was currently in prison in Rome and was, once again, suffering because of his devotion to Jesus. He was honored to do so! No matter what may occur around us, let's stay focused on our mission to know, and share, Jesus Christ and let's watch God be on display. He has never failed us before and He won't now!!!
“And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me. Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.”
Philippians 1:26-27 NLT
Paul trusted his life into God's hands. He knew that God was able to set him free from his imprisonment and allow him to see the Philippian believers again. He also knew that he may not get that opportunity. His concern, either way, was that the Philippian believers live a life worthy of the gospel. Being a Christian is so much more than association, it is a transformation. When we say that we belong to Jesus Christ we should live a life that testifies to the fact (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Timothy 2:19). He also wanted to see them standing firm in one mind and one accord as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. May God help us do the same today. There is a gospel to preach and teach. Let's be found steadfast and unified. There is only one church, not a denomination. If we are born again, we are the church of the Lord Jesus. Let's magnify Him, not allowing division to disrupt and derail our purpose.
Rev. Curtis Norris