Philippians #4, 1:12-18

Philippians #4

A Fresh Look

Phil. 1:12-18

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,  so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guardand to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the wordwithout fear.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. – Phil. 1:12-19

Throughout his life and work as an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul’s daily existence was accompanied by two things: (1) risk, and (2) he was widely known.

Risk came in the form of expected persecution. A former Pharisee, converted to Christ, now engaged in preaching the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles – there was constant opposition, comprehended in this passage by that phrase, “what has happened to me.”

He was well-known among the Jews. And, because of his arrests, imprisonments and trials, the Romans knew about him.

So, how does one cope with daily risk as a well-known preacher and traveler? And put this question into the context and setting of Paul’s work among Jews (not always friendly) and Gentiles (having a range of skepticism to hostility).  

His perspective was, this would all turn out for good – since God is in control. What happened to him would “advance the gospel.”

He cites an example. While suffering imprisonment (since it was well-known that he was imprisoned for Christ), “the whole imperial guard” and others would have opportunity to be exposed to the gospel. Paul’s situation (and the injustice of it) would become a part of the story, and thus would “advance the gospel.”

Along with this and partly as a result, “the brothers” who were spreading the gospel would be emboldened and encouraged “to speak the word without fear.”

Rather than become bitter, Paul regarded his hardships as instruments in the hands of God to “advance the gospel.” May Christians today mark that good example and consider the difficulties of the Lord’s work to be opportunities providence can find useful.

Further, even when some preachers were not properly motivated, if they were preaching the right message – Paul rejoiced. He did not rejoice that some were preaching Christ “from envy and rivalry.” Rather, he was pleased that people were hearing the good news of Jesus Christ.

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice,” (Phil. 1:18).

Philippians #3, 1:6-11

Philippians #3

A Fresh Look

Phil. 1:6-11

This text begins with a statement of Paul’s confidence in God. Think of it like this. God doesn’t accept penitent, obedient believers into His family, then keep them from their eternal destination. Peter said to Christians – we have tasted that God is good (1 Pet. 2:3).

God doesn’t – by His Grace – get people out of sin and get them started on the right course, then not complete the work. Paul gives assurance of this (verse 6): “…I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Start right by obeying the gospel. Once out of sin, live in and with Christ and God will see you through the work to the destination. Take heart in that. It is a guarantee to the faithful. You can count on this beyond any promises that you ever hear. John said “this is the confidence” and he said to God’s faithful, “we know that when He appears we shall be like Him…,” (1 John 3:2).

Paul writes of this same confidence to the faithful in Philippi: “It is right for me to feel this way about you, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”

Paul was certain – these are the kind of people God loves and helps and keeps. The Christians at Philippi were with Paul, partakers with him, and identified with him. Thus, Paul said, “it is right for me to feel this way about you.”

It gets personal in verse 8: “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” God knew how close Paul was to the Christians in Philippi. It was more than passing acquaintance. He longed for them, yearning with the affection of Jesus Christ.

For the Philippians, Paul prayed: “…that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.” Observe three things to be combined in the life of every Christian: Love, Knowledge & Discernment.

Love alone, without good direction, will not serve us well or bring us closer to God. Knowledge, without love and discernment, can easily become a basis for inordinate pride. Discernment, without love and knowledge, becomes competitive and judgmental. All three are essential – love, driven by knowledge and checked by discernment.

“So that you may approve what is excellent, and so, be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Having love in good proportion with knowledge and discernment prepares the Christian for a good experience in “the day of Christ.” And, while here on earth, fills you “with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

This passage is rich in assurance and encouragement from a faithful God.

Death Between Villages

A man fell ill, so an ancient story goes, between two villages. It was exactly halfway between the two villages and that presented a problem to the authorities as to which village should take care of the stricken man. It had to be decided which community the man was actually closest to. And therein lay the disagreement. One village maintained that the distance should be measured from the man’s navel; the other village argued that it should be calculated from the man’s mouth.

The outcome of the little drama was obvious, of course. as the two communities argued over the legality of the problems the poor fellow died.

Source – https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/using-religion-to-escape-religion-tim-zingale-sermon-on-jesus-ministry-61644

Philippians #2

A Fresh Look

Phil. 1:3-5

 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. – Phil. 1:3-5

Think about memory, association and attitude. Paul tells the Christians in Philippi that he remembers his good association with them. And, that this memory is entertained with an attitude of joy and gratitude to God.

Paul first came to Philippi simply to preach the gospel to the lost. As he undertook that challenge, he was mocked, seized and imprisoned. He was not treated well in Philippi (see 1 Thess. 2:2).

But now (as a prisoner in another place), Paul is able to write back to Christians in Philippi without any bitterness. He remembers them with an emotion of joy.

“I thank God in all my remembrance of you.”

Just pause here and reflect on how valuable this attitude is. What a high example and standard for us to imitate. It is positive, mature, godly and healthy – to remember the good and reject bitterness and resentment. The painful things of the past ought to be managed by exalting good things and good people. Gratitude to God makes this conceivable.

There is another part of this good attitude toward the saints in Philippi: “…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

How did they “partner” with Paul? What was the nature of their participation or fellowship?

The Christians in Philippi acted toward Paul, based on their commitment to God. They were committed to God, therefore committed to His servants. Not only through prayer.

Later in this epistle we learn that they responded to Paul’s needs. They sent aid to him once and again (Phil. 4:16).

It was not just that Paul was in “their thoughts and prayers,” though that is certainly true. Their commitment to God led to their sacrifice for His servants. Their interests in the lost caused them to support those who faithfully preached the gospel to the lost. Their love for brethren prompted their active love for Paul. All of this can be summarized as their fellowship with Paul.

Because they were connected with God, they were connected with His servant, the apostle Paul. 

Another thought:

Think about the cleansing influence of gratitude. Have you ever made a gratitude list? It is one thing to say “I thank God for all my blessings.” Why not specify those blessings? Just get started with your immediate objects or blessings you are thankful for: the Bible, the cross, the church, your Christian friends, etc.

Move on from there into further details: Family, food, shelter, job, transportation, good health.

Keep going, you are getting the idea now: Opportunities to help people, technology you can use for good, good books, good education and everything else you can put the word “good” in front of.

A gratitude list will take you closer to God, take you away from the darkness of depression, encourage you, lift you and equip you to be a better servant of God and others.

Philippians is an excellent resource to change your attitude, enhance your prayer life and get a better hold on gratitude.

The Echo Principle

(See source below)

The echo principle

One of the most remarkable mysteries of nature is the bat. These strange creatures fly miles underground, swooping through dark caverns, yet they never strike the walls.

Until recently, we did not know how they did it. Scientists captured a group of bats to conduct some experiments with them. The scientists stretched wire across a long room and sent the bats through it. They never struck a wire. The scientists blindfolded the bats, thinking that maybe they were able to see in the dark. When the blindfolded bats were sent through the room, they again flew with perfect precision, never touching the sides of the room or the wires stretched across them.

When the mouths and ears of the bats were taped shut, different results were seen. With their eyes wide open, the bats crashed into both wires and wall. Further investigation revealed that the bats sounded a high, shrill note when they started to fly. The highly sensitive ears of the bats were receivers for the echoed sound. What they sent out came back to them. The echo principle became the tool for the flight of the bats.

The Bible repeatedly declares that the echo principle is a basic fact of life. The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “Cast your bread upon the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Eccl. 11:1, NASB). Jesus told His disciples, “By your standard of measure it shall be measured to you” (Mark 4:24). Paul declared to the Galatians, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

Our lives are lived every day by the echo principle. Whatever we send out comes back to us in one way or another—it comes back to haunt us, or it comes back to bless us.

Author Unknown[1]


[1] Lewis, B. (1991). And Then Some …. Christianity Magazine, 8(7), 8.

Philippians (#1) – My Fresh Look At This Epistle

Philippians #1

(Revised from previous publication; a fresh look)

Background, Introduction

& Phil. 1:1-2

First, about Philippians …

Philippi was one of the principle cities of Macedonia; historically famous as documented in Greek and Roman history. It was the location of a Roman military colony, set for the defense of Roman interests. Founded by Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, it was located in the province of Macedonia, along the northern coast of the Aegean Sea.

The Acts background can be read from Acts chapter 16. That evangelistic effort resulted in the beginning of the local church there. Lydia, from Thyatira, was baptized “and her household.”

As Paul and Silas continued the work in Philippi, they came into confrontation with an alleged “fortune telling” person (a woman possessed with an evil spirit, being used by men for their profit).

When Paul expelled the evil spirit from her, “her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone,” so “they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”

False accusations were made. Paul and Silas were put in jail.

In that unlikely location for a singing, Paul and Silas were heard singing praise to God. There was an earthquake; the prison opened up, and the jailer started to kill himself.

Paul shouted to the man, “do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Paul preached the gospel to this man, “and immediately he and all his family were baptized.”

Released from prison, Paul and Silas visited Lydia, before their departure.

Sometime later, Paul was inspired by the Spirit to write to these Christians in Philippi. The letter began with these words.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Phil. 1:1,2

To be a “servant of Christ Jesus”

obviously means placing your life under the authority of Jesus Christ, therefore all you think, say, do and every action is submissive to Him who died for us.

 Likewise, being a servant of Christ Jesus includes responding to the needs of saints, and in this case, that included providing teaching with encouragement.  Paul was with Timothy and their interest in the church at Philippi begins with their wish or greeting of GRACE (generosity) and PEACE (harmony) from God.

The members of this church were all saints (set apart for God when they obeyed the gospel of Christ).

Qualified male saints became overseers and deacons. This was not involuntary service, but God’s use of good men who were anxious to do all they could to further the Lord’s work in that place.

Spiritually, these Christians were located in Jesus Christ. Physically, they were located in Philippi.

Are you a servant of Christ Jesus? The question isn’t – were you baptized. The question is about your present life. Are you living under the authority of Jesus Christ, abiding in the doctrine of Christ (2 Jno. 9) and serving others as Christ has served you?

-Warren E. Berkley

Jesus in Matthew

Jesus In The Book Of Matthew

Kyle Boyd

(My Nephew; a fire-fighter in Wichita, Kansas, who obviously spends a lot of time with the Word and lives what he learns with his family and church.)

None of all the Gospel writers make a case for Christ quite like Matthew. His attention to detail and methodical writing style results in a book filled with all the evidence one needs to be sure that Jesus IS the long-awaited Messiah as prophesied centuries before. Written to a Jewish audience, Matthew carefully lays out his case leaving the reader with no doubt that Jesus IS the Christ and that He IS Lord and King. Let’s briefly examine three points Matthew uses to show beyond doubt that God’s Anointed One has come.

Genealogy

Matthew begins his case with Jesus’ lineage. As soon as verse 1 of the first chapter, Matthew ties Jesus to David and Abraham. Matthew 1:1, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” In this chapter, some of the most significant promises about the coming Messiah were given to these two men. In Genesis 12:3, God told Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” In 2 Samuel 7, God promises David that one of his descendants will sit on the throne, ruling eternally. The genealogy in Matthew 1 legally links Jesus back to Abraham through Joseph, His earthly stepfather. The genealogy included patriarchs, kings, and private citizens and would have carried a lot of weight with Matthew’s audience. No longer did they need to hold on to the promises of old because Jesus is the promise. Matthew then calls Jesus the Messiah three times in the first 17 verses because He is the Messiah, and the genealogy supports it. 

Prophecy

Matthew continues his case by offering powerful evidence through fulfilled prophecies. Throughout the entire gospel, Matthew reminds the reader of the many prophecies spoken long before. Then, Matthew shows how Jesus is the fulfillment of those prophecies. A few to consider: Matthew 2:4, “And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For from you will come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” This was spoken by Micah the prophet 700 years before its fulfillment. Matthew 4:13-16, “and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This happened so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.” Isaiah prophesied centuries before this happened. Lastly, in speaking of His disciples’ response to His betrayal, Matthew 26:31-32, “Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Zechariah spoke this prophecy approximately 500 years before Christ. Carefully comb through the pages of Matthew and find many more fulfilled prophecies. Matthew doesn’t just tell you what happened; he tells you what happened had been foretold, and by seeing the connection, you may believe.

Miracles

Miracles are found throughout Scripture. From Genesis 1:1 through the book of Revelation, God has used miracles to prove His existence and power. In Matthew’s writing, Jesus’ miracles play an integral part in proving His deity. Miracles also show His compassion, His power over the physical body, the natural world, and the spiritual world. However, most importantly, they prove that He can perform the ultimate miracle: forgive sins. In Matthew 8, Matthew begins his section on miracles, moving them into the centerpiece of his argument. Jesus touches a leper and heals him in verses 1-3. He then heals a centurion slave in verses 5-13, then curing Peter’s mother-in-law in verses 14 and 15. Matthew then moves on from showing Jesus’ power over the natural body. Then Matthew shows Jesus’ power over the spiritual world by casting out demons in the “many who were demon-possessed” in verse 16. And then Matthew shows His power over the physical world by calming the storm in verses 23-27. These miracles are significant to Mathew’s argument. So Matthew continues to inform readers of Jesus’ incredible power in chapter 9. He heals a paralytic; He raises a girl from the dead. He heals two blind men, and in verse 35“healing every disease and every sickness.” These would have greatly affected Matthew’s audience since many of Matthew’s audience were still alive when it was written! All of these miracles are a fantastic case for Christ. However, of all the miracles mentioned in these chapters, the most significant is found in the beginning of chapter 9. Matthew 9:2 Jesus forgives a man’s sins. There is nothing more important in all of human life. And these miracles mentioned illustrate that Jesus can forgive you of your sin! Out of all of the benefits people received in Jesus’ miracles, they pale compared to the benefit the world would receive through the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m confident the words of Matthew’s contemporary, the apostle John, ring just as true for Matthew’s gospel as they do for his own. John 20:30-31, “So then, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

These three points are not an exhaustive list of Matthew’s case for Christ, and much more could be said. Read through the gospel and let Matthew walk you through all the evidence you need to believe that Jesus is the Christ. But what’s great about Matthew’s gospel is that he does not just limit his gospel to giving evidence. He also wanted his readers to know what Jesus cared about, what He focused on, and what His priorities were while on earth. All three can be summarized with one word: Kingdom. Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2 devoted his life to preaching this message, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” After defeating the devil in the wilderness, Jesus begins His preaching by saying, “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” in Matthew 4:17. The kingdom of Heaven was atop of Jesus’ list. He taught more about it and emphasized it more than anything else. He wanted the world to know what this kingdom was, what it would take to enter into it, and what it would look like for one to be one of its citizens. The entirety of Matthew’s gospel is filled with the answers to these questions. Certainly, the word kingdom has multiple uses in Scripture. It can refer to nations, the church, or Heaven itself. Careful study of the Bible and the book of Matthew is necessary to determine which “kingdom” is under consideration. But first and foremost, the kingdom of Heaven is God’s reign and rule. It is His government, His authority, that He was coming to establish. The kingdom required Jesus’ divine sacrifice and the power of His resurrection to make it possible! It involves the church, but it’s more than the church. It’s the kingdom from Heaven brought down and established on earth through Christ that will one day be handed over to God in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:24.) It’s the kingdom that Jesus is ruling over on His throne in Heaven. Being a citizen of this kingdom is a choice. It’s your choice, and you don’t have to enter it. But God wants you to, and He’s made it possible for you to be able to do just that. Enter His kingdom by joining His people and decide to submit to the King. Believe in Jesus, turn from your sins, confess Him as Lord and make contact with Jesus’ blood through water baptism for the forgiveness of your sins. And then follow the teachings of Jesus about kingdom citizenship behavior, beginning with the great sermon on the mount. 

If you want to know Jesus and need proof for His life, or if you want to know what His mission was, then start where the New Testament starts. Read Matthew. Let Matthew walk you through from start to finish of Jesus’ life. Let the inspired writer’s words have their intended effect. God’s words convict, they touch hearts, and they change lives. The Bible may not have been written directly to us, but it was certainly written for us. The Bible was written FOR you so that you can be saved. So believe in the King and join His kingdom today!

Fragmented Attention

~ William H. Hinson tells us why animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions. They have their whips, of course, and their pistols are at their sides. But invariably they also carry a stool. Hinson says it is the most important tool of the trainer. He holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the face of the wild animal. Those who know maintain that the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once. In the attempt to focus on all four, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal, and it becomes tame, weak, and disabled because its attention is fragmented. (quoted in Autoillustrator.com, PRIORITIES/FOCUS/PURPOSE/PERSPECTIVE, from Developing the Leader Within You, by John Maxwell)

Talking to Atheists

How To Talk To Your Atheist Friends

Just A Few Observations

Warren E. Berkley

Do you have friends or family who are atheist? Are you able to engage them in conversation? This is from a sermon I’ve preached a couple of times about HOW TO TALK TO YOUR ATHEIST FRIENDS.

PRAY FOR WISDOM. Jas. 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him askGod, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Talking to atheists may create some anxious moments even before the conversation. What words should I use? Where should I start? What should my tone be? Timing, place and other decisions come to mind. You want come across in the best possible way. Pray for wisdom.

LISTEN TO THE ATHEIST. You are going to listen to an atheist? YES. In the spirit of James 1:19 – Be quick to hear. The better you listen, the better prepared you are to know exactly what response is appropriate. If you claim all the time, do all the talking and never give the atheist a chance, you may defeat your opportunity. Let them tell their story. Listen carefully. Show that you care. Then respond, having asked for God’s wisdom.

MAKING CERTAIN THAT YOU SHOW GENUINE INTEREST. James 2:8 says – the royal law is to love your neighbor as yourself. Hate is never a good argument. So much discourse and debate these days is driven by hate. (Have you ever heard anyone say, “you know, I was an infidel for many years. Then I met this Christian who yelled at me, told me I was a stupid and needed to change and get baptized!”) No. That doesn’t happen.

SHOW YOUR FAITH BY YOUR WORKS, not just your word. James says, “…someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your , and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jas. 2:18). Later (3:13) – “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”

You can have a room full of atheists listening to your lectures about the existence of God all day long. You can have a session on faith in Christ. You can open the book of John and point to all the evidence. You can spend some time demonstrating the integrity of the New Testament. You can make all those arguments and make them with the highest level of clarity and eloquence. And perhaps some good will be done. But if you are not living what you preach – the value of your arguments and lectures are drastically reduced. People we talk to need to know that we care. And they need to know that we are committed to living what we preach about God and His Son.

Atheists may be as wrong as they can be about denying God’s existence – but most atheists  have good hypocrisy radar. By that I mean – if you are not living what you preach, they see it – and what you say loses credibility. “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”

NEVER HESITATE TO READ THE WORD OF GOD, OR ASK PEOPLE TO READ IT. I hope each one of us understand perfectly that God is a better speaker and writer than we will ever me. His words are more powerful than mine. God is the perfect communicator. Bring up the simple arguments of Rom. 1:19,10; Heb. 3:4 and Heb. 11:3. Let God be heard.

ALWAYS TELL THE STORY OF JESUS. Paul said, I am not ashamed of the gospel.James said, in Jas. 2:1, we are people who “hold thefaith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” If we hold that faith we are certainly motivated to share that faith. Will you tell the story of Jesus to an atheist? Can you read from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and let the word of God convict and turn the atheist from his unbelief?

Romans 8 – What Christians Have

           1. No condemnation (1).

           2. Privilege of walking according to the Spirit (1).

           3. Freedom from the law of sin and death (2).

           4. To be spiritually minded – life and peace (6).

           5. To be subject to the law of God in daily practice (7).

           6. To please God (8).

           7. Christ in you and the Spirit in you (vss.9-11).

           8. Out of debt to the flesh (12).

           9. Led by the Spirit (14).

           10. Spirit of adoption (15).

           11. Heirs (17).

           12. Glory after suffering (18).

           13. Glorious liberty (21).

           14. The redemption of the body (23).

           15. Saved by hope (24).

           16. The Spirit helps (26).

           17. Intercession (27, 34).

           18. All things work together for good (28).

           19. Predestined to be conformed (29).

           20. Justified, Glorified (30).

           21. He freely gives us all things (32).

           22. Being inseparable from the love of Christ (35).

           23. More than conquerors (37).

           24. Being inseparable from the love of God (38, 39).

“What then shall we say to these things?

If God is for us, who can be against us,” v.32