Rejoice in the Lord

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:26
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Thesis: Paul is able to rejoice in the Lord even in a more difficult circumstance through showing gratefulness, longing for true Christian fellowship, and having the ability to pray for others and their spiritual walk even when his own circumstances are not desirable.


Rejoice in the Lord

Philippians 1:1-11

By Alec Hraba

We have Alec Hraba. I think I got that close. At least.

He's going to come and speak for us this morning. He's from Norwoodville, and I'm going to let him go ahead and introduce himself and his family because that'll be easier than me trying to do it. So, Alec, come up and preach for us.

Hraba. I'm here with my wife Heidi, and our two girls, Vivian and Aurora. So we call them Vivian.

Rory, like I said, we are currently members of Norwoodville Baptist Church, which isn't too far from here, only about 1015 minutes with pastor Phil Kramer and his wife. And I reached out to Lynn not too long ago, and he's given me the opportunity to preach this morning. So I'm grateful to be here with all of you.

Just a little bit about us. We currently live in Maxwell. My wife and I both graduated from Faith Baptist Bible College back in, oh, goodness, 18.

So not too long ago we had Vivian and then graduated about two weeks later. So it was a very busy time for us. But, yeah, we also, as I understand you guys are having Jordan Hines come in as your head pastor here soon.

And we went to school at the same time as he did as well when we were at faith. This morning, I'm going to be in the book of Philippians, which I hear you guys have been going through in Sunday school, so you're probably like Philippians again. But I have also been studying this book myself for, what did you say, about a year now? Probably around a year, I've been studying this book.

It's where I've spent most of my personal time. And then we're doing it. I teach the Sunday school class at Norwoodville for the college and career class, and we've been doing it with them.

So we've been doing it for quite some time. So what I wanted to do is kind of go back to the beginning, because when you're in something long enough, it's like a good family argument. When you do something long enough, you kind of forget why you're even doing it to begin with.

Right. So what I want to do is go back to the beginning of the book. We're going to be in chapter one, verses one through eleven, and we're going to kind of give like a refresher of why Paul is writing.

And more specifically, we're going to be focusing on the attitude of Paul as we see him begin, which is really more of a letter, a missionary letter, than it is an actual book. Right. So we're going to go back to beginning and kind of check out the introduction of the book.

The importance of the introduction is it gives us the tone of something, right? So when you start a new book, when you start, whether it's a movie, something like that, the beginning of that, the introduction of that is going to give you the tone, essentially, for the rest of that book, right? And that's the same thing we see here with Paul. So let's pray, and then we'll go ahead and get started with Philippians, chapter one. Let's pray.

Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for this time together. Thank you for everything you've given to us.

Thank you for the ability to come here and worship you. Lord, help us to just to glorify you and all that we do. Help me to speak concisely and just for your word to be understood as I preach this morning.

In your name I pray. Amen. So, Philippians, chapter one.

And we're going to focus on the first part of the introduction of this book with verses one through eleven. Philippians, chapter one, one through eleven. And I'm going to read out of the King James version here, Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons.

Grace be unto you, and peace from God our father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the heart of the apostle. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in prayer of mine, for you all, making request with joy for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. Verse six.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, even as is meat for me to think of this, of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both of my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are all partakers of my grace, for God is my record. How greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment, that ye may approve of things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offense until the day of Christ.

Verse eleven, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God. Philippians one, one through eleven. So how many of you have ever been in a circumstance or in a situation that you did not really want to be in? I'm sure all of us, right, all of us have been in a situation where it's like, man, I really don't want to be doing this right now, or I really wish this wasn't a part of my life right now.

Whether that's you're financially struggling or something physically is happening to you or someone close to you, things happen all the time to us that are just not in our control. That's just the reality of life here today. We are going to look at Philippians one through eleven, and as we look at this passage, we're going to take time to understand the context of Paul and his circumstances.

We will be able to see his response to these events that were out of Paul's control. So we see here that he specifically mentions the elders or bishops in verse one of the deacons. But this letter is to be heard by all the saints or believers of the Philippian church.

So we see here, by just looking at the first verses here, that he's recognizing the bishops and the elders of the church. He's recognizing the people he's talking to as a church, right? It's a group of believers. That's the first thing we see here by Paul.

This is a letter from a missionary to a church, right? That's essentially how this book starts. And Paul is showing us his overall tone here is a tone of joy. Joy is used 14 times throughout this book.

Paul is writing this book from prison. And you guys have been going through this already, so you probably know that. But this is a book of joy coming out of a poor circumstance.

That's the idea of this book. That is his tone of this book. It's a book of joy.

Even though he's in a circumstance that he probably would not want to be in. We get to see Paul's attitude throughout this book. We are going to break down and look at these verses, and by doing so, we will be able to see who Paul is as a believer in Jesus Christ.

Paul is writing here. Paul is writing as a believer who is able to see the work Christ is doing. Near the end of a two year time in prison, Paul can have joy that comes from above because of his walk with the Lord, and that shines through his thank you letter to the church through the book of Philippians.

The overall tone of these verses, one of rejoicing, and I believe this is shown in three ways. We're going to look at three ways that Paul is able to show a tone of rejoicing as he starts the book of Philippians. Paul is able to rejoice in the Lord.

Even in my more difficult circumstance through showing gratefulness, longing for true christian fellowship, and having the ability to pray for others in their spiritual walk when his own circumstances are not desirable. So the first one we're going to look at is he is thankful or grateful for the Church of Philippi. The trials that Paul are currently in is allowing him to see the work of God in the work being done around him and what is being done through the church of Philippi.

He is able to see the fruits of his labor in Philippi by the bond of fellowship that he has been able to keep with them as they continue to grow in their ministry and their spiritual maturity. Yeah, the church has things to work on, and he gets through that in the book. Right.

If we get to chapter three, chapter four, we start to see some things. Even in chapter two, we start to see a little bit of teaching from Paul. So they have things to work on.

They're still people, right? My pastor used to tell me that the church is a church of broken people, and that is who Philippi is. That's who we all are, right? We're all broken people that need Jesus. So of course they have things to work on.

But right now he is recognizing them for what they are. And it's a church of believers and believers that he wants to see grow. And they will continue to grow in their spiritual maturity, so they have things to work on.

But right now, he is focusing on them in a tone of joy. And this letter, especially these verses, is written in a tone of joyfulness and thankfulness to the church for their support for him. For their support for him.

So let's look at three through seven again. So I'm going to read three verses three and four to begin with. Here again, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine, for you all making requests with joy.

So in three and four, he continues his greeting. We'll go back to one and two, but one and two is a more standard greeting that we'll see in other passages as well. Right.

By Paul. Book of Romans, for instance. Paul starts a lot of his letters as the same as he does in verses one and two, but we'll come back to that because it's still important.

But in three and four, here he continues his greeting. He talks about how he prays for them, not only for them, but when he remembers them. He looks back on them as a joyful time and prays to God and praise when they come upon his mind.

He is joyful when he prays for them. He's showing not simply that he's thankful to them, but who he is truly thankful to. Who is he truly thankful to here? He's thankful to God because of what the Philippian people have done for him.

The Philippian people have been financially supporting and praying for Paul. They sent Epaphroditus to Paul. There's a lot of different things that the Church of Philippi, even though they were a smaller church, have done to help Paul in his ministry.

And by helping Paul in his ministry, that has made Paul's ministry their ministry as well. So he's thankful to them. This is a missionary saying thank you to a church that is financially supporting him.

He's thankful to God. He recognizes God's sovereignty in everything that is going on. He sees God's hand at work.

This is why Paul is able to write at a tone of joyfulness, even in a circumstance that is not desirable. So he's in prison. Paul is in prison under some kind of house arrest, something like that.

In Rome, he's not where he wants to be, but through that, he gets to see the work God is doing around him. He gets to see what work is being done in Philippi from them sending Epaphroditus with a financial gift to him. He sees the work, the fruits of his labor in ministry are being seen while under house arrest.

And through that, he's able to not be down on himself and his circumstances, but to actually be joyful in what is being done around him. He gets to see joy in his circumstance because of what God's work is doing. His mind, Paul's mind is not focused on his own problems, but what God is able to do through those.

He also says that he is thankful for them because of their contribution to his own ministry since day one. Let's look at chapter four real quick. Chapter 415 and 16.

Chapter 415 and 16 says this. Now, ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only for even in Thessalonica, ye sent once and again unto my necessity. So we see here that he is thankful.

For what? For their support. And not just in prayer, but financially. Right.

Not just in prayer, but financially. He is thankful to them. Paul takes time at the start of his letter to recognize how much the church has done for them in his time of financial need.

While Paul was in prison, the church of Philippi sent him Epaphroditus to see what Paul needed and brought a financial gift with him. Epaphroditus stayed in Rome to help Paul and raise money for him. And this is seen at the end of verse of chapter two, verses 25 and 30.

Chapter 225 through 30 says this, I suppose it necessary to send you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labor and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants, 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 in him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore more carefully, that when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be less sorrowful. 29 receive him therefore in the Lord with gladness and hold in such a reputation because of the work of Christ, he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

While Epaphroditus was there in Rome, or possibly on his way to Rome, he became very ill and almost dies. Paul then explains how grateful he is for Epaphroditus and the church of Philippi, but also to God for not taking Epaphroditus home while trying to raise more money for Paul, because the money sent with him did not completely take care of Paul's needs. This again shows how dedicated the church was to Paul, and Paul is very grateful for that.

Epaphroditus gets better, and Paul is glad for that. And then he returns Epaphroditus carrying this letter with him. The church was dedicated to Paul, and he thanks and rejoices in them for that.

Epaphroditus, as I've studied Philippians over the last year, has become kind of become a fan of him over the past year. It's almost one of those things where less is more, because we don't get to know Epaphroditus in scriptures very much. Also, I very much like saying that word.

It's really fun to say. I say it a lot. But Epaphroditus, this is what we get to know of him, that he's Paul's brother, companion in labor, fellow soldier, messenger, and he ministered to Paul's wants.

Right? So we get to know very little about Epaphroditis. But how many of you would like to have that on your resume that Paul called you? Those five things, a brother, companion in labor, fellow soldier, the messenger from Philippi, and a minister to Paul's ones. Epaphroditus is one of those people that, again, Paul is showing us his tone of rejoicing to Philippi here, not just because of their financial giving, right? Not because of just of their prayer, but also they're sending a person to him, a physical person to him that is able to help them because of the work that's been done in Philippi.

And now they have people who are being convicted to go to Paul and to help him personally. Right? And that's who Epaphroditus is. He gets sick and he wants to go back to Philippi, and Paul sends him back to Philippi.

But we still get to see a tone here, even in chapter two, these verses with Epaphroditus, a tone of rejoicing because of what Philippi is able to commit to Paul. And he sees God's work through Epaphroditus, through the church of Philippi, and he's thankful for that, even though his own circumstances are not desirable. Verse six.

Paul shows his confidence in the Church of Philippi. So let's go back to Philippians chapter one in verse six, being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it or complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. He shows his confidence in the church of Philippi.

He recognizes that God's hand is in the church, working on the church and the people that are there. He understands that God's grace is everlasting, and Epaphroditus is kind of our example for that in chapter two, that God is working because he worked in the Epaphroditus to even come to Paul. So we kind of see an example with him there.

But we see working on the church and the people there. He understands that God's grace is everlasting and that God will continue his work in the church. He said, perform here.

The work could also be used as complete. He will complete the work on the people till the day of Jesus Christ. He would continue the work until the day it is complete.

And when is that? It's when Christ returns. That's how long God will work on the church. One of the commentators I use, his name is Silva, draws a parallel to Galatians three three, where the same wording is used again by Paul, are ye so foolish, having begun in the spirit, and ye are now made perfect by the flesh? Similar phrasing is used in Galatians three three here for both beginning and completing or perfecting.

He is recognizing that both churches start the start of their faith not by their own merits or works, by the work of the spirit of God. It is the spirit that has put them on this path of faith. It is God who starts us on our path, and it is God who works on our path, and it is God who will complete that path as well, that path of faith.

Paul is focusing on their sanctification in Philippians. Remember, this is to a group of believers, and what Paul wants them to see here is for them to work on their spiritual maturity, their sanctification. They're continually being set apart.

They needed to hear that the work that was begun by the spirit will also be completed by the spirit. And he reminds them of who is doing the work in them. In verse six, verse seven, even it is meat for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart.

Inasmuch as both in my bonds and in the defense and the confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. Paul shows his gratitude to the church as they support him even in this time of imprisonment. He is saying that they share with him in his witness.

Paul's imprisonment has brought new ways for the gospel to be spread. Paul is recognizing their relationship with that through him, just by the fact that they were willing to continually support him even though he is in prison. Paul's imprisoned.

So how much do you think right now as he's writing this letter, he's able to actually witness to others? Probably some still, right? But is it as much as he would like? No, probably not. Probably not, right? I mean, he's in prison. How much interaction with others is he able to go? He's not able to go out and spread.

And we see in Philippians that there are other people witnessing in Rome, whether it's for their own benefit or for the benefit of the gospel. He kind of mentions that later in the chapter. But the reality is it's not done directly through him.

And the Philippian people could have seen that and said, hey, Paul, right now where you're at, we're deciding to not support you. We're going to support someone else. But is that what they do? No.

They continue to support Paul because they love Paul, and they see his work can still be done, and they see it as their obligation to still help him. And Paul is recognizing that here and saying, thank you for that. He is saying thank you to the church for the continuous support.

Paul, again, here shows how much he cares for the Philippian church. He shows here that he has them in his heart. And that brings us to our next point.

So we see Paul through his tone of joyfulness and gratefulness to the Church of Philippi. But we also see that Paul rejoices in christian fellowship. Paul rejoices in christian fellowship.

This is first seen in verse seven. I say first seen. It's been seen already, but we really get to see it here in verse seven, even as is meat for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart.

Inasmuch as both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. He says he has them in his heart. He has a close relationship with the people, and he longed to be with them.

Circumstances do not allow this at the time. But that's where he longs to be. And this is not out of sadness, but this is out of joy.

It's the joy that Paul has for the Philippian church that is bringing about this longing for them. This longing he has in his heart for them. Because of the joy he has for them.

He has left what's going on around him in his hands. His circumstances do not control his feelings or his emotions. He has left what is going on around him in the hands of God.

Ryrie states that this is the most Charles Ryrie states that this is the most personal letter Paul has ever wrote to a church. In these verses, we see that he is in prison, and he thinks of them. And because of what they have done for him, he sees that they are standing in his corner when he defends the gospel.

Verse eight. Verse eight. For God is my record.

How greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. This is kind of a strange statement. I don't think I've ever said I love you from my bowels before.

It's a phrase that we don't use all that often. So let's talk about what this means for a second. Paul takes another step further, truly showing his affection for the church.

First, he says that God is his record. So this means that the next thing that Paul says is an oath, right? So it starts me, for God is my record. So the next thing he's about to say is truly important to him, right? This is something he's going to stand by as God as his record, for God as his witness.

It is a commitment he is truly going to hold to the next words and stands by them, even if he is. And he is willing to not just use anyone but God as his witness, right? There is no higher authority. So this is a strong statement that he's about to say.

He truly wanted to show the importance of this next sentence. He says, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this is a very touching thing for him to say.

He missed the believers of this church. He has a bond with them and longs for this fellowship. He then shows the extent of his affection by saying this, from the bowels of Christ Jesus and bowels seems like a strange word to use, but the idea here would be similar from you and I saying, from the bottom of our hearts, right? It's a very similar phrasing for them.

He's thinking about the bowels as like, his core, right from the center of his being, right. We would say from our hearts in our day and culture, but from the bottom of our hearts, but in that culture, the center was your core, right? From your bowels. It's from the center of his being, from every part of himself, that he misses them, and he longs to be with him.

So from the core of who Paul is, he has affection for this church, and he longs to be with this church. And again, this is coming from a tone of joyfulness and rejoicing and not a sadness from Paul, because he understands. He understands his situation, doesn't allow it, but that does not mean he misses them from every part of himself.

Like I said before, I teach the college and career class at Norwoodville, which is mainly faith students, right? I think I have one ISU student and one teacher who teaches at Grandview. So he teaches first grade over at Grandview. So for the most part, though, I have mainly faith students.

And typically Sunday school starts at 945. And then I usually start teaching around ten, if we're lucky. Usually it's probably closer to 1010 15.

And if I go any longer than that, people start going, are we actually going to have class today? And the reason for that, the reason I take my time and I get to talk and I talk to them, is one we sometimes have ministries to talk about, right? We have to plan what we're doing for nursing home and things like that. The reason for that, and I have to remind them this sometimes, is that when you're at faith Bible College or Brian works at a christian school, for the most part, you are there surrounded by other believers, right? You're surrounded by other believers all the time, and you are used to being around other believers. And it's good that they want me to start teaching, right? I'm not saying it's bad for them to want me to start teaching.

I'd like to start teaching, too, most of the time. But the reality is that for most of us, we work in what we call secular environments, right. I used to work for the post office up until about a month ago, and I used to make the joke that I heard Jesus's name a lot, but not necessarily in a way that was appropriate, right? And I'd say it as a joke, but it's not necessarily all that funny, is it? Because the reality is that most of us work with people who are on their way to hell.

That's the reality that we go through at work. For most of us, every day, the only time that we get christian fellowship is hopefully with our families. Right, when we're at home.

But the only other place that we get it, as in a larger group situation, is here, right, at church. How many of you get to be around Christians all day long outside of Sunday? A few of you. Right.

But for the most part, not many of us, right. I've been out of faith since 18, and since then, I have worked at a church for a year. But other than that, for the most part, it's been around unbelievers.

So for us, for those at faith, it sometimes can be easy to take it for granted that you're with believers who think the same as you every day. But for the rest of us, we long for that fellowship with people who think like us, right? Who are also dwelled by the Holy Spirit, who love the Lord, who want to see people grow in the Lord, want to see their families grow in the Lord. The people that you see on a daily basis do not care.

So I had to remind sometimes my faith kids that look for you, you want me to start teaching, and we want to just get through it, right? We want to get through Sunday school. We want to get through the service. We want to just go and take our nap in the afternoon.

But for the most of us, this is the only time that we get to spend in a group setting with other believers, and that's something that we should not take for granted. You can pray at home, you can read God's word at home, but the only place that you get to be with other believers on a consistent basis is at church. And let's not take that for granted.

And Paul does not take that for granted. He can't do it. He can't do it in his current situation.

He can't be with them. But man, does he want to be. And then he's not saying this because he's sad or he's annoyed that he can't be, but he understands who God is, and he's showing them out of true joy that he would love to be with them, but he can't right now, and that was God's choice for him at the moment.

This is not a simple place of affection, but this is a true part of who Paul is. From his being. This is not.

Oh, I miss you guys. I hope everything is going well. No, this is.

I truly want to be with you. I want to partake in the affection that we have for one another. He truly loves the believers of Philippi and wishes beyond anything that he could be with them there in the flesh.

But circumstances are currently preventing it. Being in prison, God's sovereign will over his life says otherwise. He even uses the bowels of not himself.

It's not the bowels of themselves. It's the bowels of Jesus Christ. This is actually a unique phrasing.

A unique phrasing here, really only used here by Paul and in Philemon verse 20. This is putting even more sincerity and severity to an already strong statement. So he's already made it strong by making it an oath, by saying it's from his bowels, but by even more than that, it's not his bowels but the bowels of Jesus Christ.

That's how much he misses him. This is such a unique phrasing. It's emotional by Paul when he's writing this.

It's intense. It's writing from a state of true joy that's having a physical reaction in Paul. Paul truly sees them as a true brother and sisters in Christ, and I can see this being very encouraging and heartwarming for the church to hear this from the words of Paul.

Imagine getting this letter as a bishop or as a deacon and saying, hey, guys, I have something to read to you as a church. I can't imagine you could read this from Paul without feeling his emotion. It would have evoked a very similar feeling in the church, who is longing to see their friend, who is struggling again as well.

Paul could have been sad here, but that is not the response in this situation. Remember, verse three talks about his thankfulness and of his remembrance of them. He is joyful for the fellowship of this church.

Does this bring longing? Of course it does. Of course it brings longing. He wants to be with them.

His very soul longs for their fellowship. But this is not handled in a way of discontentment or even jealousy towards Epaphroditus, who gets to go and be with them. It is handled in such a way that when he could still show his gratitude and have longing for them, but still be joyful in knowing them personally, just knowing who they are.

The memory of them is good for Paul. He understands that God has placed him in that prison for a reason and that his life is for Christ. And Paul's joy comes from that understanding of the true sovereignty of God.

True joy comes from understanding that God is in control and not trying to wrestle what we desire and trying to push that to the forefront. Paul is not trying to escape to be with them. He's not trying to get away.

He's understanding that God has him here for a reason and he's not putting his own desires to the forefront. That's how Paul can have true joy. The last thing we are going to focus on here with Paul in regards to showing joyfulness is through prayer for the church of Philippi.

He prays for them. So we see he has joy in christian fellowship. And then now we see that Paul shows joy in being able to show true joyfulness through prayer for the church of Philippi.

He prays for them. This is actually the first thing he does for them. And we also see in verses nine through eleven.

So go back one and two, like I said. Well, we're going to go back Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi with the bishops and the deacons. Grace be unto you and peace from God our father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

So this is the first thing he does is say, hey, God's grace be with you, right? Like I said before, this is a very formal greeting from Paul. He starts a lot of letters similarly to this. Right.

We see in Romans one seven. We see in two Corinthians one, two. Well, Peter uses as well in one Peter one, two.

But then he wishes them grace and peace. These are sincere words from Paul as he is telling them that the peace he is wishing them is from God the father and from Jesus Christ. So there's already a lesson here that can be learned from Paul.

Even in these first few verses, Paul is wishing that God has given them his peace. He reaches out to them and is genuinely caring for them, and it shows us a great way to greet one another. We may not have to be as formal as Paul is writing in a letter, but we can still come to people and pray for them to have God centered peace.

And although you may come to find out that not all things are going well, people are sick, people may be grieving, but we can still pray for them to have God given peace. Paul uses this greeting in his letter not out of simple formality, although I do believe it is a formal greeting, but because this is a church made of people that he does genuinely care about. It would be easy for Paul to breeze through the greeting, but in doing so, it would be easy for us to breeze through this greeting and just see it as formal.

But in doing so, you may miss something about the character of Paul. Now let's take a look at verse nine. Verse nine.

And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. That ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of being filled with fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ until the glory and praise of God. Verse nine says that love may abound more and more.

He is emphasizing the continuation of the love. He wants them to continue in their work. In their work, but out of love.

This is also an understanding. There is an understanding here from Paul when he's writing to them. And we see it more in chapter four, verse two.

And it shows us this. So if we go there real quick, chapter four, verse two. I besieged Euodia and besieged Syntyche that they may be in the same mind in the Lord.

And I just wanted to read that real quick because there is an understanding here from Paul that was probably told them from Epaphroditus or somebody who came to him that there is some infighting being done in the church of Philippi. There's some infighting being done, and that is something that Paul, again in chapter four and some in chapter three, he starts to address this infighting through his teaching. Like I said, Philippi still had things to work on, right? And there's a couple of ladies who are doing some fighting within the church, and it's breaking up the church slightly, right? So he wants to address it here that he wants to address them, that they may abound in love and not in their own selfishness.

Right. They want them to work and love and abound in love more and more. Any fighting needed to end so more love could abound.

Verse ten. He mentions that he wants them to be without offense until the day of Jesus Christ. He has them continuing more and more until their work is complete.

When is that? Well, it's when Christ returns the end of their life. The focus here is to the church of Philippi is on progressive sanctification, right? To continually work on their spiritual maturity. He tells them to be without offense.

The idea here is to be blameless, to be sincere. Paul tells them this because he knows that they still have things to work on and he addresses them throughout the letter. They do this by focusing on things that are excellent.

Paul is praying that they continue their work and to be able to be considered mature Christians. He started this thought process of maturity with love abounding in verse nine and is telling them to be able to focus on the things that are excellent. This calls for a sense of christian maturity with the church.

Right? Calls for christian maturity to be able to approve things that are excellent. Paul teaches them to be blameless and this is similar to what he is having to do in Rome as he is in prison. His christian testimony is being put to the test and he is having to work to act with grace.

Paul in these verses is focusing on what God is doing and has joy in God's work in his life, and he prays that the Philippian church will do the same to help create a better sense of unity within the church. Abounding in love and improving of excellence will help with the unity of that church as a whole. It will help with the fighting in the church.

The natural answer to Paul's spiritual equation I am the son of a math teacher, so I think about things as I think about this statement, at least as a one plus one equals two, right? We see that the spiritual equation here he wants them to abound in love and improve the things that are excellent with spiritual discernment, and this will equal us being filled with the fruits of righteousness. So one plus one equals two. Abounding to love, approving of excellence will equal us being filled with the fruits of righteousness.

Spiritual maturity is approving of excellence, which leads to righteous fruit. This fruit is by Jesus Christ himself. Spiritual fruit is mentioned many times in the New Testament by Paul.

Galatians 522 and 23 gives us a list. But the fruits of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance, and against such there is no law. Romans 622.

But now, being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and then the end everlasting life. Again, showing the idea and correlation of holiness alongside spiritual fruit. We already mentioned first, excuse me, I actually don't know if I mentioned this, but we mentioned before Colossians 110 that ye may walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being filled, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Here fruit is with the increasing with the knowledge. The idea of bearing fruit is a result of walking without offense and sincerity. In Philippians, the outcome is that they will bear this righteous fruit.

The acting in more and more love, approving of things that are excellent, creating more unity in the church will bear more righteous fruit. Paul recognizes truly who and what this is all for. He is praying for them for the church, not for them, but that God himself will be glorified through their work.

His praying for them for the glory of God. He knows that this sanctification, this continuous work in their maturity is how they best glorify their God. It's how we best glorify our God.

The production of righteous fruit by abounding in love and improving of excellence is how we glorify God. It's how it'll bring unity to the church in Philippi. And that unity glorifies God.

Like I said, this is the place where you get to spend a day with other christian believers, people who think like minded to you. You and I are not here because we like football. You and I are not here because we like sports, because we work the same job.

None of that. The only reason that you and I are here today is because of Jesus Christ. And that is what we are to be unified for.

And that is what gives God the glory. So what can we learn from Paul here? Paul is able to act in true joy. First thing we need to have, we're looking at application now.

First is we need to have a spirit of thankfulness. And this is not always easy, right? It's not always easy to be thankful, right? To be joyful. Life is difficult.

Difficult. Things that are out of control are happening to you all the time. It can seem like things are spinning out of control, but we know that is not true for those who believe in God.

We know that he is sovereign over all things and all things are in his hands. We can look at this world, we can look at the things going on in the news, the things going on around us, even in our own lives, and go, what in the world is going on? But we have a God who knows and we can have peace in knowing. We can have joy in knowing that God is in control.

He knows everything that is going on. You are not in control of everything. You cannot control everything.

Stop trying to do God's work for him and take control of what you are told to do. Take care of what you are told to do. Be a good steward of what God has given you.

But understand that this world is not your home and that God is in control and takes care of his children. We have responsibilities. We have things that we are to do.

And God tells us what they are in his word. But other than that, leave the rest to God. Give your cares to God.

Understand who God is and be thankful for his working in your life and even in the things that he has given to you to do. Understand that God will help you do those things. God is with you.

Give him your cares. Give him your worries. Second, understand the importance of true christian fellowship.

And I know I've talked about this a lot already, but understand the importance of christian fellowship. Who created the church? God did. God is a biblical thing that we see.

We see it in scripture, this idea of having christian fellowship, the importance of that christian fellowship. God has given us each other to help build each other up, to encourage each other, to sometimes reprimand and help each other when we're doing things that are wrong, right? Those are things that God has given us through the church. Like I said before, you and I are not here because we both like football.

I don't even like football that much. You and I are not here because we could have literally nothing in common except for the fact that you have Jesus. I hope you have Jesus.

Sorry. I hope you have Jesus and I have Jesus. That is the reality between you and me.

And it's a reality that it's so much greater than anything this world can offer us, because it's a literal, spiritual indwelling of Christ, right? Of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is within me. And if you have believed that Jesus Christ has died for your sins and he has risen again, and you have accepted him into your heart, then that Holy Spirit is within you as well.

And because of that, you and I are connected on a level that this world simply can't understand. There is an affection between us as Christians that no one else in the world has the ability to comprehend, because they don't have it. They cannot have a spiritual connection like we do without Christ.

So do not take that for granted. Understand the importance. Understand the importance of christian fellowship.

Paul shows true joy in the Lord by showing gratitude, longing for true christian fellowship. And the last is the ability to pray for one another and pushing each other towards excellence. Paul is able to take time to pray for the Philippian church, and we should do the same for those around us.

We are to understand that God is the one who is working in us and is completing the work as we continue in sanctification. Pray for your fellow believers and take joy as you walk together until Jesus Christ returns. So Paul shows true joy in the Lord by showing gratitude, longing for true christian fellowship, and being able to pray for the sanctification of the Church of Philippi.

Paul's circumstances seem to be very much less than ideal. They are difficult, and of course he would want to be with them and for things to be different. Of course he does, but that does not take control of his emotions or his attitude.

And he's still able to show true joy. He's able to show that true joy because his will is lined up with God's will. God is the one that is being glorified.

That is Paul's focus. And because of that, he is able to look at the predicament he is in, how difficult things are and say, God, this is your plan. This is not something that I need to be bitter about or to be wished to be different.

Instead, he is able to see God's work in the things that are going on around him and reach out to the church in Philippi in a way of true rejoicing of true joy. Paul's genuine joyfulness in this passage that can only come from an understanding of who God is and being able to see, no matter how difficult that was for him, God is able to use it, have a heart of thankfulness, understand the importance of christian fellowship, and be able to take time to pray for sanctification of those around you so you may be also to show the joy of Christ. Let's pray.

Dear Lord, thank you for this time together. Thank you for everything you've given to us. Thank you for the ability to come here and to just worship together.

Lord, help us to glorify you in all that we do here today. Name and pray. Amen.

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