Sunday, August 28, 2005

Who's Listening

Intro.: Today I begin fulfilling a promise I made some time back.

  1. I had promised that I would at some point begin a series on the book of Philippians.

  2. What happened that I decided to do this study now?

  3. Three things helped me make that decision.

  4. First, was the promise. I like to keep promises.

  5. Second, when I left for Indiana, I had no idea want I was going to do when I returned.

  6. Finally, we spent the week I was Indiana on the book of Philippians.

  7. It is time to fulfill that promise.

Read: Philippians 1:1-2


Trans: Paul and Timothy represent some of the first converts after the disciples who were called by Jesus himself.

  1. Paul was converted on his way to Damascus. He spent several years learning what it was to be a Christian.

  2. Timothy was younger, but developed a friendship with Paul and traveled with him to Philippi.

  3. Paul and Timothy are now together in Rome.

  4. Though Paul is unquestionably the author of the letter, he begins by including greetings from Timothy who had traveled with him to Philippi.

T.S. In the first two verses of Philippians, we are introduced to the three participants in this conversation that we call the book of Philippians.

  1. The letter was sent by Slaves of Jesus

    1. A number of things seem out of whack here at the start of Philippians.

    2. First, Paul and Timothy seem like strange companions. Paul was a Jew who had been a Christian for a significant time. Timothy was young believer – his mother was a Jewish believer, his father was Greek.

(Ill.) I had an experience similar to that this past week. It was while we were in Indiana. About 22 years ago Sandra and I left the Gloversville Wesleyan Church. It was tough. Sandra was 7-1/2 months pregnant and the church had called a new pastor. It was the beginning of my 22 year journey through higher education. It was a tough time. But last week God brought some closure to that situation. I met Jeff Slaybaugh – Jeff was a teen when I was in Gloversville. Though I could not remember him (I did remember his mom), as we chatted, it was clear that I had left an impression on that young man. Today, 22 years after I left that church, he is studying for the ministry. He is serving as the Assistant Pastor of a local church. It was a good meeting.

    1. Though Paul was a generation older, he wanted Timothy with him as he visited Philippi for the first time.

    2. But there is something else that seems out of whack here. It is not the slaves job to tell others what to do. And Paul and Timothy describe themselves as slaves.

    3. But they were slaves of Jesus Christ.

(Ill.) There were a number of words that Paul could have chosen for “slave” here, but he used the word “douloi”. “Doulos”, the singular form of the same word, is a slave that has no possessions. They have no will of their own. They are possessions – that can be used by their masters in any way that they desire.

    1. Paul and Timothy are slaves – slaves of Jesus Christ. And that means that the church in Philippi would need to listen. And it means that it means that we must listen to what they have to what they have to say.

  1. The letter was sent to the saints in Jesus Christ

    1. Paul was writing to men and women like you and me. The saints were the believers that had placed their faith in Christ.

    2. In the NT the saints are not a football team from New Orleans. Rather, they were those who had placed their lives at the feet of Jesus.

(Ill.) The Catholic Church traditionally has labeled those who have exemplify God's grace in some exemplary manner as saints. In the OT, the term “saint” was used for those set apart for God's use. But in the NT, the church labeled everyone who placed their faith in Christ a saint. Though we don't normally call those of us who place our faith in Christ “a saint” - if we had lived 2000 years ago, we would be called saints. But it is no different today. We are saints – we, like those in the OT, are set apart for God to use as he wants.

(Ill.) O when the saints, o when the saints
O when the saints go marching in

O when the saints go marching in
O Lord, I want to be in that number

O when the saints go marching in
    1. And when the saints go marching in, with our faith placed firmly in Christ, we will be in that number.

  1. The letter was sent to the church leaders

    1. There was another audience for this letter besides the church. “,..together with the overseers and deacons.”

    2. Paul wanted to make very sure that the message that he was about to deliver would be received by both the church members and the church leadership.

(Appl.) There is a very real danger for those of us in church leadership. We can find it easy to reach a place where we know all we need – and we stop listening. When we stop listening, we stop growing.

(Ill.) On our back porch we have a hanging plant. Now when Sandra was home, she carefully waters and fertilizes the plant – but when we travel, the plant really struggles. Our son is supposed to water and care for it while we travel, but it doesn't happen, at least not like we would like it to be. The plant stuffers.

    1. Just as that special plant needs to have water; we, as leaders we need to insure that we remain watered.

    2. In a certain way, I preaching, as they say, to the choir. Yet, since that choir includes me. It is a reminder that I also need to hear.

    3. Just as it is important for me to continue to listen to God, so it is important for each of us to listen to God.

    4. Preaching to the choir, yes. But it is the choir that needs to hear it.


Grace and peace – is what Paul wishes to his hearers. There will be more, but that is where he starts.