Sunday, May 02, 2010

Philippi - Balancing Life's Choices

        Philippi – Balancing Life's Choices        

Intro.: What question would you like to have answered?
  1. Where is a long lost friend?

  2. How do I make strawberry cheesecake?

  3. How do I get rid of the dang cold?

  4. We all have questions that need answers

  5. As we continue our look at Philippians, we will understand that Paul also had at least one question that had to be answered.

Read: Philippians 1:19-26


Trans: We have said several times that Paul writes this letter from Prison
  1. The catch is that we do not know where he is being held.

  2. Three answers have been given as possible solutions

    1. Some scholars suggest an imprisonment in Ephesus – the only problem is that Paul was never known to be jailed in Ephesus

    2. Twice Paul was imprisoned in places that could be the source of this letter. Some have suggested the imprisonment in Caesarea described in Acts 23-24 – except the circumstances Paul describes in Philippians do not match those described in Acts 23-24

    3. The most like location is Rome. There were two times Paul found himself jailed in Rome – the first is at the end of the book of Acts. It is during this 2 years that many think Philippians was written.

  3. Ultimately, our understanding of Philippians does not depend our where and when it was written outside of knowing that he was writing from jail.i

T.S. Philippians 1:19-26 allows us to see Paul's heart in ways few other passages do.
  1. There are some things that Paul is convinced of

    1. Paul knows that it will work out in the end: for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance

    2. Let me note three things about this

      1. Paul knows that the Philippian church is a praying church. It is not prayers in general that will help, but “your” prayers. The Philippian church is the healthiest church to whom Paul wrote – one of the things that made it healthy was that it was a praying church. One of the things I really love about this service is not only that we pray, but that we take time to list our prayer requests. We are a praying community – a group of believers that will lay our needs before God.

      2. Paul knows that prayer is not magic. There are some who think that the importance of prayer are the good thoughts that it produces. The positive thoughts. Not Paul. He realizes that it is prayer followed by the work of the Holy Spirit that becomes effective. Prayer is not magic. It is only because we are talking to the one and only living and loving God that we can expect answers to our prayers. I have no way of knowing how God will answer your prayers, I know that He will.

(Ill.) Years ago an old lady had no money to buy food. She prayed, “Dear Lord, please send me a side of bacon and a sack of corn meal.” Over and over again she prayed the same prayer aloud. One of the town’s unscrupulous citizens decided to play a trick on her. He dropped a side of bacon and a sack of corn meal down her chimney. It landed in front of her as she knelt in prayer. Jumping to her feet, she exclaimed, “Oh Lord! You have answered my prayer!” Then she went all over town telling everyone the good news. This was too much for the scoundrel who dropped the food down her chimney. He ridiculed her publicly and told her that God did not answer her prayer; he did. The old lady replied, “Well, the devil may have brought it, but it was the Lord who sent it!” God does answer prayers in many ways.ii

      1. Prayer and the Holy Spirit will bring, Paul says, “deliverance”. That word deliverance is not what I would expect. It is the word “soterion” - the same word that is translated as “salvation” in most of the NT. But Paul here is not talking about salvation – he most likely talking about being freed from his confinement. Paul will eventually be taken into custody again, in the future, but this time, he will eventually be set free so he can again visit the Philippian church and, history tells us, travel as far as Spain with the message of Jesus Christ.

(Appl.) God is not only interested in our salvation – He is interested in every area of our lives. For Paul, that meant his imprisonment; for us, it will mean our health, our families, our futures, our homes, just for starters. We can not hide some part of our lives from God's concern – he knows it all. And he is concerned about it all. Prayer and the Holy Spirit will bring about our deliverance, whatever that may be for us.

    1. Paul knows this in his own life. But ...

  1. There are also some things Paul is less certain of

    1. Paul has a special role in the early history of the church. But in some ways he is no different than you or I – he has hurts, he struggles with sin, he gets hungry. And like all of us, he is not all-knowing.

as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

    1. Like many of our choices – there are benefits to whatever may happen. Paul belongs to Christ – even as he writes, he belongs to Christ. Whether he lives or dies – he belongs to Christ.

    2. And because of that, Paul is not afraid of death. It means he will not only belong to Christ, but will be serving in His very presence.

(Ill.) A believer from the 7th century understood this relationship between life and death. John Climacus wrote, “Obedience is a freely chosen death, a life without cares, danger without fears, unshakable trust in God, no fear of death. It is a voyage without perils, a journey in your sleep.”iii

    1. Even as Paul wrote his letter, he had no fear of death. It was a pleasure to serve his master, it would also be great to join him in heaven. But ...

  1. In the end, Paul wants what God wants

    1. There really is no contest – his feeling may leave him torn between living and dying, but ultimately, Paul knows that he will not be dying, at least not yet. He will live – to serve Christ here, to serve the church here, because of his desire to visit Philippi one more time.

But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

    1. Paul's real desire is the same as ours should be – above all else, to serve God.

(Ill.) I was reminded of the slogan that is on the shield of many police cars around America, “To Protect and To Serve”. As I was reading today's passage, it came to me that the shield of believers ought to read, “To Serve – On Heaven and On Earth”

    1. And my prayer for each of you this morning, is that you will plan to put this slogan on your shield.



iPfeiffer, C. F., & Harrison, E. F. (1962). The Wycliffe Bible commentary : New Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.

iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

iiiJohn Climacus quoted in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (157). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

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