Sunday, October 30, 2005

The People God Uses

Intro: I recently stumbled across a 234-page book that no one has been able to read.

  1. The Voynich Manuscript has a history going back to the early 1600's. Its exact origin is unknown.

  2. As a book, it is written in a strange alphabet – otherwise unknown.

  3. The alphabet looks like somebody was writing in a mirror. The images that appear on its pages are colorful and well-drawn.

  4. Men, both wiser and smarter than me, have attempted to decipher its contents. But to no avail.

  5. No one knows what this book says or what it means.

  6. Today it sits, just as unreadable as ever, in the rare book room of Yale University.

  7. One might say, “It is a well-known, unknown.”

  8. Today we want to look at two men who supported Paul during his imprisonment in Rome.

Read Philippians 2:19-30




  1. Timothy – A man everyone knew

      1. There are some names that everyone seems to know – many of you know Max Lacado or Patsy Clairmont.

      2. To the early church, Timothy, along with Paul, was that kind of man.

      3. Paul had first met Timothy in Lystra – a city on the Turkish subcontintent.

      4. But either in the book of Acts or in his letters, Paul lets us know that Timothy had ministries in Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, Jerusalem, and, now, Rome.

      5. But having been many places does not make one a strong believer – that is external

      6. What makes one a strong believe is what happens on the inside!

      7. But Timothy also was changed on the inside.

      8. Timothy had a concern for the people of his world.

(Ill.) There is a story – apparently true, that the Prime Minister of Grenada, his name was Eric Gairy, was so concerned about the possibility of flying saucers, that he petitioned the UN to set up a “UN Agency on UFO's”. A few years later Prime Minister Gairy was heard lamenting, “Regrettably, not much concrete action by that body has flowed from my recommendation.” Sometimes a person's concern can be misplaced – but Paul sensed that Timothy's interest was genuine.i

(Ill.) William Carey, who is called the “Father of Modern Missions,” served the Lord in India for many years. He gradually became very concerned about the attitude of his son, Felix. The young man had promised to become a missionary, but he reneged on his vows when he was appointed ambassador to Burma by the Queen of England. Carey wrote to his friend, asking prayer for his son with these words: Pray for Felix. He has degenerated into an ambassador of the British government when he should be serving the King of Kings.ii

      1. Timothy's heart was not on where he had been, but on what God had accomplished through his life.

(Appl.) Where do you place your value – is your value based on the externals or on what God is doing in your life. As long as we look at the externals, we may even miss those things that God is doing. Timothy was less concerned with the places he had served, but with how he had served. So must we.

  1. Epaphroditus – A man nobody knew

    1. As well-known as Timothy was, Epaphroditus was not.

(Ill.) Matthew Henry was a relatively unknown Methodist preacher. He eventually wrote a famous Bible Commentary. But as a poor and unknown young man he wished to marry a girl whose father was wealthy and who did not approve of the marriage. The father argued that, although he was a good scholar and an excellent preacher, “they did not even know where he came from.” The daughter had a ready answer. “But father,” she said, “we know where he is going, and I want to go with him.” The father acquiesced.iii

    1. Epaphroditus was also an unknown. Philippians is the only book – where his name is mentioned twice

(Ill.) Epaphroditus, whose name means “comely” or “charming”, was a Philippian Christian. Philippians 4 makes it clear that he had originally brought a gift for Paul and that it was received with gratefulness. Since then, Epaphroditus had been working along side of Paul – Paul call him “my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier.”

The Philippian church had heard that Epaphroditus was ill. In fact he was close to death, but he had experienced God's mercy and survived. So Paul will let him to return to Philippi with the letter we are looking at.

    1. Epaphroditus had every right to sit back and do nothing.

        1. he had done the job of delivering the Philippian gift, that was all that was expected of him

        2. he had been ill and really did not feel like working

        3. he was going to return to Philippi – so why bother

        4. he had already risked his life – he wasn't going to do it again

    2. But Epaphroditus didn't stop when it would be easy to. And because he did not, Paul showed him the utmost respect by calling him his brother, his fellow worker, and fellow soldier. Yep, Epaphroditus had every reason to not get involved, but he chose to involve himself in the Roman church until God would allow him to return home.

    3. It is just this kind of faithfulness that God expects of us. And when we have done that, we need to trust God to take our work and use it for his good purposes.

Conclusion: Some people are more like Timothy – known by everyone. Some are more like Epaphroditud – known only by those whose life he touched.

  1. It really does not matter which we are

  2. God can use us

  3. We are called to be faithful to Him

  4. And when we have done that, then we have done all that we have been asked.

iTan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

iiMorgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (Page 90). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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

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