Sunday, November 04, 2007

Philippians 4:21-22


I always enjoy reading through the letter to the Philippians. There are so many great insights and memorable passages noted here that are so usable! I want to remind you of a keeper from each chapter in this letter before we leave this study.

CHAPTER 1--1:21-For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. CHAPTER 2--2:5-Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, CHAPTER 3--3:10-that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; CHAPTER 4--4:6-7-Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. These key passages sum up this letter nicely.

The closing words of the letter to the Philippians demonstrate that characteristic warmth of the early church of Jesus. Check out these last two verses: 21Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household. 23The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

5 observations: 1. The fellowship of Jesus consists of saints. The believer doesn't have to perform a miracle in his or her ministry, but each believer IS a miracle, therefore each believer is called a saint in the Bible. Saint means holy one or a person who is set apart unto God for a special mission.

2. The fellowship of Jesus is a family of brothers and sisters who are continually learning how to get along and to love one another.

3. The fellowship of Jesus must be reciprocal. Note that Paul says to greet all the saints there in Philippi and also sends greetings from the saints in Rome who are with him.

4. The fellowship of Jesus is a collection of many different people from all kinds of backgrounds. Note that there were believers who were part of the royal family of Caesar, sending their greetings to the Philippian fellowship.

5. The fellowship of Jesus runs on the grace of the Lord. The Lord has extended His grace-unmerited favor-toward us and we learn to share this grace with others in our family.

Every time I read how the fellowship of Jesus held on to their connection with one another in the first century throughout the world, it seems that the fellowship of Jesus today is too fragmented and disconnected. So, what are we to do about it? I think you start right where you are. Keep connected with other believers in your community, your corporate environment and everywhere you travel around the world. You will find that these connections become a mutual blessing to all who participate. Work on your connections with other Jesus people.

I heard a great visual for believers to keep in mind. When a waitress in the South was asked, "What is a grit?", she said, "There's no such thing as a grit, because grits always come together!"

Philippians 4:14-20


14Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. 15You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. 18But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. 19And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul says something special here. He says, "It is not that I desire a present from you for my own sake, although your gift touches my heart and makes me very glad. I don't need anything, for I have more than enough. But I am glad that you gave me a gift for your own sake." Their generosity made him glad, not for his own sake but for theirs. Paul's joy in the gift is not in what it did for him, but in what it did for them. It was not that he did not value the gift for its own sake; but his greatest joy was that it and the love which prompted it were very special to God.

In the next sentence Paul makes it clear that no gift ever made any man the poorer. The wealth of God is open to those who love him and love their fellow-men. He who gives makes himself richer, for his own gift opens to him the gifts of God. "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

We've seen this same thing in our experience. We have learned to love and celebrate the relationship that we might have with people rather than their gifts. In a world with all kinds of hidden agendas, especially as it relates to giving or tithing in the spiritual realm, there is lots of abuse in this area. It's too easy to work with someone for what they might be able to do for you or for what they might be able to give into the pot. What we've learned is to make it clear that we want a relationship with the person. It's not their gifts that we want, but we want them. This is the same approach God takes with us. He wants our hearts more than He wants our performance or presents.

Taking this approach with people demonstrates genuine love toward them, genuinely caring for them--a real oddity for people today! This is especially true of those who have great means. They are so used to being "hit up" for money by nearly everyone they meet.

We are seeing this principle play out in our fellowship here locally. We are focusing on the relationship with a few, not focusing on the money or doing any "marketing" or "fund-raising" with them. We are learning to function as family, where we are getting to know one another better and taking the time to really love one another.

But here is the bottom-line! We encourage each other to walk a personal walk with Jesus-turning everything over to His care and direction with a "ruthless" trust. We say things to one another with a sense of expectation that the Lord really will come through on your behalf, like "He knows what you're going through." or "Jesus will continue to give you the strength." or "You'll know what to say and do when the time comes."

We find ourselves living out that passage in Hebrews 10: 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

In the Message version it goes like this: 22 So let's do it- full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. 23 Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. 24 Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, 25 not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

This is all under-girded with the ringing reality of Paul's words, AND MY GOD SHALL SUPPLY ALL YOUR NEEDS ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES IN CHRIST JESUS. Over the last few weeks I have found more satisfaction in this, because I've had the privilege of being in fellowship with a few. In those connections of fellowship, I've felt the riches of God-His love, His strength, His peace and His joy-supply all that I need. And you know what, it's just plain old FUN!