Memphis Belle

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Philippians 1:1-30
Philippians 2:1-16
Philippians 2:17-30
Philippians 3:15-21
Philippians 4:8-23

 

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Philippians 4:8-23

 

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:  and the God of peace shall be with you.  But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at least your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak in respect of want:  for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:  every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.  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.  Not because I desire a gift:  but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.  But I have all, and abound:  I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.  Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.  The brethren which are with me greet you.  All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.”

 

Four Things That Rob Us Of Peace

 

“Philippians 4:5-7, “Let your moderation [yieldedness] be known unto all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  “Philippians chapter 4, we are winding up this little book, and no doubt joy and rejoicing having been the theme, as we were journeying through.  Seventeen times in four chapters that idea is mentioned.  And then things built around the idea of joy, rejoicing.  Certainly in the world that we live in, joy and rejoicing is a commodity that we want to be a regular part of our lives.  Paul in this fourth chapter says there are certain things that work against the joy that we should have as Christians.  One of them, of course, he begins to build on, is a lack of peace.  If we lack peace in our lives certainly then we don’t have the joy that we should have.  And he mentions four things that interfere with the peace that we should have.  And we began to look at them last week.  [So we’re stepping back to verse 5 of Philippians 4 to complete the theme Paul’s bringing out here.] 

 

First Peace-Robber, Inflexibility

 

First, Yieldedness:  In verse 5 he said, “Let your moderation be known unto all men,” that there should be in our lives a moderation, a willingness to yield.  The servant of the Lord should not strive, that there should be something flexible about us.  My pastor always said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.”  That’s one of his proverbs, you won’t find that in the Bible, but the truth of it is certainly contained in the Scripture.  So that’s something that interferes with our peace, when we are non-flexible, non-yielding, stubborn, never giving way. 

 

Second Peace-Robber, Worry

 

Secondly: things that interfere with our peace, is in verse 6, he said “Be careful for nothing;” and it’s in the sense of ‘stop worrying about everything.’  It says “Be careful for nothing”, care, full of care, stop being full of care about everything.  “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  And then, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  ‘Which passes understanding, which surpasses understanding, which is more valuable than understanding,’  The idea is, in many circumstances in life, the peace of God is something that is certainly more desirable than understanding.  We can be in many circumstances in life and understand exactly what’s going on and be miserable.  But he says the peace of God surpasses understanding in its value.  So, the second thing he says is, stop worrying and start praying.  And certainly in the list of words he used, we get the sense that that is communion in our prayer, it shouldn’t just be a monologue, it should be a dialogue, as we cultivate our relationship with the Lord, as the Holy Spirit cultivates our relationship with the Lord.  As we’re drawn into that, part of the art that we develop after we share our hearts with God, is sitting quietly and listening, and it’s a dialogue, not just a monologue, to hear him speak to our hearts, to hear him give us a verse of Scripture, to hear him prompt us.  So that there’s a genuine relationship that’s being pointed at there, and if we do that, “the God of peace,” he says, “will guard your hearts and minds, will garrison, will put up a military guard over your hearts and minds.”  In other words, ‘if we’re flexible, if we stop worrying about everything, but instead we come to him, and we’re honest, and we pour out our hearts, and we have communion with him, then he will supernaturally, it says, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’  And that’s a wonderful thing.  And by the way, as we read through it again, remember, prayer should be the most natural thing, it is the evidence of the new birth.   But many times prayer can almost become a reason for stress [the way some theologians will tell us to go about it].  Here he’s telling us not to be stressed over everything, and then we’re often told by others, ‘OK, what do we do next?  We pray.  OK, remember, we have to have prayer, and then supplication, then thanksgiving, and you have to enter his gates with thanksgiving, you have to do those proper steps, and there’s seven steps of prayer…’  and by the time some of us are done with prayer, it’s more stressful than not praying.  You know, ‘How’s your prayer-life?  Oh good, I’m up every morning at 5am, we walk around condemned all day, I can’t believe it’…and prayer becomes a reason for stress.  No, no, prayer is the natural outflow of the new birth [ie, being born-again, receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit after accepting the Lord into your life, sometimes after baptism], where we can sit anywhere, in traffic, at home, 5 o’clock in the morning, 6 o’clock in the morning, in the middle of the day, in the evening, saying, ‘Lord, help me with this, Lord, what should I do in this situation, Lord, speak to me.’  My children never learned the art of prayer the way other theologians tell us to go about it, prayer is just speaking to the Lord.  The children, if you have children at home, they learn ‘No!  Mine!  Gimmie!’  They don’t worry about the seven steps of getting what they want out of mom and dad.  They come right in to your presence to get, but there’s something natural about that.  And certainly as they grow and as they mature, that changes, to a reasoning, to a communion. 

 

Third Peace-Robber, The Way We Think, Our Thoughts

 

Third Step To Peace:  Well thirdly here, he begins to talk about the way we think, in verse 8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.”  And I don’t always want to think on those things.  I don’t know about you, sometimes I think about somebody I want to strangle.  Sometimes I want to think about somebody whose stabbed me in the back, and all day long it’s given me ulcers [I know what that’s like, so I guess I’m in good company.]  Sometimes I want to think about things I shouldn’t think about.  And you know, it’s almost like the Lord says, ‘Change your mind, I’ll change your heart.  You can’t change your heart, I’ll do that.  But you need to change your mind.’  We need to be willing at least to say ‘Lord, I shouldn’t be thinking about this, Lord, help me, there are better things for me to think about.’  You know, this whole process begins by him saying “Rejoice in the Lord.”  And everything else should fit under that banner, “Rejoice in the Lord.”  Not in circumstance, he’s working through that, “Rejoice in the Lord.”  ‘Oh I’m really bummed out, man, look at my car, somebody hit my fender today, and it’s all bent out of shape…’  You know, you’re driving a 1952 Ford anyway, it’s just amazing that it rolls.  Look, you’re not going to hell, is that any consolation?  Just bring things into the eternal, you know, rejoice in the Lord.  If Christ is the most important thing in your life, and we know that he’s coming, we know where we live in time and eternity, we know that he loves us, we know that we’re saved by grace, and we know that when he comes he’s going to catch us up, and we’re going to be spotless and blameless before his throne, he’s going to receive us with exceeding joy.  There are some good things going on in your life.  And now there is this challenge to think properly.  The old adage, “Sow a thought, reap an action, sow an action, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character, sow a character, reap a destiny.”  The thing is, the Lord cares about what we think.  All things are open and naked before the one we have to do, he knows our thoughts, he sees them, and he cares about what we think, because of how it is effective in our lives.  You know, if I get up in the morning, we want to react so much of the time in regards to how we feel.  If I get up in the morning and it’s raining and it’s miserable, and the house is noisy, and I can’t get ten minutes of quiet, I got a headache, I don’t feel nice.  I don’t feel friendly, I don’t feel like I want to be around people.  And if I react out of that, I just get more miserable.  And my wife says, ‘What’s wrong with you?’  ‘NOTHING!  What of it!?’  ‘ok, ok…’  But if I wake up in the morning, and I feel that way, and I think, ‘Oh Lord, I’m not going to act like that.  I’m going to act this way.’  And I think about these things, and I determine then my actions by how I think.  The funny thing is, you know then I get to work and I feel like, ‘Hey, thanks Lord.  Day started out well, we’re not doing too bad, are we.’  And I find that my feelings then become subservient to my thoughts, to my actions.  If I just act on my feelings, then I continue to feel miserable.  If I feel miserable but I act according to proper thinking, then I start to find that my feelings then start to fall in line with what I think.  And Paul knows that, the Lord knows that, the Holy Spirit through Paul is saying here, ‘change your mind, think this way, because if you spend your life thinking about the wrong stuff, you’re also going to be miserable.  You also loose your peace. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, think on those things.’  And there’s a lot of untrue things out there to think about.  There’s a lot of nonsense out there, to think about.  ‘Whatsoever things are honest,’ it’s a word that means “venerable” or “noble.”  It’s more than just honest.  But we live in a society that’s lost any nobility.  ‘Whatsoever things are noble,’ not just honest, there’s an integrity to this word, “upright.”  In a world where everybody’s scheming, and everybody’s getting one over on one another, everybody’s using one another.  You know, you may seem Victorian to some unsaved human being, but God looks down and says “That’s my kid, he’s the King’s kid, and because he’s the King’s kid, he thinks noble thoughts in an ignoble world.  Nobility is a wonderful thing.  ‘Whatsoever things are noble, honest, whatsoever things are just,’ you know we can get snagged here, because this is an unfair world.  Haven’t you ever noticed that?  It’s unfair.  And the problem is, some of us go at God that way, ‘Lord, why are you letting it happen?  It’s unfair.  You’re in control of everything.  If I was you,’ and you know he listens then.  We can spend our lives eaten up over injustice.  ‘No, the things that are just, think on those things.’… ‘things that are pure,’ man, there’s a war against that, isn’t there?---purity.  You know, I love to watch even pre-season football games.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that.  I love to watch full-grown men brutalizing one another, it’s refreshing [laughter].  I hate the fact that I have to change the channel when the commercials come on sometimes.  I don’t need any help, I have a sinful nature that doesn’t need help.  And the Lord’s telling me that my thoughts are to be pure, and to think that way, because he loves me.  Every one of us would say this to our children, to see some nobility and some integrity and some character, some uprightness in their lives, having them thinking the right way in a world that’s thinking wrong.  What a wonderful thing.  “Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue,” things that are virtuous, “if there be any praise, think on these things.”  What a great exhortation from the Lord. 

 

Fourth Peace-Robber, Our Behavior

 

Fourth Thing:  “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:  and the God of peace shall be with you.” (verse 9)  Now here’s the fourth thing that can stop us from experiencing the peace that we should have, and that is behavior.  You know, he’s given us instruction, he’s told us about proper thinking.  Proper thinking has to be followed by proper acting.  It doesn’t make any sense just for us to think the right things and behave wrongly.  Paul is saying, ‘No, no, let’s sum this up, those things that you have learned, the things that you have received, the things that you have heard,’ and Paul can remarkably says, ‘those things that you’ve seen in me,’  over in 3:17 he said, ‘Brethren, be followers together of me.’  And in another place he said, ‘Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.’   Imagine being able to say that.  Can you?  How many people can you say that to, ‘be imitators of me?’  [he laughs]  Don’t sit there and look at me like that, because I’m looking at you the same way.  [loud laughter]  ‘Be imitators of me, until about 10:30am, after that just don’t imitate anything I do, I get off to a good start, and I’m slowly getting victory over my day.  By the time I’m 60 I’ll be able to say, be imitators of me, because I’ll be too tired to get in any trouble, but.’  But he says, “Be imitators of me.”  You know, “the things you’ve heard, the things you’ve learned, the things that you’ve received,” he says, do those things now, put them into action in your life.  ‘Let your moderation be known, your yieldedness.  Instead of worrying all the time, pray, God will step in, he’ll guard your hearts and minds, so you can think the right things.  And if you think the right things, then you can take those things you’ve learned, you’ve received, you’ve seen in me, then do those things.’  “And the God of peace shall be with you.”  Not only the peace of God, but the God of peace.  Look, we all have peace with God.  That was settled on the cross.  There’s a lot of Christians that are going to be miserable their whole life, and they’re not going to be happy until they get to heaven [into the Kingdom of heaven, in reality, which is coming to earth].  You have peace with God.  When God looks down at you, he sees the righteousness of Christ, because that’s the swap that was made, “he who knew no sin became sin, that you can be the righteousness of God.”  So, you have peace with God.  But Paul says he wants us to have the peace of God in our lives, in our experience.  He wants our lives to be lives that speak something.  And you know what, it’s wonderful, so many times in the church to see people going through horrendous situations that unbelievers are just torn apart by, and to hear some of the wonderful testimonies of people able to trust the Lord in the most adverse situations.  And it speaks volumes, of the fact that your faith is real, and that Christ is real in your life.  The God of peace shall be with you. 

 

Godly Contentment

 

He moves on now from the loss of peace, now he talks about contentment.  And I think, what a remarkable thing to consider.  We live in a discontented nation, and a discontented world.  Paul says, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.” (verse 10)  Now this isn’t “careful” in a bad way, they were full of care for a good thing.  Paul says, ‘I’m rejoicing that your care for me has flourished,’ it means it has begun to bloom again, like he uses the word that speaks of a flower beginning to blossom.  The idea is, this church had supported him, this was a missionary church.  And they had supported Paul, evidently twice in Thessalonica they had sent offerings, they had sent offerings to different places Paul went.  And now in Rome finally this offering again, they had sent a financial gift.  And again, when you were in prison in that day, it was your elders and friends that fed you and saw after your well-being.  The prison didn’t, custody was not that kind in this day.  So Paul says, ‘I’m glad that your love towards me and your giving has flourished again, it has blossomed again, that it has come back to life again, and I know that you were filled with care, you wanted to do that, but you had lacked opportunity.’  “Not that I speak in respect of want:  for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (verse 11)  Now he wants to be very clear about that.  You know, this is a touchy situation, because he wants to thank them for their financial gift.  But at the same time, he doesn’t want to say to them, ‘I’m sooo glad, I was so bummed, if it wasn’t for you guys I don’t know what I’d have done,’ no, no, he told them not to think that way, not to be that way, not to be worried about everything, and he was going to say, ‘I was content because of the Lord,’ he’s going to go through this wrestling back and forth with them.  ‘I really appreciate your gift, I didn’t need your gift because I had the Lord, but your gift came, that’s really a great thing, I don’t want you to think that I’m not thankful for your gift, I am thankful for your gift, but it wasn’t that I needed your gift because the Lord was with me, I had peace before your gift came, but I’m glad that your gift did come, because…’ he goes back and forth.  So, money in the Church has always been a touchy issue.  It has been since the Book of Acts, that was the perfect church, the a-postles were there, and there was a dispute between the Grecian widows and the Hebrew widows about the way widows were being cared for, and the apostles were pulling out their hair, they had to appoint seven men to make sure things were done justly and so forth.  So that wasn’t a perfect church, that gives me great consolation in our imperfect church here, many years later. 

 

Contentedness Is A Learned Thing

 

So, he says “Not that I speak in respect of want:  for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (verse 11)  Now he’s thankful, but he’s not saying ‘It’s because I was desperate before it came,’  For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  Paul is saying that contentedness is a learned thing.  “I have learned…to be content.  You may not like content 101 and content 102, but it seems to be a mandatory coarse and not an elective, and Paul says ‘I have learned,’ and the voice of the way he says it is, ‘I’ve learned it in the sense that there was a point in my life that I made up my mind that I would be content in whatever state I was in, and that decision is still effective in my life today.’  There’s a long inference in the way that this is said.  He says, “I have learned in whatsoever state that I am, therewith to be content.”  And that’s because he said, “Rejoice in the Lord,” and that’s what Paul did.  He had written to Timothy and said to him, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”  He’s talking about those who were doting about words and begging people for money, and taking advantage of God’s people to get money, and Paul says, ‘Look, Timothy, godliness with contentment is great gain.  That’s true riches, that’s what gain really is.’  We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we cannot carry anything out.  We can send it ahead, but we can’t take it with us.  And Paul is going to say to this Philippian church he’s glad that they gave, because that they were bearing fruit, and that fruit in turn would be obviously eternal, they were supporting missionary work, and Paul says, in that, he knew they were laying up for the future.  So we can’t take it with us, but we can send it ahead.  And Paul here is saying that he had learned that whatever state he was in, to be content.  Now, we live in a nation where they send catalogues to our house.  The poorest people in this country get the same catalogues the millionaires and billionaires get.  That’s a plague in some ways.  But we’re thankful we have that freedom.  But it puts covetousness in front of everybody, whatever their station in life is.  If you subscribe to something, you write and you order tulip bulbs in the mail, you will start getting garden advertisements coming from all over the world…and you get on these lists.  You know, if I order vitamins through the mail, you should see the stuff that starts coming to my house.  [Just wait until those vitamin people realize you’re a senior citizen, and watch those vitamin catalogues come in, totally unsolicited, even when you’ve never ordered a vitamin through one.]  I can’t afford to live the way they’re trying to keep me alive with this stuff that comes.  If you buy something for your house through the mail, all kinds of stuff starts to come.  That’s without the television helping, putting everything in front of you all the time, or billboards, or radio.  And it’s not bad enough that, it used to be that we thought, ‘Well I could be content,’ because there’s this idea of perfection all the time, beautiful home, you know, you’ve got a glass thing on the back of your house where you can have more peace and quiet, ‘My life has changed since I put the terrarium back there, and if I had the pool, and if I had this car in the driveway, and if I had a driveway big enough to have a basketball net, and if I had this.’  And it used to be that perfection was placed in front of us in regards to what we could get our hands on.  But we’ve gone beyond that now.  Now, it’s physical perfection.  ‘You’re how tall, and you weigh what?  You’re how young, and you have gray what?’   And then they put all these people in the street, you know, this woman comes out and she’s 942 lbs, and they show a picture of her a month later, and she looks like Barbie, ‘This is the before and after picture, after she went through our process, this is the way we should all really look.’  And like we’re taking botoxin, which is botulism, a disease, and we’re shooting it into our wrinkles, and what that does is it paralyzes the muscles there, they don’t tell you what’s really going on there, the wrinkle goes away because the muscle gets paralyzed and just lays down flat, it dies.  [loud laughter]  You can’t move your face anymore, but your wrinkles are gone.  Hey, look at me, I can do that, I worked hard for those wrinkles.  This gray hair, all these wrinkles, it took me years to collect these wrinkles, and every one of them has a story, and I worked hard for them.  There!  And people are getting collagen in their lips, breasts lifted, I mean, perfection has plagued us…nobody is content.  ‘How can you be content when you could look like this?  Look at this woman, she used to be four-foot-three and four-hundred pounds, now she’s six-four, and she’s thin, all from these vitamins, and this surgery, and this program, or do you have one of these bodies, or one of these bodies, or do you have a pear body, you know we customize everything for you, doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, how old you are, how ugly you are, how pretty you are, what color your hair is, whether you have hair or not, doesn’t matter anymore.’  How can we be content?  You see, now because there’s this ideal of perfection of our person that’s set in front of us.  But one of the things that was so sad in California, and there’s a different warfare out there, different principalities and powers, but you know, Cathy and I are looking, all these girls, 13-years-old, 14-years-old, collagen in their lips, breast implants, they’re kids!  I’m thinking, what is wrong with these parents?  Somebody needs to smack them in the head.  What are they doing?  I’m not opposed to taking care of ourselves, I’m not opposed to exercising a little bit, but the idea is, there’s a discontentment that’s ungodly, that plagues us now.  And it used to be just with our possessions, now it’s come to our person.  I like you the way you are.  If you all walked in here next week, six-foot-four, beautiful, I’d be lonely.  [loud laughter]  I’m used to all you funny-looking guys, I like you just the way you are.  Makes me feel right at home, because I have to wake up and look at me every day.  I fit right in here. 

 

‘I’ve Been Initiated Through The Process Of Life On How To Be Abased And Abound’

 

Paul says, ‘I’ve learned to be content, I’ve learned, I have learned whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content.’  “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:  every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (verse 12)  “How to be abased,” how to do with nothing.  Now King James says “I am instructed”, it’s an interesting phrase, it’s really “I have been initiated,” through the process of life, “I’ve been initiated both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”  Paul says, ‘I’ve learned in either state to be content,’ there’s a process, ‘and I’ve learned to do without, for the cause of Christ, I’ve learned to be blessed, I’ve learned to have my life filled, and I’ve learned have my life empty.’  And let me tell you, both of are difficult.  You know it says in the Book of Proverbs, it says, ‘Lord, just give me enough to get by this day, don’t give me so much that I’m no longer dependant on you, and don’t give me so little that I think about stealing.’  “Give us this day our daily bread,” because it is difficult to be wealthy, in some ways, and you’re accountable for more, and how to handle that, how to “invest” that, how to send it ahead, how to be wise with it, because money is a great servant but a cruel master.  And to be wealthy doesn’t mean that you think you have enough.  They had asked Norman Rockefeller what would make him content, and he said, “Just a little bit more.”  And it’s difficult to be content when we are without, and we’re scraping by.  But you have to understand something, our scraping by, if you’re scraping by here this evening, just scraping your money together, ‘Got to pay the electric bill first because the water people will wait longer, and if we don’t pay the electric bill they’re gonna shut the electric off, so we pay that now,’ see I understand all those things, that’s why I handle the bills, my wife would just loose her mind.  You learn, there’s a system, how to juggle all this.  But our getting by is the envy of 95 percent of the people on this planet.  [My electricity just went out for half and hour.  I had clothes in the dryer, clothes in the washing machine, two refrigerators and a freezer that went off.  Had no lights, no electric stove, no microwave, no toaster oven, the furnace went off. Oh, I couldn’t type this on my computer, it had gone dead, no Internet.  My one land-line phone, which I won’t give up, was still powered. We seldom realize just how much we have until the power goes off, and you’re praying by one candle-power, literally. Oh, I forgot to mention the three TVs and three DVD/VCR players that were dead in the water too, if we had wanted to be watching them when the power went out, along with two radios and two stereos. If you’re just getting by, and yet you have all of that, you’re doing well compared to 95 percent of the world.]  Whatever we think our scraping by is, is the envy of the rest of the world.  Do you think Afghanistan has a problem with illegal aliens?  [laughter]  Now I’m just saying that because people are not sneaking in there.  You know, if America is so terrible, but people from all nationalities are sneaking in, trying to get across the border,  it’s because our scraping by is the envy of the rest of the world.  So certainly as Christians, there is a contentedness that we are to learn.  If we don’t, it ruins our joy and our rejoicing.  Paul says, ‘I’m glad you sent the money, not that I speak in respect to want, for I have learned, whatsoever state I am in to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound.’  “Every where and in all things I am instructed”---initiated---“both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (verse 12) 

 

‘I Can Do All This, Be Abased And Abound, Through Christ Who Strengthens Me’

 

And I’m sure that Paul saw all of that in light of verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  ‘I can’t do anything without him,’ we’re told that, we can’t do anything without him, but we can do all things with Christ.  [Just like when my electricity went off, couldn’t cook, keep the house warm, do the laundries I had in the washer and drier, couldn’t even do this Bible study transcript on the computer.  Without God it’s like having no power in the house, or your life.]  Now notice, we have a Person, not a confession.  Because there’s a whole part of the Church [Body of Christ] today that’s telling us that, that if we are not flourishing financially, if we’re not prospering, it’s because there’s sin in our lives.  Or it’s because there’s a lack of faith in our lives.  If we have to go to the doctor because we have the flu or we’re sick, is because there is sin in our lives, or there’s a lack of faith in our lives.  And Paul blows all of that out the window here.  ‘No, I have learned both to be abased, and to abound, to be hungry, and to be full.  I’ve learned I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’  I don’t have a confession, I have a Saviour, I have a person, I have a Lord, and he sustains me through all things.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me”, you know, waiting on the Lord, stop being careful about everything, but pray.  Make your supplications, thanksgiving.  You know, Isaiah said this, and I love this verse where it says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings as eagles.”  “They that wait upon the Lord” is from the Hebrew word that means “to twist and to bind together, to twist and to bind together.”  Paul is saying that here.  Don’t be worrying about everything, but seek him, pray, make your requests.  Let there be thanksgiving, but with supplication.  And wait on him.  Isaiah said ‘That they that wait on the Lord, that are wound together with him, that twisted in with him, shall renew their strength, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’  Paul says. 

 

God Doesn’t Want Us To Live With An Agenda When It Comes To Giving

 

“Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.” (verse 14)  ‘It was a good thing that you sent the offering, that you did communicate with my affliction.’  “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.  Not because I desire a gift:  but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (verses 15-17)  And here he’s making this clear again, “That I desire fruit that may abound to your account.’  Paul says ‘The reason that I want to see you giving is what will be yours in eternity.’   And we have an entire theology in the Church that plays on our covetousness, ‘And if you give, you can have one of these, and if you give, you can drive a Mercedes, and if you give, you can do this, or that, because God promises, pressed down and shaken together, will give you this, it will be poured out on your head,’  ‘Yeah, in this life and the one to come’ he says.  And we have a whole theology that’s forced on the Church, and because our hearts are greedy it appeals to so many.  God doesn’t want us to give like that.  He doesn’t want us to give with an agenda.  ‘I’m giving this, so I can get a Mercedes.  I’m giving this so I can get 100 times back.’  That’s greed.  You know, Jesus said, ‘Freely you have received, freely give.’   He didn’t say ‘Freely give and freely you will receive.’  He says, ‘You’ve already been the recipients, you’re already blessed.  You’re giving should simply be an expression of that.’  Again, I don’t see tithing enforced in the New Testament. It’s called a law, it’s called an ordinance, it’s called a commandment.  We get to the next book in Colossians and they’ve all been washed away by the blood of Christ, the law, the ordinance and the commandment. [Comment: Is tithing a commandment in the New Testament?  Amazingly enough the enforcement or abrogation of the tithing commandment is left up to the leadership of the individual denomination and/or pastor of each congregation for semi-autonomous or autonomous churches.  See: http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews%207%201-28.htm  for more on this subject, which has not been properly understood by many within the Body of Christ. About the commandments being “washed away” understand that the super-grace oriented churches have a different interpretation about the law, ordinances and commandments and what Paul said in Colossians than do other parts of the Body of Christ.  We’re cover both interpretations more fully when we get to Colossians chapter 2:5-25.  Many differing parts of the Body of Christ have differing interpretations for Law & Grace, yet all end up keeping and obeying the same set of moral laws, oddly enough.  Explain that one, will you?  See: http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm.]  Giving, the New Testament teaches, should be a normal part of our life, not under the Law, but with a willing heart.  ‘Well I only make $10,000 a year.’  Well I understand.  You got two kids, you make ten grand a year, how can you give a tenth?  We’ll be counseling you for endless ages.  Keep the grand, buy Huggies.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t give.  There’s a thousand ways to volunteer around the church.  You can cut your neighbor’s lawn, you can give an ear to somebody, who wants to talk and just needs somebody to listen.  You can give.  That should mark the Christian, giving.  And I’ll tell you this, it costs more to help somebody than it does to put five bucks in the offering.  It may cost you half a day to go over somebody’s house, who you know if I say ‘How you doing?’ I’m going to be here three hours.  But it’s easier to put five bucks in the offering.  No, no, there isn’t anything that prohibits anybody in this room from giving.  And if you make a hundred million dollars a year, why should you tithe?  You should at least put in 50,000,000, if you can’t live on fifty million you’ve got a problem.  If you’re making a hundred million a year we don’t want a tenth, we want half.  [laughter]  You know, it says every man should give as God has enabled him to give.  If everybody gives what the Holy Spirit puts on your heart to give, the church will always have what it needs to do whatever it needs to do.  You know, we have in twenty years never asked one time for money.  When 9/11 happened I came back from the West Coast and said we’re going to go to New York this week, immediately after it happened, ‘Consider that in your giving,’ I said that.  And one time, years ago for a family, there was a terrible situation that needed surgery, we asked you to consider.  That was 13 years ago.  We’ve never had to ask.  You’ve always risen to the occasion.  Isn’t it refreshing not to be begged?  Because so many people that have stayed and said ‘The reason we stay is because we don’t get begged, you’re not beggin’ us for money all the time.  We don’t like the teaching or the music, we’re just glad to go to church and not get begged.’  [laughter]  ‘It’s worth it to put up with the rest.’  You know when we moved from the old building everybody said, ‘You know, here we go, they’re going to put a thermometer on the wall…’ we didn’t do any of that.  God is faithful, God is faithful.  And the reason that we should give anything is we should give it unto him, because we love him.  You know, in the Old Testament if you couldn’t give a lamb that had a spot or a blemish, certainly we stand in greater light and greater truth, and what we give should be without spot and without blemish, it should be from our hearts, it should be our best.  But Paul is being very sensitive in regards to this issue.  ‘Not because I desire a gift,’ he said, ‘That’s not why I’m saying this, but I’m saying it that your fruit may abound, that you might have lasting fruit.’

 

God Will Supply All Your Needs, Not Necessarily Your Wants

 

“But I have all, and abound:  I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” (verse 18)  Now the Philippians were familiar with that, because the Roman Just Italicum, the official Roman status, they saw sacrifices of this kind often, even though they were Gentiles.  The Jew understood this perfectly well, a sweet smell, it’s interesting, usually in the Hebrew, it is “a savour of rest,” the word actually, as God smelled the smoke from the burnt sacrifice come up, he says in his nostrils, “it was a savour of rest,” because it was looking forward to his Son dying on the cross, and putting to rest the enmity between God and man.  But in this context here, it is their support of a missionary work, it says here, notice, “a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God”, they were giving with the right heart, right attitude.  “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (verse 19)  Now he’s talking to them.  His God, who he had been content, whatever situation he’s in, ‘My God shall supply all your needs’ notice, ‘according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’  It doesn’t say, ‘My God shall supply all of your need out of his riches,’ but ‘My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’  i.e, God  will give us all that we need.  It doesn’t say ‘God shall supply all your wants.’  ‘If I had an extra hundred dollars I could get a lift on this side too, I got this side done last year, my face has been lopsided ever since, if I get this side done too,’ no, this is according to your need, and he knows what your need is, and according to your need he can supply, according to his riches in glory, he can supply your need according to his glory limitless supply.  Not your want, your need.  You’re his children, he knows what you need, Jesus says, before you ask. 

 

‘All The Saints Salute You, Especially Those of Caesar’s Household’

 

“Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.  Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.  The brethren which are with me greet you.” (verses 20-21)  Again, that’s you, look around the room, you don’t have to go find a statue, look around the room.  “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.” (verse 22)  Now remember back in the first chapter he said, ‘Don’t be freaked out, I know you heard I’m in prison, I don’t want you to be bummed out, yes, I’m here.  But word is spreading around Caesar’s palace,’  (we had one guy that left here, for a long time I hadn’t seen him, I heard he was working at Caesar’s Palace [Atlantic City], that’s not what it’s talking about here [laughter]).  Paul says, ‘I’m at Caesar’s palace, word is spreading,’ and he says, ‘Some people preach out of envy, some people preach out of discontent, some people preach out of sincerity, I could care less, as long as the Gospel is preached.’  First of all that speaks volumes of Paul’s heart.  That he could look at all of those around him, touching the ministry of Christ in one way or another, and realize they had different motives.  And Paul was not trying to quantify, he was not trying to categorize, he was not trying to ride herd on everyone.  Paul said ‘Look, some are preaching out of sincerity, some are preaching from a wrong motive,’ but he says, ‘I don’t care.  As long as Christ is preached, who cares?’  And here at the end of the letter he’s sending his greeting, he said, ‘All the saints salute you, especially those of Caesar’s household.’  What he’s saying is, ‘You’ve got a lot of new brethren that have been born here in the palace,’  He said, ‘I’m not the prisoner of Rome, Rome is my prisoner.’  ‘I’m not chained to a guard, Rome is chained to me and can’t get away.  And every four hours they give me somebody new to witness to.  And he can’t get away, because he’s chained to me.  And all saints salute you, especially your new brethren here in Caesar’s household.’  Nero, I wonder what happened to Nero?  Nero becomes insane, he is the Caesar at this point in time.  And it would seem, as we come to the close of this Epistle, that Paul was brought before Nero an initial time, and presented the love of Christ as he did to Festus Agrippa, and that Caesar was given, imagine, Paul the apostle standing, giving the Good News of Jesus Christ to Caesar Nero.  And it would seem, after his refusal of the gospel at that point in time, he lost his mind, he went insane, and persecution, the fire was then turned up to a horrendous degree.  And Paul [some five years later] would come back of course, and be beheaded.  But it seems that initially he’s set free, he does more missionary work before we meet him again in 2nd Timothy signing off as it were, this giant, this incredible man.  So, “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.” (verses 22-23)  [transcript of a connective expository sermon on Philippians 4:8-23, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

related links:

 

1.  Is tithing a commandment in the New Testament?  Amazingly enough the enforcement or abrogation of the tithing commandment is left up to the leadership of the individual denomination and/or pastor.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews%207%201-28.htm

 

2.  Law & Grace is a subject many Holy Spirit indwelt denominations disagree on in definition, and yet they all end up keeping, obeying the same moral laws of God.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm

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