2021-07-18 – Philippians 1:1-11 – Partners in Grace
2021-07-18 – Philippians 1:1-11 – Partners in Grace
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
What an eventful week this has been. We are so blessed that we were able to offer this Orion community a Vacation Bible School program once again. Last year at this time, we were so constrained in what we were able to do because of the COVID situation. But praise be to the Lord, we were blessed this year to lead three children to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And what a privilege and joy it was to speak into 26 of our Orion community children’s lives this year. To tell them of the truths of the Bible, and introduce to them to twelve important character stories that hopefully will shape their lives in a more positive direction going forward. Praise be to the Lord indeed.
The Palestine team conveyed to me so many positive observations during this week. One of note was they were amazed at how many of you came out and/or directly supported this VBS endeavor. They acknowledged and affirmed that we truly have a special something going on here that God is blessing in big way. They were so pleased to take part in this church’s growth and outreach, especially seeing that we were “all-in” this journey together for the glory of God in this community. So, from the bottom of my heart, let me say “thank-you” to you all, and “thank-you” to our Palestine Texas First Baptist church family. In that light,
would you join me in saying aloud that thank-you message now? “Thank You”
I could easily talk about these past weeks experiences all day, but let us get on with our sermon message for today. [TITLE SLIDE]
Please turn now to Philippians 1:1, page 1040 in your pew Bibles, which we call God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word. Prayer..
Today is the start of a new journey that God now has us on together through this book of Philippians written by the apostle Paul. We had just finished going through the second letter to the Corinthian church believers, so after much prayer and council, I thought it would be good for us to study together what next happens in Paul’s missionary pursuits.
At this point in scripture, it is some two or three years after Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians, and Paul now finds himself writing from a Roman prison cell, this letter-book somewhere around the year 62AD. Paul the Apostle had established the church in Philippi some 20+ years previous, and it is obvious that they remained in good relationships with each other ever since. [SLIDE]
Like the Corinthians, Paul considered himself the spiritual father of the Philippi church believers. Paul ministered at Philippi during his second missionary journey, spending about three months in the city. You may recall from Acts 16 that Paul met Lydia there, who became what is thought as being the first person in Europe to accept Christ. Paul was also thrown in prison in Philippi as he was sharing the Gospel but then later was released. And that takes us now to our first verses today from Philippians 1:1, where Paul starts out with a customary greeting. He writes:
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons. 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice the four titles Paul gives these folks that he is writing to. He calls them Servants, Saints, Overseers and Deacons. The first one is Servant, not a slave but a servant. Servants aren’t necessary held under their will, but instead are people who are choosing to serve. Most of the time they are paid servants, but in this case, Paul is referring to Christian servants, and of that I am one and I believe most all of you are as well. I am a willing servant of the most high God.
The next one mentioned is a Saint. A saint means one that is special, or an especially good person according to the world standards. But the biblical definition of a saint is all believers. The word saint actually comes from the Greek word ‘hagios’ which means set-apart. All believers are set-apart for God, and thus the New Testament refers to us, “Christ followers” as saints.
Now the next title word “Overseer” in this context means a shepherd, elder or pastor. It is the person who is leading the church in the way of God’s will, and taking care of the family. And the last title word mentioned by Paul here is the Deacon or ‘diakonos’ or servant minister. Latterly it means ‘through the dirt’ it is someone who has his hands on the plow, it is a Christian doer. A worker that generally helps in the care of the people and tends to the needs of the flock.
So Paul is essentially writing to everyone at the church, the Servants, Saints, Overseers and Deacons back at the church in Philippi, and he offers them God’s grace and peace. And that same grace and peace is given to us freely by God through Jesus Christ. It is unmerited, unearned and none of us are worthy of it on our own accord. It is gift given through faith in Jesus. And we are recipients of that grace and peace only because of what Jesus did on the cross at Calvary.
So Paul starts out this letter in a very good and kindly manner by elevating and complimenting the Philippians, and then offering them God’s grace and peace. We should be doing likewise. Greet people with the love of God and show respect. Sadly today many people have lost the art of the greeting. When I call folks on the phone and if they even answer, sometimes what I get is not grace and peace.. instead it might be something like “yeah” or “what ya want”. That is not a greeting at all. We should all take note of what Paul practices here dear Christian, and be kind when we communicate, especially in the greeting. Verse 3 continues:
3 I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, 4 always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
In this text, you can tell Paul has a special affinity with this Philippian church. Remember that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. Imagine if this was today and Paul was writing us here in Orion from prison. I can imagine that it would be quite the controversy. Mind you, Paul would be considered like a missionary leader in a foreign land with the purpose of sharing the Gospel. Just like our missionaries, there is an inherent risk of sharing the Gospel in certain countries, especially where the nations rule is not based upon Christian principles.
I have had the pleasure of preaching in several of those types of countries. Where for good reasons, churches even had bars over the windows and barbed wire over the fence walls, with steel gates and even security guards. It is a different world, let me tell you, it can be quite dangerous, you have to keep your wits about you.
Like Paul, in some of those instances, I wasn’t sure if I would make it out alive or maybe even thrown into prison myself. There is always an inherent risk in sharing the Gospel. Even here in good ole Orion Illinois, if you go into the town-square you might be confronted for sharing your faith message. This week we had our VBS program in the park, and someone inquired on Facebook what was going on. Sadly, one person responded, “just another cult meeting”. It is sad to know that there are those that oppose even the good works of this church. And in Paul’s day, that is how he landed in evidently ended up in prison.
In this letter, Paul felt confident that he was writing to a caring Christian church family that loved him and was concerned with his welfare. And he in turn was writing them to show his mutual admiration, partnership and friendship. We all should be endeavoring to communicate better, especially that with our friends and family. During the VBS event, I had the privilege of conveying to the children the character trait of being a “faithful friend”. I conveyed the story of David and Johnathan, and how they loved each other and took care of each other. That’s what friends and family do. Like Paul, we all need to invest more in our friends and family. We need to communicate with our friends and family. Otherwise you might not have any real caring and loving friends and family.
Paul continues that sentiment at verse 7, where he wrote:
7 Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
The title of this message today is Partners in Grace. Paul felt that the Philippi church family of believers were his real partners in God’s grace. Likewise, I too feel that you all are my real Partners in Grace. Pastor Tony and the Palestine church, who helped us with our VBS program, were real Partners in Grace with us. How blessed are we to have such trusting friends and family. And when we choose to step out in faith, God is with us, and His grace abounds.
That word “grace” is a mighty word that we should never take for granted.
Think for a moment, we may realize what trials we have faced in this life, but we may never know all the graces we have received. We may never know (this side of heaven) what hardships God has spared us from, what problems He has solved for us, or what pains He has taken away. That is all grace, and God’s grace is so good. We should all be thanking God for His matchless and amazing grace indeed
The Apostle Paul stuck his neck out (literally) for the cause of Christ. He experienced the highs and the lows of all those missionary endeavors. He saw much hardship, but also experienced much grace as well. Paul lived his life to the fullest that is for sure. One might live a long life by hiding in the shadows, or cowering in the protective cover of seclusion. But I would argue that they really aren’t living at all. If you really want to experience God’s grace, then you have to put yourself out there. You have to put yourself in the arena, with all the lions and tigers, then you will have the opportunity to experience like Paul, God’s grace in a big way. When Jesus gave us that Great Commission, He knew it would be dangerous. Jesus knew we would be persecuted for our faith, but He wants us to Go and do it anyway. [SLIDE] In John 15:18-20, Jesus said:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also”.
But also in that “Great Commission” effort, you will also receive much grace as well. Like Paul conveys here, I feel that in this church I am in good company. You are my Partners in Grace on HIS mission, and for that reason I am much pleased.
In our last verses today, Paul concludes this most wonderful opening salutation.
9 And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
This Christian journey God has us on is all about love brothers and sisters. God’s love for us, and our love for one another. Anyone ever hear the term “Love is blind”? Well Christian love is not intended to be blind love. God wants us to go into our relationships and our faith walk with knowledge and discernment.
In this last text, Paul is encouraging the Philippian believers to grow in their knowledge of what they believe and why they believe it. He wants them to know God’s will and what the Gospel reveals about Jesus and all He did for us. Ours is not a blind faith. God even wrote a book so that we might know for ourselves what His will is. God want’s us to know right from wrong, so that we can walk with discernment, and therefore please the Lord and subsequently be filled with the fruit of our labors to the glory of God. That is what Paul is trying to encourage in these Philippian believers and in each of us as well.
And the way we do that is by spending time with His word, spending time with Him in prayer, and investing our time with each other for the sake of building our relationships with one another. So that when the time comes and we need to lean on each other, like Paul was in that prison, then we can feel confident that we are not in this journey alone, that we have Partners in Grace that we can write to, that we can call on for encouragement and support. I praise the Lord daily for your Partnership in Grace. And I pray that you are praying for me as well.
On a personal note, as I reflect upon our dearly departed brother Ted Wink. He too was my Partner in Grace. Like you, I will miss him greatly. I feel so fortunate to have a bank-full of glad tidings we shared together to pull from. We will all miss his candor, his smiles and encouragement, and his fellowship moving forward. However, we rest on the understanding that we will see him again soon. And in that understanding, I am soo happy and grateful to our Father in Heaven for His assurance that I will join him in heaven forever.
Have you made that choice yet? Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. I pray you have, and if not maybe today you will consider.
Would you please stand now and let us close with prayer
Baptismal service [Music].