Aug 18 2019 Philippians 1 - Partners in the Gospel
18th August 2019
Chris B: When I first came to the Lord, I was one of those who beat my relatives over the head – but I was so excited when I first came to Him and understood what He did for me. I am so blessed. The first time I met Trent – he had tattoos and a face full of gear that made him look like he had fallen into a tacklebox – and I shared the gospel with him – and he has come to know the Lord now. You are a piece in that puzzle, and we need to utilize that opportunity.
About 1.5-2 years ago, I was spending all my extra time going to hospitals and hospices – sharing with relatives and friends who needed the Lord and many came to Him.
My sister died at age 49 of breast cancer. My sister called me 6 years earlier – and she had invited me to talk to my mom about this guy that she was marrying – and they got in a huge argument – and all I could do was to sit back and feel sorry for my mom. On the 3-hour drive home – I had the opportunity to share the gospel with her – and after that – she had 3 years of Bible study – and that window of opportunity that I stepped through – enabled her to know for sure she was going to heaven. There are times and places where we have to do what God calls us to do. There were those who put their time in with ME!
A guy I went to school with – Tommy – had lived a rough life – had some rough stuff going away – he was in the ICU – in a coma – and my pastor at the time said we gotta go talk to him – so we went to the ICU – we’re here for Tommy – and they ushered us in. Tommy’s mom and girlfriend were there – we started praying for Tommy and sharing the gospel – and the mom and girlfriend were all starry-eyed wondering what we were doing.
I was at Tommy’s store – and I felt like everyone was staring at me – like, there’s that guy – but Tommy made it through – and he came back to work – and I went back to the store – and Tommy was there – I heard you came and visited me – I’ll never apologize for caring about someone’s soul! No, I want to thank you! And all the stares turned… - you never know if it is the last time to share with someone. One worked with me for 5 years – and I turned it over to God – the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict people – not you! I prayed for another Christian to come into Greg’s life – and this other guy started sharing with him! Thank you for letting me share – God’s grace is where it is – you can’t blast people with the Bible – step through those doors though
Philippians 1:1 From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons. 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
He starts off – the typical introduction – and in this version – a slave of Christ Jesus – but for us – because of our history – it can be a harsh word, but in Paul’s day, it was a bit different – so some translations describe it as SERVANT – but that is too soft – so they came up with BONDSERVANT – a word with the sense of ownership. Jesus is the master of his life – but – he is a benevolent master. So Paul is giving a description of the attitude of a Christian leader. It is all about this servant/slave/master relationship that is defined by the unending and unconditional love of the master.
Paul is able to see himself as under the ownership of Christ because of His love.
This is also a way of identifying with the people of Philippi – and if you look at the first line again – he puts the common person first. He uses the word slave – as up to 50% of the people may have been slaves or bondservants – half – maybe more, were classified as slaves in that church.
Paul, who is a free Roman citizen (although now in jail for preaching the gospel) is identifying himself with them. Paul, as he often does – is equalizing the people. The slaves and the free – the rich and the poor – the members to the leaders.
We don’t have slaves, but boy do we judge and rate people based on economic circumstances and positions.
Paul is saying- none of that works anymore – we are all equal.
Leadership is not about gaining status, privilege or power in the church – it is always about self-sacrificial love and service for others. That is what leadership is.
What is a leader. Our tendency is to think of someone who can speak or get things done – but what Paul says – over and over – he constantly emphasizes this point – a leader is one who gives himself self-sacrificially in love and service to others.
He never affords leaders greater privilege. A lot of leaders get into trouble in our culture – when they are given privilege and it is a recipe for disaster.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you 5 because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
Paul expresses his attitude – first, thankfulness! We live in a world where our tendency is to be critical and suspicious of others. But Paul’s way was THANKFUL. We think – we would be thankful for some… (but not all!)
They gave him JOY!
You know those people who give you joy? Some who are just funny – and that is one thing – a personality deal – but joy gives a sense of lasting encouragement. We know people like that – and we need to ask – why do they do that? What is it that they do that when I leave, I have this lasting sense of joy and encouragement? And when we answer that question – ask, How can I become that way with others?!
It is not a personality thing. It is not about being charming.
Here are some things –
It is important to understand that each person has different needs and will receive joy in unique ways. It is not a one-size fits all thing –
The receiving and giving of joy is similar to the Five Love Languages. Our tendency is to think – what is my love language, and then to impose it on everyone else.
We all have a need for affirmation, right? Some have a DEEP need for affirmation – others do not. That is not everyone’s love or joy language – but if it is yours, you think that is what everyone needs.
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1Th 5:14 TNIV)
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Rom 12:15 NET)
Respond differently with different people. Meet them where they are!
Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone's coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound. (Pro 25:20 NLT)
We pour vinegar in wounds, thinking we are helping.
One of the guys in Men’s groups said – sometimes you step on my toes – I NEED someone to step on my toes.
The right way at the right time – like apples of gold in settings of silver.
5 because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
Participation – Koinonia – the religious way of saying it is ‘fellowship’ – but today – fellowship just means a pot-luck dinner. But maybe a better word would be partnership.
Used in marriage, business, and in political/patriotic relationships.
Do you remember when President Bush stood there with that rescue worker and grabbed the bullhorn after 9/11? That feeling of partnership.
If you are old enough, you remember – that man stepping on the moon – (if you believe in that!) – and remember that feeling? Partnering together for a greater purpose.
In Christian koinonia we share benefits – for us, it is our new identity as God’s beloved children – with whom He is well pleased. That is the benefit of being in koinonia – the transformation of new life in Christ and this community called the church -we have shared responsibility to love, care for and serve one another. It is our responsibility.
We are partners in the sharing of the gospel – to advance God’s kingdom. Here is the big question – do you view yourself as a gospel partner with others in our church? Think about that! There are different levels of koinonia – and each is important.
The first would be – this is the church I attend.
Another would be – this is where I learn about God.
This is a place where my friends are where I get support and encouragement.
This is where I serve with others.
This is where I have partnership in the advancement of the gospel – I think that is the hardest one to get to – to do that – as Chris just shared – better than me – it starts with a mindset and an attitude
It starts with individuals – like Pastor John grabbing Chris and partnering in sharing with Tommy.
During 40 days of Purpose – we had 200 people in small groups – when we only had 110 in the church! We were partnering with others in our communities. We need to have a high focus on Cuyahoga Falls and our neighborhoods. We’ve done it with the garage sale – and with COOL – but we need to learn to partner – I partner with other pastors – but we need to take initiative and ask – how can this church partner in the community for the gospel? The results will be significant/
The last thing – we need to find places where people would be receptive. Where are the people who would be receptive? It takes being IN a community – TALKING to people – engaging in it. It is hard and it takes time – but that is what it means to partner in koinonia in the gospel -
6 For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 For it is right for me to think this about all of you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel all of you became partners in God's grace together with me. 8 For God is my witness that I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.