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Mosaic Spokane

Joy In Service

 

The Joy of Service

Jesse Achenbach

Philippians 2:19-30

May 12, 2019

 

OVERVIEW

Philippians could be called “Joy in Suffering.” The book is how we have Christ as, our mind, as our goal, service, our strength, and joy through suffering. It was written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome He was under house arrest, and it was about thirty years after Christ and about ten years after Paul had first preached at Philippi.

Main Verses from the book:

Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Philippians 3:7: “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ."
Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 

While I think that the main push of the letter is Joy in Suffering, it is broken down in these other descriptors.  Let’s look at the passage together:

Philippians 2:19-30 “19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad, and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.”

In the first 6 verses we have Paul talking about Timothy and what a commendation.  He talks about him as an example to follow, how he is like his own son.  How most people look out for their own interests but not Timothy, he has proven himself to be faithful to the gospel.  In fact, at this point Paul is saying that he wants to send Timothy to them, but he still needs him a little more.  What else to we know about Timothy?

He was likely in his late teens or early twenties when he joined up with Paul, but he had already proved himself before that when he was noticed by the elders.  H likely first heard the gospel from Paul on his first missionary journey, but we have no proof of that.  What we know is that his mother and his grandmother (Eunice and Lois) both were Christ followers and had raised him to know scripture.  He at one point was a pastor in Ephesus but for awhile as we can see from the text we just read, also was taking care of Paul while he was in prison.

Christ is the ultimate example of how we are to serve, but I love that Paul gives us some human examples as well.  We have two here, the first being Timothy and the second is in the next six verses of the passage.  His name is Epaphroditus and he is mentioned only in this book.  Here in this chapter and again at the end of the book when Paul gives his final greetings.

Phil 4:17-19 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

We even though he is not as well known to us as Timothy he is still held in high regard by Paul and is used as the other human example of how we should serve like Christ. He is sending Epaphroditus back, he had come as a messenger to Paul bring a gift, so he really is longing to be home. 

The Church at Philippi had heard of Paul’s needs and put together a gift for him and this lucky fellow is the one that either was appointed or volunteered to bring it to Him.  We can all imagine what travel was like back in the time of the first century. 

I used Google maps to see how far a trip it was and it looks to be about 800 miles and involved crossing a body of water. That is so far when I think about the type of travel that must have included.  This last week I drove down to the Oregon coast and put over 1000 miles on the car, but just the cities I travelled to, it was 930 miles.  You can see on the map here that just driving this strait through would be 15 ½ hours but I made it take 4 days.  It doesn’t say when and where Epaphroditus got sick, if it was on the trip or after he had arrived with Paul, but regardless, he was so sick that it almost killed him. 

Many of you know that I was raised as a missionary kid in Indonesia, and I had the privilege to know several different people that sacrificed at this very high level to spread the gospel.  Pilots and the wives and families of the pilots that gave their lives in service to Christ.  That community that I lived near and in, had a very high percentage of people that were willing to go the complete distance at whatever cost to themselves.  My parents and their partners put themselves at great risk, and even their children.  In the 10th grade, I had malaria 10 separate times.  The first was cerebral malaria and it was so bad I had a temperature of 105 and came close to losing my life. In some ways I feel spoiled to be raised in this semi-Christian bubble.  When I came back to the states, I was surprised at the way the Christian life was lived here.  So many people that claimed to be Christ followers did not live like it. Not to point fingers, I too have had my ups in downs in the faith.  I was made aware of how narrow the road to heaven is.  So many people lead this life for their own ends.  Like it says in verse 21.  “For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

Let’s watch this video of Pastor Francis Chan showing us what the Christian life often looks like for us.

VIDEO: Francis Chan Balance Beam Routine

He describes Epaphroditus as a fellow soldier, a co-worker and messenger.  This is another one that we can to strive to be like.  There were other examples of people that had worked with Paul and then not even sticking it out but fully leaving the faith.

There was a fellow named Demas that had at one time been one of Paul’s “fellow workers” in the gospel ministry along with Mark, Luke, and others (Philemon 1:24). During Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, Demas was also in Rome (Colossians 4:14).

There is also biblical evidence that Demas was with Paul during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome, at least for a while. Then something happened. Demas left Paul, abandoned the ministry, and left town. Paul wrote about the sad situation: “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).

The Greek verb used in the original implies that Demas had not merely left Paul but had left him “in the lurch”; that is, Demas had abandoned Paul in a time of need. The apostle was in prison, facing a death sentence, and that’s when Demas chose to set sail. For sure Paul was really let down by Demas. 

When Demas left it wasn’t just location but also a spiritual nature.  He left because it was the world that he was in love with.  The NLT translates it, Demas “loves the things of this life” (2 Timothy 4:10). We don’t know the details of Demas’ situation, but it is obvious that Demas decided that he would rather have his reward here on earth than in heaven.

The decision Demas made has been and is still being lived out today by those who choose the temporary benefits of this world over the eternal riches of heaven.

So what does Christian service look like in your life?  There are three main areas that I would call service, or stewardship.  Time, Talent and Treasure.

Let me preface this by mentioning that while God desires you to give, it is to do it willingly from a joyful heart.  A great reminder when we are struggling with our heart condition is to reflect on our own situation and what Christ did for us.  For God so loved the world that he GAVE, we are saved because He GAVE of His very life.  When we trust God, we honor Him when we give of our resources.  When we serve we are letting our light shine before men and that reflects our Father in heaven.

Time

Giving of your time.  Sometimes I think this is the hardest one for us to give.  It can often be much easier for us to throw money at a problem that it is to stop, reach out and make time.  Recently another church was approached by an apartment building and asked if they could send someone to do a weekly bible study for the residents. After several weeks they recommended that the building follow up with Mosaic because they didn’t have anyone that was interested in committing to do that.  What is happening in our culture that we are so invested in our own lives that we can’t make time to share Christ with those in our own community that are asking for us to share Christ with them?

We were able to plug in someone to that study and now we have been there for the last month or so.  But that requires people to give of their time and their talents as well as their treasure.  It is not just bringing the word but also a meal when the groups go into a building.

Talents

Let’s not forget talents.  We are all uniquely talented in different ways.  I have a college friend that just loves theology.  We all value different things and this guy has education way up on a pedestal, and he is brilliant, always reading, whenever I go visit him, I always leave inspired to learn more.  He has been gifted with a brain that dwarfs mine.  But the thing I see missing is that he rarely puts it into practice.  He is not teaching, not leading a study, he isn’t even sharing with his family.  I think that is why I really am excited about the THS academy that is coming to Spokane.  It is so much different than they way I was taught in Bible School.  One of the things they have the students do in order to graduate is to start a bible study or church, they are even required to lead a certain number of people to the Lord in order to graduate.  This practical application is such a better method that I was taught because it is not just a head and heart knowledge, but it forces the students to utilize the info all the way through the program.  I have another friend that went all the way through school to become a teacher and in the last semester she was required to do a teaching practicum.  She hated it and didn’t complete her schooling, she was one class away from getting her bachelor’s degree and let it go.

Where are you talented and what is stopping you from sharing that for the glory of God?

Treasure

Lastly, we come to treasure.  This one is always such a tricky topic.  A while ago we had a couple of boards up on the wall and they were labeled “helps me worship” and “hinders my worship”.

It was something that John did about a year and a half ago, and I was so sad to read on a number of the cards on the “hinders me from worship” that said, “when we do the offering”.  I get it though.  So many people think that the church is just out there to get their money and with all the charlatans in this country, it is a real concern.  However, as we look at scripture we are commanded to do it and we get to have the blessing of when we do.  What that blessing looks like is not what many teach though.  We often hear people say if you just sow a seed of faith, send me $1,000 God will bless you back with ten times that amount.  Is that possible?  Yes of course, but it is not a magic formula on how to be a millionaire.

Being raised a missionary kid, I HATED when we had to come to the states and we did “Deputation”.  That’s what they called it when we went to all the different churches and raised finances to be on the mission field.  But it taught me to give and so when I changed jobs several years ago, my salary dropped to less than half of what is was before and we had been living off of what we got and were dipping into our savings also.  At the end of the year Candice asked me where we were at on tithing, and I replied to her that we weren’t making enough to tithe.  She challenged me with it and so we decided to give more than what had been our standard 10%.  It was a leap of faith because we were just pulling it out of savings.  The following year we made the amount that we had stretched to.  So, we decided to stretch again.  For the last 9 years we have been stretching that and each following year our household income matches and sometimes exceeds the stretch.  Remember I am not saying it is a magic formula, but God has chosen to bless us in that way for almost a decade now.  About three years ago our faith was tested when I was diagnosed with cancer, and yet God remained faithful to us even though my ability to work was limited.  I do not believe in the health and prosperity doctrine that is very popular today, but God has blessed us and I currently have no active tumors!

II Cor 9:7 God loves a cheerful giver.

Paul tells us to sacrifice in our service, he shows these two men as examples on how we should do it.  I want to share with you how many of you are doing it. 

This is what happens at Mosaic during a typical week:

MONDAY

  • Pioneer Pathways bible study
  • Staff meeting
  • YFC

TUESDAY

  • Carlyle building bible study
  • Boundaries Classes
  • YFC
  • My Choice onsite Van
  • Donna Hansen Haven building bible study

WEDNESDAY

  • YFC
  • Collins building bible study
  • Wall Street building bible study
  • Collins building bible study
  • Prayer Meeting
  • Himflu-en building bible study
  • Worship practice

THURSDAY

  • AM Pray meeting
  • Step Studys
  • YFC Meals and prep

FRIDAY

  • Accountability

SATURDAY

  • Changing Lives

HUB: Cooking Classes, Knitting classes, Guitar Classes, Overflow, Women’s and Men’s groups, Bridge outreach

 

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