Philippians 1:3-11 - Paul’s Thanksgiving
- our conclusions from last week were:
1) Philippi was a very important city -- and because Paul loved
people---that’s where he went.
- he saw the opportunities to minister there
- and of course, in his case, he was supernaturally
directed by God to go there
- he did what he believed God wanted him to do.
2) God opened the hearts of the people of that city
- Paul wasn't ministering alone//on his own//in his own strength
- Jesus Christ is the One who is building His church---He did
that in Philippi, and He's still in the business of doing it
3) Even though this was a young church, verse one makes it obvious
that it was well organized.
- there was a clear understanding of regenerate church
- the church was composed of people who were "saints," people
who knew for sure that they were saved
- the leadership was organized and in place
- there were pastors and deacons
- people knew their roles and apparently were functioning
in them very well.
- this morning, we're going to look at verses 3-11, and study "Paul's
(Ask someone to read 3-11)
- the theme of these verses could be summed up with the phrase, "every
time I remember you, I pray and thank God."
- that, in and of itself, tells us a lot about Paul:
- Every time, I remember you, I pray and thank God."
1) When he thinks of people, he prays...when he thinks of people, he
- that’s a sign of a godly heart.
- that’s part of what it means to "pray without ceasing"
- to have open communication lines with the Lord
- so when something, or someone, came to his mind -- the natural
thing was for him to pray for that person.
- we see that pattern repeated a number of times in the
- of course, that gives us a good evaluative question to ask
"right out of the blocks"
- what do we do when we think about other people?
1) it's possible, to think of someone else, and just tear
them down in our minds.
2) it's possible to think of someone else, and simply
major on the negatives--what we don't like.
3) it's possible to think of someone else, and jump on
the phone and gossip about them.
4) or, it's possible to be so self-absorbed that we don't
take time to think of other people period!
- but that wasn't Paul
- he thought of other people, and prayed...thought of other people,
- of course, if what he thought about was a positive thing [which
takes the appropriate mindset to do], he paused and thanked the
- if what he thought about was a negative thing, he asked God to
help them grow in that area.
- but these verses teach us that Paul had the kind of relationship with
God, and relationship with others
- that when he thought of others, he prayed.
2) Paul had a mental discipline built up that helped him handle the trial
of being in prison.
- Paul could have been thinking about all kinds of things while he
was in jail...
- i.e. -- was he going to live.
- cf. the tombstone pizza commercial
- "what do you want on your tombstone?"
- slicing the pizza on the guillotine
- "Want another SLICE"
- but Paul was able to handle the difficulty and the anxiety of this
situation because of what he chose to focus on.
- now, someone might say, "well, Paul's just putting on a front"
- "this is just some spiritual talk because he's writing a letter--
this isn't really the way he's living"
- there's at least one Guy in the Philippian church who wouldn't say that
- INPUT? Who? (the Philippian jailer)
- who was undoubtedly now a member of this church
- the Philippian jailer in Acts 16 saw Paul have his back laid
open with a beating, and then thrown in prison...
- and he heard Paul and Silas singing praises to God from
their prison cell.
- Paul isn't just putting on a front---this was the way he lived.
- It was possible, and it is possible, to handle great difficulty with
joy by choosing to concentrate on things that please God.
- cf. 4:8-9
- now, let's look at the three things for which Paul is thankful:
I. My Fellowship With You
- this church had developed a very unique, and a very godly
relationship with Paul and his ministry.
- read 4:10-19
- when Paul speaks of their fellowship in the gospel, undoubtedly
he was thinking in part of the support they gave him
- the Lord does not expect everyone to go to the mission field,
but he expects everyone to be involved in God's worldwide
- and one way we can be involved is by being generous
- this church had also sent a man to minister to Paul while he was
- read 2:25-30
- so the point is -- even though Paul was in a terrible position, he was
able to thank the Lord because of the love and fellowship of this
- because he had that relationship, and because he had those
memories, he had reason to rejoice.
- INPUT - what are some other ways we can have "fellowship in the
gospel" with our missionaries?
- illustration - (one of the many ways we try to do that as a
church is through our internship program)
- cf. nursing home a couple of Thursdays ago
- you would have been proud of those guys
- (you would have been happy that they were
representing our church)
- they were warm and friendly and loving to those dear
- it wasn't something they were putting on
- it was appeared to be coming from a heart that
genuinely wanted to minister
- "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound."
- on "one level," to be honest with you, the sound
was anything but sweet.
- it wasn't the kind of thing that the average
record company would want to record.
- but on another level---a much more important
level, that was the sweetest sound in all the
- to hear those dear people, many by their
own confession sincere believers in Christ,
sing praises to God.
- my point is -- it's been good for Jim and Mark to minister in that way
this year---and its been good that our church has the heart to have a
program like that
- that’s just one of many ways a church family can encourage others
to be good stewards of the ministry God has given.
- the overall point is that these believers had the kind of lifestyle and
testimony and ministry -- that could be a great encouragement to the
apostle Paul even though he was in a tough place.
- that gives us an interesting question to ask ourselves:
- If a member of our missionary family was having a difficulty of
their field of service, and they had the occasion to think of
me, would that be an encouraging thing to them, or a
- a second thought that gave Paul reason to be thankful was:
II. My Confidence In God
- cf. 1:6
- INPUT - what is Paul's confidence according to verse 6?
(that God would continue to perform this work in them)
- INPUT - what work? (the work of them having fellowship with him in
- the point is -- Paul didn't see the relationship he had with this
church as being a "purely human thing."
- he (rightly) saw it as the work and blessing of God.
- this was spiritual business, and he had every reason to
believe that God would continue to do that work.
- Paul's heart was greatly encouraged because the Philippians had
allowed God to work in them--so that such a loving relationship
could be established.
- that’s part and parcel of what it means to be a member of a local
- one of my concerns as a pastor is that some folks will never know
this kind of relationship with other believers...
1) don't attend enough
2) don't serve
3) don't join
4) don't let folks get close to them...
- what Paul is describing here is the result of a work of God,
and the result of God's people co-operating with that work.
- because the Philippians had done that, Paul was confident
that it would continue---and it encouraged him.
- now someone might object, "But that might be taken away -- you can't
count on it"
- there's a very important statement in verse 7, about the "ultimate
location" of this relationship
INPUT - in his heart.
- that’s the great thing about all of this
- we're talking about memories
- we're talking about something that cannot be taken away.
- that’s the great thing about using your time, and energy, and talents to
serve the Lord
- you're building a lifetime of memories of the thrill and joy and
even heartache of serving the Lord that are always yours
- cf. Mrs. Riley -- reminising about their service with GLS
- Paul was able to draw from that, even when he was on trial
- cf. vs. 7-8 (develop)
III. My Ongoing Request
- In verses 9-11, Paul continues telling the Philippians how he prays
- we're not going to be able to finish these verses today, but there
is a point that goes right along with what we've been studying
- we might expect, after what we've been reading--for Paul to say
something like..."And don't change a thing"
- "you're great"
- "keep doing what you're doing"
- but, of course, that wouldn't fit with Paul's view that we should
always be growing.
- none of us have arrived, and he is going to make that point very
clear [using himself as an example] in chapter 3.
- because of that, he could honestly say -- and now I want your love
- he is praying that they would grow even more in this area.
- now, let's think about the wrong way for the Philippians to respond to
that...and the right way:
INPUT - wrong way? (we're doing enough -- how could you expect us to
INPUT - right way? (thank you for the commendation -- thank you also
for the exhortation to do better)