Philippians 1:3-11 - Paul's Thanksgiving

Dr. Steve Viars May 13, 1995 Philippians 1:3-11

- 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,
      and prayed.

      - 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
            missionary endeavor
               - 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
         in prison
           - 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
          discouraging thing?

- 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
                his ministry)

    - 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
         NT church.

     - 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
       for them.

    - 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
       this morning:

    - 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
        to abound.
          - 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
                         grow more?)

    INPUT - right way?  (thank you for the commendation -- thank you also
                          for the exhortation to do better)

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video