The Making of a Thankful Heart

January 16, 2022 Philippians 1:1-2
Outline

Psalm 119:105-112 - Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. I have sworn and I will confirm it, that I will keep Your righteous ordinances. I am exceedingly afflicted; revive me, O Lord, according to Your word. O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me Your ordinances. My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, even to the end.

Benefits of reading and studying the book of Philippians and looking for concrete ways to apply it to what you’re facing today

1. Because it teaches us how to have biblical joy in the midst of significant trial

Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

2. Because it teaches us rich truths about the Person and work of our Savior

3. It helps you find your identity in Christ, and in Christ alone

Philippians 1:21 - For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

3 steps to growing in thanksgiving because of the impact of the gospel

I. Locating Your Identity in Christ

Philippians 1:1a - Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus…

A. As a bondservant

Bond-servants translates the plural of the oft-used Greek word doulos, which describes a person owned by someone else and thus subservient to and dependent on that person. Paul used it of himself at the beginning of three of his epistles (Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1), and in each case it precedes the mention of his apostleship. James (James 1:1), Peter (2 Peter 1:1), and Jude (Jude 1) use it in the same way. When used in the New Testament of a believer’s relationship to Jesus Christ, doulos describes willing, determined, and devoted service. It reflects the attitude of an Old Testament slave who refused the opportunity for freedom and voluntarily resubmitted himself to his master for life. The Mosaic Law provided that “if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently” (Ex. 21:5–6). Speaking of all faithful believers, Paul declared, “Now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). To the Corinthians he explained, “For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. (1 Cor. 7:22) (John MacArthur – Commentary on Philippians, p. 13)

B. To a marvelous king

Philippians 1:1a - Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus…

Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…

II. Making Friendships with Fellow Travelers

Philippians 1:1 - …To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons…

A. Rejoicing in their position

saint – “saved one”

1 Timothy 1:12-13 - I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief…

B. Enjoying a shared allegiance

to all the saints in Christ Jesus

C. Marveling at God’s transforming grace

Philippians 1:2 - Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

III. Having Leaders in Your Life Who Love the Lord

Philippians 1:1 - Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons

A. Understanding the office of overseer

1 Peter 5:1-2 - Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness…

B. Respecting the office of deacon

1 Timothy 3:13 - For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

- How many of you would say that you have a stack of books somewhere in your house that you’ve not yet read?...

- and I realize some students might say – yes, those are called textbooks, and thanks for the reminder of all the homework I have to do this semester…or employees might say – yes, those are software manuals and I’m hoping they come out with a new version before I have to master this one…

- no, I was thinking about optional reading, or pleasure reading…I received several great books for Christmas…and I’m looking forward to digging into them as soon as I finish the ones that were already stacked up, or stored away, in several places around our house…

- this morning I’d like to add to everyone’s reading list with a challenge to each week, look for and window of 15-20 minutes and read through the book of Philippians in one sitting…

- followers of Jesus Christ love the Word of God…it’s our joy, our sustenance, our strength, our life…we would say with the Psalmist…Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. I have sworn and I will confirm it, that I will keep Your righteous ordinances. I am exceedingly afflicted; revive me, O Lord, according to Your word. O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me Your ordinances. My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, even to the end (Psalm 119:105-112)

- Our church’s theme this year is Growing in Gospel Gratitude (Kari – please insert slide)

- we’re going to begin with a verse-by-verse exposition of the book of Philippians because fundamentally this is a thank you letter, written from prison to a dear church that had faithfully supported Paul as one of their missionaries…

- the day before I prepared this message, I was reading a letter from a missionary friend of mine who was describing some of the challenges he and his family are facing in west Africa and it struck me of how similar the church’s ministry is today to the first century church…

- and I suppose that makes sense because we pattern ourselves after what we read in God’s Word so missionary letters then and now are a great delight to us…

- to help motivate you to make a commitment to this study over the next few months, let me list several:

Benefits of Reading and Studying the book of Philippians and Looking for Concrete Ways to Apply it to What You’re Facing Today

1. Because it teaches us how to have biblical joy in the midst of significant trial.

- while as I mentioned, this is a thank-you letter, one of its primary themes is that of the joy we can have in Christ Jesus…

- which is especially surprising when you link that to what we just said about the location from which Paul was writing…

- if he was in a hot tub, or on vacation…that might make more sense to us…because we sometimes believe that joy is circumstantial…

- but Paul’s in prison for proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ…however there’s no hint of complaining, endless descriptions of how bad his conditions are, regrets/demands and on and on…

- If you take me up on the challenge of trying to read this book weekly in one sitting, on one lap around I would encourage you to note every time the word joy is mentioned…climaxing perhaps in Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

- who knows what this year is going to hold for any of us – but part of the good news of the gospel is that followers of Jesus Christ can have profound and lasting joy regardless of the circumstances we face…

- last month I had the privilege and the responsibility of conducting the funeral for my wife’s sister Karen…

- Karen and I were the same age, but right after high graduation, she was in a motorcycle accident and suffered a spinal cord injury that rendered her unable to talk or move most of the muscles in her body…

- my mother-in-law cared for Karen in their home for 43 years…

- one of the persons that reached out right after Karen’s death was her high school English teacher who said that one of Karen’s last writing assignments explained that she hoped to be a teacher…that was something that I did not know…

- I came into the family right after the accident and it had never dawned on me to ask what Karen’s life plans had previously been…

- but her high school teacher made the observation that Karen did become a teacher…just not in the way anyone had wanted or anticipated…

- that observation affected me deeply…in fact she died just a few days after I found out about what the WL City Council was trying to do with their proposed ordinance 31-21, and it helped put some of that in perspective for me…

- but what many of us in the family observed was that Karen was a very joyful person…so when you would go to family gatherings…she would often do her best to look at you and smile as large as her muscular ability would allow…

- friends – there’s something supernatural about that…that’s rejoicing in the Lord…

- my wife Kris told a story that either I never knew, or that I had forgotten (which by the way, is a distinct possibility)…but, Karen was in our wedding

- so, after the guests were all seated and the ladies were lining up to come in…Karen starts choking…so Kris, and her dad, and the other bridesmaids gather around in somewhat of a panic…at which time Karen starts laughing…she was faking, to prank her own sister, from her wheelchair, on her sister’s wedding day…

- that’s my kind of sister-in-law, right there…

- I could tell similar stories about my mother in laws abiding joy through all of those 43 years…I never heard her complain about the life she had been given…

- and the point is – if the book of Philippians can point us to that kind of joy…it worthy of our study…

2. Because it teaches us rich truths about the Person and work of our Savior.

- eventually we’ll get to chapter 2 – we’re going to take this study a bit slower than some of the ones we’ve done…and break down some of the verses and concepts more completely than we sometimes do…

- but Philippians chapter 2 contains one of the richest statements on Christology of anyplace in the NT…

- theologians refer to this as the kenosis passage…which comes from a Greek word in the passage which means “to empty”…

- so when we try to wrap our minds around what it meant for the eternal second Person of the Trinity to become a man, to take on human flesh…

- the process is described here as Jesus emptying Himself…

- and in a world where we’re so often trying to get more for ourselves and more for ourselves…it’s impactful to think about the way our Savior did the polar opposite…He voluntarily laid aside the independent use of some of divine attributes so that He could secure our redemption…

- several of the books I received at Christmas were about WW II – because my family and friends know I love reading about that particular period in our nation’s history…

- I often asked myself…if I had been assigned to participate in one the D-Day invasions…would I have had the courage to do it?...

- of course we’ll never know…but the more I read, the more I love our country (even with all its weaknesses and imperfections), and my respect and admiration for that generation of men and women continues to increase…

- that’s what will happen for you and your relationship with Jesus Christ as you read and meditate on the book of Philippians…

3. It helps you find your identity in Christ, and in Christ alone.

- there’s a lot of talk these days about identity…and clarifying that issue is an important element of your growth in Christ…

- I don’t usually talk about things like this because I don’t want anyone to think that I think I’m a big shot or that I’m trying to sell my wares…

- but to illustrate how important I believe this subject to be, during Covid I write a book on that very subject…

- it’s called – Do you believe what God says about you?...

- for some reason, it was by far the fastest and most enjoyable writing project I’ve ever undertaken…

- I tried to wed biblical truth about our identity in Christ with a novel of a small group in counsel wrestling with various aspects of this topic…

- I even killed someone in the book – which was a first for me…

- but the point is – the book of Philippians can help us find our identity in Christ, and in Christ alone…

- that could be a second assignment from this study, and that is to attempt to memorize several of the key verses…and a good starter would be…Philippians 1:21 - For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

- that’s what the gospel can do for you – which is part of what enabled Paul to have joy in prison…because the question of his identity had been settled…and nothing that anyone else could say or do could take that away…

- if you’ve not yet done so – please open your Bible to Philippians chapter 1 – page 154 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…for our purposes this morning, let’s read the first 20 verses of this great book…but then we’ll focus especially on verses 1-2…

- Read Philippians 1:1-20

- we’re talking this morning about The Making of a Thankful Heart

- now let’s center in on verses 1-2 and look for 3 steps to growing in thanksgiving because of the impact of the gospel.

- what we said just a moment ago about one of the overall benefits of studying the book comes out in the very first verse…how Paul…

I. Locating Your Identity in Christ

- Philippians 1:1a - Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus…

A. As a bondservant

- Bond-servants translates the plural of the oft-used Greek word doulos, which describes a person owned by someone else and thus subservient to and dependent on that person. Paul used it of himself at the beginning of three of his epistles (Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1), and in each case it precedes the mention of his apostleship. James (James 1:1), Peter (2 Peter 1:1), and Jude (Jude 1) use it in the same way. When used in the New Testament of a believer’s relationship to Jesus Christ, doulos describes willing, determined, and devoted service. It reflects the attitude of an Old Testament slave who refused the opportunity for freedom and voluntarily resubmitted himself to his master for life. The Mosaic Law provided that “if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently” (Ex. 21:5–6). Speaking of all faithful believers, Paul declared, “Now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). To the Corinthians he explained, “For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave” (1 Cor. 7:22) (John MacArthur – Commentary on Philippians, p. 13).

- it is amazing how many issues can be put to rest if you choose to think about yourself through this particular biblical grid…

- so Paul wasn’t lording his position over the Philippians…or focusing on all the ways he had sacrificed on their behalf…or seeking sympathy or applause…

- I’m just a bondservant…

- when people choose to think about themselves that way in the home…there can be far more peace and harmony…

- when dad says – how can I serve my family today…and mom says – how can I serve my family today…and each one of the children says – how can I serve my family today…that creates a delightful atmosphere for sure…

- and let’s face it – we all struggle with selfishness…what comes naturally is demanding to be served by others…

- that’s why stopping and asking – who am I?....do I believe what God says about me and am I going to practically apply that at this moment in time?...can have such a powerful impact…

- this is one of the reasons guys – I would encourage you get into a point man group because you will have some solid Christian men holding you accountable for being a servant leader in your family…

- ladies – I would encourage you to do the same – find some other ladies who actually enjoy serving their husbands and their families…

- let me say to the young people here – choose to view yourself through the lens of being a bondservant…

- if your mom asks you to clean up your room…clean up your room [to her standards, not yours…]…ask your mom and dad if there is any way you can serve them…offer to vacuum your mom’s car…to take out the trash…

- what about saying to your dad – hey dad, I know you were going to straighten the garage today…how about if I take a stab at that while you just sit back and watch the game because I appreciate how hard you work every day to provide for our family…[now dads, when you can’t find your tools for the next 6 months…you can’t grump about that]…

- I’ve often marveled over the years at the way single men and women serve one another and at our church…

- we have entire ministries that would not be happening around here were it not for such persons viewing themselves as bondservants…

- you might say – what does that have to do with thanksgiving?...

- what’s the answer to that question…servants don’t have unusually high expectations or demands…[which is what often leads to the polar opposite of thanksgiving – i.e. complaining and grumping and depression and bitterness…]

- if you view yourself as a servant…its far more likely that you’ll be thankful for anything you receive…

- but it’s not just that…you’re a bondservant…

B. To a marvelous king

- Philippians 1:1a - Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus…

- we pointed this out from our study of 1 Timothy 1 recently…

- word order matters…the Greek language was very precise…

- and we believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scripture…

- which means in this case…that we should note that Paul often uses the phrase Christ Jesus as opposed to Jesus Christ…

- which emphasizes both His preexistence, and His Messiahship…

- it’s one thing to say you’re a servant…it’s something entirely different when you view yourself through the lens of being a servant of a marvelous king…

- that brings great clarity to how these situations may actually play out in the moment…

- because often when you’re called upon to serve…its in a situation where the specific person you’re serving in the moment is not very loveable…and someone you may not really feel like serving at all…

- it’s in those moments that you remind yourself of what?...in the final analysis, I’m not serving them…I’m serving Christ…

- so for example at work – your boss may be a real piece of work (and of course, I’m not speaking to any of our staff members – but for all you less fortunate people out there…)…clarifying your identity can certainly help you…

- Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,

- this also has something to do with the excellence with which you serve…if you consider yourself a bondservant of Christ Jesus…you want to perform whatever that task is with excellence…

- I’m not just framing a wall for a homeowner – I’m a bondservant of Christ Jesus…so even if no one ever notices it’s straight and plumb because someone else is going to drywall over it…my king knows…

- I’m not just making a meal for my family – some who may wolf it down as soon as it hits the table and others who may complain because they don’t like it – I’m a bondservant of Christ Jesus…which is why I’m not just throwing this together with as little thought and effort needed to barely get by…

- this also plays into the issue of thanksgiving because my sovereign king can assign me to whatever place He wishes, and whatever conditions, for whatever duration…

- so Paul’s perspective is -- if my Master wants me to be imprisoned for proclaiming to gospel…then hi ho, hi ho, its off to the jailhouse I go…

- this power of this principle came screaming out to me again during the Living Nativity…

- because of some of the changes that were made in the way we serve our guests, Kris, the Bear, and I were assigned to distribute hot chocolate and cookies to those waiting to start the walk-through…

- if you’ve never had a cup of Bear chocolate…you don’t know what you’re missing…

- but in the sovereignty of God…we worked right around several people who had experienced severe trials this past year…including two recent widows…

- during a break in the action (and there weren’t many of those with how many people walked through), I spoke to one of the widows who told me…my husband and I have served in the LN for years and years…and now he’s gone and I had to decide what to do this year…

- she said something like – I knew if I just sat at home, it would make things worse…so I’m here because I want to tell others about a Savior who can give joy in hard times…I thought her driving over to the LN without her husband…and serving all evening without him…and then driving back home…

- we’re not going to sugar coat that…but she was able to function that way because long ago she made a decision about her identity…there’s power in viewing oneself as a “bondservant of Christ Jesus”…and it can help you be thankful even when it’s hard…

‑ a second step we see here to growing in thanksgiving…

II. Making Friendships with Fellow Travelers

- Paul addresses this letter…

- Philippians 1:1 - …To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:

- in culture and with some churches, the word “saint” is used to denote something who is unusually spiritual…

- when my sister Sharon thinks my mom is putting me on too high a pedestal, she refers to me as “Saint Steve”…feel free to join her in that habit anytime you think it suits you…

- but I’ve been to other places in the world where people perform all sorts of acts of penance and then pray to certain so-called saints in an attempt to break through to the God of heaven and earth…

- passages like this one are one of the reasons we don’t think or speak that way…

A. Rejoicing in their position

- saint – “saved one”

- and when I say “their” position, I really mean both Paul’s and the people in the Philippian church…

- remember, at one time, Paul had devoted his life to persecuting people in Christ’s church…

- we saw that too in …1 Timothy 1:12–13 - I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;

- since Timothy was with Paul in Philippi at the time – you wonder how much time they had spent talking about Paul’s former life, and more of the details of what it meant for him to be a “blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor”…

- yet now, Paul could say…that he was a saint…a saved one…

- and how was it that he became friends with this group of people…

- please look back at the book of Acts for a moment…page 106 of the back section of the Bible if you’re using that…

- this is from the second missionary journey…read selected portions of Acts 16:9-40…

- these men and women were saints because of the saving power of the gospel of Jesus Christ…it transformed Paul’s life…it transformed Lydia life…it transformed the Philippian jailer…and now they have a…

B. Enjoying a shared allegiance

- to all the saints in Christ Jesus

- think about going from being a persecutor of people like this…to being an evangelist to people like this…

- and what we’re going to see as we move through this study is the kind of depth of relationships that comes through sharing love for and allegiance to the same king…

- which results in everyone…

C. Marveling at God’s transforming grace

- this is why he says in the next verse…

- Philippians 1:2 - Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

- Paul had to have grace before he could have peace…

- the Philippians had to have grace before he could peace…

- and now they were both at peace and with one another because of the grace they had received in Christ…

- there’s really nothing like having brothers and sisters in Christ in the church…

- Paul could literally be in prison and be thankful simultaneously…because of what these men and women meant to Him…

- we’re in the process of taking the surveys for our SMP (give an update on how many have been completed…)

- sometimes when we talk to other pastors or church leaders…they say things like…we would never ask people to give us their opinions and their suggestions about what needs to be changed in the church…it would lead to incredible division…and then if we had to decide what we were going to work on together in the coming days…that would lead to even more division if some people didn’t get their way…

- well, remember, we are pushing these surveys out to the community too...so we may have some responses that are a bit…interesting…

- but when you have people who are grateful for the gospel’s impact in their own lives…and then grateful for brothers and sisters who have also come to Christ…there’s a shared life and experience that can make talking about improvements and future plans/desires/dreams a very powerful and positive experience…

- thankful people can be excellent communicators, and excellent planners…that’s been proven for decades around here…

- let me take a moment and speak to anyone who has not yet experienced the grace of Jesus Christ yet…

- I’m so glad you’re here…

- and even in an introductory message to one of Paul’s epistles…there’s truth here that could be used to bring you to a saving knowledge of Christ…

- if you don’t know that you know that you know that you are on your way to heaven…this morning you could admit your sin and place your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and be transformed from whatever you are…to a saint…a saved one…[develop – if it was possible for Paul, it’s possible for you]…

- I would also want to say a word to anyone who has not yet found a church home…Paul needed the dear brothers and sisters in Philippi to help him face these challenges with joy…and you and I need that too…

- I cannot even fathom what it would have been like to face the challenges the Lord has given me over the years was it not for the church…my brothers and sisters in Christ…

- and if you don’t have a church home – we’d like to be your Philippi…

- and if you’re around the edges…why not take steps to press into more meaningful relationships this year that help you grow in gospel gratitude…

III. Having Leaders in Your Life Who Love the Lord

- it’s interesting that even in this introduction, Paul is sure to mention…

- Philippians 1:1 - Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:

- you may know that our church believes in 2 offices, pastor and deacon…

- and its verses like this that lead us to that belief…

A. Understanding the office of overseer

- as you compare Scripture with Scripture, we sees the words pastor, bishop (overseer), and elder used interchangeably in Scripture…

- if you’d like to talk about that in more detail, we’d be happy to do that…

- but why three terms?...many have suggested that the word overseer describes the office, elder describes the person/man, while the word pastor describes the function

- a good example of that interchange is 1 Peter 5:1–2 - Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;

- as the letter unfolds, we’ll see more how the pastor of this church played a role in the love gift being delivered to Paul…but the point here is – it’s easier to grow in gospel gratitude if you have other people in your life pointing you in that direction…

B. Respecting the office of deacon

- we started this morning talking about the importance of viewing your identity through the lens of being a servant…

- that’s especially true of those willing to serve, and chosen by their church family to serve, in the office of deacon…

- because the office was instituted when a need for service arose in Acts 6, and the word literally means servant…

- but I am so glad Paul included them in this list…

- because when it comes down to how soul-care often works in the local church…its amazing how much of that occurs through deacons and their wives and their families…

- that’s why Paul said in 1 Timothy 3:13 - For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

- [tell about experience years ago at another church were the man said – people don’t respect deacons anymore…]

- the take-away from this particular point for you is – do you have people in your life who are pointing you to growing in gospel gratitude…

- Conclusion – we all have lots of books we’d like to read this year – put Philippians on the top of the list…and plan now to take specific steps to grow in gospel gratitude

Authors