Discipleship

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.15.17

Love for the Gospel Shapes How We Live

 

1 Corinthians 9

Last week, we saw principles that guide how we exercise our rights and freedoms. The Apostle Paul continues this theme at length!  But now he uses his own example to show that serving the Gospel shapes his priorities and lifestyle

Paul Starts By Reminding Them of His Position v1

He was an Apostle: the highest office in the church

A requirement of being an Apostle is to be a witness of the risen Christ. Paul says, “I saw him!”

He was not just an Apostle he was their Apostle vs1-2

In Acts 18, Paul founded the church in Corinth; and he spent 1½ years teaching them

He Understood His Rights in Christ v1 “Am I not free?”

Many in the church struggled to understand their freedoms; but not Paul, he knew them well

 

Yet, He Wants Them to Know the Rights He Gave Up

There are three areas in which Paul gave up his rights

1.  The right to eat food sacrificed to idols as mentioned in chapter 8 and possibly here in v4

2.  The right to have a wife v5 – Paul embraced singleness as he describes in chapter 7

3.  The right to be paid for laboring to serve churches v6

Paul keeps his focus on this last right

He gives four proofs that he has the right to be paid for serving the church

1.  Being paid for your service is a principle that is obvious to the world v7

2.  The Old Testament law affirmed this principle v8

3.  This was the practice for those who work in all temples v13; whether Jewish or pagan

4.  It was commanded by Jesus v14 (Luke 10:7 ‘a laborer deserves his wages’)

He goes into detail about his rights in order to dramatize his refusal of them

 

Why Would the Apostle Paul Give Up Obvious ‘Rights’?

The gospel is a greater purpose than clinging to our rights

He repeats this idea three times: v12, v15 and v18

In vs 12-18 he refers to ‘the gospel’ seven times

Each time, he exalts the value of the gospel to dictate how he lives

Can you say the gospel motivates your priorities?

What is the gospel and why is it worth sacrificing rights and privileges?

Gospel means good news: it involves incomparable events, and it provides unequalled hope

The gospel so thrilled Paul, he made himself a servant to it v19

He was not just willing to live this way, he was eager to do so

The gospel had captured Paul’s heart and he wanted it for everyone else!

This made Paul flexible in how he dealt with people vs 20-22

What point is Paul making?  ‘Servants’ adapt to those they serve

He is not telling us to compromise beliefs, but to compromise our preferences

Love leads us to become comfortable with the people around us

Serving Christ and his gospel shaped how Paul lived vs 24-27

All that Paul claimed to believe about God actually led how he lived

He lived with self-control v25

This is not a negative concept, being out of control is

Just as exercise shapes our physical body, godly discipline shapes our soul  Bible reading, prayer, community

He had direction v26

He was not “aimlessly” reacting to every new situation

We are Christians, we follow a Person; and he is consistent, faithful, and wise

His heart was filled with the joy of serving Christ!

Look at his language: v18 reward, v23 share blessing, v24 the prize

Paul lived to please God and that brought joy to his heart

Have you lost perspective about where goodness is found?

How will you respond to Christ and his gospel?

Do you need this gospel?  Christ is here to save – don’t push him away

For those who have the gospel – is your heart dry? Is your life aimless?

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.28.16

 Members Care for Their Church

by Eric Huber

The Bible established two offices for the church – elder and deacon. 

Elders are called by God to teach, lead and protect the church and her members through the ministry of the Word. 

Deacons are responsible to ensure proper care is provided to those who are most vulnerable in the church – the sick, the elderly, and the widow.  Deacons are to work alongside the elders to ensure a gospel-centered ministry in the church of both word and deed. 

These are complementary offices in the shepherding of the local church.

Elders and deacons do not do all the work in the church. 

Together, they equip and mobilize the church for ministry.  God calls every believer to commit to some local church in order that we all would experience church life as shared ministry together as we care for one another.

Members of the local church are to be equipped for ministry (Eph. 4:11-16). 

As a church, we build ourselves up in love as Christ works to grow us through our life together.  We grow only as each part is working properly in the context of our shared life together as our leaders equip us for one-another ministry.

We are each gifted for ministry.

God also gives us spiritual gifts for our one-another ministry. 1 Cor. 12:7 tells us, “To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  God gives spiritual gifts not primarily for our personal benefit, but for the benefit of others. They are given for the common good – our life shared together.

God gifts and empowers each of us to serve one another.  When we do not use our gifts for life in the church, then our shared life together is impoverished.

We are also to be obedient for ministry. 

God calls us to submit to and obey the leaders in whom God has entrusted our spiritual care (Heb 13:17).  Those leaders will give an account to God for how well they cared for us as they lead us to fulfill the biblical picture of life together in the church. 

Now, that does not mean that we cannot disagree on how things should be done.  We can, but God instructs us to follow their leadership as they seek to follow Christ.

We are gifted for ministry, and we are to be equipped and obedient for ministry. 

Finally, we are to be involved for ministry. 

We cannot receive or give the care and encouragement God wants for us if we are not living in community with the other members of our local church.  We are a spiritual family called to love and serve one another, which requires knowing one another. 

It can be scary to be vulnerable with others, but the pay-off is greater because God has promised to work in our shared life together. 

May God’s Spirit enable us to see, understand, and live out the truth of the local church as Christ’s loving Kingdom on earth.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.07.16

Pastors Feed and Lead their Church

 

1 Peter 5:1-4

The title ‘pastor’ comes from the biblical picture of ‘shepherd’. Pastors fulfill their role as shepherds by Feeding, Leading, Protecting and Caring for the flock (we will look at the first two in this message). Understanding the pastors’ role helps guide our expectations of pastors and our responses to them

 

God calls pastors to feed his people

Feeding is essential to the biblical intention of shepherding

The KJV even translated “shepherd the flock” as “feed the flock”

In John 21 Jesus restores Peter who had denied him 3 times, with the 3-fold charge of “feed my lambs . . tend my sheep . . feed my sheep”

Feeding is our primary responsibility, leading and protecting flow out of it

The only food we have to feed God’s people is God’s Word  2 Timothy 3:16-17

God’s word needs to be continuously Exalted – it is to be honored as being “God-breathed”

God’s word needs to be continuously Loved – more than simply revered

God’s word needs to be fully Trusted – as the highest truth, and as completely sufficient for our lives

God’s word needs to be continuously applied – that is how it “profits” us

Our spiritual diet has to mature if we are to mature  Hebrews 5:12-14

v12 we must start with the basics and be firmly rooted in them

vs 13-14 but we should not stay there

To shepherd a congregation to fully health, the teaching diet must be healthy

Pastors need to challenge how we think; because we  don’t believe as fully as we think we do

We need to dig in more by reading and thinking more deeply

We saw in 2 Timothy 3 that pastoral teaching is not merely presenting info biblical truths are to transform and mobilize our lives

Word ministry is a serious responsibility  2 Timothy 4:1-4

Pause to digest the magnitude of this “charge” (v1)

Pastors dare not hold back by avoiding or minimizing God’s word

Listeners dare not push off what they don’t like, or receive it casually

 

God calls pastors to lead his people (v2)

Christians are people in motion, we are going somewhere

(1)  We are headed for life in a kingdom that is not of this world

(2)  We are being transformed into the image of Christ

Pastors ‘shepherd’ God’s people in the direction we are to be going  Ephesians 4:11-13

They are to help everyone under their care to become more like Christ, which includes engaging everyone in service to his kingdom

This is Challenging!      

If everyone is to participate in all that maturity requires, there need to be church programs and processes to guide them

If everyone is to participate, those who are lagging must be challenged in the areas where they need to move forward

Pastors answer to God in how we fulfill the role he has given  Hebrews 13:17

It is hard to stay fully and unyieldingly biblical; so it is important that congregations encourage their pastors to remain faithful and as they are faithful

How we lead is as important as the fact that we lead (vs 2-3)

Peter presents 3 contrasting ways pastors can serve

1.  Our Attitude is not to be as under compulsion (drudgery), but willingly for the gospel

2.  Our Motive is not to be shameful gain (money, notoriety, power), but eagerly serving Christ

3.  Our Approach is not to be domineering, but as examples of godliness. We cannot lead where we are not going

Any God-given authority or responsibility is built on God-shaped character (who we are), and desires (what we want)

There is mutual accountability in the church

How the pastors lead and how the congregation follows

“Submission to pastors is not subservience, it is living orderly under the leadership of the pastors”  Scott McKnight

The entire church must be abounding with gospel truths for one another to both correct and encourage

All of us are under the leading and care of the “Chief Shepherd” (v4)

We will never truly understand the church or have a healthy church, unless Christ is our exalted head

YOU CAN STUDY THE BIBLE

KGWoK

The Bible is meant to be read, understood and used.

Frankly I am baffled by Christians who don’t bother to read their Bible. 

How can anyone expect to know God, grow and be fruitful if you ignore what God has to say to them?!

Excuses about not understanding the Bible are shallow at best. Of course there will be some things that you will not understand clearly, but the bulk of God’s Word is approachable for anyone who is interested and has the Holy Spirit in them – which is every true Christian. 

I began reading the Bible regularly during grade school. I don’t remember having any feelings of frustration due to the Bible being obtuse.

As parents we should read the Bible with our children so that they will value God’s Word and develop their own habit of reading it. If your children can handle text books in school, they can handle the Bible.

The Bible is meant to be studied.

There is wonderful depth to the Bible that is not meant to keep us at a distance, it is meant to excitedly draw us in.

Not everyone is as comfortable with studying of any kind, but studying the Bible is by far the most profitable place to apply our mind.

Bible study can be basic and it can become quite involved, but it is all profitable. 

The resources available to help us study are virtually endless, but obviously they come in different levels of practicability and credibility. 

Pastors spend a lot of time studying God’s Word (if they are fulfilling their calling), so they are typically excited to help church members who want guidance in how to study the Bible. 

The Knowable Word website may be helpful to you. It presents what it calls the OIA approach, which simply means:

Observation – what does it say?

Interpretation – what does it mean?

Application – how do I need to change?

None of these steps are hard, if fact we Observe, Interpret and Apply information every day.

The point is to do something. And if you have never faithfully read the Bible, then that is the essential, wonderful and blessed step you need to take.

If you are interested in going further, then ask for help. You can start by poking around the Knowable Word website or reading their article on why you smart enough to study God’s Word.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.05.16

The Active Presence of the Holy Spirit                        

John 16:5-15

The most under-appreciated aspect of our salvation may be the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  In his farewell address, Jesus keeps coming back to the Holy Spirit so we will be mindful of his active presence

 

The Holy Spirit is our great advantage in this world (v7)

Jesus’ leaving was to fulfill the Father’s plan in establishing a New Covenant

Jesus did everything necessary to make the gospel possible and the Holy Spirit does everything necessary to unite us to the gospel

As the disciples in John 16 were to anticipate the Holy Spirit’s coming, we are to expect the Holy Spirit’s work

The Holy Spirit has come and he does abide in every believer

He is being faithful to fulfill all the wondrous purposes of the gospel in us

 

Jesus presents the work of the Holy Spirit in the world (vs 8-11)

Jesus starts here, because this is the Holy Spirit’s necessary starting place with us

The world needs the Holy Spirit’s “conviction” because people don’t see clearly (Revelation 3:16-17)

Even as believers, our motivations and justifications are not as pure as we think

The Holy Spirit brings conviction in three areas  

1. We need conviction about “sin” (v9)

     Sin is always deceptive, evil and foolish. Sin is an act of rejecting God

     If we are not taking sin seriously, we are not taking Jesus who died for sin   seriously

2. We need conviction about “righteousness” (v10)

     A proof of this is that we are not more drawn to holiness, which is God’s own character

     Our goodness is defiled, so only Jesus can make us righteous before God

3. We need conviction about “judgment” (v11)

     People who don’t believe in God’s rule, are not concerned about coming judgment

     How we live should take into account that only what submits to Christ will survive judgment (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

     If you want to see clearly, invite the Holy Spirit to speak by his voice, his word and his people

 

Jesus presents the work of the Holy Spirit in believers (vs 12-15)

1. The Holy Spirit guides us in the truth

We cannot trust other sources to be fully true    

The Holy Spirit always speaks in harmony with Scripture (v13b)

     The Holy Spirit inspired Scripture that is what he will bring to us

     The Holy Spirit never tells you that your sin is ok

The Spirit-filled believer lives in harmony with God’s Word, which means they are engaged with the Bible to test their lives against to it

2. The Holy Spirit draws our attention to kingdom fulfillment

“He declares to us the things that are to come” (v13)

What is “to come” drives our motivations: We look to better job, a bigger house, a fulfilling relationship and a higher reputation

What is “to come” drives our fears: We become anxious over what our kids will do, our doctor will say, or how the economy will turn

The Spirit-filled believer looks to the fulfillment of Jesus’ kingdom, for we know all that is ‘to come’ is ruled by Christ

     Our desires become shaped by wanting to honor and be used for Jesus kingdom

     Our fears are eased by knowing all things are in Jesus’ hands

3. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (v14)

The whole of God’s plan for this world and for humanity centers on Jesus

Jesus is the answer for the world’s groaning and he is the fulfillment of humanity’s hope

The Holy Spirit will not emphasize anything above Jesus

The Spirit-filled believer spends a lot of time and attention on Christ

     Trusts him  

     Exalts him  

     Obeys him  

     Serves him

     Rests in him

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 8.02.16

The True Vine

by Dan McManus

John 15:1-11

Authentic disciples abide in Jesus by drawing upon his word, which bears fruit in their lives for their joy and God’s glory

The Vine

Throughout the gospel Jesus giving several “I am” statements

These statements present the ideas of replacing and fulfilling. What once was is now fully seen in Jesus.

Here he gives the last of the “I am” statements:  I am the True Vine.

We need to see what is being replaced and fulfilled

In the OT Israel is referred to as the vine. But Israel is often rebuked for not bearing fruit and warned of being cut off

Jesus here surpasses Israel and becomes the very locus of the people of God. No longer is God’s vineyard with the nation of Israel but in the vine of Jesus himself.

The Vinedresser

The Father cares for his vineyard in two ways: Pruning and Removing

v2 tells us the fruit-bearing branches are pruned and the fruitless branches are removed.

The Branches

Those who bear fruit are pruned, v3 you are already clean because of the word.

There is a play on words that we don’t pick up on in the English but is clear in the Greek that the word for prune means to cleanse, purify, prune

The word for clean has the same root which means clean, pure, unstained.

Those who are already clean will be further cleansed.

How is it that they are already clean? Because of the word that I have spoken to you

What is the word? All of what he has said and all of who He is.

Christ is the Word incarnate

Pruning

Pruning is not always pleasant, but it is always good. Hebrews 12:10-11

False disciples are those who do not bear fruit, he removes and throws away.

There are many who pass for branches in Christ but they do not bear fruit and are only connected by profession and not true faith.  

The vinedresser must remove the unfruitful branches for the health of the vineyard.

Abiding and Fruit-Bearing

The imagery of the vine becomes more clear as we see the necessary connection between abiding and bearing fruit.

Authentic disciples (those connected to the vine by faith) abide in Jesus and so bear fruit  v4-5 

Bearing fruit is a necessary result of abiding

Once a branch is apart from the vine it has no hope of bearing fruit. It must remain connected.

Jesus is saying that in him is the life giving source from which fruit can be born.

So how is it we remain connected to Jesus, how do we abide in him?

He points to the way we abide in him by having his words abide in is

v7 “abide in me and my words abide in you”

Notice the flow from vs 4, 5 & 7 “I in you” . . . “my words in you”

There is such a connection between who Jesus is and what he has said he can speak of them interchangeably.

In the vine picture Jesus is telling us he will remain with, abide with us in his words which he sees as his very presence.

This is a profound truth that Jesus sees his word in us as our being with Him

Because Jesus is the Word made flesh, he is God with us, and all of scripture is the testimony of who God is. All Scripture is the testimony of who Christ is

Branches that “abide” in the vine bear fruit because they draw up from the vine’s life giving nutrients to bear fruit.

Authentic disciples abide in Jesus by drawing from his word in order to bear fruit.

This is not about just reading it, it is more than that. It is about drawing up the life giving truths necessary for bearing fruit.

How to we draw upon the words of Jesus?

Psalm 119 gives us many ways in which we abide in the Word

Keep it (v5) apply the Word to our lives

Store it up (v11) memorize scripture

Declare it (v13) speak the Word to yourself and to others  

Meditate on it (v15) think through the intention of the Word and how it matters in our lives            

Delight in it (v16) come to the scriptures with delight because you are coming to Jesus

Behold it (v18) gaze upon the wonder of the Word

Desire it (v20) have a passion for it

Learn it (v26-27) engaging our minds to understand so our hearts might be affected. If we want to feel deeply we have to be willing to think deeply.

Incline your heart to it (v36)

Trust it (v42) does knowing biblical truth lead us to trust it?

Sing it (v54) this is a wonderful way to draw up from the vine

Believe it (v66) a confident conviction that every word is true and good.

Hope in it (v74) when everything around us seems to be in chaos we can be steady, because our hope is in the Word

Love it (v97) to cherish it through meditation and obedience

Rejoice in it (v162) we can take great joy in this great treasure.

Pray it:  the whole Psalm is a poetic prayer that all these things about the Word would be a reality in his life

This connects us back to John 15

v7 Abiding in Jesus and his words abiding in us lead us to pray

When the authentic disciple is abiding in Jesus and drawing up from the vine his prayers will be inhabited with the will of Jesus.

We will pray according to his desire for us—that we would bear much fruit and he says it will be done for us.

Obedience, love, Joy, and glory are all tied together vs 8-11

Abiding in Jesus and bearing fruit happens in the soil of love.

Jesus tells us, we are loved with a perfect love, and so remain in it through obedience.

Jesus is our example!

He has never questioned the Father’s love

He has always remained in the Father’s love through obedience.

Obedience and love are wrapped up together 1 John 5:3

God’s Word is not merely commands to us; it is an expression of love.

v11 Jesus explains his desire through this teaching that they we have true joy.

Last week we saw that Jesus gives HIS peace, and now we learn he also gives HIS joy!

WHAT IS YOUR CULTURAL DIET?

Not long ago I was reading an article in which the author gave what I think is wonderful advice:

Take stock of your cultural diet. Evaluate and re-evaluate your movie-watching, music-listening, clothes-wearing habits. Are you feeding or starving the lust of your flesh?

We all live in a culture. More accurately we live in the midst of several overlapping and often co-mingling cultures.

As Christians, we are alert to the extreme violations of biblically defined culture, but too often we float along without serious examination of our “cultural diet”.

The point is not to make us rigid; it is to make us biblical – which by God’s definition is always wise and good!

This exercise is not an infringement upon our Christian liberties; it is a sifting to make sure our liberties are in fact God-honoring and Christian.

I will press the point a little further to say, if we are unwilling to examine our cultural diet, then we are not actually serious about being Christ-followers. For Jesus unceasingly leads to love the Father with all that we are. This includes honoring Him in all that we take in.

WHY IT’S NOT REALLY A BIG SACRIFICE

Jesus described the “Greatest Commandment” in these words:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Mark 12:30

This idea of ‘Great Commandment living’ at first glance seems so sacrificial.

The thought of everything in life being about God seems overboard to some Christians (and all non-Christians).

 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”  Matthew 6:33

You may be fearful in ways you cannot even define when you are asked to submit to Christ in all things.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me”  Matthew 11:29

The call to make everything about Christ seems to be hard, and demand so much. In our minds, we think how could we make such a sacrifice?

The answer is found in understanding the full truth of Great Commandment Living

How can we call our part – even when it is everything – a great sacrifice when we look at what eternity holds for us! We are made whole. All things will be at rest. Our experience will be glory beyond human contemplation. We will live in a perfect loving relationship with God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit

How can we begrudge God the temporary sacrifices we will make when we see the unimaginable sacrifice which Christ made just to join himself to humanity forever. Add to that the sacrifice on the cross to take our guilt and God’s wrath. It is true foolishness to carry on about sacrifice when we live in the shadow of the cross!

How can we complain or hesitate about giving God our all, when He has given grace beyond measure to us?

Why would we hold back from submitting completely to God when we see on full display around us, the pain, sorrow and brokenness of life that is not yielded to God? We have experienced that God is good! Why do we hesitate to have more of that goodness and less of our emptiness? 

All hesitance and resistance to Great Commandment Living is based upon lies from the Deceiver and from our own sinful nature.

Are you a Christ follower? Then embrace the glorious fulfillment of following him whole-heartedly. If you do not think that sounds appealing – it is because you remain in ignorance about what it is like.

Yes, Christ does call for everything from us. And he has every right since he has done everything necessary to save us fully and forever.

Pour your heart out to Christ and experience his promise of life that is good.

For Jesus who said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me”, added “for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”

When Jesus declared, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”, also said, “and all these things will be added to you”

Today we can truly desire to surrender all to God, because it is His heart for us to feel that way.

Today we can truly love God more deeply and live accordingly, because the Holy Spirit dwells in us working toward that purpose.

Don’t get distracted by the thought that it is impossible to exercise Great Commandment living for the rest of your life. Instead think about how good it is to exercise Great Commandment living right now.

Right now is the only time you can live wholly for God.

DON’T CONFUSE KNOWLEDGE and MATURITY

What defines spiritual maturity?

Whatever your answer, it should be connected to having an accurate understanding of God and his character. However, maturity is not measured by the amount of theology we know, it flows out of how closely our character mirrors that of Christ.

My favorite passage to define biblical maturity is Ephesians 4:13

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

Paul is talking about the equipping of God’s people and he says the culmination is the “fullness” of Christ’s character.

This should be more than a subtle hint that we still have a lot of maturing ahead of us.

There are other passages which confirm character as the measurement of maturity:

Galatians 5:22-23 which describes the fruit of having the Holy Spirit working in us.

1 Corinthians 13 which tells us that even with knowledge, gifts and faith, we are “nothing” without love.

Keeping the emphasis of maturity on character is important because we are easily deceived into thinking that our increasing knowledge of biblical truths is a proof of our maturity.

Yes, increased understanding is an irreplaceable tool for maturity, but of itself it does not produce maturity.

Paul Tripp addresses this topic in his article entitled “Don’t Confuse Knowledge and Success with Maturity”

We are constantly surrounded with opportunities to exercise biblical character. Some of these are how we act when no one can see us. Others come when we decide how we will respond to what others are doing around us or to us.

Let’s look at all of these moments as opportunities for maturity which are pleasing to God and important for being used by Him.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 3.07.16

 “Worthy Examples”

Philippians 2:19-30 

by Paul Long

What if your pastors were to write a recommendation letter for your life as a Christian?  How would your pastors describe you? 

Paul ends Chapter 2 by giving the Philippian church the example of two men: Timothy and Epaphroditus. 

These men are living examples of lives that are worthy of the gospel of Christ.  They are men who are models of all Paul has been talking about.  They are men whose lives we should take time to examine.  

These men are not sensational or flashy; they don’t have big ministries or crowd gathering sermons.  They are just pictures of regular faithfulness. 

Consider both of these men, why they are here as examples, and how we are to imitate them. 

The Example of Timothy  vs 19-22

Phil 2:[3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Timothy is a living example of these verses put into practice.

He has a genuine concern for the welfare of the Philippian church.  His interests are Christ centered.  His intentions are gospel focused.  v20

Timothy learned this selfless humility from Paul.  Paul trained Timothy to lead with humility in the Church. 

Paul and Timothy model Christ as they put the interest of gospel ministry ahead of their own needs and desires.  Phil 2:5-8

Timothy has proven himself to be faithful as he cared for and ministered to Paul as a son with his father.  v 22

Who is your “father or mother in the faith”?  When you get discouraged or frustrated – consider their life, their example.  Consider how they model Christ. 

The Example of Epaphroditus vs 25-30

Paul calls Epaphroditus- “my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier”  v 26

Through the gospel God adopted Paul and Epaphroditus as sons to be his forever children through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. 

Remember who these men once were:

Paul was Saul, a Jew and a persecutor of the Church.  Epaphroditus was Greek and probably had a pagan upbringing.

The wonder of the gospel is the power to change any life and unite the most unlikely together as brothers in Christ. 

Fellow Worker

Paul and Epaphroditus labor together on the same mission.  Paul doesn’t place himself in a position of superiority over Epaphroditus, they are co-laborers. 

As your pastors – this is our heart as well.  Yes, we are called to lead this church, but we view ourselves as co-labors in the gospel.  We want to be united and working together to accomplish all that God has given us to do. 

Fellow Soldier 

They are not just working together; they stand side by side and fight together.  Paul loves to use this picture of a soldier for the Christian life.  (2 Tim 2:3, 1 Tim 6:12, Eph 6:10-20)

A lone soldier can do little good. 

Epaphroditus’ Sickness

Epaphroditus had fallen seriously ill during his trip to minister to Paul. 

Instead of being concerned about his own health, Epaphroditus was distressed because he heard the Philippians we concerned about him.  v 26

Even in his suffering he is counting others more significant than himself, he is looking to the interest of others.  Phil 2:2-3 

Death, but God.

Paul credits Epaphroditus’ recovery to God having mercy on him. 

He faced death, but God had mercy.  Isn’t that our story too? 

Because of our sin we faced death, BUT God had mercy on us by sending Jesus to face death for us. 

If it wasn’t for God’s mercy to us in the gospel, we would have no hope. 

When we face suffering or death, what do we really have but God’s mercy? 

Application:

Timothy and Epaphroditus are examples of servants without parameters.  There are no qualifiers to how they serve or what they are willing to do. 

There is more grace and power in one person with a willing, loving, servant’s heart than in a room full of grumblers or complainers. 

We are to show honor to servants of the gospel like Timothy and Epaphroditus.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

The book of Philippians is full of good teaching, rich doctrine and gospel truth.

Timothy and Epaphroditus are held out to us as examples of that doctrine and gospel truth lived out. 

These were men who followed Christ –these were men worth following. 

Look around our church; it is filled with men and women who live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ!

Follow them, consider their faithfulness, get close to them, observe their lives, and imitate their example. 

But don’t stop there! 

We can’t just look AT Timothy, Epaphroditus or any other example in our church; we need to look THROUGH them at Jesus. 

We need to see them model their Savior. 

See His grace that is at work in their lives and worship Jesus. 

We don’t worship our heroes and examples; we worship our Jesus.  Jesus is the perfect model of selfless love and willing sacrifice. 

So what about you, are you like these men?  Are you like Jesus? 

What kind of example is your life showing to your church and to the world?