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Phil. 4:14-17

Philippians Podcasts #17

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 4:14-17

 

Posted Sept.4

 

Phil. 4:14-17

14 Yet it was kind of you to sharemy trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

Recipients of kindness should express their gratitude. If you don’t want to be perceived in the image of a beggar or mooch – when someone is generous to you, express your sincere gratitude. Make certain they know how much you appreciate the gift.

The local church in Philippi had been long-term supporters of Paul, to the full extent of their ability. He couldn’t say enough about their kindness.

The support of the church at Philippi to Paul, had been singular!

 

“No church” entered into partnership with him except Philippi. Clearly, this was not a case where churches funneled money through the church at Philippi (common today: the sponsoring church arrangement). Paul was overjoyed to receive from the generosity and selfless dedication of the Christians in Philippi.

Even when Paul was in Thessalonica (and not having a pleasant experience), the Christians in Philippi came to his aid, “once and again.”

And, for the sake of clarity, Paul stresses: “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”

Paul’s interest in and his commendation of their generosity was not simply that he wanted support. No. It was his interests in the blessings they received from their giving. Generosity helps the giver as much or more than the recipient.

Application: Churches today with the ability should carefully consider faithful men who preach the gospel and their needs. Faithful men who receive such support ought to be thankful to God, there are people making sacrifices for their need.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

Phil. 4:10-13

Philippians Podcasts #16

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 10-13

Posted Sept. 2

Phil. 4:10-13

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

When you are the needy recipient of help and concern from good people, it causes joy. Even if tangible help isn’t within their means, the fact they want to help and will help you when they can – is a cause of joy. Paul rejoiced in the Lord, knowing of the love and concern of the Philippian Christians. Even when they were unable to help, Paul knew their heart longed to send help, and that they would when they had opportunity.

And, this was not a case where Paul merely wanted his needs met. Because, he had learned – in whatever situation – to be content just serving the Lord and relying on the Lord for his daily

need (perhaps not knowing for certain how those needs would be met, but believing God would care for him).

In Paul’s life and service to the Lord, he had learned this rare contentment, often not knowing how need would be met. He had learned by the experience of faith, how to live in the low places. Yet, was able to maintain good humility in the high places. That character is described here as “the secret of facing plenty and hunger.”

Someone might ask, “what course can I take to learn this secret?” Or, “what book can I read … what video or seminar can I see or visit?”

Paul learned this contentment through his life and service to the Lord. And he describes it like this: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

This didn’t mean Paul was a Superhero with powers, or that he could fly or become visible or invisible at will. Active faith in Christ does not afford us the ability to do any impossible thing we can conceive! Dismiss that popular concept.

It means, the believer can do all that Christ expects him to do, with the full measure of strength required for the tasks.

Phil. 4:9 is not some magical incantation that enables the positive mental attitude believer to achieve the impossible, work miracles and do sensational but useless things.

It is a simple description of how Paul learned contentment; how he was able to live down low in the dungeon and yet remain humble in higher places.

It applies to believers today, but must not be taken as a blank check or a ticket admitting us to the impossible.

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

 

Philippians Podcasts #15

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 4:9

 

Posted Aug.28

 

Phil. 4:9

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Who wrote this? The apostle Paul wrote this to the church at Philippi. I cannot write such a statement. I’m not an apostle. I can report what the apostles said and follow it myself and urge hearers and readers to do so. But I cannot write something with the same authority as apostles of Christ. Jesus gave to the apostles the Holy Spirit, to guide them in what they said and wrote (see the gospel of John, chapters 14-16 and Acts 2:1-4; Acts 26:15-18; Rom. 1:1). The apostle Paul was authorized to say: What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.”

What promise is extended? “… and the God of peace will be with

 

you.” Isn’t that what we all want? We want a relationship with God. We are able to have that fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. This is what we want in this life and as we face the next. We want the God of peace to be with us.

What does this passage say is necessary to have the God of peace with us? That we follow the teachings given through the apostles! God gave a pattern through these men. The pattern for individual, domestic and collective action wasn’t revealed simply for our learning and admiration. But for our practice. “…practice these things.”

So, if you want the God of peace to be with you, get busy. Open your New Testament. Read about Jesus Christ, learn who He is and respond to Him (the activity of faith). Then, after being baptized into Christ, do what the apostles said. Be a part of a church that follows apostolic teaching. Do this diligently and with sincerity of heart, why? So that the God of peace will be with you.

Yes, it is that simple.

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

Philippians Podcasts #14

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 4:8

Posted Aug. 26

 Phil. 4:8

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

Your mind has certain permanent components. What you read, see, hear or think is processed by these united components, if you are maturely and objectively processing input.

In the above text, Paul identifies the permanent components of the Christian’s mind. They are …

Whatever is true. My inner character and outward behavior will never be right and pleasing to God, until I make the truth of God my priority. I must absorb the truth and be determined to think it, say it and obey it.

Whatever is honorable is that which is high, lofty and reflecting what God considers honorable. The mind of Christ is seen in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as noble in thought.

Whatever is just. That which fulfills duty (as directed by God) is just. We are children of a just God, thus our thinking, speaking and behavior ought to be just.

Whatever is pure. This means, not contaminated. With the pure Word of God living within us, we are able to entertain pure thoughts, yielding pure speech and behavior.

Whatever is lovely. This is what tends away from hate, toward love and mercy and goodness. Take everything the Bible says about love, put that in your mind and the results can be of the highest value.

Whatever is commendable. If we are not exceedingly careful, we can develop a taste for bad news; an attraction for the lurid, the sensational (but often exaggerated), the gossip of our time. The Internet and Social Media thrive on that which isn’t commendable. If your mind is fixed on what is commendable, you avoid grieving the Lord and creating trouble for yourself and others.

“If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Here’s a good rule to follow. When thoughts, reports, desires and ideas are submitted to you for mental processing – if it cannot be placed well in one of these categories, reject it and plan to avoid it in the future.

Your mind has certain permanent components. What you read, see, hear or think is processed by these united components, if you are maturely and objectively processing input.

Measure the content of your mind by the standard of Philippians 4:8.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

 

Philippians Podcasts #13

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 4:1-7

 

Posted Aug.21

 

 Phil. 4:1-7

 

Therefore, my brothers,whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.  Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Here is a good relationship between a gospel preacher and a supporting local church. It is not a cold, business relationship involving money sent,

 

acknowledgements sent back and the routine continues with expected gratitude.

Paul loves these people. They became his “joy and crown.” It was a warm relationship based on mutual love for the Lord.

For this healthy relationship to continue, it would be necessary for the Christians in Philippi to “stand firm” in the Lord.

That doesn’t mean, “just stay where you are spiritually.” It isn’t about “not doing better.” In the New Testament, “standing” is never passive (see for example, Eph. 6:14). Standing firm in the Lord always means continuing the obedience that you chose when you were baptized. And it always means, doing better, growing in spirit and practice, and letting self-examination lead naturally to self-correction. It is a dynamic every Christian ought to be living in right now: “Stand firm” in the Lord!

Two members of the church in Philippi were not standing firm. They were apparently standing against each other. “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” This implies an issue of disagreement that could be resolved “in the Lord.” When two people humble themselves under the authority of the Lord, issues of disagreement either disappear altogether. Or, they are subservient to their common faith and do not disrupt anyone (Romans 14).

Paul had a “true companion” in Philippi, and that person or persons is being asked to “help these women.” The women in dispute had “labored side by side with” Paul “in the gospel together with Clement and the rest.” These faithful helpers had their names written “in the book of life.”

That becomes the motivation to help these two women reconcile.

Sometimes a problem is beyond the capacity or will of two people to solve. Other Christians must apply their grace and skill to bring resolution. Why is this important? Because there is a book of life. We want to rejoice that our names are written in that book.

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” This doesn’t mean, wear a badge that tells everybody you are reasonable. (That wouldn’t be reasonable!).

This means, your demeanor and speech, your countenance and responses to people and events should demonstrate clear thinking, godly discipline and soundness of mind. And this is important because? “The Lord is at hand.” I don’t think that means he will be here soon. It means – in a real sense – He is always here; with us … watching … helping … listening to us pray.

The Lord is at hand.

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. (Psa. 34:18, NKJV).

 

You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth. (Psa. 119:151, NKJV).

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. (Psa. 145:18, NKJV).

 

So, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Result? “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Phil. 3:12-21

Philippians Podcasts #12

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 3:12-21

 

Posted Aug.19

 

 Phil. 3:12-21

 

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

 

With experience, growth and an increase in knowledge, it is possible for the devil to convince you – that you are a completed work; that no additional progress or increase is necessary.

If you accept that lie, not only will your future spiritual growth stall, you will go backward. Your discipleship will be less effective and influential. Your influence will degenerate. Your zeal will dial back. And, your relationship with God will become increasingly distant.

The apostle Paul carried a wealth of knowledge and experience – yet he said, “Not that I have already obtained.” One translation has it: “I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect,” (Contemporary English Version). If this was so of Paul, it is certainly the case with me and with you. We are not there yet! So long as we live, we must press on to make our lives closer to God through Jesus Christ. Once you give up growth, you stop growing and begin to decay in your devotion to the Lord.

“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” This is not (a) forget what you have learned, or (b) forget who you are, or (c) forget your earliest commitment to the Lord. Rather, forget what hinders, what corrupts your attitude, what keeps you from moving, what lures you back into sin. Dismiss all that so you can press on and keep growing and obtaining.

This is the way mature people think and live. And, should anyone think otherwise, God – through the means He has chosen – will correct such subdued indifference.

“Only, let us hold true to what we have attained.” You cannot hold true to where you are if you stand still, or let diminished motivation enslave you and stop you.

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” The example, the model of good people can keep us pressing on, growing and obtaining more and more in spiritual benefit.

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

 

Phil. #11 - 3:1-11

Philippians Podcasts #11

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 3:1-11

 

Posted Aug.14

 

 Phil. 3:1-11

 

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—  though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be

 

found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

I’ve looked at this passage for many years and have always thought, first, of this simple point: There is value in review. “To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” Paul didn’t consider it a problem to repeat what he had said or written before. Review has spiritual value. We need to hear, over and over, the truth of the gospel of Christ.

 

The rest of this passage conveys one primary point: Look out for the bad guys, who aggressively advance a fleshly Judaistic religion.” Paul says, “I was like that once. I share their ground of boasting. But, I gave all that up to know Christ and serve Him.”

 

Evildoers, false teachers, were aggressively seeking to recruit Christians to their ill-conceived cause (a heavy hand of legalistic Judaism, imposed on Christians).  Their actions included their claim that they were the true Jews, the real people of God who had authentic access to God. Their boasting – their religious resume – Paul could identify with.

 

But Paul was not holding tightly to that resume. His Jewish background was not his ground of boasting nor his evangelistic story.

 

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ … to be found in Him … that I may know Him and share in His suffering.” etc.

 

Paul could boast like the evildoers, but he had given all that up – “for the sake of Christ.” To form a relationship with God through Christ was far more important to Paul than boasting about his Jewish background.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

 

Philippians Podcasts #10

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:19-30

Posted Aug.12

 Phil. 2:19-30

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy's[a] proven worth, how as a son[b] with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

Paul, writing to the Christians in Philippi, gave them instruction, encouragement, challenges and gratitude. But it is important to remember, these are real people who lived in real time. Here we are introduced to Timothy and Epaphroditus. Paul is commending these men and holding them up as examples of committed disciples. We need to meet them.

Paul wanted to send Timothy. Verse 19 tells us, Paul wanted Timothy to visit Philippi, then report back to Paul what he hoped would be good news. Not just anyone would do. “for I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” Paul considered Timothy to be, not just a good reporter or messenger. But one who really cared about the people. “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ,” (v.22). Timothy was not like those who were self-seeing.

There was another good man Paul wrote about. Epaphroditus. Paul considered him to be his brother and fellow worker and fellow solider. For the Christians in Philippi, he was their messenger and minister to Paul’s needs.

It seems, the Christians in Philippi were distressed, wondering what had happened to Epaphroditus. Paul explains his situation to relieve their worry: “…he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So, receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what as lacking in your service to me.”

Two good men who were close to the apostle Paul and the Christians in Philippi.

What do they teach us? (1) They teach us to be available to serve, to see how folks are doing and share good reports. (2) They teach us to be trustworthy and unselfish. (3) They teach us to have such faith, we are willing to step into risks for the sake of Christ. (4) Paul teaches us to “honor such men,” not exalting them beyond measure but affording them the gratitude and respect their good behavior deserves.

Christ.

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

 

Phil. 2:12-18

Philippians Podcasts #9

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:12-18

 

Posted Aug. 7

 

 Phil. 2:12-18

 

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Obedience to Jesus Christ must be a consistent, ongoing way of life. That you and I obeyed the Lord first in repentance and baptism, only means we started that way of life. It must continue, grow deeper and broader, even when there is no audience. In our private lives, our thought life, our public image and in all our relationships – obedience to Jesus Christ must be our consistent manner of life. This activity of faith enables us to be involved in and recipients of “our own salvation” God provides through Jesus Christ. That this ongoing obedience is not grounds of merit is made clear: It is God who works in you.

Think of it like this: Our obedience to Jesus Christ gives God access into our lives to work for our present and eternal good, that which we could not do without Him.

Grumbling and disputing is not only immature and against the example and teaching of Christ. It interrupts this ongoing obedience, therefore works against not for “our own salvation.”

The aim in all this is to “be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Part of this is, “holding fast to the word of life.” Obedience to Christ must be grounded in our knowledge of and use of “the word of life.”

“So that in the day of Christ,” Paul said, “I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be proued out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise, you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Paul has his focus on the spiritual good of the Christians in Philippi. He is urging their ongoing obedience to Christ, without immature attitudes intruding … all of this in preparation for eternal good “in the day of Christ.” Paul makes it clear, this was his heart’s desire for his brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

Philippians Podcasts #8

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:5-11

Posted Aug. 5

 Phil. 2:5-11

 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Phil. 2:5-11

The opening verses of chapter two call upon Christians to make attitude a priority, as described in these descriptive phrases: “…the same love, being in full accord and of one mind,” etc. (See 2:1-4).

These descriptions of healthy attitude can be called unselfish humility, and there is no better example of that than Jesus Himself. So Paul says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” In the NIV: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.” That’s the high standard Christians must aim for.

Jesus never did anything through selfish ambition or conceit. He was meek and lowly, illustrating in the highest way, the attitude that should govern all who follow Him.

He existed in the form or very being as God before, during and after His incarnation and has that nature/status now in heaven. But, He “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” Jesus did not have to steal or seize Deity from God; it was His by nature.

And yet He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.” He humbled Himself, emptied Himself. He didn’t stop being divine when He came to earth – that isn’t the point. He didn’t claim that deity as an exemption. This all speaks to His humility. He became a bondservant to save us and take us to heaven.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

It was more than just visiting the human race. His unselfish humility brought Him here, to suffer and die, “even the death of the cross.” He lived on the earth, emptied Himself of His heavenly existence – obeying God and serving us; not just dying, but the death “on a cross.”

The Father honored this supreme act of humility: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.” There is no greater. Jesus Christ is not one among many religious leaders or teachers. He is Deity who came here and died for us, and was then exalted by God.

What should the response of human beings be to this? Submission. Submission now that is fully realized eventually when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, “to the glory of God the Father.”

One question comes out of this. Am I living in humble submission to Him, who humbly submitted Himself to death for me?

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