Friday, March 29, 2019

Philippians: Christ Centered Life Lesson 1

Philippians: Christ Centered Life

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Lesson 1: Background

The Writer to Philippi: Paul, friend and apostle

Paul was the author of this epistle.  He names his colaborer Timothy in the salutation of 1:1.  Timothy was with him during this time and may have been acting as his amanuensis. Paul was writing back to a church which had a very fond place in his heart and where he counted many friends who had supported him in the ministry of church building.

Purpose in writing

There are two reasons for the writing of the epistle.

·       To thank them for their gifts and to tell them of his circumstance in prison.

·       To instruct and them, especially in the joy that was theirs in Christ and to make Christ central in their daily living.

Place and time of writing

·       The letter was written from Paul’s Roman imprisonment around 61-62 AD.

The City of Philippi

History and Character

The town derives its name from Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, who took it from the Thasians about 360 bc. He enlarged the settlement, and fortified it to defend his frontiers against the Thasians. At this time the gold-mining industry was developed, and gold coins were struck in the name of Philip and became commonly recognized. After the battle of Pydna in 168 bc it was annexed by the Romans; and when Macedonia was divided into four parts for administrative purposes Philippi was included in the first of the four districts.
In 42 bc the famous battle of Philippi was fought with Antony and Octavian ranged against Brutus and Cassius. After this date the town was enlarged, probably by the coming of colonists; the title Colonia Iulia is attested at this time. This prominence was enhanced further when, after the battle of Actium in 31 bc, in which Octavian defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra, the town 'received a settlement of Italian colonists who had favoured Antony and had been obliged to surrender their land to the veterans of Octavian' (Lake and Cadbury, p. 187). Octavian gave the town its notable title, Col(onia) Iul(ia) Aug(usta) Philip(pensis), which has appeared on coins. Of all the privileges which this title conferred, the possession of the 'Italic right' (ius Italicum) was the most valuable. It meant that the colonists enjoyed the same rights and privileges as if their land were part of Italian soil.


The Church at Philippi

Map and Chronology 

Mission to Greece

1.     Paul and Barnabas agree to revisit the Galatian churches. But they disagree about taking John Mark who had left them on the earlier mission (Acts 15:36-38). After an argument, Barnabas takes Mark to Cyprus (Acts 15:39).
2.     Paul takes Silas. At Lystra Paul asks Timothy to join them (Acts 16:1-3).
3.     They revisit the towns, telling the believers the decisions of the Jerusalem Council about Gentile converts (Acts 16:4-5). Paul tries to go into Bithynia, but is blocked by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6-7).
4.     At night, Paul has a vision. A Macedonian urges him to come across to help. They decide to sail for Macedonia (Acts 16:8-10). At this point in Troas Luke  joins them. Narrative changes from 3rd to 2nd person.
5.     At Philippi (Acts 16:12-40): Paul at the river meets Lydia, she is saved and her home is used for their church. Later Paul delivers a girl fortune-teller from an evil spirit. The girl's owners protest and a crowd attacks. They are beaten and imprisoned, but then freed by an earthquake. Their jailer believes (Acts 16:11-40). They leave the next day after asserting their rights as a Roman citizenship.
6.     In Thessalonica, Paul convinces both Jews and Greeks. Some Jews stir up a riot—Paul leaves secretly (Acts 17:1-9). Luke is not in story again until Acts 20:5-15 then once again in 27-28. Some speculate that he stayed in Philippi to help or pastor the infant church.
7.     In Berea, Paul receives a better reception. But a mob is stirred up by those from Thessalonica. Paul leaves, but Silas and Timothy stay behind (Acts 17:10-15).
8.     Paul speaks to the court of the Areopagus which met to consider new religions. His teaching of the resurrection divides his audience: some mock but some believe (Acts 17:16-34).
9.     Paul travels to Corinth. Silas and Timothy arrive with news of Thessalonica. Paul writes 1 and 2 Thessalonians, encouraging that church. They spend almost 2 years here. Despite Jewish opposition, they are able to stay (Acts 18:1-17).
10. They stop briefly in Ephesus. He debates with the Jews who want him to stay longer (Acts 18:18-21).
11. They travel back to Antioch, via Caesarea and Jerusalem (Acts 18:22).

Founding of the Church.

In response to the Macedonian call, Paul and his companions had crossed the Aegean Sea from Troas to Neapolis and followed the renowned Egnatian Way some eight to ten miles up and over the coastal range to the city of Philippi. Philippi (named after Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great) was famous for its gold mines and its strategic location as the gateway to Europe. It was a miniature Rome, a proud Roman colony, exempt from taxation and modeled after the capital of the world. With the conversion of Lydia, the slave girl, and the jailer (Acts 16), it became the "birthplace of European Christianity." Soon Paul moved on towards Thessalonica, leaving Luke behind to care for this flock that held such a special place in his affections. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

The Epistle to Philippi




     Christ Our Life


     Christ Our Pattern


     Christ Our Goal


     Christ Our Sufficiency


Greetings and Benediction






For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain  (1:21)


Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27)   

Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus (2:5-11)


I count all things to be loss (3:8)    That I may know him, and the power of His resurrection (3:11)             Forgetting what lies behind, I press toward the goal (3:13,14)        Citizenship in Heaven (3:20)


Have no anxiety about anything (4:6)                    I have learned to be content (4:11)             

I can do all things thru Christ (4:13)  

My God shall supply all your needs (4:19)

4:2            4:23

Key Verses




Christ Our Life

Christ Our Pattern

Christ Our Goal

Christ Our Sufficiency

Life In Christ

Glorify Christ

Be Like Christ

Gain Christ

Be Content in Christ


Supply of the Spirit

Fellowship in the Spirit

Worship by the Spirit

Grace thru the Spirit


The Christian Life - An Abiding Joy (2:17-18)


In fellowship of saints 1:3-11

Over afflictions 1:12-30


in the ministry for the saints (2:1-18)

in fellowship of Timothy and Epaphroditus (2:19-30)


that your hopes are in Jesus (3:2-16)

that your citizenship is in heaven (3:20)


always over all things (4:4-9)

in bounties of God’s people (4:10-19)



Much of our New Testament comes from Paul’s work on the 2nd Missionary journey. The gospel was preached and churches established in Europe for the first time. Our NT epistles of Thessalonians, Philippians, Corinthians, Ephesians as well as Timothy and Titus begin here. When you also consider that Luke was saved and later wrote his Gospel and the book of Acts this was an amazing open door in God’s providence and plan. We never know how God’s open doors will be used in the future. Like Paul it is impretive that we take full advantage of God’s providential opportunities with prayer, hard work and persistence.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Heaven’s Heroes #2: Faithful Caleb

Heaven’s Heroes #2: Faithful Caleb

Text: Joshua 14:6-15

Introduction: This is the second on our series Heroes of Heaven. Which will take us through much of books of Joshua and Judges. Last week our first hero was Joshua. In Joshua kneeling before the captain of the Lord’s host we learned that power from God comes when we submit ourselves to God. This week we will learn of Caleb, who along with Joshua were the only two spies who came back to Moses after spying out the Promised Land and said, “We can take this land.”

Throughout the life of Caleb there is one great trait that we see exhibited over and over. Caleb is a hero of faith.  That is a lesson that is greatly needed in our day.  We are confronted with crises but lack the courage to step forward into the fight. We need heroes like Caleb, who by faith, claimed a mountain filled with giants then won that mountain.

Joke: One day when the Raiders were in Oakland, a reporter visited their locker room to talk to Ken Stabler. Stabler really wasn't known as an intellectual, but he was a good quarterback. This newspaperman read him some English prose:
 "I would rather be ashes than dust.
 I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than that it should be stifled by dry rot.
 I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, impermanent planet.
 The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.
 I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
 I shall use my time."
   After reading this to the quarterback, the reporter asked, "What does this mean to you?"
   Stabler immediately replied, "Throw deep." - John Maxwell, Be all You Can Be (Victor, 1987), p. 132.

Now I don’t know what that reporter was hoping to hear when he asked such a strange question but I like the quaterback’s answer. To me what Ken Stabler was saying was, “Be bold and remember what you’re there for, throw the football.” As Christian that’s kind of what Caleb is going to tell us today, “Be courageous and have faith. That’s what you’re here for.”

The Key to Caleb’s Faith  God Joshua 14:6-9 

Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea.  Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.   Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's forever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.

Caleb's faith begins with his obedience to God 

First thing I see in Caleb’s request to Joshua is the key or the basis to his faith is his obedience to God and I see that obedience in three ways.

First, Caleb’s obedience was a full surrender to God
Joshua 14:8 I wholly followed the LORD my God

Caleb’s obedience was clear and visible to others
Joshua 14:9 Moses sware…thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.

Caleb’s obedience was not hindered by obstacles. When they learned of the giants in the land, his response was…
Numbers 13:30 “Let us go up and possess it”

People of Faith are People of Obedience

In this case faith is a kind of Deductive Learning.
We move from the general to the specific, from general obedience that applies to all to specific acts of faith that only deal with us. We move from just living the Christian life to fighting in the battles and crises of our own life. 

Scripture Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17 tells us that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith    
Faith is a learning, growing part of our spiritual life, it begins in small acts of obedience then grows to great deeds of faith in the spiritual battles of our life.

Romans 10:17 Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God 
Faith is based upon hearing God's word, and then acting upon what we hear.

The key to faith is simply choosing to be obedient to the commands of God, no matter the cost, risk or obstacles.  You will never have great faith, never, until you first learn to be obedient.

Illustration: The Three Hebrew Children

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 

This was the first time they had been in a fiery furnace. But not the first time they had obeyed God.  They could not know exactly what God would do, but they absolutely knew exactly what they would do. They would obey God!

Transition: So the key to faith, heroic faith is obedience, if we could count that as a lesson learned we could count today as a good day in the Lord’s house, but we can’t count it as a finished sermon, because I’ve got two more points. For the next one we have to go back to beginning of the Exodus when Caleb was a much younger man and first met Moses.

The Foundation of Caleb’s Faith  Exodus 3:8 

And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Caleb’s Faith Was Based Upon God's Will

This passage is first heard by Moses during his experience at the burning bush.  He had fled Egypt for killing a slave driver who was beating his kinsmen. It has been 40 years since he ran away. He is now 80 years old and God is commanding him to return to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to “Let my people go.”
This statement is Moses’ commission and when the Hebrews are told this is what Jehovah has said, this is the will of God, then it becomes the foundation of their faith. For Caleb, everything he will do from this point forward, is based upon what God had spoken through Moses.
This bring us to our next application about heroes and faith. …

People of Faith Know God's Will

You can’t have faith unless your faith is based upon God’s will.
Now God’s will is not vague or hard to comprehend. It is not an emotion feeling or a dream or a vision. Nor is God’s will determined by circumstances you encounter in your life. Let me go a little further and state that we are to pray for God’s will to be done but we are not instructed to prayer for God’s will to be revealed.

Not it is true that many people believe that God leads us by the signs, circumstance, open and closed doors of life or feelings and emotions.
But I think they are a little like the country boy who was out plowing on his daddy’s farm.  He stopped in the middle of the field and was overheard praying, “Oh, Lord. This cotton field is big and so full of rocks, it’s hot , this ol’ tractor ain’t got no air-conditioned and I am so tired. Lord, I think I’ve been called to preach.”

Actually, God’s will is revealed in His Word. 

Deut 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. 
Romans 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

Deut 30:11-14 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
So, what was God's will for Israel?  Go, possess the land, conquer it and live there. That is what Caleb heard and that is what he did. That is what his faith was based upon.

Then what is God’s will for the Church? It is not any harder to know than what God told Moses. 

Matthew 28:19-20  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  
It is simply “Go, make disciples, baptize, and teach.

What about God's will for me?  Here is a quick list from 1 Timothy, that we can spend a lifetime trying to fulfill. (Ready for another sub-sermon? Here we go 4 S’s of God’s Will from the epistles to Timothy)

Be Saved  1 Tim 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Be Strong 2 Tim 1:7-11 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;  Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

Be Separate 2 Tim 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Be Studious 2 Tim 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
What we see is that God’s will is based upon God’s Word, when I know God’s Word, I know God’s Will and when I know God’s will I have a foundation for my faith. But God’s Word must be that foundation.

Illustration: Jesus Himself Holds the His Word as Paramount in our lives

When Jesus warned his followers about the end of this age in the book of Luke, this is what He told them to give them strength and comfort.  Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Transition:So all that we have seen today in the life of Caleb so far is just words, but it is deeds that prove faith. As James (2:18) said, “…shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

The Test of Caleb’s Faith  Joshua 14:11-12

As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. (that means I’m can start the fight and you better believe I can finish the fight.) Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.

Caleb's Faith Was Tested on Mt Hebron

Because of His obedience, because he believed God’s Word Caleb had faith and that faith meant that he was as strong at the end of 40 years of fighting as he was when they began the journey into the wilderness.

Believe it or not, Caleb claimed the hardest possession in the land, Kirjatharba. That name literally means the city of Arba who was a giant. This city was his home and all his enormous family of enormous giants lived there. “Give me that giant mountain, with that giant city on top of it, filled with giants.”

The Bible says in Vs. 13-15 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh, Hebron for an inheritance.  Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.

This is the highest city in Palestine, this is the very place the spies looked at and said, “We are as grasshopper in their sight.”  Caleb with his action said, “You got it wrong were not grasshoppers, we’re giant killers.  Now give me that Mountain. I’ve got some giants to stomp.”
Years later in this same mountain, where Caleb conquered the giants, David who had killed the giant Goliath, would be crowned king of Judah and King of Israel.  The city went from a fortress of enemy giants to the footstool of a conquering King, all because Caleb was a hero of faith.
Let me give you this last maxim for People of faith.

People of Faith Are Battle Tested

Faith is a spiritual muscle, a spiritual skill and like all muscles and skills, it must be put to use in order to become strong.

Paul says we need to understand, we are in a battle. Ephesians 6:12-13 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Jesus didn’t hide this truth, he also warns us of the battle. John 15:18-21 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.  But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.

So it comes down to this question regarding our faith, what battles have I fought? And if I’ve fought then where are my battle scars?

Example: Playing football after the game we would compare helmets for the best hits. The guys with no scars and clean uniforms were the guys who sat the bench. (Often would see them rolling in the grass during warm-ups so they would at least have some dirt on their uniforms.)
I wonder when God looks at us does he look for our battle scars?

Illustration:  Adoniram Judson’s Scars

Adoniram Judson, the renowned missionary to Burma, endured untold hardships trying to reach the lost for Christ. For 7 heartbreaking years he suffered hunger and privation. During this time he was thrown into Ava Prison, and for 17 months was subjected to almost incredible mistreatment. As a result, for the rest of his life he carried the ugly marks made by the chains and iron shackles which had cruelly bound him. Undaunted, upon his release he asked for permission to enter another province where he might resume preaching the Gospel. The godless ruler indignantly denied his request, saying "My people are not fools enough to listen to anything a missionary might SAY, but I fear they might be impressed by your SCARS and turn to your religion!"


What mountain should you be claiming in your Christian life? The mountain of fear, the mountain of worry, the mountain of indifference, the mountain of apathy, the mountain of ignorance, The mountain of a sinful habit?

What about the mountain of raising your children, the mountain of loving your spouse, the mountain of being a good parent?

There are mountains our church faces, our community and our nation face.  We must remember, we claim those mountains through faith.  Faith that begins with obedience, faith that is based on God's will, and faith that must be tested in battle.