Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Paul was flexible in his ministry. So we too must learn to flex.

An Impromptu Walk of Faith OR Paul, the Apostle of Rubber

(Acts 16:1ff)


1. Nowadays, whenever I do pre-marital counseling for a couple planning

to marry, I administer a personality inventory test called, "Prepare."

2. Part of this test deals with the "family of origin," and looks at how the

man and woman were raised. This is then graphed out.

3. One of the graphs plots how flexible or inflexible the family of origin

was. The ideal, according to the psychologists, is between the two, a

moderate level of flexibility.

4. In moderation, flexibility is a virtue. Pliability, versatility,

adaptability, elasticity---this quality helps keep us from breaking.

5. The heart of being a rigid person is that everything must be deliberate,

thought-out, pre-determined, outlined beforehand, well-considered.

6. Some of us are rigid in some areas, but flexible in others: food variety,

color, decorating, organizing a house, brand of car....

7. One quality of successful foreign missionaries is the ability to cross

cultures, to be flexible. The Dawsons are being flexed this very moment,

and the Aldridges will soon be.

8. As for me, moving from Chicago to Central Indiana was a stretch!

But as a pastor, I have been stretched and flexed in many ways.

9. God’s ways are often flexible. So many times we emphasize the fact

that there are absolutes that we recognize absolutes that really are not.

10. Our society recognize no or few absolutes; the rigid have too many

absolutes; but there is a balance revealed in Scripture.

Question: Why is it that sometimes it is right to respond to a certain

situation one way, and yet it is right to respond to a similar situation in a

different way?

TS-------------->Let’s look at some examples of this.

I. Timothy and Titus (1-5)

1. Timothy, from Lystra, replaces John Mark

2. Mixed parentage

(1) Dad--a Greek (gentile)

(2) Mother--Jewish (a Messianic Jew)

(3) Timothy--never circumcised (required to be a Jew)

(4) Paul was FALSELY accused of discouraging Jews to continue in

the Law....so he has Timothy circumcised...

3. But Titus he did not (Gal.3:3)

4. Difference: Titus a gentile, Timothy could be considered a Jew...

5. In early church, Messianic Jews continued w/customs, law, but

Gentile converts were not required to convert to Judaism....

II. God’s Leading By Wisdom Vs. Clear Cut Direction (6-10)

1. Paul had chosen Timothy w/the recommendation of God’s people

(16:2), though he probably "checked in" with God...

2. He had plotted his missionary trip by reason...but....

3. One of the most important directions in history: Paul was planning to

head east, into Asia---God gave Him a vision....man in Macedonia...

4. God can lead us in many ways, but we are more likely to be led if we

are actively working for the Lord and communing with Him...there is no

ONE way...

III. Targeting Women vs. Targeting Men (11-15)

1. Paul came to Philippi, a Roman colony

(1) but not many Jews around---why? (18:2)

(2) so he went to a place by the river where the few Jews around

were likely to meet (water needed for ritual washing)---only a few

women meeting, maybe not even full converts to Judaism...

2. One God-fearing gentile woman, Lydia (she sold purple fabric), is

Paul’s first convert...(widow)

3. Normally, Paul targeted men & entire households....but circumstances

were different, so he flexed...

IV. Being Quiet About vs.Broadcasting A Violation of Rights


1. Paul is bothered by a slave girl...fortune teller who is demon

possessed, and he cast the demon out..

2. Her owners are angry because she brought them wealth...

3. They dragged Paul & Silas to the official....beaten...cast in jail...

-------Paul made no mention of his Roman citizenship...

4. They sang hymns...at midnight, earthquake, bonds loosened...

5. Jailer reader to kill self (thought prisoners escaped)...we are here

6. What must I do to be saved....household...wounds...meal...

7. Next day, released....Paul wanted to be escorted: Roman citizen...

8. Why? He had left behind believers...they would be treated well...owed

Paul a favor...

9. You see, even use of our rights is a matter to submit to God...cannot

assume because we have a legal right to something that this means God

wants us to use that right....Paul, right to support...

Question: Why is it that sometimes it is right to respond to a certain

situation one way, and yet it is right to respond to a similar situation in a

different way?

1. No two situations EXACTLY alike...

2. We must wait on God for discernment....

3. We have some absolutes in Scripture, but the Bible is far from a

manual on handling every situation...principles, sometimes contrasting

V. Application

1. Discernment is more valuable than consistency...

2. God works in varied ways, so we should not be afraid to do so

3. Fairness does not mean equal treatment (children, e.g.)

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