Summary: making faith your own
First off, happy Father’s Day. Be nice to your Father’s today. I’m told that flashing electric ties are nice presents, at least that’s what my dad told me the first time I got him one, so that’s been his gift ever since. Just a handy last minute gift idea from your caring pastor.
Have you ever had something given to you to make your own? Sometimes people give us things, whether they are jobs, or hobbies or passions, they give us these things and then we need to make them our own. There is something to taking a hobby or a gift and making in our own. I tried to think of the best example of that in my life. Perhaps it was my fraternity. The fraternity was at Pepperdine before me. I was accepted in, and learned about the fraternity, but then I set about to make the fraternity mine. I had to jump in and learn how my talents fit with the rest of the fraternity. I had to realize what talents I had, and how they could be used to benefit the whole group. I had to incorporate the fraternity into my life, into my thinking. It had to become part of me, and I had to become part of it.
The guys that went before me in the fraternity handed me something very precious, their dreams, their hopes, and their goals for the fraternity. It was my job, mine and my friend’s to make the fraternity ours. Am I being clear? Maybe you have better examples. For people who are married, or who have been, you were given a precious arrangement by God. But you still had to take the marriage and make it your own; how the two people live together, communicate, set goals and live together is something that had to be done on your own. What was handed down needed to be made your own, a part of who you are. Paul is talking to the Philippians about something similar. Phil 2:12-end. The sermon will focus on the first section, but I want you to know all of Scripture, so we’ll read the second part as well.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
You will certainly recall, as we have been going through Philippians, that the Apostle Paul is writing this holy letter to a congregation he planted. These are people he knows; he knows their pasts, where they came from religiously previously, what their jobs are, what their personalities are like and so forth. Paul knows the people individually, and he knows how they function together as the church. Paul knows these people, and he knows they are good. They remember his teachings and haven’t strayed from them, they haven’t tried to mix and match this new religion, this following Christ, Christianity, with any of the other religions they had previously followed. The Philippian Christians have completely dropped their worship of idols, their worship of the emperor, their worship of false gods and their seeking after secret knowledge. They have dropped all that in order to follow the true God. All this, Paul knows. Paul knows these are faithful people, seeking after God with their lives.