Summary: Paul partnered with many people to do what God had called him to do: plant churches. We’re going to look again at one of Paul’s partners, one who had partnered with God to accomplish a great task.
Opening Statement: Throughout the Bible, we see a picture of a God who is sovereign and powerful and sufficient for any challenge. But ironically enough, God has this partnership with us to help Him accomplish His tasks and purposes. He made us co-Creators with Him to rule and reign over this earth. There are many illustrations of this. God’s going to flood the earth, but he asked Noah to build an ark. God’s going to part the Red Sea, but he asked Moses to hold his staff over it. God’s going to destroy Jericho, but he asked the Jews to march around it. Jesus is going to turn five loaves and two fish into a banquet for 5,000 people, but the disciples were asked to distribute it. Always, there is this idea of partnership. As we work, God works. He doesn’t need us, but he includes us. Why? The delight of working together must be incredibly important to Him. God knows that great teamwork is the only way to reach our ultimate moments, to create the breakthroughs that define our lives, to fulfill our lives with lasting significance in partnership with Him and His people. And if it is incredibly important to him, how much more should it be important to us. We who are human and who often need the help of others, must partner together to get a job done.
Transition: Paul partnered with many people to do what God had called him to do: plant churches. We’re going to look again at one of Paul’s partners, one who had partnered with God to accomplish a great task.
Title: Epaphroditus – Selfless Christianity in Action!
Text: Philippians 2:25-30
Background: A few weeks ago, we began looking at something that I entitled Christianity in Action as it was embodied in a man by the name of Epaphroditus. Ep was a reputable and trustworthy man and he showed leadership potential. The church actually sent an offering to Paul via his hands to support Paul’s ministry efforts in Rome as well as to pay Epaphroditus’ salary to stay in Rome and be Paul’s assistant (4:14-19). Unfortunately, Epaphroditus had become physically ill after arriving in Rome. This news had gone back to Philippi. This caused Epaphroditus a lot of pain. He did not want the church to worry about his health and he wanted so much to fulfill his mission to Paul there in Rome. Paul, knowing all of this and needing to write them a letter anyway, decided to use this opportunity to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi with the letter as soon as he was well enough to travel. Paul knew what the Philippian believers had intended for Epaphroditus. For Epaphroditus, this whole affair could have been a potentially embarrassing situation. He had to return home without completing his term of service. To help ease this fear of embarrassment and to help answer any second-guessing on the part of the church in even sending Epaphroditus in the first place, Paul wrote a very glowing testimony for him, commending him for such incredible service.
Key Word: In fact, Paul notes SEVEN wonderful CHARACTERISTICS in Epaphroditus that really clarifies what the Christian life can and should look like eventually in all of our lives. We’ll look at the second today.
Recitation: Philippians 2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother, coworker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to me in my need. 2:26 Indeed, he greatly missed all of you and was distressed because you heard that he had been ill. 2:27 In fact he became so ill that he nearly died. But God showed mercy to him—and not to him only, but also to me—so that I would not have grief on top of grief. 2:28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you can rejoice and I can be free from anxiety. 2:29 So welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 2:30 since it was because of the work of Christ that he almost died. [Give him a heroes welcome. He did his job, even though he is returning home a little earlier than planned.] He risked his life so that he could make up for your inability to serve me.
Transition: The first CHARACTERISTIC that Paul notes…
The Christian Life Includes Becoming a Family Together
Review: Philippians 2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother… Epaphroditus practiced the ministry of presence with the Apostle and they became like family.
Transition: The second CHARACTERISTIC that Paul notes…
The Christian Life Includes Working Together in Partnership
Recitation: Philippians 2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother, coworker…