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Summary: An introduction to Paul’s "happiest letter."

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Philippians 1:1-11 March 30, 2008

Introduction, Thanksgiving and Prayer

Acts 16 stories

Stopped from going into Asia and Bithynia

Macedonian vision

Lydia’s conversion

Demonized girl

Paul & Silas imprisoned and beaten

Earthquake & Jailer’s Salvation

Rejection of release

This is the community of faith that Paul is now writing to

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Paul is writing from prison some place - my friend who is a chaplain in prison enjoys reminding people that most of the New Testament, is written by people in prison, or people just out of prison, or just about to go to prison! While he is in prison, his enemies are trying to stir up more trouble for him.

Imagine writing from some third-world prison, and after you get through the “hi, how are you” stuff, you first words are, “I thank God every time I remember you!”

But Paul is thankful, and he is quite happy in this letter – Eugene Peterson says that this is Paul’s happiest letter.

Paul wrote all the letters of the New Testament from Romans to Philemon, and this is his happiest one – he write to encourage the community of faith in Philippi, and he has very little correction like he has to do a lot of in his letters to Corinth for example.

His Thanksgiving

Their partnership – fellowship/ generosity – verse 5

It is pretty obvious that they had sent money to Paul to support him in prison – you had to look after your own needs in prison. And they had sent him money to support him in his ministry.

They were not likely a rich bunch – usually you took a hit in the pocketbook when you became a Christian – the trade guilds were caught up in idol worship, but to step out of the guild was to lose the chance to work. Some people would shun you just because you were Christian. But out of their meager resources, they still supported their friend and spiritual father, Paul

This was not just a financial transaction, the word that Paul uses is “koinōnia” the same word that is translated “fellowship”, or “community.” He is giving thanks for the tight relationship that they have that is borne out, partially, through the money that they send him.

You demonstrated this type of partnership to me in the two Domincan trips that we have gone on. Although many of you couldn’t go, you wanted to support us and partner with us as we went, so we went, not just as a small group, but as representatives of a very large group back here.

Even on my street – a neighbour thanked me for going – as a representative of the neighbours!

If we want to emulate the Philippians ad their partnership with paul, we need to not just send money to our missionaries, but keep in relationship with them.

Kathy Gooch in Zimbabwe – flew to Rwanda yesterday

The Cirias in Spain

Uwe Gustafson in India

The Longs in Ottawa

Janice Rainey for YSM in Toronto

Steve Hunter for [SANCTUARY] in Toronto

Dave and Sandy in D.R.

We need to keep Koinōnia with them, not just pay the bills.

God’s perseverance & plan verse 6

He is also thankful because, he says, he is “confident that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Paul loves the Philippians, but his confidence in their faithfulness isn’t in their good character – It’s in God’s good character. That God has invested in this community – he won’t let it go to the dogs.

I remember talking with a woman who had no trust in her own faithfulness – she was terrified that one day she was going to give up on God, or that she was going to do something so terrible that God would give up on her. I told her that Jesus loved her so much that he died for her – he wasn’t going to give up on her that easily!

We need to stay faithful, but it is not our faithfulness that we rely on – it is God’s faithfulness to us that we rely on.

True affection verse 7

He says, “it is right for me to talk this way, because I really love you guys!” Have you ever gave someone a heartfelt compliment, and they explained it away in good old Canadian self-depreciation? And you have to come back to them and say, no really, I really like you! I think tis is what Paul is doing here. He imagines them reading this in church and getting all embarrassed because he is gushing. And he says, no, really, I should feel this way, you deserve it.

I got this feeling as I read an email Dave sent this week from D.R.

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