Philippians 2:19-30 We’re into our third week studying Philippians chapter 2. I love the fact that when you’re preaching through a book you get to spend real time breaking it down and getting into the meat of the text that you don’t get to spend when you just read through it. What this does for us is gives us a better understanding of the context of the conversation Paul is having with this particular church. I want to take just a few moments and review a little of what we’ve looked at. First of all, Paul loved this church. It was possibly one of his favorite groups of people that he ever worked with. You see over and over in this letter his love for these people and his longing to return and visit them. Secondly we’ve really been able to see and understand a little of Paul’s heart. His passion, his motivation, is truly to preach the gospel of Jesus. Paul wants to see people saved and their lives completely changed. That’s why he does what he does. His only goal is for Christ to be preached and for Jesus’ name to be exalted. Finally, in chapter 2 we began to see Paul’s encouragement of the Philippians to be humble because they were lights in a darkened world. As Christians, we must begin to see that our lives are not our own, but they belong to Jesus. This brings us to where we are today in chapter 2. These two paragraphs are very personal communication with the Philippians. While most of the rest of the book is very encouraging and motivating, Paul takes just a moment to talk about two men with whom he has a close relationship. The first is Timothy, one who he calls a son in Christ. In Timothy, we begin to see a model of discipleship outside of the 12 with Jesus. Timothy is Paul taking seriously the command to go and make disciples. He found this boy and began to train him in the teachings of Jesus. There was probably no one closer to Paul than this young man, Timothy. The second is a man called Epaphroditus. It seems (v. 25) that Epaphroditus was a man from the Philippian church who brought a message and aid to Paul from the Philippians. In many ways, these two men represented what Paul was trying to accomplish in his ministry, make disciples. Now Paul was going to send Timothy and Epaphroditus back to Philippi because he was unable to go himself, though he longed to see them again. This is an interesting passage because it gives us greater insight into Paul’s relationship with this church. I want, however, to focus on one verse this morning because I think it speaks to what we’re trying to do here at Cornerstone. Paul reveals that he wants to send Timothy back to the Philippians because “I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth…” This phrase in verse 21 is devastating. “They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus.” What a tragic thing! This is where I want to focus the bulk of our time this morning because I think there’s something going on in this verse, that if we’re not careful, we’ll begin to see in our own lives. There are several instances where Paul cautions against seeking after one’s own interest. Philippians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 10:24, 13:5 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” “… (Love) does not insist on its own way…” In these three verses (among others) Paul seems to be warning his listeners that seeking your own interests doesn’t have a place in the Kingdom. Indeed, going back to the earlier section of chapter 2, our goal in Christ is humility. If we’re going to be like Christ, we will be humble, not seeking our own. What, then, should we seek? Paul seems to answer that for us. In verse 21, talking about Timothy, Paul seemed to say that what set Timothy apart from the rest of them was that he sought the interests of Jesus. He tried to be like Jesus. He did things the way Jesus did them. He followed what Paul had taught him. Keeping this in mind, I’d like to look at a few passages that I hope will shed some light on the interests of Jesus and what that means for us. Matthew 4:18-22 This is one of my favorite passages in the gospels. I think it shows us a picture of immediate, radical obedience. Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He came upon two brothers, Simon and Andrew, who were fishermen. He said to them the famous phrase “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew says they immediately left their nets and followed him. Then he saw two other brothers, James and John, in a boat with their father. When he called out to them, they immediately left their father and the boat and followed Jesus. I’ve always wondered what Zebedee thought at this point. Scripture says they were in the boat with him. Probably they weren’t out in the middle of the sea, but they were still in a boat. Were they tied to a dock? Was the boat small enough that it was pulled up on the sand? When Jesus called did they just drop the net and bail out over the side? Was Zebedee talking with his sons and they just got up and left? Did he wonder if the story he was telling was boring? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind. I’d like to ask Zebedee what went through his mind when his two sons abandoned ship and followed Jesus. Last week I had written a comment in my narrative that I forgot to use. It’s probably not an original thought. I heard it from a mentor one time. He said this: “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” What strikes me about this encounter with Jesus is that the disciples left right away. Matthew actually says twice the word “immediately.” When Jesus called, they left. I wonder how many of us have that radical an idea of obedience. I wonder if when we feel the urging of the Spirit we respond right away, or if we wait, putting off what we know God is impressing on our hearts. The other phrase that jumps out at me in this passage is the statement made by Jesus. First of all, he appeals to who they are. They’re fishermen, so when he addresses them, he tells them that he will make them fishers of men. They’ll still be fishing, just not for fish any longer. From the beginning, Jesus was preparing them for who it was he wanted them to be. Jesus is in the business of making disciples. Not only does he call men to his side, he tells them what he’s going to do with them. Follow me: Be my disciples. I will make you fishers of men: I’m going to turn you into disciple makers. These are the two things Jesus has called us to, being disciples and making disciples. We’ve talked about this over the past few weeks. What is God’s will for your life? He wants you to follow Jesus yourself and to lead other people to Jesus. Matthew 28:18-20 From the very mouth of Jesus we hear God’s plan for the world: Go and make disciples of all nations. I think sometimes in our haste to do something worthwhile and meaningful in the world we forget what it is that Jesus has called us to. In a few weeks we celebrate Easter, the day when Jesus rose from the grave. That day I’m going to be preaching a message called “The Gospel of Jesus.” It’s going to talk about not only the facts that Jesus died on a cross, was buried, and rose from the grave, but what that means for us as Christians, as disciples of Jesus. We must never forget that the purpose of us being Christians is to display God’s grace and mercy to a world that needs him. Why do they need him? Because they are destined to an eternity separated from him. We can’t forget why God saved us. Jesus said to go into all the nations and make disciples. How do we know they are disciples? Jesus gave us the answer to that question as well. He said that first we baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We had the awesome privilege of baptizing two young ladies this past Wednesday evening. Kylie McKinnon and Maty Reynolds both gave their lives to Jesus at Disciple Now and wanted to be baptized to show the world that their lives were new. That’s the beautiful thing about baptism. The act itself doesn’t do anything for you, but symbolically it represents death to our old way of life and re-birth into a new life. Kylie and Maty said to us as a church body that they are not the same people they used to be, they have been re-born. As a church, we are now responsible for the next part of Jesus’ Commission. Not only are we to baptize people, we are to teach them to observe all that he commanded. This is where the church has typically been a little lax. We can be pretty good about sharing the gospel. At the very least we’ll invite people to a worship service so they can hear the preacher teach the gospel to the congregation. Then we’ll dunk them in some water. I know of some churches who keep the baptistery full of water so they can baptize immediately. We forget, though, that baptizing is just the first part of the Great Commission. Accepting Jesus and being saved are just the first step. Next we must teach them. We must train people to understand what being a disciple is all about. Jesus said that making disciples involves teaching them to observe all he commanded. How, then, do we know when we’ve got a disciple? A disciple is observing what Jesus commanded. A disciple is obedient to the teachings of Jesus. It seems like accepting Jesus and being baptized is just the first part of the process. Now that you are saved the idea is that you will be obedient, there will be a change in the way you live. Remember back in our original passage Paul was sending Timothy back to Philippi because he among all the others was seeking the interests of Jesus. As Christians, our goal is the Kingdom of God. As Christians, our desire should be for the things of Jesus. If we will set our minds on the interests of Jesus, if we desire the things he desires, we will finally begin to understand what it is he wants from us. 2 Timothy 4:9-10a This may be one of the most haunting verses in scripture. “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” Paul is writing this letter to Timothy, once more illustrating that Timothy got what Paul was talking about. If there was anyone faithful, it was Timothy. Paul urged Timothy to come back to him because one of his travelling companions, Demas, loved the world so much he turned away from the journey and went to Thessalonica. This is all we know about Demas. Perhaps he eventually came back to Paul. Perhaps he even went on other missionary journeys later. We don’t really know what happened to Demas except that at this time he turned aside from what he was doing because he loved the world. As we study Philippians and we grasp what it is Paul is telling them (remember we said that Philippians is a letter written to a church that is getting it right) it seems clear that Paul is concerned only with the interests of Jesus. He is sending Timothy to the Philippians because he alone seems to be focused on the interests of Jesus and not his own desires. If we would be faithful, perhaps this is what we should glean from this text. Demas loved the present world. Demas’ desire was for the things of the world. He left Paul on their journey. Perhaps it was a difficult journey, harder than Demas was prepared for. Maybe he got sick and didn’t feel like he could go on. Maybe he met a girl along the way and wanted to go back to Thessalonica to see her again. Maybe it was none of these reasons. Maybe he just thought it was supposed to be different. Jesus himself said the way would be hard. I’ve heard it said that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. I’m not sure that’s correct. Stephen was stoned to death. Peter was crucified. John was exiled and then later executed. Paul was killed for his faith. Over and over again we see people sacrificing their physical lives for the sake of the gospel. They had the interests of Jesus at heart and not their own desires. I pray this for myself. I don’t want my own desires to become the center of my world. I pray that more and more each day I would long for Christ and would sacrifice my own will for his. Last week I concluded my sermon by saying that we believe Jesus is the only one who can save you and change your life. There are all sorts of good things you can do, but Jesus is the only one who can change your life. I pray that you encounter Jesus. I pray that he begins to draw you to him. I pray that you might be confronted by your sin and long for a new life. I pray that you might begin to long for the desires of Jesus and not your own. In a few moments we’re going to celebrate communion. As we are coming closer to the Easter season we want to focus our lives more and more on why it is we celebrate. The elements of communion have no supernatural power, much like the water in baptism is simply water. The act of remembrance is what is most important. When Jesus took the bread and the cup during the last supper in the upper room, the elements of the Passover meal took on a more significant meaning. Sacrifice was part of the Jewish way of life, it wasn’t abnormal. What Jesus did, however, was to take a meal that had tremendous significance in the Jewish faith and redefine it to show what God had intended the whole time. Jesus came to be the sacrifice we would need for salvation. The elements of the broken bread and the red wine became significant because they represented the broken body and spilled blood of our Savior. We invite you, if you are a follower of Jesus, if you have taken that step of faith that says, “Jesus is my savior,” to share in this act of our faith with us.
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