Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 40
Philippians 3:17 – 4:23 – Part 2
We always like to thank you for your letters, your financial help, and most of all for your prayers. We realize that the Lord is using us in a tremendous way. We’re living in a day when a lot of people think that, “Christianity is for the women.” But I think that we are unique that we reach so many men in our ministry. All my classes here in Oklahoma are over half men, and when we have seminars around the country, it’s always over half men, and that’s as it should be. It’s the men who need to be men, I tell you what, living the Christian life is not for the weak. It takes real men to walk it as Paul of course is evidence. Now I think we’re ready to move on into Philippians chapter 4. There is a possibility that we’ll finish this Book in this lesson, and be ready for Colossians next month.
“Therefore, (because of the Lord’s coming as Paul has been talking about. It’s at hand, and could happen at any time.) my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”
Now never forget, where is Paul when he writes this? Well, in prison right next to Nero’s palace, and is chained to a Roman guard constantly. Many of whom I’m sure were probably some of the most furious warriors of the Roman army. Probably some of them had carried out the capital punishment. Wouldn’t it be bazaar if one of those fellows who had been commissioned to lop off the head of Nero’s wife, had actually become a convert of Paul? That wouldn’t surprise me a bit, because some of the most ruthless men in the Roman army were chained to Paul as a guard.
And he was such a powerful witness that I’m sure that by the time many of them left their tour of duty, they were believers. You say, “Well where do you get that?” Well look what it says in Titus chapter 2:11 You know I try to encourage people, when you read a verse, don’t just read it but contemplate it. Just stop and think and let the Spirit lead our thoughts, “How could something like this happen?” Well look at the verse, and always remember that it takes the Grace of God to bring a person, and especially people like these Roman guards to a knowledge of salvation.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”
Now of course the “all men” of Paul’s day would have been the then known world or the Roman Empire. But nevertheless Paul’s gospel had already permeated the Roman Empire from the west to the east. How else could it have happened except that these Roman soldiers in their revolving tour of duty would go to one end of the empire to the other. And as a result they became emissaries, and following in the foot steps of the apostle Paul by taking the Gospel of Grace everywhere they went. My what greater evangelist than a saved hardened Roman warrior. Have you ever thought of that? We’re going to see as we close the letter of Philippians that Paul mentions the very believers in the household of Nero. Now verse 2.
“I beseech (or I beg) Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.”
Now these are two ladies that evidently had some differences of opinion in the Philippian congregation, but they were active. A lot of people think that Paul was anti-feminist, and always putting women down. No he wasn’t! And here he is encouraging these two ladies that he knows that are active in the Philippian Church that they solve their individual differences so that they could be of the same mind in the Lord. Now along that same line when people tell me that Paul hated women, I tell you he couldn’t have because he let so many help him in the ministry. So come back to Romans chapter 16 and let’s take a look at some women who helped Paul, and these are not the only ones. You can also defend the apostle by directing that kind of people who are of that mind set to these verse.
“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;”
Do you see that? Now she wasn’t a pastor, but she was active in the Church. She was a servant, she was serving the Lord, and Paul commends her for that. Now verse 2.
“That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer (helper) of many, and of myself also.” Now verse 3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Now let’s drop down to verse 6.
“Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.”
Naturally this wasn’t Mary the mother of Jesus, so remember over and over Paul makes reference to women. And I think the crowning accolade that a man could put on a woman, especially in those days, was that this whole Roman letter was committed unto this lady Phebe in the first verse. She carried this letter from Corinth all the way to the city of Rome. So always remember that Paul was not anti-feminist whatsoever. If he thought so little of women as some people claim, he would never have entrusted something as precious as the letter to the Romans to a woman, but he does, so whenever anybody comes up with that idea you just pitch it, and tell them they’re way out in left field, and that was not the case. Now coming back to the Book of Philippians and verse 3.
“And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also and with other my fellow labourers whose name are in the book of life. (they were believers, no doubt about it. Now verse 4. From that prison next door to the most horrible death spot that ever lived Paul can write the following) Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”
My, if Paul could rejoice under his circumstances, then who are we to ever complain. Now the next two or three verses I always use when it comes to prayer for the Grace Age believers. For years I got hung up on John chapter 14, where Jesus says, “Whatsoever you will.”
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do,…”
Well that didn’t work for me. I wrote to more than one friend of mine in the ministry, and wanted to know what was the matter with me, because this doesn’t work. And my friends had all kinds of gobbledygook for answers. But now I know why that didn’t work for me. Our Lord at that time was talking to the twelve under totally different circumstances. That was all in view of the Kingdom, then indeed whatever they asked it would happen.
At that time I didn’t know Paul gave the Church Age believes instructions for prayer. So here is the answer for our prayer life today. Does God always answer prayer? Yes.
Now it may not always be the way we think it should be, but He always answers. But now let’s look at it in verse 5.
“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”
We’re not to go way out in left field, or get carried away with kooky ideas, but we’re to maintain a stable walk and manifestation of our faith, and now here it comes in verse 6.
“Be careful for nothing: (in our language, what do we say? Don’t worry about anything. That’s easier said than done isn’t it?) but in every thing (and that means what it says. But in every thing) by prayer and supplication (but there is one string attached, and what is it?) with thanksgiving let your requests be made know unto God.”
Be thankful! That’s why I think most people’s prayers go unanswered. They just are not thankful. I think many Church congregations over the years have gone down the tube because they forgot to be thankful. I think our beloved nation has gotten to the straights that we’re in because we have forgotten to be thankful. Remember when Paul was in Athens we find that being thankful isn’t just an admonition to the believer, but the whole world should recognize the goodness and provision of God. I think it’s in Acts chapter 17 that we find that.
“God that made the world and all thins therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25. Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. 26. And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27. That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28. For in him (God) we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”
Now Paul is talking to pagan Greek philosophers. He’s not talking to believers here, but even the unbelievers had better wake up and realize that all these good things that make life possible come from the God of glory. Now back to Philippians chapter 4. So we can come with our prayers of supplications, but it has to be with thanksgiving. You thank the Lord for what He’s going to do before you even ask for it. I think that is the clue to the whole idea of Christian living, is that we live in that constant attitude of thanks. Thank Him for His Grace. We thank Him for such a great salvation. We thank Him for His Word. We thank Him for all the promises in it. Now if we approach Him with that attitude of thanksgiving we can do the following.
“…let your request be made known unto God.”
Nothing is held out. Now I’m not going to let people come up with something frivolous, but anything that is of necessity, or we find dear and important to us, then we have every privilege in the world to bring it into God’s throne room. Alright now I always put it this way. God may answer yes, and miraculously, or otherwise our prayers can be answered. Oh we see it happen occasionally. But other times the Lord says no, and our prayers are not answered. Other times the Lord may say, “Just wait a while, I’ll do it in my own time.” But the next verse tells me that here is our immediate answer to prayer, whether He says, “Yes, No, or Maybe Later, that’s beside the point. The answer to our prayer is now in verse 7. The moment we pray and ask with thanksgiving we have the following.
“And the peace of God (why? Because we’ve left it in good hands. He knows how to handle it, He’s in total control. So the peace of God) which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Now we know we’re living in a world where many are stressed out. Everybody is talking about stress, and no doubt it’s there. Stress works on the mind, but what is the best treatment for stress? The peace of God, that passeth all understanding. It’s beyond human comprehension that even when things are going against us, even when things are tough, and even when we think God has forgotten all about us. Don’t you ever think that. That’s when you’d better wake up and realize that God is in total control, even when the bad things happen. So that’s our real answer to prayer, that just as soon as we bring something into the throne room, God responds with His peace that passeth all understanding. Now let’s move on down to verse 8 and hopefully we can finish the chapter today.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,…”
Now here we come with a list of statements again, and how many do you suppose there’s going to be? Seven. That perfect number of God. We know over and over Paul will peal off seven statements, and here’s another one. Seven things that we can find as part and parcel of the peace of God.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Seven perfect mental attitudes. My, that’s enough to heal depression or almost any malady. Oh to think on things that are true. What causes a lot of the dilemma today? People don’t know what’s true. People don’t know what they can believe. Our newspaper, the Daily Oklahoman, has articles everyday warning us not to be taken in by the con artist of what ever the media vehicle, whether it’s the internet, or tele-marketing, or whatever, don’t be taken in. We’re living in a world that is not truthful. But we’re supposed to think on things that are true. Think of things that are honest. Honesty has almost become a lost art.
The used car dealer is the butt of most jokes in that regard I suppose. I’ve got a friend up in Minnesota who was a used car dealer for a long time, and he’s a character, and I’m sure he’s watching the program. I’ll never forget we were at a Church picnic up there, and a dear old gentlemen came up to him, and said, “Aren’t you Don so and so?” He said, “Yeah.” He said, “Well I bought my first car from you years and years ago.” He said, Yeah I remember that deal explicitly. That’s the only time I ever lost money.” Well that’s the glib response of a used car dealer salesman. Some of them like to pull the wool over people’ eyes. That’s not a blanket statement as I’m sure there are some who like to be fair and honest in their dealings.
But nevertheless we’re living in a world where we’ve got to be constantly on guard that some body doesn’t pull a fast one on us. We’re not living in a world where everything is honest.Whatsoever things are just. Now that’s along the same line as honesty. If it’s honest and just, what more could you ask for. Whatsoever things are pure. Boy there’s not much of that anymore either, and that’s why I’ve quit watching television. There is absolutely nothing pure on there any more, it’s getting ridiculous. Whatsoever things are lovely. I always have to think of my wife’s sister, as that was one of her favorite words. Everything was always lovely. Well that’s nice, that’s great, but it’s a word that probably is not as easy to explain, but whatever. Take it for what it means.
Whatsoever things are of good report. Now you see all seven of these tie in to the basic Christian premise of truthfulness, and honesty, and integrity, in fact I can just lump the whole shebang into one word. Biblical morality. See that’s what makes for good citizens. If there’s any thing that you can really feel good about, then this is where it’s at. Now verse 9. All seven of these areas of Christian lifestyle Paul says –
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me,…”
Here was a man who filled the bill on all seven of these attributes of a Christian life. Now do you see why the Holy Spirit says, “Follow Paul?” If you can fulfill these seven attributes as a believer in your everyday life experience never will some body point a finger at you and say, “Well there’s a hypocrite if I ever saw one.” Because this is true Christianity, and there’s nothing that makes us less than real. You know I’ve always said, “Christianity isn’t being so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.” No that’s not what it is. Christianity is so practical. There is nothing more practical on this planet than the Christian life, but only a believer can live it, because it has to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. If I’m going to finish Philippians I’ve got to do it in 2 minutes huh? Verse 9 again.
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do and the God of peace shall be with you.” Now there’s a promise, it’s a response from a loving God. Now verse 10.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, (or mindful) but ye lacked opportunity.”
In other words, the Philippians were not wealthy people. They were up there in northern Greece, and not a big commercial center like Corinth. So they didn’t have a lot to give. Now verse 11.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Now I’ve brought out in past program since we’ve been in Paul’s letters that I think early on when he was a big wheel in Judaism, he was a wealthy man. I think he was probably one of the wealthiest Jews in Jerusalem. But he pitched it all for the sake of the Gospel. Does he complain? No he’s still content. Even though he has nothing, but a few pieces of parchment and a cloak or two, and never complains about his lack of physical material wealth. Now verse 12.
“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (now verse 13, and what a promise). I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
We can do nothing of ourselves, but when Christ is in control there is nothing that we cannot do that He wants us to do. Then of course in verse 15 he speaks of the giving and receiving from the Philippians. And in verse 17 Paul tells us the only reason he desired a gift was so that they in turn would get their reward in glory. Now verse 22. I said I’d try to bring this Book of Philippians to a close, but I wish I had a few more seconds. Now here again Paul makes mention about the saints Nero’s palace.
“All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. 23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
So we find Paul’s converts in the very heart of Nero’s palace.