Part 4: Joy In The Lord
Pastor Terry Inman
A vital relationship with Jesus Christ colors everything we think, say or do. His Spirit lives in us and we live by His spirit. He is in us and we are in Him. We believe in Jesus. We also live in Jesus! So no matter what happens in this life we can have JOY IN THE LORD.
Most of us would be comfortable saying The Lord is in us. We have invited Christ into our lives. We believe in Him. We depend on Him to help us in this life. But it's more challenging to say that we are "in The Lord."
He knew they would encounter some of the same challenges he had faced when he was there. He writes, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Phil. 1.27 NIV)
In the book of Philippians the Apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome. He hopes to get discharged at least temporarily before his final trial before Caesar. He never sees himself as a victim. He actually appealed his case to Rome.
There is evidence of the wisdom of this. His witness had an impact even on Caesar’s household. He hopes to be released soon to re-visit the Philippians. In the mean time he will send them his companion Timothy.
Paul begins this next section of his letter with this simple but profound prepositional phrase. “In the Lord Jesus”. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. (Phil. 2.19 NIV)
He repeats this prepositional phrase “In the Lord” four times in the next few verses. What’s a preposition? Let’s break it down this way—pre-position. Simple prepositions are location words like in, at, on, up, by or more complex like ones like, above, around, below or beyond.
Why wouldn’t he just say, I hope to send Timothy to see you soon?
For Paul all of life—its relationships, experiences, suffering or success is positioned, “in the Lord”! In (Phil. 1.21 NIV) “For to me, to live is Christ”!
Here’s the four uses of this phrase “in the Lord” in this section:
I hope in the Lord. (2.19)
--Subject to the Lord’s leading. He hopes to see them soon.
I am confident in the Lord. (2.24)
--He is assured that it will fit within the Lord’s purposes.
Welcome him in the Lord. (2. 29)
--He wants them to receive leaders as being sent by the Lord.
Finally rejoice in the Lord. (3.1)
--Not matter what happens he wants them to experience the Joy of living “in the Lord”.
Most of us would be comfortable saying the Lord is in us. We have invited Christ into our lives. We believe in him. We depend on him to help us in this life. But it’s a more challenging to say that we are “in the Lord”. This means he takes the lead in everything. He is the Lord! He’s in charge.
Paul says it this way in his letter to the church in Galatia. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2.20 NIV) Jesus earned the right to lead our lives!
So even something as simple as sending his ministry intern Timothy to visit the Philippians was subject to the Lord’s lead. If it is the Lord’s plan He hoped to send Timothy. News or their spiritual progress would really give him something to cheer about! The church brought him great joy.
To be “in the Lord” is to execute His plans and His purposes not our own.
Last week we talked about the Joy of Spiritual Community. In (Phil 2.3-4) Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Now there is a good reason to send Timothy--He is a model of Christ’s selflessness. He is a young leader who has learned to live, “in the Lord”.
Paul forwards this character reference. “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 2.20-21NIV)
Again Paul is hoping The Lord will let him personally re-visit Philippi. But if not, he wants them to fully accept his proven protégée, Timothy.
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. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.
(Phil 2.22-23 NIV)
Paul mentored Timothy. He could trust his ministry to be “in the Lord”. Mentoring or coaching is presently a great trend in the corporate world. It has been around the Church since the beginning.
Good mentoring requires good modeling. Paul says, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. (Phil 4.9 NIV)
He wrote to Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2Tim. 2.2 (NIV)
This is the succession of discipleship. Paul mentored Timothy. Timothy was expected to mentor reliable (trustworthy or dependable) men who would be qualified (competent) to mentor others.
There are three stages here:
(1.) modeling, (demonstrating spiritual maturity in our own lives)
(2.) mentoring (guiding another’s spiritual growth)
(3.) multiplying (releasing them to reproduce others). This explains the explosive growth in the emerging church.
Paul was confident that Timothy would represent him well to this church. He said, “But you know that Timothy has proven himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.”
Mentoring is not just a class or an instructional exercise--it is a highly relational experience. It is spiritual parenting. “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” 1Th. 2.11-12 (NIV)
The Lord is bringing this practice of up-close personal discipleship to the attention of His church. It is his plan for the expansion of the kingdom.
Paul sees his imprisonment from the perspective of being “in The Lord”. He is confident that sending Timothy will accomplish God’s purposes. He is also confident that at the right time he will be able to visit them also.
I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. (Phil 2.24 NIV) Evidence from his other letters suggests that he did get a leave to visit there and other churches before his final trial and execution.
All of our actions, thoughts, and attitudes should spring from the fact that we are “in the Lord” and are prompted by the Spirit’s energy. What we do, should be consistent with, and submitted to, the Lord’s will.
Paul was so close to this church. They loved him and were one of the only churches to support him. They sent a leader named Epaphroditus to look after Paul and his needs. He delivered their support mentioned in Ch. 4.
“I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Phil. 4.18-19)
Now in addition to sending his son Timothy he wants to return their messenger Epaphroditus. While with Paul he had fallen ill and nearly died. Apparently there was also some false information about his mission that had gotten back to the Philippians. Maybe he was accused of misappropriating their gifts, we don’t know. Paul wanted him to return to a hero’s welcome for his ministry well done.
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. Phil. 2.25 (NIV)
I love the portrayals of Epaphroditus…my brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier and messenger. It reminds me of Paul’s words to Timothy…
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 2 Timothy 2. 3-6 (NIV)
This is consistent with what Paul said in the beginning of this letter about contending or competing for the faith together…
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel. (Phil. 1.27 NIV)
The Christian faith is not for lightweight, laid back folks. We are hard working warriors. Faith is a fight! We are comrades “in the Lord”!
Paul commends this leaders character and his compassion…
For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 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. Phil. 2.26-27
Epaphroditus was not spared illness. He was near death. A miracle is not indicated here but he did recover. He faced suffering with faith.
Paul says, “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. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.” Phil. 2.28-29 (NIV)
Here’s Paul third use of the prepositional phrase. Welcome him, “in the Lord”. No matter what their opinion they needed to honor this man who risked his life to serve “in the Lord”.
Paul sends both of these leaders Timothy and Epaphroditus to this church he loves. He is fully confident that they will model, mentor and multiply what it really means to be “in the Lord”.
Chapter divisions are not always inspired. Here chapter three is actually the conclusion of Paul’s thoughts here in chapter two.
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
Paul doesn’t mind repeating himself; four times he uses this prepositional phrase “in the Lord”. Let’s ask ourselves. Are we really “in the Lord”? Can we say no matter what happens we know the Joy of being “in the Lord”!