Sunday, June 07, 2020

“With Great Joy” [Matt's Messages]

“With Great Joy”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
Worship At Home Video Message
June 7, 2020 :: Philippians 2:19-30

I invite you to open your Bibles to the Book of Philippians chapter 2. The Apostle Paul’s missionary letter to his beloved church friends in the Greek city of Philippi.

We’ve reached the words now marked in our Bibles as chapter 2, verse 19. Big number 2. Little number 19. Paul didn’t put those numbers there. That’s how we know where to find things now. Philippians chapter 2, verse 19.

This is the 8th message in the book of Philippians for Lanse Free Church to use for Worship at Home, and it’s the 12th message in this pre-recorded video format we’ve been using during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Right now, I want to tell some of you to turn this video off right here.

Don’t watch this video if you are coming to worship on campus on Sunday morning June 7th at least until after you have come to worship on campus on Sunday morning June 7th!

Because this is the message I’m planning to preach to you folks in that building right there on Sunday morning!

So you can keep watching if you want, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

{By the way, it’s Pew Bible page #1162.}

The Apostle Paul has just finished an important section of his missionary letter to his beloved Philippians where he has encouraged them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, to stand out in their generation by not complaining and not arguing, to hold out the word of life, and to be willing to pour out their lives in worship of Jesus Christ.

And that’s all because of what Jesus did for all of us when He let go of the high perks of divinity and humbled Himself into the servanthood of human death for us. And then was exalted to the highest place and given the highest name.

Do you remember that?

So in verse 19 of chapter 2, Paul resumes his missionary letter by telling the Philippians about his plans.

Paul is planning to send 2 of his associates, 2 members of his ministry team to the Philippians, one at a time. And both of these guys are guys they know. One is actually from the Philippian church himself.

And in the very middle of this letter, Paul has a lot to say about these 2 men.

I think that Paul (and the Holy Spirit inspiring him) is putting these 2 men forward as examples for the Philippians to follow, to model themselves after.

He’s not just telling them facts about these 2 guys. He wants them to become like these 2 guys.

At the end of the chapter, Paul tells them the “honor men like” these.

And he also tells them to welcome them in the Lord “with great joy.”

By now the emphasis on joy should not be surprising.

Philippians is Paul’s letter of joy.

He always prays with joy.
He rejoices that Christ is preached.
He continues to rejoice no matter what happens to him because to live is Christ and to die is gain.
He asks them to make his joy complete by putting each other ahead of themselves.
And He rejoices with the Philippians because he knows that they are going to obey Jesus whether or not they see Paul ever again.

Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.

And now, Paul tells the Philippians to welcome these 2 guys with great joy.

Literally, “with all joy.”

And we’ll quickly see why. It’s because these guys were worth rejoicing in. They were worth honoring.

They were quality Christian men.

So, this is a perfect passage for us for at least two reasons this particular weekend.

The first is that Sunday June 7th is Graduation Sunday, and we have 5 young men who are our Class of 2020. 5 young men who have just graduated from high school:

Thomas, Dalton, Tyler, Andrew, and Ben.

I have had the privilege of being their pastor for most if not all of their school years.

I had the privilege of baptizing all 5 of them.

And this passage is perfect for Graduation Sunday because those 5 young men could learn a lot from these 2 Christian men in Philippians 2.

We all can, of course, but it’s particularly appropriate for Thomas, Dalton, Tyler, Andrew, and Ben who I hope either watch this video or catch the live version in one of the two new worship gatherings.

The other reason why this passage is particularly appropriate for this Sunday is that we got word on Friday night that our beloved missionary friend Henoc Lucien had died.

Henoc was a special man, a dear brother in the Lord, and had shoes too big for any one else to fill.

And Henoc was a lot like these 2 guys that Paul is writing about in the middle of Philippians.

And it is very appropriate for us to honor him to fulfill verse 29.

“Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him.”

We can’t welcome him here anymore on our campus, but we can honor him.

Let’s start in verse 19, and find out more about these 2 guys that Paul is planning to send to the Philippians.

The first is a man named “Timothy.” Chapter 2, verse 19.

“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 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. 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. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.”

So interestingly, Paul is not sending Timothy just yet.

He hopes to send him.
He wants to send him.
The Philippians want to see him.

But Paul is holding onto Timothy until it’s clearer what is going to happen with his court case.

Remember, Paul isn’t sure if he’s going to live or if he’s going to die.

He expects to live. He expects to visit the Philippians again.

But he doesn’t know for sure, and he needs Timothy with him while he waits for the verdict.

But Paul tell the Philippians that he is planning to send Timothy soon so that he (Paul!) may be cheered when the news comes back him.

Isn’t that interesting?

Paul wants to send Timothy so that Timothy will boomerang back with news about how the Philippians are doing.

It’s fascinating how relationship-focused this letter is.

I’ve always known that, but during these days when we have been so separate from each other, I feel it like never before.

Paul feels his separation from the Philippians, and he can’t wait to use the social media of the day to find out how they really are. He’s planning to send a human being all the way across the Roman Empire to find out on his return how his beloved Philippians are faring.

And he hopes to be “cheered” by the news (v.19).

I’ve been walking 8-10 miles a day for the last 3 months and on many many of those walks, I’ve been carrying these church directories with me and making calls to you.

This is my March one. This is my April and May one. And Marilynn just made me a June one this week.

I have been longing for news about you.

That’s how Paul felt. And it’s also how Timothy felt. Listen to verse 20.

“I have no one else like [Timothy], who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

Now we’re getting into what makes Timothy so honorable.

Timothy didn’t just look out for himself.

Timothy was outstanding at looking out for others.

Listen closely, Thomas, Dalton, Tyler, Andrew, and Ben.

Listen closely, everyone.

“Everyone looks out for their own interests,” that’s normal.

But not everyone looks out for others for the sake of Jesus Christ.
If you find someone like that, they are worthy of honor.
If you find someone like that, they are worthy of imitating.

Does this language sound familiar to you? This language of interests and looking out for someone’s else interests?

I hope it does. Remember verse 4 of this chapter?

“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. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus...”

Timothy was like Christ Jesus!

He did that.

He put others first.

“You before me.”
“You before me.”

Here’s our first application question for today:


Are you like Timothy?

Who is number one in your life?

Same questions as a few weeks ago:

Ask yourself who are you putting first in all of your relationships.

If you are a dad, does the family revolve around you and your will?
If you are a mom, is it your way or the highway?
If you are brother or a sister, do put your siblings’ interests ahead of your own?
If you are single are you focused only on your dreams and ambitions?
If you are a boss at work? If you are an employee at work? Who are you looking out for?
Drivers, who is #1 on the road?

“For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

Isn’t that interesting that he ends with Jesus and not with the Philippians?

“I have no one else like [Timothy], who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

So when a Christian looks out for other Christians and puts their interests ahead of himself, they are looking out for the interests of Jesus Christ, their Lord.

Thomas, Dalton, Tyler, Andrew, and Ben, is that you?

Everybody else? Is that you? Is that me?

Am I like Timothy?

Do we honor people like Timothy?

I think that Henoc Lucien was a Timothy. He was constantly putting the needs and interests of others ahead of himself.

My dad saw him in action in Haiti once, and Henoc carried two cell phones and could be talking on both at the same time while driving!

And he wasn’t just chatting. He was helping people with their problems.

He was putting others ahead of himself.

Welcome men like that great joy and be like them if you can.

Timothy did this over and over and over again. V.22

“But you know that Timothy has proved himself [passed the test again and again], because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.”

Timothy didn’t just put someone ahead of himself once. He did it again and again.

And you can see how close he and Paul became if you read the letters Paul wrote to Timothy later in your Bible. Like a son with his father.

Paul says that Timothy served in the work of the gospel.

The word for served is the same one as described Jesus as the servant in verse 7.

Timothy was like Jesus. He served.

And he served in the work of the gospel. It is work. The gospel is the good news of free salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But it’s work to share it. Henoc did that work.

And so should we.

Timothy served and served and served in the work of the gospel. He was a proven servant.

Are you and I?

Could someone look at our lives and say, “That one right there has proved himself a servant in the work of the gospel?”

Thomas, Dalton, Tyler, Andrew, and Ben, I would love it if someone said that about you!

You don’t have to be a pastor or a missionary to do it.

You just have to serve others in Jesus’ name and share the gospel with those who need to hear it.

No wonder Paul wanted to keep Timothy to himself. Soon he hoped to send him. And he also hoped to visit the Philippians himself.

But for now, Paul was going to send his friend Epaphroditus, probably bearing this very letter to them.

If the nickname for Timothy is Tim, what is this nickname for this guy?

E-Pap? Brother E-Pap!

Look at what Paul says about Epaphroditus in verse 25.

“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.” Stop there for a second.

This is also high praise.

Paul says that Epaphroditus is his fellow Christian (brother), fellow gospel worker (like Timothy) and fellow soldier.

That’s a word for a solid guy who can be depended upon a spiritual battle.

This is also a strong commendation of another Christian.

And Epaphroditus had apparently been sent from the Philippians to Paul.

He was a human care package!

They knew that Paul was in prison and needy. Roman prisons were not like our human American prisons with 3 squares a day and exercise in the yard.

In a Roman prison, the prisoner or his family had to supply of his needs.

And Paul had no family.

So the Philippians sent Epaphroditus with a love gift.

Just like the money we have recently sent to Pastor Henoc to help feed people on the streets of Cap Haitien.

So the Philippians sent Epaphroditus to Paul with a love gift.

But he almost didn’t make it. V.26

“For [Epaphroditus] 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.”

We don’t know. Maybe he got a bad virus.

But he was down and almost out.

And if he had died, it would be far better for him.

But God had mercy on Epaphroditus and on Paul and spared him sorrow upon sorrow. V.28

“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.”

I won’t have to worry any longer about you worrying about him!

Because you’ll get to see your boy again.

Reunions are awesome, aren’t they?

Do you feel all of the longing of these loving relationships?

Verse 26 says that Epaphroditus “longs” for the Philippians.

Same word that Paul used in chapter 1, verse 8 to describe how he misses them, too.

And we, as church family, separated these last 11 weeks long for each other, as well.

Some of us get to be together in person. Some on Zoom.

But we look forward to a day when we can all be together.

And we won’t have to worry about worrying about each other!

And one day we will see Henoc again.

Right now we miss him, and we long for the Great Reunion that comes when the kingdom does.

Verse 29.

“Welcome [Epaphroditus] 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.”

So here’s the second and last application questions for us in this passage:


Am I taking risks for the work of Christ?

Thomas, Dalton, Tyler, Andrew, and Ben, be like Epaphroditus.

Don’t just play it safe.

Don’t take stupid risks.

Don’t take big risks for no good reason.

Make sure you know what the risks you are taking are and what the potential benefit might be.

But don’t just play it safe in your Christian life.

Because what’s the worst that could happen?

You die? So what? If you die in Christ, you get to go be with Christ.

That’s what Pastor Henoc has done. He obviously was taking risks for the work of Christ. And he should be honored for it. And we should learn from his example.

With great joy.


Previous Messages in This Series:01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"
06. "Your Attitude"
07. "I Am Glad and Rejoice With All Of You"