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The Meaning of Life

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 30, 2024 12:00 am

The Meaning of Life

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 30, 2024 12:00 am

Discover the true meaning of life in this powerful episode featuring the teaching of Stephen Davey. Explore the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians as he unpacks what it means to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Gain inspiration from the story of Timothy, a young pastor raised in a broken home, who finds purpose and fulfillment. Reflect on the transformative power of spiritual guidance and the freedom that comes from true surrender to Christ.

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But there's something missing, by the way, in his opening introduction here.

It's easy to miss in every letter, but just two of them. That's how he begins. Paul, an apostle of God. Paul called to be an apostle of God. Not here, just Paul.

Why? We're not told, I think as you read through the letter, you'll discover that he's not writing from the perspective of an authority in the church. He's writing as a friend to these faithful friends. In a world obsessed with fame and self-fulfillment, one of the Bible's most influential figures had a vastly different idea of what mattered most.

We live in a culture that says, if it feels right, do it. But the Bible offers a radical alternative. A life dedicated to something outside of ourselves. Was Paul a fool to call himself a slave of Christ? Or was he onto the ultimate secret?

Prepare to have your worldview challenged and your heart transformed. Today, Stephen explores Paul's surprising viewpoint in this message he's called The Meaning of Life. Now, Paul is writing this letter as a missionary, a church planter. He's writing it from Rome.

He's under house arrest. It's been a rather wild journey that brings him finally to Rome where he'll die in a few years. It started out with being arrested in Jerusalem, accused of causing a riot, and Paul did. Riots went everywhere Paul went.

They followed him. He finally faces an improper court proceeding after being arrested in Jerusalem and eventually appeals to Caesar in Acts chapter 25. Now, every Roman citizen which Paul was had the right to present his case to Caesar. That doesn't mean that Nero would actually hear his case, but it did guarantee that Rome's highest court would.

So, in our culture you can appeal to the Supreme Court and know that your case would eventually be heard. What Paul really wants, however, is simply the opportunity to preach the gospel in Rome. He's dreamed of it for years. And he finally arrives, having survived several attempts on his life, some riots, a shipwreck, trials now in chains, so to speak. He arrives not as a traveling preacher free to Rome, but as a prisoner, Acts chapter 27. Given the benefit of the fact that Paul is under house arrest, this means that he can receive visitors. He lives in a rented facility or an apartment. He can write letters and he can receive mail as well. One of the challenges he faces, however, is he has to pay for this rented apartment.

And he also has to pay for the cycle of guards, military guards, that come into his home and guard him. Of course, he will win many of them to faith in Jesus Christ. And when you get to the end of this letter, he's going to say, oh, by the way, the guards in Caesar's household send you greetings, too. So, for Paul, now, writing to these believers in Philippi, he writes with great affection, primarily because, among other things, they were the only church that helped pay his rent and to pay for those guards.

They had stood with him over the years. And this letter to the Philippians is, among other motives, a missionary thank you letter. But there's something missing, by the way, in his opening introduction here. It's easy to miss.

It's highly significant. If you know the word, you've probably already figured it out by now. What's missing is any reference to the fact that he is an apostle in every letter, but just two of them. That's how he begins. Paul, an apostle of God. Paul called to be an apostle of God. First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, not here, just Paul.

Why? We're not told, but I think as you read through the letter, you'll discover that he's not writing from the perspective of an authority in the church. He's writing as a friend to these faithful friends, just Paul.

He does something else that's unusual. He simply moves on and introduces another man as if that man is his equal, a young man, notice, Paul and Timothy, as if to say, we wrote this letter together, which they didn't. This is Paul's writing.

This is his letter. The first time Timothy appears in the Bible, I want you to turn back to Acts again in chapter 16. That's the chapter that introduced us to the charter members of the church.

You remember that if you were with us last Lord's Day. Now we're introduced to the co-founder of the church, along with the apostle Paul, who at this point in time is we're introduced to him as a young man. Look at verse 1. We'll get back to Philippians in a minute or two. Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.

The contrast with that conjunction is intended to jar you just a bit. Now when Paul arrives in Timothy's hometown of Lystra or Lystra, most New Testament scholars believe Timothy was in his early 20s, perhaps 20, 21, 22. Some believe he's as young as 19. He's already a believer at this point when you're introduced to him. We're never told exactly when Timothy became a believer, but if you put the clues together, Timothy's mother and grandmother had become believers during Paul's first visit to their hometown. Earlier in chapter 14 of the book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas are preaching at Lystra, performing miracles, and one thing leads to another, and there you have another riot, and they actually stone Paul to death. They believe he's dead.

Only then do they stop throwing rocks at him just outside the city and they leave. A few disciples that are there that dared to come along gather around Paul. We're told he's lying there, his bones broken, his body bloodied, and God miraculously restores his life and health. In fact, there are some New Testament scholars that believe since the verb to arise, the same verb used of Christ rising, they would believe that he literally came back from the dead. It would certainly be miraculous enough to have been stoned nearly to death and be able to stand up, bones recovered instantaneously by the power of God, and Paul goes back into the city. Now, I don't know about you, but after nearly being stoned to death by an angry mob, should God miraculous restore me, I'd assume that it's time to move on.

Paul thinks it's time to stay on. He goes back, continues teaching, the church is established, and the disciples strengthened in the Lord, and two of the converts in that scene were two women, a mother and her daughter named Lois and Eunice, and at that point in time, they're raising a little boy named Timothy. I want to pull some things out of his biography very quickly and some observations that I hope will be encouraging certainly to us as a church to keep in mind as we look at this co-founder of the church at Philippi. Number one, disobeying God in the past doesn't eliminate the potential of honoring God in the future. Disobeying God in the past doesn't eliminate the potential of honoring God in the future.

There's an unwritten volume of strife and pain and disunity in this text in Acts 16. Truth be told, if Eunice had faithful Jewish parents, their hearts had been broken when she married a Gentile, and not a Gentile proselyte, a follower of God, which Lydia was that we were introduced to last Thursday, but a pagan unbeliever. A strict Jew would refuse to accept this as even a legitimate marriage. They wouldn't honor it or acknowledge it. In fact, if a Jewish girl married a Gentile boy, her parents, if they were faithful Jews in that era, would regard her as dead. In fact, the more strict Jews would actually perform a funeral service.

They'd carry it out, symbolizing that to them she has died. Now, we don't have any of the details, but twice what we do have, Luke writes here in this account, is this statement, Timothy's father, but Timothy's father was a Greek, Acts 16, Gentile, pagan, an unbeliever of the God of Abraham. In fact, Luke kind of puts an exclamation point and bold letters in verse 3. Look there, everyone knew that Timothy's father was a Greek. That's like saying, everybody knew that Eunice was raising this boy to love God and she was virtually alone in the process. We're not told when and why, but even before Eunice heard the gospel preached by Paul after that miraculous resurrection, she had in her heart years earlier returned to the Old Testament scriptures and had begun to follow them. In fact, Paul will confirm her commitment to God in 2 Timothy 3, 14, where he writes to Timothy, reminding him, Timothy, you remember how you were as a little boy from the earliest days of childhood raised in the scriptures. New Testament scholars believe he's actually telling Timothy, remember, you were taught to read by reading the Hebrew scriptures. Literally understood, you were taught the Hebrew alphabet from the Hebrew scriptures. Eunice had disobeyed the law of God in marrying an unbeliever.

Untold heartache, no doubt, came from that. A Gentile who did not honor God, but she evidently returned to the scriptures and later when Paul arrives in Lystra, she hears the gospel and the dots are connected and she places her faith in the Messiah. Eunice highly telling though that prior to that, she named her little boy Timothy, one who honors God. It's as if she's applying the naming of that boy with this kind of marriage, with her kind of past.

Listen, I didn't honor God when I was a Jewish bride marrying a Gentile unbeliever, but I want to honor God now and I want my boy to grow up to honor him too. She has discovered the meaning of life. It isn't just to get married. It didn't just have a home. It didn't just have a child.

She reveals it in the naming of her son and her heart's desires to see him honor and obey and love God, for within that you discover the core of the meaning of life. Let me give you another observation worth making in regards to this future leader in Philippi. Number two, the absence of a godly father does not forfeit the potential of godly children. You remember perhaps if you're older in the faith, Paul is writing to women who are married to unbelieving husbands in Corinth and they're wondering, now that we've come to faith in Jesus, maybe we get to start over. Our husbands don't care about God. We do. We're new creatures.

I guess we get a fresh start, right? And Paul said, nope, no, no, no. Go back into that home and be a holy, sanctifying influence.

It won't be easy, at times impossible, but God will strengthen you, 1 Corinthians 7. By the time Timothy grows up here in Acts 16, perhaps at the age of 20 or 21, he's already now distinguished himself as a result of that holy, sanctifying influence of his mother and grandmother because Paul calls him here in Acts 16, verse 1, a disciple that is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. His father, a Grecian unbeliever. If you could just sort of put that in contemporary terminology, what that would mean is that his father would stay home on the Sabbath and read the newspaper or maybe go play golf all day while Eunice and her mother, Lois, took Timothy along to the synagogue. So Mark this, while growing up, Timothy's father would never have been able to give him spiritual advice, would never be able to encourage him in his spiritual walk.

Whenever they got together, it would never be able to get beyond the weather and maybe the upcoming gladiatorial games or Olympic games or maybe the newest Roman senator. Maybe you can identify with that. That's as far as you can get, but the absence of a godly father did not forfeit the potential of a godly son. Let me give you another observation. Number 3, the dedication of a godly mother can overcome the disadvantage of a broken home.

Don't give me wrong. There is an indispensable blessing to have spiritual leadership from a father and a husband who's following after God. In fact, for all of us men, that is the model God intended for us to seek after who build our families and homes according to his word.

But we speak today to mothers, many who are single perhaps, divorced. Many today who don't have a believing spouse or maybe a spouse who claims to be a believer, but there's never any spiritual leadership or wisdom. Perhaps you're wondering, is there some disqualifying disadvantage in all of this that will handicap my children from their potential for Jesus Christ as disciples of his? Will they never really fully be able to seize the meaning of life that finds its core value in finding and following Jesus Christ?

Is that even a possibility? Take it from the opening line of a letter from Paul to the Philippians. Let me introduce to you one of the leading men of the New Testament church, a young man from a spiritually divided home with an unbelieving father, a young man who will live up to his name and honor God.

In fact, groomed by the apostle Paul himself to take that mantle. Eight years ago, I received a letter from a woman whose life had been totally turned upside down. In her letter, she wrote that she was grateful to have found us this assembly. She wrote, I want you to know I'm praying for you to stay true to Christ, and then she explained why. She was the mother of two young children when she began to suspect her husband wasn't being faithful to her. When she finally got up the courage to confront him, he admitted that it was true, but it wasn't another woman.

It was another man. He admitted to her his homosexual lifestyle that he'd kept secret for years. In that same conversation, he told her even more devastating news. The other man was her father. In one conversation, in one admission, her life just fell apart. To make matters even worse, her husband and her father were in full-time pastoral ministry, secretly living sinful lives.

All of that means she's going to effectively lose what she had in a relationship with both of them who refused to repent. Eight years ago, she slipped into a seat in here, perhaps next to where you sit. She began to readjust everything she'd ever known.

She began to rediscover in a brand new way life and its meaning, strength for the next step. She put her two sons in your children's classroom. As they grew, they may have been in your Bible study, she came in here and sang with you hymns to Christ. She walked past you in the hallway. She attended Bible studies with many of you women. She began life in many ways all over again. I'll never forget that letter written in anguish and especially that one line that referred to the fact that her husband was a pastor and her father was a pastor and they had broken my trust, she wrote. I've been coming here now for a while.

I think I can trust you. Let me tell you how that weighed on me. It's a wonder she even cared to try again, frankly. That was the grace of God in her life. I received a second letter from her just a few days ago. Eight years in between, I couldn't believe it had been nearly a decade.

I would have said maybe two or three years, but it had been eight. She had grown in her faith. She admitted that it was difficult, especially in the earlier years, but she wrote how grateful she had been to find a home here. She had found refuge and hope. She went on to include a photograph and an explanation of how just a few years ago God had brought into her life a genuinely godly man.

They'd been married now for over a year. Her sons, young men, were committed to Christ. As a family, they were involved in serving Christ in and through a local church in their new hometown.

She wanted to write, to tell me that she'd moved away, to let me know some of what had happened in the last decade of her life, to say farewell and to say to all of you and to me, thank you. Like Eunice, by the grace of God, the disadvantages were not insurmountable. She was raising sons who were walking after her example, after her commitment to Jesus Christ. So what Paul mentions and Timothy, slow down. He's referring to a faithful young man who was shown himself worthy to the Philippian church. A letter, by the way, that would be read by all of the churches and you can believe it. In one particular congregation, perhaps back at Lystra, there would have been a mother sitting out there listening to that quietly thanking God for his grace and that this had not been insurmountable after all.

Let me make one more observation from this opening line. The blessing of older influential believers cannot be underestimated. The blessing of older influential believers cannot be underestimated. Paul's treatment of Timothy here in this letter as a co-equal is deeply gracious, certainly, and listen, deeply, deeply appreciated by Timothy. In fact, in one of Paul's letters to Timothy, we happen to call it 2 Timothy, Paul writes, to Timothy, my beloved son. Imagine what that choice of terminology meant to Timothy. Paul could have easily called him to Timothy, my beloved brother, my beloved comrade, my beloved co-laborer. No, my beloved son.

Don't miss that choice of words. Imagine if Paul came to Colonial today and came up to one of your children and your daughter or your son and said, you know what, you're my beloved daughter. You're my beloved son. Can you imagine what it would mean if your son or daughter didn't have a daddy or didn't have a Christian daddy? We can't imagine the joy in the heart of Eunice and her mother, Lois. Both women had been deeply involved in teaching young Timothy the truth of God's word, to see that baton taken up by somebody like the Apostle Paul.

God intends this to be a spiritual relay team. You never really let go of the baton. You're the mother or the father, right?

You do sort of hang on. But you know, somebody else has to reach for it too, to invest in the life of your children as they continue to grow. Last night, we had a reception for our son Seth and his bride Megan and it was interesting and wonderfully gratifying for Marcia and I to hear people share their testimonies of how they invested in the life of our son and friends from Megan's life and in her life as well as children, whether it's a youth leader or a teacher or a neighbor or even a peer. In fact, as a parent, you get old enough to realize that you've been telling them to do stuff for a long time and it's when somebody else tells them and they get it. You've been telling them that for years.

Ooh, the lights come on. God intends it. God intends this assembly, this family to provide influencers in the lives of your children. Let them carry that baton for the glory of Christ.

That's what God intends. You put together the clues of Timothy's testimony and you discover that he's a godly young man ultimately because of the grace of God, but it will be the grace of God through a mother and a grandmother and an apostle and other members of the church and those who cared about him and wanted to hear an update. How's Timothy getting along? You can't imagine how encouraging that was.

Maybe that's you. By the way, Paul isn't just writing to the Philippians here as this letter opens. He's sending Timothy a message too.

Go back quickly here. Notice the end of the first phrase in Philippians 1 verse 1. Paul and Timothy, note this, servants of Christ Jesus. That translation, servant, is unfortunate.

It softens it. It's from the Greek noun doulos. It means slave and you might even write that into the margin of your Bible, slave. What's Paul saying? I didn't hire on for the right benefit package.

I'm not going to complain about the terms or the hourly wage or the hours. In fact, one author wrote it's only as a person becomes the slave of the creator that he begins to experience true freedom in life. Another author from the 1800s wrote it this way, slavery to God is true liberty. Freedom does not mean doing what you like.

It means liking what you ought. See, Paul is redefining our freedom and he's turning it all upside down. Paul, the great apostle, Paul, the renowned church leader, church planter, Paul, the courageous missionary statesman, Paul, the kind of guy that would be stoned nearly to death and get up and go back in and preach sermon number three or four or five, and Timothy, his faithful partner in ministry. Timothy, the young man being groomed for leadership. Timothy, the bold and courageous, co-equal as it were to Paul.

No, no, no. Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. Wasn't that a great reminder today? Our goal is to make his name great. You've been listening to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Today's lesson was called The Meaning of Life. If you joined us late or if you missed yesterday's lesson and want to make sure you stay caught up with the entire series, you'll find it on our website. You can go there anytime to listen to the complete archive of Stephen's teaching. In fact, we post each lesson in its entirety on both our website and the Wisdom International app.

Go there anytime. We'd be encouraged to hear from you and learn what God's doing in your life. There are several ways that you can interact with our ministry. Wisdom International is on social media. Be sure and like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter or Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you'd like to send Stephen an email, address it to info at wisdomonline.org. And if you'd like to write to us, our address is Wisdom International, PO Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. When you contact us, please tell us where you live and how you listen. We'll have the next lesson in this series next time, so join us for that here on Wisdom for the Heart. You
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-30 00:09:40 / 2024-04-30 00:18:57 / 9

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