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The Most Famous Thank-You Letter in Church History

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Steven Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2021 12:00 am

The Most Famous Thank-You Letter in Church History

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Steven Davey

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March 8, 2021 12:00 am

How is it possible that only one small church in Philippi supplied all of Paul's needs? Where were the thousands of other Christians who had been impacted by Paul's letters and visits? Sadly, the ministry of financial support has always been a minority operation.

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My God will supply all your needs according to his riches and see very keep in mind that the context here has to do with not meeting the needs of the Philippian as they met the needs of all Paul is saying here that God will give Christians a blank check for whatever they think they want. If I think the implication of the media context is you gave and really couldn't afford to indulge make up the need you now have God's word white what God's doing. We can do that as we support our church missionary or Christian organization.

The ancient Christian church in Philippi supported the apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 4 Paul thanked them for coal laboring with him in gospel ministry. Paul knew that because they were supporting him.

They ended up being a bit stretched financially themselves. They gave until it hurts. And Paul wrote to thank and encourage them in this message. Stephen Devi is looking at that. Thank you note from watch someone who knows how to thank God and he'll be around someone who also knows how to think other people to instead of complaining for the way people don't come through with the way things work out as expected or even trails didn't have escalators when it got steep. These people find a way to send a word of thanks and encouragement. One author put it this way, the more mature prayers of thanksgiving are not those offered for the obvious blessing, but those spoken in gratitude for obstacles overcome for insights gained and for help received in time. By the way, that's exactly where you find the apostle Paul is in a place in his own life where things didn't work out as he is expected he is disappointed, no doubt by the apparent lack of concern from the believers in Rome, where he is under house arrest.

This trail has effectively been edited and house arrest. What we can lose in our exposition of the book of Philippians is the fact that Paul is actually writing a thank you to these believers that this happens to be one of his motives in sending this letter to thank his church for their support through financial gifts and prayer imagined. By the way, still the lesson he's writing a thank you letter while in change exactly the time when you might think I want to write a thank you letter. Give me a little slack on this chain so I can write what he did send Gordon wrote in his wonderful little commentary that this letter is the most famous thank you letter, church history, I agree to take your copy would you go back again and pick up where we left off this time. In chapter 4 and verse 15 want to do is literally cover this entire paragraph to be miraculous.

I'm sure role said and done what I wanted his work through these verses rather quickly, would give you five summary state that sort of Sure of the contents of this thank you letter in the first summary statement is this.

Paul says thank you for sharing with me partnering with me in ministry. Notice verse 15 you yourselves also know Philippian the first preaching of the gospel. After I left Macedonia. No church shared with me underline that no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving. You alone know what Paul is doing here is he's taking them back to the very beginning they been at this now more than a decade supporting him and and and with him traveling when you go back in time. If you're with us. It's about two years ago we began this study, but when he first arrived in the city of Philippi in the region of Macedonia. There were no Christians was in any church. There was no missionary, no gospel. Paul was the first one to arrive by the time Paul left. It wasn't long before he did course following the usual riot in time in prison. There was a church was meeting in the home of a wealthy woman. The first convert in Philippi. In fact, she's the first convert in all of Europe, a woman by the name of Lydia, who opened her home for this church that the members of that infant church would've included a former demon possessed slave whom Paul and one by faith to Christ as he delivered her the gospel and she would been joined by the entire family of the local warden who ran the nearby jail when he'd come to faith after an earthquake and has had all of the bonds and James fall off Paul and Silas, and he'd had enough of me said, what must I do to be saved and he and his whole family believes that there there in this home and you have the beginnings of this wonderful little church that Paul doesn't add any historical commentary in this thank you letter back. He just starts verse 15 by basically saying you all know this already, you all know this would been through this together. The generosity of the Philippian church goes back a long way from that initial visit this church will remain loyal and supportive of Paul.

They will send him gifts from time to time and and since Paul is constantly on the move.

They really needed a GPS tracking system which they didn't have because he kinda fall off the scene and they have trouble tracking him down and that seems what happened here when he was incarcerated really lost track of a mental.

Finally they got news he's incarcerated. He's in need even cold in the winter months.

He has no financial support, and they immediately began a collection Senate by way of a pampered Titus and Paul writes them a letter to thank them and that letter is called the book of Philippi is. Thank you and we know from Paul's biography is given to us in detail in the book of acts.

The that many traveling takeaways you take along his his tools to make tenants using tentmakers as we get that expression tent maker or marketplace ministry supported his missionary travels by selling making and selling half dozen tents or so is standard policy was to support himself. In fact, at one point he was he refuse gifts from the Corinthian church because they would misinterpret and they would have misrepresented him, but now is under house arrest. He's totally dependent on the financial gifts of others, and as I read verse 15 are about you and you market within the very last word strikes me I want to spend some time it's that were alone alone. He writes to them this staggering revelation to know church, but you stop and let that sink in.

This is late in Paul's ministry. There are dozens dozen of churches potential supporting churches. None of them none of them captured either the vision of Paul or the value of Paul. Everybody just kind of forgot about one of the reasons I agree with one commentator who wrote that the Philippian church is worth remembering is because they were the church, but remember he never forgot pole the financial and material gifts to him were really their own acts of gratitude for what he had done in their lives. They were so thankful for what he had done. By doing this becomes a wonderful place to pull over for just a moment to make sure that we thanked together people in our lives to the impact of this may be to teacher or a disciple or a mentor who taught you and let you maybe even a pastor saying that's what you write me notes or me money Krispy Kreme is fine if you want to do.

No don't do that actually pleased.

Take time to write a note give thanks to others.

I want to point out the fact that Paul is referring to their financial gifts is money never uses the word but I want you to notice that he calls it.

In verse 15 sharing. Thank you for sharing its awardees already use earlier in chapter 1, and it's translated partnering. It's from the work coin O'Neill from the coin on workgroup. That means, by the way, not about you know a little dinner. After fellowship, that this work coin on our coin. O'Neill refers to deep sacrificial investment in partnering together and Paul use that earlier as well. In chapter 1, as he described his church as partakers same root word partakers with me in grace the way put is effectively saying listen for all these years.

Now you have partnered together in not only experiencing with me the extravagant grace of God, you have worked with me to deliver that gospel message to our world. And now here in chapter 4 of Paul once again uses that same root word as he writes here that you have shared with me in this matter. Paul implies obviously I did the preaching. I did the traveling, but I want you to understand effectively says that you have partnered together with me in doing this we are actually equal partners with one another. Imagine being a partner with Paul. There's an unwritten volume here and there support. We know from other letters and accounts that other churches have begun criticizing Paul his methods. Even his emphasis on grace. There were those that were saying. He preached that I mean everything is getting a Santa can't tell you it's all covered some of his letters, he explains the misconceptions and misinterpretations of churches and believers there. There was a lot of heartburn over the history of the apostle Paul, not from the start they didn't buy into the majority opinion about this veteran missionary statesman. There was actually a sentiment that we picked up from earlier passages where the church in Rome, where Paul right now is in the under house arrest. The church in Rome seem to have come to the conclusion that Paul is deserving of this incarcerated you poolside a member of the church around yeah parties under house arrest will know where it is because we visited him and, frankly, we believe you deserve. So when a pampered Titus arrives with this were told that he had to search for Paul, nobody in the church knew where he was when he received this gift from these believers in Philippi, he very transparently opens up his heart and he says no other church supported me, but you alone.

Can you imagine what this says about those other churches. We think for a moment. Where were those other churches where were those churches who, for whatever reason I missed it. I mean they they misted Paul inventions.

Look at verse 16 that even Thessalonica, which is next door in your city. You sent a gift more than once for my needs.

I mean, where were the others can imagine the embarrassment of receiving this letter, 10, 20, 30 years. At first begun circulating and here in another church and you hear the apostle Paul who by that point become a legend saying no other church supported me. But you and Philippi needs to internalize these started about us. Are we 1900 years later a church that would miss. We missed Paul says thank you for not forgetting being faithful partner. Secondly he says them all summer. Is this what you are you are sharing in my reward to staggering thought were 17 not that I think the gift itself, but I think for the profit which increases to your account without thrilled to receive your gift for what it did for me but I'm really thrilled because of what it can do for you to do for you, your gift is increasing to your own account and and and all that God will one day reward you imagine tagging on to the ministry.

The apostle Paul and finding out that the Lord he will be given from Christ is shared by you at staggering principle of the laboring in ministry and finally, Paul is using financial terminology using a banking term present participle translated increases the profit which increases to your account is a word that refers to the multiplication of compounding interest. So Paul is saying effectively gadget calculators your spiritual calculators and understand the gifts you are giving me are actually multiplying your own spiritual interest, which is going directly into your ministry account from which God will one day reward every time you give a gift every time you as a member of this assembly, give a gift omission are you are fellowship thing, not just with their ministry, but there while really frankly, here's the point of not giving anything away, giving anything away, diffidence will last for nobody beloved thought Paul was worth the investment.

But this church missed the other churches missed that a little bit of a tangible illustration that even minor skin of my mind for service and standing in line at Cracker Barrel, which is where I go for devotions.

At any rate, the long line and that it was a guy I was alone.

I think I was traveling alone and enters a guy in front he was disturbed he was upset because the line is a long line and finally we can engage in conversation as it was bothering and he said I miss what he said if I only know I would've invested in Cracker Barrel stock. Years ago when he had a tabulated if I had done such and such an amount 20 years ago. I would be immensely well and he was there. I just to bother himself. Every time he would need. I was there for the pancakes and the maple syrup he missed the investment and he'll never forget it. Imagine how all the other churches missed the most important listed the most missionary in church is very strategic ambassador in church history makes me frankly shot her at the thought. Oh God, what might we be missing. We are by the way, the multiplication of the interest is still compounding to their account because here we are.

1900 years later saying we want to be just like the full still impacting you imagine the potential God is given to us and what we've just seen these graduates and and really hardly without the assembly knowing now, 10, 11, 12 countries, 723 states. Guess what were tacked to their ministry account. Thank you for being faithful partners. Thank you for sharing my reward. Thirdly, Paul writes you generously. Your your generosity took care of everything I needed your generosity took care of everything on the levers. 18 but I received everything and fall and have an abundance. I am amply supplied, having received from a pampered Titus what you have said that what Paul does here say the same thing in different ways to give emphasis first.

He writes I received everything in full. This is another commercial overtone in the language that refers to payment that settles all past debts. Paul was responsible to pay the rent for this apartment where he was under house arrest.

That was the established rule of law. He was in arrears that any money, so Paul is effectively saying your have settled all my debt paid the rent the past and and and I have some even for the future.

Next he writes I have everything abundance. This translates the Greek verb that means it's just overflowing so that I giving to him just enough there giving him so much that he's overflowing in their generosity finally is, as I am amply supplied. That means I am completely stop.

I am completely filled, provides even more incentives before I would summarize it this way, what you did for me is something God took note of what you did for me is something God took note of this latter part of verse 18, having received from a pampered Titus what you have sent the fragrant aroma is what it is an acceptable sacrifice well pleasing to God. Paul shifts in his terminology from the bank to the temple and he wants them and also understand that these gifts are like sacrifices there. There laying on the altar, as it were, to the glory of God. We, as priests, a holy priesthood, first Peter effectively metaphorically give sacrifices to God and that language is used metaphorically in the Bible. Even David in Psalm 51 says that the sacrifices which are acceptable to God are broken heart given him that lately times right humble spirit that's an acceptable sacrifice. Paul right to the Romans to put your bodies on the altar as living sacrifices. Romans writer of Hebrews is often a God.

The sacrifice of praise Hebrews 1315 and later on the same chapter he writes and do not like doing good and sharing for with such sacrifices God is pleased not here to the Philippians: some understand it then and simply given a money he wants to understand that their gift was related to their wealth or gift was really related to their worship is is you you built an altar and you placed on that altar precious thing that that offering was observed by God because it's like sweet aroma sending to Pohlad's another encouragement for these needy Philippian believers gave out of poverty. Summarize with his fifth statement, God will respond to your needs.

Like you responded to my God will respond to your needs. Just like you responded to my verse 19 and my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus out of the way, begins at the sermon we get you out there, but my God, I love my not just any girl is only God can do anything, my God, the true and living God, my God, not the gods of the Pantheon, Greek or Roman gods of Egypt, not the gods of the Athenians my God shall supply your needs according to his riches can be understood really mean in return for how you gave generously to me. God is going to give generously to you. The only difference is the Philippians had limited funds gods funds are not limited. Paul says he's going to give you notice the text carefully. He will give you all coordinating to his riches is what that means to pause. I need some money and you happen to have $1 million $1 million. It's free and clear. You don't want anybody it is, landing right is ready for someone like me to come along and say get in the if you said to me, Stephen. I appreciate you telling me you got that needs so here's a check you write out a check and handed to me for for $10 you would be giving to me, out of your riches, but if you gave me your checkbook and you said Stephen has a blank check. You feel and what and I'll give it to you, up to $1 million is much I that would be giving to me according to your riches go back to this text and look again but my God will supply all your needs according to his riches and how right you see he's very keep in mind that the context here has to do with God.

Meeting the needs of the Philippians as they met the needs of Paul.

Paul is saying here that God will give Christians a blank check for whatever they think they want.

He's not saying you can have anything you want to have or anything you tell God that you think you need is the meaning God will give us what we truly need. As a result of giving our time and treasure to help others in need. If I think the implication of the media context is you gave and really couldn't afford to make up the need you now have with the Philippians to come to the end of this kind of paragraph and you end up trusting you end up exercising faith in God, you end up worshiping God, you end up giving glory to God for the fact that he open your eyes to some particular investment that you're so grateful you did. Paul Hunter breaks out in this thank you letter. He says okay let's say he has this toxicological statement in verse 20 now to our God and father be the glory forever and ever notice by the way, how shifts from my God. In verse 19 to our God.

In verse 20 Paul is effectively saying I want you all to sing with all sing this toxicological statement of truth were still singing the day glory of God, which will be forever and ever. And the writes amen cruises Baptist right amen amen means yes that's true. That means it also means and so shall it be so shall it be true Paul was writing this in a way the kind of invites the entire Philippian assembly and they would have seen that toxicological formula and they would know when they were supposed to do so with we read it correctly with the intonation that the reader would have read it in the assembly.

Sky like this now to our God and father be the glory forever and ever.

Amen.

And all the people would say amen. True, it shall come to pass.

It is true and what can any of us do, but praise God for his extravagant grace.

I sure hope this time in God's word has encouraged you today.

You've tuned into wisdom for the heart.

The Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey, I'm Scott Wiley Stevens in a series called extravagant grace. Today's lesson is entitled the most famous thank you letter in church history. We have one more lesson to go in this series and will bring you that next time I invite you to give us a call today if you're interested in owning a copy of this series on CD.

Our number here in the office is 86 648 Bible you can call us each weekday at that number. Many of our listeners like having CDs in their library of biblical resources and we can help you with that. We also have this in all of Stephen's teaching online that you can access free of charge. The web address is wisdom online.org and the phone number once again is 86 648 Bible you can send Stephen a note if you address it to wisdom for the heart PO Box 37297, Raleigh, NC 27627. Please join us again next time. For more wisdom for the heart is


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