Sermon Notes: Philippians 1:3-11

TRC 20th Anniversary Celebration

Philippians 1:3-11

Today is our 20th anniversary of gathering publicly as a church. 

While serving in a church in Arlington, Texas as the student pastor and pastor-in-waiting as our founding pastor was about to retire, God put me in the life of Bob Roberts in some amazingly providential ways, and I couldn’t unsee what I saw in the established church framework and the framework of the kingdom of God. 

I resigned from my position, went back to work for SWBTS, and vacuumed floors in the evenings at Northwood Church in order to intern for Bob Roberts. Thus TRC was born in Keller, TX and we are still part of that GlocalNet family today as that is our birthplace. 

We’ve had the honor of taking some of you guys to our annual family gathering at Northwood where we get to teach and lead some breakout sessions and participate in the life and work of GlocalNet. 

Jennifer and I graduated with our master’s degrees from SWBTS and left Fort Worth, Texas on December 15, 2001, right after graduation. 

We arrived back in Joan Brady’s basement in Euharlee, GA on December 16, 2001, and enjoyed Christmas with our firstborn baby boy, Gabriel, and our families. 

First thing in January we started interviewing for jobs, filing the right paperwork, sharing the gospel, and gathering a core group while waiting for the rest of the team to join us from Texas later in 2002. 

We were originally going to plant what is now TRC in Cartersville, and TRC was not going to be our name. 

God kept forcing us back into Rome through job opportunities and relationships with folks who wanted to be part of our team from our relationships in the past and the Bartow Baptist Association Director at the time just sort of dropped us, and wouldn’t give me the time of day. 

We concluded that Rome was where this church should be. Rome was very much a Macedonian call. We were trying to go one way, and the Lord opened the way to here. 

This is how TRC was birthed. 

We’ve buried 3 of our 4 parents in the life of TRC. We’ve raised and are raising our 3 sons in the life of TRc. Some of you have been through most of these life events, high and low, with us. 

We’ve lost friends. We’ve attempted good “ministry” that failed. We’ve shouldered financial burdens. We worked multiple jobs apiece for years so as to not be a burden and not presume upon the Lord or anyone. 

We’ve had great spiritual victories. God has been absolutely faithful, 100%. We’ve seen the lost saved. We’ve counseled and married young couples. We’ve buried. We’ve reached nations. We are reaching nations. The Bible is taught. The Bible is believed. Great local work has been launched by TRC folks in their domains and is being supported by TRC, even winning non-profit of the year for 2023 (way to go Jeff and Mary Margaret). 

Our sons have grown up in TRC. Our sons have been discipled by the ministries and culture of TRC. 

This I can also testify to, the Holy Spirit loves birthing new churches because Jesus said he was going to build his church, and since the Holy Spirit lifts up Jesus and his mission, He loves birthing churches.

Church starting and subsequent multiplication is a centerpiece of the book of Acts, and it’s special to Jesus as the church is his body inhabited and animated by the Holy Spirit in the world and is the key to Great Commission work. 

The Bible tells us about the birth of a church like TRC in Acts called Philippi. 

Paul and Barnabas part ways over the inclusion of John Mark on their return journey to visit the churches that were started on the first missionary journey. They want to deliver the good news from the Jerusalem council that Gentiles don’t have to adopt Jewish customs in order to be saved. 

Paul takes Silas. Barnabas takes John Mark. 

Paul and Silas depart, and they pick up Timothy in Lystra, then the Spirit prevents them from going into certain regions they were planning on entering. 

God hindered their steps. 

The Lord had other designs, and they had to abandon their plans and get themselves onto God’s plan.

Kingdom work in the church is just like that. Make plans. Adjust plans. Walk with God. 

“His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour. The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.” – William Cowper

The plans are scraped, and they are not sure where to go, so the Lord gives Paul a vision in the night. The vision is of a man in Macedonia begging for the team to come help, so they conclude that the Spirit wants the gospel preached in Macedonia. 

Paul and the team are funneled sovereignly in the Lord’s direction, and they walk with him in obedience to Philippi. 

Philippi is the city named after Philipp of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. Philippi was later conquered by Rome, and thus the upper class is Roman and the working class is Greek. It is in this working class of Greek Gentiles that the team will find initial gospel receptivity. 

There are not enough Jewish men present (10) to form a synagogue, so any God-fearing Gentiles had to do their own thing. 

There were some Gentile women who feared the God of Israel and gathered at a designated place of prayer to worship. They are led by Lydia, a businesswoman who has a household of responsibility she employs and cares for. 

Paul preaches the Gospel, the Lord opens Lydia’s heart, and all the people with Lydia believe, and the believers are baptized. 

Soon after this gospel win, the team is harassed by demonic activity that wants to harass kingdom advancement. There is an evil spirit that has inhabited a young lady who is a slave and made her a source of income for her owners by telling fortunes through the power of the evil spirit. She becomes a nuisance to the team by following them around and loudly announcing who these ambassadors of Jesus are. 

They cast out the evil spirit, the girl is released, and her owner’s source of income is lost. These people have Pual and Silas beaten and thrown into prison. 

These two Jesus freaks are worshiping in the middle of the night, and the Lord sets them free through an earthquake. 

Paul and Silas minister to the jailer, the jailer and his family believe in the Lord Jesus, the believers are baptized, and the church in Phillippi is born with two diverse households of Greek women and Roman jail staff. 

Paul loves this little church. He has a special relationship with them. His letter bears his warm affection, yet they are not without challenges. So, Paul writes to encourage and nudge them toward where they need to be. 

Let’s read Philippians 1:3-11 and see what the Lord would have for us on TRC’s 20th anniversary of publicly gathering as a church. 

I would like to share with you 4 truths for our next 20 years, if the Lord wills, that are rooted in Philippians 1:3-11. 

  1. Thanksgiving in prayer for one another is rooted in reciprocal partnership in the gospel. V. 3-5
    1. Paul’s thanksgiving to God for the Philippians leads him to pray for them. V. 4
      1. Paul gives thanks to God for them and fondly prays for them BECAUSE they have partnered with him in love, commitment, and support.
        1. “Because” is a keyword here. 
        2. Paul’s praying for them so fondly is rooted in their mutual partnership in the gospel from the beginning. V. 5 
      2. This is huge. Fond prayer for one another is rooted in a reciprocal relationship in which each one benefits NOT where one gives and the rest take. 
    2. Paul’s enjoyable and beneficial relationship with the Philippians is precisely BECAUSE the Philippians give to him in so many ways BECAUSE he and his team are their spiritual fathers in the faith as they brought them the gospel and taught them faithfully, AND BECAUSE Paul runs hard with them as sent from them and supplied by them as the Philippian’s apostolic presence to the places God has called them to.
      1. This reciprocal relational reality is key to Christian fellowship and gospel advance and longevity in the work for everyone. 
    3. This reciprocity is the source of long-term work together so that no one gives to the point of exhaustion and starvation and bitterness while others take and continue to receive and expect more from the givers or they will leave.
      1. Thanksgiving to God and prayer for each other are rooted in reciprocity. 
        1. The opposite can be true as well. 
          1. Where there is no reciprocity of mutual partnership, worship in thanksgiving to God may lag and zeal in prayer for one another may lack. 
    4. Application: What does it mean to partner in the gospel in reciprocal relationships together on mission?
      1. Be as much of a giver of relational partnership as a taker. 
      2. Among other things, church membership means reciprocally being all in for the long haul unless the Lord providentially moves you to another city.
        1. Reciprocal relationships are not possible where members treat their commitment as a series of transactions that when they incur loss or perceived loss, they leave to go even the balance at another place that will make up what they perceive they lost or lack. 
        2. Reciprocal membership means striving to be a giver of your gifts from the Lord to others as well as a receiver of gifts from others in equal measure.
          1. Give to one another.
          2. Receive from one another.
            1. Rejecting service out of pride or anger or any other reason effectively separates oneself from God’s means of help. 
        3. Reciprocal membership means refusing to give sin a foothold in your life so that it does not take root and cause damage to others. 
        4. Reciprocal membership means committing to being present with and for each other. 
        5. Reciprocal membership means being self-aware enough to not be a cantankerous Mcrude Rude that is unpleasant to be around. 
        6. Reciprocal membership means knowing the Bible and striving to obey it for God’s good for each other (think Golden Rule). 
        7. Reciprocal membership means not bailing on relationships to go to another church because someone cares enough to hold me accountable or act wisely not in line with cultural Christianity.
          1. Bailing because someone won’t let me violate reciprocity or get away with sin is playing Walmart with the fellowship of the Kingdom of God. 
        8. Reciprocal membership means establishing trust by trustworthily living in the light with no dark agenda or seeking to manipulate things to one’s advantage.
        9. Reciprocal membership means making sure I don’t take advantage of others.
          1. Rather, I’m keenly aware of others and try to serve them before I serve myself. 
        10. I’m not sure the local church will be effective as “fellowship” unless the relationships are reciprocal, and I’d argue that’s one of the ways we love each other well. 
  1. Trust that God will complete what he has started and will sustain our effort when our emotional, mental, and physical tanks are empty. V. 6
    1. Paul and the Philippians have experienced the supernatural work of the Spirit to redirect them to Philippi.
    2. So, they know that this work is God’s idea, and he’s moving it along. 
    3. They also know it’s costly, and they have to lean into the Lord’s strength to carry on in the work. 
      1. They have poured out and paid the price to see gospel work done. 
      2. Philippi has partnered with Paul, and they have given sacrificially for that work. 
      3. They have relational struggles likely because of false teachers who have snuck in and stirred that relational drama, and they are having to manage the diversity of their congregation. 
      4. They have opponents, and ministry is a struggle.
        1. Therefore, when the work has us empty, don’t stop believing that it was God who birthed the work, and it is He who will sustain the work. 
        2. It is never on any of us to make TRC or the kingdom of God move.
          1. This is God’s job.
            1. The kingdom does not need us. We need the reign of Jesus over us. 
            2. We don’t advance the kingdom, we follow Jesus as he advances the kingdom.
              1. If we get this out of line, we will wear ourselves out. 
              2. The one who started it will complete it. 
          2. Jesus told us he will build his church.
            1. Our job is to hear and obey, make disciples, and Jesus will take care of any advancing or numerical growth or pruning he needs to do. 
          3. Trusting the Lord to complete his work and believing Jesus to build his church and advance his kingdom does not mean we are idle.
            1. This does mean we move as he moves.
              1. This is one of the many reasons we must cultivate our relationship with the Holy Spirit (like we talked about last week). 
    4. Application.
      1. Believe that kingdom work will be hard.
        1. The dark kingdom punches back.
          1. They deliver a slave girl from slavery and rather than get congratulated, they got thrown in jail. 
        2. Don’t believe for one second that positive movement will be rewarded in this life necessarily. Sometimes it will. Often it won’t.
          1. There will be counterattacks and setbacks. 
      2. Exercise your faith by moving forward as Jesus moves forward.
        1. Mustard seed faith is enough.
          1. But we have to actually put it into practice. 
        2. Take God at his word. 
        3. Refuse to give in to defeat and the emotions of defeat.
          1. Process the emotions healthily, then move on to joy.
        4. Recite God’s promises. 
        5. Take a Sabbath and let God do what we can’t. 
        6. Move only as God moves. 
        7. Learn to wait on the Lord.
        8. Invest in relationships before investing in work. 
  1. When we reciprocate and walk by faith, it is completely good and right to experience joy with one another (see verse 4). V. 7-8
    1. Paul said it’s entirely appropriate to feel this kind of joyful affection for one another when we are reciprocally pursuing the kingdom of God.
      1. Paul said in verse 4 that he prays with joy for his friends at Philippi. 
      2. He says in verses 7-8, “I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
      3. When we love like this and have this kind of joy in each other, we can be partners with one another in the hard times of kingdom work whether present with each other or absent from each other. 
    2. Application.
      1. Fight to be reciprocal partners with each other in all of the work.
        1. Give and receive.
      2. Fight for joy with each other. 
      3. Fight any thought or insinuation that we are adversaries of one another. 
      4. Assume the best about each other. 
  1. Paul prays for the Philippians, with 4 specific requests we should pray joyfully for each other. V. 9-10
    1. Band, come on up, and let’s prepare to pray together as Paul instructs us to do at the start of verse 9: “And pray this…” 
    2. Conclusion: As our conclusion, we want to pray for the things the Bible tells us to pray for, so let’s practice obedience together in prayer to lead us to respond in worship.
      1. Pray that our love will keep growing for each other in knowledge (of God and his word) and every kind of discernment (between good and evil and between good, better, and best in all things). 
      2. Pray that God would lead us powerfully to approve superior things.
        1. The first prayer’s stated end is “so that” we can approve superior things, so let’s pray that God would grant that and lead us to approve what is superior not what is less than. 
      3. Pray that we would be pure and blameless all our days so that we won’t be ashamed at the Lord’s coming. 
      4. Pray that we would be filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus for the glory and praise of God. 

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