To Our God and Father be Glory Forever and Ever

July 30, 2017
Philippians 4:14-20
Abraham Hong

 

We are now at the end of this letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi. And it is a lovely and humble ending for Paul. For it is here, at the end of this letter and at the near end of his life, that Paul takes time to thank his brothers and sisters at Philippi. He remembers their love and support for him. He commends them. And he blesses them.

But above all, Paul takes time to thank God. He writes, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

God takes care of his church. He took care of Paul. He took care of the Philippians. And he takes care of us today.

When God first called Paul to repentance and faith, he made an astounding statement. He said that Paul would suffer for him. He said to Ananias, “Go, for he [Paul] is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16). God said that paul would suffer for him. And suffer he did.

But God also showed Paul amazing grace. He sustained Paul as he suffered. And one big way that God sustained him was through the Philippian church. They shared in Paul’s trouble. They entered into partnership with Paul in giving and receiving. They sent Paul help and full payment and supplies and gifts for his needs. But who was behind it all? God was behind it all. This is the bigger picture. God took care of Paul by giving him the Philippians.

Praise the Lord! God takes care of his church. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

God took care not only of Paul, but also of the Philippians. When God first called the Philippian church to repentance and faith, he gave them an astounding help. He gave them Paul. And through Paul’s preaching and teaching, God brought the Philippians the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It was Paul who started their church from day one. It was Paul who shared the gospel with Lydia the seller of purple goods. It was Paul who exorcised the fortune-telling slave girl there. It was Paul who baptized the Philippian jailer and all of his household. It’s all there in Acts 16. But who was behind it all? God was behind it all. This is the bigger picture. God took care of the Philippians by giving him Paul.

Praise the Lord! God takes care of his church. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

God took care of Paul. God took care of the Philippians. And God takes care of us today. He supplies our every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Notice what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that he supplies our every want according to our treasures on earth in our hearts. It says that God supplies our every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Our greatest and most important need is the Lord himself. He is our salvation. He provides forgiveness. He gives us resurrection life. We need these things more than anything else. We need these spiritual blessings. And we are indeed blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

God has given us the greatest help, the fullest payment, the most useful of supplies and the most amazing gift of all: Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus feeds us through his word and his sacrament. And apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). It would be great if we got a new basketball court or gym. That’s something a lot of us may want. But a new basketball gourt or gym is not the most important need for our church. God supplies our every need. And he does so according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, let us know the difference between what we want and what we need. Let us not seek after material things, but let us seek the fruit that increases to our credit. Let us learn contentment. Let us think about our favorite spiritual things. Let us live out our citizenship that is in heaven. Let us press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us follow after people such as Timothy and Epaphroditus. Let us shine as lights in the world. Let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Let us look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. Let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Let us desire to abound more and more with love. Let us seek all of this fruit that increases to our credit.

This is not easy. And there is nothing glamorous about sharing in the troubles of others. But please remember the bigger picture. God’s history of redemption is rushing forward to the end. And in Christ we have nothing to lose. It is better to please God than to please ourselves. We are a great church. But the sky is the limit for us. What fragrant offering or acceptable sacrifice can we provide for others? What greater fellowship and love can we share here? Are we done loving God and loving others or are we just getting started? Brothers and sisters, I tell you the truth, in a blink of an eye, the new heavens and the new earth will be before us. Soon and very soon, we will walk in the everlasting kingdom of God with imperishable resurrection bodies. The day of the Lord is coming and is at hand and people like the rich young man are asking questions. When we look back at how we celebrate our fortieth anniversary in 2017, will we be remembered for being smug behind the Mobil gas station? Or will we be remembered as a church like that of the Philippians - a church that remained faithful until the end of the gospel? Highland Church, may this be our heart’s desire: To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

End