“I rejoice greatly in the Lord …”

 

 

[Philippians 4:10-23]

 

 

This year's theme for our church is "The Giving Church."  Our goal is to give love, comfort and joy to others.  Among these three, I would like to think about “joy”.  This is what Philippians 4:4 says: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  How can we rejoice in the Lord?  We have meditated on three things already based on Nehemiah 8: (1) We must not mourn or weep (v. 9).  The Israelites wept because of the awareness of their sins through the Law.  So Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites who taught them encouraged them not to mourn or weep because it was the day holy to the Lord.  (2) We must not be grieved (vv. 10-11).  The reason why the Israelites were grieved was because they didn’t serve the Lord for a long time without knowing what pleased the Lord or what displeased Him (Packer).  (3) We must understand the Word of God (v. 12).  When the Israelites heard the words from Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites, they stopped weeping and rejoiced greatly.  The reason was because they understood the words which had been made known to them (v. 12).  The Mosaic Law makes us aware of our sins but faith in Jesus Christ, which the Law leads us to, justifies us.  Knowing this truth, the Israelites stopped weeping and rejoiced greatly.  Those saints who know the Word of God clearly look to Jesus Christ by faith.  And they repent their sins by trusting in Jesus and the power of His blood on the cross.  Then the Lord removes all their sadness and anxiety in their hearts and gives them peace.

 

In Philippians 4:10, this is what Paul said to the Philippian church saints: “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.”  Based on this Word, I want to mediate on the last section of the book of Philippians, Philippians 4:10-23, and think about three things how we can rejoice greatly in the Lord.  I hope and pray that we may learn and receive the lessons humbly and apply in our lives.


               
First, in order for us to be greatly rejoice in the Lord, we need to have concern for each other and help each other.

 

Look at Philippians 4:10 – “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.”  What is your concern in these days?  I am sure we all have different concerns.  But there may by common concerns as well.  And one of our common concerns is the family. The reason is because we all love our family.  I am sure parents have concerns for their children, and children have concern not only for their parents but also their close friends who they love.  Grandparents have concern for not only their children but also their grandchildren so they are praying for all of them.  However, we as parents are concerned particularly for a child who is weaker than other healthy children.  Like this with concern for each other, our family becomes one with concern and in love.   I think the church is the same.  The church, which is a spiritual family, becomes one with concern and love.  Therefore, in the church we should be concerned for one another in love and we must love each other with the Lord’s love.  And it is natural to pray for each other with such concern and love.  Especially if we have brothers or sisters in Christ who are suffering from sickness or accidents and so on, we should be more concerned and pray for them.  Not only that, but we should also be more concern for those who are weak in faith.  Not only we should pray for them but also we should help them to grow in faith.  We also need to continue to support the missionaries with a great deal of concern for they are working in their mission fields and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is what makes the missionaries rejoice in the Lord.

 

In Philippians 4:10, Paul wrote to the Philippian church saints and said, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord”.  Why did Paul rejoice greatly in the Lord?  The reason for this was because Paul knew that the Philippian church saints had renewed their concern for him (v. 10).  He knew that they had thoughts of ​​helping him financially or materially.  How encouraging and strengthening this was to Paul.  This was especially encouraging and strengthening to Paul because he got help from the Philippian church saints when he was in troubles (v. 14).  Look at Philippians 4:14 – “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”  Can you forget a person who approached you and did a token of good deed to you when you were in the most difficult time?  I still cannot forget the pastor who came to the hospital Intensive Care Unit and left the small doll next to my first baby when she was alive.  I don’t I will ever forget that because he had shown me and my wife God’s love through his good deed.  Even though it was a short visit, his good little good deed is still remained in my heart as big.  If my first baby was healthy and received the doll at her 1 year old birthday, then I would probably forget about what he did.  No matter how big the doll was, I don’t think I would still remember what he did.  But since our first baby was very sick and we were going through the most difficult time of our lives, the small good deed that he did for our baby is still engraved in our heart as great love.  When I think about what Paul said to the Philippian church saints in Philippians 4:15, I think Paul couldn’t forget the fact that they share in his troubles.  I think that’s why Paul mentioned it here at the end of this Philippian letter.  In addition to this, this was what Paul wrote to the Philippian church saints in verses 15-16: “Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.”  In this part of the letter, we can see that the relationship between Paul and the Philippian church saints was not just a day or two relationship but a long relationship.  What a precious and beautiful relationship between Paul and the Philippian church in which the church shared with Paul in the matter of giving and receiving when Paul set out from Macedonia in the early days of the Philippian church saints’ acquaintance with the gospel (v. 15).  Not only that, when Paul was in Thessalonica, they send him aid again and again when he was in need.  They continued to help the Paul’s ministry of the gospel.  So Paul said to the Philippian church saints: “I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (v. 18).  That was why when Paul thanked God whenever he remembered the Philippian church saints in his prayers.  The reason was because they were involved in the work of the gospel even from the first day until the very moment Paul was writing this Philippian letter (1:3-5).

 

I think this faithful relationship of love and concern is important.  And in fact, I want to continue to make this kind of relationship with missionaries whom our church is supporting until now.  Of course, our church cannot do this to all the missionaries.  To some missionaries, our church may be able to support them financially with the same mind and same heart once or twice when there are in need in doing their mission work.  But at least the missionaries that the Lord has raised up in our church and are sent to the mission field, our church want to continue to be faithful in helping t them and supporting them.  As we continue to do so, what is important is concern.  We need to have concern about them.  When we do so, we will want to find about how they are doing (in terms of not only their mission but also their families and themselves), what their needs are, what their prayer requests are and so on.  And as we get to know these things, we can pray for them with our hearts.  So from this year I would like to have times twice a year in which those missionaries can share their mission with our church members.  And I am hoping that the missionaries can upload some photos and shorts messages on our church kakaotalk room so that other church members can see and read them. By doing so, I think other church members can have ore concern about them, their families and their mission so that they can continue to pray with the affection of Jesus Christ.  Let us continue to remember them in our prayers and pray for them so that God’s will be done in and through them.  As we do so, I am sure our missionaries will rejoice greatly in the Lord because of our love and concern for them.  And when they greatly rejoice in the Lord, their great joy will be ours as well.

 

In order for us to rejoice greatly in the Lord, we need to be concerned and to help each other.  Especially, we need to be concerned for our missionaries and help them faithful with God’s love.  As we do so, let us continue to support them not only financially but also with our prayers for them because they are the missionaries who are endeavoring to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in their mission fields.  We also need to have concern for those God's servants who are faithful to the Lord's work for the expansion of the kingdom of God.  And we need to pray for them and help them if we can.  This pleases God and also makes us greatly rejoice in Him.


                Second, in order for us to be greatly rejoice in the Lord, we need to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation.

 

Look at Philippians 4: 11-12: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  One of the things I personally consider important is the attitude to learn.  And this learning attitude is especially important to the people like me who teach the Word of God because we have tendency to like to teach others instead of to learn from others.  If I speak this more biblically, those who teach the Word like me should diligently teach ourselves before we love to teach others.  Look at Romans 2:21 – “you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?”  If we don’t diligently teach ourselves with the Word of God ‘Do not steal from others like Pharisees’, then we will steal.  Therefore, we must learn diligently first in order to teach God's Word well.

 

               One of the words of God that we must learn diligently is the secret of being content in any and every situation that Paul spoke to the Philippian church saints in Philippians 4:11-12: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  The American writer Gail Sheehy said in his best-seller book, "Path Finders," the people who live with satisfaction are (Internet): (1) First, a person who knows the meaning of life and the direction to go; (2) Second, a person who is not disappointed that he has lived his life in vain; (3) Third, a person who has accomplished his goal little by little in his own way with a certain long-term plan.  (4) Fourth, a person who has a genuinely loving object; (5) Fifth, a person with a good friend whom he can share his deepest things; (6) Sixth, a person who not only cheerful but also interprets a difficult situation positively and deals with it.  (7) Seventh, a person who doesn’t concern too much listening to criticism or even a curse but listens with generous heart; (8) Eight, a person with mental strength to break through fear or anxiety.  Do you live with true satisfaction?  Maybe many people are suffering from unsatisfactory.  Even if we have what we want, we are just satisfied at that moment and we want something more, something bigger.  I think that there is no limit to the satisfaction of the people.  The philosopher Socrates said: ‘The richest man in the world is a person who is satisfied with the smallest thing’ (Internet).  Are we satisfied with the smallest thing?  Don’t you want to learn the secret of being content like Paul?  Don’t you want to confess to others that ‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation’?  Then what should we do to do that?  We must be satisfied with only Lord.  Then, we can thank the Lord for giving us abundant grace when we are rich and can use our abundance for the God’s glory.  Moreover, we can thank God for the daily bread and not complain even when we are in need.  Therefore, we can confess that "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (v. 13).  The important thing here is when the Lord gives us strength, we are able to live in contentment with the Lord only, whether we are in abundance or in need.

 

Then who is the Lord who gives us strength so that we can live in contentment whatever condition we are in?  Based on David’s confession “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want” (Ps. 23:1), I want to think about who our Lord who gives us strength is in six ways in order to live in contentment with the Lord only.

 

(1)   The Lord who gives us strength is the Lord who gives us.

 

Look at Psalms 23:2 – “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.”  A true shepherd feeds the food and drink that the sheep need.  The reason why the true shepherd makes his sheep lie down in green pastures is because there is soft grass that the sheep like to eat.  Like this, the good shepherd feeds the sheep.  Also, the good shepherd leads his sheep beside quiet waters.  According to Calvin, “quiet waters” is slow flowing water, which makes easy for the sheep to drink and it is also beneficial for its health.’  Our Lord who is the true Shepherd not only gives us the physical foods but also the spiritual food, the Word of God.  He feeds us the Word of God abundantly.  He is “The Lord Will Provide” (Gen. 22:14), the Lord who gives.

 

(2)   The Lord who gives us strength is the Lord who restores us.

 

Look at Psalms 23:3a – “he restores my soul. ...”  Here, “he restores my soul” means the Lord makes us to repent our sins and makes us to receive the true life (Park Yun-sun).  When we don’t repent our sins, the Lord’s hand will be heavy upon us.  That was what happened to David: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah” (Ps. 32:3-4).  A person whose sins are not solved will be always forced to feel insufficient.  Not only his spirit is being crushed, but also it cannot enjoy true freedom in the Lord because it is bounded to sin.  Unrepentant hearts cannot be satisfied.  Dr. Park Yun-sung said this: ‘The soul only dies because of sin, only by repenting sin that lives again.’ That's right. As we repent of our sins, our crushed souls can be revived again.  But this is only possible with the grace of God.  Only when the Lord exposes our sins through His holy Word, we will be able to realize and acknowledge our sins.  And only by His grace, we can turn away from our sins and repent our sins with the help of the Holy Spirit.  In short, only the Lord, the Shepherd, is able to restore our souls.

 

(3)   The Lord who gives us strength is the Lord who guides us.

 

Look at Psalms 23:3b – “…  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”  Here, “He guides me in the path of righteousness" means the Lord guides His sheep in the straight path (Park Yun-sun).  But the people of this sinful world are walking in the evil path, choosing the way of evil rather than the path of righteousness.  So without the Lord’s guidance, it is impossible to walk the path of righteousness.  Like the righteous Lot in the 2 Peter 2:8, we are living among the lawless men day after day and the righteous people are tormented in their righteous souls by lawless deeds they see and hear.  So only when the Lord restores our tormented souls by His Word, we can arise and walk the path of righteousness.  One astonishing fact is that the Shepherd guides us to the path of righteousness not because of any good condition of human convenience, but because of His Name’s sake (Park Yun-sun).  Our God is not only the One who forgives our sins for His name’s sake but also He is the Lord who revives our souls.  He is our Shepherd who guides us to the path of righteousness.

 

(4)   The Lord who gives us strength is the Lord who protects us.

 

Look at Psalms 23:4 – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Here, “the valley of the shadow of death” refers to the extremes of danger (Park Yun-sun).  Because David made the Lord his Shepherd, he was not afraid of any danger.  The reason was because he believed that God was with him.  Since God was with Joseph, Joseph enjoyed the blessing of prosperity.  Also, he was protected by God even when he was slaves in Potiphar's house and was in prison because he was falsely accused (Gen. 39).  The Shepherd Lord was with David and he protected him with His rod and His staff.  Just as the shepherd protects the sheep from the beast with his rod and staff, and leads the sheep to the green pastures and the quite waters, the Lord Shepherd also protects His people from Satan and Satan’s servants who are like the wild beasts, and guides us.

 

(5)   The Lord who gives us strength is the Lord who exalts us.

 

Look at Psalms 23:5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”  Our Lord prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  The Lord Shepherd gave a glorious victory to David as a feast before his enemies who tried to destroy him (Park Yun-sun).  Also, when David said "You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows”, he had this custom in his mind in which anointing oil to the VIP of the feast (Park Yun-sun).  The Lord treated David, who was persecuted by his enemies, like a VIP who received an invitation to the banquet.  And the hospitality and the portion that David received were rich and overflowing (Park Yun-sun).

 

(6)   Sixth, the Lord who gives us strength is the Lord who fills us with love and hope.

 

Look at Psalms 23:6 – “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  Here, David is looking forward to the coming days with the grace he experienced in the past.  In the past, David received God’s love and help (vv. 1-5).  And David believed that his future would be smooth.  It was because he believed that the Lord's goodness and lovingkindness would be with him all the days of his life.  Therefore, David had a definite hope of dwelling in the house of the Lord, the kingdom of God, forever.  This life filled with hope is not lacking.

 

We must learn the secret of being content in order to rejoice greatly in the Lord.  We must be content with the Lord alone, whether we are in plenty or in need.  We should be content with the Lord who guides us, protects us, provides our needs, restores our souls, exalts us and fills us with His love and hope.  

 

Third, in order for us to be greatly rejoice in the Lord, we need to live a life to glorify God.

 

               Look at Philippians 4:20 – “To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  Our life must have a clear purpose.  When our purpose is clear, we can live by that purpose.  Then what is the purpose of our life?  It is the glory of God.  Look at 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  Westminster Short Catechism Questions 1 asks, “What is the chief end of man?”  The answer is, “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  How can we glorify God? How can we glorify God?  I thought of three things in brief:

 

(1)   We must praise and worship God with thanksgiving.

 

Look at Psalms 50:23 – “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”  When we think about the God’s grace of salvation in Jesus Christ, we must praise and worship God with thanksgiving.  This pleases God, glorifies Him and is a life of glorifying God.

 

(2)   We must imitate the holy Jesus.

 

Look at 1 Corinthians 11:1 – “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”  Paul imitated Jesus.  Then he exhorted the Corinthians to imitate him.  As he said, we must imitate Jesus Christ.  When we imitate Him, we are glorifying God.  This is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:48- “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  When we become perfect imitation of God the Father, it will glorify God.

 

(3)   We must obey the Word of God by faith.

 

Look at Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  For example, when Abraham was 100 years old, even though he faced the fact that his body was good as dead and that Sarah’s womb was also dead, he wasn’t weaken in his faith (Rom. 4:19).  He didn’t waver through unbelief regarding the God’s promise (v. 20) of “So shall your offspring be” (v. 18).  But against all hope, Abraham in hope believed (v. 18).  He was strengthened in his faith, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised (vv. 20-21).  Like Abraham, let us be people of faith who glorify God.  Although when we look at the situation with our eyes of flesh, it may seem like the impossible situation, let us look at Almighty God with the eyes of faith and believe that God will fulfill His promises to us.  I hope and pray that we will stand firm in our faith and obey God's Word and glorify God.

 

In order for us to be greatly rejoice in the Lord, we must have concern for one another and help each other.  In addition, we must learn the secret of being content in any and every situation so that whether we are in plenty or in need, we must be satisfied with the Lord alone.  In particular, we must live a life of glorifying God.  In doing so, we can rejoice greatly in the Lord.