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Saying Goodbye

Together: A Study Through Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Saying goodbye is never easy when you have developed such a love and concern for the people to whom you are saying good bye.

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Never Easy

Winnie the Pooh told his friends, “How Lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
I agree with Winnie the Pooh
Saying goodbye is never easy when you have developed such a love and concern for the people to whom you are saying good bye.
Maybe it was divinely orchestrated that the text for today is Paul’s words of farewell.
I had asked myself several times, how am I going to say an appropriate goodbye in the short time I have in the pulpit today. Maybe it was divinely orchestrated that the text for today is Paul’s words of farewell.
STAND WITH ME AND HONOR GOD’S WORD AS WE FINISH PAUL’S LETTER TOGETHER
I had asked myself several times, how am I going to say an appropriate goodbye in the short time I have in the pulpit today. Maybe it was divinely orchestrated that the text for today is Paul’s words of farewell.
Philippians 4:10–23 NKJV
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Philippians 4
PRAYER
The Apostle Paul’s goodbyes were often powerful and well-expressed. Paul, the pastor of pastors, gives a great ending to his letter to the Philippian church, giving thanks for their generosity and their desire to be together with him in his ministry. He even teaches them one final and most prominent lesson.
Before I expound upon this text, let me appeal to you in the same fashion as Paul did to the Ephesians when they parted ways.
Acts 20:26–27 NKJV
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
Acts
My prayer in leaving is that I have accomplished the call of God upon me in coming here. Easy or uncomfortable, encouraging or convicting, I was called to preach God’s Word unashamedly, and I now say goodbye having done so.
Now let me share a few thoughts about Paul’s farewell to the Philippians as I try to say such a difficult goodbye.

Thank You

Paul ends the letter in the same manner as which he opened it.
He opens in by addressing the letter to the church as a group, “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.” - saints being plural.
Here in v.23, however, Paul was to come a little closer in to connect his goodbye personally, “every saint” - being singular.
He wants each of them to know how thankful he is for them. They were a blessing to him.
I feel the same way Paul does. I know that every time I have a moment and think back about my time here at JFBC, as Paul said in , will say, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”
I of chapter 4 he called them “my beloved,” “my joy and crown.”
The first thought of thanks giving I want to gives is to say the same of you as Paul did of them in v.1 of this chapter, you are “my beloved,” you will always be “my joy and crown.”
In the beginning of the letter, Paul thanks them for their fellowship with him in the gospel.
The second thought is to say thank you for all the times and ways you joined with me in Caring for Our Community.
Many of you have been my co-laborers in Awana & VBS, in the Men’s Ministry, in Women on Mission and , in LLL and widow/er care.
People, who once weren’t, are now brothers and sisters in Christ because of your efforts here. People who needed love and encouragement received it.
I thank you and I know they thank you.
Paul begins the ending of the letter with an “explosion of joy.” The Philippians once given the opportunity again, sends their gift for Paul through Epaphroditus. Paul points out that even though they often lacked opportunity, Paul was always in their minds and on their hearts - v.10 - “your care for me” — literally means “the act of thinking in behalf of me.”
In so many ways and on so many occasions I have received evidences of your care for me.
v.10 - “your concern for me” - “your care for me” — literally means “the act of thinking in behalf of me.” In so many ways and on so many occasions I have received evidences of your care for me and I say thank you from the depths of my heart.
Getting phone calls at night because your heart was burdened for me.
Finding cards of concern and thanks on my desk
Coffee Shop Gift Cards were the bomb
Hugs and prayers at the altar with me
Phone calls at the church to say, “Hey I just want you to know I have been praying for you.”
I say thank you from the depths of my heart.
From my time here, I have learned something I know many of you have taught me and something I pray everyone of you learn or remember in the days and months ahead.

Let Jesus Be Enough

Paul reveals to us in v.11-13 his lessons in the Lord’s school of contentment.
- we all know it. Probably all of us can quote it in our sleep, but I pray we learn the depths of its meaning. It has nothing to do with business or sports but everything to do with Christian living.
What Paul says here in this verse is the essence of the entire letter, and our firm footing upon this verse must be upon a correct understanding. The term “all things” is governed by the context of the section.
What is it we can do with the strength of Jesus — we can be content in living the life and serving in the ministry in which Jesus has called us to live and serve.
What God asks of us can be done because, as Paul teaches us, Jesus is our sole source of joy and He is our ultimate source of strength.
Worldly contentment is based upon self-sufficiency but can vanish in an instance when something goes wrong with self. Christian contentment though is the belief that Jesus is enough. He is all we need.
All we ever need is Jesus. Worldly contentment is based upon self-sufficiency but can vanish in an instance when something goes wrong with self. Christian contentment though is the belief that Jesus is enough. He is all we need.
Christian Contentment is not a spiritual gift rather it is a learned trait. It is not learned in a single simple and short lesson. Paul had gone through many rough patches and persecutions — just read through 1 and 2 Corinthians. As one pastor battling cancer for the second time says, “The school of contentment is no place any of us volunteers to attend.” We learn:
Christian Contentment is unconnected to our worldly circumstances or possessions. King Solomon says in Proverbs - “Whoever loves money is never satisfied with money” But we must have this prayer:
Proverbs 30:7 NASB95
7 Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die:
Proverbs 30:7–9 NIV
7 “Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:
Proverbs
Christian Contentment flows from the sacred union we have with Christ and our growing dependence upon Him.
Paul was so preoccupied with Jesus that nothing else mattered. ( - Paul counted all things a loss just so he could know Jesus more excellently)
It is rooted in our relationship with Him. Shallow roots means little contentment. Deep roots means constant contentment. Right now I am somewhere in between closer to the shallow side with a desire to grow further down deep in Jesus.
Christian Contentment makes us flexible and usable in the Kingdom of God for the advancement of the gospel and the building up of one another in the church.
When we are content in Christ then we fulfill .
We are no longer selfish about what we want to happen in our lives or in the church.
We care more that lost people are being saved.
We care more that other church members are being taken care of than ourselves.
When we are content in Christ we stop being customers to being supporters in the mission of the church.

Let Nothing Lack in Your Worship

Paul assures them in v.18. their gift to him was not just a donation or a supporting salary, but it was - “sweet smelling Aroma” and “an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.” These words are reminiscent of many of the OT sacrifices, beginning with the one offered by Noah after finding dry ground. Then connects to the system set up after the people enter the wilderness outside Promised land. These burnt offerings in the OT, offered wilfully and faithfully, expressed obedience and submission to God, and God is well pleased in his people when they are devoted to Him instead of themselves.
as our act of worship, which is what Paul points out in v.18. - “sweet smelling Aroma”
This truth is continued on and built upon in the NT.
as our act of worship, which is what Paul points out in v.18. - “sweet smelling Aroma”
2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 9:7 NKJV
7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
Give because you don’t want to fall short in your worship and be displeasing to God
Give because Jesus was a giver
Give because Jesus was a giver
If you are a Christian you benefited from His gift of His life, so give as a response to the marvelous grace given to you
Give because it is joyful to do so.
Give not because you want to dictate what goes on rather you want to put some skin in the game
I will never forget what happened at lunch after preaching my very first sermon at my home church after I had announced my surrender to God’s call to be a pastor.
My mother, step father and I, along with the pastor and his wife were sitting in a big booth. I was on the end of seat, and our music minister walked by and handed me 10 dollars to pay for my lunch.
I was thankful but I thought the right thing to do was turn it down and give it back with thanks. Yet, he taught me a valuable lesson that day, not only for pastors, but for anyone receiving something from another saint.
He said you should learn now, to never rob a person of a blessing from God by refusing their gift to Him through you.
Give because you want to be a blessing.
Give because you want to prove you care more about reaching the lost than the loss of money

Focus on Your Eternal Account

Paul expresses to them, his thanks to God for his gift through them. He assured them in v.17 that he did not care about the gift as much as he did the fruit from their gift. He also promised their giving was not in vain, because it was being used to spread the gospel. It was being credited to their account in heaven.
You look at most every church in need of a revival and revitalization and you will find them worried and anxious about the earthly bank account rather than giving the ministry then using the funds to focus on reaching the lost.
The safest and surest investment to make is the one that is a sign of being a faithful and good steward of God’s resources in your possession for the good of the kingdom.
So learn to:

Fight Your Fears with Faith

Paul gives a great promise in which to put our faith in v.19 - “according to His riches in glory”
God’s riches are immeasurable
God’s riches are inexhaustible
God loves his children, leads them and will always look after them
But like all of God’s promises there is a contingency.
It is inseparably tied to the last 2 things I said.
God’s promised supply is restricted to believers and to churches who have created a need because they have been focused on giving and not focused on keeping what they have.
Those Christians and churches who have been more concerned with holding onto what they have will find less than what they need, but those Christians and churches who give to meet the needs of others and who give to spread the gospel will have their needs met by God.
2 Corinthians 9:8 CSB
8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
2 Corinthians
Trust God’s provision and Do His Good Work
Financially - resources for ministry
Physically - workers for ministry
Spiritually - ability to be content in His ministry and strength to accomplish His ministry
One last thing as I say Farewell

Never Forget You Are Family

He called them saints in the beginning and saints in the end to remind them of who binds them together - Christ!
, , - “In Christ”
, - “in Christ”
, - “in Christ”
With out Jesus Christ you have nothing. Without Jesus Christ you are nothing.
Senior Adults - love, treat and talk to these younger adults, youth and children the way you want others to do to your kids and grand-kids
Younger Adults, youth and children - respect and honor the senior adults the way you would want others to do your parents and grandparents.
v.23 - Let grace be with you all as the grease on the squeaky parts of the relationships here.
Conclusion: Listen to Paul’s last few words to the Philippians: “Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever, Amen.” In all you do going forward glorify God. It’s about God.
Jerry Ford leaving was not the death of this church. Phil Nelson leaving was not, Joe Aldridge was not, Todd leaving was not, Robbie Ralls and Gary leaving was not the death of this church. Rick Thomason and Sean Lasley leaving was not. Paul Lemon’s nor my leaving will not be the death of this church because it is never about a man or woman in this church.
This is Christ’s church. The Father sent Him. He died for it. He built it. Through Christ you can be a church. All you need to carry on is Jesus. But, if Jesus ever leaves this church, then you can count on its death. - Just read the Letters to the 7 churches in Asia to see that he will.
The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said and never explained.
All you need to carry on is Jesus.
Let me be clear never do anything to cause Jesus to leave. I love you. God bless.
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