History Of The Philippian Church

History Of The Philippian Church

In our Sunday messages, we’re taking a brisk walk through Philippians during the month of March.  I’ve shared a good bit about the letter in my articles, but I haven’t really mentioned much about the beginning of the church.

The history of the Philippian church begins in Acts 16:11-40.  This church was formed around AD 49 from a “ladies Bible class” that met down by the river each Sabbath for prayer.  There was no synagogue in the city so Paul and his entourage met with these “god-fearing,” gentile women.  Lydia, a wealthy (?) merchant from Thyatira, was baptized along with her household.  She invited Paul and his group to stay in her home which was probably more akin to a villa.

We don’t really know how long Paul and his companions (Silas, Timothy, and Luke) stayed in Philippi, but during this time they established a close friendship with this small community of believers.  The eventual departure of Paul, Silas and Timothy was the direct result of Paul casting out a divining spirit from a young slave girl which was followed by imprisonment, an earthquake, the conversion of the jailer, and the anxiety of the town officials when they realized they had beaten and imprisoned an uncondemned Roman citizen.  Luke remained with the Philippian church and does not resurface again in Acts until 20:1-5 when Paul returns to Philippi (4-6 years later).  Apparently, Luke remained in Philippi for a number of years.

Paul visited Philippi at least three more times previous to this epistle (1 Corinthians 16:5; 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; Acts 20:3) and two following (1 Timothy 1:3; Titus 3:12; 2 Timothy 4:13).  His deep affection for the church is echoed in his extravagant testimony about them,

1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.  2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,  4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.  5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

In Sunday’s lesson, we’ll look at Philippians 3It’s All Good! Your Gains are More than Your Losses.

 Rejoice!  Joey

By | 2023-03-26T00:21:57-06:00 March 26th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

It’s All Good: Sacrifice Leads To Victory

It’s All Good!
Sacrifice Leads to Victory

Serving Christ requires sacrifice. Sometimes those sacrifices are “on the front end” of our faith and we go in with our eyes open. However, many sacrifices come further on down the road as we make tough decisions about friendships, finances, work, or recreation. Other sacrifices are forced upon us by those who do not hold our values and may even wish us harm. Paul discusses the sacrifice of Jesus in Philippians 2. Jesus gave up everything for us and we should be willing to set aside our wants – even our needs – for others!

Since I’m “breezing” through this letter during March, I thought it best to give you a little more “meat” in this article each week. We have been reconstructing the historical conditions found in the Philippian church.

Last week we mentioned, both in the sermon and the article, some “internal unrest” affecting the church. Euodia and Synteche are instructed to “agree with each other in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2). Another person at Philippi (possibly Luke), here called “loyal yokefellow,” is encouraged to intervene and help these women in their dispute (Philippians 4:3). This has not yet become a full-fledge division or schism in the church, but it has that potential; Paul wants to head things off before it affects their “witness.”

Paul addresses these issues head on in chapter two,

If you have any encouragement from being united with
Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship
with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having
the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in
humility consider others better than yourselves.
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but
also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should
be the same as that of Christ Jesus….
Philippians 2:1-5

This disagreement appears to be caused by selfish ambition or “posturing” as one commentator chooses to describe it. It is only human (Paul would call it “fleshly” or “of the sinful nature”) to want one’s own way and seek one’s own best interests ahead of others (Philippians 2:19-21). However, Paul’s solution is to have the attitude of Christ who did not consider equality with God a thing to be selfishly grasped, but humbled himself to become a man and ultimately die on the cross. He did all of this for us. We should have the same mindset with one another!

Rejoice! Joey



By | 2023-03-18T22:23:11-06:00 March 18th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

It’s All Good: God Is At Work

It’s All Good: God is at Work!

Over the next four weeks, we will be discussing Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  These lessons have the same theme:  It’s All Good!  Today we will be learning how God’s activity in our lives is reason to rejoice – regardless of our circumstances.  However, in this article, let’s learn a bit more about the Philippian church.

The circumstances of Paul and the Philippian church give rise to the occasion of (reason for) the letter. Paul is in prison (guarded in chains, perhaps still in a rented house).  Epaphroditus was sent from Philippi with a gift (some means of financial support) for Paul.  Paul now sends him back to Philippi with this letter.  The letter updates the church on his condition, thanks them for their gift, and addresses some issues going on at Philippi (presumably as reported by Epaphroditus).  The issues deal with the suffering of the church due to opposition and some sort of internal unrest or division.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spiritcontending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved–and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Philippians 1:27-30   

Both the church and Paul are suffering at the hands of the empire for the defense of the gospel. As a Roman Colony, residents of Philippi were Roman citizens and very “pro-Rome” and “pro-Emperor.”  The primary titles for the Emperor were Kyrios and Soter (Lord and Savior); he was approached in a manner resembling a “god.”  You can see how that would conflict with our Christian perspective.

Paul reminds the Philippians that their true citizenship is in heaven (3:20) and that Jesus had obtained sole privilege to the title of Lord (2:9-11); one day every knee would bow to him.  Jesus is also uniquely the Savior (3:20). The Philippians, of course, knew this and that is the very reason they were suffering at the hands of their opposition.  As to the form of this opposition, we can only speculate.

I will discuss more about their “internal unrest” next week’s article..

Rejoice!  Joey

By | 2023-03-11T22:42:58-07:00 March 11th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What’s Ahead for our Young People 2023

What’s Ahead for our Young People 2023

Starting Sunday Morning March 5, we will have our first class for our youth beginning at the same time as Bible Hour.

The Bible Youth Hour is for 8th grade through age 20. We will be meeting on the first and third Sunday of each month. The fourth Sunday we will be including the youth more in our church worship service.

We will be meeting in the newly renovated youth room where we will be going through a variety of materials that includes relatable discussions, assorted curriculum and videos with a Biblical Worldview. We will cover current topics and find Jesus-centered Bible based answers to the big questions concerning identity, belonging and purpose.

Each week we will invite various leaders to add variety and offer a fresh look and perspective to our time together.

Popular Christian writer Robert Moment wrote these words about our youth,

We live in a confusing and changing world. With so much discord and unhappiness swirling around it can sometimes feel impossible to lead a truly Christian life. When our political and social leaders are making great missteps and failing to succeed as being an example of good Christian living, it is easy to get discouraged. Despair not though, as a Christian you need not look to those around you to feel God’s love or for a good example. Know that your heavenly father wants only the best for you as a Christian youth, and that He provides you with all that you will ever need to succeed.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” — Jeremiah 29:11

Please be in prayer for our youth and leaders as we move into this new class.


By | 2023-03-04T22:45:33-07:00 March 4th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

From Mountain Top To Rock Bottom

From Mountain Top to Rock Bottom

Several years ago I led a Life Group Study called Experiencing God.  It was the single most transformative moment of my life — a true Mountain Top Experience.  I rode that high for months. I made major changes in my life, preaching, and relationship with God.  I was determined to share this transformative material with everyone I knew.  Emotionally, I was on top of the world!  But, then it happened, I crashed.  It was like everything went away – the enthusiasm, emotion, renewed relationship with God; it was all gone.  It was like I hit rock bottom. At the time, I attributed it to sin, but even when I was riding the wave, I never ceased to be a sinner.  Truthfully, I have never quite been able to achieve those heights again.

As I matured, I discovered that my experience was not unique. Many of us have had spiritual highs only to find them to be temporary, at best and at worst, a prelude to periods of discouraging lows.  This has led me to seek the spiritual peaks through church conferences, workshops, Bible lectureships and even youth rallies like what we experienced last weekend.  (I attended all but one major session and I have to confess, as good as the messages were, I think the singing was my favorite.)  These  events always refresh and energize me. They allow me to fine tune my focus.  They are spiritual highs.

However, what we do now, after the mountain top, is critical because we come down from the peaks to experience the realities of our daily walk with God.  As good as they feel, our emotional highs give way to everyday mundanities that, if we are not careful, can slip into the lows of discouragement and even depression.

That happened to Elijah after his victory over the 450 prophets of Baal atop Mount Carmel. God sent down fire from heaven in a contest between him and Baal and won, at least temporarily, the hearts of the people.  However as Elijah was riding high in its aftermath, he realized that nothing had really changed in the hearts of King Ahab and Jezebel.  Elijah fell into a deep depression and despaired for his life. It took a remarkable encounter with God to pull him from the brink.  I’ll say more in my lesson. Please join us.


By | 2023-02-26T01:35:47-07:00 February 26th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Is This Thing Called Love?

What is this Thing Called Love?

1 John 4:7-12

James Taylor sung about how sweet it is. Deon Jackson said it made the world go round. The Beetles sang that it was all you need. Huey Lewis spoke of its power and Peter Cetera, its glory. Air Supply lamented they were all out of it. Meatloaf said he’d do anything for it, but then he took it back in the next breath. Ed Sheeran thought his was perfect. Taylor Swift’s came back to her. The Judds said it would build a bridge. Burt Bacharach wrote it was what the world needs now; however, Journey just wanted to know what it was. Of course, I’m talking about love.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner there’s a lot of talk about love and relationships.. Florists have doubled the price of flowers, supermarkets have filled their shelves with candy, streaming services are promoting their romantic comedies, restaurants are pre-booked, and our playlists are full of sappy songs. And it’s all in the name of love.

Foreigner was right to ask what love is.

I’ve gotta take a little time

A little time to think things over

I better read between the lines.

In case I need it when I’m older

This mountain, I must climb

Feels like a world upon my shoulders

Through the clouds, I see love shine

Keeps me warm as life grows colder

In my life, there’s been heartache and pain

I don’t know if I can face it again

Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far

To change this lonely life

I wanna know what love is…

So ,what is love? The problem with our culture is we have an impoverished view of love. It is no wonder the world keeps looking for love in all the wrong places; they have no idea of what is really is.

The ancient Greek language was much more expressive in describing love; they had four different words: eros, philia, storge, and agape. Eros is what most of our culture is talking and singing about. It is romantic or sexual love. Philia is friendship love; it is what we share with our “besties.” Storge is that love that is shared between family members. Agape love is different. It is unconditional love. Agape is the unselfish love that commits oneself to the betterment of another. Without agape, every other love is shallow and self-serving.

Agape love is what the world needs now. It is agape that builds bridges and is powerful and glorious. Agape love is what is expressed best by God to his creation. It is commanded of his people. Agape is what identifies Christ-followers to the world.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Meir Ben Isaac Neheral described God’s love this way in an ancient book of Jewish thought:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

Were every blade of grass a quill,

Were the world of parchment made,

And everyman a scribe by trade,

To write the love Of God above

Would drain the ocean dry:

Nor would the scroll Contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky.

Join us Sunday for this lesson on the meaning of love


By | 2023-02-11T19:12:00-07:00 February 11th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Rude Awakening

A Rude Awakening
Acts 9:1-30


  •      Change is Difficult.
  •      Saul Experienced a Revolutionary Change.

  I.   Saul Opposed the Gospel (1-2).

  •      Paul Actively Opposed the Gospel—Persecution
  •      Are You Opposing the Gospel?
    •      …By Not Obeying it?
    •      …By Not Living it?
    •      …By Not Advancing it?

II.  Saul Had an Encounter with Jesus (3-9).

  •      Direct—Face to Face Appearance
  •      How has God Indirectly Encountered You?

  III. Saul was Forever Changed by this Encounter (10-12, 15-19).

  •      Saul’ Experienced…
    •      An Intellectual Change.
    •      An Emotional Change.
    •      A Volitional Change.
    •      A Physical Change.
  •      How Have Your Encounters with Jesus Changed You?  (James 1:22-25; John 12:42-43)

  IV.  Saul’s Response was Revolutionary (15-16, 20-30).

  •      Saul Made a Complete 180 Degree Change.
    •      From Persecutor to Preacher.
    •      From Unbeliever to Unbelievable.
    •      From Tormentor to Tormented.
  •      Following Jesus is not for the Faint of Heart.
    What are You Willing to Give up for Him? (Galatians 2:20)


  •      Saul’s Conversion Reveals the Unseen Working of God  (Acts 9:13-16).
  •      God is Also Working in Your Life  (Philippians 2:12-13).
  •      How will You Respond?

  Join us Sunday for this lesson on the conversion of Saul.


By | 2023-02-04T19:44:20-07:00 February 4th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

It’s Time For Your Spiritual Wellness Exam

It’s Time for Your Spiritual Wellness Exam

 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.  30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”  31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”     (Luke 5:29-32)

Twice in the Scripture Jesus calls himself a doctor.  Luke 5 is the most prominent.  These verses tell us several things: (1) We, or at least some of us, are sick; (2) Jesus equates this sickness with sin; (3) Jesus equates healing from this sickness with repentance; (4) Jesus declares Himself to be a Physician;  the Physician who can deal with this disease; and (5) Jesus claimed to confront humanity in its deepest malady and that He does so as the Great Physician.

The irony of this text is that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law would have viewed themselves as “healthy” and not “sick.” The witness of the Scripture as a whole is that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) in need of Jesus’ healing (Romans 6:23) and here I believe Jesus is either being ironic or at least acquiescing to their ignorance.

I believe my Dad was 84 when he first felt the pain in his side. Because of his age, he thought the windedness was just his growing older.  However the pain led him to make a doctor’s appointment and the diagnosis came back stage 4 lung cancer.  He was gone within two months.  Lung cancer runs in the family. Had he just had more regular check ups, we may have caught it earlier.

I had a dear friend who hated doctor appointments–especially when they included drawing blood; he would always pass out.  He appeared healthy, but then one day, without warning, he was not.  He suffered a mini-stroke and then, as he was recovering, a total shutdown of his kidneys and liver.  Had he only had more frequent check ups, maybe things would have been different.

When it comes to your physical health, ignorance is not bliss.  The same is true for your spiritual health.  Many of us go about in blissful ignorance of our spiritual health and never make an appointment with the Great Physician for a Spiritual Wellness Exam.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you– unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:4-5)

Sunday morning, using the metaphor of a Spiritual Wellness Exam, we’ll look at some things we need to check out with the Great Physician.  I hope you plan to join us!


By | 2023-01-28T22:27:16-07:00 January 28th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

More Deadly Than COVID

More Deadly Than COVID

“In 2021, 3.5 million lives were lost worldwide to Covid-19. In response to the threat of Covid, the world virtually shut down to preserve life. But was Covid-19 the leading cause of death in 2021? Actually, no. Abortion was. In 2021, there were 42.6 million abortions worldwide. There were over 10 times as many deaths from abortion than Covid. Where was the mobilization to preserve these precious lives?” (Excerpt from the devotional reading last week in our “If We will, He will…” workbook). When I read that I was taken aback. The sheer numbers are staggering.

Sunday, January 22, marks the 50th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that recognized abortion as a constitutional right. For years churches, pro-life organizations, and political groups have fought to put restrictions on the practice or end it all together. I have to admit my first introduction to partisan politics (early 1980s) was heavily influenced by this issue and it has been an important factor in my voting habits ever since.

However, this summer (Friday, June 24, 2022) the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade returning the authority to regulate abortion “to the people and their elected representatives.” In the absence of federal legislation, it is now up to individual states and their legislatures to determine its legality. Many states, anticipating this, had trigger laws in effect immediately banning abortion. Idaho is one of those states; performing an abortion is a felony here except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Around 25 other states either have bans or severely restrict the practice, but some of these states are still tied up in court over it.

These events are a victory for those who support the pro-life cause. However, abortion access is still legal in roughly half the states—including two that border Idaho. There is little to stop those who wish to travel to a state where abortion is still legal. Some groups are even offering to pay the travel expenses for these women.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s decision has so enraged those who support abortion that it is only a matter of time until there is a successful effort to enact federal legislation that will codify abortion access for the entire country. There is also the eventuality of when the polarity of the court will again swing back to the liberal—it is the nature of politics. Roughly, 62% of the country favors abortion in most situations. That number has been steadily rising especially among young people and within the religiously unaffiliated (in an increasingly secular society). It has also been rising within many non-evangelical mainline churches. Do the math; the swinging of the pendulum is inevitable, barring divine intervention.

I’m glad Roe v. Wade was overturned. I rejoice that there will be far fewer unborn children sacrificed on the altar of “bodily autonomy” and personal choice, but I also recognize —as I have preached many times — that the solution to this issue lies not in the courts, but in the hearts of men and women. Until hearts are changed, there will always be people following the path of evil.

That is why reaching the world with the gospel is the answer. That is why a return to biblical morality in our preaching, teaching, and practice is essential. We cannot afford to be less vigilant because things are better; they are only better FOR NOW.


By | 2023-01-22T00:38:18-07:00 January 22nd, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Do You Know Your Bible?

Do You Know Your Bible?

There was a time when we in the churches of Christ were known as a Bible toting, Bible quoting people. However, I fear that some of us  have followed many modern churches into the superficiality of popular culture and church growth consumerism.  I believe there are many factors that might explain this (the COVID lockdowns didn’t help). However, with declining Bible study participation at home and church, we are now (or soon will be) suffering a crisis of biblical incompetency and illiteracy. Below is a Bible literacy/competency quiz.  Give it a try!

Bible Literacy/Competency Quiz

Familiarity—Deuteronomy 6:6-9

  1. Can you name the books of the Bible in order?
  2. Is the book of Hezekiah in the Old or New Testament?
  3. Name the three Patriarchs?
  4. In which book of the New Testament is found this verse: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes …”
  5. “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.” In the Bible?    or    Not in the Bible?

Practicality—Romans 15:4

  1. Where would You go in the Bible to read about the creation of the world?
  2. Where would You go in the Bible to read about the resurrection of Jesus?
  3. Where would You go in the Bible to read about the songs of David and others?
  4. Where would You go in the Bible to read about the early missionary work of the church?
  5. Can you share with someone else how to respond to Jesus?  Bonus: Can you give Scripture and verse?

 Theology—2 Timothy 3:14 –17

  1. Can you tell the story of the Fall of Humanity?
  2. Can you describe the nature and characteristics of God?
  3. Can you explain who Jesus is and why he had to die?
  4. Can you describe what will happen when Jesus comes again?
  5. Can you describe the doctrine of the resurrection and why it matters?

Apology (defense of  the faith)—1 Peter 3:15

  1. If someone asked you why you believe God exists, what would you say?
  2. If someone asked you why you believe in creation over naturalistic evolution, what would you say?
  3. If someone asked you why God lets bad things happen (“the problem of evil”), what would you say?
  4. If someone asked you why you believe in the miracles in the Bible, what would you say?
  5. If someone asked you to prove Jesus was raised from the dead, would you say?

 Moral Philosophy (Ethics) —Hebrews 5:12-14

  1. “You have your truth and I have mine.”  Can you give a Bible answer?
  2. “Right and wrong depend on the situation.”  Can you give a Bible answer?
  3. “It’s Ok to sleep with someone before marriage, if you love them.”  Can you give a Bible answer?
  4. “Same sex relationships are acceptable in monogamous, committed relationships” Can you give a Bible answer?
  5. “It’s Ok to ‘cancel’ someone if they are immoral, unrighteous, wrong or if they disagree with you.” Can you give a Bible answer?

We’ll go over this in my lesson Sunday.  How well did you do?


By | 2023-01-15T00:05:24-07:00 January 15th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments