Thursday, September 3, 2009

9/4- Philippians 2:25-30

(St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre 8/24/1572- of thousands of Huguenots beginning with politicians and ministers)

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

9/4- Philippians 2:25-30

25But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.

Calvin abridged: He recommends Epaphroditus because he is a brother- a helper in the gospel; a fellow soldier- helping them in the spiritual warfare; All believers are soldiers in the camp of Christ but ministers bear the standard in the army. “Messenger” is not apostle as much as evangelist. 26- “he longs for all of you”- such affection for his flock is a sign of a true pastor, and the Philippians were also concerned for him. 27- “But God had mercy”- Ephaphroditus had been sick and close to death in order that God’s goodness would shine more clearly in his restored health. This shows that this life is an excellent gift from God; those who live for Christ experience the hope of heavenly glory now. “Spare me sorrow upon sorrow”- Paul did not have the apathy of the Stoics who were exempt from human emotions. The cross has pain and bitterness, but the consolation of God overcomes these feelings (Isa. 50:5). For any believer, when someone dies, they are reminded of the anger of God against sin. But Paul was more concerned about the loss sustained by the Church when a good pastor is gone. 27- “I am eager to send him”- Epaphroditus was a comfort to Paul, but he cared more for the welfare of the church in Philippi than his own comfort. 29- “Welcome him in the Lord with great joy”- good and faithful pastors should be held in high regard for they are precious pearls from God’s treasury- and the rarer they are the more they are to be held in high esteem. Sometimes God punishes our ingratitude by depriving us of good pastors, when he sees that the most eminent are plainly despised. Everyone should help uphold the authority of good pastors (for the devil seeks to undermine their authority). 30- “for the work of Christ”- Epaphroditus would rather risk his health than be deficient in duty; Paul speaks of the services given him as “the work of the Lord” for there is nothing better than helping those who labor for the truth of the gospel.

Thoughts: One cannot help in reading this passage, think of all those ministers who were persecuted in Calvin’s day for their faith. We might include Calvin himself who was ridiculed in Geneva, in France (where a price was on his head), and in Italy (where he left in danger). So many Huguenots were killed in France. So many Protestants in England and Scotland by Mary of Scotland, and the Netherland Reformed by the Spanish. Perhaps Calvin sought to encourage those who were in ministry, or who were thinking about ministry by his emphasis in this passage. Calvin also risked his health for the gospel. He slept little, wrote much, preached much, worked for the church much. He was sick most of his time in Geneva, and died fairly young (though for his day it was a bit above average). We should be willing to risk all for the gospel, and to cheer those who are doing so.

Prayer: May we, Lord, be a refreshing glass of water to those who are serving for you.

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