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THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Intro: An older couple had trouble remembering common, day-to-day things. They both decided that they would write down requests the other had, and so try to avoid forgetting.
One evening the wife asked if the husband would like anything.
He replied, “Yes. I'd like a large ice-cream sundae with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
The wife started off for the kitchen and the husband shouted after her, “Aren't you going to write it down?
Don't be silly,” she hollered back, “I'm going to fix it right now. I won't forget.”
She was gone for quite some time. When she finally returned, she set down in front of him a large plate of hash browns, eggs, bacon, and a glass of orange juice. He took a look and said “I knew you should have written it down! You forgot the toast!
Memory is an amazing thing. It allows you to recall events that occurred moments or even years ago. It allows you to remember people who have passed on into eternity. It allows you to remember love, blessing, joy, excitement and wonder. Memory is an amazing gift given to us by the Lord.
There are times when memory can fail you. Disease, age and time all seem to dilute the memory. I remember events from years ago and sometime I wonder if I remember them correctly. There may come a day when memory will fail me altogether.
In this passage, Paul is dealing with the issue of memories. As he writes his epistle to the Philippians, Paul’s memories of them rise to the surface. He gives voice to some things he remembers about these people. By the time Philippians is written, memories are about all Paul has. He is in a Roman prison awaiting his execution.
As Paul puts his thoughts on paper in this book, he reminisces on his relationship with these special people. I want to consider the memories Paul mentions, because his memories have much to teach us about our own memories. Paul’s memories have much to teach us about how we should remember our fellow believers. Let’s examine Paul’s memories today as I try to preach on Thanks For The Memories.
I. HE HAS MEMORIES OF THE PAST
A. A Common Salvation In verse 1, Paul addresses his letter to “the saints in Christ Jesus.” In verse 2, Paul mentions “God our Father. In verse 5, Paul speaks of their “fellowship in the Gospel. He calls them brethren eight times. These phrases call to mind a common experience of salvation.
As Paul writes to his fellow saints in Philippi, he calls to mind their common past.
· He remembers his own salvation experience – Acts 9:1-9
· He remembers the events that first led him to Philippi – Acts 16:6-12
· He remembers the people who were first saved there.
Ψ Lydia – Acts 16:13-15
Ψ A Demon Possessed Girl – Acts 16:16-18
Ψ A Jailer and his Family – Acts 16:19-32
Ψ He remembers the fellowship they had enjoyed together – Acts 16:40
Ψ All of these memories filled Paul’s heart with thanksgiving and joy, v. 3.
Take a moment to remember your salvation and all the saved, godly people the Lord has placed in your life. Where would you be without them? Take a moment to look around you right now and consider the saved people God has surrounded you with right now. Remember that the redeemed all share a common salvation!
B. A Common Service In verse 1, Paul refers to himself as a “servant. The word translated servant literally means slave. It refers to one who is owned by a master. That is exactly what the redeemed are, 1 Cor. 6:19-20. We are the “slaves of Jesus Christ. In 4:3, Paul mentions those who are his “true yokefellow and those who labored with him in the Gospel.
The believers in Philippi were co-laborers with Paul. They had stood shoulder to shoulder with him through thick and thin. They supported Him, labored with him and helped him as he carried out the Lord’s will in his life.
We also need to remember those who have labored with us over the years. Think of all those who have served the Lord with you. Think of all the precious saints of God who have prayed for you, supported you, stood by you and encouraged you as you served the Lord. (Ill. My own life! I owe everything I have to the Lord and to His people. Ill. The prayer warriors and those who have blessed my life by their love, care and support!)
It is a good thing to look back at the blessings of the past and remember!)
II. HE HAS MEMORIES
OF THE PRESENT
A. He Remembered An Uncommon Love There was a special bond of love between Paul and the Philippian Christians, 1:7-8; 4:1. These people are dear to Paul’s heart. They share a love that is not found in the world. They share a Christ-like, spiritual love that transcends all things, 1 Cor. 13:1-8a.
That is the kind of love that should mark the people of God, John 13:15; Matt. 22:37-40. Those who are truly saved love those who are saved, 1 John 2:5; 10; 3:10-14; 4:20-21. Thank God for His unexplainable, undeniable love that He places in the hearts of all His people. Thank God for that love in others for me. Thank God for that love in me for others!
The word does not possess the same kind of love that believers possess. Love is about sex and self-gratification. For the people of God, love is about what we share in Christ Jesus. Love is about Him and what He has done in our lives!
B. He Remembered An Uncommon Labor As Paul thinks about these special people, he reflects on the way they have served, blessed and helped him. He remembered the labor of these precious people. Look at what they had done for him:
· They had prayed for him – 1:19
· They had sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul in prison – 2:25-30
· They had given sacrificially to support Paul’s ministry – 4:10, 14. This was something other churches had not done, 4:15.
· Paul remembered all these things and he was grateful.
That same level of gratitude should fill the hearts of God’s people! Where would we be without those who have served us?
I remember the ministry of those who witnessed to me and prayed for before I was saved. I am grateful for the love, prayers, support and patience shown to me by the people of God. I am grateful to the people of God who endured so much bad preaching while I practiced and grew. I appreciate those who put up with my immaturity and ignorance.
I am grateful to those who serve here. Thank you for all you do! I appreciate those who work in with the children, the ladies and in the music ministry. I appreciate those who clean the church and maintain these grounds. I appreciate those who work behind the scenes doing things others do not what to do. I appreciate our Sunday School teachers. I appreciate our Deacons. I appreciate those who give. I appreciate those who pray, both publically and privately. I appreciate those who work in our C.A.R.E. ministry. I appreciate those who labor. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
The church is greater than any one person. The church is greater than a few who think they run things. The church needs everyone doing what they have been saved and called to do. The church needs you!
Just as Moses needed Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands, this church needs you if she is to function properly. Just like Gideon needed the 300; just like David needed his mighty men; just like Jesus needed the 12; this church needs you!
III. HE HAS MEMORIES
OF THE POSITIVE
· When you read the book of Philippians, you will notice that Paul had mostly positive things to say. The only negative comment Paul makes is in 4:2, where he encourages to women to walk together in Christian unity. Everything else Paul has to say to this church is positive in nature.
· Was the church in Philippi a perfect church? Absolutely not! It was the same as any other church made up of redeemed sinners. There were gossips there. There were troublemakers there. There were people who said the wrong things at the wrong time. There were people who did the wrong things. There were people with bad attitudes. There were people there of every kind and description. (Ill. I have pastored three Baptist church and I have discovered that the same people attend them all. There are different names and faces, but the same people.)
If these people were imperfect and prone to failure, why is there no mention of their negatives? When Paul wrote to this church he did not write to focus on the negative things he knew about them. He wrote to emphasize the positives among the people of God.
· These people were praying for Paul. They were witnessing and sharing the Gospel. They were working, they were giving sacrificially. They many, many good things that they were doing and Paul chose to see those good things and he refused to focus on the negative things!
· It’s real easy to be negative isn’t it? I think we fail to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect church and that there is not church thing as a perfect Christian. It is so easy to focus in on what others say and do. It is so easy to see the negatives, but it is so hard to see the positives. Did you know that true love always sees the best in others, 1 Cor. 13:5, 7, 8?
· When I love you like I should, I will not zero in on your negatives. I will remember that I have many minuses in my life too. If I really love you like I ought to, I will pray for you when I see something I don’t like, but I won’t criticize you. I won’t talk about you. I won’t put you down or look down on you. When I love you like I should, I will be able to look past the negatives in your life to see the positives. (Ill. Pro. 10:12; 17:9)
· What do you see when you look at your church family? Are you prone to see just the things you don’t like? Do you focus in on the negative? Are you one of those people who rarely have a good word to say about anything or anyone? Are you one of those folks who is always finding fault? If that is you, there is a problem in your life! A person who is consistently that way has one of two problems.
Ψ They are not controlled by the Holy Spirit but the flesh. (The things I mentioned: bitterness, resentfulness, holding grudges, etc. are all works of the flesh and not the Spirit – Gal. 5:19-24)
Ψ They have never been saved!
· Or, are you the kind of person who seems to be able to find the good in others? They do wrong, but you forgive them and give them the benefit of the doubt. They say things that hurt, but you let it roll on off. They don’t do it like you would do it, but you allow them to be the person the Lord wired them up to be. If you are that kind of a person, you are walking in love!
Lest you misunderstand, love never turns a blind eye to sin! Jesus dealt with sin in the lives of believers and unbelievers and called it what it was. The difference between us and Jesus is that He perfectly loved those He was forced to rebuke. We tend to have a problem doing that! He reacted in love; we tend to react in anger.
· The sad truth is many wrong relationships flourish in our churches today. There are people who will not forgive others for their past words and deeds. There are always little groups that gather to grumble and find fault with what the church is doing. There usually seems to always be some person or persons who are out of sorts with the rest of the local assemble. As a result of this state of affairs, the church is powerless! As a result of our lack of genuine love and forgiveness, souls are not saved and real revival never comes. We need to learn to love properly!
· I would just mention that Paul does something here that is much needed in our churches today. He takes the time to say “Thank you to those people who had been a blessing to him.
I find that we are not too good at doing that! We need to express our love, our thanks and our appreciation to those who have been a blessing to us. You might need to go to someone in this building today and say “Thank you. You have been a blessing to me. You might need to write a letter, make a phone call or send an E-mail and tell someone what a blessing they have been in your life.
Conc: Paul was blessed by his associations with others and he took the time to be a blessing to others. One way he did this was through the proper use of memory.
An anonymous author has left us some good advice about the proper use of memory.
He writes, “Forget each kindness that you do as soon as you have done it. Forget the praise that falls to you the moment you have won it. Forget the slander that you hear before you can repeat it. Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer, whenever you may meet it. Remember every promise made and keep it to the letter. Remember those who lend you aid and be a grateful debtor. Remember all the happiness that comes your way in living. forget each worry and distress, be hopeful and forgiving. Remember good, remember truth, remember heaven is above you. And you will find, through age and youth, that many will love you.
What do you remember today?
· Do you remember the people God has allowed to know and serve with in Jesus?
· Do you remember your own salvation?
· Do you remember those who have been a blessing in your life?
· Do you remember those who enabled you to be where you are today?
· Do you remember those who are a blessing around you right now?
· Do you see those who are praying for you, loving you and serving by your side?
Ψ Have you thanked the Lord for these people lately?
Ψ Have you thanked these people lately?
· Do you have a problem seeing the good in others?
· Do you seem to always focus in on the negatives in those around you?
· Do you ever wish you could be more like Jesus in the expression of your love?
· Is there someone here you need to go to and thank?
If the Lord has spoken to your heart on any level, I would do what He is telling you to do.