309 East North St. Sidney, Ohio 45365

Sunday School 9:15am

Sunday Worship Service 10:30am

Scriptures: Ephesians 3:14-21 & Philippians 2:25                                                                                                 August 2, 2020

Sermon: The Call to Ministry!                                                                                                                                                               Pastor John Young


Last week, while speaking on “The Vocation of the Church,” we were considering the specific ‘WORK’ of the Church?  Paul identified five ‘specific works’ in his letter to the Ephesians (3:14-21), but we ran out of time after discussing only two of them (Worship & Discipleship).  A third work Paul mentions is Ministry and this will be our focus today.

Let’s pray

One of the ‘Works’ of the Church is MINISTRY.

            What does this mean, you ask?  Well, simply that each of us should be involved in “doing” something significant through our local church.  Sound like a strange request?  Consider a man by the name of Epaphroditus mentioned in our second text this morning.

            We know very little about this man except that he got involved in serving the Lord through his local church.  Notice what Paul says about him in verse 25, “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.”

I.         The Background of our text:

  1. During the two years Paul spent in Rome under house arrest, he wrote the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
  1. Although Paul was spared the typical Roman prison experiences, these two years were not a vacation trip!  Listen to his description:
  1. In chapter 1:8, he expressed loneliness—“For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.”
  2. In chapter 1:13-14 we are told he was in chains—“So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
  3. In chapter 1:29-30 he speaks of suffering—“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”
  4. Of course, there was the emotional stress associated with the care of the churches—In chapter 3:2 Paul warns them, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”
  5. And, he spent these two years with inadequate provisions—Something Paul was well accustomed to.  Notice chapter 4:11-12, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
  1. Hearing of Paul’s need, churches (as well as individuals) tried to help him.
  1. At the end of the letter to the Colossians he speaks of many of these individuals and churches (4:7ff).
  2. However, there was one church that did more than any other.
  1. Not only did they give financially—Philippians 4:15-16.
  2. They sent a brother from their church to personally look after Paul—Epaphroditus.

II.        The Man of our text:

  1. Epaphroditus was not a preacher, per say.  He was not “on staff.”  He was not in “full time Christian service” as we know it today.  He was simply a Christian who loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him through his local church.
  1. We don’t know how it really went in that small local church of Philippi, but I imagine it was something like this:
  1. During the announcements the pastor gives a prayer request:  “Brother Paul has been taken to Rome.  He’s under house arrest and is in need of assistance.  We’re going to take a collection for him today, but we will need someone to get it to him.  Would you pray about it?”
  2. In the back of the room is a man who has just finished teaching a class of teenagers in Sunday school.
  1. As the pastor is giving the announcement about Paul, this man is organizing the ushers in preparation for the collection.
  2. As he passes the plates to each man he notices a gum wrapper lying on the floor.
  3. Someone must have just dropped it, because it wasn’t there last night when he cleaned the church building.  He picks it up and puts it in his pocket as he is walking down the aisle.
  4. The pastor asks him to bless the offering.
  5. In his prayer he recalls the ministry of Paul in his own life and thanks the Lord for him.  Then he prays for God to burden someone’s heart to carry this offering to Paul in Rome.
  6. As he passes the plate down each aisle, his heart melts.  The people are giving sacrificially, but there is so little.  How will Paul survive?
  7. He and the other ushers count the money.  It’s hardly enough for a person to survive on for a week.
  8. The pastor announces his text for the message.  2 Corinthians 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
  9. Epaphroditus doesn’t remember another thing the pastor said.  The words just keep ringing in his mind, “…though [Jesus] was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor…”

10) He pondered it over and over.  He knew what he must do.  He would take the offering to Paul and work a job, if he needed to, in order to provide for Paul’s needs.

You think that’s farfetched?  Look at verse 30!  He nearly worked himself to death!!!  Epaphroditus had the gift of helps or ministering (Rom 12:7).  Serving through his local church he used the gift God gave him for others.

Oh that God would give us a heart like Epaphroditus!

III. The Characteristics of the man of our text:

  1. Three things stand out about Epaphroditus’ service:
  1. It was self-humbling.  I.E.  He wasn’t humbled.  He humbled himself.  Notice verse 25, “he that ministered to my wants.”
  1. Yes, a “brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier,” of the great apostle Paul.  But he considered himself only a “messenger.”  Only a “minister” of someone else’s needs.
  2. Wow!  I’m impressed!
  3. An admirer once asked the famous orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein what was the most difficult instrument to play. He responded with quick wit: "Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm, now that's a problem.”
  1. It was concerned for others.  I.E.  He didn’t think of himself at all.  Notice verse 26.
  1. He was concerned for those who were concerned for him!
  2. When Dawson Trotman passed away he probably left a legacy of discipleship on this earth that will never be matched except perhaps in the life of Jesus Christ Himself.  He died in Schroon Lake, New York.  He died of all things in the midst of an area that he was expert in--he drowned.  He was an expert swimmer.  The last few moments he had in the water he lifted one girl out.  He went down and got the other girl and lifted her out of the water and then submerged and was not found again until the dragnet found him a few hours later. Time ran an article on Trotman's life the next week, and they put a caption beneath his name, and it read, "Always Holding Somebody Up." In one sentence, that was Trotman's life—and it was Epaphroditus’ too.
  1. It was self-forgetting.  Notice verse 30 again.
  1. His commitment had no limits!  Not even his health!

Conclusion:          Are you involved in serving through your local church?  To whom are you a ‘companion in labour,’ or ‘fellowsoldier?’  Who’s ‘wants’ are you ‘ministering’ to?  And if you’re involved—what is the character of your service (self-humbling, self-forgetting, genuine concern for others)?

There is so much to do!  Some of you have the gift of helps.  Some of you have the gift of teaching.  Some of you have wonderful musical talents.  Some of you are skilled in a trade.  I do hope that you will be like Epaphroditus?  Find someplace to minister and get to work in your local church!

Let’s pray