October 10

Today's Bible Reading
     I Kings 13
     Philippians 4
     Ezekiel 43
     Psalms 95-96
“Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.” (Philippians 4:1)
            Of all the churches in the New Testament, the Church at Philippi was perhaps the most pleasing to the Lord of them all. In our memory verse, Paul is giving thanks for these brethren, and calls them ''his joy and his crown." Paul is saying these wonderful things about the church because he had led them to Christ. There is no joy, this side of Heaven, like that of winning a person to faith in Christ. The word ''crown'' indicates the victor's wreath, the reward in glory.
            But when Paul reaches verse 3, he reveals to us a problem in the church. He calls two women by name -Euodiaand Syntyche, and reveals that they are not in fellowship with each other, and that apparently it had become a problem in the church.
            I take my title from an obscure verse in Ecclesiastes 10:1; “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor...” The New American Standard version says, “Dead flies cause the perfumous oil to stink.” Paul is saying that when there is something foreign, dead, and rotten in oil, it will cause that ointment to send forth some odious and unpleasant.
Can you imagine how Paul's letter must have stunned that church and especially these two women? The name Euodia means ''pleasant journey." Syntyche means''good luck." These women most likely sat on separate sides of the church and planned their exits at different doors. Can you imagine if this was done today and people's names were called? Perhaps we should, because our fellowship problems hinder our witness.
            The old country preacher was reading this verse, and he said, “I beseech Odious and I beseech Soon-Touche.” Now, folks when you get these two together, you have a problem, and that is the problem that plagued the church in Philippi.
            Can you imagine how embarrassed these women must have been then? I'm not sure you can blush in Heaven but, if so, then they must be embarrassed every time they are introduced to someone in Heaven. These two women remind me of two ladies in the same office arguing about raising the window. One said, “No, you must not raise the window. I'll die of pneumonia.” The other one said, “If you leave it down, I'll suffocate.” One man said, “Why don't we raise the window until one of you dies of pneumonia, and then put it down until the other one suffocates. Then we'll all have some peace.” These ladies probably affected the church in Philippi in much the same way. 
            But the big issue is this -what does all this have to do with you? In verse 3, Paul speaks of a “yokefellow” who was to be instrumental in bringing about peace in the church. Are you a peacemaker or a troublemaker? Are you a source of harmony or a source of confusion in your church? There is a blessed ministry that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God.” Alittleoverlooked, alittleenduured, alittleforgiven, thequarreliscured. Remember, if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. Are you willing, today, to be the peacemaker in the fellowship of believers where you worship?
            As you pray for Christian literature distribution, remember that this means of sharing is hindered in the places of greatest need because of poverty, difficulty, distribution, cost of printing, using expensive materials from the west, and rampant inflation. Pray for Christian literature ministries to make good quality new books available at a more reasonable price in the developing world.