Sunday Lesson: Protecting Our Message and Mission (Philippians 2:14-16)

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Philippians 2:14-16

Do all things without complaining and disputing,

 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,

among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. 

 

This week as we make our way through the book of Philippians, we find ourselves stepping into some of the more practical verses of Chapter Two thus far. One of the typical arrangements of New Testament letters is the giving of doctrine first as foundation, and secondly the giving of commands for implementation.

 

Unfortunately, many churches and individuals for that matter often try to skip the harder concepts for the easy and practical lists of things to do.  This is always to their disadvantage, because a good understanding of biblical truth is highly instrumental to personal practice. In fact, we might say that the foundational principles within the doctrine tend to spill over into practice, though it is still clearly necessary to clarify these commands as it reinforces the directions to take and the standard for conduct.  Additionally, it is a reminder that Scriptural commands are never merely suggestions; they are firm orders that remind us we are under God’s authority.

 

Today’s passage has some stark caveats that are to be honed in on. First of all, let’s begin with verse 14 as it says, “Do all things…” Does the phrase “all things” remind you of other passages of Scripture? Two references that immediately come to my mind are 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Philippians 4:13.  

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Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The passage he is being quoted from here is referring to weaker brothers and stronger brothers over the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols and the true principle at hand, the standard by which all of our actions are to be gauged. “All” is referring to scope, the area relative to which the command applies. Here, we see that it is an all-encompassing principle: there are no boundaries outside of which doing things for God’s glory does not apply.

 

Philippians 4:13, also written by Paul, states: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  The question we should ask in regards to this passage is, “What does he mean by ‘all things’?” Contextually, it’s governed by verses 11-12, which speak about abounding in all situations with contentment in God’s provisions. Whether or not he still does, the NBA basketball star Steph Curry had this reference printed on his shoes. While many people will use this verse almost like a talisman for overcoming any difficult circumstance in life, we must return to the context of Philippians to see that “doing all things through Christ” is not a license to forge any old path and find God’s support, but to follow God in whatever lot befalls us and to find the strength of His grace suitable in facing the challenges He has led us into.  Consider that the strength Paul really may be referring to is the strength of God’s grace to be content, to be at rest in Him, even if things are not “okay.”

Having said all that, we return to Philippians 2:14 and must consider “all things” here in light of the context as well. Yes, the scope really is every area of life, not just in church or ministry contexts. Concealed complaining and mental battles with others will certainly still have a negative affect on us, though in this passage we are talking primarily about our public testimony. Given the nature of the passage at hand, this verse is speaking into the engagements we have with others and the reputations that are built off of our interactions.

 

Do all things without complaining or disputing.” Both complaining and disputing are externally directed and publicly aired opinions. It seems that it’s often forgotten that complainers and disputers are showing us more of who they are in character by the choice to fight or complain than those that they attack, defame or disrespect.  If we claim to be Christians, though, we don’t just drag our own names through the mud of our disputes, complaints or grievances; we also stand to tarnish God’s reputation among others as well. Imagine trying to be a Nike shoe salesman but constantly walking around in tattered old shoes; it casts doubt on the belief in the product when even the salesman doesn’t buy into his pitch.

 

Complainers and disputers by nature of reputation establish themselves negatively. What does it mean to be “blameless and harmless?” It would be a mistake to assume, as many do, that “blameless” means sinless. In context, we are not talking about sinless perfection; we are talking about being winsome and not causing distraction from the message and the mission

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Blameless and harmless are both reputation-oriented terms; blameless and harmless to whom? To those that are watching: perhaps looking to find fault, perhaps doubting, perhaps just curious to see if all this Gospel-talk is real. Even for believers, our obedience to God serves to encourage or discourage other believers in carrying on in their walks, too. 

 

Other ways to translate blameless and harmless are faultless and innocent; remember, we are not faultless or innocent as sinners before God, but in Christ we are forgiven of our faults and blame and declared justified. The discrepancy is that while positionally we are treated today as if we’d never sinned, when we look in the real-time mirror at our hearts and actions, we know that we certainly still have many ways that sin is still raring its ugly head within us. Therefore, this passage really is speaking to human perception and reputation: no, we know no one’s perfect, but is their reputation within Christ tarnished to such a degree that it now hinders the effectiveness of the Gospel as relative to them? Have they dealt properly with the failures that have been made public? Those are just some of the concepts to consider in blamelessness. 

 

The point of this passage is that conduct is a conduit by which we either live lives supporting the Gospel message or we live lives that disrupt and diminish the message we preach. The Gospel either flows through us with a growing efficiency or it gets really clogged, like water backing up as it goes down a dirty drain. Think of the goal, in part, as to be as little of a hindrance to the message of life for the sake of other people’s focus on God. The point was never legalistic lifestyles, but lives that did not cause unnecessary stumbling to the paths of other believers or the paths of unbelievers and them finding a relationship with Christ.

 

Now, the next part says, “children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” Notice that this portion of the verse is referring to a stark contrast between these two (people) groups, the primary governor of each being who they submit to, who their master is. “Crooked and perverse” can only be understood in relationship to God; they have bent away from His straight paths and have defied His moral designs. In submission to God, there is a call to realign with these parameters in direction, morality and spirituality. Road Sign Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

 

Unaltered minds and lifestyles will never serve to reinforce the message God is calling us to promote in a lost and dying world, “among whom you shine as lights.” Lights serve to bring awareness to what is. It is the sin nature within that sees the exposure that lights bring and pridefully desires to put out those lights, as if darkness altered the truth. In darkness, a person may entertain any number of realities surrounding them if their only guide is their imagination; therefore, when the light of truth begins shining, the rays tend to burn upon guilty consciences, and thus there is a movement to either get away from the light or to do away with it. The hope and prayer of evangelism is that people will come to the light and find peace through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

In summary so far, we see that the calling is primarily two-part: to be as little of a hindrance as possible to the message and mission Christ has for us, and to be used to bring exposure to what is good and beautiful and true, as well as what stands in opposition to God. 

 

1,024,943 Mission Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStockFinally, let’s look at the remainder of this selected passage:  “holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” Many times over, the words “that” or “so that” are used in English translations, and this should never be overlooked. What it is often referring to is what is called in the Greek a “hina clause”. This means that one phrase is relative to the other, usually by means of purpose, result, or sometimes both. By deduction alone, it’s clear that Paul would not have meant that they should hold fast to the word with the purpose of His rejoicing and ease of mind over lasting fruit in ministry. Rather, for them to hold fast to the word of life would lead to (one of the) results being his joy and rejoicing and consolation over the Gospel continuing on in perpetuity in these people’s lives. 

Why do we hold fast to the word of life? Well, going back to verse 13, it’s because God works in us both to will it and to do it. The purpose is for the furtherance of the Gospel, the glory of God and the growth of the believer. The partial result is encouragement of other believers, and in this case of Paul and the Philippians, it is the ministry of the church to the church leader in helping to confirm the human value of his earthly spiritual investment of time, knowledge, experience and talents into them. Still today, it’s such a cyclical process that God does when He leads people to serve Him to the benefit of others who then turn around and serve others as well.

 

In conclusion, we are looking at the high calling of all of us as it pertains to following God and how that impacts the world around us as well as each other. No one is more or less important in effecting change, though the design of each of us may be very different as to our gifting and entrustments. We can support the mission by our actions, but we also have the potential to cause hindrance if that’s the direction we choose to take.

 

A few questions to ponder today as we close are these:

1) How can I be less of a hindrance to the Gospel for the sake of others?

2) How can I be a greater promoter of the Gospel in the way God has made me towards the people He has put in my path?

3) Am I holding fast to the Gospel, and have I thought about the effect that has on others both saved and unsaved?

 

 

Prayer from Pastor Sam:

Lord, we thank you for the truths of Your word, but also ask you for the grace to follow the clear commands with obedience. Help us to remember that we’re here on a mission and not just a tour. Give us hearts for others and help us to consider how we might be a blessing to them. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

May God be with you as you ponder His word today. Thank you for your time.

 

 

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 12th, 2020: Philippians 2:12-13 “Understanding The Law Within”

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Philippians 2:12-13 

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

 

 

As we get into today’s short passage from Philippians 2, it’s to be strongly noted that there is some incredible correlation between Philippians 2:12-13 and Exodus 20. If you don’t know Exodus 20’s content offhand, it’s the place in Scripture where Moses receives the Ten Commandments, though the chapter in greater fullness also steps into the circumstances surrounding the giving of the Ten Commandments. Before moving into Exodus, let’s catch up on this passage as to how Paul went from talking about Jesus and His mindset from the previous verses (5-11) into obedience, sanctification and the presence of God at work in believers in bringing about their own obedience to Him. 

First of all, therefore.  “Therefore” is always a significant word in Scripture, especially the New Testament, because it is signifying a point to be made on the basis of previously stated information. When I read New Testament passages, it’s words like therefore, because, but, even the simple word and that help draw forth the thought flow of the verses. Always remember that much of the Bible is a recorded train of thought, especially New Testament epistles: there is a logic that flows and turns and develops, kind of like a river if you will.

Verses 5-11 form the passage backing the word “therefore” to be stated, and the general idea is that Christ placed His focus on serving the Father to the point of His death on the cross. His obedience was not an obedience simply given for human audiences; He truly obeyed God through and through.  Jesus has therefore, contextually, served as our example for how to live with a mind not simply set on ourselves. Paul uses this example of Jesus after he says in the previous verses (3-4) to have a humble mindset of one’s self and to look out not only for one’s own interests, but also for the interests of one another. Even this admonition follows the principle of placing our focus on the Lord, which in turn causes us to diminish in the tendency to be self-absorbed.  It’s hard to set our minds on Christ while also being consumed with our own desires, which is why the call to focus on Him is quite powerful from a practical standpoint for believers to implement in their lives.Royalty-free Walk, Away photos free download | Pxfuel

The mind is like a vacuum; we may try to stop focusing on ourselves, but if we don’t find the appropriate replacement, inevitably the void will fill in once again where it left off. If we are to love others as ourselves, the best way to do so is to seek God more with the result of loving others better. All of this to say that the word “therefore” is powerful in Philippians 2:12, for focusing our faith and lives on Christ is the grounds for growth, joy, and obedience as Christians, as well as the way we relate to one another.

Secondly, notice Paul’s commendation to the Philippian believers: “my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence.” What is Paul saying here? The believers are obeying God, not because of Paul’s direct attention, but because of God having wrought spiritual character within them. If you’ve ever seen a class of children who somehow go from being studious and quiet to jumping out of their chairs, shouting, getting in fights or drawing on chalkboards and such, then you’ve seen obedience that is tempered by accountability rather than character. Character moves us to obey whether the teacher is in the class or not, and in a more broad sense, holds us accountable within rather than simply because of the pressure or accountability from without. If Christianity is nothing more than a stage act, we are in trouble, because Scripture tells us that the presence of the Holy Spirit within is a pledge of our eternal inheritance (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; Ephesians 1:4). If all we have is “religious stage apparel” but no substance to the form, there is cause for concern over the validity of our salvation testimony.

ᐈ Self-awareness stock images, Royalty Free self awareness photos | download on Depositphotos®If our faith is in the Lord and the Spirit is within us, obedience must be recognized as something that often accompanies an awareness of the presence of God. To paraphrase Jerry Bridges from his book “Respectable Sins,” godliness is living in light of an awareness of God’s presence. Righteousness, as he states in his book, is essentially the activity that flows from that awareness. In line with the whole passage, and the book of Philippians for that matter, Paul’s commendation of their obedience is deeply tied to their focus on the Lord rather than a focus on spiritual leaders like himself. Whether Paul is present or absent, one thing is for certain: God is always present. If they (or we) are to live obediently with consistency, obedience will only develop with a living awareness of the presence of God, as well as an intention to please Him most with what we do.  I was challenged years ago that whenever we choose to sin, we are in essence choosing “practical atheism,” believing in God’s existence but absolving it from our minds to ease the tension of choosing what we know is wrong. 

Paul’s primary thrust here is a challenge to us as well: who are we living for? Is our obedience to God for Him or for a human audience? Who are trying to please?

Now, third and finally, let’s come to the last part of Philippians 2:12-13 and also see the correlation to Exodus 20 (and Hebrews 12:18-21). “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” The command to “work out your own salvation” is not a call to maintain salvation as though it could be lost, or that they had some part in saving themselves. The best theological term to be related here would be sanctification, which is the transformative process of the believer between initial salvation and glorification. In saying that, know that it is extremely important that our theology of salvation be biblical, that a believer doesn’t just believe and go 20, 30, 40, 50 years without having a working relationship with God to just wind up in glory; the true trajectory of the believer is a coursing path through life of ups and downs, faith as well as moments of failure, but the general course is on the up and up.  Think of sanctification like a stock market graph, the lows getting higher and the highs getting higher as one moves towards glory. Does it mean perfection on the way? No, but it does mean growth that moves overall in the right direction.

Sanctification, as well, is both an active and passive transformation in that we are called to submit and serve and obey actively, but passively we are being drawn into that very plan by the Sovereign hand of God. This active and passive nature of sanctification is the essence of verse 12b-13.2,746 Mt Sinai Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

(Mt. Sinai)

Additionally, there is a peculiar wording used in these two verses when it says “fear and trembling.” The Greek words in English would be phobos and tromos: think phobias and tremors or shaking. If you’ve read Scripture much, you may be reminded of that phrasing being used elsewhere. Hebrews 12:18-21 will bring it up:

 18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,

 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.

 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.”

 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”

 

Going back to Exodus 20, almost immediately after the Ten Commandments are dictated, we see these verses: 

 

18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.

 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

 20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:18-20)

Notice that both Hebrews and Exodus capture the emotion of fear to the point of trembling. Perhaps Exodus 20:20 might help the best in relationship to obedience as it refers to a fear of God being a helpful aid in not sinning. When that fear is lost, so too does the inner inhibition to sin shrink up as well. Were Moses and the Israelites deeply aware of the presence of God in Exodus 20?  Absolutely, and that translated into somewhat of a spiritual paralysis before God. Unfortunately, this didn’t last too long because by Exodus 32, they were crafting a golden calf to worship while Moses had been on the mountain for a long time, at least in their estimation.

What Philippians 2:12-13 is most likely referencing, therefore, is the presence of God not simply on a mountain full of fire and darkness and thunder, but His residence within. It both correlates and contrasts with Exodus 20. Not only does He reside within, but the heart of those commandments given on Mt. Sinai is placed within us as well. Like an anchor to the soul, honoring God and living under His command becomes something that may be tested, but is hard to resist when it’s now a part of who we are. 

Work out your salvation (sanctification) with fear and trembling, for (because) it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.” The cause of fear and trembling is therefore tied not to scary circumstances but to an observation of the Holy Spirit within us at work in our hearts and lives. Spiritual sensitivity, conviction, a desire for God, hearing Him through His word and so forth–these don’t just happen, they are signs of spiritual life. When trusting God becomes foundational to the way we live our lives and not just a fleeting moment of spoken faith, we are talking about the Spirit-born faith spelled out in the Bible. 

No one stays true to God long-term on God’s terms without God having taken residency within them and putting His word into their hearts. No one obeys with or without a human audience without a focus on pleasing God rather than just pleasing men. Nevertheless, the beauty of this verse as well is found in seeing God at work in us and being in awe of that work that He’s doing. Yes, we can live to serve God and do many religious activities, but nothing can bring comfort to the soul like watching God at work within one’s self. As a pastor, I also take great joy in watching God at work in others, and for the small parts I can play in helping, I’m thankful to see Him moving in them through the use of His word and bringing joy to their souls in their walk with Him. 

One of the interesting things I’ve found in my time reading Scripture is drawing the connection as to what an author is thinking about when they’re writing a particular passage of Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In this passage, we are seeing the difference between an external God and an external Law and a modern-day believer who also has God within them and His law written on their hearts as well. Is this found in the Bible? Yes, in Hebrews 8:8-10:

8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah–

 9 “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.

 10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

 

While these verses speak specifically to the Israelites, we know from the New Testament such as in Acts 2:17-21 that the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church is the giving of His presence within as well as the word being illuminated to the heart.

 

The simple takeaway today is this: take heart in the Lord and place your focus on Him. If you’ve seen Him at work in you, rejoice in that and continue to follow Him in your sanctification as you make your way to glorification. God calls us to honor, serve, and obey Him, but He also sovereignly guides us and empowers us in that calling. Salvation begins with faith in Jesus Christ, it is continued on with sanctification in Christ through the means of faith, and it is consummated with glorification as our hope is fulfilled in the glorious presence of our Lord. 

Thank you for your time in worship today.  May God bless you as you ponder His word.

Prayer from Pastor Sam:

Lord, help us to keep our eyes on You. Help us to remember the mission to which we’ve been called, and to surrender daily to You within Your desires for us. Forgive us for the many times we doubt You or selfishly cling to our own desires and help us to realign with You today. If anyone reading this doesn’t have a real relationship with You, I pray for them, that You’d impress upon them that need to call out to you in faith today for salvation. Please be with the many folks struggling with sickness and we pray comfort for them today. Help us to watch our walk in this world and our attitudes for that matter.  We pray for our country and for our leaders and the great spiritual need of the Gospel that exists both in the U.S. and abroad. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

 

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 6th– Grounded in the Truth of Jesus’ Lordship

Let’s start this morning with some worship if you cannot see the video, use this link. 

Philippians 2:9-11

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Time is short, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s easy to forget this fact in the midst of events and circumstances that vie heavily for our attention. If we’re not careful, we can lose sight of where God is taking us, the control He has over everything we go through, or even God Himself. Unfortunately, when this happens, we often find ourselves prone to distractions in an attempt to numb our emotions or keep ourselves happy. As I write that, I’m reminded that sometimes God wants us to be in difficult places and to be weak and vulnerable, as some lessons can only come not only from difficult circumstances but also the emotional distress that accompanies them and where we go in such dark times, as well as to whom.

 

In calling believers to have the mind of Christ and to follow in His humble orientation to God the Father, we find in Philippians 2:9-11 a bit of a digression from the call that highlights the Lord Jesus Christ and His eternal designation on the basis of His sinless life and perfect sacrifice for sin upon the cross.

 

In reviewing the previous verses, we see in Jesus a humble attitude residing in the Maker of the universe, dwelling among men but not making it a point to remind them of how much He had condescended to be among them. The mind of Jesus was set on the Father’s will and the fulfillment of that will.

 

This is why, in conclusion to His life and death, the Father has determined to magnify the Son eternally. Even now, it is our duty to magnify Him who will forever be set at the center of it all, for He gave His life that we might have life eternally with God found through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

It’s September 2020, and it’s been quite the year. Some might say that we have lived nearly a decade in this one year, for that’s how it has felt. It’s very easy to get bogged down with the rest of the world in the constant changes we face, as well as the great uncertainties that abound in nearly every direction we look. 

 

How ought we to face such uncertainty, and what can anchor us when the world around us seems to be quickly loosening from its moorings? Look no further than the Scriptures and the Lord Jesus Christ found therein. 

Today, let’s look at Philippians 2:9-11, a brief set of verses that show us three powerful concepts to contemplate regarding Christ.   This passage is a great place to go when we find that we need grounded once again. My family was able to go on vacation the last two weeks, and it was great, but I’ll tell you, there’s no place like home.  That’s what grounding is, that place where things that are off-kilter get reestablished.  The three concepts we’re going to look at from this passage are: 1.  Authority; 2. Certainty; 3. Finality.  Join me for a bit of an explanation:

 

  • AUTHORITY  Verse 9 says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” There are many voices speaking into our lives today, and all claim some level of authority on life and the issues therein. To speak authoritatively that which is false will certainly lead to failure and confusion, for speaking into matters when not based upon what is true will only flop in time. Who can speak authoritatively into all matters that take place but God alone? He created all things, holds all things together, has determined the end of all things, and is sovereign over all people, spirits, and circumstances.  God the Father, according to v. 9, has highly exalted the Son and given Him preeminence to all others. We can see this preeminence as well in Colossians 1:15-20:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that  in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

No one on the TV or in the headlines has the authority in any comparison whatsoever to that of Jesus Christ. What He says is true, reliable, and resolute.  His authority is the supreme authority of all authorities.  Rest in that, for what the Scriptures tell us need to speak into our lives today; we need to slow down, listen, and trust what He says is true no matter the day or age.

 

  • CERTAINTY  Philippians 2:10-11 says,  “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The NASB translates “should bow” and “should confess” a bit more emphatically in our modern vernacular as “will bow” and “will confess,” the point being that it’s not just the hope of the design that this will transpire, but that it is certain that at the appointed time, all beings will bow the knee and all tongues will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

 

Sometimes, given the diversity of beliefs out there and the backlash that Christianity faces, it feels like things will never be set straight. The fact of the matter, though, according to Scripture, is that every person out there is going to recognize the truth in time, whether they accept it or reject it in this lifetime, and they will absolutely know that Jesus is Lord and confess it as such. 

 

There are a lot of uncertainties in our lives. We don’t know what this week will look like if we’re really being honest, and we certainly don’t know what to expect of the rest of 2020 nor 2021. There are hopes as well as disappointments, but regardless, no one really knows, nor do we know our personal parts in those times to come. What do we know from Scripture? The certainty of the future is under the sovereign hand of God, and Jesus Christ will be magnified in time. Thinking and living in light of the truth of Philippians 2:9-11 can certainly bring peace and firmness to our hearts and minds today; make sure you don’t forget how this all “ends.” 

 

  • FINALITY Once again, vv. 10-11 say, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Think with me just a bit here over the many times we have thought, “finally…” only to have that sense of completion undone. You’ve finally gotten the house cleaned, only to have it get dirty again the very same day. You’ve finally got your finances under control, only to have another surprise expense come knocking at the door of your bank account. You’ve finally lost those last five pounds…and then the holidays hit or the diet just doesn’t seem to work like it once did. There are many moments in life that we look forward to only to soon find ourselves back in the rut of waiting for the next great milestone, none of them truly fulfilling us like we had often hoped.

 

Consider this kind of cycle within 2020: what if some other coronavirus comes out in 2021 or this decade? We’d hate to think it, much as its affected policies and procedures in so many ways and our whole way of living socially, but it is always possible. Wars are always possible; what if a war breaks out in the 2020’s, making 2020 itself feel like it wasn’t that bad of a year? I don’t want to be a fear monger here, but the point is that we do not know, and while folks hope for finality in various ways throughout life, it can only be found ultimately in Jesus Christ. 

 

When Philippians 2:9-11 speaks about Jesus and His authority, it speaks of all other persons having that final moment of recognizing, bowing, and confessing His Lordship. It’s final, because this will not waver. It won’t be a moment of recognition that is taken back later on; Jesus Christ is Lord and all will know it. 

 

Not only is there a finality to the activity of all created beings, but there is also a finality to God’s glory: He will be glorified and that glory will endure. 

 

All time is headed in the direction of this passage coming to fruition. No matter what takes place between now and then, we must remember that Philippians 2:9-11 is a destination towards which we are all headed. Saved or unsaved, all people will recognize the authority of Jesus Christ. The great question to the reader is, “On which side of that day will I be on, and will it be a moment of joy or a moment of shame?” 

 

Remember that the Lord died upon the cross to offer us eternal life through faith in Him. Only Jesus is enough for acceptance with God the Father, and salvation means trusting in Him that the death He died and the record He has might both cover our sins and grant us that righteous record before the Father for full acceptance as beloved children in His presence. So we will close today’s time with these words taken from Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” That is a promise that we too can claim and I encourage you to do so if you have not already.

 

Authority, certainty, and finality: the more you and I trust in the claims of Scripture, the more it will affect our lives today by our hope for the future. Preach His sovereignty to your heart!

Let’s close with this worship song today. Click this link if you do not see the video below. 

 

Prayer:

Lord, help us to look to You for our hope in this life. Lead us back to the Gospel today, and help us to be reminded that it’s your grace and mercy that make us acceptable in Your sight. Help us to be good stewards of the time and resources You have given us, and help us to live in light of the truth of the coming day when all will bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Blessings upon you today, my friends!

 

 

 

 

Having the Mind of Christ

Where does your mind go when it has nothing to do? What have you trained your mind to think about naturally? What do you surround your mind with? Pastor Sam Stringer talks about “having the mind of Christ” from Paul’s letter to the Philippians and its implications in an ever darkening world.

 

For the PowerPoint that goes along with today’s sermon – click here

Find Joy in Your Faith

What is your worth? How do you know your value? It may come as a surprise, but no one can determine their own worth, at least not in an absolute sense. That would need an absolute standard, something that is unchangeable. That unchangeable standard is God. Understanding your worth, your value, is tied to your joy and happiness. In Philippians 1:25-30, Pastor Sam Stringer explains these concepts and more from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, written while Paul was in prison in Rome.

Click here to view the PowerPoint to go along with today’s sermon.

 

 

 

Guarding a Godly Perspective of Life: Philippians 1:19-24

If you base your happiness, your contentment, your joy off circumstances they you will always be left wanting. But that begs the question, how do we find joy in a world that is so obviously decrepit? The answer lies in where your focus is, what you perspective is.

Pastor Sam Stringer brings this message out of Paul who, being imprisoned while writing Philippians, talks about finding fulfillment, joy, and purpose.

PowerPoint Outline can be viewed while you watch here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Izd6… 

“How To” in Hard Times Part 2

 

Where is our focus?

Joy in 2020 still has the same foundation as it always has. It doesn’t come from economic strength or good politics or healthy nations. It comes in people who are willingly made useful to the lord with their eyes on Him in the service they provide. God has called all believers to be influential in their own ways towards the same end goal of glorifying him and furthering His work in this world.

Outline:

1. The Potential for Influence (15)

a. Preaching the Good News, the Gospel

b. 3 John 1:9-10

2. The Focus of Influence (15-16)

a. “Some preach Christ from envy and strife” – think of jealously and rivalry

b. “Some from good will” – desire to be kind. Godly mindsets focus on the biblical goal, whereas ungodly mindsets focus on the return.

c. Making a name for myself or making a name for Jesus as it relates to me.

3. Discerning the purpose of Influence

a. Carnality/potential wolves in sheep’s clothing – no security from great self-focus

1. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3: envy, strife, selfish ambition, insincerity are marks of carnality

2. 2 Corinthians 2:17

3. 1 Timothy 6:3-5: knowing nothing, obsessed with argument, godliness for gain

4. Romans 1:28-32: losing awareness of God, behavior is a punishment for unrepentance.

Consider this, sinful behavior brings punishment, but punishment in part is also to be absorbed in sinful behavior. It is a two-sided coin. Somethings the immediate lightning bolt for deviant behavior is to live in the rut of deviant behavior.

b. Godly believers – security in Christ from focus on Him

1. Romans 12:10-18: behavior transformed by biblical mindset

2. James 3:16-18: peace-making

3. I Corinthians 9:19-22: winsome, not to myself, but to the Lord

4. The Joy of God-led influence (18)

a. Negatively (misery)

1. Envy, rivalry, selfish ambition and a desire to undermine others creates misery.

2. Refusing to entrust yourself to God creates misery

3. Therefore, it is imperative that we put those thoughts and behaviors off.

4. But this is not enough; we are only creating a vacuum by focusing on what not to do.

b. Positively (joy)

1. Setting our focus on Christ, serving in love with the intention of not being a hindrance but a bridge to the Gospel – this creates joy, deep profound gladness.

2. Taking our eyes off ourselves or other people is the grounds for joy.

3. Being a vessel made useful and considered worthy by God in His grace to cause change in other people is foundational to joy.

c. Note Paul’s mindset (18)

1. He could rejoice in the Gospel going forth regardless of intentions.

2. He could rejoice in the Gospel regardless of his circumstances.

3. He rejoiced in what the Gospel could do: save people even if that wasn’t the real intention of the messenger.

4. Remember: joyful people serve to save; miserable people serve to enslave.

 

“How To” in Hard Times: Philippians 1:1-14

Thank you for joining us for this week’s message from Philippians. If you are able to join us in person we are thankful and if you are joining us from home, we are thankful and know that you are missed!

In Philippians 1:1-14 Paul shows us three ways to think and act when times are tough.

1. How to Relate to Other Believers (1:1-8)

a. Desiring God’s grace and peace for them (2)

b. Being thankful for them and letting God know (3)

c. Remembering them in your prayers (4)

d. Remembering what unites us — the Gospel (5)

e. Looking for the work of God in others (6)

f. More of them, less of me (7)

g. Desiring to be together and encourage (8)

2. How to Pray for One Another (1:9-11)

a. That your love may about still more and more in knowledge and all discernment (9)

i. Love that is rooted…

ii. Spiritual Insight

iii. Spiritual discernment (good judgement)

b. That (purpose) you may approve the things that are excellent (10)

c. That (result) you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ (10)

d. (put on) Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ (11)

e. (ultimate goal) To the glory and praise of God (11)

f. Two things Scripture essential warns against: love without discernment and discernment without love. They are a package deal. Paul prays for both – much like 1 Corinthians, he sees action without love as meaning nothing)

3. How to Think Positively (1:12-14)

a. God’s story is bigger than my own and He is working it out even when life seems contrary.

b. God can use the strength He gives us in difficulty to witness to the truth and many times when we are unaware of it (13)

c. The faith I exercise today my be the strength other need tomorrow for their own story (14)

 

If you have any prayer requests that you would like us to know about, please contact us!