Monthly Archives: January 2016

ONE PLEA – Glorify God With Your Life


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We have all been guilty of offering habitual prayers, or even casual prayers. You know, the kind of thoughtless prayers like “Lord bless all the missionaries today.”

I will never forget the night Carman was born. It was 9:30 in the evening on April 8, 2002 when Lori said that she thought it was time. Having been through this routine with four other babies I was not in a big hurry.  When Lori was expecting Cherith I remember at the first sign of labor I bolted into motion, grabbed our gear and wisked Lori into the car and raced to the hospital at breakneck speed only to  wait another 12 hours before the baby was born.  Lori came back a few minutes later and said it was urgent that we go now!  We got to the clinic here in Kitwe and at 11:30pm Lori gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who we named Carman.

Carman was a cord birth.  I watched the midwife work frantically and finally get the cord off the baby’s neck.  She was a deep purple color, but slowly gained a more normal shade.  After things had settled down I went back to an empty room to sleep.  After a time, I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was Lori.  She said, you must come quick, the baby is in distress.  I ran back to the room and Carman was taking short little gasps of air.  Each time she exhaled bubbles came out of her nose. She was now an ashen grey color, drowning from the amnionic fluid she ingested during birth.  I grabbed Lori’s hand and began to pray. I remember that prayer, it came from deep in my heart, a cry for God to be merciful and intervene and spare her life.

This is the kind of prayer that we find in our text Philippians 1:9-11.  Paul is laying out his passionate prayer to God for the Philippians. He has spoken of his deep affection for them, “I have you in my heart” he says in v 7.  “I greatly long for you all with affection” he says in v 8. Now he shares with them his prayer.

Passionate prayer is praying from the overflow of a burdened heart with a sense of our own inability. It is the pursuit of God by one man on behalf of another.

“And this I pray!” (9) Here is the content of Paul’s prayer: He longs for them to glorify God with their life, to be the means by which praise and glory is rendered to God!

In these three short verses Paul lays out the essentials for a life that glorifies God! This is essentially a plea to glorify God with your life!

Glorifying God With My Life Begins With A Love That Is Constantly Growing (9a)

How does this happen?

We grow in knowledge of God through His Word.

As we know him our love increases but this overflowing love is more than just a head full of facts about God and His Word, it is the basis for obedience. (John 14:15,21,23)

Love and obedience are not the same thing. You can obey with the wrong attitude. You can obey without love, but you cannot love without obeying. Obedience is the natural expression of love.

The reason that so many Christians are indifferent and careless toward God is that they are in love with the wrong thing. We are prone to love the gifts God gives instead of loving Him!  We love the creation instead of the Creator! (Rom 1:21,25).  We love money, education, our occupation, sports, or entertainment but we do not passionately pursue Christ as greatest end.

The question for you today is not, do you know about Jesus, the question is do you know Him The question is not, “Do you love Jesus?” but, “Do you love Jesus more than anything else in this world?” (Lk. 14:26).

This growing love is the product of a growing knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ! It is not only a knowledge of facts but an experiential knowledge gained by walking with Him day by day.

What does this growth look like? How does a growing knowledge of God flesh out in everyday life?

We grow in discernment

Discernment is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.  This is not a legalistic list of regulations and checklists used to evaluate spirituality, nor is it is it license to do whatever you want. This discernment is based upon a deep heart desire to please the object of our love. It is genuine holiness based upon a deepening knowledge of God through His Word. It is a life in balance, able to discern what is appropriate, what is helpful.

We are called to embrace the knowledge of God that produces holy living! The ability to make proper judgements for everyday living in line with the nature and character of God. The practical application of our knowledge of God to the realities of every-day life!

1Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
1Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Glorifying God With My Life Means That I Choose What Is Best Over What Is Merely Acceptable! (10a)

Approve what is excellent

This is not to determine good and evil but to determine what is of real value so that you don’t waste your life!  Determine what is best! Live for what matters most! There are many things that can fill your time each day. There are opportunities that come in life that are not necessarily sinful. Paul is saying that the life that glorifies God evaluates each opportunity to determine what has real value!

Don’t waste your life on rubbish.

Choose the real thing!  A couple years back I was on safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana.  We spent the morning on the Chobe River viewing abundant wildlife.  After a wonderful lunch at the lodge we climbed into the open safari vehicles in search of big cats.  As we moved through the bush the drive suddenly slammed the brakes and pointed.  I missed it at first, but then I saw what the guide was pointing at.  Crossing the trail in front of us was a Dung Beetle. It’s front feet were down in the sand and the back legs were up on a ball of elephant dung.  It was pushing that ball back to wherever it lives.  A dung beetle spends his whole life pushing a ball of animal feces. Dung beetles will attack one another to steal the ball of dung!  As we continued our drive I sat back and prayed, “God, don’t let that be the parable of my life!”  What a tragedy to get to heaven one day and see our Christian life from heaven’s perspective only to realize that we did little more than push around balls of dung!

And Paul was concerned about this very thing! Notice what he writes in Philippians 3:3-8!!

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as dung, that I may gain Christ

Paul had reached the pinnacle of success in Hebrew culture. He had a stellar pedigree, a Hebrew of the Hebrews.  He was religious and full of zeal.  In the eyes of his contemporaries Paul was to be admired!  But all of this he viewed as dung, compared to the excellencies of having Christ!

What really matters in life is serving God and living a life that brings Him glory. To live a life that is worthy of the gospel. (1:27)

As I come to know Christ, I see Him hanging on the cross in agony, I view His glorious character in the Word, I experience his grace in my life and my perspective changes. I no longer see ugly, unloveable people, I see people who Christ loves. I no longer see thieves and prostitutes and drunkards and rapists I see men and women who God loves and sacrificed His own Son on the cross to save!  When I know Christ my perspective changes. I no longer view people in light of how they affect me, or their impact on my life.  I view them through the eyes of the One who loved them and gave Himself for them! When Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion because they were wandering like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt. 9:36)

So what is best? Christ Himself! In Him alone the Christian finds satisfaction, fulfillment, love, and joy unspeakable and full of glory! Pursue Christ not for what He can give but for who He is!
Don’t waste your life on rubbish!

Glorifying God With My Life Means That My Life Is Characterized By Integrity. (10b)

Be sincere

Sincerely is to be without hypocrisy. Christ’s most scathing rebukes were reserved for the self-righteous, (Matthew 23:13-15, 23,25,27-28) those who appeared one way but inside they were something totally different.

When life turns up the heat, when your goals and plans begin to crumble, when trials or afflictions come, when people begin to falsely accuse you, you are suddenly presented an opportunity to demonstrate your sincerity. What you really believe about God, his love, his faithfulness and his goodness is actually lived out in the midst of the fiery trial.

Be blameless

To be blameless is to be a person of Christlike character. This is the extent and goal of integrity. (2:14-15). We were chosen by God to be blameless Eph. 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
Blamelessness is not only requirement for every pastor and deacon – it is the standard for every child of God. (I Tim 3:2,10)

Glorifying God With My Life Means That My Life Produces Good Works. (11a)

Christ produces in my life “fruits of righteousness.”

This is the external fruit of our internal love for God! This is seen in my response to suffering, in my graciousness when attacked, in my courage when threatened, my ability to suffer and even die if need be for the sake of Jesus Christ. The world is not at all impressed with our business success, with the size of our bank accounts, with our beautiful houses. What impacts the world is our response to suffering, pain, death, bankruptcy, or how we handle the death of our child. A dear friend who recently lost her daughter said to Lori at the funeral, “It hurts so much, but I know God is good!”  This is the genuine fruit that is produced by an overflowing love for God!

Don’t waste your life!

Several years ago someone gave me John Piper’s book entitled “Don’t waste your life!” Let me to borrow those words to press home the urgency of living for the glory of God!

  • Don’t waste your money
  • Don’t waste your influence
  • Don’t waste your education – use it to establish a beachhead for the gospel in some restricted access country in the 10/40 window.
  • Don’t waste your robberies
  • Don’t waste your dis-functional family upbringing
  • Don’t waste your death.  The first Administrator of Faith Children’s Village, Joe Mbewe, lost his wife in tragic circumstances.  I will never forget his testimony at the funeral of his wife. With his two year old daughter in his arms, he gave testimony of his faith and the confidence that he would see her again.  Joe then sang his wife’s favorite song, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”  This is what it means to not waste your death!

Jesus spoke of Peter’s death and then these words, “signifying by what death he should glorify God!” (Jn 21:19)

As God orchestrates the dark valleys and deep trials in your life, Don’t waste them!  Don’t waste these opportunities to magnify Christ (1:20)!  Allow His life to so saturate you that your very presence permeates Christ to the world around you. Whether in life or in death – glorify Christ!

Here is the culmination of Paul’s prayer! (11b) Paul’s passionate plea to God on their behalf all crescendos to this as its highest end: “to the glory and praise of God!”

Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love would increase through a growing knowledge of God that would result in the discernment to spend their lives for what really matters by living as men and women of integrity so that the righteousness of Christ might bear abundant fruit in them to the glory and praise of God.

Are you wasting your life or spending your life for what will count for eternity? Is your life bringing glory and praise to God?

What a tragedy it would be to get to heaven and suddenly realize that all you did was push around balls of dung your entire Christian existence!

Download the audio of this sermon

One Fellowship – The Fellowship of the Gospel


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Our text is taken today from Philippians 1:3-8.

We all live for something, each of us have a purpose in our life. Whether or not you could articulate what you are living for right now or not, doesn’t change the fact that it exists. When people share a common goal, there is a very high level of sacrifice, and a minimizing of self-centeredness… and in that moment, there is a camaraderie and joy that is inescapable!

My boys have a favorite movie: The Lord of the Rings.  This movie is based on the book by JRR Tolkien. In The Fellowship of the Ring, nine of the most unlikely characters come together bound by a single great mission to defeat the forces of darkness and save middle earth. Four hobbits led by Frodo Baggins, two warriors from Gondor, Gandalf the wizard, Legolas came from the race of elves and a dwarf named Gimili. In the end they gave themselves for one another and became honored friends.

Such earthly fellowship can happen when the conditions are right, but our text speaks of a depth of fellowship that exceeds any earthly fellowship.

We have been called dedicated our lives to Jesus Christ, abandoned to His glorious purposes among men! The proclamation of the gospel! We are engaged in what Bunyan called a “holy war” we march to the tune of a different drummer, we answer to the call of a different master. We are a band of brothers, consecrated to the grandest and noblest of causes – the carrying out of God’s eternal purposes in our world. We are ministers of the new covenant, proclaimers of freedom to those in bondage, soldiers of the cross! We will be opposed, we will suffer hardship, we will be required to give our all and for some of us very lives!

But brothers and sisters, it is worth it! In the midst of spiritual conflict there is a glorious fellowship to be enjoyed! In suffering and deprivation and hard work and opposition, there is a deep, blessed fellowship that cannot be understood by the world.

The world seeks to manufacture this wonder, but it cannot be reproduced in the disco house or the football stadium. The world longs to experience just a taste of this wonderful gift of fellowship, but they seek it in all the wrong places. We find that this fellowship can only be found as passionate disciples of Christ abandon themselves in partnerships of sacrifice and service to the gospel.

WHAT IS THE THE GOSPEL?

(http://www.lifein6words.com/connect-with-god/)

  • GOD CREATED US FOR FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM
  • OUR SINS SEPARATE US FROM GOD
  • SIN CANNOT BE REMOVED BY GOOD DEEDS
  • PAYING THE PRICE FOR SIN JESUS DIED AND ROSE AGAIN
  • EVERYONE WHO TRUSTS IN JESUS ALONE HAS ETERNAL LIFE
  • LIFE WITH JESUS STARTS NOW AND LASTS FOREVER

It is in the context of this “partnership of the gospel” that we experience joy, love and overwhelming thankfulness!  Notice how Paul describes this fellowship! Notice how this gospel ministry will affect our lives and our relationships with those we minister?

Verses 1-2: The Context

  • Preachers – Paul & Timothy- Paul is in prison in Rome awaiting trial.
  • Position – bondservants
  • People – saints / Bishops & Deacons
  • Place – Philippi. City in Europe, Roman colony. City of about 10,000. Paul had established the first church on the continent of Europe in @50AD. Now 10 years late he is writing this letter
  • Pronouncement – Grace & Peace, from God.

THIS IS A FELLOWSHIP THAT RESULTS IN A HEART OVERFLOWING WITH THANKSGIVING (3-4)

His Thankfulness For Them (3)

His thankfulness is stirred by his memory of them. In this personal letter Paul begins by telling them that every time he thinks of them from his prison cell he is filled with joyful thanksgiving to God that naturally translates into prayer for them. (3-4)

  • Paul remembers the first time he arrived in this city (Acts 16:7-10).
  • He recalls meeting outside the city walls by the river with a handful of gentile women who met there to worship God. He rejoiced in the conversion of Lydia and her household. (16:11-15)
  • He remembered the grief he felt when the demon-possessed girl prophesied that they were representatives of the true God and he cast the demon out of the girl. He recalled the uproar that occurred there in the Agora when her masters dragged them to the authorities and they were arrested and beaten and thrown in prison. (16:16-24)
  • Oh that glorious night – hearts aflame with love for God they loudly sang praises to God in the hearing of all the prisoners and God moved in to release them from their chains. The conversion of the jailer and his family! (16:25-34).
  • He thinks of these people who are now part of the persecuted church in Philippi and his heart is filled with joy and thankfulness to God!

His thankfulness is coupled with JOY (4)

Their joy (15x in the letter) was in the midst of affliction – (2 Cor. 8:1-2), and Paul’s joy was while in prison!. Joy is not based upon happenings (happiness) it is grounded internally.

The first lesson in this for us is this:  Joy is an attitude of the heart, not an emotion or a feeling. And the second lesson is: This joy is found outside yourself! Note that Paul points to the Lord as the source, Rejoice in the LORD (3:1, 4:4)

His thankfulness is expressed in PRAYER (4)

Paul rarely thanks God for stuff/things, he thanks God for people! Paul was a people person. He was not glorying in an achievement, a building or a program but in a people who were called by God’s name!

How much of your praying is giving thanks and how much is complaining

The Joy & Thankfulness that Paul is talking about is a direct result of receiving “grace and peace” from God (2).  If you have not partaken of His grace then you do not have peace with God.  If you do not have peace with God you cannot know this thankfulness and joy!

A FELLOWSHIP THAT IS CENTERED IN THE GOSPEL

Thankful for their Fellowship in the Gospel (5,7)

They were partners with Paul in the gospel! Fellowship (koinon) – lasting, committed fellowship. “From the first day until now.

“For your fellowship in the gospel.” This is a committed, lasting fellowship! It is the idea of people of very different cultures, Ideas, families, places in the world etc., having an indestructible bond, a oneness and unity that cannot be shaken. In all of our diversity we have one common goal, one common agenda, one common purpose, one common motivator… the Gospel of Grace (7b, (2 Cor 8:2-5)

  • They were committed to the evangelization of the Gentile world, to sharing the gospel with everyone who would listen.
  • They were committed to suffering and poverty for the sake of the gospel!
  • They were committed to giving selflessly to the cause of Jesus Christ!

The Philippians identified with him in his imprisonment for the gospel. This at a time of persecution when others fled from Him (7a).They also identified with him in his defense of the gospel (apologia). Apologetics refers to speech in defense of the gospel. (7b). And they identified with him in a positive confirmation of the truth of the gospel. (7c)

Their fellowship was:

  • A fellowship of Grace (7)

1John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

  • A fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2:1)
  • A fellowship of suffering (3:10)
  • A fellowship of Sacrifice (4:14-15)

This kind of fellowship is experienced as we serve God together. Last month many of us here at Kitwe Church came together to sing Christmas carols at the Mukuba Mall and to give out gospel tracts and New Testaments.  Remember the joy we had serving God together?  Remember the testimonies that many of you gave about what a blessing this was? We experience fellowship as we give ourselves to the gospel here and around the world!

The world seeks to find a means of experiencing this kind of fellowship – but they fail. This fellowship is for a cause that is greater than any selfish ambition, it is the emptying of self, the giving over of my dreams and aspirations for a common cause – the sake of the gospel. It is an absolute abandonment of brothers who partner together for the sake of His name to carry the glorious gospel to the shores of Morroco, the deserts of Somalia, the swamp villages of Sudan, the remote peoples of western Kenya, the villages of Northern province, the working class people of Kitwe, Zambia.

Confident in God’s Faithfulness (6)

Paul has a rock solid confidence in God. He who began it will complete it! What began with the acceptance of the gospel message preached by Paul in Philippi, continued until the present will be completed in the future. (“from the first day until now…”).

God will complete in every Christian what He has begun! (Acts 16:24) Nothing will prevent Him from completing His Work. He began a work of Grace at salvation, He will complete His work of Grace until the Day He comes again.

Don’t grow discouraged at your failures, Don’t forget that God will bring to reality the work of perfecting us, conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ.

I don’t have to control, I don’t have to worry and fret, I can confidently, joyfully, thankfully commit my ministry and those with whom I serve to Him who will finish what He has started! Ministry is not about YOU, it is not about ME! We are God’s chosen vessels to carry the gospel, to faithfully proclaim it, to plead with men to surrender their wills to the Savior. But it is all of GRACE! He calls them, He opens hearts, He saves men and women, boys and girls, and the One who calls and saves them will keep and complete them! OH JOY! What a cause for thanksgiving!

So what should you do now?
Will you commit to the “fellowship of the gospel” by joining in sacrificial service for God through the ministry of this church? Does not the grace of God lead you to such fellowship?

As you commit to God’s purposes you will know the thankful joy and love this fellowship brings.

Are you experiencing real joy – based upon your relationship to Jesus Christ and your fellowship in Him? Will you partake of the gospel today? You can be saved from your sin! You can have new life in Jesus Christ!

One Resolution To Keep


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CS Lewis once said, “All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

People today are consumed with the pursuit of happiness – books, conferences, internet blogs all claim to provide the secret. Religious charlatans and well-meaning Christians alike promise all kinds of “Breakthroughs” and people flock to their ministries to find the secret.

Happiness is a fleeting moment of physical exhilaration. Biblical joy on the other hand is “the settled conviction that God sovereignly controls the events of life for believers’ good and His glory.”

There are times in life and ministry where the circumstances you find yourself in are extremely difficult. Everyone of us have experienced such moments. How do you respond? What are the expressions from your heart during such a time?

  • Do you vent frustration?
  • Are you angry and bitter over your situation?
  • Are your heart and lips filled with complaints or do you manifest a confident and joyful hope in God?
  • Do your eyes turn inward or upward?

At a time of increasing opposition by the Jewish religious establishment and growing persecution by the Roman government, Paul finds himself accused, arrested and in prison in Rome. Paul is writing this letter after having received a financial gift from believers in Philippi brought by the hand of Epaprodite (4:15-18).

In this letter from prison one might expect to hear a tone of defensiveness or a word of complaint but instead this letter resonates from from a heart filled with joy! “Joy” and “rejoice” are used at least 15x in the book and are found in every chapter.

This letter shows us in a real and personal way what the gospel of Jesus Christ can really do in a life! In Philippians we learn how to triumph over circumstance and how to live in harmony and happily together as a community of believers.

Sooner or later we will all face an experience that is beyond our ability to control. We may find ourselves in some sort of prison: sick bed, hospital, accident, grief or sorrow of lost relationship or unmet expectations. How important then that we know in advance the secret of overcoming it!
We are called to shine the light of Christ brightly and that light shines most brightly when we are walking through dark valleys! The world needs to see the reality of our profession of faith – they see this in our joy in the midst of the ups and downs and disappointments of life!

Paul had joy! His joy was not based upon his circumstances – he did not rely upon “happenings” to find his happiness. His is joy was in Christ! (“Christ” is mentioned 17x in the first chapter alone!)  Paul’s joy came from His relationship with God – not the vertical/temporal but the horizontal/eternal.

One resolution to keep in 2016: Resolved to find my joy in Jesus Christ.

We take our text from Philippians chapter one verses 1-2.

The Proclaimers Of This Joy (1:1a)

Lets first get acquainted with the Preachers:

PAUL: A Jewish theologian trained by a Doctor of the Law named Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; 22:3). Saul was committed to Judaism and a rising young leader entrusted with authority from the chief priests to arrest and imprison those of “the way.”

This sincere and zealous man was struck down on the Damascus road by Jesus Christ Himself. He is gloriously converted and commissioned as an apostle to the Gentiles. (Acts 9)

After a brief visit with Barnabas with the church in Jerusalem, Paul departs for Tarsus where he labors for Christ in obscurity. Not until Barnabas is sent to Antioch in Acts 11:22-26 and realize that the task of discipling these new believers is more than he can handle alone does he find Paul and bring him to Antioch where they labored for a year.

TIMOTHY: Paul is never a lone-ranger looking to go it alone. He is clearly a courageous, decisive leader with a a passion for God, but a look at his life clearly shows someone who drew good people around him, equipped them, exhorted them and empowered them in ministry. This is certainly true of Paul’s relationship with Timothy.

Timothy is an uncircumcised half-Jew living in the Gentile city of Lystra. His father is a gentile, mother a Jew. On their first missionary journey Paul and Barnabas meet Timothy who is converted to a Christ-follower. Timothy joined Paul and Silas on Paul’s second missionary journey. It was on this journey that Paul received the “Macedonian Call” (Acts 16:6-10).

The relationship between Paul and Timothy is close. Paul refers to Timothy as his “son in the faith.” He wrote two letters to Timothy with instructions on how to administrate and minister in the local church which is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” The confidence, love and trust that Paul has for this young man is documented in 2:19-22.

One hallmark of Paul’s life was the men that he mentored and encouraged throughout his ministry. Paul was a disciple-maker! What you will be remembered for is not your bank accounts, your business achievements etc, but the people whose lives you have invested in for the sake of Christ!

Getting acquainted with their Position – Bondservants of Jesus Christ (1b)

This was a position of public identity before others. The term – bondservant was the title that Paul often identified himself by. How different from our day, today servants of God so often seek out titles, position and honor.

Bondservant is from the root Doulos and simply means to bind,  a slave.

We are called to be bond servants of Christ. As bond-servants we are the absolute property of our Master, to be treated and disposed of as he wishes. Five marks of a bond-slave: (Luke 17:7-10)

  • Willing to have one thing on top of another put on him w/o any consideration being given him.In doing this he must be willing not to be thanked for it.
  • He must not charge the other with selfishness.
  • Having done all that he must confess that we are unprofitable servants.
  • Must admit that doing and being what we have in the way of meekness and humility, we have not done one thing more than was our duty to do!

A position of service to one another. Paul speaks of himself as a bondservant to other believers for Jesus sake! In 2 Cor 4:5 Paul writes, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus sake.

This is also a position of dependence upon one another. This releases the stress and worry from the circumstances of life, to know that I am not relying upon myself, my energies, my abilities but on the Master. It also reminds us that our position is one of humility – I am nothing, I am disposable (2:5-8).

The Place This Joy Was To Be Experienced (1c)

It was a place of rich history – Philippi

King Philip II father of Alexander the Great annexed the region in 356BC and renamed the village of Krenedis – Philippi = the city of Philip. The Romans conquered Macedonia in 2nd century BC.

Philippi was the site of one of the most crucial battles in Roman history. Anthony and Octavian defeated the Republican forces of Brutus and Cassius in 42BC.

Many war veterans settled in the region and the city became a Roman colony – enjoying all the rights of a city in Italy.

It was a pagan place

The church at Philippi was the first church Paul planted in Europe. (Acts 16:9-10). As Paul tried to move forward with the gospel – the Spirit of God would not allow him to go the directions he sought but directed him to Macedonia.

When Paul arrived in Philippi he met with Lydia and some women at the river outside the city. There were not enough male Jews to have a synagogue.

After casting out a demonic spirit of divination from a slave girl the owners had Paul & Silas arrested and thrown into prison. When the prison was miraculously opened, so was the heart of the Philippian jailer who was gloriously saved. (Acts 16:30-32)

 It was a difficult place

This was an afflicted church – deep afflictions and suffering for being Christians. (2 Cor. 8:1-3)

This was a poor church – but they had supported Paul at one time in his ministry (Philippians 4:15) and now have sent another gift. Paul is writing them to thank them, let them know of his circumstances and warn them of the danger of false teachers.

The People Who Were To Experience Joy (1c)

Their position before God: Saints

We are saints because we are one “in Christ.” (Ro 4:22-24). No other religion makes this claim!

A saint is someone who has been set apart. This word is often translated “holy.” Let me illustrate this way.  In the OT – many items in the Temple were called “holy” how did that happen? A common ordinary utensil, cleanse it and separate it for a specific purpose in the service of God.

So a Saint is someone who has been set apart from sin for God – this is not an issue of spiritual maturity (I Co 1:2) but of our position.

Their provision by God: Church Leaders

Three titles – one office (I Pt. 5:1-3)

  • Bishop – (episkopos) overseer, speaks of administrative duties of the pastor (I Tim 3:1-7)
  • Elder – (presbuteros), speaks of spiritual abilities of the pastor, wisdom, counsel, teaching
  • Shepherd – Pastor (poimen), speaks of the nurturing relationship of the pastor, guidance and care given.

Deacon – diakonos – one who serves tables. (I Tim 3:8-13)

The Pronouncement Of The Secret To This Joy (2)

Grace & Peace

  • Grace – that Divine influence upon the heart that is reflected in the life. God’s unmerited favor upon a man or woman to bestow upon him that which he cannot obtain by any effort of his own.
  • Peace – to be one, to know quietness and rest in the inner man. The grace of God must always of necessity precede the peace of God. Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith we peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Source of Grace and Peace

From God the Father brought to us in real-time through the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no grace and peace in this life apart from Him.

From the introduction of this book we find a basis for Paul’s “Reflections of Joy”and as we meditate upon these opening words we too have reason for joy:

  • When we consider our position for God in the world – bondservants of Christ! What a privilege. Never, never get over the unbelievable that you have been chosen to serve the CREATOR GOD!
  • When we consider our position before God in heaven – saints! A most holy thing, chosen and set apart for Him, because He delights in you! What a reason for joy!
  • When we consider the wonderful gift of the church! God’s means of ministering to us and through us (pastors & deacons represent both sides).
  • When we consider God’s Amazing Grace – we are unworthy, with nothing beautiful that He should be attracted to us, slave of a torturous master, wallowing in filth, naked, uncared for, never having known love.
  • When we experience the grace and peace in the midst of the turmoils of life we have reason for joy!
  • Will your life characterized by joy in 2016? It can be as you look to Christ as your source of joy!
  • One resolution to Keep this year: “I will find my joy in Jesus Christ alone!”

2015 in review


We are thankful for the international outreach of our blog this past year!  In December we failed to post our Bible studies, but we will be back to it regularly in this new year.

By reviewing the submissions in this blog you will get a feel for who we are at Kitwe Church.  You can also listen to our sermons on sermon audio.com/kitwechurch.

Have a blessed 2016 and we hope to see you at Kitwe Church!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.