Monthly Archives: October 2016

Standing Firm: Resolving Conflict As Kingdom Citizens


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On January 30th, 1945, Company B, 15th Regiment, 3rd Infantry was attacked by a superior German force outside the city of Holdwihr, France.  Six tanks and 250 German infantry advanced on about 100 American soldiers.  The American force took heavy casualties, and First Lt. Audie Murphy ordered his troops to retreat to the nearby forest and take cover.  Murphy stood between his retreating troops and the German advance and emptied his machine gun.  Looking over he saw a 50 calibre machine gun on a burning tank, quickly he ran and jumped behind the 50 calibre and for the next hour laid down a withering barrage of fire that eventually pushed back the German advance.  For this heroic act, Audie Murphy was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest award for bravery.

Audie Murphy is remembered today, because in the face of overwhelming odds! In the midst of conflict he stood firm!

As we come to our text in Philippians 4:1-3, the church at Philippi is also under attack!  The church has three enemies: The world, the flesh and the devil himself.  We see throughout Paul’s letter the attack that this church is facing:

  • 1:28-30 – Persecution agains the church.
  • 2:2 – Disunity in the congregation
  • 3:18 – False teachers had slipped into the church.
  • 4:2-3 – And now there is a dispute between sisters in Christ that threatens the unity of the church!

Paul calls on the Philippians to Stand Firm in the middle of this spiritual warfare that raged around them and for them (I Cor 16:13, Eph. 6:11,13,14)!

Spiritual instability is a threat to every Christian because it leads to disappointment, doubt, discouragement and ineffective witness! This is a very real danger in Philippi and this is a very real danger here at Kitwe Church!

“Therefore” – Because we are citizens of heaven, pursuing Christlikeness we must Stand Firm!

Stand Firm!

  • Because you are a citizen of heaven (3:20)
  • Because He is coming back for His citizens (3:21)
  • Because His citizens should think like Christ – share the values of the Kingdom! (2:2,5)

So what does it look like to Stand Firm spiritually? Where do we find the power to Stand Firm in troubled times?

That is exactly what Paul is addressing in 4:1-9: “So stand fast in the Lord, Beloved.”   He exhorts believers to Stand Firm in the Lord:

  1. By living in harmony with your brothers and sisters in the Lord (2-3)
  2. By finding your joy in the Lord regardless of the present circumstances (4)
  3. By controlling your power to serve others – gentleness (5)
  4. By remembering that the Lord is always present (5b-6)
  5. By casting your burdens on the Lord with a thankful heart (6b)
  6. By guarding your mind with the peace of God (7)
  7. By saturating your mind with truth (2,8)

We will look at each of these seven instructions in the next couple of weeks, but today we want to focus in on the first one!  If we are to Stand Firm we must live in harmony with our brothers and sisters in the Lord!

THE PROBLEM of CONFLICT

Conflict happens among good people!

The identity of the people involved – Euodia & Syntche.

  • These ladies were church members, not outsiders. They were both serious Christians, they were sisters in Christ.
  • These ladies were not in conflict over a doctrinal matter or Paul would have corrected it and rebuked the one in error.
  • These ladies were prominent and well respected in the congregation.
  • Paul loved them both dearly – see his terms of endearment!
  • They both have faithfully served God
  • They both have been partners with Paul in gospel ministry.

Conflict is rooted in unbelief!

Conflict is rooted in a system of wrong beliefs. We assume that what we want is what we need and that it is up to us to defeat those who oppose us! This thinking is based on fear – but Apostle John tells us that “perfect love casts out fear!” (1Jn.4:18)

Conflict is fueled by pride. I read of a collision between two passenger ships in the Black Sea. In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction—or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.

Conflict has damaging implications!

When faced with conflict there are two basic types of responses: Attack or Avoid!  When bullets fly and bombs explode there is a lot of damage that must be cleaned up when the conflict is over. After the Iraq war the US spent over $60b in reconstruction, and still the people do not have adequate services.

When you are embroiled in conflict with a brother or sister in Christ:

  • It says that some difference of opinion or some wrong done to you is more important to you than the advance of the gospel (1:12).
  • It destroys your testimony of being controlled by the love of God (Jn. 13:35).
    3. It beings disrepute on the church of Jesus Christ before a watching world (1 Cor. 6:6).
    4. It is a tool Satan can use to divide the church as people take sides in the dispute. Don’t let Satan get access to the amazing thing that God is doing among us! (2 Cor. 2:10-11)

Some of you have ancient arguments and hurts with others in this town or in this church. Old hurts, unresolved sins or wrongs and now you are a growing Christian, and God says, “STOP IT!” Humble yourself and make things right because the gospel is at stake! This is what citizens of the kingdom do, they reconcile.

How much worse is the damage of the conflict when it is Sister Euodia this side and Sister Syntyche on this other side! You must remember:

  • God is completing His good work in you! (1:6)
  • Your love is to be overflowing more and more! (1:9)
  • You are to conduct yourselves in a manner consistent with the gospel that saved you! Forgiveness & Forgiving!
  • Follow the example of Christ in your humble self-sacrifice obedience – you walk in unity with other Christians not for their sake, but for Christ’s sake! (2:8)
  • Your enemy is not your sister (or your brother) Your enemy is false teaching! Keep your eye on the ball!

THE SOLUTION to CONFLICT

The Plea

Agree with one another – reconcile with each other.

Forgiveness focuses on the offense, reconciliation focuses on the relationship! 100% restoration to harmony!

Forgiveness takes place in an instant, reconciliation takes time and effort to restore the broken relationship.

The basis for agreement – in the Lord! Our biggest need is to get right with the LORD – then we will be right with one another!

Get along with one another – don’t be proud! (Ro. 12:16-18). Work at getting along with everyone. Live in harmony (1 Cor. 1:10)! There must be no divisions in the church: no favorite preachers, no favorite people (cliques), no divisions along the line of ethnic similarities.

Getting along with one another brings joy! It is so pleasant when brothers dwell together in unity! (Ps.138:1).

The Help

Get involved – help these two ladies reconcile. The gospel is at stake! Help them accomplish 1:27 “as citizens of heaven conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel” by fighting together for a greater mission/purpose/cause.  We are fighting together for the faith of the gospel! We are fighting together, not fighting one another!

These two Christian ladies needed the help of the church to resolve the matter because:

  • They were not agreeing and resolving the matter by themselves.
  • Because the seriousness of their disagreements was threatening the stability of the congregation.
  • Because their disagreement could easily bring reproach on the gospel and the testimony of the church!

This help is a mark of spirituality. “You who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…” (Gal.6:1) What is required if you are to help others reconcile?

  • Humility – willing to take a wrong for the greater cause!
  • Taking a risk – confronting in love, involvement for the purpose of reconciliation
  • Love – the same deep affection for others in the body of Christ! No one hates his own flesh! Assume the best! Be willing to forebear, It doesn’t have to be “my way.” (I Cor. 13:1-8)

The Motive

Their names are written in the Book of Life! You are eternally saved! You share the same life with the sister or brother who you are now in conflict with! God’s life! You will both share heaven one day because you are both citizens of His kingdom!

The Book of Life is important! Is your name written in it? (Rev. 20:12-15; Rev. 21:27)

So what now?

  1. Get involved – you who are spiritual get involved and help these folks to reconcile.
  2. Love fiercely – Paul loved these ladies and love this church family! Fervent love for others and Christ’s church will motivate you to get involved.
  3. Live in harmony in the Lord – Embrace the mind of Christ, and humbly obey Him in this matter! Get your focus off the offense and the offender and back onto the LORD!
    • Acknowledge the hurt
    • Forgive the offender
    • Reconcile the relationship – and do it for Christ’s sake!

The conflict between Euodia & Syntche reveals that even the most mature, faithful, and committed people can become so selfish and be embroiled in controversy if they are not diligent to maintain unity!  Living in unity in the fellowship of believers creates an environment of stability!

Stand Firm!

AN URGENT WARNING TO HEAVEN’S CITIZENS


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A person becomes an automatic citizen of a country by birth. Our first child born in Africa was Austin.  He was born in the Kalalushi Mine Hospital.  After Austin was born the hospital gave us a hospital report of birth.  We took that report to the Office of Births and Deaths in Lusaka and received a Zambian Certificate of Birth.  Those documents then went to the US Embassy in Lusaka were we were issued a Report of Consular Birth Abroad and a US Passport with Austin’s picture and details.  Austin was born in Zambia yet he possessed all the rights and responsibilities of a United States citizen even though for the first four years of his life, he did not step foot in that country.

This is an illustration of what Paul is writing about in our text in Philippians 3:17-21.  Philippi was a strategic Roman colony located in northern Greece along the land route to Asia Minor. Though far from Rome, this colony enjoyed all the rights and privileges of Rome.

Paul is making that case that this is true of us as Christians!  We are born-again abroad! But we are citizens of heaven – right now!  We are living as visitors, aliens in a foreign land because our citizenship is in heaven.

This being true, it is very important how we conduct ourselves!  We all look at people we know from other countries and take into account who they are, how they live, and what they do to give us a point of reference – right or wrong – to identify that country.

Citizens of heaven are responsible to live lives equal to their privilege and position. (Eph 2:4-6). Citizens of heaven are to live holy lives because of who they are and because of what they hope to be!

Paul here issues three instructions that carry with them a degree of warning for all Citizens of Heaven:

IDENTIFY THE DISCIPLES (17)

To identify disciples, you must identify the right pattern of living!   Paul instructs them to watch him life and example and then find others who believe and live like he does:

  • Paul was not trusting Inherited privileges or personal achievements rather than Christ (4-7).
  • Paul was not a proselyte from paganism,  he was circumcised on the 8th day – an 8-dayer. Paul was an insider by birth.
  • Paul was racially a pureblood of the People of Israel. He was of theTribe of Benjamin – only tribe to remain faithful to David, also the tribe that returned to the land after the captivity.
  • Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews” which simply meant he would have received the best education he spoke Hebrew and Aramaic.
  • Paul was a Pharisee, a separated one who voluntarily committed himself to keeping hundreds of commands from the oral law.
  • Paul was zealous! He led a terror campaign against the church, hunting down those he viewed as heretics, arresting them and seeing many of them executed.
  • Paul was blameless, he led an exemplary life according to Pharisaic traditions.

Paul was not trusting in His own righteousness (8-11).  He was not trying to make himself acceptable to God by the keeping of the law.  Rather he was trusting in the imputed righteousness that Jesus Christ gives.

Paul was passionately grasping after Christ (12-14). This speaks of an intentional straining toward the goal, a reaching out to grasp the thing that Christ grasped me for… (Ill: 4×100 relay). When we lean on His power (10), learn from His pain (10) and rest on His plan (12) we grow closer to Christ.

Watch for others who walk in the same way!

A call for discernment – note those who walk like Paul in relation to the gospel. Discernment – to tell the difference between two things. The sound judgment that takes possible the distinguishing of good from evil and the recognition of god’s right way for His people. (1 Ti.4:2)

  • Word – speech, how you used your tongue
  • Conduct – how you conduct yourself in your daily affairs – in your home, with your children, at work.
  • Love – selfless love that reflects the nature of God.
  • Spirit – the internal motivating force that controls the inner man.
  • Faith – how you respond to God in the midst of trials
  • Purity – holiness, living lives separate from the world.

Follow their teaching and example!  This is a call to fellowship – “join in following” and a call for evaluation – following my example.

So let’s apply what we have looked at so far:

  • Is your obsession Christ?
  • Are your friends those who are obsessed with Christ?
  • Have you discarded the rubbish in your life – desire for position, confidence in achievements, so that you can really know HIM? People who hug garbage are not considered normal by citizens.

IDENTIFY THE ENEMIES (18-19)

To get the full weight of what Paul is saying here we must understanding the severity of the term used:

  • He didn’t say they were nice guys, just confused theologically. He didn’t call them brothers in sin. He termed them enemies!
  • They are inwardly and overtly hostile to the cross – what the cross means, what it accomplished!
  • The word is directly associated with war!
  • Their hostilities are directed toward the very essence of all Christ is and what He accomplished! These people are at war with the cross! (1 Co 1:18 thus the power that brings us salvation, Gal 6:14 the power that gives us victory over the world, flesh and the devil.)

The warning is to be taken seriously!

They are many! The danger is so serious that the warning is repeated often!

Jesus

Mt. 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Mt.24;11 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

Paul

2 Ti.2:16-18 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

Phil. 3:2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

Col. 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Peter

2 Pt. 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

John

1Jn.4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

I Jn.2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Jude

4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Identifying the enemies of the cross

Let’s consider them in reverse order: Paul begins with their end and moves down toward the root cause of them being enemies of the cross:

  1. Their mind is rooted in earthly things – all of their thoughts, desires, dreams, priorities and ambitions are earthly, fleshly. (19c)
  2. Because of this they glory in the things that they ought to be ashamed about (19b) – specifically sensual excesses especially sexual ones. They return to the immoral pagan practices of the their former life. (Rom. 1:32, Jude 18)
  3. Their god is their belly – bodily desires and sensual delights push out the Divine and takes his place as the god that they serve. The pursuit of comforts instead of pursuing Christ. Beware of any pleasure that stands in the way of your passionate pursuit of Christ!
  4. They end in destruction – the war that they wage will be lost, the cross will prevail and these will be eternally damned in the lake of fire, separated from God throughout all eternity – No wonder Paul’s throat got tight and tears welled up in His eyes! Weep my friends, weep! (Jude 14-15)

Their walk indicates that they are enemies of the cross. Their lifestyles deny the claim they once made as children of God. They view as foolish the passionate pursuit of Christ and cross-centered suffering. How can you say you love someone and not warn them?

Now note the CONTRAST between these enemies and the true citizens: “BUT”

LIVE LIKE CITIZENS (20-21)

Remember where your citizenship is located!

You belong to a place with a different ruler – serve a different master. The place where Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  You belong to a place with different laws, you are expected to live a different way. Defines the expectations of how we are to live. A place with different rights and privileges – The place where you enjoy all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the homeland.

Remember you Savior Jesus Christ is coming for you! (1 Cor. 15:52)

We live in eager anticipation of the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is coming at any moment – imminent return of Christ. The dead will go first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet him in the clouds. (I Cor. 15:51)

Remember that your earthly body will be transformed into a glorious one!

His work on that day to transform our fallen, sin-prone bodies into glorious bodies like His!  No more sin, no more pain, no more death, no more temptation, no more crying, not more weakness, no more decay! We will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is!

I can’t wait for Jesus to come! O come Lord Jesus is the deep cry of my heart! The only reason why I would hesitate to plead for Him to come back today is that some of you are not yet citizens of heaven! When He comes it will be too late for you, and I love you and so much want you to be in heaven with me!

A final exhortation:

  • Beware of false teachers who afflict the church today!
  • Don’t be tempted to trust in some earthly or fleshly achievement for your salvation! This is a false hope and a false gospel!
  • Live like a citizen of heaven! Are you setting an example that others can follow?

Disciples, Fish & The Kitwe Church Music Ministry


The morning at practice I made mention of our service that we stand in and our responsibility as the Music Team of Kitwe Church.  I try to encourage all to understand our role to play in this and it took my mind back to the days that Jesus walked the earth and served everyone with His teachings around the sea of Galilee.  I would like to take you back to that and explain some of the circumstances and how it is relevant to our current Music Ministry.

Most of Jesus Teachings took place around the Sea of Galilee and He had all his Disciples with Him.  Today most of our time in music ministry would be in the church for congregation level of teachings and a smaller amount of outreach when we do special events outside the church walls, as we are to be disciples in our music ministry.

Disciples would serve the gathered for instance at the sea of Galilee, and try and organise the crowds and assist others to focus on Jesus.  We as the music team have similar responsibilities.  We gather the minds of those in the congregation to focus on the Word as from the onset when we start the service songs.  Our daily life need to be of such discipline to serve others, not to think of our needs but the needs of those out there.  The need that we essentially to cater for as the music team, is to direct everyone’s mind & heart to Jesus at time of the sermon.

As per Sunday morning discussion, remember the times the crowd have gathered to unexpected numbers and after they have spent time in listening to the teachings, they all were hungry and they collected the bread & the fish from the crowd.  They brought it to Jesus, he prayed and it was served to the people in multiplication and it fed all of them & they had left overs.

Our responsibility is to do what the disciples have done.  Gather the crowds to focus on Jesus (The Word of God) with our music.  In the beginning we have all the fellowship the gatherings in the church entrance & people happy to see each other.  There are excitement and laughter, just as in the days at Galilee.  Then the crowd gathered around and settled in.  For those days the people had a hunger for the Word of God, the Teaching of Jesus Himself.  Today we have all walks of life gathering, who also have the same hunger and it is not easy for each and every one to just shut down the doors of the world to concentrate on what is offered from the Word of God in the sermon.

This is where we as the music team need to lead the congregation to the place where they can focus on the Teaching to be offered.  We need to calm their thoughts and set their focus on Jesus with our music and singing.  You will note that our music would have a level of excitement and reflects similarities as to when the congregation settle’s in, talks around this I would think in Galilee at the time would have been on how great Jesus is, what they have learned & would like to receive more of His teachings.  We need to create this in our music and the flow of it has a number of similarities.

They would listen to the Teaching of Jesus, and the disciples then collected the bread & fish, gave it to Jesus, Jesus prayed and served the crowd.  We have to set the table for them to feast on the Word of God.  The Word to be presented is the bread & fish, for which we set the moods and the Pastor then will present it to the congregation.  Note that we also pray before the sermon.

A note that I make to myself:  Focus was on Jesus, disciples focus was on Jesus, disciples ushered & served the crowds, they didn’t get the glory, it all went to Jesus, for He has been the one feeding the crowds and they had left overs.  Today we sent leftovers after a meal home with friends or share with others.  You will not go empty handed, you will share in it all, but the Glory is to God.

A lot of times a song shared in the service would give people the connection to the Word and they would take it with them for the week ahead.  This would encourage them, strengthen them & lead them closer to Jesus through their own circumstances.  That is our music ministry.  The focus is not the stage, the time we can deliver/present the music, but rather we serve and stand in awe as He breaks the Word through the Pastor and we could send the congregation home with a connection to encourage them.

Derick Van Staden

Christ Our Greatest Treasure


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Today we find ourselves in the third chapter of Paul’s letter to this church in the city of Philippi. Throughout this letter of Philippians Paul has confronted these Christians with the need to embrace right thinking! Our thinking affects our living – what we believe, what our minds are occupied with will determine how we view life, and even our relationship with God.

What we value most will become the driving priority in our life – for some of us that may be fame, for others wealth, for others acceptance by the religious insiders of the day.  There were many in Jesus day who were His disciples secretly for fear of the Jews.

Since the time of Christ there have been many heresies promoted in the church. The word Heresy may be new to you, it simply refers to a belief or teaching contrary to orthodox biblical christianity. Many of these false teachings center upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Let me share a few examples of what I am talking about:

On the TrinityModalism, Sabellius (3rd century). What is it?  God is only one divine being, who plays different roles at different times. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct persons of the same essence, but different modes or expressions of a single person. Modalism naturally leads to Patripassianism—the belief that the Father literally suffered on the cross. Key text? Philippians 2:6: “. . . being in the form of God . . .”

Where does it show up today? Oneness Pentecostalism believes that God’s three modes of existence can act simultaneously, though God is still only one person.  Perhaps the most famous Modalist of our day is Bishop TD Jakes.

Subordinationism – Who taught it? Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339). What is it? The Son and the Spirit are divine persons, distinct from the Father but inferior to him. All three persons are truly God, but they exist in a hierarchy of power and authority. Key text? Matthew 26:39: “. . . not as I will, but as you will.”

Where does it show up today? According to a 2014 LifeWay Research study, 22 percent of evangelicals believe the Father is more divine than the Son.

On Jesus Christ – Arianism, Arius (c. 256–336). The Son as Word (Logos, in Greek) was created by God before time. He is not eternal or perfect like God, though he was God’s agent in creating everything else. Key Text? John 1:14: “The Word [is] the only Son, who came from the Father.”

Where does it show up today? Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is God’s only direct creation, and that everything else was created by Christ. Jesus died for our sins, but he is not equal with God, who is not part of a Trinity.

Paul battled a different Heresy in his day.  A group of people known as the Judaizers were on Paul’s heels corrupting the gospel by adding to salvation the requirement of circumcision. For hundreds and even thousands of years circumcision had been the cultural symbol of God’s separated people, the uncircumcised were those who were “heathen” outside the bounds of God’s gracious favor. It was unthinkable to these well-meaning Jewish people that converts to Christianity did not need to be circumcised to be accepted by Christ. So they followed Paul throughout his ministry suggesting to the Gentile converts that they needed faith in Jesus plus be circumcised according to the law of Moses. Paul blasts them in vs. 1-3.

We may be tempted to think in similar ways: I will be more accepted by God if I __________. We may feel as though we must perform or that some achievement will firm up our acceptance with Christ. We may feel that the ritual keeping of certain rules or conforming to certain criteria makes us righteous and therein we find our confidence.

In our text Paul is pointing to the fact that mature Christians realize that Christ is our greatest treasure – we love Him, we relate with Him, we live through Him, we have our all in all in Him alone!

Is Christ your greatest treasure?  Three statements to help you evaluate yourself:

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Christ is your greatest treasure when:

YOUR CONFIDENCE OF ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD IS NOT IN INHERITED POSITION, HUMAN ACHIEVEMENTS OR EXTERNAL RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES (2-7)

My confidence is not in human credentials or achievements to bring me close to God, or to make me spiritual, or to make me more accepted by Christ.

Note Paul’s list of inherited privileges (4-5)

  • Not proselyte from paganism – circumcision, he was an 8-dayer. Insider by birth.
  • Racially a pureblood – People of Israel.
  • Tribe of Benjamin – only tribe to remain faithful to David, also the tribe that returned to the land after the captivity.
  • Hebrew of Hebrews – best education, spoke Hebrew and Aramaic

Note Paul’s list of personal achievements

  • Pharisee – separated one, voluntarily committed to keeping hundreds of commands from the oral law.
  • Zeal – led a terror campaign against the church
  • Blameless – led an exemplary life according to Pharisaic traditions.

All human advantage that I may have achieved is a net loss in gaining acceptance with God (7)

All the above advantages equal zero on the accounting page. The only credit that I have is Christ. My all in all is Christ!

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EVERYTHING ELSE HAS THE VALUE OF RUBBISH IN COMPARISON TO HIM (8-11)

His righteousness is the only righteousness that I am concerned with obtaining. (9)

  • This righteousness is not found by keeping the law
  • This righteousness is found in Christ alone – when I get Christ I get everything!
  • This righteousness is appropriated by faith, not by inheritance or achievements like Paul listed above.
  • He is the treasure that I am willing to sell everything I have to obtain (Mt 13:44-45)!  Imagine renting a field to plant a garden and as you are turing the soil your hoe uncovers the queen’s diamond!  Quickly you cover the diamond and rush to home where you begin to sell everything you own, you house, your car, your appliances even your clothes so you can raise enough money to buy that field.  You wife thinks your are crazy, you friends can’t understand what you are doing, but you know that if you can just buy the field, the treasure is yours! Jesus is that treasure!

The road leading to the college where I work runs behind a local market.  Recently the city place a large dumpster along the road.  You can imagine the smell, flies and rotting food and garbage in that dumpster on these hot October days.  The other day as I drove past on my way home there was a man sitting on the edge of the dumpster with one leg inside leaning over and picking rotten pieces of food.   That is right where we are sometimes – sitting with one leg in the dumpster searching for for significance, acceptance and joy!  What are you doing? Why are you dumpster diving when in Christ you have it all?

My obsession is Christ (10-11)

  • That I may know Him – Christ Jesus my Lord! Speaks of personal, intimate knowledge of Christ not a casual acquaintance or knowledge about Him. (only time used this way by Paul)
  • That I may know His power – in the midst of my weakness.
  • That I may share in His sufferings – this identity carries with it opposition by those who reject Christ – what is meant by carrying the cross.

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ALL YOUR FOCUS AND ENERGIES ARE CONSUMED IN MAKING CHRIST AND HIS PURPOSES THE EXPERIENTIAL REALITY OF YOUR LIFE (12-16)

Passionate grasping after Christ – Lit. To take by force.

  • Forget the past – don’t look back, failures or successes
  • Focus on the goal – fixed eye on the finish line
  • Strain forward with all energy and effort to reach it

Why do some people fail to press on?

  • Diverted by the the world – confidence in the flesh
  • Discouraged by personal suffering – Paul’s sufferings, stresses could tempt him to quit, but instead he pressed on. (10, 2 Co. 11:18-29)
  • Deceived by misplaced confidences – (12a) I have achieved mentality. Paul affirms that after 30+ years of ministry he has not arrived. He was after all these years still straining to know Christ. (I Co 9:27)

Here is Paul’s conclusion: Mature believers think like Paul thinks! If you don’t think like this then we will trust God to reveal these truths to you. (15)

Is Christ your greatest treasure? If you have placed your confidence and hope of salvation in your family positon, your religion, law-keeping or your zealous good works – recognize this cannot produce righteousness for you. Righteousness comes only through faith in Christ alone.

If you have been striving to be accepted by God – realize that your acceptance is complete in Christ alone.

If you have been living as a Christian in pursuit of other things – pursue Christ alone for He is your greatest treasure! Don’t sift through the rubbish, embrace Christ alone as your greatest treasure.

Press on! Don’t go backward

May we all die running!

The People God Uses To Serve His Church


the-people-god-uses-jpg-001Today in our text Philippians 2:19-30, we see the people God uses to serve His church.

The context helps us understand the environment of the people Paul is writing to.  Paul is calling the Philippian Christians to behave as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27). Philippi was a Roman colony with a population of 10,000. It was considered a ‘Little Rome’ with allegience to the emperor. Philippi adopted Roman dress and spoke Latin. A Roman citizen took great care not to do anything that would bring shame to his ‘polis’ (city).  A citizen was one in good standing whose conduct brings honor to the political body to whom he belongs.

Paul’s point: If citizens of Philippi were so devoted to a human kingdom how much more should believers be devoted to a heavenly kingdom.

To live as worthy citizens is to live a life consistent with the revealed Word of God. To live a live consistent with the truth that Christians profess to believe, preach, teach and defend. The focus is the Gospel!

  • Live up to who you are!
  • Live up to who you represent!
  • Live up to the message your proclaim!

God is at work building His church. The church is the called-out assembly of New Testament believers. In the building of His Church God calls and uses people – people like you and me, and people like Timothy and Epaphroditus who we will meet in our text today.

What kind of people does God use to serve His church?

THEY ARE BROTHERS & SISTERS – Brother (19,25)

They individually have a relationship with God through saving faith. These were genuine Christians – they had come to recognize that they were a sinner, and they needed someone outside of themselves to deliver them from the guilt, and the power, and condemnation of God that sin brings

Let me illustrate this way: There is an organization called the FreeMasons – you may have heard of them? By joining this secret organization and going through the rites, you can move deeper into the brotherhood. Free Masonary calls “God “The Great Architect of the Universe.” This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because He is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority. In his private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus, or the Deity of his choice. In a Masonic Lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the Great Architect of the Universe. Such syncretistic worship through prayer, coupled with specific teachings of salvation, is completely at odds with biblical Christianity.”

There is only one way that anyone and everyone can have a relationship with God – believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him for forgiveness! Jesus is the only way to God and no-one will come to heaven apart from coming through Him!

Because they share the same Spiritual Father (God) they have a relationship with one another
This was not a relationship based on physical similarities:  Paul was a Jew, former “Pharisee of Pharisees”, an OT scholar deeply trained in the Law of Moses (Torah) and the Talmud – the instruction book written by Hebrew scholars to guide people to not transgress the Torah. He was a bold, courageous pioneer for the gospel. (Acts 23:6, Phil. 3:5) Timothy was half-Jew. His mother had broken the Jewish culture and OT traditions by marrying a Gentile husband. This man was an unbeliever, he held to the pagan traditions of the day. His son Timothy was not circumcised, which to an orthodox OT believing Jew was a sign of being outside the covenant and condemned. His mother embraced genuine faith in Jesus, and eventually Timothy did as well. (Acts 16:1, 2 Ti. 1:4-5) Epaphroditus – only mentioned here in Philippians. His name is a common Greek name of the day. A Gentile believer in the church at Philippi. (25, 4:8)

The basis of this relationship is the fact that they shared the same nature as one another! The same Spirit of God dwelt inside them. The were obedient to the Father. God is their father, and they God’s children by faith in Christ thus they were brothers with one another! (2:3,7-8)

THEY ARE LABORERS – Co-Worker (25)

Gospel work is hard work! Hard, back-breaking labor! Sweat, attention, service, sacrifice! (Eph. 4:12, 2 Ti. 2:16)

Gospel work requires commitment and the willingness to sacrifice. Why would we give a deep level of effort and commitment to our own agenda, job, but fail to give God the same level of commitment?

Gospel work is shared work! It is not intended to be done by one! We are “laborers together with Christ” (4:2-3). Every member a minister – we all have a calling, not just the teaching pastor! Each of us have been granted gifts by God for the purpose of co-laboring, working together to accomplish God’s purposes.

THEY ARE WARRIORS – Fellow soldier (25)

We are engaged in a spiritual war. Our enemies: World, Flesh, Devil. Our warfare is spiritual not physical – “Stand against the wiles of the devil…” (Eph. 6:10-12)

  • We fight this battle together
  • We have each other’s back
  • We hold each other accountable
  • We hold each other up

THEY ARE PEOPLE OF CHARACTER (22)

Character is shaped by our relationship to Christ. Reputation is what you are supposed to be; Character is what you are. Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is what men think you are. Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; Character is what angels say about you before the throne of God.

Our lives must manifest the transforming power of Christ.

“When church leadership fails morally and are restored to leadership in the church, when members lie, steal, cheat, gossip and fight. When members seem to care little about hypocrisy in their midst, the world is repulsed by the claims to love and serve God.” MacArthur

Character is proved in crisis! Your Character was revealed in how you responded to your last crisis. How did you react when:

  • Your computer crashed and you lost the last 30 min of work
  • Your spouse gets defensive when you share what bothers you.
  • You received a letter or email criticizing you
  • When someone cut in front of you in line or the line stretches out the door and the teller is inattentive.

Timothy was a man of tested character and his character was visible and viewable. Will you do what is right even when everyone else is doing wrong?

THEY ARE CARING (20b-21)

They had genuine concern for others, especially the family of God. This is a care that is not hypocritical. To be genuine means to be real! Sometimes we care and we don’t have an opportunity to do anything, but when we do have opportunity we demonstrate loving care!

This care is a result of caring for what God cares about. The opposite is to be self-serving, seeking their own advancement.  “They do not seek the things of Christ” – Compassion, care.

THEY ARE LIKE-MINDED (20a)

Genuine agreement in the faith. This is the plea that Paul makes to the Philippians throughout the letter – be of one mind. (1:27, 2:2-3; Eph. 4:1-6). Our source of agreement is found in the Word of God as we “strive together for the gospel.”

THEY ARE SERVANTS (7,26)

We serve God by serving one another. This is love in action, the humbling of our selves to serve the least, the underserving. The love that we have for Jesus Christ constrains us to this service. Jesus having loved his own He loved them to the end, arising from supper he took the basin and the towel and washed their feet. This was done as an example that we should do as He has done. They honestly consider others better than themselves and seek to serve them.

The result of being this kind of person is you become a source for encouragement and joy to God’s people (28b,29a). The church honors those who serve in this way (29)

Are you this kind of man or woman?  What areas do you need to address this week?