Author Archives: Kitwe Church

About Kitwe Church

Helping adults and children know and obey God's word.

Chingola Church


Chingola Church

Kitwe Church began three and a half years ago as a Bible study outreach.  The burden was to reach into the lives of people living in our community who were not being reached by other gospel preaching churches.  The first year we took an “apologetics” approach to our study of the Bible, offering answers to questions about christianity, the gospel, and saving faith.

For the past year and a half, believers at Kitwe Church have been praying that God would allow us to reach out in a similar way to another needy area.  With families and visitors coming to Kitwe Church from Chingola, it became our prayer that God would one day allow us to plant a ministry in that city.

Well, God has answered prayer and the time has come!

On Sunday, August 6th Kitwe Church will hold the first Adult and Children’s Sunday Bible Study Fellowship. It is our prayer that over time God will call out a people for His name among those who are yet unreached in Chingola and another Gospel proclaiming church will come into existence… and there is already a name for that future church:  Chingola Church.

We know of several gospel-preaching churches in various areas of Chingola that are reaching out to their community.  We thank God for the opportunity to come alongside them in reaching the unreached across the city.

Please pray for this outreach! Pray for those who will lead the Bible study and teach the children.  If you are unchurched and living in the Chingola area, make plans to join us at 10:00 August 6th for the very first Sunday!

For more information call: +26 0976 153466 or email kitwechurch@gmail.com

Philip Hunt, Pastor

Kitwe Church

Winning the War – Victory Through Submission


11. Winning the War Obedience Submit.001

You are at war! This war is spiritual. Within you and around you this war rages and you are a combatant. There are no neutral parties.

Who does not long for peace? We think that we may find the peace we long for by surrender to the passions that rage within us. As we feed our selfish longings and desires we find ourself in conflict with those around us. You are at war with others.

Not only are you at war within and with others, but you fight with God! As we seek affirmation of the world we desire what the world offers, it looks so good! The world system feeds our passions and affirms our self-centeredness.

The more we feed our selfish desires the greater the raging emptiness. We fail to find satisfaction that was promised and this leads us to anger and ultimately despair.

How many times have you heard of one of God’s beautiful created people who have committed suicide? Perhaps you have contemplated that at some time yourself.

If you want peace – be sure you are fighting the right enemy! Some of us have made friends with God’s enemy the world, thus we make ourselves the enemy of God!

We are at war! Our enemy will not negotiate, our enemy will not surrender, our enemy must be conquered. Victory is the only path to peace. As children of God, we are all engaged in war whether we realize it or not. There are three enemies that war against the Christian the flesh (1-3), the world (4-5), and the devil (6-7).

  • In the NT. the word “Soldier” is used 4x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “war, warfare” is used 5x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “fight” is used 4 x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “resist” is used 4x in reference to the child of God.

In this war there are two types of attack:

Indirect Satanic attack – comes as an “angel of light” through the flesh, world – base of this attack is temptation, to get us to act independently of God. (2 Co. 11:12-15)

Direct Satanic attack – Satan himself – comes as a roaring lion, purpose in this attack is to cause fear, and to render the Christian ineffective in the fight. (1 Pt. 5:8)

NOTE: The design of both attacks is ultimately to destroy the child of God.

This morning I want to pause in our study through the Book of James in order to take a careful look at how we can live a victorious Christian life. “Winning The War – Victory Through Submission.”

There are two parts to winning this war: Submit to God, and Resist the devil (7).

Are you completely surrendered to God in every area of your life? Is there any area of your life where you are holding back from obedience? If so this is the enemy territory in your life from which Satan will launch his attack in an effort to keep you a defeated Christian.

THE BATTLEGROUND IS THE MIND (1-5)

The flesh wants to please itself. (1)

This war is going on in our own flesh (members).

James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?

The flesh looks for ways to fulfill its own desires (2-3)

James 4:2-3. 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

  1. Lust – to have affections toward something, to desire, to long after. No matter how you lust the desire of your affections is always out of reach.
  2. Murder – Jesus equated anger with murder (Mt. 5:21-22). The flesh becomes angry at anyone or anything that stands between it and what it desires.
  3. Covet – to desire zealously, aggressively, consumes the whole being. As much as you try you still cannot grasp the illusion. NOTE: These first three are inward. The next three are outward:
  4. Fight – to contend physically in a private quarrel.
  5. War – strife, everyone around is involved in the conflict. You have manipulated every option and been in conflict with everyone around you and you still lack that pleasure you desire. You do not have because you do not ask – you are man-centered, instead of God-centered.
  6. Pray – you ask in an attempt to manipulate God. You still don’t receive because of your motive is impure. Your desire is to consume that thing to please yourself. Pleasure – lust, sensual pleasure, enjoyment, physical pleasure
    ILL: Prodigal son – wasted all his possessions on prodigal living (Lk. 15:13)

What the flesh desires the world claims to have. (4-5)

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

  1. Because the flesh has failed to satisfy its own sensual pleasures it turns to the world, and what the flesh desires the world is happy to provide.
  2. To gain the pleasures we desire, we make friends with the world (Ps. 50:18)
  3. To make the world your friend is to display hostility toward God (I Jn. 2:15). You become God’s enemy!

BATTLE PLAN FOR VICTORY – SUBMIT TO GOD (6-7)

God’s battle plan for victory in this war is two-fold: 1.) Submit to God (7a); 2.) Resist the devil (7b).

Draw near (8a)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

  1. Honestly examine yourself (8, 1:22-25). To “Draw near to God” is to examine yourself in the light of God Himself. (I Co. 11:28,31,32; Ps. 139:23).
  2. Submit is a military term, to place in order, to place in orderly fashion under command.
  3. Submit is to surrender completely to the will of another. To be controlled by another. We are to be controlled by the Spirit of God. (Eph 5:18 be “filled with the Spirit.”)

Get right (8b)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

  1. Cleanse your hands” – Actions – outward sins (8). The outworking of passions.
  2. “Purify your hearts” – Attitudes – inward sins (8). The seat of our passions, the problem of double-mindedness.

Humble Yourself (9-12)

  1. Repent of your sin (9). Become broken-hearted over sin. Mourn over your sin! laughing and joy turn to mourning and gloom. This happens when we catch a glimpse of God and his holiness, we view sin from God’s perspective.
  2. Yield yourself to God (10) “humble yourself”. This is an act of will, yield all areas of your life to God. Obey God’s revealed commands in Scripture. Live in an attitude of submission – “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6)

VICTORY IS ASSURED TO THOSE WHO ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE (6,8,10)

A Warning! (6)

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

  1. God resists those who are proud and will not surrender to Him (6)
  2. God fights against them by allowing Satan to work against us in our life (Lk. 22:31)
  3. When we refuse to submit to God we “give place to the Devil” (Eph. 4:27)

A Promise! (6,8)

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

God is full of grace and willing to give that grace to those who humble themselves in submission (6).

  1. Grace is available – as much as you need. Grace upon grace. Saving Grace – for by grace you are saved through faith. Sanctifying Grace – grace for living every single day in a way that glorifies Him! Serving Grace – the grace to obey and live for Him regardless of circumstances.
  2. Grace is sufficient (2 Co.12:9). Like a river flowing fully and forcefully is God’s amazing grace!

When we draw near to God in humility, He will draw near to us (8)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

An Evidence! (10)

James 4:10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

When we humble ourselves in submission before Him, He will lift us up (10). This is VICTORY!  A life submitted to God will produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26). As the branch submits to the vine the life flows into it and bears fruit. A spirit controlled life will be bold in its witness / testimony (Acts 4:13,29,31)

CONCLUSION:

You win the war through surrender! Humble yourself today! Come as a wicked, thirsty sinner longing for the water of life!

Only the humble will receive God’s free-grace! The proud will never come to Christ because they refuse to acknowledge that He is the answer to their need.

Child of God: Are you surrendered to God in every area of your life, or are you giving Satan opportunity to war against you?

Ask the Holy Spirit to search you, cleanse you and fill you (Eph. 5:18, Lk 11:13). Take God at His word, recognize you are being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Act by faith not feeling, take God at His word. (Ro. 14:23)

Listen to the sermon or download the sermon here.

Deadly Danger of Favoritism


The book “Chicken Soup for the Soul” records the story of Bill. Bill was a college student dressed like a hippie. He didn’t look like the other members of the middle-class church he visited one day. There was no place to sit, so Bill sat down on the carpet near the pulpit. An elderly deacon stood up and made his way to the young man. Everyone in the church expected him to take care of the situation by asking this hippie to leave. They were surprised by the elderly deacon drop his cane and plop down on the floor beside Bill and worship alongside him.

Let’s face it: we feel most comfortable with people who look like us, think like us and act like us. But when that influences our relationships in the church, we have a problem.
James is writing to Christians who have been dispersed across the known world because of persecution that has broken out in Jerusalem against those who believe in Jesus. They are living as foreigners in cities and countries far from their native land. It is difficult, they have lost everything, they are not well accepted.

Our text today is found in James 2:1-13. In this letter James has given what John MacArthur called, “Tests of living faith.” Is your faith a living faith or a dead faith? James is about to deal specifically with that issue in the second half of chapter two. Let’s review the tests James has already outlined for determining if our faith is real:

  • How we respond to trials (1:3-12)
  • How we respond to temptation (1:13-18)
  • How we respond to the Word of God (1:19-27)
  • How we respond to others (2:1-13)

In this portion of the letter, James is showing Christians that genuine faith in Jesus Christ and favoritism (or partiality) are incompatible! They do not and cannot go together! Favoritism in the church is not only discourteous and disrespectful, it is sin!

Here is the simple truth: God is impartial. We are not. Christians are supposed to be.

Partiality is unfair bias in favor of one thing or person compared with another, to show favoritism.

Impartiality is one of the distinguishing characteristics of God’s nature, one of His attributes (that makes Him who He is.)

As a member of the human race we tend to rank people based upon:

  • Ethnicity – culture, language, features or skin color.
  • Education – intelligence, amount of academic training.
  • Economics – the car they drive or the neighborhood or house they live in, the clothes & jewelry they wear. A well-dressed woman will get more attention than other women in a public setting.

Yet none of these things matter to God!

  • There is no partiality in God: Deut 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
  • No partiality against the poor in their dispute: Deut. 1:17 You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s.
  • No partiality for the poor in their dispute: Ex. 23:3 You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.
  • No partiality in dealing with employees: Eph. 6:9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
  • No partiality in church discipline: 1 Tim. 5:21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.

Guarding against favoritism in the church is especially challenging when there are many cultures in the church.

Cross-Cultural Challenges:

  • Different Value Systems – different is not necessarily wrong. Different is different. What we know and have been expose to always seems best and most appropriate to us.
  • Different Life Experiences – I can’t expect to know how to live and survive in the bush if I’ve never been exposed to that life. Bushmen will easily mock me, consider themselves better than me.
  • Different Education Opportunities – Many have an education that I never had the opportunity for. You know stuff about running business, farming, manufacturing or mining because of your educational training and life experiences.

We must avoid the deadly danger of favoritism in the church:

FAVORITISM IS A PROBLEM FOR THE CHURCH (1-4)

Because we don’t shed wrong world-views the moment we get saved (1)

These were genuine christians – “brothers” (1,5). They held tightly to faith in Jesus Christ, yet they needed this instruction regarding showing partiality in the church. This attitude of favoritism was so much a part of their culture that it was assumed.  Most Christians were Jewish and poor – (1:1 – Dispersion). Because of persecution many had lost all they owned and were now displaced persons in a foreign country.

Because we naturally admire people of wealth and importance (2-3)

How do we determine wealthy and poor – in simple terms: Those who have more than me are rich, those who have less than me are poor. We admire their achievements or their possessions. We often cater to the rich because we hope to get something out of them. For example.   The church has a need, but instead of asking God what we can do to help with that need, we look to someone else in the church with the idea they can give to meet the need because they have more money than we do.

We are tempted to avoid the poor because they embarrass us. They are given less respect. Sit on the floor. Jesus did not do this, and He does not approve of it!

Wealth is not a sin if submitted to the Lord! Praise the Lord for wealthy believers who are wholeheartedly committed to the gospel! There is also no sin in being poor, as long as the person is not poor because of squandering what God has given to him/her.

Because we fail to see the evil of such response in light of their equality before God. (4)

Distinctions in this way are not to be made among fellow Christians! When we treat others this we make ourselves judges of the value and worth of another Christian – this is evil! This is wrong thinking!  Paul warns them against this common practice! Why?

  • Favoritism undermines the gospel
  • Favoritism undermines the testimony of Christ’s followers.
  • Favoritism undermines the character of God.

FAVORITISM DOES NOT MAKE SENSE IN THE CHURCH (5-7)

Because of the shared riches we have in Christ (5)

Saved poor are rich (1Co.1:26-30) Equal in faith because they are saved by the same sacrifice through Christ. They are equal in status  as sons and daughters of God (Gal.3:26-29).  They are equal in benefits and share a future inheritance in heaven. Saved poor are equal to the saved rich, there are no differences.

There are not many races – just one race – the human race. We are all “one blood.” (Acts 17:26) There are not ethnic churches – Bemba church, Afrikaans Church, White church, there is one church – Christ’s Church!

Our point of relationship is not ethnic, cultural, or economic – our relationship is in Christ alone! A church that does not treat all of God’s children with the same respect and welcome is an unbiblical church! All Christians are welcome to join in heart fellowship here at Kitwe Church: Male/Female, Young/old, Black/Brown/White, Rich/Poor, African/Asian/European/Latino/Everyone

Because of the wicked actions of the unsaved (6-7)

The wicked are those who oppress the poor in their arrogance (6). They exact from the poor what little they have – greed. They don’t pay fair wages or don’t pay when it is due. “Lawless Oceans” a recent documentary on National Geographic channel exposed the commercial fishing industry in the South Pacific. Workers labor for $200 per month working 7 days a week for 30-40 days, they are then are charged $95 for board and food on the ship
The wicked are the very ones who blaspheme the name of your Heavenly Father (7)!  How then can you sin against your brother by giving preferential treatment to these wealthy people in the church?

FAVORITISM IS BE REJECTED BY THE CHURCH (8-13)

Because of the Royal Law (8).

The law was summarized by Jesus in answer to the lawyer’s question.  Jesus said that the greatest command is to “love the Lord your God with all…” and the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  This second command is referred to by James as the “royal law.”

You may be asking – who is my neighbor? That questions was asked many years ago by a religious man. Jesus told the inquirer a story about a Samaritan who met the need of a wounded Jewish stranger.  Jesus then asked, who was the neighbor to the one that fell among thieves? The answer, the one who showed him compassion.  Jesus affirmed that answer with the words, “go and do likewise.”  Go and be a neighbor to others in need! (Lk. 10:29-37)

Because disobedience to the law is sin (9-11)

If you obey all the laws except you disobey one of them, you are a lawbreaker and guilty as such. You don’t commit adultery, but you do murder someone you are guilty of breaking the law!  If you do not “love your neighbor as yourself” by showing favoritism you are breaking the Royal Law of God and committing sin (9a). Those who break the law will be convicted by the law (9b).

Because we all need mercy (12-13)

Speak to others and act toward others in a way that aligns with the reality of our shared relationship in Christ! We have been set free through Christ! You reap what you sow – when we are judged, we will not be shown mercy if we don’t show mercy to others. We all need a little mercy!

We all need mercy, so show the person who is different than you the acceptance, love and respect. Treat all Christians as equal recipients of God’s gracious gifts! Look at everyone through the eyes of Christ. Christ is the link between us and others and that link is love! The basis of my relationship with you is Christ and Christ alone! It is his person and work that gives me the relationship with you. No other basis for a relationship will work!

Listen to the sermon here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=3291712840

Biblical Guidelines for the Deacon Ministry at Kitwe Church


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I Timothy 3:8-13

The church is a living organism. The church is the body of Christ in whom the Spirit of the living God dwells! In the life of every organism there are growing pains, we welcome them because the goal of every living organism is growth.

The character and effectiveness of any church is directly related to the quality of its leadership. People do not usually rise above their leaders! It has been said that ‘everything rises and falls on leadership.’  Failure to adhere to biblical standards for appointing those to serve the church has caused many of the problems in the church today.

In 1 Timothy Paul is writing to Timothy the young pastor at the church of Ephesus. Problems had arisen in this church because men who were unqualified had found their way into church leadership (1:3, 4:1-3). Some were women (2:12) others were guilty of sin and needed public rebuke (5:20). (Acts 20:29-30).

Paul is giving instructions for the local Church at Ephesus, instructions that apply to our church, Kitwe Church.

In the New Testament there are only two offices in the Church the office of Elder (v.1-7); and the office of Deacon (v.8-13)

The Office of Elder there are three terms used interchangeably for the same office:

  • Bishop – gr. Episkopos = Overseer, responsible for the spiritual well-being of the church (Phil 1:1, Titus 1:7)
  • Elder – gr. Presbuteros = Authority, to teach and rule (I Tim 5:17, Titus 1:5,7)
  • Pastor – gr. Poimen = Shepherd, to lead, guide, provide (I Pt 5:2, Acts 20:28)

The Office of Deacon – Deacon (gr. Diakonos) means minister, emphasizes the attitude of a servant. (12) A deacon is a servant – He is not in a position of authority, decision maker, preacher or teacher.

The Biblical qualification for deacons is found following that of the pastor. This shows the organizational structure of the New Testament church to be pastoral leadership through the support of faithful deacons.

For this reason deacons, as well as pastors, must meet certain qualifications before they can be allowed to serve in a position. In Acts 6 the qualifications were given in general to be “of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.”  In I Timothy 3 the qualifications are given in a specific way: “Deacons likewise must be:”

THE NEED FOR DEACONS

Our church is growing and there are genuine needs in the congregation that need to be met. The elders need help so that they can fulfill their primary role to lead in the spiritual life of the Church and to teach the Word of God.  To carry out this the pastors need time to prepare, time to meet with people to share the gospel, disciple, counsel, preach and teach. (Acts 6:1,4)

QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS

  1. He is dignified (8): – The term means: “serious, devout, honorable, and dignified; one who acts in a mature and tactful fashion.” This term normally refers to something that is honorable, respectable, esteemed, or worthy, and is closely related to “respectable,” which is given as a qualification for elders (1 Tim. 3:2).
  2. He is not Double Tongued (8): Those who are double-tongued say one thing to certain people but then say something else to others, or say one thing but mean another. They are two-faced and insincere. Their words cannot be trusted, so they lack credibility. (Prov. 8:7,12:22; Jas.5:12)
  3. He is not addicted to much wine (8): – This means that he is not to come under the influence. A man is disqualified for the office of deacon if he is addicted to wine or other strong drink. Such a person lacks the self-control and discipline to serve a deacon. Not given to excesses, a state of mind which is free from the excessive indulgence of passion, lust, or emotion. He is able to keep his head in all situations. Doesn’t loose his temper, and control of his tongue. William Hendriksen comments, “Such a person lives deeply. His pleasures are not primarily those of the senses, like the pleasures of a drunkard for instance, but those of the soul. He is filled with spiritual and moral earnestness. He is not given to excess, but is moderate, well-balanced, calm, careful, steady, and sane. This pertains to his physical, moral, and mental tastes and habits.”  At Kitwe Church we ask those serving as deacons to voluntarily abstain from beverage alcohol.
  4. He is not Greedy For Money (8): – There is to be no dishonesty in the getting of gain. This applies to unethical business practices, tax evasion, gambling, bribes, extortion, and covetousness. The servant’s attitude is to be “How can I meet the needs of others?” rather than “How can I get others to meet mine?” If a person is a lover of money, he is not qualified to be a deacon, especially since deacons often handle financial matters for the church. (1 Ti. 6:10; Ro.13:9)
  5. He is a man sound in faith and life (9): Paul also indicates that a deacon must “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” The phrase “the mystery of the faith” is simply one way Paul speaks of the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 3:16). Consequently, this statement refers to the need for deacons to hold firm to the true gospel without wavering.
    Yet this qualification does not merely involve one’s beliefs, for he must also hold these beliefs “with a clear conscience.” That is, the behavior of a deacon must be consistent with his beliefs. This would imply that he has first the absolute assurance of his own salvation, and that he is not ashamed to let others know that he is a Christian and seeks to win others to Christ.
  6. He must be blameless (v. 10): “Blameless” is a general term referring to a person’s overall character. There is nothing to accuse him of. If a malicious charge were to be made, to know his character would make the charge absolutely unbelievable. He is an example for the congregation to follow. (Phil. 3:17)
    Although Paul does not specify what type of testing is to take place, at a minimum, the candidate’s personal background, reputation, and theological positions should be examined. Moreover, the congregation should not only examine a potential deacon’s moral, spiritual, and doctrinal maturity, but should also consider the person’s track record of service in the church.
  7. He is the husband of one wife (v. 12): The literal meaning here is “a one-woman man.” There must be no other woman in his life to whom he relates in an intimate way either emotionally or physically. This would prohibit someone from serving as a deacon who was a polygamist or divorced.  It is also clear that the office of Deacon is reserved for men.
  8. He manages children and household well (12): A deacon must be the spiritual leader of his wife and children. Children are not perfect, but they are disciplined and respectful, according to the admonition of Ephesians 6:1,2; and his wife is submissive according to Ephesians 5:22-24.
  9. His wife is a godly woman (11) She must be “faithful in all things” (cf. 1 Tim. 5:10).
  10. Reverent – dignified or respectable.

    Not Slanderers – If you care for others you control the tongue, this means the deacon’s wife does not engage in destructive criticism of others or go around spreading gossip. Such action is so contrary to the ministry of caring for others that a man is disqualified from being a deacon if his wife has this attitude.

    Temperate – The term temperate means “not intoxicated, circumspect, and discreet.” She must be able to make good judgments and must not be involved in things that might hinder such judgment.

    Faithful – This is a general requirement which functions similarly to the requirement for elders to be “above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6) and for deacons to be “blameless” (1 Tim. 3:10). The wife of a deacon has a very important ministry. She must be loyal and dependable.

THE DUTIES OF DEACONS

Let’s be very clear, the biblical role of Deacon is not the role of spiritual teacher in the church.  There is no qualification listed that requires a deacon to be gifted in teaching the Word of God.

The office of Deacon is that of a servant. The tasks of the deacons is anything NOT related to the teaching and shepherding of the church. Deacons are charged with the physical & temporal concerns of the church, and the duties will vary from one congregation to another depending upon the needs.  Some possible examples of duties that may be attended to by a Deacon:

  • Facilities
  • Benevolence – visit the sick, dispense aid
  • Finances
  • Ushers
  • Logistics
  • Any other task that serves the church and frees the hands of the elders to focus on preaching, teaching, preparing, and praying.

CONCLUSION:

The Scriptural qualifications in this text conclude with a promised benefit:

“They that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

The meaning of good degree is “a stair or step up.” Most people would consider the position of servant to be a step down, but the priorities of God’s kingdom is different!  Jesus taught His disciples that those who are great in God’s estimation are those who serve.  He taught them that the way up is to go down, and that the last shall be first.  The office of deacon demonstrates the priorities of God’s kingdom!

A man will increase in faith by having served as a deacon. As God performs His work through the deacon, his confidence will increase in God’s ability to work through him.

Lest we think that God only requires these character qualities of Deacons, remember, God does not have a double standard he requires all disciples to live blameless lives.

In Desperate Pursuit of a Transformed Life


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As you know we recently returned from a visit back to America to present updates to our supporting churches.  This time was extremely valuable because it was a time for reflection on my life.  I saw what I was doing well and saw areas where I was worn out:  Mental stress, physical Health, Spiritual Stamina, and marital harmony. I knew that for the sake of us being able to liv and minister here in Zambia long-term there had a to be a change.  The more I reflected the deeper I saw that the issues ran.  I realized it was beyond my capability to fix it myself.  The more I evaluated it the more desperate I became to find the solution – to transform what was an area of concern into an area of joy and peace.

You know, every week as I greet people at Kitwe Church I’m always impressed by the reason’s I hear that people have come to church.  It isn’t merely a tradition or a habit.  There is a genuine desire in people’s hearts to know more, to be more, to experience God more.  This is awesome.  However, even with good motives like that it is easy to stop short of experiencing a true spiritual breakthrough.  You see, it isn’t enough to want to be an improved you, a better you, an inspired you, a respectable you.  No, what we all need is a truly transformed life. We need to not stop at just being religious or moral and instead go all the way and be committed to becoming a transformed you. (caterpillar & butterfly)

As I look around this room I see people very much like me even though we may be from very different locations and cultures.  I see people who face the same stresses and struggles and want to experience peace and joy.  I see people who are doing their very best and yet probably often feel like they are coming up short and the harder you try the farther out of reach that goal may seem.

Today, we are going to look at a woman who demonstrates what it means to pursue transformation in her life  – with desperate determination.  Let’s read Mark 5:25-34 and as you are turning there, let me tell you some important things about the context of this passage because if you don’t see what leads up to this event and what results from it.

In verse 22 Jesus came across the sea and a very important ruler of the synagogue names Jairus comes to him and asks Jesus to heal his daughter.  Synagogues were like churches to the Jews.  There was a temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of their worship, but in other cities and towns there was a synagogue where people could go to study the Old Testament Law and worship Jehovah.  The ruler of the synagogue was in charge of organizing and teaching the services there.  Usually, the ruler was a Pharisee and most of the Pharisees hated Jesus and felt that He was a threat to their power and position.

Well, it is within this story of the synagogue official that this woman shows up and we can learn so much from her experience.  The main idea I hope you leave here with today is this…

BIG IDEA: The dilemmas of our lives create a desperate desire for total life transformation that only Jesus can produce but that we must pursue with passion.

Now, let’s read and see what happens  (Read Mark 5:25-34).

So, this woman had problems! Problems that are very similar to yours and mine.  Let’s see what we can learn from this woman’s life.

  1. 1. Our Problems Are Interconnected and Far-Reaching in Extent v. 25-26
  • ¥ Physical Issues – bleeding for 12 years (as long as Lorelei has been alive).  You get physically weak from losing blood. Anemic
  • ¥ Financial Issues – vs. 26 says she spent all she had for medical treatments.  So she is a very poor woman who is in poor health.
  • ¥ Social Issues – In this day, when you shed blood you were viewed as unclean.  You were cut off from family, friends, and society.  According to OT law (Leviticus 15: 19-23, 25-28) anyone you touch while bleeding becomes unclean with you.  No one wanted that, so she was an outcast of society… for 12 years.  She couldn’t go into the temple section reserved for women.  She couldn’t go into public without making people aware of her condition.  I can’t imagine being cut off from society for that long!
  • ¥ Mental Issues – All of these other issues will mess with your mind.  They produce stress!  Who lives with no money and isn’t depressed? Who has sickness for 12 years and doesn’t get discouraged? Who faces social problems of being an outcast and isn’t affected emotionally?
  • ¥ Spiritual Issues – All of those issues lead to a huge problem.  Where is God when day after day, month after month, year after year everything goes wrong?  You know, we expect to go through problems every once in a while, but it is bad when your whole life is a problem.

Have you ever met such a person?  You see them coming and you go the other way because you know wherever they go, problems follow?  Well, that was this woman!  Her entire life was a mess.

Is there anyone here with problems today?  Of course there are.

2.  Dealing with Problems Often leads to a Dilemma v. 27

A dilemma is a situation where someone has to choose between two or more possible actions, either of which will bring difficulties.  So let’s learn from this woman’s experience.  We have seen the extent of her problems, but now let’s examine her dilemma.  She has a choice to make.  Here are her options:

First, she can choose to just give up on ever overcoming her problems. She could decide to just live with all these issues until the day she dies.  Now that is hopeless.  Maybe some of you have settled for that option in your life.

Second, she could choose to keep trying to find her own solutions like she had done for the past 12 years, but now she has no money so that doesn’t seem to be a good option.   Perhaps that is where some of you are with your problems.  That seems to be the default setting for many of us.  Just work harder.  Make a way!

Third, she could risk the public ridicule and venture out into public to be healed by Jesus.  This is a big risk for her.  Jesus is always in public.  She will never be able to find him in private.  She has to go out to find him knowing that others will look her at in judgmental ways because she is an outcast.  Perhaps, some of you risked ridicule from your family or friends just to come here today.  You came hoping to find answers at church, but people may mock you at work this week if they hear that you went to church.

Well, those were the options for this woman. Can you imagine her fears?  What if people won’t let her get near Jesus?  What if they cast her out of their presence as an unclean person?  What if Jesus treats her that way?  What if Jesus refuses to heal her?  What if Jesus is unable to heal her? Surely, she faced all these fears because she was in a spiritual battle that Satan did not want her to win.  What a dilemma. So what did she do?  She chose option 3.  She went to JESUS!

3.Desperation leads to Determination to Surrender to Jesus so He can Overcome Our Problems v. 27-28

This woman was determined to overcome her problems.  She faced her fears and headed into public.  She was probably hoping that when she found Jesus in the crowd that perhaps she could at least come to him quietly when things were calm. Can you imagine how disappointed she was to find Jesus right in the middle of a major community event?

He is helping Jairus, the rich, influential, religious, popular leader of the synagogue.  The Bible said that the crowd pressed in on Jesus at this point because everyone wanted to see what was going to happen at the house of the Big Bwana.  They all wanted to see what Jesus would do for this important man.  That is the scene that this woman discovers when she comes to Jesus for help.

She could have given up right there.  She could have turned and gone home.  She could have thought, who am I to interfere with all this.

Notice the distinctions between this woman and this man.

We know the man’s name – He is Jairus, but this woman is a nobody.  Even up to this very day we do not know her name.

This man had money, the woman had none.  This man was popular, this woman was an outcast.

So, this nobody comes to Jesus while he is on His way to help a somebody and now this woman’s blessing gets in the way of another person’s blessing.

Wow!  She was brave!  She was determined.  But really, what did she have to lose?  When you’ve tried all the doctors in town, when you’ve spent all your money, and no one will talk to you because you are ceremonially unclean it is not a bad idea to try Jesus.  I mean, when you have tried everything else and nothing else has worked, perhaps that is a hint that it is time to turn to Jesus.  No, perhaps that is where you should have started to begin with.

So here she is.  It is a turning point for her and she decides to go through with her plan, but notice how she does it.  She sees the crowd and thinks, maybe I can just blend in and no one will see me.  She came up behind Jesus.  Why?  Because she didn’t want to be seen.  She is unclean, she doesn’t want anyone to know she is there and cry out “Unclean, Unclean” as they point to her and the crowd disperses with judgment in their eyes and anger that she may have “infected” them with her uncleanness.  Perhaps this is one of her bleeding days and it could be an embarrassing moment if someone discovered her.  So, she is embarrassed, timid, and cautious.

So, she sneaks up behind him and the text tells us that she wants to touch his coat.  Why? Why would she touch his coat?  How it that going to help her?  You would think she would want to touch Jesus, not his coat. But the text tells us why.  She is thinking in her mind, “if I touch his garment I will be made clean.”  Why?  Well, actually there is some serious theological significance here.

You see, this story is recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and each one gives us a slightly different perspective with details that the others might not give so as serious students of the Bible we need to compare them all – to harmonize the gospels.  When we do that we find an interesting detail.  In Luke 8: 44 we see that she didn’t want to just touch the coat, she wanted to touch the hem of this coat. You see, it was a full body length coat.  This garment went from his shoulders all the way to the ground.  There is theological significance here.

First, to touch the hem of anything, you have to get low.  She had to get on her knees.  She came in humility.  She had had to get low to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Second, according to the Jewish law as seen in Numbers chapter 14, the men were supposed to wear 4 tassels on the hem of their garments.  There were 2 tassels in the front and 2 in the back.  They were little extensions on the four corners of the garment.  Why did God tell the man to have their clothes made with such tassels?  It was theological!  This is stuff that you and I would never know without some serious study, but every Jewish person knew this from the training they got in their temples and synagogues at age 13.  When a Jewish person saw these tassels it was to remind them that they were a part of the covenant community of God that lives under the commandments of God. The tassels were a visible reminder that you don’t belong to you – you belong to God!  In other words, the hem of the garment was a theological reminder that you are my covenant people who live by virtue of my commandments. This Jewish woman knew these details well

Now, let’s see how this connects to this woman’s situation.  The text tells us that when she had lost everything – health, money, friends, family, emotional stability – she still had one thing.  She still had God.  So she said, let me get to that hem!

She believed that since the hem is God’s Commandment based on God’s Covenant and since God said in His covenant that if you come to me based on my commandments I will heal your sickness. She would come to Him in faith.  She believed that if she came to God based on his covenant that He would take the curse and flip it around to turn it into a blessing. She thinks, my whole life is a mess, but I believe that if I can get that close to Jesus, He can turn my life around.

Now, there is something else we need to think about.  How many Jewish men were in the crowd?  Many!!! They all had those 4 tassels on their robes as well. Why didn’t she just touch one of them?  No, she wanted to touch Jesus’ garment.  Why?  She knew who Jesus was!  (Read John 1:1 –  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word Was God). One of the names for Jesus found in the Bible is the Word of God.  He is the Living Word.  Nowe, She understood that the tassel represented the written Word of God (The Bible) and she understood that Jesus was the Living Word of God (John 1:1).  So, she thought, “If I can ever get the written word of God and the Living Word of God together at the same time I have everything I need for a totally transformed life.  Wow!  She was right.  The tassels represented the Covenant = the Bible = written word of God and the coat was on Jesus, the living word.  That was the whole word live and able to transform the whole situation.

And you know what, that same principle applies to use today.  Whenever you get this word (the Bible) and that Word (Jesus) you will have every word you need to face any situation.

So, let’s look at what the woman does.  She touches Jesus, despite the fact that Leviticus 15 says that if you have an issue of blood you should not touch anyone or you will make them unclean.  She defied the Jewish law!  That would be like a Zambian disregarding a sacred tribal tradition during a serious event like the birth of a child or death of a loved one.  This is a big deal!

Can you imagine what Jairus and the others must have thought?  How dare this woman bring her unclean self to the pure Son of God! How dare she defile him and trample on the OT law?  What made her think she could do such a thing?

It’s quite simple really.  She understood that in Jesus Christ, grace is greater than law!  She understood that law came by Moses, but grace came by Jesus.  The law said don’t touch, but Jesus said, “Come to me all who are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”  Jesus is greater than the law!

So, in an act of faith, the dirty, contaminated, poor, lonely, and anonymous woman touches Jesus.  She said, I believe He will heal me and as proof that I believe, I am going to get it.

4. God is Able to Deliver Us from Every Problem in this Sin-Cursed World v. 29 – 34

God does not always choose to remove all troubles in our lives, but He most certainly can and sometimes does.  If he leaves problems in our lives it is only because he still wants to teach us more through that problem.  The Apostle Paul would later discover this when he would pray for a problem that he called a “thorn in the flesh” to be removed.  God could have removed it, but said no.  My grace is sufficient for you, but that problem will remain.

However, In verse 29 we see that it was a different case for this women.  Here we are told “immediately the flow of her blood dried up.  What does that mean?  It means that it was actually flowing on this day! Talk about an embarrassing situation.  No wonder she went up behind him.

Now we see she immediately gets 2 blessings at once.

First, there was physical healing.  Her immediate problem was solved.  The bleeding stopped.

Second, her permanent problem was solved.  She felt in her body that her affliction – the cause of her bleeding – was healed.

How did she know she was healed?  There was this inner confirmation, an inner peace, that not only did Jesus dry you up, but he fixed you up.  This inner sense comes from the Holy Spirit. It is a peace that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will have in the times of your problems as well.

Now let’s notice as Jesus enters the picture.  He senses that something happened.  Someone stole something from Him.  Someone snatched some power from him.  So Jesus asks a question.

Now, I know you already know this, but let’s just remind ourselves that when Jesus asks a question in the Bible it is not because he is looking for answers that he is unaware of.  Jesus never asks a question to find out new information that he didn’t already know.  He would only ask questions to draw out a truth.  And he wants to teach an important lesson to this crowd right now.

He said, “Who touched me?”  Now, His disciples made themselves look foolish.  They should have known what Jesus was up to by this point in his ministry, but instead they say, “Look at this crowd around you.  How can you ask a question like who touched me?”  The better question might be “Who has not touched you?”

Now, here is an important life lesson.  Being part of the crowd, doesn’t mean that you are touching Jesus.  Just hanging on for the ride doesn’t mean you are touching Jesus.  You can be pressed near Jesus without touching him.  It says there was a multitude of people around him, but Jesus only felt one touch. These people thought numbers of people meant access to God, but just because you are in the vicinity of Jesus doesn’t mean you are getting the power from Jesus to deal with the issues of your life.  Too many churches are filled with a crowd, but no one is actually touching Jesus.  They might be talking about him, singing about him, but never experiencing a relationship with him that makes a difference in their life.

The question I have for you this morning is not, are you part of the crowd, bur are you the one at the hem of the garment because that is where the power is.  Are you kneeling humbly at the feet of Jesus today ready for him to change your life?

Well, the Bible says that Jesus looked to see the woman who touched him.  He knew who she was.  He didn’t have to search for her.  He knew where she was.

She was scared to death.  She came to him trembling!  Was her fear of humiliation about to happen?  She knew who Jesus was.  She recognized that she was in the presence of greatness.  Sadly, I’m afraid that we have many people coming to churches all over the world, week after week and they don’t know who they are dealing with.  I’m afraid that a lot of people who show up don’t know who they’re “worshipping.”  Jesus Christ is not some superman.  He is the eternal Son of God who is here to declare the purpose and the power of God to the people of God who are willing to stoop down and touch the hem of his garment.

So, this woman, scared to death comes trembling before Jesus and admits that she touched him.  She comes before him in spirit and in truth and she worships him.

Now we see why Jesus asked who touched him.  There are 4 clear reasons.

  1. 1. God never gives a blessing for which He does not want the glory.  He wanted an expression of gratitude.
  1. 2. He is not done blessing her yet.  She started this day as a nobody.  Now she is called “Daughter”.  When God touchs you, you know that you aren’t a nobody anymore.  He didn’t call Jairus, “Son,” but her calls her “daughter.”  Jesus doesn’t just know her by name, but also by relationship.   He calls her up in public and in doing so he changed her reputation in an instant.  She is no longer an outcast!
  1. 3. Now he wants to confirm a spiritual blessing.  He tells her to go in peace.  The Jewish word for peace is “Shalom.” It means to have a well-ordered life.  She started this day with her life being  a mess, now Jesus told her to go live a well ordered life.  He was going to fix her whole life, not just her health.  How?  Through spiritual salvation – the greek word in vs. 34 for “made you well” can mean both “heal” and “save.”  This day was not just the day of physical healing for her.  This was her day of being spiritually born again.  Jesus didn’t come just to heal the sick.  He came to seek and to save the lost.  Today, she had been found!

You see, Jesus asked who touched him so he could get all this out in the open so he could do the other things he also wanted to do for her and for others.

But Jesus isn’t done yet.  He still wants to reveal Himself more to the crowd. Remember how this all started.  Jesus is on the way to the house of Jairus to heal his daughter.  That brings us to our last point.

4.  When God is praised for blessing one of us it strengthens the faith of others who are desperate for transformation v. 35-43 (read)

Now, while Jesus is still speaking, the servants come and say to Jairus, your daughter has died.

Can you imagine the emotions that Jairus must have been feeling?  Most people would have responded with anger!  They would say, “Wait a minute Jesus.  I came to you first and now this outcast came up and you had to stop and talk to her.  If you would have just come with me, my daughter would be healed. But, instead you gave her a blessing and it caused me to miss out on mine.  While you helped her, my daughter died.”

You know, there are many of us who act that way.  God, why are you giving that person the job I wanted?  Why does that woman get a husband while I am still single?  Why can that woman get pregnant while I am still barren? Why does everyone else get the blessing while you leave me to suffer and things just seem to be getting worse?

Many of us struggle with thoughts like that, but not Jairus.  When he saw what Jesus did for the other woman his faith increased.  The same God that took care of that woman is capable of healing my daughter or even raising her from that dead! Do you see the power of a testimony?  This woman’s testimony increased the faith of a religious leader.

That is why it is so important to share a testimony. Others need to hear what God did for you so that their faith will be increased to know that God can meet their needs too.

Even when things seem worse, God is able – so keep believing.  Jesus may delay your blessing to help another person but he hasn’t forgotten you.  No, in this story, Jesus took his time so he could do the greater miracle.  After all, It is a greater miracle to raise a dead daughter than to heal a sick daughter.  God will do miracles in the lives of others, not to leave you out of it, but to prepare you for even greater things.

Some of you wonder why God is blessing everyone else but he hasn’t gotten to your house yet.  Don’t give up on Jesus Christ just because he hasn’t arrived yet.  He has something greater in store for you.  You just make sure you are where the woman was – at the hem of his garment.

You make sure that you are hanging on to the written word and the living Word because he is able to exceedingly, abundantly above all that you ask or imagine.

So, today we have seen that the dilemmas of our lives create a desperate desire for total life transformation that only Jesus can produce but that we must pursue with passion.

We are all here because we want to grow – to improve.  What if we begin to want the Healer more than the healing, the Deliverer more than the delivering, the Giver more than the giving?  What if we want God more than they wanted anything?  That is when transformation can really happen.

Are you ready to be transformed?  You can’t be satisfied with being a better “caterpillar you”.  You must submit to the process of God to make you the new “butterfly” you.

Download this message HERE

Would you like to discuss this?  Contact Pastor Jamie Smith at  zambiasmith@gmail.com

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?