Category Archives: Humility

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!

How To Walk Worthy of Your Calling


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In our series on Discovering the Church we have looked at four pictures of the church. We have seen the church as a family and the goal is maturity.  We also saw the church as a field – the goal being the quantity of our fruitfulness. We have seen the church as a building the temple in which God dwells and the goal here is quality! Last week we saw the church as a body and the goal is unity.

The church is a called out assembly (ecclessia) of people who share one thing in common – faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls. Those of us who are in the church are there because God sought us and called us out! So how do we live up to our calling as the body of Christ and walk in unity?  This brings us to our text for today, Ephesians 4:16:

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

  • The Person – I. He is the founder of the church
  • The Promise – Will
  • The Process – Build
  • The Possession – My. Jesus is the owner of the church, he is the Head of the Church.
  • The Product – Church
  • The Power – the gates of hell will not overcome the church!

The book of Ephesians is about what the Father is doing: In the Heavenlies – Through the Church – In Christ – By His Spirit – For His glory – forever (3.21)

What He is doing through the church is calling and redeeming a group of people and:
• Forming them into a Body for His Son to lead (1.22-23)
• Building them into a Temple for Himself (2.21-22)

So that by the Church which is His body and temple, He can:

• Display His grace, kindness, power and wisdom
• Dwell in her fully in such a way that all of this results in the praise of His glory!

In Chapters 1-3 Paul explains what we must “know” about what God is doing in through the church. Now in Chapters 4-6 he explains what we must do based upon what we know!

In Chapter 4.1 Paul beseeches us to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

  • Walk – speaks of our way of life, conduct. A constant and consistent manner of living
  • Worthy – corresponding to. This word is used of the balance beam on a scale. Put something on one side, put something on the other side that will equal or balance it.

Let me be abundantly clear at this point: Conduct does not precede conversion!

Phil. 1:27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

This morning we want to consider how we can walk worthy of our calling in the church. The main thought of this section is found in v1 & 3:

“Walk worthy of the calling (1.1,3-6,11,2.5-6) with which you were called… endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

A walk worthy of our calling in the church is one that maintains the unity of the Spirit. In our text Paul gives three ways to walk worthy of our calling in unity in the church.

YOU WALK WORTHY WHEN YOU REFLECT THE CHARACTER OF GOD IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE. (2)

Forbearance

To endure, to kindly tolerate. William Barclay describes this attitude as what you would see in an old dog being pestered by a smaller, younger puppy.

Romans 2:4  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

We express this when we are wronged, when others have an unreasonable complaint or grievance or quarrel with us:

  • We are to put up with those who complain against us
  • We are to put up with those who irritate us
  • We are to put up with those who argue against us.
  • We are to put up with those who sometimes attack us.
  • We do all this because God has rooted and grounded us in love! (3.17)
  • We will have to love one another enough to put up with each other when we are irritated by someone else in the body!

Long-suffering

Long-suffering means to bear under for a long time, to delay wrath, to not break forth with angry words or violent deeds.

1 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

We are to patiently endure these difficult people in the way God patiently and graciously endures wicked rebellious men over a long period of time. (Ga5:22)

We must respond to those who irritate us with long-suffering, we do not respond with resentment or retaliation.

Gentleness

Reluctance to avenge wrongs. To suffer long will require that we develop a gentle and controlled response at all times toward others.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Lowliness

This gentleness requires that we think biblically about ourselves this is the essence of humility.  Lowliness was a degrading term in Greek culture used to refer to a groveling servant.  This term was taken by Christians to represent a distinctly Christian virtue.

Two examples:

  • Jesus – I did not come to be served but to serve…
  • Paul – “a bondslave of Jesus Christ…

To rightly esteem other people in the body and their opinions and ideas as more important than your own.  All this because we love them!

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

YOU WALK WORTHY WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN THE GOD OF THE BIBLE (4-6)

This “one body” – the visible church (1.23) has a theological foundation. It is founded upon spiritual truth – doctrine!

One Spirit (4)

It is the Holy Spirit that gives life to the body. That Spirit is the soul of the body without Whom the body cannot exist.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

The Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance (1.14)

One Lord (5)

One Jesus Christ – to whom all true Christians owe allegiance.  There is one faith in one Lord unites all believers. There is one baptism by water is the external seal of incorporation into Christ’s body

This includes all people of every race, color, language, background, both Jew and Gentile.

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

One Father (6)

There are not many gods but one true God and Father of all – all speaking of His paternal relationship through creation (1Co.8:5-6).

  • Above all – He reigns over all
  • Through all – In His creative activity
  •  In you all – He is everywhere present. Specifically he dwells in those who have trusted Him through His Spirit.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

YOU WALK WORTHY WHEN YOU ARE DOING THE WORK OF MINISTRY (7-16)

People – Equipping by gifted men (7-12a)

  • Apostles and prophets – laid the foundation of the church (2.20).  A foundation is laid only one time.  Jesus is the cornerstone for that foundation.
  • Evangelists are the missionaries who pioneer outreach in areas where the gospel has not yet been proclaimed.
  • Pastor-Teachers are the shepherds of the flock, teachers of the Word. Speaks of local church ministry.

Process (12)

Pastors perfect > Saints serve > Body builds

Product (12c-16)

Equipping results in spiritual maturity (12c-13,15)

The body of Christ is built up (12c). Each one comes to the Unity of the faith – This is a goal to be reached

The depth of a church is determined by the quality of worship and instruction. The breadth of a church is determined by its commitment to fellowship and evangelism.

This unity will come with an increasing knowledge of Christ. In this way the church comes to maturity. Individualism is seen as a mark of immaturity. “Perfect man” – manhood.  To the full measure of perfection found in Christ. When a baby is born the head is unusually large in comparison to the rest of the body, as it develops the body grows in due proportion to the head.

Spiritual Maturity produces spiritual stability (14-15)

We are to abandon childish attitudes. We are to grow out of childish instability in what we believe. We no longer are tossed around by every wind and wave of doctrine. We are no longer susceptible to the deceit and craftiness of false prophets. We understand there is no unity in compromise, there is no unity in false teaching. The church cannot allow falsehood to go uncorrected yet the truth is vindicated in accents of love (15)

Spiritual stability results in spiritual service (16,12b)

The aim of these ministries is the equipping of all God’s people for service. (12b) Christ is the One out of whom all Christians grow. As each part works properly the whole body is supported in the way it needs. We must be what we are in the body, not for ourselves but for the benefit of the other members of the body.

“Half-hearted Christians are the most miserable people of all. They know enough about God to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with Christ to be happy.” – Ortland

It is time to grow to maturity!

Each of us would do us well to place ourselves on God’s scale to see if we are walking worthy of our calling. May we “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This means we must collectively work hard and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Do you need to commit to growing up spiritually – to maturing in the body of Christ so that you do your part in supporting the other members of the body.

Download the mp3 audio for this message here.

Download the .pdf notes for Walk Worthy Of Your Calling

Your Greatest Threat – It May Not Be What You Think!


peril of pride the_wide_t_nvDo you battle with pride like I do?  I bet you do (even if you are too proud right now to admit it! 🙂

Someone has said that they view pride is the source of all other sins… I think they are right. How about joining me in a little self-evaluation.  Consider the following:

  • Pride mocks others “The proud have me in great derision…” Psalms 119:51.
  • Pride lies about others “The proud have forged a lie against me…” Psalms 119:69.
  • Pride mistreats others “Let the proud be ashamed, For they treated me wrongfully with falsehood…” Psalms 119:78.
  • Pride seeks to destroys others “The proud have dug pits for me…” Psalms 119:85,.
  • Pride oppresses others “… Do not let the proud oppress me.” Psalms 119:122.
  • Pride deceives others “The proud have hidden a snare for me, and cords; They have spread a net by the wayside; They have set traps for me. Selah” Psalms 140:5.
  • Pride is communicated by lips and looks “A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,” Proverbs 6:17.
  • Pride uses the mouth to beat others down “In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, But the lips of the wise will preserve them.” Proverbs 14:3.
  • Pride must display itself, cannot stay home. ““Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home…” Habakkuk 2:5.
  • Pride embellishes the truth “Let the lying lips be put to silence, Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.” Psalms 31:18.

Remember that God fights against the proud person and will destroy everything they attempt to accomplish. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

One of the greatest dangers of pride is that it lies at the root of our rebellion against God.  Every refusal to receive Christ as Lord and Savior is driven by pride!  That is a sobering thought!

If the above list convicts you do something about it!  Humble yourself by gazing at Christ! Evaluate yourself, your achievements, your possessions and everything else in relation to God.  “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due season.”