AN URGENT WARNING TO HEAVEN’S CITIZENS


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

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

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

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

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

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

IDENTIFY THE DISCIPLES (17)

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

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

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

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

Watch for others who walk in the same way!

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

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

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

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

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

IDENTIFY THE ENEMIES (18-19)

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

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

The warning is to be taken seriously!

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

Jesus

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

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

Paul

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

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

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

Peter

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

John

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

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

Jude

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

Identifying the enemies of the cross

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

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

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

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

LIVE LIKE CITIZENS (20-21)

Remember where your citizenship is located!

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

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

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

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

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

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

A final exhortation:

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

Disciples, Fish & The Kitwe Church Music Ministry


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derick Van Staden

Christ Our Greatest Treasure


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Christ is your greatest treasure when:

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

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

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

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

Note Paul’s list of personal achievements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My obsession is Christ (10-11)

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

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

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

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

Why do some people fail to press on?

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

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

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

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

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

Press on! Don’t go backward

May we all die running!

The People God Uses To Serve His Church


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THEY ARE LABORERS – Co-Worker (25)

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

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

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

THEY ARE WARRIORS – Fellow soldier (25)

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

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

THEY ARE PEOPLE OF CHARACTER (22)

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

Our lives must manifest the transforming power of Christ.

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

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

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

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

THEY ARE CARING (20b-21)

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

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

THEY ARE LIKE-MINDED (20a)

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

THEY ARE SERVANTS (7,26)

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

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

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

WORKING OUT YOUR SALVATION


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When light comes in, darkness scurries away. Light and darkness are mortal enemies, they cannot stay together in one place. Just as east is opposite of west, so light and darkness are mutually exclusive.

Darkness is nothingness. Darkness is the absence of light.

You once lived in darkness… maybe you still do. You lived in darkness and feared the light, though it had a strange attraction to you at times. You loved darkness instead of light, because your works were evil. You ran from light because you did not want those evil activities, thoughts, intentions, motives to be revealed to others, but especially you did not want them revealed to God. We were all like cockroaches that scurried madly for the darkness when the light was flipped on.

All of that changed when you were rescued! As you were sinking in the thick slime of sin, lost in absolute darkness, unable to escape, terrified the Rescuer came looking for you! He searched for you in the darkness by shining a light and He found you. He lifted you up, and He set your feet on the rock, and he cleaned you, and he clothed you with His righteousness, and he gave you a new heart instead of the dead one, and he opened your blind eyes! He saved you, rescued you from destruction and suddenly you could see the beauty of your Rescuer!  You had passed from death to life, from darkness to light!

Now what?

Paul is going to answer that question in our text today.

“Therefore”(12) – in light of the exaltation of Christ as LORD to whom every knee will bow and every tongue admit/confess that He is Sovereign Lord… In light of His example of humility and exaltation, there is something that you must do! There is a response that is required from everyone who sees the exalted Christ! What is that response? Obedience!

What Paul is about to share with them is based upon His relationship with them, and their relationship to truth (12).

  • Relationship of love – “Beloved.” (12) Paul’s instructions and exhortation are based upon his genuine care for them. He wants them to experience God’s best!
  • Relationship of obedience – “obeyed.” They had always obeyed when Paul was around, now the call is to continue to obey though Paul is not around!

Application: How often do you obey only when someone is looking? Are you the same Monday as you are Sunday morning? Were you the same this past Friday night at 9pm as you are right now?  Consistent obedience to Christ and the gospel is a mark of spiritual life and spiritual growth.

This is hard! It is a battle everyday against the lusts of my flesh, the lust of my eyes, and the pride of life! Through the power of the Holy Spirit I must put to death the deeds of my sinful nature (Ro.8:13)

THE ABILITY TO WORK OUT OUR SALVATION – REGENERATION

God’s work in you is all grace!

He saves us by grace – For it is by grace that you have been saved by faith… (Eph.2:8) We were slaves of sin, now we are set free to be slaves of Christ. (Ro.6:19-22)

He sanctifies us by grace! Sanctification is the process of making something holy. In the life of a Christian it is the work of the Spirit to make us holy, like Jesus Christ. (Ro.15:16, I Co.6:11, 1Pt.1:2)  The work of the Spirit using the Word of God as a tool to shape us to be like Christ. (2Thes.2;13)

God’s work in you produces three outcomes (13)

  1. To want to do His will – your desire to know and do God’s will is proof that God is working in you!
  2. To have the ability to do His will – desire and ability are not the same thing! It is God who imparts supernatural power in you do actually do it! (1Thes.4:1-7)
  3. To have the right motive and attitude in doing His will – His good pleasure! Our pride wants to do the will of God and get the glory for it! We exist for His will, for His pleasure! Remember the “bow and tongue confess that He is LORD” bit? (Lk.17:7-10)

THE ATTITUDE AS WE WORK OUT OUR SALVATION – REVERENCE

Attitude of fear

Who among us would not be in awe if we met Queen Elizabeth of England? Reverence and awe in the presence of deity. (Rev.1:10-17)

Attitude of trembling

To shake with fear – He is King! He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! Don’t mess with Aslan, he is not a tame lion! We work out our salvation with a healthy understanding of who it is we are obeying! This is a reaction born from deep respect and love.

THE ACTION IN WORKING OUT OUR SALVATION – REJECT

Reject a complaining spirit

Stop it! Whatever you are facing, whatever you are going through, stop complaining! Grumbling dissatisfaction at disappointed expectations. Grumbling about whatever – this is the opposite of thankfulness. ILL: Often those who have the most, grumble the loudest.

Reject disputing

Disputing means to argue,  to have an argumentative spirit. Some of you like a fight! You argue with your husband or you argue with your wife – Stop it!

Application: Some of you have long-standing arguments with others and it continues because you know you are right and the are wrong!… and the fact that you are not humble!

CONCLUSION:

What are the outcomes of this process?

You become like Christ (15a)

  • Blameless children – if others say something about you, it cannot stick to you because there is nothing there for it to adhere to. (1Ti.3:2,10; 5:7; 6:14)
  • Harmless children – no ability to retaliate.
  • Faultless children – without blemish! Without reproach.

You shine as lights (15b)

  • Context – This is taking place in an environment that is darkness, where men who love evil deeds hate light, and you break in as a light shining brightly.
  • Contrast – it is a crooked environment – they don’t do anything straight. It is a perverse environment – morally, ethically.

You experience great joy (16-18)

  • Paul’s joy – the bottom line evaluation of ministry is, are people living out their calling? It is not the profession (lips) it is the living it out (life).
  • Their joy! There is deep lasting abiding joy in being God’s child!

You might be a Christian here this morning asking the question: How does all this happen for me this week?

Hold fast the word of God! (16a) Make God’s word your authority. Determine that you will humble yourself and obey whatever He tells you in His word! In every and any situation that you may face – you will obey Him!

You cannot become like Jesus Christ apart from the Word of God. Cling to the Word as though your life depends upon it… because it does!

This is what it means to work out your salvation!  Working out of salvation is something worth giving your life for! Paul was being “poured out as a drink offering” on the alter of their faith and obedience. (17a) Are you giving your life in this way? Are you living in such a way that you are working out the salvation that God put within you in the context of this body of believers?

You can listen or download free audio of the sermon preached at Kitwe Church here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?m=t&s=918161054141

THINK LIKE JESUS


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The Health guru says, “You are what you eat.” But that is not correct.   “You are what you think!” The attitudes of your inner man is what you really are: “As a man thinks in His heart, so is he!” (Pr.23;7)

Christians are to live with each other in such a way that the reality of our salvation is fleshed out in the forum of human relationships within the body of Christ before a watching world. (Phil. 1:27).

There is an indication in our text that disunity within the congregation at Philippi threatened the effectiveness of their gospel outreach in Philippi.

  • “that I may hear that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the gospel (1:27)
  • “Fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (2:2)
  • “Do all things without complaining and disputing” (2:14)
  • Euodia and Syntche are implored to be of one mind in the Lord (4:1-3)

What follows is a pointed reminder that living worthy of Jesus is to live in unity with one another.  In our text Paul makes it clear to pull that off you have to THINK LIKE JESUS! This passage is about an example of “worthy living” that is down at our level. An example that we can grasp, one we must follow!

We are naturally bent toward self-centeredness and pride. We are so prone to demand rights – to struggle and fight to gain some advantage we believe is rightfully ours. This has caused untold harm to the church and hindered the proclamation of the gospel through the centuries.

The great tragedy of Paul’s day and the great tragedy of our day is that when God’s church is dominated by strife, pride and self-seeking the gospel suffers! We are diverted from issues of critical importance.

Paul points us to Christ as our example of true humility, servanthood and obedience.

THE HUMILITY OF HIS COMING TO EARTH (5-6)

Jesus refused to demand what was rightly His.

Jesus Christ is God (Heb 1:3). He shares the nature, the attributes, the person and the glory of God Himself. He is one with the Father, co-existant, co-equal in every way! This is the mystery of the Trinity – three persons, one God!

Jesus did not hold onto what was rightfully His.  When He came to earth He did not cease being God, rather He laid aside the “form” that is, the outward manifestation of the inner reality.  Jesus  took off the robe of glory and donned a robe of flesh!  What Humility!

He left the place & position that was rightfully His

Jesus Christ did not hold onto His glory as God as something He used for His own advantage. The pre-incarnate Christ was God in all majesty and glory yet he refused to demand what was rightfully His.

Instead Christ set that glory aside in heaven, and came down to take upon Himself flesh and blood. Rather than viewing His position with the Father as something to protect and a right to demand, He saw it as the qualification for Him to be the Savior of His people.

He left the throne of heaven for this wicket planet – imagine what the all-seeing eye of God and the all-knowing mind of God has seen on planet heart in the past 48hrs! (Rom. 1:20-32). The Cesspool of Humanity.

Application:

  1. How often do we hold tightly to our rights, we make demands based upon the perception that we have our own worth, achievements, position, place.
  2. We must live in humble obedient submission to the Father’s will, accepting from the times of disgrace, abuse and trials. It is through this that God prepares us and qualifies us as servants of Christ.

THE HUMILITY OF HIS SERVANTHOOD (7)

The form He took – a Bondservant (7b)

“Taking the form of” term used of button on outside clothing. He takes of His robe of glory and puts on the clothing of a slave!  This form was both in appearance and also in being. He was not identified by his halo and glowing face – he was identified by his servant spirit. (Lk 17:7-10)

His commitment to that form was clearly demonstrated when in the upper room He washed the disciples feet. The disciples right up to the cross argued about positioning in the kingdom. Jesus Christ washed their feet (Jn. 13:14-16).

  • You will serve the least
  • You will serve everyone

The humanness He embraced (7c)

Christ, the King of Glory came to our dirty little planet and made himself human. Born into a world dominated by the filth of unregenerate men, filthy passions, debased motives, filthy agendas. Like dogs gleefully rolling on a rotting carcass man revels in their sin.

It was into this world that Jesus Christ came, bringing Himself willingly and completely into our world – a world that despises the authority of God, rejects the laws of God, throws off all Divine restraint to madly pursue sin and drink it to the fullest.

Into this world Jesus came – what amazing humility!

HUMILITY OF HIS OBEDIENCE (8)

His humility was lived out in obedience to the father (8a)

The agony of obedience – Jesus knew what the cross meant! He was sorrowful unto death! (Mk 14:32-35)

“Jesus was about to be plunged into the raw sewerage of humanity to be defiled and separated from God the Father for the first time in all eternity!” – Chopo Mwanza

The horror of bearing the wrath of God – He would have to face the wrath of Almighty God upon Himself. The agony of bearing God’s displeasure.

His humility embraced obedience all the way to the cross (8b)

In the world of men it meant shame! Jesus Christ died one of the most scandalous deaths known to man. Humanity has not created a more degrading or loathsome experience than a cross. In Roman Society the mention of the cross was considered an obscenity.

If the last thought was not enough to cause us to fall to our knees and worship think of this: His humility was not something being forced upon Him by external forces, but it was His own doing!

As a real man He humbled Himself, he withheld His innate power and submitted in obedience to the will of the Father. This obedience was “even unto death.”

Christ’s self-humiliation brought ultimate obedience (2 Cor. 5:21, I Jn. 2:2)

CONCLUSION (9-11)

Let’s review what we have seen about Christ in this passage:

  • He humbled himself by setting aside His glory with the Father
  • He humbled himself by serving His Father
  • He humbled himself by obeying the Father

What now?  (9-11)

Therefore, God has highly exalted Him:

  • Exalted at the right hand of the Father
  • Exalted to a place of honor
  • Exalted through the worship of all created things
  • Exalted through the submission of all creation to Him as LORD – everyone will bow and everyone will confess!

What is the result? The glory of God the Father! (11c)

God is calling you to love justice, love kindness and to walk humbly before your God. (Micah 6:8). You might be thinking – that will require grace!  “But He gives more grace, Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Jas. 4:6)

When you think like Jesus Christ you will:

  1. Choose Humility: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (3-5)
  2. Obey fully: This is a call to fulfill the command to live a life worthy of the gospel – the path for obedience is clearly spelled out in Christ.
  3. Serve faithfully: The message of Philippians is for all of us who are prone to ambition and vainglory: “in humility count others better than yourself, let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also the interests of others.”

Will you bow before Jesus now and acknowledge Him as your LORD?

You can listen to this sermon, or download it as an mp3  here:  http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?m=t&s=918161121232

Following in the Footsteps of Faith: The Presence of the Church


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“Christianity is responsible for the way our society is organized and for the way we currently live. So extensive is the Christian contribution to our laws, our economics, our politics, our arts, our calendar, our holidays, and our moral and cultural priorities that historian J. M. Robers writes in The Triumph of the West, ‘We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly two thousand years ago had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen him crucified, dead, and buried, and then rise again.’ ” (From the book What’s So Great about Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza.)

Big Idea:  When the church is present in a community it points everyone to Christ with both actions and words.

Read Acts 3:1-10

1. Christians of sincere faith recognize opportunities to minister in everyday life v.1-4

Explanation:

This was no special religious day.  It was just an ordinary day.Everyday the Christians worshipped and prayed. It was the 9th hour of the day.  Now, the people of this day kept time differently than us.  The day started at 6:00am our time.  That would have been the first hour.  The ninth hour was 3:00pm  (15:00hours). Peter and John, two of the leading were true followers of Jesus Christ, but the church had no place set aside for worship and since Jesus was the Jewish Messiah it made perfect sense for them to continue going to the Jewish temple to worship God.  Almost everyone else there was still loyal to the Jewish faith.  They were religious, but not forgiven.  They were spiritual, but not saved.  Although the Temple is a place of worship, it is a mission field for the disciples of Jesus to share the gospel.

It was just a typical day for the Jewish people as well.  Everything that happened everyday was happening again this day. The sick and poor were gathering to seek pity from religious people in hopes of getting some money to scratch out a basic living. Some would be moved to help these beggars for various reasons.  Some out of genuine compassion.  Some were motivated by self-righteousness as they tried to earn God’s favor.  Some were motivated by pride and wanted to be seen for their good works. Most people passed right by the beggars without even acknowledging their existence.

This man is being carried out to his place of begging just in time for people to come for their evening prayers. He is coming to the gate called Beautiful and he feels anything but beautiful. As he is being carried he spots Peter and John and he asks them for alms – food or money. What was Peter’s reaction?  He doesn’t divert his eyes.  He doesn’t refuse.  But he doesn’t just toss over a few coins either.  He wants to do something special that will change this man’s life.  He wants to do something so special that it demands total attention and so he says, “Look at us.” There are hundreds of people passing by.  By focusing his attention on Peter and John he is missing opportunities to ask alms from others.

Application:

1) Is your chief concern every day about living for Christ or living for self?

2) Is Christianity a Sunday thing for you or an everyday thing for you?

3) As an ambassador for Christ are you looking for the opportunities to serve others and be a witness that are around you everyday?  They are there for all of us.  However, we must train ourselves to look for them.  God will provide the opportunities, but we must recognize them and that takes a conscious effort to look for them.

2. Christians care about the meeting the needs of others v.5-8

Explanation:

a. Recognize the immediate, but temporal problems.

b. Recognize the personal limitations.

You can feel this man’s anticipation.  He is expecting to receive something good.  Maybe he will get enough money so that he won’t have to beg for a few days – maybe an entire week?

c. Rely on the unlimited resources of God to meet the needs

d. Offer an on-going long-term solution.

Don’t treat the symptoms.  Treat the cause.  It is better to help people get a job than give them money. Invest in a few who can then invest in others.

 Illustration: James 2: 15-17, 1 John 3:17-18

Application:

1) It is easy to get callous to all the needs around us.  No we can’t help everyone with their physical needs, but we can help some.

2) Yes, some people are deceptive con-artists who take advantage of out generosity, but not all who ask for help are con-artists.  Should we help everyone? No, we must be wise and discerning.  Should we help those in genuine need when we have the ability to help them?  Absolutely!

3) So how do we know when to help?

a. Remain sensitive to the needs of others.

b. Recognize your personal limitations.

c. Rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit.

3. Acts of Christian compassion grab the attention of the community v. 9-10

Explanation: verse 10.  They saw, they recognized, they were filled with wonder and amazement.

We may not have the supernatural spiritual gift of healing today, but we are able to minister with compassion to meet people’s financial needs, medical needs, emotional needs today.  Our methods might be different today, but we can and should actively minister in such a way that it inspires wonder and amazement.

When we help provide education, when we help with orphan ministries, helping with the malnutrition ward at the hospital, caring for the sick, helping train others so that they can make a living rather than rely on handouts…these are things that the world will see and stand in awe and wonder. Why do we do this?  Because The Bible tells us to.  Just read 1 Peter 2:9, John 13:34-35, Matthew 5:43-44, Romans 12:19-21.

Within Christianity there is a powerful emphasis on compassion, on helping the needy, and on alleviating distress even in distant places. If there is a huge famine or reports of genocide in another part of the world, most people in other cultures are unconcerned. As the Chinese proverb has it, ‘the tears of strangers are only water.’ But we rush to help….Part of the reason why we do this is because of our Christian assumptions….The ancient Greeks and Romans did not believe this. They held a view quite commonly held in other cultures today: yes, that is a problem, but it is not our problem….However paradoxical it seems, people who believed most strongly in the next world did the most to improve the situation of people living in this one.”

4. Christians of contagious faith take the opportunities to share the Gospel that are created by their acts of Christian love (Read v. 11-26)

Explanation:

a. Give the praise for the good works to God v. 12

b. Point people to Jesus v. 13a

c. Confront their sinful disbelief v. 13b-15 (John 3:18-19)

d. Proclaim that salvation is only achieved through faith in Christ v. 16 (John 3:36)

e. Sympathize with the guilty sinner v. 17

f. Point people to the plan of God v. 18

g. Call fellow sinners to repentance and faith v. 19-26

Application:

1) Doing good things without explain the reason for doing the good things limits the effect significantly.

2) We have only helped in the temporal world and left the person in better condition while still traveling to the final destination of hell.

3) Let us maximize the effect of each good deed we do by explaining the gospel to the one we’ve helped and to the watching world.

4) Our deeds earn us the right to be heard in the court of public opinion.  Let’s take those opportunities to be witnesses of the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

5) With out deeds we can change people’s physical conditions, but only the Gospel can change their spiritual condition and their eternal destination.

Conclusion:

As we leave the comfort of each other’s presence we go back into a world that opposes God.  We have neighbors and co-workers who are in need, but try to act as if they need nothing.  We are tempted to just go with the flow, but we are called by God to be salt and light.  We are called to change the world by being witnesses of the life changing power of God as He changes us. The presence of the church has always been a purifying agent for community as long as the light was not hidden.  This week let us each determine to let our light shine before men so that they will see our Good works and glorify God.  Let’s share with them the gospel message that changed us and present them with the choice to accept it as well so it can change them to.