We continued looking at Paul’s burning desire to know Jesus, focusing on Philippians 3:12-16. In Philippians 3:12 Paul states that he is not perfect. Not being perfect can be an excuse for our shortcomings or can be a motivating factor. In many ways we are defined and our life is limited by how we deal with our imperfections and flaws.For Paul and hopefully for us also, it should be a motivating force driving us to know Jesus better and to become ever more aware and reliant on His grace and mercy.
We saw that Paul has not yet obtained the level of relationship he wants with Jesus! We can always get to know someone better and if we love them this is a great joy. Paul knows that in knowing Jesus better there is great benefit. Paul wanted to gain the very thing for which Jesus had made him His own. He is straining and striving to gain the prize which is the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”This is to:
Paul is single minded and focussed on his goal and is pressing on to achieve it. A key part of leading this Christ cantered life focussed on achieving the prize is not looking back! Satan and our human nature continually tries to take our eyes off the prize and trip us up by getting us to look at the errors and hurts of the past. The past is covered by Christ and His sacrifice. As we look to the future and move on we are liberated to lead a life of freedom and possibilities.
This week we looked at Philippians 3:1-11. Paul begins by instructing the Philippians to rejoice, continuing the theme of joy. The mood then swiftly changes as we hear Paul warning the church in strong almost abusive language against some Jewish Christians who are trying to replace the joy and freedom of a Christ centred life with a rule based religion. Even the Old Testament stated that circumcision was to be of the heart (see Deuteronomy 30:6 & Jeremiah 4:4).
These men are true conservatives wanting to integrate Christ into their traditional values rather than be born again. Christ has called Paul and us to a new and radical life based on God’s will and faith! We are radicals who live by faith and love, making all our choices not by rules but based on God’s love and our desire to please him.
Paul does a profit and loss assessment of his life. All the things the Jewish people in their conservative tradition would have counted as profit he counted as loss with his gain being Christ! He counts his heritage and genealogy as garbage (literally dung) as they do not take him close to Jesus and eternity!
Paul truly understood Mark 8:36 – “What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” My prayer is that God gives us a revelation of this truth so that we are set free from our past and societal materialistic view. With this comes a release of joy and a freedom to truly rejoice in the glory of God.
This week we continued to look at Philippians 2. We looked back at verses 1-4 reminding ourselves how Paul tells the Philippian church that, out of the foundation they had in Christ, they were to live and work in a way that brings glory to God. He is calling the church to unity which comes out of being united with Christ, having a common purpose, the same goal. He tells them to look out for others, to forget about what they want and look to what will benefit others.
Then as the chapter continues Paul shows them through the example of Jesus what attitude, what mind they were to have. We see in verses 5-11 how Jesus laid aside His glory and became man. Although He is completely God he experienced all that humanity is, except He did not sin. He served by laying down His life, by dying on the cross. Because of His obedient sacrifice He is exalted and glorified forever.
We are to have the same attitude of service. In verses 12-14 the Philippian church is told to continue on serving God in reverent fear. Having reverent fear of God means that when we serve God we don’t do it lightly or casually but with all of our being. We are to put into practice in our everyday life what we have received from Christ. We work not to be saved, but because we are saved. God Himself through His Holy Spirit is working in us, changing and making us more like Christ, giving us the desire and ability to carry out His will. What we do is to be done without arguing or complaining. We are to be joyful in service.
Then Paul gives the church two examples of men who have served in this way. He commends both Timothy and Epaphroditus to them. Both these men have been faithful, putting others before themselves. Through the example of these men the Philippians could see what Paul was telling them to do.
Philippians 2 contains huge challenges. We are to put aside thinking and acting just for ourselves, we are to develop the mind, the attitude of Christ. To stand together in unity, serving Christ through serving others and making sure that Jesus is exalted in all we do and are.
Continuing our series 'Finding Joy' we continued looking at the book of Philippians starting at Philippians 1:20 through to chapter 2:4. The passage starts with Paul talking about his immediate situation. He doesn’t know what his future holds, he is facing either release or death. Release will mean he can continue to serve Christ on earth, death means his earthly ministry will be finished, and he will be in the presence of his Lord. He writes in Philippians 1:20–21 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
In these two verses we can see the whole purpose of Paul’s life summed up. In everything his one desire is that Christ is exalted. Paul knows that death will mean greater joy as he will be with his Saviour and so he desires that. Yet he wants to do what God desires for him. Joy in the Christian life comes from serving Christ and for Paul this was by doing what God had called him to do, to serve the people God had put before him. Paul knows that the Philippian church needs him, that God has equipped and appointed him to serve them. He places their needs above his. He lays down his life, not by losing it, but by living for others so that they may grow and be joyful.
Paul calls the Philippian church to do their part. He points them to the citizenship they have in God’s kingdom. We don’t live in the fullness of God’s kingdom while we are on earth but we are to live and act with the reality of it. In all we do we need to make sure that we are representing that kingdom in a way that causes others to desire to become part of it. We are to live in a way that upholds the authority and glory of it.
Paul then calls the Philippian church to be united. Their unity comes from being united in Christ, from having the same purpose, to see Jesus exalted and others come to know Him. This happens as Christians together do as Paul instructs in Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. We are called to serve others and we can only do this as we connect with them and are willing to sacrifice for their sake. This leads to joy as we exalt Jesus together no matter what the circumstances are.
Last Sunday we touched on the two opening verses of Philippians, so if you missed it I’d encourage you to listen in the link on the sermon below! In verse 3 Paul moves into an overview of his thankfulness to the believers in Philippi and into a prayer for them which shows again the depth of his love for those gathered in the city.
We see clearly from this passage that Paul has no regrets or hurt from his previous visits to the city, nor does he hold any ill-will to the people there. Paul probably had more justification than most would have to think of Philippi as a horrible place. The city leaders were the same ones who had seen him set a young woman free from bondage and in return had stripped him naked, beat him with sticks, put him in stocks and kicked him out of the city. As he writes to the believers his heart is full of joy as he thinks about them.
It is important to note though that Paul’s feelings of joy as he thinks about the believers is not just the feelings of an old man who is remembering the good times of the past. In verse 5 – he makes it clear that the joy he feels is also because of their faithfulness in sharing the gospel. He describes the church as having been his partners – not just in the past, but also to this very moment. The consistency of their faith, and their heart for mission is of great joy to him, as it would be to God. Paul had been an incredible missionary and we know that a number of the different churches or groups that he had established had not been faithful in following Christ – but here he reflects on the value of the church in Philippi for their consistent witness. It is easy to skim over that this morning, but I think it is worthwhile pausing for a moment and considering the importance of being consistent in our faith and in heart to tell others about Christ.
Paul continues to encourage the believers gathered in the city – reminding them to be joyful because God is over all things!
Listen along as we continue to work through the passage!
We are starting a new series which is a study through the book of Philippians. It will take us a few weeks to work through the book, but I am confident that as we see this section of scripture unfold that you will be encouraged, and challenged by what it contains!
I want to start this series by asking you what do you think of when you hear the word joy? How would you describe the feeling of joy?
I think the idea of joy is something that has gone missing to a large extent in our society and unfortunately that is matched often by an absence of joy amongst Christians as well. I am sure you are familiar with the old song – “I’ve got the joy joy joy joy, down in my heart, Where? Down in my heart?” The saying goes that many of us have the joy so deep down in our hearts that our face hasn’t found it yet.
One of the great things about the book of Philippians where we spend some time studying over this series - is that from the start to the finish of this 4 chapter letter, Paul infuses his writing with the encouragement to be joyful. Not silly, not foolish, not ignorant, or disengaged from life – but genuinely and deeply joyful.
So as we start this series – I’d like to pose a few questions for you to ponder over the next number of weeks as we explore Philippians. Are you joyful? Have you forgotten how good it is to feel the warmth of a joyful heart? Have the burdens and troubles of each day robbed you of your joy? When was the last time in the midst of trial or trouble did you stand on the truth that as Nehemiah (8:10) writes – “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”
I’d encourage you to listen along to the message as we set the scene for the series by looking back at the way things were when Paul sat down to write this letter to the church at Philippi.
This week we continued looking at making choices – this time the big choice! The choice that determines the whole direction of our lives. The choice to follow God! We need to make a positive purposeful choice not lead a directionless, meandering life following the course of least resistance.
Joshua 24:14–24 (NIV) says: “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
We must choose:
1. The spiritual rather than the worldly.
2. Eternal not temporary.
3. God’s will not man’s will
4. Truth not the easy convenient path.
We need to live in the positive choice making world! Asking and making decisions based on the ultimate purpose!
Listen along to be encouraged!
Did you know 90% of the choices you make involve areas where Scripture says surprisingly little?
Scripture forbids all clear-cut sins such as lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, or committing adultery. The Bible also clearly calls us to pursue Christ and grow in our faith. None of us seriously questions whether we should read the Bible, pray, or tell others about Christ. Scripture is unambiguous about those things.
We must consider the issues dealing with Christian freedom—things that fall between what God prohibits and what He commands. Underpinning this is that we should be focused on the reality that it is not by following the rules that we are saved as we read in John 8:36 - "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed".
One extreme is the church in Corinth who boasted about their freedom in Christ. Paul quotes them as saying they could act as they pleased and cautions them about this: “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV) and in chapter 10:23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
We have a freedom and liberty in Christ, we are not saved by the rules or ruled by rules – we are ruled by love and saved by grace! However the Corinthian Church takes a truth to such an extreme that it becomes a lie.
It’s no good if we go to the other extreme to the church in Corinth and make lots of rules and try to control each other. Every time we make a rule to measure others we are judging them. We can teach what the scripture says, point people towards the reality of the law of love but we must remember that we are all sinners saved by grace and need to treat each other accordingly. The error of becoming legalistic is no better than the Corinthian error!
We forget to ask “why?” and make do with asking “why not?”
Paul enunciates principles by which you can look at anything and judge whether or not it is the right choice to make. This is one of the exercises of a spiritual person. He gives us 5 tests – he wants us to not just know the liberty of Christ but to make positive choices based on our love of God and desire for His glory.
1. Is it helpful/beneficial? (1 Corinthians 6:12)
2. Will it rule me? Because we have an appetite or desire for something does not make it right. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
3. Will it teach me/build me up? (1 Corinthians 10:23)
4. Will it help with evangelism? (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)
5. Is it to God’s glory? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
For this message ‘Unexpected Hope’ we are continuing in the book of Luke. We have skipped ahead a chapter from the last few messages we have done on Luke Chapter 5, so our passage for this message comes from Luke 7:1-17.
We see in this passage two incredible encounters. Firstly we see the faith of the Roman Centurion who seeks healing for his servant. In the second part of the passage we see Jesus and the disciples come across the funeral of a widow’s son. Jesus speaks to the boy and he is raised from the dead!
Before we get into these two incredible encounters, it is important that we cover a bit of context from the chapter before. Luke starts Luke 17:1 with the comment “when Jesus finished saying these things” – referring to the teaching that occurred in Chapter 6. If you are unfamiliar with what was covered here, there were two main things – the start of Luke 6 covers a disagreement that occurs between the Pharisees and Jesus over the Sabbath. There is enough there for a message all on its own, but as we have seen over our last couple of messages covering Luke 5 – while perhaps at one point the Pharisees (who had appointed themselves the rulers and judges of all that is supposedly right, pure and holy) had hoped Jesus would join their cause – they are discovering that not only does he establish his authority over all the things they hold dear, but he also tells and shows them through action that they are wrong on practically every point.
The second part of Luke 6 is an incredibly profound section of scripture, and again warrants it’s own message – but in brief, it covers Jesus selecting his 12 apostles from the likely several thousand that now followed. He chose the 12 to invest in, and in the passage that follows their calling, he challenges them with the cost of the calling – teaching them the principles of the Kingdom of God, which to many were so foreign.
And so we see after this time of teaching Jesus has returned to Capernaum and while he is there word comes to him from a messenger of a Roman centurion.
Listen along as we explore the passage together.