Sunday, September 25, 2005

Live Your Life

Intro.: I like maps.

  1. When I was younger, I tried to collect as many maps I could. I never had any valuable maps, but I had lots of maps. State maps, AAA maps, National Geographic maps.

  2. Maps told me where how to get where I wanted to go. Maps told me where I had been. And maps told me where i might like to go next.

  3. Even today I am fascinated with maps. This past spring I purchased a piece of software from Microsoft that include a GPS that connected to my computer. You hang the GPS in the window and you can watch on a computer where you are going. It also tells you what direction you are going and at what speed. Did you know that trains can't go faster than 80 miles per hour?

  4. I only wish that there were maps for life, like there are for trips. Maps that can tell what decisions to make. Maps that would tell me who I am supposed to marry. Maps that tell me how to raise my kids so that I never make any mistakes.

  5. Those maps do not exist in the detail that we might like, but there are maps, that, if we follow them, will allow us to make better decision.

Read: Philippians 1:27-30


Trans: There is a single command in our short paragraph. You will find it in verse 27.

T.S. From that command, I would suggest that Paul mentions three consequences that will follow if we obey it.

  1. If you live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ – it makes no difference what I do.

    1. Listen to what Paul has to say - “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm.”

    2. But Paul knows that the Philippians need to learn to live their own lives. If the only reason they make Godly choices is because he is going to visit, they have missed the point.

    3. Paul says to live – other translations say “conduct” yourselves in a worthy manner.

(Ill.) The Greek work is the word πολιτεύω from which we get our word politics. We are to live our lives, we are to be citizens, not of some earthly kingdom, but as citizen of heaven. This word, πολιτεύω, is used only twice in scripture. The only other place that is used is Acts 23:1. Paul is standing before a Jewish court, weeks before he is to be sent to Rome for a review of his case before Caesar. And what does he say, “I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” His life has been as a good citizen of heaven.

    1. If your motivation for a Godly life is your relationship to Jesus Christ, then it does not matter what I do. It did not matter whether Paul came or didn't come. Their behavior would be consistant.

(Appl). As we, me and you, live our lives, is our motivation what will the neighbors think, what will my friends think, what will my family think. Or is our motivation rooted in living a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ?

  1. If you live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ – the church will experience a unity unknown in the world.

(Ill.) Someone has imagined the Carpenter’s tools holding a conference. Brother Hammer presided. Several suggested he leave the meeting because he was too noisy. Replied the Hammer, “If I have to leave this shop, Brother Screw must go also. You have to turn him around again and again to get him to accomplish anything.”

Brother Screw then spoke up. “If you wish, I’ll leave. But Brother Plane must leave too. All his work is on the surface. His efforts have no depth.”

To this Brother Plane responded, “Brother Rule will also have to withdraw, for he is always measuring folks as though he were the only one who is right.”

Brother Rule then complained against Brother Sandpaper, “You ought to leave too because you’re so rough and always rubbing people the wrong way.”

In the midst of all this discussion, in walked the Carpenter of Nazareth. He had arrived to start His day’s work. Putting on His apron, He went to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the Gospel. He employed the hammer, screw, plane, rule, sandpaper, and all the other tools.

After the day’s work when the pulpit was finished, Brother Saw arose and remarked, “Brethren, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord.”i

    1. There will be more to say about unity when we look at the next chapter.

    2. But there is one point to me made here – if we each are living our lives in such a way that we glory to the gospel of Christ, then, like the hammer, the rule, the screw, or the plane, we will find that we can accomplish great things for God.

  1. If you live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ - you will be prepared both to believe and live the Christian life.

    1. There are those that try to suggest that there are two different parts of the church.

    2. There are those who will say that the church is all about faith. It does not matter how we live our lives. It does not matter what we do. As long as we have faith, we are okay.

    3. And then there has always been a part of the church that has said, “be perfect”. Make no mistakes. If you sin, you lose your salvation.

    4. Paul makes the point here, that the Christian life is really two-fold: Look at verse 29 - “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,”

    5. Paul never made the dichotomy that the church makes. To Paul the Christian life is both a matter of faith and life.

    6. Another NT writer spoke about this as well. James was the brother of Jesus. There is no evidence that he put his faith in Christ while was alive, but there is plenty of evidence that he did so after Jesus death and resurrection. It was the brother of Jesus that wrote the book of James – and James tells us, “Faith without works is dead”. Paul would parallel James by saying, “Works without Faith is dead”.

    7. Anybody who says, “I believe – that is all I need” has not read James. Anybody who says, “I am living a good life” hasn't listened to Paul.

    8. As you leave this morning to face your world, I would send you out with a faith that clings to Christ for those times we fall, but that desires to live a life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.


iMorgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (Page 128). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Joy - Yeah, Right!

Intro.: I remember one of the first lessons I learned about JOY

  1. Jesus Others You

  2. As a child I firmly believed it, but as I have matured, I have discovered that I still need to put Jesus first. But there is a real need to balance the time I spend between serving others and caring for myself.

  3. We cannot spend time looking at the book of Philippians without speaking about “joy” -

  4. Here we have a have a passage that is framed with joy.

Read: Philippians 1:18-26


Trans: Preaching motivated Paul.

  1. Last week it was clear that preaching Christ, whatever the motivation, was a high priority to Paul

  2. In today's passage we see Paul wrestle with the very real possibility of death – as he waits for a verdict after his appeal to Ceasar.

  3. But in each case – the answer is the same. It is better that Christ be preached.

T.S. In Philippians 1:18-26, we see three elements that are part of finding joy in the Christian life.

  1. Joy is the result of prayer

    1. Paul gives direct credit to the work of two entities. The first of these is the church. It is their prayer.

    (Ill.) When I took my first official computer science course, the professor started out the first day to tell us that the purpose of the course was to allow us to distinguish between magic and the computer. In the church we need to distinguish between magic and prayer.

    1. The Greek Bible uses two distinct words for prayer – the more common word is “προσευχή Proseuche refers to the sacred approach we make to God when we come to Him in prayer.

    2. But the word used here is “δέησις - It is the word that would be used by child or teen – like in “Dad I need a _______”. It is a member of the family asking another of the family for something they want or need.

    3. Prayer is not magic, but it a son or daughter coming to their father for something they need. In this case – asking for Paul's deliverance from prison.

    4. What do you need this morning? Have you asked the father for what you need?

  1. Joy is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit

    1. But prayer is only our part of finding joy. God also plays a part.

    2. Look at verse 19 again. “for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

(Ill.) Paul's words were echoed by Harriet Tubman when she once said, “I always told God: I’m gwine to hole stiddy on to you, and you got to see me trou … Jes so long as He wants to use me, He’ll tak ker of me, and when He don’t want me any longer, I’m ready to go.”i

    1. Paul had no idea what his future might be. He did know that the Spirit would be responsible for sustaining him through whatever might come.

    1. Can you picture a triangle.
      Triangle Model
      And that diagram brings us to the third contribution to joy in our lives.

  1. Joy is the result of our circumstances

    1. This is really hard for me to say.

    2. I mean, I am so use to saying “Trust God” and yet here is Paul saying that “... if I come back, your 'joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.'”

    3. Life has its ups and downs. Paul was sensitive to that fact as he wrote to the Philippians. And he knew that those ups and downs affect people.

(Ill.) Let me take just one example – Stress

  • 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects due to stress.
  • 75–90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders.
  • Stress has been linked to all the leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis, and suicide.
  • An estimated one million workers are absent on an average workday because of stress related complaints. Stress is said to be responsible for more than half of the 550,000,000 workdays lost annually because of absenteeism.
  • The proportion of workers who reported “feeling highly stressed” more than doubled from 1985–1990.
  • 40% of all worker turnover is due to job stress
  • Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. industry $300 billion annually, as assessed by absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, medical insurance, etc..ii

(Ill.) Scientists have been studying the effect of laughter on human beings and have found, among other things, that laughter has a profound and instantaneous effect on virtually every important organ in the human body. Laughter reduces health-sapping tensions and relaxes the tissues as well as exercising the most vital organs. It is said that laughter, even when forced, results in beneficial effect on us, both mentally and physically. Next time you feel nervous and jittery, indulge in a good laugh.

    1. There are times that life, including stress, can rob us of life's joy.

(Appl.) And at that point we return to the beginning of this sermon - Joy in the midst of life comes as we share our distress with others. Joy in the midst of life comes as we share our distress with God. How long has it been since you have taken time to turn your stresses over to God? How long has it been since you have turned to the church and said “Pray for me!”

iFederer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.

iiMorgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Gospel With No Limits

Intro.: Back in the 1930's the coach of the US decatholon team was a man by the name of Brutus Hamilton.

  1. Hamilton was not only an athelete, he was also a scientist.

  2. He spent considerable time gathering statistics about the ability of the human body.

  3. The results of his research show that no human could run the 100 yard dash in less than 9.2 seconds. The mile could be run no faster than 3 minutes and 57.8 seconds. The maximum distance for the shot put was 62 feet and the discus 200 feet. The high jump was limited to 7 feet 1 inch. 27 feet in the long jump, and 16 feet for the pole vault.

  4. But in the years since Brutus Hamilton was coach, everyone of his limits was broken.

  5. There are some limits that cannot be broken – for example, physics has shown that it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light.

  6. Too often we put limits on our spiritual life – limits that do not come from God, but from our own fears and concerns.

Read: Philippians 1:12-18


Trans: One way to determine the important ideas and concepts in a passage of scripture is to count the number of times that a key word occurs in the passage.

  1. If we exclude all the small words (and, a, an, the, etc.) the word that occurs more than any other in Philippians 1 is “Christ” - a word that tis used 18 times in 30 verses.

  2. As Paul writes the healthiest church to whom he writes, he begins by focusing their attention on Christ.

  3. Too often the church spends its time on minors – yet when Paul writes the Philippian church, he focuses on Christ.


  1. Not limited by circumstances

    1. I am glad that four years ago I was not in New York City. This past week, I am glad that I am not living in New Orleans

    2. Paul's life as a Christian has not been easy – He had been jailed numerous times, his life had been threated, he had to escape from one city by being lowered the city wall in a basket. He had been shipwrecked.

    3. But Paul did not want people to remember the circumstances of his life, as much as its results.

    4. We've mentioned before the fact that Paul is chained to a guard day and night. Those guards watched Paul – they knew that what he wrote matched his life.

    5. But the impact of Paul's life did not stop there – it was not just Paul's personal guards that were influenced by his life, but the whole praetorian guard.

(Ill.) The praetorian guard were elite group of soldiers – they were originally commissioned to guard the emperor and to serve his special military needs. They had salaries, privileges, and terms of service that put them a step above the regular soldiers in the Roman army. These were the best of the best – and they came to see Paul as a man who was jailed, not for some crime, but for some his faith in Christ.

    1. But it was not just the guard, but the church, too, that was strengthened by Paul's response to his circumstances. Look at verse 14 - “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

(Appl.) As Christians, we fall into a trap – we let our circumstances limit our spread of the gospel. But Paul's life illustrates that our circumstances - GOOD and BAD – do not need to hinder the spread of the gospel. Our is not just a personal thing - it will influence both the believers and the non-believers around us. Family, co-workers, friends will see the consequences of our faith.

  1. Not limited by our motivation

    1. The gospel will be spread – and Paul's circumstances contributed to that goal.

    2. But those that reacted to Paul's circumstances fell into two groups.

    3. First there was a group who preached the gospel gospel from envy. They wanted Paul's reputation for their own. He was in prison, now they could prove how good they were.

(Ill.) Many years ago F. B. Meyer was the pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London. At the same time G. Campbell Morgan was pastor of nearby Christ Church and Charles Hadden Spurgeon was pastor of the Metropolitan Chapel. Both Morgan and Spurgeon often had much larger audiences than Meyer. Consequently Meyer was often troubled by jealousy and envy. But this wise pastor said he received no peace in his heart until he ignored the world's way of thinking and began praying for his colleagues. Meyer said, "When I prayed for their success, the result was that God filled their churches so full that the overflow filled mine, and it has been full every since."i

    1. F. B. Meyer was able to overcome his jealousy. There were people in Paul's church that did not.

    2. But not everyone was preaching Christ out of envy. There were those who preached it out of goodwill.

    3. Amazingly, Paul was grateful for both kinds of men. Christ was being preached. I remember Jesus telling the Pharisees that his disciples did not spread the gospel, even the stones themselves would cry out. (Luke 19:40).

    4. As we, whether as individuals or as a church, take on the job of spreading the gospel there is not room for envy or jealousy. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

    5. We too can rejoice that Christ is being preached.

  1. Only limited by Jesus Christ

(Ill.) I remember that one of the things that first impressed me as a young Christian in a United Methodist Sunday school class – the word gospel means “Good News”. When we speak about the “gospel of Jesus Christ”, we are really speaking about the “good news of Jesus Christ.”

    1. We cannot let our circumstances stop the spread of the gospel

    2. We cannot let envy and jealousy stop the spread of the gospel

    3. The task of the church is to spread the gospel, The task of the church is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

(Ill.) All news is not beautiful. Or had you noticed? But bad news is good news for Christians, in a sense, because we see in it opportunities to turn things around. Or, as Jesus said, to be lights in a dark world. Christians can do more than curse the darkness. We can light a candle. We can change the world.ii

    1. Take time this week to spread the good news 

iredlandbaptist and Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Pastor's Heart

Intro.: I never was a fan of X-Files; I don’t think I ever saw the show, I never saw the show.. But this week I ran across a quote that caught my attention. The quote I found is out of context – but I think it is significant. Scully was one of the main characters on the show. At some point he says -

  1. “Well, it seems to me that the best relationships – the ones that last – are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship.”i

  2. I think that this was the basis for Paul's relationship with the church at Philippi.

  3. He built a friendship – he spent time with them, he opened himself up to them.

  4. They saw him in good times and in bad. Paul had spent time in the Philippian jail – where the jailer and his family were eventually saved and baptised.

  5. Paul Tournier, a Catholid psychiatrist who worked with the mentally ill, is one of my favorite authors. He once wrote, “You can never establish a personal relationship without opening up your own heart.”ii

  6. Paul did that.

Read: Philippians 1:3-11


T.S. Philippians 1: 2-11 suggests two characteristics that help us understand the relationship between Paul and the Philippians.

  1. The relationship was unlimited

    1. Look at verse 3: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” - Every time he thought of the Philippians – Paul could not but remember the Philippians after his two year visit.

    2. Six times Paul uses a suberlative “all, every, whenever, ...” There would be no limits to Paul's concern for the Philippians.

(Ill.) Three is a story told of two boys who were working their way through Leland Stanford University found themselves almost without funds. One of them conceived the idea of engaging the great Polish pianist, Paderewski, for a piano recital, and devoting the profits to their board and tuition. The pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000. The boys proceeded to stage the concert, but the proceeds totaled only $1,600. The boys sought the great artist and told him of their efforts. They gave him the entire $1,600 and a promissory note for the $400, explaining that they would earn the balance and pay it off at the earliest possible moment. “No, boys, that won’t do,” said Paderewski. Then, tearing up the note, he returned the money to them, saying, “Now take out of the $1,600 all of your expenses, and keep ten percent of the balance for each of you for your work, and let me have the rest.” The years rolled by. The war came, and Paderewski was striving with might and main to feed the starving thousands in his beloved Poland. There was only one man in the world who could help Paderewski. Thousands of tons of food began to come into Poland for distribution. After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank Herbert Hoover for the relief sent them. “That’s quite all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was Mr. Hoover’s reply. “ Besides, you don’t remember how you helped me once when I was a student working my way through Leland Stanford, and I was in a hole.”iii

(Appl.) Who are there those you remember for the contribution to your life? Who were the men and women that allowed you to grow? Who were the persons that contributed to you spiritual life over the years? Are there those who, like Paul, you can say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

    1. But there is another way in which Paul's concern is unlimited.

    2. Look at verse 7: “ have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” What ever the circumstances, Paul never forgot the Philippians.

    3. It is hard to always be thankful. Life gets hard at times. Life gets crushing at times. Life gets overwhelming.

    4. As Paul writes, he is sitting chained to a guard.

    5. Paul demonstrates that even in the midst of adversity, it is possible to be concerned about others. It is possible to pray for others.

  1. The relationship was graceful

    1. Paul's relationship with the Philippians brought him to his knees.

    2. First, he takes the opportunity to give thanks.

    3. Paul had received considerable hospitality while Philippi – not counting the time he spent in Jail. But there is some evidence that the Philippians continued to support Paul and his ministry even after he left Philippi.

    4. No reason that they should, nobody demanded their support. But they wanted to because they had to love Paul's ministry to their church.

(Appl.) Giving comes from the heart – not obligation. An employer has to give you a salary. Yep, he is giving it, but it is not a gift. It is not giving as defined by God. Biblical giving comes from a changed heart. It is a response to what God has done for us.

    1. And Paul was thankful for their participation in his ministry.

    2. But Paul's prayer was not just about thanksgiving. He would also pray for their spiritual growth. Look at v. 9-11: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

    3. Paul was grateful for the way they were, but he did not want them to stay that way. Growth, change, becoming more Christlike is part of the Christian life.

(Appl.) Two consequence for each of us: First, we should desire the same for ourselves.

(Ill.) John Owen once said, “All love in general hath an assimilating efficacy; it casts the mind into the mold of the thing beloved. Every approach unto God by ardent love and delight is transfiguring.”iv

    1. When we come to God he will change us.

(Appl.) Not only should that be our prayer for ourselves, but it should also be our prayer for each other. I stand here today and tell you that I need you to pray that prayer for me. I, too, need to become more Christ like. Look to the person to your right, to your left, in front, behind. Even as Paul prayed that the Philippian church might become more Christ like, so must we pray for those people around us.


iWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 857). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

iiWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 857). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

iiiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

ivWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 1063). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.