Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saints and Brothers - Philippians 4:21-23

Saints and Brothers - Philippians 4:21-23
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 26, 2009 AM

When I was younger, my mother had nicknames for all of us kids. She used “Jeep” for my sister, which was my mom’s way of saying she could jump or run over anything. For Ed, my brother, it was “Snuffy” because he had allergies and would sniffle all the time. It was before there was easy access to the myriad of allergy medicines we now have for children. And then, there was the name she had for me. Like my siblings, I hated her nickname for me as well. Not all names we are given do we necessarily like to hear. Oh, I suppose you want to know what my mother’s name was for me, right? While she had several, the one that was used most often was “Doc.” It came from a toy I had when I was very little that had the nursery rhyme Hickory-Dickory-Dock printed on it. My mother thought that I looked like the mouse on the illustration. Interestingly, the earliest recorded version of the rhyme is found in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, published in London around 1744 and is thought to have originated as a counting-out rhyme. Westmoreland shepherds used the numbers “Hevera” (8), “Devera” (9) and “Dick” (10). But whatever the reason, “Doc,” sadly, became my nickname.

What do you call those whom you care about the most? Friend? Partner? Fellow? Companion? Paul used two monikers for his companions and for those he was writing to, and both of the terms he used give us insight as to what it means to follow Jesus Christ. Let’s discover what it means to be called “Saints and Brothers.”

READ: Philippians 4:21-23

I do not mean to be disrespectful, but growing up in a Catholic household I soon learned how to tell if a person was truly important or not. Just find their name listed on the Catholic Saints Calendar! These folks were designated “saints” because of their status of reaching a point in their lives whereby they had lived worthy enough to be called a “saint.” You know, holy and good, kind of like Saint Nicholas or Saint Ignatius or something like that. By the way today, July 26th, is devoted to the Saints Ann and Joachim who made it on the list simply because they are the supposed grandparents of Jesus’ mother Mary. Is this really true concerning the designation of the term “saint”? We discover that…

I. Paul called his fellow Christians “saints.”

1. When the saints go marching in is more than a great jazz tune! Interestingly believers were first called saints in the Book of Acts (Acts 9:13), but why? Paul gives us an idea when he writes to the Roman Christians with this opening remark: “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7) Christians are “called to be saints.” Christians are called to be this because the word used for “saint” refers to something morally blameless, physically pure, and that which is set apart. And this describes Christians perfectly! Not that we as individuals are pure or perfect, however, through the shed blood of Jesus lavishly applied to our sinful condition we are cleansed by His holiness and made pure! We are “called to be saints” because it is God who calls each of us to Himself! Paul reminded his readers that “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24) God not only keeps His word, He keeps His saints! We also know that it is God “who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.” (Romans 8:27) God’s Spirit intercedes for us because we are His saints! And, that as God’s chosen saints, we will one day “judge the world”! (1 Corinthians 6:2) Paul also wrote: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe!” (Ephesians 1:18-19a) As God’s saints we have a glorious inheritance of eternal quality and we enjoy His incomparably great power to save us from all our sins! Wow! This is why Paul called his fellow Christians “saints.”

EXAMPLE: When Denise was little she knew a little girl down the street that wanted to become a “snowman” when she grew up. While many of us wanted to be doctors, lawyers, firemen, policemen, teachers, or some other high-minded and fancy occupation, few of us, when we were little, responded to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with: “A saint!” In fact, if we had responded in that way, we would have been thought of as either immature or odd. Yet if we call ourselves “Christians,” this job designation ought to be our highest priority in life. The essence of sainthood is simply to be like Jesus. Paul said that “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:29) Christians are to be saints and saints are to be like Jesus. This is why Paul called his fellow Christians “saints.”

When I first decided to became a “Baptist,” after first becoming a Christian, I learned that you had to enjoy certain things: Food, fellowship, and calling another Christian either “brother" or "sister.” This was kind of uncomfortable for me since I had been raised a Catholic. Catholic families have a lot of brothers and sisters in them, both familially as siblings or religiously -- where the term “brother” could refer to an unmarried man who has devoted his entire life to some aspect of the Catholic Church or “sister” which might refer to a “nun.” A celibate single woman who is married to the Catholic Church. Both used to wear robes, but not now. So, you can see why I became confused and was guarded about anyone calling me “brother.” However, this distrust soon wore off when I realized that…

II. Paul called his fellow Christians “brothers.”

1. Brothers in Christ are kin to one another! I had mentioned that Paul had said, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,” but the second part of this verse tells us “that He [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) As Christians we immediately become the “brothers,” or the “sisters” of Jesus by our faith in Him. We are reminded: “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13) So, as believers we are known as “brothers” in the Lord. The word literally means “of the womb,” as in sharing the same birthing place as siblings do. Christians all share in the same way of being born again in Jesus. Also, as spiritual brothers in the Lord we are to be “holy and living sacrifices,” (Romans 12:1). We are to “fix our thoughts on Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1) and remember we are to “think about… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable!” (Philippians 4:8) And, we are to “Keep on loving each other as brothers.” (Hebrews 13:1) James would remind us that as brothers we are not to show favoritism, remember our good deeds, watch our mouths, be patient with one another, not grumble, and if one of the brothers “should wander from the truth,” we are instructed to “bring him back.” John reminds us that the “world will hate” us because we are “brothers” and “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.” (1 John 3:14) In fact, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16) This is why Paul called his fellow Christians “brothers.”

EXAMPLE: There is a spiritually schizophrenic notion that God considers all people everywhere “brothers.” While this may be true in the sense we all come from the same distant parentage of Adam and Eve, we all do not share in the same spiritual heritage. Paul told the Athenians, “From one man He made every nation of men… God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him.” (Acts 17:26-27) But not every turns to the Lord and thereby becoming His “brother.” Certainly, Christians are to respect all people, to have compassion, and to be at peace with everyone as is humanly possible. However, not everyone we come into contact with is our spiritual brother or sister. To think so reduces what Jesus did for us on the cross to the sameness as all other religions of the world. Yet, we are to treat fellow believers as brothers, womb mates, in the Lord. In fact, those who are our spiritual siblings can be closer to us than our own brood we grew up with. I remember my own brother trying to convince me that I was “adopted out of pity.” We are reminded in the Bible that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) Paul knew this to be true and this is why Paul called fellow Christians “brothers.”

Conclusion:
Paul called his fellow Christians “saints” and “brothers.” Now, let me ask you: Are you a saint and a brother in the Lord?
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This article is copyrighted © 2009 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission. You now have my permission to use the entire article.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

An Acceptable Sacrifice - Philippians 4:10-20

An Acceptable Sacrifice - Philippians 4:10-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 19, 2009 AM

Sacrifice is a quality that has been lost on many in the church today. Let me illustrate what I mean: According to a Worldmag.com article, “Of every dollar given to a Protestant church, the average amount that goes to overseas missions is two cents.” In fact, they noted that “In 1920, the percentage of giving to missions from the total offering was 10.09 percent, just over a dime out of every dollar.” Empty Tomb, of Champaign, Ill., has analyzed the contributions and spending patterns of American churches. They found that “Noticeably missing in this study of church giving is tithing.” The study shows that total giving for American churches was at about 2.5% for all religious contributions! They found that “If church members were to tithe 10 percent of their income, churches would reap an additional $156 billion.” Christians have forgotten what it means to sacrifice for the kingdom of God.

Interestingly, I also learned that while tithing is way down, vacationing for missions is way up. What does this teach us? Some speculate that it shows people want to be more hands on in their faith, but it may also show that it is more about how a person feels about themselves than how they actually sacrifice for the glory of God’s kingdom. It can be fun and enjoyable to raise money for your own mission experience, go and have a “life-changing summer,” and yet not tithe regularly to the church you belong to. It is far more difficult for today’s believer to be consistent in their living for Christ than it is in their experiencing Christ. Is this an acceptable sacrifice? Paul would say, “No.” Personal sacrifice is called for from every Christian but sacrifice by its very nature demands from us a personal price. What then can Paul teach us about what is an acceptable sacrifice? Let’s find out…

READ: Philippians 4:10-20

Paul had been raised in a well-to-do city, Tarsus, near the coast of Cilicia and probably was a member of a well-to-do family. How do we know this? It was only those few chosen ones who were considered for private schooling by the likes of Gamaliel. (Acts 22:3) Yet, Paul was willing to work as a tradesman, a tent maker, in order to see the kingdom of God established. Acceptable sacrifice for Paul was found in the gratification of the gospel. Why? We discover that…

I. Paul learned contentment is found in sacrifice! (vv. 10-13)

1. There is a contentment found in investing your life in Jesus! For Paul is was an easy matter to invest his life in the Lord. Jesus had found him and had changed his life and had given Paul a hope and a certainty he had never known before. Paul knew he owed Jesus everything in life. Therefore, Paul’s heart was made glad and he rejoiced “greatly in the Lord” for the Philippians’ generosity. They had not forgotten Paul and through them God had met his needs. What a testimony about these folks! They were concerned about Paul but evidently had no opportunity to show it. Notice too that Paul did not have to beg them for help, they willing give even though they were impoverished themselves! Why? It was an overflow from their hearts because of what Jesus had done for them! Not out of a sense of guilt, but of devotion and love. Paul had learned the lesson of contentment and had taught the Philippians where it came from as well. His changing circumstances did not affect the inner contentment he enjoyed. His life was one of personal sacrifice, because Jesus’ life was one of sacrifice, and now the Philippians were showing the same kind of sacrifice! The word for “content” here (autarkes) means “self-sufficient.” The Stoics used this word (only here in the NT) to mean human self-reliance and fortitude, a calm acceptance of life’s pressures. Paul used it to remind his readers of God’s provision no matter your personal circumstances. Paul had come to know a wonderful secret about personal contentment: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Have you learned this is your life in Christ? Paul could confidently state, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” because he knew contentment starts with sacrifice.

EXAMPLE: When Paul said he could “do everything” – whether living in poverty or living in plenty – it was only “through Him who gives me strength.” This was not some expression of puffed up personal pride in his own abilities but rather a humble declaration of the strength provided by Jesus. What would you consider sacrificing for the Lord? Where 80% of all households in America have cable or satellite TV; where 70% own a cell phone; and where 97% of American households own computers what would be considered sacrificial? Sacrifice costs the one doing it dearly. Dave Branon writes for RBC, “Teenagers amaze me. So many of them love life with grand passion and face it with unrelenting optimism. Sometimes they demonstrate the Christian life in ways adults can only hope to emulate. Such is the case with Carissa, a teen who loves soccer, basketball, friends, family, and Jesus. In 2000, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Carissa was just 12 years old, but she began helping to care for her mom. During the next few years, Carissa often fed her mom, dressed her, and helped her do anything she couldn’t do for herself. ‘It was so hard to learn,’ she said. ‘Can you imagine, a mother and daughter literally changing roles? I truly learned to be a humble servant.’ Sometimes, while her friends were out having fun, Carissa was helping her dad to take care of her mom. She continued to do so until the summer of 2004, when Carissa and her family said goodbye to Mom for the last time. As Carissa puts it, ‘God took her home and made her perfect.’” Sacrifice is not just a mere inconvenience. Paul would write the Corinthians about the Philippians “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2) Paul learned contentment is found in sacrifice.

Paul was never content to simply sit on the sidelines and let others do the dirty work of winning the lost to the gospel. He took very seriously the command of Jesus to “go into all the world,” and taught others that it demanded more than mere lip service. Paul had faced beatings, shipwreck, imprisonment, persecution, hunger, and poverty for the sake of the gospel. In this Paul discovered what was the meaning of acceptable sacrifice. In fact, we find that…

II. Paul taught others that God supplies all they need in sacrifice! (vv. 14-20)

1. There is a blessing found from giving and receiving for God’s glory! Although Paul had found contentment in whatever circumstances he faced, he was truly grateful for the sacrificial response of the Philippians to his personal needs. They shared even in Paul’s “troubles.” Can you imagine him using this kind of wording when in fact he was facing perhaps his own death? Troubles? I’ll say! The Philippians showed what it meant to sacrifice and to depend upon the Lord to provide. From the earliest part of Paul’s ministry “not one church shared with [him] in the matter of giving and receiving, except” only the Philippians! From the very beginning of their faith walk in Christ, they had shared with Paul! Perhaps Paul thought he had said too much and did not want the Philippians, who had already sacrificed so much, to think he was again “looking for a gift.” Rather, he was “looking for what may be credited to” the Philippians’ “account.” Paul was not trying to make them feel guilty, but to encourage them in what they were already doing! They had sent him “aid again and again when [he] was in need.” Evidently, what the Philippians had sent Paul had truly affected him. He knew what it had cost them to give. He describes their gift as “full payment and even more.” It was more than he had ever expected! And, he felt “amply supplied” because of their unselfish sacrifice on his behalf. Paul knew their wonderful gifts had become literally “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God,” because they gave it out of faith that God was using them to further Paul’s work. Paul fully understood what it had cost them to send him something and he was truly touched by their generosity. He prayerfully writes them, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Vv. 19-20) WOW! Paul taught others that God supplies all they need in sacrifice.

EXAMPLE: While more and more money is being raised for religious causes, less and less is being diverted per capita towards spreading the message of the gospel. Few who attend church in our day and age tithe and fewer still give sacrificially for the kingdom of God. It has become the norm for Christians to give God a tip rather than a tithe. More and more believers have swallowed the notion that Christ is felt more than lived. That they do not have to give up anything in order to be a vibrant Christian. We have lost the Philippian attitude of selfless sacrifice. Sacrifice is more than giving up broccoli for Lent or fasting for a few days in order to loose weight for the Lord. Joining a church, going to Sunday School, or serving within a church is not sacrifice either. It is not considered by God a sacrifice for you to pry yourself out of bed on Sunday to come and worship Him as you are supposed to do anyway. In fact, it could be seen as blasphemy if it is not done with the right attitude. Tucked away in Isaiah is an admonishment by God to His people. He tells them, “You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.” (Isaiah 43:24) Jeremiah tells us that “sweet calamus” is from “a distant land.” (Jeremiah 6:20) and it was used as part of the fragrant offerings given to God. The Israelite who sacrificially brought sweet calamus, which was both rare in Israel and expensive, was honoring God through their personal sacrifice of devotion. Ask yourself the following question: Is my life characterized by acts of self-denial, the gifts of sweet calamus that mean so much to the Lord? How grieved the Savior must be when we don't offer Him our worship the gifts that come from our personal sacrifice! Perhaps we have forgotten that it is God who gives us everything in life and we as His disciples are to be totally dependent on Him? Paul never forgot this and he taught others that God supplies all they need in sacrifice.

Conclusion:
What is an acceptable sacrifice? Paul learned contentment is found in sacrifice and Paul taught others that God supplies all they need in sacrifice.
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This article is copyrighted © 2009 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission. You now have my permission to use the entire article.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Worthy Things In Life - Philippians 4:8-9

Worthy Things In Life - Philippians 4:8-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 12, 2009 AM

Émile Coué introduced us to the psychobabble of the mantra of self-impression that “Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.” It was a type of autosuggestion. The Coué method centers on a routine repetition of this particular expression according to a specific ritual, no matter your physical wellbeing and in the absence of any sort of associated mental imagery, you repeat it to yourself at the beginning and at the end of each day. In other words, you stand in front of the mirror, look at yourself, and remind yourself that in “Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.” In doing so it does not matter how you feel, what is occurring, or what the day is like; you are “getting better and better.” The idea is that a positive state of mind comes from a positive state of mind. Does it work? Perhaps, until you blow it or prove that in fact everyday in every way you are not getting better and better and deep down inside you know that to be true!

What then should make life worthwhile for us? Paul faced constant persecution simply because of what he believed. Added to this was that he depended solely upon volunteers to follow through with his teachings on Jesus and often Paul found life frustrating in the extreme. He did not have the luxury of looking blithely into a mirror and reminding himself that “everyday in everyway I’m getting better and better.” Instead, we discover that Paul looked to Christ for any approval of his. In fact he learned that his life was found in his selflessness as he served his Savior and Lord. Meaning in life is found in Christ, and Paul addresses this fact with the Philippians as to what was truly worthy things in life. Let’s discover what Paul tells them…

READ: Philippians 4:8-9

When a Pastor says, “finally,” it may not always be true. While this little bit of humor may or may not be correct to a certain extent, we find that it certainly was true for Paul! He was definitely not “finished” with the Philippians yet. Paul realized, because of his own life, that Christians would struggle with their walk in the Lord Jesus. It is a natural thing because God is holy and we are not. We are spiritually made holy in the Lord when we believe, but we still drag around with us the ugly sinful things of life we have learned. Looking at these two verses in Philippians we discover that…

I. Worthy things in life for Paul were “excellent and praise worthy!” (v. 8)

1. Paul shows us in a very real way that no one can be anything without Jesus in their life! Paul gives us a list of six things that are “excellent or praiseworthy.” He relates that “whatever is true,” literally that which is unhidden. No lies, no guile, just the truth. (Do you think today’s politician could learn from this one?) Then he continues by saying, “whatever is noble,” meaning worthy of respect. Like a soldier who serves with integrity their country with a sense of duty and honor. He tells them that “whatever is right,” meaning someone who is innocent and straightforward. Believers are to be innocent of the ways of the world, yet many I fear would rather make excuses or hide their shame than honestly face it and confess it. He goes on to write that “whatever is pure,” meaning someone who is blameless and modest. Someone who is not perfect, but who lives in such a way that they are seen by the beauty of their lives lived for God. Then Paul writes that “whatever is lovely,” which refers to those who promote peace or unity in a situation. And finally, Paul mentions “whatever is admirable,” which refers to a person who is well spoken of or where others know their intrinsic character to be all of the above! Are all of these things possible for sinful people like us? The answer is a definite “YES!” Paul will later write, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) It is not by our might or will or by our trying to be “good enough,” it is only through Jesus that we can attain all of this! Worthy things in life are always found in Jesus Christ. Worthy things in life for Paul were “excellent and praiseworthy.”

EXAMPLE: The Florida orange growers mounted a successful TV ad campaign, when sales of orange juice had fallen off in the United States, by telling people “That a day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.” It was so successful that orange juice sales sky-rocketed and have not fallen since its inception. If only Christians would remind themselves that: “A day without Jesus is a day without living life to its fullest,” then perhaps we would see a change in the kingdom of God and in His church. Far too many folks live their lives in Christ in shame or dishonesty. There is no reason to. Your life in Christ is not dependent upon you or on how you feel for the moment! It is dependent upon your willingness to allow Jesus to live through you, period! Paul shows us in a very real way that no one can be anything without Jesus in their life. Worthy things in life are not found in what you can do, buy, or be. The things in life that are “excellent and praiseworthy,” are found in Jesus.

How many of us could really tell someone else, “Do not do merely as I say, but do as I do!”? Not many of us. Sadly, we often take on the old adage, “Don’t do as I do, rather do as I say!” Right? But Paul will have none of this from his readers the Philippians and from us as well. Paul knew that Christians are not to sit on their holy behinds but were to actively live for the Lord. We discover that…

II. Worthy things in life for Paul were “put into practice!” (v. 9)

1. Merely thinking about Jesus, never made anyone live like Jesus! Paul ended his last thought with the admonishment for his readers to “think about such things!” But merely “thinking” about being godly never got anyone to where Jesus wanted them to be, and Paul knew this. Positive thinking about God, everyday in every way, never got a sinful individual to be the Godly person they need to be. Paul bluntly reminds his readers that “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice!” In other words, whenever you saw me doing the things I just described, DO IT JUST AS I DID IT! Paul knew he could confidently stand before anyone and relate, “Hey, what you see me doing for the Lord, you do the same thing and you will be living a-okay for Jesus!” Why? Because Paul put into practice the things he taught! If we cannot control our spending habits, our drinking habits, our lying habits, our speech habits, or… well, you get the idea, then we cannot expect our children to respond any other way than what they see us doing! Right? It is a foolish parent who thinks they should be “honest” and “forthright” with their immature child about how they were ungodly, irresponsible, or rebellious when they were younger. Instead, immature children learn best from a high standard set by their parents and not through an ungodly reminder. You never read about Paul encouraging others to live like he did when he persecuted Christians! In fact, he was ashamed of his past life and considered it “rubbish.” Why do you think he wrote earlier: “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!”? (Philippians 1:20-21) Worthy things in life for Paul were “put into practice!”

EXAMPLE: “I expected more out of you.” Those words pierced my little boy heart when my father related them to me, but what he related afterwards showed me how to live my life afterwards. He went on to say, “Do not sit there and stay sad and ashamed, but instead do something about it for the future!” He meant that I was not to sit there and wallow in my guilt or beat myself up over the fact I had disappointed him but rather I was to learn from it and grow and mature and then act upon what I had learned. Simply knowing about Jesus is not good enough, you have to apply what you know in your life. It is first applied when you act upon the fact you are a sinner and you repent and turn away from your sin and turn to Jesus Christ. You see, merely thinking about Jesus, never made anyone live like Jesus! You have to come to Him by faith and trust Him with your life. You have to die to yourself and live for Him. “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Worthy things in life for Paul were “put into practice!”

Conclusion:
Worthy things in life for Paul were “excellent and praiseworthy, and worthy things in life for Paul were “put into practice!”
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This article is copyrighted © 2009 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission. You now have my permission to use the entire article.

Worthy Things In Life - Philippians 4:8-9

Worthy Things In Life - Philippians 4:8-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 12, 2009 AM

Émile Coué introduced us to the psychobabble of the mantra of self-impression that “Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.” It was a type of autosuggestion. The Coué method centers on a routine repetition of this particular expression according to a specific ritual, no matter your physical wellbeing and in the absence of any sort of associated mental imagery, you repeat it to yourself at the beginning and at the end of each day. In other words, you stand in front of the mirror, look at yourself, and remind yourself that in “Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.” In doing so it does not matter how you feel, what is occurring, or what the day is like; you are “getting better and better.” The idea is that a positive state of mind comes from a positive state of mind. Does it work? Perhaps, until you blow it or prove that in fact everyday in every way you are not getting better and better and deep down inside you know that to be true!

What then should make life worthwhile for us? Paul faced constant persecution simply because of what he believed. Added to this was that he depended solely upon volunteers to follow through with his teachings on Jesus and often Paul found life frustrating in the extreme. He did not have the luxury of looking blithely into a mirror and reminding himself that “everyday in everyway I’m getting better and better.” Instead, we discover that Paul looked to Christ for any approval of his. In fact he learned that his life was found in his selflessness as he served his Savior and Lord. Meaning in life is found in Christ, and Paul addresses this fact with the Philippians as to what was truly worthy things in life. Let’s discover what Paul tells them…

READ: Philippians 4:8-9

When a Pastor says, “finally,” it may not always be true. While this little bit of humor may or may not be correct to a certain extent, we find that it certainly was true for Paul! He was definitely not “finished” with the Philippians yet. Paul realized, because of his own life, that Christians would struggle with their walk in the Lord Jesus. It is a natural thing because God is holy and we are not. We are spiritually made holy in the Lord when we believe, but we still drag around with us the ugly sinful things of life we have learned. Looking at these two verses in Philippians we discover that…

I. Worthy things in life for Paul were “excellent and praise worthy!” (v. 8)

1. Paul shows us in a very real way that no one can be anything without Jesus in their life! Paul gives us a list of six things that are “excellent or praiseworthy.” He relates that “whatever is true,” literally that which is unhidden. No lies, no guile, just the truth. (Do you think today’s politician could learn from this one?) Then he continues by saying, “whatever is noble,” meaning worthy of respect. Like a soldier who serves with integrity their country with a sense of duty and honor. He tells them that “whatever is right,” meaning someone who is innocent and straightforward. Believers are to be innocent of the ways of the world, yet many I fear would rather make excuses or hide their shame than honestly face it and confess it. He goes on to write that “whatever is pure,” meaning someone who is blameless and modest. Someone who is not perfect, but who lives in such a way that they are seen by the beauty of their lives lived for God. Then Paul writes that “whatever is lovely,” which refers to those who promote peace or unity in a situation. And finally, Paul mentions “whatever is admirable,” which refers to a person who is well spoken of or where others know their intrinsic character to be all of the above! Are all of these things possible for sinful people like us? The answer is a definite “YES!” Paul will later write, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) It is not by our might or will or by our trying to be “good enough,” it is only through Jesus that we can attain all of this! Worthy things in life are always found in Jesus Christ. Worthy things in life for Paul were “excellent and praiseworthy.”

EXAMPLE: The Florida orange growers mounted a successful TV ad campaign, when sales of orange juice had fallen off in the United States, by telling people “That a day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.” It was so successful that orange juice sales sky-rocketed and have not fallen since its inception. If only Christians would remind themselves that: “A day without Jesus is a day without living life to its fullest,” then perhaps we would see a change in the kingdom of God and in His church. Far too many folks live their lives in Christ in shame or dishonesty. There is no reason to. Your life in Christ is not dependent upon you or on how you feel for the moment! It is dependent upon your willingness to allow Jesus to live through you, period! Paul shows us in a very real way that no one can be anything without Jesus in their life. Worthy things in life are not found in what you can do, buy, or be. The things in life that are “excellent and praiseworthy,” are found in Jesus.

How many of us could really tell someone else, “Do not do merely as I say, but do as I do!”? Not many of us. Sadly, we often take on the old adage, “Don’t do as I do, rather do as I say!” Right? But Paul will have none of this from his readers the Philippians and from us as well. Paul knew that Christians are not to sit on their holy behinds but were to actively live for the Lord. We discover that…

II. Worthy things in life for Paul were “put into practice!” (v. 9)

1. Merely thinking about Jesus, never made anyone live like Jesus! Paul ended his last thought with the admonishment for his readers to “think about such things!” But merely “thinking” about being godly never got anyone to where Jesus wanted them to be, and Paul knew this. Positive thinking about God, everyday in every way, never got a sinful individual to be the Godly person they need to be. Paul bluntly reminds his readers that “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice!” In other words, whenever you saw me doing the things I just described, DO IT JUST AS I DID IT! Paul knew he could confidently stand before anyone and relate, “Hey, what you see me doing for the Lord, you do the same thing and you will be living a-okay for Jesus!” Why? Because Paul put into practice the things he taught! If we cannot control our spending habits, our drinking habits, our lying habits, our speech habits, or… well, you get the idea, then we cannot expect our children to respond any other way than what they see us doing! Right? It is a foolish parent who thinks they should be “honest” and “forthright” with their immature child about how they were ungodly, irresponsible, or rebellious when they were younger. Instead, immature children learn best from a high standard set by their parents and not through an ungodly reminder. You never read about Paul encouraging others to live like he did when he persecuted Christians! In fact, he was ashamed of his past life and considered it “rubbish.” Why do you think he wrote earlier: “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!”? (Philippians 1:20-21) Worthy things in life for Paul were “put into practice!”

EXAMPLE: “I expected more out of you.” Those words pierced my little boy heart when my father related them to me, but what he related afterwards showed me how to live my life afterwards. He went on to say, “Do not sit there and stay sad and ashamed, but instead do something about it for the future!” He meant that I was not to sit there and wallow in my guilt or beat myself up over the fact I had disappointed him but rather I was to learn from it and grow and mature and then act upon what I had learned. Simply knowing about Jesus is not good enough, you have to apply what you know in your life. It is first applied when you act upon the fact you are a sinner and you repent and turn away from your sin and turn to Jesus Christ. You see, merely thinking about Jesus, never made anyone live like Jesus! You have to come to Him by faith and trust Him with your life. You have to die to yourself and live for Him. “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Worthy things in life for Paul were “put into practice!”

Conclusion:
Worthy things in life for Paul were “excellent and praiseworthy, and worthy things in life for Paul were “put into practice!”
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This article is copyrighted © 2009 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission. You now have my permission to use the entire article.