Sunday, August 05, 2018

Running life’s race! - Philippians 3:12-21

Running life’s race! - Philippians 3:12-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 5, 2018

I find it kind of interesting that we start life learning to crawl, jog or run through our younger years, and then end up walking or shuffling to the finish line. The Christian life is not to be this way at all. We are to begin by walking hand-in-hand with the Lord and then run the rest of life’s race to the finish line.

Paul understood what running life’s race was all about because he was doing it himself. His desire was that his brothers and sisters in Jesus would finish the same race well. In life we cannot help it if we become handicapped in some way as we age. Nor can we help how we entered into the world. Bad things happen to good people because sin exists. However how we live for the Lord is determined by us and how we run life’s race for him. Let’s discover what Paul wrote the Philippians concerning running life’s race…

READ: Philippians 3:12-21

There are some folks who have a Mary Poppins attitude,, they think they are “practically perfect in every way”. Others around them would disagree. Christians should never have this kind of an attitude. Paul reminds us that in running life’s race…

I. We are to focus on the goal! (Vv. 12-14)

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

  1. Paul not only knew who he followed and why but Paul was also a realist. He understood the world around him and why people often did what they did in life. But far more importantly Paul understood himself. Even though he knew he had been made holy in the sight of God by his faith in Jesus he understood he was not perfect. He still blew it from time to time and so he writes, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Paul knew there was more to life than ourselves. He now lived his life for the Lord Jesus Christ! His goal was not to try to reach perfection; his goal was to live for Jesus! It was like a race for Paul. You do not complete the race until you cross the finish line and Paul realized he had not yet crossed that line in life! So he reminds his readers, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” Paul was still in the race! Far too many believers think that their age, their sickness, or their emotional or physical state somehow disqualifies them from continuing to run the race God has laid out for each believer. This simply is not true. In the face of life’s obstacles we still are in the race but we are in the race with Jesus and we are never alone. However, like Paul we need to remember, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” We cannot get caught up in life’s past sin or anything life throws our way because if we do, we stay at the beginning of the race we have entered! We must strain for the prize we have been promised! In running life’s race we are to focus on the goal!

  EXAMPLE: I liked the Disney Pixar movie “Up”. It is about Carl a crotchety old man who promised his late wife a trip to Paradise Falls; a place where a famous explorer found the giant skeleton of an exotic bird. Carl is found to be incapable of keeping his home and so he attaches thousands of helium filled balloons to it planning to float it to Paradise Falls as he promised his late wife. Russell, a young “Wilderness Explorer” who visited Carl in his effort to earn his final merit badge, for assisting the elderly, becomes an accidental stowaway. In their journey they both meet up with a dog named “Dug”. He can’t seem to focus on anything and yet becomes a hero. All the characters, even the eventual villain, are focused on the wrong things in life. Friendship is more important than merit badges, life is not lived in the past, and squirrels should not keep you from focusing on what is important. Paul teaches us that in running life’s race we are to focus on the goal!

I remember when I discovered that maturity does not come with age. Maturity comes when one uses their life’s experiences to become the person God desires them to be. The same is true for wisdom. Age doesn’t make someone wise. Wisdom comes from how one uses the knowledge they have obtained to glorify the Lord. Paul reminds us that in running life’s race…

II. We mature as we follow Jesus’ example! (Vv. 15-17)

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

  1. Paul knew that people can get sidetracked in running the race God has set out for each of us. Things tend to get in the way; family, friends, jobs, and personal interests just to name a few. In our day and age there are far too many distractions. This is why Paul writes the Philippians that he knows they can be distracted, however, “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.” In other words you may disagree about your goal in life but if you have placed your faith and trust in Jesus your life is to be lived differently than the rest of the world. Our view of things should be filtered through our lives lived for the Lord! How are we running the race today? Yet Paul understood that there would be those who would disagree just as there are today and so he told them that “if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” We cannot force the world to believe as we believe; nor can we force fellow Christians to do so either, however, we can give them over to the Lord to deal with. We can trust Jesus with people’s lives we cannot seem to get through to. Does this mean we simply give up? NO! But we pray, talk to the Lord, and trust the Lord to handle the situation and to enlighten us on how we should proceed. Far too many believers don’t talk with God they instead talk at God. Paul tells us what our goal should be in this situation: “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” If we have trusted Jesus then we have all we need to proceed in life. We not only have Jesus walking with us but we have fellow Christians as well. We are not to isolate ourselves. Instead we are to “Join with others in following [Paul’s] example”. We are to remember we are “brothers” in Christ “and take note of those who live according to the pattern [Paul] gave you.” In running life’s race we mature as we follow Jesus’ example!

  EXAMPLE: I had to smile the other day as I was bagging groceries at WinCo. Another elderly couple was there in the next line and he was bagging groceries as well. Evidently he and his wife had been having a discussion that overflowed to the bagging area. Her remark made me laugh because she sounded like a preadolescent teen when she said, “Oh you think you’re so mature!” He muttered back, “More than you.” Some folks seem to never grow up I guess. Paul teaches us that in running life’s race we mature as we follow Jesus’ example!

Far too many Christians have forgotten that eternity exists. They become so caught up in the things of today they forget whom they are to follow. They can begin to live for the moment thinking that this is all there is in life forgetting the fact that this world is not our home. Paul reminds us that in running the race…

III. We are to remember who we are! (Vv. 18-21)

For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

  1. Paul knew that in running life’s race there are those who would love to distract us in doing so. Misery loves company. Ever wonder why some folks are so bent on destroying your life in the Lord? Paul understood that there were rivals for Jesus’ affection. He writes the Philippians, “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Sadly this has not changed because there are still those who desire believers fail in their faith. Yet take hope because Paul pegged them for what they truly are “enemies of the cross”! And he understood their outcome in life’s race: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.” They are headed for an eternity separated from God because they focus on the here and now and what they get out of life. They cannot help themselves because “Their mind is on earthly things.” Do not get enamored with the things of the world because they are passing away, “our citizenship is in heaven”! That is where every believer in Christ is headed! “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Jesus will either return or we will head home. Our job is to continue in the race God has laid out for each of us! This world is not our home and we are citizens of heaven! In running life’s race we are to remember who we are!

  EXAMPLE: I hate it when I go to a seminar or meeting and they hand out name tags to slap on your shirt or coat. I know they do it so the speaker or fellow guests can know your name but whatever happened to introducing yourself to another person or the speaker before you ask a question? I always think it is because they think I can’t remember who I am. In fact, being the tease I am I stood up one time during one session and deliberately looked confused until I looked at my name tag before I addressed the speaker. I exclaimed, “Whew! I almost forgot who I was until I remembered my name tag!” It got a chuckle from the crowd, which of course is what I was hoping for. I am so glad that Paul reminds us that in running life’s race we are to remember who we are!

Conclusion:

In running life’s race we are to focus on the goal! In running life’s race we mature as we follow Jesus’ example! In running life’s race we are to remember who we are!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

What’s important? - Philippians 3:1-11

What’s important? - Philippians 3:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 29, 2018

When you’re single what is important changes dramatically after you get married and have kids. And it should. Sadly there are a few men and women who seem not to mature into the role of spouse and parent. They seem to think that life still should revolve around their needs, desires, and wants. This simply is not true. One who lives selfishly this way never seems to ask “What’s important?”

A faithful follower of Jesus has to constantly ask themselves what is important in order to maintain spiritual focus for their lives. Christianity is not a momentary thing. It does not just happen once a week on Sundays. If we do not take seriously our walk with the Lord we will fall prey to the whims of the ungodly world around us. Paul knew this to be true and teaches the Philippians what’s important. Let’s find out what he writes…

READ: Philippians 3:1-11

There were those who were called “Judaizers” Judaizers is a term for Christians who insisted that their fellow Christians should follow the Old Covenant laws. This term is most widely known from its single use in the Greek New Testament (Galatians 2:14) where Paul publicly challenges Peter for compelling gentile converts to early Christianity to “judaize” their faith instead of relying on faith alone in Christ alone. We discover that what is important for Paul is that…

I. Christians should never live a life of works! (Vv. 1-4)

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh--though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:

  1. Some call it “sacraments” as if there is something sacred in making people earn their salvation by doing certain manmade requirements instead of placing their faith and trust in Jesus. Evangelicals can be guilty of the same thing when we begin to swallow the lie of the world that if we are good enough, nice enough, or do simple acts of kindness then God will wink at our putrid sin and let us into heaven. Paul feared that the Philippians were allowing themselves to swallow the same lie and so begins this section by telling them “my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” That was to be their focus, not rituals. If Paul had to repeat himself he would because he cared about their faith, so he writes, “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” He bluntly tells them to “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.” There were those who were whispering in the unsuspecting ears of the Philippians that they needed to go back to following Old Testament rules of circumcision. Jesus totally did away with such a view. Paul knew what he was speaking about here and tells them, “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh--though I myself have reasons for such confidence.” He had been one! A “mutilator of the flesh”! But now Paul had trust Jesus and “put no confidence in the flesh”. In fact “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, [Paul had] more”! Christians should never live a life of works!

  EXAMPLE: Trail Life for boys is a group that was founded upon certain principles and one of them is that it isn’t awards focused. Some boys’ programs are very focused on helping a boy achieve as many awards as he can in the shortest period of time. In contrast, Trail Life is more concerned with building character than with earning badges and ranks. Trail Life has a robust and prominent ranking and awards structure; however, this is not the focus of the program. The focus is on building character over merely earning awards. I like this because it supports that our lives in Jesus should never be focused on doing things in order to be saved. Paul teaches us what is important in that Christians should never live a life of works!

Far too many people try to placate God instead of living their lives for him. We tend to forget that if God did not love us he would not have come to die for us! In fact this notion was a completely new concept during Paul’s day that a deity would not require pacification in some way. Paul reminds us here in these verses what’s important in that…

II. Christians should never try to appease God! (Vv. 5-7)

circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

  1. Paul absolutely understood what he was talking about because his whole life up until he laid aside his pride and came to Christ had also been “circumcised on the eighth day”. He had been changed by his faith in Jesus and because of that change Paul realized that coming to God no longer took a plethora of requirements and crossing off the deeds you did. Paul was “of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin” and quite literally “a Hebrew of Hebrews”. No one could outdo Paul in his strict adherence to following a set of commands, regulations, and manmade requirements. By Paul’s day there were over 600 volumes written by the Jews in order to try as hard as they might to follow the legalistic manmade requirements they self-imposed on one another. Paul would call them “fools” because these people were foolish for spiritually enslaving people. To the church at Corinth he wrote, “You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about--I am speaking as a fool--I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. (2 Corinthians 11:19-22 NIV)” Paul understood and was angered this kind of enslavement because he had followed it himself and “in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” Paul had blindly believed the fallacy of trying to do one more “good thing” in order to be loved by God and he knew it was ungodly thinking! Paul’s way of thinking changed because he had changed and so he writes, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss (literally damaged goods or a detriment) for the sake of Christ.” Paul knew what’s important for faith and the fact was that Christians should never try to appease God!

  EXAMPLE: I will never forget going to the bedside of a beautiful Christian woman who was dying of cancer and her only thought was: “Have I done enough good things for God to love me?” She was part of a Christian denomination that places part of the burden of grace on the believer. So those who belong to it think they have to do a certain amount of good works in their livers in order to offset any unpaid for sin. This is faulty theology. Jesus paid it all on the cross. Paul teaches us what is important in that Christians should never try to appease God!

If something or someone is important in your life you do not treat them as second class, you do not take them for granted, and you never place yourself first. Your relationship would end quickly if you did! In fact, Jesus taught that if you wanted to be great in his kingdom we had to learn to be servants. We discover what’s important when Paul teaches us that…

III. Christians should sacrifice themselves to the Lord first! (Vv. 8-11)

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

  1. Paul had come to the right attitude that every believer should. He tells the Philippians, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” I firmly believe that if even just 10% of believers truly believed and practiced Paul’s attitude here in these verses the world would be changed! Paul in fact “consider(ed) them rubbish (quite literally human waste), that [he might] gain Christ and be found in him”. But notice Paul never wanted the focus on himself. Paul truly wanted to “be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from following” dead laws that did not matter anymore “but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Why was this so important to Paul and why should it be important for us as Christians in our day and age? Faith is the most important thing for the believer. Paul would tell the Romans “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ (Romans 1:17 NIV)” For Paul Jesus was everything and he writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” In every phrase of this we discover what Paul thought it was important, namely that Christians should sacrifice themselves to the Lord first!

  EXAMPLE: The other night on America’s Got Talent a “man” came out and sang and danced and was a complete freak show. The only reason the audience liked him was because he was sadly so outlandish and perverted. It is evident he has given himself to the lowest form of hedonism. Much of the world is like this. It demands that it be allowed to do anything or live anyway it wants to without any repercussion. It has perverted such organizations as the Boy Scouts and even some churches. I believe the world needs to see Christians living like Christ in order to turn the spiritual tide. What’s important? I believe that Christians should sacrifice themselves to the Lord first!

Conclusion:

Christians should never live a life of works! Christians should never try to appease God! Christians should sacrifice themselves to the Lord first!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Two wonderful men! - Philippians 2:19-30

Two wonderful men! - Philippians 2:19-30
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 22, 2018

What qualities do you look for in a friend? Sometimes folks can ask a lot of friendship but give little in return. Winnie the Pooh said, “It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

Paul understood friendship because he understood Jesus. He enjoyed the friendship of many people but there were those who he considered more than friends; Paul saw them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Friends with the common bond of Jesus are closer than any earthly friendship. In his letter to the Philippians he shares about two wonderful men of God who he considered his friends. Let’s see what he wrote about these men…

READ: Philippians 2:19-30

The world loves itself. It delights in being good and showing others just how wonderful it is. But God tells us that there is more to being good and being wonderful because ass wonderful or as good as the world seems at its core it is full of sin. The first wonderful man Paul writes about is…

I. Timothy! (Vv. 19-24)

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

  1. Paul writes the Philippians “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon”. Timothy was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. He joined Paul during one of Paul’s later missionary journeys. Paul called Timothy “my true son in the faith”. (1 Timothy 1:2 NIV) Timothy was probably in his late teens or early twenties when he joined Paul and had distinguished himself as faithful to the gospel. He probably responded to the gospel when Paul came through the area of Derbe and Lystra on his first missionary journey, but we don’t know for sure. Timothy served as Paul’s representative to several churches and is mentioned as being with Paul when Paul wrote the New Testament letters of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Paul wrote that Timothy had a “genuine faith,” the same as that which lived in his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:1-5 NIV). Paul decided to send Timothy in order to “be cheered when [he received] news about” them. Paul spoke highly of Timothy and tells them “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.” Timothy cared because he first loved the Lord. This is why Paul writes that “everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Paul knew people’s hearts. Those who trust Jesus know the love of Christ and Paul knew that “Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” Timothy worked side-by-side with Paul and Paul saw him as his son! Paul knew Timothy’s character and so he hoped therefore “to send him as soon as I see how things go with me”. Paul could send Timothy in his stead knowing he would be a good worker and would care about them just as Paul did. And besides Paul was “confident in the Lord” that he would “come soon” to them as well. Paul trusted Timothy as a wonderful friend!

  EXAMPLE: Interestingly Timothy means “precious to God” and it is evident he was. What do you hold precious in life? What character traits do you hold precious in the life of those you call friend? Fred Rogers, who was a wonderful Christian, said that “When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” Fred Rogers loved God and we discovered this morning that Timothy also loved God and was a wonderful friend to Paul and a wonderful man of God.

Friendship for the world is often based on “What can you do for me?” Friendship’s foundation is based on emotionalism and selfishness whereas friendship for the believers is founded upon the love of God for us. Friendship is founded on Jesus’ sacrificial love for us and we discover a wonderful man of God in…

II. Epaphroditus! (Vv. 25-30)

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.

  1. The next man wonderful man Paul mentions is Epaphroditus and he thought it “necessary to send” him “back to” the Philippians. Notice what Paul calls him. First he writes that Epaphroditus is “my brother”, his adelphos, the one who shared the same womb. Paul’s affection for Epaphroditus was strong. Those who share the same spiritual birth in Jesus share the same spiritual womb and are called brothers and sisters in Christ! Paul goes on to writes that Epaphroditus is his “fellow worker and fellow soldier”. Epaphroditus was Paul’s co-laborer and his co-campaigner for Jesus! They shared in the work and in the battle! Epaphroditus also carried a message to Paul from the Philippians and he was sent to him to take care of Paul’s needs and evidently he had gotten ill. Epaphroditus longed “for all of [the Philippians] and [was] distressed because [they] had heard he was ill and almost died”. Yet Paul had good news for them that “God had mercy on him, but not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow”. Epaphroditus had been sent to Paul from the Philippians with gifts and now Paul was ending him back to them and Paul had grown to like Epaphroditus immensely! Paul wrote “Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.” Paul wanted them to be glad, and he wanted to be relieved of all anxiety himself. The believers in Philippi were not to think wrongly of Epaphroditus for coming home and in fact they were to “Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.” Wonderful men of God sacrifice themselves for the Lord they serve like Epaphroditus. Paul was encouraged and strengthened by a wonderful man like Epaphroditus.

  EXAMPLE: Interestingly, Epaphroditus’ name is of pagan origin. It means “belonging to Aphrodite”; the name of this pagan Greek goddess is actually incorporated into his name. This is not unusual for Paul’s day. Parents wanted their children to have any advantage in life they could and thought by giving their children such a name would garner the favor of that deity. Such is the power of the gospel that a man is set free from dead paganism to serve the living God. When Epaphroditus received the gospel, he was “belonging to Jesus,” and the idol had no more claim on him, regardless of his name. The new birth of Epaphroditus overcame his birth name. When a wonderful man like Epaphroditus gives of himself for the sake of God’s kingdom, many people benefit. Such a man is worthy of honor, and his presence is cause for rejoicing! Epaphroditus was a wonderful man of God!

Conclusion:

What does it take to be a wonderful man of God? Paul gives us two great examples in Timothy and Epaphroditus. These two men display for us what wonderful men of God are like. They have genuine faith in Jesus, love their fellow believers, and are selfless. Let me ask you are you a wonderful man of God or do you know a wonderful man of God? I pray you are or that you do. Timothy and Epaphroditus are two wonderful men of God.
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

2 Peter 1:3-8 -- Game On!

2 Peter 1:3-8 -- Game On!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 15, 2018

Sad to say but most Christians do not have a good grasp of theology. In fact for some churches they have taken arrogant pride in not being associated with any particular theology. This self-inflicted spiritual ignorance has become a disease that hinders the spiritual growth of believers. Churches and individual believers have lost their focus. When sports teams lose focus there is a cry that often is heard in the dugouts and sidelines: “Game on!” It means they are ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes to win the game before them. I believe it is time for Christians to get their game on!

Gregory Camp wrote a song a few years back where the chorus went: “Hey now, you're an all-star, get your game on, go play. Hey now, you're a rock star, get the show on, get paid. And all that glitters is gold; only shooting stars break the mold!” Of course he was writing about living for the moment but it kind of applies for the believer who wants to shine in a sin-darken world. I believe it is time for Christians to get their game on! Let’s discover how…

READ: 2 Peter 1:3-8

When I go fishing I try to use bait or lures that will attract fish. I have learned that fish do not respond to a lure or bait because they like it, they respond because whatever is used triggers in them an instinctual response of aggression. And I have just about everything I need in my tackle box to attract fish. The Christian’s problem is they have swallowed the lie that they do not have what they need to attract the lost to Jesus. It is time to get our game on and realize…

I. Christians have everything they need to get their game on! (Vv. 3-4)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

  1. In our weakness we can think we are all alone in our faith walk. Sure we hear that Jesus is with us and his Spirit lives within us but then we get frightened, self-conscious, and forget who made the universe, who knows us intimately, and who gives us all we need. Peter reminds us that it is “His divine power [which] has given us everything we need for life and godliness”! Note that it isn’t our “divine” power; it is Jesus God who gives us everything we “need for life and godliness”! How is this done? It occurs “through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”! Our knowledge comes when we realize our sin and his ability to cure it by “his own glory and goodness”! By Jesus’ power and holiness! Paul wrote “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:19-21 NIV)” WOW! In fact Jesus did not just display it to us in his death, burial, and resurrection but he freely gave that same power to us who believe! I know this to be true because God said it was and God never ever goes back on his word! Peter reminds us that “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Now dear gamer of God do you fully understand what Peter wrote here? Jesus God gave us freely everything we need to be in the game! In fact way much more than you have come to fully understand! We participate, are part of, in God’s divine nature and we have completely escaped our eternal death by his power and grace and the corruption of our own evil desires! WOW again! Christians have everything they need to get their game on!

  EXAMPLE: Do you know who Erik Kennedy or Ryan Stiles are? They are the Equipment Managers for the Seahawks and the Mariners. Equipment managers are extremely important for a sports team, especially ones like the Mariners or Seahawks. Making sure each player has their specific guards, pads, gloves, bats, helmets and such makes sure the player can safely do the job there are hired to do with a minimum of injury. Where millions of dollars of investment in players is on the field these managers are important. Isn’t it therefore great to know that Jesus has given Christians everything they need to get their game on!

I learned in Seminary to use mnemonic devices to help me remember answers for the tests I had to take every week. Peter gives his readers a list of what God can supply to the believer that wants to get their game on to win the lost. Peter teaches us that in getting our game on…

II. Christians have the character strengths to finish the game! (Vv. 5-8)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Peter gives us a litany which the Bible Knowledge Commentary states that “In this beautiful paragraph Peter orchestrates a symphony of grace. To the melody line of faith he leads believers to add harmony in a blend of seven Christian virtues which he lists without explanation or description.” However I view it as a kind of progression for us to participate in the game by the gift of his divine nature. It is “For this very reason” we are to “make every effort to add to [our] faith”. He begins with “goodness” in the NIV but it really is “valor” in the Greek which has often been lost in our day and age because it carries with it manliness or inner strength. From this we progress to “knowledge” which is the intrinsic knowledge of God, and then towards “self-control”. Being able to control one’s passions comes from knowledge of persevering towards godliness. From a godly nature comes “brotherly kindness” or more literally brotherly love. When a Christian can love another with the affection of Jesus then they can love one another sacrificially. Why would Peter list them this way? Many have speculated for thousands of years but I honestly believe Peter’s desire was that believers become like Jesus. Interestingly when Peter used the word “add” as in “add to your faith”, he was using a word where we get our words for chorus or choreograph. In ancient Greece the state established the chorus but the director, the choreographer, paid or supported the participants. A believer is to “furnish, supply, or support” his life with these virtues Peter lists and he writes why: “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this Peter reminds us to get our game on by remembering that Christians have the character strengths to finish the game!

  EXAMPLE: Few people like it when sports figures who get paid millions of dollars to play a child’s game act like children on or off the field. Sometimes these overpaid players can begin to think they are the most important thing rather than the team they play for. And sadly there are those who were great at the game but are now remembered for their horrendous behavior instead. Many nowadays are not prepared for the public spotlight that is squarely paced on their every action and behavior. Isn’t it wonderful to know that Christians have the character strengths to finish the game!

Conclusion:

Christians have everything they need to get their game on! Christians have the character strengths to finish the game!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Stars! - Philippians 2:12-18

Stars! - Philippians 2:12-18
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 8, 2018

There was a kid’s cartoon TV show called Jimmy Neutron and one of the many characters was a guy who was the quintessential movie agent. He would tell other characters that he could make them “a super star!” Of course the whole idea was that he was trying to get people to think he could make anyone a “super star!” which wasn’t true. It seems however with the advent of reality TV and social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and such that many think they can get their fifteen minutes of fame. But does that make you a “super star”?

The definition of what constitutes stardom has been redefined. Spiritual stardom is quite different. We learned last week that humility plays a huge role in achieving this status. Paul wanted his fellow disciples to become all they were meant to be in God’s kingdom. There was and is however no easy way to the goal of spiritual stardom. Yet for those who strive for it the race and its finish is spectacular! Let’s discover what Paul teaches us concerning being a star…

READ: Philippians 2:12-18

Even as Christians it is our choice whether we live for ourselves or for the glory of the Lord. In order to live a life worthy of being united with God Paul knew we are as…

I. Spiritual stars live in the awe and knowledge of God! (Vv. 12-13)

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

  1. How many of us have either heard from our own parents or have said as a parent, “you kids be good while we are gone and do not get into trouble, I only want to hear good things about you when I get home”? Of course most of us have. Then there was the following caveat that if we did not behave as we should as siblings then we would suffer the consequences of our actions. Paul says much the same thing when he writes the Philippians “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”! Paul desired that they fully understood the serious nature of their walk in this world with the Lord. They were living examples of the One they followed just as we are today! We can hear about Jesus, we can read about Jesus, and we can see some convoluted movies and TV specials about Jesus but the real way folks see and know Jesus is when they see him being displayed in the lives of his followers – meaning us! Far too many believers think their faith walk is only a Sunday morning experience or a once in a while “safe zone” where they can go and be spiritual for a while until they have to get back into the real world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christians live in the real world; the ungodly, sinful, filthy, dirty world. And we are to be the influence on that world that Jesus wanted us to be! Jesus related that “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NIV)” Paul reminds his readers that “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”! We do not live for ourselves; we live to influence others and to honor the Lord! Spiritual stars live in the awe and knowledge of God!

  EXAMPLE: The other night we had a blackout caused by a local transformer going out. It showed us just how dependent we are on electricity. It also displayed the wonder of God’s universe. In the darkness the stars showed a whole lot brighter without the lights of the nearby city to diffuse their brightness. It reminded me that Spiritual stars live in the awe and knowledge of God!

II. Spiritual stars shine in the midst of a sin-darkened world! (Vv. 14-16)

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

  1. There are those who constantly see the glass either half empty or half full. Christians can be of the same ilk in that they either see their walk with Jesus as a joy or a job. Our walk with the Lord is not to be seen as a job but as a personal process. We are to be striving to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called” us! Paul writes that as believers we are to “Do everything without complaining or arguing”. Notice that he writes that we are to do “everything”. That means everything in life: job, school, appointments, shopping, driving, walking, running, exercising, sports, food, fun, and fellowship – EVERYTHING! While we are children of the king we are not to act like earthly children but rather King’s kids! Certainly siblings can disagree and fight with one another but the believer is to be above the pettiness of nitpicking and complaining of the world around them. Why was this so important for Paul? His desire was that his readers would “become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation”. Blameless? Pure? Yep that is what we are to do, so why don’t we do that? We can forget that from the tiniest baby to the grandest sunset it is all sin-tainted. Like goldfish in a bowl we learn to live in the filth of our condition and it can begin to look great to us. But when we strive to be the true children of the King that we are meant to be we begin to see the world as it really is! This is why when we live like Paul shares we will “shine like stars in the universe as [we] hold out the word of life”! There should be a huge difference between the purity of Christ and the sin-filth of the world. We are stars who shine when we share the gospel! There should be a difference between the believer and the non-believer. Paul was proud of his progeny in Jesus and he wanted to be able to “boast on the day of Christ that [he] did not run or labor for nothing”. Isn’t this what every parent desires to do when their children do something wonderful? Paul knew that spiritual stars shine in the midst of a sin-darkened world!

  EXAMPLE: When the power went out the other night it reminded me of why I like to head way out when I camp. You can see so much of the Milky Way! One of the best places to go is to the Goldendale Observatory outside of Goldendale, Washington. You can look through a large telescope and smaller ones during the day. I never realized until I went there that you can view some stars during the day if you have a powerful enough telescope! It reminds me of what Paul teaches us here that spiritual stars shine in the midst of a sin-darkened world!

III. Spiritual stars shine as an offering to the One they follow! (Vv. 17-18)

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

  1. We know and have learned that Paul was perhaps facing certain death for his witnessing about Jesus. He was after all in Rome chained to a Roman soldier under constant guard for his faith. He knew his life could end at any time because he was at the mercy and whim of the Roman Emperor. However Paul never forgot who his actual king was: Jesus. He no longer lived for himself but for the Lord whom he followed. He saw his life as a sacrifice to the God he lived for and this is why he wrote the Roman church, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1 NIV)” Paul understood he could not ask others to do what he was unwilling to do himself and so he never did. This is why he now wrote the Philippians, “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” Paul knew if he asked others to live as sacrifices for the Lord he would have to lead the way. The “drink offering” he referred to was the offering the Jews made in the temple and were also included with burnt and grain offerings in God-ordained sacrifices, including the morning and evening sacrifices. Yet Paul is using the idea here as a spiritual metaphor to describe his own service and to encourage other Christians to live the same way; as an offering being poured out to the Lord. This is why he writes them, “So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” Spiritual stars shine as an offering to the One they follow!

  EXAMPLE: I will never forget one camping trip I went on with my family. My father took us down to the creek nearby and showed my brother and me how to pan for gold. I was surprised when after a while and a lot of patience there were bright little flakes of gold shining in the bottom of our gold pans. It was fun and kind of exciting to be able to discover a tiny amount of shiny wealth in the midst of all that grey sand of the creek. We saved as much as we could, which wasn’t much. My dad gave my brother and I all that he found as well. It reminds me that spiritual stars shine as an offering to the One they follow!

Conclusion:

Spiritual stars live in the awe and knowledge of God! Spiritual stars shine in the midst of a sin-darkened world! Spiritual stars shine as an offering to the One they follow!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Humility! - Philippians 2:1-11

Humility! - Philippians 2:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 1, 2018

There was an old Country/Western song that stated, “Oh Lord it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way” but of course it was a parody on how the singer viewed himself. However if you listen to some of the folks in today’s headlines you would wonder if some of them need to take a reality pill. Sadly it has infected Christianity to the point where we have begun to arrogantly think that everything about Jesus revolves around us instead of his eternal plan.

Paul knew that each believer was part of God’s plan for the spreading of his gospel. He understood this because it was what he had dedicated his life to. Because of Paul’s adamant belief in the saving grace of Jesus and his single-minded focus there were those who thought he was arrogant. This can happen to someone who is totally focused in life as Paul was. Needless to say this kind of irked Paul and so he did not want others to think this was the way the Christian life was to be lived. If one follows Jesus then they should practice humility; let’s discover what he taught the Philippians…

READ: Philippians 2:1-11

In some cases Christians can be some of the orneriest and unkind people I know but this should never be so. If we follow Jesus then his Spirit lives in us and we should live like it! And this is why…

I. Humility begins with Jesus and ends with others! (Vv. 1-4)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 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.

  1. It isn’t enough to ask if you believe in Jesus but to also understand why you follow him at all. Our faith-walk must be about more than fuzzy feelings or making ourselves happy. It should be much deeper than one’s selfish outlook on life. Paul begins a litany on what occurs spiritually, emotionally, and physically in the life of someone who trusts Jesus as their Savior and Lord. He begins his list with “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ”. Jesus prayed this very thing for us! He told his disciples as he prayed “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23 NIV)” When we believe we are in complete unity and total support with Jesus! But more than that if we are in unity with Jesus we enjoy the complete “comfort from his love”, “fellowship with his spirit”, and his “tenderness and compassion”! So if we believe we have all of these things and if we have these things in our lives shouldn’t we want to make Paul’s “joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being in the same spirit and purpose”? And of course the Philippians would answer a hearty “YES!” Just as each of should as well! But in our case we make God’s joy complete when he sees us living as we should! Therefore because all believers share in each of these wonderful blessings we should “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than [ourselves]”! Believers in Jesus should therefore act like Jesus! (I know what a novel concept, right?) In fact, Paul writes that “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”! We discover that humility begins with Jesus and ends with others!

  EXAMPLE: Service in its truest sense is not doing something for others in order to make oneself feel good because then it ceases to be service. One does not serve in a food kitchen, head to the mission field, or decide to do disaster relief in order to feel good. Can you feel good about serving afterwards or delight in serving the Lord through your acts of service? Absolutely! However, the believer does his or her acts of service in order to bring glory to the one they follow; then when others benefit from their service then all the better! Paul teaches us that humility begins with Jesus and ends with others!

Far too often we forget that as a Christian just whom we have living inside of us. The Holy Spirit is not a thing, concept, some mystical entity nor a genie but God himself! And while we may not yet be perfected we are to live like we are striving to be and because of this, Paul teaches that…

II. Humility is the very nature of Jesus! (Vv. 5-8)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!

  1. Paul bluntly tells his fellow believers that “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” because if it isn’t then you may not be what you say you are! Jesus was all about self-sacrifice! Every deed, every miracle, every sermon and example of Jesus was all about sacrifice! He taught that “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28 NIV)” And that “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all. (Mark 9:35 NIV)” Now pause for a moment and let it truly sink in and think about what Jesus was teaching here. First place and greatness come when we sacrifice ourselves in everything we do in life! Say what? Yep, we are to be sacrificial and our attitude as Christians should be the very same as Jesus “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” Now do you get what Paul is trying to teach here to the Philippians? This is not some noble pithy concept, this is not a truism for life, nor is it a Facebook meme to be posted and passed on ad-nauseam. It defines who Jesus is and what his life was all about! And if you say you believe that and you have trusted him with your life then you too will live like he did! You will set aside you arrogance, pride, and “me-first” attitude and willingly let others go first, be first, and enjoy the sunshine before you do! What you enjoy in life is not yours to hoard but it is a gift that you are to give away! Now is this easy, is this something we all can do at anytime, and is it part and parcel of our lives? NO! But it can be when we begin to live it and practice living it as we know Jesus desires us to do because humility is the very nature of Jesus!

  EXAMPLE: If you were to ask folks to list some of the character traits of Jesus one that would be near the top of the list would be his humility. We see it in his birth, when he is found as a youth teaching in the Temple, when he writes in the dirt and forgives an adulterous woman, when he feeds the thousands with a young boy’s lunch, when he forgives the Romans who nailed him to a cross, and finally when he forgives a friend who betrayed him three times. Humility is the very nature of Jesus!

What is the outcome of a life lived sacrificially? Didn’t Jesus die a horrible death after all? Is this what God desires for each of us? To die a horrendous death as martyrs for the cause? Nope. God desires that we die to ourselves and live for him because when we do we discover that…

III. Humility exalts Jesus! (Vv. 9-11)

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  1. Now I do not know what Jesus has called you to do specifically but if you have trusted him with your life he has called you to service. And service for him means sacrifice. Paul understood this because he understood what Jesus had done. You see because of Jesus selfless act of deciding to be a complete servant “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name”! Wow! We do not fully understand in our day and age what this means. Names were extremely important in Paul’s day and during the time of Jesus. Naming a child carried with it a lifelong impact. People did not make up names nor did they name their children after ungodly people. Yes, sometimes God was the one who chose the name of a child and it was because of this that names were seen as an important thing because they firmly believed that a name was something that defined you as a person. So when God in total; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit decided to give the Son, Jesus, a “name that is above every name” it was really something special! It meant Jesus deserved to be given a name that all others would have to honor, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”! That Jesus is master and commander of all there is, was, and ever will be! Simply by his willingness to humbly sacrifice himself for our sins and die for us he is given the name, the title, the honor that is above any name and every name! He is Yeshua Messiah Lord! But the important fact here is that Jesus was given this title because of his sacrifice and he was given this title by himself because of who he is and that he is God the Father to his glory! Humility exalts Jesus!

  EXAMPLE: My uncle George was disappointed in me and I could tell it. He had left me in charge of weeding my grandmother’s vegetable garden and instead of pulling the weeds up root and all I had just chopped the tops off. Of course they grew back with vigor. He asked me, “Why did you weed your grandmother’s garden this way?” Of course I did not tell him I did it because it was easy and I was being lazy. He told me that I should have done the best job I could have because it was for my grandmother. We should do what we do because our humility exalts Jesus!

Conclusion:

Humility begins with Jesus and ends with others! Humility is the very nature of Jesus! Humility exalts Jesus!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Living for the Lord! - Philippians 1:18-30

Living for the Lord! - Philippians 1:18-30
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 22, 2018

We live in a day whereby some people actually think that “if you disagree with me then you must hate me” therefore you are a “hater”. Discourse or critical thinking is gone. It has boiled over into religion as well. There are those who say that if you disagree with another faith then you must dislike the people who are involved in it. And if you dislike them then you are not very compassionate or kind like Jesus. This is all so much tripe. (If you do not know what tripe is -- it is “the first or second stomach of a cow or other ruminant used as food” and is often thrown away as trash.)

Paul did not care why some believers did what they did only that the outcome was glorifying to the Lord. Paul’s desire was that people of all ages “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13 NIV)” This is why he taught Christians should “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)” For Paul his faith in Jesus was his life; it was what life was all about. Let’s discover what Paul meant when he taught that the greatest thing in life is living for the Lord…

READ: Philippians 1:18-30

Some folks share Jesus for their own personal gratification in order to gain status or wealth. The same was sadly true for Paul’s day as well. However we learn from Paul that…

I. Living for the Lord means preaching Jesus! (Vv. 18-21)

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 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. 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.

  1. Paul was not concerned with why folks were preaching Jesus so long as they were preaching Jesus and so he rhetorically asks, “What does it matter?” Because it did not, “The important thing” Paul related “is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” And it was “because of this” Paul rejoiced! Unlike many believers have done in our day Paul did not forget what his life was about. Whether Paul faced persecution or not he could “continue to rejoice, for” he knew “that through” the “prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ” that whatever happened to him would “turn out for [his complete] deliverance.” Paul had become focused in life because of what he had been saved from and what he knew he had been saved for. Whether Paul survived his imprisonment or not he knew he would be delivered because he knew he already had been delivered by his faith! This is why he would write the Roman church that he had been set free from sin and death because of Jesus. He would cry, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24 NIV)” And his straight forward answer was, “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25 NIV)” For Paul Jesus was everything in life because Jesus had given him life! This is why he could declare with complete certainty: “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.” How many of us who declare our faith in the Son of God can boldly declare like he did: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”? This is absolutely why Paul knew that living for the Lord means preaching Jesus!

  EXAMPLE: When one fully understands the fact that “To live is Christ and to die is gain” then they can do all things Jesus has asked of them. No matter the time, the place, or the finances because they will fully realize that death is not all there is to life! Life is all there is to life! Eternal, wonderful, glorious life in him who gave it to those of us who has placed our faith and trust in him as Savior and Lord. After all is was Jesus the Messiah who related, “For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40 NIV)” Nothing else in life matters as much as that fact; therefore living for the Lord means preaching Jesus!

Dear child of the King did you forget the promise of God? Has earthly concerns gotten a hold of your heart and infected your life? Are you living for the moment instead of eternity? Perhaps it is time you to become like Paul and realized that…

II. Living for the Lord is living! (Vv. 22-26)

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

  1. Did you forget that the rest of the world is dead? They are truly the walking dead but they do not know it. They are not only dead in their sin but they are dead eternally until they come to the knowledge of Jesus. Paul knew this truth. He understood that his life was in God’s hands and that he had died with Christ so he writes, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” In other words he could continue to do what he was commanded to do by Jesus: witnessing to the lost and dying of the world! However Paul longed to be in the immediate and eternal presence of God as well. He was in a quandary, “Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” Living he could go on sharing the gospel and dying he could be in the very presence of the Lord! Paul was neither a fatalist nor unrealistic. He fully understood the circumstance and consequences of his choice. He had disciples he needed to mentor still and others to witness to. Few of us fully know what we are supposed to be doing in life but Paul did. And in reality so should we. Either we need to lay aside our fear and distrust of Jesus’ plan for us or fully embrace it like Paul. “Convinced of this,” Paul would write, “I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” You see Paul had come to fully realize that his life was not his own. Have you? Perhaps it is time for you to become like Paul and realize that living for the Lord is living!

  EXAMPLE: Some people think that by doing dangerous things with their lives that they are really living. Whether it is bungee jumping, hang gliding, or scaling sheer rock cliffs without a rope or tether, all they are doing is trying to cheat death and gain a momentary high. There are those who find comfort and security in being a part of something bigger than themselves and join protests, march or lose themselves in the cause of others. While none of these things are wrong or bad in of themselves; what is the final outcome? The thrill soon fades and the cause soon disappears with the next protest. Then it is on to the next thrill or exciting thing. Only losing oneself to the greatest adventure of all is worthwhile because of what it truly means for yourself and others. Paul understood the eternal truth that living for the Lord is living!

Paul knew that he may not have much time left but whatever time he had left in his life he was more than willing to give it to the Lord. And his greatest desire was that because of the life he had lived for Jesus that it would bear future fruit for the kingdom of God! Paul knew that…

III. Living for the Lord is not just about you! (Vv. 27-30)

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 in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

  1. Paul realized that there were those who were genuinely concerned for his life. After all he was a prisoner of Rome! And so Paul wants to comfort and encourage them with his letter. So he tells them that “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Isn’t that just like Paul? He is more concerned for them than himself! How do I know this? Because like all good teachers or parents Paul wanted his “kids” his disciples to grow and mature in their faith and therefore to be able to face any trial or hardship that might come their way! “Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” How many of us would willingly place our lives, our families, or our futures to something that would bring us in sharp opposition to the world around us? Man, have I got news for you! You already have if you have Jesus! Yet take courage! Paul tells us why: “This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God.” The world’s opposition, their anger, their oppression is a sign that they are losing but for those of us who believe it is a win-win situation! We often forget that if we are truly following Jesus with our lives we will suffer the consequences, both good and bad! So Paul reminds his readers “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” Interestingly the Greek word echaristhē, translated “granted,” is derived from a word which means “grace” or “favor.” Our faith and our struggle are both a grace and favor of God! Paul wanted his readers to “hear that [he] still” had God’s favor because of his momentary struggle for his faith! Paul understood that living for the Lord is not just about you!

  EXAMPLE: Jesus related that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10 NIV)” The “lost” means all of the lost not just little old you. Recently the actor Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) accepted MTV’s Generation Award; he thanked his family and then offered some words of Christian wisdom to the younger generation. He told the audience, “God is real. God loves you; God wants the best for you. Believe that, I do.” And he went on to say, “Nobody is perfect. People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else's blood. Do not forget that. Don't take that for granted.” The gospel, the good news of Jesus is for all people and so Paul reminds us that living for the Lord is not just about you!

Conclusion:

Living for the Lord means preaching Jesus! Living for the Lord is living! Living for the Lord is not just about you!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Father’s Day – Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12

Father’s Day – Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 17, 2018

Did you have a good father? I had a pretty good dad. He took us fishing, camping, and spent as much time with us as he could. He taught us to be moral, believe in God, and what marital devotion was all about. I still can remember him showing us boys how to cast a salmon egg just right in order to catch the bigger trout in the river. I also remember he was firm on his word and discipline.

Sometimes children can think their parents are unfair or that they do not understand but what I have learned is that parents, especially fathers, do understand and that is why they often have to take the firm stand they do. Too many fathers in our day are AOL (absent without leave) either physically or emotionally or both. Proverbs reminds us that “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:17-18 NIV)” Let’s discover what it means to be a father…

READ: Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12

In our world trying to raise children to be independent critical thinkers, moral, and to follow the Lord has become increasingly hard. It is good to know however that the Scripture is not only filled with examples of how not to be a father but it also gives us good advice on how to be great fathers. We discover that…

I. Great fathers consistently discipline their children! (Ephesians 6:4 & Hebrews 12:7-9 NIV)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord… Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

  1. Paul writes, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children”. The wording here refers to a dad who constantly and deliberately tries to enrage or provoke their children into an ungodly reaction. This is not a reference to teasing a child but rather a dad who deliberately and consistently tries to incite their children to react in anger. This could be done through improper parenting where the father constantly degrades their spouse in front of the kids, uses foul language, or involves their children in ungodly activities such as lying, stealing, drug use, or violent behavior. A father can “exasperate” their children when they are not the consistent godly loving example their children need! However, this can also cover inappropriate discipline that is either too harsh or nonexistent. The writer of Hebrews writes that believers should “Endure hardship as discipline”. This teaches us that as children we can think it is a hardship to be disciplined, but in reality it is a blessing if it is done consistently and correctly! Our discipline in life is “God treating us as sons”! It also reflects the biblical concept that discipline is godly! “For what son is not disciplined by his father?” A lack of consistent discipline by fathers can frustrate a child emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually! Children need parameters in life. They need to know their boundaries. And if they do not have them from their fathers they can feel unloved and unwanted or illegitimate! “If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” Children need to feel and know they are loved and one of the ways they do is when they know their boundaries in life because when they do they grow up loving and respecting their fathers! “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.” Yet more than this, children who are consistently and compassionately disciplined learn self-discipline! “How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children!

  EXAMPLE: My father was a consistent disciplinarian. We knew his “yes” was yes and his “no” was no. We also quickly learned that simply going to our mother to get a different answer did not work. I did not understand my father when he once told me that his discipline of me at the time would hurt him more than it would hurt me. My spanking sure hurt! Yet his words came flooding back when I had to spank my daughter for the first time. It actually did hurt me more than her momentary pain. However it did not stop me from trying to be the best father I could be. I did not stop disciplining my daughter simply because it momentarily made feel bad. Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children!

I’ve learned that life is not always fun. It is not painless or never filled with hurt. An old pastor was quipped, “Life is hard by the yard but a cinch by the inch!” He was correct. Great fathers learn that directing the lives of their children is not a momentary thing. It is a process. We learn from Paul that…

II. Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father! (Hebrews 12:10-12 NIV)

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

  1. Certain things in life only last a short while. This is why as fathers we should cherish every day we have with our families. Sure you may have suffered from making the wrong choices in life but God is a loving father and through his example teaches us guys how to be the fathers we need to be! Paul writes, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best”. Training and nurturing your children only lasts a few years. In fact most psychologists will tell you that how a child responds to you at 5 years old will be how they respond to you as a teenager! This is why fathers should spend time with their kids. Reading, playing, talking with and listening to them are extremely important if you want your child to be respectful with you later in life. Remember “God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness.” God is a great example to follow as a father. He always looks at the long haul as fathers should and he loves us in spite of ourselves! Fathers should want the best for their children realizing that the investment they make now in the lives of their children will one day reap a great reward! “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” A good life harvest means that fathers must be willing, ready, and able to do the hard day-by-day and moment-by-moment investment in the lives of their children! It is a matter of consistency again. Just as children are not potty trained, know how to walk or immediately feed themselves it is fathers that help them to become the adults they should be! “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Godly dads do not complain about having to spend time with their kids. Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!

  EXAMPLE: I remember the frustration of my father when he sat me down and asked, “How many times am I going to have to ask you to do something before you do it?” I responded, “I guess until it sticks.” To my surprise he reached out and tousled my hair and gently replied, “For your sake I hope not.” Got up and walked away. Some of the greatest moments of my life were spent with my ailing father the last year of his life. We spent the entire summer together. His insights, love, and quiet spirit had a huge impact on me. I learned from him that great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!

Conclusion:

Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children! Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

No matter what, preach the gospel! - Philippians 1:12-17

No matter what, preach the gospel! - Philippians 1:12-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 10, 2018

What is important in your life? I mean to the point where you would be willing to leave your home, family, friends, and do what you knew was the most important thing in the world. For some it is sports, some it is music or writing, for others it might be acting or art but for the believer who has given their life to Christ everything should revolve and focus on him who gave everything for them.

For Paul life was Jesus and Jesus was life and this is why for Paul in his life he considered it the greatest thing in the world to preach the gospel. He gave up family, friends, and everything in life to follow him and following him meant telling others about Jesus’ mission and message. Therefore for Paul it meant that no matter what, preach the gospel! Let’s find out how Paul encouraged others to do the same…

READ: Philippians 1:12-17

Someone once said that “The most important thing you have to realize in your life is: knowing your self-worth and by knowing your self-worth you would finally get to know what you deserve. And then you'll be able to work for what you deserve.” Paul understood his self-worth. He wrote, “Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8 NIV).  For Paul it meant…

I. Preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen! (Vv. 12-14)

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

  1. A lot of folks think things happen in life through happenstance but when it is something bad they immediately want to blame God but Paul never did. He knew things happen for a reason and not by mere accident. And for the believer Paul knew that things happen in life for one reason only: to further the gospel. This is why Paul writes, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Paul was being persecuted for his faith and especially for his preaching the good news. In fact, he was in prison for doing just that! Now he was held captive under house arrest waiting for his trial in Rome, held prisoner under false accusations by the Roman government for telling others the gospel. However far from discouraging Paul it only reinforced in him the providence of God in a Christian’s life. In fact Paul’s imprisonment became a means for him to testify about Jesus! And Paul writes that “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” Evidently those back in Philippi were concerned for Paul but he was enjoying every moment! Paul was not discouraged at all because his imprisonment meant that from the Roman guard to those in the household of Caesar was now hearing for the first time the gospel of Jesus! Paul the prisoner had a second affect as well, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” His persecution made others bolder in sharing their faith! Life for Paul was all about Jesus and that meant preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen!

  EXAMPLE: Christians can be a contrary crowd believing that Jesus is the only means of salvation but only sharing with those they feel comfortable with. A group of teenagers visited a home for the elderly in Montego Bay, Jamaica, one young woman noticed a lonely looking man at the end of the room. He appeared to have little left in this world but a bed to sleep on—a bed from which he could not move because of his disability. She began to share the story of God’s love for us. Responding to his interest, she explained the wonder of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us. “It was hard for this man, who had no hope and no family,” she recalled, “to understand that Someone he’s never met would love him enough to die on the cross for his sins.” She told him more about Jesus—and then about the promise of heaven (including a new body) for all who believe. He asked her, “Will you dance with me up there?” She saw him begin to imagine himself free of his worn-out body and crippling limitations. She helped him pray a prayer of forgiveness and faith. When she asked him if she could get a picture with him, he replied, “If you help me sit up. I’m a new man.” Paul believed in preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen!

People do things in life for different reasons: Some out of pride or for praise; some from a sense of duty while others do certain things because of guilt. Paul knew that…

II. Preaching the gospel is an act of love! (Vv. 15-17)

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

  1. Paul was not stupid. He knew that not everyone who was preaching the good news did so because they loved the Lord like he did. He knew they did it for varying reasons and he writes, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.” Just like today there were those who wanted to make a quick buck off of anything that was new and that folks were attracted to. During Paul’s day it was usually the latest fad in spirituality. There were those like the cults of today whose founder’s only want fame and fortune. Then there were those who sadly while even within the church itself sought personal recognition or they thought they were in some kind of a competition with Paul. Paul did not care as long as the gospel was correctly preached! So he wrote, “The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” How sad there were those within the church whose only desire was to outdo Paul or to bring Paul down in some way. Their reasons did not concern Paul because he was happy that Jesus was preached! Make no mistake he disliked factions within the church and wrote the Corinthian church, “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (1 Corinthians 3:4-7 NIV)” For Paul preaching the gospel is an act of love!

  EXAMPLE: Lee Geysbeek of Compassion International told about a woman who had the opportunity to travel to visit the child she sponsored. She decided to take the child, who was living in abject poverty, to a restaurant. The boy ordered a hamburger and the sponsor ordered a salad. When the food came the boy surveyed the scene. He looked at his huge hamburger and over at his sponsor’s small salad. Then he took his knife and cut the burger in half, offered it to his sponsor, rubbed his tummy, and asked, “Hungry?” A child who had next to nothing his whole life was willing to share half of what he had with someone he thought might need more. This child can be a good reminder the next time we meet someone in physical, emotional, or spiritual need. As followers of Jesus, our faith in him should be mirrored through our actions. We encounter people in need every day; some simply around the corner who need of a warm meal or a kind word. What a difference believers can make by doing good and sharing their faith. Paul knew that preaching the gospel is an act of love!

Conclusion:
Preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen! Preaching the gospel is an act of love!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Partners! - Philippians 1:1-11

Partners! - Philippians 1:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 3, 2018

Having a good partner is important in life whether it is in marriage or in friendship. A good partner can lift you up when you are down, they can be there for you when you need them to be, and a good partner knows when to correct you so you can be the best you can be. Partners are important.

When we think of partners in history we might think of Orville and Wilber Wright, partners in old time comedy would be Abbot and Costello, and of course partners in the Bible would be Paul and Barnabas. Yet Paul had other partners as well and we see him writing to those he considered to be in close partnership with him in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Let’s see what Paul says to his partners in the gospel.

READ: Philippians 1:1-11

Here we discover that…

I. Paul understood where his partnership came from! (Vv. 1-2)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Here in these opening verses we see that Paul addresses the Philippian church, who he considered his partners in the gospel, by telling them about his partnership with Timothy: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus”. Paul understood what his partnership was based on with his young pastoral apprentice and friend Timothy, namely that it was founded in their being “servants of Christ Jesus”; literally Messiah Jesus. Paul was asserting the fact of who their Master was and he was the Messiah the world had longed for and who had made those he was addressing “saints”! Paul uses the word hagios which meant that they were made pure and holy because of their faith in “Christ Jesus”! All Christians are made holy and pure because of Jesus and this is why all who believe in Jesus are considered “saints” in the Lord! But Paul’s letter was not just to the mainstream congregation at large because Paul had some specific things he wanted to share with “the overseers and deacons”, the pastors and leadership within the church itself. Within Paul's opening remarks we read the love and devotion he had for these folks at Philippi. Paul desires they know “grace and peace” which was a common enough opening for letter of the time but here we discover that this grace and peace Paul wanted for them was to be from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful thing to write your partners in Jesus! Paul understood where his partnership came from!

  EXAMPLE: It has been said that “Christians shoot their wounded” meaning that they allow themselves to criticize or ridicule fellow believers when they are spiritually hurt or wounded. This should never happen instead like the writer of Hebrews we should “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)” And Paul would write that Jesus “died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 NIV)” Paul understood where his partnership came from!

We now learn that…

II. Paul was grateful for his partners! (Vv. 3-6)

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

  1. I heard an old time preacher state that “Christians should develop an attitude of gratitude” and he was right on in his insight. In reading the letters of the Apostle Paul you can immediately tell who he had struggles with and who he was grateful for and he was grateful for the Philippians! Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” What a wonderful thing to have written about you by someone else! For all of history this church will be known as the church Paul was truly thankful for! But even more than that he thanked God for them every time he remembered them! Wow! But even more than that Paul thanked God every time he remembered them “In all [his] prayers for all of {them]”! When Paul prayed, which I believe was quite often, he remember his partners in Philippi and thanked God for ALL of them! How many believers are truly that thankful for their church? I pray most are because they should be. Paul was so glad to have this church as his partners in Jesus that when he prayed for them he “always pray[ed] with joy because of [their] partnership in the gospel from the first day until now”! How in the world could Paul pray this way for these folks? He writes it was because “being confident of this, that he (meaning Jesus) who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”! Paul was grateful for his partners!

  EXAMPLE: Too often pastors or other believers can become impatient with new believers but they should not because it is God’s job. And Paul reminds us of this when he writes to his new partners in Jesus at Philippi that he was confident God would complete what he had started in them just as he does for all believers. Perhaps we should develop that attitude of gratitude for fellow believers and see them as our partners in Christ. How wonderful to learn that Paul was grateful for his partners!

Finally we find out that…

III. Paul desired the very best for his partners! (Vv. 7-11)

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I 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. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 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.

  1. In this letter we discover that Paul knew that “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you”. He not only felt this way about his partners in the gospel in Philippi “since I have you in my heart”. Paul kept his partners close in his thoughts and prayers. Paul cared about them deeply and he meant it. He tells them “for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me”. When we share our faith, when we pray for one another, and when we fight the good fight for the sake of the gospel we as believers share in each of these things. We are truly partners in Jesus and we “share in God’s grace”. The mere fact Paul wrote this testifies to his deep godly affection for his fellow believers. This is why Paul writes that “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”. Paul wanted them to not only experience God’s love as he did but Paul desired that heir love “abound more and more”. Paul wanted them to grow in “knowledge and depth of insight” so that they “may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”! Shouldn’t this be all believers’ desire for one another? Like Paul all Christians should deeply want one another to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God”! Paul desired the very best for his partners!

  EXAMPLE: When one Christian witnesses we all share in that witness as we pray, encourage, and lift one another up. When one of us suffers we all suffer because we are all one in him who saved us. In speaking about the observance of the Lord’s Supper Paul writes “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17 NIV)” In fact he would write, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)” And Paul desired the very best for his partners!

Conclusion:

Paul understood where his partnership came from! Paul was grateful for his partners! Paul desired the very best for his partners!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 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.