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.