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.