INTRODUCTION: This is Independence Day weekend. We celebrated our nation’s birth on July 4th with fireworks, family outings, and good food. While America has many problems and people are protesting to correct those problems, we still have much to be thankful for living in a land that promotes “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Citizenship in the United States of America carries privileges and rights that few people experience anywhere else in the world. “Proud to be an American” is an apt phrase for this Independence Day weekend. But the Apostle Paul states that there is something even greater for Christians in any nation: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We represent the Kingdom of Heaven. How are we to live as citizens of Heaven while we reside here on Earth? Paul explains this in Philippians 3:17-21.
FOLLOW THOSE WHO EXEMPLIFY CHRIST.
*All Christians are on a journey. We are in a race aiming for the finish line and the prize that awaits us. We are striving to be like Jesus and be with him forever. Paul says we need to imitate godly believers who set a good example for us. “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (3:17).
AVOID THOSE WHO EXPLOIT CHRIST.
*Paul had warned the Philippians of the legalists who demanded rituals instead of the freedom found in Christ (3:2-3). Now he warns them of libertines whose immoral lifestyles mock the name of Christ. They abuse the freedom in Christ to satisfy their personal desires. “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ (3:18).
*The libertines are sexually unrestrained, indulge their appetites, and celebrate shameful behaviors. Their destiny is eternal loss and separation from God. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (3:18-19).
LIVE AS THOSE WHO EXPECT CHRIST.
*Christians have a dual citizenship. We are citizens of this world and the nation we live in, but we are also citizens of heaven. We have all the rights and privileges of a child of the King. We represent the Kingdom of Heaven as we live in this world. Our conduct should match our heavenly citizenship. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (3:20-21).
*We look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ to establish a new Heaven and a new Earth. He will transform our earthly bodies into immortal bodies fit for eternity. Until then we are to live as the people of God on this earth. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (3:20-21).
*The Christian hope and motivation: “For there will be a trumpet blast from the sky, and all the Christians who have died will suddenly become alive, with new bodies that will never, never die; and then we who are still alive shall suddenly have new bodies too. For our earthly bodies, the ones we have now that can die, must be transformed into heavenly bodies that cannot perish but will live forever…
So, my dear brothers, since future victory is sure, be strong and steady, always abounding in the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever wasted as it would be if there were no resurrection”
INTRODUCTION: Paul wrote “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8). Paul’s goal was
to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (3:10). But Paul made it very clear that he had not yet achieved his goal: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (3:12). True spirituality does not rest on regulations, rituals, and creeds like the formalists practice and teach. True spirituality is an on-going walk with Christ that continues to strive to be like Jesus. Paul likens the Christian life to a runner in a race aiming for the finish line and the prize that awaits her. How are we to run that race?
FORGET THE PAST.
*Athletes have intense concentration. They cannot be swayed from the task. They cannot think back to past failures or victories. They must focus on the race or event at hand. “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (3:13).
*Runners must strip off everything that will hinder them from running the race. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
*The Christian life should always make progress There is no room to rest on our laurels or sit out the race. Christians are in an onward and upward race to the end. We must make every effort and exertion to strain and stretch beyond where we are spiritually. “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (3:13).
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE GOAL.
*All Christians are in the race. We are at different stages of maturity. We are to maintain what we know, and we are to press on to gain more in our relationship with Christ. Our goal is to finish the race. A prize and reward await us. “I press on toward the goalfor the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (3:14-16).
*Our prize is Jesus Christ and eternal life. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus and keep on going until we cross the finish line. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
INTRODUCTION: Father’s Day is a good time to recognize godly fathers and godly men. Men play such an important role in the lives of their families, society, and the life of the church. The attributes of our Father in heaven should play out in the lives of his people. Men of God should look for ways to please the Father and offer a worship that God accepts. The Book of Amos was written by Amos. It was written sometime before 760 B.C. It was written to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and to Judah. It is written as a rebuke of the lack of justice and righteousness in the land. The people worshiped God, but their lives did not honor God or show concern for others. So, what kind of worship pleases the Father?
Amos 5:21-24 details godly worship and the lives that please the Father.
MOVE AWAY FROM WORSHIP THAT DEEPLYDISPLEASES THE FATHER.
*God is displeased with meaninglessassemblies. “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies (5:21).
*God is displeased with worthlessofferings. “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them” (5:22).
KNOW THAT THE FATHER REJECTSNOMINAL WORSHIP.
*God does not accept mindless worship. “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them” (5:22).
*Worship that only happens externally is not accepted. “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen” (5:23).
HEAR AND DO WORSHIP THAT PLEASES THE FATHER.
*Instead of looking religious and pious, let us do justly and rightly. “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (5:24).
*Let us lend our voice, support, and efforts to the eradication of injustice. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
CONCLUSION AND CURRENT APPLICATION:
God does not accept their (Israel’s) worship, because it is not from the heart. They had grown complacent and comfortable with their wealth and status. They had begun drifting away from God and were becoming a more pagan nation. There are startling similarities between the church now and Israel then. We cannot be so comfortable in our own positions that we fail to honor God by loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Let us practice being an advocate for the downtrodden and broken-hearted. Specifically, let’s speak out against overt, covert, and systematic racism and oppression aimed at African-Americans and people of color.
Let us no longer be comfortable being indifferent and unbothered by the sin of racism and preferential treatment because God is not unbothered.
Let us honor our One Father by honoring the Imago Dei in each one of us. Basic respect for the dignity and humanity of another is crucial for a follower of Christ.
*This message is part of a united effort on part of the clergy of Alachua County, Florida to preach on a common text dealing with racial reconciliation. This outline was prepared by Dr. Destin Williams of the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL. Any changes that detract from his original message are entirely my responsibility.
INTRODUCTION: Repetition is an effective teaching method. Paul again tells the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord” (3:1) because it is a safeguard for their souls. Joy defeats the cynicism, depression, and negative circumstances of the world. Paul reminds them why they can have a joy that transcends life’s fears and anxieties: they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul warns them of alternative teachings that lead them away from Christ. Salvation is in Christ alone.
The Jesus-Plus religion is the wrong way to heaven.
*Religion that requires Jesus plus something else will not get you into heaven. Formalism or legalism will not put you into a right relationship with God. Rituals, rites, or creeds and other external actions do not make you right with God. Only a spiritual heart change through faith in Jesus Christ will make you right with God. “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (3:3).
*Paul warns against false teachers whose character, conduct, and teachings mislead people. The Judaizers required useless circumcision plus Jesus for salvation. “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh” (3:2).
The Minus – Jesus religion is the wrong way to heaven.
*Personal morality or heritage or achievements will not put you in a right relationship with God. “I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (3:4-6).
*Any belief system and practice that leaves out Jesus will not meet God’s standard of salvation. “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:7-8).
The Jesus-Alone religion is the right way to heaven.
*Only Jesus measures up to God’s standard of righteousness and holiness. Christ alone makes us right with God. We must know him personally and accept his righteousness by faith. Faith means Forsaking All I Trust Him. “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order 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 comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (3:8-9).
*Paul’s driving desire was to know Jesus. He wanted to grow closer and closer to Jesus. He wanted to know Christ’s power and even share Christ’s pain until his dying breath. He wanted to experience the resurrection in Christ. “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (3:10-11).
There is only one way to heaven and right standing with God: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
INTRODUCTION: One motto that has been commonly used during this coronavirus pandemic is “We’re all in this together.” We hear it on TV and radio and see it on social media platforms and outside retail stores and businesses. The expression captures the reality that all of us face a common problem and that we can overcome it together. Paul challenged the church at Philippi to work together in the humility and obedience of Christ. Christians are on a journey of faith together. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). The world is ready for a good word. The world is ripe for hope and purpose and love. Who will bring that message to them? Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). So, what are the traits of a laborer in Christ? Paul gives two examples of Christian workers in Philippians 2:19-30. They demonstrate the humility and obedience of Christ in action.
GOD’S WORKERS HAVE A COMMONPURPOSE.
*God’s laborers share the same feelings, have a kindred spirit, and work from common motives. They want to serve and please Jesus Christ.
Timothy - For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (2:20-21).
Epaphroditus - I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier (2:25).
GOD’S WORKERS CARE FOR OTHERS.
*God’s workers have a genuine concern for others and encourage people in need.
Timothy - I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon… For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare (2:19-20).
Epaphroditus - I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus…your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death (2:25-27).
GOD’S WORKERS SERVE IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST.
*God’s laborers sacrifice everything for the sake of the gospel. They want others to know about Jesus and demonstrate it with single-minded service.
Timothy - But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel (2:22).
Epaphroditus - I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ (2:28-30).
GOD’S WORKERS RISK THEIR LIVES FOR CHRIST.
*Epaphroditus is called a gambler in this passage. The word risking is from the Greek word that means to “hazard, to throw aside one’s life, or to gamble.” It means to stake everything on the roll of the dice. Paul is saying that for the sake of Jesus Christ, Epaphroditus gambled his life. God’s workers are risk-takers. They have the courage to stand up for what is right and to go where the need is greatest. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me (2:29-30).
Are you willing to lay down your life as a worker and witness for Christ?
INTRODUCTION: Jesus is the perfect example of humility and obedience (Philippians 2:5-11). He left the glory of heaven to walk this planet as a man. He obeyed God in all he did even to the point of dying on a cross to redeem each one of us. Paul urges the Philippians to follow Jesus’ example of humility and obedience. He gives them six practical steps that they can follow to be obedient to God. As Eugene Peterson has said, “Discipleship is a long obedience in the same direction.” What are the six steps of practical obedience?
WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING
*Obedience requires an absolute dependence on God and a recognition of our own limitations in serving him. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12).
*Paul says to “work out” not “work for” your salvation. We must be savedfirst before we can begin to produce the fruit of salvation. Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Paul wrote: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
BE ASSURED THAT GOD IS WORKING IN YOU.
* God works salvation in. We work salvation out. But We are not on our own. God is the energizer in us to give us the desire and the power to do his will: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (2:13).
DON’T COMPLAIN TO GOD OR ARGUE WITH EACH OTHER.
*Two things can keep us from being obedient to God and humble with others. We often grumble when doing what God wants us to do. We often fight and dispute with one another when we disagree on what to do. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (2:14).
BE LIGHT IN A DARK, CROOKED WORLD.
*Our testimony and our living must go together. We must be pure before God and innocent before the world. We are to be the shining examples of what God’s family looks like: “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (2:15).
SHARE THE WORD OF FAITH.
*The church has a message to share. We are to cling to the teachings of Christ and demonstrate them to the world. “holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain” (2:16).
BE GLAD AND REJOICE!
*Paul continues his theme of joy. We can rejoice no matter what the circumstances. “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me” (2:17-18).
Live each day in obedience to God and humble service to others.
INTRODUCTION: What will it take to bring unity to the church? What must be done to build solid, loving relationships? Paul tells the church at Philippi, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Jesus perfectly models the humility we need for unity and love. What is the mindset of Jesus we are to follow? What is this humility that Jesus practiced? What is his example we are to copy? Paul clearly answers these questions in Philippians 2:5-11.
JESUS VOLUNTARILY GAVE UP HIS RIGHTS AND POSITION.
*Jesus emptied himself of the glory he had in heaven. He was and is by nature God and shared all the rights and authority and splendor of God in heaven. He humbled himself and took on a lesser mode. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself” (2:5-6).
*Self-renunciation is the way to true joy. Jesus taught this and lived this. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
*Becoming like Jesus, we can choose to not demand our way or rights and
instead choose to humbly serve others. ‘Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others’ (2:3-4).
JESUS SERVEDOTHERS INSTEAD OF HIMSELF.
*Jesus entered the human family as a man and willingly served others. He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (2:7).
*Jesus stooped from the glory of heaven to be a servant on earth. The one with Supreme Authority became the Servant of All. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9).
*Jesus shared our humanity with the purpose of bringing us back to God. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
*We are to help others in Jesus’ name. Like Jesus, we must be willing to make sacrifices and perform lowly tasks for the benefit of others. “When he had washed their feet…he said to them…’If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you’” (John 13:12-15).
JESUS FULLY OBEYED GOD TO THE END.
*Jesus was fully human in all respects. He became obedient to God by doing what the First Adam failed to do. Jesus lived perfectly under God. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:8).
*Jesus voluntarily died a horrible, terrible death on the cross. He gave up his humanity, so that humanity could be redeemed. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
*The way to glory is by way of the cross. We must be willing to sacrifice ourselves in obedience to Christ and in service to others. “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).
JESUS GAVE GOD GLORY AND HONOR.
*Jesus experienced the joy and reward of faithful service. God exalted Jesus and gave him the name above every name. When Jesus gets honor then God gets glory. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so 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 (2:9-11). (see also Hebrews 12:1-2)
*Humility leads to exaltation. Faithful obedience to God will receive its reward. “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:5-6).
INTRODUCTION: Paul’s identity was in Christ not circumstances. Whether he lived or died, he knew he lived in the presence and power of Christ. He could boldly state, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Yet he was confident that he would see his friends in Philippi once again. Until that time, Paul encouraged the Philippians to take courage, be strong, and work together for the cause of Christ. He says, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27). Literally, they were to live their lives as citizens of heaven before a watching world. Our behavior, our conduct, and our interactions are to bring honor to the good news about Jesus Christ. So how do we live as citizens of heaven?
KINGDOM CITIZENS STAND STRONG TOGETHER.
*We are to stand firm against attacks on the Christian community. “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit” (1:27).
*We are to be united in the power of the Holy Spirit in one purpose and one mind as God’s people. We do it together to advance the gospel of Christ. “I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (1:27).
*We are to be courageous and fearless in the face of opposition. This is a witness that we have the truth that will set people free. We are to not be “frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God” (1:28).
*We are to recognize that suffering for Christ is a privilege and a gift from God. “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (1:29).
KINGDOM CITIZENS LIVE IN UNITY WITH ONE ANOTHER.
*The Christian community is a place of encouragement, comfort, love and compassion. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind” (2:1-2).
*Joy results from Christians united in purpose and love for a common cause. “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (2:2).
*Pride and ambition disrupt the fellowship of the church. Selfishness and division destroy the unity of the church. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (2:3-4).
*The remedy to division and conceit is humility. A true concern for others and a desire to work side by side for the advance of the gospel will reflect and glorify Jesus Christ. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (2:3-4).
We live as worthy Kingdom citizens when we humble ourselves, pull together, love one another, and proclaim the name of Christ no matter what the opposition.
INTRODUCTION: Paul renewed his relationship with his friends at Philippi. He had started their church and had depended on their support for ten years. He began his letter with thanksgiving and prayer for his partners in the gospel. They were concerned about him. He was in prison chained to a Roman guard. He would soon appear before the Emperor and could be sentenced to death. Paul wanted to reassure his friends about his situation and about the reality of death. Why do we face adversity? What do we do when our plans are interrupted by unforeseen circumstances? What should the Christian’s attitude and approach be when facing the prospect of death? Paul faced adversity in prison and the possibility of death. We face the adversity of the COVID – 19 pandemic and the possibility of extreme illness or death. This forces us to face an important question just like it did for the Apostle Paul: Are we living in circumstances or are we living in Christ? Two other questions will help us answer this question.
HOW DOES ADVERSITYADVANCE THE GOOD NEWS?
*Paul was convinced that his imprisonment spread the message of Jesus Christ in unanticipated ways. God often uses our difficult situations to make the gospel widely known. God uses trying circumstances to spread the gospel to new audiences. “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (1:12-13).
*Being bold and faithful in adversity becomes an inspiration and witness to others to be courageous in their faith. Paul’s consistent witness in prison encouraged other believers to share their faith. “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (1:14).
*Going through adversity may draw critics, criticism, and opposition, but even that can be a cause for joy. Paul was simply happy that the gospel was preached even if it was from wrong motives. My attitude toward adversity can be bitterness or joy. ‘Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (1:15-18).
*Paul saw adversity as a means to his own spiritualdevelopment. He had hope and believed God would use his trials to glorify Christ. “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (1:18-20).
HOW SHOULD A CHRISTIAN CONFRONTDEATH?
*A Christian’s true life is in Christ whether alive on earth or with Christ in heaven. Our identity is in our relationship with Christ. A person with that kind of confidence does not fear death. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21).
*Death is simply an entrance into a more glorious existence with Christ but living on earth is an encouragement to others and a continuation of the work yet to be done. “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account” (1:22-24).
*Christians should aim to live fully to the end to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ as long as we can. “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again” (1:25-26).
INTRODUCTION: When tragedy strikes, it is common to hear people say, “My thoughts and my prayers are with you.” Politicians are known to repeat this expression after a tornado strikes a city or another school shooting takes place. The intent is good, but the phrase seems old and worn and can be taken as just another attempt to express sympathy without any real desire to change things. Some have even gone so far as to say, “Don’t give me your thoughts and prayers. Do something about it.” They suggest prayer is not doing anything. The Apostle Paul had a different view: Prayer is everything. After the initial greeting in the Letter to the Philippians, he starts his letter with thanksgiving and prayer for his friends in Philippi. He wants them to know how grateful he is for them and his deepest desires for them as God’s people. We need to remember each other with thanksgiving and prayer especially if we have been apart for a while.
REMEMBER EACH OTHER WITH GRATEFULNESS OF HEART.
*Be thankful for fellowship in Christ. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:3-5).
*Be thankful for their faithfulness in serving Christ. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6).
*Be thankful for their friendship in the cause of Christ. “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (1:7-8).
REMEMBER EACH OTHER IN SPECIFIC PRAYER.
*Pray that your friend be more loving. “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more…” (1:8-9).
*Pray that your friend be more discerning. “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent…” (1:9-10).
*Pray that your friend be pure and innocent of wrongdoing. “and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (1:10).
*Pray that your friend be fruitful in good works. “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (1:11).
We may not be able to be with each other, but we can always give thanks and pray for one another.
Pray for someone today and let them know that you did.