NEW YEAR 2014

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Are you in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions?  One dictionary defines a resolution as “a firm decision to do or not to do something”.  Another dictionary says:  “a serious decision to do something.”  From those definitions I get the impression that resolutions are choices we commit ourselves to do. What are you looking forward to in 2014?  What are you dreading?   What do you hope to find?  What choices did you make in 2013?  Are you satisfied with those choices? The search engine Google put a short film on U-Tube entitled “What Did The World Search For This Year.”  It focused on personal and world events that made life worth living in 2013.  At the end of the film are written these words:  “Search On“. I hope that you have come to this site to gain an eternal perspective on life, and to seek God’s  wisdom to guide you on your continuing search for answers and meaning to life.   The Bible tells us that there are only two things in this world that are going to last forever:  God’s Word and people.  In Matthew 24:35 the Lord Jesus told the parable of the fig tree, and said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”  In I Peter 1:24-25 the apostle Peter quotes from Isaiah 40 when he says:  “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord abides forever.” The other entity that lasts forever is people.  They will live forever in one of two places:  heaven or hell.  In John 5:24 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My words, and believes in Him who sent Me, has eternal life.  He will not come to judgement, but has passed from death to life.”  By contrast, the apostle John records in Revelation 20 what he saw in a vision:  “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it. . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life. . . . And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” The wonderful and exciting thing about heaven is that it lasts forever.  The terrible and terrifying thing about hell is that it lasts forever.  Each year brings you closer to death, and also to eternity.   May you choose to have a joyful eternity by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Savior and Lord.  Then every day and every year until eternity will be filled with joy, inner peace, and unfading hope.

Please let me know your honest reaction to this New Year’s Eve message.  I will gladly respond to any comments you make and any questions you might have.  My purpose was not to dampen your spirit, but to put the year in perspective.  These were a few of the thoughts that came to my mind this New Year’s Eve.  I’m interested in knowing your thoughts also.  Thank you for visiting, and a happy New Year to you!

DEALING WITH WORRY – Philippians 4:1-7

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If anybody had an excuse for worrying, it was the apostle Paul. He had friends in Philippi who were disagreeing with each other, and he couldn’t be there to help them. There were also problems at the church in Rome. Paul also faced the possibility of his own death. Paul had many reasons to worry, but he did not! Instead, he takes time in his letter to explain the ways to have victory over worry. What is worry? The Greek word translated “anxious” or “careful” in verse 6 means “to be pulled in different directions”. Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us in the opposite direction; and we are being pulled apart! Worry can give us headaches, neck pain, ulcers, even back pain. It can affect our thinking about circumstances, people, and things. It is the greatest thief of joy. Telling others to quit worrying doesn’t work, does it? In the passage of Scripture we’re studying today, Philippians 4:1-7, the apostle Paul gives us part of the solution to worry.

I. AN EXPRESSION OF LOVE AND CONCERN (verse 1)

First of all, in verse l Paul lets the members of the church at Philippi know how special they are to him, and how concerned he is about their spiritual growth and victory in their daily lives.

II. THE IMPORTANCE OF HARMONY (verses 2-3)

Then in verse 2 Paul challenges two specific women to live in harmony. Euodia and Syntyche were not on speaking terms. They were both believers and members of the Philippian church, but they had a difference of opinion and the quarrel between them had become so serious that it reached the ears of Paul in his prison quarters in Rome. It grieved Paul greatly, and he pleads with them to resolve their differences and get along as Christians. If you have something against another Christian, you cannot solve it by not speaking to him or her. The very opposite is true. You should go to that other person and seek to get back into fellowship. If you refuse to speak, you injure yourself more than anyone else. This reminds me of a story of a certain farmer who lived on one side of a mountain, and he went to see his neighbor who lived on the other side of the mountain. Leaning on a rail fence, he watched his friend plowing with a mule. Finally he said, “I don’t want to butt in, but you could save yourself a lot of work by saying “gee” and “haw” instead of jerking on those lines to guide your mule.” The old timer mopped his brow with his red handkerchief and replied, “Yep, I know that; but this here mule kicked me six years ago and I ain’t spoken to him since!” This may sound foolish but the kick in the pants by a mule is no more foolish than many of our “spats” over little things. If you are not speaking to another brother or sister in Christ, what are you gaining by continuing to feud? Start with a smile, and follow it up with a gentle, kind remark, and then, forgetting your hurt feelings, be friends again!

In verse 3 Paul must be speaking to Epaphroditus, the man who brought Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. Paul asks him as well as Clement and the other church leaders to help these women resolve their differences. Instead of worrying, Paul went to work and did something about it, delegating the responsibility for meeting this need to others he trusted and respected.

III. THE IMPORTANCE OF REJOICING (verses 4 and 5)

Verses 4 and 5 focus on the importance of rejoicing. The apostle Paul says in verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always”. “Always? But if you only knew what I am facing!” Yes, but what about the apostle Paul? He had been beaten repeatedly, stoned once, shipwrecked three times, and was often falsely accused by his enemies. But he didn’t complain or give up. He knew the secret of joy, and without boasting he could point to himself as an example for believers to follow.

We may not always feel like rejoicing, but we can and we must choose to rejoice. Even though circumstances may change, we have an unchanging God, and in Him we can always find cause for rejoicing. In verse 5 Paul says that we are to have a “forbearing spirit”. This means being satisfied with less than we feel we deserve in this life. Our joy is based on what God has for us in heaven, not on what we can get out of this life.

IV. THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER (verses 6 and 7 )

In verse 6 Paul is saying, “Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything”. The word “prayer” is a general word for making requests known to the Lord. It has the idea of adoration, devotion, and worship. Think about the goodness and majesty of God! We need time to remind ourselves in prayer that God is big enough to solve our problems. Too often we rush into God’s presence and hastily tell Him our needs, when we ought to approach His throne calmly and with deepest reverence and adoration.

The second form of prayer mentioned in verse 6 is supplication – sharing with God our needs and our problems, and confessing our sins to Him. Nothing is too small to bring before the Father’s throne. What a difference it would make in our day if we talked to God about every problem and concern. As the hymn writer said:
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!

The last form of prayer mentioned here is thanksgiving. It’s not easy to have a thankful heart in every circumstance in life, is it? Yet the Scriptures say in I Thessalonians 5:18 and in other passages that we should give thanks in everything. There was a godly old preacher whose pastoral prayer was a source of great inspiration to the members of his congregation. Sunday after Sunday he would begin his prayer with praise and thanksgiving to God. Downhearted worshipers were often lifted by his positive spirit. One Lord’s Day, however, it seemed as if there was nothing that anyone could be happy about. The weather was cold and damp, only a few church members came to the service, and gloom was everywhere. The few who did show up that morning wondered what can the pastor be grateful for on a day like this? At the beginning of the service the pastor stood up and folded his hands in his usual manner. Then he began, “Thank you, Father, that every Lord’s Day morning is not like this one!”

Even if we can’t be grateful for what we receive, be grateful for what we escape. Yes, in everything God wants to hear us say, “Thank you, Father!”

The result is that the “peace of God” guards our hearts and our minds. This peace does not mean that the trials of life are gone, but it does mean that we have a confidence within us, regardless of circumstances, people, and things.

Daniel gives us a wonderful illustration of peace through prayer. When the king announced that none of his subjects was to pray to anyone except the king, Daniel “went to his room, opened his windows, and prayed as before”. You will find this story in Daniel 6:1-10. Note how Daniel prayed. He “prayed, and gave thanks” before his God in verse 10, and he made supplication in verse 11. Prayer – Supplication – thanksgiving. And the result was perfect peace in the midst of his difficulty. Daniel was able to spend the night with the lions in perfect peace, while the king in his palace could not sleep! We find this in verse 18.

Those who place themselves in the care of God experience the peace of God. Instead of being anxious about everything, you could be anxious about nothing. Instead of praying about little or nothing, you could be praying about everything. And, through prayer, your heavy load of worry would become God’s, and His gift of peace would become yours. You won’t find a better bargain than that in your Christian life!

If your life is filled with worry, and you have no peace with God and no evidence of lasting joy in your life, apply these principles of prayer to your life. Declare to God in prayer that He is a holy and righteous God who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for your sin. Acknowledge your own sinfulness; confess your sins to Him and ask for His forgiveness. Invite Jesus Christ to come into your life and be your Savior and Lord (Romans 10:9-13, 27-30). Thank Him for His presence and His power in your life. Spend time daily in the Bible and in prayer. Get involved in a Bible-teaching church, receiving encouragement from other Christians and serving your loving Lord with all your heart. And don’t forget to tell others about what Jesus Christ has done for you.

TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS – Philippians 2:19-30

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A newspaper reporter in San Bernardino, California arranged for a man to lie in the gutter on a busy street. Hundreds of people passed by the man but not one stopped to help him or even show sympathy. Newspapers across the country several years ago told how 38 people watched a man stalk a young lady and finally attack her, and none of the spectators even picked up a phone to call the police.

Even in the apostle Paul’s day, concern for one another was not popular. The Christians in Rome were not very interested in the needs and problems at Philippi. Paul could not find one person among them who was willing to go to Philippi. Times have not changed much, have they?

Paul is still discussing humility and concern for the needs of others. He has given the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has also talked about his own experience and his own concern for others. Now Paul introduces us to two of his helpers in the ministry, Timothy and Epaphroditus, and he does this for a reason. He knows that the people reading his letter would think, “It’s impossible for us to follow examples like Christ and Paul. After all, Jesus was the Son of God, and Paul was an apostle who has had great spiritual experiences”. Therefore Paul introduces them to two ordinary Christians.

I. TIMOTHY (verses 19-24)

The first person Paul talks to the Philippians about is Timothy. Timothy’s name means: “one who fears or honors God”. Paul probably met Timothy when he traveled to Lystra and Derbe on his first missionary journey because, in I Corinthians 4:17, Paul later called Timothy his “beloved and faithful child in the Lord”. Timothy’s mother was a Jew and his father was a Greek. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, we learn that Timothy’s mother and grandmother became Christians before he did. Paul left him there, encouraging him to become a part of the church fellowship in Derbe and Lystra, and it was in that fellowship that Timothy grew spiritually and learned to serve the Lord. When Paul returned to that area a few years later, he was happy to discover that young Timothy was “well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium”. We find this information in Acts 16:2. Paul saw in Timothy the qualities needed for missionary work and he asked Timothy to join him. In Philippians 2:22 Paul makes this wonderful statement about Timothy: “you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the Gospel like a child serving his father”. Timothy had the humble heart of a true servant of God.

A popular nightclub singer in Chicago many years ago visited a pastor and announced that he had been saved and wanted to serve the Lord. “What should I do next?”, he asked.

“Well, I’d suggest that you unite with a good church and start growing”, the pastor replied. “Is your wife a Christian?”

“No, she isn’t”, the musician replied. “I hope to win her. But do I have to wait? I mean, I’d like to do something right now.”

“No, you don’t have to wait to witness for the Lord”, explained the pastor. “Get busy in a church, and use your talents for Christ.”

“But you don’t know who I am!”, the man protested. I’m a big performer. I want to start my own organization, make records, and appear before big crowds!”

“If you go too far too fast”, warned the pastor, “you may hurt yourself and your testimony. The place to start winning people is right at home. God will open up places of service for you as He sees you are ready. Meanwhile, study the Bible and give yourself a chance to grow.”

The man did not take the pastor’s advice. Instead he set up a big organization and started off on his own. His “success” lasted less than a year. Not only did he lose his testimony because he was not strong enough to carry the heavy burdens, but his constant travelling destroyed his relationship with his wife and family. He disappeared from public ministry, a broken and bankrupt man.

“His branches went out farther than his roots were deep”, the pastor said. “When that happens, you eventually fall.”

Paul didn’t make that mistake with Timothy. He gave Timothy time to get his spiritual roots down deep, and then asked Timothy to work with him on his missionary journeys. Perhaps the greatest reward God gave to Timothy was to choose him to be Paul’s replacement while Paul was in prison in Rome. What an honor! Timothy became Paul’s substitute!

II.  EPAPHRODITUS (verses 25-30)

The other man that the apostle Paul mentions in this passage of Scripture is Epaphroditus. He was a Gentile who had become a Christian, and he was a member of the church at Philippi. Paul couldn’t say enough about this man. In chapter one, Paul calls Epaphroditus “my brother”, “my companion in labor”, and “my fellow-soldier”.

Epaphroditus was a balanced Christian. Like Timothy, Epaphroditus was concerned about both believers and non-believers. Balance is important in the Christian life. Some people emphasize “fellowship” so much that they forget the sharing of the Gospel message with the lost. Others are so involved in defending the Gospel that they neglect building fellowship with other Christians. It takes both to get the Lord’s work accomplished. Dr. H.A. Ironside, the great Bible teacher and preacher, used to tell the story about a group of believers who thought only of “fellowship”. They had little concern for reaching the lost or for defending the faith against its enemies. In front of their meeting place they hung a sign, which said: JESUS ONLY. But the wind blew away some of the letters, and the sign read US ONLY. It was a perfect description of a group of people who were not balanced Christians. Verse 25 tells us that Epaphroditus volunteered to make a dangerous trip to Rome in order to be with Paul and assist him while he was in prison. He also brought along with him a love offering from the church at Philippi. With Nero as emperor, Rome was a very dangerous place for Christians. In verses 26 and 27, Paul says that while Epaphroditus was visiting him, he became very sick and nearly died. Yet his greatest concern was not for himself but for the church in Philippi. He didn’t want them to be distressed about his illness. Epaphroditus knew the meaning of sacrifice and service, and Paul encourages the church at Philippi to honor him.

CONCLUSION:

In Hebrews 11:32-40, God’s Word tells us of many giants of the faith – some named, some anonymous. They are measured by their willingness to serve God and others. Their faithfulness makes them great. God is not looking for bigness or status. His giants are ordinary people who do their best at whatever God calls them to do because they love God.

So, in Philippians 2:19-30, we see in Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus, the secret of true contentment – the giving of themselves without feeling sorry for themselves. Do you want to be an encouraging Christian? Remember, the ultimate source of encouragement is not people, but God. Go to Him for fresh encouragement from fellowship with Him in His Word and in prayer; then go out and encourage others. Even if we have nothing else to give, we can always give encouragement. God is looking for ordinary people to do an extraordinary work for Him!

PRACTICING HUMILITY – Philippians 2:12-18

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The apostle Paul has presented the Lord Jesus Christ as the great example of humility. But how do we go about practicing it? How can we hope to be as humble as our Lord?

Paul isn’t asking us to “reach for the stars” by giving us a goal that is so awesome and difficult that it’s frustrating and hopeless. He is telling us that a humble, submissive attitude and lifestyle are a process, and that God wants to give us everything necessary to develop them in our lives.

I. ENCOURAGEMENT TO GROW (verses 12 and 13)

Paul begins by encouraging us to grow. The words “work out your salvation” in verse 12 don’t mean “work for your salvation”. The Greek word translated “work out” means to “work to full completion”. The word was used in Paul”s day for “working a mine shaft”, getting all the precious ore out of the mine that you possibly can. It was also used for “working a field” so that you could get the greatest possible harvest. God wants us to become Christlike. There will be problems along the way, but God wants to help us “work them out”. Our lives have tremendous potential. He wants to help us get all we can get out of our lives. God is a God of variety. No two flowers are exactly alike, no two snowflakes are the same, and no two fingerprints are identical. All of us are called to be like Christ, but we must also be ourselves.

II. ENCOURAGEMENT TO BE WITNESSES (verses 14-16)

In verses 14 and 15, Paul compares the life of the believer with the lives of those who live in the world. Many people think that Christians are always negative and fighting against something. That’s sad because we should be known as positive people who promote what is good and right. One newspaper columnist stated that he wondered if we Christians are really loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us. Are we feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison? Jesus told us to do these things in Matthew chapter 5 in His Sermon on the Mount.

If we went through life each day without complaining, how would that affect others around us? They would enjoy being around us, wouldn’t they? We would be an encouragement to them and God would be able to shine through our lives. Two small children were seated on an airplane and they weren’t happy about it. Their cries of complaint filled the cabin of the airplane. Just before takeoff, a flight attendant stopped next to them and said with a big smile, “What is all that squawking up here?” After charming the fussy 3-year-old and his younger sister for a few minutes, the flight attendant bent down and whispered very seriously, “I must remind you, this is a non-squawking flight”. The little ones became unbelievably quiet. That made everybody feel better. It’s a long journey when you have to sit in the squawking section. I’m sure that God would like to remind us every morning that He wants this day to a non-squawking day.

This kind of problem happens in churches and among Christians also. A specialist was called in as a consultant by the board of a church that was having a lot of disagreement over a small issue. Two committees had given conflicting recommendations on how to redecorate the church building. One committee said that it should be painted white. The other committee insisted that yellow would make it look more attractive and up-to-date.
Both groups wouldn’t give in, and there were angry speeches and many harsh words. The specialist listened to their heated arguments until he finally said quietly, “Here’s my advice to you. Don’t paint it white; don’t paint it yellow; paint your church black! That would be an appropriate color for a church board that is having such a shameful quarrel!”
The members of the committees were put to shame. They now realized that their arguing and hateful comments had grieved the Holy Spirit. After some calm reflection and discussion, a peaceful agreement was reached.

In verses 15 and 16, Paul reminds us that we are God’s children and He wants us to shine as lights in this sinful world. Beatrice Tice tells of a tenement district in New York City where a boy in ragged clothes was seen with a small piece of broken mirror in his hand. Holding it high in the air he moved it slowly back and forth, watching the narrow slit of a window above him as he did so. “What are you doing?”, a man suddenly demanded as he shook the youngster roughly by the shoulder. “Like most boys in this neighborhood, you’re probably up to some mischief, aren’t you?” The boy looked up into the stern face of this man and said, “See that window up there? Well, I have a little brother who has a room on that floor. He’s a cripple. The only sunlight he ever sees is what I shine up to him with my mirror!” The man was ashamed that he had spoken to him so harshly, realizing that the boy was doing a kind deed by reflecting the sun’s rays to his lonesome brother in that dark tenement building.

We don’t have to be preachers or specially trained people to shine for Jesus. We can radiate His light to others by the thoughtful way we talk, live, and love. In verse 16 Paul tells us that if we follow these principles from God’s Word, then we’ll have the joy of knowing that our lives were not lived in vain, and our unselfish efforts will have eternal results.

III. A REASON TO REJOICE (verses 17 and 18)

In verses 17 and 18, the apostle Paul gives himself and the church at Philippi another reason to rejoice. Paul rejoices in spite of the fact that he is being “poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of their faith.” Paul established the Philippian church, and their growing faith has been the result of his sacrificial love for them and service to them.

The “drink offering” or “libation” that Paul speaks of was not an offering that was offered by itself or separately. It was an offering of wine which was poured on or around another offering. The wine represented Paul’s blood. Paul was writing this letter in a prison cell in Rome, and he knew that very soon he would be put to death because of his faith in Jesus Christ. But the main sacrifice for which he was being poured out as a drink offering was the Philippian church’s’ testimony and service to God that would continue on after his death. This was the source of Paul’s joy as he writes this letter to them, and he wants them to share in this joy together with him. Joy comes in this life from sacrifice and service to God, and from looking forward to the day when we’re promoted to glory.

JESUS CHRIST EXALTED – Philippians 2:9-11

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INTRODUCTION: The word “therefore” in verse 9 of Philippians, chapter 2, tells us that the story of Jesus doesn’t end with His birth, life, suffering and death, as described by the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5-8. There is much more to the story. And this story keeps getting better all the time!

When I first preached this message, my Scripture passage was Philippians 2:5-11. But verses 9-11 are so meaningful that I decided to devote a separate message to these three verses. As we study this passage of Scripture, we will be investigating the description of Jesus’ exaltation, the results of His exaltation, and the purpose of His exaltation.

THE DESCRIPTION OF JESUS’ EXALTATION (2:9)

Because of Jesus’ voluntary act of humility, when he laid aside His glory and the independent use of His attributes as God to become a man, so that He could sacrifice Himself to pay the price for our sins, God the Father exalted His Son to the highest possible degree. All that Jesus gave up or laid aside to become a man and pay the price for our sins was now given back by God the Father “with interest” so to speak. Jesus is now the God-man, and He will continue to have His earthly name and His sinless human nature for eternity.

In addition, God “bestowed”, or freely gave to Jesus the “name that is
above every name”. Notice that it doesn’t say, “the name Jesus”, but “the name of Jesus”. Jesus received His human name, “Jesus”, when an angel appeared to Mary in Matthew 1:2l, and in a dream to Joseph in Luke 1:31 and said, “you shall call His name Jesus”. But the exalted name given by the Father, to which every knee shall bow is the name “Lord”. The Greek word is “kurios”, which means “ruler”. It is equivalent to the Old Testament name for God: “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”.

So, when the Son of God humbled Himself, He was given the name “Jesus”. When He was exalted, He was given the name “Lord”. As you read through the Gospels you will notice that Jesus’ followers never called Him by His first name. They always called Him “Lord”. If you had the opportunity to speak to the President of these United States, you wouldn’t address him by his first name, would you? You would call him “Mr. President” out of respect for his office.

II. THE RESULTS OF HIS EXALTATION (vs. 10-11)

In verses 10 and 11 we are told the results of Jesus Christ’s exaltation. The apostle Paul says: “Every knee shall bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”. That includes all the angels and saints in heaven, all those on earth during His thousand year reign, and all those who have rejected Him. All authority in heaven, on earth, and under the earth belongs to Him.

Is the Lord Jesus Christ your Lord? Is He ruling in your life right now? Is it obvious to those around you that the Lord Jesus is reigning in your life? To bow before Him now and confess that He is Lord means salvation. To bow before Him at the Great White Throne judgment means condemnation. Don’t put it off. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Your response will determine where you will spend eternity. In one of his crusades, Billy Graham said that a person once asked him if there was a Bible verse that says what it means to be a Christian. Dr. Graham’s immediate answer was Luke 9:23. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

III. THE PURPOSE OF HIS EXALTATION (verse 11)

At the end of verse 11, the apostle Paul tells us that the purpose for Christ’s humiliation and his exaltation was the glory of God. As Jesus faced the cross, He prayed, in John 17:1, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee”. If we’ve accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, He has given that glory to us. And one day we are going to share it with Him in heaven. Let that be a source of joy to us. In the meantime, Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW – Philippians 2:5-8

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INTRODUCTION:

In Philippians 2:1-4 we studied what it means to be humble, to put others first, to look out for the interests and needs of others. We learned that true satisfaction and joy come from loving others and being unselfish toward others. Remember the motto that Dwight L. Moody gave to a graduating class at Moody Bible College? “Do all the good you can to all the people you can in all the ways you can for as long as you can.”

How do you teach humility? The only way is by example. This next passage of Scripture, Philippians 2:5-8, is one of the most profound and amazing passages of Scripture in the whole Bible. The apostle Paul uses the perfect illustration of humility – Jesus Christ Himself. Paul says in verse 5, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Our attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ’s because our attitude determines our actions. If our attitude is selfish, our actions are going to be selfish and destructive. In reviewing what the Son of God did to become the Son of man, we should be reminded that one who suffers little does not groan in the presence of one who suffers much. For instance, would it be appropriate to complain bitterly about chapped hands while visiting a person who recently had one of his hands amputated? Or what sensitive citizen would complain about having to pay taxes while standing at the graveside of one who had given his life for his country? When we think about the birth, life, and death of Christ, all our problems and inconveniences become insignificant.

I. HE THOUGHT OF OTHERS (verses 5-6)

Following Jesus’ example means humbly serving others. Verse 6 takes us back to eternity past. The phrase “form of God” has nothing to do with shape or size. God is spirit. The word “form” refers to Jesus’ inward nature. It means that in eternity past, Jesus Christ was God. But Jesus didn’t consider His equality with God as “something to hang on to.” Jesus didn’t think of Himself. He thought of others. Jesus’ attitude was: I can’t keep my privileges to myself. I must use them for others, and I’ll gladly pay whatever price is necessary. What a contrast to Lucifer. Most Bible scholars believe that Lucifer and Satan are the same person. Lucifer was the highest of the angels and was close to the throne of God, but he wanted to be “on” the throne of God. His pride cost him his place in heaven and he was cast into hell, along with his followers.

II. HE SERVED (verse 7)

In verse 7 Paul traces the steps in the humiliation of Christ. First. He emptied Himself, laying aside His majesty, and the independent use of His attributes as God. Secondly, He permanently became a human, in a sinless physical body. Thirdly, He used that body to be a servant. And fourthly, He took that body to the cross and willingly died. Have you noticed that as you read the four Gospels that it is Jesus who served others, not others who served Him, with only a couple of exceptions?

III. HE SACRIFICED (verse 8)

Have you ever talked to or heard about people who thought that they had finally achieved humility? One man wrote a book entitled “Humility and How I Attained It”. When a person thinks he has attained humility, he is actually far from it. Our desire and prayer should not be “Lord, keep me humble”, but “Lord, make me humble”.

Jesus chose the way He would come to this earth, and He chose a lowly birth. He was born in a stable. He chose lowly parents. His step-father, Joseph, was a lowly carpenter. He chose to be very plain looking. Isaiah 53:2 says, “He has no stately form or majesty, that we should look upon Him.” He chose to have no status or reputation. In Luke 22:27 Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves”. He chose to have no abilities. In John 5:30 Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing”. He chose not to be independent. In Luke 22:42 Jesus said, “I seek not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me”. No wonder the apostle Paul encourages us to be like Christ.

The word “servant” in verse 7 is the Greek word “doulos”, which means “slave”. Under Roman law, a slave was greatly humiliated. A slave had no rights and no justice. A slave could be bought and sold, and could be tortured to the extreme. That description of a slave also describes the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Many people are willing to serve others if it doesn’t cost them anything. But if there is a price to pay, they suddenly lose interest. Jesus, however, “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing. The person with a submissive mind does not avoid sacrifice. He lives for the glory of God and for the good of others. If paying the price will honor Christ and help others, he is willing to do it. A man by the name of Douglas Hyde was a communist for 20 years. In his book, “Dedication and Leadership” he says that communists never ask a person to do a small task. They always ask him to do something that will cost him. They make big demands, and they get a willing response. The “willingness to sacrifice” is one of the most important factors in the success of the communist movement. Even the young people in the movement are expected to study, serve, give, and obey, and that is what attracts them and keeps them going.

A church board met with their youth group as they planned the annual “youth Sunday program”, and one of the board members suggested that the teenagers could serve as ushers, lead in prayer, and bring special music. One of the teens stood up and said, “quite frankly, we’re tired of being asked to do little things. We’d like to do something different this year, and maybe keep it going all year long. We’ve talked and prayed about this, and we’d like to work with our trustees in remodeling that basement room so it can be used as a classroom, and we’d like to start visiting our elderly members each week and taking them cassettes of the services. And, if it’s OK we’d like to have a weekly witness on Sunday afternoons in the park. We hope this will be OK with you.” He sat down, and the new youth pastor smiled to himself. He had privately challenged these teenagers to do something that would cost them, and they enthusiastically responded to the challenge. He knew that sacrifice is necessary if there is going to be true growth and ministry.

The test of a submissive mind is not just how much we are willing to take in terms of suffering, but how much we are willing to give in terms of sacrifice. And in the Christian life, the more we give, the more we receive; the more we sacrifice, the more God blesses. The result is an inner joy. As we share in Christ’s sufferings we also share in His joy. Is it costing you anything to be a Christian?

CONCERN FOR OTHERS – Philippians 2:1-4

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INTRODUCTION:

In Philippians, chapter 1, we learned how to have joy in spite of circumstances in our lives. The secret is to have a single mind, putting Christ first in our lives and serving Him with all our hearts. In chapter 2, the apostle Paul tells us how to have joy in spite of people. The secret is to have a submissive mind, putting others second in our lives. In verses 1 and 2 of chapter 2, Paul gives the members of the church at Philippi something to think about, and then challenges them in verses 3 and 4.

I. THE REMINDER (verse 1)

The word “if” in verse 1 would be better translated as “because” or “since”.
Paul’s words in verse l are not expressions of uncertainty but statements of fact. Let’s ask ourselves if his statements are true in our lives. “Is there any encouragement in Christ?” Has Jesus Christ ever encouraged you to find solutions instead of taking sides? Has He encouraged you to be patient with others as He is with you? Has He ever encouraged you to be at peace with others and resolve your differences? “Is there any consolation in love?” Have you ever received comfort from God’s love for you, or your love for God, or from the love of other Christians? “Is there any fellowship of the Spirit?” Have you ever experienced a sense of oneness with God and with other Christians? “Is there any affection and compassion?” Has God, or have other Christians ever let you know how much you mean to them, and helped you when you’ve been down?

II. THE CHALLENGE (verse 2)
If so, Paul says, “make my joy complete” by being the same way yourselves, having the same love for others, the same oneness with other believers, and the same desire to help meet the needs of others.” Paul is already joyous and thankful for what he hears about the church at Philippi: their faithfulness to God’s Word, the certainty of their salvation, and their efforts to proclaim the Gospel. Now, Paul is saying, “what would make my joy complete” would be for them to humbly work together in unity to accomplish God’s goals for them. This topic of unity is so important that the apostle Paul brings it up in every one of his epistles to the Churches. This is because unity is so hard to develop and maintain.

III. PUTTING OTHERS FIRST (verse 3)

In verse 3 Paul hits on the problem. We live in a selfish society. Here’s a true example of selfishness. A farmer who was single decided that he wanted a wife. So he put an ad in the newspaper that read: “Man 35 wants woman about 25 with tractor. Send picture of tractor.”

The person who lets others go first is often considered to be weak. But if you forget yourself for the sake of others, others will not forget you, and your life will be filled with joy.

A rich baker sent for 20 of the poorest children in his town and said to them, “In this basket is a loaf of bread for each of you. Take one and come back every day and I’ll give you more.” Immediately the youngsters began quarreling about who would get the largest loaf. Snatching from the basket, they left without even thanking the baker. Gretchen, a poorly dressed little girl, patiently waited until the others had left. She then took the smallest loaf which remained in the basket, kissed the old man’s hand, and went home.
The next day the scene was repeated. But when Gretchen’s mother sliced this loaf, she found many shiny silver coins inside. When Gretchen took the money back to the baker, he said, “No, my child, it was not a mistake. I put them into the smallest loaf to reward you.” Are we willing to be unselfish for Jesus’ sake? Dwight L. Moody was a well-known pastor, evangelist, and founder of a Bible college which is now called Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He gave this motto to one of the graduating classes: “Do all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the ways you can, for as long as you can.” What a wonderful reminder of how you and I can demonstrate our concern for others! Say that motto over again several times until you can quote it for memory. Then say it to yourself each morning, and ask God to give the ability to put it into practice with a spirit of joy. Each evening thank God for the ways He used you that day, and pray for the
individuals you had the privilege of serving.

IV. LOOKING OUT FOR OTHERS (verse 4)

Verse 4 tells us that there is a balance. God does not want us to neglect our own needs, nor does He want us to become a “doormat” for others to walk on and take advantage of. But Paul says, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Loving others can set us free from our own selfishness.

A mother took her young daughter shopping one day and grumbled about a disabled beggar who was partially blocking the sidewalk. He was sitting on a street corner trying to earn a few pennies selling pencils. “Mommy, let’s give that poor man something”, pleaded the little girl eagerly. “We’re in a hurry, darling”, replied the mother in a muffled voice. “And besides, he’s none of our business!” Tightening her grip on the child’s hand, she hastened past the beggar and went on to purchase two new hats she really didn’t need.
That night the youngster said her prayers as usual while her mother listened.
After repeating her “Now I lay me down to sleep”, she suddenly exclaimed, “Dear Jesus, please help that poor man we saw on the street today!” There was a short pause. Then she said, “Oh, I’m sorry, Jesus, I forgot. Mommy said ‘he’s none of our business’!” Convicted by her daughter’s words, the mother hung her head in shame.

Dr. Karl Menninger, the well-known psychiatrist, was asked at a forum what to do if one felt a nervous breakdown coming on. You would expect him to say, “See a psychiatrist”. Instead, he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need, and do something for him.” That was good scriptural advice.

Let’s live unselfishly today, so that as we close our eyes in sleep tonight we can do so with the satisfaction and joy that comes from looking out for others.

ESSENTIALS FOR VICTORY – Philippians 1:27-30

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INTRODUCTION:  Several years ago a believer in Jesus Christ was walking past a tavern in the city of Philadelphia.  Looking in, he saw a man who claimed to be a Christian drinking and gambling.  He took a pencil and wrote a message on a slip of paper.  Seeing a young man standing near the door, he greeted him and said to him, “Would you do something for me?  Do you see that man over there playing cards?  Would you give him this note?”  The young man agreed to do it.  When the backslidden believer opened the note, he blushed, for it read, “Ye are my witnesses!”  Immediately he got up and left the tavern.  That note was used by the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to his heart.  He realized that he had not been true to Christ.  In the passage of Scripture we are studying today, Philippians 1:27-30, the apostle Paul gives us three essentials for victory as we strive to demonstrate our faith in Christ and in His Word.

I.  CONSISTENCY (1:27a)

The first essential is consistency.  In verse 27 Paul says, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.”  The Greek word translated “conduct yourself” is the word from which we get our word “politics”.  Paul is saying, “behave the way citizens are supposed to behave.”  Speaking to people about the Lord is important because the witness of our lives is not enough to save other people.  It’s the Word of God that contains the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives.  However, if our words are not backed up by living evidence, our words are empty.  Dr. Daniel Steele says, “All jurists in a court of law will tell you that one bit of authentic evidence is worth 10,000 words of pleading.”  Paul is implying that we Christians are the citizens of heaven, and while we’re on this earth we ought to behave like heaven’s citizens.  This argument of Paul’s was very meaningful to the people in Philippi because Philippi was a Roman colony, and its citizens were actually Roman citizens, protected by Roman law.  Similarly, the church of Jesus Christ is a colony of heaven on earth, and we ought to behave like citizens of heaven.

The word “worthy” means “to be of equal weight”.  Paul is saying, “Make sure your behavior as citizens adds up to, or is consistent with, the gospel message you present.  That’s our challenge today!

While the great French artist Dore was travelling in Southern Europe, he lost his passport.  When he came to the border of a particular country, a border guard asked him to show his papers. ” I’ve lost them”, Dore said, “but you can trust me.  I am Gustav Dore, the artist.  Please let me proceed.”  “Oh no!”, said the officer.  “many have tried to pass themselves off as important people”.  A lengthly conversation  followed, with both parties protesting.  Finally the officer said, “Here is a pencil and paper.  If you are the famous artist, prove it by drawing a picture!”  With a masterful hand Dore quickly sketched some of the features of the surrounding countryside.  “Now I’m perfectly sure of who you are!” exclaimed the officer.  “Only Dore could do that!”

In living the Christian life, an ounce of illustration is worth many pounds of talk.  There’s a well-known poem that goes like this:

You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do, by the words that you say.
Men read what you write, whether faithless or true.
Say, what is the gospel according to you?

II.  COOPERATION (verse 27b)

The second essential for victory, as we strive to represent Christ and obey His Word, is cooperation.  In the middle of verse 27, Paul speaks of “striving together for the faith of the gospel”.  The words “striving together” were used to refer to the teamwork of athletes. The key word is “together”.  The local body of believers is to be like a team of athletes.  Each of us has an assigned place and job, and if each one is doing his job, it helps all the others.  Not everyone can be captain or quarterback.  The team has to follow the rules, and the word of God is our “rule book”.  God doesn’t want any “glory hounds” in His church.  You know, the ones who always want to be in the spotlight and get all the praise.  We are called to be a team, and our goal is to make one Person look good and receive all the praise.  That person is our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is joy in our lives, even as we do battle with our enemy, Satan, if we live for Christ and practice “Christian teamwork”.  Remember, we are members of the same team and should work cooperatively.

III.  CONFIDENCE (verses 28-30)

The third essential for success as we face the enemy is confidence.  The apostle Paul says in verse 28:  “Don’t be alarmed by your opponents”.  This phrase was used by the Greeks to describe a horse shying away from battle.  There’s no reason for us to be afraid.  We are on the winning side because Satan was defeated when Christ died on the cross for our sins.  We have the victory when we trust in Christ’s power.

In verses 29 and 30 Paul gives us several reasons to be confident in the battle.  First, these battles prove that we are saved.  For some reason many Christians have the idea that trusting Christ means the end of their battles.  Actually, it means the beginning of new battles.  Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.”  II Timothy 3:12 says, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Secondly, the presence of conflict is a privilege.  When we suffer for Christ or with Christ, it is an honor.  Thirdly, others are experiencing the same conflict.  Satan wants us to think that we are alone in the battle, that our difficulties are unique.  But this is not true.  Paul is reminding the Philippians that he’s going through the same difficulties they are experiencing.  Knowing that other believers are also engaged in the battle is an encouragement for us to keep going and to pray for them as well as for ourselves.

We all have our bad days when it seems like our whole world is against us.  Life isn’t always a picnic, is it?  But Paul is saying that he’s had many of those rough days, but he hasn’t let those days rob him of joy. Paul was faithful and persistent, in spite of his obstacles. That’s the kind of attitude Paul is looking for in the Philippians, and God is looking for in each of us.

Do you want to have joy today in spite of the circumstances you’re in, or may be facing?  Remember, you can be confident that you’re a citizen of heaven if Christ is your Savior and Lord, and He wants you to act like one.  Remember, we are all members of the same team, and God wants us to cooperate with each other and be concerned for each other.  Remember, we face the same enemy and need the confidence that only Christ can give us as we depend on Him.  Christianity was never meant to be dull, but exciting!

MEANING IN LIFE AND IN DEATH – Philippians 1:21

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INTRODUCTION

The following are a few statements made by people who are said to have brilliant minds, but who don’t know the truths of God’s Word.  “Man is a sick fly, taking a dizzy ride on a gigantic wheel.”  “Man’s life has no more meaning than the humblest insect, crawling from one destruction to another.”  “Men are but tiny lumps of carbon and water, who crawl about for a few years until they dissolve again.”

What low estimates!  What empty and pitiful comments about the meaning of our existence!  How refreshing are these inspired words of the apostle Paul:  “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”.

I.  TO LIVE IS CHRIST (1:21a)

In the first half of verse 21, Paul says, “to live is Christ. “Existence” is the lot of every person.  But “life”, real life, belongs only to those who have been joined to Christ through salvation.

What has life meant to you as you’ve grown and matured?  This poem gives us something to think about:

“What is life?” asked a little child as he romped on a golden day.
Out of his life the answer came:  “Life is play!  Life is play!”
“What is life?” asked the sturdy man as he toiled through the sun and rain.
And the woe in his heart cried out aloud  “Life is pain!  Life is pain!”
“What is life?” asked the old, old man as he gazed on the stars above. And his wise, wise heart sang joyfully, “Life is Christ!  Life is love!”

Is your journey here on earth mere existence?  Remember, life begins when Jesus comes in!  This Scripture verse we’re studying today sums up the Christian’s philosophy of life in just twelve simple one-syllable words.  “For to me, to life is Christ, and to die is gain.”  When the wife of missionary, Adoniram Judson, told him that a newspaper article compared him to some of the apostles, Judson replied, “I don’t want to be like a Paul . . . or any other man.  I want to be like Christ.”  May Christ be the object of our love, the joy of our lives, and the one we aspire to be like.  May Jesus Christ be our whole purpose for living.

II.  TO DIE IS GAIN (verse 21b)

In the second half of verse 21, Paul says, “to die is gain”.  The author, Isaac Asimov, tells the story of a rough ocean crossing during which Mr. Jones became terribly seasick.  At an especially rough time, a friendly steward patted Mr. Jones on the shoulder and said, “I know, sir, that it seems awful.  But remember, no man ever died of seasickness.”  Mr. Jones lifted his head to look at the steward’s concerned face and replied, “Man, don’t say that!  It’s only the wonderful hope of dying that keeps me alive!”

In these words to the church at Philippi, Paul said that the wonderful hope of dying kept him going.  Yet Paul wasn’t merely looking for relief from suffering.  Paul’s hope was rooted in Christ who died on the cross for sinners, rose victorious from the grave, is alive and reigning in heaven, and who would one day take Paul into His presence.

But how did the hope of seeing Christ keep the apostle Paul going?  It gave meaning to every moment.  It gave Paul a reason to live for Christ, and it gave Paul the incentive to focus his attention on others who needed his encouragement.  Paul had come to know Jesus Christ as his very life.

There was a radio station that featured an on-the-air obituary column.  Its purpose was to inform people in the community of any deaths of its citizens during the previous day.  On one of those broadcasts, after an introduction, the announcer said thoughtlessly, “We’re sorry to report that there were no deaths in our county during the past 24 hours”.  As soon as these words left his mouth, he knew that what he said was inappropriate.  Have we ever written to express our sympathy to someone who has lost a Christian family member through death, and said something like “I was so sorry to hear about the home-going of your loved one”?  But something doesn’t sound right, does it?  Naturally we feel sorrow for those who grieve.  It hurts when family ties are broken.  But should we feel sorry for Christians who have gone to be with their Lord?  Never!  II Corinthians 5 says, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”.  We have reason to rejoice, even in our sorrow.

Philippians 1:21 is a valuable test for each of us to take concerning our lives.  “For to me, to live is …………………., and to die is …………………..        Fill in the blanks yourself for your own life.  A young man named William Anderson of Dallas, Texas, had been ill with an incurable disease.  Although he had rallied and seemed to be somewhat better, he knew in his heart that his time to leave this earth was near.  So, calling his mother to come closer to his bed, he whispered, “I want to tell you something.  In spite of what the doctors are saying, I’m going to get to heaven before you do.”  Then, smiling peacefully, he shut his eyes, and within a few minutes his soul had winged its way to glory.  Because William’s faith was fixed on Jesus, fear was gone, and he joyfully anticipated going to be with the Lord.

Fellow believers in Jesus Christ, be assured that your final farewell to this world will bring you into the joys of heaven for eternity. Because our Savior and Lord paid the price for your sins and conquered the grave, your death will be gain.  The first stanza of a popular old hymn says it so well you’ll want to be singing it:

When all my labors and trials are o’er
And I am safe on that beautiful shore
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore
Will through the ages be glory for me.

Death for the Christian is not gloom but glory.  If we want to make the most of today, let’s keep eternity with Christ on our minds.  Then our lives will be filled with joy!

JOY AMID COMPETITION AND CRITICISM – Philippians 1:15-20

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INTRODUCTION:

It’s hard to believe that any Christian would oppose the apostle Paul, but there were believers in Rome doing just that.  The churches in Rome seemed to be divided into two groups.

I.  THE TWO GROUPS (verses 15-17)

The first group of Christians that Paul mentions, in verses 15 and 16, preached Christ insincerely out of envy and strife.  Those two words go together, just as love and unity go together.  They were jealous of Paul, and therefore they wanted to cause trouble for him.  Verse 17 tells us that this group “preached Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives”.  They envied Paul’s reputation and the following he had among Christians. Their goal was to make Paul miserable and upset.  They wanted him to become afraid of losing his reputation and his followers.  They thought that what would worry Paul the most would be for him to hear about the success of their ministry.  The apostle James said it well in James 3:16, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

These Christians that Paul is talking about, in verses 15 and 17, had the aim of promoting themselves and winning a following of their own.  Instead of asking, “Have you trusted in Christ”, they may have been asking, “Whose side are you on, ours or Paul’s?”  Sadly, this kind of religious politics is sometimes practiced today.  We are always going to be living around, or dealing with, ungrateful people. But we should not become offended or stop doing good because of a lack of gratitude.

There is also another group of Christians in this passage of Scripture.  They are proclaiming Christ out of love for Him and for others, following the example of the apostle Paul.  In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul acknowledges this group of faithful believers in Rome in order that they might be an encouragement to his readers in Philippi.

II.  PAUL’S RESPONSE (verses 18-20)

How does the apostle Paul respond to the divisive group in the church at Rome?  Paul was encouraged by the fact that Jesus Christ was being proclaimed, whether the motivation was true of not.  In verse 18 Paul says, “in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice”.  Paul found something to rejoice in, even though the motives of many of the Christians in Rome were wrong.

ILLUSTRATION:  It’s a historical fact that the two great British evangelists , John Wesley and George Whitefield, disagreed on some doctrinal matters.  Both of them were very successful, preaching to thousands of people, and seeing multitudes come to Christ.  It’s reported that someone asked Wesley if he expected to see Whitefield in heaven, and Wesley replied, “No, I do not”.  “Then do you think that Whitefield is a converted man?”  “Of course He’s a converted man”, Wesley said, “but I do not expect to see him in heaven because he will be so close to the throne of God and I will be so far away that I will not be able to see him”.  Though he differed from his brother in Christ in some matters, Wesley did not have any envy in his heart, nor did he seek to oppose Whitefield’s ministry.

Criticism is usually hard to accept, isn’t it?  How was the apostle Paul able to rejoice, even in the face of criticism?  Paul was single-minded, and saw his critics as another opportunity for the furtherance of the Gospel.  He rejoiced, not in the selfishness of his critics, but in the fact that Christ was being preached.  His attitude toward such people was to look for the good in their actions.  As Paul said in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.

Verse 19 indicates that Paul expected his case to turn out victoriously because of the prayers of his friends and the provision of the Holy Spirit.  From the Greek word for “provision” we get our English word “chorus”.  Whenever a Greek city was going to have a special festival, someone had to pay for the singers and dancers.  The donation had to be a very large one, so this word came to mean, “to provide generously and lavishly.”  Paul was depending on the generous resources of God, given by the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s desire, his hope, and his goal in verse 20 was that Christ might be magnified in his body, whether it be by life or by death.  Does Christ need to be magnified?  How can a mere man magnify God?  Well, the stars are much bigger than the telescope, and yet the telescope magnifies them and brings them closer.  The Christian’s body is to be a telescope that brings Jesus Christ close to people.  To the average person, Christ is a mysterious person in history who lived centuries ago. But as the unsaved watch a believer go through a crisis, they can see Jesus magnified and brought much closer.  A microscope makes tiny things look big.  To the unbeliever, Jesus is not very big.  Other people and other things are far more important.  But as the unbeliever watches the Christian go through a difficult and painful experience, he ought to be able to see how big Jesus really is.  The Christian’s life is a “lens” that makes a “little Christ” look very big, and a “distant Christ” come very close.

We might ask ourselves these questions.  Are the things we are living for worth dying for?  As people get to know us, are they also getting to know Christ better?

When William Carey, the great missionary to India, was dying, many of his close friends and acquaintances visited him.  Among them was Alexander Duff, who deeply admired the great missionary statesman.  Because of his appreciation for him, he talked at length with Carey about his active life of service to the Lord.  Finally the dying man said “pray”.  He did so; then he bid farewell to that valiant soldier of the cross, not knowing if he’d ever see him again in this life.  He no sooner closed the door than he heard someone call his name.  It was Carey, wanting one last word with him.  “Duff”,  he said, “when I am gone,  say nothing about me – speak only about my Savior “.  These words remind us of the desire of Paul’s heart expressed in this passage of Scripture.  May the aspirations of the apostle Paul and William Carey become the pattern for our lives.  May the motivation to exalt our living Savior so dominate our lives and our service that we would seek no praise for ourselves, but only desire that Christ would be magnified.  As the hymn writer put it:

O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer;                                                                                           This is my constant longing and prayer.                                                                                  Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,                                                                                   Jesus Thy perfect likeness to wear.