Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church Experiencing Christ In Community

Today as we draw to a close Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church, we have seen how he keeps bringing us back to ask “How Jesus on the move in your life?”  As Paul writes this letter from jail, he is uncertain about his future.  What we see is how Paul’s overall concern remains for the Philippian Christian, and how he longs to see them mature in their faith and apply Jesus as Lord in their daily lives by looking out for the interests of others in the church, and running to win the prize of eternity with Jesus; that is pressing on to finish the race.  Paul now draws his letter to its end

as we read in verse 4-5  4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  5  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Whatever you find going on in your life right now Paul tells these Philippians - be courageous, patiently steadfast in Christ.  As I just to stretch that out a little further, as we’ve read through Philippians, you’ll find the word Jesus, Savior, Christ, or Lord in 51 out of 104 verses. Paul wants us to be focused on Christ. For Paul, to live was Christ and to die was gain. His ambition, whether absent or present, was to please God.  We’re drawn in to focus on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the author and perfecter of our faith.  As we soon see disunity was also present in the Philippian church as well, verse 2-3 (The Message)

I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up. God doesn’t want his children holding grudges. And, oh, yes, Syzygus, since you’re right there to help them work things out, do your best with them. These women worked for the Message hand in hand with Clement and me, and with the other veterans—worked as hard as any of us. Remember, their names are also in the Book of Life.

Church harmony is most noticed by its absence and here was a problem that couldn’t be avoided, as two prominent women in the church had come to odds.  We don’t know what they were at odds about, but notice how Paul pleads for unity for both of these women to be like minded, by starting by agreeing with one another

with what they both know & believe & share in their faith, as they already share the same mind of Christ, so they are invited to start speaking to one another from that starting point.  Paul now brings us to view others through the eyeglasses of humility

The eyeglasses of pride look instead for opportunities to manipulate and use people.

With pride, all is conditional.  it’s not the way of humility.  Humility is sacrificially giving what is best for others. If others are unsaved, it’s presenting the gospel to them.  If they are believers, it’s asking how we can help them be more like Jesus Christ? That’s humility. That’s the mindset of the servant, Jesus Christ.[1]

Paul appeals for oneness in the Lord as we’re pushed even deeper verse 4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  5  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.    Rejoice in all the provisions and blessings of God in Christ Jesus, rejoicing is not about me it’s about what God has done.  Rejoice because God never changes, his mercy never ends his compassion sets me free from the law of sin & death.  Rejoice in all that God is in all that God continues to do in us when my spirit sags keep looking to Jesus, look at his love for me.  We might have otherwise missed it our rejoicing comes all because tucked away at the end of verse 5 are these 4 simple words ‘the Lord is near’ which really hangs like a hinge to this passage and this whole book I think.  The reminder is to have a courageous faith as God’s nearness is both our hope and challenge reminds us we are accountable; also Jesus is near to us even when the times are tough.  When our troubles are to the top of our minds the one thing we know we can do is pray, verse 6-7

6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  7  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

While God might not reverse the tough situation you’re worrying about, He specializes in pardoning, cleansing, and helping the worrying person. Amid those difficult circumstances, He wants to change us.[2]  I invite you to commit this scripture to memory, and so tuck it away in your back packet like pocket change that you can pull out when troubles hit.  For these Philippians their stresses weren’t whether they had pay off their mortgages, or been able to put fuel in the car, or pay for the music lessons for our children, or struggle with that past hurt.  The anxiety of these Philippians was from persecution from governors and kings who were hunting Christians down imprisoning or killing them because of their commitment to be disciples of Jesus. What Paul writes is a prayer of requests, asking God to deal with those things that cause us pain, or for those things we desire to see, as Paul tells it, pray with thanksgiving is telling God all about the blessings, the joys, the wonder of who he is, that is the point of thankfulness.  As thanksgiving makes us focus on the mercy of God, focusing in on God’s past acts of love that shape now what we pray for, and so when we’re anxious God’s peace above all else  guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  God Garrisons our hearts, like a soldier standing on guard duty guarding the city gate from within God garrison’s our hearts with the peace of Christ, verse 8-9 (The Message)

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

God meets us and changes our hearts in the middle of our greatest joys, our most difficult relationships, our problems, and our deepest sorrows.   God changing to be more like Jesus takes place when our dream of change lines up with God’s purposes for change. Paul tells these Philippians.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

Keeping eternity in view as we go about our daily lives gives us a broader perspective. It gives us hope for change in the midst of our difficult situations and relationships. Paul tells us we won’t find contentment until we first find peace with God acknowledging our absolute need and dependence upon God alone to forgive us, verse 12-13 (The Message)

Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

In Paul’s labours for the gospel he knows hardship and joy, he’s been able to walk the streets of towns freely proclaiming the gospel, and been thrown into prison, he has been well supplied with food, and also known the pain of hunger

what is it he has learnt? That a thankful heart before God enables him to trust in God’s goodness.  Paul now concludes this letter with a farewell prayer, verses 19-20

19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  20  To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  The glory of God challenges us with the question of will we live with a courageous faith that seeks our identity in Jesus.  It is also how Paul signs off in this letter

23  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

 

My prayer as Cherryn & I leave TCPC is that you would be that you continue to share the same love of Christ to see Jesus bear fruit in each of your lives together, as you share with one another your needs, and rejoice and weep with one another.  That you would pray and never stop giving thanks to God for his steadfast love to us.  That you would continue sharing the hope we have and being courageous in that trusting that Jesus is enough.

 

Let’s pray...

Lord, there’s going to be a day when thousands and thousands will say in unison, “Worthy are you, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power for you have created all things and because of your will they existed and were created. To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” Lord, may we do here on earth what we will do in heaven: bowing low and lifting You high.  As we continue to pray your will be done.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ, our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.[3]

 

David Hassan @ Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church 25/11/18

 

 

[1] “Pursue the servant’s mindset” Stuart Scott.  The Journal of Biblical Counseling • Volume 17 • Number 3 • Spring 1999 13

 

[2] Robert D Jones “Getting to the heart of worry”.  The Journal of Biblical Counseling • Volume 17 • Number 13 • Spring 1999 p.21.

[3]  This prayer is taken from  “Pursue the servant’s mindset” Stuart Scott.  The Journal of Biblical Counseling • Volume 17 • Number 3 • Spring 1999 p.15


Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church
EMAIL: minister@TCPC.org.au
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