Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Sunday, August 02, 2020

"Since You Are His, Live Like It!" by Pastor Kerry Doyal [LEFC Sermon Notes]


Since You are His, Live Like it!
Identifying, Unifying Attitudes from Eph. 4:1-6

            Ephesians 4:1-6 is pretty straightforward. The hard part is applying it. But, live it we must - so much is at stake. A simple summary: “In light of all God has done for us, and made us in Christ, we are live worthy of His grace, and love. This is to show itself in our personal attitudes, and our relationships with one another.” See? Not hard to understand, but essential to do.

            After three rich chapters filled with what God has done for us in Christ, Paul exhorts the Ephesian believers – and us – to live worthy of our high calling. By grace, God has made us His own people. Now, we are to live up to it! Hear and heed prisoner-Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4:1-6.


4:1 “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”  (CSB)


In Light of our High, Holy Calling,
Let’s Live Worthy of It / Him

“I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.

“We are all parts of one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. For us there is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and we all have the same God and Father who is over us all and in us all, and living through every part of us.”  (The Living Bible)


His Calling that We’ve Received: (Ephesians 1-3!)  
·        Learn who we are in Him, because of His grace
·        Notice Paul’s prayer for us to be able to know this (3:14-22)


Our Responsibility in this Calling: Walk Worthy! (Eph. 4-6)

1.     Lives that fit our Identity; we’re HIS, Live Like it!  (vs. 1)
·        He graciously called us to Himself (Eph. 1-3; Rom. 8:28, 12:1, 2)
·        He calls us to live suitably, appropriately to Whose we are
·        We bear the family name: “Christ-ones” (Acts 11:26) 
·        Disciples are not just learners, but imitators! (cf. Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:10; 2:6; 1 Thess. 2:12; 1 John 2:6)


2.     Attitudes that Lead to Unity, Display Oneness (vs. 2-6)
Notice the First Applications, Areas Dealt with:

·        Humility – who we are is of HIM - no bragging!  Have “lowliness of mind” (cf. 2:8-10; Acts 20:19; Phil. 2:1-11; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 3:8; 5:5). From the NET: “having a humble opinion of one's self; a deep sense of one's (moral) littleness; modesty”. Pride divides, it is of the devil


·        Gentleness – quiet behavior, meekness (cf. Col. 4:5, 6)
“The word is often used in Hellenistic Greek of the merciful execution of justice on behalf of those who have no voice by those who are in a position of authority” (Matt 11:29; 21:5 – from NET)


·        Patience – longsuffering, “taking whatever comes” (Gal. 5:22-25) 
            God was patient with us, soooo… (cf. Romans 5:3-5; James 1:1-12)


·        Bearing with one another in love: “putting up with one another”
            Not sin, but differences, idiosyncratic differences (cf. Romans 14; 1 Cor. 12-14)


·        “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (3-6)
Pursuing one-ness in Christ’s body (cf. John 17; Colossians 3:14). “making every effort to keep” (NET) “being diligent to preserve” (NASB) “Taking care to keep the harmony of the Spirit in the yoke of peace.” (BBE) “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (ESV)

Because: “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6 - ESV)



ü  Is your life Congruent to your Calling: fitting, or at odds?

ü  Do you need to learn your calling?  From Ephesians 1-3, make a list of all He has done for us. Take your time, it is a lot!
ü  Ever known someone who wasn’t acting like themselves? Maybe they had a fever, emotional strain, or worst of all, an outburst of sinful, willful disobedience? Don’t let it be said of us – in light of who we are – that we don’t sound like Jesus. Let it be that, as we walk together, people can say, “Yep, they’re Jesus’”

ü  Are you passive or proactive in keeping peace in His Body?  See Acts 20; 1 Peter 5

ü  With His help, work on which least describes you. “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (NLT)


Sunday, July 26, 2020

"The God of Peace" [Matt's Messages]

“The God of Peace”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 26, 2020 :: Philippians 4:8-9

The Apostle Paul was no dummy.

Even before he came to Christ, Paul was an extremely intelligent and well-educated man. And so when he said something, when he wrote something, he meant it.

Paul wrote carefully crafted letters under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Every word counts.

The previous time, which was the previous verse (v.7), we considered this amazing phrase from Paul, “The Peace of God.” Remember that?

Instead of being anxious, we pray and present our requests to God, and this piece of the peace of God which transcends our finite human understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. That’s what we need! The peace of God.

Well, at the end of verse 9, just two verses later, Paul flips that phrase around and goes even deeper into what we need.

He says, “And the God of peace will be with you.”

That’s on purpose. Paul did that on purpose.

The Apostle Paul was no dummy. He knew what the Philippians needed. He knew what we really need.

We don’t just need the peace of God. We need the God of peace.

We don’t just need the peace of God. We need the presence of God.

We don’t just need to have our hearts and minds guarded. We need them visited.

And we need them visited by the God of peace.

Because remember: God is at peace. He is not shaken. He is not disturbed. He is not troubled. He is not anxious. He is not fretful. He is not jolted. He is not vexed. He is not worried. God is not worried. God is at peace.

He is the God of peace.

And the Bible promises here that He will be with us.



Now, before we get to that precious promise, Paul has some more commands for the Philippians, and, therefore, for us.

In fact, there are two more commands here to go on top of the ones he’s been doling out ever since reaching this last major section of his letter.

For the last three weeks, we’ve seen Paul give out important commands that are really good for us but not as easy as they might sound.

Agree with each other in the Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord always: I’ll say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
Do not be anxious about anything.
Pray about everything.

And now, two more:

#1. FOCUS ON EXCELLENT THINGS.
#2. FOLLOW AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE.

And then “...the God of peace will be with you.”

Now, we’re not supposed to think that we somehow will earn the presence of God by doing these commands.

That’s not how the gospel works. We saw that in the previous chapter. Chapter 3.

We are not justified by works of Law, by works of the flesh.

We get our right standing with God from our faith in Christ and Christ alone.

Everything else is street trash compared to knowing Him.

So, we are not supposed to think that if we keep these two commands that we will somehow earn the presence of the God of peace. No way!

And yet they are connected. We will experience the presence of the God of peace in a deeper and more real way if we are obeying these commands from the God of peace.

They do go hand in hand.

But it’s because God of peace is behind and before.

Remember last time, the command to not be anxious follows behind, “The Lord is near.” And then at the end, “The God of peace will be with you.”

The promise of His presence precedes these commands, and our obedience proceeds from it and results in experiencing it.

“The God of peace will be with you.”

I want that for me. And I want it for you.

Let’s see what our part is. Verse 8.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

That’s a beautiful sentence as it is. Just thinking about that sentence can be a way of obeying it!

Paul says:

#1. FOCUS ON EXCELLENT THINGS.

Fill up your mind with these sorts of items.
Focus your attention on this quality of things.
Dwell upon, meditate upon, excellent things.

Yes, Paul is telling us what to think about.

He is urging us to practice mind control; that is, over our own minds.

It is true that thoughts enter our minds over which we have no control. But it is also true that we have a great deal of control over what thoughts we entertain. What thoughts we dwell upon. What thoughts we allow real estate in our minds.

Have you ever had a thought that you knew you had let take up residence in your brain and you needed to evict? We all have.

Some thoughts leave without a struggle. Other thoughts need to be tossed out on their ear, and they keeping back for more.

Especially those anxious thoughts, right? Remember the context? V.6

Paul is still telling the Philippians how to counter anxious thoughts.

You don’t just toss them out.
You don’t just pray about them!

You replace those thoughts...with better thoughts.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

That calls for discernment, doesn’t it?

Paul tells us that we have to discern between the worst kind of things and the best kind of things.

And really between the kinda good kind of things and the best things.

True, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy.

Those are the best things. Think about them.

Now, again, Paul is not saying that we should pretend that the worst things don’t exist. This is not the power of positive thinking.

And it is not fake-it-till-you-make-it. Just pretend like the opposite stuff doesn’t even exist.

The false, the ignoble, the wrong, the dirty, the ugly, the detestable, the worst, the unspeakable.

Those things exist, and Paul is not saying that we should pretend they don’t.

In fact, Paul is not saying that there is never a time to think about them. Or to talk about them. Paul talks about those things in his letters. He has talked about them in this letter.

Paul does not have an Instagram filter over his reality where everything is sepia-toned and fuzzy and bright and happy and perfect.

Remember where Paul is and what Paul expects to happen to him.

And yet, what does it really matter? Paul is in Christ, and the Lord is near. And even if he dies, He goes to be with Christ which is better by far.

The gospel is true, so there are better things to dwell upon.

That’s what he’s talking about. He’s talking about the focus of your mind.

He’s talking about what you dwell upon, what you end up thinking about, where your mind goes, where your mind rests.

Focus on excellent things.

Now, that takes some effort, and it takes some imagination.

Let’s play a game.

I’ll say a word, and I want you to think about something that embodies it.

Kind of like a spiritual Rorschach test.

Okay. Ready?

Think about something true. _____________

Think about something noble.  _____________

Think about something right. _____________

Think about something pure. _____________

Think about something lovely. ____________

Think about something admirable. _____________

Think about something excellent and/or praiseworthy. _____________

How’d you do?

It’s not automatic, is it?

I think we all love this verse as a meme or a poster or a plaque that we put up on our wall.

But we don’t always give it that much effort.

Let’s try again:

Think about something true. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I think the seven “I AM __________” statements we looked at that during Family Bible Week this week would fit in there really well.

Think about something noble. I think about someone standing up for what they believe in.

Think about something right. Or “just.” Think about justice. We often say, “That ain’t right.” But think about what is. What would justice look like in this situation? Don’t just think about injustice. There’s plenty of that! But think about justice. “What is right?”

Think about something pure. Pure love. Pure devotion. Pure joy.

Think about something lovely. What might that be? What is beautiful to consider? Think a beautiful thought. Some beautiful music comes to my mind.

Think about something admirable. Something commendable. Something when you see that you say, “Oh! That’s wonderful.” Maybe a good deed somebody did?

Think about something excellent and/or praiseworthy.

Do you see how this requires some effort and some imagination?

Sometimes when it requires effort or imagination, we just bail on it, right?

I think we need to seriously consider repenting our disobedience of verse 8. Repenting of the times when we decided to dwell on all of the worst things.

I think this should inform our entertainment choices. What we watch. What we listen to. What we read. I think it definitely should inform our social media choices. What we say out there, but especially what we follow.

I don’t know about you, but I have had to unfollow a whole lot of people on social media who were bringing me down mentally.

I don’t mean people who were telling me things I needed to hear but didn’t want to hear. I mean people who I was allowing to tell me things I didn’t need to hear and I didn’t need to keep dwelling upon.

I always say that the greatest thing about Facebook is you know what people are thinking and feeling. And the worst thing about Facebook is that you know what people are thinking and feeling!

Is it helping you to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy” to“think about such things?”

Don’t just shrug.

This is God’s word to us. And remember, God knows your very thoughts. He knows what you are thinking about.

And as you think, so you will be. What you focus on will determine your steps.

I just about walked into a sign yesterday. I was working on this sermon while walking home for supper, and I had my print out of the text, and I was studying it, and I just about walked into a road sign!

Your focus will determine your steps.

What are you focusing on? Is it excellent?

What do you need to change to be where you need to be mentally?

Remember, this doesn’t mean that we never think about bad things. But in proportion, we focus on the best things.

We focus on Christ!

Paul has one more “whatever” in this section. V.9

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Think about excellent things.

#2. FOLLOW AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE.

And here the example is Paul himself.

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.”

He was saying something like this in the previous chapter.

Paul intends to be a good example.

Everybody is following somebody, Paul says, “Follow me.”

“Do it this way.”

I love how he says it 4 ways! “Whatever you have learned or received or heard [from me [that’s talk], or seen in me [that’s walk]–put it into practice.”

Including what I think about, right?

Paul is saying that he does verse 8, so you and I can do it, too.

I think it’s pretty audacious thing to say. “Whatever you’ve seen me do, you do it, too.”

Pretty audacious. But so is the promise that follows it. “And the God of peace will be with you.”

Well, I want that! So, I probably ought to check out Paul’s excellent example and start following. We have 13 letters by Paul to see what he taught and the book of Acts to see what he did. And we can start right here in Philippians. He’s showing us how it’s done.

Paul has given us an excellent example. Are you living like Paul?

Paul was no dummy! Are you living like Paul?

“And the God of peace will be with you.”

Not just the peace of God, but the God of peace.

God Himself in all of His perfect tranquility, His simple wholeness.

His simple truth, nobility, justice, purity, loveliness, admirableness, excellence, and praiseworthiness will be with you.

Think about that!


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"
06. "Your Attitude"
07. "I Am Glad and Rejoice With All Of You"
08. "With Great Joy"
09. "Rejoice in the Lord!"
10. "I Want To Know Christ"
11. "I Press On"
12. "My Joy and Crown"
13. "I Will Say It Again: Rejoice!"
14. "The Peace of God"

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Friday, July 24, 2020

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Monday, July 20, 2020

Sunday, July 19, 2020

“The Peace of God” [Matt's Messages]

“The Peace of God”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 19, 2020 :: Philippians 4:6-7

This is one of those passages of holy Scripture that I have a love/shame relationship with.

Not a love/hate relationship, but a love/shame relationship.

I love this passage, and I’ll bet you do, too!

I remember memorizing it when I was 18 years old and a freshman at Moody Bible Institute. I can still see where the words were on the page of my student Bible. I underlined these words. I loved these words! These words are so beautiful and all-encompassing and the promise here is very so precious!

In these two verses (Philippians 4:6&7) we are promised "The Peace of God.

What a phrase! I don’t know all of what it means. It means, at least, that peace that comes from God.

It’s a divinely given gift, the peace that originates and is gifted to us from the Lord Himself.

But I suspect that it’s more than that. I suspect that this is not just a peace that comes from God, but a peace that belongs to God. Paul calls it, “The peace of God.”

A divine peace. Not that we become God, but God shares with us a piece of His own peace.

Could that be?! That the Bible would promise you and me a piece of the very peace that belongs to God Himself?

Because make no mistake, God is at peace. He is not shaken. He is not disturbed. He is not troubled. He is not anxious. He is not fretful. He is not jolted. He is not vexed. He is not worried. God is at peace. And He offers us a piece of His peace. “The peace of God.”

I love this passage of Holy Scripture. There is nothing here to hate.

But when I read it, often feel shame because of how often I don’t do what it tells me to do.

I love to quote it.
I love to tell other people to do it.
But too often I don’t do it myself.

And so I miss out on the peace of God.

I don’t want to miss out on the peace of God, and I don’t want you to either.



I’ve got three short points of application from these two verses that are obvious just from reading this beautiful passage. Here’s number one.

#1. DON’T BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING.

I get that from verse 6 where it says, “Do not be anxious about anything...”

And here’s where I begin to feel some shame because I can get anxious about just about anything.

We said last week that this section of Philippians sounds good (because it is!), but it’s also easier said than done. It comes at the end of the book because you need the gospel from earlier in the book to empower the applications at the end of the book.

And so often we miss the immediate context!

What are the words that appear right before this statement about don’t be anxious about anything?

“The Lord is near.”

How many times have I missed that?

Philippians 4:6-7 were not written by Paul to stand alone as an Instagram or Pinterest post. They are a part of the fabric of the whole letter, and the words that Paul has just said are, “The Lord is near.”

Now, last week, we emphasized that meaning the return of Christ will be soon. And that should make us tender and gentle towards others. It should also relieve our anxiety, because when He returns, He will make all things better, all things new. We can count on it. “The Lord is near.”

But it probably also means that the Lord is near spiritually. He is near personally.

And if that’s true, if Christ is in our boat, what storm should we be anxious about?

Don’t be anxious about anything.

Now, let me also say this. This verse here, while it is a command, is not here to shame you if you have been anxious. Not primarily.

It is here to reassure you. “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.”

So often when we encounter the verses about anxiousness in the Scriptures, we think they are a club to beat us over the head (and Satan loves that when we do that to ourselves). But they are not a baseball bat for our heads, they are a pillow for our heads.

Philippians 4:6 is a place to rest.

“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.”

Now, that is a command. So if you willfully ignore it, then you are being disobedient and you will suffer for it. But it’s not here to shame you. It’s here to bring you comfort.

When a little child comes crying to daddy or mommy after a nightmare, and they say to the child, “Don’t worry; I’m here” they are not shaming the child. They are comforting them.

Don’t be anxious about anything.

But so often we are. I know I am. I have often said that worrying is my super-power. (That, by the way, is the worst super power ever. Nothing to be proud of.)

But I can get anxious over so many things.

This week, my brain has turned on about 5:15 every morning and started it’s daily churn.

I’ve been anxious about the church, and whether we’re doing it right.

Will people come back?
Are we keeping them safe?
Will people stay away because of the virus or because of masks being required?
Will I get sick?
Will someone I love get sick?
What if I was the reason someone else got sick?

What if, what if, what if?

I can worry about my finances.

I can worry about my kids. This Sunday is Isaac’s 16th birthday. Soon, all of my kids will be drivers out on the open road. Maybe you all should be worried!

I can worry about all kinds of things.

And I’m sure you can, too. Everybody has a mental list of their concerns that they can turn into worries like that.

And Paul says to the Philippians that they should not let their concerns become worries.

“Do not be anxious about anything...”

But he doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t start there. He starts with “The Lord is near.”

But he doesn’t stop there, either. He doesn’t leave it up to us just quit being anxious.

Anybody ever try that?  “Ok. I’ll just stop being anxious.” How did that work out for you?

No, Paul gives us what to do instead, and it’s our second point of application.

#2. BE PRAYERFUL ABOUT EVERYTHING. V.6 again.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Be prayerful about everything.

I love how Paul uses at least 3 words to say it.

“By prayer and petition...present your requests to God.”

Three different Greek words to basically say the same thing, “Pray!”

Have you prayed about it?

“O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.”  (Joseph M. Scriven)

This is how we fight against anxiety. We take it to the Lord in prayer.

“...in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

How many of those things that I have been anxious about, have I laid before the Lord?

What if at 5:15 in the morning, when my brain turns out, my prayers begin to rise up?

I was out for a morning walk this week. I was walking the long way to church out Reservoir Road, and I was really agitated about whether or not to continue to have 3 worship services. We definitely will need them when (if?) everybody comes back on campus. But that is a slow process that is three steps forward and two steps back. And I was just churning on it in my brain while I walked.

I always said that I hated story problems in math class. Remember story problems?

And now I feel like I’m living a story problem!

But what am I doing here? I’m complaining. And that’s what I was doing to myself. I was talking to myself about my worries. And they kept growing!

And then I realized. Why am I not talking to the Lord about these problems?

I mean, laying it all out before Him.

By prayer and petition, presenting my requests to God.

“With thanksgiving!” Don’t miss that little phrase. We don’t just ask. We thank.

And we thank Him in advance for what He’s going to do, because we know it’s always good. “With thanksgiving.”

Be prayerful about everything.

How are you doing at that?

Notice that Paul is not saying that we should pretend as if there is nothing wrong in the world.

That’s not what “Don’t be anxious means.”

It doesn’t mean “Pretend like the world is fine. Everything is fine. This is fine.”

Don’t forget where Paul is.

Paul is in prison.
Paul may soon be executed for preaching the gospel.

Everything is not fine.

But the Lord is near. And the Lord is listening.

“Present your requests to God.”

And here’s promise. Verse 7.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

#3. BE PROTECTED BY THE PEACE OF GOD.

In response to our prayers, God will give us a piece of His peace.

And it’s a peace that (King James) “passeth all understanding.”

It’s beyond comprehension. It’s supernatural. It’s mysterious. It’s unexplainable.

But it’s real. And it’s divine.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

How many times have you and I experienced this?

How many times have you and I had that inexplicable peace?

I know there have been times when people have said to me, “I don’t know how you can be so calm right now.”

I have to say, “Yeah, I don’t know either. This isn’t like me!”

It must be the peace of God.

Like Paul and Silas singing in their prison cell.

The Philippians knew the story, Acts 16. They were jailed for preaching the gospel, and they were doing verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I’ll say rejoice.”

And an earthquake came and their chains fell off. And they didn’t run away!

And the jailer was amazed that they hadn’t run away. That they were so joyful and so untroubled by their troubles, anxious for nothing.

And he said to them, “What must I do to be saved?”

He wanted the peace of God.

He wanted peace with God.

And Paul said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

Notice where this verse ends. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

And only in Christ Jesus.

You can only know this peace if you are in Christ Jesus.

Are you in Christ Jesus?

He died for your sins.
He came back to life to give you life.
He invites you to come into Him and find the peace of God.

Paul says that those who pray like this will experience the peace of God, transcending all understanding, and look what it does. Verse 7.

“[T]he peace of God...will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul knows all about guards! He knows more than he ever wanted to know about guards. So when he looks for a metaphor for a protected mind, a protected heart, he says, the peace of God is like a guard.

Not one to keep you locked up though but to keep the bad guys away from you.

It’s a garrison. It’s fortress. It’s a fence. It’s a protective layer of security.

Who wants one of those for your mind and your heart?

Paul wanted one for every one of the Philippians’ minds and hearts. Do you see how it’s plural? “[T]he peace of God...will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Now, of course, this is not one and done.

This isn’t something you do once and then you have that peace 24/7.

It’s something to do every day. It’s a rhythm to get into.

The Lord is near.
Don’t be anxious about anything.
Be prayerful about everything.
Be protected by the peace of God.

The Lord is near.
Don’t be anxious about anything.
Be prayerful about everything.
Be protected by the peace of God.

The Lord is near.
Don’t be anxious about anything.
Be prayerful about everything.
Be protected by the peace of God.

I want that for myself.
I want that for my family.
I want that for my church family.

And it’s possible because of Christ Jesus.

To experience a piece of the peace of God.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Sunday, July 12, 2020

“I Will Say It Again: Rejoice!” [Matt's Messages]

“I Will Say It Again: Rejoice!”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 12, 2020 :: Philippians 4:2-5

By the time the Apostle Paul has reached the last chapter of his letter to the Philippians, he is obviously a little worried that he sounds like a broken record.

Do you know why?

Because he sounds like a broken record!
He sounds like a broken record.
He sounds like a broken record.

Paul has come back again and again to several themes which he is going to touch on once again in this last chapter full of practical application.

But there has been one theme that has been repeated again and again and again and again.

And it’s the theme of...JOY.

Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.

Paul is a broken record on the theme of joy. Go back over the previous 12 messages in this series and you will see it. Read over the previous 3 chapters in this letter and you will feel it.

Paul is a broken record on the theme of joy. And he knows that, and he owns it. And he thinks we need to hear it yet again.

Our message title for today, “I Will Say It Again: Rejoice!”

Yes, I’m going to go there once more.

“I will say it again: Rejoice!”

There must be a good reason for Paul to repeat himself so often.
There must be a good reason for Paul to repeat himself so often.
There must be a good reason for Paul to repeat himself so often.

Why do we do that?

Why do we repeat ourselves when we are trying to convey something to someone else?

Well, because we want to emphasize it, right?

If you just say something once, it’s easier to miss.
And it’s easier to forget.
And it’s easier to ignore.

But if you say it a second time...
If you say it a third time...
If you say it a fourth time, somebody might just get the message: “This is important.”

“I will say it again: Rejoice!”



Last week, we got all the way through verse 1 of chapter 4 where Paul tells his beloved Philippians, whom he calls his “joy” and his “crown” that they need to stand firm in the Lord.

And he told them how to do it. Follow godly examples and focus on heaven coming to earth.

And so now, starting in verse 2, Paul begins to wrap things up with some concluding exhortations and applications.

In other words, he’s going to tell them how to live.

He’s going to give them some basic practical instruction.

And we all love this part of the book! This is the part our Hide the Word memory verses come from. It’s so encouraging and beautiful and comforting, this section, especially verses 6 through 9.

So we’re going to take the next 3 Sundays, Lord-willing, and soak in these paragraphs. We’re going to slow down and marinate in them and ask the Lord to impress them upon our hearts.

And one thing we’re going to see right away is that as good and beautiful as they sound (and they are!), these commands are actually often difficult to do.

There’s a reason they come at the end of the book. You need the power of the gospel in the first part of this book to empower your obedience to these commands at the end of the book. They only make sense if you have the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!

We’re going to see that right away.

In this message, I just want to focus on verses 2 through 5, and I want to do it under 3 headings.

#1. BE UNIFIED IN THE LORD.

Listen to Philippians 4, verse 2.

“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.”

Uh oh! This is like when your Mom calls your name from across the playground!

This is the first time in this letter when people get named who aren’t be held out as an example, at least as a good one.

There are two ladies at the church in Philippi, Paul knows them well, that apparently aren’t getting along with each other.

And Paul calls them out on it by name. Euodia and Synteche.

We don’t know what their tiff was about. It could have been anything. The color of the carpet. Some minor point of doctrine. Or whether or not they ought to ask people to wear masks in church because of the virus. Just kidding. Nobody would ever fight about that, right?!

By the way, I can joke about that here because our church family is not fighting about it. We all may have different opinions, but this church family has been unified the whole time where it counts, and not one person has been rude to anybody else here that I know of. As your pastor, I am so proud of you!

But Euodia and Syntyche were fighting with each other, and Paul was stepping in.

He urges them to fix this thing between them. “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.”

It’s neat how he says the same thing to both of them, isn’t it? He doesn’t take sides. He takes the Lord’s side.

“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.”

It’s that last phrase that is the most important. He’s not trying to talk them into seeing everything the same. He’s trying to talk them into keeping the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is the Lord.

He’s trying to talk them into living out chapter 2 of Philippians. Remember chapter 2?

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded [same Greek word as “agree” here in verse 2", having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose [same Greek word again]. Do nothing out of selfish ambition [Euodia] or vain conceit [Syntyche], but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus...”

Euodia, put Syntyche first.
Syntyche, put Euodia first.

Be united IN THE LORD.

Do you see how that works?

How are you doing at it?

I love it that we don’t know what they were struggling over. Paul is sure that if they focus on the Lord they have in common, they can get over their fight. Their differences might remain, but they won’t have to tussle over it any longer.

But they might need help. Not every conflict be resolved on your own. Often we need a third party to intervene and mediate and broker peace. Verse 3.

“Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

Paul asks this guy to step in and help two ladies. He calls him a “loyal yokefellow” or that actually could be his name, “Syzygus.”

I think Heather and should have named one of our boys Syzygus.

If that was his name, Paul was asking him to live up to his name. Be a loyal yokefellow and help these two ladies to get along.

Is there somebody you could ask to help you with a conflict you’re in?

Is there a conflict that you could help someone else in?

Notice how Paul talks about these Christian women. They are obviously important to him. They are his friends. And he calls them his co-workers. His “fellow workers” in the cause of the gospel.

That tells us something about how Paul viewed women and their role in the mission of the church.

Paul was no misogynist. Even if elsewhere he lays out differing roles for men and women in the church, right here he makes it clear that men and women are partners and co-laborers in the work of the church.

He says they have (v.3), “contended at my side in the cause of the gospel.” They were all on the front lines together. Which makes it higher stakes that these two leading ladies are battling one another.

Paul says they are all Christians, their names are in the book of life (Rev 17:8).  They have the Lord in common. Therefore they need to be unified IN THE LORD.

How are you doing at that? Are you getting along with your fellow Christians? Or are you locked in an unending dispute?

It sounds good, but it’s not easy, is it? The key is the last part, “IN THE LORD.”

It’s so important right now because the world is so fractured and fractious, we in the church need to show them a better way.

#2. BE JOYFUL IN THE LORD.

I’ll say it again, “Be joyful in the Lord.” Listen to verse 4.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Now, Paul has already said this in chapter 3, verse 1. He said, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!”

Now he comes back and said it again in 4:4.

“Rejoice in the Lord [and then he adds...] always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

One thing that jumped out at me this week as I studied for this message was that Paul commands rejoicing. That means that at least on some level, rejoicing is something we can choose.

There is a decisional, volitional, choosing part of rejoicing.

It doesn’t just come over you.

It isn’t just happiness as in a nice feeling, an emotion that washes over you when things are good.

Joy, at least on some level, is a attitudinal choice.

We can either obey or disobey this command.

Of course, there are parts of it that are out of our control. And rejoicing is not the only things we are called to do.

Remember elsewhere Paul says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:14).

There is a time for everything and whole gamut of heart attitudes that are appropriate to various situations.

But at the same time, Paul says here that we should rejoice ALWAYS.

Always.

And it bears repeating, “I will say it again: Rejoice!”

How are you doing at this one? Don’t miss this one.

 “I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Now, we might be tempted to say, “Oh, that’s easy for Paul to say. He has seen the risen Jesus. And he is an apostle.”

Yes, but he’s also in prison for preaching the gospel.

And also he might be executed soon for preaching the gospel.

That’s the situation for the guy saying, “Hey, don’t forget: Rejoice!”

It’s sounds good (and it is), but it’s not easy.

It’s not so easy right now, is it?

Everybody I know is stressed right now. I don’t know anybody who is carefree.

But Paul is not saying, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

What is the key phrase in this sentence? Same as in verse 2. “Rejoice IN THE LORD always.”

“In the Lord.”

If we go back and think about what we have “in the Lord,” then we realize that we have every reason to rejoice.

It’s easy to forget, so we need reminding. “I’ll say it again: Rejoice!”

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior, then it would be hard to rejoice.

I invite anyone listening to this message who is outside of the Lord Jesus right now, to come in to Him and ask Him to come in to your life.

Jesus died on the Cross to bring us to God.

And He came back to life to give us new life forever with Him.

So if you have him, then you have every reason to rejoice.

I don’t care if I sound like a broken record. I will say it again: Rejoice!

#3. BE READY FOR THE LORD.

Be united in the Lord.
Be joyful in the Lord.
Be ready for the Lord.

Because He is coming back soon. Verse 5.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

Now that word the NIV translates “gentleness” is hard to translate into English.
The ESV, the English Standard Version says, “reasonableness.”
The NAS, the New American Standard says, “forbearing spirit.”
I really like the CSB, the Christian Standard Bible here. It says, “your graciousness.”

You get the picture. It’s that quality that Paul wants them all to have and for Euodia and Syntyche especially to show.

Let your “graciousness” be evident to all.

Let everybody see how other-centered you can be!

You need to get a reputation for gentleness.

Let me ask you a question: Do you have reputation for gentleness?

If there was a page on Wikipedia about you, would it describe you as well known for your reasonable, self-less disposition?

If not, why not?

Again, it sounds good, but it’s actually pretty hard to do. We need help. We need grace!

Paul says that the people on Facebook should know you and me as gracious and forbearing, evident to all. The people in our neighborhood should know you and me as gracious and gentle, evident to all. The people at our workplace should know you and me as gracious and gentle, evident to all.

And Paul gives us a key to doing it if we are struggling. Remember (v.5), “The Lord is near.”

 “The Lord is near.”

Now, that could mean that the Lord is personally near through the Holy Spirit. And that’s totally true, so it’s probably part of what he’s talking about.

The Lord is near to our hearts so He will give us the strength to be gentle with others even the tough customers.

But remember what Paul just got finished reminding them at the end of the last chapter?

“[O]ur citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (3:20-21).

The Lord is near!

His return is very close so that should redirect our attitudes right now.

The Lord is near. So we should live like it.

One way to get ready for the Lord’s return is to act like the Lord right now.

And the Lord has shown us the way. It’s the way of gentleness.

He says that He is “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Different word, similar idea.

So that we can get ready for His soon return by imitating His heart right now and being united in the Lord putting others first.

The fact that “the Lord is near” is reason 10,000 to rejoice in the Lord.

I don’t care if I sound like a broken record.

“I’ll say it again: Rejoice!”


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Sunday, July 05, 2020

“My Joy and Crown” [Matt's Messages]

“My Joy and Crown”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 5, 2020 :: Philippians 3:17-4:1

The title of this message is “My Joy and Crown,” and by now in the book of Philippians we should not be surprised that Paul is talking about JOY.

In Philippians, Paul is always talking about joy.

Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.

Three whole chapters of joy so far!

He always prays with joy.
He rejoices that Christ is preached.
He continues to rejoice no matter what happens to him because to live is Christ and to die is gain.
He asks the Philippians to make his joy complete by putting each other ahead of themselves.
He rejoices with the Philippians because he knows that they are going to obey Jesus whether or not they see Paul ever again.
He told them to receive men like Timothy and Epaphroditus with great joy.
And he told them to rejoice in the Lord because there is no greater thing than knowing Jesus.

Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that Paul is still talking about joy.

“His joy.”

However we may be surprised at what Paul is saying is his joy and his crown.

Or better yet, who is his joy and is his crown.

Who do you think Paul calls his joy?

If you guessed, “Jesus,” I would have too! And we know that Jesus is His greatest joy. He rejoices in the Lord! And he’s going to tell them again: “Rejoice!”

But in chapter 4, verse 1, the Philippian church is Paul’s joy and crown.

“Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”



Do you hear all of the affection in Paul’s words?

How many different words can he use in one verse to indicate how he feels about this church?

“My brothers.”
“Whom I love.”
“Whom I long for.”
“My joy and crown!”
“Dear friends.”

Paul sure loved these folks, didn’t he?

For me, Philippians has been just a perfect book to dwell in during these last four confusing months when our church family has been scattered. Scattered out in our homes and now scattered across soon-to-be three worship times and one Zoom fellowship meeting. We are still separated from one another in significant ways.

Just like Paul was separated from the Philippians. But that didn’t stop him from loving them. He sure loved those folks. They were precious to him. They were his joy and his crown. They brought him true joy and they would somehow be his reward themselves when they all got to glory. They were his crown.

Beloved, that’s how I feel about you. Not all of the time, of course, but in the main. This church family is my joy, and you are my crown.

The Philippians were Paul’s joy and crown, and he wanted the best for them.

He wanted them to (v.1), “stand firm in the Lord.”

And I want that for you, too.

I want every person who is a part of Lanse Free Church to stand firm in the Lord.

And Paul says that he has just got done telling them how to do it. Listen to verse 1 again.

“Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”

How do you do that? He’s just got done telling them in chapter 3.

Two big ideas in this message. Here’s the first one:

#1. FOLLOW GODLY EXAMPLES.

Look with me at chapter 3, verse 17.

“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”

That’s a pretty bold thing to say, isn’t it?

“Do it like I do, guys!”
“Follow my example!”

And that could be a very arrogant thing to say, but what was Paul’s example?

What did Paul just get done saying? We saw it last week.

“I have not arrived.”
“I am not there yet.”
“I have not taken hold of it.”
“I have not been made perfect.”

“But...I press on.”

Paul’s example was one of humility and hunger for spiritual growth.

That’s the pattern he’s set.
That’s the example he’s trying to be.

He’s not saying that these guys ought to be like he was back when he was a Pharisee. Following all the rules. Making my own righteousness according to the Law.

No! That’s all rubbish. That’s worth less than worthless.

No, what is the greatest thing is knowing Jesus Christ.

TO KNOW CHRIST! And to know Christ MORE.

Follow that example!

It’s not just Paul’s example that Paul wants them to follow.

Paul has already told them about Timothy and Epaphroditus and how they put others first and took risks and loved people for Jesus’ sake.

Be like them!

Follow godly examples. “Take note of those who live according to the pattern [the godly gospel lifestyle that] we gave you.”

So who is that for you?

Who are you following?
Who are you keying off of?
When you look ahead of you, whose back do you see?

Because everybody is following somebody whether they know it or not.

Who are you following? Who are you trying to be when you grow up?

I have a short list of Christian men that I often say, “I want to be like _______ when I grow up.”

(I often say, “IF I grow up!” But you get the idea.)

Who do you want to be like when you grow up?

Are they godly examples who KNOW CHRIST and want to know Him more?

Because not everybody is like that. Even people who claim to be Christians.

And if we are not careful, we can begin to follow the wrong examples. That’s where Paul goes next in verse 18:

“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”

Don’t let those kind of people be your heroes.

It’s easy to fall into that.

Because these folks probably look pretty attractive on the outside.

Again, you don’t have to warn somebody to not eat the old steak with maggots crawling out of it.

You have to warn somebody to eat the steak that looks and smells delicious but has been laced with undetectable poison.

These guys look good. They are probably healthy, wealthy, and successful.

But Paul says that they are bad news.

“They are enemies of the cross of Christ.” They make the Cross seem like nothing by the way that they live.

“Their destiny is destruction.” They’re lost!

“Their god is their stomach.” They are driven by their desires, their lusts, their motives, their passions that are not godly.

“Their glory is in their shame.”  They may claim Christ, but they live shamefully and glory in it. Totally backwards from the way it should be.

And ultimately here’s where they have gone wrong, “Their mind is on earthly things.”

“Their mind is on earthly things.”

They act and behave and talk and really believe that this world is really what is important.

Don’t let those guys be your examples.

Now, I want you to notice Paul’s tears in verse 18.

Don’t miss those tears.

There is a strong lesson here about how to talk about enemies of the Cross of Christ.

Notice that Paul is not full of bravado. There is no arrogance here. There is no judgmentalism. No pride and looking down his nose at these folks.

He calls them out. He calls a spade a spade.

He does not mince words about how bad these folks are and how dangerous they are.

But he says it with tears in his eyes.

Too often when we talk about our enemies, and the church does have enemies, we don’t do it with these tears. We don’t get broken up over their destiny being destruction. We tend to gloat and be giddy that they will get their comeuppance.

And yes, we can rejoice in God’s righteous judgments.

But while they are living and there is still hope for repentance, we should have tears.

Paul doesn’t just long for the Philippians to know Christ. He longs for their enemies to know Christ, too.

At the same time, Paul is very clear that the Philippians should follow his example and not these other guys.

Who are you following? Who do you want to be when you grow up in Christ?

Follow godly examples, my joy and my crown! That’s how you stand firm in the Lord.

Yes, follow me. As I follow Paul, and we both follow Christ, I invite you to follow me. I’m trying to live according to this pattern that he gave us, and I invite you to watch and join in.

I don’t do it perfectly. But Paul didn’t either!

And yet he said, “Follow my example.”

But don’t follow these other guys. Because (v.19), “Their mind is on earthly things.”

That leads us into second big idea for this message. Number two of two.

#2. FOCUS ON HEAVEN COMING TO EARTH.

Last week I asked you one of my “Pastor Matt trick questions.”

“Is it possible to be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good?”

Did you think about that question this week?

“Is it possible to be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good?”

The answer to that question is obviously, “It depends!”

It depends on what you mean by “heavenly minded.”

If you mean someone who all they talk about is heaven, all they think about is what heaven will be like, and they never talk or think about any other subject than heaven, then yeah, I can see how that person would be of no earthly good.

I mean Paul has thought about and talked about all kinds of other things than just “heaven” in the book of Philippians so far.

But Paul thought a lot about heaven. And here Paul says that heaven is our true headquarters. Look at verse 20.

“Their mind is on earthly things.” That’s where they focus. They are too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good! V.20

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

That’s the right kind of heavenly minded. Right there.

Where heaven is the focus. Heaven is the center because that’s where God is.

And that’s where Jesus is, and from where Jesus is coming!

That’s the kind of heavenly minded that is of great earthly good.

Because it focuses on heaven coming to earth.

This kind of heavenly-mindedness reminds Christians of how things really truly are.

And how they really truly will be.

When we focus on earthly things, we forget was is ultimately true, and we forget what will ultimately be coming.

I love it that the Lord sovereignly arranged for this to be our passage for this Independence Day weekend. I didn’t plan this, but the Lord did.

Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”

As Christians in America, we need to keep that in mind. We are, first and foremost, Christians. That’s where our true citizenship lies. That’s our first allegiance. Above all others. We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

Now, Paul was a Roman citizen. And he says that in the book of Acts. He doesn’t pretend that he isn’t a Roman. And we don’t have to pretend that we are not Americans.

We are. And we can be glad for that. Happy for the good things that can mean and owning our part of the bad things that can mean. America is both blessed and broken.

And we are Americans, blessed and broken.

But deeper and more fundamental and more important and all encompassing is our citizenship in heaven–which is blessed but not broken!

In fact, our citizenship in heaven should determine how we view and use our citizenship on earth. Because that citizenship is ultimate.

Don’t let your focus be on earthly things including even your American citizenship.

Think about it this way: We are actually on foreign soil where it counts the most.

“...our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, [and here’s what’s going to happen when heaven comes to earth] by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, [He] will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Paul has resurrection on the brain!

Remember he wants to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection, “and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

And get a new glorious body like Jesus’ resurrection body!

D.A. Carson likes to say “There is nothing so very wrong with me that a good resurrection won’t fix.”

That’s what’s on the way!

Heaven is coming to earth.
The Kingdom of heaven is coming to earth.
Because the King of Heaven is coming to earth.

And we eagerly await Him.

Right? Are you eagerly waiting for the return of Christ?

Are you longing for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven?

Where is your focus?

Is it just on the upcoming election?
Is it just on standing up for your rights?
Is it just for building your financial portfolio?

I have to regularly ask myself if I am just trying to building my own personal kingdom. Maybe trying to get more people to come to MY church or follow ME on social media.

Where is my focus?
Where is your focus?
Is it on earthly things?

The people who have their focus on heaven coming to earth are the people who are the most earthly good.

And they are the ones who stand firm. Chapter 4, verse 1 again.

“Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”

Here’s how:

Follow godly examples who are humble and hungry to know Christ and know Him more.

And focus on the King of Heaven and the Kingdom of Heaven coming to earth.

That is how you and I can stand firm.

My joy and my crown.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"
06. "Your Attitude"
07. "I Am Glad and Rejoice With All Of You"
08. "With Great Joy"
09. "Rejoice in the Lord!"
10. "I Want To Know Christ"
11. "I Press On"
11. 11