Sunday, May 10, 2020

“Whatever Happens” [Matt's Messages]

“Whatever Happens”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
May 10, 2020 :: Philippians 1:27-30 

I’m recording this video message for Mother’s Day 2020 as, sadly, we are still not together in person for gathered worship on Sundays. But we did get to send out a surprise team of delivery guys to drop off a flower and a fridge magnet at the home of every mom in the church family that we could identify.

The moms listening can probably identify with this.

Have you ever sent somebody out the door on an errand, maybe a kid (or a dad), and you stop them right as they are leaving and say, “Oh yeah, and don’t forget...” or you say “Just one thing.”

“Whatever you do while you’re gone. Make sure you do this..”

Yesterday, Marilynn kept reminding the guys as they went out the door, “Whatever you do, make sure you ring the doorbell so they know that the gift is there because they don’t know you’re coming.”

She said it again and again. “Whatever you do, make sure you ring the doorbell so they know that the gift is there because they don’t know you’re coming.”

“Just one thing...”

That’s the flavor of the opening words of our passage in Philippians today. The Apostle Paul begins this paragraph by saying, “Whatever happens...”

The Christian Standard Bible actually translates the word here, “Just one thing!”

Whatever you do, make sure you do this. No. Matter. What.

We’re living in a day when priorities are so important. They are always important, of course, but right now we feel it more than ever.

Priorities need to be prioritized!

What are your priorities? What things are you going to do no matter what? And what other things don’t. really. matter. much?

Right here in the Bible, the Apostle Paul lays out some real priorities for you and me. And it should come as no surprise that these priorities are intimately connected to the good news of Jesus Christ. Because Paul believed, as we say around here, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing; and the main thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Remember, Paul is in a Roman prison and is potentially facing execution for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. And strangely enough that doesn’t bother him. He’s just glad that the gospel is going forward! Because he knows that he can’t lose. We talked about that in the last message.

Whether he lives or dies, Paul wins.

If he keeps on living, he gets to share the gospel and be with the church. But if he dies, he gets to be with Christ which is better by far. And he doesn’t know which one is going to happen, so he begins verse 27 by saying, “Whatever happens...” whether death or life, no matter what, here’s what I want from you. Look at verse 27.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

That’s point #1 of three for this message.

Whatever happens, we need to:


Is that your top priority?

Does it even make the list?

Paul is bent on ensuring that he and his readers live lives that are consistent with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Now, notice that he does not say, “You are worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

That’s not how it works. We are not worthy of the grace that is bound up in the good news of Jesus’ saving life, death, and resurrection.

Paul says that we should conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of that message.

If that message is true (and it is!), then how should we now live?

The Greek word for “conduct yourselves” in verse 27 is related to citizenship. It’s “politeusthe” which gives you sense that the word “polis” or “city” is in there. We eventually get our word “politics” from that same root, but it’s basically about how to live appropriately as a citizen.

And you and I are citizens of the city, the kingdom created by the gospel. The Gospel Kingdom.

And the question is, “Are we living like it?”

Are you and I living like citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sounds like we’re back to the Sermon on the Mount, doesn’t it?

Jesus’ upside-down, inside-out, here-but-not-yet-here gospel kingdom.

Are we living out those kingdom values?

That’s a great question to ask during a public health crisis like we’re living in right now.

Maybe this afternoon, you could sit down with the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and remind yourself of what the kingdom is like, and how someone who has entered the kingdom should be conducting themselves.

Take an inventory. Is this how I am living? If not, what needs to change?

Moms with kids in the home, this is part of your job–to show and tell your kids to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Sometimes, we’ll say to our kids, “Don’t forget that you’re a Mitchell.”

Paul is saying to the Philippians, “Whatever happens, don’t forget that you are citizen of Jesus’ kingdom.”

Verse 27: “Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel...”

That’s number two.

Whatever happens, we need to:


Paul says, “Then whether I come and see you (if he’s released from prison) or only hear about you in my absence (he’s sending somebody, a guy named “Epaphroditus” with this letter, and he expects him to return with a report),” then he will know whether or not they are doing what he spelling out for them to do.

Two things about that.

First, he’s kind of like a mom there, too, isn’t he? “I’ll know what you’re doing. Whether I can see you or not, I’ll find out! Mom’s got eyes in the back of her head and spies everywhere.”

And second, Paul really wishes that he could be with them, doesn’t he? But he has to rely on social media and technology [like pen and ink!] to connect with them.

He doesn’t even have Zoom or YouTube!

But he believes that whether he sees them or not, they will prioritize this: Standing firm and standing together for the gospel.

Now we’ll see more about this, Lord-willing, in the next message, but Paul is saying that they have to be unified.

“In one spirit, as one man” In one accord.

They have to work together to further the gospel.

In other words, “Evangelism is a team sport.”

We have to do this gospel thing together.

I can hear the moms saying this one, too, “Stick together now!”

We have to do this gospel thing together.

And I know that’s hard to do when we’re apart, but we’re not apart in our hearts.
And we are not apart in our giving.
And we are not apart in our technology.
And we are not apart in our homes.
We’re not apart when we’re out on the job.

We are not apart even when we are apart!

Unless, we are coming apart. Unless we allow division and disunity to pull us apart.

That’s what Paul is warning the Philippians about.

We’ll see more about that next week and when we get to the end of the book. I think the Philippians were struggling to get along with each other.

And Paul says, “Don’t come apart. Stand together as a team. Contending for the faith of the gospel.” v.28

“...without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.”

This is why they need to stand firm.

Because they have enemies.

Because they are facing opposition for their faith in Jesus.

They are not just facing potential internal struggles with one another but external struggles with persecution.

And Paul says, “Whatever happens with that, stand firm.”

And don’t be scared. “Without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.”

I can hear the moms say, “Don’t be scared of those bullies.”

Our whole church focus in 2020 is “bold evangelism.” Do you remember that?

We have said it again and again this year.

We must grow in boldness to fearlessly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

That’s number three.

Whatever happens, we need to:


We can’t allow others to terrorize us into silence.

Now, we here in Central Pennsylvania have a hard feeling this one as we have so much religious freedom. I mean, here I am on YouTube and Facebook proclaiming that “Jesus saves” and “Jesus is Lord,” and I have almost no fear of retribution.

It’s sad that I’m not very bold when I don’t fear any persecution!

But many of our brothers and sisters around the world do have legitimate fears of just that thing.

Remember, Paul might be going to lose his life over his message.

And in the face of that, he says, “Just one thing: don’t be scared; tell them about Jesus!”

And look at the result. V.28

“This [your bold witness] is a sign to them that they will be destroyed [the persecutors will be destroyed], but that you will be saved–and that by God.”

I would not want to be in their shoes when the judgment comes.

Often when we encounter opposition, we think that we must be doing something wrong. I’m sure that they Philippians were tempted to think that if persecution started to come, maybe they were doing it wrong, and they needed to back off on sharing the gospel so much.

But Paul says, “No. You’re doing it right. If you have the right gospel and you hit opposition you know you’re doing it right.”

Because that’s how it works for him. Verse 29.

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.”

We’re all in it together. It’s happening to all of us. We’re not doing it wrong. We’re doing it right.

Because we know that God is sovereign.

The most startling thing that Paul says here is in verse 29 with that little word “granted.”

It’s sounds almost crazy what he says. Did you catch it? “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him [that’s a wonderful gift. Faith is a wonderful gift!], but also [it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ] to suffer for him...”

What?! Our suffering for Jesus is a gift? We are not just called at times to suffer but gifted with suffering for sake of Christ?

That’s what Paul says!

Now, I’m sure that Paul is not a masochist. He’s not saying that we need to enjoy our suffering. “Wahoo! I love it when it hurts.”

No. But this gospel message is so great, it is worth suffering for.
Our gospel is worth the pain that comes with sharing it.
It’s a privilege to suffer for the good news of Jesus Christ.

A gift.

And when that suffering comes, it will not be an accident.

It will not be random. Our God is sovereign over our suffering and has good plans for our suffering.

So we need not fear that we are doing it wrong or that “they” can stop us.

I mean, what’s the worst “they” can do? Kill us?

No problem. Then we would just be with Christ which is better by far!

Whatever happens.
Whatever happens.
Whatever happens.

We have nothing to be scared we can boldly and fearlessly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Who are you going to tell?


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"