Rising Above Circumstances

Rising Above Circumstances                                           July 26, 2020
Philippians 1:12 – 21

Reading of Psalm 1
A little background about when and where the letter to the Philippians was written:
Scholars believe that there are good grounds that Philippians was written while Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus rather than Rome.
1) Paul’s reference in 1 Cor 15:32 about fighting wild beasts in Ephesus
2) Evidence of a detachment of praetorian guard and members of Caesar’s household in Ephesus at that time.
3) Distance and relative ease of communications between Ephesus and Philippi, a journey of 7 – 10 days as opposed to an 800 mile overland plus an ocean crossing.
4) Paul’s determination to “push west” with the Gospel doesn’t make sense if he was already in Rome when he wrote that he desired to return to them when he was released.
If he was indeed imprisoned in Ephesus then he wrote Philippians around 54 A.D.

Read 1:12-30
Current circumstances can’t circumvent God.
Challenging times and conditions can be the best time for God’s Good news.
When a person who’s following God goes through hard times -especially situations out of their control, other Christians will rally around.

The focus changes from self to other.

What would be the natural reaction of the Philippians on learning that Paul, the stalwart apostle and evangelist was imprisoned? The man whom they loved and respected had been arrested and thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel in a town only a week’s journey from them.
What was going to happen to the fledging movement now?
What would happen to them?

Paul doesn’t focus on himself. He doesn’t write about the conditions, what food he has to eat, if he’s sleeping okay, or not.
Instead he writes a letter from a heart and perspective filled with joy. Why?

Joseph Clair spoke on Psalm 1 during the NWYM Monday evening service.
Especially during strange and hard times do we need to be like the tree planted by the waters of life. Jesus said in John 15 that He is the vine, we are the branches. He is also the living water.
Take all of these pictures and apply them to your life: be the branch deeply and firmly grafted into Jesus the Vine, who is like a solid Tree as well as the Water of life!

Paul was firmly grounded in Jesus who was his life, his confidence, his savior and future. Paul’s life was entirely in Jesus.

Paul had a positive attitude about his situation. Having a positive attitude changes perspective and helps us to see beyond self. Because he was rooted in Jesus he didn’t stop sharing the Good News of Jesus.

“My circumstances have turned out the greater progress of the gospel!

What propelled the expanding of the gospel? A mega church? A revival? A thriving mission field?
No Paul being arrested and thrown into prison results in the spread of the story of Jesus.
“My imprisonment has reward in people coming to know Christ!

Doing the right thing caused Paul to get arrested. God used Paul’s arrest to spread the Gospel to people who wouldn’t have heard it firsthand. The Praetorian guard throughout the system heard the good news of Jesus.

And other Christians become bold in sharing Jesus.

Other believers caught the zeal of Paul’s sharing the gospel also began spreading the Good News which introduced even more people to Christ.

The remarkable thing is that some shared with the wrong motive – they wanted fame, to shift the focus from Paul to self. But their personal insincerity didn’t change the truth of the Gospel. Motive will not negative true truth. The story of Jesus spread, and Paul rejoiced!

He didn’t allow himself to be discouraged by those who wanted to undermine him, instead he viewed it as a positive: God’s gospel was being advanced! Rejoice!

Paul’s story is Christ, and Christ alone! He didn’t fixate on the injustice done to him; he used the opportunity to share Jesus. Paul’s focus and message was Jesus – always Jesus.
21 For me to live is Christ, to die is gain!

1) Sink your roots into Jesus, draw strength, courage, wisdom from Jesus
2) No situation is outside of God’s knowledge or presence
3) Share Jesus’ story anywhere and everywhere.
4) When Jesus is proclaimed the Spirit of God harvests!

Privilege and Position

Philippians 1:1 – 11
Followers of Jesus Christ have privilege and position!

Are you able to live so you reflect God’s truth, wisdom and sound discretion?
We need to pray daily for God’s insight and guidance in how to live pleasing to Him.

As people who believe the Bible is God’s Word and instruction manual, it’s really no mystery how we’re to live. Over and over, in various ways and stories, we’re told to live in a manner that sets us apart.

A favorite book of many people, often called the book of rejoicing, is Philippians. It’s a book written to a people who understood their role as partners with Jesus Christ. Knowing that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of all, these believers patterned their lives after Jesus who took on the form of a humble servant. Paul declares his joy in knowing they are serving and fully participating in the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Paul wrote the letter to the church in Philippi as a prisoner in Rome.  Acts 16 tells the story of Paul going to Philippi – the major Roman city of that area of Macedonia. He met Lydia and some of her friends when they were at the river. Lydia’s keen interest in what Paul had to say about Jesus, and evidence of a solid belief in God, was the seed for a vibrant Christian community in Philippa.

Position and Privilege
     We are in Christ Jesus – We have our being!   (vs 1)
We are in a relationship to Christ Jesus – saints!
servants of Jesus Christ
As the children of God, our Father, His grace and peace are given to us. (vs 2)
We are all participants of the Gospel (vs5)
God will complete the work He is doing in you, and make His work in you perfect! (vs 6)

These points condensed into three aspects of our privilege and position:
   1) A new status in relation to God – I am His beloved child!
2) A new life
saints and servants of Jesus – my life in Jesus will be completed and perfected!
3) A new community
community & family of believers – we are brothers and sisters in Christ!

Paul’s Prayer vs 9 – 11
That Love abound more and more.
What does that love look like? Real knowledge and all discernment! In God’s grace and wisdom our love becomes genuine and solid. It’s not a love based on emotions but God opening our eyes to seeing others with His heart and understanding.
Illustration of a Shelter & food insecure/homeless person:  A team of people can intervene with excellent intention supplying all sorts of intervention: support, instruction, medical and dental, personal and emotional validation, and encouragement to the person but until that person truly wants to change in heart, mind and soul nothing will change.
It’s the same with us. Jesus welcomes us and baths us in His love and forgiveness. He covers us with His garments of grace as though we are sinless – God sees us as righteous in Christ! This is our new status! Jesus desires to do His work in us but free will is a reality.

We need to be open and accepting to the moving and guidance of the Holy Spirit to do the work in us. To restore us as His Child in heart, mind and soul.
We have to do our part – to yield to God, to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.
To get out of the way of self.
So, we need to seek God’s wisdom/knowledge and discernment. Why?

To be sincere and blameless!
To be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
Set apart, different, victorious in living this life here on earth.
To discern, to understand, and to love as He loves us.

Hearts for God

Hearts for God                                            July 5, 2020
Prov 3:3-4
Prov 16:7 / Prov 16:25, 32
Psalm 19:7-11, 14

How do we live in these off-balance times when there’s so much
uncertainty, confusion, lack of civility and discord?
Prov 16:25
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

As followers of Jesus we look to the Word of God
Psalm 19:7-11, 14

The Bible is filled with advice, instruction and examples of how to live in a manner that is pleasing to God. We can take comfort and hope in Prov 16:7 “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Example #1
Gen 31:13 – 35:42  Jacob, God and Laban:
God told Jacob to leave Laban’s place and go back to the land of his birth. Jacob, though a willful contriving, sneaky man, had a respect for and revered the Lord God of his grandfather Abraham. Laban was prevented by God from coming against him & destroying all he’d worked to earn for 20 years.
Gen 31:29 It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, “Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.”
Gen 31:42 Jacob’s answer to Laban of God’s protection and judgment

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Examples 2 & 3 Two Kings and the results of following God, or not: Asa and Jehoshaphat
2 Chron 14 – 17:10
14:2 Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God… when the armies from Ethiopia invaded Asa relied on God’s protection
14:11 Lord, our God there is no one beside You to help in the battle. Help us O Lord our God, for we trust in You and in Your name…let not man prevail against You”
15:2 The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him He will let you find Him.
15:17 …nevertheless Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.
Chapter 16 But later in life when the Israeli King invaded, Asa didn’t turn to God but asked the King of Syria to align with Judah. . God was not pleased. 7-12
It is comforting to know that even though Asa sought the help a human army instead of trusting God as he had in previous conflicts, that God still had it recorded in His Word that Asa’s heart was blameless all his days! Believers make mistakes and often forget to completely trust that God’s got us but He knows the sincerity of our heart despite our failures.

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord; He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

#3 Jehoshaphat
2 Chron 17:3
and the Lord was with w/ Jehoshaphat because he walked in the ways of his father David’s earlier days and sought the God of his father, and followed His commandments.
18 Jehoshaphat aligned with Ahab
Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord? But there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asheroth from the land and you have set you heart to seek God.”
20:3 Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord; and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. Judah gathered together to see help from the lord.

1) Set your heart to seek God with everything you have.
Prov 3:3 -4 practice kindness and truth so you will find favor with God and man
3) When your way is pleasing to God He will make even your enemies to be at peace with you!