Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on May 24, 2015
Open your Bibles to Philippians 4:8-9. Today we continue our journey through the book of Philippians. Over the last several weeks we have slowed down somewhat due to Paul closing his letter with a series of short commands to the Church in Philippi. Today we continue examining Paul’s commands and we will focus our attention on focusing our attention. Let us read our text, pray that God would cause us to pay attention, and then let us think together.
To begin I want us to focus our attention on the end of verse eight. Paul tells the Church in Philippi to “think about these things.” The Greek word for think is logizomai. From the root of this word we get the word logic. Logizomai means to think, dwell, reckon, to take into account, reason, conclude. Paul is asking the Church to use their minds.
Most likely, very few of you have thought about thinking and how it relates to God. So let us begin there. First, we should recognize that humanity is like no other created thing.
The answer to this question is one we have covered many times before. We exist to glorify God. (Isaiah 43:7). Therefore, God gave us a mind so that we can glorify God. In one way, this is what separates us from the beasts. Animals glorify God in their way, and we glorify God in our way. So at the basis of who we are, we are created to think.
With this in mind, let me ask a question, what was the name of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden? The name was “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:16). Likewise, Satan when tempting Eve in Genesis 3:5 said, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” And finally, God when casting Adam and Eve out of the Garden in Genesis 3:22 said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.” The tree that led to the fall of humanity had something to do our minds.
So what happened to Adam and Eve upon eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
Mind of Christ
I am guessing that many of you don’t think about your conversion in these terms, but you should, for this is how scripture speaks of what happens when you place your faith in Christ. Listen to these text:
To be a follower of Jesus Christ is to think rightly about existence; to think rightly about who we are; to think rightly about who God is; to think rightly about Christ; to think rightly about our purpose; to think rightly about our mission.
Renewal of Your Mind
This mind of Christ that we have been graciously given at our conversion, however, is not a perfect mind. It still has flaws. Because we still live in the flesh, and still battle with sin, we at times, think wrongly. This is why Paul says to the Church in Rome,
Church is not to be primarily about rituals and entertainment, as much as it is about pursuit of the knowledge of God and the renewal of our minds. All Christians are called to think, young and old, rich and poor, A students and D students, male and female, professors and ditch diggers.
Think about What?
So what are we to think about? Things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise. Let us quickly unpack each one of these.
Where would we find things that are true? John 17:17 Jesus prays to God, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Absolute truth will not be found in the World, it is found in the Word. And it is the Word that points to the greatest truth, the holder of truth, the standard of truth, Jesus Christ, who said of himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” So where do we see truth? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are honorable? Revelation 4:11 says, ““Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” There is only one being that deserves honor, and it is God. To dwell upon what is honorable is to dwell upon God himself, and where do we find the attributes of this honorable God? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are just? Romans 3:23-26 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” The greatest display of justice is the death of Christ. For at that moment we see God holding both sides of the bargain. He demands payment that is due his name, and then he pays the debt with the blood of His son. He is truly just and the justifier. So where do we find justice? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are pure? 1 John 3:3, “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” There is no purer thing than God. He is unapproachable light and in him no darkness dwells. Jesus Christ is the exact imprint of God and in him there was no sin, no blemish. He is the only person who has ever walked this planet as pure as Jesus. He is the perfect picture of purity. So where do we find things that are pure? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are lovely? One place we find the word lovely, somewhat frequently, is in the book of the Song of Solomon. Which is a an intimate love poem between a husband and wife with each partying gushing over one another. Saying things like this in Song of Solomon 4:3, “Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.” This fawning, however, points to the greatest love story in the Universe, Christ and his Church. There is nothing more lovely than our Bridegroom laying down his life for the sake of us his bride, so were do we find what is lovely? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are commendable? This word in the greek means to have a good report. To have done something gracious. With this in mind, 1 Peter 2:19 says, “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” The NIV uses commendable instead of gracious. If this is an example of something that is commendable, there is no higher commendability than the perfect Son of God sufferring on the cross and absorbing the wrath of his father, despite not committing one sin. Why would he do such a thing? Because his Father asked him. So where do we find what is commendable? The Bible.
Where do we find things are excellent? 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us toc his own glory and excellence. As Paul said earlier in Philippians, the worth of Jesus far surpasses anything we could ever imagine. Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God. And the Jesus is the Word who became flesh, and it is Scriptures that testify about Him, so where do we see things that are excellent? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are worthy of praise? In Revelation 5:11 we are given a glimpse into heaven and what do we see, “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” It is only God who is worthy to be praised. This God has chosen to reveal himself in his inspired Word. So where do we find things worthy of praise? The Bible.
So in conclusion, God created you to think, not about anything, but about Him. His desire is that you would set your minds upon his glory. If you do this, you will experience a satisfaction that your soul craves. I will leave you with a Bible serve that hangs on my office at work. Psalm 1:1
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on May 17, 2015.
Open your Bibles to Philippians 4:4-7. This is the second Sunday that we are in this text due to its immense relevance and truth to our lives. As always, there is a lot of ground to cover, so lets get right to it and read our text, pray, and allow God to speak to us in our need.
Last week we talked exclusively about joy. Verse 4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” We saw that we are designed for joy. Our hearts and souls crave joy. Every decision you make in life is filtered through the question, will this make me happy?
Unfortunately, humanity, because of sin, pursues joy in the wrong place. We look for joy in things of this world, instead of the One who created the world. God designed us to find joy only in Him. As we said last week, the chief end of man is to glorify god and enjoy him forever. This confession is supported by passages like Psalm 16:11.
Good and Bad Concern
The Greek word for anxious is merimnaó. This word can be used positively or negatively. Early in this letter Paul used it in a positive way when he was speaking about Timothy in Philippians 2:20, “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned (merimnaó) for your welfare.” Obviously when Paul uses the word merimnao, he is speaking of good qualities of Timothy.
However, in out text for today, Paul is talking about the negative form of merimnaó . Which means to be worried, distracted, “to go to pieces.”
I believe this distinction is important for us to understand. We need to recognize that there is a God glorifying concern. It is a concern that drives us to love people. It is a concern that Timothy and Paul had for the people of Philippi. It is the same concern I have for each of you, and my wife, and my children; specifically my concern “for your progress and joy in the faith.” The reason I think this is important is because I believe too many people take “Don’t worry about it” too far; the “let go and let God” philosophy of discipleship can lead to apathy and isolation within the body of Christ. So as we talk about anxiety, understand we are not talking about the Godly concern, compassion, and love that we are called to have for other people.
Do Not Be Anxious
What Paul is talking about in our text is the bad anxiety. In fact let’s start the same place that we started last week with the recognition that this is a command, “Do not be anxious.” This means that being anxious is against the will of God. It is a sin to be anxious.
So once again, like last week, let’s ask the question, do you think of anxiety this way? When you are worried about money, relationships, health, your job, tornadoes, persecution, etc. do you recognize that God is not pleased by your anxiety? Do you recognize that Jesus died to pay for you sins, one being your anxiety? Let’s look at some other passages that supports this command not to be anxious.
Here is a quote from John MacArthur, “Worry is the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and yet it is a sin that Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other.”
And today we see the command of God telling us to not be anxious about anything. This means don’t be anxious about your job, your finances, your health, your children, your retirement, your life. We are a nation of worriers. We live in the most affluent place and the most affluent time in all of history. We are the cream of the historical crop, yet we walk around afraid of our shadow. I have never once lived in a house that didn’t have food in the cupboards. I have never once gone to a closet that had empty hangers. I have never once gone without medicine for myself or my family. I have never once gone to bed worried about neighborhood bombings, or someone kicking down my door to take me hostage. And I am guessing that very few of you have either, however we run around like the sky is falling.
You of Little Faith
Why? Because we lack faith in an all-powerful, all knowing, all present, all loving, Sovereign God of this Universe. We have taken the God Who Is, and shrunk him down to the God we want him to be, and because of that, our lives are a wreck. We don’t believe that God is in control. We don’t believe that he has the power to change hearts, move mountains, heal disease, provide bread, or calm the storms. We don’t believe the God of the Bible.
We forget that Jesus himself says in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” If God is control of the falling of a sparrow, he is control of your life. Trust him.
We forget what it says in Ephesians 1:11, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” All things include your current circumstances. Trust him.
We forget the promise of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Whether you recognize it or not, if you love God your struggles, no matter what they are, are being used by God for your good. If you do not love God, then this promise is not for you, because all things will actually work towards bad, namely your destruction in Hell.
How crucial are these text! We desperately need to remember these words when our marriages are hanging by a thread, when we lose our job, when we get the call from the doctor, when our lives are falling to pieces. So how do we do it?
We Pray with Gratitude
Verse 6, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The answer to your anxiety is to pray with thanksgiving.
This is important, the text doesn't just say pray, but pray with thanksgiving. This is crucial. And I am guessing that very few of you implement this. My guess is that you are really good at praying and making your requests known to God, but rarely is your heart full of gratitude. Most likely you are so focused on your problems, the last thing on your mind is to be thankful, but this is exactly what you must do.
So how might this look? Lets say I go to the doctor and they tell me I have cancer. That night I am laying in my bed and can't sleep because I have a thousands thoughts running through my mind. My wife, my kids, this church, the chemo, the finances, the uncertainty, etc. Then I start to pray:
“Father, I am a wreck. I don't know what I am going to do. Thank you for being with me in this time of difficulty, and thank you for hearing my cry. Father, I am worried about my wife and kids. They are so precious to me. Thank you Lord for blessing me with me. Thank you for putting them in my life. If something happens to me, please be with them. Father, I am not sure how this is going to work with Cornerstone. I don't know if I will be able to keep up the pace. You are doing so much good in those people's heart, and they are so on fire for you. I praise you and thank you for all you have done. Will you keep doing it? Father, I am scared about dying. I am scared of the pain and the uncertainty surrounding it. Father, thank you for the life that you have given me. Thank you for all the days that you have blessed me with. Thank you for creating me and sustaining me up until this point. Father, if you do decide that I should die. I thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending him to die on the cross for my sins, thank you for pouring out your wrath upon him, so that I could be forgiven and have eternal life in your presence. Thank you that death is not the end, but the beginning. Thank you for the glory that awaits me in your presence. Thank you for loving me and never forsaking me.”
When I pray that way, what do you think is running though my mind at the end of that prayer? More of God's Sovereignty and less of my anxiety. When I put my worries up against His blessings, His goodness vastly overshadows my problems. When I pray with God-centeredness, my perspective on my situation changes. I quickly realize that God has always been in control and will always be in control.
This is what I love about this text, it is so practical. When we implement this strategy of praying with thanksgiving, our prayers are being answered just by the formula of our prayer, and the pinnacle of the formula is gratitude for Jesus Christ. There is no greater blessing in our life the the gift of God's Son. No matter what you have going on in your life, if you pray to God with thanksgiving in your heart for the gift of Jesus Christ then the peace of God will descend upon your mind and your heart. Why?
I have no doubt that this is was how Paul lived his life. Remember, when Paul wrote this letter, he was not skipping through the tulips, he was walking thought the valley of the shadow of death, chained to a Roman guard. He had way more “problems” then most of you will ever experience, and it was the Soverign Love of God that sustained him in the hardest of times. I have no doubt that this is how all the apostles lived, for they had to. Our lives are pleasure cruises compared to theirs. Listen to what Peter says.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on Mary 10, 2015.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Philippians 4:4-7. We will spend two weeks in these verses because I think they are extremely important for your Christian walk. Let us get right to work by reading our text, pray that God would open our hearts and then will we work through what God has revealed to us in His Holy Word.
Blaise Pascal, a French Mathmetician, in the 17th century said this:
“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”
Do you agree with this? Our Founding Fathers did. In the Declaration of Independence are the famous words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
It is not only 17th century mathematicians and historical statesmen, but it is modern day therapy. Perhaps the most common question for social workers, psychiatrists, psychologist, and coffee shop counselors is “Are you happy?”
There is something hardwired in every human being that craves for happiness. Every decision we make is oriented to what we believe will achieve greater happiness. Even the decisions that are difficult, are still made with the hope that when all is said and done things will be better then if we hadn’t made that decision.
Unfortunately, because of sin, we seek happiness in things that will not ultimately produce happiness. I believe the parable of the prodigal son is a good illustration of this fact. The youngest Son requested his share of the inheritance and off he want into the world and “squandered his property in reckless living” until one day he found himself so broken to the point that he was coveting the food for the pigs. The youngest son’s pursuit of happiness independent of his Father left him ultimately broken and unsatisfied. This is a picture of all humanity in eyes of God. We are wired to seek joy, and absent Christ, we seek it in the troughs of pigs.
Chief End of Man
Changing gears, If I were to ask, according to God’s Word, what is the Chief end of man, what would you say? According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism the answer to that question is “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.” Do you agree with this? Do you agree that, not only are you wired for joy, but God designed you to enjoy Him? Do you agree that you exist to have joy in God?
When we hear of read statement like the Westminster Catechism, or some creed, we should always ask, what is the scripture behind it? We don’t just want to accept this comment wholesale just because some theologians in 1647 said it was so. We should be like the Bereans in the book of Acts who searched the scriptures to compare what is said to what we know to be true, namely, the Bible. So let us look at some text.
For those who see a relationship with God as being joyless, I say this, you don't know my God, and I would encourage you to take a good long look in the Spiritual mirror and ask some difficult questions about your salvation. For true joy is only found in God, all other joys are counterfeit.
However, having said this, fullness of joy in God is not easy. Joy does not just show in at your doorstep with a little pink bow on it upon your conversion. To use a phrase from John Piper, we must fight for you, and you can see this in our text today.
Command for Joy
Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” First we must recognize that this is a command. Paul is commanding the Philippian Church to rejoice. If joy came naturally for all Christians, a command would be unnecessary. Paul's command for us to rejoice tells us that joy is something that must be intentionally chosen.
I wonder how often we think this way. Do you wake up each morning intentionally choosing to have joy in God. Do you implement practical things into your life that will produce joy in God? If not, why not? Most likely it is because you have never thought about it. You have never thought about Joy in God as something you work at. Most likely, you have wrongly believed that joy is based on circumstances, and you are just a passive in experiencing it. You see yourself as a victim of joy or joylessness. This is not how the Bible speaks of joy. Joy in God is something we must pursue.
Second, we must recognize that joy is not optional. As I said, this is a command. Paul is commanding that early Church to rejoice. In fact we find this command of rejoice in the Lord in the midst of other commands: stand firm in the Lord, agree in the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, do not be anxious. A Christian life that does not have joy is a Christian life outside the will of God. Once again, let that sink in. Having no joy in the Lord is disobedience. We are commanded to love God. We are command to have joy in God.
So this leads us to how, how do we have joy in the Lord? This morning I want to suggest five ways to pursue joy. First, we must recognize that apart from the Spirit of God in our lives, we have no hope for joy.
For those who are Christians, we must recognize that but for the Spirit of God dwelling inside us, we will never bear the fruit of joy. We cannot capture joy in our flesh, only by the Spirit of Christ that dwells in us. Therefore, step one is that we ask for joy in God. James 4:2 says, “ You do not have, because you do not ask.” We need to ask for joy, not in this world, but in the Creator of the world. Having said that, once again, this does not mean that joy will be produced in us in a passive way. Each fruit of the Spirit must be pruned to produce more.
Second, we must have eyes to see Christ for who He truly is. Think about what produces happieness in your life. Is it not the value you see in something. I have happiness when I look upon my wife, for I see great value in her. I have happiness when I look upon my children, because I see great value in them. Likewise, we must see that true value of Christ. As we saw in chapter 3 of Philippians, we must see the surpassing worth of Jesus. We must stare into the face of Christ and be overwhelmed by the image of the almighty Sovereign God who hung the stars staring back at us.
Third, we must recognize what Christ has done for us. Some of you may have heard this story, but several years ago I prosecuted a vehicular homicide case. It is a charge that carries 25 years in prison. The case was somewhat complicated, but like all cases that go to a jury trial, there were issues. There a few moments in life when time seems to freeze. Jury verdicts are one of those times, especially when 25 years of liberty on on the table. I still recall the look on the defendant's face when the verdict came in saying “We the jury find the defendant...not guilty.” In that moment there was nothing that could steal his happiness. I could have burned down his house, and he would have cared less. Why? Because he escaped punishment. He was free. This pales in comparison to what Christ has achieved for us of the cross. We deserve, not 25 years in prison, we deserve eternity in Hell. Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we escape eternal torment. We escape weeping and gnashing of teeth. We escape the unquenchable fire. We escape the out darkness. We escape the wrath of God. When we forget this, we undermine our joy.
Fourth, we must see what is waiting for us. In Luke 10:20, Jesus said this to his disciples he had just sent out to do expand the Kingdom, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Our joy is not built upon our circumstances, it is built upon our destiny. These names are written, past tense, in this book. This book of life will be opened on the last day, the day of judgment. And all those whose names are in the book, we be ushered into the presence of God.
So to summarize today. We are designed for joy. The source of of this joy is found only in God. As Christians we must not assume that this is automatic. We must fight for joy. WE must therefore, pray that God would help us see Christ for who he is, what he saved us from and what he saved us to. If we do this, I promise you that joy awaits.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on May 3, 2015.
Open your Bibles to Philippians 4:2-3. Before we start I want to express how important those first few words are in doing what we are doing, that being the preaching and hearing of a sermon. If you are visiting, or if you are somewhat new to Cornerstone, you should know that the aim at Cornerstone Church is to the pursuit of the knowledge of God through the study of His Word. Week in and week out, we do the same things, we open up the Bible and look at what God has to reveal to us.
For those who attended Secret Church last Friday, I loved that David Platt started by saying that he is not an authority figure on any of the topics that he addresses that night. His only authority is the authority of the Word of God. This is my mindset each week in preparing the sermon. And this is why I start most, if not all, of my sermons with open your Bibles. Today we are going to be examining two verses. So let us read out text, pray, and examine what God has to say to us.
One requirement of an Elder of a Church, and by Elder I mean Pastor, is to be on guard against footholds that Satan may grab hold of within our congregation. Every Church has a weakness, if not thousands, Cornerstone Church is no different.
Upon thinking about our family, one weakness that I believe we may have is theology. Let me explain. Theology is the study of God. It is the pursuit of knowledge of who God is. The way we do this, as I said earlier, is that we open up the Bible to see what it says. Not only do we do this on Sunday, we do this on Wednesdays, Friday, Tuesdays, Saturdays and any other day of the week that fits. We are a Church that values studying God’s Word.
Having said that, theology is not an end in itself. The study of the Bible is not the goal. As we saw recently, the goal is Christlikeness. This is the prize that we are striving for is to become like our Master, Jesus. So like Jesus, we are not to be only thinkers, but doers.
So what does this have to do with our text today? In today’s text we see theology applied. By that I mean that we see Paul implementing what he has already taught previously in his letter to the Philippians.
Distraction of Disunity
Last week we talked about standing firm in the Lord. This led us to talk about the issue of standing firm against what? We concluded that the “what” was the schemes of the devil.
Why am I saying this? Because, like Paul, I want to bring this issue of unity into our Church. We at Cornerstone are still in what I believe is a honeymoon period. We are a very young Church. And right now things are exciting. We are growing in our love for the Lord, we are seeing authentic pursuit of God’s glory, we are seeing real transformation, and it is contagious. Things are good. But we are naive to believe that things will always be this way, for we have an enemy. He is lurking around, trying to find a foothold into our church, and by foothold I mean you or me, or a future attender. Satan will attempt to destroy the work of God at Cornerstone Church through the people of Cornerstone Church.
Satan’s common scheme is to create clicks, and disunity, and discord, and factions, and arguments and wars. And through these wars, he wants to take down the whole ship.
Will Satan tempt? You bet. But what causes the quarrels and the fights is YOUR passions, YOUR desires, YOUR covetousness. The problem is that you and I and everyone who walks in these doors is a sinner and we are all vulnerable, just like Euodia and Syntyche. Don’t forget these two women were active in the ministry. Paul says he labored side by side with them in the faith of the Gospel. But now, because of their self-centered flesh, they were no longer side by side, but toe-to-toe in disagreement. No longer were these two women focused on the mission, but instead they were focused on their passions.
Now what would happen if this disagreement would have continued unaddressed? Would time heal all wounds? Absolutely not. Most likely what would have happened are sides would have been taken. The poison would have been like leven, starting small, but working itself through the entire piece of dough. This disagreement had to be address.
This is where most people, and most Churches fail. A majority of people know there is a problem. They see the problem. They may even talk about the problem, but they never address the problem. They just let the wound fester, if you will. Why? Because there is a lack of courage and a lack of leadership.
Paul recognized that something had to be done. He wasn’t about to let their argument wreck things the Church from inside out. He was going to take action. However, here was the problem, Paul was in prison. He was not able to help firsthand. He needed to recruit someone. So he recruits the True Companion.
The Greek for companion is Syzygus. In fact, many of your Bible may have a footnote next to the word companion that tells you this. The reason for this is that there is a debate as to whether the Syzygus is used by Paul generally to refer to anyone of that nature, or if he is actually using a persons name that matches the action he is requesting. I believe that Syzygus is actually the persons name. I will even take it a step farther, I believe this Syzygus is an overseer for the Philippian Church.
Why? First, because Paul addresses this letter to the overseers and deacons in the opening of the letter, Philippians 1:1. Second, because this is exactly what an overseer should be doing. An Overseer, or elder, of a Church should be constantly on guard for anything that may cause potential division in the Church. When he sees this divisions, he must take action before it is too late. Once again, I think Churches have failed miserably at this, and it appears the Philippian Church had as well.
Too often Pastors are weak. We worry about filling seats on Sunday, weekly donations, wanting everyone to like us, not rocking the boat, or not getting fired. So because of this, we don’t like to get our hands dirty, we don’t like to get in the middle of things, so we instead stick our heads in the sand. This is the exact opposite of what we are called to do. Pastors are called to protect the Church, to stand on guard against strife and division. We are to jump in the trenches right along side each one of you to help in the midst of your sin. I wonder how many Church splits could have been prevented if Pastors would have done their job. If they would have had the courage to love others more than they loved themselves.
Thankfully, for this Church Paul intervened, and addressed the problem and urged Syzygus to help these two ladies out. So this is my exhortation to all of you. If you see me more worried about my skin, then your hearts, you need to confront me. If I am failing to do what I am called to do and protect the sheep, then you call me out and come and speak with me face to face. For I know that I am a sinner and I am prone to wander, and I need you to help me fulfill my role. Second, in this room I am hoping that we have a handful of future elders. Men, if you can’t see yourself confronting people about their sin, then you are not called to this position. To be an Elder is not for the faint of heart. It is hard, for you never know how your help may be received.
Agree in the Lord
Which leads to the final point, and perhaps that most important. How do you help? What is the answer to the division, what is the answer to the disagreement? The answer is “Agree in the Lord.”
This is where we should all be listening. Up to this point some of you may be thinking, what an irrelevant message. I don’t care about church roles. Well you should, but in case you don’t, this message is for everyone.
The details of the disagreement between these two ladies is immaterial, for the problem is not found in their positions. THe problem lies in their hearts. These two ladies are sinners. Yes, they are Christians, but they still struggle with their flesh, their sin. And this is the root of all disagreements on the face of this planet. This is why wives and husbands argue, this is why parents and children argue, this is why democrats and republicans argue, this is why everyone argues. We are all sinners. Each one of us act like little kings and queens demanding that every little desire of our heart be fulfilled. If it doesn’t happen, we fight, just like we talked about before.
The only solution to the perpetual war, is to crucify your flesh, submit, and let Jesus be your Lord. Now don't miss that word, Lord. To let Jesus be Lord means to lay down your life and let him call the shots. To let him control your life. To pursue his will, not yours.
These two women were too focused on their will, and it was destroying their relationship and would potentially destroy their entire Church family. This is true for every single one of us. If we focus on our wills and our desires we are guaranteed to make a wreck out of our life. Don’t believe me, just look around. The one and only solution is to let Jesus be Lord. Now some of you may be saying, but that doesn’t sound fun, to let Jesus control my life. Let me ask, are divorces fun, are Church wars fun, are kids that hate you fun, is bitterness and unforgiveness fun, is destruction fun? No. What is fun is unity, togetherness, peace, love, harmony, and these things can only be found in making Jesus the King of your life.
Friends, we have to get this. God has created this life to flourish only in Jesus Christ. No other way will produce the joy that your heart longs for. So, the next time you feel your selfish desires start to take root, pick up and axe and cut it out, and humble yourself before your Lord Jesus Christ.