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Philippians chapter two. We’re on a series together on the book of Philippians studying this idea of joy. When Paul wrote the book of Philippians, he recorded about joy in Christ. And the interesting thing about the book of Philippians is that, uh, Paul is writing about joy being persecuted and imprisoned as a believer in Jesus. And so this book is one that, uh, allows us just to stand and all and what Christ can do for us as we trust in him. The Bible tells us that sufficient today are are the, uh, what, what we have to face. And so Jesus applies us for what we need for today that we don’t have to worry about tomorrow until until we’re there. As far as walking with it in Christ, God calls us to look towards the future in him. But we know in that future Jesus will be with us, sustaining us and providing for us. As we study this book of Philippians together, we’ve looked on just two themes in chapter one. The first is this grace is messy. God’s grace is messy. And the reason that it’s messy is because we as people are sinful. The reason God’s grace exists is because of sin. God’s grace comes into our life when we we don’t deserve it. He gives us his grace and it transforms us from the inside out. Grace is intended for messy, which is why as a church family we say, come how you are.

There’s nothing that you can give to God to make him love you more than he already does. And what Jesus wants to do by his strength in you is far greater than you’re ever going to do in your own strength. In fact, there’s nothing you’re going to do to God or for God that’s going to make him love you anymore. And so come as you are, give your life over to the Lord and allow him just to work his way in you. His grace is messy because it’s designed for us as people who are sinful, living contrary to him, or who walk in a different way than he desires for us to walk. But when his grace grabs hold. It transforms us. And we saw it the second half of chapter one, this idea of lions and tigers and bears. We focused on those areas of Paul’s life that he faced hardships in crisis and chains and criticism and all these various things that pressured him in his life to live a life contrary to Jesus, but in that he desired to walk with Jesus and saying to us, lions and tigers and bears, who cares? I’ve got Christ. Circumstances will always change. But the joy of Christ can rest with you for eternity. Because the promises of Jesus never change. When your hope is in a world through circumstances that change, your hope will go with it.

Your joy will diminish. But when your joy rests and the one who is eternal, who has authority over all things. You know that he can provide. In fact, the Apostle Paul said so in the book of Philippians chapter one and verse 27, I believe he started talking to us about the power of the spirit that transforms our lives. God provides in our moments of need. Oftentimes we worry about tomorrow. And the Bible tells us not to worry about tomorrow, but cast your burdens upon Jesus because he cares for you. And the problems of tomorrow. Just as Jesus meets you today, he meets you tomorrow. And now Paul takes the start of chapter one in the book of Philippians. And walking with Jesus and understanding how Jesus empowered us and understanding what Jesus has done for us in his grace. He then propels us and encourages us to live it out in our lives. And I’ll tell you this morning, I’m going to move a little bit quickly, because at the end of the service, we’re going to make a tremendous amount of application to this text, because, for one, the church today is pretty familiar with Philippians chapter two. If you read the Bible, this is a a very highlighted portion of Scripture as it relates to the life of a believer. But this portion of Scripture is not something we’re supposed to walk away with and understand intellectually, but to live out in our lives.

And Paul is calling us in chapter two to live this out. And so we’re going to end our service focusing on the persecuted church and the way that we can be involved as a body of believers for what God has called us to in this world. When we talk about helping world systems or or presenting the truth in this world. Sometimes we as people, when we encounter systems that oppose us, our natural inclinations to get angry and respond to that. You made me feel bad. And so I’m going to make you feel bad, feel the pain that I feel justice. Right? She offended me and I’m taking her and her whole posse down. And so in anger, we attack world systems. We do it theologically. We do it personally. We do it organizationally. But if I’m being honest, according to what the Bible says, when we we approach someone who holds to a world system, when we don’t impose the truth of what the world should operate under, with that, then we we do someone a disservice by by undermining the system that they operate under because they’re left unto themselves. They’ll just find another fallible system to operate from. Truth is important. But only is. Is truth important? We as believers sometimes understand that Jesus gives us truth, that the the truth that he gives us. It makes sense when God said, love the Lord your God, he said, with all your heart, soul, and mind.

God gave us a mind. The people that should be most intellectual in this world are people who have faith in Christ. Understanding that God gave you the mind to exercise that faith. Faith isn’t blind. Faith isn’t ignorant. Faith isn’t just a guess. There is a certainty, especially to the Christian faith rested upon the identity of truth in Jesus that can be tested. The Bible even says that acts chapter 17, they were more noble than those in Thessalonica. They received the Word of God with readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily. Whether those things were true, they proved it in first Thessalonians five 2021. Prove all things hold fast to that which is good. Just because you have faith in Jesus doesn’t mean you check your mind out at the door. There’s truth that can be tested. When you come to understand that truth and you find world systems that disagree with it. The godly thing to do is not beat up the world system, to make them see that you’re right and they’re wrong. It’s not about being right and wrong. It’s about the truth. Theology truth has created for us that we may worship. On John chapter four and verse 24, it says, worship him in spirit and truth. God has given us his truth, we may worship him. And so if you take theology as an excuse to beat someone up as if you’re right and they’re wrong.

What God desires for you to do is to take that truth, that it may encourage worship in other people. To substitute a fallible worldview and system with the truth of who God is. And Paul comes to Philippians chapter two with that approach in mind, that not only that we would carry the truth, but he more specifically addresses how we share this truth in the world. And in chapter two and verse one he says, therefore this. This word, therefore, is a summation of what Paul said in chapter one. Therefore, in conclusion, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there’s any consolation of love, if there’s any fellowship of the spirit, if any affection and compassion make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in the spirit, intent on one purpose. Let me just stop right there. God desires in his community in Christ centered on him, that we be united. And there is a difference between the thought of united. And this thought of uniformity. We talk about being united as a body of believers. What we don’t mean is uniformity, because we recognize when people come in, we come from different places, and God has given us different gifts to exercise for him. We don’t want every Christian to look the same. God has gifted you uniquely and specially, and so unity and uniformity are not the same thing.

Unity looks at your heart. Uniformity looks at your appearance. Unity flows from the inside out. Uniformity is pressed from the outside. In unity uses individuals. Uniformity loses individuals. Unity is all about how God uses you as a part of the bigger picture. Uniformity is all about how religion conforms you to match their picture. Unity is born out of a heart of transformation. Uniformity is forced by behavior modification. Uniformity promotes rebellion, but unity in Christ brings joy. And Paul, as he calls us, to the circumstance of being united. He says in verse two, you know what? You know what brings us joy. Jesus brings us joy. And walking with him, knowing that doesn’t change according to circumstances, but his promises are always true. But you know what else brings joy? When you see the body of Christ doing it together? The joy of the Lord is made known in our lives. And so when we come to ABC, what we’re not interested in is your outward appearance, but rather what we’re after is your heart. Because we know the Christian life from beginning to end. It’s always about surrender. Giving herself over to Jesus empty handed. And allowing him to work his way in. Unity, therefore, is only found in identity. Our unity is not just about being united, to united, to be united. It’s not that. Can’t we all just get along? We’re united to be united. Thought don’t.

Don’t believe. As long as you focus on being united, we will all have this utopia thinking that’s not true. Every utopia needs a foundation from which it’s centered upon. And so when Paul’s talking about United and when Paul’s talking about joy, the message of that is central to our identity in Jesus. A true unity cannot exist without a clear identity. Unity for the sake of unity apart from an unidentified identity, does not lead to a utopia, but rather it leads to anarchy, because unity for the sake of unity has no foundation to qualify what it is united under. And so Paul says in verse two, in this unity make his joy complete by being of the same mind, regardless of the circumstance, trusting in Jesus to provide in our moments. And so he tells us. In verse three. This image that God creates for us and service to the truth that he has given us. What stands in the way he says, do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. But with humility of mind regard one another is more important than yourselves. What stands in the way of the unity that God has called us to as a body is me. Selfishness ultimately, is anarchy against God. Because it’s God who created the world. It’s God who is Lord of everything. Rather, we, whether we acknowledge it or not. And when I make myself Lord in his place. I commit anarchy against the kingdom of the creator.

Selfishness. No matter how we want to shift blame to other people. They made me or she made me. It’s always up to me and how I choose to live. And the thing that prohibits me from living according to the way that God has called me is nothing other than me. Rather than just simply surrendering to him. In case the thought of selfishness doesn’t ring well with Paul’s readers, he gives this other thought to it. He says, do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. This word empty conceit literally means absent of the weight of glory. It’s to say when you put yourself first. Yes, you live for purposes less. Yes, you live for causes. But there’s such a bigger picture than just yourself. In fact, you were never created for yourself. But for him. And choosing that road. You’re empty of the weight of glory that God desires to work in your life. Ephesians 515 it says, be careful then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. May. Some people may argue, you know, I’m not a bad person and I’m not even I’m not going to get to the detail of that theology because I don’t have time. But but as it relates to us as people, we may not define the things that we do as necessarily bad.

But if it’s just focusing, focusing on self. It’s empty the way the glory that God has called you to in this world. Paul said for us as believers in Philippians chapter one to verse 21, for us to even begin to understand what life is about, we. We must die to self. Following Jesus means dying to self, making him Lord. In Philippians 121, Paul said, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I get why sometimes we rebel as people. I think it’s the nature within us against any system. And and we have the tradition of the 70s. Right? The flower children that rebelled against everything. But when it comes to rebellion, sometimes within our lives, we we rebel against systems because we have a distrust for authority. Or sometimes we rebel against systems because of idolatry. We love ourselves so much that we would rather be Lord than Jesus. Or sometimes we lack faith in Jesus and rather trust in our man made religions above him. And the truth of what Paul is saying is that in our lives, there’s a need to recognize the authority of Christ within us to live for the cause in which Jesus has created us for. And so he says in verse two and on to verse three, we make his joy complete. And he says at the end of verse three, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves.

The thought within this passage is saying to us regarding one another as more important. This more important is, is this word for a dignitary. And regarding one another means you’re rolling out the red carpet. And so when you look at people in this world, you you treat them as Jesus would treat them. And let me just remind you of what Christ has done. Christ didn’t just love the lovable. In fact, Jesus spent his time with his enemies. Jesus washed the feet of Judas. Jesus loved those that hated them. Even those that oppose. We’re talking about transforming a world system that lives contrary to God through the power of Christ. God calls us in these verses to serve them with the joy of Jesus. There is a story of Abraham Lincoln who went to visit general McClellan, who was a part of the Union Army helping lead the Union Army, specifically in charge of the Potomac region of the Union Army. And and Abraham Lincoln goes and visits with McClellan with a couple of companions from the white House, to check on the progress of the Army, because they were a little concerned. Lincoln goes into McClellan’s house. Mcclellan is not there. He waits an hour for for McClellan to return. He finds out McClellan was at a wedding. When he returns from the wedding, he walks into the house and the story goes that he walks right past, uh, Abraham Lincoln and the officials.

He goes right up to his room, and he calls his maid up to his room. The maid then comes down after a couple of minutes of spinning with him, and she reports to the president and says general McClellan has gone to sleep. Well, you can imagine the reaction of the individuals who came all the way from the white House were one who was furious. I’ve been shamed in this. And Abraham Lincoln says, because at a moment like this, there is no time to argue over my dignity or your dignity, but rather I would rather hold the horse of this man. If we can just find out the progress of what’s taking place within our army. Ultimately, what should matter to us is a body of Christ. Isn’t a retaliation of justice. But the grace of Jesus. Even the most broken of world systems, which might spur within us a hatred for what’s taking place. We’ll share one at the end of the service. In order to see the change according to the way Christ has presented to us. We share his truth and we do so in love. Paul says within this passage. In case you want an example of how this happens for us as a body of believers, we we do so with humility of mind, which means we’re not in submission to to be abused, but we’re in submission because we understand our identity in light of Christ is elevated in Jesus.

Humility doesn’t mean think bad of yourselves, but to simply surrender to what God has called you to so that Jesus may lift you up. And so he gives this illustration in verse five. This is one of the most famous portions of, of Scripture that I think is, is written because Paul takes a passage that the early church was singing as a hymn, and he inserts it within the book of Philippians. This this phrase that Paul shares in verses 5 to 8. The church has been singing now for for a few decades, and Paul steals it from the early church, inserts it to Philippians and saying, if you want to, if you want to think within your mind what this looks like, read this, have this attitude in yourselves. Which is also in Christ Jesus. Who, although he existed in the form of God, do not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Saying it’s not a big deal what people think about you. It’s more important about what they think of Jesus. Because you’ve been called to serve. And so when you step into an arena of a world that doesn’t agree with you.

It’s not about just defeating the system, it’s about presenting to them Christ. And it’s not about proving you right and wrong. It’s about honoring Jesus and worship. Arguing for the sake of arguing and tossing mud for the sake of tossing mud doesn’t change anyone’s heart. Christ us. Have this mind in you, which is also in Christ Jesus, who though even being King and Creator of all being God Himself, thought at nothing to become a servant to some of the lowliest position in serving you and me, that we may see the glory of who he is, and give him praise. If. Jesus. Was willing to even humble himself for his enemies, that others may come to know him. What does that mean for me as a follower of Christ? From verse 9 to 11. Paul says it. He says, for this reason also. God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, so that the name of Jesus every knee will bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. And this says to you, maybe in your life you’ve been abused by authority, maybe in your life you may have made yourself king of your world. Or maybe in your life you’ve trusted in religion and self to appeal to God.

This passage says to us, don’t be afraid, Jesus. Where others have abused. When God comes before you, what he has in mind is your best interest. And so whatever God shares with you is out of a heart of love for the well-being of you as a follower. And trust when it comes to a king who is so gracious that he’s willing to just bow down and serve me, who despised him, who lived in anarchy to his kingdom, just speaks volume to the love, and within my soul and within my heart becomes a wellspring of joy and rejoicing of what Christ has done. And to him be the glory. So how do you know if you’re living united in Christ? Or what are some steps to do that? Paul concludes the passage this way. So then, my beloved. Just as you have always obeyed. Now is in my presence only. But not now. Much more in my absence. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Let me just stop and say this. Paul says A real follower of Jesus follows Jesus when no one’s looking. Paul says in this passage, you’re not working for your salvation, but rather you’re living for Christ out of your salvation. Paul is saying in this passage, don’t be afraid of God, but rather have a reverential fear of his authority, meaning just as much as Jesus served you, Jesus is also Lord.

If you’re afraid of God, let me just tell you first. John chapter four is is the cure to that symptom. First, John four tells us in verse eight that God is love. And then verse 18 and perfect love casts out fear. God doesn’t want you afraid of him. What he does want you to recognize. That you were never created to be Lord of your life. He’s Lord of your life. And it’s only an acknowledging that he’s Lord of your life, that we begin to discover the joy of the journey for which we were created. As Paul says in verse two of this chapter. Well, I can just open hands, surrender to God, and allow him to transform me from the inside out. This passage is saying to us, don’t have a casual view of God. He he’s the sustainer of all. Rather, look to him as Lord and worship him. And so it comes to verse 13 and says this, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Let me just point out a thought for us in this verse. When you read a passage like this in Serving Jesus. The tendency within our religious thinking is just to want to get better at serving Jesus. And that’s not bad. But let me tell you how that happens. It’s not on your own. And it’s not through your strength.

This passage tells us at the end of the verse, both to will and to work. It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work, which means the will to even want to serve God does not even begin to happen until you surrender to God. That not only do you maybe in your life feel like you just don’t want to serve God, but. But it could be because you’re lacking the will to want to serve God. And so that’s why from the beginning of the end, the Christian life is all about surrender. Because in surrendering to him open handed, God transforms your heart that you may live in light of who he is. His spirit working in you both to will and to work. God transforms us. The evidence of what he proclaimed in verses 5 to 8, and understanding what Jesus has done for you. So let me give this concluding thought with us as we look at the persecuted church. This passage is a very simplistic passage and what it says. But it’s not a passage where we’re supposed to stop and with what it says and all shake our head in agreement, but rather we read it. We agree with what it says, and we get up and we do something about it because we understand that a world is living, alienated from Christ, in world systems that have committed anarchy against God because they’re opposed to him as Lord of their life.

Not understanding that what Jesus desires for you is far greater than any dream that you can come up with for yourself. Get up and do. And today is the persecuted Church Day. And so in honor of that, as a church, we’ve always focused on that because we want to think outside of ourselves. What we do here on Sunday is only a springboard for what Jesus wants to do for us on Monday. And so we gather here, empty hands. We acknowledge before the Lord that we need him, and we just celebrate God’s presence in our lives. A part of recognizing what God calls us to do is to see what our other brothers and sisters in Christ are doing around the world. You won’t see it reported in media today, but. But Christians around the world are being persecuted. And in fact, there are more Christians who are killed for their faith today in Christ than ever before in history. And so as you leave today, I just want to encourage you to do I want to encourage you to take something with you as you walk out the door. Everyone in the church, as you leave, we have a prayer card of commitment, a global report, and a magazine from voice of the martyrs. Let me tell you what these are. A prayer card is a reminder to you that God is doing things in this world outside of yourself, and especially among believers who are suffering for their faith in Christ.

This is just a commitment to pray for them and to encourage you to do so. Voice of the martyrs is a magazine that writes stories about places around the world where Christians are suffering, and they encourage you to pray. And if Lord leads you to do more than that, then feel free. But but it just opens you up to a faith that’s outside of you, that’s bigger than yourself, that God has called us to in this world. I want to encourage you to take one of these per family, but as you leave, I want you to have this disclaimer. Some of these images in here are graphic because they want us to see in real time this persecution that’s happening around the world. So your young kids probably not a good idea to let them thumb through this. But if you want to take a look at it just to open your eyes to some things you may not have been aware of, please feel free to take that. You can also order those magazines. They’re I think they’re free. They’ll send them to your house if you just want them. The last of this is a global report of the persecution happening around the world. I know that you can’t see this from where you’re at, but this region, this discolored place here, this is Asia and Europe and Africa are focused in this area.

This is where Christians are under heavy persecution because of their faith in Christ. And so this goes through those countries in the world letting you know what’s taking place for you to be able to pray for them. One of these countries on this list is the country of India. And there’s something we recognize this morning that all these countries facing persecution, we can’t physically do everything that they need. We we can pray for them, but we can’t meet physical needs in their lives. But we can do something. And one of the things that we’ve done as a church family is that we have, uh, been a part of a ministry to India. This ministry in India are churches our church has taken a couple trips to. We’ve had some individuals from our church visit India, and there’s a specific man by the name of Joseph Thomas that’s doing ministry there. Joseph Thomas grew up in India. He was an orphan. He got embraced to a Christian orphanage. That orphanage trained him in God’s word, sent him out. And now he is a minister in the country of India. Uh, his ministry is beginning to affect both slum children, leper colonies and those around them. And we as a church family have been involved in that. And this is what we’re interested in, because we understand Philippians chapter two calls us to do something for Christ. We’re going to do something for Christ.

A Van by the River