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God’s Goals for Our Christian Growth

Notes & Transcripts

God’s Goals for Our Christian Growth

Philippians 2:14-24

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Aug. 19, 2012

*When I preached the funeral for Mrs. Opal Self last week, I saw a lot of people that I have not seen for almost two years. One of the people who stood out the most was a young lady named Brittany. When I saw her last she was in Middle School. That girl has grown a foot or more!

*It was jaw-dropping to see the change. -- And God wants to see some jaw-dropping growth in us. Our growth as Christians is one of the main themes in this tremendous letter. Paul prayed for it back in Philippians 1:9-11. There he said:

9. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,

10. that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,

11. being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

*God wants us to grow. And in tonight’s Scripture we see 4 goals for our growth.

1. First: God wants us to be more peaceful.

*This is the goal Paul stressed in vs. 14-15, where he tells believers:

14. Do all things without complaining and disputing,

15. that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

*“Do all things without complaining and disputing.” In other words: “Don’t be fussing and fighting. Don’t be griping or complaining, against God or against each other.”

[1] We certainly need peace in our homes. I can’t tell you how many families I know that have been in sheer agony because they just could not get along.

-We need peace in our homes.

[2] And we need peace in our churches. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably see people fussing and fighting in church.

*When we went to Emmanuel 1992, they had been through a terrible split. The church had gone from about 120 down to the 50’s.

-A lot of people had been hurt.

-One good man had suffered a stroke in part from the stress.

-Some people dropped out of church for years.

-And some may never go back.

*Paul knew all about fussing in God’s church. He talked about this here and in his correspondence with the Corinthians. The Book of Acts also tells us about the personal problem that arose between Paul and Barnabas. It concerned Mark.

*Listen to the Scripture in Acts 15: 37-40:

37. Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.

38. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.

39. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;

40. but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.

*That word “contention” means there was irritation and angry dispute. They were inciting each other, egging each other on. There must have been terrible heartache in the church at Antioch over the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.

*Think about it: Barnabas and Paul fighting!

-Barnabas whose very name meant the son of encouragement.

-Barnabas had introduced Paul to the Apostles and vouched for his salvation.

-Barnabas later went 100 miles to find Paul in Tarsus and bring him back to help lead the church in Antioch.

-Barnabas went with Paul on that first mission trip together and saw the Hand of God at work in a wonderful way.

*Now they were fighting with each other. -- What a tragic mistake.

*I wonder if Paul was thinking back to this sad time when he later wrote these words in Phil 2:3: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

*And now in vs. 14-15:

14. Do all things without complaining and disputing,

15. that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

*The more we are able to do all things without murmuring, complaining and disputing, the more we will be able to shine as lights in the world, shining to give light to the dark world around us.

-No wonder God wants us to be more peaceful.

2. But He also wants us to be more faithful.

*God wants all believers to faithfully shine as lights in the world. This is another part of God’s message to us in vs. 14-16, where Paul said:

14. Do all things without complaining and disputing,

15. that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

16. holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

*Verse 16 in the KJV says: “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ. . .” So this is one of those many Greek words that can have more than one meaning. But in context here, I like the KJV better, because the best way to “shine as lights in the world” is to hold forth the word of life.

*At the same time, we can’t hold FORTH the word of life unless we hold FAST to the word of life. So both meanings work. God wants us to be faithful both to hold on to the word of life, and to hold out the word of life for others to see.

*Thank God it’s not the word of death. -- Church, we have the Word of Life!

*Death is all around us. We are reminded of that almost every week when we look at our prayer list. But there are some things worse that physical death. And the worst thing of all is spiritual death: Never-ending torment, cut-off forever from God’s mercy and life.

*Spiritual death is all around us. -- But we have the Word of Life!

-We have the good news that God loves us in spite of our sins.

-We have the good news that God the Father loves us so much He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins.

*We have the good news that Jesus is alive, because He rose from the dead!

-And that He will give us His abundant, eternal life.

-If we will turn to Jesus and receive Him as Savior and Lord.

*But the Word of Life is more than good news. -- The Word of Life is a person.

-As we saw this morning in John 1:1, Jesus Himself is the Word of Life. -- For John said this about Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

*And by His Spirit, the Living Word comes to live in our hearts, when we trust in Him. Then Jesus wants us to be faithful to hold out the Word of life and serve Him every way we possibly can.

*Timothy is our example of faithfulness in these Scriptures. Listen to Paul’s testimony about Timothy in vs. 19-23:

19. But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.

20. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.

21. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

22. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.

23. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

*What a remarkable testimony for Timothy!

-In vs. 20, “I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.”

-And in vs. 22, “You know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

*May God help us all to be more like that!

-God wants us to be more faithful.

3. And He wants us to be more joyful.

*This is part of God’s message to us back up in vs. 16. Here Paul told the Philippians that he wanted them to be: “holding fast the word of life, so that I may REJOICE in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

*In other words: “When the Lord comes, one of the things that will thrill my heart is to know that you held on to the Word of Life, and you held it out to others.”

*That would make Paul happy, because it would make the Lord happy.

*Remember the parables Jesus told when sinners drew near to Him and the Pharisees began to complain:

4. "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

5. And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

6. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'

7. I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

8. Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?

9. And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'

10. Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:4-10)

*Heaven overflows with joy when someone gets saved. And I can’t think of anything that makes mature Christians happier than to see new people come to Jesus.

*Henry Blackaby told of an American preacher who was on mission in one of the persecuted parts of Africa. One day the Lord led a young Muslim to the group, when they were having a prayer retreat in a public park. That young man was hungry to be saved, and eagerly trusted in Jesus.

*Then he asked to missionaries to go to his village in the bush and tell his family. When they got there, the chief called the whole village out to hear. One missionary preached while his partner translated. At the end the missionary issued an invitation.

*An elderly man came forward and drew two lines in the sand. He said, “There must be two ways to God.” Then the preacher said the only verse he had memorized in their language. It was John 14:6, where Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

*With that the old man said, “Jesus’ way must be the way. How do we do it?”

*It took about 20 or 30 minutes to teach them how to pray. Then 14 men stood up, shoulder to shoulder, and trusted Christ. Praise the Lord!

*Later, when the missionaries went back to check on them, they said, “We’ve already been over to the next village and told them, and another person believed. So we discipled and baptized him. -- Is that OK?” (1)

*It’s more than O.K. -- It’s “joy unspeakable and full of glory!” (1 Peter 1:8)

*Seeing people come to know the Lord and grow in the Lord was so important to the Apostle Paul that in vs. 17&18, he said:

17. Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

18. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

*In other words: “If I have to pour out my blood for you, or even give up my life for your faith. That doesn’t make me sad. It makes me happy. And I want you to rejoice with me too.

*God wants us to be more joyful.

4. And He wants us to be more hopeful.

*The Lord wants us to have the same kind of hope Paul had down in vs. 23 when he said: “Therefore I hope to send him (i.e. Timothy) at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.”

*Paul had hope.

-Here it was hope that the Lord would continue to use Timothy.

-And hope that the Lord would continue to bless the church at Philippi.

*Paul had hope, because he trusted in the Lord. And we see his trust in vs. 24, where he said: “But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.”

*Paul had hope, because he trusted in the Lord. Back in chapter 1, he put it this way:

18. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

19. For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

20. according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

21. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

22. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.

23. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

24. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

25. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,

26. that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

*Paul had hope because he trusted in the Lord.

*Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of England during the darkest hours of World War II. After the war was won, Churchill was asked by a reporter what his country’s greatest weapon had been against Hitler’s Nazi regime. Without pausing a moment he answered: “It was what England’s greatest weapon has always been -- hope.” (2)

*Churchill was talking about the hope that belongs to everyone who trusts in the Lord. We have this hope, because we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

*Now, God wants us to grow. He wants all of us growing to be:

-More peaceful.

-More faithful.

-More joyful.

-And more hopeful.

*May God help us all to grow.

1. Original source unknown

2. John C. Maxwell, DEVELOPING THE LEADERS AROUND YOU - Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers - p. 72 (Source: Dynamic Illustrations download - Christmas 2001)

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