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Stand Firm

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How do we "stand firm" in the Lord

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I am sure that many of you are familiar with the well known expression, “throwing in the towel”. This, of course, is a well known idiom that comes from the grueling and physically taxing sport of curling! (Just kidding, I mean the sport of boxing!)

Throwing in the towel, means that the fight is being forfeited, it is being ended due to imminent defeat and one coach sees that his fighter has taken all that he can and so, the manager/coach throws in a towel or their sponge into the ring to signify, “STOP THE FIGHT”, we quit!
I think that there are many Christians who have felt this way, at some point or another within their walk with the Lord. That is, you become battle wearied and you feel like you’ve taken enough blows from the enemy and you just want to have the towel thrown in; you feel like quitting.
I’m sure that we would like to think of ourselves more like the southpaw Joe Calzage , nicknamed "The Pride of Wales" or "The Italian Dragon," who has had 46 fights and won 46 fights.
Most definitely, he had his fair shares of hard blows and being knocked down to the canvas on numerous fights, and yet he always got back up, stood firm and finished the fight, with excellence and remained victorious!
This is exactly what we find the Apostle Paul telling us to do in ,
1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
and in ,
1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Paul is saying to not move, do not quit and DO NOT THROW IN THE TOWEL!
In fact, you will see this same type declaration throughout the New Testament from the Pauline epistles, as well as others.
if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard....”
, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard
, “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.”
, “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,”
, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;”
, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”
, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
And finally, ,
Philippians 4:1 ESV
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

It is here, at this passage in , that I want us to put our focus and attention tonight.

Coming out of chapter 3, Paul has just finished giving that amazing decree of, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Having said this, he also urges the believers to imitate him and keep their eyes on believers such as him and his walk, because, as he states, there are many who’s walk shows that they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.
Then as Paul moves into this last chapter of the letter to church at Philippi, he comes out in verse 1, with this statement, “stand firm thus in the Lord”.
The little word used there, “thus”, as we find in the ESV, is also translated as, “in this way”, in other translations.
The basic idea is that Paul is saying, “Stand firm like this”, or “Stand firm in this way in the Lord”. And then he goes on to point out what he means about standing firm in verses 2-8.
So, let’s read the passage that we are talking about in its entirety and then look at these points that Paul gives us to help equip us to become immovable , or STAND FIRM!
,
Philippians 4:1–8 ESV
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

How many of you would say tonight that you want to be able to stand firm in the Lord; that is, that you want spiritual stability in your DAILY walk?

I think that anyone who is truly a blood bought child of God, should want greater stability and steadfastness so as to not falter or be moved by the enemy and this world, AMEN?!
Andrew Wyeth painted picture of General Lafayette’s quarters near Chadd’s Ford, Pa., with a sycamore tree behind the building. When his brother first saw the painting, Andrew wasn’t finished with it. Andrew showed his brother a lot of extra drawings of the trunk and the sycamore’s gnarled roots, and his brother asked, "Where’s all that in the picture?" "It’s not in the picture," he said. "For me to get what I want in the part of the tree that’s showing, I’ve got to know thoroughly how it is anchored in back of the house." I think that his perspective is remarkable. The reason that he could draw the tree above the house with such authenticity, was because he knew exactly how the tree was in the ground; he knew how it was rooted.
This carries a lot of understanding for us as well. If we want to be authentic as followers of Jesus and be firm and immovable in our faith, then we need to KNOW where and how our faith is rooted!
In , Jesus said this to disciples during His Olivet discourse, “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures (that is, the one who STANDS FIRM) to the end will be saved.   And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”
As you and I now do our individual parts and carry the great commission by spreading the gospel message to the our part of the world, Jesus said that we must “endure”! This word in the Greek actually means, “to remain, not to flee; to persevere under trials and to hold fast to one’s faith”.
What is the reward for this enduring that He mentions? Well, if we look ahead, in the book of , where Jesus is writing to the suffering church of Smyrna, He says this to the Christians there, “Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.”
Did you hear that, “If you remain faithful (if you endure/ hold fast to your faith/ STAND FIRM in your faith), even when facing death, I will give you the crown of eternal life!”
Jesus is trying to warn us that not everyone will finish with Him, as He says a few verses earlier, ““Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.”
If you and I do not learn to stand firm in our faith and walk dependently with and upon Jesus, then the enemy, the god of this world, our adversary, the devil, will push us and shake us (as Jesus said of Peter) until one of two things happens: we will either move out of the line fire because our faith has been shaken and unsettled and we can’t take the discomfort and pain, OR, we will remain ROOTED in and immovable in our faith in Jesus Christ! WE WILL STAND FIRM and tell the our enemy, “Greater is He that is in me, than you are! I’m not moving over for you, so either turn around and flee, or get out of my way, because I am staying on this narrow path and there isn’t room for the both of us!”

In , Paul talks about a situation where there was disunity within the church body between two women. They had been working diligently in spreading the gospel message and as faithful followers of Jesus and now there was an offense, a situation causing division in the church body!

This is the first thing that the church must have in order to be able to STAND FIRM for the Lord; UNITY!
In Jesus’ priestly prayer that He gave in , as I mentioned last Sunday, He said, “I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
It was Jesus’ prayer to the Father and His desire, that His followers (you and I) would have PERFECT UNITY, so that the world would know they were His!
A church body with division is unstable and not able to STAND FIRM!
In fact, if you go back just two chapters in this epistle, you will see Paul saying this to the church there, in ,
Philippians 2:1–5 NLT
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Do you see what Paul has been told to say to the church here?
The same thing that he wrote to the church in Corinth, the same thing that he wrote to the church in Colossae, the same thing that he wrote to the church in Ephesus, the same thing that he wrote to the church in Rome, the same thing that he wrote to the church in Galatia, and the same thing that Peter wrote in his first epistle; we must have UNITY!!!!
The next step in acquiring the ability to stand firm is in verse 4, ()
Philippians 4:4 NLT
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
REJOICE!! (Everyone say, “REJOICE”). If you look at what Paul says, you will see where he states that you and I are to derive and find our JOY; “ALWAYS BE FULL OF JOY IN THE LORD”.
You and I are to make God our source of all joy! The moment that you come to know Him as Lord of your life, you are instantly given His joy.
,
1 Peter 1:8 ESV
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
Romans 15:13 ESV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Our joy that we derive from the Lord is not circumstantial, but is a promise that we receive through Holy Spirit. The closer you get to Him, the more of His fruit you develop. The kingdom of God is not linked to or altered by the world, we are not bound to this world. ,
Romans 14:17 ESV
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Do you try and link your joy to this world, but rather make sure that your joy is from Him and Him alone. This world has temporary and limited joy (rather happiness) and your circumstances will determine if you have any or not!
We are to REJOICE in all CIRCUMSTANCES, because our source is never ending and it grows within us; Like a tree being fed by an underground spring in the desert. It grows and flourishes against the odds, because its source is not external, but internal.
,
Psalm 30:5 NLT
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Next in the list of things that the church needs to STAND FIRM, is found in verse 5 ()
Philippians 4:5 NLT
Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
The word “reasonableness” is also translated as gentle, moderate, considerate, showing forbearance.
So, we are to be considerate, gentle to those around us. We not to point the finger of blame and guilt at others when they falter and we are to be diligent to not retaliate against others who come against us.
This verse is probably more geared towards the outside of the church; we are to show the world what God has shown to us.....HIS GRACE!
uses this same word,
Titus 3:2 ESV
to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
This step involves us being HUMBLE and esteeming others better than ourselves.
When you stop looking out for your own personal gain and start looking for the good of others, you will have removed a handle for devil to grab a hold of and drag you around with!
Paul finishes this verse with a staunch and sobering reminder of why you should always be gentle and reasonable to others and looking for their betterment. BECAUSE THE LORD IS COMING SOON!
We do not know when He is coming and you do not want Him to find you acting in selfish ambition!
Next in the line is found in verses 6-7 and it has a perk attached to it. (),
Philippians 4:6–7 NLT
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
This step mirrors closely the same thing that Jesus instructed us in , where He taught us not to be anxious or worry about the needs of this life, because loves us and the things that we truly need, He will provide for us. Jesus, said rather, seek the kingdom of God FIRST and all of the other things would be given to us.
So, in order to remain STANDING FIRM, we must remove all worries and doubts about our temporal needs and do as the verse says next; we must at all times and for ALL things, be in prayer and petitioning (requesting) FROM God.
And not just asking Him for these things, but we are commanded to do so with an attitude of THANKSGIVING!
If God LOVES a cheerful giver, how do you think that He feels about a demanding or ungrateful taker?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Giving God thanks in all circumstances is required and DO NOT say that you can’t do it!
says,
Jonah 2:4–9 ESV
Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
If Jonah can give thanks in the belly of a fish in the depths of the sea, I think that you and I can find a way to be thankful for our circumstances!!
When we come to God with our needs and we do so with worry and doubt, there are two things about us: “BEING ANXIOUS”, as Paul says, has a negative connotation and shows distrust in God’s abilities. This equates to “unconscious blasphemy”, as Oswald Chambers said in a commentary, because it is rejecting who and what God is in our lives.
Second, you cannot be standing firm when you approach God in doubt and disbelief in what He can or will do, because according to ,
James 2:6–8 ESV
But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
James 1:6–8 NLT
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 4:6–8 ESV
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Does that passage sound like someone who is STANDING FIRM?
The perk that is attached with our coming before God and making our requests known to Him with continual THANKSGIVING, that is having a heart of GRATITUDE, is that the PEACE (SHALOM) of GOD (which is greater than anything that you and I can wrap our limited minds around in its vastness), will guard, protect, or even hold prisoner our hearts and minds against the enemy in Christ Jesus.
,
Colossians 3:15 NLT
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
So, the ability for the church to stand firm, linked to our ability to trust in God completely and always give Him thanks; regardless of the circumstances or outcomes! Then the peace of God will rule and protect our hearts and minds and the enemy will lose out.
The war that we fight is in the mind to begin with . So if the very empowering presence of Holy Spirit is guarding your heart and mind, then the enemy is fighting a losing battle. (Which on a grand scale, he is already!)

Finally in verse 8 we see a list of virtues that we are to focus on to help keep us grounded and rooted in God.

These virtues contrast what Paul tells us of those who are enemies of the cross of Christ in chapter 3. He said that these people are headed for destruction , evident by the fact that they think ONLY about this life here on earth!
This list that Paul gives here in verse 8 is, (),
Philippians 4:8 NLT
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Just as Peter gave a list of progressive virtues that we are too attain and add to one another, so Paul lists out here things that we are to set our minds on. Peter said this of his list in , “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peter’s list are things that really show externally more as you deal with things in life on a daily basis (self control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love). Paul’s list here of things to set your mind on will help you in attaining Peter’s list!
Paul’s list is part of the steps that keep you grounded and STANDING FIRM in the Lord.
Since habits and attitudes and desires come from the heart and mind of man, then Paul is telling us to set our minds on things such as these to help guard it.
This list is not exhaustive and there are other things that could tie in with them, hence the reason Paul says, “if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”, meaning that there are other things like these, that are Godly and needed for grounding our faith in God!
At the end of the list in verse 9, Paul tells us that we are to practice what we have seen him doing, such as the things in this list. In doing so, there is again a perk. In verse 7 he said that you would experience the peace “of God” as it guards your heart. But by making this list and the like a lifestyle, as Paul is showing, you will experience the God “of peace” being with you continually!
F.B. Meyer wrote about two Germans who wanted to climb the Matterhorn. They hired three guides and began their ascent at the steepest and most slippery part. The men roped themselves together in this order: guide, traveler, guide, traveler, guide. They had gone only a little way up the side when the last man lost his footing. He was held up temporarily by the other four, because each had a toehold in the niches they had cut in the ice. But then the next man slipped, and he pulled down the two above him. The only one to stand firm was the first guide, who had driven a spike deep into the ice. Because he held his ground, all the men beneath him regained their footing. F.B. Meyer concluded his story by drawing a spiritual application. He said, "I am like one of those men who slipped, but thank God, I am bound in a living partnership to Christ. And because He stands, I will never perish."

If you are firmly rooted and anchored in Jesus Christ, then you will be able to STAND FIRM against this world and immovable!

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