Faithlife Sermons

04 - Where's The Beef? 2008

The Joyful Letter 2008  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A skeptical world is no longer impressed with words. Their attitude is “Where’s the beef?” In other words, show me how Christianity has made a true difference in your heart, in how you experience life, how you feel toward others, how happy you are.
Paul was the king at this. The following passages provide an x-ray of the Apostle’s interior life, and how Jesus always gave him the victory.
I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I'm in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they've learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.”
Wisdom nugget: Paul blossomed where he was planted. He made the most out of a bad situation, turning a lemon into lemonade! He did this by keeping his eyes on God Who always turns negatives into positives.
Listen to his confidence in God as the passage continues:
“And I'm going to keep that celebration going because I know how it's going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don't expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn't shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I'm Christ's messenger; dead, I'm his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can't lose.”
Paul continues with his incredible positive attitude, even toward so called Christians who rejoiced at his misfortune:
“It's true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they'll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I'm out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
So how am I to respond? I've decided that I really don't care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!”
The overcoming attitude king
Faced with a competitive, jealous group of men who rejoiced over his imprisonment so that they could grab the spotlight, Paul simply rejoices. His attitude: Their motives may be wrong but at least Christ is preached!
Wisdom nugget: You can’t control others but you can control yourself. Don’t allow the fleshly actions of others to rob your joy.
Paul goes on:
“As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I'd choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it's better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We'll be praising Christ, enjoying each other.”
Paul was always thinking of others
The great Apostle was weary. The world held no more charm or appeal. He longed to go and be with Christ in glory. Yet he said, “For your sakes I will stay.”
Very few people in our world place others above themselves. People are primarily selfish. Paul tells the truth about people in chapter 2:
“All others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.”—2:21
Wisdom nugget: It’s not all about you. It’s about others. To be Christ like is to learn to make unselfish decisions.
Jesus was the same way: “And so for their sake and on their behalf I sanctify (dedicate, consecrate) Myself, that they also may be sanctified (dedicated, consecrated, made holy) in the Truth.”—John 17:11
Finally, Paul exhorts us:
“Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people's trust in the Message, the good news. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. There's far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There's also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. You're involved in the same kind of struggle you saw me go through, on which you are now getting an updated report in this letter.”
Live right
Live right, live a clean life, someone is always watching.
Walk in unity, which is comprised of “one mind”, “one spirit”
Striving together for the faith of the gospel.
Striving means “to contend alongside a person as athletes on the same team.”
Rather than fighting each other, we are to join hands in spreading the gospel.
Be prepared to suffer for Christ.
“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too.”—1 Pet. 4:1
You will suffer persecution if you live godly in Christ Jesus.—2 Tim. 3:12
And when you suffer for His name’s sake:
Don’t be intimidated by your enemies
Don’t let them see you sweat! Don’t show fear when suffering for righteousness sake.
This will be a proof to them that God is with you and that they are doomed.
Peter wrote on this further: “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.”—1Pet. 4:12-14
Summary:
You can’t control others but you can control your response.
Be unselfish in your decision-making
Live right by living clean, walking in unity, and working as a team to spread the gospel.
Be prepared to suffer for His name’s sake.
Don’t be intimidated by your enemies when you do suffer.
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