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Women In Covenant for the Glory of God

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Women In Covenant for the Glory of God

 “Out of Lo-Debar with The Emergence of a New Attitude

2 Samuel 9:3-5

Phil. 2:1-8

    Attitude is not such a large word in the English language, but it has endless meanings and connotations.

Perhaps you heard about the Yankee shoe salesman who went to Africa and wired his manufacturer, “I want to come home. Nobody wears shoes in this part of Africa.” So they brought him home and sent another salesman who shipped back order after order. He wrote the home office, “Everybody here needs shoes!”

            Attitude can be found within and without a person.  It can be sensitivity, an awareness or insight; it can be a reading one person does of another, like a first impression; it might be an opinion, or the conduct and deeds of person; it may simply be a person’s style or approach that gives knowledge of their attitude. 

    On the other hand, attitude might show up in one’s stance.  By that I mean, one could pose an attitude in which case it is mere masquerade or façade; or hold a position that is a pretense.  One might have a certain bearing on a situation, and on that basis have a certain demeanor, a certain air, and a certain behavior about them.  And sometimes, and most often we see attitude depending upon a person’s position in life, their location on the opportunity continuum, their spot in life or their financial situation.

    Today, we want to find attitude’s place among women who are bent on making covenant with one another.  Women who are in agreement, in harmony, willing to come together, join together in an all out amalgamation under the banner of  “Glory for God.”  We need to answer individually, is it a masquerade or is it real?

    To get to that point, the point of harmony, the point of covenant, I believe that one central thing may be necessary.  That thing is change.  We must determine from our texts today three things:

1.   Is there a “Need to Change

2.   Is there a “Way to Change

3.   Is there a “Result to Change

To begin our quest, we need to go to a place where most of us have at least visited, and I dare to venture a few may live.  It’s a place referred to in 2 Samuel, a place called Lo-Debar.  Let me give you a little background first and bring us up to speed on Lo-Debar.

After fighting and winning many battles, it was now that King David had time to reflect and he remembered a promise that he had made to an old friend.  He remembered how he promised Jonathan to always show kindness to his house because Jonathan had promised to warn David of Saul’s intentions towards him.  David began to inquire about Saul’s family.  He wanted to know if there were any survivors, anyone left.  His motives were pure.  He meant them no harm, but on the contrary, well.  He wanted to show the kindness of God to someone in Saul’s family. 

David finds out that there is a son of Jonathan still live.  A son described as being crippled in both feet.  Crippled in both feet but in more ways than one.  You will remember that when this son, Mephibosheth, was 5 years old, his nurse thought that he would be killed as a potential heir to King Saul, so she set out to hide him.  In her haste, she fell and landed on top of him, injuring both of his feet.  So, yes, he was lame, he walked with a wretched limp and without sport.  His feet looked disfigured from years of an untreated condition, and no one wanted to give him foot rubs.

    But Mephibosheth was crippled in other ways, as the word in the original language suggests.  He was crippled in life.  He was a most unhappy fellow; miserable, pitiful, pathetic and always down; depressed and dejected. He was a measly little man. 

    Have you ever been around a person like that?  Unless you are in the same condition, you don’t want to be around them too long.  They are always whining or feeling sorry for himself or herself. They are full of doom and gloom; always pessimistic.  You know, the “glass is half empty” folk?  Surely all of his life he’d heard what had happened to him because of his nurse.  He’d heard how he could have been king.  Oh, he’d heard about the relationship between David and his father Jonathan; how close they were and their enduring love for one another.  But he’d also heard about the undying hatred that his grandfather had for David, and his relentless efforts to kill the young man.  He’d heard how David was mighty in war and would probably kill him on sight, as was the custom of a new king to secure his throne.

And on top of all of that, his grandfather’s top warrior, Machir, had taken him in; and he had come to live in Lo-Debar - A place with a name that means “no pasture” or “no word”.  There was no grazing land, no meadow, and no enclosure.  There were no attachments.  He had a young son, but he did not know affection.  There was no tenderness, no warmth, no love and no regard for his person.  He just existed without hope.

It was in Lo-Debar that his attitude formed.  He felt useless and unwanted.  He had settled in his mind long before that he was a “nobody”.  He had lost all of the wealth and privilege that would have been his had his father lived.  There was nothing left of his royal- ness, only stories told to him by his nurse and hecklers.  He had lived his whole life at the mercy of others.  His attitude was set and it was tight.

How do I know?  Because even after the king sent for him and he is in the presence of the king who immediately assures his safety, he refers to himself as a dog (useless, unworthy and disinterested) and questions the king’s motives.

Mephibosheth came out of Lo-Debar.  He was called out of the barren place, the place of wretchedness; the place of long time depression; the place of squalor; the place of lace; the place of darkness and dejection.  He came out, but he came with the same old attitude that had plagued him his whole life.

Now, I don’t know you’ll up close and personal, but I just bet somebody in here this afternoon is living with the same old Lo-Debar attitude.  Now, don’t misunderstand.  The old Lo-Debar attitude doesn’t have to be one that is down on self.  It just could be one that is down on others.

Some of you have been called out of Lo-Debar, you’ve come out of the darkness but your path is clouded because your eyes are still dim.  You still think that you are unworthy; that you can’t make it; that there is always a trick to things.  Even among the sisters you hold back; you don’t give your all to programs and events because you don’t want to risk being rejected.  You think that your opinions are mundane and trite.  You think people are judging what you have or don’t have rather that who you are and what you offer.  You need to change!

    Now those of you sitting here smug and with your noses pointed up because those adjectives don’t fit you, you might need to take a closer look inside.  You think that you really got it going on.  You got the job that brings home the bacon and the eggs and grits on the side; you’ve got the education and the know-how; people constantly seek you out for your expertise and insight; you tithe and give offering; you drive new cars and wear fine clothes.  I think Paul would have something to say, like, “You, too Need to Change.”  You can’t be in true covenant with your present attitude.  You might as well find a ball to go to, because you are just a masquerade.

    One thing I like about Paul, he doesn’t just admonish you and leave you hanging.  He also gives the antidote to what ails you.  You see, as Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, our other text, he was apparently addressing a double threat to the unity of the local church body.   For one thing, false teachers were coming in from without and secondly, there were disagreeing members within in the persons of Euodia and Syntyche.  The Bible does not tell us what their disagreement was about, but I will take a little liberty here.  These women were probably deacons (not deaconesses) or hostesses in a local house church.  They had work along side Paul in his ministry buy his own assertions.

    Now, Euodia, was apparently (for lack of a better term) smelling herself.  She had this attitude of highness and that she was all of that and a bag of chips.  She didn’t realize that a bag of chips is really no big deal, just a lot of fat and grease in a dead potato that has absolutely no beneficial qualities, other than to puff you up so you appear to be more that you really are.  I can surmise this and take this liberty because he name in the Greek means “fragrance.”

    Syntyche, on the other hand, was very high-minded.  She demanded and would accept nothing less that top billing.  If there was a choir, she had to be president.  A mission board, she was the top missionary.  Sunday school teacher?  She needed the biggest classroom.  Meeting place?  Well, her home was the largest around and she had all of the fine china, the name-brand furniture and the servants to go with it.  teachers and theme speakers?  Why, she majored in English and she was a most eloquent speaker.  Besides all of those things, she can fund any major event, and she never spares anything on the food list; whenever there is a lack of supplies or items, she always fills in with the needed money.  You see, her name in the Greek means “fortunate” or “good luck” and she let’s no one forget just how fortunate she is.

    But Paul has a message for both sides of the coin.  It seems that these women, and many of us, forgot or we are ignorant to the fact that there is a big difference between unity and uniformity.  True Christian covenant or unity comes from within; it is a matter of the heart.  Uniformity, on the other hand, is the result of pressure from without.  To achieve true Christian unity, it is necessary to realize the need to change and then to follow up with the way to change. 

    Paul says the way to change is to abandon selfishness and to adopt the joy of the single mind and a submissive mind.  The way to change is to “have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”.

    Attitude is literally your mindset.  The way you perceive things.  The way you consider situations, and ultimately, since “as a man thinketh, so is he”, it is the way you behave.  It reveals your outlook on life, your outlook on others, and your outlook on yourself.  It gives insight into the real person, not the masquerading individual that shows up in public. 

    Attitude often shows up unannounced.  It will come out when circumstances are less that amenable. Attitude will show up anywhere: at home, at work, while you’re shopping, and yes, at church.  You don’t believe me.  Watch this!  When your boss gives you a review that doesn’t sit well with you, you get attitude.  Every time she asks you to do something, you are reminded of the review and inside you resent her.  That’s attitude.  When you’re out shopping and having a good time, finding all of the bargains, but you have to stand in a long line with a trainee cashier at the register, and a customer holding up the line with questions over a .25 cent price difference, you begin to hear all of these descriptive words forming in your mind and you get to the head of the line and snarl in response to the cashier’s greeting – that’s attitude!  If it sounds like I know what I’m talking about, your right, I do!  Some one is sitting here right now, full, sleepy and totally disinterested in what I’m talking about, wishing and seething instead for me to sit down.   Honey, that’s attitude.  We all have a selfish, worldly attitude in some form or another.

    Paul says we need to adopt the way to change!  We need to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus.  Let’s look at His attitude for a minute. 

    The attitude or mindset of Jesus was first and foremost a submissive mind.  Warren Wiersby says, “the secret of joy in spite of circumstances is the single mind.  The secret of joy in spite of people is the submissive mind.  The key verse in our text today is Phil. 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better (more important) than themselves.  What does the Bible mean by humility?  It is not one who simply thinks meanly of self, but one who simply does not think of self at all.  Andrew Murray said of humility:  “It is the grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it.”  Christ, the Bible says, humbled Himself in obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross.  And He went for everyone.  The key word or idea that Paul is revealing is “others”.  The Christian’s eyes are turned away from self and focused on the needs of others.

    The “submissive mind” does not mean that the Christian is at the beck and call of everybody else or that she is a “religious doormat” for everybody to use!  Some times people try to purchase friends and maintain church unity by giving in to everybody else’s whims and wishes.  That is not what Paul is suggesting at all.  Paul is simply saying that if we can have the single mind of Philippians chapter 1, then we will not have any trouble with the submissive mind in chapter 2. 

    The greatest example of a submissive mind is Jesus Christ.  Paul here gives us the illustrations that Jesus lived of four characteristics of the person with a submissive mind.  He thinks of others, not self; He serves; He sacrifices; and He glorifies God.

    Jesus “did not consider His equality with God as something selfishly to be held on to.”  His mind set was:  “I cannot keep my privileges for myself, I must use them for others; and to do this, I will gladly lay them aside and pay whatever price is necessary.”

    The attitude of Jesus is totally opposite that of Lucifer.  Lucifer said, “I will”, Jesus, said “Thy will.”  Lucifer was not satisfied being a creature and he wanted to be the Creator.  Jesus was the Creator yet He willingly became man.  Lucifer influenced Adam and Eve to think only of themselves.  Christ thought of others.  Christ’s humility is a rebuke to Satan’s pride.

    We are to prefer one another, edify one another, and bear each other’s burdens.  We should not judge one another.  “Others” is the key word in the vocabulary of the Christian with the submissive mind.

    Jesus not only thought of others, but He became a servant.  He did not pretend to be a servant.  He actually was a servant.  He was the God-Man, Deity and humanity united in one, and He came as a servant. Throughout the Gospels, it is Jesus who serves others, not others who serve Jesus. He was at the beck and call of fishermen, harlots, tax collectors, the sick, the sorrowing.   “Evan as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  In the Upper Room, when His disciples apparently refused to minister, Jesus downed a long linen towel, and washed their feet.  He took the place of a menial slave.  This was the submissive mind in action.

    Many people are will to serve others, if it does not cost them anything.  Jesus “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  He willingly laid down His life for the sins of the world.  The test of a submissive life is not just how much you are willing to take in terms of suffering, but how much you are willing to give in terms of sacrifice.  It’s like the illustration my Pastor, Dr. Fairley often uses:

Perhaps you had some eggs with either bacon or sausage and a glass of milk for breakfast.  The cow and the chicken participated by donating the milk and the eggs.  But the pig, on the other hand, made a total sacrifice for you to have the bacon.

Lastly, Jesus glorified God.  Paul warns us against “vainglory”, the kind that was between Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4; the kind that pits Christian against Christian and ministry against ministry.  It is not satisfying; on the contrary, it is empty. 

To glorify God is the goal of every Christian endeavor and the result to change from our present attitudes.  The Bible says, “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you I due time” (1 Peter 5:6).  Well, let’s see if this, if exaltation is really the result to change:

Well, I remember reading that Moses didn’t want to go before Pharaoh, and that he was hesitant because of his problem with speech.  But I believe God told him to go, tell them that “I Am” sent you.  I Am, Moses, all that you need.  I Am, Moses, your mouthpiece.  Moses stood before Pharaoh and said, “The Lord said, let My people go”, and he led untold millions to freedom.

Well, it seems like it was Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob who used to antagonize his brothers with his many dreams.  His brothers thought they got even by selling him into slavery.  Joseph had every right and every opportunity to for an attitude while he was in prison, falsely accused by the Pharaoh’s wife.  But God…, set him free and raised him up to the 2nd highest position in the land, and when faced with his brothers again, Joseph was able to say to them, “You don’t have to be afraid.  You meant it for evil but God meant it for good, blessed -- be the name -- of the Lord.”

They tell me that sister Naomi was bitter as she returned to her homeland, having lost her husband and both sons.  But she found favor in Boaz with her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, and Naomi was blessed in her old age with a grandson by the name of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David, who sat upon the throne of Israel that Jesus will one day occupy.

And I know it was Esther who was chosen from among hundreds of contenders for the seat of the new Queen to King Ahasuerus.  Esther, who at first balked at risking her liberties as Queen, but was admonished by her uncle, “ who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  Esther, who dared to drop in on the king unannounced, risking death to expose a plot to kill her people, the Jews.  But God --- gave her grace after she declared I’m going to fast for 3 days and nights, then I am going to see the king, and, uh, “If I perish, I perish”.  But she didn’t perish and the king made a decree to avenge the Jews. 

A little later is was Paul, the author of our text today, the one who persecuted Christians and was at the stoning of Stephen, Paul said “every time I want to do right, evil is always showing up, and those things that I don’t want to do, I do, and, uh, those things that I would not do, that I do”. “It’s not me who is doing these things, but sin that dwells within me.”  “Wretched man that I am!”  “Who shall set me free from this body of death?”  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  Paul, the author of over 2/3 of the NT. 

Jesus Christ, our ultimate example, humbles Himself before God, even to the point of death on a cross.  He came to this old sinful earth in the form of a man, but without sin.  He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely our grief He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

He died for you and He died for me.  He was buried and remained in the grave for 3 days and nights, but early on the 1st day of the week, He got up from the grave and God highly exalted Him and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

You too can have the good result of change in attitude.  God sits high and looks low, but you are low and you should look high.  Look to Jesus:  when the world treats you bad… Look to Jesus, when men and women talk about you, look to Jesus when times are hard and friends are few, look to Jesus when you think you’re doing right and when you know you’ve done wrong, Look to Jesus and one day, you will stand before Him, face to face, see Him in all of His glory, and hear Him say – “Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over little, I will make you ruler of much.  Enter thou into the joy of your Lord!”

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