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Saying Goodbye

Philippiians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Title: Saying Goodbye
Text:
Intro: Shelby Whitmer died last this past Monday. He was 87 years old. He was there at the first church I ever attended, Union Chapel General Baptist Church. He was a deacon. When the church song leader, quit, He was there. He stepped in an became the song leader. When the teacher of the Sunday school youth class I was attending, lost his temper and quit at the beginning of class, Shelby was there. He came down to our class and asked if we needed a teacher. When the church decided to put a basement under the church building, He was there. He gave, he worked, and he blasted the large rock out from under the church building. When sin entered that little church, Shelby was there, taking a stand for what was right, believing and trusting in what the Bible said.
Intro: Shelby Whitmer died last this past Monday. He was 87 years old. He was there at the first church I ever attended, Union Chapel General Baptist Church. He was a deacon. When the church song leader, quit, He was there. He stepped in an became the song leader. When the teacher of the Sunday school youth class I was attending, lost his temper and quit at the beginning of class, Shelby was there. He came down to our class and asked if we needed a teacher. When the church decided to put a basement under the church building, He was there. He gave, he worked, and he blasted the large rock out from under the church building. When sin entered that little church, Shelby was there, taking a stand for what was right, believing and trusting in what the Bible said.
When his son informed me of Shelby's passing, I knew I had to go to the funeral. When I arrived, the son asked if I wanted to say a few words about Shelby, I knew I had to. It was my way of saying goodbye to a good friend and true servant of God. They say we are products of our genes and our past. I told them at the funeral that I was a better product because Shelby was a part of my past.
Will others be able to say that after you are gone? How will others remember you? After the death of Billy Graham, his son, Franklin Graham, was asked, how do you think Billy would want to be remembered?" His answer, "as a preacher." He would want to be known simply as a preacher of the Gospel.
How we are remembered depends largely on what kind of influence we had on others during our lifetime. The legacy we leave behind will either be positive or negative. The choice is up to us.
If someone had interviewed Paul before his death and asked him how do you want to be remembered. I think he would have said, "I hope they would say, he was so like Christ."
In our series on the book of Philippians, we now come to the last chapter. In chapter four, Paul is closing his letter. He is saying his goodbyes to the church. In the first 9 verses of this chapter, Paul wants to leave a legacy in the lives of the believers at Philippi. He wants them pattern their lives after his. He want them to love like Christ, live like Christ, and think like Christ.
READ TEXT:
The therefore, in verse one, is referring back to chapter three. We saw last week that Christians have dual citizenship. We are a citizen of the country we are born in, but we also become a citizen of heaven when we are born again. Paul is saying to the Christians at Philippi, because you are citizens of heaven, you should therefore, stand firm in the Lord. The word "firm" comes from a military word. It means to stand like a soldier does at his post. It means, at all cost stand firm, don't give way to temptation, don't give way to fear, and don't give ground to the enemy. Christians are a part of the Lord's army, so we must stand firm. After all we have a home in heaven waiting for us, so we must stand firm. Psalm 86:36-37 state, "His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. 37 Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah
James writes, Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him ().
In writing to the young pastor Timothy, Paul says, 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;…" (). Jesus also said in , and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Paul knew the importance of standing firm in the faith. He knew the importance of not letting our emotions lead us into sin, not letting temptations lead us into sin, not letting circumstances lead us into sin, and not letting friends or family lead us into sin. Paul is saying to the church, whatever you must do to stand firm, do it.
Paul's desire for them to stand firm doesn't simply come from a theological understanding about hell, it comes from the heart of a man who loves these Christians with every fiber of his being. He doesn't view them as a congregation, but rather as his children. The words he uses in the first verse is used for the pain of separation of a loved one. In verse eight of chapter one Paul said, 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. He loved them and missed them so much, it caused him pain.
Paul loved the deeply and he wanted them to love one another. He wanted them to love like Christ.
I. Love Like Christ
Paul loved them in the same way that Christ loved them and the whole world. Christ died for them and Paul was willing to die for them. In fact, he was in prison with the likelihood of being executed for preaching the gospel.
This is the kind of love that a pastor should have for his congregation. This is the kind of love a congregation should have for one another. We should care about the pains of others. We should weep with them and rejoice with them.
A. Care About Others
To be Christ-like is to care about others more than we care about ourselves. To be Christ-like is to deny ourselves. There's no way under heaven that we can love like Christ, live like Christ, or even think like Christ, without deny ourselves. It all starts with dying to self. It's all about dying to self. It begins the day we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and it must continue throughout our lives. Every day we must choose to deny self and love God and others. Every day we must choose to deny our emotions, deny our sinful or hurtful desires, deny our fleshly wants and cravings.
Jesus said, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (). In we read, 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
This wasn't happening in the church at Philippi and it was breaking Paul's heart. Instead there was division created by two women who were good faithful workers, but who rubbed each other the wrong way. To love like Jesus is to seek unity.
B. Seek Unity
Paul entreats or urges Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord. According to Paul, these two women were both Christians, faithful workers for the Lord, this being the case, their differences should take a backseat to the work of Christ. When it doesn't, when our hurts or desires hinder our work for Christ or our relationship with other believers, God is in the business of de-thorning us. He has brought about a person or issue in our lives that force us to see an area in our lives that is not Christ-like. When this happens we need help getting rid of the thorn that is in our side, or in our minds.
Paul asks someone he calls as a true companion (true yokefellow‒KJV) to help these women iron out their differences. He says in verse 3, 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.
Differences happen. Misunderstandings happen. Relationships get injured. And every true yokefellow, every true servant of Christ, every true believer has a responsibility to help other believers when they forget what should be their main focus‒the Lord. As a church we should always seek unity, not unity at all cost, not unity at the cost of forsaking biblical teachings, but unity at the cost of giving up our desires, our will, and all for the cause of Christ.
Only when we die to self can we be united for Christ. And only when we are united in Christ can we live like Christ. In verses 4-7 Paul encourages his spiritual children to be Christ-like, to live like Christ.
II. Live Like Christ
This little book to the Christians at Philippi has two reoccurring themes, that of joy or rejoicing in the Lord and that of being a bright spiritual light, in other words, being Christ-like. Consequently, in verse 4-7 he urges them to walk in joy, walk in Gentleness, and walk in faith.
A. Walk in Joy
They are told to 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Rejoicing in the Lord is not optional. Rejoicing in the Lord always is not hard. It is not hard, that is, if we are walking in the Lord. The key to rejoicing always is to always be in the Lord, to always be in a mindset of the Lord. When Christ is real to us, He is dear to us and near to us. When Christ is dear and near to us, other things lose their power over us.
We live in a pain-filled, diseased-plagued, sorrow-inducing world, that can knock us off our feet when we least expect it. If, however, we will pick ourselves up and fill our minds with the Lord, we can rejoice. Paul tells the church to remember that the Lord is at hand. He is near. Although He may have might the Lord is always with us, which is true, but he most likely meant, His coming could be any day. This is ever true and powerfully motivating. Regardless of our circumstances down here, they will one day fade and He will one day appear. A mind set on Christ and heaven will always triumph over tragedies and heartaches we incur down here, thus we can rejoice in the Lord always. We can rise above our circumstances. We can sing, pray, and praise the Lord even if we find ourselves sitting in a dark, dreary, dungeon waiting for our possible execution.
When Paul first arrived at Philippi to preach the gospel he found a receptive, but he also found trouble. read, Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,…
God wants us to be a light to those who will listen to us. People will listen to those who've learned the secret of the overcoming life. Paul and Silas rejoiced in the Lord always. Paul and Silas trusted in the Lord always. A lot of things have changed since Paul's day, but one thing hasn't changed, people are still more prone to listen to someone who lives a life of rejoicing. Christianity has way too many who carry a frown on the face, anger in their words, and harshness in their actions.
We have much to rejoice about. We've been given good news. We are loved by God , saved by Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and have a home in heaven waiting for us. Thus, let us rejoice always. So let me ask you, when you die, how will you be remembered. Will you be remembered for your rejoicing in the Lord?
In addition to us going through life rejoicing, we are to walk in gentleness.
B. Walk in Gentleness
Paul tells the Philippi church to rejoice in the Lord always and to live in moderation which is translated as reasonableness in my ESV bible. Different Bible translations use different words for this word. According to John McArthur, a good word for the original Greek word here is gentleness. He points out that it could also refer to mercy or leniency toward the faults and failures of others. It's the ability to not pin someone against the wall with the law of God. It's what is so missing in society these days. Today a slip of the tongue, or a sexual or racist comment made years ago, and for Christians, it could be a negative comment about homosexuality or transgenderism, and suddenly your twitter account is cancelled, you're banned from Facebook, put on the black list in Hollywood, and fired from ESPN.
Christians cannot be like the world. Christianity is all about second, third, fourth, and unlimited chances to start over. In Christianity there is forgiveness. In Christianity there is grace, mercy, gentleness, and understanding.
To be Christ-like we must be gentle. Can people come to us expecting gentleness from us? Jesus said, 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls ().
I can't help but wonder, did either Euodia or syntyche do something to the other one, that the one offended couldn't get over. Was she unwilling to let the offender have a second chance. Was she unwilling to forgive or overlook the indiscretion? Was she unwilling to show gentleness and grace?
Christians must live a life of rejoicing, be willing to be gentle, and walk in faith.
C. Walk in Faith
Paul doesn't use the word faith, but is implied by all the other things he mentions. He writes in verses 6-7, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Faith is all over these two verses. The opposite of being anxious is to live by faith. Without faith it would be useless to, as Paul puts it, in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
We can live in confidence and security if we walk in faith. By faith we take our cares, concerns, needs, and fears to God in prayer. By faith we trust God to protect us, provide for us, and pave the way before us. By faith God is made real to us, Christ's presence is ever before us, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Philippians lived in dangerous times. Christians were being arrested on false charges. Judaizers we trying to pervert the Gospel. Their leader, Paul was now in prison. But through it all, they need not be anxious or fearful, for God is faithful, all-powerful, and ever present.
Is this true of you? Do you walk in faith? Do you go to God in prayer and afterwards feel the peace of God filling your heart and mind with a peace that passes all reason and logic? If not, God is revealing this to you so that you can work on your relationship with Christ. He wants all His followers to live a rejoicing, gentle, anxious free life. He wants all His followers to be like Him, to be Christ-like. He wants all His followers to be remembered as being Christ-like. To be Christ-like would also involve thinking like Christ.
IV. Think Like Christ
Our thought life is the key to how we live. We can never be Christ-like in actions until we begin to think like Christ. This means having discipline of mind and being pure in mind, and one is dependent on the other. If we have a disciplined mind we can choose to have a pure mind. We see this in verses 8-9 of our text which read: 8 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. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
In the first part of verse 8 Paul gives the Philippi Christians a description of things that worthy to think about and then in the latter part of the verse he instructs them to think on these things. He is saying they need to discipline their minds. It takes a disciplined mind to be Christ-like.
A. Be Disciplined of Mind
God has given us free will. We can choose and we do choose what we read, watch, and listen to. If we feed our minds with the junk that's in the world, we can expect junk to come out of our lives. If we feed our minds with the things of the world, the things of God will grow and cold and distanced to us.
If we let fear grip us, then the peace of God will escape us. But if we train our minds to think about the power of God, the sovereignty of God, and the wisdom of God, we can have peace regardless of our circumstances because we know that God is in control and He will bring about whatever is best for us. This is why Paul and Silas was able to pray and sing when locked up in prison and facing a possible execution It's all about the mind. The Word of God has been given to us, both as a guide to direct us, but also as spiritual food to nourish us. The apostle Peter said, 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—().
You ever wonder why I put on the projector screen a lot of Bible passages, but not the main one we studying or preaching on? First, I understand how hard it is to quickly turn to a passage. By the time you get there, I've finished with it and have move on to the next one. But when it comes to the one we are camping out on, I expect, I hope, I pray that you will turn to that passage and follow along as I expound on it. If you don't have a Bible you can take one out of the pew and the page number of the passage is printed in the bulletin. I do this because reading the Word of God is food for your soul. Listening to Bible preaching is good, but reading and understanding what you've read in God's Word is better.
Choosing to spend time reading and thinking about God's Word on a regular basis is the right way to discipline your mind. Choosing to avoid listening to and reading dirty jokes, foul language, and ungodly material is necessary to be Christ-like in our thinking. And this will only happen if we choose to discipline our minds. By doing so we can and we should have a pure mind for Christ.
B. Be Pure in Mind
To be honest, no one but Christ can have a pure mind. We are sinful in nature and it shows up in our thoughts. We live in a sinful world that bombards us with ungodly words, images, and actions. But we can maintain a much purer mind than that of those in the world and who are part of the world.
The apostle Peter writes these word, 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (-116).
Conclusion: I didn't mention it earlier, but the phrase "my joy and crown" in verse one reflects the pride a father feels for his children when they have achieved great things. He was proud of this church. They stood out like a bright light in a world full of darkness and sin. They gave him joy. They were his crown. During Paul's time the crown was a wreath that was place on the head of the winner of an event, or place on the head of someone who had achieved some form of success.
To Paul, the Philippi church was his crown. They were evidence of his ministry being successful. Although he was locked in a prison and facing a possible execution, his children of faith gave him joy, they were his reward for the suffering he had endured, and the sacrifices he had made in answering the call of Jesus to preach the gospel.
I understand what Paul was going through. At age 62, and looking back at when I walked away from a secure job at the Paradise power plant and future government retirement check, I find myself filling the same way about you. You are my joy. You are the crown that makes it all worthwhile. When you grow, when you become more loving, more forgiving, more considerate of others, more willing to sacrifice, you give me joy. You make me know that my labor has not been in vain.
But on the other hand, when I see you experiencing hurt, or no longer living like Christ, loving like Christ, or thinking like Christ, I feel the same pain that I believe Jesus feels when we fail to be the lights He has called us to be.
Whatever is hindering you from loving like Christ, from living like Christ, or from thinking like Christ, put it away. Toss it into the empty tomb. Nail it to the cross of Christ. Do whatever you have to do to rid yourself of it, and then run to Jesus. Look to Jesus. Cast your care upon Jesus. For no one has ever cared for you like Jesus.
Let's pray.
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