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Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:30
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CHOOSING HEROES (1): LONG-TERM CHAMPIONS (Phil. 3:20-21) November 4, 2018 I Pet 2; Mt 24; I Thess 4; Read Phil 3:17-21 – Paul is direct here. Follow me; don’t follow them. Follow me as I follow Christ. Don’t follow them as they head for disaster. Choose heroes carefully. You’ll end up like them. Daniel Webster’s dad left Dan and Ezekiel home alone with a list of chores. Finding nothing done on his return, he confronted the eldest: “Ezekiel, what have you been doing?” Zeke replied, “Nothing, sir.” So Dad asked, “Daniel, what have you been doing?” “Helping Zeke, sir.” You can bet Daniel got the same wrath Zeke got, right? Jesus said in Lu 6:39, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” When all is said and done, we’ll be like those we champion. Paul shows two types – one to follow, the other to avoid. I. Earthly-Minded Celebrities –19d: “with minds set on earthly things.” They care only about here and now. V. 19: “Their end is destruction.” II. Heavenly-Minded Champions – “Rather,” Paul urges, “imitate me. I’m not perfect – but I’m headed right. Imitate others, like Timothy, Luke and Epaphroditus – who are also aimed right. “Our citizenship is in heaven”, not earth; our focus is there. So follow us.” Here’s how champions look! A. Champions Assume a Transferred Citizenship “Our citizenship is in heaven.” Living here, but not immersed here. Part of the scene; not part of the culture. That’s a Xn. An alien on earth. Like a human outpost on Mars. We may exist there, but it’ll never be home. We can’t breathe there. Can’t find food or water. That’s a Xn living in a worldly culture. It’s not home. What we need to sustain our soul isn’t found here. The Philippians knew all that. Augustus had invested them with Roman citizenship with all the rights and privileges thereof. Philippi became known as “Little Rome”. Roman clothing was worn; Roman magistrates governed; Latin was spoken; Roman morals observed. They were a little bit of Rome in the middle of Macedonia, like Xns are to be a bit of heaven in a chaotic world. That doesn’t mean we ignore earthly authority. Rom 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from 1 God, and those that exist have been instituted by God,” Xns are to be faithful subjects of the government that God has put into place, even if it’s Nero. But when conflicting values occur, heaven prevails! The early apostles knew that. Charged to quit preaching Christ, they answered in Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than men.” Their decision didn’t require a lot of thought. They knew ultimate authority lay with God. Peter wrote in I Pet 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” If you’re too comfortable with life here, perhaps you have forgotten who you are and where home is. Living on earth as citizens of heaven means adopting a whole new set of values. We live on earth, but speak the language of heaven, live by the rules of heaven, take our priorities from heaven and submit to the King of heaven. Our Savior is there (Acts 1:11); fellow saints are there (Heb 12:23); our reward is there (Matt 5:12); and our treasure is there (Mt 6:20). Philippians were listed on the register in Rome – but Philippian believers were people “whose names are in the book of life” (4:3). How important is that? Rev 20:15: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” We’re short-timers here. A few years ago I did a business consulting job in Brussels for 6 weeks. Patty joined for 4. Suppose some rule said we couldn’t take anything back to the US – not even money. But while in Brussels we could earn money and deposit in US banks – pretty much what happened. So did we fill our hotel room with expensive new paintings, exotic wall hangings, new carpeting and drapes? Of course not. Why? Because we knew our time would be short. It was just a hotel room. We sent our treasures home. Roman colonists never forgot they belonged to Rome; we must never forget we belong to heaven. We used to sing: "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue." We’re on a mission in foreign territory. Our task is to finish and get out. If you don’t see yourself that way, you need some new heavenly-minded heroes! B. Champions Await a Transcendent Savior From 48 BC on, Philippians knew one title of Roman emperors was “universal savior of mankind.” But Paul says, “Need a savior? I’ll go you one better. We are awaiting the ultimate savior – LJC. Caesar may save you from Syria; Jesus can save you from sin, death and Satan. Caesar gives 2 temporary relief. Jesus gives eternal life. Caesar has come and gone. Augustus has come and gone. Tiberius has come and gone. The Lord Jesus Christ has come – and He is coming again. There’s no Savior like Jesus. Any other savior is for now. Jesus forever! Can’t wait to see Him again!” Our problem is we’ve grown tired of waiting. It’s 2,000 years and counting. Perhaps we misunderstood? But that’s why He warned in Mt 24:38: For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39) and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” It will come when least expected – which makes today a prime candidate! Mt 24:44: “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” The only way to be ready? Expect Him all the time! Don’t ever lose that focus. Start each day by asking, “Today, Lord? May your kingdom come today. Help me be ready.” The expectation of Jesus’ return drives our existence. When He comes, Rom 2:6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” Does that mean a Xn in the middle of a temper-tantrum when Jesus comes again will be rejected? No! It’s where the heart is pointed that reflects repentance that Paul is describing. But who wants to be caught in unfaithfulness at the moment of His coming? Like when Patty’s away. I may let a few things slip and fix them when she’s due home. But if I don’t know when she’s coming – then what? Stay on top of it all the time, right? Same principle. I Jn 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” John got it. Expect Jesus to come any time and you’ll live ready all the time. In 1914, 29 men left England for Antarctica to become the first men to cross Antarctica on foot. Sir Ernest Shackleton recruited this way: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful.” The trip went exactly as advertised! In Jan, 1915, their ship was trapped in ice and sank. The men set up camp on an ice floe. By April they found refuge on Elephant Island, but knew rescue was unlikely. So Shackleton took 5 men to cross 800 miles of open Antarctic sea in a 22-foot lifeboat promising to return. No one believed it 3 possible, and Shackleton’s first 3 attempts to get back failed. But on Aug 30, after a 105-day trip Shackleton made it back in disabling fog. Meanwhile Frank Wild, in charge of the men left behind, never lost hope insisting “the boss” would return. When contact finally was made they had 4 days of supplies left. The fog miraculously lifted for an hour to allow men to get from the island by lifeboat to the main ship. Shackleton was amazed they moved so quickly. He learned why. Wild would roll up his sleeping bag every morning and say, “Get your things ready, boys, the Boss may come today.” Ready on time bc they were ready all the time! I tell you this morning, Beloved, “Live ready. The boss may come today.” One day, He will. C. Champions Anticipate a Transformed Subsistence 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” What a great verse! But with a paradox. Who do we take as heroes? The beautiful people, right? Those whose beauty is flaunted shamelessly from exotic vacation beaches and in postings of intimate selfies. We make heroes of beautiful people –tho we know we could never look like that. In our saner moments we realize even they don’t look like that. Airbrushed, not true perfection. Paul says, “You want beauty? Let me tell you about beautiful. Here’s where citizens of heaven are headed. My lowly body – filled with imperfections – too thin, too fat, nose too big, ears that stick out, teeth that aren’t straight, hair that’s too thin – subject to disease, weakness, decay – that is going to wear out, shrivel up and droop down, not matter how hard we work – that body – has an unbelievable future! Jesus is going to transform it to be like His glorious body – perfect in every way. Forget celebrities. Here’s the real thing!” That hero pursuing perfection in Christ may not look like much now, but soon they will outshine anything this world has to offer – inwardly and outwardly! So who’s your hero – a temporary beauty that’s fading fast – or a citizen of heaven heading toward a future of physical and spiritual perfection? Choose wisely. The short, balding, stooped Paul didn’t look like much when he said, “Imitate me.” But he looks like a million dollars today. So when does all this happen? Jesus’ 2nd coming! So, what happens when a believer dies today? His or her body goes to the grave, but the spirit is ushered into the presence of Christ. Phil 1:23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Paul would be 4 with Christ the moment he died. II Cor 5:8 Absent from the body and at home with the Lord.” When we leave the body, our spirit is with Him – then! But that’s not the end! We “await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” and when He comes again, a whole new world opens up. I Thess 4:14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Question: How can dead believers come with Christ in v. 14 but also rise from the grave in v. 16? Answer: Their spirits come from heaven where they’ve been with Christ since death; their bodies rise from the grave transformed into the new glorious body like His to be reunited in mid-air with their spirit. Is that great or what? You say, “That’s all too fanciful to be true. Just fairytales to make people feel better.” You know, I might agree – except for one thing. 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” What power is that? Eph 1:19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” God isn’t promising some pie in the sky ghostly existence. He’s already done this. What He promises here He already did when He raised Jesus. And that was pretty very tangible! So what’s that transformed body like? Just look at Jesus after His resurrection! It was a body that could be seen, heard, touched and recognized -- made of flesh and bones that could eat, drink, speak and move. Yet it could inhabit whole new dimensions – appearing and disappearing at will through closed doors. It was not subject any more to pain, disease, suffering, decay or decrepitude. It was all you would ever want – and more. And inhabited by a perfect spirit of righteousness. Too good to be true? No – already happened! Conc – I can’t say like Paul, “Imitate me.” Too many flaws remain in my life. But I can point you to Paul and others like him and urge you, take for your heroes men and women of substance – those who are seeking the perfection of Christ in their own lives – who see beyond here and now. Follow them as 5 they follow Christ. Don’t waste time on self-promoting celebrities – Xn or not. Remember, you will become like those you revere. About 6 years ago I got an email from one of my heroes – Pastor Loren – who greatly influenced my life in early college years. One of the finest teachers I have ever known. He and his wife, Joyce had adopted their 26-year old granddaughter, Christine. He wrote, “Christine awakened at 5:00 this Thursday morning; consequently her nearly 78-year-old “Popo” is up with her because I have the night duty. Joycie named her “Precious” long ago – and that she is! You may remember that Christine was born without her 15th chromosome which has left her to be 3-18 months of age in mental development in this young adult body. Doctors said that she would never be able to way or talk. We have taught her to walk; but she still can only say one word, “Popo.” Joycie has taken care of her during the daytime hours all of her life and for the last 15” years she has actually lived with us around the clock.” He says the two of them are in his basement study review the nursing home lesson he will give five times that day – each one longer than the one before, he says, because “the more often I give it, the longer it gets!” He goes on, “Now it is approaching 8:30 and it is time to finish getting ready to run another errand for the King of Kings.” He goes on with some personal comments, then closes: “Thanks for remembering us at the throne of grace and being two of our “forever friends”!!! and he signs it, “Old-Time Pastor Loren plus “Always young” Joycie and Precious Little Lady Christine – all 3 will be perfected in glory!” Those were the last words he ever wrote to me because by the next time I sent a note he had faded too far into Alzheimer’s to answer. But did you hear his last words – “all 3 will be perfected in glory!” Choose heroes like that, Beloved. Those who take the long view. Let’s pray. 6
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