Faithlife Sermons

Rolling With The Punches

Philippians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction:

I want to be honest with you all this morning in saying that ministry is hard. There things that I deal with that stick with me every day a few are, “Did I preach the text properly, was my flock fed, was my Lord glorified?” But two of the hardest things I’ve noted in the last year particularly is, first of all, seeing brothers and sisters in Christ living on a level lower than they should. Nothing hurts more than seeing a fellow believer who knows the Word giving into what is beneath their walk and knowledge of the Word. It is my life’s mission to see each and every one of you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord through His Word. And the second thing I’ve personally felt within the last year is criticism. Not within our flock but from fellow ministers in the Gospel. A few of my favorites that are most recent is that I’m supposedly an “intellectualist” for my convictions on preaching the text verse by verse, or that I am what they call “a liberal” (NOT THEOLOGICAL) because I do not follow the non-biblical traditions that they would like to bind me in, but one of the most interesting was the threat that I would lose not only my ministry, but my family, and friends if I didn’t adhere to the ideologies of “the brethren” but truly these things are neither here nor there because God used it marvelously in my life.
Today, I find myself a little tied to this passage in particular. Certainly not that I’ve faced anything remotely close to the Apostle Paul, please do not think that I am playing Martyr today, but that I have personally seen that in serving the Lord there will always be those who stand against you and I am sure that everyone of you have seen this as well.
You may ask why I bring this up, and the reason is that Paul brings it up in this passage today as you and I see in v15-18 (read).

In Serving The Lord, There Will Be Pessimist

In 1975 the Sacramento, California Superior Court issued a judgment against a man named John Abercrombie. You may have remembered it.  He was accused of and found guilty of shoplifting a 63-cent can of Danish bacon.  Not one of your major crimes.  Throughout the whole contention he maintained his innocence.  He had a very difficult time dealing with the slander.  He was a retired Air Force colonel with a distinguished World War II combat record. He had post-war assignments that involved top security clearance for the government. He was an honorable man, a man of great integrity.  And by the way, an innocent man.
Finally, the case was appealed and a jury overturned the case, exonerated him completely from the supposed theft, awarded his family $100,000 in damages.  Too late for him to enjoy.  The slander had so devastated him that he died of a heart attack at age 53 before the court case was even finished.
Their Message
They were apparently brothers in Christ because Paul was known to hold no punches against those who perverted the gospel. (Phil. 3:2, Galatians 1:6-9)
Their Motive
Two men were out hunting in the northern U.S. Suddenly one yelled and the other looked up to see a grizzly charging them. The first started to frantically put on his tennis shoes and his friend anxiously asked, "What are you doing? Don't you know you can't outrun a grizzly bear?"
"I don't have to outrun a grizzly. I just have to outrun you!"
There are people who, though they may seem to be in the same situation as you are, only care if they make it out on top.
We find that Paul describes the motives of these men with words like “envy, strife, and contention”. What we find is that the men in Rome were envious Paul’s ministerial success therefore they rivaled him for popularity and “power” over the church in Rome. So they took his imprisonment as an opportunity to defame Paul as a means to progress their ministry for their own selfish ambitions.
Have you ever met someone who is obviously committed to their own popularity? In Aristotle’s “Politics” the word “selfish ambitions” denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means.

In Serving The Lord, There Will Be Partnership

A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following: "One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is never broken." "One who understands our silence." "A volume of sympathy bound in cloth." "A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down."
The winning definition read: "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out."
1 Samuel 18:1 “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Have you ever had your heart knit to someone?
Their Actions
They, having hearts of love for Paul, see the void in “the field” caused by his imprisonment and move forward to labor in his absence, not for personal gain or praise, but for the join effort of the Gospel as so beloved by their brother Paul.
Their Acknowledgement
In the midst of the detractors tearing down Paul, his faithful partners in the ministry are sound in their theology and are well aware that God has chosen to place Paul in that prison for the purpose of the Gospel. They understood that God placed Paul in this situation that the Emperor of the known world at the time would actually hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ with his own ears.

In Serving The Lord, There Must Be Perspective

A man was driving in the country one day and he saw an old man sitting on a fence rail watching the cars go by. Stopping to pass the time of day, the traveler said, "I never could stand living out here. You don't see anything, and I'm sure you don't travel like I do. I'm on the go all the time."
The old man on the fence looked down at the stranger and drawled, "I can't see much difference in what I'm doing and what you're doing. I sit on the fence and watch the autos go by and you sit in your auto and watch the fences go by. It's just the way you look at things."
The Gospel is bigger than me.
Mark Twain - "A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle;…they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon them;
infirmities follow; …those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. It (the release) comes at last; the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them ;and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence,…a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever."
This is what Solomon was pointing to in Ecclesiastes 1:3-5 “What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.”
When the unstoppable Gospel is my life’s passion, trivial things don’t seem so bothersome.
In his book Feminine Faces, Clovis Chappel wrote that when the Roman city of Pompeii was being excavated, the body of a woman was found mummified by the volcanic ashes of Mount Vesuvius. Her position told a tragic story. Her feet pointed toward the city gate, but her outstretched arms and fingers were straining for something that lay behind her. The treasure for which she was grasping was a bag of pearls. Chappel said, "Though death was hard at her heels, and life was beckoning to her beyond the city gates, she could not shake off their spell…But it was not the eruption of Vesuvius that made her love pearls more than life. It only froze her in this attitude of greed."
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