Summary: My Kid’s have a phrase they love to use, "She thinks she’s ’all that’!" Well, the Apostle Paul was "all that" because his life was kepts in focus.
Life In Focus - Philippians 1:20
Don’t you hate it when something is out of focus?
I’ve never been much of a photographer. In college I bought a second-hand 35-milimeter camera; you know the kind with the removable lenses, fancy flash attachment: the works! I even got to the point that I knew somewhat how to use it. I could set the aperture, adjust the flash, you name it. But the part that always got me was the focus – most of the time I just never seemed to get the picture perfectly focused.
It hasn’t gotten any better with our camcorder.
Because of that, I’ve become one of those “point and shoot” kind of guys who really appreciated “auto-focus”.
We like it when things come into focus easily, don’t we?
It’s been just over a month since that infamous day we will always remember as September 11th. We will continue to mourn and pray for those who suffer from that atrocity.
But you know what? I think for most of us, life as come more into focus since September 11th. While the media and financial institutions bemoan the fact that consumers are traveling and spending (they all it consumer confidence) I wonder if for many it’s more a case of “consumer focus”. Some things don’t seem nearly as necessary as they did.
Life has become a little more focused!
Life in the city of Philippi tended to be out of focus as well. What the believers in the church at Philippi began to notice was that when life is out of focus – joy is beyond reach. No focus, no real joy.
That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote the little letter we find in the New Testament we call “Philippians”. His desire was to help these young believers get focused and as a result regain the joy of living totally sold-out to Christ’s mission.
The Apostle takes on a series of what I call “joy suckers”: things that sap life of its joy including some of the trials and frustrations we face.
In fact in the few verses before our text this morning Paul challenges those who actually were using the Good News for selfish ambition and as a means of hurting other believers (including Paul himself).
What I’m amazed by, though, is how focused Paul remains. He doesn’t care why they are spreading the Good News, he’s just glad they are. He doesn’t whine and complain; he simply prays and asks for others to pray for him.
He stays focused; focused on what Jesus has called him to do.
He calls it “eager expectation and hope”.
“For I live in eager expectation and hope…” (Phil 1:20)
[Romans 8:19, “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.”]
As believers we often talk about the “hope” that Jesus is coming again. We all live in expectation that Jesus will come and we will spend eternity with Him – but the Apostle has a different focus in this passage –
The focus is not on what Jesus will do – but what “Paul” will do.
He fully expects – his life is totally focused on three things…
I. …that I will never do anything that causes me (or the Lord) shame
II. …that I will always be bold for Christ
III. …that my life will always honor Christ
These three determinations allowed Paul to stay totally focused on his life mission.
I. I will never do anything that causes me shame
Psalm 119:31, O LORD, do not let me be put to shame.
Proverbs 18:3 When the wicked arrive, contempt, shame, and disgrace are sure to follow.
STORY: In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah God gives us the historical account of a shameful nation.
Israel had been blessed and protected by God. They were given a priceless land and an eternal promise of His presence with them. Yet over the years they had walked away from God’s promises. Instead of honoring God for all He did for them, they found themselves wondering back into worshipping anything and everything but God. They had replaced God and His will for their lives with their own lust and greed.
In every town and in every street of Israel, instead of symbols of God’s work, they had erected idols and places to worship pagan gods.
Finally God sends Jeremiah with these words…
“the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and offer incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes! 13Look now, people of Judah, you have as many gods as there are cities and towns. Your altars of shame…are along every street in Jerusalem.” [Jeremiah 11:13]
That’s not too far off from us today, is it? Instead of living our life totally sold out to God – we slowly allow our past sins to filter back into our lives. In the end we build “altars of shame”.