Summary: In the following sermon we are going to examine the lives of Jesus, Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus in order to prove that it is not only possible, but a given for those who lead Spirit filled lives to follow in the steps of their Master!
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
“Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did”
1 John 2:6, NIV
One can’t help but read the above statement and wonder if it is truly possible to live one’s life worthy of the Gospel message (1:27)? Is Paul really suggesting that it is possible to throw off the chains of sin that so easily entangle and become blameless and pure children of God (1:14)? While Paul believed this was possible for the “crooked” generation of his day surely, he was not suggesting that we as modern-day Christians can dethrone the “god of self,” give up our love for the things of this world and focus on Jesus alone? After all, whom amongst us does not struggle to find even a glimmer of truth amongst the sea of competing beliefs that forever surround us? Without clearly seeing the footsteps of Jesus how can one ever truly follow them? While we are painfully aware that our “normal” Christian walk is far from meeting God’s expectation for us, is not the goal of imitating He who emptied Himself, never committed a sin, and sacrificed His life for the many so lofty a goal that it depresses those who are trying run the race to win crowns that are at best a blur and at worst seen as unattainable? In the following sermon we are going to examine the lives of Jesus, Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus in order to prove that it is not only possible, but a given for those who lead Spirit filled lives to follow in the steps of their Master!
Christ – The Ultimate Example and Enabler of Holiness
Following the footsteps of Jesus is no easy task! Is it possible to get the Gospel message to penetrate the calloused hearts of the deaf, blind and foolish of this world (Matthew 13:15) when the only way to accomplish this is through imitating the miracles of Paul (1 Corinthians 2:4) or Jesus so that this unbelieving generation might see God’s rule over both things seen and unseen (Colossians 1:16)? How can one truly know God’s will or the truth concerning Him when the competing voices of this age have deafened and influenced us to the extent that all that can be heard is “woe to you hypocrites!” Surely those who are sinking fast in the quicksand of “self-absorption” are unlikely to ever become foreigners of this world (Hebrews 11:13-15), living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) fully devoted to paying any cost to serve the Creator and sustainer of all life? Is it possible to get the courage to be like Jesus and spread the Gospel even in the face of persecution from the pretenders and nonbelievers of the faith? Yes, we can wear the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) on our hearts and minds but not through our own might but through the power of the Spirit whom raised Christ physically and us spiritual from the dead (Romans 8:11). Through the Spirt death to self-absorption can be a reality and our minds can be transformed to not only know but obey the truth concerning God (1 John 5:3) and through the very same Spirit YES we can even perform miracles greater than Jesus did while on this earth (John 14:12-14)! The remainder of this sermon is going to examine the roles of Apostle Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus as leader, coworker and helper to demonstrate that anyone can imitate Jesus when they are willing to seek and obey His voice!
Apostle Paul – the Leader Role
17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Imagine sitting in a prison not knowing if you would live or die and then telling the church that their faith was “substantial and valuable enough” to rejoice and declare that you had run the race well! Even though Paul was warned that he would suffer greatly for the name of Christ I wonder if he had any idea that he would be flogged, five times receive from the Jews forty lashes minus one, beaten with rods, pelted with stones, three times shipwrecked and constantly in danger of losing his life from bandits, fellow Jews and Gentiles (2 Corinthians 11:16-33)? And yet instead of letting his dire circumstances crush his soul (2 Corinthians 4:8-12) or make him bitter he chose to expend every ounce of energy he had left to rejoice in the faith of the Philippians, even in the face of his likely martyrdom. Paul did not rejoice in “the act of martyrdom itself, but in the possibility of being one with Christ in being pouring out as Christ emptied himself to be obedient unto death on a cross.” This should not come as a surprise considering his prior words in the opening of his letter : “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21-26).