Summary: What ‘if’s’ do we have in our lives that we think about, or even dwell upon at times? What would we do when those answers were realized? Would we really be any different? What then?
If…Then Sept. 6, 2009
‘If’ is a short, two-letter word that can carry very powerful meaning. If I had a million dollars, then I would be happy. I need to lose weight…if only I had the time to exercise. If only I had taken that other job, I wouldn’t be where I am today. If someone would ask me, then I would help them. I would do anything God asked me to do…if I could only hear His voice. I would be a better person if only…
What ‘if’s’ do we have in our lives that we think about, or even dwell upon at times? What would we do when those answers were realized? Would we really be any different? What then?
Today we’re going to look at some ‘if-then’ scenarios in the 2nd chapter of Philippians.
Philippians 2:1-4 (New International Version)
Imitating Christ’s Humility
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
• Encouragement from being united with Christ.
I think we all like to be encouraged when we take on some kind of task, right. Whether we are young or old, it feels good to know that someone is supporting us in what we are trying to do. By encouraging others, we can give them the boost that they need to feel confident in what they are trying to accomplish. Young toddlers, with the encouragement of their parents, take their fist steps…you can do it! Children at a track meet perhaps run a little faster when they hear their friends cheering them on…go, go, go! Students working on final exams are encouraged to hear others tell them that they have worked hard all year, they know the material…they’ll do just great! And people taking on new ministries in the church feel the support when someone pats them on the back and lets them know they are in the right place, using their God-given talents to bless others…and they do great things for God.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us ‘encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’ It is good to encourage each other, it helps us to grow together and accomplish things together.
But something that should give us a real confidence boost is realizing that we are part of not just a team of fellow believers, though that is great! We are united with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, and we have eternal life through Him, and He is with us in everything that we do… THAT is encouraging. Do you have ANY encouragement in that?
• Comfort from his love
Once during Queen Victoria’s reign, she heard that the wife of a common labourer had lost her baby. Having experienced deep sorrow herself, she felt moved to express her sympathy. So she called on the bereaved woman one day and spent some time with her. After she left, the neighbours asked what the queen had said. "Nothing," replied the grieving mother. "She simply put her hands on mine, and we silently wept together."
Sometimes it’s not what we say or do, it’s just being there for someone that gives them comfort in a difficult situation. But that simple action of ‘being there’ is a powerful testament of what love is all about. Love is not a feeling, it is an action. And we are most comforted when we know someone genuinely cares enough to do something to help us during our trying times. Whether it’s a letter or card we send in the mail, a phone call, a visit, or simply taking the time to pray, all these are comforts to others who need that support. And God comforts us…
II Cor. 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
• Fellowship with the Spirit
Fellowship=a sharing of common interests, goals, experiences, or views. When God has come into our lives, it comes with change. Change from living for ourselves and the things we want to living for God and the things that He wants. Being in fellowship with the Spirit means that we are bonded to Him and to His purposes. Our interests, our goals, our view of others, and yes our experiences will be different if the Spirit of God is within us. We must give up on the idea of controlling everything in our lives ourselves and allow the Spirit to work in and through us. In Galatians we read this: 16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.