Summary: This is a sermon in a series I began in January 2008 and and still working through.
HOW TO BE A CHRISTIAN AND STILL ENJOY LIFE
Sunday January 13, 2008
Introductory Sermon Pt.2
Scripture Reference: John 10:10
A. Last week we began our new sermon series for 2008, How To Be A Christian And Still Enjoy Life. What we are doing in these first two sermons is to get some background into the book of Philippians by exploring who the writer was, the place of Philippi and the some history behind the writing of this letter. For those of you who were not with us last week I would suggest that you go online to our sermon player and listen to last weeks message. That will help you connect the dots with what I will talk about today. But to help all of us today I will briefly share what we learned last week.
B. First of all we learned that the Apostle Paul was the writer of Philippians, now that may seem like a statement of the obvious but it is important in considering who Paul was and his tremendous influence in Christian faith both then and now. As we discovered last week Paul wrote almost half of the entire New Testament and more than half if you feel that he was the writer of the book of Hebrews as some believe. We owe much of our Christian theology to the Apostle Paul. Romans is probably the greatest book on the teaching of Christian faith.
1. We also learned about the city of Philippi. What is most significant about Philippi is not the city itself but how it was that Paul and his traveling companions were lead to Philippi. As I shared last week this is one of the most exciting parts of the book of Philippians to me. In Acts 16 we read how Paul and those with him were prevented by the Holy Spirit from going into certain areas where they wanted to share Christ. I am sure that this did not make sense to them at the time. In fact understanding the personality of Paul as we see him in the scriptures I am certain that he was very frustrated. After all he was about God’s work, he wanted to share the gospel of Jesus Christ every where he could, so why would God prevent him form doing so? The answer came later in a vision to go to Macedonian which took them to Philippi where he led a lady named Lydia to Christ who was from the very region Paul was prevented from entering. What this shows us is that even best intentions can’t interfere with God’s plans.
2. There is one other thing I want to mention from last week before we take an overview look of the entire book of Philippians. We learned last week that even though Paul had this vision that was not the clinching reason for them going to Macedonia and on the Philippi. Here is what Acts 16:10 says, “concluding that God had called us”. Now I know it would seem that having this vision would be enough, but what these few words show is that they still discussed this matter and undoubtedly they prayed about this vision to make sure this was really from God and not from the one who can also disguise himself and an angel of light.
3. I said last week and I will say it again I believe in angels but I am also skeptical of people who tell me they have had visions. The reason for my skepticism is because too often I have seen people use so called visions as a means to justify something they wanted to do but knew it really wasn’t right but saying God told them to legitimized their actions. If any so called vision does not line up with the truth of God’s word it should be rejected and any vision that cannot be confirmed though the prayers and counsel of mature followers of Christ I also feel should be rejected. I am confident that when Paul shared this vision with his friends the reason they followed through was because through discussion and prayer they knew this was God’s will for them.
Trans. OK let’s move on so that this does not become a three part sermon. What I want to do now before we begin to explore the individual verses of Philippians is to get an overview of the total book. I want us to see the theme of this book which will help you understand why I entitled this series How To Be A Christian And Still Enjoy Life.
II. AN OVERVIEW OF PHILIPPIANS.
Why did Paul write this letter?
A. This Is A Letter About Joy.
1. Have you ever noticed what a sad world we live in today?  It seems that the only headlines that sell are those that purport negative news. I remember hearing a news story the day before Christmas that was telling how bad the shopping season was this Christmas. With the credit crunch and poor housing market they determined that no one wanted to spend. Then on the day after Christmas I heard another news story that said the Friday before Christmas was a huge day for retailers. In fact they said there was one mall in Los Angeles that had it best sells in its entire history, but who wants to hear that news right? It seems that we would rather hear how bad things are than how good they might be.