Summary: Part 7 of study of Philippians
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
Bible Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
Dr. Russell Brownworth, Pastor
"But one thing I do; Forgetting what is behind..."
If there is one impossibility that exists, it is for joy to be present when you have nothing settled in life. This is when you don’t know where you’re going, or your purpose -- when you have no goals or settled agenda. The old saw is still valid, if you have no target you will surely hit just that - no target!
In ancient Roman history we find Julius Caesar employing the principle of "settled purpose." When he landed on the shores of Britain with his legions, he took a bold and decisive step to ensure the success of his military venture. He ordered his men to halt on the edge of the cliffs of Dover, and commanded them to look down at the water below. To their amazement they saw every ship upon which they’d crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off any means of retreat. There was no other choice but to plunge into the battle, and conquer. That is exactly what happened.
There are issues in our lives that must be settled. Especially if we are to have any peace, joy and meaning.
Christians (in particular) should be people of joyful disposi-tion. How’s your joy level? Would someone describe you as a person who exhibits joy? Or are you easily thrown off track? An English-man, a Frenchman and a Russian were discussing joy, back before the fall of communism. Said the Englishman, "Real joy is when you return home tired after work and find your slippers warming by the fire." The Frenchman replied, "You English have no romance; joy is a beautiful woman and a great meal at a fine restaurant." Said the Russian, "You are both wrong. True joy is when you are at home in bed at 4 a.m. and the hammering at the door is the secret police, who yell at you ’Ivan Ivanovitch, you are under arrest.’ And you yell back, ’Sorry, Ivan Ivanovitch lives next door.’ Now THAT’S real joy!"
What can we do to have the disposition of joy? It is a matter of a correct understanding that there is nothing in life that can separate us from God’s love (Ro 8.35-39). Some years ago Mrs. Birch Bayh was a guest on Robert Schuller’s TV ministry. She shared how each day was a wonderful and rich experience. You would expect to hear of the good fortunes that have come to her. Instead, Mrs. Bayh shared how the richness of her life in Christ flowed out of the tragedies that have marked her path.
She had a terribly disfiguring accident as a girl; her mother died tragically, and her father committed murder, then suicide. Her husband and herself were in an airplane crash, and then, at last, her own incurable cancer. What’s she got to be joyful about? Good question! Her answer is that out of all of this she discovered what a precious commodity this one day is, and how it beckons to be lived to the fullest.
What a contrast to how we sometimes just "get through the day" in our routines. Is your disposition settled?
What sets you apart from the crowd?
Are you distinctive from the world? Paul said, "We are the circumcision..." The apostle never had an easy time of it. There were always detractors attempting to destroy his ministry. Here the religious Jews were making trouble, claiming that Paul was a renegade Jew, and that to be a good Christian you had to be a faithful Jew, circumcision and all! Paul points out that if you looked at the life of those religious types, and then compared with the lives of Christian believers it would not be hard to figure-out which were driven by God, and which by selfish motives.
This is what Paul referred to as being "In-Christ." Jeremiah pointed to that time when God would put His spirit within man’s heart, removing the hearts of stone. To be "In-Christ" means you have removed selfishness as the ruler of your heart and life, and have asked Jesus to come in and take over. This indeed separates you from the world.
For Paul, this reality meant everything else had become secondary. "Everything is rubbish by comparison with becoming more like Jesus." The word "rubbish" is a compound of three words, "of + dog + castaway." It gives a vivid picture of that with which even a dog won’t mess. For Paul, anything that didn’t bring him closer to Christ likeness was waste. Now that’s SETTLED!
Does it bring joy to live with that kind of single-mindedness? In the movie, "The Alamo" John Wayne said it plainly, "There’s right and there’s wrong, you gotta do one or the other. You do the one and you’re living. You do the other and you may be walking around but in reality you’re dead." So many people live dead lives because there is no distinction between their life and what the world embraces.