Illus. Jordan has been enjoying soccer for the past 1 ½ years with other 8-9 year olds.
•It’s been an interesting and often enjoyable experience to watch them learn the game.
•One thing I enjoy is seeing how the kids react to the ball, especially the goalies.
•When a line drive comes, instead of lunging for the ball, they often cower and hide.
•Sort of like dodge ball when you’re the last person standing.
Illus. Mighty Ducks movie. Kids playing ice hockey.
The goalie was afraid of the puck until they tied him to the goal with his padding.
•After they started shooting at him, he realized it didn’t hurt!
What do we do when life comes hurtling at us?
•Our natural tendency when dealing with pain is to run away or get rid of it ASAP.
•Our instincts tell us to avoid pain at all costs.
Paul gives us another approach. Turn to Phil. 1:27-30. Review content in suffering.
Today, we’re going to discover how to not run away, but rather how to stand up to suffering and use it for God’s glory.
The crux of this message rests in v. 27. The rest of the passage simply builds on this.
27WHATEVER HAPPENS, (whether I’m released or die, whether I see you here, there, or in the air) CONDUCT YOURSELVES IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
The idea here of “conduct yourselves” is to live as an honest and upright citizen.
•“Perform your duties as a citizen.”
Phil. 3:20 BUT OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN…
Illus. As citizens of the US, we have certain duties and obligations.
•We’re obligated to obey the laws, pay taxes, support our country.
As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have a much higher obligation.
•We’re obligated to obey God’s laws, to support/defend God’s Kingdom.
Col. 1:10-12 AND WE PRAY THIS IN ORDER THAT YOU MAY LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF THE LORD AND MAY PLEASE HIM IN EVERY WAY: BEARING FRUIT IN EVERY GOOD WORK, GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, 11BEING STRENGTHENED WITH ALL POWER ACCORDING TO HIS GLORIOUS MIGHT SO THAT YOU MAY HAVE GREAT ENDURANCE AND PATIENCE, AND JOYFULLY 12GIVING THANKS TO THE FATHER, WHO HAS QUALIFIED YOU TO SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE OF THE SAINTS IN THE KINGDOM OF LIGHT.
Paul says, CONDUCT YOURSELVES IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
•Live like the citizens that you are.
What are some ways we should conduct ourselves?
In the verses that follow, Paul zeroes in on conduct in the midst of suffering.
After all, this has been an underlying theme throughout this first chapter of Phil.
Paul’s point in today’s passage is this: conduct yourselves worthily in your suffering.
In other words, Stand Strong Together. I’m giving you the Bottom Line at the top.
Paul goes on to explain how and why we need to conduct ourselves properly.
I. HOW CAN WE DO THAT?
How can we behave properly when we’re struggling and suffering?
Think of it as an athletic game (soccer, football, baseball).
•Most games involve an offense and a defense.
The offense is trying to score and the defense is trying to prevent them from scoring.
The first way we can stand strong together in our faith is to think defense.
A. Stand together in one spirit.
THEN, WHETHER I COME AND SEE YOU OR ONLY HEAR ABOUT YOU IN MY ABSENCE, I WILL KNOW THAT YOU STAND FIRM IN ONE SPIRIT,
The defense’s job is to stand together and not let the offense advance.
•In order to stand their ground, they each need to work together as a unit.
It’s the same way in the church. We need to stand firm together, esp. in our suffering.
Again and again in God’s Word, we’re exhorted to be united, in one spirit.
1 Cor. 1:10 I APPEAL TO YOU, BROTHERS, IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THAT ALL OF YOU AGREE WITH ONE ANOTHER SO THAT THERE MAY BE NO DIVISIONS AMONG YOU AND THAT YOU MAY BE PERFECTLY UNITED IN MIND AND THOUGHT.
Eph. 4:3-6 MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT THROUGH THE BOND OF PEACE. 4THERE IS ONE BODY AND ONE SPIRIT—JUST AS YOU WERE CALLED TO ONE HOPE WHEN YOU WERE CALLED—5ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM; 6ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL, WHO IS OVER ALL AND THROUGH ALL AND IN ALL.
Jn. 17:20-23 “…I PRAY ALSO FOR THOSE WHO WILL BELIEVE IN ME THROUGH THEIR MESSAGE, 21THAT ALL OF THEM MAY BE ONE, FATHER, JUST AS YOU ARE IN ME AND I AM IN YOU… 23MAY THEY BE BROUGHT TO COMPLETE UNITY TO LET THE WORLD KNOW THAT YOU SENT ME AND HAVE LOVED THEM EVEN AS YOU HAVE LOVED ME.
What are some ways we can demonstrate unity?
We’ve seen again this week how evil this world really is.
Our best defense against evil is to stand together in one spirit.
•All for one and one for all.
Unfortunately, you can’t win a game with only defense. You need to have offense, too.
The second way to stand strong together is to…
B. Strive together as one man.
CONTENDING AS ONE MAN FOR THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL
“striving together with one mind/soul”
This word is where we get the word “athletics” from.
In football, the offensive line strives together to help the runner advance the ball.
When a player receives a kick off, his teammates will join arms together in front of the runner to protect him.
What would happen if the quarterback contended all by himself?
How can we stand strong when we’re tempted to run?
We need to share/overcome our struggles together, not just to win a game.
Our motivation is much greater – we need to strive together for the faith of the Gospel.
We need to be outstanding citizens of the Kingdom, because the Gospel is at stake.
•People are watching us. Our approach to suffering is a testimony to the world.
That leads to a third way to stand strong together.
C. Don’t be scared of the opposition.
28WITHOUT BEING FRIGHTENED IN ANY WAY BY THOSE WHO OPPOSE YOU.
What would happen to a team that ran away from their opponents?
What happens when we let our enemies know we’re afraid of them?
If we cower and run from the opposition, they will not only run over us, but will gain confidence to do it again and again.
Remember the opposition is trying to frighten/weaken/conquer/destroy us.
If we stand strong together and mount a fearless defense/offense, look what happens.
THIS IS A SIGN TO THEM THAT THEY WILL BE DESTROYED, BUT THAT YOU WILL BE SAVED—AND THAT BY GOD.
When we overcome opposition, when we gain victory over trials, we send a clear signal to the enemy that we are not defeated.
What’s more, we show our ultimate enemy that he is the one who will be destroyed.
Remember, all the struggles we face as believers have a common source – Satan.
1 Pet. 5:8-9 …YOUR ENEMY THE DEVIL PROWLS AROUND LIKE A ROARING LION LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO DEVOUR. 9RESIST HIM, STANDING FIRM IN THE FAITH, BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT YOUR BROTHERS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD ARE UNDERGOING THE SAME KIND OF SUFFERINGS.
When we stand strong and resist the devil, we remind him of his ultimate destiny.
Notice that when we do overcome, it’s only because of God’s grace. He’s the Victor.
•In our own strength, Satan would certainly destroy us.
When we score our touchdowns or goals or runs, we don’t have the right to strut/brag.
•All we can do is humbly give credit where credit is due.
How powerful is our opponent? How powerful is our God?
We stand strong together by standing together in one spirit, striving together as one man, without being scared of the opposition.
And when we do that, we proclaim the grace and power and victory of God.
Paul gives more reasons why we need to stand together.
II. WHY SHOULD WE DO THAT?
Why should we stand/strive together when our natural instinct is to run away?
A. Our salvation is a gift.
29FOR IT HAS BEEN GRANTED TO YOU ON BEHALF OF CHRIST NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE ON HIM,
Granted - “To show favor, give freely, forgive”.
Again, we have nothing to boast about. We didn’t earn our citizenship.
•God gave it to us. He favored us. He adopted us and called us His own.
Titus 3:5-7 HE SAVED US, NOT BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUS THINGS WE HAD DONE, BUT BECAUSE OF HIS MERCY. HE SAVED US THROUGH THE WASHING OF REBIRTH AND RENEWAL BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, 6WHOM HE POURED OUT ON US GENEROUSLY THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOR, 7SO THAT, HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE, WE MIGHT BECOME HEIRS HAVING THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE.
Our salvation is a gift - a free gift that cost Jesus His life.
It’s also a free gift that we should appreciate enough to be willing to suffer for it.
B. Our suffering is a gift.
29FOR IT HAS BEEN GRANTED TO YOU ON BEHALF OF CHRIST NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE ON HIM, BUT ALSO TO SUFFER FOR HIM,
Hold it! How can suffering be a gift? There’s a present we can’t wait to get!
Some of you are wondering if that’s a gift you can return. “Thanks, but I’ll pass.”
Guess what? We don’t have a choice. We can’t return the gift of suffering.
2 Tim. 3:12 IN FACT, EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO LIVE A GODLY LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS WILL BE PERSECUTED,
Jn. 16:33 “IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE. BUT TAKE HEART! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.”
If you’re a true believer in Christ, you WILL face persecution and suffering for your faith.
•I’m not talking about suffering in general, but suffering because we believe.
How can suffering be a gift?
It’s very presumptuous of us to accept His free gift of salvation, knowing what it cost Him, and then to refuse to be willing to suffer for it and for Him.
And notice how the apostles accepted the gift of suffering.
Acts 5:41 THE APOSTLES LEFT THE SANHEDRIN, REJOICING BECAUSE THEY HAD BEEN COUNTED WORTHY OF SUFFERING DISGRACE FOR THE NAME.
•They discovered what a privilege it was to suffer for Christ.
Anything worthwhile is worth suffering for.
1 Chr. 21:24 (David) I WILL NOT TAKE FOR THE LORD WHAT IS YOURS, OR SACRIFICE A BURNT OFFERING THAT COSTS ME NOTHING.”
I’m not that excited about suffering for the Lord. I’m actually allergic to pain.
•But when I realize what Jesus endured for me and what a privilege it is to be saved, when I realize that He blesses me in my suffering and that I need to live worthy of this great calling, then I can begin to realize/accept this gift of suffering.
C. Our suffering is not alone.
30SINCE YOU ARE GOING THROUGH THE SAME STRUGGLE (contest, conflict, fight) YOU SAW I HAD, AND NOW HEAR THAT I STILL HAVE.
Paul and the Philippians had another thing in common – suffering.
They understood what Paul was going thru and vice versa.
The point is, we never suffer for our faith alone. We’re in this together.
1 Cor. 12:26 IF ONE PART SUFFERS, EVERY PART SUFFERS WITH IT…
And when we stand/strive together, united in spirit and purpose, not only can we lean on each other and strengthen each other, but more than that, we can declare victory over the enemy and help advance the Gospel.
What’s the best way to be victorious in our suffering?
27WHATEVER HAPPENS, CONDUCT YOURSELVES IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Live as upright and outstanding citizens of the Kingdom, especially in your suffering, by STANDING FIRM IN ONE SPIRIT, CONTENDING AS ONE MAN FOR THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL 28WITHOUT BEING FRIGHTENED IN ANY WAY BY THOSE WHO OPPOSE YOU. THIS IS A SIGN TO THEM when we stand together THAT THEY WILL BE DESTROYED, BUT THAT YOU WILL BE SAVED—AND THAT BY GOD. He gets all the credit. 29FOR IT HAS BEEN GRANTED TO YOU (it is a privilege) ON BEHALF OF CHRIST NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE ON HIM, BUT ALSO TO SUFFER FOR HIM, realizing that you do not suffer alone.
Am I conducting myself in a manner worthy of the Gospel?
Am I willing to suffer for my faith?
Are we conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel? Worthy of our calling?
Are we suffering (or willing to) for our faith? After all, that’s a good test of our faith!
Are we standing strong/striving together or are we cowering and running for our lives?
United we stand. Divided we fall. All for one and one for all.
As believers, we can expect opposition from the enemy.
•How we deal with that opposition determines whether we’re victorious or not, whether our conduct is worthy of our calling.
Let’s ensure victory by uniting together as one body with one Lord for one purpose.
In other words, we end where we began - Stand Strong Together.
Hymn #731 Onward Christian Soldiers
v. 2 At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers, onto victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Christians, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise!
v. 3 Like a mighty army moves the Church of God;
Christians, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided; all one body, we;
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Sermon Outline and Power Point are available by emailing the author.