Stand Firm in the Lord Part 3
“Stand Firm in the Storms of Life”
Paul’s letter to the Philippians offers some key elements to “Maintaining the Joy of the Lord No Matter What”.
I. ADOPT THE RIGHT AXIS -- SUPERIOR PERSPECTIVE
The Exaltation of Christ in Everything
Passion to Praise Jesus
II. MAINTAIN THE RIGHT ATTITUDE -- SUPERIOR PATTERN OF LIVING
Humble Obedience modeled by Jesus
Passion to Please Jesus
III. PURSUE THE RIGHT AIM – SUPERIOR PURSUIT 3:1-21
Knowing and Living Christ
Passion to Pursue Christ above all else
IV. Practice the right actions – Superior Practice 4:1-8
Passion to live well
Last time we focused on the command in verse 1 to stand firm in the Lord. Because there are so many different areas related to standing firm we only briefly referenced the last time, I want to take a bit more time to dive a little deeper. There are over a hundred passages related to “standing firm” with many more referencing the same concept with different terms like persevere, endure, don’t grow weary etc.
A. Stand firm in the Lord 4:1
Therefore, my brothers, dearly loved and longed for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, dearly loved.
Paul used a military term meaning to hold your ground. He already encouraged such perseverance several times in this short letter.
APPLICATION OF STAND FIRM IN THE LORD
Stand firm against persecution and false teaching
What enables us to stand up to this opposition?
Be strong IN THE LORD.
Our connection to Christ dramatically affects our stand.
Constantly cultivating a close relationship with Him is essential.
It enables us to hear His specific direction.
It enables a Biblical perspective.
It strengthens faith; know what and why you believe.
Trust the Holy Spirit to give you the words.
Have each other’s back
Stand firm IN THE LORD!
How are we supposed to respond to opposition?
1. Stand against / resist them or confront them with the truth
2. Pray for and bless those who persecute and even use you.
3. Keep Silent
Under certain circumstances and for a specific purpose, Jesus chose to keep silent.
Jesus did not tackle or address every “evil” He observed around Him.
He concentrated on offering the “good news” and ministering to people.
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” Luke 4:18-19
but Jesus said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43
Just be sure your decision to be silent is Spirit-directed.
Equally important is to be sure your decision to resist is also Spirit-directed.
4. Live Godly lives
We are salt and light in a dark world. Note that the being light has more to do with works rather than words.
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
We also need words but keep a biblical balance. Be sure your problematic works don’t negate your persuasive words.
Stand firm in the storms of life.
Nearly every section of the Bible addresses this fact of life. Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against God and His way of doing things, difficulty, pain and suffering have dominated humankind. There is not a single person here this morning not struggling with some difficult circumstance in their life. Many of those difficulties are not directly related to some personal poor choice. These struggles come simply due to living in rebellious and broken world. We suffer the accumulated consequences of multiple centuries of poor choices.
Such difficulties affect every area of life; environmental, relational, physical, financial, mental, emotional, circumstantial, spiritual. These struggles include things like deteriorating health, severe loss and unexplainable tragedy, broken relationships, job loss, addictions, demonic oppression and temptation, dealing with emotional health, fear, anxiety, anger, bitterness, physical and emotional fatigue and stress, loss of motivation, feelings of distance from God weariness in doing good, feelings of insecurity and being unappreciated etc.
In all these things, Scripture urges us to STAND FIRM IN THE LORD.
Given the number of verses which address this subject I am only able, in the time we have, to touch on a few and try to zero in on what I feel at this point are some key points. I am sure there are more but I have narrowed my categories to three basic elements involved in standing firm in the storms of life whatever they may be.
1. Embrace a Biblical perspective
2. Entrust your soul to a faithful Father
3. Encourage one another
1. Embrace a Divine perspective
I can’t emphasize enough that right living depends heavily on right thinking. I am sure you have all heard the phrase “the truth shall set you free.” Observe the whole context of Jesus’ statement.
Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:31-32
It begins with belief in Jesus followed by a commitment to living by His word demonstrating you to be true disciples. That relationship enables you to know the truth (gain a divine perspective) which in turn brings freedom.
Paul emphasized the importance of proper perspective.
And do not be conformed to this world (or its way of thinking), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:2
Most every command has somewhere in the context a perspective adjuster.
i.e. Do this KNOWING…
The key source of divine perspective is the Scriptures.
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4
Here a few of the key perspective adjusters. Many times, the perspective relates to an ultimate purpose beyond the immediate.
Stand firm in spite of unnoticed service or unfair treatment by considering future reward.
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. Eph 6:5-8
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. Colossians 3:22-25
Stand firm in present ministry by looking to future reward.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Galatians 6:9-10
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:13
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58
Stand firm in present difficulty by considering the higher purpose.
Are we willing to give up something now to reap some better later?
The Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:27-28
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
And not only this, (exult in hope of the glory of God), but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
Therefore, (Because we will one day be raised with Christ) we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Jesus endured suffering by a future focus.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:1-3
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 1 Peter 4:12-13
2. Entrust your soul to a faithful Creator.
Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19
It is one thing to embrace a divine perspective and another to act on it. I can know the things above but still not entrust my life to Him in the middle of difficult and even devastating circumstances. Entrusting is equal to standing firm. Entrusting is to exercise trust or faith in God’s work.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
We acknowledge God’s providence while enduring life’s pain.
Many are aware of Job’s troubles. He lost his children, his wealth and his health in spite of exemplary devotion to God. God even brought Job’s devotion to Satan’s attention.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job 1:8
It took 41 grueling chapters for Job to come to terms with entrusting His soul to a sovereign God.
“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:2-6
Many are “fair weather” fans of God. Since He is an all-knowing, ever-present, all powerful faithful and loving God, will we trust Him even though we don’t understand Him?
To the degree that we choose to trust Him rather than fight Him we will be able to declare with Paul in the middle of excruciating pain and suffering…
God’s grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
God’s grace refers to God’s enabling blessing provided to live in a difficult world.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession (Stand Firm). For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope (perspective adjustment) fully on the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
There are numerous passages that reference God’s strengthening. Paul prayed for such strengthening for the Colossians.
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and long-suffering with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:11-12
This faithful Creator promises to provide a way of escape.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to ENDURE it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
This faithful Creator promises to keep us from stumbling.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, Jude 1:24
This faithful Creator will direct our hearts into steadfastness.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
This faithful Creator will equip us to stand firm.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21
This faithful Creator will finish what He started.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
This faithful Creator promises the wisdom necessary to face trials.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8
This faithful Creator cares deeply about me.
Therefore (because God promises grace to the humble) humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6
3. Encourage one another
The word encouragement is an all-encompassing term. Scripture uses it in reference to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our life. The core meaning relates to coming along side someone. I will expand on this broader concept of unity when we move on to Philip 4:2-3.
We have an individual responsibility to renew the mind.
We have a personal responsibility to entrust out souls.
God also designed the body to support and serve each other evidence by the number of commands which reference “one another”.
I call these the “one another passages” which reinforce the responsibility of the body of Christ regarding one another. There are commands such as:
Love one another.
Receive one another. Don't reject one another or judge one another.
Greet one another. Don't avoid one another.
Be kind to one another. Don't bite and devour one another.
Be hospitable to one another. Don't isolate from one another.
Forbear with one another. Don't murmur against one another.
Forgive one another. Don't go to court against one another.
Be at peace. Don't provoke one another or challenge one another.
Speak truth in love with one another. Don't lie to one another.
Build up one another. Don't tear down or defile the temple.
Speak to one another. The truth in in music.
Teach, exhort, admonish one another.
Bear one another's burdens. Don't turn away.
Stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
Submit to one another in the fear of Christ
Serve one another.
Have the same care for one another. Don't think more highly.
We assume that because someone is absent they have defected when, in reality, they have been wounded by the enemy and are unable to get back to the base.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:1-2
How do we stand firm in the storms of life?
Embrace a divine perspective derived from Scripture.
Entrust your soul to a faithful Creator.
Encourage one another.
Notice King David’s prayer in the context of a horrendous failure in his life.
Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. Psalm 32:6-7