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Summary: God's plan, Our example and witness, Joy

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Philippians 2:12-18 (p. 819) November 24, 2013

Introduction:

I can remember hearing this quote...”You can only see the stars shimmering when it’s dark.”

And I have to tell you “I’ve seen some stars shine in my life.”

“Melvin...wasting away with stomach cancer. He’d served 38 years in the air force. He served hurting and hungry people by picking up leftover bread and food and distributing it to needy people for decades. Last week Melvin said, “Why should I be afraid to die, it’s my reward, it’s what I long for and my faith. I’m not afraid to die.”

Betty and Jean, both from hospital beds radiate a true sense of peace and even joy and I ask, “Can I pray with you?” Their responses: “Oh yes please, please, I’d love for you to do that!”...Faith shining in the dark.

Charles and Rosella, and their family: I met Charles on the day before he left this planet. The last words I heard him speak were, “Jesus is coming...I’m gonna be with Jesus” and Rosella, sorry to embarrass you but, just weeks after the funeral she broke her hip (Hurray dogs), but through it all, pain and recovery. Gentle, funny, others focused – Shining faith.

Bill, still grieving, heart aching, but trusting His Savior even in the darkest of nights - His faith shining even though he might not think it is. The note he sent me after coffee and zebra cakes (which he didn’t eat, so Lori got), told of “suffering and dying children around the world.” Not having an easy answer to the why and then this highlighted prayer to the unanswered whys. “O God, I know that in all things, you work for the good and that even amidst great evil there is hope for redemption. But, it’s so hard for me to grasp. I feel like Moses who said, “I know God will answer me but I don’t know how. I still don’t know when.”

Or Harold who sits with his trunk open at our Trunk or Treat filled with candy bars. Harold who encourages my heart every single time I see his face. He’s buried a son and a wife and yet grief has not overwhelmed his joyful faith. He shines.

Can I go on? Yes. Jack, brings insights to me after almost every sermon, never critical, but always thoughtful. I shared about letting people know how thankful we are, and He shared with me about his wife’s passing. Months before she knew it was coming to a close she wrote thank you notes, notes of love and grace. Jack said she told him, “I cannot write you one, there’s just too much to put on paper.” And the brightness of the star of faith pierces the darkness.

These are stars I’ve seen in just the last few weeks, or heard about. I’ve got a lifetime of stories, a lifetime of stars shining in the dark.

“Shining among them like stars in the sky...”

You see each of these shining stars understand

I. GOD IS WORKING TO FULFILL HIS PURPOSE

Always! God is always working to fulfill His purpose. His purpose is to save and redeem mankind and when we’ve surrendered to His Lordship His purpose is to transform us “into the likeness of His Son.” (Rom 8:29)

That purpose was in effect before the world was created, and will be in effect until it – and all creation, including us is revealed “on the day of Christ.” (Phil. 2:16).

”For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.

To will and to act, that’s two radically different things.

Our will is the “leb” we talked about last week, the Hebrew word for heart. It’s comprised of more than just feelings, it also is comprised of our thoughts and our will.

[TRIANGLE PICTURE]

A triangle if you will.... (Thoughts, Feelings, Will) that creates your mindset, your attitude.

Paul says, “You’ve always obeyed, not just when the preacher was with you, but when you were by yourself on the job. You understood God’s purpose wasn’t just about getting your ticket punched to Heaven with salvation, but so that people could see the reality of the good news “worked out in the real world” with anxiety and struggle.

How does that happen? If we’re immature, babies demanding our own way, still on the milk bottle, it won’t. But, if we are seeking God, connecting with other believers through His word and through real life and growth, His Word, His Spirit, and mature counsel begin to change our thoughts, then our feelings and in turn, our will.

Jesus taught his disciples a model prayer in Matthew 6. Most of us are familiar with it. “Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name (using the KJV, because almost all of us in Christ learned it here). Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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