Summary: 1. God steers us away from discouragement (vs. 1). 2. God steers us away from deceivers (vs. 2). 3. God steers us away from misguided dependence (vs. 3-9).

The Savior Helps Us Stop Stumbling

Philippians 3:1-9

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 9, 2012

*Have you ever stumbled? -- Of course we all have. The last time I stumbled badly was two summers ago. I went out after dark to turn off the sprinkler. And foolishly, I didn’t turn on the front porch light. I never saw that little rocking chair we had on the porch, and I took a big tumble. When I think about it, I can still feel the place where that thing hit my shin.

*Stumbling is bad. -- And spiritual stumbling is the worst. In John 16:1, on the night before He died on the cross for us, Jesus told His disciples: “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended (or “made to stumble”).

*God wants to help His followers stop stumbling. And in these verses He steers us away from 3 stumbling blocks that often trip us up.

1. First: God steers us away from discouragement.

*We see Paul trying to guard us against discouragement in vs. 1, where he said: “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.”

*In other words: “I am telling you to rejoice in the Lord, because I want to protect you from discouragement.” We need this help, because discouragement is such a widespread problem. That’s understandable, because so much can go wrong in life.

[1] Things go wrong in life.

*The Apostle Paul knew that. Remember that he was in chains when he wrote this letter. And that’s not all. Paul just got through telling us about Epaphroditus. And in Phil 2:27, Paul said that Epaphroditus:

27. . . was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

*Epaphroditus was sick almost to death. Paul almost had sorrow on top of sorrow. And things like that can happen to us. We are going along, minding our own business, trying to serve God, when out of nowhere: Wham! And we wonder, “What’s going on?”

*Bryan Heiss knew the feeling. His story was written up in the 1982 Encyclopedia Brittanica Yearbook. Here’s how it started: When Bryan woke up, he found a leak in his apartment ceiling. As he ran to get a wet-vac to clean up the mess, he discovered that his car had 4 flat tires.

*He went back upstairs, reached for the phone, and was shocked so badly it nearly knocked him down. When he got back downstairs, Bryan discovered that someone had stolen his car. He recovered it later that day.

*That evening Bryan got dressed for his ROTC graduation ceremony. But the water had caused the door to swell in its frame. He had to scream until someone came and kicked in the door from the outside.

*When he finally jumped in his car, he immediately realized that he’d sat on his bayonet, which he had carelessly left in the driver’s seat. Bryan was taken to the hospital for some very strategic surgery.

*While he was at the hospital, part of the roof fell in at home and killed his pet canaries. Back at the apartment, Bryan ran across the room to check on his birds, slipped on the wet carpet, hurt his back, and had to go back to the hospital.

*A reporter later asked Bryan how so much could happen to one person in one day. And he replied: “It looks like God was trying to kill me, but He kept missing.” (1)

*Of course that’s not true. But you can see why Bryan felt that way.

-We get discouraged, because things go wrong.

[2] And other people go wrong.

*Paul knew that. Back in Phil 2:19-21, he said:

19. But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.

20. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.

21. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

*Then in his last letter, Paul made this very sad comment: “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” (2 Timothy 1:15)

*And in 2 Timothy 4:14-16, Paul said:

14. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.

15. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.

16. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.

*Thank the Lord, that in the next two verses Paul was also able to say:

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