6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Others, submission, consideration, unity


Phil 2:3-4 (p831) July 22, 2012


I love this story…I believe I first heard it during a Wayne Smith sermon but I’m not sure…what I am sure of is if Wayne was using it he’d “borrowed” it from someone else…but it’s a great story none-the-less…

A ship’s captain looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send this message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south.”

A prompt message came in return, “Alter your course 10 degrees north.” Captain angered that his command had been ignored sent a second message,

“Alter your course 10 degrees south - I am a captain!” A message came back in return,

“Alter your course 10 degrees north - I am seaman 3rd class Jones!”

The captain sent a third message knowing the fear it would evoke, “alter your course 10 degrees south – I am a battleship!”

Then the reply came, “Alter your course 10 degrees north – I am a lighthouse!”

Here’s the truth…none of us find it easy to “yield”…maybe occasionally we’ll feel magnanimous at the grocery store and let someone go before us…or at a 4 way stop…

But if you put an opposing force in the situation…someone cuts you off in traffic…or evades your space or authority…at work…watch how quickly we start demanding that they alter their course 10 degrees to the south.

It’s the only way we survive in this world, huh? If not we become doormats…our voices are never heard….we’ll slide silently into obscurity…

I remember William Ernst Henley’s poem “Invictus”

Out of the night that covers me, Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Black as the Pit from pole to pole Looms but the Horror of the shade,

I thank whatever gods may be and yet the menace of the years

For my unconquerable soul. Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

In the fell clutch of circumstance It matters not how strait the gate,

I have not winced nor cried aloud. How charged with punishments the scroll,

Under the bludgeoning of chance I am the master of my fate;

My head is bloody, but unbowed. I am the captain of my soul.

“I’m the master….. I’m the Captain…

Within every single one of our souls…men and women alike, there is prideful rebel singing Frank Sinatra’s “I did it My Way” or Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down!” or Niki Minaj singing “I Don’t Give A”

We are hard wired from birth to demand our own way…to get what we want when we want it…

So when Jesus comes along and teaches His disciples that the world’s philosophy is wrong…that His followers have a different method of leadership…Peter…and Simon the Zealot must have hated it…as well as every other one of the apostles.

Here’s some context…James & John’s mother…(Mrs. Zebedee) has asked Jesus to let her two sons have preeminent places ( 1 one at his right and 1 at his left) in the New Kingdom He’s building…I’m pretty sure, neither she nor James or John understood what kind of Kingdom this is…Jesus tells her…those places aren’t his to give…God’s prepared those places…the other 10 disciples hear about this conversation…listen.

Matt. 20: 25-28 (p 697)

How does the world work…”Exercise authority over them” …It doesn’t matter how or if it’s healthy…make them yield…put them in their place…

Jesus looks at His crew and says, “But not so with you…really…they don’t seem to have caught on yet.”

Remember our test…”do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit”….

Why that is important…why is servanthood more essential than just demanding the job get done?


The world is filled with powerful, talented, driven, rich people…Donald Trump can make apprentices all day long….and he can fire those who let them down…

Here’s a huge Kingdom hint…The world is accomplishment driven…The Kingdom of God is people driven.

Selfish ambition and vain conceit make you believe that no one…and I mean no one can do what you do or does it better. In fact, you’re threatened when someone begins to question your reign…that’s the time you can really put them in their place.

So when Paul says “In humility consider others better than yourself,” his view isn’t self. It’s the Kingdom….His purpose is discipleship and unity…not authority and control.

It’s human nature… (Our fallen one!!!) to want the best seats at the table…James and John and their Mom wanted those places…The other ten disciples were indignant, mad, jealous, grudge holding because they wanted those places!...

Why do you want those places?…well if you operate with a worldly mindset…so you can control…exercise authority…if you operate with a Kingdom mindset…you’re just keeping the seat warm for the one you’re preparing that comes after you…that God is preparing to sit there…

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