Are you stuck? Perhaps you feel trapped in a broken relationship or a dead-end job. Maybe you’re dealing with chronic pain, overwhelming debt, or an unhealthy habit you just can’t kick. From time to time, we all feel like our lives are dictated by our circumstances. Yet, in Paul’s surprising message to the Philippians, he lays out a new vision for our lives where we’re not slaves to our circumstances. Instead he invites us to discover the freedom of living in God’s boundless provision.
We begin a new series looking at Paul’s surprising message to the Philippians. He describes a new vision for our lives where we’re not slaves to our circumstances. Instead he invites us to discover the freedom of living in God’s boundless provision..
Craig: Welcome to Mission Hills. So honored to have you with us this weekend. It’s kind of a big weekend at Mission Hills. It’s the first weekend after Labor Day, which is when a lot of our ministries really kicks into high gear, so we’re all taking a deep breath for that. It’s Compassion Weekend. How many of you are Compassion sponsors? Awesome. We love Compassion and love being able to partner with them here and around the world. I’ve got a big announcement about Compassion that I’ll be given a little bit later in the service. We’ll be hearing a little bit more about that ministry. And, of course, last but absolutely not least, we are launching our new fall series today on the Book of Philippians called “Boundless” and what we’re doing in this series is we’re on a search for God’s secret to living bigger than our circumstances because we all face circumstances that feel like they put a lid on us, right? That hold us down and keep us back.
Maybe you know, maybe you’ve had a friend group that you’ve been investing in and all of a sudden, right when you need them most, they just kind of flake out on you. Or maybe you’re drowning in student debt. Maybe actually, maybe God’s calling you to do something maybe, something stirring in your heart. Maybe you’re thinking about going back to school and becoming a counselor or maybe going to seminary and going into vocational ministry, or maybe God’s calling you to some part of the world to be on mission with him and you just feel like, I can’t do that because I gotta work this stupid job that I’ve got to pay loans, which I…for a degree that I really wish I hadn’t gotten in the first place. And you just feel kind of trapped. Maybe that’s you.
Maybe you’re in this place where you feel like your marriage is just not what you signed up for. Maybe it’s just all boring routine or maybe it’s not boring. Maybe it’s bad and honestly just all the emotional energy that that saps out of you keeps you from doing anything else. Or maybe you’re in a place where you’re taking care of little kids or aging parents and that’s all you feel like you have the space for. We all have these circumstances that feel like that they limit us, that keep us where we are. And then really they kind of destroy our ability to be content and joyful. And interestingly, if anybody knew about circumstances that aren’t conducive to contentment, it would be the Apostle Paul. Apostle Paul had a dream. His dream was to go to the city of Rome and he believed that Rome was going to be a strategic base of operations for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the wider world. And he longs to go to Rome, he prayed to go to Rome, he believed that God was calling him to Rome. And in a lot of his letters in the New Testament, we see him talking about his desire and his work to get to Rome. And when we get to the Book of Philippians, he’s finally in Rome, but not the way he intended. He’s actually in Rome as a prisoner. He’s in Rome under house arrest. He’s in jail.
So instead of being a preacher, he’s in Rome as a prisoner, which is not what he signed up for. And it’d be very easy for him to feel like this is not what God is calling me to. This is not the circumstance I expected. This is not a place where I can be content. And yet in the Book of Philippians chapter 4, Paul actually says this amazing thing. He says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” in spite of his circumstances, he says, “I’ve learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” I don’t know about you, but that feels like a secret that I need to know. Anybody else? Anybody else? Yeah. So if you wanna know that secret you just need to hold on for eight weeks, we’ll get there in a couple of months.
No, actually, really, what the entire Book of Philippians does is that it unpacks the principles that allow him to have contentment in any and every situation. It’s not so much that there’s one secret, but there was a series of truths that allow him to that, but there really kind of is maybe one truth and I’ll just go ahead and give you a sneak peak right now. Here it is. The sneak peak here. Here’s the secret. The secret to having contentment in every situation is to stop looking for contentment in any situation. You hear me, church? That’s the secret. If you wanna be content in every situation you find yourself in, you have to stop looking for contentment in any situation. Because if your contentment depends on your circumstances, then your contentment can be destroyed by your circumstances.
On the other hand, if our contentment isn’t dependent on our circumstances, then it can’t be destroyed by our circumstances, but that’s not how we usually live, is it? It’s not how we use it. We usually look for contentment in the soil of our circumstances, and the problem is it just doesn’t work. It’s like trying to grow an apple tree in the cracks of the sidewalk in the city. Or you might get a little something that springs up for a little while, but it’s always gonna be small. It’s always gonna be sickly and it’s always going to be subject to being stomped on and torn out. That’s what we have to do is we have to do a contentment transplant. We have to transplant our search for contentment out of the soil of our circumstances and into something else, something very, very, very different. And that’s really what the Book of Philippians is all about.
So why don’t you just go ahead and grab your Bible, start making your way to the Book of Philippians chapter 1 where Paul begins this way. He says, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi.” In other words, he’s writing, to all the followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi. “Together with the overseers and the deacons,” that will be the church leaders there. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here’s what you need to know. The Book of Philippians is really a letter. Now, for the millennials and for the Gen Z-ers out there, a letter was a little bit like an email, but it was even longer and slower, okay? That’s what a letter was. It was written from one person to another or to a group of people. And that’s what the Book of Philippians is. It’s the letter that Paul and Timothy, Timothy is kind of Paul’s protege. They wrote to the followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi. Philippi was a Roman colony in what we would call modern day Greece. Now, just so we’re on the same page, understand that this is The Paul. This is The Apostle Paul. This is The Apostle Paul that started out his career as a bounty hunter for Christians. He was hunting down Christians and killing them. And then he met Jesus on a road and he went from being a killer of Christians to one of the greatest Christian preachers of all time. One of the greatest Christian around became a follower of Jesus himself.
This is The Paul that God commissioned to spearhead the movement, the mission to take the Gospel out to the non-Jewish world, to the Gentile world. This is The Apostle Paul who planted churches all over the ancient Roman Empire. This is The Apostle Paul that God gave supernatural power so that he could confirm the truth of the Gospel he’s preaching with miracles. This is The Apostle Paul that God inspired to write about half of the books of the New Testament in the Bible. He’s kind of a big deal. But do you notice how he introduces himself here? He says, Paul and Timothy, say it with me, servants. He introduces himself as a servant. Why would he do that? And you might go, well, that’s humility. Christians are supposed to be humble, right? He’s humble. Yeah, but that’s not how he normally introduces himself.
In fact, if you look at most of his letters in the New Testament, in most of them, he does introduce himself as The Apostle. That’s not arrogant, it’s just a simple fact. An apostle is one who had been sent out on a mission, so he’s identifying himself. Nothing arrogant about it, but the fact that he does that in most of the letters means that it’s interesting that he doesn’t do it here. And what I wanna suggest to you is that the way he introduces himself here isn’t humility, it’s a contentment strategy. This is a contentment… This is one of the things that allows him to say, yeah, I know what it’s like to be content in any and every situation. And what he’s doing is he’s reminding himself as well as his audience of who he is, and that’s so important because listen, how we think about ourselves determines how we think about our circumstances. Really important principle.
How we think about ourselves determines how we think about our circumstances. Think about it. If you think you’re a really big deal and you’re in a circumstance where nobody’s treating you like a big deal, how do you feel? Not content, right? Contentment is impossible in that situation. If you think you’re somebody who deserves a lot of attention and you’re in a situation where nobody’s paying any attention to you, poof, there goes your contentment, right? If you think you’re somebody who has a lot to contribute and you’re in a situation where nobody’s asking your opinion, nobody’s asking you to contribute, all that stuff that you have to contribute, what happens to your contentment? It’s gone, right? How we think about ourselves determines how we think about our circumstances. Paul’s saying how I think about my circumstances is ultimately dictated by how I think about myself and the way I think about myself is I’m a servant, first and foremost I’m a servant.
See, if he’d said he was an apostle, if he says a preacher, then he is going to look at his circumstances where he’s on house arrest, 24/7, not allowed to preach, he’s gonna go, this is miserable. This is terrible. And contentment’s gonna go away, but he’s not doing that. He’s saying, no, no, I’m a servant first. And here’s the interesting thing about servants. Listen, when we see ourselves as servants, we can be content even when we aren’t being treated like royalty. I mean that secret alone is worth the price of admission today. I mean, I know you got in here free, but let me tell you that secret alone will change your marriage. It’ll change your parenting or your childing. I don’t know, that’s not a word, but if you’re a child it will change the way you think about your relationship with you. I mean, it’ll change so many things.
When we think of ourselves as servants, we can be content even when we’re not being treated like royalty. That’s what Paul’s doing. He’s saying, I’m a servant, and if I’m a preacher, then I have to be preaching to be content, but if I am a servant, listen, there’s all kinds of ways that I can serve and there are ways that I can serve Jesus. I can be on mission with him, regardless of the particular situation, regardless of my circumstances, even though they’re not what I was anticipating, I can still serve in a meaningful way. And you know what? That changes the way I think about this situation.
How we think about ourselves determines how we think about our circumstances. So he goes on and he says this, he says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all of my prayers for you, I always pray with joy.” And I love that. Because what Paul is saying is he is experiencing joy in spite of his circumstances. That when he’s praying, he’s actually praying with joy. There’s a sense of happiness. There’s a sense of joy, of satisfaction, a piece of the contentment. He says, I’m praying with you. I’m experiencing joy in spite of my circumstances. Why is that? Why is able to do that? Well, he goes on and he says this. He says, “Because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.” Because of your partnership in the Gospel, what does that mean? What is partnership in the Gospel? Well, basically means two things. It means that they have received the Gospel and that they’re rebroadcasting it, okay? Both of those pieces are there. To be a partner in the Gospel is to receive the Gospel personally, but also to be rebroadcasting into the world. So they’ve received the Gospel. And if you’re new to church, if you’re new to this Christianity thing, welcome. We’re so glad you’re here. Maybe you’ve heard that word Gospel. Let me give you a brief snapshot of what we mean by it. Sometimes we use it, but we don’t really explain it.
Here’s the Gospel. It means the Good News, and this is the Good News. God loves us, but we haven’t loved him back. Instead of living in obedience to God, we basically said to God, Hey, I appreciate the life and everything, but I’ll take it from here on. We’ve turned our backs on God. We’ve lived apart from God. We’ve committed sin after sin, after sin. We’ve created a barrier between us and God. So God loves us, we didn’t love him back, but God didn’t stop loving us. And in fact, God continues to love us so much that he sent his own Son, Jesus, who lived a perfect life. He went to the cross intentionally. He chose to go to the cross so that his death could pay for our sin. He died on the cross to pay for our sin. Three days later he was raised from the dead. The Father raised him from the dead to prove that he had accomplished it. He had beaten sin and its dog, death.
And this is the incredible news. This is what we call grace, is that to receive that, to be the beneficiary of that, to be forgiven and have all of our sin wiped out to begin a relationship with God, all it requires is a relationship with Jesus. And we say yes to Jesus, say, I’m gonna put my faith in you, I’m gonna trust in what you did for me, it’s not going to be my efforts, it’s not gonna be anything else. I’m just putting my faith in you. I’m saying yes to a relationship with you and we’re saved. We’re forgiven of our sins, we’re brought into a relationship with God that begins now and goes on forever. That’s the Good News
Well, the church is flawed, but they’ve received that. They’ve said yes to that relationship with Jesus. They’ve received it, but that’s not it. That’s not all of it. They’ve also started to rebroadcast. They’re making sure other people know the Good News of Jesus. They’re rebroadcasting. And I know that somebody’s saying what a strange word, but I did it because I realized in my house this past week that I have parts of my house that don’t have good Wi-Fi signal. And that bothers me a lot because I never know where I’m gonna be when I suddenly need to watch a YouTube video, right. My latest thing is I’m fascinated by those people who they do wood and this hard colored resin and then they turn it on lades and they make these cool bowls and vases. I know it’s weird, but it’s what I’m into right now and I never know when the mood to watch those are gonna take me and sometimes when I’m in parts of my house like I’ll start to watch one and it’s all blocky and pixelated and I hate that. So I was like, I need to get Wi-Fi spread throughout my house. And so I bought a rebroadcaster, just this little box and it went into the wall in a place where it was receiving the Wi-Fi signal. So it receives it and then it rebroadcasts it to the rest, and now I can watch videos in every part of my house and they’re crystal clear and it’s awesome. That’s actually a pretty good picture of what Paul’s talking about when he talks about their partnership and the Gospel. They’ve received the Gospel themselves, but they’re also rebroadcasting, they’re extending God’s influence in their own community and really beyond their community in the world.
One of the things that’s happened, we’ll see later in the Book of Philippians, is they’ve actually sent Paul a financial gift intended to be used to further his work of spreading the Gospel in Rome and then beyond that to the rest of the world. And so they’re rebroadcasting the Gospel. And so he says, “I’m praying with joy because you’re partners in the Gospel.” And I love that about the Church of Philippi because it means the Church of Philippi is a great model for really what every church is supposed to be. One of the things that we say here at Mission Hills is that we exist, we’re here to help people become like Jesus, that’s receiving the Gospel. That’s an inner transformation that happens when we say yes and God begins to work on us from the inside out that we’re called to help people become like Jesus, but also to help them join him on mission.
It’s two sides of the same coin. We’re here to help people become like Jesus and join him on mission because there are two sides of the same coin. You can’t follow Jesus without following him on mission. You can’t receive the Gospel and then not rebroadcast. It just doesn’t work that way. We’re called followers of Jesus. We’re not called hangers out with Jesus. We’re not called standers around with Jesus. He didn’t say, come follow me, I booked some rooms at the Marriot. He said, come follow me, I’ll make you fishers of men. Come follow me, I’m gonna send you out on mission with me to extend God’s influence into the world because there are two parts of the same thing and that’s what the Church at Philippi is doing. They’re partners in the Gospel and that gives Paul joy in spite of his circumstances.
He knows the Gospel’s going out, even if he’s not able to be spreading the Gospel himself in the way that he longs to, he knows that it’s still happening and that gives him joy. He says, “I got another reason why I’m joyful,” and that’s verse 6. He says, “because I’m confident.” He says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” He says that’s why I’m praying with joy because I know that this isn’t a flash in the pan. I know that this isn’t just a fad for you. I know that this is the new normal for you. I know that you’re gonna continue to broadcast the Gospel. You’re gonna continue to be on mission with Jesus, whether it’s through me or not, you’re gonna continue to do it because how can he be confident of that, how can he know that it’s not just a momentary thing? Because he knows that what God starts, he finishes. What God starts, he finishes and he says, “I know that the work that’s happening in you and through you didn’t come because of your effort. It came because God began this work and what God starts he finishes.”
The Bible says that when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus didn’t die for us because we did the best that we could and then we went, God, I can’t make it the rest of the way. I don’t know what else to do. He’s like, okay, I’ll finish it for you. That’s not what happened. He came for us while we were walking away, while we were running away, while we were living in rebellion, he came for us. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. While we were still sinners, the Holy Spirit began to stir in our hearts and to give us a longing for our Creator. While we were still sinners, Jesus said, I’ve already done the work. All you have to do is say yes to a relationship.
God began that working. All we did was say yes. And what God starts he finishes. God doesn’t give up. He doesn’t Peter out. His work doesn’t just kind of go away. And so yes, if you’re wondering and if you know these kinds of terms, then what I believe that this verse and others in the Bible teach is what we call eternal security. That salvation is not something we have to worry about losing because it’s not based on our work. It’s based on his. And yes, we’re gonna backslide and we’re gonna struggle and we’re gonna have these periods, even maybe periods where we struggle with our faith itself. But what God starts, he finishes. And so Paul knows that this is the new normal for them. This isn’t a momentary thing. And so he says, I’m praying with joy because you’re partners in the Gospel and I know that what God has begun in you and through you is gonna continue. And so he says, I pray with joy.
Now, some people might go, well that seems inappropriate, Paul. You’re not paying attention to your circumstances now because your circumstances aren’t conducive to joy. And I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced anybody pushing back on you like that. Maybe you’ve had this experience where, yeah, your circumstances aren’t great. There’s issues that are not going well and yet you don’t seem to be as sad as other people think you should be. Anybody? But there’s still something in you that says, yeah, but you know what? God is good and he’s at work in me, and even in this circumstance, I can still serve him. And maybe you’ve had that experience of going, Huh, I can be a little bit joyful, maybe even a little bit content in spite of my circle and other people like you’ve got to stop that. What are you stupid? Did you not…Maybe there’s something wrong with it and you don’t understand how bad things are. It’s inappropriate for you to be joyful right now.
And I wonder if maybe Paul is wondering about that because look what he says in the next verse. He says, verse 7, “It is right for me to feel this way.” Basically, sit down, shut up. It’s okay for me to feel joyful, it is right for me to feel this way about all of you since I have you in my heart, whether I’m in chains or defending and confirming the Gospel, whether I’m a prisoner or a preacher, all of you share in God’s grace with me. We’re in this together. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus, and did you notice all of the “all of yous” there? There is a lot of them, right? See, Paul’s not looking at his circumstances, he’s looking at his relationships, right? He’s not looking at his situation, he’s looking at his partners in ministry and that’s where the joy is coming from. And I think this is so, so, so important that we understand. Listen, the quality of our relationships determines the power of our circumstances. So important we understand this.
The quality of our relationships determines the power of our circumstances. We all know this because we’ve all been in these places where we’ve got bad circumstances, but we’ve got high-quality relationships that take the sting out of the circumstances. They make the situation better because we have good relationships. Maybe you’ve had the other experience that you’ve got good circumstances but bad relationships, which takes the joy, takes the good power out of the circumstances. And God forbid that you be in bad circumstances with bad relationships because that’s hell. It just makes it worse and worse and worse and worse. The quality of our relationships determines the power of our circumstances. I saw this recently in my own family.
My oldest daughter, Rochelle is in kind of a difficult place. She had to break off a relationship recently that just… It was a very special relationship, it was a serious one. We thought it was going a particular direction and then through a lot of tears and prayer and dealing with some difficult circumstances that have happened, she came to conclusions that I need to bring this to an end, but it’s a really hard thing. And so she’s sad and we’re all kind of grieving through that with her. And we came home the other day and there was a Christmas tree in my living room and it had lights on it. And the lights wound around the tree and then down the stairs to her room and there were Christmas presents around it and there was a sign that said, “No matter how bad things get, a little Christmas cheer always makes it better.” And that was my youngest daughter, Lynae and she’d actually bought presents. She’d gone to the grocery store and she bought like things that Rochelle likes to eat. So like Sour Patch Kids and a whole lot of macaroni and cheese. And we had this Christmas moment. And you know what? It was good and it didn’t fix everything, but it absolutely made things better. There was a moment of joy, there was a moment of happiness, there was a moment of peace, even in the midst of some really difficult circumstances.
And I’m really proud of the way that my youngest daughter loved Rochelle, but I have a little bit of a criticism. She didn’t do the sign right. She didn’t. She said a little bit of Christmas cheer makes everything better, but that’s not what was happening. The sign should have said, “No matter how bad things get, good relationships makes things better.” I think people that love you well make things better. That’s what she should have said because that was the truth of what was happening there.
The quality of our relationships determines the power of our circumstances. And Paul has these incredible high-quality relationships with the Church of Philippi and they’re transforming his experience of his circumstances. And you might go, okay, how do you get those? How do you get those quality relationships because I don’t know that I have any of those kinds of relationships? Here’s what I’ve come to understand. This is so important to understand. The highest quality relationships come from being on mission together. The highest quality relationships come from being on mission together. There’s a reason why people who go off and they fight side by side with others in battles end up forming bonds and relationships that are incredibly deep and powerful in a way that most of us can’t even fully understand. It’s because they’ve been on mission together.
Our culture seems to think that the best relationships come from looking at each other face to face and going deep. No, no. The best relationships don’t come from face to face. The best relationships come from living side by side on mission together. I’ll tell you what, I would put my marriage up against any marriage on the planet in terms of satisfaction, peace and significance and strength, and that’s not because I have a perfect marriage. I’m really hard to live with, okay? So is my wife. We’re not perfect people. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but our marriage is a profound source of strength and encouragement. It is a source of contentment in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances. Why? Because we’ve been on mission together for coming up on 26 years. Our marriage has always been about being on mission, extending God’s influence in the world together. Our kids are part of that because we’ve chosen to raise our kids to be on mission.
I got a confession for you. This might seem like a strange thing to hear, but I’m gonna be honest with you. I have no interest in raising my kids to be responsible adults. I have no interest in that. I’m raising my kids to be world changers, to be on mission with Jesus in whatever way, whatever unique way God equips them and calls them to be. That’s what we’re looking to do. We’re raising them to be on mission and we’re doing it as a family. We all have our own ways of doing it. We’re doing it together and that changes the quality of the relations that we have and that changes the power of the circumstances that we face. The highest quality relationships come from being on mission. Again, if feel like you don’t have the kind of relationships that can do that for you, then maybe what you need to start thinking about doing is figure how to start living more on mission alongside others and you will find that those relationships come naturally.
Paul says, I have joy and it’s right for me because of my joy. And then he says this, he says, “And this is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” So he’s already told us how he’s praying, he’s praying with joy. And he’s told us why he’s praying, he’s praying with joy because of their partnership in the Gospel because they’re living on mission and he’s praying because he’s confident that it’s the new normal for them, that what God’s begun in them will be carried on to the day that Jesus returns and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And now he tells us what he’s praying. And what is he praying? He’s praying for their love, that their love for God, their love for him. He’s praying that their love would about more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.
And what you need to understand is he’s not talking about information, he’s talking about wisdom. He’s not talking about knowing things. He’s talking about the ability to make good decisions. Even the word that he uses for knowledge is not the normal Greek word for knowledge. The normal Greek word for knowledge is “gnosis.” This word is “epignosis.” It literally is “upon knowledge” and what that means is he’s praying for them to have knowledge that they can build wise choices on. It’s not about information, it’s about wisdom, about making the right decisions.
Notice this is what he says next. He says, “So that you may be able to discern what is best.” Best to do. Best to do for what? And the answer is to extend God’s influence in the world, to advance the Gospel. And I wonder if what he might be thinking at this point is, hey, I really appreciate the gift that you’ve sent to further the Gospel through the ministry that God’s called me to, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily the best thing for you to keep doing. I don’t know how long I’m gonna be in prison. I don’t know how long my circumstances are gonna be such as they are right now. I’m not sure that’s the best thing. I appreciate it, it’s awesome, but maybe it’d be better for you to make those kinds of gifts somewhere else. I don’t know. So I’m praying for God to give you wisdom to discern what is best to advance the Gospel.
Maybe he means something like that or maybe he means just the best, most effective ways to advance the Gospel in your community and around the world. But he’s praying for wisdom to do what is best and he says he’s praying for wisdom that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, that you may be pure and blameless. He’s praying for wisdom so that they can be pure and blameless and when Jesus comes back, he’s gonna be able to find them pure and blameless. And you might go, wait a minute. Why does being pure and blameless involve wisdom? Isn’t wisdom really just about knowledge? I mean, isn’t being pure and blameless about knowing the right things to do and the wrong things to not do? Isn’t that really just about information? No, not at all. So many of our decisions that either lead to sin or a way into purity and blamelessness, they’re based and rooted in wisdom, not just information.
How many of you have ever done anything wrong? Online, go ahead, just admit it right there in the comments. How many of you knew it was wrong when you did it? Um hum. Yeah. Information’s not always what’s needed. And often this is an interesting thing, often, the line that separates us from sin and from righteousness isn’t information about what is sin and what is righteous. It’s wisdom about putting ourselves in situations where we can do what is right and avoid what is wrong. Because the reality is a lack of wisdom often puts us in situations where we do the wrong things we didn’t even wanna do that we knew were wrong, but it was so hard to resist in that moment. I mean, as a very simple example, if you struggle with alcohol, then taking one drink might be sin for you. And you might know that and yet you continually put yourselves in situations where it’s hard to resist that and so you find yourself committing that sin, not because you didn’t think it was wrong, but because you didn’t practice wisdom in the steps leading up to that moment.
And so wisdom might say that you have to go, you know what? I’m gonna find a new way home. I’m gonna take a route home that doesn’t take me past that one bar where I spent so much of my time. And so wisdom says if I’m gonna avoid that, if I wanna be pure and blameless, I have to make decisions beforehand that keep me out. And so Paul says that, he says, hey, the dividing line between sin and righteousness isn’t always information. It’s about wisdom. So he says, “I want you to be wise.” And so he prays for wisdom. But it’s interesting even as he prays for the wisdom that they could live pure and blameless lives, he ends up bringing it back to mission again. He says, ultimately, I want you to be pure and blameless for the day of Christ filled or being filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and the praise of God.
He says, I want you to be filled. And he doesn’t say, I want you to be filled with righteousness. He says, I want you to be filled with what? Fruit of righteousness, that’s the result of he’s not looking for righteousness as the end. He’s looking for righteousness as the means to the end, which is the fruit of right. Well, what is the fruit of righteousness? Well, he says it at the end of the sentence, is that which brings glory and praise to God. That’s the fruit of righteousness, that we can live lives that bring glory and praise to God, that we can live lives that allow us to extend the influence of God into every area of the world that God has given us influence. That’s mission. He’s back to mission again. He says, “I want you to be pure and blameless so that you can be on mission extending God’s influence in advancing the Gospel.”
Listen, I know this is gonna sound like a very strange thing for a preacher to say, but just stick with me for a second. Let me tell you a truth. God didn’t make you to be righteous. You were not made to be righteous. God made you to be on mission, which requires righteousness. There’s an important difference there. God didn’t make us to be righteous. If He just wanted us to be righteous, he could’ve done it without giving us free will, right? He could have made us just nice and shiny and pretty, and then put us in a display case and gone, “Look at them. So righteous.” No, no, no. He didn’t make us to be righteous. He made us to be on mission with him.
I mean, that’s what we see all the way back on the first page of the Book of Genesis, all throughout the scripture, we were made as the image of God. We were made to represent God, to extend God’s influence throughout creation. Our lack of righteousness makes that mission impossible, but our continual growth in righteousness allows us to engage more and more in that mission which brings God glory and praise. We were not made to be righteous. We were made to be on mission, which requires righteousness. Very, very important difference.
And so he says, I’m praying that you would have the wisdom to know what is best, how best to be on mission with Jesus, and that you would have the wisdom to be pure and blameless so that you can be filled with the fruit that comes from that righteousness, which is to the praise and to the glory of God, that’s mission. And you might be thinking, hang on a second. I thought this message series was about me, right? Isn’t that what you said? You said you’re gonna teach us the secret to being content in each and every. That’s about me. Now you’re making it all about God. You preachers do this all the time. You’re kind of sneaking in a, you know, this is gonna help you, it’s gonna make your life better, but then it’s all about Jesus. It’s all about God, right?
Listen to me. They’re the same thing. They’re the same, our good and God’s glory, they’re the same thing. And here’s the truth that you gotta get a handle on. We experience our greatest good on mission for God’s glory. Do you hear me, church? If you want to be content in any and every situation, it’s only gonna be because you have learned to live on mission in any and every situation. We experience our greatest good, our greatest peace, our greatest contentment on mission for God’s glory. That’s what Paul’s getting at here. It’s not just about Jesus because it has this boomerang. In fact, when we were living on mission with Jesus, it ends up being for our good and that’s one of the secrets that Paul knows, that allows him to say, I can be content in any and every situation because the situation is not where I’m searching for contentment. Our greatest good is experienced on mission for God’s glory.
We’re gonna continue to unpack that for the next several weeks. Before we go any further, I wanna ask an important question to everybody and the question is this, I want you to ask yourself this, do I have a relationship with God that produces righteousness or am I hoping that my righteousness will produce a relationship with God? It’s a very subtle, it’s not subtle, it’s a sneaky difference and we often get it wrong, but I want you to notice what Paul says. He says, “I want you to be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” Righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ and what he’s speaking there is the Gospel message we talked about a little earlier. It’s this idea that the righteousness that we can have doesn’t come from trying harder. It doesn’t come from our work. It comes from our relationship with Jesus. That when we say yes to Jesus, he forgives our sin, he puts the Holy Spirit in us and he begins to build in us a righteousness that we could never have accomplished on our own. That is a relationship that leads to righteousness, which leads to fruit, which leads to contentment. But it begins with a relationship and so many people, even people who spend a lot of time in church, seem to have this idea that just by being in church, just by trying to do the right thing, just by trying to be a good person, that’s the secret. It’s not because it’s never gonna happen, it’s never gonna work.
And so my question to you is, do you have a relationship with Jesus that is leading to this righteousness, which is leading to fruit, which is leading to contentment? Or are you trying to be righteous, hoping that God will love you, hoping that God will accept you, hoping that God will have a relationship with you? Because if that’s the way you’re doing it, it’s not gonna work. And I wanna give you the opportunity to change that right now. If you’re listening to this and you don’t have a relationship with God through faith in what Jesus did for you, I wanna give you the opportunity to say yes to that relationship right now. Let’s get everybody to close their eyes and bow their heads. Wherever you are, including online, you just, if that’s you and you know you don’t have that relationship, you can have it right now. You just say this to God in your own heart.
Say, “God, I have done wrong. I have not been righteous and I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Thank you for paying off my sin. I believe you rose from the dead. Right here, right now, I’m accepting your sacrifice for me. I’m saying yes to a relationship with you. Come into my life. I’m yours for now and forever.” Amen. We’ve already had several people make that decision this week and I’m sure a number of you did right now. Can we just welcome all those into the family of God, who’ve made that decision? That’s awesome. If that’s you, what I want you to do is I want you to text the word “Jesus” to 888111. You’re gonna get back a length that’s gonna tell you five things that are true about you now that you’ve begun that relationship. We’re gonna get you some resources into your hand and begin walking out that relationship in life now and leading to mission and lead into contentment.
But maybe you already have that relationship and you’re going, okay, so what about me, where do I go from here? How do I begin walking this road that Paul talks about leads to contentment in every situation? Here is what I wanna ask you to ask yourself, what steps can I take this week to move forward in a life of mission? Because that’s the key. It’s the life of mission. That’s where our best relationships come from. That’s where contentment ultimately comes from. So what steps can I take this week to begin moving forward in a life of mission? Let me give you three things you might consider doing this week. Number one is you might consider texting the word “Boundless” to 888111. Yes, we use texting a lot here. It works. If you text the word “Boundless” to 888111 you’re gonna get back a link that’s gonna allow you to opt-in to a list that’s gonna get you once a week for the next month and a half, two months and a half or so as we’re doing this series. Once a week, you’re gonna get an email that is going to basically say, or a text or different ways you can do it. Here’s some challenges, very practical challenges to live on mission in response to the truth we’ve heard from God’s word this week, some very practical challenges that you might consider doing. And so that’s a great way to take a step forward in living on mission.
You might also consider signing up to live on mission and we have a “Live on Mission” thing coming up in a few weeks where we’re gonna send all kinds of people out to be on mission together and teams throughout the South Denver area. We’re gonna advance the Gospel and the influence of God in a lot of different places that people need some help practically. And so I’ve got all kinds of teams going out to do all kinds of work. And if you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that in the lobby at the Littleton Center or of course, you can do it online as well. So sign up for “Live on Mission”.
And third option is, it’s Compassion Weekend. And maybe one of the things that you could do to live on mission is to begin sponsoring a child, one of the most powerful and yet practical ways to live on mission and to move forward in a life of mission that you could possibly do. And to tell us a little bit more about that, I’m gonna ask Danny to join me out here.
Danny: As you guys came in, you probably saw the big tent out there, the Compassion Experience. I’d really encourage you to go out there. You can put on some headphones and you walk through and it shows you what it’s like to be a kid in a third world country as we talked about earlier. And maybe you saw the packets as well as you come in, a kid you could sponsor. Maybe you are a sponsor with Compassion and have done that for years. Maybe you’ve just heard about Compassion, who’s based in Colorado Springs. Been around for more than 50 years. There was almost 2 million kids that had been sponsored to the ministry of Compassion International. And for $38 a month when he sponsored a kid, he gives them food, clothing, medical attention, all of those things which are desperate needs for these kids, but Compassion exists first and foremost to tell these kids about Jesus.
That’s what they do. They’re an evangelistic organization. They tell kids about Jesus, a fantastic, fantastic organization. And I know it’s always scary. Who do you trust with your hard-earned money and child sponsorship kind of thing? Well, Compassion is the leading, leading child sponsorship organization for Holistic Child Development in the world. For the last 17 years in a row, they had been given the highest rating from Charity Navigator, which is a watchdog that watches all nonprofits for transparency and effectiveness. Simply put, Compassion does what they say they’re gonna do. They take care of these kids and they point them to Jesus.
That’s all the nuts and bolts of Compassion. You can sponsor a kid but let me take you just a little bit deeper and share the story of Diana. This past May, Craig and I, his wife Coletta and my daughter Maggie, who’s 13, had the incredible privilege to go down to Peru to see what Compassion was doing down in that region. And it was just a real treat for me as a dad. I’ve tried to take different kids or all three of our kids on missions trips about when they turned that age just so they could have a different perspective on the world. So we’re down in Peru and after a couple of days, we get on the bus, we head to this project and it was hot and sweaty and dusty. It wasn’t the jungles, it was the kind of desert area. And we pull up to this project and we get out and here are kids just kinda lining the walkway and they have banners and they’re singing to us. And it was so humbling but so incredible as we walked up to see all these kids. And we go in and they have songs and little performances they had for us. But Maggie and I were really excited because our family had decided to sponsor a child while we were there because we wanted the opportunity to meet this little girl.
So we sponsored Diana and right around lunchtime, the Compassion workers brought her over to us. It was her brother and her mom and little Diana. And you never know when you meet these kids if they’re gonna be shy or how they’re gonna respond. So you kind of just, hey, how are you? Diana was a firecracker on the 4th of July. She had energy, effervescence. She was dramatic. She was excitable. She was so much fun. And just from the moment we met her, you can see in this next picture, she was not afraid of the camera at all. She looks like she’d been doing this for a long time and we gave her stickers and of course, why not put one right in the middle of your forehead? That’s what you do with stickers.
So we were able to hang out with Diana and we got to go to some of the homes and on the project and see where these people live. And to see my daughter Maggie on these dirt floors with chickens running around and mice on the…running around the floor playing with these kids was really moving to me. But at lunchtime, Diana who it has wrapped around her little finger by this point, she asked if she could sing a song for us. And we’re like, “Yes, we would love to hear your song, Diana.” So she started into this song and I heard my phone going and something happened 20 seconds into the song. Watch us with this.
We didn’t know it was happening. So took a breath, put my phone down. We asked the interpreter what’s going on in her little heart in her head. And the interpreter told us that her father had recently left the home, just disappeared, leaving the mom with two kids and not much work. And so this little girl was so excited she was meeting these sponsors. It was her special day, she was blowing bubbles, she had stickers. There was so much excitement in her. And so she wanted to sing this song about God’s love and the Father’s love is what she was singing about. And I think it hit her in the middle of that song that her father had left. And she didn’t know what to do with all the turmoil in her mind.
And it hit me that moment is why we sponsor kids. That moment right there, we can’t replace her father, we can’t have any way to replace what her father does, but we can introduce her to a heavenly Father that knows her and who loves her and has a future for her. We can provide for medical and clothing and schooling. We can do that and we can point them to a God who will never leave them, never forsake them. And when you sponsor a kid, you’re not just providing those essentials. You are telling them that you are important, we see you, we love you. You’re not changing just the life of that kid, you’re changing the trajectory of a family.
So my hope for you is that after this service, you go out there, there’s packets just like this on tables all over there. If there’s a line, wait, it’s worth it. This is a Yefferson spelled with a Y, Yefferson, born August 30th, 2016. Maybe it’s Yeorge Yefferson, he could be moving on up if you sponsor this kid, That’s just horrible. And that’s a reference that nobody under 40 will understand whatsoever. So if you wanna move Yefferson on up, he’ll be sitting right here. But you can fill out a packet and begin sponsoring a kid today and begin changing the life of that kid. We love Compassion and Craig has a pretty cool announcement he’ll share with you.
Craig: One of the things we love about Compassion and the reason we have such a longterm partnership with them is Compassion is two things. Number one, they’re committed to releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. It is a deeply gospel-centered movement. But also they’re committed to working through the local church. And one of the things that we saw when we were there in May is that what happens is Compassion has all these places where they go, we could make a difference here. We could bring the child sponsorship program into here. We could radically transform the lives of all the kids in this community. But there’s no church there and Compassion only works through the local church. And so what Compassion did about 10 years ago was they started a church planting project where they work with local churches and local church planning organizations to acquire land to train up the pastor. And then they partnered with American churches to get that building built. And so from the day that the church opens, they’re able to sponsor up to 200 kids through the child…the Compassion Sponsorship Program as well as have worship services and be reaching that community with the Gospel.
And it was an incredible, incredible thing. They’ve been doing it for over 10 years. They have over 230 church plants that they’ve done and they have 100% success rate with those church plants, which is unheard of in the church planting world. And it’s because when they opened the church doors, they’re already indispensable to the community. And people are going, I don’t know what I think about Jesus, but his people are incredible. Maybe we should pay attention to this Gospel thing. And God’s using it in incredibly powerful ways. And so, you know, one of the things Compassion told us was, yeah, we have some of these areas in Peru that we can totally reach kids but we can’t right now because we don’t have a church and we went, what would it take to get a church there? And they told us and we went, ”Oh, we’re doing that.”
And so we’re actually gonna be launching a church plant through Compassion International in the next few months here early in 2020. So when you go out there, one of the things you’re gonna notice is that all of these packets have the word “Peru” there. That’s because all of these kids are coming from these communities where we are looking at the possibility of doing a church plant. And so here’s what’s gonna happen. Not only are we going to be able to launch a church plant and get a whole bunch of more kids into that program there, but it’s gonna be in an area where we’re going to have a partner church. So we’re gonna be able to do short term trips to work with that church and you’ll be able to visit your sponsor kid. How cool is that? Is that cool?
And I realize some of you are thinking, yeah, yeah, yeah, but, now I’m supposed to get out of my checkbook, right? No, we’re actually not taking an offering for this. Because of your generosity already up to this point, we have the finances to build that church for them. And so we don’t need to do anymore. You’ve already made that possible by your generosity. But if you want the chance to go down and to work with that partner church and maybe meet your sponsor kid, which was an incredible experience, go out there and sponsor a kid. Great and powerful and practical way to take a step forward in a life on mission this weekend.
Many of us are in circumstances that aren’t exactly ideal, but what if instead of focusing simply on getting out of them, we changed our attitudes into one leveraging those experiences? Let’s look at opening ourselves up to God using our life to expand his impact in our immediate communities; consider changing your perspective to realign your mission.
Craig: Hey, welcome to Mission Hill. So glad to have you here this weekend. Before we get into our content for today, I want to do a little bit of a celebration from something that happened last weekend. Last weekend was Compassion Weekend. We have a long-term partnership with Compassion International who are releasing kids from poverty in Jesus’ name through a child sponsorship program. We gave you the opportunity to be on mission with Jesus by sponsoring a child. And now last weekend you guys stepped it up. We ended up sponsoring 444 kids last weekend. That’s so awesome.
Compassion works through…Compassion Centers are always attached to a local church, and a typical Compassion Center can handle 200 kids, which basically means we sponsored more than two full Compassion Centers, which is just an unbelievable thing. And honestly, even if you’re not in a position to be on mission with Jesus by sponsoring a child, I want to thank you for being on mission with Jesus and your finances in general, because we said last weekend we’re actually going to be taking our partnership with Compassion up a notch. We’re going to be working with Compassion to sponsor a whole new church plant with the Compassion Center in Peru, and we were able to do that without taking a special offering because you have been so generous with your finances. We had the money available to do that without doing any additional fundraising. And so whether you’re sponsoring a child or just being on mission with your money, thank you for being on mission with Jesus in this way. It’s just an incredible, incredible thing. Yeah, celebrate that. Awesome.
Here’s the really incredible thing is that so many people at Mission Hill, I’m so proud of our church, are taking steps to live on mission, whether that’s through sponsoring a child or through the way that they handle their finances or maybe the decisions you’re making to advance the Gospel at your workplace or in your marriage to extend God’s influence in your community around the world. The incredible thing is that you’re not just doing good for others, you’re also doing good for yourself. Because what we discovered last week is we began our series in the Book of Philippians is this really important truth that we experience our greatest good on mission for God’s glory. And so when we’re living on mission with Jesus, we’re also setting ourselves up to experience the best life that God has for us. And that’s a really foundational truth to understanding the Book of Philippians in general, especially this one big secret that Paul is ultimately going to give us.
In the Book of Philippians, we started talking about it last week, in Philippians 4:12, Paul says, “I’ve learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” And we said that’s probably a secret we all need to know because we face situations and circumstances that don’t seem like they’re conducive to contentment, but he says, “I know the secret to make content in any and every situation.” And honestly, what we learned last week is the beginning of our journey towards that. It’s that we experience our greatest good in mission for God’s glory, but we’re going to learn today another important lesson that leads us towards understanding that secret, and we might talk about this lesson this way. We would say that contentment depends a lot on priorities. Contentment depends a lot on priorities. Think about it. If your priority is climbing the corporate ladder, the moment you don’t get that promotion, there goes your contentment, right? On the other hand, if your priority is honoring God by doing the best job possible, whatever job that happens to be and being on mission with God in that way, then the lack of a particular promotion doesn’t destroy your contentment. That’s not a contentment killer. It’s about priorities. If your priority is to get married and have kids, being single is a contentment killer, struggling with infertility is a contentment killer. On the other hand, if your priority is to extend God’s influence and to honor God by making the most of all the free time that you happen to have at any given stage in your life, well, then you might look at being single, not necessarily as an obstacle to contentment, but as an opportunity to honor God with some free time you wouldn’t have otherwise. Spouses take a lot of time. They do. And we’re not even talking about kids, I am a father of two girls, I can tell you they are time-suckers, right? And energy-suckers and it’s wonderful and there’s no reason why you can’t still want to be married as a single person. There’s no reason why you can’t still long to have kids if you’re struggling with infertility. But if your priority is being married and having kids, then not having those things is going to be a contentment killer.
But if your priority is something else, it may be that you can find redemptive moments even in the midst of those circumstances that aren’t ideal for you. It’s about priorities. If your priority is making straight A’s, when you finally encounter that one class or that one teacher that you just can’t seem to connect with or whatever, then that first B or maybe the first C you’ve ever gotten or the first D, that’s a contentment killer. But if your priority is to honor God by doing the best that you can and to prepare as best as you’re able for whatever career God leads you into, then the difficult class or the difficult teacher doesn’t have to be a contentment killer. It has a lot to do with priorities. Contentment has a lot to do with priorities. The problem is that the world tells us a lot of things that are supposed to be our priorities, right? And so does the Church. Let’s be honest, it’s not just the world, the churches, this is important. The world says that’s important. Sometimes they’re in opposition each other, but sometimes they line up, but it’s just an overwhelming variety of things that we’re being told. This is important. This is a priority. You’ve got to focus on this and this and this. And so, so how do we ultimately choose the priorities that allow us to live in contentment in any and every situation? What’s the lens that we use for determining what priorities really are in fact priorities? Well, that’s what we’re going to look into today.
Let’s go ahead and grab a Bible. Start making your way to the Book of Philippians chapter 1. And we’ll pick up where we left off last week in verse 12 where Paul says this, he says, “Now I want you to know brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Gospel.” He says, “I want you to know that what has happened to me.” Well, what has happened to him? He’s in prison. He’s in prison in Rome at this point. As we said last week, Paul had a dream to go to Rome. He wanted to go to Rome as a preacher and spread the Gospel and then use Rome as a base of operations to take the Gospel even further out into the world, and he wanted that. And now he’s actually in Rome, but he’s not in Rome as a preacher, he’s in Rome as a prisoner. He had been arrested for his preaching. He’s been put on house arrest. He’s being guarded 24/7. He’s under lock and key. That’s what’s happened to him. And that could easily create discontentment. If his priority was his plan, then that circumstance that was getting in the way of his plan and his priority could have easily destroyed his contentment. But you notice what he says?
He says, “I want you to know brothers and sisters,” followers of Jesus, “that what has happened to me has actually…” By the way, have you ever known anybody who used the word actually too much? It’s kind of annoying, right? You’re like, “Well, I’m going to go to the gym because I want to be healthier.” “Well, actually there’s a lot of germs at the gym and there’s studies that showed that a lot of people working out at the gym actually get more colds and flus and things like that.” So I don’t know if it was all that healthy, actually.” Jeez, come on man. I’m going to eat more apples because they’re healthy, well, actually. You know, the seeds of apples, they have cyanide in them. I did not need to know that, right? And we hear these people, they’re actually… And it’s a little bit annoying. And it’s especially annoying when somebody is finding a good thing in the midst of something that you really want to complain about. Like those people are the worst, aren’t they? You’re like, “Look what happened. Isn’t this awful?” Like commiserate with me. And they’re like, “Well, actually there’s an opportunity there.” You just sit down and shut up. Right?
Paul might be that guy, right? He’s got all kinds of reason to complain. What’s happened to me is a bad thing and then he says, “But actually, actually it’s served to advance the Gospel.” And what he’s modeling for us here is such an important principle. What he’s modeling for us is that when our mission is the priority, it changes our perspective on our circumstances. When our mission is our priority, it changes our perspective on our circumstances. When we’re living on mission with Jesus, we’re looking at our circumstances very differently. And the perspective that we’re looking for reveals opportunities where there might have previously been obstacles. Right?
When our mission is our priority, it changes our perspective and our circumstances. Look what he says. He says, “As a result of my imprisonment, as a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” That’s what’s happened and that’s a good thing. See, the Roman guard that was keeping Paul under lock and key that they were holding you captive, they didn’t necessarily know why he was being held captive. He was there under house arrest awaiting a trial, but they didn’t know what the trial was for. I mean, for all they knew he could have been a murderer. For all they knew he could have been a traitor in some way. And so they didn’t necessarily know. They only knew that their job was to make sure he was still there when the trial came. Right?
But Paul has made mission his priority not his plan, but his mission, that’s his priority. And so he’s looking at his circumstances a little bit differently, and at some point something occurs to him. He goes, “Huh, you know what’s interesting? For them to hold me captive, that means they’re giving me a captive audience. Because the same guards that are making sure I can’t leave, can’t leave either. They are not allowed. Like I’m literally being given a captive audience. I’m going to preach.” And so he started telling a story. He started explaining who Jesus was and about the death and the resurrection of Jesus and about what God was doing around the world. And the fact that it is his preaching that had brought him ultimately to Rome because Rome wanted to know more about this Gospel business and what it meant, he had a captive audience.
By the way, this is why I love to share the Gospel on airplanes. I always make sure I get the aisle seat, because where are they going to go, right? Well, Paul’s taken that to a totally another level. He’s like, “You’re here for eight hours, let’s talk.” And when the shift changed and a new set of guards came in he’s like, “Fresh meat.” I’m going to tell you my story. You’re going to…” And so what he says is, what’s happened is the whole palace guard now knows exactly why I’m here. There’s no confusion. There’s no mistaking it. Right? They understand that it’s here because of his faith in Jesus and he says it’s going beyond that. He says everyone else, probably meaning the entire palace itself, they all now know. The Gospel hasn’t been stopped by Paul’s imprisonment. It’s actually been advanced. That’s an amazing, amazing thing.
And it really challenges me because that’s not how I typically think about my difficult circumstances. When I look at difficult circumstances, you know what my main thought is? How fast can I get out of them? Anybody else? We’ll be honest with each other. Yeah. When I pray and I’m in the midst of difficult circumstances, my default prayer’s, “God, would you bring them to an end? Would you figure out how I can leave this?” And I find what Paul says through this new perspective and a circumstance to be very challenging, and I find myself asking a another question. And maybe it’s a question you could ask yourself, which is this. What could happen if I started asking how to leverage my circumstances instead of how to leave them?
That’s what Paul’s done, right? What could God do, if instead of asking how to leave my circumstances, I started asking how to leverage them? It’s not what we naturally do, but how much power’s there in that. And I’ve shared with my daughter’s permission over the last year or so that my youngest daughter, Lynae, she’s got some chronic pain in her abdomen and we’ve gone down all kinds of routes and we can’t really figure it out and it’s a little bit better, but she still has periods and we’re keeping on it, you know, and I’m praying every day and we were talking to her the other day about another possible like route to maybe get a diagnosis. And she said the most amazing thing to me, she goes, “Here’s the thing, like God’s teaching me some stuff in the midst of this that I think I might need to know later in life. And so yeah, I’d like to be healed, but I’m not anxious to end this because I can see what God’s doing and I want to make sure that I’ve learned it all first.” And I was like, “Shut up.” Oh, like what an incredibly humbling thing to have your 16-year old daughter say. And again, it’s not that she doesn’t want to be set free from that pain, but she wants to make sure that she leverages it and everything that God’s doing in it to its maximum before she leaves it. And that, boy, that’s a powerful statement. And it’s ultimately what Paul models here.
So maybe you think about your difficult circumstance and you ask yourself, what could happen here if I started asking how to leverage my circumstance instead of how to leave it? But that’s hard. It’s hard to trust God to do good through the circumstance instead of just getting out of. But this might be an encouragement. Check out what happened beyond even the palace guard and the rest of the palace understanding. He says this, verse 14, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and they dare all the more to proclaim the Gospel without fear.” He says, “Because of my imprisonment, the other followers of Jesus in Rome are now proclaiming the Gospel. They’re advancing the Gospel. They’re extending God’s influence more frequently and more fearlessly, because of my chains.” That’s what God has done. That’s an incredible statement. Now you might go, how does that work? Right? Because that’s kind of a weird deal, right? If a really prominent preacher suddenly gets thrown in jail for his faith, I’m not sure that that would make me more bold.
How does that work? Well, a couple of years ago I was speaking at a men’s conference in Michigan. It was hands down the most difficult speaking engagement of my life. Not because the audience was difficult or because it wasn’t organized well or anything. It was the most difficult speaking experience because I had to follow two other speakers who had these ridiculous stories of following Jesus in difficult circumstances. The first guy, the first guy got up there and the immediate thing that you notice when he walked out on stage was he was missing his legs below his knees. He had prosthetic legs below his knees. And he told this ridiculous story about how it happened. Like it was a tractor trailer and some other, like a side of a building or something and it slid in. He was 16 and it cut off his legs below the knees and he talked about the rehabilitation process. It was a grueling story. But here’s the interesting thing. This guy earned, not was gifted but earned a qualifying spot in the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. He swam two miles without legs. If I had to swim two miles, I would not be here anymore. He biked a hundred miles. He ran a marathon all without legs and he used all of that. And the pain of it and all of it. He uses a platform to speak about his faith in Jesus and that he can do all things through Christ who gives him strength.
And I remember thinking, I am so glad I don’t have to follow that guy. And then the second guy got up. He was in the mob. He got caught. He went to jail. He started following Jesus in jail. He started preaching the Gospel to his fellow mobsters in jail, which really irritated his mob bosses out of jail. So they sent news through some interesting characters. “Hey, knock it off.” He did not knock it off. He eventually was released from prison and he continued to tell his story and point people to Jesus and they continued to send him death threats. He traveled with these two massive bodyguards. And I remember thinking, I am so glad that I don’t have to follow that guy. Oh no, I have to follow that guy. And so I had to get up after these stories and be like, okay, let’s turn to Philippians 1. But the interesting thing the happened is listening to their stories really changed my perspective on my circumstances. Because I was facing some things that I thought were kind of difficult. They made it a little more challenging to follow Jesus and then I heard their stories and I was like, “I do not have a lot of big obstacles. They have obstacles.” And it changed the way that I thought about my obstacles and my circumstances, right? And honestly, it made me a little bit bolder. That’s what’s happening in Rome. Followers of Jesus are going, “Well if Paul can continue following Jesus and proclaiming the Gospel and extending God’s influence in the world when he’s in jail for his faith, what is stopping me?” And so he…they became more bold. They became more frequent and more fearless in their proclamation of the Gospel.
Just understand that that’s not really all that surprising to me because here’s what God does. Can I tell you what I’ve seen God do over and over again? Here’s what God does. God multiplies the results of our faithfulness. He multiplies the results of our faithfulness. He takes the little steps of faithfulness that we have and He multiplies the results of them. So Paul decided, I’m going to see what God can do in my circumstances instead of bemoaning my circumstances. And not only did that change the way the palace guard was thinking, but it changed the way the whole palace was thinking. What they knew about the Gospel. And beyond that, it spilled out into all the followers of Jesus speaking the Gospel more frequently and more fearlessly. God multiplied the results of his faithfulness. That’s what he always does.
You know, when my kids were little, one of my favorite things to do was to walk with them. You know, I’d have one of their right hands and the other one have…and Coletta would have one of their left hands and they would take little steps and we’d do this big swing thing. Now, we wanted them to take a step because it would have been weird if we were dragging them along, right? But they would take this little step and then they would go so much farther than they ever could on their own. That’s what God does. He multiplies the results of our faithfulness like a father with small children between his arms. And so here’s a question that I want to challenge you to ask yourself. Think about a difficult circumstance you’re in and then ask yourself this, what is one small step of faithfulness that I can take and I can ask God to multiply?
What’s one thing that…Paul did one thing. He said, “I can’t go anywhere but I’ve got these people here. At least I can let them know why I’m here. I can speak the truth to them.” And God took that step of faithless and he multiplied the results of it and he can and will do the same thing in and through you. So what’s the one small step of faithfulness that you can take and ask God to multiply? The amazing thing about God is he multiplies it in ways we would never anticipate. Check this out, verse 15, he says, “It’s true…” And you guys might’ve heard this, and it’s true, I’m confirming it. “It’s true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. Now, the latter do so out of love knowing that I am put here for the defense of the Gospel, the former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I’m in chains.”
Here’s what’s happening here. He says there’re two different groups that are proclaiming the Gospel more frequently and more fearlessly. Two very different groups. Now, I think they’re both believers, but they have two very different motives for being more bold in their advancing of the Gospel. And to understand it, you need to understand that Jesus was Jewish. Anybody shocked? Okay. Sometimes we forget that. It’s interesting. Jesus was Jewish. The earliest followers of Jesus were also Jewish, which meant that for lot of the early followers of Jesus, they put their faith in Jesus. They understood that that’s what saved them. It’s what eliminated their sin and brought them into relationship with God, but because they were Jewish, they also continue to observe certain key Jewish practices.
Now, when the Gospel spilled out of the Jewish community into the Gentile or the non-Jewish community, that created kind of an interesting dynamic because you had Gentiles who were not Jewish, but they were coming to faith in a Jewish Messiah, a Jewish Savior. And so some of the followers of Jesus said, “That’s great. Your faith saves you, but since you’re following a Jewish Messiah, you now need to observe certain Jewish practices.” Three of them in particular. The first one was eating kosher, so they were to avoid unclean food like shellfish or pork. Second one was Sabbath observance. Observance, that’s the word I want. Sabbath observance. And for the Jews, the Saturday was Sabbath and they were supposed to not work. And there were all kinds of laws that had grown up around how to make sure that you weren’t dishonoring God by working. And so, that was Sabbath observance. And they said, yeah, you need to eat kosher. You need to observe the Sabbath. And third one was circumcision. I’m not going to describe circumcision. If you’re really confused, look it up online. I’m going to strongly encourage you do not do an image search. Okay? But those were the three things. They said, “Yeah, follow Jesus. That’s what saves you. But since you’re following a Jewish Messiah, you should eat kosher, you should observe the Sabbath, and you should be circumcised.” That was one group of followers of Jesus. There was another group of followers of Jesus, and Paul was among them who said, “No, they’re not Jewish. They’re Gentiles. So we don’t need to impose these other practices on them.” And that’s probably the two different groups that Paul’s describing here. And there was a certain amount of conflict between those groups.
In certain other parts of his ministry Paul really goes after those people who are imposing those additional practices. And what’s going on in Rome seems to be, you got both of these groups. Now, the group that were, you know, Jesus only and they saw Paul’s imprisonment as an encouragement to them. It changed their ways, thinking about their circumstance. They were bolder, they were more frequent and more fearless in their proclamation of the Gospel. The other group, the Jesus plus the Jewish practices, they were encouraged to be bold as well, but it was maybe for slightly mixed motives, or maybe even for some messed up motives. Paul says they’re preaching out of envy and selfish ambition. Maybe what was happening is they saw Paul’s in prison as the proof that they were better, that God liked them more. That God was more pleased with them and their theology than he was. Maybe that was sort of the way they saw Paul’s imprisonment. Or maybe they’re just relieved because here’s the thing, when Christianity first began, the Roman empire protected it because they thought it was a part of Judaism. I mean, they were following a Jewish Messiah. Originally they were practicing all these other Jewish practices, and Judaism, the Jewish faith was a religio licita. It was a protected religion. It was a legal religion under Roman law. And so for the early followers of Jesus who were following a Jewish Messiah, following Jewish practices, Rome kind of went, yeah, whatever. But now, you’ve got all these Gentiles who are following Jesus. They’re not Jewish, and they’re not following the Jewish practices. And Rome was beginning to take a much closer look at the followers of Jesus. And so, maybe the Jesus plus the Jewish practices group were going, “It’s good that he’s in jail and shut down. Because he could cause us some problems. So we’ll do the other way around. We’ll show everybody know this is what real Christianity looks like, and then Rome will leave us alone.”
So maybe that was it. We don’t know exactly what it was, but Paul says they really clearly had some messed up motives. But check this out. How much do those motives matter? How much do those differences and practice matter? Here’s what he says, verse 18. “But what does it matter? But what does it matter? The important thing, important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or truth, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice.” Yeah, their motives are messed up. I care a lot more about the fact that the Gospel is advancing. They’re preaching the Gospel. Yeah. I wish they weren’t adding that other stuff onto it, but they’re preaching Christ crucified, risen from the dead three days later and faith in him forgives us. The Gospel is advancing and that matters more to me than their motives. The Gospel is advancing and that matters more to me than which group is growing faster. That matters more to me than the differences in our theology and in our practices. The Gospel is advancing. That matters more to me than my circumstances. Do you understand what’s happening? Paul says, the Gospel is advancing and that’s the priority. That’s what matters most. That’s the mission. And what Paul’s demonstrating for us is simply this, that the mission determines how much other things matter. The mission determines how much the other things matter. He’s not saying that none of that matters at all because Paul goes after it at certain points. They debate, they have conflict over it, they try to wrestle through. They try to search Scriptures and come to a right understanding. He’s not saying it doesn’t matter at all. He’s saying it doesn’t matter as much as the mission. And if they’re going to preach the Gospel, I’m going to rejoice. Because the mission determines how much the other stuff matters.
Let me tell you what, if we could get a handle on that as the people of God, it would change everything because the Church in the 21st century doesn’t have a handle on that. We don’t. The Church in the 21st century is struggling. The Church in the 21st century is in trouble in many ways and we often want to go, well, it’s because our culture, it’s because of what the government’s doing. It’s of this and that. And my honest belief is that where the Church is struggling in the world today, it’s not because of what’s been done to us, it’s because of what we’ve done to ourselves. We have not kept the mission front and center. And without that, we no longer know how much the other things matter. And so we elevate other things above and beyond the mission and it’s destroying us from the inside out. It’s like a decay that’s eating us from the inside out.
I was back east several years ago and I drove through a town. And I saw a church and I kind of paid attention to the name of the church just because that was kind of interesting. And the name of the church was the First Baptist Church. I didn’t think a lot about it. I mean, I thought it was weird. But I was like, I get it. I mean, if you’re the First Baptist Church to come to town and you have no creativity whatsoever, you name it the First Baptist Church, whatever. Okay. And then I drove a little bit further and I saw the Second Baptist Church. Now, I really hope that there’s a Second Baptist Church because the First Baptist Church got full. And they were like, “We don’t have room for all the people that are coming to Jesus, so we’re going to be on mission with Jesus. We got to build a second.” But I really hope that’s what happened. But I’m a little too cynical to believe that’s what happened, because I’ve seen way too many churches start because some people at the First Baptist Church got mad at some other people at the First Baptist Church, a conflict grew and it grew to the point of division and it might’ve been over something as simple as the color of the carpet. I’ve seen churches split over the color of the carpet and what colors should go in or what color you’re going to… I’ve seen it happen. Why does that happen? Because they don’t have mission first.
I drove a little bit further in the town and I came across the Third Baptist Church. And at that point I was like, that’s not good. And right about then I saw the Fourth Baptist Church, Portsmouth, Virginia. I would love to think that the First Baptist Church got full, so they had to build the Second Baptist Church and that one got full, so they had to build the third and that one got full they had to build the fourth, but I don’t think that’s what happened.
The reality is the Church in America far too often has lost its mission. It’s not made the mission the main thing, and without that lens, without that grid, we no longer know how much the other things matter. Okay? Can I just say one of things I love about Mission Hills is I don’t think that’s us. And that has nothing to do with me. I’ve only been here three years. This is something I saw immediately when I got here. Mission Hills has a tremendous amount of diversity, not necessarily ethnically. That is something I would love to see grow. I would do my heart good. But there’s a lot of other diversity that is not quite so obvious. I’m going to drop a bomb on some of you. Mission Hills is a Baptist Church. You may not know that. Like that was not on the website. Yeah, because we belong to Converge Worldwide, which our movement. But Converge Worldwide was the denomination formerly known as the Baptist General Conference, which was formerly known as the Swedish Baptist Conference. You have a long history of a Baptist affiliation. And yet there are people who call this home that are on mission with us here who grew up Presbyterian. There are people who grew up Methodist. There are people who grew up Catholic. There are people that grew up with no faith at all and no church involvement at all and they all call Mission Hills home. How does that happen? You know, we have people at Mission Hills who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. We have people at Mission Hills who believe in the post tribulation rapture. And we have a whole lot of people who have no idea what I’m talking about. And that’s okay. We have people who believe in Calvinism. We have people who believe in Arminianism and a whole lot of people who have no idea what I’m talking about, and it’s okay.
We have people who are Republican followers of Jesus. We have people who are Democrat followers of Jesus. And we people who are Independent followers of Jesus and they all call Mission Hills their Church home. We have people who love the fact that we use drums and electric guitars in worship and we have people who hate the fact that we use drums and electric guitars in our worship but they still call this home. We have people who love the fact that we use lights in our worship and we have people who hate the fact that we use lights in our worship, but they all call Mission Hills home. We have people who feel like it honors God to dress up to come to church and that’s awesome. And we have people who feel like it honors God to dress casual and come to church because it doesn’t separate church from the rest of the week. And that’s awesome. I get notes. I get the occasional note that challenges the fact that I wear jeans, and I get the occasional note that thanks me for wearing jeans because I brought a non-believer friend and they felt comfortable with you partly because of the way you dressed. And both of those are great. How do we have so much diversity in one church and I think the answers because Mission Hills has a legacy of keeping the mission first. And what does Paul teach us here? What does he model for us? The mission determines how much other things matter.
Please hear me. I’m not saying the other stuff’s irrelevant. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. Theology matters. How we relate to the culture matters. And we can have conversations about it. We can have debates about it, we can have arguments about it. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter at all. But I’m saying is the mission matters more and we have to look at all these other things through the lens of mission first. And understand, I’m not talking about sin. Please hear me. Okay? What the Bible says is wrong is wrong. What the Bible says is right is right. We’re not going to waffle on that. Okay? I’m not talking about sin stuff. But the mission determines how much the other things matter. And the moment we start letting these other things matter more than the mission, that’s the end of the Church being the Church, and we’re not going to let that happen. We’ve gone 77 years without letting happening. We’re not going to move forward and allow it to happen. We’re going to stay on mission. And that’s going to change the way we think about all the other things. That’s what I love about Mission Hills, and that’s what we need to model for other believers.
But here’s the thing, for the Church to do that we each have to do that. For the Church to live that way, we each have to live that way because the Church isn’t the building would come through. It’s not the organization. The Church is the people of God. It’s you. It’s me. It’s each one of us. The Church isn’t a building we come to. It’s a mission we choose to be part of. And so the Church can only keep the mission front and center when each of us is keeping the mission front and center. And let’s just recognize that that’s not an easy thing to do. So, how do we do that? Let me give you two prayers today. If you want the mission to be first and if you want the mission to determine how much the other things matter, then let me give you two prayers to pray. The first one is just this.
“Father, what am I allowing to matter more than the mission?” If you want to be part of the Church that God has called the Church to be, that’s a prayer you need to pray, on a pretty regular basis. I do. God, what am I allowing to sneak into the forefront that’s not quite as important as the mission itself? Doesn’t mean it’s not important at all, but it’s not as important as the mission. God, show me the things in my life that I’m making more important than the mission of extending your influence in the world. If you want to be part of the Church that God’s called the Church to be, that’s a prayer you need to pray. And then the second prayer would be this. “Father, would you give me a clearer picture of our mission and my part in it? Give me a clearer picture what it looks like to extend your influence in the world, to advance the Gospel in every sphere and then show me what my part is. Show me how I am called to extend your influence in every sphere of influence that you’ve given to me.”
Two very powerful prayers. And because ultimately the priorities we act on become the priorities that we live out, the priorities that we actually do something with, become the priorities that really matter. I’m going to give you this last question to wrestle with today. What’s one small step, we’ve already asked it, let’s ask it again. What’s one small step of faithfulness I can take and ask God to multiply? It’s one small step. Maybe the small stuff we mentioned last week. You text the word boundless to 888111, you’re going to get part of a mailing list where you get a challenge every week of this series with some very specific ideas about how to be on mission related to the content from that weekend’s message. If you haven’t done that yet, really encourage you, that might be your small step to get that weekly challenge. Text boundless to 888111. Maybe the small step is you go out of the Worship Center or you join us online where you…and look up Live on Mission. There’s a booth at the Littleton lobby, but you can also do this online. Good to Live on Mission and sign up for one of our service projects. That’s going to be coming up here on a weekend where we spread out to be on mission in South Denver and bless a whole lot of people. Maybe that’s your small step. Or maybe it’s something entirely different. Maybe it’s something that’s unique to your circumstances, but ask God, “What’s the small step you want me to take? And then God would you multiply that?”
Let’s pray. God, as followers of Jesus, we come before you and we want to ask for your forgiveness. Because all of us in some way or another at different times in our lives may be even right now we have elevated something above our mission, above the purpose for which we were made, redeemed and destined. We ask for your forgiveness for making other things more important than the mission. Lord, would you restore a missional focus to us? Would you make our mission our priority? And through that lens, give us a much clearer understanding of how much these other things really matter. We ask for your forgiveness and for your strength to do better.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do something for me? Would you begin praying for the people around you, people watching online who don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus? And if that’s you, I just want to speak to you very briefly for a moment because I recognize that sometimes people, they find themselves drawn to Jesus, they’re attracted to the Christian faith. And what’s kept them from saying yes to a relationship with Jesus is honestly the Church. And maybe that’s you. And maybe you’ve had some experiences with churches that have made something other than the Gospel, more important than the Gospel. And maybe that was a very difficult thing for you. And I want to apologize on behalf of Christians everywhere for the ways that we have allowed the mission to not be front and center and made these other things more important than they really are.
I wanna ask for your forgiveness, but I’ll ask you to set that aside. And I want you to hear the most important thing. The Gospel. God loves you. He loves you so much he sent his own Son to die for you. Jesus died on the cross voluntarily to pay the price of your sin of every wrong you’ve ever done. Three days later, he rose from the dead to prove that he had accomplished it. And he’s offering you forgiveness, adoption into the family of God and a relationship with your Creator that begins now and goes on forever. That’s the most important thing. That’s the Gospel and that is our mission to proclaim. And if you don’t have a relationship with God through faith in what Jesus did, you can right here, right now. And I’d like to give you that opportunity. Wherever you are, all you need to do is have this conversation with God. Just say to God, “God, I have done wrong and I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying to pay for my sin. I believe you rose from the dead and I understand that you’re offering me forgiveness in a relationship with my Creator. I’m ready to say yes to that. Jesus, I’m putting my trust in you, my faith in you, Jesus come into my life. I’m yours for now and forever.” Amen.
We’ve had a number of people make that decision this weekend. Can we just welcome them into the family of God? So awesome. If you made that decision for the first time today I wanna ask you to do something very simple, just text the word Jesus to 888111. You’re going to get back a link, it’s going to tell you five things that are true about you, that you’ve begun that relationship. Get you some resource in your hands to begin living on mission with him.
WHEN THE ASSIGNMENT WE GET ISN’T THE ASSIGNMENT WE WANT
What does it look like when we find ourselves in an assignment we never wanted, but are able to experience the blessings we never imagined we’d receive from it? When life is hard, you need the courage to move through it. Through prayer and Jesus’ provision there will be deliverance coming. God can be trusted to deliver.
Craig: Hey, Mission Hills, it is such a thrill for me to be able to introduce to you our guest speaker for the weekend. Larry Osborne is the pastor of North Coast Church in San Diego, California. He’s also the author of a whole lot of books on church leadership that have been on my shelf for years and in the last couple of years, it’s been a huge honor and a privilege to get to know him more personally. He is a mentor and a coach speaking words of wisdom into my life on a regular basis, so grateful for him and so excited for the powerful truth from God’s word that he’s gonna be bringing to you today. So why don’t you go ahead and give a warm Mission Hills welcome to Pastor Larry Osborne.
Larry: It was a letter he never wanted to write from a place he never wanted to be. The only reason he had planted a church in this place called Philippi that he was now writing a letter we call Philippians too, was because of previous missionary journey had gone sideways. You see, he’d started out with this dream of going to a place called Asia Minor where he was gonna preach and encourage the Christians that were already there and help plant new churches. He had told everybody about it. They’d prayed, they’d fasted, they waited on the Lord for what his plan was. They’d even printed up those little prayer things and, you know, those little magnets for people to put on refrigerators to remember what was going on.
But, excuse me, as he’s on his journey, suddenly everything starts to go wrong and every door he tries to open, gets closed. Looking back, he realized to the Spirit of Jesus is not allowing him to go into Asia Minor. I’m sure he wondered, well, why didn’t you tell me that earlier when we were getting this whole thing ready? Well, they sat back, probably prayed some more and looked around, tried to figure out what to do, and they went, “Ah, Bethania. You know, there’s some good stuff over there. Maybe that’s where we ought to go.” That looks like the next most logical thing. And so they tried to go there, but they kept running into roadblock after roadblock.
Well, as they’re trying to figure out what to do, they had pizza one night, and he had a pizza dream. And some dude over in Macedonia says, ”Hey, come down here. Come down here and help us.” So not knowing what else to do because nothing else was working, they went down to Macedonia, found a few people, began to proclaim Jesus. A little tiny church is formed and I bet in his mind he started go, “Ah, now I know what God is up to. Amazing.” But then he suddenly thrown into jail and beaten and has to run for his life and leave town. Heads over next to a place in that region called Thessalonica. Well, once again, he tries to start a little church. It just begins to get off the ground and a riot ensues. And he’s forced to once again run for his life. And that’s how that church got planted.
Now he’s writing it from Rome, but and he always wanted to go to Rome. That was his dream, but he wanted to go to Rome as a preacher, and now he’s there as a prisoner. And the make matters all the worse, the reason he’s under this house arrest from a human perspective is a series of bad decisions that he made and bad luck that happened. You see, he had always dreamed, as I said, of going to Rome. So what he thought he would do is, you know what, I’m gonna go to Rome, but first I wanna go over to Jerusalem and when we’re in Jerusalem, I’m gonna meet some of the brothers and sisters there. Get a little encouragement, maybe even raised a little bit of money for it. And then I’ll go to Rome. I’ll preach the Gospel. I’ll encourage the churches that have already been started. After all, it’s the center of the known world. Man, this is gonna be a great opportunity.
But as he’s headed towards Jerusalem, the Spirit of the Lord speaks to a group of people around him and they say, ”Don’t go to Jerusalem. Bad stuff is gonna happen.” He says, ”Ah, ha, what do you know?” So he continues to head onto Jerusalem and their a prophet meets him and the Spirit of the Lord had told that prophet, “You’re gonna be bound in you and things aren’t gonna go right.” All of the people around him began to plead with him. Please don’t go to Jerusalem. And if you’re a long-time Christian, you’ve ever read any Paul’s letters or the Book of Acts, you realized this is one stubborn dude. And so he said, ”No, I’m going, I don’t care what happens.” And, you know, that’s easy to say, but it’s not so easy when I don’t get what happens actually happens.
So he goes there and he’s got a series of enemies, because I’ll remind you that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and the early Church was made up of Jewish people. And one of the great conflicts early on in the early Church was whether or not Gentiles could become Jesus followers. And if they did become a Jesus follower, there was this idea by the Jewish believers that they needed to first of all become a observant Jew, which when it came to men and circumcision kind of thin the herd a little bit. So what happens is he decides, you know what, I’m gonna show these people that even though I have been spreading the message of Jesus to Gentiles and I am teaching Gentiles, they don’t have to become a Jew. I myself am an observant Jew. So I am going to a take vow.
So he takes a vow, in seven days are done, purification is over. He goes in the temple to make his sacrifice and rumors spread. They had social media like that. The Twitterverse goes crazy and everybody is saying he has brought Gentiles into the temple to defame the temple and a riot ensues. The Roman soldiers come and stop it. They’re about to flog and to be Paul as the instigator of all this. And then he pulls out and waves his Roman citizenship card. And long story short, what it means is he ends up in a place called Caesarea under house arrest and he’s stuck there for two long years.
Finally, it’s time for his trial about disturbing the peace and all that to be had and he’s gonna be brought back to Jerusalem with that. And there are a group of people who take a vow, about 40 of them, they take a vow that may they die if they do not ambush the entourage and kill Paul on the way. He hears about that, so he appeals to Caesar, which he’s a Roman citizen, means he’s now gonna be taken all the way to Rome where his appeal and his trial is gonna take place. To rub salt into the wounds, when he appeals to Caesar, he’s told, “Sure, we’re gonna send you to Rome now, but had you not done that, you would have been freed.”
So now, probably two years later, it’s been a five-year ordeal nothing has gone right. He’s under house arrest and he’s writing this letter, to a church he never even wanted to plant, trying to do the best in a bad circumstance. And yet God has been at work. You’ve already seen it in some of the early messages in this series in Philippians, because that church he never wanted to plant, did you know it ended up his number one fundraising source. They sent money to him over and over and over again when others did nothing. And the Book of Philippians is actually a thank you letter because the guy named Epaphroditus had brought a large gift to support him in his house arrest and now was taking this letter back as Paul writes to thank them and to let them know that despite an assignment he never really wanted and things on the surface appearing really bad, God was in control of who’s in control. And it’s all right. It’s okay. He’s living out the title of this series, this sense of living bigger than our circumstances.
You saw last weekend that even though he was chained to Roman guards, he did not write a pity party letter saying, “Oh, woe is me.” Instead of seeing himself chain to guards, he saw the guards as chained to him, and he had this opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to an elite group of military people in the most powerful part of the world that he would have never gotta talk to anyway. And so he just says, man, “God is at work.” Oh, by the way, there’s another part of God being at work in the midst of this because he doesn’t squirm out of it, doesn’t turn his attitude wrong and does the right thing, God is doing something he doesn’t even, I believe no at this point. Because remember his dream was to go to Rome and preach the Gospel and plant some churches and do a bunch of sermons. And God says, no, you’re not gonna do a crusade that no one remembers. You’re not gonna plant a church that’s nothing but a tourist attraction hundreds and thousands of years later, or it doesn’t even exist. No, you’re gonna write letters, but what you don’t know is those letters are Bible. And this letter to the Philippians becomes part of our Scripture. And instead of encouraging hundreds or maybe thousands at the most, it’s millions and millions and millions for thousands of years. The same with two letters he wrote to Thessalonians and some other letters he wrote from prison.
You see in all of this, he had learned the secret of how to cope and how to be content. Not happy. You know, sitting on the beach with a drink, with an umbrella in it. That’s not what biblical contentment means. It means I know how to cope no matter what happens. And you’ve already seen some of the things that made him that way. And today I wanna explore a few more from Philippians, from his other letters. What was going on in the mind of this guy that he could take an assignment he never wanted and cooperate with God so it became a blessing he never imagined? What is it?
But first of all, let’s take a look at the passage we’re looking at today as we continue moving through Philippians. We’re at Philippians Chapter 1 the back half of verse 18 is where we start, where he simply says, ”Yes, I will continue to rejoice over the fact that he’s able to preach to these soldiers that even though some people are proclaiming Jesus in ways that are an attempt to rub salt into his wounds, God’s still at work.” So he says, yes, and I’m gonna continue to rejoice and here’s why. For I know that, number one, through your prayers and number two, through God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. Now, he doesn’t mean deliverance from prison because he doesn’t know. We’re gonna see that in the next verse and later on about verse 27 and chapter 1 of Philippians, he says, he doesn’t know whether he’s not only going to get out of prison or not. He doesn’t even know whether he’s gonna live or die, but he says, you know what? At the end of the day, God said, I’m in control, it’s gonna be all right. I don’t know if this to deliver it’s just from the body or this delivers this from prison. But I do know a thousand years later when I look back at it, it’s like this is good.
And so we read on in verse 20, ”I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient.” Now help me out for a moment. What’s that next word? Sufficient what? Courage, say it louder. What might people talk back to me? Come on. Help me out. Sufficient what? Courage. If you treat your Bible as a life textbook and mark it up and I hope you do so you can like on your own go, oh yeah, I remember that, the word courage is worth underlining and circling because it shows something we wouldn’t catch in this passage if we turned it into clichés because in just a moment he’s gonna say, Hey, you know, to live is Christ to die is gain. He talks about rejoicing and all these things. And we can almost get the idea that he was just setting back without any fear, without any worry, just kind of loving on the trial that he’s going through.
In fact, I’d bet you’ve been at a group of Christian sometime or a Bible study or whatever and somebody says, man, I’m really worried about it. Somebody is all worry, worry, don’t worry. Trust God and everything. Shame on you. Oh, if you really know Jesus, you’ll have no fear, and that’s all baloney. Faith is trusting God enough to do what he says, even when I doubt it will work out. It’s not that I imagined it worked out. And obedient living doesn’t mean I never worry. It means I’m never overcome by that worry to the point I compromise and no longer do the right thing. It doesn’t mean I don’t have fear. It means I don’t let my fear overcome me to the point that I run from what God has called me to do because he says that I eagerly expect and I hope that I will in no way make Jesus ashamed and that I will have what again? Courage.
When do you need courage? Help me out when you’re afraid, right? I don’t have to sit down and sit down in front of a filet mignon steak dinner and say, “Lord, give me the courage to eat this, right?” Oh man, I’m just really afraid. Just like give me the courage to enjoy this vacation. No, you need courage when you’re afraid of what you’re about to experience. And this is so important when we read this text so we don’t take little parts of it. And act is, like I said, he was in little lala land, had some sort of spiritual lobotomy, we ended up beating ourselves up because we have real emotions that we have real feelings. He did too. So did our Lord, by the way.
I mean he went right before he went to the cross, he went into a place called the Garden of Gethsemane. And if you’ve ever seen the little pictures of it, he sits down by little rock, folds his hand. The cute little light is on him. That’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says, he went into that garden and he fell face down and grovelled in the ground as he cried out, his sweating as it were great drops of blood. Father, if there’s any way to avoid this. Father said no and he came back two more times and then he says, not my will but yours be done.
You see, the Apostle Paul wasn’t a guy without fear, wasn’t a guy without worry. He wasn’t a guy who just kind of lala land through life, but he was a guy who understood who his God was and was able because of that to do the right thing no matter what his assignment was, and we’re gonna see this flushed out. He goes on in verse 21 it says this, ”For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I go on living in the body, hello, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose?” As if he had any choice. ”I don’t know. I’m torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it’s more necessary for you that I remain on in the body and convinced of this. I know that I will remain and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith so that through my being with you again, your boasting in Christ will abound on account of me.” I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I do know this. I can’t lose as long as I’m following Jesus. Either one is good.
I’m guessing that he’ll probably let me live on because I can be of help to you, but as you read the rest of the letter, he is still not completely sure of that. Now, here’s what I want to do in the balance of our time. I have explained a passage to you. I’ve set for you the historical context to it. But now we’re gonna take a little trip to Pete’s Coffee, Starbucks, you know, whatever place you want to go. And we’re gonna sit down and you’re gonna say, you know, I heard a sermon today and I read a passage and it talked about trusting God and it talks about he’s in control and all that, but how does that really work out in real life? How does that work out in light of this stinking job I have in this career that is totally dead in, I never wanted to be here. How does that work out in this marriage that’s not at all what I thought it was going to be when I said for better or worse, I didn’t really think there’d be a worst.
With his financial meltdown or pressure with some things may be going on in my culture or my community, whatever, how in the world do I, in a real practical sense, do more than just read what this Paul guy said and actually find the power of Jesus unleashed in my life so that I can live above the circumstances when the assignment I get is not the assignment I want? So to do that, I’m gonna share four things that we need to remember when the assignment we get is not the assignment we want. And they come from Philippians, they come from the Apostle Paul’s other writings and Scripture and they come from all of Scripture. And they’re all pretty straightforward and simple, but they’re profoundly simple. So here we go.
When the assignment you want, isn’t the assignment you get, remember, number one, don’t be surprised. Don’t be surprised because I’m here to tell you that when you follow Jesus, you don’t always win the lottery. That when you follow Jesus, you are sometimes gonna do the right thing and get the wrong results. And that is par for the course. And the enemy has us right where he wants us spiritually when we believe that doing the right thing always brings immediate right results. Because the Bible from the get-go tells us it’s not that way. I think I all the way through, I think of a 1 Peter chapter 4 where he says, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is overcome you as though something strange has happened.” And yet that’s exactly what I do when all hell breaks loose.
I’m part of a life group at our church. Our church is built around these small groups where we take the weekend sermon and we dig deeper into them and it is amazing because I hear it everywhere by group does it, I do it. Every Christian I know does it. When things are going good, during prayer time or sharing stuff, we praise God. Hey, let me tell you how God showed up. And when things are going bad, what do we always ask? Where’s God right? Am I alone? Don’t look at me that way. You’re that way.
Where’s God? And he said, “I’m here like I told you, this is exactly what I said. What happened?” I ministered near Camp Pendleton, the Marine base and it’s like some guy signing up and then going through bootcamp and going, what’s up with this? I signed up for like, you know, some college money later. Like, are you kidding me? This was right from the beginning. God’s ways are not our ways. He’s God, I’m not. And just, let’s just take it on a human level. Good parents are more concerned about the health and the character of their children than their happiness. Would you agree? I mean, you’re a pretty bad parent if you decide, well, you know, go to bed when you want, brush your teeth when you want, do whatever it is you want because I want you happy. And the thing is, the kids don’t understand it when you say, “No, I want character and health.” I mean they do not say thank you for putting me to bed earlier than I wanted because I know you have my best interest at heart, Dad, Mom, right? I mean, that’s what you say on Facebook, you liar.
No, we know different, right? Well, do you realize that’s how it is with God as well? He is more concerned about your and my holiness than our happiness because our holiness is far more important than our happiness. So I should not be surprised when there are things in my life and assignments that are for my holiness or even I run through the gauntlet for your holiness. There’s a story in the Old Testament about a guy named Job. He was the most righteous man on earth and he went through some of the most difficulties anybody on earth has ever gone through. And you know what? The whole reason was so that there’d be a book that would teach us spiritual lessons. I don’t know, if I’m Job, but I’m gonna go, “God, could you use somebody else?” But in the whole picture, he’s more concerned about our holiness than our happiness. So don’t be surprised.
The second thing that the Apostle Paul understood and we need to understand is this little phrase trust God isn’t a cliché, it’s a choice. It is the fork in the road that we come to that determines our destiny over and over again. When we find ourself in those places, we do not understand because it is so easy for me to trust God when I agree with God. Amen. And the fact of the matter is most of what Scripture tells me to do and how to live, I go, that’s pretty cool. That’s why people who don’t follow Jesus think Jesus was a great teacher. Good, but what about those times where I know I need to go right and he says, go left. I know happiness short term is right and he says, go left. That’s a fork in the road. And the Apostle Paul understood that when it comes to trusting God, it is a choice to do the right thing no matter what happens. Biblical faith is simply continuing to do what God told us to do even when it doesn’t work.
In Hebrews 11:6 there’s a definition of the kind of faith that pleases God. And I love this passage because in the English language, we often think of the faith that pleases God as like never having a negative thought or you’re in a drought and you’re praying for rain and you believe in it so much, you carry an umbrella with you. Your kid’s Little League team is down by 7 runs, 2 outs in the last inning and you’re telling him, you gotta have faith. They’re realists. We’re gonna lose. Oh, have faith. All that’s cultural. Biblical faith is trusting God enough to do what he says and great faith is doing it even when it doesn’t work out because the Bible defines the kind of faith that pleases God this way.
Hebrews 11:6, ”Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” That’s how important it is. Because anyone who comes to God must believe two things, one, that he exists. Well, duh, I can’t really please God if I go, “You don’t exist.” But the second is that he what? Talk to me, rewards. That’s the core of the Apostle Paul’s faith that allowed him to live above these circumstances. He knew that God rewards even if the reward doesn’t come right now.
And the attack of the enemy is always God is not good. God cannot be trusted. It is not working out. And it is our call at that point to make a decision. It is a choice. Am I gonna trust them enough to do what he says even though this doesn’t seem to be so good right now. Every trial and difficulty has a way out. 1 Corinthians 10 says, ”There is no trial, there’s no tests, there’s no temptation that is overcome any of us but such as this common demand.” We often take our situations is unique. No, others have gone through it and God will not allow us to be tested beyond what we are able but will with the temptation always provide a way of escape.
And I remember when I first heard that as a Christian going, that’s really cool, but like, where is that door? Okay. I felt like, you know, I’m in one of those escape rooms and I’ve got no clue what’s going on. Like there was a way of escape, great, but I don’t know where it is. But here’s what I didn’t understand. Here’s the way of escape in every single trial and temptation, the path of obedience. It’s the way out of everything, the path of obedience. And if you were in an assignment, you can’t stand right now or not of your own choosing a relational one, a work one, a finance one, a doctor’s diagnosis one. Here’s what I can tell you very simple if you wanna know, okay, how do I respond properly? Your path of escape is obedience and if you wanted to sum up obedience in just one little phrase, it would be this, make Jesus look good.
Colossians 3:17 says, ”In word or deed, whatever we do, do it all in the name of Jesus.” What does it mean in the name of Jesus? Now, I used to think it was a little Christian phrase, especially like at the end of prayer, it’s the send button. You know, you finish your prayer, you go in Jesus name, amen. Two goes up. I remember as a young guy with falling asleep, praying or whatever and waking up, “Oops, I didn’t say in Jesus name. Amen.” It’s not a phrase, God goes, “Oh, I love to hear that.” It’s a description. To do something in the name of somebody means to do it representing them. It’s like an ambassador. It’s like power of attorney.
So here’s what I can tell you very practically, right now, if you’re in an assignment that’s not the assignment you want, wake up every morning. And in that relationship, that work environment, that community thing, whatever, ask this question, what will make Jesus look good today? What’s gonna make Jesus look good? Well, returning evil for evil, will that make him look good? Nope. I mean, you can just go on any list. What will make Jesus look good? That was what Paul said. We read that little phrase, he said that Christ Jesus might be exalted. That’s what drove him. And because of that, God was able to use him and instead of being broken by his circumstances, he was eventually in and so are we, blessed by his circumstances granted not as quick as he wanted, but still blessed by them.
Here’s the third thing to remember that if you’re stuck with the cross, remember the Resurrection. If you’re in the middle of a situation right now that seems like this is a cross too heavy to bear. How in the world did I get here? Remember the Resurrection because we have a God who can fix anything when it’s given to him. We have a God who’s making a tapestry. You know tapestries are beautiful, right? Have you ever seen the backside? They are butt ugly. Like who would pay five bucks for this sucker till you turn it over and guys at work that way and that’s what we’ve got to remember, the Resurrection.
There is a special day. It’s the Friday before Easter and what do we call that? Friday before Easter. What are we calling? What? What adjective? Good. Are you kidding me? That is the most damnable evil event that has ever happened in human history. There has never been a more unjust, more victory of evil event in the entire history of mankind than when innocent, sinless Jesus was beaten, mocked, spit on and died. It was Satan’s greatest victory. But as with all of his victories, he had shot himself in the foot and God takes damnable Friday and now we call it Good Friday. But nobody called Good Friday that day, right? They were all puzzled. They were broken, some turned to go back home, all kinds. And that’s the world we live in. We live in Friday and Saturday, but Sunday’s coming always, always Sunday’s coming.
Jesus knew the Resurrection was coming and yet he still feared the cross to the point of like, and we talked about a few moments ago praying, is there any way to remove this, please remove it. But he had told his disciples multiple times on his last journey up to Jerusalem, “Hey, we’re going into Jerusalem and I’m gonna be turned over to the elders, the chief priests and teachers of law. They’re gonna kill me and three days later, I’m gonna rise.” He knew the Resurrection and I believe that’s why after pleading is there any other way, and the Father says, “No way.” He said, “Not my will be done, but yours.” He wasn’t clueless about what was coming next. That’s why the Book of Hebrews actually uses this phrase because of the joy set before him. He didn’t want the assignment, but he took the assignment because he knows the Father is a rewarder.
In Philippians, later on, is gonna say, “It was therefore because he went to the cross that the Father highly exalted him.” Always, always remember Sunday’s coming. And by the way, this is true even if it’s a mess of your own making. Did you know that? Because the assignments we don’t want and the trials we go through are for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a mess of my own making, sometimes it’s your evil and I’m caught in the backwash of it. Sometimes it’s a direct attack of Satan and sometimes I have no clue why, but it doesn’t even matter even when I brought it upon myself.
I love this story of a guy named David. Those of you who are new at following Jesus, in the Old Testament, there was a guy named David. He’s famous for David and Goliath, but he’s infamous for affair that he had with a woman named Bathsheba. And even more infamous for how he had her husband set up to be killed in a military situation. Now because of that, he had earthly consequences that never left. You know, if I broken my marriage and I turned to Jesus, I don’t suddenly get my marriage back. If I’ve destroyed my health with a living disobediently, I don’t suddenly get my health back. I do get eternity. But here’s the thing, I want you to understand, if you will just even if it’s a mess of your own making, do the right thing, bring honor to Jesus, that he will begin to work. And even in the midst of those earthly consequences, he’s gonna start sprinkling blessings like you can’t believe. And there’s an eternity that puts it all in balance anyway.
Do you realize the son that was born to David and Bathsheba and the affair died at birth, a few days after birth? But the next son born to this elicit union. Do you know what his name was? Solomon, the writer of Scripture, the great and wise King. And when Jesus comes, he’s proud to call David his forefather and he’s sitting on the throne of David. Whatever the assignment, whatever the cross, remember the Resurrection, our God can fix anything. It’s not that bad suddenly becomes good. It’s that bad is never so bad that his good and his power can’t overcome it.
And there’s the last one that we want to remember here. And that is our destiny as far more important than our circumstances. And the Apostle Paul totally knew that. He didn’t wanna die. He asked people to pray for his deliverance. He use legal recourse to get out of situations, but at the end of the day. He knew his eternal destiny was far more important than anything else. It changes everything.
There’s a Psalm, one of my favorite, Psalm 73. Psalm 73, it’s by a guy named Asaph, who was a contemporary of King David when David was on the run from godless King Saul. And he looks around and he says, ”I don’t get this. The wicked are prospering. They mock God, whatever they do turns out perfect and whatever we do turns out horrible. What’s up with this?” And then he says, ”I almost said, what good has it done me to follow the Lord?” Now in Hebrew poetic literature, those aren’t words. That’s a statement of decision. He says, ”I almost did it and he says, but then I went into the Tabernacle and the Lord showed me their destiny and everything changes.” He’s all complained about, oh, this is great, this is great, this is great. Nothing’s working for us, so let’s just come here, come here, come here. Let me show you a few hundred years down the road. And he goes, oops. And the whole Psalm turns and becomes a Psalm of praise because he saw the end, not the present.
The Apostle Paul saw that so clearly. He doesn’t write about it in Philippians. He writes about it in one of his other letters. But remember that the guy who’s writing, I will rejoice anyway, the guy who’s writing, whether I live or die, whether I get out of prison, whatever. The guy who’s writing this has a mindset of clearly seeing the glories of God’s ultimate reward, not to short term rewards. And he writes about it in Corinthians. If you’re taking notes, you wanna write these two passages down, look at them later. In the margin of your Bible, you’ll probably want to put each cross-reference there so that you connect them there in one in the same letter, it’s called 2nd Corinthians. It’s a letter he wrote to a group of Christians in a place called Corinth. And here’s what he says, ”For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on what is not on what is seen, but what is unseen since what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal.” Man, he says, I’m looking ahead. And that helps me to understand these things that seem difficult now were just first world problems. They are light and momentary afflictions. I’ve lived a pretty blessed life. I mean, we’ve gone through some things. I’ve had ministry challenges. My wife nearly died of cancer by the grace of God. She’s fine, but stage four mets. We had a financial meltdown in ’09, but again, those are first world problems. I could sit my kids down and say, let me tell you how good God is. These are just light and momentary, but this guy didn’t have my kind of little problems.
Listen to what he went through. It’s in 2nd Corinthians, same letter, what he called light and momentary afflictions. He starts to label them in chapter 11, verses 23 to 29. Here’s what he says. ”I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely than exposed to death again and again. Five times, I received from the Jews, 40 lashes minus 1. Three times I was beaten with rods. I was pelted with stones. Three times, I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a night and a day in the open seat, just waiting to drown. I have been constantly on the move, a fugitive. I’ve been in danger from the rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, from the Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and have been in danger from false believers. I’ve labored and toiled and often gone without any sleep and I’ve known hunger and thirst and I’ve often gone without food. I’ve been cold and I’d been naked. Besides that, I’m stressed out. I face daily, the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” And he goes on.
Are you kidding me? Oh, that I could come to the day. I could have one-tenth of that list and call it momentary and light afflictions, but oh, may through the power of the Spirit, I have the day where I can have that list and not have the short-sightedness of immaturity that sees the present, but the long view of maturity that sees the whole. That’s how we live bigger than our circumstances. Father, would you take the things that we have looked at and would you speak to our hearts not with this series of things we maybe took some notes on or listened to, but with that one or two things that have your nudge, your work, the power, your Spirit is saying to us this one’s for you, that we might carry out our assignment, whatever it is well to your fame and your glory, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Can you imagine suffering as a gift from God? How we think about suffering determines what it can accomplish in our life. If we are on mission for Christ, our circumstances don’t need to define our contentment even when in the midst of the pain that comes from suffering.
ONE IN SPIRIT
In today’s world, having humility isn’t necessarily seen as a personality trait of power, but being impressive and being blessed are not the same thing. Join Reza Zadeh as he discusses humility as having a subdued strength in recognition of a higher authority.
What if humility is the key to greater influence? God wants us to act out our salvation; showing that we are in awe of God. He is transforming us from the inside out so that we want to accomplish God’s good purpose. When we put God’s agenda before our own, we begin to shine for him. Follow along this week and learn more about finding contentment in humility, including concrete steps you can take.
In this week’s sermon Craig talks about a third benefit of humility which is that humility builds unity; unity is so important, because Christianity is a team sport. We don’t always think of it that way. We often think that Christianity is about our own relationship with God and about our individual salvation, but it’s also a team sport with a clear goal: to see God’s influence extended throughout the world. That’s not something one person can do…it takes a team.
We can become enslaved by sin, death and darkness when we cling to our earthly priorities, but we can be brought out of it through relationship with Jesus. When we hang onto things that keep us from God’s treasure, we are letting the “trash” of our lives come before the righteousness that comes through faith in God. To take hold of all God has in store for us, we have to let go of all we’ve stored up for ourselves.
Join Reza Zadeh as he encourages us to gain the greatest gift: being in relation with the Creator. Contrary to traditional understanding, our purpose as believers in Christ is not solely to get to Heaven, but that we will attain something even greater. When we live for Christ, our old self dies and we are able to focus instead on expanding God’s kingdom.
Are you willing to pursue peace? When we are conflicted, whether with a person or situation, we have to pray for it; when you prayerfully give thanks for what you feel conflict about you’ll find peace comes from focusing less on criticism and more on giving credit to God, who gives us peace.