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Has Your Joy Sprung a Leak?
Philippians 3:1-3
Skip Heitzig

Jump To: Worship | Message

Philippians 3 (NKJV™)
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians

I have a bicycle pump in my garage that stands constant guard to reinflate my tires. It seems that I have a slow leak in one of them. Perhaps from a very small thorn or a defect in the tube, the air slowly leaks out, leaving the ride spongy. Spiritual thorns that deflate joy can also threaten our Christian experience. Let’s consider some simple principles that firm up our life journey and keep "the joy of the Lord" intact.

In the series Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians, we learn how to find joy in the most unlikely places as we discover that God can add color to the most black and white moments in life.

Outline

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  1. Joy Must Be Guarded (v. 1)

  2. Legalism Must Be Avoided (v. 2)

  3. Identity Must Be Comprehended (v. 3)

Study Guide

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Recap Notes: October 8, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Has Your Joy Sprung a Leak?"
Text: Philippians 3:1-3

Path

Pastor Skip stated, "I have a bicycle pump in my garage that stands constant guard to reinflate my tires. It seems that I have a slow leak in one of them. Perhaps from a very small thorn or a defect in the tube, the air slowly leaks out, leaving the ride spongy. Spiritual thorns that deflate joy can also threaten our Christian experience." In this message, Skip considered some simple principles that firm up our life journey and keep the joy of the Lord intact:
  1. Joy Must Be Guarded (v. 1)
  2. Legalism Must Be Avoided (v. 2)
  3. Identity Must Be Comprehended (v. 3)
Points

Joy Must Be Guarded
  • Famed evangelist Billy Sunday once said, "If you have no joy…there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere."
  • Circumstances, people, everyday problems, overwork, sin, doubt, disease, and chronic pain can all cause leaks in our joy.
  • Paul used strong language as he instructed us to guard our joy. Notice the word finally. It can better be understood as furthermore. Paul told the Philippians to constantly rejoice. The verb tense indicates that it's meant to be an ongoing activity.
    • Joy has less to do with what is happening around you; it's what's inside you that brings joy.
    • Joy is not automatic; it's a learned response, a choice to make.
  • Joy was Paul's outlook because Jesus was his uplook. Joy centers on a spiritual reality: God is on His throne. Because of that truth, you can say, "I am joyful because I have a relationship with the Lord."
  • Paul repeated himself in this passage to help us remember the importance of joy.
  • Probe: The word guarded means to be cautious, to have reservations. Besides joy, what other characteristics must be guarded in a Christian's life? Here are some to think about: prayer, Bible reading, serving others, loving others, and life priorities.
Legalism Must Be Avoided
  • Paul spoke against Judaizers, those who mixed the law and grace. Paul gave three warnings against legalism because being joyful means being careful.
    • Legalists can be scavengers: "Beware of dogs" (v. 3)
    • Legalists can be evil, but think they're doing good: "Beware of evil workers" (v. 3). Good works are a by-product of salvation, not its basis.
    • Legalists can be destructive: "Beware of the mutilation" (v. 3). Legalists taught that circumcision, a work of the flesh, was vital to salvation. Legalism mutilates the grace of God and the work of Jesus Christ.
  • Probe: Legalism is defined as excessive adherence to the law or formula. In what areas do you find you lean too much toward legalism? How can you learn to lean back toward joy? What would you share with a fellow Christian who leans too heavily toward legalism? What Scriptures would you share concerning our freedom in Christ?
Identity Must Be Comprehended
  • In verse 1, Paul described a true Christian believer:
    • True follower: "we are the [true] circumcision." Christians are those who have a true, inward cleansing, not a meaningless outward mark.
    • True worshipers: "who worship God in the Spirit." Worship is an inward position of the heart, taking an outward form: singing, prayer, etc.
    • True celebrators: "rejoice in Christ Jesus." This means to boast of or honor. Legalism boasts in its own works, minimizing the work of Jesus Christ.
    • True believers: "have no confidence in the flesh." The humanist message is to pull yourself up. The legalist message is to work your way to heaven. But the biblical message is that Jesus paid it all and all credit is His.
  • Probe: To comprehend is to grasp something mentally, to understand it and follow it.Look over Pastor Skip's four points. In what ways do you comprehend them, or follow them? In what ways do you not—and how can you improve your comprehension as a follower, worshiper, celebrator, and believer? Consider 1 Corinthians 13 and Colossians 3:5-13.
Practice

Connect Up: Jesus said that those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and truth (see John 4:24). Discuss what Jesus meant by spirit and truth. Would you agree with the following statement? "Unless there's a real passion for God, there is no worship in spirit. At the same time, worship must be ‘in truth,' that is, properly informed. Unless we have knowledge of the God we worship, there is no worship in truth."1

Connect In: Within any given church, you will find both legalists and antinomianists (those who think they are not obligated to follow any law). How are Bible-believing Christians to strike a balance between the two extremes within the church?

Connect Out: When sharing the gospel with an unbeliever, how would you respond to the following charge? "All Christianity is about are a bunch of dos and don'ts; it's all about following a set of rules."

1 "What does it mean to worship the Lord in spirit and truth?," https://www.gotquestions.org/worship-spirit-truth.html, accessed 10/8/2017.

Transcript

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Hello. And welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. If this message encourages you, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.

As we continue our series Technicolor Joy, we learn that spiritual thorns that display joy can also threaten our Christian experience. In the message "Has Your Joy Sprung a Leak?" Skip considers some simple principles that firm up our life journey a keep the joy of the Lord intact. Please turn in your Bible to Philippians chapter 3 as he begins.

Lord, we intentionally now just push everything aside and ask You to do what You are so good at. And that is to convince us of how loved we are by You, and areas that You are trying to deal with and carry us along through so that we can be more and more into the image of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

How thankful we are that You are so committed to our growth, to our maturity, that You walk with us every day and give us so many blessings, one of which is here right now-- the freedom we enjoy in this country to open up the scriptures and the freedom to worship You. Speak, Lord. Your servants are hearing. In Jesus' name, amen.

I don't know if you have heard the name Billy Sunday, or if you know much about who he was. Billy Sunday was a professional baseball player. He was a center fielder for Chicago who got converted and became an evangelist. And he was a fiery evangelist-- so much so that when he would speak, people would remark on the joy and enthusiasm that emanated from Billy Sunday. Well, he spoke a lot on the subject of joy.

One of the things he said is don't look as if your Christianity hurts you. Isn't that good? There's too many people who say, I'm a Christian. They wince their way through life.

He also said, the trouble with many people is that they have just enough religion to make them miserable. But my favorite quote by Billy Sunday on the subject of joy is this. If you have no joy, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere.

My question to you this morning is have you sprung a leak? Have you sprung a leak in joy? Has your joy sprung a leak? Now, there are a number of things in life that can challenge anybody's joy. Circumstances can. People can. Everyday problems can. Overwork, sin, doubt, disease, chronic pain-- those are just a few things that can challenge our joy.

However, if those things steal your joy, you've got a problem. And the biggest problem is Paul the Apostle. You say, Skip, how do you figure that's our biggest problem? Because if those saints can steal your joy, you've got an apostle, you've got someone telling you to be joyful who has every reason not to be joyful.

No, we already know from studying this book that Paul writes this from a jail cell. He does not know if the verdict's going to be live or die. But before we even read this text, let me remind you of something else Paul wrote. This is 2 Corinthians. It's a paragraph that he wrote in 2 Corinthians 11.

Listen to Paul describing his Christian background up to this point. He said, I have worked harder, I have been put in jail more often, I have been whipped times without number, faced death again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me 39 lashes. Three times I've been beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and day adrift at sea.

I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not.

I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often, I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often, I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all of this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along.

So how are you doing? I mean, with this guy's background-- and yet, Paul the Apostle felt he was so anchored to Jesus Christ, so trusting in Jesus for his future, that he felt it was no way he could not have joy. He couldn't help but be joyful.

And that has been a key note in this letter up to this point. We've noted that. I want you to note it one more time. Go back to chapter 1 verse 3, and just notice this.

This prisoner in jail, facing death possibly-- verse 3 says, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine, making requests for you all, with joy. Verse 18, chapter 1, what then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached. And in this, I rejoice-- yes-- and will rejoice.

Chapter 2, verse 16-- holding fast the word of life so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Yes? And if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith-- in other words, if this costs me my very life and I die in the process-- I am glad and rejoice with you all for the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me. Now, let's skip ahead and look at chapter 4, verse 4. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice.

OK. So if you were to go back and go through this letter and count how many times Paul uses "joy" or "rejoice" or "rejoicing," you would count 14 times in all just in this letter.

Now, with that as our background, let's look at our verses this morning. Philippians, chapter 3-- we're only going to look at three verses-- 1, 2, and 3.

"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation, for we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit. Rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

Now, immediately you notice that, though he's talking about rejoicing, he uses some pretty strong language-- very vivid warnings. Why? I think he wants to shock them a bit. I think he wants their attention. Their joy is being threatened, and he wants to keep them safe from the things and the people that are a challenge to their joy, that are possibly robbing them of joy.

You know, sometimes, when you give instructions to people, they've heard them before, so they're not listening. And so you introduce an element of shock to draw them in so they get the point.

So let me give you an example. There was a principal of a school, a junior high school, in Oregon. He had a problem. Some of the girls in that junior high school were wearing lipstick. They go in their little girls, in the girls' room, and put lipstick on. But then they would press their lips up against the mirror, leaving dozens of lip prints in the restroom.

So the principal kindly asked them not to do that, instructing them why. We have to clean up every time you do that. Please don't do that. You think it helped? Uh-uh. Didn't help at all-- they kept doing it. So he thought, well, I got to get a little more creative.

So he invited all the girls into the restroom, said, I'm going to give you a demonstration. This is how hard it is to clean the mirrors. So he got all the girls in the room, and said, now, girls, when you put your lip prints up there, we got to clean it every day. And here's the custodian to show you that it's not that easy of a task.

Well, they're just sort of licking their little clicks, talking, and not really paying attention, and giggling. So he says, OK, I'm going to demonstrate. So he tells the custodian, demonstrate cleaning the mirror in the bathroom. So the custodian gets the long handled squeegie, dips it in the toilet--

[LAUGHTER]

--scrubs the marks off and squeegees it off. Since that day, there have been no more lip prints on the mirrors in the girls' restroom. He's a pretty smart guy, isn't he? That little shock value changed everything. Well, so Paul does the same thing in these three verses, especially in verse 2.

What I want to show you here are three defenses that will stop leaking joy-- three defenses that will stop, that will help you against your joy leaking out. First of all, joy must be guarded.

Look at verse 1. "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord." Well, let me just say that just because Paul says "finally" here doesn't mean he's done. He's got a whole half a book left.

So he's a preacher. So when he says "finally," it doesn't mean finally. It means I have a whole second half of the book to go.

So it doesn't mean he's lying. It just means that the word translated here should probably have been translated more appropriately "furthermore" or "also" or "on another vein." That's what the word can mean. It's translated here "finally."

He's going to use this word again in chapter 4, verse 8. When he does it that time, he is closing the letter down. But here, "finally" means "furthermore."

So further more, or also, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. Those words from anybody else would sound very shallow. But when they come from the guy who experienced all that we found out that he experienced, they are very profound words.

Rejoice in the Lord. Now, he's given them a command. In fact, it's in what's called the present active indicative, which would be translated this way. Go on constantly rejoicing, or be continually rejoicing.

Now, when I discovered that that's what that wording means, that tells me something about joy. Number one, it tells me that joy has much less to do with what's going on around you and much more to do with what's going on inside you-- that no matter what's going on around you, you can respond to that with joy.

The second thing it tells me is that it's not an automatic response. This is something that is a learned response. It's a choice that you make to make joy your outlook.

How do I know that? Because by the time we get to chapter 4, verse 11, Paul says this. Listen carefully. I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. It's not automatic. I had to learn that. And I have learned it. So that is now my response.

Some of you will remember when David in the Old Testament, King David, before he was King, he was being chased by Saul. And he was very discouraged and very distraught. And he thought he was going to lose his life. We come to 1 Samuel, chapter 30, and we are told, then David encouraged himself in the Lord.

So that's Paul. Paul said, I will rejoice. And he goes, rejoice in the Lord. You see, joy was Paul's outlook, because Jesus was Paul's up-look. Speaking of that, look at the phrase. "Finally, my brethren"-- he didn't say rejoice period. He says rejoice in the Lord.

Why is that important? Because he's not saying rejoice in your circumstances or be dependent on people for your joy. When you rejoice in the Lord, your joy is a byproduct of a relationship with God. Perhaps one of the reasons you don't experience joy is because you're looking for joy in all the wrong places.

You're looking for something or someone else to produce it for you and in you. The way I see it, joy is a spiritual reality check. Let's see. God is still on the throne, check. I'm a child of God, check. All things work together for those who love God, check. All of that produces my response of OK, then, I'm going to be joyful.

So I'm not joyful because my circumstances are favorable. Oftentimes, they're not favorable. And I'm not joyful because people are wonderful, because are they always? No. Have you seen the way they drive around here?

[LAUGHTER]

That's enough to take your joy away. I'm not joyful because I own things OR sad because I don't own things. My joy is a byproduct of my relationship with the living, loving, Lord of the universe. Rejoice in the Lord. That qualifies the command.

Look at the next sentence of verse 1. Paul says, for me to write the same things to you, it's not tedious or burdensome or irksome or troublesome. It's not tedious, but for you it is safe. No, Paul knows he's repeating himself. He's saying the same things to them.

For me to say the same things to you, it's not tedious. He knows he's repeating himself. Living Bible puts it this way. I never get tired of telling you this, and it's good for you to hear it again and again.

What does he mean? Well, he's already talked about joy several times, and he's not done. And he knows that people listening or reading this letter, it could get a little tedious. OK. So you're reading Philippians. You're reading along, and he talks about your joy. And then a few verses later, he talks about joy. And a few verses later, rejoice. And after a while, you're going, he keeps saying that. It's getting tedious.

Hearing things repeated can get tedious for some people. When I was a kid, when I was in the bratty stage of being a kid, my parents would tell me things. They would repeat themselves, especially my father. And I had that juvenile, dopey response-- rolling my eyes. I wanted to-- I know, I can actually finish your paragraph. Dad, I know exactly what you're going to say. I knew the spiel.

And listening to things over and over again got a bit tedious. Well, I'm a parent now, obviously, and a grandparent. And I see things a little bit differently. I find myself repeating those things. And history goes on.

A good instructor repeats himself. Let me say that again.

[LAUGHTER]

Well, Paul says, I've said this before. I'm saying it again. It's not tedious for me. And it's actually safe for you. Now, Paul isn't the only one to do this. Peter, when he writes his letter, he says this. 2 Peter, chapter 1-- I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it's right, as long as I am in this tent, this body, to stir you up by reminding you.

Educators have always known the value of repetition. Ask any fitness coach, any athletic coach. My brother's a golf pro. And he will tell you, you need to make that swing and make those body motions over and over again. And he will have you repeat that and repeat that so that muscle memory gets locked in. You repeat it.

Even Aristotle, a couple of thousand years ago, said, it's frequent repetition that produces natural tendency. So he goes, I've said it before, I'm saying it again. I don't mind saying it again. And by the way, for you, it's actually safe that I say it again and again. Why is it safe?

It's safe because he knows that there are joy-stealers out there. There are grace-killers. There are legalistic people that attach themselves to every congregation. So joy must be guarded.

But number two, legalism must be avoided. And that's his thought when he gets to verse 2. He says, beware of dogs. He's not speaking to mailmen who are delivering your mail with a little sign, "beware of dog." He's speaking about something different. Beware of dogs. Beware of evil workers. Beware of the mutilation.

Notice, three times, he used the word "beware"-- "beware, beware, beware." These are warnings. Who is he warning them against? He's warning them against false teachers called judaizers-- judaizer. Let me explain who they are. I don't even know if you've ever heard the term judaizers. I'm not speaking about Jewish people.

Judaizers were people who mixed the grace of Jesus Christ with the law of the Old Testament. And they believe you needed both in order to be right with God. So when Peter in Acts, chapter 10, goes into a Gentile's house, Cornelius, and shares with him and eats a meal with him, the folks back in Jerusalem, the judaizers-- they were Jewish people, Messianic Jews, converted to Jesus Christ, trusted in Jesus-- but thought, Peter, you can't do that. You can't go into a Gentile's house and have a meal with him. They're like unclean people.

They got all upset. Why? Because they said, have to come to Judaism in order to get to Christ. Paul the Apostle had the same problem. He goes on his first missionary journey. He goes into the synagogues first, to the Jew first, also to the Greek. They kick him out of the synagogues. He preaches to the Greeks at the Areopagus, the agora. In every city, Gentiles, non-Jews hear, respond.

Well, by the time this filters back to Jerusalem in Acts, chapter 15, they're beside themselves. They throw a fit. Acts, chapter 15, this is what they say, verse 1. Unless you are circumcised and keep the laws of Moses, you cannot be saved.

Those were judaizers. They attached themselves to the church, and they said that Gentiles had to submit to Jewish rules. And they opposed Paul wherever he went. So he warns them.

By the way, if you're thinking, well, those days are long gone. We don't have people like that around today, do we?-- are you nuts? There's always people who have a list of rules to keep, and you have to go through those rules to be right with God.

And by the way, not much different than back then-- there's been a movement. And it's been popular for some time. It's called the Jewish Roots movement. That's what apologetic teachers will call it. Jewish Roots movement-- sounds beautiful. That is, let's get in touch with our Jewish roots and find out about the festivals and the prayer shawls and the Hebrew prayers and light the candles and wear the keep and blow the shofar.

And that's cool. But what they do is, a lot of times these are Gentiles, not Jewish people, who are going back to Jewish roots and believe that you have to be under the laws of the Torah in order to be right with God. And so it's dangerous.

So Paul says, beware. Beware. Beware. Why? Because he knows that being joyful means being careful. And we learn a lot about the characteristics of these legalists just from looking at this verse. Notice, first of all, the legalists can be scavengers. That's why Paul says, beware of dogs. That's a term of contempt, by the way.

You may want to try that. Go up to somebody and go, you dog. No, don't do that, on second thought. It was like a cussword. The origin of the term "dog" in Hebrew parlance goes back to Deuteronomy, chapter 23. It referred to a male cult prostitute. In Deuteronomy 23, it says, you shall not bring the wages of a harlot nor the price of a dog to the house of the Lord-- very stark language to describe a male cult prostitute.

Well, as time went on, did you know that Orthodox Jews started using the term "dog" to refer to non-Jews? Gentiles-- so Jews, Orthodox Jews, would often refer to Gentiles as dogs. Interesting that Paul decides, I'm going to throw that term back at them, these judaizers who say that we have to keep the laws of Moses to be safe. Beware of dogs.

He's saying that's who they are. Now, you probably have figured out that the dogs he is referring to are not your groomed little pets, that jump up on your lap-- [PANTING]-- that you put those goofy sweaters on and all that stuff. These were vicious, ferocious, scavengers who roamed the streets. They were dangerous. They ate filth. They bred disease. And just as a dog tears and devours, so do legalists tear and devour the grace of God. So Paul says, watch out for them. Legalists can be scavengers. Beware of dogs.

Second warning-- beware of evil workers. That's part of their characteristic. Legalists can be evil while thinking that they're good. They think they're good. But Paul calls them evil workers. OK. So what we have here is a play on words, or a play on concept, you might say.

Legalists believe that you get right with God by doing good works. I'm going to go through a ceremony and a ritual and do good. I'm going to try hard and earn my way. And Paul says, those are evil workers.

Why would he dare do that? Because when anyone ever says, I get right with God by doing good works, what they are in effect saying-- the work of Jesus Christ on the cross was not good enough. I need to add to that some of my own goodness and righteousness to make that a completed, finished work.

So I don't want you to think that I'm disparaging good works and saying, hey, you're a Christian. Don't worry about being good. Of course, I'm not saying that.

What I'm saying is that good works are a byproduct of a relationship with God. Once you come to Jesus Christ, if you've really come to Him, if it's really authentic and there's repentance and faith, He'll change you. There will be good works. But the good works are a byproduct of the relationship. Once they become the basis of a relationship, they are evil works, because you are saying, I need those works in order to be right with God.

One commentator writes this. There are people who do not want us to be free. They don't want us to be free before God, accepted just as we are by His grace. They don't want us to be free to express our faith originally and creatively. They insist that all look alike, talk alike, and act alike. Without being aware, we become anxious about what others will say about us, obsessively concerned about what others think we should do.

We no longer live the good news, but anxiously try to memorize and recite the script that someone else has assigned to us. We may be secure, but we will not be free.

Once in 2 Corinthians, Paul says that there are false apostles who corrupt you-- listen to the words-- who corrupt to you from the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ. It's just so simple. Just trust Him. Just embrace the work He has done for you. It's so simple. And when that gets convoluted, you have legalists who think they're good, but actually, it's evil.

Here's a third mark in the third "beware," when he says beware of the mutilation. I'm going to explain that. Legalists can be destructive. Now, when he's talking about mutilation, the old King James renders it "concision"-- "beware of the concision." If you ever read that, you're going, what on Earth is a concision?

So here, it says, "beware of the mutilation." Other translations say "beware of the false circumcision." So did you know that the covenant for Jews in ancient times of their covenant relationship with God was the outward mark of circumcision? A male child, at eight days old, was circumcised. That is, the foreskin of the flesh of his organ was cut off. And that was the symbol of the national relationship the Jews had with God.

What was it a symbol of? The symbol was to speak of the reality that my flesh life is cut away, that my focus is on spiritual things, not on fleshly things. It spoke of a beautiful reality.

But as time went on, the ritual became a formality. It just became a formality. It's not unlike baptism. For a lot of people, baptism is a formality. You know how I know this? Ask somebody. Are you saved? Do you know you're going to heaven? Often, they'll say, I've been baptized. Nice. That wasn't what I asked you.

Let's go back to the question. Are you saved? I've been baptized. Great, you got wet once. Are you saved? You see what they're doing? They're equating the ritual they went through, the formality, with being saved. So they did with circumcision.

Judaizers, as I mentioned, taught that circumcision was vital to salvation Acts 15:1-- unless you are circumcised and keep the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.

So Paul says, beware of the mutilation. It's a very strong term. The term he uses here refers to the pagans cutting themselves, mutilating themselves. Flashback to 1 Kings, 18, if some of you know that story, when Elijah's on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal-- and it says they started cutting themselves for hours, dancing around, calling to their gods. Remember that? That's the mutilation.

So what Paul is saying is that their circumcision is as meaningless as pagan mutilation if there's no reality behind the ritual. So legalism does that. It mutilates the grace of God. It mutilates the work of Christ.

If you were to boil all belief systems down to their irreducible minimum-- I like to do that-- you could say that all religions in the world have one of two approaches. There's only two religions in the world. You've heard me say this before.

I see people go, oh, there's so many different religious systems and so many beautiful examples of expression. No, there's really only two religions in the whole world. There is the religion of human achievement, and there is the religion of divine accomplishment.

Every single religious system, including sects of Christianity, many of them, fall into the category of the religion of human achievement. I am right with God because I've been baptized and I go to church and I've been confirmed and I try hard and I pray. That's what you've done. That's human achievement. Only Biblical Christianity is in that second category, the religion of divine accomplishment. It's what Jesus did for you. It's His finished work on the cross. That's divine accomplishment.

[APPLAUSE]

So joy must be guarded. Legalism must be avoided. And the third defense to leaking joy is your identity must be comprehended. Look at verse 3. It's our last verse for the day.

"For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." I'm amazed at how Paul the Apostle can take one verse and put so much in it. In one verse, he describes a true believer, a Christian believer. It's a synonym of what a true believer is.

Verse 3 is a description. And it's a contrast. As opposed to the false religious legalists, we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

So what is our identity? First of all, true followers-- I'm not saying we all or everybody here is. But if you are like Paul and he's identifying with the Philippians, a Christian believer is a true follower. Look at what he says. "For we are the circumcision." Stop there.

You could translate this, because it's implied, we are the true circumcision. We are the true circumcision. What he means by that is spiritually, we are circumcised. We are not those who have just a meaningless, outward mark. We are those who have a true inward cleansing. We are the true circumcision.

In Romans, chapter 2, Paul says, he is not a Jew who is one outwardly. And the circumcision is out of the flesh. But he said, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and the circumcision is the circumcision of the heart by the spirit, and not by the written code.

See, there's an inward reality that the outward ritual needs to speak to. It's like my ring. I have a wedding ring. I am ashamed to say it's the second one I've owned. I lost my first one in the Pacific Ocean. So I quickly went to a second hand store and got another ring.

But the ring itself is not as important as the relationship that I have. What if I wasn't married, and I had this ring on this finger? You would look at me and you'd say, oh, he's married. But I'm not married unless I have a spouse, a wife. So the ring points to the reality of having a spouse. I do have a spouse, by the way. And so I have a ring to prove it.

You may have a cross around your neck and you may have a baptismal certificate on your wall, but do you have a Savior in your heart? That's the crux of this. We are the true circumcision. So we are true followers. We are true worshippers.

Look at the next phrase. We are the circumcision who worship God in this spirit. Now, you know what that means-- in the spirit as opposed to the flesh. It's not only outward. It's not only rituals. It's real. It's authentic.

Now, you will notice around here, we always do this. We always emphasize the inward as opposed to just the outward. And the reason we do that-- people say, why do you do that so much? Because I'm a Biblical expositor, and the New Testament does that a lot. That's why.

It's the inward over against the outward, because anybody can go through the motions. Anybody can say, I'm a Christian. Here's my Bible. I know these songs. I get together with other people who believe. I do this once a week.

But the outward needs to speak to the inward. We worship God in the spirit. So do you remember when Jesus met a Samaritan woman? And he started asking her questions and talking to her, and he was getting really personal with her about her marriages and her previous love lives. And she's getting really kind of anxious about that and squiggling out of it. So she does what a lot of people do. They deflect.

Let's talk about something else. And her deflection was on outward worship. She said this. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship. See what she's talking about? She's deflecting to the emphasis on something outward. It's like saying, well, we go to church here, and you go to church there, so what's the right church to go to?

I love how Jesus answered it. He said, woman, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father, for God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. It has to be authentic in and from your spirit and based upon the truth of scripture.

The question isn't do you stand when you worship, do you sit when you worship, do you raise your hands when you worship, or do you sway when you worship? The question is do you worship? Is it real? Is it authentic? Is it you in your spirit, in your heart, authentically worshipping God? So our identity as believers must be comprehended. We are true followers, true worshippers.

Third description, we are true celebrators. He says, we worship God in the spirit, and we rejoice in Christ Jesus. Now, here, he loves the word "rejoice." But here, it would be better translated "we brag on" or "we boast about." We're not boasting about how good we are. We are bragging about and boasting in what Jesus Christ has done for us and His accomplishments.

Now, here's the dead give away. You can always spot a legalist this way. A legalistic person always minimizes the work of Jesus Christ and maximizes the work of man. And by the way, that's why they have no joy, because it's always "I'm working hard to get to Heaven." And they're never sure if they've worked enough. So there's never any satisfaction. There's never any joy. There's continual shame and hope-- hope I'm doing enough.

And I've got to tell you what. I've been around legalistic people who have these set of rules and regulations. But then they act so proudly and smug, like they've actually kept all of those rules and regulations themselves. Mark Twain said, having spent considerable time with good people, I can understand why Jesus liked to be with tax collectors and sinners.

[LAUGHTER]

Give me them any day over religious folks. The fourth thing we are, and we'll close, finally, brethren.

[LAUGHTER]

We are true believers. We are true believers-- notice the last six words-- and have no confidence in the flesh. We depend totally on Jesus Christ. Now, this is the place where we've got to just go-- [SIGHS]-- oh, yeah. We've got to just sigh a breath of relief, because you see, the humanist message is you've got to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, son, because God helps those who help themselves-- which, by the way, is not in the Bible, unless you wrote it there yourself.

[LAUGHTER]

That's the humanist message. The legalist message is well, you've got to work your way to Heaven and keep the rituals and keep the ceremonies and cross your fingers. But that's not our message. Our message is Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain. He washed me white as snow.

[APPLAUSE]

That's our message of the Gospel.

[APPLAUSE]

And listen, that'll bring joy back to your life. That'll bring joy back to your life. He did it all. That'll bring you joy, because Jesus said, I have come that they may have life and have it more--

Abundantly.

Abundantly. Abundantly-- He didn't say, I have come that they might have bummer.

[LAUGHTER]

And bummer more abundantly-- I know a lot of people with abundant bummer in their life. I've come that they might have joy and have it to the full, one translation says. The Skip translation, the NSV-- to the max-- joy to the max-- abundant joy.

Hey, let me close with this. Suppose that you get a new car and you're going on a driving vacation. You're going to Rocky Mountain National Park. So you fill your car up with gas, and you're driving up. You're so happy. Your whole family's there.

But you get out of town and you start noticing there are people outside of their vehicles pushing on the road. They're pushing their cars. They're pushing. You go, that's kind of weird. So eventually, you stop and get gas. And one of these pushers comes up next to you while you're pumping gas going, hi.

[PANTING]

Where are you going? You go, I'm going to Rocky Mountain National Park, and I'm driving. Yeah, I noticed that. I used to drive too. But now, we're pushing. You go, yeah, I noticed that you're pushing. So what's up with that? And they say, well, you know, we used to be, like you, driving. But now, well, we're a little more mature. And we've grown a little bit more. We know just a lot more than we did at first. So we've discovered that it's really good to push, because well, you get good exercise, first of all. And it's good for the environment. So you ought to just get out of your car. You've got to push.

And so let's just say you're dumb enough to go, OK.

[LAUGHTER]

You sold me. Now that I'm smarter, I'm going to go do that. So you're out there pushing. And let's say you go on vacation with your family and you push your car all the way up those passes to Rocky Mountain National Park and back home. Now, I have a question for you. Are you joyful?

[LAUGHTER]

Are you kidding? You are miserable. Why? Because you pushed. This is what Paul meant when he said to the Galatians, why is it, having begun in the spirit, you are now trying to be made perfect by the flesh? Or, with our illustration in mind, you might put it this way-- once you had a full tank of gas in the spirit. Why are you trying to push your way through life?

It's like people get saved. There's a joy in the Lord. And they read some stupid book or listen to some lame teacher and it's like, here we go. I'm pushing. I'm working really hard to get God to smile at me.

Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe.

[APPLAUSE]

And it could be, because I was one. Maybe you are a person who could be best described as a religious person-- not a righteous person, because the only righteousness God will ever allow any human to have is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. You might be religious, but not righteous. You may be moral and sincere, but I want to ask you this. Are you saved? Are you saved?

Now, if you go, well, I've been baptized, you know now it's the wrong answer. If you go, well, I go to Calvary-- sorry, God won't check, oh, you went to Calvary. Well, come on in.

Are you a saved individual? Do you know Jesus personally? Do you worship Him in the spirit as opposed to the flesh? Is your approach the approach of the Gospel? Do you trust Jesus alone?

I hope so. I pray so. If not, why not? Why not now just say, yeah, I'm going to stop pushing this car. I'm giving Jesus the keys. I'm going to hop in the backseat. I'm going to let Him take over.

Let's bow our heads and pray. Father, thank you for such clear instruction from Paul in just three verses, to write to a fledgling group who is experiencing the enormous pull and pressure not only of the world, but of people attaching themselves to the Christian congregation, who are pushing the agenda of works or Judaism or religion.

[AMBIENT MUSIC PLAYING]

And so that joy must be guarded. Lord, I pray, as we discover who we are really called to be, the true circumcision, the true ones who don't trust the flesh, but in the spirit, we brag about what Jesus has done, not about what we have done.

But Lord, I do want to pray, for anyone who might be here among us, they haven't really tasted of that yet. They've come close. They've come here. They've heard maybe many, many messages. But it doesn't define them. It's not their personal experience. They haven't yet surrendered honestly to the finished work of Jesus Christ, to the claim, Your claim, on their lives, through the finished work of Jesus on their behalf.

They're trusting in Jesus plus their religion. They're trusting in Jesus plus their ritual. They're trusting in Jesus plus their works. They are similarly caught in the same vortex that the early church was caught in in Jerusalem and in Philippi.

So Lord, I pray they'd be free of that and trust in Christ alone and breathe a sigh of relief, because sin is forgiven and nothing is held against them in the annals of Heaven. With our heads bowed, if You are here today and You have not trusted in Jesus Christ for your salvation personally, you've never personally done it-- your parents may have done it.

I see people all the time who are drug to church. Their parents make them go. They don't want to be here. They'd rather sleep through the service or play Pokemon through the service. But they want to get out of here. Or their wives make them come or they do it because their relatives want to go.

So what about you? Have you trusted personally in Jesus. And if not, why not? And why not do it today? Why not just sit simply say, I'm going to give my life to Jesus Christ and make this real, make Him real to me.

I'm going to receive Him as my Lord and Savior. I want to make sure that when I die, I'm going to Heaven. I want to make sure that my name is written in God's book of life. If you want certainty, with our heads bowed and eyes closed-- my eyes are open-- I want you to raise your hand so I can see and acknowledge that decision. You raise it up, keep it up for just a moment so I can see you.

God bless you, sir, right in the middle, right down that aisle. Anybody else? Raise your hand, please. Right over here on the left, several of you-- one, two, three, four. Right up here in the front-- yes, ma'am. Right there in the middle-- yes, sir. Thank you. Thank you for that. Right there, a couple more. Anyone else? Raise your hand up, please.

A lot over here to my right. Thank you. If you're in the balcony, anyone up there? Raise your hand up. It's a transaction between you and God alone. Family room? Make that decision. God bless you and you, yes. If you're outside, out by the amphitheater, out by the fountain, there's pastors out-- just raise your hand up. If you're outside and you hear this, if you're in the overflow next door, the hub, raise your hand. A pastor will see you there.

Father, I now just pray for each one who has raised that hand. I pray, Lord, that there would be such relief in their spirit as they put feet to their faith and make a prayer of commitment to Christ only to discover Jesus was waiting there all along to forgive them and wipe this slate clean and receive them into His kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Let's all stand, please. We're going to close with a song. And as we close with a song, I saw several hands go up. I'm going to ask you to do one final thing. If you raised your hand, I'm going to ask you now to get up from where you are standing, find the nearest aisle, and walk right up here to the front, where I'm going to meet you and lead you in just a moment in a prayer to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

If you raised your hand, please come forward. We're not doing this to embarrass you. As you can hear, we're doing this to encourage you, to celebrate with you.

[CHEERING, APPLAUSE]

Jesus called people publicly in the New Testament. He called people in front of other people and said, come and follow Me. So get up, come, walk forward. If you're in the family room, walk through that door. Go through the hallway and stand right up here. We'll give you just a moment.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

This is the most important time of this service. Please be praying for those people making this decision. If you didn't raise your hand, or I didn't see you, it doesn't matter, just come right now. Come to Christ. Be forgiven.

Don't trust in yourself. Don't trust in your religion. They can't help you. Trust in Jesus. He will help you. He will help you. He will save you. We'll give it just another moment. You might be in the middle of a row. You might be in the back. You've seen this before. You've watched this before. But that's all you've done. You've watched this. Now, you come. You be a part of it. Make it your personal experience.

[MUSIC PLAYING, WOMAN SINGING INDISTINCTLY]

(SINGING) Oh, come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Oh, Jesus Christ.

God bless you. Awesome. Great to see you.

[MUSIC FADING SLIGHTLY]

Yeah, come on up. Those of you who have come-- there's a lot of you-- I'm going to squeeze right in here, right here. Can I do that? Don't feel uncomfortable. It's only me. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to lead you who have come in a prayer. I'm going to pray this prayer out loud. And I'd like you to say it out loud after me-- sort of like at a wedding, they share vows out loud.

So we're all witnessing this, this transaction. So pray these words from your heart. Say them to the Lord as you give Him your life. Are you ready? Say, Lord, I give you my life.

Lord, I give you my life.

I know that I'm a sinner.

I know that I'm a sinner.

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.

I believe in Jesus--

I believe in Jesus--

--that He died on a cross for me--

--that He died on a cross for me--

--that He shed His blood for my sins--

--that he shed His blood for my sins--

--that He rose again from the dead--

--that He rose again from the dead.

I turn from my sin.

I turn from sin.

I repent of it.

I repent of it.

I turn to Jesus as my Savior.

I turn to Jesus as my Savior.

Help me to live for Him as my Lord.

Help me to live for Him as my Lord.

In Jesus' name.

In Jesus' name.

Amen.

Amen. Amen.

[CHEERING, APPLAUSE]

Awesome!

[MUSIC PLAYING]

As believers, we have every reason to be joyful because of Jesus Christ and His love for us. Did this message encourage you to keep your joy intact? We'd love to hear about it. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calgaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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4/23/2017
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A Joy Unexpected
Philippians 1:1
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Life doesn’t have to be easy to be joyful. In fact, ease of living and joy of heart have little to do with each other. Joy is not the absence of trouble but rather the presence of Jesus. Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is a letter dripping with joy and surprisingly so—it’s not what anyone would expect given the circumstances surrounding the author and the recipients. As we dip our toes into the joyful waters of this epistle, it’s my prayer that your smile will grow bigger and your heart will become lighter.
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4/30/2017
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News Flash: You’re a Saint!
Philippians 1:1-2
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You've heard it before. Someone excuses his or her crude behavior by saying something like, "Well, I'm no saint, but I do the best I can." Or, "She's so wonderful; she's a saint!" The idea most folks have is that saints are those who've died and attain special status because of their unusual accomplishments while they lived on earth. Nothing could have been further from Paul's mind when he wrote this letter to living "saints." I hope you're one.
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5/7/2017
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The Family Business
Philippians 1:3-8
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No matter what you may do for a living, there is a higher purpose for your life. No matter what you do for work, God is at work in you and through you. You may have a career in mind, but God has a calling in mind. These are not contradictory paths but complementary ones. The apostle Paul assured his audience of God's work collectively, personally, and practically. We are the objects as well as the instruments of God's work in the world.
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5/14/2017
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Pray for Love
Philippians 1:9-11
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Love is the subject of more songs than any other topic. It's a word that falls off countless lips effortlessly and often without thought. But as someone noted, "One of the great illusions of our time is that love is self-sustaining. It is not. Love must be fed and nurtured, constantly renewed." The great apostle Paul had a deep love for the Philippian believers, and they for him. But love must be understood and developed intelligently. On this Mother's Day, when we celebrate the unique love of a mom, let's also consider how our love can become mature and God-honoring.
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5/21/2017
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The Happy Prisoner
Philippians 1:12-14
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What does it take to steal your joy? To answer that question honestly, you would need to discover what you're passionate about--what drives you and what your expectations of life are. Why is this so important? Because things won't always go your way. Unfavorable winds will toss the ship of your life around on the ocean of circumstances and heartbreaks. What do you need then? The right perspective! Let's learn these truths from Paul's prison cell in Rome.
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6/11/2017
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Pest Control
Philippians 1:15-18
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Every group—whether it’s a club, a corporation, a homeowner association, or a church—has its share of problem people and detractors. Such can be touchy, irritable, irrational, unreasonable, contentious, or legalistic. Their words may hurt us deeply. Their actions may confuse us greatly. So how do we handle these pesky folks? Most importantly, what should we do or not do with those who name the name of Christ but act like pests?
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6/25/2017
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Can You Predict Your Future?
Philippians 1:18-21
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If you were going to sit down and write a short description of what you wanted your future to look like, what words would you choose? Let me suggest four that come straight out of Paul's experience: joy, confidence, hope, and life. After musing over past events that brought him to prison, Paul looks ahead to his uncertain future. But these four words sum up what he expected his future to include--even if it meant his possible execution.
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7/9/2017
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Living on Earth; Longing for Heaven
Philippians 1:22-26
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Knowing what Paul knew about heaven made him think very differently about earth. As Thomas Watson said, "Spiritual things satisfy; the more of heaven is in us, the less earth will content us." It's like a kid eating his vegetables while eyeing the chocolate cake promised after the meal (the salad becomes a means to an end). Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come," indicating we should be longing for heaven. So how do we effectively live on earth with heaven ahead?
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7/16/2017
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How to Stand When They Want You to Fall
Philippians 1:27-30
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The truth is, we’re surrounded and outnumbered! The vast majority of the people we encounter in life don’t share our values nor worship our God. The difficulty of the Christian life is that we’re called to stand up for Christ when the rest of the world wants us to sit down or fall flat. They would much rather that we keep our mouths shut and conform to their standards. Let’s consider four spiritual weapons that will help us in the fight to stand strong in our faith.
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7/30/2017
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Being Around People--While Still Being Sane!
Philippians 2:1-4
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Relationships are hard. They take a lot of work. If you think about it, every person in the world is incompatible with every other person. Enough time together would reveal this truth. Because of this, tensions rise, emotions flare, and bad responses ensue. Every friendship, every marriage, every family, and every organization (including every church) has its relational challenges. The church at Philippi did, too, and it was that disunity that tested Paul’s joy. Let’s consider the basics and the basis of successful relationships, and move from surviving them to thriving in them.
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8/6/2017
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What Would Jesus Do?
Philippians 2:5-8
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The campaign What Would Jesus Do? has been around for years, challenging Christians to think about what Christ might actually do in any given situation so they might do likewise. Before us, we have an example of what Jesus actually did do. His example of humility and self-sacrifice is Paul’s illustration to fortify his exhortation of loving people through lowering ourselves.
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8/13/2017
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Be Humble or You'll Stumble
Philippians 2:8-11
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Humility is that slippery quality that once you think you have it, you don't! Also, the pathway of humility is a hard one. For Jesus, it meant the cross. But humility will always be rewarded. Using Christ as our ultimate example, Paul demonstrates how Jesus' voluntary humiliation was compensated by the Father’s lavish exaltation. So even though humility doesn't come without a price, without it, there will be no harmony, no unity.
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8/20/2017
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How to Have a Great Workout
Philippians 2:12-13
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Every day in every city, people go to the gym to get in a workout. Running on a treadmill, spinning on a cycle, working the stair-climber, and lifting weights are becoming more and more frequent in our health-conscious culture. But money spent on a gym membership is pointless unless we take the right approach. In this message, I want to consider what it means to have a healthy spiritual life by showing you what it means to "work out your own salvation in fear and trembling." Let's be determined to stay in top spiritual shape.
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8/27/2017
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Glow in the Dark!
Philippians 2:14-18
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To make an object glow in the dark, a phosphor that will energize by ambient light and have a very long persistence (like zinc sulfide and strontium aluminate) must be applied. For a Christian to glow (shine the light of truth and salvation) in a dark culture, there are four considerations that will energize us. Today let’s study how we can penetrate a murky world.
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9/17/2017
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A Little Help from My Friends
Philippians 2:19-24
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Life without friendship is like the sky without the sun. Paul knew the value of having true friends who stuck with him during difficult times. And right in the middle of this letter, he mentioned two of them—Timothy and Epaphroditus. These two guys helped shoulder the burdens for the apostle and brought him great joy. As we consider Timothy's friendship profile, see how many of these qualities are present in your own life.
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10/1/2017
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How to Treat Good (but Imperfect) People
Philippians 2:25-30
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Some of the greatest people I have ever met have been relatively unknown individuals. They serve diligently behind the scenes with no desire for the limelight. Their names are not known to men, yet they are known to God. But even the choicest servants of God are not perfect. We all have our blemishes, shortfalls, quirks, idiosyncrasies, and oddities. Paul gave us an excellent way to treat such people in his words about his friend Epaphroditus.
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10/15/2017
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Get a Real Testimony!
Philippians 3:4-8
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I have heard various people give their testimony over the years. A testimony is the story of how you came to believe in Christ personally. What is your story? Could you tell it to someone? You should be able to trace the steps you took in your life’s journey from aimless wandering to purposeful living as a Christian. These verses are Paul’s personal testimony. Let’s consider three essential ingredients to building a real testimony.
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10/29/2017
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Benefits of Being Believers
Philippians 3:8-11
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Being a Christian believer cost Paul a lot. He lost his status, he lost his prestige among former peers, and he landed in a foreign prison cell, facing possible execution. So what did he gain from his choice? What are the rewards and benefits of believing in Christ if the world hates you and most people misunderstand you? Today, we look at five of the benefits that offset any loss we might incur. These gains (or profits) make up for any momentary afflictions.
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11/5/2017
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Put On Your Running Shoes
Philippians 3:12-16
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Though I prefer cycling to running, I appreciate the disciplined runner who has trained long hours and has conditioned his/her body to reach its maximum potential. One of Paul’s favorite metaphors for Christian living was the race. In this passage, he pictured the believer as an athlete competing in a footrace pushing towards the finish line. To become winning champions in this race towards Christlikeness, there are five essentials:
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11/19/2017
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Show Me Your Passport, Please!
Philippians 3:17-21
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Anytime you travel overseas, a passport is required. Your passport is a document of citizenship, denoting your country of origin and permanent residence. Your name is written on that document along with your place and date of birth. Jesus said that our names are written in heaven (see Luke 10:20) because we have been born again. That makes us tourists and foreigners here on earth. In this section of Philippians, Paul gave us four distinguishing characteristics of heavenly citizens.
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There are 20 additional messages in this series.