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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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11/19/2017
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Show Me Your Passport, Please!
Philippians 3:17-21
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians

Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians

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. Citizens Walk with Partners (v. 17)

  2. Citizens Watch for Pretenders (vv. 18-19)

  3. Citizens Wait for a Place (v. 20)

  4. Citizens Will Get a Promotion (v. 21)

Study Guide

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Recap Notes: November 19, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Show Me Your Passport, Please!"
Text: Philippians 3:17-21

Path

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,
Pastor Skip showed how Paul gave us four distinguishing characteristics of heavenly citizens:
  1. Citizens Walk with Partners (v. 17)
  2. Citizens Watch for Pretenders (vv. 18-19)
  3. Citizens Wait for a Place (v. 20)
  4. Citizens Will Get a Promotion (v. 21)

Points

Citizens Walk with Partners
  • Paul was a model citizen of heaven, but he did not put himself on a pedestal.
  • Like Paul, we are foreigners on a pilgrimage toward paradise, and we have a passport of citizenship.
  • As Christians, we should have a certain walk (lifestyle) that characterizes our citizenship.
  • As citizens, we need partners in our walk, those who motivate and encourage us and keep us accountable. We can't grow well without a mentor or guide.
  • Probe: The Greek word Paul uses for pattern is tupos. It refers to a stamp or dye that imprints something, leaving a pattern or print on the object. How has Christ left a pattern and print on your life? How should mentors leave a pattern or print on the lives of people they lead?
Citizens Watch for Pretenders
  • Notice the word weeping. Not everyone within the borders of a country is a loyal citizen. There are fake citizens within the church: people who know the heavenly language but don't conform to the heavenly laws.
  • Peter spoke of "false teachers among you" (2 Peter 2:1). Paul characterized these people as "enemies of the cross" (v. 18). He was referring to:
    • Legalists: those who believed in strict adherence to the law, a works-based faith
    • Antinomianists: those who believed in no law; all action is permitted
    • Judaizers: those who believed one must be a Jew, living by Jewish standards
    • Gnostics: those who believed the material/physical was evil, and only the spirit mattered, therefore allowing wayward actions in the flesh
  • Remember that your example and lifestyle may help pretenders become citizens.
  • Probe: The Greek word Paul uses for enemies is echthros. It means hateful, adversary, and a foe. Like in Paul's day, the church today has enemies. Who/what are some of the enemies of the church now? Take a moment to pray for them, yearning for them to become citizens of Jesus' kingdom.
Citizens Wait for a Place
  • Every Christian has three addresses: physical (on earth), spiritual (in Christ), and future (heaven). Christians have a heavenly focus because we have a heavenly citizenship.
  • The word Paul used for citizenship is the same word from which we derive politics. Paul was saying that our political affiliation is in heaven.
  • One of the ways to identify a citizen of the kingdom is whether the person wants to see the King. We should be excited for Jesus' return.
  • We become citizens of God's kingdom when we trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus then writes our name in His registry, the Book of Life.
  • Heaven is more than a destination; it is a motivation.
  • Probe: Notice Skip's use of the word motivation. Motivation provides the reason for actions, desires, and behavior. How should your future home (heaven) influence your actions in your current home (earth)?
Citizens Will Get a Promotion
  • With heaven, Christians get an upgrade; our bodies will be transformed. Every citizen of heaven will get a resurrected, glorified body.
  • The word Paul uses for transformed is metaschématizó. It means to transfigure, making an internal and external change. 
  • At the resurrection, we'll get a resurrected body like Jesus': "we shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2). We'll have new capabilities, and the glorified, upgraded, renewed body is for every believer.
  • Probe: A promotion is the action of raising someone to a higher position or rank. Share a time when you got a promotion here on earth. What were some of the benefits? Compare this with your future heavenly promotion. How do the two types of benefits (earthly and heavenly) compare?
Practice

Connect Up: Pastor Skip challenged Christians to look up, look around, and look out. What are some of the things we should be looking for when we connect up to God (His will, His love, guidance, etc.)? Why should we be on the lookout for Christ's return?

Connect In: Pastor Skip called us to look around for fellow imitators of Christ. What are some characteristics you look for in someone following Jesus? Share about a mentor who had a great impact on you. What were some qualities that stood out in that person's life?

Connect Out: When we look out, we are not only looking for false imitators, but also for ways to make the pretenders citizens of heaven. What are some key characteristics that make you aware that someone is not a true participant in the kingdom of God? For example, predators feed on the weak and hurting. Most predators in a church feed on one of three things: finances, intimacy, and theology/doctrine. Beyond telling the local church leadership, what actions should you take if you think you know of a predator or false imitator within your midst (prayer, evangelism, etc.)?

Transcript

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Hello and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. We pray this message strengthens your relationship with the Lord. And if it does, let us know. 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.

Any time you travel overseas you need a passport. It's a document of citizenship denoting your country of origin and permanent residence. When you receive Christ as your Savior, you become a citizen of Heaven. Meaning, that you're a foreigner on this earth. In the message, Show Me Your Passport, Please, Skip shares four characteristics of heavenly citizens. Now, please open your Bible to Philippians, chapter 3, as he begins.

Would you turn in your Bibles please, to the book of Philippians, chapter 3-- third chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, as you get your heart ready to receive what the Lord has for you. Philippians chapter 3.

Whenever you travel outside of this country you're going to need one of these. This is a passport. And the passport designates you are a citizen of whatever country it is that you were born in. You have citizenship there.

And you can't just walk from one border into another border, and say, I've decided to visit. Some officials are going to say, please, show me your passport. Or they might not use the word, please. They might just say, passport. And you have to show it to them. It designates where you're from, and then there are certain stipulations about where you're going.

And when you arrive at an airport in a foreign country, you're going to see two lines-- one that will say, citizens, and one that says, non-citizens. And that's because if you're a citizen of a country you are afforded certain privileges that non-citizens don't have. In any country.

If you were to look at the first page of the American passport, it says, the Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it concern to permit the citizen, or national of the United States, named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.

Now let's say that you don't belong to this country, but you want to become a citizen of the United States. You can do that. You can do that by becoming what is called a naturalized American citizen. And there is a process that you would go through in order to become naturalized. And once you go through the process, you then swear an oath in public.

And part of the oath reads like this-- I hereby declare on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen-- that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic-- that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same-- that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.

So though you may be born elsewhere-- not of your own choice of course, it was the choice of your parents-- you can become a citizen of this country by choice and by oath. But by becoming a citizen of this country you also become a foreigner of every other country.

Of course, there are exceptions. There is a thing called dual citizenship, which interestingly wasn't even possible until recently. It was the late 1960s, where you could hold dual citizenship. But that's more of a recent development. Effectively, becoming a citizen of one country means you are a foreigner of other countries. Likewise, when you become citizens of Heaven, you become foreigners on this earth.

This earth is just like a transit lounge in an airport. You're passing through. This isn't where you are going to spend the bulk of your time. You have an eternal home in Heaven. With that in mind, let's go to our text Philippians chapter 3-- beginning at verse 17-- what I call the citizenship clause of the book of Philippians.

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ-- whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame-- who set their mind on earthly things.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we all so eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Now in calling believers citizens of Heaven, that would be meaningful to the Philippians. Here's why. Phillippi-- though it was about 700 to 800 miles away from Rome-- if you were born in Phillippi, since Phillippi was a colony of Rome, any citizen of Phillippi was a citizen of Rome.

So those in Phillippi did not speak the language of Macedonia. They spoke the language of Rome. They wore not Macedonian clothes, but Roman clothes. They were loyal to the Roman government. And when they tucked their children in bed at night, they didn't tell them stories of local heroes, they told their children stories of all the glories of Rome.

We too. Because we have citizenship in Heaven, we are temporarily living in this colony, called the Earth. That's the metaphor. That's the idea behind Paul's usage of the term.

However, there was also another group. They were foreigners of Heaven trying to pass themselves off as citizens. They are fakes. They're a fake citizen. Now in the passport-- most people don't read these things, but there is fine print in every passport. And it says, on one of the pages, it is unlawful for any person other than the original, lawful recipient to use this passport.

And then there's a little clause that says, alteration or mutilation of the passport. And it reads like this-- this passport must not be altered or mutilated in any way. Alteration could make the passport invalid, and if willful, may subject you to prosecution.

Now why would they have to put a warning like that in a passport? Because it's one passport per person. I can't just say, hey, you want to travel? Take this passport. Go ahead. Why spend the money on yours? Just borrow mine. You couldn't do that. And some people would be tempted to take the passport, cut out my picture, and put their picture in it, and change the name.

Because there are people who are false citizens. Now Paul has that in mind also, when he writes this paragraph. If you remember, there were religious groups-- and Paul makes mention of them along the way so far-- that have infiltrated the church.

In chapter 1, Paul said, some-- speaking of among them, some among you-- preach Christ out of envy and strife, from selfish ambition, not sincerely. As we move on in the letter he gets stronger-- by chapter 3-- and he says beware of dogs. Beware of the evil workers. Beware of the mutilation.

Now he's calling him out. He's speaking specifically of those legalistic judaizers who are saying you need to go through the process of circumcision and keeping the law of Moses in order to be saved. Now he gets even stronger, and he calls them the enemies of the cross of Christ.

So we're going to be considering both of these groups-- citizens and non-citizens-- as we work our way through the passage. But let's go back to the passage, and allow me to give you some distinguishing characteristics of citizens of the kingdom of Heaven.

First off, citizens walk with partners. Citizens walk with partners. Verse 17. Brethren join in following my example, Paul writes, and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern. It almost goes without saying that Paul the Apostle was like a model citizen of Heaven, and he says, follow my example.

Now this is not arrogance. Paul is not putting himself on a pedestal above them. We know that because, remember in verse 12? He says, not that I have already attained, or were already perfected. So he's not placing himself on a pedestal above them, he's placing himself on a platform next to them. And he is saying, just as I am pursuing Christ with all my being, I invite you to join me in that pursuit.

This is the Philippians 3 way of saying what he writes in First Corinthians twice, follow me, as I follow the Lord. Or, imitate me, as I imitate Christ. Something else. Notice that he moves beyond his own example, and he draws a bigger circle. He says, note those-- that's plural-- who so walk. And, you have us-- again plural-- as a pattern.

So in Paul's mind, he is saying you can use me, Timothy, Epaphroditus, your own elders and deacons, leaders of the church that he mentions in chapter 1-- all of us as partners, and as patterns of how to walk.

Here's the principle. All of us are foreigners making our journey on a pilgrimage towards Heaven. We have a passport-- because we trust in Jesus-- but we need more than a passport. We need partners. We need patterns. We need people who have walked the walk before us, or will walk beside us and show us, in real time, how it's done.

Because the journey gets hard sometimes. It gets lonely sometimes on this road. And it's nice to have people around us who will encourage us, and show us how to walk. You know psychologists have said that they can tell a lot about an individual's personality by the way they walk. You know how some people just sort of walk shuffling their feet. That says a lot about that person. Just sort of meandering, and they get distracted very easily.

And other people have a cadence and a gate. They want to go to a certain place. It reveals about their personalities. One time, DL Moody was having a conversation with a friend, and a man walked by. Moody had never met him, but the friend he was talking to knew him. And as the man walked by, DL Moody said to his friend, he must have been in the Army. The friend said, well he was in the Army. How did you know? Moody said, I could tell by the way he walked.

You know soldiers walk a certain way, don't they? Cowboys walk a certain way. At least they do in the movies. John Wayne had sort of that swagger, didn't he? You could tell it was him when he was coming.

Christians are to have a certain walk. And of course I'm using that metaphorically-- Walk as a way of living, a manner, a lifestyle, living their life. And so as you walk, note those who so walk. You have them as partners. You have them as a pattern.

Mark Twain once humorously wrote, few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. May I just say we need more of that annoyance? We need the annoyance of good examples around us.

Those who have been involved in 12-step programs, or those who teach them-- for alcoholic recovery or addiction recovery-- will say that an addict cannot recover unless they have a sponsor. And they say it's the sponsor that serves as a motivator and encourager, a person with whom they can be accountable.

And I would say that we can't really mature well, we can't grow well, unless we have a sponsor. A mentor. It's called discipleship in the New Testament. We're never to be alone or isolated. We need to walk with others. And citizens will walk with partners.

I think we could learn from the elephants. I read an article about an elephant Herd in Africa. And to thin out the herd-- it was growing, it was becoming a little too populous. So to thin out the herd, authorities decided to kill off some of the older males in that herd, and relocate the females and the young bull elephants to another area.

Now in the area they move them to was a herd of white rhinos. And they noticed that once the elephants were in that region, the white right rhinos were being killed off-- not by poachers, but by elephants. Young bull elephants, who were very aggressive, and I guess, wanted to prove their elephant-hood, started killing these white rhinos. In fact, the authorities noted, it was as if one of the elephants got a gang together, and went after tour buses.

So they had another problem on their hands. Now to address that problem, they decided, let's kill off some of the young bull elephants. That didn't really fix things. So what they decided to do is to release a few older males from another area into the troubled neighborhood.

And they noticed it fixed the problem. It wasn't long before those young bull elephants got back into line. And they discovered that these young elephants don't know how to act from day to day without the example of older elephants.

So it's not just in the animal kingdom where that is needed, it's in God's kingdom. In the Christian life, we need to see that life lived in others. Citizens will walk with a set of partners in a pattern.

Here's the second characteristic-- citizens watch for pretenders. Verse 18. He says for many walk-- the reason we need people who walk well is because many walk-- of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly-- or their appetites-- whose glory is in their shame, and who set their mind on earthly things.

You see not everybody within the borders of a country are citizens. You can have people in the general population. They look like everybody else, but they are not loyal citizens. They're actually hostile to the national interests. And every country knows these people can be a problem.

Paul knows it's a problem even within the church, and he goes, I've told you about this before. But now I'm writing this to you, and as I'm writing, I'm weeping. Isn't that a weird word to read in the book of Philippians? We've noted already that this is a letter that 19 times uses the word joy or rejoice. It's the Epistle of joy. Nothing could take Paul's joy away, but here Paul says I'm weeping.

He's not weeping for himself. He's weeping for the church because he knows the outcome could be catastrophic. And so he warns them. These are fake citizens. That is, they know the heavenly language, but they're not conformed to Heavenly laws.

Remember Jesus said, beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. And-- predicted Jesus-- this will be a problem even to the end of the age. In Matthew 24, when He speaks of the end of the age, He says, many will come in my name and will deceive many.

And as you thumb through the New Testament, you find out this is an ongoing issue. You get to the book of Acts, you get to chapter 8, there was a guy named Simon Magus who was a fake believer among the general population of believers in Sumeria. Go a few more pages-- Acts 13-- there was Elymas the Sorcerer.

Then you get to the 20th chapter of Acts, when Paul is about to leave the Ephesian elders. And before he leaves, he says, I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in, not sparing this flock. In fact, men from among your own selves-- your own rank-- will come in, speaking perverse words to draw the disciples to themselves. He knew it would become an issue.

As we go on through the New Testament Paul calls out to people in the church at Ephesus-- this is in the book of 1 Timothy-- named Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom Paul says, whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Then we get to the writings of Peter-- First Peter, Second Peter. Second Peter has three chapters. Two of those three chapters are totally devoted to the issue of false teachers, false prophets, within the Church. He says, there are false teachers among you who bring in destructive heresies.

Why so many warnings? And I didn't cover them all there are many more in the New Testament. Why so many? Because brings up a truth, that scattered among every church are pretenders. They may be sitting next to you right now. Now I don't say that so you'll give them the evil eye. It must be you! I knew that about you! But that you're aware of it nonetheless.

Many people can sing the same songs, pray the same prayers, engage in the same activities, and at the same time, be pseudo-citizens. Pseudo-citizens. They speak the language of the court, but Christ is not their King. There is no allegiance to Him.

And you shouldn't be surprised by this. Now some of us go, I can't believe that would happen in a church! Really? You shouldn't be surprised, because Jesus said that the good seed is sown in the field, and it brings up a crop, but the enemy comes along and sows tares among the wheat.

And then Jesus even said, not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So apparently, according to Jesus, and Peter, and Paul, and John, and everybody who would contribute to the New Testament-- understands that wherever there is something true, there is going to be something counterfeit That will be next to it. Like the Puritan William Gurnall who said, these are people who love God in their mouth, but the world is in their hearts.

Notice how Paul writes about them. He says, they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Wouldn't you like to know exactly who he is talking about? Now I say, wouldn't you like to know? I can't be sure exactly what group Paul is referring to, because in Phillippi-- like just about everywhere else in the New Testament early church-- there were two groups that were on the opposite end of the spectrum. Both were problematic.

One, we've already noted, were the judaizers. These were people who said you have to keep Jewish law, go through Jewish ritual in order to be saved. Keep circumcision. They were the legalists.

On the other hand, there were the Gnostics. And the Gnostics were not legalistic. They were antinomian. That is, having no law at all. And the Gnostics believed that all matter was evil, only the spirit is good, and that you can be saved by aligning your spirit in surrender to God. But you do anything you want with your body, because your body is irredeemable. So in effect the Gnostics said, as long as in your heart you believe in God and follow Christ, you can live any way you want with your body. That was problematic.

So we don't know if he's referring to the legalistic group, or the antinomian group-- the judaizers or the Gnostics. Either way, both groups being problematic, would fit the description, enemies of the cross of Christ. They are a menace.

Now I just want you to look at this, for a moment, from a little different angle. Those who may be among us, and are not true citizens of the Kingdom of God. Churchgoers, yes. Well-meaning, yes. Sincere, yes. They'll go along, they'll come to church, they'll sing the songs, but they're not part of the Kingdom yet. Instead of saying, get away. How about saying, come closer? How about saying, don't just believe with your mouth? How about really believe in your heart? How about having a true conversion? How about coming to Christ, and truly believing Him?

So instead of seeing them as a menace, we could start to see them as a mission. I'm going to focus my attention. And you know what? Dr. Elton Trueblood noted this-- our main mission-field today, as far as America is concerned, is within the church membership itself.

Even the Billy Graham Association-- Billy Graham said a while back, our Crusades find the greatest challenge and the greatest response from among church members. That's why he would always invite different churches to his Crusades, because he knew a lot of people who came weren't really saved people, but he wanted them to hear the Gospel.

So the question you need to ask yourself is, are you an imitation citizen? Or, are you a true citizen? Is your passport, so to speak, been stamped by the Blood of Jesus Christ? Have you applied that personally, authentically, really, to your own life? Or, are you hiding behind the mask of some religious group or system?

So citizens walk with partners, watch for pretenders-- but here's a third-- citizens wait for a place. Verse 20 tells us about that. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Did you notice the contrast between verse 19 and verse 20? Verse 18 and 19, he describes the pretenders, and the last thing he says in verse 19 is, who set their mind on earthly things. In contrast to that, for our citizenship is in heaven.

Let me refresh your memory. When Paul opened this letter, he noted that the Philippian believers had two addresses-- a physical address, spiritual address. To the saints who are in Phillippi in Christ Jesus, you have a physical address-- Phillippi or Albuquerque. You have a spiritual address-- in Christ Jesus. And because you have a spiritual address, you have an eventual address, mentioned here. Your eventual address is in Heaven.

Why do I bring this up? Because this helps answer why we as believers get so excited and preoccupied with Heaven. You know, I've been accused by unbelievers. You always talk about Heaven. It's like the great escape! You're so heavenly minded, you're no earthly good!

Well, let me tell you why we're so focused on Heaven. Because we're citizens of Heaven. That's going to be our eventual home. He says our citizenship is in Heaven. From which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now look at the word, citizenship, for just a moment. I'm having you look at it, because it's the only place in the New Testament Paul uses this word in this manner. The word, citizenship, is the word in Greek, politeuma. Politeuma is the Greek word from which we derive our word, politics, or, political affiliation. For our politics are in Heaven. For our political affiliation is in Heaven.

You know, I've noticed something about politics-- it always divides people. You could have a conversation, even among believers-- If we started loving on each other, and singing together, and stuff like we're doing now-- if I brought up a political issue I would divide this nice, happy gathering. Always happens. It divides families, divides believers, and as I grow in the Lord, I am becoming less political, and hopefully, more spiritual in my outlook.

I am much less a Republican, much less a Democrat. And today when people say, well what are you? I'm a theocrat. I believe the only hope for this place is when Jesus comes back and rules everything and everyone.

[APPLAUSE]

Speaking of which, he says, from which-- verse 20-- we all so eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now notice something. Our hope is not in the coming of the Lord. Our hope is in the Lord who is coming. I'm not waiting for an event to bail me out, I'm waiting for a person that I know and love. He's coming back. He's my Lord. He's my Savior. And that intimacy will be fully realized at that point.

By the way, one of the ways to tell a person is really a citizen of a kingdom is he or she wants to see the King. They can't wait to see the King. If you're not a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and you hear a believer say, Jesus is coming soon, that doesn't excite you. First of all you'd think they're wacky. But if you are to actually believe in what they said, Jesus is coming, you wouldn't go, oh great. You go, oh no! He is? Uh oh. That's not good news to you.

But if you are a citizen of the kingdom it's like, yes! Can't wait to see my King. Now brings up a question. If you are a citizen of the Kingdom, how are you waiting for the King? It says, we eagerly wait for him. Would that describe you? Are you eagerly waiting for Him? Or would you say, well, my waiting for Him is sort of like a passive resignation.

You know, I've heard Jesus is coming for years. My grandma used to say that. So, you know, Jesus is coming again. Or do you have a bored disinterest in His coming? You know a citizen, once that person is a citizen, when they're away from their homeland, they get homesick.

The first time I traveled overseas, I was so excited to get on an airplane and have my own passport. It's like, see? I got a passport! And I was in that country. And I loved trying and the food, and all the customs. But I was there for like, a few months. And the first week I was all getting excited, and try everything.

But after a couple weeks-- didn't take long-- I started having dreams of hamburgers and stuff, like American things. And I've gotten better as time has gone on, but I just got sort of homesick. I wanted to have my friends around me again, and the things that I was used to.

And so it is with us in the Kingdom of God. We get homesick. One of the great promises Jesus ever made was, in my Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I'm going to prepare a place-- it's a real place-- for you. And if I go, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am you may be with me always. And so we look forward to that.

I sort of feel like-- especially the older I get, and I know that Heaven is a lot closer now than it used to be, and that the road ahead of me is shorter than the road behind me-- I sort of feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Remember? She'd click her heels, and go, there's no place like home! There's no place like-- I feel like saying, there's no place like Heaven! There's no place like Heaven! That's our home.

Question. How do we become heavenly citizens? Easy answer. You trust in Jesus Christ, who did the work for you on the cross, and He writes your name down-- so to speak-- in the registry of Heaven.

I want you to skip ahead a couple of verses. Go to chapter 4, verse 3, and just notice the language. He says, I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers-- now, notice this phrase-- whose names are in the book of life.

By the time you get to Revelation, the book of life is called the Lamb's Book of Life, or the Book of Life of the Lamb. It's given either way. Jesus said to his disciples-- Luke chapter 10-- rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. You trust Him, and He put your name down on the log book. So by the time you die, you show up in Heaven. It's like, oh! We've been expecting you. Your name's here. And you're right on time, by the way, come on in.

A few years ago, I had a very distinct opportunity. A friend that I know arranged, when we were in Israel once-- three of us-- to meet with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his office at the Knesset. Now he's the one that put our names down on the registry. He was sort of like the one who was the go-between. But he arranged it.

We were given instructions. Be at the Knesset gate-- this certain gate at the Knesset-- at exactly 2 PM on a certain day. We showed up. They looked at the registry. Our names had been written down. They asked for our passport to make sure it wasn't altered or mutilated, that I was the person whose name was on the list. And then they said, please come in. Welcome.

Now I was there in the prime minister of Israel's office, Bibi Netanyahu, not because I decided I wanted to go, not because I was really sincere and I think I deserve it. I was there solely on the intercession of another person who put my name down in that registry. That's how I get to Heaven. I'm there by the merits of Another, the intercession of Another, who put my name down in the Book of Life.

So when you say, why are Christians so interested in Heaven? Well, our name is written there. Our Savior lives there. He will return from there. He will take us back to there. Are fellow believers, who have died before us, are already there. And our inheritance and reward is there. Why shouldn't we look forward to that?

[APPLAUSE]

Our citizenship is in Heaven. However, please see that Heaven is much more than a destination. It's a motivation. It should motivate us, knowing that our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life is a motivation for a pure life, and a gospel preaching life.

John writes this, we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, and everyone who has this hope purifies himself, even as he is pure.

There's nothing more pure than believing Jesus Christ could come at any moment. When you believe that, when you live with that in mind, it's a motivation. Because you're about to get involved in some enterprise, or with another person, and you have this thought, what if Jesus comes now? That will keep you from doing a lot of stuff. Or it will get you involved in doing good stuff. It'll motivate you to say, you know these people don't know the Lord. I want to make sure they get to Heaven. So it's a motivation, not just a destination.

So there are the descriptions of heavenly citizens. Citizens walk with partners, watch for pretenders. and wait for a place. Let me close on a final note. Citizens will get a promotion. I love Paul. I love the fact that he says, you know what? Not only are we going to Heaven, but let me just put the icing on the cake by saying this-- who-- speaking of Christ-- who will transform our lowly body, that it might be conformed to his glorious body, according to the workings by which he is able, even to subdue all things to himself.

The NSV-- the New Skip Version-- when you get to Heaven, this is getting an upgrade. You're going to get upgraded. Not only are you going to change locations, you're going to change looks. People say, well, how am I going to look in Heaven? Easy answer. Better. Much better. You're going to get the body you always dreamed of. Paul's word, you'll be transformed.

Poll after poll that I've read, has asked people this question-- if you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? The typical answer is something to do with bodily appearance. If I could change one thing about my life-- I want to be shorter, taller, thinner, or this or that. I would say hair color, but you can change that five times before the end of the day.

[LAUGHTER]

They want to change something about their outward appearance. And this body image consciousness has even leaked into the young people. Our kids are worried about it.

There was a little boy named Johnny who always sucked his thumb, and his mom wanted to break him of the habit. So one day, he was sucking his thumb and she said, Johnny, what good thing could possibly be gotten from you doing that? And he took his thumb out, and held it up, and he said, well, it is non-fattening.

[LAUGHTER]

So I suppose that's an upside.

[LAUGTER]

But one day your dream will come true. Every citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven will get a resurrected, glorified body, that is better than any face-lift, any skin cream, any Botox, any diet program, any facial reconstruction or stretching. And it's all free. You'll be transformed. He will transform.

Now notice what he says, our lowly body. So just think about this for a moment. You were young, and you're working really hard, and looking really good, and you work out. You're a personal trainer, and you want to show the world how to do it right. I applaud you for that. Please keep us all in line. But, you have but a moment to really enjoy that.

The truth is your body is a lowly body. You don't believe me? Just wait.

[LAUGHTER]

It won't take long to convince you. Trust me. The King James is even stronger. It says, who will change our vile body. Or the NASB says, our body of humility, or our body of humiliation. So enjoy it, for now. But it is a lowly body.

But notice verse 21, the word transformed. I'm drawing your attention to that because there's a word, in Greek, that he uses here. And we get another English word from it. I'm going to say the Greek word, and then you'll hear the English. Metaschematisei is the word. Transform. Metaschematisei. We get the word schematic. Did you hear it? Metaschematisei. We get the word schematic.

So when you get to Heaven, it's as if the upgrade you get will be a whole new schematic that affects inward and outward constitution, and a whole renewed physical structure. At the Resurrection-- which will occur at the rapture of the Church-- you will get a resurrected body. And it will be like Jesus' own resurrected Body. Notice what he says, that it will be conformed to His glorious body.

Now, when Jesus rose from the dead, He had new capabilities. We discover that when the disciples are in a room-- the doors are locked-- and Jesus just appears in front of the disciples. Locked doors. He didn't crawl through the window. He didn't knock on the door. Let me in! I can't get in! He just showed up. Hi!

How did he do that? Well, He had a whole new capability that He didn't have before. This resurrected Body was able to do that. And one day, He was walking on the road to Emmaus, and walking out several miles from Jerusalem, suddenly He shows up in that upper room. And then He's in Jerusalem, suddenly He shows up in Galilee.

So you're going to have new capabilities in this new body. I did a whole series of messages on this. I won't rehash all that. But imagine having a body that will never wear out. Imagine having a body that never gets tired, never gets exhausted. Imagine having a body that is not susceptible to disease, handicaps, atrophy, and aches and pains.

[APPLAUSE]

Imagine having a body that never gains weight.

[APPLAUSE]

Never loses hair. Never gets wrinkled. Hallelujah!

[LAUGHTER]

Never sags or stoops. That glorified, upgraded body is a guaranteed perk for every citizen of Heaven.

Benjamin Franklin when he died-- he was buried in Boston, Massachusetts. But interestingly, Benjamin Franklin wrote his own epitaph for when he died, years before he died. In fact, he revised it several times. So he must have thought a lot about it. Now this is not on his gravestone, but it is on a plaque at a wall nearby. His words--

The body of Ben Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, it's contents torn out, and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here. Food for worms. Yet the work itself shall not be lost, for it will appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, corrected and improved by the Author.

What a beautiful way of saying, this body-- lowly body-- is going to get an upgrade, be revised and improved by the Author. So summing it all up, look around for good examples to follow. Look out for imitations to avoid. And look up for Jesus to return.

Final question. Are you sure you're a citizen? Are you sure your faith is personally in Jesus Christ alone? Have you trusted in Him? Has there been a time in your life where you've placed that trust in Him? Is your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life? Because if it's not, we could have a swearing in ceremony right here today.

Let's bow for a word of prayer. Father, how we love the language of scripture. The rich metaphors that Paul, and others, have used to describe this life that we have, this life of faith with the living God. And we love the idea that we're citizens. We're in this colony, but we're really citizens of Heaven. We have an eventual address.

Lord, I just want to pray for those who have come to the realization today that they've come, and they've sat, and they have sung, and they have listened. And some may have even done it for a while. But they're not citizens of the Kingdom. There's There's not been a personal trust, where it's just genuinely a turning from, and a turning to. A turning from the old ways, the old life, and turning to Jesus. Being given new life. Having our names written in the Book of Life. Knowing that when we die we're going to go to Heaven.

Some people are not sure of that. I'm convinced, Lord, that you want us all to be absolutely sure and convinced that when we die, we're going to see You, and we're going to be right on time and welcomed into Your Kingdom. That our citizenship, while we live on Earth, is firmly fixed in Heaven. And Lord, I pray that you would draw some more into Your family.

With our heads bowed, I want to give you an opportunity. If you've never received Christ personally, or if you've heard messages, you've seen altar calls like this, but you've never personally done it. You've not turned to Christ. The Bible says as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become children of God.

And you have to do that. You have to receive Him. There has be a point in time where you say, yep, I receive Christ as my Savior. I put my trust in Him. Today can be the day. If you're not sure that you're a believer, but you want to be sure. Or, if you've wandered away, and you need to come home, either way, would you raise your hand up so I can see your hand?

And you're saying by raising your hand, Skip, pray for me. God bless you ma'am. Raise your hand up, say pray for me, I'm going to give my life to Christ. I'm going to settle this issue once for all. God bless you. Hands up. Standing even. And another one. Yes. I see your hand. Yes, ma'am. Right here. Yes, sir. Anybody else? If you're in the family room, raise your hand. Yes. Or, in the balcony?

Make sure. Make sure that you belong to Him. Anybody else? Just raise that hand up. Father, for each one we pray. So thankful they're here. So thankful that You love them. We think back to the day we really discovered how deep Your love is for us, how amazing Your grace is to us. And that we've been given-- not because we deserve anything-- but, by what You've done, we've been given a free ticket to Heaven.

We didn't earn it. We didn't deserve it. We just received it. And how thankful we are that You've convinced some more that salvation, and Heaven, can be their destination. Strengthen them as they follow You and walk after You, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Let's stand to our feet. As we sing this last song I'm going to ask-- if you raised your hand-- to get up from where you're standing, find the nearest aisle. Stand right up here, where in a moment I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ as your Savior, and as your Lord.

Jesus called people publicly. So we're going to give you the opportunity that we can celebrate with you. If you're in the balcony, or family room, walk through the door. Go down the stairs. Get out from where you're seated. Just stand right up here. It will only take a moment.

[APPLAUSE]

You can hear by the encouragement that we're excited you made this decision. That's right. If you saw somebody raise their hand, say, let me stand with you. Even if you didn't raise your hand, but you know that God has been speaking to you, you get up. You come. Come and stand right up here in the front. That's right.

So awesome. God bless you.

[SINGING] And you're closer. And the Father's arms are open wide. And forgiveness is always the precious love of Jesus Christ.

It'll take you just a moment. It's just a few steps. And it's something you'll never regret.

[APPLAUSE]

You walk in and out of a lot of places in your life. You've taken many different steps. You make sure that you make this step, and that you make the first steps in following Him. Anybody else? We're going to give you just another moment.

[SINGING] And we come to, to Your altar, The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness is always the precious love of Jesus Christ.

Now those of you who have come-- There's a bunch of you, and I love seeing every one of you. And more are coming even.

[APPLAUSE]

Awesome. Good choice. Welcome.

I'm going to lead you in a prayer. So I'm going to say a prayer out loud, and I'm going to ask you to say this prayer out loud. Come on. I'm glad you're here.

[APPLAUSE]

Come on. Let's try to scoot in here just a little bit. Just a little bit. So, nobody else can hear us. It's just us.

[LAUGHTER]

So I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going ask you to say this prayer out loud. Sort of like vows at a wedding, they say it out loud in front of people. But you're praying to the Lord. You're giving the Lord your life. You're giving Him the keys to your life. You're saying, You take over.

So I'm going to pray. You pray after me, but you say these words from your heart. Say them to the Lord who is listening. Let's pray. Say Lord, I give You my life.

Lord, I give my life.

I admit I'm a sinner.

I admit I'm a sinner.

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.

I believe in Jesus Christ.

I belive in Jesus Christ.

That He came from Heaven to Earth.

That He came from Heavn to Earth.

That He shed His blood on a cross.

That He shed His blood on a cross.

That He rose again from the dead.

That He rose again from the dead.

I turn from my sin.

I turn from my sin.

I turn to Jesus as my Savior.

I turn to Jesus as my Savior.

I want to follow Him as my Lord.

I want to follow him as my Lord.

Help me.

Help me.

In His name, I pray.

In His name, I pray.

Amen!

Amen!

[APPLAUSE]

Jesus said that our names are written in Heaven because we've been born again. Does this fact encourage you to share your faith with others? Let us know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder-- you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.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
Skip Heitzig
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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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10/8/2017
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Has Your Joy Sprung a Leak?
Philippians 3:1-3
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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.
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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
Skip Heitzig
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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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12/3/2017
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The Anatomy of a Healthy Church
Philippians 4:1-5
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In the New Testament, the church is often called “the body of Christ.” Like a human body, it has many parts and functions. The church at Philippi was growing and with growth comes growing pains. In this section, Paul addressed some of them and applied the right prescription for what was threatening this group. Let’s consider five necessary components of a healthy church.
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12/10/2017
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Overcoming an Anxious Mind
Philippians 4:6-7
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One author noted that we could write on countless American gravestones this epitaph: Hurried, Worried, Buried. Fear, stress, worry, and anxiety ravage modern culture. These two verses of Philippians 4 are among the most treasured by Christians worldwide because of their power to overcome this tendency to be overwhelmed by anxiety. Let’s give our souls a rest by learning and practicing the truths presented here.
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There are 22 additional messages in this series.