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Think What to Do; Do What You Think - Philippians 4:8-9

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Our minds are ever being confronted with ideas, temptations, principles, and values. The battlefield is found in mainstream and social media, universities, and professional journals. Because it's impossible to make it through any given day without bumping into these thoughts and ideas, we must carefully, righteously, and actively manage them. To plant an idea is to produce an action. What we ponder we eventually practice. Consider these three ways to think.

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12/17/2017
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Think What to Do; Do What You Think
Philippians 4:8-9
Skip Heitzig
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Our minds are ever being confronted with ideas, temptations, principles, and values. The battlefield is found in mainstream and social media, universities, and professional journals. Because it's impossible to make it through any given day without bumping into these thoughts and ideas, we must carefully, righteously, and actively manage them. To plant an idea is to produce an action. What we ponder we eventually practice. Consider these three ways to think.
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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.

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Outline

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  1. Think Carefully (v. 8b "meditate on these things")

  2. Think Righteously (v. 8 “whatever things are true…noble…just…pure…lovely")

  3. Think Actively (v. 9 "…these [things] do")

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: December 17, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: “Think What to Do; Do What You Think”
Text: Philippians 4:8-9

Path

Our minds are constantly being confronted with ideas, temptations, principles, and values. The battlefield is found in mainstream and social media, universities, and professional journals. Because it’s impossible to make it through any given day without bumping into these thoughts and ideas, we must carefully, righteously, and actively manage them. To plant an idea is to produce an action. What we ponder we eventually practice. Pastor Skip considered three ways to think:
  1. Think Carefully
  2. Think Righteously
  3. Think Actively
Points

Think Carefully (v. 8b: “meditate on these things”)
  • The human mind is amazing, capable of logical thinking, abstract reasoning, and deductive analysis, in addition to emotions such as joy, sorrow, conviction and fear.
  • In contrast to Rene Descartes, who said, “I think therefore I am,” the apostle Paul might say, “I think therefore I do.”
  • Think of your thought life like tending a garden: good thoughts bear good fruit; bad thoughts bear bad fruit.
  • In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul demonstrated the relationship between thought and action.
  • The word for meditates means “concentrated, logical thought.”
  • Thinking is paramount for the Christian (see Proverb 23:7).
  • Furthermore, God commands us to think (see Isaiah 1:18), and Jesus stressed the importance of a robust thought life (Matthew 22:37).
  • You are thinking carefully when you meditate on truth.
    • Probe: The word meditate carries suspicious connotation in our current culture, with connections to Eastern mysticism. However, it is a very biblical term, as Philippians shows. What are some of the ways we can meditate on Scripture? Here are a few to discuss: focus your attention on it, comprehend it, remember and memorize it, and apply it to your life.
Think Righteously (v. 8: “whatever things are true...noble... just...pure...lovely”)
  • Though some have questioned the number, neuroscientists estimate that 70,000 thoughts go through the human mind in one day—25.5 million a year.1
  • In verse 8, Paul listed six things to think on, training your mind to think about God’s truth and the qualities that stem from His righteousness.
    • True—God is truth and the arbitrator of truth.
    • Nobel—means worthy of respect, something that is dignified.
    • Just—what is right and righteous. We must conform our thoughts to God’s standards of right and wrong.
    • Pure—wholesome and morally uncontaminated.
  • With any thoughts, be vigilant of what you allow to enter your mind; what you see and hear influences what you think, who you are, and what you do.
  • Thinking righteously is when you manage truth, filtering input by considering output.
    • Probe: Take a few moments to reflect on the things in your life that are noble, pure, just, and lovely (examples: nature, virtue, truth, etc.). Why should we think on these things? How do our thoughts shape our actions—that is, how is how we live based on what we think?
Think Actively (v. 9: “…these [things] do”)
  • Our thoughts should lead to action.
  • Notice two main verbs: “meditate” and “do.” Both carry the idea of a continual practice.
  • We can’t separate inward thoughts from outward actions; we must practice what we profess, live what we learn, practice what we ponder, and do what we think.
  • Here’s a warning: If you hear the truth, but don’t practice it, your heart may harden to the truth.
  • As James reminded us: “Be doers of the word, not hearer only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
  • Notice four key words in verse 9: learned, received, heard, and saw. These words and actions interconnect, depending on one another, each leading to the next.
  • A good model (someone you can look to) will reinforce careful, righteous thinking and living.
  • Each of us is writing a gospel—a witness to Christ—chapter-by-chapter, day-by-day, with the things we do and say.
  • Thinking actively is when you move out with the truth.
  • Practical Tips:
    • Evaluate content. Fill your mind with God’s wisdom.
    • Punctuate the day with truth. Read the Bible throughout the day.
    • Meditate on Scripture. Don’t just read but feed on God’s word.
    • Probe: When you consider an active thought life, what comes to mind? Here are some ideas to discuss: the ability to think deeply; the yearning to think compassionately and lovingly; the desire to think reasonably and rightly; and the thirst to think ethically and biblically. Some people can dazzle with facts, but don’t have the depth of thought. Why is it important for Christians to have depth, and not “check their brains at the door,” as Pastor Skip noted?
Practice

Connect Up: How does your thought life influence your relationship with the Lord? What does it mean to take every thought captive, making it obedient to Christ? (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). Here are some points to discuss:
  • Take responsibility for your thought life
  • Yearn for thoughts to conform to biblical standards
  • Think; don’t just react or blindly respond
  • Confess unbiblical thoughts
  • Focus on what’s important (faith, family, friends, and the truths given by God).
Connect In: Earlier in Philippians, Paul challenged the church to have a humble mind and heart, esteeming others better than themselves (see Philippians 2:3). Why is it important to incorporate a humble mind with others, particularly within the church? How would you define a humble person? Here are some points to discuss:
  • Others-centered
  • Conscientious of needs around them
  • Yearn to bring joy and love
  • Servant-leaders
  • Have strong, Christ-centered relationships
Connect Out: When sharing the gospel, why is a humble but knowledgeable mindset important? Who is a better witness, a know-it-all or a thoughtful and inviting person? Why?

1 http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2012/05/09/the-70000-thoughts-per-day-myth/#.WjaGj4UfHFa

Transcript

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Hello, and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. We pray that this teaching strengthens your relationship with the Lord. 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.

Our minds are constantly confronted with ideas, temptations, principles, and values. The battlefield is found in mainstream culture, social media, and universities. And what we ponder we eventually practice. In the message-- Think What to Do; Do What You Think-- Skip shares three ways we ought to think. Now, please open your Bible to Philippians chapter 4 as he begins.

Let's turn in our Bibles, then, to Philippians chapter 4, which is the last chapter of the book of Philippians, and as you will notice as you look at the page that we're almost done with the book. Now, don't get your hopes up. It doesn't mean we're finishing it today. We still are a couple of weeks out, but we're winding things down. We're gonna look at Philippians chapter 4 in just a moment.

When I was in grade school, my teachers used a phrase-- and I bet yours did, too-- and that is your thinking cap. They ever say that? They ever say, OK, kids, put your thinking caps on. And I remember when my teacher said that she meant or he meant, I need your attention, class. I really want you to process through what I'm about to tell you.

But you know, that's a figure of speech, but I remember thinking, wouldn't it be great if there was such a thing as an actual thinking cap, so that when, like, you lose your way or you need wisdom you just put the cap on and you're good to go? Of course, it doesn't really work that way. Henry Ford said, thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it.

Now, the human mind is amazing. You are capable of logical thought, you are capable of abstract reasoning-- deductive analysis. Your mind can emote. You can have emotions from joy to sorrow, from confidence to fear, and every emotion in between. Back in the 1600s, a philosopher named Rene Descartes gave a little philosophical postulate that he spoke in Latin-- very common language at the time.

And when I say it you'll recognize it-- many of you-- cognito ergo sum, which means-- I think, therefore I am. Cognito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. The point of that little saying is that we validate our own existence by the very fact that we can produce thoughts. So if you're ever in doubt-- am I real? Is this real? I'm thinking. I think, therefore I am.

Now, Paul wouldn't disagree with that, but Paul wouldn't stop there, either. Paul the Apostle would have said, OK, but I think, therefore I do. That is, my thought life is attached to the rest of my life. Whatever it is that you think on is what you will eventually do. So that good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit, and guess what? You're the gardener. You're the one doing the planting. And we've noticed that the book of Philippians is a book about joy, but this is all part of it. If you're going to have a joyful life you're going to need a joyful thought life-- that's where it all begins.

So a few years back, 15 college professors were given a challenge, and the challenge was simply this-- if you could take all the books on the art of moving people into action-- if they were condensed into one brief statement-- what would that statement be? So they took the challenge. They thought of all the famous books on getting people motivated, moving them into action, and coming up with just a short statement.

This is what they said-- what the mind attends to, it considers. What the mind does not attend to, it dismisses. What the mind attends to continually, it believes. And what the mind believes, it eventually does. So they knew that if you can get a group of people or a person to think long enough about something to where they actually believe in that something, then you can motivate them to do something.

With that as background we look at verse 8 and verse 9 of Philippians 4. Finally, brethren-- some of us are so happy to see that word finally, because it means Paul is almost done with this letter. Finally means the rest or the things that remain. He's tying up some loose ends-- some extra thoughts that sum up what he has been saying in this book.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy-- meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Now, there is a definite structure to these two verses linguistically-- and I know most people aren't excited about linguistic analysis, but let me just point something out-- what you have in these two verses are two different lists of things attached to a main clause. A single verb drives each verse.

The verb in verse 8 is the verb meditate or think-- ponder, think, on these things. That's the first important verb. Followed by verse 9, the main verb is do-- these do. So meditate first or think, first, and then do, second. Isn't it amazing how consistent the Bible is in describing how our thoughts produce actions-- that what we think drives what we do.

So here's an example-- Jesus taught often on humility to his disciples, but then one night at The Last Supper, He got up, washed their feet-- they were all a little bit dumbfounded by this-- and then He said to them, if you know these things, happy are you if you do them. Knowing is one thing, taking the knowledge into action is quite another. If you know these things, happy for you if you do them.

Here's another example-- when Paul writes, his writing style typically is to give knowledge first, application second. Think on this, now do this. Best example, Romans-- the book of Romans. He spends 11 chapters telling us what we should know, how we should thins-- about God about sin, about the world, about us-- and then, finally, in chapter 12 verse one he writes, I beseech you, therefore, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

So you've thought about this, now do that. He also follows that in the Book of Ephesians chapters one through three. Paul writes about what we have-- all the wealth we have in Christ-- who we are in Him. Then in chapter 4-- therefore, I beseech you, walk worthy of the calling you have received. So you see, there is always this relationship between knowing and doing, between doctrine and duty, between living and learning-- we learn and then we live it out.

So what I want to do in these two verses is show you three simple things-- three ways that we ought to think. We ought to think carefully, we ought to think righteously, we ought to think actively. Let's say all those. We should think carefully, we should think righteously, and we should think actively. So we've engaged the mind-- we're all on the same page. Now, let's explore.

I want to draw your attention, again, in verse eight, to that main clause I told you about. It's at the end of verse eight in my translation. It says, meditate on these things. Here's the deal-- our minds can go in a million different directions, therefore, we have to be very careful about what we are going to let it ponder-- concentrate on. Now, look at the word meditate. Some translations just say think on these or ponder these things.

Now, the word meditate-- I'm going to tell you the word in Greek and you're going to listen to it and you're going to tell me what it sounds like in English. Logizomai-- sounds like logic. That is where we get our word logic. Logizomai means to think logically or to concentrate logically. The idea is to reason logically so that your actions are based on carefully thought out principles.

Do you know, according to scripture, thinking is paramount. Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, in Proverbs 23:7 says, for as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. For years, people have noted that we are what we think, and I agree with that. What you think about you, what you think about God, what you think about the world around you, what you think about sex, what you think about homosexuality, what you think about politics-- all the things that you can think about, in the end really define who you are.

That is what you are. You are the sum of your thoughts. People's lives are the product of people's thoughts. You remember when Jesus said in Mark seven, for what comes out of a man, that defiles him. Listen to a little more of that-- I'll read a little more of what He said. This is in the New Living Translation-- Jesus speaking-- it is the thought life that defiles you.

For from within, out of a person's heart come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, foolishness-- all these vile things come from within. They are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God. Now that's the negative. The positive, the reverse, is also true. Point being, people's doings are just the result of people's thinkings. We do what we think.

Now, in the Bible, God actually commands us to think. Isaiah chapter one verse 18-- come now. Let us reason together, says the Lord. I've always thought that Christians ought to be great thinkers, and I admire when I find one who is. Unfortunately, for some of us, our brain cells are seriously under exercised. And partially, that's because some people's view of spirituality is not intellectual, it's just mystical. It's not if you know the truth.

In fact, if you know the truth, you're sort of placed on the second or third shelf. Aw, it's more than just head knowledge. It's more than just-- it's one thing to know something and it's true, but for so many people it's all about the mystical experience-- the deeper life. Well, you might know things, but if you experience the deeper life. I'm all about the deeper life, but some people who are after the deeper life have gone off the deeper end.

A.W. Tozer put it this way-- aimless activity is beneath the worth and dignity of a human being. The great weight of exhortation, these days, is in the direction of zeal and activity. Let's get going is the favorite watchword for Gospel workers, with the result that everyone feels ashamed to sit down and think. Jesus said to the lawyer, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Jesus also said, learn of me.

Peter wrote and said, grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Hosea the prophet cried out, my people perish for lack of knowledge-- not lack of zeal-- lack of knowledge. All of that to say this-- it's OK to think as a Christian. We don't put a sign out in the foyer that says, check brains here before entering. No, we want your mind fully engaged-- where you wrestle with, turn things around, question, ponder, resolve-- all of that.

I remember when I first came to faith. My college professors and my medical professors-- very few of them, if any, really had a relationship or interest in the things of God. And so I was challenged quite a bit, daily, and I had a struggle in my faith-- I had a crisis of faith. And I really didn't know what to do or where to go.

I found a book that changed my life, called Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. It just got reprinted last month-- new edition. Evidence That Demands a Verdict was all about the evidences that substantiate the Christian faith. Man, I read this book, I internalized this book, I memorized sections of that book, but one of the first things that I found in the book when I opened it up said this-- the heart cannot rejoice in what the mind cannot accept. And I thought, I found gold.

This is a book encouraging me to think actively and to reason logically with these truths. And by the way, if you were to look back at the major revivals in past history you will find that knowledge is at the center of those revivals. One of the key factors that is in common with every great revival of the past is there's an emphasis on biblical doctrine and theology and exposition of the scripture.

So there is a battle for your mind today, which means you and I, we ought to think carefully-- logically-- meditate on these things. That's one-- that's the first way to think. Second-- not just think carefully, but think righteously. Paul didn't just say, think, therefore you are.

He says, let me tell you what to think about. Here's the parameters of godly thinking-- and he lists six things-- finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report-- or good repute, some translations say-- if there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. All of that to say, think righteously. Hey, guess how many thoughts you have every day? You might say, well not many. Truth is you have many.

Neuroscientists say the average person thinks 70-- that's seven zero thousand-- 70,000 thoughts every single day. 70,000-- you think 70,000 thoughts. Which means, in a year's time you will have produced 25.5 million thoughts. So that's a lot of options, right? We're bombarded with a lot of thoughts, so we need to not just think, but harness those thoughts.

As the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10-- we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Or listen to what Paul said in Romans eight-- those who live according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh. Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Now, notice the list in verse eight-- whatever things are pure, whatever things are noble, etc.-- he lists six things, all of which basically say the same thing. All of those words describe righteous thinking. In other words, true things are noble, noble things are just, just things are pure, pure things are lovely.

It's all sort of a one-off describing the same thing-- thinking righteously. Here's the point-- don't you think that we need to be vigilant about what input we allow into our minds-- In terms of what we see and what we hear?

Now, some will say, well, as I see it I can just put whatever, cause he says whatever six times. He says whatever things are pure, whatever things are noble, and some people have gotten hung up on that word, whatever-- like Paul isn't considering the source. He's being very indiscriminate as to what you allow yourself to think on.

But I would debate that and say, when Paul says, whatever things, he just says, if you look at the gamut of all of the possible thoughts that can come into your head, find whatever thoughts fit these categories. Moreover, in verse nine you will notice that he says, these are the qualities he taught and he lived by himself. These things which you have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

So all of the things that he mentions in the eighth verse as parameters of thinking-- all of these are found in the scriptures. And it could be that Paul is saying, let the Bible govern righteous thinking. And the reason I say that is because I'm going to read to you a little portion of Psalm 19, and listen how close one sounds to the other. Psalm 19, I'm beginning in verse seven-- the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are just or right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous, altogether. Sounds very similar to the description of Paul in Philippians. He's saying, think righteously.

So look at a few of these things-- whatever things are true. Now, wouldn't you agree that one of the great commodities of God is truth-- that he is the God of all truth? Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. When Jesus prayed in the garden, He said, sanctify them, Father, by your truth. Your word is truth. So God specializes in truth, so think about what is true, and you'll find that in His Word.

And I'll tell you why this is important. You and I live in a world where people say there is no such thing as empirical truth. There is no such thing as absolute truth. Truth is relative-- your truth may not be my truth. Right? So we're exposed to that sort of thinking. That's why we need a constant exposure and injection of God's truth, so that we're able to discern what is right and what is wrong.

And it's even more important these days because a generation has arisen where, honestly, truth isn't all that important. Feelings trump truth. To a whole new generation it's not about, is this true or not true-- it's, how does that make you feel? See, if it makes you feel good, that's your truth. If it doesn't make you feel good, then it's not your truth.

And have you heard this? Well, what should I do? Well, just follow your heart. Just follow your heart. Now, that little bit of pop psychology might sound really noble, but that is, like, the worst piece of advice, ever, in history-- follow your heart. And here's why-- the Bible says the heart is deceitful above everything else, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? So if you're driven by your emotional feelings at the time, it might feel good temporarily, but eventually you might go off the deep end. So meditate on righteous truth.

It says, whatever things are noble-- I love this word. It means worthy of respect, dignified, worthy of awe. It's the opposite of common, mundane. These are lofty thoughts. Whatever things are just-- that's a word that means right or righteous. The scripture shows you how to walk the righteous path. If you ever wonder what is right, what is wrong, the Bible will tell you the principles for righteous living. Psalm 119-- David said, Your Word is a lamp to my feet, it's a light unto my path.

Then notice the word pure-- whatever things are pure-- that means wholesome. It means morally pure-- it's the opposite of smutty. David said, how shall a young man keep his ways pure-- then he answers his own question-- by taking heed according to Your Word. So God's Word will give you purity.

You know, you've heard the name John Bunyan. He wrote Pilgrim's Progress. He was put in jail for his faith. And in the flyleaf of his Bible he wrote this, either this book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book. And the Bible has the ability to keep a person pure.

So this book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book. I've discovered something about people who say, well, I won't read the Bible because it's so filled with-- it contradicts itself. Let me translate for you-- it contradicts them. Usually people won't read the Bible-- not because they're-- because when they say, well, there are so many contradictions, I always say, show me one, Mr. knowledgeable about the Bible, show me a contradiction.

Well, I know they're there. I don't know which one, but-- OK. Maybe you won't read it because it really contradicts your moral behavior. Like Mark Twain used to say, it's not the things I don't understand in the Bible that bother me, it's the things I do understand that bother me.

So whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good repute, good report-- if there is any virtue or anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.

By the way, not just are there are 70,000 thoughts that bounce around your brain a day-- you know how many advertisements you're exposed to daily? And I don't know who finds this stuff out, honestly, I don't. They could assign a number to it-- I'm researching it and I corroborated in a few places, but we are told-- by those who I think know-- that we are exposed to 5,000 ads a day. 5,000 ads a day.

You know how advertising works, right? They're smart people who know how we think, and the idea of an ad is to influence the way a person thinks about a product in hopes to motivate the person to, what, with the product? To buy it. So they want to influence your thought life in hopes that you might pull out your wallet and buy what you think you understand about that product. This is why we have to filter what we think.

Think carefully. Think righteously. Third-- think actively. Verse nine-- the things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. So after presenting a list of attributes for your thought life, he now shows that the thoughts should lead to deeds. Now, again, please notice the two main verbs.

The first in verse eight-- meditate, think, ponder. Second, in verse nine-- do-- these do. In the original language-- [NON-ENGLISH]. That's a command. That's the parent-- the present, active, imperative-- It's a command. So [NON-ENGLISH] is translated, literally, this way-- these things I'm commanding you to keep on practicing-- keep on doing. That's what Paul says in verse nine.

Why does he write so strongly? Because he knows that we can never separate the thought life from the outward life-- the inward thoughts from the outward action. That what we ponder is what we're going to practice. What we think about is what we're going to do. What we learn is what we're going to live.

By the way, this is always the hope of a pastor-- you know this. Any leader, any teacher, any pastor, always has the hopes that if we can expose people to truth through the preaching of The Word, that the mind will attend to that, and in attending to it, somewhere in the process enough people will go, I believe that. Because if they attend to it and attend to it regularly, they'll believe it. If they believe it, they'll do it. That's always the hope-- is to graduate to the doing phase.

This is why Paul writes in Galatians four-- I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you, again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your life. This is why he adds the list in verse nine. He didn't just say, hey, all the things you meditate on, do them. Please notice, he says, the things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do.

Why does he do that? Well, because he understands that you can learn something, but not really receive it. And you can receive something, but not really hear it all. And the graduation comes when you go, I've attended to it, I've listened to it, I've exposed myself to it, I believe in it, now I'm going to try it on for size and practice it.

I can only speak from personal experience. I grew up in a church. I was exposed to the Trinity, Jesus is God, virgin birth, death on the cross, resurrection-- heard it all my life. It made no difference at all. At all. At all. I was 18 years of age-- something changed. I listen to a sermon by Billy Graham-- I've heard this stuff before-- that's familiar stuff. I believe that. I believe that and something has to change. There's going to be a-- that's called repentance, by the way. That turning around-- changing. How I think about it and what I do with it.

So in the last 35 minutes we've been exposed to truth and some have listened casually, some have listened actively, some actually take notes-- God bless you. I love note takers. It shows me you're serious about taking this truth home. Others listen to it very casually. Others listen to it almost like, are you done yet? Can we go now? And still, others just, well, they nap. They nap during the-- I'm glad that I can be a cure to your insomnia at some level.

You will also notice that in your bulletin you're always, every week, given an outline. I always want to give my outline to my assistant to produce in the bulletin, because I believe it's just another level-- it adds handles to make truth memorable, so that it can add to the life change.

But let me give you a warning, now, for all of us. If when you hear truth-- if you believe it's truth-- if when you hear truth if you do not come with the determination to practice that truth-- here's the warning-- something will happen to your heart. You'll get calloused. You'll be very good at hearing truth and immediately dismissing it-- marginalizing it-- not letting it penetrate-- that's the danger.

So that you could come, effectively, every week and remain unchanged because your heart grows harder and harder, because you don't determine to actually put that into practice. And what that means is you can have what we call unchurched-- or excuse me-- churched unbelievers. Unbelievers not on their way to heaven, but they go to church every single week, and the truth hasn't penetrated to change behavior.

This is why James says-- you know the verse-- be doers of The Word and not hearers only, because, he said, if you do that, you deceive yourself. And then he goes on by saying, for if you just listen and don't obey, it's like looking at your face in a mirror, but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

Now, we all understand that analogy-- we do it every day. I got up this morning-- 5:30. I turn the lights in the bathroom-- look at my face in the mirror-- same reaction that I have every day-- uh oh. It's like, this is me in the mirror.

Now, I look there and I go, I can fix some of that. A lot of what I see is irreparable, but I'm good with that. But now, if I walk out of the bathroom-- forgot what I just saw, then you're going to see me like this. Woo hoo. Hey, what's up? So in getting a revelation of truth-- the mirror-- I now have to have a consideration of how I'm going to implement something to change what I see.

Fun little story-- William Penn. William Penn. Some of you recognize the name. He was the founder of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania-- it was named after William Penn. He was negotiating with the Delaware Indians for a parcel of land to make an exchange for, and they agreed that whatever land William Penn could walk around circumnavigate on foot in a day, they would work out a deal.

The next day, William Penn sent one of his young men at daybreak with a map to walk around until sunset. Came back and encompassed 40 miles-- had the map, had the little markers to show it-- went to the chief of the Delaware Indians who was shocked that somebody actually did that.

You know, he just said that-- didn't expect them to do that, but he made a promise. They walked it. And that 40 miles became-- what is today-- the greater part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That little illustration simply points out, here's a guy who simply acted according to a promise. There is a promise-- you said it.

You know, William Penn could have listened to the promise and gone, oh that's good. Hallelujah. I'm writing that down. I'm underlining that. I'm memorizing that. He said, I'm going to walk that. I'm going to walk that out. So I wonder how many promises of God lay in these pages, untried, not walked.

So we must think carefully and righteously, but also actively. And you'll notice something Paul says in verse nine, and he does this-- this is something very Paul-like-- he says, the things which you learned or received and heard and saw in me. Now, he's not saying he's perfect, but he is saying, I am an example to you.

In fact, Paul does that a couple of times in this book and a couple of times in other books. He says, follow me as I follow the Lord. Here's the point-- find a good godly example in your life, because that will just reinforce good godly thinking. You'll see it lived out.

There's an old poem that I memorize and I've said 1,000 times-- this is 1001-- you are writing a gospel, a chapter each day, by the things that you do, and the words that you say. People hear what you say and they see what you do, so what is the gospel according to you?

See, I take truth and I internalized it and I live it and people get an impression of God based on me, so in effect you are looking at the NSV-- this is the New Skip Version. But I'm looking down at the NMV-- the New Matt Version. The NCV-- the New Chip Version. And we all are living letters, like Paul said, you are-- 2 Corinthians three-- you are our epistle, known and read by all men. So we're going to take the truth that's exemplified in that we hear and we're going to live it, and we're going to become some kind of an example to others who watch us.

And look at how he ends that little verse-- and-- don't miss this-- and the God of peace will be with you. It's the crowning achievement of good godly right thinking and living. God of peace will be with you. Now, I can't help but do this-- verse seven ends and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts.

Now, it's the God of peace. And we love the peace of God, but we love when the God of peace is so intimate and close with us that we experience that intimate fellowship. Here's the point-- if you think godly thoughts and you live godly lives, you'll feel God's peace, because the God of peace is the one that you're walking with-- He'll be with you.

Now, let me close. You're going, whew. Good. Let me close with some practical tips-- these are just takeaways-- practical tips on wholesome thinking. Three things to walk away with. Number one-- evaluate. Evaluate content. It's very simple. You listen to things, you watch things, you focus on things, you meditate on a number of things-- evaluate those things. And what I'm going to say is going to hurt because we're all Americans-- most of us are Americans or probably all of us are.

OK, so this is according to the Nielsen group. You've heard of the Nielsen ratings-- television ratings? The Nielsen company says the average American watches four hours of TV a day. OK? That's just a fact. The average American watches four hours a day. Now, some of you go, I dispute that. I'm at 3 and 1/2. OK. Bravo. [CLAPS] Like it or not, here's the point-- we fill our minds with whatever we happen to be watching on television.

Now, I'm not here to tell you what you can watch and not watch. I'm not going to get legalistic. Let me just say, especially to parents-- the average American adolescent will end up seeing 14,000 sexual references every year. Did you get that? 14,000 sexual references on TV a year.

How many of those are righteous, holy matrimony, relationships? One? Two-- if, like, you saw the right show. So there is a bombardment of values that we expose ourselves to. Not only that, but by age 18, the average child will have seen 20,000 violent acts, including 16,000 murders. So just evaluate content-- that's number one.

Number two-- punctuate. Punctuate your day with truth. Begin the day, end the day, with truth. Get up in the morning or whenever you get up-- some people get up in the afternoon. This is an early day for some of you. Whatever, you might have a work schedule.

The point is-- begin the day in The Word and close the day, not with a commercial on TV, but even if it's a short Psalm or a proverb-- just thoughts from God's Word to put your head on the pillow at night and go to sleep with those thoughts. Punctuate your day with truth.

So evaluate, punctuate, and the third tip, meditate on scripture. Now, when you hear a Christian say, meditate, I don't mean put your hands out like this and go [MYSTICAL HUMMING]-- transcendental meditation where you disengage the mind. Biblical meditation is the opposite-- it's where you engage the mind. And to meditate on scripture means you read it, but you don't just read in it, you feed on it. You feed on it and you ponder it. You take and emphasize a word and another word in the phrase and you ask what it means to you, so it's really internalized. So evaluate, punctuate, and meditate.

There was a couple who were married for 40 years. The husband died in this relationship. It was a loving relationship. The wife was left very, very lonely-- didn't know what to do. She had a period of grief. You can imagine the kind of grief after being with a partner so long-- some of you know what that's like. This gal remembered that she had a friend who owned a pet store, so she thought, you know, I'm going to go talk to this store owner.

And the store owner said, you know, you out to just get-- I know it's not going to be a husband, but get a pet. So she looked at cats and dogs and fish and snakes-- none of them were something she wanted. She wanted something to talk to.

So the owner of the pet store said, well, we have-- it's expensive, but we have this parrot that just-- it's a chatterbox. It talks to everybody. She goes, I'll buy it. Bought the parrot. Dished out a lot of money. Took the parrot home. Big cage.

Came back in a week. The owner of the pet store said, that bird talking to you, right? A lot, huh? She goes, he's not saying one word. Not a word. It's been a week, not a word. I sit there, I talk to it, not a word. And so the owner of the pet store said, well, have you thought about putting a mirror in the cage?

She said, a mirror? He goes, yeah, it's funny but birds like parrots like to look at themselves in the mirror-- it sort of loosens them up and that bird will start talking. So she bought a mirror, put it in the cage, came back 10 days later hoping that it would have talked, and the guy the pet store said, worked, right? She said, not a single word. He said, well, have you put a ladder in the cage?

She said, a ladder? He said, yeah, you know, listen, birds-- they look at themselves in the mirror-- they like to get a little exercise. And they get a little exercise. They feel more at home. They're in their own space. That bird will talk. So she bought a ladder. Took it home.

A couple of weeks later, came back-- she's not smiling. Said, the bird is not talking, and so the owner of the pet store said, well, if you put a swing in the cage, like, up toward the top of this large cage, what's going to happen is the bird's going to look at itself in the mirror, climb up and down the ladder, swing a little bit, make it feel like it's in it's natural habitat, the jungle-- the bird's going to talk. I can almost guarantee it.

So she did it-- bought it. Came back, walked in the store a couple of weeks later mad. And before the owner of the shop could say, how's that bird? She said, the bird died. That expensive parrot is on the bottom of the cage, dead. And the owner of the store said, I'm just befuddled. Did the birds say anything at all? The woman said, yes, as a matter of fact. As that bird lay, taking the last few breaths, it says, don't they have any food down at that store?

OK. So that's a lot like you and I that we think about and we focus on things that aren't even important when we're starving to death for the kind of truth that could transform us and make us dynamic. To feed on the right things is one thing, to learn them and assimilate them-- be changed by them, is another. Let's ask God to do that.

Father, the food that we get help forms for us-- and I mean the things we listen to or watch or read-- all of those things will form thoughts in our minds. And we can listen actively to your truth-- we can listen passively to your truth. We can listen passively to your truth, but then actively watch certain things or listen to other things. All of that is forming who we are, because we really are what we think.

So would you help us to attend to, to consider, and then to believe and then to do what is true even if it poses challenges to our intellect? All the better because it forces us into a logical line of thinking that, once resolved, makes us even more stable and stronger. Make us thinking and doing believers. We ask in Jesus' name, Amen.

It's impossible to go through a day without bumping into the thoughts and ideas of the world, so we must carefully, righteously, and actively, manage them. How do you plan to do that? 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 Skip Heitzig of 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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10/8/2017
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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
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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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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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12/31/2017
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How to Have Greener Grass NOW
Philippians 4:10-13
Skip Heitzig
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The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. That saying embodies the philosophy that other people's circumstances are more desirable than our own. This attitude can be extended to where you live, the place you work, the one you're married to, the body type you have, and the income you require. Surely, others have it better than we do! Well, let's uncover three basic principles to debunk that theory and, in so doing, add water and fertilizer to our own grass.
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1/7/2018
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Is Your Checkbook Converted?
Philippians 4:14-23
Skip Heitzig
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It’s a strange title for a sermon, I know. Yet it seems many of us try to separate what we believe in our hearts from how we behave with our finances. In these closing verses of this letter to the Philippians, Paul thanks the church that supported his ministry for putting their money where their faith is. This paragraph is one of the clearest theological statements about how money can become a tool for God’s glory and a gauge of spiritual maturity.
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There are 25 additional messages in this series.