Sermon, Sunday November 22, 2020 Spirit Filled Work.

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What was your worst job?

Our perspective of the work we do and our purpose for getting out of bed in the morning makes all the difference. What is your motivation for work?

This applies to all of us, even if you are retired or a student. How you spend your days matter in the Kingdom of God (See Colossians 3:23-24). As a follower of Jesus, you serve a higher calling and purpose. When you become a Christian, you change your boss without changing your job. When you become a follower of Jesus, it is never about a paycheck.

At first glance, this passage doesn’t seem to apply to our 21st century life, but we have to understand that slavery in Biblical times was very different to the type of slavery that took place under the European colonial empires and the North American continent, where people were forcibly taken into captivity from Africa, Asia and South America, being forced to work under harsh conditions for the rest of their lives.

It is estimated that there were sixty million slaves in the Roman empire. Although there was forced slavery with  harsh conditions, some slaves became managers and did what we would consider white collar jobs. Slaves could get an education, buy property and eventually, their freedom if they chose to do so. It was considered as a way to secure housing and many obtained their freedom by the age of thirty.

People became slaves through birth, abandonment, being sold by parents, prisoners of war, inability to pay debts, or even voluntarily subjection to obtain a better life. Race was not a factor in this model of slavery.

But with all that said, this does not make slavery acceptable. It is never acceptable that someone can “own” another human being created in the image of God. It is widely agreed that this first century form of slavery slowly died out as Christianity began to grow and influence society.

From Ephesians 5:5-8, we are taught to live and work with the perspective that Christ is our ultimate master. Paul, writing to slaves, freed them from living in the mundane and gave them a higher purpose to work.

This aligns with the singular purpose for which we were created, to bring glory to God.

So how were slaves instructed to bring glory to God through their work?

We see four instructions in these verses.

  1. They were to work respectfully, with reverence because they were working unto Christ (verse 5).
  2. They were to work wholeheartedly, not simply working when being watched or to please the boss. Rather the emphasis is on working from the heart, unto Christ (verse 6).
  3. They were to work willingly, with a good attitude, not with a begrudging spirit (verse 7).
  4. Finally, Paul reminds them that nothing goes unnoticed before the Lord (verse 8).  

As we know from 2 Corinthians 5:10, every believer will stand before the judgment of Jesus and give an account for the way in which we have used our time.

Thinking about work this way, is quite a paradigm shift for many and should change the way we work. No work is merely work, whether it is cleaning the kitchen or designing the next skyscraper. Everything we put our hands to is to be unto the Lord.

This is particularly challenging to put into practice in our own strength; but remember the context of this passage, Paul is writing about Spirit-filled living. This is the application of starting every day asking God to fill us and use us for His glory. You are God’s missionary and Christ’s ambassador in your place of work. We can only do that by asking the Holy Spirit to fill us and equip us for the day. We are called to live like Christ, with his work ethic (see Philippians 2:7)

Jesus wasn’t a begrudging servant, he lived every-day on purpose to the glory of the Father. If you are a follower of Jesus, you should be displaying Spirit filled excellence in your place of work.

John Stott writes: “It is possible for the housewife to cook a meal as if Jesus Christ were going to eat it, or to spring-clean the house as if Jesus Christ were the honored guest. It is possible for teachers to educate children, for doctors to treat patients and nurses to care for them, for shop assistants to serve customers, accountants to audit books and secretaries to type letters as if in each case they were serving Jesus Christ.”

This passage also addresses leaders and managers (verse 9).

A Christian who has responsibility and influence over others in the workplace, is called to lead like Christ. Jesus displayed servant leadership. He demonstrated leadership by firmly confronting evil one day and then washing his disciple’s feet the next.  Jesus was the model of a perfect leader.

As a manager, you may have less accountability and even opportunity to make unethical decisions. However, any unethical profit will be fleeting. Jesus is your master, audience, and the ultimate judge.

This should change the way we relate to people. Culture teaches that people have different value based on their perceived level of importance. But this text destroys that way of thinking. Our value in the kingdom of God is never in any way determined by our role in this life, only by our obedience to God (see Matthew 20:25-28).

We must be mindful of the subtle ways in which we prefer certain people. Our body language and our tone of voice speaks volumes about the way we view people who are different to us. Remember who we represent and who we are talking to (see Hebrews 13:2).

How do we treat that store assistant, cleaner or waiter? Let us learn to really see people the way God sees them.  

Everything revolves around our relationship with Jesus Christ. It does not matter if you are a mill operator or a corporate executive, what matters is do we serve the master?

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 3:1-7 – Sermon February 03, 2019

Philippians 3:1-7

It’s tax season, time when we look back and gather receipts and documents, to give an accurate report of our finances to the IRS. Accounting can be complicated to understand, but the simplest form in accounting is the trial balance with your income on one side and your expenses on the other, when you total them up, and subtract the two, you can determine if you made money or lost money, whether you were doing well or you were heading for bankruptcy.

Sadly, this is the approach many people take to their eternal destination. The thinking goes that if I do enough good things in life, then they will outweigh the bad things I do and then at the end of the day, God will look at the trial balance of my life and determine if I get into heaven.

This is completely false and the very definition of religion. Religion is placing value in rituals and beliefs in order to obtain favor from God.

We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and what will determine our salvation is not our religion, but our righteousness, whether or not we have a right standing before God. Righteousness is only found by placing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Living a moral life will not get you into heaven. This is the ultimate deception of Satan, letting people think that they can be good enough for God’s approval. Johnny Hunt writes, “Prior to his salvation, the Apostle Paul, had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into Heaven.” Paul had to lose his religion to find Jesus.

This is what Paul is writing about in the first verses of Philippians 3. The theme of the Letter to the Philippians is Joy. but it seems in these verses Paul makes a dramatic turn and rebukes a group of people who were known as the Judaizers. The Judaizers where Christians who taught that in order to become a TRUE Christian, you have to go back to the law of Moses and conform to the ancient Levitical law with all the rituals and sacrifices. These Judaizers were beginning to gain inroads and create confusion in the church, pulling people away from the truth and the freedom that is found in Christ.

In verse 2 he calls them dirty scavengers, dogs and evildoers. The Judaizers prided themselves in their holiness and their morality, but Paul says that they were actually evildoers, deceiving the young church.

Paul wrote that the outwards acts of duty were of no value, the only reality that counts is the condition of one’s heart, being set apart for Christ. Salvation only comes by believing on the name of Jesus and his completed work on the cross where his sacrifice made us right with God. We are only righteous in God’s sight because we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

In verse 3 we read that the true worshippers, worship God from the heart by the Spirit of God. Worship is never and can never be disconnected from the inner man. We cannot worship God simply by mouthing words, it has to connect with our inner man by the Holy Spirit.

We can have no confidence in the flesh. You may be a small group leader, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, attend every prayer meeting and church service, you may be faithful in giving ten percent to the work of the ministry, but if your heart is far from the Lord, it is all vanity.

Today we have so many people who are trying to work for their salvation. In Philippians 2:12, Paul told the church to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling”. This is the working out of that which God has already worked in by His spirit and the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus.

We cannot work for our salvation – but we must work out our salvation.

See Romans 3:20

In Philippians 3:4 to 6, Paul then explains why of all people, he should be the first to earn his salvation and be considered righteous. But then he smashes the myth in verse 7, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

All his supposed credits, were of no value at all, he saw that in comparison to faith in Christ, in comparison to the work that Christ did for him already on the cross, all his work and accomplishments were meaningless.

Sometimes our religious activities can become idols. Our position, our ministry our titles can become more important to us than knowing and following the will of God for our lives.

I am not advocating laziness, stopping all service for the Lord and simply sitting back and just being in God’s presence, no rather I am advocating being led by the spirit. I am certain that after Paul’s conversion he worked harder and suffered more, but he was far more joyful and fulfilled in his life.

Being led by the spirit, you will spend your life maximizing your time, you will find that God stretches you and grows you, but you will not be working to earn favor from God, rather you will be working because the Spirit of God is leading you.

What religious activity do you need to drop today?

And what is God calling you to do by His Spirit?

What are you doing to try to make right the balance sheet of your life?

Are you trying to make amends for your past?

Are you trying desperately to make right some sins by helping the poor, feeding the homeless, caring for the elderly. These are all good things, but if done with the wrong motivation, then we are not being led by the Lord and missing out on the tremendous joy and blessing that comes by being led by God.

Stop looking at your life as a trial balance and trust in Jesus allowing his righteousness to cover you and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you.

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 2:25-30 – Sermon January 27, 2019

January 27 Philippians part 11

Philippians 2:25-30

 How are you influencing the world around you?

Everywhere we go we leave a mark, we make an impression on the lives of the people we encounter. The true test of a disciple of Jesus, is whether we are positively impacting the people that we encounter along the journey of life. As disciples of Jesus, we become like Jesus and wherever Jesus went, he brought life.

Healthy green vegetation beside a river is a sign that the river is influencing the region around it. This should be the sign of a Christian, is the path of my life strewn with people who are growing healthy because of my influence?

The way of the world is to coerce people to do things to get ahead, but the man or woman of God can ignite a fire in people’s hearts that fuels them to influence the world around them bringing life. However, Christian is only as effective in bringing life as they are connected to the source of life, Jesus Christ through the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit.

In Philippians 2, Paul first lifts up Jesus as the role model, then he commends Timothy and now he holds up another example, Epaphroditus. He was an example of humility and selflessness, he set aside his life, his ambitions and goals, to serve the Lord, by travelling the long and time-consuming journey from Philippi to Rome. This was no weekend getaway, it is estimated that the journey would take six weeks each way.

Paul spoke very highly of him and in verse 25 he lists four titles for Epaphroditus.

He calls him his brother: When we are born again, we are born into a new family and we gain brothers and sisters. Take some time and think of your spiritual family and thank God for those He has blessed you with.

He was a fellow worker: Someone that Paul trusted to help him in the work of proclaiming the Gospel. Paul didn’t see this man as his junior, rather he saw him as a fellow servant of Christ.

He calls him a fellow soldier. We must never forget that we are engaged in daily warfare. There is an enemy of the church, there is an enemy of our souls, who is fully engaged in the warfare of undermining and ending our testimony.

Finally, he calls him a messenger and minister, Epaphroditus was a messenger from the church in Philippi, but he was also a minister of the Gospel. A minister is primarily a worshipper of God, who serves the church to encourage others to worship God.

Paul continues in verse 26 that Epaphroditus was not burdened for his own needs or wants, he was burdened for the church in Philippi, they were worried about him because they had heard he was ill, and he was burdened for them.

We need to be a people who are burdened, burdened for missions, burdened for the persecuted church, burdened for the lost.

Paul sent Epaphroditus back to Philippi with a request that they honor him (Philippians 2:29).

Honoring Christian workers brings glory to Christ as their sacrifice is recognized and Christ is proclaimed. There is nothing wrong with giving honor to those who sacrifice much to present the gospel. Epaphroditus had sacrificed much to bring a gift an encouragement to Paul and he encouraged them to honor him. Paul also does this in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.

Do we honor those who give their lives to take the gospel message to places outside of the churches influence? We are blessed to have so many missionaries and ministers in our church, and we must never miss the opportunity to bless and honor the missionaries and ministers who sit among us. Let us honor those in our midst who have said yes to the Lord and have given up careers, left families and homes to serve the Lord.

Epaphroditus was sick and almost died in his service to the Lord, he had little regard for his own wellbeing, rather he was willing to pay the ultimate price to be obedient to the Lord. Here was a man, so desperate to encourage and bring life to those around him, that his own life was of little regard.

The most rewarding life is a life spent being used by God, holding nothing back. Some of Christians are so afraid of overworking that they never really give themselves to anything. They simply float around looking for the easiest and the most convenient way to get to heaven. God has given us one life to live, let is spend it well, using it up for the sake of Christ.

I am not advocating that you become a workaholic, where work is your idol, but God calls us to make the most use of our time, God calls us to do hard things. He created us, and He knows what we are capable of doing. If we listen to his voice, we will find that he is constantly stretching and challenging us to get outside our comfort zones to do the hard things in life. This is for our good and for His glory.

how are you being used to bring life to those around you? How are you living? Are you leaving life in your wake? Or are you living for your own comfort and so afraid of spending your life that you are not really living for the Lord at all.

I pray that we would be a people who spend our lives bringing the light and life of the Gospel to all those that we meet.

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 2:12-13 – Sermon December 16, 2018

Philippians 2:12-13

Who has had the greatest influence for good in your life? We all have people who set an example for us. Mark Twain once said, “few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

However, a great person can inspire us, but they cannot enable us. Role-models can inspire us, but without us actually beginning to work, we will never achieve anything.

In Philippians 2:6-11, Paul presents Jesus as our ultimate role-model, but how well do we put into practice the life that Jesus modeled for us?

Paul continues verse 12 and says, “as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”

Paul was a role-model for the church in Philippi, and he instructed them to be obedient and put into practice the daily spiritual disciplines of prayer, evangelism, integrity, honesty, humility and preferring others. As a role model, Paul wanted them to continue even while he was not with them in person. What Paul really wanted them to understand was that he was not the ultimate role-model, Jesus was.

What Paul was referring to here is Character. Character is moral strength or integrity. Sadly, true character is hard to find these days as so many people do not have the personal endurance to stick with something until they have seen it through. Christian character is developed over years of practicing personal spiritual disciplines. Character is the backbone of a Christian. As many have said, Character is how you behave when no-one is watching.

“Character is like a tree, and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing” —Abraham Lincoln

Paul then writes, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” which can be a bit confusing at first glance. But notice he doesn’t write, “work for your salvation”. These people were already Christians and Paul told them to put into practice what God has already worked in by His Holy Spirit. We need to be reminded that we cannot earn our salvation by works (See Ephesians 2:8-9).

We work out our salvation because we have already been saved, not to be saved. The works are the authentication of the faith that we already have.

When we become a Christian, we have so much potential opened to us immediately, the tragedy is that too many people view Christianity as simply a way to avoid going to hell. When you become a Christian, you have unlimited and instant access to the throne of the all holy, creator of the universe, and He invites you and I to call Him Father. There is the very real potential in every Christian to be used by God to transform families, neighborhoods, cities, and even nations.

Becoming a Christian is like being given a plot of land that sits on a diamond mine. The mine has billions of dollars’ worth of precious stones just below the surface, all you have to do is dig a little bit and unearth the treasures that are already in the land that you possess. You have the choice to sit on the land, knowing it’s worth, but never realizing its potential, or you can work a bit and get the value out of what it already in your possession.

Our lives filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit have tremendous potential. So many believers are satisfied with just enough when God offers us so much more than we can ever imagine. I challenge you to work out, what God has already placed in your life.

Paul continues, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

The Greek word for “fear”, that Paul uses in this context means, profound respect and awe for God.

As we begin to try to work out our Christian life, we realize that we don’t have the natural ability to do anything for God, and we learn to rely on God to work through us. We work out our salvation with respect and awe for God, trembling, because we realize that we are only operating in the power and the strength that He gives us in the first place (see Philippians 2:13).

For example, we cannot love others, if we weren’t empowered by the Love of God, we do not have compassion without God placing that compassion in our hearts and we are only able to place others first because of the Spirit of Jesus in us.

Before salvation, God works on us, by the Holy Spirit, we are convicted of sin and our need for salvation. After we are saved, the Holy Spirit works through us. The presence of the living God in us energizes us to do the work of the ministry that God invites us to do.

Philippians 2:13 ends, “…both to will and to work for His good pleasure

True Christianity is spending time in prayer each morning, asking the Lord for what He would have us do, and then allowing Him to empower us to do that which He calls us to do. That is the daily effectual Christian walk, of working out our salvation as God works through us.

If we don’t have a desire to be used by God, it is one of two things; 1) we aren’t followers of Jesus, or 2) we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to have the leadership in our lives and we are not led by the spirit (see Romans 8:14).

This is all for His pleasure, and this is where our 21st century narcissism wrestles against the truth of God’s word. We were created for God, God is not our creation, we are His creation, and we were created for His pleasure. But at the same time, as we do what pleases God the Father we are blessed beyond compare.

As Bible believing Christians, this should be nothing new, we have heard it before, but is it simply head knowledge? We know that God is able and that He is faithful, that is theological knowledge. But do we know that God is faithful because of experiential knowledge? The only way to move from theological knowledge to experiential knowledge is obedience. Taking that step of faith.

What step of faith is God calling you to do today?  Proverbs 3:5