For Me To Live is Christ

Philippians 1:12-26

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.  For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again

THE WITNESS OF THE BELIEVER

  • The Example of Paul, the Apostle
  • Circumstances were bleak; he was a prisoner in Rome.  The circumstances were immediate, not something in the future.  He waited for trial, day after day, not knowing the outcome.  For over two years he waited.  One of the most difficult of all circumstances is knowing the problem is there, but not being able to do anything about it except to wait and wait for the final resolution.   
  • Note the following:
  • in spite of waiting trial,
    • in spite of being under house arrest,
    • in spite of false accusations,   
    • in spite of trumped up charges,
    • in spite of not having his freedom;
    • Paul did not grumble or complain,
    • he did not question God and wonder why,
    • he did not whine and murmur,
    • he did not fall to pieces,
    • he did not curse God and give up his faith.
  • Paul, instead, used this two years, with a dark cloud hanging over his head, to spread the Gospel.
  • One of the saddest verses of Scripture is found in Jeremiah 8:20 – “The harvest is past, the summer has ended and the gathering of fruit is over, yet we are not saved!”  Paul used the time that he had to the best of his ability.  He could not go to distant cities and spread the Gospel message.  He could not travel land and sea as he had done before.  He could not because of his imprisonment but yet he used the time he had to do all that he could.  He realized that he might not have much time left to do the work to which he was called.

Matthew 9:37-38 – “Then He (Jesus) said to His disciples. The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Mark 4:26-28 – “And He said, ‘The Kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.  For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.  But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’” 

Luke 10:2  – “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months, and then comes the harvest?  Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!’”

  • Perhaps, we should follow Paul’s example.  Maybe we could use the short three phrase statement that in times past we have mentioned.
  • START WHERE YOU ARE!
  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
  • DO ALL YOU CAN! 
  • If you have not yet done what you are to do as a Christian, witness, invite, and tell others of His great love, START WHERE YOU ARE.
  • If you don’t seem to have any strength, no power, no energy, no talents, no nerve, USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  As you begin to exercise the little bit of ability that you do have, God will give more ability as you begin to do for Him.
  • Then, you must DO ALL YOU CAN for the Lord, everywhere, every time, anyway that you can do. 

Acts 28:30-31 – “And Paul lived two years in his own house, (he was under house arrest), and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” 

Mark 16:15 – “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” 

John 20:21 – “Then Jesus said to them again Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you.” 

1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 

OUR STATEMENT OF FAITH BEFORE THE WORLD

  • Are we positive, upbeat, joyful, at peace, or are we negative, down, sad, in turmoil?   In our behavior, actions, lifestyle, are we at peace with ourselves or are we always in a dither?  When we are conducting ourselves in any position of authority, small or great, do we come across to others as God’s great gift to humanity in our know-it-all style or is there a prized possession of humility at work?
  • Paul stated “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  We all know of course what the last portion means.  It will definitely be our gain when we go to be with Christ.  No more problems, heart-ache, pain and trials will we have to go through.  But what did he mean “For me to live is Christ?”  What does that question speak to you?  I believe Paul was saying that he had a purpose in life.  He had a reason to live.  Christ was his most prized possession.  Christ was first in his thoughts.  Is that our feeling about life?  Is life more than a meager existence on this earth, then it is over?  Is life drudgery?  Is life something that must be endured or is it to be lived – lived in its fullest sense, in Jesus Christ?   

Romans 14:1 9 – “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”

Romans 15:2 – “Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.” 

  • Let us be ready to always glorify Christ in this life by the way we live.  Let us be ready to hear Him say – “Well done, good and faithful servant; because you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things; enter into the joy of the Lord.”  Matthew 15:23         

The Soldier’s Charge – Part IV

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

  • There is an enemy of the Christian soldier.  It is Satan.  He is real and he exerts strategies to wage war on all believers by means of deceit, craftiness and all sorts of various tricks.  He knows your weakness because of your habits and he uses them against you.

I Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Luke 22:31 – “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.’”

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 –  “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

Eph 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

  • We must put on the armor of God. 

Eph 5:16 – “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

  • because of the onslaught of evil that is all about us
  • because of the temptations and trials that confront us
  • because of the barrage of evil
  • because of the lateness of the hour
  • We must withstand the evil and prepare ourselves … with the whole armor of God.

Romans 13:12 – “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

2 Corinthians 10:4 – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”

I Timothy 6:12 – “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

  • There is an enemy of the Christian soldier.  That enemy is Satan and his evil works. 
  • The lust of the eyes is one way that he tempts us:
  • Overeating
  • Outlandish dress
  • Possessions
  • Positions
  • Power
  • Satan will present something so appealing that the believer is doomed unless he is clothed in the protective gear that God has provided for us.  

James 4:1-4 – Amplified Version – “WHAT LEADS to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members?  You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask.  [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures. You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.”

 Romans 6:19 – “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

 Eph 2:2-3 – Amplified Version – “In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].  Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.”

John 8:44 – “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

 Romans 6:16 – “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

  • The forces of evil are the rulers of darkness, they blind the minds of men lest they believe the glorious gospel.
  • Think for a moment of all the wickedness and evil, the wrong and selfishness in the world.
  • The divisions, prejudice, favoritism immorality, arrogance, bitterness pride, hate, anger, war killing arguing, stealing, cursing, favoritism, divisions, lying, backbiting, and gossiping.
  • The list could go on and on.  The evil of man consumes the papers and airways every day.  Do we not all know better than to behave in this matter?  There are enough good people out there that could change the world if we would, but the sad thing is the church is often not much better than the world.

Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

I John 2:15-16 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

  • Another strategy of Satan is to send a false teacher.  We must never forget that Satan is not a fiery red person with horns, a pointed tail and a pitchfork.  He is the living being in the spiritual world who is able to appear as an angel of light.  He has ministers who walk about as ministers of righteousness.  However, their righteousness is not of Christ.  Their message of self-righteousness will doom your soul.  It is based on human goodness and works, ego and self image, personal development and growth, self improvement and correction of the mind and will.  Such messages appeal to the flesh.  However they cannot deliver man out of the evil darkness.

2 Corinthians 2:11 – “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

2 Corinthians 11:3 – “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 – “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

Ephesians 4:14 – “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”

Ephesians 6:11 – “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

2 Thessalonians 2:9 – “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.”

Revelation 12:9 – “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

  • The forces of evil are powerful forces
  • The forces of evil are numerous
  • The forces of evil are organized into a satanic hierarch
  • However, there is a greater force, a force for good, a higher force…It is the power of God that is able to change and empower man.

The Soldier’s Charge – Part III

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

In this passage of Scripture there is another way to look at the same picture.  When a person begins his Christian Walk he is now a solider in combat and therefore a combatant in a continual conflict.  Foes to his spirituality reside within and without.  From the beginning of our Christian life to the end, we are in a fight.

In the spiritual warfare of the believer it is the believer, with God’s help, that needs to be in control, not the elements of this world.  There is absolutely no way the believer can survive spiritually if he does not heed the charge and the guiding message of this passage.  Otherwise he will cave in to the temptation and sin and begin aimlessly foundering.  Unless this battle is fought, the Christian will not experience the joy and abundance available in life nor the power and deliverance, the care, concern, love and fellowship with God’s daily presence.  He will forever be uncertain and unsure about the future; nor will he have the confidence that He is accepted by God or has an eternal home.

He must determine in his own heart, mind and soul a long-range plan – eternity with the Lord.  He must decide now – today.  The Word says “Now is the day of salvation.” He may put off his decision for a more convenient time, or just decide “later” or “I’ll wait.”  But listen to this:  The road marked “Tomorrow” will reach the destination called “Never.”

If the believer is to survive, is to be victorious and conquer the enemies that confront him, he must do what God says to him in this passage.  The believer must be strong, not in his own power and might, but “in the Lord and the power of His might.”

In verse 10 the word “strong” means “power, might and strength” which the believer must possess.  “The Lord’s power” simply means “His sovereign, unlimited power and dominion over all things”.  How much power does He have?  It is at the believer’s disposal.  Use His power to be victorious.  Use His power to be overcoming.  Use His power for life itself.  Use His power for without it you will fail.  Use His power to be successful.  Use His power.  Do not be a spiritual wimp…be a man or woman of God and stand up for what is right, do right, live right, and be right.  “The Lord’s might” means “His strength, force and ability.”

Ephesians 6:10 (Amplified Bible)

“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].”

Ephesians 6:10-12 (The Message) – A Fight to the Finish

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”

Simply put, the believer is to be strong in the sovereign and unlimited power of the Lord, in the power of His might, in His ability to use His power exactly as it should be used.  This might and power is not fleshly power or strength for it is a living, dynamic relationship with Almighty God who is the source of his strength.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The believer must be clothed with God’s power and might before attempting to take up the battle.  Remember the story in the Book of Acts about the seven sons of Sceva who tried to imitate Paul’s preaching and when they tried to cast out devils…the devils turned on them and stripped them and beat them.  Without God’s power the believer is hopelessly without a chance. Only when armed with the power and might of God can he wage war effectively against the spiritual wickedness of this world.  One critical point must be that he take “the whole” armor of God, leaving out nothing.  Otherwise he exposes himself to his enemies, Satan and his host.  .

Luke 1:37 – : For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Ephesians 3:16 – “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”

Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

Colossians 1:11 – “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.”

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Samuel 22:40 – “For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose against me.”

Names of God – Jehovah Shalom

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jehovah Shalom – The Lord Our Peace

Judges 6:22-24 – Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.”  Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Judges 6:11-16 – Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”  Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”  Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”  So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”  And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Gideon questioned:  “If the Lord is with us, why?”

Do we not often question God?  Why has all this happened?  Why am I going through this?

  • In the midst of the struggle He will be with you – He will be your peace
  • In the midst of the testing, He will be with you – He will be your peace
  • In the midst of the turmoil, heartache, loss, bereavement, loneliness, pain, sickness, He will be with you – He is your peace!

It is only in times of struggle, turmoil, hurt, defeat, that we truly know His peace.  (If everything was always great, if nothing went wrong, you would not know His peace because you would not have known pain and sorrow.)  Could the Kennedys, the Rockefellers, the Queen of England ever know poverty?  They have everything they want at the slightest whim.  How can they really measure wealth?  They have known nothing else.

The reason for the Israelites’ affliction by the Midianites can be found in Judges.

Judges 2:1-5 – Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’” So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.  Then they called the name of that place Bochim; and they sacrificed there to the Lord.

Their affliction was due to their lack of obedience to do what God told them to do.  They had idolatry to continue in the land they had been promised.

Gideon was being prepared to exercise obedience.  God saw in him a desire to do what was right.  God used him to destroy idolatry.

Judges 6:25-26 – Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.”

When you are going through a time of trouble ask yourself:

  • What is God trying to prepare me for?
  • What is God trying to show me?
  • What can I learn from this experience?

He will be your peace.  This “Prince of Peace” will be your peace.

Ephesians 2:14-15 – For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,

John 14:27- Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Psalm 4:8 – I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Instead of counting sheep, talk to the shepherd.

1 Corinthians 7:15 – Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.

Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Test of Faith

James 2:19

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble.

What is true of biology is also true of faith:  If it is not growing, it’s probably dead.  If someone tells you, “I believe there is a God in heaven,” you can be sure that person is one of the following:

  • a Christian
  • a user of some devotional guide
  • an individual who attends church, or
  • none of the above. 

Pick an answer, and then let us look at a scripture in chapter 2.

James 2:19 – You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Do you tremble at the awesome power and presence of God when you are out of line according to the Scriptures?  Do you fall under conviction at the reading of certain verses of the Bible when you know you don’t measure up?

James speaks out strongly against a “faith of God” that merely professes with the lips without practicing with the life.  You might summarize his book this way:  “If you believe as you should, why do you behave as you shouldn’t?”  We might say, “Your actions speak louder than words”, or “put your money where your mouth is.”   True faith is more than words or even profession.  It is a vital walk that shows God has truly invaded your life.  If you have truly been changed, your life will demonstrate that change and it will show that change as it “breathes” in unmistakable ways.  And that raises a timely question….

Since you trusted Christ as your Savior, how has your lifestyle changed in the troublesome areas of some of the following categories?  You don’t need to raise your hand or say Amen to any of these areas of questionable actions: 

  • prejudice
  • profanity
  • gossip
  • argumentative
  • giving to God in time, talent and finances
  • planning for the future
  • accepting unpleasant circumstances?

What is that one area that, with God’s help, you will move from being a hearer to a doer of God’s Word?

James 1:22 – But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves

Taking both of these scriptures into account, what is James trying to tell us?  I believe that he is trying to say “If you call yourself a Christian or a child of God, then you ought to act like it.  You ought to speak like it.  You ought to think like it.  You ought to dress like it.”

Does the Bible not say?

Romans 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Question:  James 2:19 states that demons tremble in the presence of Jesus. They did when He walked the face of this earth and they do when you invoke His mighty Name in prayer.  Did you know that when you are living an overcoming, consistent Christian life, you have the power to use the Name of Jesus in prayer and temptation must go?  Most who call themselves Christian, live shallow, inconsistent lives of continually falling into sins they seemingly have no control over.  The truth and answer to this dilemma is simply that they fail to obtain victory because they do not know the privilege of using the King of Glory’s Holy Name when they go to prayer.   Prayer is answered when you go to the Father in the Name of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit within you begins to His work.  

Just as a human body that fails to breathe is labeled a “dead body,” so too a faith that fails to “breathe” is labeled a “dead faith.”  And the breath of faith in the Christian life is good works: demonstrating concern for the poor, controlling the tongue, exhibiting a spirit of humility, building up others.  If you think you have faith but there is no living demonstration of that faith in your life, James has news for you:  Your faith is worthless. True faith and good works cannot be divorced, for your life is the laboratory in which your faith is shown to be real.

James 4:2-3 – You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

There may come a time in your life when you wonder why you are not growing in your faith.  Or you might wonder why you do not ever have the opportunity to lead others to Christ.  When you ask yourself these kinds of questions, you may be able to answer them with another question:  “Have I asked God to help me in this area?”

Understand that this passage does not advocate that you “demand” things from God as though He were some “cosmic butler” prepared to answer your every beck and call.  Yet it is equally wrong to fail to ask Him to help meet your needs.  God wants to bless your life and spiritually strengthen you.  God wants to bless you because you are His child.  Unfortunately, many of us fail to receive all of what God has for us because we do not pray. 

Take a moment to look at your own spiritual progress.  Do you want to have a better understanding of the Bible?  Are you looking for some Christian friends?  Do you want the Lord to show you what your spiritual gifts and talents are?  God wants to bless you, but He may be just waiting for your invitation to do so.

While you do not need to change your lifestyle before you come to Christ, once you do come to Christ, your lifestyle should show tangible changes.  If it does not, then one could doubt whether Christ has really come into your life.  The way you live, act, think, should reflect what you believe. 

Luke 3:8 – Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…

James brings out another important reason for backing up our faith with our actions in the following passage. 

James 3:13-17 – Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

When people see that we genuinely care about them as individuals, then they will be much more open to hearing about what motivates us.  Can people see Jesus in the way you live?  If not, it is time to move Jesus into the “driver’s seat” of your life.

The Good Fight

1 Timothy 6:11-14

But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christ like), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart.  Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses.  In the presence of God, Who preserves alive all living things, and of Christ Jesus, Who in His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I [solemnly] charge you  to keep all His precepts unsullied and flawless, irreproachable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Anointed One), (The Amplified Bible)

  • Flee from all these things “O man of God” – talking to the church
  • Pride
  • Conceit
  • Controversy
  • Disputes
  • Strife
  • Envy
  • Jealousy
  • Quarrels
  • Dissension
  • Abuse
  • Insults
  • Slander
  • Suspicions
  • Wrangling
  • Weary discussion
  • Perpetual friction
  • Greed

Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:16 – I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

  • Aim at – pursue – strive toward – grasp with all your might
  • Right standing with God
  • True goodness
  • Godliness (the loving fear of God and being Christ like)
  • Faith
  • Love
  • Steadfastness (patience)
  • Gentleness of heart
  • Fight the good fight of faith (spiritual warfare)
  • Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned (called)
  • Lay hold of the eternal life to which you have made a good confession (declared openly that Christ is your Lord and Master
  • I urge you – implore you – give it all you have got
  • Keep your commitment to God
  • Without spot
  • Blameless
  • How do we accomplish all this?  Through the power of prayers and fasting

1 Timothy 2:1-2 – Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

Requirements of the Christian

1 Timothy 1:3-4

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,  nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

  • Know what you believe

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

  • Be a person of prayer

1 Timothy 2:1 – Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.

  • Be an example

1 Timothy 4:12 – Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity

  • In speech – in all you say, be godly
  • In conduct – in all you do, be godly
  • In love – in the way you love, be godly
  • In spirit – in attitude and behavior – be as God would be
  • In faith – always trusting and believing in God’s Word
  • In purity – in all areas of life be pure and innocent
  • Exhibit positive qualities

1 Timothy 6:11 – But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

  • Pursue righteousness – right standing before God
  • Pursue godliness – walk according to the Word
  • Pursue faith – continue to trust in the things of God
  • Pursue love – strongly desire to love as God loves
  • Pursue perseverance – be obedient to what is right
  • Pursue gentleness – be calm and peaceful toward others
  • Continue onward

1 Timothy 6:12 – Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

  • Fight the good fight of faith
  • Grasp firmly, lay hold, do not let eternal life slip away
  • Maintain your confession of faith, do not give in to sin
  • Continue to be a witness of God’s grace

Walking in Christ – in Unity

Ephesians 4:1-6

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

THE CHRISTIAN MUST WALK WORTHY

  • Worthy means “of sufficient weight” a quality that comes from acknowledging what Christ has given us, not what worth we may feel we have or not have. 
  • With lowliness.  Lowliness means “with modesty, a sense of moral insignificance and a humble attitude of unselfish concern for the welfare of others.  A total absence of arrogance, conceit.  The word is a combination of  tapeinos – “humble” and phren – “mind.”
  • With gentleness.  Gentleness means “a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious and that has the passions under control.  The word is best translated “meekness,” not as an indication of weakness, but of power and strength under control.  The person who possesses this quality pardons injuries, corrects faults and rules his own spirit well.
  • With long-suffering.  Long-suffering means “patient endurance, forbearance, fortitude.  It describes a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint. 
  • With love.  Forbearing or bearing with one another means “to hold up.  It carries the idea of tolerating, bearing with, putting up with, and not losing courage under pressure. 
  • In unity.  The bond of peace speaks of the relationship in which all believers stand.  When the Holy Spirit enters a life at the point of salvation, they are bound together with other believers.  Endeavor means “to exert oneself, make every effort, be zealous, straining every nerve.  The word combines thinking and acting, planning and producing.  It sees a need and promptly does something about it.”  We are to exert ourselves, make every effort, and strain every nerve to keep unity among ourselves. 

SEVEN BASIC REASONS TO WALK WORTHY

  • One Body – There are many different denominations and many different churches, but Christ is creating only ONE body. 

1 Corinthians 12:13 – “For by one Spirit we were baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

Romans 12:5 – “so we, being many, are one body in Christ…”

  • One Spirit – The Holy Spirit is given to all Christians.

1 Corinthians 12:4 – “There are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.”

Romans 8:14 – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

  • One Hope – We all are striving for the same reward.

Titus 2:12-13 – “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

  • One Lord – We all serve the same Savior.

1 Corinthians 12:5 – “There are different administrations, but the same Lord.”

Philippians 2:9-11 – “Therefore God has highly exalted him…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

  • One Faith – We all have the same message – “Jesus Saves”

Jude 3 – “Beloved…I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

  • One Baptism – All believers give public witness to their faith by submitting to water baptism.  Each is identified with the same body. 

Galatians 3:27 – “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

This could also refer to the believer’s baptism into the body of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13 – “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…”

  • One God and Father – If there is only one God and one Father, then there cannot be two believers in opposition to one another.  If they are, then either one or both are not following God, but rather are following their own carnal ways. 

Mark 12:19 – “And Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Lord, Give Me Wisdom

Ephesians 1:15-23

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.  And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

  • The basic ingredients:  Faith and Love.
  • Faith and love will give a strong testimony of the love of God within your life.  Your faith and love, shown to the world in your daily living, will speak volumes of testimony to the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life.
  • Your faith and love when troubles come will be a testimony.
  • Your faith and love when everything around you is chaos will be a testimony.
  • Your faith and love in spite of the trials will be a testimony.
  •  Your faith and love during sickness or serious medical crisis will be a testimony.
  • Your faith and love during the time of great personal loss will be a testimony.
  • Your faith and love when friends turn against you will be a testimony.
  • Your faith and love when finances don’t meet the need will be a testimony.
  • Your faithfulness to the House of God in times of stress and great difficulty will be a testimony.

Hebrews 11:6 – “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”  Hebrews 11:6.

Romans 10:17 – “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” 

James 2:20 – “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”

John 13:35 – “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” 

1 John 4:7-8 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

  • Lord God, more than anything else I desire to be a testimony.
  • Lord God, make me a testimony.
  • Lord God, I believe, help my unbelief.
  • Lord God, give me faith that I might be a testimony.
  • Lord God, place your love in my life that I might be a testimony.
  • Faith and Love are continuously needed by everyone who strives to be called Christian.
  • The church at Ephesus had great faith in God and their love for others to know the risen Christ was a great testimony to the entire church in the world of their day.
  • Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus in this portion of scripture (especially Eph 1:17-18) is a prayer that all pastors pray for their congregation. 
  • The great need for all believers is to grow in the knowledge of God.
  • The God we are to know is the God of Jesus Christ.
  • The God we are to know is the God whom Jesus Christ worshipped when He was on earth as a Man.                                               
  • The God we are to know is the God whom Jesus Christ chose to reveal to mankind.  
  • The God we are to know is the only God.  There is no other.
  • The God we are to know is the only true and living God.
  • The God we are to know is the Supreme Majesty and Sovereign Lord of the Universe.          
  • The God we are to know is the One Supreme intelligence and power of the universe and it is He who has created all and rules over all.
  • The God we are to know is the One who is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time), omniscient (knowing all things).
  • The God we are to know is the one whose creative genius, presence and understanding reaches out beyond the stars and embraces all that is or ever will be.
  • The God we are to know is the one who declares that He has “set His glory above the heavens”  Psalm 8:1 – “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens.”
  • This is the God we are to know.  As stated, He is the only true and living God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the God of glory.  Believers must know and grow more and more in the knowledge of Him.  They must gain an ever increasing knowledge of Him.
  • Three things are necessary for a believer to grow in the knowledge of God.
  • A believer must have the “spirit of wisdom.”  A spirit that hungers and thirsts, that seeks and seeks after wisdom.
  • Wisdom can best be understood by the words “what” and “how.”
  • Spiritual wisdom means knowing who God is and how to relate to Him.
  • Spiritual wisdom means knowing the truth and how to use it.
  • Spiritual wisdom means knowing how to live more and more fruitful – for the glory of God and for the welfare of men.
  • Wisdom differs from knowledge.  Knowledge is the grasping of facts but the grasping of facts is not enough.  A person must know how to use the facts.  That is where wisdom comes in. 

Matthew 7:24 – “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Col 2:1-3 – “For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

  • A believer must have the “spirit of revelation.”  This simply means that the Holy Spirit must reveal God to the believer. 

1 Cor. 2:9-12 – “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”Footnotes: 1 Corinthians 2:9 Isaiah 64:4

  • A believer must have the “eyes of his heart enlightened.”  The heart must be opened so that the light of God can be seen and grasped.  An open heart is the responsibility of both the believer and the Holy Spirit.  The believer must open his heart and focus its affection, intelligence, and will upon knowing God.  The believer must seek the Holy Spirit to enlighten and flood his heart with the things of God. 

2 Corinthians 4:6 – “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Psalms 119:130 – “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

  • The results of the knowledge of God are threefold.
  • A believer comes to know the hope of God’s calling.
  • A believer comes to know that we should be holy and without blame, living before Him forever in love.
  • A believer comes to know that we should experience what it means to be adopted as children of God–forever and ever.
  • A  believer comes to know that we should possess the wisdom and understanding of God. 

1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

The Power of God vs the Wisdom of Man

1 Corinthians 2:5

that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

  • What we do and say, the very way we conduct our lives, is many times based on the things about us, the things we have seen, the things we have heard, the things we have experienced – all man’s wisdom.
  • Our faith is simply based on the power of God, on the ability of God to move and act and touch our lives.
  • That faith, based in the power of God has its foundation, its cornerstone in the Lord Jesus Christ
  • The one who came to earth
  • The one who agonized in the garden
  • The one who died on the cross
  • The one who was laid in the tomb
  • The one who rose again the third day
  • The one who ascended on high
  • The one who is now making intercession on our behalf
  • The one who is coming again to take his children home to be with Him
  • Let’s look a moment at the scriptures to see what it says about our foundation.

Isaiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,  A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.’”

Ephesians 2:19-20 – “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

1 Peter 2:6-8 – “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’  Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’  They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”

Acts 4:8-12 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:  If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’2 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’”

  • But after the foundation has been laid, after the cornerstone has been set, we build our lives based on the Word of God.  The Word of God, not the wisdom of man, the Word of God.
  • Remember the children of Israel.  Caleb and Joshua brought back a good report.  It was rejected and the children of Israel were doomed to wonder around in the wilderness for 40 more years before they went in and took the land God had promised them.
  • Whose report are you going to believe?
  • The doubters
  • The skeptics
  • The worry warts
  • The TV
  • The newspapers
  • Or the Word of God
  • Man’s wisdom – We moan, groan and complain and say within us and verbally, “I can’t get through this trial, this time of difficulty.”
  • God’s power – Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  • Man’s wisdom – “I’m sick, I hurt, and I’m not going to make it.  I’m in pain. 
  • God’s power – Isaiah 53:5 – “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”
  • Man’s wisdom – I’m financially not going to be able to pay all my bills and obligations.
  • God’s power – Philippians 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
  • Man’s wisdom – looks at our family, the sin and degradation they are involved in and we say they are just hopeless.
  • God’s power – Isaiah 59:1 – “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.”
  • Man’s wisdom – looks at our country and says it’s going down the tubes.
  • God’s power – 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
  • Man’s wisdom – says I’m afraid.
  • God’s wisdom – 1 John 4:18 – “but perfect love casts out fear.”
  • If we have built on the sure foundation, Jesus Christ, we can be like Jairus who told Jesus, “Just say the word and my daughter will be healed.”

Don’t Doubt

Don’t pout

Shout it out

“I believe!”

  • If we really believe, if we truly have built on a sure foundation, Jesus Christ, we can agree boldly and triumphantly with 1 John 5:14 –  “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
  • Where does your faith stand?
  • In the wisdom of man
  • In the power of God
  • My God is big enough to meet every need I have – every need you have.