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         

Behold I Stand at the Door

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

  • Behold – consider, discover, perceive, contemplate, view attentively
  • Who?  Not a magazine salesman, but THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.
  • What kind of door?  Is our door a locked door, a closed door, a revolving door, an open door?
  • What will happen if we open the door?
  • Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe, the one who died on Calvary the one who rose from the dead, the only one that I can call on and confess my wrong doing and be forgiven, is only responsible for one part of the process.  The Holy Spirit does the convicting and the convincing, but he is only responsible for one part of the process. 
  • We are the one who must respond to the knock.  We are responsible for our own decision.  We can choose to ignore Him.  We can refuse to open the door and allow Him to come in and dine with us and we with him.  (Note:  dine with Him/me and me/Him – not a one sided fellowship or relationship).  The Savior of the world desires to have fellowship with us.  WOW!
  • Absolute truth

Do you believe if you were to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet you would eventually hit the ground?  That is an absolute truth.  The law of gravity cannot be changed.  Neither can the truths of Scripture.  He is at the door…He is at your heart’s door…If your door has been locked, closed or revolving, just open it.  If you are already a Christian, perhaps there is one thing that separates you from having the complete, open fellowship with Him that you desire to have.  Open the door!

  • There is the standing Christ – He stands at the door.  This symbolizes His readiness to enter the life of a person.  He is the One who takes the initiative to save man.  He has come to man; man has not approached Him.  Jesus Christ stands before the heart of man as the Savior of the world, as loving man so much that He has come into the world to save man.  He is the One who has travelled such a great distance from the majesty of heave down to man’s heart.

Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalm 145:18 – The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

John 6:50-51 – This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.

  • There is the knocking Christ – He stands at the door and knocks.  This symbolizes the seeking Christ.  Christ has not only come to earth and walked over to man’s heart, He actively seeks to enter man’s heart.  He knocks and knocks at the man’s heart and He refuses to give up.  Christ knocks so much that a person has to either open up or deaden his ears to the knock.

Matthew 18:12 – What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?

Luke 19:10 – for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

  • There is the pleading Christ – He pleads for entrance.  This symbolizes the compassion of Christ.  He not only knocks, He pleads and begs for man to open His heart.  He is merciful and full of compassion.  He knows what life should be for He created life.  He knows that life must be lived in wholehearted commitment to righteousness or else it is wasted and doomed.  He longs for man to have real life, abundant and eternal life.  Therefore, He knocks and keeps on knocking at the door of a man’s heart.  While He is knocking, He pleads and begs for the man to hear Him.

Matthew 11:28 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 23:37 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Revelation 22:17 – And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

  • There is the penetrating Christ – This is the most glorious promise imaginable!  Imagine the Spirit of Jesus Christ living within the heart and life and body of a person.  When a person hears His voice and opens his heart, Christ enter; He penetrates the life of a person.  This symbolizes the life changing presence and power of the living Christ.  When he enters and penetrates a person’s life, He causes the most radical changes imaginable. 
  • He causes the person to be born again.

John 3:3-5 – Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

  • He causes a new creature out of the person.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Colossians 3:10 – and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

  • There is the companion Christ – This symbolizes fellowship.  When Jesus Christ enters and penetrates a person’s heart, He lives forever within the life of the person.  He is always present with the person.  When Jesus Christ enters a life, he has the richest fellowship possible, fellowship and communion with the Son of God Himself.  And the person has it forever and forever.

John 17:23 – I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Ephesians 3:17-19 – that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Living in His Fullness

Ephesians 3:19

[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! (The Amplified Bible)

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (New Living Translation)

Ephesians 4:11-13

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  (New Living Translation)

  • He was man – yet:

Colossians 1:19 – For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently. (The Amplified Bible)

  • All His loving kindness

When I say “all” I am not saying his “all” is limited, that there is no more for anyone else.  I am saying He has given us all that was needed, all that was necessary, and all that was available.  The enormity of His fullness, of His grace is beyond our comprehension (like the stars in the heaven or the sand at the seashore) and we are the recipients of all that there is.

Look at this illustration:  We are spiritually filthy dirty in our sins and we can somehow harness all the water that is in the ocean and bathe in that huge bathtub.  His grace is immeasurable and never ceases.  Once it is poured out on us it keeps on being poured out.  You may have been saved 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago, but His grace has never stopped flowing upon you, over you, through you, in you, around you.  The ample vast supply is available to all who have been redeemed.

John 1:16 – For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. (The Amplified Bible)

  • This grace in its fullness is “real love.”  At salvation I received that same fullness living in me.

Colossians 2:9 – For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature].  (The Amplified Bible)

  • What shall we do about His fullness in our lives?

Hebrews 10:26-29 – For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

We have received the fullness of Jesus Christ which is, was and forever shall be His grace.  All His grace was manifested at Calvary.  We can never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER receive more of His grace than that which was given freely at the cross because we have received His fullness.  That is, we have received all that is available, complete salvation.  All that was necessary for the work to be done in us, for us, through us, all His riches, all His love, all His forgiveness, all His mercies. 

The fullness of His grace.  There is no past tense.  It does not say “completed” – but “complete.”  It is done!

Luke 6:27-42 – But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.  But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.  And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.\

James 2:1-7 – My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.  For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?  Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

1 John 3:14-17 – If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.  We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?  (New Living Translation)

2 Thessalonians 1:12 – Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist said, “I must decrease – He must increase.”  We might simply say, “It’s not about me but it’s about Him.”

One writer described His fullness this way – “Basketfuls.”  He must have had the multiplication of loaves and fishes in mind when he said, “basketsful!”

Jonathan Edwards – “Nothing was done after His resurrection to purchase redemption of men, nor is there anything more to be done through all eternity.”

John 1:16 – For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.

                        He is all my righteousness – I stand complete in Him and worship Him.

Jesus is Our Only Solution

1 John 5:12

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

  • He came to give us life

1 John 1:1-2 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—

  • He came to fill us with joy

1 John 1:4 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

  • He was there “from the beginning

John 1:1-2, 14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • Disciples saw His miracles!  They were witnesses!  They knew!

2 Peter 1:16 – For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

  • He is real

Luke 24:39 – Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.

  • He came
    • To do away with our sin
    • To forgive us
    • To set us free
    • To bring us joy
    • To free us from bondage
    • To heal our bodies
    • Much-much more
    • But the main point was to forgive our sins

1 John 3:5 – And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.

  • We are responsible for our sins – Not like Flip Wilson who said, “The devil made me do it.”

1 John 3:8 – He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

  • Tares or weeds
  • Tares are burned up
  • The sinner goes to hell
  • He/she suffers eternal punishment (separation from God)
  • There is weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth
  • Are there tares in the church today?

Matthew 13:38-40 – The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

  • He came to this earth for one purpose – to die on Calvary
    • By His death we know love because He gave His life for us
    • We should give our lives for one another following His example
    • It’s not all about ME, ME, ME – looking out for #1

1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

  • He died for the ungodly – that’s you – that’s me

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

  • He was the propitiation (mercy seat), the one and only, the total and final ultimate sacrifice

1 John 4:9-10 – In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

  • Disciples saw, and testified to what He has done for us

1 John 4:14 – And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.

  • Jesus is our only source!

1 John 5:12 – He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Christ in Us

Philippians 2:1-11

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  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.

A STRONG CHURCH

  • The Philippians’ Church was a strong church.  When a church is strong, it always has a vision.   It is always working out some strategy to carry forth the Gospel.  A strong church launches ministry after ministry.  A strong church is not complacent.  A strong church is vibrant with things going on that will give glory to God and touch the lives of believers and nonbelievers alike.  A strong church has people in its midst that are always busy doing and going and helping, and inviting, and listening and caring.  A strong church is an active church. 
  • In a strong church there is great need for unity.  With many different ideas and things going on there will always be people with divergent ideas and pet projects.  Unity must be the goal of all involved.  That unity only comes by Christ dwelling in us richly.  There are seven traits in these first four verses of Philippians 2 that will hold the church together and keep it unified.
  • Consolation
  • Love
  • Fellowship in the Spirit
  • Compassion
  • Concern for one another’s joy
  • Humility or lowliness of mind
  • Controlling self-interest or concentration upon oneself

TRAITS TO UNITY

  • Consolation – In this passage the word means encouragement, comfort, solace, exhortation, and strengthening believers to be one in spirit and busy about the ministry of His church.  Christ wants no murmuring, no grumbling, disturbance, or weakening of the unity within the church.  The Spirit of Christ in us is to take the disturbed or upset person and console, comfort, encourage and strengthen them.  Not only are we to help the individual that needs consoling or comforting, but we are to allow that same comfort, strength, and encouragement of Christ to flow through us when we are in need of comfort, encouragement or strength.  Just imagine the spirit of unity that would prevail in a church if all the members would let the consolation of Christ course through them.  There would be no murmuring, grumbling, disturbance – no disunity whatsoever.

John 14:18 – “I will not leave you comfortless:  I will come to you.” 

1 Thessalonians – “Therefore comfort each other, and edify one another, just as you are also doing.”

“Isaiah 40:1 – Comfort you, comfort you my people, says your God.” 

  • Love – There is a comfort of love that is in Christ.  The love of Christ stirs a person to keep the unity with other believers.  The word used here for love (agape) is the kind of love that is selfless and sacrificial.   It is the kind of love that loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved, when he is utterly unworthy of being loved.  It is the love of Christ, the love which He showed when He gave and sacrificed Himself for us.  We did not deserve it and were utterly unworthy of such love, yet Christ loved us despite all.  Imagine the spirit of unity that would exist within a church if every member would let the love of Christ flow though them.  There would be no bitterness, anger, or strife – no action that would hurt another.  Even if the person was as wrong as could be and deserved the most drastic punishment that could be given, the church’s members would sacrifice and give themselves for that person.  This is the answer to unity, the Lord’s spirit of love!  How desperately the church needs its members to let the love of Christ flow through them to each other.

John 13: 34-35 – “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” 

Romans 12:9 – “Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12 – “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” 

  • Fellowship in the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit works mightily in the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord.  He enters the heart and life of the believer to comfort, guide, teach, equip, and use him as a witness for Christ.  The Holy Spirit creates a spiritual union between the new believer and other believers.  He melts and molds the heart of the new believer to other believers.  He attaches all their lives together, and they become one in life and purpose.  They have a joint life sharing their blessings and needs and gifts together – all focused upon their Lord and His purpose.   The church and the believers are to have the same mind.  There are to be no discordant elements whatsoever.  There are to be no differences, no gossip, rumors, or cliques, nothing that would tamper with or disturb the fellowship of the Spirit in the church. 
  • Compassion – Compassion is a must.  Compassion is the same trait that caused Jesus to reach out to us.  The compassion of Christ flowing through us will cause us to reach out to those who have been hurt, to those who are different, to those who withdrew, to those who have been disturbed, to those who have been critical.  Compassion will stir us to reach out to others. 

Romans 15:1 – “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” 

Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one anther’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” 

  • Joy – The believers in a church are to be consumed with joy and to be concerned for each other’s joy.  Joy brings unity to a church quicker than any other trait.  Joy is always disturbed if there is criticism, dissatisfaction, grumbling, murmuring, cliques, opposition, and a host of other divisive negatives.  We are to worship, plan, organize, program, build, staff, finance, minister, and serve in the joy of Christ. The only way we can do that is to be like-minded, to have the same love, to be of one accord, to be of one mind. 

John 15:11 – “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” 

  • Humility (Lowliness of Mind) – A strong and active church will always have two problems to deal with – rivalry and empty glory.  Some people just seem to want to struggle with others. They simply are not mature in the Lord; therefore they give in to gossip about differences, jealousy, envy, desire for position, desire for recognition, opposition, loving flattery, forming cliques.  If they do not get their way or what they want, they fight against the church or other members.  The result is disunity and divisiveness, one of the most terrible crimes within the church.

James 3:14 – “But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” 

Proverbs 20:3 – “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.” 

2 Timothy 2:14 – “Of these things put them (the church) in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.” 

2 Timothy 2:24 – “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” 

  • Some are going to seek glory within the church. The Scriptures call it vainglory, which means empty glory.  Some just want attention, recognition, position, flattery, praise, and honor.  They want people seeking their advice, counsel, and opinion. 

Matthew 23:12 -”And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” 

John 5:44 – “How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” 

  • The church must control self interest.  The members must quit looking out for their own ambition, desire for acknowledgment, for honor.  They must quit worrying about rather or not they are ignored, overlooked, or neglected.  Believers are to concentrate upon Christ and his ministry to people and reaching the world with the glorious gospel of salvation.  They are not to be focused on self.  Every believer is needed to reach the lost and lonely, the shut-ins and helpless, the hungry, the cold, the sinful, the doomed of his community, city, country, and world.

Matthew 19:21 – “Jesus said unto him, If you would be perfect, go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. “

Matthew 25:43 – “I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.”

He’s Dead – Or Is He?

The Gospel of Matthew as well as other Gospel writers presents the reality of Jesus’ death as an absolute certainty.

Those standing around the cross watched as Jesus “breathed his last.” – John 19:30 tells us He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

They heard him cry with a loud voice. – Mark 15:37 tells us Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed His last.

Roman authorities, acting on instructions from Pilate, broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus to hasten their death; but coming to Jesus, they discovered He had already died – John 19:33 says “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.

Having received confirmation of death from the Roman centurion, Pilate released the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus for burial.

  • The callous Roman soldiers said “He is dead.”
  • The curious crowds, unconscious of the eternal significance, said “He is dead.’
  • Pilate got the word, “Jesus is dead.”
  • Mary, feeling the pain like a dagger in her heart, said, “My son is dead.”
  • His disciples, numb and stunned with the events of the last few hours said, “The Master is dead”

Everybody had written Jesus off – gone forever.

Dead.

Dead.

Dead.

Get on with the same routine.  He’s dead.  No one expected to see Him or hear His voice again.

It’s Friday….but Sunday’s coming.

What separates Christianity from all other religions is an empty tomb and the words of Christ who says “I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore.”

What’s in a Name?

1 Peter 1:1-10

1 Peter 1:1- 10 – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

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, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

The prophecy of this grace.

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23 – Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.”

Grace – what does it mean?

G     It is a gift – Ephesians 2:8-10 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

O     It calls for an offering – Romans 12:1 — I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

D    It caused God to dwell among us – John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

W   This “Word” is powerful and His life on earth was verified by many witnesses – Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

1 Timothy 3:16-17 – And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.

I    Because of this “Word” we have an inheritance – Romans 8:16-17 – The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

T   Because of what God has done, we are His temple.  – 2 Corinthians 6:16 – And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:  “I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

H    It calls for us to be holy in our lives – 1 Peter 1:16 – because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

U    It calls for faith in God.  However, it also tells us when we have doubts we can honestly cry out to God for His help – Romans 11:19-21 – However, it also tells us when we have doubts we can honestly cry out to God for His help – Romans 11:19-21 – You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Mark 9:24 – Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

S  It provides for us a Savior – Luke 2:11 – For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

What’s in a name?  Everything, if the name is the one above every name – the name by which we must be saved!  Introduce your friends to Jesus (God With Us)!!!