Names of God – (Jehovah Rohi) – The Lord is My Shepherd

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 Rohi – The Lord is My Shepherd

 Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

            He lifts me up when I get down,

            He restoreth my soul.

            He picks me up when I fall,

            He watches over me in times of stress,

He doesn’t say, “You are the weakest link – goodbye.”  He keeps following after us, drawing back into the straight and narrow.

I do not think I could relate to a fold of fleecy, white sheep who never face any troubles.  I would not know what to do if I were part of a flock where the sheep smiled all day long, showing off pearly white teeth.  I do not know if I could handle going to a church where nobody ever cried or experienced pain.  I would go crazy if I lived among people who were never sick, never in need, never tempted, never depressed, never downcast or discouraged.  If I were mixed in with that kind of flock, I would be a complete misfit, a black sheep.  And I would be miserable, because my life is not like that at all. 

We all have difficulties.  I get downcast at times.  I go through periods of discouragement.  I have experienced times of great confusion.  Do not misunderstand; I have God’s peace.  But I do not carry a Colgate grin everywhere I go.  Why?  I have been through the mill.  Often the trials of life do not make me happy.

I have been on mountaintops and down in the valleys.  I have been through times of testing, trial and sorrow.  On many occasions, God has had to come after me.  He has had to pick me up, bind up my wounds and give me a bath.

Where are you Lord?  David asked, in Psalm 43:2 – For You are the God of my strength; why do You cast me off?  Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  This man could not help wondering why he faced such trouble from his enemies.  Yet David identified clearly what his trouble was – “This is an oppression of the enemy.”

Every time I set out to do something I believe will have an impact for eternity on people’s lives I can predict what is going to happen.  The devil is going to come in like a flood and seek to overwhelm me.

At other times, I experience great physical and mental oppressions for no apparent reason.  I believe this is just what David was going through when he wrote this verse.  He had been assailed by something unexplainable, some oppression of soul that had no clear origin.  He had no idea why it was happening.  That is why he asked God why he felt so cast off.  Something had overcome him, and he had no idea what to do about it.

Perhaps you have been through this.  You woke up one day with a cloud of depression hovering over you.  You had no idea where it came from, or why it fell upon you.  You thought, “I’ve never felt this down or condemned in my life.  Why is this happening to me now?  What’s going on?”  You examined your heart endlessly.  Yet you could not get to the bottom of what you were going through or why.

Every true follower of Jesus faces this ordeal.  David was a true man of God; yet he was unable to explain the sudden despair that flooded his soul.  It came upon him at a time when his soul was hungering deeply for the Lord.

David was well acquainted with oppression.  At various times, he had been physically wounded, diseased in body, broken in spirit, cast off of Israel’s throne, driven out of Jerusalem, scattered to the hills, lost.  He also was corrupted by grievous sins and powerful, overwhelming lusts.  At times David was forced to wander across the land, fleeing across valleys, hiking up hillsides and hiding in caves.

But David had a caring, loving shepherd.  Each time David was battered and wounded, Jehovah Rohi went after him, picked him up and carried him to a quiet place of rest.  Then the Lord made David lie down, so his soul could be restored.

God’s sheep are no different today.  Time after time, our shepherd comes after us, fetches us and takes us to a place of rest.  He continually makes us lie down for a time of healing and restoration.  Yet we so easily move away from the Lord’s rest.  We fail to realize that the Lord’s rest is like the food we nourish our bodies with daily; we cannot retain its value unless we keep coming back to the table.

Exodus 29:45 – And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.

The Hebrew word for “dwell” here is “shekinah,” meaning to abide or to settle down beside.  This word signifies not just a passing presence, but a permanent one, a presence that never leaves.  In short, the Shekinah glory of God is not a vanishing imprint that disappears from our hearts like invisible ink.  No, it is something God imprints permanently on our soul.  It is His very near and eternal presence.

This picture here is glorious.  Our shepherd offers to come to us in the midst of our pain and depressed condition, and to sit by our side.  He promises to bind up our wounds and strengthen the parts of us that have become sick and diseased.

That is the Shekinah glory of God; the abiding, everlasting presence of the Lord.  We often experience it when we are in the midst of trouble.  Our great shepherd tells us, “I want to restore you.  I’m going to do it by being present with you even in the valley and shadow of death.  My presence will be with you through everything the devil throws at you.  Even if you try to run from Me, I am going to chase after you.  When I catch you, I am going to take you in My arms and carry you back to My rest.  I will bind up your wounds and heal all your sicknesses.”

Scripture tells us the following about our one true shepherd.

  • Jesus states in John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
  • Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:19 – Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, the Lord knows them that are His.  And, let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
  • Jesus declares in John 10:27-28 – My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither any man pluck them out of My hand.

Simply put, our great shepherd knows who His sheep are.  David was familiar with this aspect of the Lord’s character because He had experienced it personally.  Throughout the Psalms we read:

  • Psalm 103:14 – For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
  • Psalm 44:21 – Shall not God search this out?  For He knows the secrets of the heart.
  • Psalm 94:11 – The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

David was saying in essence, “The Lord knows what I am really like, deep down.”  David realized that God knew his heart often strayed from His divine love and rest.  Yet even though David knew this, he fully understood that his shepherd still loved him.

By his own admission, David was a man whose iniquities piled up so high, they went over his head.  As he faced the long list of his trespasses, David said it became a burden too heavy for him to carry.

Psalm 38:3-4 – There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.  For mine iniquities are gone over mine head; as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

Do these sound like the words of a healthy, fleecy-white, strong, obedient sheep?  Hardly.  David continued:

Psalm 38:5-10 – My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.  I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.  For my loins are full of inflammation; and there is no soundness in my flesh.  I am feeble and severely broken; I groaned because of the turmoil of my heart.  Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hid from You.  My heart pant, my strength fails me; as for the light of mine eyes, it also has gone from me.

This was obviously the cry of a troubled man.  As David acknowledged:

Psalm 69:5 – O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from You.

In Psalm 119, after writing 175 “spiritually correct” verses extolling God’s word and faithfulness, David concludes with this verse:

Psalm 119:176 – I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.

David is saying, in essence, “Please Lord, seek me out, the way a shepherd searches for a lost sheep.  In spite of all my biblical knowledge, I have strayed from Your love.  I have lost the sense of rest I once had in You.  All my plans have failed.  Now I realize I am totally helpless.  Come to me Father.  Seek me out in this awful, dry place.  I cannot find You on my own.  You must find me.  I still believe Your word is true.

You cry out:

Psalm 13:5-6 – But I have trust in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing unto the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 3:4-6 – I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy hill.  Selah.  I laid me down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.  I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about.

Our great shepherd loves every sheep who has gone astray because of testings, trials, hurts and wounds.

I Can (With God’s Help)

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

John 15:5 – “I am the Vine; you are the branches.  Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit.  However, apart from Me (cut off from vital union with Me) you can do nothing.”  The Amplified Version

James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

CAN

  • Growing up, I learned in English classes the difference between the words can and may.  Repeatedly, I heard “You can if you are able.”  The next time you go through a drive through to order something, note how many people on the other end of the microphone ask, “Can I help you?”  That obviously tells you they did not grasp the correct grammar in English class or the teacher did not teach them properly.
  • I can because I am able.
  • Through Christ, I am more than able.  Not in my own strength, not in my own power, but through the power of Christ Jesus, my Lord, who dwells within.
  • “I may” gives the impression that you may not be able.  There is a doubt in your mind that you may not be able because you are too weak, you will change your mind, you question your ability to follow through.

I WILL IS THE NEXT STEP AFTER WE KNOW “WE CAN.”

  • Over and over in the Psalms we see the statement I will.
  • It was I who determined that I would do these things.
  • It was I who put the plan in motion.
  • Remember the statement about Daniel – “He purposed in his heart.”  It was Daniel who made up his mind and determined within himself that he would be who God had called Him to be.

Psalm 145:1 – “I will extol You my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”

Psalm 145:5 – “I will mediate on the glorious splendor of You majesty, and on Your wondrous works.”

Psalm 138:1-2 – “I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You.  I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.”

Psalm 144:9 – “I will sing a new song to You, O God; on a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You.”

  • It is I who must go to God when I need help
  • It is I who must praise God when I want to thank Him
  • No one else can do it for me
  • I must
  • I can
  • I am able

TEN FINGER PRAYER

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I CAN DO

  • Action word – I can do…move, talk, look, walk, think, eat and breathe and much more…all these things you and I can do without thinking.  How much more do we do with our strength that God has given to us naturally?  .

I CAN DO ALL

  • I can do whatever I want to if I put my mind, heart and energy and will power to the task that is before me.  Nothing then, can stop me…There are no exceptions…With God’s help I can accomplish more than I can even imagine…but lest I get puffed up in my own strength, I must remember that it is God who gives me the strength.

I CAN DO ALL THINGS

  • I can praise God if I want to
  • I can get out of bed if I want to
  • I can help others if I want to
  • I can live a Christian life if I want to

OR

  • I can blame my upbringing, sexual abuse, an abusive relationship, poverty or many other things for the reasons that I cannot go forward to live my life in the way God has called me to live it.

I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH

  • It’s not me and me alone who is able to do all these things, but it is through the help of the Lord.
  • When your wife has cancer
  • When you have financial difficulties
  • When a loved one dies
  • When you have surgery
  • When you have problems in your marriage
  • When you have problems with your kids
  • In all areas of life…it is God who gives us strength

THROUGH CHRIST (THE ANOINTED ONE)

  • It is He, Himself, He cares

1 Peter 5:7 – “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

  • WOW!  This God that we serve promises to show us great and mighty things but He wants us to call on Him…He wants us to fellowship with Him.  You stay in touch with Him; He will stay in touch with you.  It is in Him and through Him by His anointing power that we have our being, our life, our very existence, our breath, that our heart regularly beats.

1 John 5:14-15 – “Now 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.”

WHO STRENGTHENS ME

  • The same person as the I in the beginning of this verse…I am the receipt of my actions.  I am the one who steps out by the faith God has instilled in my heart and helped me to exercise the faith…I WIN.

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

John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Giving to God’s Cause

Philippians 4:10-19

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

THEY GAVE ONCE AGAIN

  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 indicates that the church had supported Paul in his ministry at one time.  For whatever reason, it appears their support had stopped.  Now, Paul rejoices that it has “flourished again.” 
  • Gospel must be carried world-wide
  • Missionaries and ministers must be supported to do the work

Luke 10:2 – “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; pray therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” 

John 4:35 – “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’  I say to you, ‘lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!’” 

  • Jesus clearly stated that the problem is not the harvest – it is the need for laborers.  We must go and do all we can to reap the harvest.  Where we cannot or will not personally go – we must commit ourselves to support those who can and are willing to go.

GOD DOES NOT NEED YOUR GIVING

  • God has taught his servants to be content in whatever state they find themselves.

1 Timothy 6:6-9 – “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conduct be without covetousness; bet content with such things as you have, for Him Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” 

  • God meets the needs of his servants.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect (to complete, reach a goal, bring to maturity) in weakness.’  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

Psalm 28:7 – “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped.” 

YOU NEED TO GIVE TO GOD

  • God wants you to be a part of His kingdom work.  When you give you are obeying God.  When you obey God, He has promised to “take up residence” in you – (John 14)

Acts 20:35 – “…And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed (supremely happy, a condition in which congratulations are in order) to give (giving an object of value freely, unforced) than to receive.’”   The Amplified Version

  • NOTE:  Jesus did not say it would more natural or easier to give than to receive, but that the giver would be more blessed than the receiver.
  • Giving to God’s work will bring God’s blessings.

Luke 18:30 – “There is no one who has left house, or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” 

Luke 6:38 – “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.

Malachi 3:8-12 – “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’  ‘In tithes and offerings.  You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts,  ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven  and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,’ says the LORD of hosts; and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

WE MUST LOOK TO GOD FOR OUR NEEDS – MINISTER AND LAITY ALIKE

Philippians 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 

  • The source of our supply – God Himself
  • What needs are met – All our need
  • What is the limit of meeting our need – All of God’s riches in glory
  • Who is the one who provides the supply from heaven to us – Jesus Christ
  • NOTE:   When we speak of giving, most of the time we think about “money or material items.”  True, that is one of the main sources of giving to God’s work.  Missionaries, ministers have to eat, need clothes and a room over their head.  Their children need toys and books and an education like other children.  They need Bibles and books and supplies to reach out in ministry.  All this takes money.
  • However, we need to think of giving to the work of Christ in other ways.
  • Prayer – One of the best ways to give to God’s servants is to pray for them.  Too often we spend time criticizing, complaining and very little time praying.
  • Communicate – We need to let God’s servants know we are praying for them.  Write to the
  • missionaries – send your pastor a card.
  • Time – We need to give of our time to God’s work.  We can help in the work of God by volunteering some of our time to help in his work that needs to be done.
  • Talents, abilities – God’s servants cannot do everything.  They – like you – are limited in their skills.  You can share your skills in areas where God’s servants are lacking. 
  • Friendship – It can be lonely when you work for God.  You can be a friend to the missionaries by writing, sending magazines or newspapers from home, sending a “care” package of spices, packaged food or other items they cannot get and miss.  You can be a friend to your pastors by sharing a cup of coffee, a visit to their home or yours. 

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Philippians 4:4-7

  • New King James Version

Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  • Amplified Version

Rejoice in the Lord always (delight, gladden yourselves in Him); again I say, Rejoice!  Let all men know and perceive and recognized your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).  The Lord in near (He is coming soon), Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, And God’s peace (shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace) which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

  • The Message Bible –

Celebrate God all day, every day, I mean, revel in Him!  Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.  Help them see that the Master is about to arrive.  He could show up any minute!  Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

  • New King James Version

“Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

  • Amplified Version

“Rejoice in the Lord always (delight, gladden yourselves in Him); again I say, Rejoice!  Let all men know and perceive and recognized your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).  The Lord in near (He is coming soon), Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, And God’s peace (shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace) which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

  • The Message Bible –

“Celebrate God all day, every day, I mean, revel in Him!  Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.  Help them see that the Master is about to arrive.  He could show up any minute!  Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Toward The Goal

Philippians 3:12-16

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PERFECTION

  • Paul did not count himself as having yet attained; he was not perfect.  We are not perfect and our righteousness is lacking in many different areas of our lives.  We are continually striving toward perfection and toward living a righteous and holy life.  For many perfection is hopeless; righteousness is hopeless.  Holiness is just not going to happen.  That is because those individuals are relying on their own ability and strength to be perfect and righteous before Christ and it is definitely not going to happen.  If we could be perfect and righteous on our own merits, Christ would not have had to go to the cross. 
  • No person ever achieves perfection on this earth.  That fact is so obvious to the thinking of a honest man that it is actually ridiculous to even think about being perfect.  But, at the same time, too many are so closed minded in their thinking that they seldom grasp what perfection really is.
  • Consider the brain and the mind.  It has been estimated that man only uses one-tenth of one percent of his mental capacity.  Imagine how far short this is of perfection.
  • Consider the body.  What would a perfect body be like?  A body that never desired, thought, or did wrong; that never came up short; that never aged, deteriorated, died or decayed?
  • The examples could go on and on.  But, in the beginning, the creation stage of this earth, we find that man and woman were created in the image of God.  He and she had the perfect body and mind because God created perfection.  It was mankind’s desire to be wise as God that brought about the imperfection that we have in our lives and in our world.  Look at the creation story in Genesis.  Every time God created something, it states over and over “And God saw that all was good.”   

Romans 7:18-20 – “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.  I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it.  (I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.) For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do are what I am (ever) doing. Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it (it is not myself that acts), but the sin          (principle) which dwells within me (fixed and operating in my soul).  The Amplified Version

2 Corinthians 3:5 – “Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God.  The Amplified Version

PAUL’S EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW

  • Paul followed after perfection.  When Paul was saved on the Damascus Road that was just the beginning.  He had been saved to live for Christ and to serve Christ.   He was saved to follow to pursue, like a runner in a race, that perfection that Christ desires in all of us.  Paul was going to do all he could to help the Lord in the Lord’s great task of perfecting him.  Paul was going to do all he could to lay hold of perfection – the perfection for which the Lord had laid hold of him. 
  • There is no such thing as a genuine believer sitting still after he has been saved.  The believer must not become comfortable, complacent, lethargic, or lazy.  The believer should neither waste time nor opportunity.  He should not begin to think he is safe and secure forever.  The believer can not begin to do what he wants to do and give in to his own desires.  The believer must follow, run, and press after perfection – the perfection for which Christ has saved him.  The believer must be active in living for Christ.
  • START WHERE YOU ARE
  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
  • DO ALL YOU CAN!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but (only) one receives the prize?  So run (your race) that you may lay hold (of the prize) and make it yours.  Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things.  They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we (do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness) that cannot wither.  Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim).  I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.  But (like a boxer) I buffet my body (handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships) and subdue it for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit (not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit).”   The Amplified Version

Galatians 5:7 – “You were running the race nobly.  Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the truth?   The Amplified Version

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 – “However, we possess this precious treasurer (the divine Light of the Gospel) in (frail, human) vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.  We are hedged in (pressed) on every side (troubled and oppressed in every way), but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair.”  The Amplified Version

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the Truth), let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection).  He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The Amplified Version.

WHAT MUST WE DO?

  • Paul worked at forgetting the past.  If we are going to have a good future, we must now, in the present, forget the past.  We must burn bridges if necessary.  We must sever relationships if necessary.  We must change jobs if necessary.  For us to live like Christ intended for us to live, holy and righteous and striving toward perfection, we have to make a change.  The first change must be to bury the past.  Leave the stinking, rotten actions and memories of the sin of your past and never resurrect it again.  If Christ forgave you of wrong doing and does not hold it against you anymore; then who do you think you are resurrecting something that has been forgiven?  It’s over.  It took you down the wrong path the times you were involved in it, and it will again if you resurrect it.  The one thing we must do is forgive ourselves and go on and live our life in Christ to the fullest. 

1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, we are (even here and) now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be (hereafter), but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall (as God’s children) resemble and be like Him just as He (really) is.”  The Amplified Version

All For Christ

Philippians 3:1-11

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

BE ON GUARD

  • Rejoice in the Lord – Rejoicing in the Lord places one in the very presence of the Lord – the very best place to be if you want to be safe and protected.

Psalm 22:3 – “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”  (You inhabit the praises of your people.) 

  • The word inhabit means to sit down, to remain, to settle, or marry.  When we praise God he does not merely visit us, He abides with us and we are partners with Him in a growing relationship. 

Psalm 5:11 – “Let all those that put their trust in you rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them.”

Habakkuk 3:17-18 – “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the field yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet will I rejoice in the Lord.  I will joy in the God of my salvation.”  Habakkuk 3:17-18

The word for joy, gil, contains the suggestion of dancing for joy or leaping for joy.  The verb originally meant to spin around with intense motion.  This lays to rest the motion that biblical joy is only “a quiet, inner sense of well-being.”  God dances for joy over Jerusalem and because of His people.

Isaiah. 65:19 – “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people.”

Zephaniah 3:17 – “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people

  • His redeemed are joyful in their King; they praise Him with dances, with instruments and singing.

Psalm 149:2, 3 – “Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbre and harp.”

  • Pay attention to the Scriptures – If we fail to study and obey the Word of God, we will cave in to the trials of life or to false teaching.

John 14:15 – “If you love me, keep my commandments.” 

John 14:23 – “If a man love me, he will keep my words…” 

John 15:10 – “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

Acts 17:11 – “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

Acts 20:32 – “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

2 Tim 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.”

  • Watch out for false teaching – Remember most false teaching comes with “a little truth mixed in.”  Otherwise, there would be no danger of our being misled. 

 Matthew 5:19-20 – “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…”  

Romans 10:3 – “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”  Romans 10:3

1 Timothy 1:7 – “Desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.” 

2 Timothy 4:3-4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

  • Beware of false attempts to worship God – praying, singing, attending church, giving in the offering, being baptized, joining the church.  These are all things that we do because we worship.  They are the result of our worship.  However, they are not the basis of our worship.  
  • We worship God through the Spirit of God who lives in us. 

John 4:24 – “God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 –  “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 

  • We worship because of Jesus Christ. 

 Ephesians 2:18 – “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” 

John 10:9 – “I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.” 

REJECT SELF-RIGHEOUSNESS

  • Privileges of Birth
  • Self-Achievement

Romans 3:20 – “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight – for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Romans 10:3 – “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” 

ALL FOR CHRIST

  • Count all things loss for God – “Count” is in the present tense; it is a continuous action.  When we accept Christ, we are to continuously – all the time seek after God.  Compared to Him – nothing else should matter. 

Luke 9:23 – “If any man desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”   

Hebrews 11:6 – “Without faith it is impossible to please Him…..He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” 

  • Know Jesus Christ – In the New Testament know indicates a relation between the person knowing and the object known.  What is known is of value or importance to the one who knows.  Paul’s knowledge of Christ was not merely an intellectual understanding, but rather a personal understanding resulting from his personal relationship with God. 
  • In His power

 Acts 1:8 – “For you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” 

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” 

  • In his sufferings

 Philippians 1:29 – “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer (to experience ill-treatment, roughness, outrage, to undergo evils from without) for His sake.” 

2 Timothy 3:12 – “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 

1 Peter 2:21 – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” 

Forward in Christ

Philippians 3:1-4

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

THE CHRISTIAN’S MAIN RESOLUTION:   Forgetting sin and moving forward in the power of His strength and might by the power of His shed blood within us and the Holy Spirit within and upon us.

Simply say NO to sin and YES to God!

  • “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”    —Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet
  • What is on the inside of us that will stand the test of time?
  • You cannot expect to reap a harvest if you have kept the seed in the barn.
  • If you lay down with the dogs at night, don’t expect to get up without fleas.
  • If you run with the goats on Saturday night don’t expect to smell like a sheep on Sunday morning.
  • We always have time for the things we put first.  What about the things of God?  They are first priority.

Switzerland originally was a part of the German Confederation/Holy Roman Empire, and along with Luxemburg and Lichtenstein are the only three countries that remain intact as countries from WW I.  (I say this about that little bit of world history….they too shall pass away but there is a kingdom that shall never pass away.)  They had proclaimed neutrality.  They remained nations because they did not have to choose sides.  We must, however, choose sides – to live for God or face eternity in a devil’s hell.

Our religious/spiritual neutrality is threatened whenever someone we know well takes spiritual commitment seriously and refuses any longer to play hide-and-seek with the living God. 

GET THIS IF YOU DO NOT GET ANYTHING ELSE FROM THIS MESSAGE – Lethargic, complacent, lukewarm, pew-warming Christians will be expelled from God’s presence. 

Revelations 3:16 – So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Footnotes:

  1. Revelation 3:16 NU-Text and M-Text read hot nor cold.

If we as INDIVIDUALS, BELIEVERS, FAMILIES, A CHURCH, A BODY OF BELIEVERS, are going to do something for Christ that will make a difference…the time is NOW.  NOW.  NOW.

  • You think about that and try to fit it into your schedule
  • You think about that and try to squeeze it in to your routine, your day, your calendar
  • It really isn’t too convenient you think to yourself

It was not convenient for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to leave His Father and home in heaven and come to this earth, live as a man while yet being God in the flesh. 

  • for Him to take the stripes upon His back…
  • for Him to have His beard plucked out…
  • for him to be spat upon, to be jeered at, to be ridiculed, and to be tried as a criminal…
  • for Him to have the crown thrust violently upon His head…
  • for Him to have nails driven into His hands and feet. 
  • for Him to be crucified and have all the world turn against Him.

But, He did.

He did for you and for me.

How dare we even think of looking at our calendar or schedule and debate within ourselves about whether or not we can fit in something God is calling us to do?  How dare we!  We all should be ashamed for we are all guilty of neglecting to do some thing God has called upon us to do.  Maybe it just isn’t convenient.

THE TIME IS NOW TO ACT….THE SONG SAYS…

Souls are crying, men are dying,

Won’t you lead them to the cross?

Go out and win,

Rescue from sin,

Day’s almost done,

Low sinks the sun.

Souls are crying, men are dying

Win the lost at any cost!

Light Bearers

Philippians 2:12-16

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Paul has reminded the Philippians of the example of Jesus Christ, how he was obedient and willingly sacrificed Himself for the entire world.  Paul is not teaching salvation by works, but he is showing the church at Philippi that if they really understand and believe what Jesus Christ did for them, their salvation will express itself in progressive Christian living and upright character.  This spiritual growth and character will happen on an individual basis.  However, true obedience will lead the individual to participate in God’s corporate call to a local body of believers.

WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION

  • Work out in the Greek means to bring to completion, to accomplish.  In other words, do not walk half-way with God.  Do not be satisfied with a little of God.   No one else can do it for you.  It is your salvation.  We are to do it with “fear and trembling.”  We need to take this effort seriously.  We will stand before God some day and give an account of our lives.  We need to not be complacent or half-hearted in our walk with God. 

Matthew 10:28 – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” 

Titus 2:11-12 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly (in a responsible manner, sensibly, being in self-control and in full possession of intellectual and emotional faculties), righteously, and godly in the present age.” 

WORK AT OBEYING GOD

  • Works here means to energize.  It speaks of the active operation or working of power and its effectual results.  God is working in us, stirring our hearts, trying to obtain our attention.  We are to recognize these “workings” of God in our hearts, and respond so that we can be obedient to Him.

John 5:21 – “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” 

John 6:63 – “It is the Spirit that gives life . . . the words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” 

WORK AT NOT COMPLAINING OR ARGUING

  • Murmurings or complaining means to grumble, complain, be critical, find fault and gossipDisputing means to question, express doubt.  We are to work together in the church without divisions, complaining, being critical of our leaders or of one another. 

1 Corinthians 10:10 – “Nor complain, as some of them also complained and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

Numbers 20:2-3 – Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!

21:4-5 – Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.”

WORK AT BEING A LIGHT BEARER

  • We are to shine in the moral darkness around us – show forth the light of Christ.  We are to do this by being blameless (free from fault and censure) and harmless (innocent, unadulterated). 

Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glory your Father in heaven.” 

WORK AT BEING WITNESSES

  • We are to share the good news of Jesus everywhere we can, whenever we can. 

Mark 16:15 – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in your, with meekness and fear.”

WORK AT LIVING A SACRIFICIAL LIFE FOR GOD

  • We have the example of Jesus, we have the example of Paul, and we have the example of many in the Bible and in our own lives. 

Luke 9;23 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” 

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice….”

Unity Through Humility

Philippians 2:1-22

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.  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.  Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.  But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.

  • Only when unity prevails can there be peace
  • Only when unity prevails can there be harmony
  • Only when unity prevails can the Holy Spirit work in your life
  • Unity must prevail – the only way unity can prevail is for each to be concerned about the other.

Philippians 2:2 – “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”

  • Be like minded
  • Have the same love
  • Be in one accord
  • Be of one mind

Philippians 2:3 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

  • No selfish ambition
  • No selfish conceit
  • Lowliness of mind
  • Others more important than yourself

Philippians 2:4 – “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

  • Look out for others’ interest

1 Corinthians 13 – Love is the key

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”

James 2:1-9

“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?  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

  • God is no respecter of persons – we should also not be
  • You shall love your neighbor as yourself
  • The true way to joy is:
  • Jesus first
  • Others second
  • Yourself last

Galatians 3:1-3

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”

  • We must follow the Word in all things

Matthew 6:1-4

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

  • Do good to please God

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.”