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Rejoice Series Sermon 4
~Rejoice in Serving and Unity in Christ~
Tyson Graber Herscher Christian Church
August 28 2011
Philippians 2:12-30

Rejoice in the baptisms this morning! Adam and Nolan..

I have decided to follow Jesus, now what?  Now that I am dried off ... what’s next?  What do you do? 

There have been days since I was baptized around your age, boys, that I have wondered about this same question.  What do I do now that I have received salvation through Jesus?  Who else has ever thought about the same question:

“Now that I belong to Jesus and I want to follow Him, what do I do?”

Some religious leaders would say, “Don’t worry about it.  You are saved you are all good now.  No big deal.  Don’t you know that God’s grace saves you. God is good, you are good, you don’t have to try so hard.  Just relax.”

And others would say you can never relax.  In fact, they’ll say, "You are saved daily by what you do daily.  If you are really bad today then maybe tomorrow you will wake up in a place you don’t want to be."

Maybe you can relate to one of these schools of thought, but have never been comfortable with either one.

Adam and Nolan, I don’t want you to be always worried about if you are saved any more.  You don’t have to always be wondering if you have done enough to have God love you and accept you.

At the same time, now that you have been saved by Jesus, don’t stop living to honor and worship Him.

With all of that said ..., sometimes it is not easy to know what’s next after you have been saved.

I have some great news for you today if you have ever really wondered what is next.  Today, in our study of Philippians, Paul gives us some great insight into this question now that we have decided to follow Jesus.

Turn to Philippians 2:12-13

(New Living Translation) - “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”

Here is the main point I believe we need to take from this portion of God’s Word. 

We are to work. 

Because you are saved, because you want to be like Jesus, Paul says, ‘continue to work out your salvation.’  Make no mistake, you have it, now continue to work in it.

One of Paul’s greatest gifts to us through his writing has to be his explanation of grace.  Paul is the man that made it clear to us that we cannot earn salvation ; we have not, and we cannot do anything to earn our place in heaven, but yet, he is highlighting this work that is to be done.

Paul explains this tension between grace and work in Ephesians

Ephesians 2:8-10

There is something God wants us to do.  I am convinced there are things that God has for each of us to do.  In fact, not only that, but He has prepared them in advance for us to do.  God has something for everyone one of us to do. 

He has something for the young men that were just baptized to do.  There is something for those who are retired to do.  Age, sex, education, location ... does not matter, we all have something to do.

In fact, I believe He has gathered each of us here today for a purpose.  He wants us here today for a purpose, and its your joy, and responsibility, and excitement to find out what that is.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:16,  

“In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

We have work to do.  That work is doing good, but we are not alone.  It is our text from Philippians that says,

“It is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose.” 

You see, God did not just create you, or even just save you, and then choose to leave you alone.  He is still working with His creation, and praise God, he is working in us to help us live out our faith in this world.

God is continually working.  Psalms 121 says that ‘God never sleeps or slumbers, but watches over us night and day.’  God is always active in our lives.  While we work, God works in us.

We are to be at work.  The idea of Christian life after salvation is not just sitting around and waiting for heaven.  We are to be about the Father’s work!

Paul also points out that this work is to be done ‘with fear and trembling.’  At times in my life, I felt that this literally meant we were to always live life afraid, being aware that if we mess up there would be punishment.

It was kinda like going to school in Sister May Bennett’s 3rd grade classroom.

Picture this for a moment.  1985 Our school was originally a Catholic school, but was sold to the school district with the understanding that the nuns who taught there could continue teaching until they were ready to retire or were unable to teach.  Sister May was a good teacher, but you didn’t want to mess up.  She’d crack your fingers with a ruler to get you straightened out.  We lived in terror of Sister May.

Its not that way with the Lord.  

When Paul says, “.. work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” he doesn’t mean we are to be scared to death, but we are to take it seriously; we are to honor our work with all that we are.

Take working and living for the Lord seriously.

Some of you take your jobs very seriously.  You take your golf game seriously.  You take your sports teams and coaching your kids very seriously.  You take your physical fitness very serious, but too often, many of us don’t really take our faith and working out our faith nearly as seriously as we should.

If you really believed that God, the creator of the universe, the one and only being that has all power, power even over the massive hurricane tearing up the east coast right now ..., if you really believed that the one true God was working in you now, trying to lead you to do good works, many of your mind sets would be changed.  WOW, what a great responsibility and opportunity you have to work with God, and what a privilege to live out His purposes in this world.

That’s the fear and trembling you should feel.  I don’t want to mess this up!  I’ve got a great gift to give through the Lord, but what do I need to do in my work?

Today we are going to look at three examples of how to work out the salvation that we have by following the examples of the early church leaders.

Read Philippians 2:14-15

Do you see what Paul is getting at?  Can you believe it?  If you read between the lines, there must have been some people in the church in Philippi that were unhappy, complaining and even arguing.

It just may be possible that they were grouchy.  I believe that is why Paul stresses to them, over and over again, that they need unity among themselves.  There is nothing that ruins the unity of any group, whether it be a church or a sports team, more than grumbling and complaining.  That just shoots the whole thing down.  Especially in the church. 

Think about it.  If a church ever becomes known within a community as the place of grouchy and argumentative people it will destroy its ability to share God’s love.  Who wants to receive the good news or God’s love from someone that is always grouchy and arguing.

So what does Paul say?  “STOP IT!!!”

1.  Do everything without complaining or arguing!

Notice he doesn’t say, ‘Do a few things without complaining or arguing.’  No, he doesn’t say that.  He says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing!”

He is not just talking about in the church but also in our own private lives. 

Paul says we are to ‘shine like stars in the dark world.’  I have never considered anyone a shining star who is always complaining or arguing.  People with negative attitudes aren’t stars in the dark world;  they are downers!  Paul is still trying to get us to an attitude of rejoicing, not of rejecting.

As Christians, we are to bring into the world a spirit of joy and unity, not complaining and arguing.  We need to look for the good in people, we are to be the good, and bring out the good in others.

So Paul says don’t behave that way; don’t grumble or complain, don’t argue.  Now I don’t know about you, but not complaining or arguing is hard work at times.  Paul is saying, ‘Lets work at this, lets look like Jesus. 

Paul was all about grace, but he was all about work.  From the moment Paul decided to follow Jesus, he went at it with all that he was. 

READ Philippians 2:16-18

I believe there was no harder worker than Paul.  Paul work hard to pour himself out, to invest in others, to be an example for their growth.  I am glad when I see you growing.  Kinda like a coach who is fulfilled when he sees his team coming together.

He then goes on to point out some of his great friends in Christ, and the way they are working out their own salvation for God’s glory.  He tells us about Timothy.

Read Philippians 2:19-24

Timothy was that rare kind of person that didn’t worry about himself very much, but he cared about others very much.

Paul doesn’t say, ‘I am sending Timothy to you because he is a great Biblical scholar.  He knows everything there is to know about the Old Testament and the original Hebrew language and culture.  He knows everything about the prophecies of the Messiah and he will proved to you through his knowledge that Jesus is the Christ.’  He doesn’t say that.  He says,

“I have nobody else I know that cares about people like Timothy cares about people and that’s why I am sending him to you because the mark a Christian is sharing the love that God has given them with others.”

2.  Care about others more than yourself.

That’s easy, but its also hard work.  Sometimes its hard to really live a life that shows you care about others more than yourself.

How many times have you walked up to someone and said, “Hello, how are you today?” ...  not really wanting an answer.  And they give an answer to you, and you act like, ‘O-o-oh, I really didn’t want to know about all this.  I didn’t really want to hear about you ..., I wanted to tell you about me!’ Its hard work to care about people.

But that’s one important way we can work out our salvation.  Caring about others more than ourselves.  That’s hard work.

Paul ends this portion of scripture by telling us about one more of his friends in Christ that is working out His salvation to honor the Lord.  His name is Epaphroditus.

Read Philippians 2:25-30

You see Ephaproditus was a short term missionary, traveling to Rome as a Christian to comfort Paul who was in prison when many others could not or would not go.  He risk his life.  Paul says he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life!  Paul says, “welcome him with great joy!”

3. Reach out of your comfort zone for Christ.

That’s hard work at times.  Paul is calling us to these actions to work out our salvation for God’s glory.  Will you do it?

~~~~~~

As your teacher today from this text, and with the new school year upon us, find it fitting to give everyone a homework assignment before we leave.

1.  Stop Complaining and Arguing

Choose one day this week and say, “On this day, with God’s help, I will not complain about anything.”    You might let your family know about that, or your teammates, or coworkers, so they can help hold you accountable. 

For some of you this will be very hard to do because you have developed a complaining and argumentative attitude, and when you pray, ‘Lord, I am not going to complain today,’ you will probably be tempted to complain within the first 30 minutes, because Satan is going to find something to tempt and test your commitment to keep you from your joy.

If you fulfill this I will suggest your light for Christ will be brighter than before.

Try it for a day at home, at the gas pump, at school, at work, at Walmart ..., wherever you go and whatever you do, do it without complaining or arguing for one day and examine the difference it makes.

2.  Like Paul and Timothy, Find someone this week that is in need that you invest in.

Find someone that is hurting, someone that needs a friend, someone that needs an ear.  Take the time to invest.  Maybe take them out for coffee, or share your work break with them and just listen.  Write them a note or a card, do something that shows you really care, and then once you know the need, act on it, and make your best effort to care for them. 

There will be some of you that share with someone that all you can do for them is pray for them.  That may be the exact care they needed.  You can do that.  It may be hard work, but it will help.

Don’t worry about telling your story, just listen to their story.  That’s hard work, it seems unnatural, but it could pay off.

I am sure someone here is thinking, ‘I just don’t know anybody to invest in, or that is hurting.’  Then you need to get out more.  This world is full of people that need care from Christians because they are broken and hurting, and if you still can’t find anybody ..., then we have a whole bunch of kids that need you.  They need grown ups and older youth to invest in them and love them.  That’s not that hard, is it?

 Now the final piece is pretty hard because it is to be like Epaphroditus and Move out of your Comfort Zone and serve God someplace new.

3. Stretch yourself and go into some dark place and become a shining light for Christ.

Many pastors would not say what I am about to say, but it needs to be said.  It is more important for you to shine for Christ in those dark places that you encounter than just shine here in this building for a few minutes once a week. 

Paul is saying, ‘Take a risk and shine for Jesus in those places where others don’t even want to go. Shine for Jesus among those people that others don’t really want to know.’

Imagine what this world would be like if we started working out our salvation in the world and look like Jesus to the world instead of just sitting back a waiting for Him to return.

[Story of the Christians living out this work during the great plague.]

They didn’t complain, they loved others and they took a risk.  They lived out their love for Jesus in Public and it saved thousands both physically and eternally, spiritually.  We need to consider all things as an opportunity to share God’s love with world.

Make no mistake, we have work to do church.  Make no mistake, there will day when you feel worked pretty hard by all that must be done.  But it is at the end of a day working for Jesus where you put your feet up and you know you have made a difference, and you can look forward to hearing Jesus say one day in heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

It will all be worth it.  Lets get to work!

What do you do after you are saved?  Work!

But you have to decide to follow Jesus first, and allow him to save you!