Three Exhortations

SCRIPTURE

Philippians 4:4-5

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon {near}.

INTRODUCTION

In these two verses we find three exhortations…

  1. Rejoice in the LORD always.
  2. Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.
  3. The LORD is near!

FIRST EXHORTATION: REJOICE IN THE LORD

Paul’s appeal for the Philippians to rejoice in the LORD is not simply an encouragement: it is a challenge to their faith. The Philippians know Paul’s history. They remember how their church got started: Paul and Silas were locked in the dungeon of the jail and at mid-night, Paul and Silas were rejoicing in the LORD. They had been beaten with rods and were in chains but in the middle of the night, a prayer meeting turned into a praise service that woke up all the prisoners. The praise lead to an earth quake and the earth quake disturbed the balance of the bars and gates and suddenly, the prison doors were open. The jailor was about to take his life when Paul stopped him. The jailor, his wife and children are all members of First Baptist Philippi. So when Paul exhorts them to rejoice, they know that he is serious.

To Paul, “Rejoicing” during difficult circumstances was an expression of faith and he is right. Anyone can rejoice when things are going good. I can rejoice when things are going good but what about when things are going bad. Last October, a friend of mine ask me if I wanted to go as his guest to the Ole Miss/Alabama game in Oxford. We have been there several times and enjoy the setting at Ole Miss and so I agreed. His son was our driver and he also invited his pastor. Alabama did not play well. They had a two touchdown lead going into the fourth quarter and blew it. Alabama played not to lose instead of playing to win and it came back to bite them. My friend said to our party, lets just sit here and watch what happens. This is huge win for Ole Miss and they will tear the goal post down. This is going to be a historical moment and we can watch it in person.” I liked the idea and sat back down but his son said, “I have the keys and I am not staying.” He and his pastor were headed for the exits. My friend and I followed. On the way out of the stadium and walking to the parking lot, my friend engaged the Ole Miss fans: he said, “You guys have a good team and you deserved to win.” He was congratulating Ole Miss fans on their victory. All the other Alabama fans including myself, were walking in silence with their heads down. My friend stood out in the crowd. Rejoicing during difficult times is an expression of faith.

I suppose the question that is on our minds is: “How do we rejoice always, including the difficult times?” Rejoice is the verb but the LORD is the object. We can rejoice always when we rejoice IN the LORD. In the LORD is a prepositional phrase. Prepositions usually indicate location such as “The Puppy is on the floor” or “In the trash.” A prepositional phrase always ends with a noun, pronoun, gerund or clause which is the object of the preposition. Understand here the LORD is the direct object of the preposition. We rejoice “in” the LORD.

Paul when in the Philippian jail was not rejoicing over being beaten or being in chains: he was rejoicing in spite of those things but the object of his joy was Jesus. He was rejoicing in the LORD not in his circumstances. No one in their right mind would rejoice over cancer but in the midst of cancer, you can rejoice in the LORD. The Romans had taken Paul’s freedom and were en route to taking his life but they could not take his relationship to Christ and this was the secret to his joy.

If our joy is in Jesus and not our circumstances, we can always rejoice. You have to admit, a rejoicing Christian enhances their face value.

SECOND EXHORTATION: LET EVERYONE SEE THAT YOU ARE CONSIDERATE

I am not a bible scholar but I can use Blue Letter Bible which is a valuable tool to me. The Greek word that the NLT translates “Considerate” is the most highly debated word in NT translation. The NASB translates it spirit, the AV moderation, the NIV and NRSV gentleness, ESV reasonableness, Holman graciousness, Wycliffe patience, Tyndale softness, Geneva Bible patient mind, Rheims and Moffatt forbearance and Williams “A man who will meet you halfway.”

Literally in the Greek, it refers to a person who does not claim their legal rights in order to show mercy on another. It was used most in the forgiving of debts. In other words, a CONSIDERATE person is one who will yield his right of way. Legally, he is in the right but there is not wrong in him giving you his position, place or turn. A considerate person is the one who motions for you to go first at the four-way stop.

I had an unusual experience last Sunday evening: I got a call to a home where the father is dying with cancer. I was reading to him out of Philippians 4 which is a great passage for such an occasion. I intended to begin at verse 6 but I started reading at verse 4…Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. When I finished reading the passage…it dawned on me that the man I was reading to epitomizes consideration. I saw him just a few weeks ago propped up in his bed writing Christmas cards to folks who had not even been to see him. That my friends is consideration. These folks had not done one thing for him but He was thinking about them. Before I left his room he said I have something for you. He had one of his sons pick up a gift for me and he presented it to me. Unbelievable, a man whose body was racked with pain, dying of cancer, thinking about his pastor. That my friend is consideration. The considerate man is not a legalist nor is he a law breaker, he is a peace maker. He does not insist on his own legal rights.

The considerate man is the one James alludes to in James 2:13,  There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. The considerate man shows mercy when he could apply the law. This does not make him a criminal, he had broken no law in showing mercy to another.

THE THIRD EXHORTATION IS: THE LORD IS NEAR

Whereas I like the NLT’s translation of consideration, they may have taken liberties in verse 5. Literally in the Greek it is the LORD is en-gü’s  which means near in place, position and time. Let me give you some examples:

  • Matthew 24:32… “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near [en-gü’s].
  • Matthew 24:33…So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near,  right at the door.
  • Matthew 26:18…And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near;  I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”

The LORD may be near in terms of His coming [parousia] but He is definitely near [en-gü’s] in place, position and time. I like what Paul says in Romans 10… But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth).  And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, “The message is very close [en-gü’s] at hand;  it is on your lips and in your heart.” Christ is near us. He is not distant or remote. He is closer than the air your breathe.

I like what Paul said to the Athenians, “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. It would be unthinkable that God who transcends all of creation would not at the same time inhabit His creation. I am not saying that God is in the trees and rocks, that is pantheism but I am saying He is near. You do not have to hollow or climb a mountain. He is near. You don’t see Him because He does not want to be seen but He is near. If you could see into the spiritual dimension, you would see His angels and you would see HIM. This is where the pure in heart have an advantage, they see HIM. You are not alone: Christ is near.

Remember what Jesus said to his disciples on the eve of His crucifixion…The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. Did anyone see the Father? Not that I am aware of but Jesus said I am not alone because the Father is with me. To use the presence of the Father was invisible but to Jesus it was very real.

Acts 23:11 in the NIV, The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Wow! Is this incredible or what? Jesus may return soon, no one knows but we do know that He is not distant, He is very near. So near he can hear you whisper, so near He can hear you think. Be comforted by His presence.

CONCLUSION

A young man was married and had a 5 year old daughter. His wife was diagnosed with cancer and lived for only a couple of months. The day they laid her body to rest it was dark, dreary and raining. Both he and his daughter were in a state of shock, so much had happened so fast; it was like a bad dream and they could not wake up. After the service, after all the friends and extended family had gone home, it was just dad and daughter but it was late, way past bed time. They went up stairs to go to bed but the little girl was so troubled in heart that she begged daddy to let her sleep with him and he agreed. When she crawled into his bed, he cut the lamp light off and the room was very dark. The little girls said, “Daddy, it sure is dark in here, isn’t it?” The dad said, “Yes, baby it is dark.” The little girl said, “Daddy, this has been the darkest day of my life.” Daddy, fighting back tears said, “Yes honey, it has also been my darkest day.” The she rolled her head toward her daddy and said, “Daddy, is your face looking at me?” “Yes dear, I am looking right at you,” said dad. “I can’t see you daddy because it is too dark but can you love me through the darkness?” “Yes, yes my child, I can love you through the darkness,” and with that the dad reached and kissed her cheek and said gently, “Close your eyes and trust me, I am right beside you and I can love you through the dark.” The little girl went to sleep but the father could not. Finally, he slipped out of bed and got on his knees and cried out “O God, this is the darkest day of my life. Is Your face upon me. Can you love me through the darkness?” He heard a gentle whisper in the darkness, “My face is upon you and I can love you through the darkness.”

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Jesus Lament Over Jerusalem

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 23:37-39, NLT

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 38 And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. 39 For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

INTRODUCTION

Today, I want to approach the text from three different perspectives: First I want to look at it’s historical context, then it’s future context and lastly the present context.

[1] THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT–JERUSALEM THE KILLER OF PROPHETS

Lets go back up to verse 29 and reread the section…

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. [30] Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’ [31] “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started. [33] Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell? [34] “Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. [35] As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. [36] I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation.

Things to NOTE:

  1. There are 27 Zechariah’s in scripture.
  2. The Zechariah mentioned here seems to be Zechariah the minor prophet {Zechariah 1:1}
  3. There was another Zechariah killed between the sanctuary and altar {2 Chronicles 24:20} but this happened in 825 B.C. He was stoned to death by order of Joash the king.
  4. There is another Zechariah mentioned by Josephus who would have been a contemporary with this generation who was killed by two Jewish zealots between the sanctuary proper and the altar.

Commentary: Jesus could very well have used Abel and Zechariah as book ends: He may have been saying from Abel [beginning] until Zechariah you have been prophet killers. The generation that Jesus was speaking to may very well have been guilty of killing a prophet. We know what they are going to do to Jesus, Stephen and James the disciple and James the brother of Jesus. We know that the Sanhedrin will have Peter and John flogged.

We also know…

  • Isaiah was sawn into by wicked king Manasseh
  • Jeremiah was stoned to death in Egypt by an angry Jewish mob
  • Ezekiel was murdered by the Jews in Babylon
  • Micah was executed by king Jehoram
  • Amos was martyred
  • Zechariah was martyred

Isaiah sums up the Jewish attitude toward preachers in chapter 30…

Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions. They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your ‘Holy One of Israel.’”

We all know that the Holy One of Israel is Jesus. They didn’t want to hear about Jesus. This is the historical perspective.

[2] NOW LET’S LOOK AT THE FUTURE PERSPECTIVE…

Some of the future is clear because it is history to us and some has not yet been fulfilled. Jesus said concerning their future…“Look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”

By house, I am supposing Jesus is referring to the Nation which encompassed Judaism. Wiersbe thinks that Jesus is even referring to the Temple which was the central aspect of Judaism. It is a good thought…Jesus said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations but you have made it a hangout for thieves.” Jesus may have been saying, “I wanted to be your Savior and King but you have rejected me. You do not understand that without Me your house is empty. Jesus brought the Temple to life, even had the children singing but once the Jewish nation rejected Jesus and crucified Him, the Temple became and empty house. If Jesus is not in your house, you have an empty house.

Jesus said, “You will not see me again until it is too late, until you quote Psalm 118, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the LORD.” I assume that Jesus is talking about the second advent which could initiate the millennium. I believe the Jews will eventually repent and turn to Christ and it may take the visible presence of Christ to bring this about, I don’t know. One thing for sure, Jesus is definitely referring to the future in verses 38-39. Verse 38 has already been fulfilled before our eyes so there is no need to doubt that 39 will follow suit.

[3] FINALLY, I WANT TO LOOK AT THE PRESENT CONTEXT…What is Jesus saying to us today?

  1. Jesus is clearly saying that He loves the Jewish people…How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings.”
  2. Luke records that Jesus wept as he drew near to Jerusalem and said,  “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.”
  3. As we have discussed, the Jews were not lovable people and yet Jesus loved them. I think we have a billboard here for God’s supernatural love. It is call agape. I call it love from above. It is unlike any human love. All human loves are conditional but agape is unconditional. It is based on God’s character, not our performance. It is a powerful love because it flows from the Divine Will. He chooses to love us and there is nothing we can do about it. The Jews had Jesus crucified and He still loved them. He prayed for them as they hurled verbal abuses at Him while He was on the cross. Charles Wesley got it right….

Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.

CONCLUSION

What about we Gentiles; does Jesus love us? According to John 3:16 He does, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes  in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Five Kings In A Cave

SCRIPTURE: Joshua 10:16-27

16 During the battle the five kings escaped and hid in a cave at Makkedah. 17 When Joshua heard that they had been found, 18 he issued this command: “Cover the opening of the cave with large rocks, and place guards at the entrance to keep the kings inside. 19 The rest of you continue chasing the enemy and cut them down from the rear. Don’t give them a chance to get back to their towns, for the Lord your God has given you victory over them.”

20 So Joshua and the Israelite army continued the slaughter and completely crushed the enemy. They totally wiped out the five armies except for a tiny remnant that managed to reach their fortified towns. 21 Then the Israelites returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah. After that, no one dared to speak even a word against Israel.

22 Then Joshua said, “Remove the rocks covering the opening of the cave, and bring the five kings to me.” 23 So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon. 24 When they brought them out, Joshua told the commanders of his army, “Come and put your feet on the kings’ necks.” And they did as they were told.

25 “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged,” Joshua told his men. “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is going to do this to all of your enemies.” 26 Then Joshua killed each of the five kings and impaled them on five sharpened poles, where they hung until evening.

27 As the sun was going down, Joshua gave instructions for the bodies of the kings to be taken down from the poles and thrown into the cave where they had been hiding. Then they covered the opening of the cave with a pile of large rocks, which remains to this very day.

INTRODUCTION

When  Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem heard what Joshua and the Israelites had done to Jericho and Ai and that they had allied with Gibeonites, he sent messengers to several other kings: Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon saying, “Come and help me destroy Gibeon,” because they surrendered to Joshua without a fight sitting a bad precedent. Adoni-zedek intended to make an example out of Gibeon so that no other cities would join forces with Joshua. So these five Amorite kings combined their armies for a united attack. They moved all their troops into place and attacked Gibeon. The Gibeonites sent word to Joshua that they were under attack and Joshua and his army marched all night  to attack the Amorite kings.

Thing went well for the Israelites and the rout was on. The five kings being the brave men that they were, ran from the battle and took refuge in the cave at Mekkedah. One of the Israelites soldiers saw them enter the cave and told Joshua where they were hiding. Joshua instructed some of him men to stop up the entrance of the cave and then resume the battle. When the battle is over, the entire army comes back to the cave and they bring the Kings out for execution.

Canaan is a type in the bible for the victorious Christian life. Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Ultimately, God is saving us from hell and to heaven. In the present God is saving us from sin and self, from the power of the flesh. These Amorite kings are symbol of the fleshly forces that seek to dominate us, lord over us, enslave us. We are not to yield to the power of the flesh but walk in the Spirit. We are to be hyper-niki’s, more than conquerors.

What are the dominant forces of the flesh that seek to lord over us? There are more than five but tonight I want to talk about five powerful fleshly kings that will lord over us if we allow it.

[1] The first and the greatest of the kings that lurk in the dark recesses of our lives is PRIDE. Pride is subtle. Pride is so subtle that he can rule us and we not be aware of it. Someone said, “Pride is the only disease that a man can have in which everyone knows he is sick but himself. This is true. Pride is blinding. It was pride that kept the Jewish religious leaders from seeing that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. Right in the middle of prIde is the unbending I. The unbending I is also in the middle of sIn. Some one wrote a tract many years ago. I use to carry one with me every where I went but I have misplaced it. It begins with a little poem…

       Lord, bend that proud and stiffnecked “I,”

Help me to bow the neck and die,

Beholding Him on Calvary,

Who bowed His Head for me.

Let me ask you some questions and you just be honest.

  • Do you have a secret spirit of pride-an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities?
  • Do you feel important? Do you have an independent spirit? Do you love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a s welling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?
  • Are you stubborn, Self-willed, with an unteachable spirit?
  • Are you judgmental and condescending. Love looks up, pride looks down. Jesus washed the disciples feet. He was down on His knees at the level of their feet. When you wash feet, you look up to people. When you judge like the Pharisee in Luke 18, you look down.
  • Pride exalts self and despises others.

[2] The second King is FEAR. Zig Zigler said fear is false emotions appearing real. The devil is basically a terrrorist. He want to destroy you with fear and insecurity. Insecure people lie. They lie because they are afraid. They believe that lies protect them from being hurt. Insecure people cannot trust. They are afraid to tell you the truth. They think that love is earned. They live in constant fear of being rejected. But their dishonesty destroys their relationship one by one. Good healthy relationship are based on truth. You would be surprised by the number of people who live under the tyranny of fear. God does not want you to live this way. There is hope and I am going to tell you how to get out from under this horrible taskmaster called Insecurity.

We have a WEE Care, that is weekday early education and a big part of the program is CHILD CARE. Back in the early 90’s when had a little 7 year old girl named Beth who was bad to act out from time to time. She had a little brother who was five years younger. Beth’s mother was fairly attractive, tall slender build in her mid twenties. She had children before she was ready and she was waiting when the WEE Care opened and did not come to get her children until closing time. Beth and her brother were 12 hour children which is never a good sign. One day Beth showed out to the point that he workers were exasperated; they were at wits end and so they send for me. I was a little aggravated at first but I knew the kids were innocent and my heart went out to Beth and her brother. The van was parked by the widow of the Child Care so I took Beth to van. The women could see us but not hear us. I spoke gently to Beth and just began probing. Finally, I ask the right question and she unburdened her little heart. She said, “I went to big one night a year ago and when I walk up I had no daddy and I have not seen him since, he just left and did not even say by. Every night when I lay down, I have a hard time going to sleep because I am afraid that when I wake up it will just be my brother and me.” There are a lot of Beths in our world. I probably lied to that child that day, I said, “Beth your mother is not going to leave you. She works hard and I know she looses her patience with you but she loves you and she is not going to abandon you.” Beth a seven year old was living in a world of fear. This should not be.

[3] The third King is JEALOUSLY sometimes known as ENVY. When was the last time you heard anyone confess that they were battling the issue of jealously. It is a sin we never confess because it is so petty. We know that jealously will make us look bad. Jealously and envy will destroy your happiness and peace. You’ll end up like the guy who decided to root some kudzu in his back yard for a ground cover around his fence. In a few years, he could not find his back yard: the Kudzo overwhelmed everything in his back yard: grass, flowers, shrubs, and fence. That is what will happen to you if you let a root of bitterness get growing in your heart.

[4] The fourth King is LUST. When you mention lust, everyone thinks of sex but you can lust for other things. Sex is probably number one. Ladies, men are visually stimulated. All you have to do to get them fired up and give them a picture, a view and they get excited. Women are doing foolish things. What about you dirty minded old men. There is not much we can do about them: I think they have been around since eden but you are not helping matters when you dress seductively or allow your daughters to do it. Perhaps you justify your lust by calling it admiration. It doesn’t matter what you call it, lust is lust and it is like playing with matches and gasoline.

You can also lust for money and the word for that is greed. We can lust for food. You can lust for power which takes us back to the first king, Pride. You can lust for pleasure which can lead to addictions.

[5] The fifth King is ANGER. Do you have anger in your heart tonight? Has someone done you wrong? There is such a thing as righteous anger. Jesus got angry at least four times in the N.T. but the only way to be angry and sin not is to be angry at sin. Be honest tonight, you are not angry at sin. Who are you angry with? I am going to share an insight with you that will help you come to terms with your anger. All unrighteous anger is against God. Well, I am not mad at God, I am mad at the preacher or my mother-in-law. No you are not mad at a brother or sister, you are mad at God.

Lets go to Luke 15 and the Elder Brother..The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends.  Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Who was the elder brother angry with? Who did he think he was angry with?

You get right with the father and you will be right with your brother.

Now, as I have spoke on the kings that we hid in the darkness and secret places of our lives, has the Holy Spirit put His finger on any one of these Kings? If He has, I am going to tell you what to do.

  1. Bring them out into the open, into the light. Don’t keep them hidden.
  2. Call them what they are. If you have a problem with lust, you will never get victory by calling it something else. If you refuse to admit that you are jealous, you will never get victory of jealously. {Junior Hill}
  3. You put your heel on their neck. You take command of them, instead of letting them command you.
  4. Surrender them to Joshua {Jesus}. You don’t have what it takes to put them to death but He does. Bring your sin to Jesus. He is the only person in the universe that wants your sin.

Preserving Unity

 

 

Scripture: Philippians 4:1-3, NLT

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.

NRSV

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

INTRODUCTION

Let’s begin with what we know and what we do not know. First, we know…

  • Philippi is a good church noted for its loyalty to Paul and its giving.
  • Paul loved the folks at Philippi. He uses terms of endearment here that he uses no where else, the closest was Thessalonica. [I Thes. 2:19-20, After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.[NASB reads hope and joy]
  • We know that they had a division, a disagreement in the church and that women were involved.
  • We know their names were Euodia [yü-o-dē’-ä] meaning  fragrant and Syntyche  [sün-tü’-khā] meaning ‘with fate.’
  • We know from Polycarp that the church at Philippi was a very good church in 2nd century which means they got things worked out.
  • We know the argument was between two women who had been helpful to Paul in the past.

Now, what we don’t know.

  • We don’t know what the disagreement was about.
  • We don’t know how long it took to get it resolved.

Three Lessons to Learn From the Story

[1] THE WORLD MOCKS A DIVIDED CHURCH

Division in a church is never good. I am sure the devil loves it when we fight among ourselves. He knows that it destroys our influence and witness. Jesus told His disciples, “By this all men shall know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” Think about it this way…”By this all men shall know you are not My disciples because you do not love each other.” The world has us figured out when it comes to loving each other and getting along. Junior Hill tells the story of driving through a Southern Bible Belt town and he saw three Baptist Churches on the main highway: Harmony, then further down the road New Harmony and then as he drove out of town he saw Greater New Harmony. We have a church in our own Association by the name of Unity. It is a split, off of a split, off of a split. I think I would have come up with another name. I had a seminary professor who told us that he was driving up through Mississippi on the way to a preaching assignment and he passed a Baptist church that had red roofing on one side and green on the other. The curiosity was killing him so he stopped at a near by store to get a coke and he ask the manager of the store why the church had a multi-colored roof. He said, “Well, long story short, that church is divided. It has two factions and they cannot agree on anything. One group wanted red shingle and the other wanted green so they compromised and did one side red and one side green. A divided church is a joke to the community. Unless we want the world to mock us, we must get to the altar and get with Jesus, one and all.

[2] SATAN CELEBRATES A DIVIDED CHURCH

There is a myth that Satan will not mess with a good church. The opposite is true. When you study the N.T., especially if you are a preacher of missionary; the Philippian church is going to be your favorite. It has always been number one in my mind. This is a church that gave generously to the poor in Jerusalem simply because Paul asked for their help. Such generosity is very rare. There are a lot of churches mentioned in the N.T. but there are none who gave like Philippi. Time and time again that sent love offerings to Paul if for nothing more than to encourage him but it seems that each offering met a specific need in the Apostles life. We are talking about a good church that did more for the Apostle Paul than any other congregation. How important was Paul to the Church? How thankful this congregation will be throughout eternity that they helped the greatest Missionary the world has ever known. By helping Paul, Philippi played a key roll in the growth of the kingdom. Bro. Inman always said, “When God goes to blessing a church, you better look out because the devil is going to get stirred up and he is good at getting things stirred up.” To a degree, if the devil is a attacking, it is a good sign. It means he considers your church a threat. C.S. Lewis says, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.” We are in a spiritual war and the devils strategy is to divide first and then conquer. He will plant his tares in every congregation and they will sow discord among the brethren. The devil celebrates a divided church.

[3] GOD GRIEVES OVER A DIVIDED CHURCH

Ephesians 4:30 comes to mind, Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. When a church is divided, it means two things for certain. [1] We are not standing on Christ the solid Rock and [2] We are not thinking the way Jesus thinks. As stated in verse  2, we don’t have the same mind in the LORD. Jesus is the common denominator: If I want what He wants and you want what He wants then we will want the same thing.

In verse 1, Paul says, Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord. The phrase Paul uses is in reference to a Roman Soldier. In ancient warfare, hand to hand combat, standing firm was the key to victory. In most cases, if a soldier lost his footing, he was a dead man. I wear boots in the winter. Not only do they keep my feet war, they give me stability. I went to a fellow member’s cabin on the lake yesterday for retreat. His cabin is about 50-60 feet above the water level. In order to use the bathroom I had to go down to the lake and get a bucket filled with water. The bank of the lake was muddy and slick and on a slope. I knew this was a recipe for disaster so I walked a little further down and found a rock. I stooped from the rock and got the water.  The water was deep and the weather was cold but I did not slip because I was standing a solid rock. Our steadfastness depends on our foundation. Paul said, “Stand firm in the LORD.”

One of the greater joys is to return to a place of service and see someone actively serving the LORD that you baptized years before. A little over a year ago, I went back to my first church [college days] to do a COL service and a young man walked up and said, “Do you remember me?”  His face was familiar and I said, “You look like a Blankenship.” He said, “That’s right, I’m David, you baptized me when I was 9 years old and I have been active since.” We are talking 45 years later and he is a faithful leader in the church. Wow, what joy to know that God used you to help another human being come to know His Son. As John said, “What greater joy than to see my children walking in truth.”

There is a passage in Ephesians four that sums up what I am trying to say:

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. 28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.  31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Verse 32 was my Mother’s favorite verse. Do you see all the things here that can grieve the Holy Spirit: lying, uncontrolled anger, stealing, foul language and notice all the sins of the tongue….harsh words, slander and rage.

What  grief there is when God’s children do not get along together! My father and mother raised two families. I have four older siblings all born before WWII: they were born 1936-38-40-42; three brothers and one sister. After the war he had four more and this time three girls and one boy. As we were growing up, our older sibling had already moved out on their own but every Sunday night after church they would all congregate at the house. One Sunday night some unkind words were spoken and feelings were hurt and all of the adult children left angry or crying. I will never forget going by Mother’s bedroom on the way to the attic and I heard her weeping. Fighting children will break a parents heart. Fighting church members can grieve the Spirit of God.

Eight Woes On The Scribes And Pharisees

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 23:13-36, NKJV

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies[d] the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells[e] in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.[f] 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’

31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

INTRODUCTION

Why did I use NKJV tonight when I normally use another translation? If you have a modern translation, even a NASB, NRSV, or NIV, you will find no verse 14 except in the footnotes. This is because it was not in the original manuscripts in Matthew but was in Mark and Luke. It is believed that the AV translators inserted here making 8 woes total. It is the recorded words of Jesus. My problem with the AV is not the translators, it is the difficulty in understanding. People read the KJV and don’t understand what they’ve read and that love it so. I don’t have time to get into that argument but below is the reference that I mentioned and they are in all translations. So the KJV only crowd [who are bathed in ignorance] don’t have an argument when they say the NLT took verse 14 out.

38 Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. 39 And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 40 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” [Mark 12:38-40]

Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” [Luke 20:47]

TRANSITION

Has anyone ever talked about you while you were in hearing distance. The person knew that you could hear but didn’t care: they wanted you to hear but they were addressing someone else. This is what happened here: Jesus is talking to His disciples about the SCRIBES AND PHARISEES who were King James only kind of people. They strained gnats and swallowed camels. Jesus denounces the Scribes and Pharisee. This is hard stuff: He called them vipers and that is not a compliment. Let’s look at the EIGHT WOES as recorded in the NKJV.

  1. WOE TO THOSE WHO MAKE SALVATION HARD FOR OTHERS; TO THOSE WHO HINDER OTHERS FROM ENTERING THE KINGDOM. Jesus said, “You refuse to enter the kingdom of heaven and you hinder others from entering.” Have you ever wondered what difference it would have made if the Jewish Religious leaders had accepted Jesus as the Messiah? They rejected Him and did everything they could to cause others to stumble.
  2. WOE TO THOSE WHO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE VULNERABLE…I like what Jesus said in Luke’s gospel, “Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely.” punished.” While these dudes were praying on the street corner in order to be seen, their attorney’s were foreclosing on widows. Widows represent the helpless in society. Jesus said, “People who exploit others will be judged more severely.” Before I took advantage of someone, I think I would give that verse some thought.
  3. WOE TO THOSE WHO PROSELYTE AND THEN CORRUPT THEIR CONVERTS…Jesus said the Pharisees travel land and sea to make a convert but when they do, they make them twice as much a son of hell. It is harder to reach a religious person than it is one who has no religion at all.
  4. WOE TO THOSE WHO TRIVIALIZE THE TRUTH…The Scribes and Pharisees had all kind of little word games that they used to deceive people. They were bad about swearing. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not swear at all…let your yes be yes and your no be no.” You give people your word, anything beyond that is a sin. The game the Pharisees and Scribes were playing was where and when. To swear by the Temple was not binding but to swear by the gold in the temple was. Jesus said, “That is foolish.” It was a con game, a scheme to defraud and take advantage of people and then justify such behavior.
  5. WOE TO THOSE WHO NEGLECT WHAT MATTER MOST…The Pharisees tithes garden herbs but had no mercy on the helpless. Jesus said, “You should tithe but you should also show mercy.” They stained the gnat and swallowed the camel. They got all carried away on the little ticky aspects of the law but failed to live the spirit of the law which is to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.
  6. WOE TO THOSE WHO ARE GREEDY AND SELF-INDULGENT…Note verse 25, “inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.”  And Luke 11:39…Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Also Luke 16:14…The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him.
  7. WOE TO THOSE WHO PRACTICE FALSE PEITY…Jesus said they were like tombs, polished on the outside and corrupt on the inside. We must remind ourselves that God sees the inside and that Salvation is an “Inside Job.”
  8. WOE TO THOSE WHO PERSECUTE GOD’S SERVANTS…The Jewish Religious establishment persecuted Jesus but that was nothing knew, they were like their forefathers who had a reputation for persecuting God’s servants. [Hebrews 13:17] Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit. One of Joe David’s Seminary Professors is a pastor and he makes a habit of hugging in public folks who make his ministry difficult. One day he was in a restuarant at the same time as one of his thorns in the flesh and he just walked up to him and bear hugged him right there in front of the man’s business associates. The man was terribly embarrassed. He whispered in the preachers ear, “Are you hugging me because I give you trouble?” The preacher said, “That’s right!” The man said, “If you will let me go and promise never to do this again, I will never give you another problem.”

Living In The Future Tense

 Scripture Text:

17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

INTRODUCTION

I can’t picture Paul as a highly emotional person. I just don’t seem him as the kind that cries at the drop of a hat but he was weeping when he wrote this section. It is obvious that he loves the Philippian brothers very much and that he is concerned with their spiritual welfare. I think his greatest concern is that religion has gotten into the church at Philippi and is threatening to draw the Philippians away from grace. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying, “Nothing threatens God’s grace.” His grace, like His truth, will stand forever. The problem is in our understanding of ‘Grace.’

To be honest, I have always had a problem with Paul’s statement in verse 17, “Pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” I think you would have a problem with me if I made that same statement. After restudying this passage, I think I have misunderstood what Paul is saying. If we go to 2 Corinthians 11:1, where Paul says, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” What I have not taken into consideration before is the context of the passage. So I want to lay a foundation for the message by doing a little background.

The Philippian church is a good church but we know that it has been infiltrated by the Judaizers and there is a strong possibility that some Gnostics have entered by stealth also. These two groups of false teachers represent two extremes. The Judaizers are extreme legalistic: insisting that Christians practice Judaism, including undergoing circumcision. The Gnostics are extreme liberals. Whereas the Judaizers were attempting to bring ‘Religion’ into Christianity, the Gnostics were bringing in ‘Philosophy’ which reminds me that my Bachelor of Arts degree is in Religion and Philosophy which is no necessarily a good thing.

Both the Judaizers and Gnostics were enemies to GRACE. True Grace is a salvation embodied in the person and work of the LORD Jesus Christ. It begins with repentance and conversion, it is sustained by the work of the Holy Spirit and it is consummated in the glorification of the body which Paul mentions in the latter verses of this chapter. Religion is what we do for God. It is ‘We do’ instead of ‘Christ did’ which leads to our glory and praise instead of giving all glory and praise to Christ. Gnosticism is intellectual hogwash. It is a form of rationalism where we justify everything we do with the word GRACE. We all know folks that smoke, drink, club, rarely attend worship. If you question them about salvation they come back with “I’m a grace man.” So am I but His grace has a hold of me and although I can sin, I cannot enjoy sin. His grace will not allow be to enjoy sin.

Would you like to know if you are clinking to Saving Grace or Cheap Grace? Is Grace just a word you use or is it a real force in your life? Grace that does not work is not true grace. Paul says in Ephesians 2, God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. So there is a true grace and a false grace: there is a grace that works and there is a grace that has no affect on the way a person lives. Do you want to know if your grace is real? Is it effective? Here are five question you can consider and they will lead you to the answer.

[1] DO YOU GLORY IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST?

Galatians 6:14-16

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.

Fanny Crosby wrote a hymn that expresses the love of a believer for the Cross…

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain—
Free to all, a healing stream—
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and Mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Listen, if you have experiencing SAVING GRACE the cross of Christ is going to be dear to you. Just think about all the things that happened when Jesus died on the cross.

  1. It was the death of Judaism {Religion} and birth of Christianity {Relationship}. The O.T is the shadow, Christ is the Substance. Judaism was the seed–Christianity is the tree/fruit. When Jesus died, the veil was split breaking down the wall of separation between God and man, Jew and Gentile.{Eph.2:14-16} The Judaizers were rebuilding the wall that Jesus took down. Jesus death fulfilled all the OT sacrifices and it marked the end of the sacrificial system. Of course the Jews carried on for the next 40 years as though Jesus death meant nothing but you and I know the truth. They were just going through the motions. They continue to practice a form of Judaism but it is CHRISTLESS and it is hopeless. They have no temple, no altar, no High Priest, no sacrifice and no relationship. Naturally, these Jews were enemies of the Cross.
  2. The Cross exposed our depravity. It brought out the worse in us. Can you imagine our Supreme Court attending an execution and cheering for the death of a condemned man. We did all this and more.
  3. The Cross exalts what the world hates…Jesus
  4. The Cross of Christ is the theme of the bible, the heart of the gospel and the chief source of praise in heaven [Rev. 5:8-10]
  5. The Cross was the place of judgment for our sin. All our sin and same was placed on Jesus. As Paul says in Colossians 2, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Folks if you don’t love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain, then you are no different from the Judaizers and the Gnostics. If you have experienced true grace, you will love the Embrace the Cross of Christ.

[2] WHO IS THE CONTROLING FORCE IN YOUR LIFE?

Your direction is determined by who is under the wheel. Proverbs 14:12 sums it up, There is a way that seems right to a person,
but its end is the way to death. Either Christ is LORD of our lives or He is not. Isaiah hit the human dilemma on the head in chapter 53 and verse 6, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. So here is the question: are you living His way or your way?

[3] WHAT KIND OF APPETITE DO YOU HAVE?

The Judaizers were practicing the dietary laws of Moses. If Paul was referring to them, their appetite would be much the same as a Pharisee. They would crave praise and recognition. If he was referring to the Gnostic, their appetite was sensual pleasure. Whether is praise or pleasure, they were driven by their appetite. What do you crave? What do you long for?

  • Do you have a daily quiet time?
  • Do you study your bible daily?
  • Have you committed to reading the bible through in a year or two years?
  • Do you have a desire to share Christ with others.
  • Do you look for opportunities to do good to others. {Gal. 6:10, Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.}
  • Do you get joy in praise Christ? Do you have an appetite for worship?

[4] DO YOU BRAG ABOUT YOUR SIN OR GLORY IN YOUR SHAME?

For the Judaizers, their glory was in their circumcision but it would be a shame for them to flaunt it. You can get arrested for showing off your circumcision. This may have been what Paul had in mind or it could be that he was speaking to the antinomian Gnostics who used grace as a license to sin. Their view was that matter is evil and the spirit is good. Therefore the body, being matter, is evil and the soul is good. Since the body is evil and is condemned; it doesn’t matter what you do to the body or through the body. This philosophy lead to all kinds of abuse including drunkenness, adultery, and homosexuality.

No true believer flaunts their sin. We may confess it but we don’t brag about it or try to justify it. When I walked into my Nephews hospital room this past New Years day and saw his frail body [less than 100 pounds], my heart sank. I have been around enough cancer to know when the end is close and so I stood there in shock and disbelieve. He was 52 years old, this could not be happening. Henry had abused his body and he knew it. He said, “Uncle Jack, if I had known then what I know now, could I have stopped my daddy from smoking.” His dad, my brother died with lung cancer and COPD 5 years ago. I said, “I don’t know the answer to that question but I would guess, probably not.” In the last three days of Henry life, I got to know him better. You tell me which sin is greater: Henry abusing his body or me being so preoccupied with my own life that I did not take the time to listen to the child. Henry was sorrowful about his sin and I am sorrow about mine. It is not a good sign when you arrogantly define your unrighteous behavior.

[5] LAST BUT NOT LEAST: DO YOU HAVE YOUR MIND SET ON EARTHLY THINGS?

Are you preoccupied with the cares of this world. Because Abraham believed in a CITY, he was willing to live in a tent on this earth.  It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. {Hebrews 11} Because of the joy awaiting Him, Jesus endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

People amaze me; I am talking about people my age and older. They are still throwing out the flesh hooks to see what all they can amass. I tell them the truth: you don’t need to worry about getting more; you need to be giving more. I do believe that some folks have convinced themselves that they are going to live to be 100. If you factor out infant deaths, I think the average life span is around 80. I’ve help conduct 4 COLS in the last two months: their ages were 67, 92, 76 and 53. There are some realities that we need to except:

  1. This world is not our home, we are merely passing through. The city of Philippi was a Roman Colony. They were Romans living in a Greek world. They were aliens and strangers in a foreign land. Paul said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”
  2. We cannot take our wealth with us. As David said, “We leave it all behind and have no idea who will spend it.” I know lots of miserable people but none that are looking for an opportunity to help others. There are no happy misers.

The Marks Of A Hypocrite

SCRIPTURE

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’

“Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

INTRODUCTION

Jesus liked to use nick-names. He called His disciples “Little-faiths” [one word in the Greek]. He called the Jewish religious leaders ‘Play-actors” or hypocrites. In Matthew 23 Jesus lowers the boom on the Scribes, Pharisees and Jewish religious leaders. As Dr. Warren Wiersbe points out, we are not to assume that all Pharisees were hypocrites. There were about 6,000 in Jesus day and most of them were middle class or upper middle class businessmen. We know that Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and an unnamed man in Mark 12 were Pharisees that believed in Jesus. They no doubt were a minority. Whereas the Pharisees were noted for their holiness or they separation from sinners [Gentiles], they had become religious dictators and not spiritual leaders.

Jesus gives us a list of five characteristics of the Pharisees, Scribes and Jewish religious leaders…

[1] Jesus said they did not practice what they preach . Note verse 3So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.

The lay world loves this verse…I can’t count the times folks have used the verse in reference to me…of course they have altered it a bit, “He does not actually say, “practice what you preach but practice what he teach.” I don’t defend myself because they are right. I preach the pure and perfect word of God. I don’t preach my feeling or opinions. Everything I say can be supported by scripture and if it cannot, I need to retract what I have said. So if I preach the bible, I am preaching a pure ethic. Can I live a pure ethic? No and neither can any other preacher. I do understand that a man loses credibility when he makes no effort to practice what he preaches.

I heard the story of the preacher who accused someone of stealing his bicycle. He berated the congregation and ask that it be returned promptly but when the bike did not show up, he decided to preach a series on the ten commandments. He thought, surely the person who stole my bike when feel guilty when I get to “Thou shall not steal.” The commandment on stealing is number 8 which means “Thou shall not commit adultery” comes before stealing. He announced his text, “Thou shall not commit adultery” and then sudden he remembered where he left his bicycle and let his thought slip out, “Oops, now I remember where my bicycle is.” That preacher shot his credibility. When I was a boy, a neighboring church called a bi-vocational pastor who was a good man a good preacher. The congregation liked him but his wife not only smoke and laid out of church, she wrote bad checks. Some things don’t go together like preaching and writing bad checks.

So what am I to do, lower the standard, preach my practice instead of the perfect word? No, I am to preach the perfect word of God which convicts me of sin. You wouldn’t want to waste your time listening to man who preached what he could practice. Does this mean that I have a license to be sloppy in my spiritual disciplines or to be licentious. No! Jesus is not referring to serious souls who are sincerely trying to live a life that honors him, He is referring here to the insincere, the folks who are playing game, they are acting a part. They are tinsel. They are phony, not real. He is talking about spiritual leaders who are deceiving you. They are not who they pretend to be.

[2] The Jewish Religious Leaders had no compassion on people. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.[v.4]

One of the few times that Jesus gets angry in recorded in Mark 3…Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus. [the most unbelievable verse in the bible] An act of kindness and Mercy on Jesus part initiated the conspiracy to have Him executed.

Why was Jesus angry with these folks? Because they had no compassion on the man with a bad arm. They cared about their livestock. They lead them to water on the Sabbath but they did not want the poor man healed on the Sabbath. Jesus was angry at their lack of compassion and the Jewish leaders were angry because Jesus showed compassion. One thing is certain, none of us [preachers or laymen] have any credibility if we don’t have compassion. We must care about people. The Pharisees loved money and used people and that made them hypocrites.

[3] The third thing Jesus said is that they are Actors…Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. The word hypocrite means play actor. These guys were phony, they were not real, they had no integrity, no sincerity. There were simply putting on a show. There are some thing that we have to do to have credibility…

  1. We have to make a sincere effort of practicing what we teach and preach.
  2. We have to have a genuine concern for people.
  3. We have to be real.

[4] The fourth thing Jesus says about the Jewish Religious leaders is they loved respect and recognition. If they were living today, they would want to be called Dr.; they would expect VIP privileges. They had an inordinate desire for recognition.

I served a church my last 18 months in college and it was a good church. I served a couple of small churches while I was in Seminary and I picked up a few pointers during days in college and seminary but my first so called full time church came about three months after I graduated Seminary. This church had a secretary and bulletin, things that I was not accustomed to: he had brotherhood and WMU and there were problems right out of the gate. There were some leaders who wanted to be recognized. Literally, they expected me to mention them from the pulpit and commend them for their service. We are servants as Jesus said, we don’t get commended for doing our duty.

Jesus gave this analogy in Luke 17….“When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. 10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”

Long story short, I was ignorant to the inordinate craving on the part of professing Christians to get a pat on the head from the pastor. Some people got highly upset with me for not recognizing their contributions and so the youngest of the deacons [34] approached me. He said, “I can see that you are bull headed and you have a lot of pride and I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do, these people are being petty but they are use to being patted on the head by the preacher. I said, “I will pat those on the head they deserve it but I will do it privately, not from the pulpit.” I did not relent. Some of them became good friends and some did not. I put some of the blame on former pastors who had yielded to the pressure but my mentor, Calvin C. Inman rarely commended people from the pulpit.

[5] The Pharisees and Scribes where notorious for tooting their horn. They exalted themselves. All Pharisees brag. You just listen long enough and you will hear them commend themselves about something. We are never to exalt ourselves, never. James said, Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” The Pharisees knew how to pull their own chain and pull each others chain. They had a little mutual admiration going on but Jesus refused to play that game. The best approach is for us to “Humble ourselves.” God can do but He gives us ample time to do it ourselves.

Almost 40 years ago I became friends with a neighboring pastor: he was a pistol. He was every bit of 6’4″ and weighted a good 230. He drove a pinto station wagon; how he got in it is a mystery to me. One Sunday evening he came by the pastorium where we lived and he had a sheet cake in the back of his car that was two feet wide and three long. On top it read, “Happy Anniversary Bro. Rob.” I said, Rob, that is great, the church is recognizing you for being there two years. He said, “There aren’t doing. I had this made at Krogers. I am doing this one but they will get the message. I don’t think they got the message but they later give him a message.

You cannot exalt yourself. You cannot honor yourself.