Sunday 14th February

Service Transcript & Video

The greatest JOY in my life is…     

                             Philippians chapter 3

 

So how would YOU finish that sentence?

My garden.. my car.. my cat.. my dog…

 my friends.. my family…

 If you happen to be married and your wife/husband is sitting in the room beside you then you might want to mention them if you want any Sunday lunch..

Some of you… if you were really honest might say…

The greatest Joy in my life right NOW is…

getting my kids to bed and having a chance to sit down and have a cup of coffee in peace!!

Here in Chp 3 I think the Apostle Paul would say…     

The greatest JOY in HIS life is…JESUS…

By far the greatest JOY in my life is JESUS..  

 knowing JESUS…

loving Jesus..  following Jesus…

 

There’s No greater JOY because there is NO greater Friend and Saviour.. than Jesus

When I think of all that He has done for Me… won for me… upon that tree of Calvary!!

No wonder chapter 3 opens with…

 

V1 Rejoice in the LORD…

 Let Your Joy in JESUS flow and overflow out of you..

However difficult and challenging life is for You in these days.. delight your heart in JESUS….

      Let JESUS  be Your greatest JOY!

 

It’s like in v1 …   He’s saying..

Look I’m bringing You back again to the basics…to the Gospel… to JESUS…

and I’m NOT apologizing for it… because it’s what You need to hear.. over and over and over again..

no matter how long you have been a Christian believer and follower…

3 things the Apostle Paul says in this chapter

  1. Count up
  2. Press on
  3. Wait for

 

  1. Count up… /consider (NIV) v 4-11

The word translated Count / consider appears  x3    in  just 2 verses

v7 consider/count  loss

V8  consider/count  everything

V8  I consider/count   them rubbish

It’s an accounting term….He’s looking back over his life with GOD  and weighing up the bank balance… the spiritual credits and loss.

The Apostle gets quite cross v2-3 because there were Jewish Christians who were saying….

It’s Not enough to believe in JESUS as your Saviour and LORD..

You also need to be circumcised and keep the OT Jewish rules and regulations too.. The Apostle Paul is saying NO!! NO WAY!!

I tried that stuff….all my life I had a good religious upbringing.. kept all God’s laws.. was outwardly religiously..

    I ticked all the boxes (v4-6) 

I was a good true blue Presbyterian all my life and my ancestors before me. I really tried to be as good a person as I could be…

And I was trusting in that to bring me into a right relationship with GOD and give me a way into Heaven…But I wrong… I did the maths.. I counted it up… I was trusting v7-9 in the wrong things… My own goodness and my religious upbringing…

BUT Salvation is a free GIFT of GOD… received as a free GIFT… through repentance and faith in Christ alone…

NOT by the good person that I am … or

by the good things we do…

I love Romans 3v 22f  Living Bible…

“But now God has shown us a different way to heaven —not by “being good enough” and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins.

And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.  Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins…..

Then what can we boast about doing to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in him.  So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.”

And knowing that we have been saved by God’s amazing goodness and grace…

And being so secure in God’s love and affection for me in Christ right now…

It makes me want more than ever to (v10)

“I want to know Christ… more and more and more each day

I want to grow in my relationship with Jesus more and more and more each day…

I don’t want to just grow older… I want to grow closer to Jesus every single day of my life.

  1. Do you?? He goes on….

I want to know and experience HIS power at work in my life.. changing and transforming me day by day…

Resurrection power is the power of the Holy Spirit…

the same power that raised Christ up.. from the deepest depths of death.. to the highest heights of Heaven..  (Eph 1v 19-20)

I love watching the World’s Strongest man competition on TV… The power of those guys and the things that they lift.. are incredible…

But Nothing compares to God’s power at work in our lives… quietly chipping away at us and changing us into the likeness and loveliness of JESUS.

I want to know says Paul.. The fellowship of his sufferings.

Jesus suffered so much because He obeyed His Father and walked in His ways…

and if we choose to follow Jesus we too will suffer… criticism, opposition, accusations…misunderstandings…. hardships….

To follow JESUS is to deny ourselves/ die to ourselves and what WE want … so that we can  live to love and please JESUS.. and what He wants..  Mark 8v 34-35

 

Salvation is a totally Free GIFT of GOD to us….  BUT there is a cost to following Jesus, even in Donaghadee to-day…    

  1.    Are you counting the cost?

 

  1. Press on… (v12-14)

It’s one thing to start the Christian life… There’s always what I call the Honeymoon period…

But it’s another thing to keep on keeping on with Jesus…

It’s like a running race… The Christian life is a marathon race rather than a 100 meter sprint..

So the Apostle Paul says.. v12

“Not that I… BUT…  I press on…

and v 14  “ I press on…

The picture is of a runner… stretching.. straining.. every muscle… to reach that finish line and win the prize.

There is a relentless determination… a single minded focus that is needed… if we want to follow Jesus in this world…

Because there are so many distractions… that will take our eyes of JESUS and away from that finishing line and the prize of Heaven…

Mark 4   Parable of the Sower..  v18-19

“ Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the message; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

 

  1. Tell me this: Are you Pressing on as a Christian believer in your daily life?
  2. Are you still passionate and determined to follow Jesus, whatever it takes…without hesitation or reservation..

even when it costs.. especially when it costs…

The goal .. the prize of Heaven is that One day.. We will Not only Meet JESUS…

BUT…. we will be transformed into the likeness and loveliness of JESUS..

I love the illustration of the stonemason who had crated this stunning stone statue of a horse…. Someone asked him…. HOW?? How do you start with a block of stone and turn it into such a beautiful horse…He said..

I just chip away anything that doesn’t look like a horse!!

  1. Isn’t that what GOD is doing in your life and mine… through the tough things we’re going through in lockdown…

He’s chipping away everything in us… that doesn’t look like JESUS..

Of course that’s awkward at times…

Of course that’s bound to hurt…

Lockdown can bring the worse out of you…. When you get irritated, annoyed, frustrated and plain cranky…

BUT GOD is at work in you…

You are fully loved, accepted, affirmed and approved in Christ….

Within the high security fence of GOD’s unshakable love and affection for you… He’s going to do some chipping away…

Not because He doesn’t love YOU….

BUT because He already does!!

 

  1. Are you pressing on as a follower of JESUS even though at times you might feel like giving up the race??

 

  1. Wait for…. 3v 15 – 4v 1

We don’t do waiting in the West…

To quote those great theologians the Spice Girls..

 We know what we want and we want it NOW…

There’s 2 ways to live…. says the Apostle Paul..…

Live for this world… eyes on  earth

Live for the Next..    eyes on  Heaven..

 

Philippi was what was called a Roman Colony… in Greece… and they were so proud of the fact that they were Roman citizens…

and their city was like a  ‘little Rome’ ..

They dressed like Romans, walked like Romans, spoke like Romans…thought like Romans..

 When you were in Philippi you could almost forget that you were in Greece… and think you were in  ROME…

That’s the picture background to what Paul says in v 19-20.. as he speaks about the way people around them are living their lives without GOD…

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach and their glory is their shame. Their mind is on earthly things….

BUT… (v20) in contrast to the culture all around us…the Apostle says…

our citizenship is in Heaven…and we eagerly await a Saviour from there…, the LORD JESUS CHRIST…”

I love the Easy to Read translation of these verses

“The way they live is leading them to destruction. They have replaced God with their own desires. They do shameful things, and they are proud of what they do. They think only about earthly things. 

But the government that rules us is in heaven. We are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from there. He will change our humble bodies and make them like his own glorious body. Christ can do this by his power, with which he is able to rule everything.”

 

Without JESUS… that’s HOW people are living their lives…. For here, for NOW..

for themselves… without any thought of eternity…of GOD.. of judgement.. of salvation…

BUT we live differently… We wait for Jesus to come back from Heaven and wrap up this world as we know it…

We believe that we will be changed.. transformed… into HIS likeness and loveliness and restored into the image of GOD… that sin has distorted and decimated in us…

So with that expectation…

We want to live differently to our culture in NI… counter cultural lives…

We want to live good and attractive lives that reflect JESUS and Heaven’s values…

BUT…

 that will bring us to clash with the values of this world….as people around us live for their own pleasure… to please themselves… by their own rules and values…

So Paul says 4v1

Therefore…  Here’s the implications..

Stand firm in the LORD… Don’t waver.. Stay on track… Keep on keeping on following JESUS to the very end…

Because (4v1) says Paul..

You are the absolute JOY of My life… Everything that I have loved and everything that I have worked for…

 

Can I just say to you in SST…

That’s HOW I feel about you.. in SST

You are My absolute JOY and delight.. everything that I have worked for in the past 27 yrs….

A complete Outsider said about You in SST this week to someone else…

That YOU must be the friendliest church family that they have come across and they and their family had felt so welcomed and loved by you when they came..

That just thrills my heart…

And with all my heart I would just want to say to you as I think of leaving you..

Stand firm in Christ… don’t let anything move you

Stick together as ONE.. don’t let anything tear you apart or divide you…

Wait expectantly… because JESUS is coming back again to this world and He will take us to be like Him and with Him… for all eternity…

Maranatha… Come LORD JESUS..COME..

 

 

 

 

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