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Faith Over Fear | Hope Perseveres | Philippians 1:1-11

April 26, 2020 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Faith Over Fear

Topic: New Testament Passage: Philippians 1:1–1:11

Christopher Rich – April 26, 2020

Faith Over Fear  

PART VI |Hope Perseveres | Philippians 1:1-11

 

Introduction | We need Hope that helps us Overcome

Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. During this time a of Global pandemic and local lockdowns we are doing a series called, “Faith Over Fear” where we are pursuing where true peace can be found in the midst of panic. This season is like someone signing you up for a 5k when you hate running then you start it and find out it’s really a marathon. We don’t know how long we’re going to be running like this, but we know we have to keep going. We have lots of unknowns. What is known is less than desirable. We are starters not finishers, when we begin to face adversity we wither and fade. We need Perseverance!

Persevere: to continue in the face of difficulty with little or no chance for success..  I don’t want that! That is incredibly fatalistic and means we get to exert a whole bunch of effort for no gain. I want more! 

Perseverance: to act despite difficulty with a delay in achieving success. That I can handle!. Let me know there is a reason to keep going, That the effort, the endurance, the challenges will eventually be overcome and a better reality can and will emerge. That comes with hope. Hope is what helps us persevere until adversity has been overcome and we can say we have experienced perseverance. What needs to be overcome is the sense and experience of isolation, disconnection, discouragement from circumstances. We feel more alone than we ever have. We are not meant to be alone. We are made to be around and engage with other people. As a pastor, we don’t just preach and teach, but we care and lead and that is very difficult when we’re not meeting in person. I wanted us to be encouraged to endure and equipped to persevere to finish when we want to fade, from another pastor who was disconnected from his church. Paul, locked down, wants to connect with the church in Philippi he desperately misses he writes to them as they persevere. 

PART I | Perseverance as a Family | v1-2 

Phil 1:1-2 | Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We are given the church as a functioning and flourishing family. When Paul (and Timothy) write to all the “Saints, in Christ” he’s referring to all the Christians (people who love and follow Jesus) in the city. Saints In Christ – That is your new status. That status comes from being in Christ, we have been given a new identity to be part of a new family. So there are many saints, but we disconnected and separated from each other. We are meant to be connected. Grace to you and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are a family with a perfect Father. This family has God as their father. This forever family is defined by the grace of God, people being given something they did not earn. Grace from God is Peace with God. You are no longer estranged from God and His family you have been saved by Jesus’ work, we have God as their heavenly Father, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus as our King. 

 

PART II | Perseverance For A Purpose | v3-6

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 

Perseverance for a purpose. The family has a united purpose, it’s not a collection of individuals on individual missions. They are unified around one purpose. They were and are brought together BY the Gospel, and they are partnered FOR the advancement OF the Gospel. From Day one, Lydia was generously hosting the ministry team in her home and later they’re sending out support to other churches, and to Paul. This led him to Joy. This joy drove him to pray back to God, thanking GOD for what He is doing in and through these people. There is a cycle and thread God Acts > People Respond in Obedience > Joyful partnership is produced leading to fruitfulness> Thanksgiving to God is given to the God who Acts! Repeat on a loop please! 

They are characterized by obedience to the Gospel Truth of who Jesus is. Paul isn’t correcting doctrinal error like what had happened in Galatia. He doesn’t spend countless chapters correcting immoral behavior around money, sex, status, and worship like he does with the Corinthians. He doesn’t have to tell them to lighten up on their fear of the Holy Spirit, quit waiting for rapture and get to work like the Thessalonians. The church in Philippi is a rad church!  Because they’re rad, Paul really appreciates them with a genuine affection. They have enjoyed a fruitful “partnership” is koinia in the greek it means fellowship. A binding  people together for a common purpose like a team, or company, it is co-laboring for the Gospel. 

 

Perseverance is not optional.  This Partnership has perseverance because of the starter and the finisher. As great as the church in Philippi, is they’re not the hero of their own story. If they endure it will not be because of their efforts but because of the one who began the work in them. Who is the starter? Who is the starter of your story? If we’re the starter than we have a great pressure to be the finisher. God is not running the first leg of a relay with us handing us the baton and saying ok now don’t drop it and make sure you run your heart out on your own across the finish line. Neither is He telling you to start on your own. 

 

Perseverance is not up to us. Who is the finisher? In our stories we are trying to be the finisher, but we can’t. Where your confidence to finishing strong, finishing well? Is it you? We get tired. We get distracted. We get discourage. We waiver. Not our God. God always finishes what He starts! We start and wain and rarely complete. God doesn’t get tired. Our God is a God of endurance and He can call us to endure. This call to endurance and completion is as communal as it is individual. God began the good work in Philipi and He will bring it to completion. If God has begun a good work in you, He will bring it to completion. This is not a whew, it’s gunna be taken care of so I don’t engage. It is a call to engage with full assurance of perseverance.  You should work out your salvation with fear and trembling, it says later. You shouldn’t rely on a prayer or an emotional service, or a season engagement followed by years of stagnation, but the ongoing presence of God in and though you through the Holy Spirit regularly pointing you back to Jesus. The road at times may be windy, but If it’s the work of God that began in you, He doesn’t give up. You may be far off today, come back, you may have stopped walking, start again. You may have had long seasons of doubt or disobedience. Come back. Run again. Where have you seen growth? Endurance? Praise God?

 

 If you’re family know you’re family forever receive this and live as a member of the family because of the Gospel. There is an initiation in the Gospel, God initiates, God sends Jesus. There is sacrifice in the gospel. God sacrifices in Jesus on the cross. There is completion in the Gospel of Jesus saving us. Jesus on the cross cries out “it is finished!” There is newness in the Gospel “behold I am making all things new” There is growth is the gospel as God changes us. There is the finish line (or rather new start line) in the Gospel of Jesus return and restoration of all things. We worship a finishing God. I sleep well when I remember God is the hero of my story and every story. Don’t be sure of yourself, be sure of God. We rest and resolve to continue to walk out the new life God has for us knowing He has empowered us to keep going with His Holy Spirit. God’s finished work encourages us to strive with assurance that failure is not an option for our God. 

PART III | Perseverance in Affliction With Affection | v7-8 

Philippians 1:7-8 |It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 

 

It is right for us to feel like this isn’t alright. It’s cliché to say it’s ok to not be ok but I want to go further. You shouldn’t be ok with this. It is not the worst thing, but we’re not made to exist like this. It is right to miss “normal”. It is right to have something in your heart sink as this goes on longer. Because there is something right and good about them gathering and partnering together for the gospel, because of the gospel. There is something wrong about them being separated that makes his heart ache. Flourishing, functioning, partnering and persevering. This is a family we should all want to be a part of and yearn for. This a family that is enjoyable.  What is driving Paul to feel an affection for these people he’s had a great distance from? He’s thankful for all the churches….but this one is a bit easier to be thankful for. They are people who he shared experiences, battles, losses, victories with, AND He enjoys them as friends. 

 

Sometimes there are people you just click with and other times you don’t. It’s not always a sin issue. There are just natural (not evil) affinities for others. These are not somehow less than or shallow, in fact it is a gift from God to have some relationships that are easier than others. Relationships in any family, and especially God’s family are going to be difficult enough as it is. Savor and enjoy the times and people where things feel easy and enjoyable. That doesn’t mean there aren’t amazingly beautiful gospel friendship where the only thing in common is the gospel. It doesn’t mean we should disengage with every relationship when there is difficulty. Who do you miss spending time with the most? Who do you realize you don’t miss that much? 

 

Paul is also encouraged to love these people. Why? They are “partakers of grace” but that grace came through affliction. Paul’s imprisonment that is not something you think should produce or be a conduit of grace. They have been through some stuff together, endured by grace and came through with a deeper bond.  “it’s right for me to feel this way because ya’ll acted like a loving and encouraging family, You supported me when I was preaching the gospel, churches were being planted, and the mission was advancing AND you supported me when I was imprisoned and not able to lead the charge in the same way. This support was beyond just good thoughts and kinds words it was tangible. They funded him in Thessalonica so he could plant there before the church there couldn’t support him. Same when in Corinth serving a church that was immature in their giving (and countless other areas), and now a decade plus later as Paul under house arrest in Roman they sent Epaphroditus with another financial gift. They liked Paul and Paul liked them and he says “its right.”  They had some loyalty to Paul. Not idolatry of leader, but a mutual love, respect, and affection was clearly seen. Everyone was on the same page. God is the hero AND everyone has a place and purpose in the family. They acted like family, endured like family, so Paul held them in His heart like family, cherishing them with Joy for them like a family.

 

This requires intentionality. We cannot wait for people to start treating us like family, we initiate in reaching out to others and begin to treat them like family. To ask ourselves in this place and space, where can I encourage someone else? Where can I partner with this church for mission?  This is so difficult right now because we’re so disconnected. I want you to know you’re not alone. This live stream is not “Church” , this is a temporary compromise, not a new convenience. If you’re new, we are glad you can experience preaching/teaching but we yearn for you to know what it’s like to not only be a person who connects with our church but to be part of a people who have saved by Jesus and love Jesus’ people.   

PART IV | Perseverance in Prayer | v9-11 

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

What does obedience look like in perseverance with hope?  It looks like perseverance in prayer. There great things happening in and though the life of our church and the churches we’re connected with so be encouraged! But also be desiring of more. And let that desire for more drive you and us to pray. 

Pray for More. Don’t be complacent. Want more. We are to pray for more!  This prayer is very practical. 

 

Pray for more Love to abound. If we are called to love God and love people and we know because of sin we can’t and don’t, we should pray for God to gift us this. We vertically want love to intensify so that horizontally love can multiply. IF God has been the one that is planting and growing churches out of love for His people and His Gospel then let us pray for this love that saves and changes us to draw us together more. Especially when it’s not easy but requires endurance. Where do you need love for on another to grow? 

 

Pray for more knowledge – To know what is true and right about God. To have such an intimate knowledge of God and His promises, His person in Jesus that when storms hit, discouragement comes, or counterfeit gospel or doctrinal error comes it can be met with the truth God loves His people, sin hurts and has consequences, Jesus saves, we repent and believe. To not ignore our natural emotions but also not be led exclusively by them. This is not a prayer for more knowledge that puffs up but for knowledge that builds up. 

 

Pray for more discernment – To be able to see this world for what it is and engage properly. To make moral judgement in your life. To be sensitive to what is happening around you to see when there may be opportunities to share the gospel to point people to Jesus. We are a family on mission together. Where do we need more discernment to be on this mission of the gospel deeper and wider? 

 

Prayer for a purpose and purity - The purpose of this is so we can approve what is Excellent, be blameless with nothing missing, and nothing to fear or have guilt or shame for. To know what is best in each situation, and having the wisdom and discernment to know what is good and do, to know what is evil and abstain. 

Prayer for purity – From D-Group Study (Sincere – Broken and blemished pot were filled with hard wax. It was fake. It couldn’t be seen in the shop, but it could be when it was held up to the sunlight. If you purchased it an took it home it wouldn’t hold up and you’d be out your money. It would be junk. Honest dealers would mark their sine cera (without wax) because it had past the sun light test. We are all broken and blemished pots. We have been filling ourselves (and have been filled by others who have been dishonest to us) with fake filling that we hope will help us get by. We’re being tested and found lacking.  A prayer to made pure is a prayer have what is fake, insecure that you’re relying on to get by that you’re hoping will hold up removed. To be made whole, to be “without wax” to be able to pass the test of the light of the sun because of His work. We all need to be made pure, made “sincere” to be made whole. 

Love, knowledge, discernment is for the purpose of approving what is excellent and walking blameless in purity.   The result for us is glory and praise of God. Pray purity, pray it for the first time, that God would begin a good work, if it’s begun that it would continue, if it’s continuing that He would complete it in us. We are not enough, we fail, He succeeds, we need Him to persevere in His forever family of adopted broken pots being made whole. Whatever is next, rest be resolute knowing Hope Perseveres when we Trust Jesus.