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Can You Predict Your Future?
Philippians 1:18-21
Skip Heitzig

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Philippians 1 (NKJV™)
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians

If you were going to sit down and write a short description of what you wanted your future to look like, what words would you choose? Let me suggest four that come straight out of Paul's experience: joy, confidence, hope, and life. After musing over past events that brought him to prison, Paul looks ahead to his uncertain future. But these four words sum up what he expected his future to include--even if it meant his possible execution.

In the series Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians, we learn how to find joy in the most unlikely places as we discover that God can add color to the most black and white moments in life.

Outline

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  1. Joy (v. 18b)
  2. Joy Is an Act of the Will

  3. Confidence (v. 19)
  4. Confidence Is Developed by Prayer and Provision

  5. Hope (v. 20)
  6. Hope Looks for Opportunities to Point to Christ

  7. Life (v. 21)
  8. Life Happens Even in the Face of Death

Study Guide

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Recap Notes: June 25, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Can You Predict Your Future?"
Text: Philippians 1:18b-21

Path

If you were to sit down and write a short description of what you wanted your future to look like, what words would you choose? Pastor Skip suggested four that come straight out of Paul's experience: joy, confidence, hope, and life. After musing over past events that brought him to prison, Paul looked ahead to his uncertain future. But these four words sum up what he expected his future to include—even if it meant his possible execution. Pastor Skip pointed out the thoughts that kept Paul anchored in Christ:
  • Joy (v. 18b): Joy Is an Act of the Will
  • Confidence (v. 19): Confidence Is Developed by Prayer and Provision
  • Hope (v. 20): Hope Looks for Opportunities to Point to Christ
  • Life (v. 21): Life Happens Even in the Face of Death
Points

Joy
  • Paul spoke of the past up until the phrase "Yes, and will rejoice" (Philippians 1:18b). Then he began looking to the future.
  • His first future declaration focused on joy, a word used at least nineteen times in Philippians.
  • Paul was determined that all that had happened to him—arrest, prison, persecution, shipwreck, and imprisonment while awaiting trial with Caesar Nero—was not going to bring him down.
  • He told his audience—including us—that nothing and no one would steal his joy; it was fixed on and in the Lord.
  • Joy is a choice, an act of the will, internally triggered, tied to your relationship with God, and your reaction to being justified by faith.
  • Probe: Joy is commonly defined as a feeling of great pleasure. Discuss the difference between joy and happiness. Pastor Skip delineated them as being external (happiness) and internal (joy).
Confidence
  • Notice Paul's use of the phrase I know in verse 19. There was certainty in Paul's outlook that was determined by his up-look; he kept his eyes on God.
  • The word deliverance is a Greek word commonly used for salvation. Paul was not using it in the sense of being saved—he was already a Christian—but in the sense of being rescued: he believed that God would deliver him—"whether by life or by death" (v. 20).
  • Paul's confidence was twofold:
    • It was based on the prayers of God's people. Why should we pray?
      • Spiritual work requires spiritual tools.
      • Prayer produces confidence.
    • It was also based on the provision of God's Spirit.
      • The word supply means a lavish supply, like a harmony of voices.
      • We can be confident because God will provide all we need through the Spirit.
      • The hand of God will not lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.
  • Probe: Confidence is the belief that one can rely on someone or something, a firm trust. Discuss how our confidence, like Paul's, can be firmly placed in Christ. What characteristics of Christ command confidence?
Hope
  • Hope is an earnest expectation, a gaze at something in the distance. Paul was looking to Christ with undivided attention; more than anything, he wanted to be a faithful witness.
  • Part of Paul's witness was boldness—a reminder that what the church needs is not to be breaking bad, but breaking bold.
  • Notice the words "Christ will be magnified." The Greek word for magnified means to make great, to enlarge. How can we possibly make Christ greater?
    • Present your body as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). Let your hands, feet, and tongue—your whole body—be used for Christ's glory.
  • Probe: The writer of Hebrews linked confidence, hope, and assurance together (see Hebrews 11:1). Discuss how these words are connected. How do confidence, hope, and assurance define our present circumstances and our future reality?
Life
  • Jesus was the summum bonum (the highest value) of Paul's life, his motto, and his fuel to persevere.
  • Verse 21 demonstrates that Paul's master passion was Jesus. Despite not knowing the circumstances his life would take, Paul knew what his goal was while he still lived: he lived for Christ, and he died for Christ under Nero.
  • In one brutal moment, Paul went from the imperial city of Rome to the eternal city of God. Tradition holds that Paul was beheaded; in that instant, he gained eternal life.
  • Probe: How can we live for Christ in today's world? How is dying a gain for Christians?
Practice

Connect Up: In addition to the words discussed in this study (joy, confidence, hope, and life), what are some other characteristics that define believers (see Galatians 5:22-23)? How do they help us maintain an eternal perspective, focusing our attention on Christ and not on the world—providing us with a proper "up-look"?

Connect In: In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul tells the church to not be like those who don't have hope. In these verses, Paul linked our hope to Christ's return. How is the second coming of Jesus intricately linked to a believer's hope for the future?

Connect Out: In a world where many have no future or hope, how can we use this message to communicate to unbelievers that God does have a beautiful future for those who believe? How can you use Jeremiah 29:11 as a witness tool?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Predicting the future has been a favorite pastime since antiquity
      1. People's desire to know the future makes horoscopes and fortune-tellers popular today
      2. We want to know what is coming in the future
    2. All forms of fortune-telling are forbidden in the Scriptures
      1. They are fake
      2. They call on nothing to predict the future they don't know
      3. Only God can predict the future
    3. You can predict your future responses
    4. Up to this point in Philippians, Paul spoke in past tense
      1. Philippians 1:3, 5, 12
      2. Paul wrote to the Philippians about what happened in the past and what was happening in the present
    5. The future was uncertain for Paul
      1. He did not know what the outcome of his trial would be
      2. He made predictions about his responses to those circumstances
      3. If you are a follower of Christ, you can predict your responses as well
  2. Joy (v. 18b)
    1. Philippians is a letter
      1. Originally there were no chapters or verse identifications
      2. Until the year AD 1227, all of the Bible was text
      3. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, decided it would be easier to find things in the Bible with chapters and verses
      4. In AD 1382, the first English Bible to have verse numbers was the Wycliffe Bible
    2. Paul was saying that the things of the past would not rob him of his joy
      1. They had furthered the gospel
      2. Past circumstances
        1. He was arrested in Jerusalem
        2. He spent two years in jail at Caesarea by the Sea
        3. He went through three mistrials
        4. He was shipwrecked on his way to Rome to appeal to Caesar
        5. He was put in jail again in Rome
      3. Past and present people were also trying to rob him of joy
    3. Paul did not know what would happen in the future as far as circumstances went
      1. He would stand trial before Caesar Nero
      2. Caesar would either exonerate him or execute him
    4. Joy is an act of the will
      1. It is tethered to something different than happiness
        1. Happiness is a temporary feeling of delight if the circumstances go your way
        2. Joy is fixed
        3. The Bible mentions happiness about thirty times; it mentions joy 300 times
      2. The difference between happiness and joy
        1. Happiness is externally triggered; it goes up and down depending on the circumstances
        2. Joy is internally triggered; it is based on a relationship with God
        3. Happiness has its source in events, people, and things
        4. Joy has its source in God
      3. Though Paul may have been emotionally unhappy, he stated that nothing and no one would steal his joy
  3. Confidence (v. 19)
    1. Your outlook is determined by your uplook
      1. Paul saw not only the stars, but the God who made the stars
      2. If joy is an act of the will, then confidence is a statement of faith
    2. Paul knew he would be delivered
      1. Sótérian = deliverance, salvation
      2. Paul knew things would turn out for the best (see Romans 8:28)
    3. Confidence is developed by prayer and provision
      1. Prayer of God's people
        1. Most believers marginalize prayer
        2. If we really thought prayer had the power to change things, we would be doing it a lot more
        3. We should pray because:
          1. Spiritual work requires spiritual tools
          2. It produces confidence
      2. Provision of God's Spirit
        1. Epichorégia = supply, provision, equipment
          1. We get the word chorus from this
          2. It literally means one voice upon another
        2. The reason Paul was confident was because the Holy Spirit provided everything he needed to handle the future
        3. The hand of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you (see Zechariah 4:6)
  4. Hope (v. 20)
    1. Earnest expectation is like an intense form of hope
      1. It literally means to watch something with outstretched head
      2. Paul hoped more than anything else that he would be a faithful witness for Christ
    2. Hope looks for opportunities to point to Christ
      1. Paul wanted to express his faith and exalt his Savior
      2. He wanted to be bold
      3. While the world is breaking bad, the church needs to be breaking bold
        1. The world is bold about what it believes
        2. They want to get out there and get it in your face
        3. That is how Christians need to be about our faith
      4. Ask God to make you a bold Christian
    3. Paul hoped for Christ to be magnified
      1. How can you make the greatest Person in the world greater?
        1. To most people, Jesus was just someone from 2,000 years ago
        2. When you show up, Jesus is either magnified or minified through your life
      2. We should want God to be greater through our life (see Romans 12:1)
  5. Life (v. 21)
    1. Paul was passionate about Christ; he lived for Him
      1. Christ was the summation of Paul's life
      2. John 11:25
    2. Life happens even in the face of death
      1. Later, Paul was arrested again, placed in solitary confinement, and sentenced to death
      2. In one brutal moment, Paul went from the imperial city of Rome to the eternal city of heaven
  6. Closing
    1. The only circumstance you can predict is whether you will spend eternity in heaven or in hell
    2. John 3:3
Figures referenced: Dale Carnegie, Howard Hendricks, Stephen Langton, Abraham Lincoln, Leonard Ravenhill, A.T. Robertson, Charles Spurgeon, Corrie ten Boom

Works referenced: Wycliffe Bible

Greek words: epichorégia, sótérian

Cross references: Zechariah 4:6; John 3:3; 11:25; Romans 8:28; 12:1; Philippians 1:3, 5, 12

Transcript

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Hello, and welcome to this message from Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. We pray this message impacts you, and if it does, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.

What words would you use to describe what you want your future to look like? There are four that come straight out of Paul's experience. Joy, confidence, hope, and life. In this message, "Can You Predict Your Future?" Skip explains how these four words sum up what Paul expected his future to include. Now please turn in your Bibles to Philippians Chapter 1 as he begins.

So a golfer went to a fortune teller. And the golfer said, I have one question. Will there be golf courses in heaven? Fortune teller said, well, I've got good news and I've got bad news. He goes OK, give me the good news. She said, the good news is, in heaven the golf courses are so beautiful, so magnificent, they are beyond human imagination. And he said, well, how could there be any bad news with that? She said, well, the bad news is, you have a game booked to start at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

Predicting the future has been a favorite pastime for millennia. Way back in antiquity, diviners, priests would use all sorts of methods that they said was able to read the future. So they would look at clouds, , the way they were dispersed in the sky and they would say that means such and such. Or they would look at the way stars appeared in the sky and the galaxies, or drops of oil in water forming different patterns.

Some even used the trails of animals, if you can imagine, putting an organ, like a liver, on a plate. And the way it would wiggle and wobble, they would be able, they said, to predict the future. And its people's desire to know the future that makes horoscopes still popular, or fortune tellers popular, or palm readers, or psychics, or weather men. We want to know what is coming in the future.

Now all of those things are forbidden by scripture, except perhaps for weathermen. But the reason they're forbidden in the scripture is simple. They're fake. They don't work. They're calling on nothing to predict the future that they don't know. It's just making a guess. Only God knows the future, and only God can predict the future. And we have looked at the great series, Against All Odds, of how God has fulfilled prophecy.

But did you know that you can predict your future? You can predict your future. You can't predict future circumstances, but you can predict future responses. I want you to see how Paul does it. In Philippians Chapter 1, I'm going to take you back up to Verse 18. He says, what then? Only that in every place, whether in pretense or truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice.

Now look at what he does with the future. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Up to this point in Paul's letter to the Philippian church, he has been looking at past tense events. For example, in Verse 3, Paul says, I thank God upon every remembrance of you. That's past tense. In Verse 5 he is thankful for their partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And in Verse 12, he says, I want you to know the things that have happened to me have happened for the furtherance of the gospel.

All of these are past tense experiences. Paul is in jail. He is writing to the Philippians about what happened to him in the past and what is happening to him in the present. Now he pivots and he looks to the future. And notice the words, for instance, in Verse 18. Yes, I will rejoice that future verse 19 for I know that this will turn out verse 20 he says that nothing I shall be ashamed also in verse 20. So now Christ will be magnified Paul is now predicting the future

Now the truth is, the future was uncertain for Paul. He did not know which way the winds of Roman justice would be blowing for him. He knew that he would stand trial. That was sure. But he doesn't know what's going to happen in the circumstances of life, yet he makes predictions about his responses to those circumstances.

And I'll give you four words that sum it up. He predicts joy, he predicts confidence, he predicts hope, he predicts life. It's pretty good future, right? Those four things he predicts.

You, if you are a follower of Christ, you can predict your future. You can predict what your future responses will be. It's like that old Dale Carnegie saying you probably heard. Two men looked out from prison bars. On saw the mud, the other saw stars.

So here's Paul the Apostle, looking out literally from prison bars in Rome. He doesn't see mud. He sees stars. And he sees four stars, to be exact. He sees the star of joy, the star of confidence, the star of hope, and the star of life. We're going to be looking at each one of those today.

Abraham Lincoln once said, the best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time. Well, that's good news, but it will come nonetheless. Your future is coming. What will it be like?

I love what Corrie ten Boom used to say. She said, even though we don't know the future, we don't know what the future will hold, we know who holds the future. Because of that, there are four stars that you can see out from whatever prison you might find yourself in.

Let's consider the first. Joy is the first. In Verse 18, the last part of it, notice he says yes, and will rejoice. Now let me just tell you something about the scripture in general. This letter to the Philippians is just that. It is a letter. Paul did not write Roman numeral one, period, two, three. He didn't write verse numbers. He wrote a letter. It was just text. There were no chapter divisions, there were no verse identifications.

In fact, until the year 1227 AD, all of the Bible was text, no chapters, no verses. In 1227 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, decided it would be much easier to be able to find something in the Bible if there were chapters and verse numbers. So he did that.

And then in the 1300s, 1382, the very first English Bible that had verse numbers was the Wycliffe English Bible. And that's helpful. However, I don't always agree with where they put the verses. In fact, many Bible translators have said the same thing. They go, no, that verse belongs in a different chapter.

The way it was broken up is not inspired, but it can be helpful nonetheless. And here is a good example. In Verse 18, the NIV, if you have a new international version, shows the break that should be there. Verse 18 in the NAV reads this. It ends with this phrase. And because of this, I rejoice period. Not comma, period.

Then it begins a new paragraph. And the new paragraph says yes, I will continue to rejoice. That's because the thought of Verse 18, that last phrase, belongs in Verse 19. He is now moving from the past to the future. See here is what Paul has been writing so far. He's saying, the things that have happened to me in the past will not rob me of joy. I'm not going to let that happen. They've actually furthered the gospel.

And so what things are those? Well, let's go over them. He was arrested in Jerusalem, falsely accused. He was then taken to Caesarea by the Sea. He spent two years in jail there. He went through three mistrials before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. He appealed his case to Caesar. He's put on a prison ship. He's taken to Rome. He's had a shipwreck in the ocean. He finally makes it to Rome. He's put in jail again for another two-year incarceration. And he says all of those things happened to me in the past, and they will not steal my joy.

Then he says, not only are there past circumstances, there are past and present people who are trying to rob me of joy. We spoke about those last week all those anti-Paul, cranky Christians who were trying to make Paul's incarceration even worse than it already was. He says, I'm not going to let them steal my joy or get me down.

And all of that ends in Verse 18 where he says, I rejoice. Now he turns to the future. At the second part of Verse 18, he pivots and says, yes, and I will rejoice. Now he's looking to the future. And here's the deal. Once again, I remind you, Paul doesn't know what's going to happen in the future as far as circumstances are concerned. All he knows is that he's going to stand before the Roman court for a trial.

And because, as a Roman citizen, he appealed to Caesar directly, that means he's going to stand in front of Caesar Nero himself, and Caesar Nero will render the verdict. He will either set him free or he will sever his head. He will either exonerate him or exterminate him. Paul doesn't know which. He says as much in Verse 20, whether by life or by death.

Yet he makes this prediction. I will rejoice. I'm going to have joy in my future.

Now, when hearing this, some of us would be tempted to say, wait a minute, Paul, you can't say that, because what if he hands you a guilty verdict and says, off with his head? Then you're going to have to say, well, I used to rejoice, but not today. Today's a bummer. My bummer runneth over today.

Paul says, no, I'm not going to say that. In my future, whether by life or death, I will rejoice.

And here's why I am belaboring this point. This shows us that joy is a choice. It is an act of the will. It is tethered to something deeper than happiness. If you remember in our very first study of Philippians, we noted the difference between happiness and joy. We said happiness is a temporary feeling of delight if the circumstances go your way. Joy is something that is fixed. There is a difference.

By the way, the Bible mentions happiness about 30 times. It mentions joy 300 times, because they're different experiences, and it's helpful to make a demarcation between them.

So happiness is externally triggered. If you get a raise, you're happy. Somebody pays you a compliment, you're happy. You get a new car, you are happy for about a week until you have to make the payments on that new car. If your team wins, you're happy. If you ask that cute girl out and she says yes, you're happy.

Happiness goes up and down depending on the circumstances. Joy is internally triggered. It is based upon a relationship with God. You are justified by faith. Your sins are forgiven. Your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. You're on your way to heaven. That's something that is fixed.

So happiness has its source in events, in people, and in things. Joy has its source in God, which means Paul may have been experiencing unhappy feelings. He may be emotionally unhappy, incarcerated in jail and going through the beatings, et cetera. Nobody likes that. But what he is saying is, nothing and no one will steal my joy.

That's why this book is so filled with it. In four chapters of the Book of Philippians, joy, rejoicing, gladness shows up 19 times. This prisoner writes about joy.

So Paul is looking out from prison bars, and he sees the star of joy. He says, not only have I rejoiced, I will rejoice. That's the first one.

The second prediction he makes-- the second star that he sees is the star of confidence. Look at Verse 19. For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ. Did you hear the tone in his voice? Do you hear the certainty? For I know. He is sure about something, isn't he? He. Didn't say, well, I think, I hope, I suppose. I know. It's a very strong word

You see, your outlook is determined by your uplook. And Paul is looking out and up from that prison, and he sees not only the stars, he sees the God who made the stars. And he goes, I am confident, I know. This is a man of faith. He is filled with faith. If joy is an act of the will, then confidence is a statement of faith.

Question. What is he so confident in? What does your text tell you? What is he confident is going to happen? I know this will turn out for my what? It says deliverance. I know I'm going to be delivered. Now what does that mean?

Well, the word deliverance is the common word in the New Testament, soterion. It's the word for salvation. I know this is going to turn out. I know, I'm confident this is going to turn out for my salvation, literally. Soterion, translated deliverance. Now Paul is not saying, I'm an unsaved person and I hope that if I suffer enough in jail, I'll be saved. He didn't say that. That would contradict him.

Some people think that Paul is saying, I know that I'm going to be sprung out of jail. I'm going to be set free. He can't mean that, because in Verse 20 he says, whether by life or by death. So I could live or I could die. So when he says, I know that this is going to be for my deliverance, that's Paul's way of saying, I'm going to be just fine. Deliverance could be better translated, perhaps, my well-being. Things are going to turn out for the best. This is Paul's, Philippians one way of restating Romans 8:28. You know Romans 8:28. For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to his purpose.

This is the same truth stated in a different manner. Paul's in prison. He's not sure how God's going to deliver him, if he's going to deliver him from the trial or through the trial. He doesn't know if he's going to live or die. But he goes, I'm just fine. I know I'm going to be delivered.

Let me explain something to you. I've prayed for a lot of people who are sick through the years, and quite honestly I pray for some people and they get better. And it's always fun to watch that happen. I've even seen, on a couple of rare occasions, an instantaneous healing. I won't deny that. I've seen it with my own eyes.

But I've also prayed for people who don't get better. They get worse. I pray for them. They get worse. I pray more for them. They die. So be careful. Let's get Skip to pray for this one. I have no special ability. God is sovereign. He does what He wants.

So I prayed for some people, they get better. Some people, they get worse. Some people, they live a long time. Some people, they die. God delivered them all. Some people He delivers by giving them 20 years on earth. Some people he says, no, they're done with life on earth. Let's take them to heaven. That's not a bad gig. They get delivered completely. And that's Paul's thought. I am confident in my future that things will turn out for my deliverance.

Now what is the means of Paul's confidence? What's the agency of it? Well, it's twofold. Through the prayers of God's people, and through the provision of God's spirit. Look at it yourself, please. I know this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and through the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ.

Here's what he's saying. As you keep praying, and as God keeps providing, I'm going to be fine. I face my future with confidence.

Now let's drill down a little bit. Consider prayer for a moment. I am absolutely confident in my future well-being through your prayer. He is assuming the Philippian church is already praying for them. But in writing this, he's asking for more prayer.

Now I'm going to make a statement that might be shocking to you, but I believe it to be true. We marginalize prayer. We really do. Most of us believers, most of us, we marginalize prayer. We doubt that prayer will even work, quite frankly.

You know how I know that? Because if we didn't believe that, we'd be doing a whole lot more of it. If we really thought prayer had the power to change things, to change us, to change people, we'd be doing it a lot. Paul is so sure that as long as they are praying for him, he can be joyful and he can be confident in the future.

A few years back I had the privilege of going to London and visiting Charles Haddon Spurgeon's church called the Metropolitan Tabernacle. And of course, Spurgeon lived in the 1800s, died. But his church still stands. It has survived wars, burnings, bombings. The facade is still there. The church has been rebuilt. But I loved going there because I remember all the stories, not only about Spurgeon and how many people came to hear him preach. But he would-- if he took people on a tour of the facility, he would show them the great tabernacle where he would preach.

But he took them to the basement where there was a little empty room, a meager room. And he'd point to the room and say, this is the powerhouse and the reason that this church is blessed by God. It was a prayer room. He said, when I preach there is a group of people every service that meets in this room, and they pray that the spirit of God would be unleashed. This is the secret. This is the power.

Leonard Ravenhill said this. The church has many organizers but few agonizers, many who pay but few who pray, many wresters but few wrestlers, many who are enterprising, few who are interceding. A worldly Christian will stop praying, and a praying Christian will stop worldliness. Tithes may build a church, but tears will give it life.

Now why should we pray? There's a lot of reasons. I'll give you just two. Reason number one. Spiritual work always requires spiritual tools. One of the most frustrating endeavors is to try to do a work of the spirit in the energy of your flesh. You are doomed for failure.

Second reason. It produces confidence, according to the text. I am confident through your prayers. It's a spiritual tool. It produces confidence. Two good reasons to keep it up.

So one means of Paul's confidence is through their prayer. Notice the second, and the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will give you everything you need.

Now you see the word supply in that text? It literally means a lavish supply. A lavish supply. The Greek word is [GREEK]. We get our word chorus from that. It literally means one voice upon another.

So if Ryan stands up here singing, and Tamara stands up here and adds a harmony, and Steven stands up here and adds yet another harmony, and their voices blend in melody and harmonies, first, third, and fifth, you're stacking up the voices. Then if you add a choir next to them, you have an [GREEK]. You have a lavish supply of beautiful voices.

So what Paul is saying is this. The reason I'm confident is because you keep praying and because the Holy Spirit lavishly supplies everything I need to handle the future.

Here's the truth. The hand of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you. He will lavishly supply what you need. You know Zechariah Chapter 4 Verse 6. You'll finish it as I start quoting it. It's not by might, it's not by power. It's by-- say it. My spirit, says the Lord. Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord.

So Paul is confident in the future if there are praying friends and plenty of fuel, and the fuel is the Holy Spirit. So Paul looks out of his prison bars. He sees two stars, the star of joy, the star of confidence. He predicts them both.

But he sees a third star, the star of hope. Verse 20. According to my earnest expectation and hope. Earnest expectation means about the same thing as the next noun, hope. They really go together. Earnest expectation is like an intense form of hope, active hope, you might say. According to my earnest expectation, active hope, and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or by death.

Now you know, you've known this because you hear me every week. You know I love words. So this word here, earnest expectation, literally means to watch something with outstretched head. Go ahead, stretch your head up. You've just done what this verse is talking about, this earnest expectation.

Now here's where the word came from. In old times, when somebody would see something on the horizon coming, like an army or a group of emissaries approaching, people would stand on the walls and stretch their heads out, and they'd see, now what's happening out there? Is that a war or is that a letter coming, or what is it?

It's the same thing if you go to a baseball game and the batter hits the ball into left center, and everybody's head goes-- they're watching it. They're kind of anticipating, where is it going to go? Home run? Oh, he caught it. When I was a kid, we used to watch golf on television, which some people swear is a cure for insomnia. But we used to love it. And same thing. The ball is hit and it goes into its trajectory, and you see everybody in the galley. Where is that going? Is that going to go on the green? Is that going to go in the sand trap?

So here is Paul looking to his future, saying, I have an active hope. My neck and head are stretched out, and I have an eager hope and anticipation.

I hope you're saying, what for? I'll tell you what for. Verse 20 tells us. That in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or by death. Here's what he's saying is, I look to the future. The one great concern that I hope for more than anything else is that I will be a faithful witness for Christ, that I won't be ashamed, but that I will be bold.

It's amazing that he says this. He didn't say, I have one great hope, and that is that I get out of jail. I have one great hope that I can escape this pain and suffering. He said, I have one great hope whether I live or die. I want to be a witness for Christ. I'm looking for opportunities to represent Christ. What I hope for is that I might express my faith and exalt my Savior.

When I was a young Christian, I was morbidly afraid of witnessing to another person, telling them about Jesus. I was embarrassed. To be honest, I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed about the Gospel. The reason I was embarrassed is because I was afraid that they would reject the message, and that would make it seem like they were rejecting me. So I just held back.

For the first several months it was very difficult. Then something kicked into gear, and I could never shut up after that. Howard Hendricks put it this way. In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering. I was stuttering. Paul is saying, my great hope for the future is that I will not stutter, but that I will be bold. It means to have freedom of speech, bold.

You know what? We need to be bold. While the world is breaking bad, we need to be breaking bold. That's what we need to be doing, breaking bold. You know the world-- yeah.

The world is bold about what it believes, and they're becoming bolder. They're not ashamed of what they believe in. They'll use every opportunity they can, every song they write, every news program, every sitcom, every movie to further their agenda. They are not afraid, they are bold to share their values on abortion, on homosexuality, on promiscuity. They want to get that out there and get it in your face.

It's time for Christians to get out of the closet and be bold, and not be embarrassed and not be ashamed.

[APPLAUSE}

You say, Skip, I can clap for that, but boy, that's hard for me. I'm just not that. I'm not a vocal person. I'm not a bold person. Fair enough. Just ask God to make you bold. I'll be bold. I'll be a witness as long as you keep praying and the spirit keeps providing, see? So let's just start there. God, make me a bolder person.

So he's praying for that. He wants that. He hopes for that. That's his earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed. But look at this. With all boldness. As always-- he's always been bold up to this point. So now-- in this present situation facing Caesar Nero-- so now Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or death.

You know magnified means? Magnified. That's really what it means. It just means to enlarge something, to make it bigger than it is, to enlarge it, to make it bigger, or to make it greater.

So I have a question for you. How can you make the greatest person in the world greater? How can you magnify Christ in your body? He's already great. How can you make him greater?

Well, I'm glad you asked. I'll give you an example, then an explanation. If you look up tonight at the stars, if there's not light pollution and you can see some of the stars flickering, those stars, those little twinkles, some of them are enormous. Some of those stars are 1,000 million miles in diameter, or 12,000 times larger than the sun.

Yet you look at them and they just twinkle. They flicker. You can barely see them. So if you want to see them better, what do you look through? A telescope. When you look through a telescope, what happens? They get magnified. You're magnifying. You're enlarging them. When you enlarge them, it seems like you brought them closer, and now you see them clearer.

So here's how it works. To most people in this world, Jesus Christ is 2000 years ago. He's so far away. He's so in the distance. He's so un-apprehendable. He's so irrelevant. That happened 2000 years ago, until you show up. Now by you, by them looking at your life, he's either magnified, brought closer, clearer, or mini-fied.

Remember as a kid, you'd take that telescope? Sometimes, just for fun, you'd turn it around, you'd look through the other end. And everybody-- could be right in front of you, they seemed like they're 40 miles away.

Paul says, you know what? I want boldness. I'm looking for opportunities to represent Christ because I want the great one to be even greater through my body. As I give him my hands, my feet, my mouthpiece, let him use my life. I present my body, Romans 12:1, as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is my reasonable service. Christ is magnified by our bodies.

So Paul looks out from his prison bars, doesn't see mud. He does see stars. He sees the star of joy, confidence, and hope. He predicts that.

There is a fourth star. And that is the star of life. Verse 21 sums it up. It's sort of his motto, his slogan. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Now that's one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Among Christian circles, you've heard it, or you've heard it quoted, or you have quoted it. But this is Paul's slogan. This could have been on Paul's tombstone. Wouldn't that be great? Here lies the Apostle Paul. For him, to live was Christ. To die was gain.

Every time I read words by Paul in the Bible, I kind of step away from it going, who is this guy? I'll tell you one thing. Paul wasn't a guy for small talk. You know, you might sit down with a cup of coffee, and he might get past the hellos pretty quickly and just say, let me ask you about Christ.

Why do you ask him about Christ? Because for me to live is Christ. My life is Christ. And if I die, I keep living because I'm with Christ for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Reminds me of kid who went to Sunday school, went to a new church in a new town. And the first day of church, after Sunday school, his parents said, well, how was Sunday school? He said, oh, it was good. They said, well, tell me about your teacher. And he paused and he says, well, she must have been Jesus' grandmother because Jesus was the only one she kept talking about the whole class.

I like that. That's sort of like Paul the Apostle. He must be related to Jesus because that's the only guy he talks about. For me, to live is Christ. Therefore, to die is gain, because you'll be with him.

Now take that little phrase and make it your own for a minute. For me to live is blank. Fill in the blank. And then to die is blank. The only one that would-- only thing or person you could put in the first blank to make it say gain would be Christ. Let me show you this.

Let's say you were to say, for me to live is wealth. Well, then, you have to say, then to die is loss, because you cannot take your wealth with you. You leave it all behind. So for you, it is getting a lot of money. Then when you die, it's a total loss. If you were to say, for me to live is fame and notoriety and status, then you'd also have to say, for me to die is loss, because you lose it when you die. You're famous only here, but not there.

If you say, for me to live is having a perfect physical body,

well, you're going to have to put loss there, too, because when you die you get real ugly real quick, like in a day. The only one, or thing, you could put that says gain is Christ. For me, to live is Christ. To die is gain. That's why this is the summum bonum of Paul's life. This is the pinnacle statement that sums up everything. For me, to live is Christ. To die is gain.

Here's Paul. He's in prison. Doesn't know if he's going to live or die. If I live I'll live for Christ. If I die I'll live with Christ. Either way there's life in either equation. Jesus said this. I am the Resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

Paul believed that. Paul believed that.

Now we should close by telling you what happened to Paul. Paul, in jail, will be set free. And he'll spend a year out of jail. We don't know what he's doing, but I'll tell you what, for him to live is Christ, so he's out there doing something for Christ. He's preaching the gospel, starting some church somewhere.

A year later he gets arrested again in Troas and brought to Rome the second time. This time he's not under house arrest like he is now, with a little bit of freedom. The second time he is placed in a prison called the Mamertine prison in Rome. It's still there. It's a hole in the ground. There are no windows in it. It is solitary confinement. He gets food that is lowered through a rope in the hole in the ground. That's where he spends his final days.

He's taken up out of the Mamertine prison, taken to the Basilica Julia, a building that was built by and for Julius Caesar, named after him. And he is given the death verdict, condemned to die. History tells us how he died. Let me tell you how AT Robertson describes it.

"The crowds flowed into town. Some were going out. Paul was only a criminal going to be beheaded. Few, if any, in the crowd would know or care anything about him. At a good place on the road some miles out, the executioner stopped. The block was laid down. The executioner stood ready, axe in hand. The men stripped Paul, tied him, kneeling upright to the low pillar which exposed his back and his neck. The lictors beat him with rods for the last time. He groaned and bled from his nose and his mouth. And then, without a hint of hesitation, the executioner frowned as he swung the blade down swiftly, hitting its mark with a dull thud. And the head of the greatest preacher of the ages rolled upon the ground." That's how Paul died.

Now Paul said, for me to live is Christ. To die is gain. For that one year, he was preaching Christ. Now, in that one brutal moment, Paul moved from the imperial city of Rome to the external city of heaven. He was preaching Christ. Now he is with Christ.

And Paul knew it all along. That's why he wasn't afraid. If I live, I'll preach Christ. You kill me, I'll be with him. Either way, I win. Either way, I'm delivered. Either way, I'm going to rejoice. I'm going to be confident. I'm going to have hope because I'm going to have life either way.

Now I told you at the beginning of this study that you can predict your future responses, but not your future circumstances. I was wrong, actually. There is one circumstance you can predict. And that is, will you spend eternity in heaven or in hell? I can predict accurately that because I believe in Jesus Christ, and not my own good works or my religious works, but I trust in his finished work, unequivocally, no doubts at all, I'm going to heaven. I have no doubts.

[APPLAUSE]

And many of you have those same set of confident hope that I have. Some of you don't. And if you don't know Jesus Christ, if you don't receive what he did for you, if you don't humble yourself and turn from your past and turn to Him, which is called being born again, Jesus said you'll never see the kingdom of heaven.

Be a tragedy for that to be true in anyone here. So I want to give you an opportunity, as we close in this welcome weekend, to welcome him into your heart. Let's bow in prayer.

Father, thank you for the love of Jesus Christ as seen in a man called Paul the Apostle, a man who believed the words that Jesus said that he was the Resurrection and the life, that anyone who believes in Him would never die. And though we might have physical separation from our body, our soul, our spirit lives on with you, awaiting Resurrection.

That's hope. That's enough to be confident in, joyful over, and to live for you because of. Lord I just want to pray for anyone here who doesn't know Jesus personally. They've heard about him. They know people who love him. They know some of the songs we sing that honor him. They know certain facts regarding him, and yet they do not have a relationship with him.

Lord, would you change that? If you're alive, and we believe you are, Jesus, that means you conquered death. And every promise you made is going to come true because you proved the ultimate promise that you made came true. And that is, you rose from the grave. And you're available to change lives. And I pray you change some here this morning.

With your head bowed, your eyes closed, I'm going to give you an opportunity to receive Christ. If you are not sure that if you were to die you'd go to heaven, I want you to be sure. If you've been trusting in yourself, your goodness, your merits, your intellect, your sweetness, your personality, your church affiliation, your parental upbringing, but you haven't trusted personally in Jesus Christ, or you've been saying, I'm willing to turn from my sin and turn to Jesus as Savior, I want to give you an opportunity to say yes to Him.

I'd love to know who you are. I'd love to pray for you if you want to do that. I need to know who you are. So I'd like you, if you are willing, at this moment, to turn from your past and turn to Christ, to just simply surrender your life to Him, would you raise your hand in the air just so I can acknowledge you? Keep it up for a moment so I can see it. God bless you to my left, and you in the middle, and you right up here in the middle in the front. Anyone else? Raise that hand up, please. Just saying, in raising your hand, I surrender to you, Lord Jesus, I surrender my life to you. Just raise your hand up.

In the family room, couple of you.

Father, thank you for these whom you love so dearly and deeply, intimately, individually. Lord, I pray that their future would change and they would know it as they receive Jesus into their lives. Strengthen them to live for you. Give them a newfound sense of joy that everything in the past is erased and there are new creatures in Christ. Set them free in Jesus' name. Amen.

Would you stand to your feet? As we close with the final song, I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hand to do something. I hope you don't find it embarrassing. I hope you find it encouraging. And that is to get up and out of where you are standing now and find the nearest aisle and simply walk right up here to the front. I'm going to lead you in a word of prayer to receive Christ. We're going to do this deal right here, right now. You've said, yeah, I want to do that.

So I'm going to ask you to come up. I'm going to lead you in a prayer as we sing this song. You just come. If you raised your hand, if I acknowledged you, if you're in the family room, just come right through the door of the family room, through the hallway, and stand right up here in the front.

[APPLAUSE}

If you're outside, a pastor will bring you inside. If you're next door in the overflow, a Pastor will bring you over here. But you get up and come. Do it quickly. Do it now.

[SINGING]

Christ is enough for me. Christ is enough for me.

And everything I need is in you. And everything I need is in you.

Before I pray, just a word to those who may be actually needing to be here but aren't. I just want to encourage you to not watch this any longer, to be a part of it. Put yourself as the center of it. Jesus loves you. He died for you. God made you for Him, for His glory. He wants to have a relationship with you.

But the Bible says he knocks. He's a gentleman, you know. He knocks at the door of your heart. He didn't come in with a SWAT team and bust your door down. He just knocks. He says, I'll come in if you let me. If you don't let him, he won't come in. He's saying, let me in. If you're willing to let him in, then you come. Get up out of your seat and just say, I'm coming. I need to do this. I have for a long time. I want my past erased. I want my name written in God's book of life. I want to go to heaven, pure and simple.

You get up and you come. Just say excuse me. If you're in the middle of a row, you're on the balcony, come down, prayers room, doesn't matter where. Front row. Take a few steps forward. You just make sure that you know Jesus. If you don't, get down here.

[SINGING]

Christ is enough for me. Christ is enough for me. And everything I need is in you. And everything I need.

Those of you who came forward, I'm going to lead you now in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to say this prayer out loud. Say these words after me. Say them from your heart. Mean them, because you're praying directly to God. You're asking Jesus to come inside your heart. OK? Come on up. Let's pray.

Say Lord, I give you my life. I know I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus Christ, that he was sent from heaven to earth, that he died on a cross, that he shed his blood for me, and that he rose from the dead. I turn from my sin. I repent of it. I turned to Jesus as my Savior. Help me to follow him as my Lord. I ask this in his name. Amen.

[APPLAUSE}

Paul expected good things from his future, even if it meant his possible execution. Did this message change how you view your future? We'd love to know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Albuquerque.

Additional Messages in this Series

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4/23/2017
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A Joy Unexpected
Philippians 1:1
Skip Heitzig
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Life doesn’t have to be easy to be joyful. In fact, ease of living and joy of heart have little to do with each other. Joy is not the absence of trouble but rather the presence of Jesus. Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is a letter dripping with joy and surprisingly so—it’s not what anyone would expect given the circumstances surrounding the author and the recipients. As we dip our toes into the joyful waters of this epistle, it’s my prayer that your smile will grow bigger and your heart will become lighter.
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4/30/2017
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News Flash: You’re a Saint!
Philippians 1:1-2
Skip Heitzig
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You've heard it before. Someone excuses his or her crude behavior by saying something like, "Well, I'm no saint, but I do the best I can." Or, "She's so wonderful; she's a saint!" The idea most folks have is that saints are those who've died and attain special status because of their unusual accomplishments while they lived on earth. Nothing could have been further from Paul's mind when he wrote this letter to living "saints." I hope you're one.
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5/7/2017
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The Family Business
Philippians 1:3-8
Skip Heitzig
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No matter what you may do for a living, there is a higher purpose for your life. No matter what you do for work, God is at work in you and through you. You may have a career in mind, but God has a calling in mind. These are not contradictory paths but complementary ones. The apostle Paul assured his audience of God's work collectively, personally, and practically. We are the objects as well as the instruments of God's work in the world.
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5/14/2017
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Pray for Love
Philippians 1:9-11
Skip Heitzig
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Love is the subject of more songs than any other topic. It's a word that falls off countless lips effortlessly and often without thought. But as someone noted, "One of the great illusions of our time is that love is self-sustaining. It is not. Love must be fed and nurtured, constantly renewed." The great apostle Paul had a deep love for the Philippian believers, and they for him. But love must be understood and developed intelligently. On this Mother's Day, when we celebrate the unique love of a mom, let's also consider how our love can become mature and God-honoring.
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5/21/2017
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The Happy Prisoner
Philippians 1:12-14
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What does it take to steal your joy? To answer that question honestly, you would need to discover what you're passionate about--what drives you and what your expectations of life are. Why is this so important? Because things won't always go your way. Unfavorable winds will toss the ship of your life around on the ocean of circumstances and heartbreaks. What do you need then? The right perspective! Let's learn these truths from Paul's prison cell in Rome.
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6/11/2017
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Pest Control
Philippians 1:15-18
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Every group—whether it’s a club, a corporation, a homeowner association, or a church—has its share of problem people and detractors. Such can be touchy, irritable, irrational, unreasonable, contentious, or legalistic. Their words may hurt us deeply. Their actions may confuse us greatly. So how do we handle these pesky folks? Most importantly, what should we do or not do with those who name the name of Christ but act like pests?
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7/9/2017
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Living on Earth; Longing for Heaven
Philippians 1:22-26
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Knowing what Paul knew about heaven made him think very differently about earth. As Thomas Watson said, "Spiritual things satisfy; the more of heaven is in us, the less earth will content us." It's like a kid eating his vegetables while eyeing the chocolate cake promised after the meal (the salad becomes a means to an end). Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come," indicating we should be longing for heaven. So how do we effectively live on earth with heaven ahead?
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7/16/2017
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How to Stand When They Want You to Fall
Philippians 1:27-30
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The truth is, we’re surrounded and outnumbered! The vast majority of the people we encounter in life don’t share our values nor worship our God. The difficulty of the Christian life is that we’re called to stand up for Christ when the rest of the world wants us to sit down or fall flat. They would much rather that we keep our mouths shut and conform to their standards. Let’s consider four spiritual weapons that will help us in the fight to stand strong in our faith.
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7/30/2017
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Being Around People--While Still Being Sane!
Philippians 2:1-4
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Relationships are hard. They take a lot of work. If you think about it, every person in the world is incompatible with every other person. Enough time together would reveal this truth. Because of this, tensions rise, emotions flare, and bad responses ensue. Every friendship, every marriage, every family, and every organization (including every church) has its relational challenges. The church at Philippi did, too, and it was that disunity that tested Paul’s joy. Let’s consider the basics and the basis of successful relationships, and move from surviving them to thriving in them.
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8/6/2017
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What Would Jesus Do?
Philippians 2:5-8
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The campaign What Would Jesus Do? has been around for years, challenging Christians to think about what Christ might actually do in any given situation so they might do likewise. Before us, we have an example of what Jesus actually did do. His example of humility and self-sacrifice is Paul’s illustration to fortify his exhortation of loving people through lowering ourselves.
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8/13/2017
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Be Humble or You'll Stumble
Philippians 2:8-11
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Humility is that slippery quality that once you think you have it, you don't! Also, the pathway of humility is a hard one. For Jesus, it meant the cross. But humility will always be rewarded. Using Christ as our ultimate example, Paul demonstrates how Jesus' voluntary humiliation was compensated by the Father’s lavish exaltation. So even though humility doesn't come without a price, without it, there will be no harmony, no unity.
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8/20/2017
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How to Have a Great Workout
Philippians 2:12-13
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Every day in every city, people go to the gym to get in a workout. Running on a treadmill, spinning on a cycle, working the stair-climber, and lifting weights are becoming more and more frequent in our health-conscious culture. But money spent on a gym membership is pointless unless we take the right approach. In this message, I want to consider what it means to have a healthy spiritual life by showing you what it means to "work out your own salvation in fear and trembling." Let's be determined to stay in top spiritual shape.
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8/27/2017
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Glow in the Dark!
Philippians 2:14-18
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To make an object glow in the dark, a phosphor that will energize by ambient light and have a very long persistence (like zinc sulfide and strontium aluminate) must be applied. For a Christian to glow (shine the light of truth and salvation) in a dark culture, there are four considerations that will energize us. Today let’s study how we can penetrate a murky world.
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9/17/2017
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A Little Help from My Friends
Philippians 2:19-24
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Life without friendship is like the sky without the sun. Paul knew the value of having true friends who stuck with him during difficult times. And right in the middle of this letter, he mentioned two of them—Timothy and Epaphroditus. These two guys helped shoulder the burdens for the apostle and brought him great joy. As we consider Timothy's friendship profile, see how many of these qualities are present in your own life.
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10/1/2017
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How to Treat Good (but Imperfect) People
Philippians 2:25-30
Skip Heitzig
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Some of the greatest people I have ever met have been relatively unknown individuals. They serve diligently behind the scenes with no desire for the limelight. Their names are not known to men, yet they are known to God. But even the choicest servants of God are not perfect. We all have our blemishes, shortfalls, quirks, idiosyncrasies, and oddities. Paul gave us an excellent way to treat such people in his words about his friend Epaphroditus.
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10/8/2017
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Has Your Joy Sprung a Leak?
Philippians 3:1-3
Skip Heitzig
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I have a bicycle pump in my garage that stands constant guard to reinflate my tires. It seems that I have a slow leak in one of them. Perhaps from a very small thorn or a defect in the tube, the air slowly leaks out, leaving the ride spongy. Spiritual thorns that deflate joy can also threaten our Christian experience. Let’s consider some simple principles that firm up our life journey and keep "the joy of the Lord" intact.
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10/15/2017
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Get a Real Testimony!
Philippians 3:4-8
Skip Heitzig
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I have heard various people give their testimony over the years. A testimony is the story of how you came to believe in Christ personally. What is your story? Could you tell it to someone? You should be able to trace the steps you took in your life’s journey from aimless wandering to purposeful living as a Christian. These verses are Paul’s personal testimony. Let’s consider three essential ingredients to building a real testimony.
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There are 17 additional messages in this series.