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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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How to Stand When They Want You to Fall
Philippians 1:27-30
Skip Heitzig
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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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Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians

Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians

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. Consistency (v. 27a)

  2. Unity (v. 27b)

  3. Bravery (v. 28)

  4. Agony (vv. 29-30)

Study Guide

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Recap Notes: July 16, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "How to Stand When They Want You to Fall"
Text: Philippians 1:27-30

Path

The truth is, we're surrounded and outnumbered! The vast majority of 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 we keep our mouths shut and conform to their standards. Pastor Skip considered four spiritual qualities that will help us in the fight to stand strong in our faith:
  • Consistency (v. 27a)
  • Unity (v. 27b)
  • Bravery (v. 28)
  • Agony (vv. 29-30)

Points

Consistency
  • In the first part of Philippians, the apostle Paul addressed the church as saints, then as servants. In this section, he addressed them as soldiers. Paul understood that the Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground.
  • "Only let your conduct be worthy" (v. 27a). Conduct is Paul's main topic. The Greek word for conduct (politeuomai) is where we get the words politic, police, etc. It is a verb that carries the idea of being a good citizen.
  • Worthy (in Greek, axiós) means to balance the scales. A person is worthy of honor because their beliefs are balanced out by their actions.
  • Christians must be consistent in our conduct; we must not live beneath our theology.
  • The greatest weapon against the Devil is a godly, consistent life. Our lives should be filled with evidence of the gospel: love, forgiveness, hope, and all the qualities of godly living.
  • Probe: Discuss areas in your life where you need more consistency. What steps will you take to live a more consistent life?
Unity
  • Paul urged the Philippians to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together" (v. 27b). Stand fast is soldier talk: it carries the meaning of staying at your post while under attack. Striving together is an athletic term: it highlights the church working together as a team, a unified approach.
  • Unity does not mean unanimity (everyone thinks alike) or uniformity (everyone acts alike). Unity means harmony, people working together and cooperating over essentials.
  • As a saying in the medieval church went, "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity."
  • Probe: In Ephesians 4:3, Paul said, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit" (NIV). How are we to keep unity in the body of Christ? What does it mean to "make every effort"?
Bravery
  • Verse 28 can be translated as "don't be intimidated by your enemies." We must not let unbelievers scare us into silence or inaction because fearful people can be controlled, manipulated, overwhelmed, and shut down.
  • Christians are called to be brave nonconformists, to stand out like a diamond against a dark backdrop.
  • Don't shrink from the world. Stand and make a difference. Jesus said, "Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16). Too often, we flip it around. If you bow before God, you will be able to stand before men.
  • Probe: Read Joshua 1:7, 23:6, and 2 Chronicles 32:7-8. What characterizes a life of Christian courage? Share stories about individuals that you feel were brave.
Agony
  • "It has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me" (vv. 29-30). The first part of these verses (believe) guarantees the second part (suffer). If we believe in Christ, we will suffer for Christ. Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33).
  • Conflict is a strong word, meaning agony. It's the same word used to describe what Jesus felt in Gethsemane.
  • Suffering is granted; it is a gift from God. Suffering will make us strong (see Romans 5:3-5).
  • Suffering makes us long for heaven, increases patience, and helps us relate to others who are suffering.
  • Probe: Helen Keller said, "We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world." How do agony, suffering, and persecution bring joy to the Christian? How does Jesus' triumph over death and the world (see John 16:33), giving you courage to stand fast in the face of agony?
Practice

Connect Up:  How does Christ's work on the cross bring together the four qualities discussed in the teaching: consistency, unity, bravery, and agony? Discuss each characteristic as it relates to Jesus.

Connect In: Paul wrote to the Galatian church, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). How should the body of Christ bear one another's burdens in times of trial and tribulation? How can we be brave and consistent in the midst of persecution, especially since the worst of it happens elsewhere in the world?

Connect Out: Throughout history, the persecution of Christians has led many nonbelievers to Christ. One is the founder of the Voice of the Martyrs, Richard Wurmbrand. Recalling his time in a communist prison, Wurmbrand said, "It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted [the communists'] terms. It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy." How can enduring persecution be a witness to an unbelieving world?

Transcript

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Hello, and welcome to this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. We pray that God uses this message to reach people around the world with his love. If this message encourages you, 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.

As believers, we're outnumbered. The vast majority of people we encounter don't share our values or worship our god. But we're called to stand up for Christ when the rest of the world wants us to sit down.

In the message, How to Stand When They Want You to Fall, Pastor Skip considers four spiritual weapons that will help us fight to stand strong in our faith. Now, please turn in your Bible to Philippians Chapter One as he begins.

Hey, it's a real joy to be with you today. Would you turn in your Bibles, the Epistle of Joy, to Philippians Chapter One, Book of Philippians Chapter One? Do you ever feel like you're being watched by unbelievers? Ever feel that unbelievers look at you and they analyze you and scrutinize you?

Well, if you ever get that feeling, you're right. That's what they're doing. And not only are they analyzing and scrutinizing you, they're criticizing you. And probably, more so now than ever before in American history, the Christian church is being criticized by the unbelieving world.

Every Christmas you hear the same stories about how kids can't sing Silent Night in a public setting. Or throughout the year you hear about a Christian group who doesn't go along with the mainstream idea of sexuality, et cetera, and they're labeled as being intolerant and mean spirited.

I was listening to the news yesterday. And in North Carolina the board of commissioners every year get together. And for the last 50 years it has been their practice to get together and open up their public session with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a prayer. It's been in their history a long time.

So they did it this time. They opened up their session with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. But this time the ACLU is watching them and filed a lawsuit against them because they prayed. And get this. They said the worst thing of all you could say. They said at the end of the prayer, in Jesus' name.

So that became a violation. And a lawsuit was filed. And I've been asked to pray publicly from time to time. And a couple of times people have said, well, the only thing we're skittish about is if you use that term at the end, in Jesus' name. You probably shouldn't use that. And I said, so do you want the prayer to work?

I saw an article on cnn.com that admitted that Christians are becoming a hated minority. A hated minority. I've long had an article in my arsenal about the neighbors that Americans don't want living next door. The article is called, Not in My Backyard. And it's actually a little graph that shows this truth.

It says, this is the percentage of Americans who do not like the following minorities as neighbors. 1% say they don't want Catholics living next door. 2% don't want Protestants living next door. 3% don't want Jews living next door. 9% say they don't want Hispanics as neighbors.

Then comes unmarried couples. Then comes blacks. And finally, the bottom of the list, the highest percentage, 13% say they don't want religious fundamentalists as neighbors. They especially hate bold believers, the kind that make a stand for what they believe. Because bold believers, the kind that don't fold with the culture and just go along with the flow, the bold believers, they are the ones that will be labeled narrow, myopic, bigoted, and biased.

One website that I found, one honest atheist wrote-- and I quote-- I've considered myself an atheist for four or five years and I feel a real hate of Christians more so than any other religious cult. And it's growing inside of me. I cannot just read a story or watch a video of a Christian without this huge fireball of impatience and anger coming up through my body-- close quote. So who's intolerant?

You ever feel like you're the missionary surrounded by cannibals and the missionary noticed one cannibal is staring intently at him and he got really nervous and said, why are you looking at me so intensely? And the guy said, I'm the food inspector. You feel like the world is watching you because they want to gobble you up.

Well, Paul understood this dilemma. Paul understood that if you become a Christian and you follow Christ boldly that the Christian life is not a playground. Man, it's a battleground. He got that. He understood that.

In fact, here's part of his resume. In second Corinthians 11, he says, I've been in prison frequently. I've been flogged severely. I've been exposed to death again and again.

Five times I received from the Jews 40 lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. And once I was stoned. And that's not Colorado stoned, that's stoned with rocks.

Now, as we have been reading in the book of Philippians, this chapter, this Book of Joy, we saw that Paul begins by writing to the Philippians as saints, Paul and Timothy to the Saints who are at Philippi in Christ Jesus. Then he writes to them as servants, those who enjoy the fellowship of the gospel with him. They were partners in the gospel.

But now there is a shift. Now he writes to them not as saints, not as servants but as soldiers, as it were. And the focus of his letter beginning in Chapter One, verse 27, turns from his imprisonment to their predicament.

And you'll notice by just the wording in this little grouping of sentences, the word adversaries appears, or enemies. The word suffer shows up. And the word conflict is all in what we are about to read. So what I want to show you from this set of verses is how to stand for Christ when the world wants you to fall.

Verse 27, Paul writes, only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way be terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you, it has been granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now here is in me.

I want you to picture something in your mind. I want you to picture a man. And around him is standing a hostile crowd. The crowd does not like the man.

The crowd is yelling at him, shouting at him, threatening him. They're jeering and they're taunting and they wish him ill. They want to see him gone or hurt.

Now, with that picture in mind, I want to show you four qualities on how to stand and not fall in the midst of a hostile world. I want you to picture it like a stool with four legs. Each leg will add a little more stability to the whole.

First, consistency. Consistency is the first quality. Verse 27, Paul says, only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ. You see the word conduct? I'm going to give you a literal translation of that then I'm going to explain it.

The word means your political affiliation. Don't think of politics in the terms of modern America. The Greek word is polituo. And polituo is the word by which we get our word political or politics or policy or police.

They all come from this word because polituo was all about the polis in ancient times. A polis is a city or, more accurately, a city state, a free state. It's the citizens that belong to a city state and they conduct themselves in a manner that represents the best of that state.

So the idea carries. The word carries the idea of being a good citizen, honoring the political affiliation or the city-state that you're a part of. And what are we a part of?

Chapter Three will say your citizenship is in heaven. So the idea is let's conduct ourselves so that we are offering the very best of the Kingdom of God. Wherever we travel, we represent our nation whether we like it or not.

You're an American. I don't know if you know what the reputation of Americans is around the world. It's not favorable in most cases. The loud American, the ugly American, there's several things that we are noted for around the world.

And I remember on one trip I was on in India, I was with a group of people from different places. And there was one group of guys that were very, very loud. And they were at a meal and were laughing and loud and obnoxious.

And the Indians in that culture didn't know how to read these guys. They just sort of thought, I guess this is how Americans Act. and I'm over in the corner with my head in my hands going, they don't represent the best my country has to offer. Trust me. But they were representing their kingdom. They were conducting themselves in a certain way.

Or like the time I went to England and tried to sound like I was English. I tried really hard to come up with a best British accent. I practiced it. I thought I had it down.

So we went to breakfast and I ordered in an English accent. And the maitre d' looked at me and said, and you're from California. So I must have given myself away either in my fake British accent or the mannerisms that I displayed.

So let your conduct, your display, of your national identity-- and notice what it says. Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ. The word worthy means to balance the scales or to weigh as much. That is the weight on one side of the scales equals the weight on the other side of the scales.

We use the word in that way. We will say that person is worthy of his pay. What we mean is the money we are giving that person corresponds or weighs as much as the output of the work that he or she produces. If we say she is worthy of this honor, we are saying the accolades we give her weigh as much or correspond to the productivity or the achievement that she has produced.

So when Paul writes, let your conduct be worthy of the gospel, that's his way of saying that your practice must match your proclamation. If it's like a set of scales and on one side you say, well, this is what I believe, that's your proclamation. Your practice, what you do, needs to match up, needs to weigh as much.

And, by the way, John the Baptist used this word like that. He said, bear fruits worthy of repentance. If you say you have a repentant life, let's see it in what that life will produce.

So what Paul is doing here is calling us to a consistent Christian life. If you're called Christian, then live up to the name. A Christian must never live beneath his theology. A Christian must never live beneath his belief.

I know that you've heard all the research statistics for years. Barna Research every year comes up with what Americans say they believe in. And every year we're always astonished because every year we find out that a large majority of Americans say that they're Christian. And a lot of them say they're born again Christians.

But as I look at the American landscape, I just got to say it doesn't quite weigh the same. What they say we are isn't really what we are. There's got to be some inconsistency in that.

Back in 1986-- get this-- an IRS 25-year auditor, a veteran of auditing for the IRS, was arrested and convicted for tax evasion. You know, that just gets to you, right? It's like, yeah, those are the guys that try to stiff me. You know, they're always bummed out about this little discrepancy. They audit me.

Well, this auditor thought that he had found a loophole, that he had found a flaw in the system. He didn't. The system found a flaw in him. And when they found it, they find him $115,000. He was inconsistent. What he said he believed in and what he actually practiced in his personal life were vastly different.

And John Bunyan put it this way. A man could be a saint abroad and a devil at home. And if that is the case, then that is unworthy conduct. It is inconsistent.

Now, let me turn that around. One of the greatest weapons you can use against the devil is a consistent life, a consistent life, a godly, consistent life, not that God expects perfection. He does not. The Bible says he knows our frame, that we are dust. But he does expect that, as citizens of the Kingdom of God, of the kingdom of heaven, we show a consistency in that.

John says, first John Chapter One, verse 6, if we say we have fellowship with Him and we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. So simply put, our lives must give proof that they have been touched by the gospel, by the good news about Jesus Christ. That's worthy of the gospel.

So here's a question. Is your life filled with love? Because the gospel is, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Is your life filled with forgiveness? Because the gospel is.

Is your life filled with hope? Because the gospel is. Is your life filled with holiness? Because the gospel is. So consistency is the first tool, weapon, strength that will help you stand when the world wants you to fall.

Here's a second, unity. Unity. He says, continuing on verse 27, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together-- that's the unity-- for the faith of the gospel.

Now, Paul doesn't know if he's going to live or die. He said that. I don't know if I'm going to live or die. I don't know if I'm going to be set free or stay incarcerated. I may come and see you. I may not.

But that doesn't matter. Whether I'm around or not does not matter. What matters is that whether I'm with you or not, you stand firm. Now, that's soldier talk.

The word that Paul uses here in the imperative [GREEK], stand firm, means stand your post. Don't leave your guard. It speaks of a soldier who would stand his position even with the onslaught of tremendous opposition or temptation.

So go back to that little picture I put in your mind. Here's a man. There's a hostile crowd around him. He's standing.

Maybe he's standing upright in a relaxed position but the crowd gets louder and closer. And so he does this. He widens his stance to give him more stability. He's now going to stand firm, stand fast. He's not going to move his position.

But he would be better served if he himself wasn't the only one standing fast, but he had a whole bunch of friends next to him doing this, right? When you have other people standing with you, your odds for victory increase. That's the thought of this verse. Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.

I just got to say there are some great metaphors in this section. Paul the Apostle uses some great words. The words for striving together, a single Greek word, sunathleo, sun, the prefix for together. Athleo, we get the term athletic or athlete from it.

So come together as athletes, you might say. Strive and stand together in this race as athletes. It is clear, it is evident that Paul saw the church as a team sport--

That's good.

--not as some little private, personal island experience that I have with God all by myself. No. He said our team is in conflict. Our team is in a battle. And it takes teamwork. We have to stand together.

That's good.

We need unity.

Now, I would like to explain, when the New Testament talks about unity, what it doesn't mean and what it does mean. Unity, in the Bible, doesn't mean necessarily unanimity, Where everybody thinks exactly the same. It doesn't necessarily mean uniformity, where everybody acts exactly the same.

If you think that you're going to get every Christian to agree on every point of doctrine and style of worship, good luck. It's not going to happen. You may not agree with my view on certain things.

You may not agree with my view on eschatology, the rapture of the church. You may not agree with my view on spiritual gifts. You may not agree with my view on the election of the believer. And I always give anybody the privilege to be wrong. You can believe whatever you like.

Somebody once said, if you find two people that agree on everything, one of them is not thinking. So I think vigorous debate can be good. It can be healthy. it can be helpful as long as we don't divide over it.

Can you imagine? If we could assemble the great Christian minds throughout the centuries and put them in one room together, for example, if we were to go back to the 4th century and get Augustine of Hippo, North Africa, who spiritualized so many texts of the scripture, put him in the room and sit next to him the 10th century Bernard of Clairvaux? And, for fun, let's add the 16th century reformer John Calvin next to him. And then to really spice things up, we'll go to the 18th century, we'll get John Wesley, Charles Wesley, and George Whitfield. Just those three in and of themselves would be fireworks.

Then let's go to the ninth century and put in Charles Haddon Spurgeon and D.L. Moody. We'll go to the 20th century. We'll put C.S. Lewis in that room and Billy Graham. We'll go to the 21st century and put the likes of N.T. Wright in there.

I'm going to tell you something. There is not going to be unanimity on every single point. It'll be a very, very lively discussion. But at the end of the day what you will have is unity when it comes to the essential historic Christian gospel.

We're not much different than an athletic team. You've all heard of teams every season. The season starts out where there's bickering between some of the individual players on that team. They're out for their own glory, out for themselves. But as the season moves on and they near the playoff, they know they need to act together because victory is in sight. If they've made the playoff, they had better give their best parts of who they are to the team so they can win the battle.

So unity then doesn't mean uniformity or unanimity. It does, however, mean harmony. It means harmony. It means we choose to work together. We choose to cooperate over the essentials.

The essentials. I've always loved that little axiom from the Reformation. You've heard it. In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.

Amen.

That was Jesus' passion. He prayed for unity. In his high priestly prayer, John 17, Jesus prayed that they all may be one, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Dean Martin Lloyd-Jones, was a medical doctor who became a pastor, a very interesting story on a personal level. He was a medical doctor, became an assistant pastor to Dr. G. Campbell Morgan of Westminster Chapel. When Morgan died, the church was given to, as the pastor, Dean Martin Lloyd-Jones.

And one of the stories that Jones told is that, before the Spanish Civil War, in the great cities of Spain, like Barcelona and Madrid, that the psychological clinics treated large numbers of people for what he called little issues, personal problems, personal anxieties. But then the Civil War broke out. And when it did, one of the most striking effects the Civil War had on the Spanish population is it virtually emptied the medical clinics overnight.

They were suddenly all cured by a greater anxiety. No longer are they worried about little personal problems. Now they're worried about, will my husband be alive because of this war? Will my son come home from the battlefield? And says Martin Lloyd-Jones, greater anxieties get rid of lesser anxieties.

Why am I sharing that with you? Because just in case you're the type of person who likes to bicker and banter and meddle and gossip and divide, let me just say get into the real battle.

Yes.

Quit using your sword against other Christians and realize there's this huge demonic onslaught and world that wants you to fall.

So the team needs to get together. We need to sunathleo. We need to work together and strive together, unity. Unity will help you stand. Consistency followed by unity.

Here's a third leg on that stool, bravery. Now, watch Paul. Again, Paul's a prisoner facing Caesar Nero. And he practiced what he preached, verse 28, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.

The new Living Translation renders it this way. Don't be intimidated by your enemies. Or let's put it this way. Don't let unbelievers scare you. Don't let unbelievers scare you.

Now, look at that word, terrified, in verse 28. That's a word that refers to horses who easily get spooked and throw their riders off. You know, sometimes a horse will become afraid or terrified by meaningless things, like a little rabbit jumps out or a person gets too close. And they get all nervous and they shoot up and they buck their riders off.

And so when that happened, when a horse became terrified, what they would say in antiquity is the horse is battle shy. Don't take this horse into battle. He's battle shy.

Paul is saying don't be a battle shy believer. Don't be battle shy. Don't be afraid of unbelievers.

Now, nobody wants to fight unless you're insane. Nobody looks for a fight. Nobody wants to rush into battle. But when the battle comes from the unbelieving world, Paul is saying don't be afraid to face the enemy.

Don't you love that slogan? Have you seen it? No fear. It's been around awhile. No fear. When I first saw that, I said, hey, that's our slogan. That belongs to the church.

We can't be motivated by fear. Why? Because fear controls people. It cripples people. Fearful people can be manipulated easily. They can be shut down easily.

I've told you stories about some of my college professors who wanted to make me a public example because I was the stupid little Christian guy who believed Jesus and they would go out of their way to threaten or ridicule or intimidate me. Now, the Philippians, they had some good reasons to be scared. Because believing in Jesus in Philippi, this colony of Rome, well, we saw what happened to Paul there. He got thrown into jail. He got beaten up.

That could happen to them. They could be executed. They had already been ostracized by family members and by society.

But here's what Paul says. Here's the gold in this verse. When that happens, when opposition comes your way for the sake of Christ, it's a sign from God. Look at verse 28, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. That's just a way of saying, when that happens, it shows you which side you're on or which side they're on.

That's right.

If you're getting hassled by unbelievers for the sake of Christ, when that happens, it shows you it's darkness against light.

That's right.

It proves who I am. It's a badge of honor.

That's right.

It's a sign from God. So can I encourage you? Be a brave nonconformist.

I like nonconformists. I am one. Be a brave nonconformist. When you are, you will stand out like a diamond against a dark backdrop of this world. In a world that has rejected God, for you to step forward and bravely announced your allegiance to Christ, you will be a refreshing exception and you'll make a difference.

Remember when they tried to arrest Jesus? Well, they did arrest him. But they came to the garden, soldiers well-equipped, swords and shields. And they come to the garden of Gethsemane.

And Jesus said, who are you looking for? They said Jesus of Nazareth. He stood up and said, I am he. They all fell backward. He didn't shrink away and go, no. He stood up. He presented himself.

Or how about Steven when he is surrounded by hostile people who want to kill him and they eventually did? And he says-- he can't keep his mouth shut-- look. I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father.

Or how about Peter? Now, he was a little skittish. He denied Christ three times to a servant chick in the garden of the high priest. He couldn't even give a testimony to a woman who said, aren't you one of the guys that followed him? No. No, I'm not him.

But then we see him filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost after an encounter with the resurrected Christ. And he boldly, bravely preaches. So it says the audience was cut to the heart. That's bravery. That's bravery.

And that courage, verse 28, proves you're saved. And if you don't have it, ask God for it. And step out and try it. Don't shrink from your world. Stand up to it. One person can make a difference and actually change history.

Have you heard the story of Telemachus? Some of you have. Around 400 AD, well, you know what was happening in Rome in 400 AD. The Colosseum was filled with spectators watching blood sport. They would sit there and their entertainment was watching people kill other people, or animals kill other people.

It's not unlike what we'd like to watch on violent television. But they just saw it in real life. And then they were entertained by it.

One day a Syrian monk by the name of Telemachus, this little Syrian monk, was in the crowd, saw what was happening, was repulsed by it. And so this little Syrian monk runs down, jumps over the balustrade, goes out into the arena floor, waves his little monk arms and says, in the name of Christ, forebear. Stop this. This is senseless. This is nonsense.

Because he interrupted their entertainment, like somebody switched the channel, they ordered him to be thrust through with a sword and killed. Some accounts say he was stoned to death. Others say he was cut with a blade. But he died. His blood filled the arena floor and he died that day.

But something happened. Over the next few months, the flow of people to be entertained by that blood sport diminished. And a few months later it ended all together because one person stood bravely and said that's not right.

So here's the point. If you bow before God, you can stand before anyone.

That's right.

If you bow for God, you can stand before anyone. Remember, Jesus said, don't fear people. Don't fear man who can kill the body. Fear God who can cast both body and soul into hell. Fear him.

If you have a healthy fear of the Lord, a healthy respect for God and you bow before him, that will give you the power, the ability, the strength to stand. So we have three legs on this four-legged stool. We have consistency, unity, and we have bravery. Lets finish it off and make it even more stable.

You're not going to like this one, agony. Agony. Verse 29, it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake-- I know your saying, oh, boy-- having the same conflict which you saw in me and now here is in me.

Now, look at how he phrases that. It has been granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe but to suffer. There's two parts of that. And the first part always guarantees the second part.

If you believe in him, that's the first part, Then you'll suffer for him, that's the second part. Paul said, all those-- finish out this verse with me-- who live godly in Christ, Jesus, shall suffer persecution.

You know we never mention that, do we, to new believers, new converts. It's probably rightfully so. But I think sometimes we give the impression to younger believers or brand new converts in the faith that, OK, you've made this decision now. The birds are just going to sing louder than ever before. The sky's going to be bluer and all your problems are going to go away. All your struggles are going to go away.

It's true that the biggest battle has been won. But you have now invited a whole host of new battles. Because Jesus said, in this world you shall have tribulation. Jesus said, they have hated me. Don't be surprised when they hate you because you align yourself with me.

But please look at how Paul writes. He says, it's been granted to you. It's been given you the privilege. He is saying, God's doing you a favor.

You go, oh, good. What is it? He's going to let you suffer. You're going, can I not have that favor, please? Could god give that gift to somebody else, but not me? I like God's other gifts.

I wish health and wealth preachers would study these verses more carefully. Because Paul sees suffering far differently than Americans see suffering. We think it's just the evil of all evils to suffer anything. Paul says, if you suffer well and you suffer for the right reason, it's a privilege.

Yes.

In fact, the word he uses, granted, comes from the word grace. Just as God has given you the grace to believe, God has given you the grace to suffer. The grace to suffer.

Listen, I know you don't see it as a gift. But I'll tell you. This gift will do more to build up your life and make you strong and bless you than just about anything else. It will.

My challenge is that you become like popcorn. What I mean is, most grains, when you heat them up, shrivel up and get hard. Not so with popcorn, right?

You put 400 degrees Fahrenheit to that kernel of popcorn and a gas is emitted on the inside of that kernel that pushes out that hard exterior and cracks it and it becomes enlarged and it becomes a blessing, a delight to people. You know, suffering will do that for you? It will enlarge your life.

That's good.

It will make you a delight to other people as you are tempered by that suffering and you become more valuable by that experience if you do it well and you do it for the right reason. In fact, in Philippians Chapter Three-- if, by God's grace, we ever get there, and we will-- here's Paul's prayer.

Listen to this, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering and even be shaped by death. That's his prayer. I want a fellowship with the sufferings of Christ so that when I suffer for the reason that I am attuned to and following Christ, I am entering into a certain kind of fellowship.

I've done many studies on the value of suffering. Let me just shoot out a few little truths. When you suffer on earth, it makes you long for heaven.

It does.

It does. I mean, you're a citizen of heaven. So the more you suffer because of Christ on this earth, you're thinking, man, I can't wait to get home and get a reward for this. It looks pretty good.

Second, when you suffer on this earth, it produces patience in you. It's very productive. It's like the young preacher that went to the old preacher and he said to the old man, could you pray for me? I'm an impatient young man.

Did you ever have that problem, you're impatient? This guy said, pray for patience. So the old preacher said, I'd love to. He bowed his head and he prayed, Father, give this young man tribulation and suffering.

The young guy said, whoa, preacher. I didn't ask for that. I want patience. And the old man quoted to him the scripture, tribulation worketh patience.

This is how you get patience. You don't get it from reading the latest Christian book on it. You get it from going through the suffering that produces it. So it'll orient you toward heaven. It'll give you patience on the earth.

And the third thing suffering will do is make you sensitive to other believers who are suffering, at least it ought to. Do you know that right now over in the Middle East there is a genocide going on of Christians who have been crucified, who have been beheaded, who have been ostracized, thousands, millions of brothers and sisters for the cause of Christ? Our suffering here, if people laugh at our bumper sticker or get mad that we are a bold Christian, is nothing compared to the sacrifice that they have.

That's right.

So what that does is it orients us to heaven. It brings us patience here. But it also gives us a sensitivity toward others who are suffering. However, as I already mentioned, make sure, when you suffer, that you suffer for the right reason.

Yes.

Look at the words. Look at how Paul writes. He doesn't do it by accident. It has been granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake. When you suffer, it should be on his behalf, for his sake.

Isn't that exactly what our Lord said? Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. You know Jesus never said blessed are the persecuted? It's not a blessing to be persecuted if you're just being persecuted for no good reason.

Because some people get persecuted because they're weird. They're just weird pers-- they're obnoxious. Their personality invites persecution. Jesus said, make sure that when you get persecuted, you get persecuted for righteousness sake.

I know people who try to represent the Lord in such a caustic manner. Listen. If you yell at a group of unbelievers, you uncircumcised Philistine, how does hell sound, you probably won't win their hearts. And you probably will get persecuted. It will not be for righteousness sake. It would just be because you're weird.

Jesus said, in the world, we need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Why have some of us turned that around? Some of us are as wise as doves, which aren't too bright, and harmless as serpents, which are deadly. I think, when it comes to our witness for the world, that God is looking for sharp shooters, not machine gunners.

Yes.

When you launch that arrow of truth, when you speak that truth, when you pull that trigger of gospel truth, make sure it's well-placed and well-timed. As Paul said, let your speech always be filled with grace, seasoned with salt.

So these four qualities are like the four legs on a chair or a stool. They will add stability to your life when the world wants you to fall. And they do.

So my encouragement to you is don't fall. Stand. Stand tall. Stand strong. Stand together even if it hurts.

Do you remember those toys-- I don't know if they still make them, but it used to be this vinyl doll that was weighted at the bottom, you know? It had it a face painted on it. And no matter what you do to that doll, it always comes up, upright, because it's weighted.

So you can punch it. It'll fall down but it comes right back up. You can kick it. It'll fall down, come right back up. You can do it repeatedly. It keeps coming back up.

I picture Paul like that. Lock him up in prison. OK, I'll preach to the guards. He comes back up.

OK, get him out of prison. OK, I'll go visit the Philippian church and encourage them. He comes back up. OK, we'll kill him. OK, kill me. But before you do, let me tell you about Jesus. He's like the doll that keeps coming back up.

May God make us like that. Stand. Stand together. Stand strong for His glory.

Let's pray. Father, thank you for these powerful words of Paul the prisoner, a man who wrote or dictated this while in chains to a Roman soldier. No wonder this man's life and this man's words brought conviction even to hardened Roman soldiers hardened by battle.

But they saw a man fighting for truth, standing strong, standing brave, standing together with other believers. May that consistency and unity and bravery and even agony be a part of our lives. In Jesus' name, amen.

Though the world would rather we keep our mouths shut, we're called to represent Christ. Did this message encourage you to stand up for Jesus? Let us know. Email mystory@calvaryabq.org.

And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for listening to this message from Skip Heitzig of 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
Skip Heitzig
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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
Skip Heitzig
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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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6/25/2017
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Can You Predict Your Future?
Philippians 1:18-21
Skip Heitzig
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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.
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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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There are 8 additional messages in this series.