Citizens of Heaven | Philippians 1:27-30

Philippians 1:27-30 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don't be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God Himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

Where does your citizenship reside?

Have you ever been to another country? Sometimes you don't even have to leave the country to find a place that will give you culture shock.

I was once traveling across the US and had to stop in Georgia for gas and refreshments. I got out of the car and went into the convenience store to grab a couple of soda's. When I got to the cash register the man behind the counter said something to me and I swear he was speaking a whole different language. His accent was so thick I couldn't understand a word he said. I remember just nodding and smiling as I left the store. Things were different in Georgia; people were different and they did things and said things differently then I did.

As a people, human beings have a tendency to become who they spend time with or what they spend time doing. I have an family member that I grew up with in Oregon who later entered the military. He spent a lot of time in the southern states and when he finally came home for a visit he had a strong southern accent. He had been affected and changed by where he lived.

We even title ourselves after what we do or what we like.

"I'm a computer technician"

"I'm a rock climber"

"I'm a christian"

In verse 27 we see Paul encouraging the Philippians to live as though they are citizens of heaven. That's a pretty high calling. He hints that if they live this way,

"Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose,".

He makes it clear that he would recognize them even if he only heard about them. If someone was talking about a good friend of yours but never used their name, only characteristics to describe them, would you know who they were talking about?

Would you recognize someone that was a citizen of heaven?

Being a citizen of heaven means that you will be different and Paul makes it very clear that this difference will make life a struggle. He tells us why in verse 28...

Don't be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God Himself.

You see, when you truly start living the life of a citizen of heaven your life will condemn those who you come in contact with. It will give them "culture shock" and remind them that they live contrary to the Will of God. This usually results in one of three outcomes.

1. They will recognize you as different and avoid spending time with you.

2. They will be so offended by you that they will seek to persecute you.

3. They will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and make a choice that they want to be like you.

So, now let's ask ourselves - are other people "shocked" when they are around me? Do they notice that I'm different in some way or am I so worldly in everything that I do that I seem to be "just one of them"? Are they amazed at my capacity to love and forgive? Do they get a sense of what the Good News is really all about? Does my life shine the light of Jesus on theirs?

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven,

I recognize the worldliness in my life, yet I have a deep desire to not be of this world. I ask for Your Holy Spirit to dwell in me today so that I am clearly a citizen of heaven. You can accomplish this good work in me. Please do so.

Thank You for loving me that much. Thank You for giving Your Son and for allowing Him to take my place on the cross. Help me never to forget this.

Forgive my sin. Cleanse my heart.

Please be with my family and friends. Keep them all safe and draw them closer to You. I love You Lord. Amen.

Understanding What Really Matters | Philippians 1:8-11

Php 1:8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. Php 1:9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. Php 1:10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. Php 1:11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

How do we know what really matters?

Take any small group of people; heck you can even take a small sample from your local church, and if you ask them this question, "What really matters to you?" The answers could be widely varying simply based on the location of where you ask the question or the age of the person asked. For instance, if I asked them this question directly preceding a fiery sermon, they might say "God is," or "Salvation is"; but if I asked them the same question on a nice quiet day at their own homes I might get answers like "My children are," or "My job is."

Circumstances often drive what we consider important. Most "things" that we would deem important are usually things that satisfy or fulfill a need. Most people we consider important are those that we love or are attached to in some way; usually through blood or by marriage. But Paul wants us to have something so that we can "understand what really matters".

What do we need to gain this understanding?

Paul directs us to a need for love that "will overflow more and more" and a desire to "keep on growing in knowledge and understanding". Apparently these two things will lead us to an understanding of "what really matters." After we do these two things and we gain this understanding of what really matters, it will lead us to "live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return." Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? This is the result of understanding what really matters; in fact it is the "fruit of your salvation." Paul sums up the result of living in love and seeking knowledge in verse 11.

May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

What is the result of overflowing love and knowledge?

You will have a righteous character! But don't stop there...it will be a righteous character produced by Jesus Christ in your life and it's purpose is to "bring glory and praise to God", not to you. This is truly what really matters.

Prayer:

Father in Heaven

You have shown how much You love us. We see and feel how unworthy we are of that love. We ask You now...I ask You now...to change me; change us and give us the character of Jesus Christ. We have proven to ourselves over and over again how incapable we are of making these changes on our own, so we ask now for Your promise of the Holy Spirit. We ask even that You would increase our desire for love and knowledge for the purpose of attaining a righteous character. We want this so that You may be glorified, not us.

Thank You for loving us so much. Give us the power and wisdom to increase Your kingdom. Amen.

Serving Other Servants | Philippians 1:1-7

Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ...
Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ...

Php 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Php 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Php 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Php 1:4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, Php 1:5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, Php 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Php 1:7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.

Serving Other Servants So That They May Serve

I love the way that Paul starts his letters, and the beginning of Philippians is one of the best. First he identifies himself, but then immediately includes a young "minister" and fellow bondservant of Christ. Paul is drawing attention to the next generation of leadership. Timothy is young and needs the support of the older generation. By mentioning Timothy in the letter he gives credence to the work that Timothy has been doing and makes himself equal with Timothy. The reader is asked to assume that the words written are not only from Paul but also from Timothy. This is a kind of "torch passing". It shows that Paul has seen the Holy Spirit at work in Timothy's life and that he now wants to bolster and uplift Timothy so that he will continue to do a great work for Christ Jesus. He wants his readers to recognize in Timothy as a man of God.

There should be more of this in church leadership. Too often people are afraid to encourage others and lift them up in Jesus. We become afraid that they may make a mistake and then make us look foolish for supporting them. We hold a sense of pride in our own accomplishments as leaders and we don't want some young "upstart" to take our glory from us. Sometimes, we just want to do it all ourselves because we crave control or we feel strongly that "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." These are all results of our sinful nature and are not led by the Holy Spirit.

Leadership in Christ does not mean placing oneself above others but instead means placing oneself lower then others...seeking to uplift them and bring them to the fullness of a relationship with Jesus. Church leadership should be about serving, not being served.

Remembering Those Whom God Has Given Us

He loves his flock. Paul, as a shepherd, has such a heart for those whom he nurtured into the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can feel the love and his desire for them to continue to grow in the Spirit, to stay connected with each other and with Jesus.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now..."

Each of us, by the mere fact that we are human beings, has influence upon other human beings. Strangers we come in brief contact with on a daily basis are affected simply by the countenance on our faces. Those whom we know more personally are affected by our words and our deeds. Loved ones find value in themselves by how we treat them. Friends can be kept or lost by the words that we speak to them.

"...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace."

If you are a Christian there are people in your life who have...

  • Showed you Christ
  • Shared themselves with you
  • Influenced you
  • Prayed with you
  • Praised with you

...and they need to know how much you love them and appreciate the bond that you have with them in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Draw closer together for the sake of Jesus. Don't let strife and petty backbiting cause walls of division to be built. Instead, reach out in love and remind those you know that Jesus loves them...that YOU love them...and that if we continue to God's grace Jesus will complete us. He will make us into a body of believers who can accomplish His work.

Hold on to Jesus and never let go. He will continue to change you into His image. Relish this promise...

"...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ..."

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven,

Thank You so much for the amazing people that You have put into my life. Help me to show them Your love in better ways. Make in me a clean heart that is not defiled with pride and pettiness, but instead is filled with You. May this message help someone who reads it.

Thank you for loving us so much! Amen.