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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sermon from October 12

Think About These Things.

                                     Philippians 4:8

Grace, mercy and peace are yours from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Philippians chapter 4 verse 8:  "Philip. 4:8
    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
 This is our text.
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus compared His Kingdom to a wedding feast. And He ends it with an interesting couple of lines. There is a man at the wedding banquet who does not have the proper clothes for a wedding. It’s an outrage! This is the wedding banquet for the son of the king.  Everybody ought to know that you have to be at your best. You have to have the best suit, the best dress you can get your hands on. You need to be washed and combed and everything about you  has to be just so. But here’s this bloke who just shows up, in his work clothes, and starts nibbling on the hors d’oerves, trying to just chat with the other guests about the weather as if nothing’s out of place.  The king kicks him out into the outer darkness.
Some of us older ones and old fashioned ones, may want to see this as Biblical proof that our kids should dress up better for church. Comb your hair. Shave. Shine your shoes and iron your shirt.  But we can’t make too much of that. Jesus is talking about what’s in the heart, of course. We should expect to find Jesus talking about the inner person. That’s more important than the outward appearance.
The point of this incident in Jesus’ parable is that if the heart is empty of the things of the Lord, it shows. If the heart is empty of the fear of God and the love of God and the trust in God, you will not be ready for Judgment Day. It’s as though you won’t be dressed properly.  Facing Judgment Day without faith in one’s heart is like a firefighter going off to a fire wearing only a swimsuit, or an astronaut taking a step onto the surface of the moon with flip-flops.
We pray, regularly, daily, “Thy Kingdom come.” When we say that, we are asking God to be at work, sending His Spirit into the hearts and minds of people, ourselves first of all, but then our loved ones in our homes, and in our neighborhoods and in our nation and throughout the world. We are praying that God, the Holy Spirit would use His tools of the Gospel and Baptism to turn the hearts of people from the things of sin and death to the things of faith and salvation in Jesus. We are asking when we pay, “Thy kingdom come”, that the Holy Spirit would fill the hearts of people with the faith they need so that they are ready for judgment day. Ready and giddy with excitement for that day, like the honored guests of the wedding of the King’s Son.
St. Paul wraps up his Epistle to the Philippians with this encouraging 4th chapter, describing what should be in the heart.
    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
This is a call from God Himself to remember and cling to the good stuff He has given us, to take full advantage of good, pure, lovely, excellent blessings that the Lord has given you.  He has called you by the Gospel to have faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and life everlasting. Now Philippians chapter 4 invites you to take those blessings to heart. God would have you keep those things of His Gospel with you all the time. Here’s a way to think of it:  Wear them like your fanciest clothes.  Clothed with His good word, you will fit in nicely at the marriage feast in the Kingdom that has no end.
Think about these things.  I’m going to recite some of them here so that, hopefully they will stick with you in the days ahead:
1.      Peace.  Verse 7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Peace is a way of describing the new attitude, the new life that comes to a person who has had their sins forgiven, and who now has the assurance that God is on their side. Peace is the opposite and the cure to anxiety. There is too much anxiety among sinners.  Guilt and shame over mistakes made in the past make anxiety. Fear of the future and worry about what might go wrong make anxiety. Take this to heart. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
2.      Contentment:  Philip. 4:11-13
    Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. [12] I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. [13] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
When you take the promises of the Lord to heart, you’ve got a peaceful attitude of heaven and that allows you to have a contented attitude about earth. Your Lord has given you salvation. He has this sure and certain promise for you, so sure you’ve got no reason to doubt, He says, “I will raise you up on the last day.” Take that to heart and then say, “I know the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
3.      Joy Philip. 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  If anyone has a reason to grin, it’s you who have been promised that your names are written in the Lord’s book of life. This is not to say you go around now, just oblivious to problems you’ve got and problems you see in others lives, There is suffering, there are bullies, there still is sin and death and the devil. But you know the joy that the world can’t see, you’ve got the peace that’s beyond understanding. You’ve got contentment now, because eternal joy is in store. You can lighten up a little. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  
4.      Spirit of Charity – Let’s remember, charity is a good word. Human pride has made it a bad word. The proud will say, “I don’t need no charity.”  But charity is just another  word for love. We all need love. We all need charity now and then. That’s how we are born. All helpless and dependent.  That’s often how we die. Helpless and dependent. In the news this week is some lady who has brain cancer and so she’s making a big deal about taking her own life in suicide. That way she won’t die helpless and dependent. There is nothing noble or proud about taking a life ever. Even your own. Rather God gives us others who, when we need, are charitable, loving for us. For Paul, the Philippians were charitable, giving gifts to help Him do His ministry. He says in verse 18   I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
5.      Reasonableness – verse 5 says, Philip. 4:5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. Let’s have more of this.  Paul had just said, Philip. 4:2
    I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.  Having the blessings of God in our heart, on our minds, in our joyful attitude, lets have pleasant relationships with one another. If it takes some work, get to work and take care of it. Start now getting along with the people you’ll spend eternity with.

When we hold these things in our hearts, the peace and love of God, there is great promises made:  Philip. 4:9
    What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
God has not left you alone to stir up all these proper attitudes and emotions in your heart.  No, He promises to be with you and when He is with you His spirit inspires your hope, and your faith, your charity and your reasonableness.

Now when I list all these things that you are supposed to do, I don’t want you leaving here thinking, “Oh, man, now on top of everything else I have going on, I have to work on all those things too?!?”

Listen again to verse 19 of this chapter:      And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. God works through His word to supply what you are lacking.  He says, “Peace and there is peace.” He says, “Rejoice!” and our melancholy is lifted. He says, “Charity” and His word that created all things, creates within us the new and charitable heart of the children of the Kingdom.

1 comment:

Greg Birgy said...

What a great word Ron! I saw the link to this sermon from a post Sandy made on Facebook. God's timing should never surprise me, but we've been reeling over the last 24 hours or so over some family dysfunction with Michele's sister that exposed our kids to some ugly we would have never hoped for them to have to face. It's robbed a lot of joy and too much of our attention--at least the wrong kind of attention. The Truth has been right there before us the entire time, but in our human state the burden just seemed so heavy and our souls so weary. I know that the Lord's yoke is easy and His burden light--and your invitation to "think on these things" and rest in the Truth has been restorative and hope giving. God is good and I'm thanking him for using you tonight. Bless you friends!