From the amount of texts that I’ve received about yesterday’s sermon, it seems that it hit a chord with many of you. I’m really glad to hear the encouragement, as well as the ways the Lord used the sermon to challenge you. It’s another reason why I’m grateful for God’s work at CLF. You are very sensitive to the Lord’s work and you’re passionate to follow Him. It is not something I take lightly nor something we should take for granted.
Clear as mud:
However, even with the encouragement, there were a couple of areas in this sermon that I believe I wasn’t as precise as I needed to be, as I preached this sermon. Most of these unclear moments to me are when I veer off of what I had planned to say. Sometimes, it works out well and sometimes it’s not as clear. There was nothing heretical or in error…just not as clear as it needed to be. So, allow me to clarify these things:
- During the latter part of the sermon, as I was discussing Jesus paying for our greatest need, I said something like this: “If He’s met our greatest need, which is forgiveness of sin, why should we worry if He will pay our power bill.” While this statement seems close, it’s just not as accurate as I would like it to be. As a matter of fact, the moment I said it, I knew it was off-kilter, just a touch. I even kind of lowered my voice and my volume, as if to say, “I kind of hope no one heard that.” Now you might ask, why is that not accurate? Here’s why: a power bill, really is a luxury item that we just happen to have in the Western world. It sure seems like a need, but in reality, it’s not a need, as biblically defined. Paul really put our “wants” on notice, when he wrote in 1 Timothy 6:8, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” This is why the power bill comment was just not completely accurate. It’s why the “milk/bread” comment was closer, but still not quite. What I should’ve said was “If God has met our greatest need, then He has promised, because of Jesus, to meet our lesser needs like food and clothing.” That’s much more accurate. The reason for this clarification is that if we’re not careful, we can dip a little too far into what’s called the prosperity gospel that basically states that Jesus came so that we might be healthy, wealthy and wise. And if we’re not healthy, wealthy and wise, then there is something wrong with us, our faith or our God. The prosperity gospel is where much of the “name it and claim it” theology has come from, which basically says that if we just say certain things and believe certain things then God will give us certain things. Whereas a Christ-centered view of God’s provision says this: Because Jesus has met our greatest need (forgiveness of sin), God has promised to provide for lesser needs like food and clothing. And with food and clothing, we will be content…that’s all we “need”.
- Further, where this was not as clear, in this section, Paul is speaking to a group of people who were worried and discontent. And his point was basically this, “since Jesus has met our great spiritual need, he will also meet all the needs we have.” Paul is really telling us, you don’t have to be worried or discontent…because your greatest spiritual need has been met. Know what really is important…and it’s not food and clothing or any of the stuff you’re worried about. I spent more time in dealing with the physical needs and not as much time dealing with the emotional and spiritual needs, that God will and has provided for, through Christ. The wonderful thing about Jesus is that all that we need emotionally/relationally/spiritually, He provides: approval, acceptance, love to the nth degree, friendship that is closer than a family member, peace that passes all understanding, joy unspeakable and full of glory, etc.
- The other area of the sermon was in the section where I gave a personal example of how understanding God’s goodness, through Christ, helped me in my darkest time of life. This example was not on my notes and something that came to my head during the sermon. It’s a good personal example and one that gives clarity to the point I was making, which was that in Christ, God has an eternally favorable and merciful perspective towards us. I quoted from John Piper’s book The Pleasures of God, when he wrote, “God is like a highway patrolman pursuing you down the interstate with lights flashing and siren blaring to get you to stop-not to give you a ticket but to give you a message so good that it couldn’t wait until you got home.” My point in this example was to show you that God’s goodness covers all of life…even when “bad” things happen to us. Because I didn’t write this example down, I’m not sure it was a clear as it should’ve been.
From the cutting room floor:
There are a few things that I had to leave out of the sermon for lack of time and lack of being able to develop the full thought. So, let me put some of these in here:
- One thing in looking at this text is how Paul told us that God saw the Philippians giving and support that they sent to Paul. I think this is a great way to see how God sees our giving. It was clear that their giving cared for a friend (4:10); their giving helped advance gospel ministry (4:15); their giving was credited to their account, by God (4:17)…this is a very encouraging point, because often our giving is done is secret or anonymously and this shows us that God always sees and God always credits it to us; their giving was pleasing to God (4:18). Now, I mention these because we might wonder…why should we support the church or support gospel-advancing ministries and I think Philippians 4, gives us some great reasons.
- I didn’t have time to go into the difference between our needs and our wants. I covered some of that in my first clarification in this post, but let’s be honest…most of our discontentment comes from the fact that we’re not getting what we want. The majority of us in the Western world have our needs met…our challenges are with what we want. And to take it farther, our challenges are what we think we deserve or what we’re entitled to get. Just examine yourself at a restaurant the next time you get poor service…how does your heart respond? Is good service a need? Is good service what you deserve? Is good service what you’re entitled to? Or do a self-evaluation of what frustrates you or makes you anxious when you read about someone else’s great vacation, new home purchase, or new tech gadget. Is a vacation, a need? Is a new home what we deserve? It is a new tech gadget what we’re entitled to? To see that our needs are really life’s basic necessities: food, clothing, air, water, etc. and to see life’s wants as anything extra, will really help us be a tad more grateful and a bit more content.
- Quotes I left out:
- “In some important ways, however, Paul redefines this popular philosophical term. Paul refers to his experience of learning to be content in order to demonstrate that his friendship with his readers is not based on need. Friendship based on need is inferior to true friendship between those who are self-sufficient or content, according to the ancient definitions of friendship. Paul’s statement that he learned to be content is his way of claiming that his friendship with the Philippian believers is true friendship, not a friendship based on utility; he was not looking to his friends with self-interest, depending on them to meet his needs, for he had learned to be content.” Hansen, G. W.
- “Stoic philosophers to describe the man of emotionless, wooden impassivity, the man whom nothing could touch because in himself he had found a completely satisfying world. Paul rescued the word and made it mean the ‘restful contentment’ of the Christian, the opposite of the desire for more.” Motyer, J. A.
- “Paul is not claiming omnipotence, the ability to do all things without exception. Any use of this verse to support a claim or goal of a triumphant, victorious Christian life without weaknesses or limitations conflicts with the immediate context and the wider teaching of Paul. The contextual meaning of all refers to the previous claim to be content whatever the circumstances (4:11). In all the situations of his life—in poverty and in prosperity, when well fed and when hungry, Paul can be content. He has the power to endure all these extreme situations, all these ups and downs, without anxiety, with the peace of God guarding his heart and mind in Christ Jesus (4:6–7).” Hansen, G. W.
- “To be found in Christ (3:9) is worth far more to Paul than anything else. All his activities, all his emotions, and all his thoughts are within the sphere of Christ’s presence: For to me, to live is Christ (1:21); I am confident in the Lord (2:24); I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings (3:10); I rejoiced greatly in the Lord (4:10). This intimate communion with Christ is the source of Paul’s strength.” Hansen, G. W.
From the cheap seats:
- Postseason anything…is awesome. Baseball, football, hockey, soccer…tiddlywinks…
- I don’t want to talk about it…yeesh, they are not very good over the last 3 weeks. (Could cover a few things, but those who know me well, know exactly what I’m talking about).
- Anybody but the Astros…please…anybody but the Astros.
- Proud dad moment…watching my youngest daughter, Bethany, and her friends compete in Junior High volleyball this year was a great treat. The girls from our church who were on that team: Zoe Keller, Avery Renyer, Ali Saylor, Zoe Pappas and Amy Pappas, all did a great job this year. They got 2nd in their respective volleyball district tournaments and the A-team was voted for Best Sportsmanship. It’s going to be fun to watch these girls grow together.