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Philippians:

The Heart of an
Apostolic Church

THE HEART OF AN APOSTOLIC CHURCH

The Heart of an Apostolic Church


Copyright 1999-2005 by Glenridge Church International
Revision: 28 January, 2005
Mastering Date: 28 January, 2005
This document may be duplicated whole, or in part, in any
form (written, visual, electronic or audio) without express
written permission, providing it is not used for commercial
purposes.
Printed by Glenridge Church International
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info@gci.za.org
Set in Book Antiqua (print) or Arial (screen).
Scripture marked The Message taken from The Message.
Copyright by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996.
Used with permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
All other scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International
Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible
Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
Scripture taken from the North American Edition of the NIV
Bible, unless otherwise indicated. All italics in quotes are
ours.

THE HEART OF AN APOSTOLIC CHURCH

Introduction
This book is an edited transcript of sermons by
Rory Dyer during 2001. Headings have been
added primarily for the purpose of the table of
contents. You may want to skip over them while
reading.

I want to acknowledge some of the sources that I


have looked at during this time: Warren Wiersbe
(an American theologian), Larry Richards (also a
theologian), C J Mulhaney (an apostolic figure in
America), William Barclay (who was a wonderful
writer) and I have also used Matthew Henrys
commentary. Many of the thoughts are my own
from much study of the Word.

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Contents
1: The Apostolic is Our Model ____________10
Introduction ______________________________10
1. The Philippian Church was a Joy _______________ 10
2. We Can Learn to be a Joy ____________________ 11

Becoming Gods Partner in the Gospel________17


1. The Structure of Our Partnership _______________
2. The Nature of Our Partnership _________________
3. The Heart of Our Partnership __________________
4. The Purpose of Our Partnership________________

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A Model Church Plant ______________________23


1. Always on the Move _________________________
2. Immediate Obedience________________________
3. Seeing Women Convert ______________________
4. Enduring Hardship __________________________
5. Fully Committed ____________________________
6. Room for the Apostolic _______________________
7. Contentment and Worship ____________________
8. Authority __________________________________
9. Facing Intimidation __________________________
10. Enjoying the Risk and Profit of Partnership ______

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2: Partnerships for the Gospel ____________35


Introduction ______________________________35
1. A Right Understanding of Gods Ways ___________ 36
2. A Desire for Excellence ______________________ 37

The Nature of Biblical Partnership____________37


1. Two Are Better Than One _____________________
2. A Good Return for Their Work _________________
3. They Help Each Other Up_____________________
4. They Are Intimate ___________________________
5. They Have Better Defences ___________________

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The Way to Live Out a Biblical Partnership_____41


1. Have People in Your Mind and Thoughts _________ 41
2. Have People in Your Heart ____________________ 42
3. Have People in Your Prayers __________________ 43

Knowledge that Aids Biblical Partnership _____44


1. The Knowledge of God _______________________ 45
2. The Ability to Discern What is Best______________ 46

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Attitudes that Aid Biblical Partnership ________47


1. A Servant Heart ____________________________
2. A Worshiping Heart__________________________
3. A Heart that Doesnt Grasp____________________
4. A Heart that Works in Team ___________________

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The Purpose of Our Partnership _____________48


1. To Become Pure and Blameless _______________
2. To Stand Strong Until the End _________________
3. To Be Filled With the Fruit of Righteousness ______
4. To Be More Like Jesus for His Glory ____________

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3: Praising in Chains for the Gospel _______52


We Can Learn Contentment _________________53
1. By Being a Servant________________________ 57
2. By Living for the Gospel ____________________ 59
3. By Forgetting Ourselves____________________ 60

We Can Stand Firm ________________________61


1. By Knowing Gods Word ___________________
2. By Producing Results______________________
3. By Taking Courage________________________
4. By Dealing with Our Motives ________________
5. By Knowing What is Important _______________
6. By Being Disciplined ______________________

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The Important Thing _____________________68


1. Rejoicing in All Circumstances _________________ 68
2. Seeking the Gospel in Every Situation ___________ 68
3. Conclusion ________________________________ 69

4: Becoming an Apostolic Church _________70


Changes to Our Priorities and Behaviour ______70
1. Our Priorities Challenged _____________________
2. Our Conduct _______________________________
3. Our Boldness ______________________________
4. Our Ability to Embrace Suffering _______________
5. Our Purpose in Life__________________________
6. Our Knowledge that Jesus is King ______________
7. Our Final Destination ________________________
8. Our Desire to Live for Others __________________
9. Our Ability to Stand Together __________________
10. Our Position of Being On the Winning Side ______
11. Our Character Developed Through Hardship _____

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Things that Make the Church Attractive _______82


1. Relational Excellence ________________________ 82

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2. Encouragement and Comfort __________________


3. Like Mindedness____________________________
4. The Same Love for Everyone __________________
5. One in Spirit _______________________________
6. One in Purpose_____________________________

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The Right Ambitions _______________________87


1. No Selfish Ambition _________________________ 87
2. No Vain Conceit ____________________________ 89
3. Considering Others Better Than Ourselves _______ 89

5: Embracing the Nature of Christ _________91


Introduction ______________________________91
1. One in Spirit and Purpose_____________________ 91
2. The Heart of a Team Member _________________ 92

Having the Same Attitude as Jesus ___________93


1. He Made Himself as Nothing __________________ 94
2. He Grasped at Nothing _______________________ 97
3. He Took On the Nature of a Servant ____________ 98
4. He Submitted Himself to Others _______________ 102
5. He Became Obedient to Death________________ 103

Conclusion ______________________________104

6: Learning Obedience__________________106
Obedience is Required ____________________106
1. Gods Word is to be Obeyed__________________ 107
2. Gods Leaders Bring Gods Word ______________ 109

Things Preventing Obedience ______________110


1. Apparent Success__________________________
2. Ignoring Gods Past Word____________________
3. Trying to Work for Your Salvation______________
4. Lack of Preparation, and Laziness _____________
5. Worldly Standards and a Worldly Heart _________
6. Taking Shortcuts___________________________

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Signs of Obedience _______________________116


1. Progress and Perseverance __________________
2. A Healthy Fear and Trembling ________________
3. Solution-minded Contentment ________________
4. Purity and Blamelessness ___________________

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Conclusion ______________________________119
1. We Obey Because Christ is Lord ______________ 119
2. An Obedient Church Will Impact the Nations _____ 120

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7: Genuine Interest/Team Work __________121


Everyone Involved and Growing ____________121
1. Breaking Limitations ________________________
2. Living in Increase __________________________
3. Letting Difficulties Develop Character___________
4. Everyone Playing Their Part __________________

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Everyone Taking an Interest in Others _______127


1. Visiting People, Even When Uncomfortable ______
2. Asking Lots of Questions ____________________
3. Remembering Names _______________________
4. Taking Note of Details ______________________
5. Following People Up ________________________
6. Returning Phone Calls ______________________
7. General Hospitality and Politeness_____________

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8: Rejoice! ____________________________133
Introduction _____________________________133
1. The Context for Pauls Testimony______________ 134
2. Everything Else Became Rubbish to Paul _______ 134

Secrets For a Life of Rejoicing ______________135


1. We Rejoice in God Despite Circumstances ______
2. We Need Repetition to Assist Obedience _______
3. We Need Freedom Not Rules_________________
4. We Have No Confidence in Achievements_______
5. We Dont Seek Worldly Authority ______________
6. We Have Passion for the Right Things__________
7. We Have No Pride In Outward Acts ____________

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Our New Value System ____________________142


1. What Profit Is Not __________________________ 142
2. What Loss Is ______________________________ 143
3. Loss Now Becomes Gain ____________________ 145

True Christian Life ________________________145


1. Worshiping By the Spirit of God _______________
2. Glorying in Christ Jesus _____________________
3. Putting No Confidence in the Flesh ____________
4. Desiring to Know Jesus Christ ________________

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9: Mediocre Christianity_________________149
Overcoming Mediocrity: Showing Progress ___149
1. Seek God Earnestly ________________________ 150
2. Find Yourself in Christ ______________________ 152
3. Share in His Sufferings ______________________ 153

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4. Be Obedient to Death _______________________ 155

Knowing Christs Purpose for Us ___________156


1. Desire to Fulfil Your Purpose _________________
2. Serve Your Generation ______________________
3. Become Focussed _________________________
4. Build the Church ___________________________
5. Forgive and Forget _________________________
6. Keep Looking Forward ______________________
7. Become More Mature _______________________

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Standing Firm____________________________164
1. Be a Friend of the Cross_____________________ 165
2. Control Your Cravings_______________________ 166
3. Remember Your Citizenship is in Heaven _______ 167

10: Relational Excellence _______________169


11: The Peace of God___________________187
Introduction _____________________________187
Enjoying the Peace of God Requires ______189
1. Hard Work________________________________
2. Confrontation by the Scriptures _______________
3. Correct Praying, Thinking and Living ___________
4. Renewing Your Mind________________________
5. Maintaining a Servant Attitude ________________
6. Obedience to the Word______________________

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The God of Peace ________________________197

12: Contentment _______________________198


13: This Church is a Model for Us ________211
We, Also, Are to ________________________211
1. Be a Base Church__________________________
2. Be a Family _______________________________
3. Have Purpose _____________________________
4. Remain Content ___________________________
5. Give Generously to the Apostolic ______________
6. Love Gods Promises and His Commands _______
7. Preach Christ and the Gospel_________________
8. Keep to the Pattern of Scripture _______________
9. Pray and Seek God ________________________
10. Be Committed to the Vision _________________
11. Stand Shoulder to Shoulder _________________
12. Live in Relational Excellence ________________
13. Develop a Servant Heart____________________

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14. Be Grateful for What We Have _______________


15. Obey the Commands ______________________
16. Keep an Eternal Perspective ________________
17. Have Pure and Holy Thinking ________________
18. Enjoy Gods Grace ________________________

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1: The Apostolic is Our Model


Introduction
1. The Philippian Church was a Joy
This is an amazing bookits one of Pauls happy
books. Paul does not mention sin at all in this
book. When we look at the different churches that
Paul related to, we see that in the church of
Galatia he had problems because they were
legalists and he had to ask them what happened
to all their joy.
Because they had become
legalistic, they had lost all the joy that they had
had. In the church in Corinth, he had to deal with
licentiousness because they were sexually
immoral in the church. And, so, he has one
church that is all legalistic and another church that
is all licentiousbut the Philippian church was a
joy to him!
The words joy and rejoice come over and
over againit is a happy bookand the
contagiousness of Christ should come into our
bodies and fill us: we should be excited by what
we read here.
This is a church that is doing well. This is a
church that is tucked into the apostolic model and
the apostolic mandate and they have picked up
Pauls heart and Paul has picked up their heart
and there is this kind of partnership that is taking
place.

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2. We Can Learn to be a Joy


In the translation The Message, this is how they
introduce the book:
This is Pauls happiest letter. And the happiness
is infectious. Before weve read a dozen lines, we
begin to feel the joy ourselvesthe dance of
words and the exclamations of delight have a way
of getting inside us.
But happiness is not a word we can
understand by looking it up in the dictionary. In
fact, none of the qualities of the Christian life can
be learnt out of a book. Something more like an
apprenticeship is required, being around someone
who out of years of devoted discipline shows us,
by his or her entire behaviour, what it is. Moments
of verbal instruction will certainly occur, but mostly
an apprentice acquires skill by daily and intimate
association with a master, picking up subtle but
absolutely essential things, such as timing and
rhythm and touch.
When we read what Paul wrote to the
Christian believers in the city of Philippi, we find
ourselves in the company of just such a master.
Friends, I believe that for all of us there is a
season to take the hat of teacher off, to take the
hat of professional off, and to put on the hat of a
student. We need to go through this series on
Philippians with the hat of a student. We want to
learn from Paul the master builder, we want to
learn something of the victory that he had in his
life. So, we put away all our traditions, cultures
and experiences, we put on the hat of a student

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and we sit in the classroom under the word of God


to change and to learn.
The Message continues:
Paul simply and unmistakably is happy. None
of his circumstances contribute to his joy: He
wrote from a jail cell, his work was under attack by
competitors, and after twenty years or so of hard
travelling in the service of Jesus, he was tired and
would have welcomed some relief.
But circumstances are incidental compared
to the life of Jesus, the Messiah, that Paul
experiences from the inside. For it is a life that not
only happened at a certain point in history, but
continues to happen, spilling out into the lives of
those who receive him, and then continues to spill
out all over the place. Christ is, among much
else, the revelation that God cannot be contained
or hoarded. It is this spilling out quality of Christs
life that accounts for the happiness of Christians,
for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what
cannot be contained within any one person.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,


To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi,
together with the overseers and deacons:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with
joy because of your partnership in the gospel from
the first day until now, being confident of this, that

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he who began a good work in you will carry it on to


completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of
you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am
in chains or defending and confirming the gospel,
all of you share in God's grace with me. God can
testify how I long for all of you with the affection of
Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may
abound more and more in knowledge and depth of
insight, so that you may be able to discern what is
best and may be pure and blameless until the day
of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that
comes through Jesus Christto the glory and
praise of God.
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what
has happened to me has really served to advance
the gospel. As a result, it has become clear
throughout the whole palace guard and to
everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the
Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of
God more courageously and fearlessly.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy
and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter
do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the
defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ
out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing
that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in
chains. But what does it matter? The important
thing is that in every way, whether from false
motives or true, Christ is preached. And because
of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know
that through your prayers and the help given by

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the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to


me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly
expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage so that now as
always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether
by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and
to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body,
this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall
I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the
two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is
better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I
remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that
I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for
your progress and joy in the faith, so that through
my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus
will overflow on account of me.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a
manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then,
whether I come and see you or only hear about
you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm
in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith
of the gospel without being frightened in any way
by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them
that they will be destroyed, but that you will be
savedand that by God. For it has been granted
to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in
him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going
through the same struggle you saw I had, and now
hear that I still have.
If you have any encouragement from being
united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if
any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness
and compassion, then make my joy complete by
being like-minded, having the same love, being
one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of

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selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility


consider others better than yourselves. Each of
you should look not only to your own interests, but
also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of
Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him
to the highest place
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always
obeyednot only in my presence, but now much
more in my absencecontinue to work out your
salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who
works in you to will and to act according to his
good purpose.

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Do everything without complaining or


arguing, so that you may become blameless and
pure, children of God without fault in a crooked
and depraved generation, in which you shine like
stars in the universe as you hold out the word of
lifein order that I may boast on the day of Christ
that I did not run or labour for nothing. But even if
I am being poured out like a drink offering on the
sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am
glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should
be glad and rejoice with me.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to
you soon, that I also may be cheered when I
receive news about you. I have no one else like
him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.
For everyone looks out for his own interests, not
those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy
has proved himself, because as a son with his
father he has served with me in the work of the
gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as
I see how things go with me. And I am confident
in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
But I think it is necessary to send back to you
Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow-worker and
fellow-soldier, who is also your messenger, whom
you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs
for all of you and is distressed because you heard
he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But
God had mercy on him, and not on him only but
also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.
Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so
that when you see him again you may be glad and
I may have less anxiety. Welcome him in the Lord
with great joy, and honour men like him, because
he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his

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life to make up for the help you could not give me.
(Philippians 1-2)

Becoming Gods Partner in the Gospel


1. The Structure of Our Partnership
Paul calls himself a servant of Christ Jesus. I
have always been interested in the fact that Paul
uses different designations when he introduces
himself. To some he says, Paul, an apostle, or
Paul, called by Jesus. But here he says, Paul, a
servant. He doesnt emphasise his authority.
Paul mentions the saints, the overseers and
the deaconsin that order. But according to
hierarchical thinking, it is back to front. Paul does
not say, Elders, deacons, saints, he says,
Saints, elders, deacons. There is no hierarchical
structure in the life of the church and when Paul
addresses this church, which is doing so well, he
addresses the A-team firstthe saints:
everybody. As the leader of a church, I do not
have a special positionI do not even have a
special parking bay.
But we see such a wonderful heart in Paul
saying, Guys, this is not about hierarchy, this is
about family. When I stand up in a pulpit, I stand
up in the office that God has given to me, which is
to lead a church. But when I come down from this
place, I am your friend, I am your peer, I am your
equal. And even in my role as a leader I am no
more superior than you are, I am just operating in
my office.
As we massage this thing in, we have to
make sure that hierarchical structures get broken

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down in peoples minds because as soon as we


get elevated, Christ comes down; as soon as men
come down, Christ gets elevated. The Philippian
church understood Christ. In the first chapter
alone, the name Christ appears eighteen times.
So, we start to pick up what it is all about: its not
about elders and deacons, it is actually about
Jesus.
The reason we are doing this is because I
want us to get excited about the word of God. I
want to show you how we take words and study
them and apply them: it is going to give you a love
for the Word. We arent always going to end on
three points and a conclusion, we are just going to
let the word of God come and soak us and
massage us and minister to us. We are going to
take what this man has learnt, we are going to
apply it to our lives and we are going to get
stronger.
In the third verse Paul says that he thanks
God whenever he remembers the Philippians. Are
you the kind of person that your leaders thank
God for?
2. The Nature of Our Partnership
Friends, in verses 4 through 6 we see that this is a
book about partnership. The Bible tells us that the
gifts are given for the strengthening and
encouraging of the Church. So, we want to see
people released in their gifting so that we can
build up our corporatenessour partnership.
Now, in partnerships you have senior
partners, junior partners and article clerks (theyve
got the degree, theyve got the diploma, but they
come in under the senior partner). Friends, I am

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not the senior partner in this analogyPaul is the


senior partner. I am not the senior partner
standing up here teaching the article clerkswe
are all going to learn from Paul the senior partner.
Partner in the dictionary means sharerit
is someone who partakes in the risks and the
profits. Are you a partner in this church? Do you
partake in the risks and the profits? It is wonderful
to partake in the profits, which is fellowship, family,
being loved and being prayed for; but partnership
means that I take part in the risks as well, which is
building, which is sacrificing.
Ive only had one business partnership in my
life. It was a small business, we used to hire out
motorbikesI had just left school.
The
partnership didnt work for this simple reason: not
all the partners were playing their part. One or
two of the partners got cross and said, Some of
you guys arent pulling your weight.
The
partnership dissolved.
3. The Heart of Our Partnership
Let me quote an article that Rob Rufus wrote
about partnershipabout taking your gifts and
finding your destiny within the corporate context of
the church.
There is nothing that generates the exciting
electrical power of success more than the synergy
(the human will elevated in divine grace to
produce a new level of understanding and
effectiveness) of a large group of people swept up
together in the same vision. A team of friends,
demonstrating mutual love, respect and honour for
each other that creates a safe, affirming

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atmosphere that activates a willingness of each


person to consistently contribute their unique gifts
to see the vision successfully realised and to
constantly give each other wings to fly our
dreams. In this contagious unity there is a
corporate dynamic of faith that guarantees that
everything and anything can be accomplished, no
matter how impossible or difficult the task
appears. The principle attitude is love for one
another, out of lovea love from God. The
notions of jealousy, comparison and selfpromotion
become
increasingly
foreign
phenomena, falling away like a long, lonely night
in the coming of a friendly dawn. This is a time of
energetic, liberating discoveries about our
individual uniqueness and how we fit together. It
is a time of not judging one another for our
differences but a time of acceptance and
celebrating our complementary capacities and
callings. It is a time of throwing off fear, guilt, selfdoubt and isolation, it is a time to grow confident in
the conviction that individually we havent got it all
together but together we have it all.
Many will agree with one will put a thousand
to flight, two will put ten thousand to flight, but
have we explored and exploited the full reality of
that increment? How much can be done through
all the churches relating to NCMI, lifting our
synergy factor with all our components combining,
contributing,
compensating,
completing,
catalysing; causing the combustion of corporate
creativity and continuity; while never competing,
never controlling, never compromising or
comparing; but always co-operating with the
partnership?

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There is an essential place for every relating


church in praying passionately for the bigger
picture, giving of its people to the bigger picture,
being involved in the priority joint gatherings and
regular generous giving and, very importantly,
causing the unique strength of that local church to
be poured out for the rest of us. We together trust
the anointing of God to take us as multiplied
thousands of unique local churches into a holy
mix.
Team unity, team synergy (all the church
congregations, all the deacons, all the pastors, all
the apostolic team members, every single saint
under God) is the key that opens new horizons
and possibilities. I am sure we are all more than
convinced and certain that there is yet vast and
undiscovered sources of energy and creativity and
untapped reserve of genius available to all of us, if
we can stay boldly humble with an exploring spirit.
Our hearts, filled with childlike wonder, will stay
secure enough to undergo the scrutiny of the
searching question, Could we have done it more
effectively for Gods glory?
Without feeling
rejected, condemned, inferior or discouraged but
instead privileged with the opportunity to improve
our service to the most excellent King, by working
in team.
What if we aim too big and fail? Its better to
drown attempting to walk on the water than to die
of boredom sitting in the boat! A privilege greater
than any previous Christian generation on earth
has come down to us now. Lets not miss it, for
earths sake.

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Are you picking up the heart of partnership, or will


your partnership dissolve because you are not
playing your part?
Or will your partnership
achieve everything that God has called it to do
because you are partnering wellsharing in all
the risks and all the profits of the partnership?
4. The Purpose of Our Partnership
In chapter 1 and verse 12 Paul continues, saying
that what has happened to him has really served
to advance the gospel. So, we need to ask
ourselves, What has happened to Paul? Well,
hes been shipwrecked, hes been beaten, hes
been bitten by a snake, hes been locked up and
he is in chains, hes getting abused and he says,
What has happened to me has actually advanced
the gospel. When I think of that, far from thinking
that I am a senior partner, even contemplating a
junior partnership, I understand that I am a
complete novice. I have to learn something about
how this man can go through all this trouble and
hardship and write this one little sentence, What
has happened to me has advanced the gospel.
He says, These chains . What about
when you have a baby and you feel chained to the
churchs mothers room? You say, I dont know
why I come to churchI never hear the sermon,
Im never in the worship, the baby cries . You
feel chained. But what can you do with those
chains? Put on the cap of a student and see how
you can take whatever circumstance comes to you
and walk through it. Dont stay away from church
because youve had a baby. For a season God
will use you there to minister to somebody else
who needs you to minister to themif we can see

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it through the eyes of the Master Partner (Jesus)


and the senior partner (Paul).
Consider verses 13 and 14. What they used
to do is take a prisoner and chain him to two
guards, one on either side. Now you can imagine
the guards in Caesars palacethey may never
have heard the gospel but now they get chained to
the major voice for the gospel, Paul. And you
know that he is not shy! He eats with them, he
sleeps with them, theyre never separated, and I
want to tell you that all he ever talks about is
Jesus. So, these guys have no choice but to hear
it. Paul says, Thats good enough for me.

A Model Church Plant


Lets read Acts 16 to see how this church was
planted. It is always good to go back and to see
how things started because Paul uses very
affectionate terms, like I long for you, and, I
have deep affection in my heart for you, and,
You are in my prayers. Theres this incredible
relationship that he has developed with this church
and we have to understand where all these deep
feelings came from.
Paul and his companions travelled throughout the
region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept
by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the
province of Asia. When they came to the border
of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit
of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed
by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the
night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia
standing and begging him, Come over to
Macedonia and help us. After Paul had seen the

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vision, we got ready at once to leave for


Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to
preach the gospel to them.
From Troas we put out to sea and sailed
straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to
Neapolis. From there we travelled to Philippi, a
Roman colony and the leading city of that district
of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
On the Sabbath we went outside the city
gate to the river, where we expected to find a
place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak
to the women who had gathered there. One of
those listening was a woman named Lydia, a
dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who
was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her
heart to respond to Paul's message. When she
and the members of her household were baptised,
she invited us to her home. If you consider me a
believer in the Lord, she said, come and stay at
my house. And she persuaded us.
Once when we were going to the place of
prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a
spirit by which she predicted the future. She
earned a great deal of money for her owners by
fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest
of us, shouting, These men are servants of the
Most High God, who are telling you the way to be
saved. She kept this up for many days. Finally
Paul became so troubled that he turned around
and said to the spirit, In the name of Jesus Christ
I command you to come out of her! At that
moment the spirit left her.
When the owners of the slave girl realised
that their hope of making money was gone, they
seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the

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market-place to face the authorities. They brought


them before the magistrates and said, These men
are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar
by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to
accept or practise.
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul
and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be
stripped and beaten. After they had been severely
flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the
jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.
Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the
inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying
and singing hymns to God, and the other
prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there
was such a violent earthquake that the
foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all
the prison doors flew open, and everybodys
chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when
he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword
and was about to kill himself because he thought
the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted,
Dont harm yourself! We are all here!
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell
trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought
them out and asked, Sirs, what must I do to be
saved?
They replied, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and
you will be savedyou and your household.
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and
to all the others in his house. At that hour of the
night the jailer took them and washed their
wounds; then immediately he and all his family
were baptised. The jailer brought them into his
house and set a meal before them; he was filled

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with joy because he had come to believe in God


he and his whole family.
When it was daylight, the magistrates sent
their officers to the jailer with the order: Release
those men. The jailer told Paul, The magistrates
have ordered that you and Silas be released.
Now you can leave. Go in peace.
But Paul said to the officers: They beat us
publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman
citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do
they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them
come themselves and escort us out.
The officers reported this to the magistrates,
and when they heard that Paul and Silas were
Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came
to appease them and escorted them from the
prison, requesting them to leave the city. After
Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went
to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers
and encouraged them. Then they left. (Acts
16:6-40)
1. Always on the Move
In verses 6 through 10 the Holy Spirit directs Paul
where to go and where not to go.
Friends, as a junior partner or an article clerk,
the first lesson I learn is this: the senior partner is
Spirit-led. He is on the road and wants to go
somewhere but the Spirit says, Dont go there.
And then he wants to go somewhere else and the
Spirit says, Dont go there. So, he just carries on
going. He is a man who has been in prayer and
he knows how to hear Gods voice so he is led
where to go and where not to go.

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God speaks to people who are on the move.


Paul is on the move, he has picked up the call of
God and he is going. Many times what happens
to us is that we jam ourselves in neutral because
we dont know where God wants us to go. There
are enough generalisations in Scripture about
what to do until the specifics come. We can get
so caught up with trying to hear the specific call of
God for our lives right now that we end up letting
all the general things go and then we get stuck
and we complain that God is not speaking to us.
The Bible says that we are called to
fellowship with Jesus, we are called to holiness,
we are called to witness and as we step out into all
those things, it is in that place that God can start
to direct us into the specifics. It is much easier to
direct a moving vessel than one that is stationary.
So, we see that our senior partner, Paul, is on the
move.
2. Immediate Obedience
After Paul had seen the vision, he got ready at
once to go to Macedonia. I believe that this is
one of the most important statements facing
Christians in the Body of Christ todayat once.
It was during the night, which is not an appropriate
time to go, but as God speaks, it says that at once
Paul got up when he should have been sleeping.
He responded immediately to what God had said
to him. I believe one of the greatest reasons that
the church is not seeing what God wants to do is
because we are not responding immediately. At
once. Jesus said to the disciples, Come, follow
me, and they responded at once. I believe that

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all of us need an at-once-ness to come back to


our faith.
When people are daily walking with the Lord
and reading the Scriptures, God brings
adjustments: husbands, do this; wives, do that;
children, do that; varsity students, do this;
businessmen, do this; business ladies, do that.
God is constantly changing us and channelling us
and adjusting us. As we make those adjustments
we start to see fruitfulness like Paul saw in
Philippi.
What is the last thing that God said to you?
When was it and have you responded to it? Its a
general challenge to the entire Church. We take
off our hats as the know-it-alls and put on the hats
of students. I ask myself, Why was Paul so
successful? Why did Paul achieve everything that
God wanted him to do? Remember that he said,
Ive run the race, I qualify for the crown. Why?
Because he was immediately obedient. It takes
the average Christian three years (from the time
they get saved) to start tithing. How can we
wonder why the Church cant do everything that
God wants us to do?
In verses 11 and 12, Paul arrives at Philippi
and stays there for several days.
I ask the question, If Paul was going to stay
there for several days, why did he not just leave
the next day and get there half a day later? Why
did he leave in the middle of the night? Because
that was not the issuethe issue was obedience.
There might be extra time but that was not the
issuethe issue was obedience.

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3. Seeing Women Convert


Consider verses 13 through 15. Lydia gets saved
and invites Paul and his companions to her home.
Friends, there is a strategy in God here.
When you read the Book of Acts, it often speaks
about women getting saved. I believe that we
need to ask God for some prominent women to
get saved because we dont know how well
women are connected. You can give a man a
snippet of news but when he goes home and his
wife asks how the day was he says, Fine. But
ladies talk! They express themselves. So, what
happens when they get saved and Jesus comes in
there? The Message just spreads. I believe, as
we look at the book of Acts, there is a key strategy
to get prominent women saved.
4. Enduring Hardship
Then Paul and Silas get stripped and beaten.
Paul and Silas had gone there with a couple of
extrasTimothy and others. But as the heat
starts getting turned up, it seems its only Paul and
Silas left. The others seem to have mingled into
the crowdjunior partners. Its like when the
taxman comes to do an audit on the consultant,
you just see the article clerk disappear. The
senior partner has got to stand.
Later, Paul and Silas are officially released.
The next lesson we learn from our senior partner
is when he is out of jail: he is eating in somebodys
house, hes been set free, yet on his own accord
he goes back to jail for the night. We may have
left but Paul has picked up something in the Spirit
of God. He knows that he has to go back because

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he has a lesson that he needs to teach the


Philippian authorities that is going to benefit the
Philippian church. So, he willingly goes back.
Paul was in the main cell. Can you imagine
all the murderers and the rapists there? Heres
this guy that gets cleaned up and goes outand
then he comes back! Can you imagine what they
must have been thinking? They were surely all
plotting how they could get out (tunnels, razor
blades smuggled in their apple pies ) but these
guys just walk back in. Its radical!
5. Fully Committed
As we look at these Scriptures, I want you to
understand what happened when this church was
planted: there are not hundreds of converts, there
are only two. But, when the people were saved,
they were saved properly. Lydia was saved and
was baptised immediately. Now, when people go
for a swim in the sea, they take their wallets out,
they take their watches off and they put their car
keys down and they go for their swim. When they
come out, they put everything back on. I felt the
Lord say, Thats what happens with many people
when they get baptised. They take their wallets
out, their watches off and put their car keys down.
When they get into the water they say, All to
Jesus I surrender, but dont touch my money,
dont touch my time and dont touch my car.
And Lydia, a successful, wealthy business woman
who owned her own home and dealt in purple
cloth, when she was baptised, she surrendered
every single part of her life and told the apostles to
come into her home. She opened up her home. I
believe that one of the most crucial building blocks

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in the life of a church is that people open up their


homes for people to come in: for home groups to
meet, for people to stay, for people to get healed,
for orphans, for straysand I believe that it was
one of the most crucial ingredients of the
Philippian church. Let me ask you this, as a
partner of this church: Is your home open? What
about AIDS babies? The only answer to AIDS has
got to be the Church.
6. Room for the Apostolic
Do you know what happened to the jailer? He
hears about Jesus, he washes their wounds, he
invites them into his home and he gives them a
meal. Elsewhere Paul says to Philemon, Make
room in your house for me. A convert who has
been properly converted into New Testament
Christianity will have room in his house for the
apostolic. We are going to try to understand the
apostolic because we are not just a local church,
we are in partnership with thousands of other
churches around the world. That means that you
and I, with our comforts and conveniences, have
to clear out one of our rooms and put nice flowers
there so that the apostolic can come.
Paul is guided by the Holy Spirit; Paul
responds at once; Paul goes to a significant city;
Paul ministers to Lydia, a prominent business
woman; Paul drives out a demon. This is not
revival. This is only two conversions so far, and
he is in jail.

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7. Contentment and Worship


The next lesson that I want to learn is how Paul
and Silas are able to praise God after being
whipped and placed in jail. This is a secret that
Paul had learntit says so in Philippians 4. He
says that he has learnt how to be content in any
and every situation, whether well fed or hungry.
Now, as students, we want to go and learn this
lesson that Paul had learnt. We know that when
things dont go particularly well, our worship life
can get severely affected. We want to learn
something so that our worship life doesnt get
affected.
When were amongst rapists and
murderers, and in stocks, we can still praise God.
Even though our backs are bleeding, our eyes are
a little puffy, our lips are a little split, we can still
praise Godin an environment of foul-mouthed
inmates. In every movie you watch about jail, the
language is not praise, its not glory, and its not
uplifting: its just derogatory rubbish. And in that
environment Paul says, I can still praise God.
We want to learn that lesson.
We see in verses 27 and 28 that Paul
stopped the jailer from committing suicide. This is
why there is such deep affection when Paul writes
to the Philippians. He had not only saved him
spiritually but also physically.
8. Authority
Paul tells the jailer that all the prisoners are still
thereevery murderer and every rapist. Why?
Because Paul understood his authority. He didnt
have to write to the Philippian church, Paul, an
apostle of Christ . He just writes, A servant

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, because they knew that he stood: the doors


were wide open, on the one side stood murders,
rapists and criminals and on the other was the
jailer who was about to commit suicide, and in the
middle was the man who was called by God and
he says to the prisoners, You dont go anywhere,
and he says to the jailer, Dont you kill yourself.
Suddenly everyone understood that this man had
authority. So far there has been no revivalonly
two people have been saved but the impartation of
God is breaking into their midst.
Isnt that
amazing?
9. Facing Intimidation
When we read in verse 37 how Paul makes the
magistrates come down to escort them out of
prison, we can see that this man is not intimidated
by anything. He knew that they did wrong and he
is not intimidated. I believe that if we are to fulfil
our destiny in God, we are not to be intimidated by
anything. One of the greatest tactics of the devil
is to intimidate us. In South Africa the devil uses
violence and crime to intimidate. We have to
know in God that we do not need to get
intimidated by anybody. We know our rights in
Christ. Paul is just saying to the authorities, I am
actually in control.
10. Enjoying the Risk and Profit of Partnership
As we start concluding this chapter, lets have a
brief look at Philippians 1:3-5.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all
my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy

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because of your partnership in the gospel from the


first day until now .
I had a wonderful occasion with one man who was
sent to our church. He told me that when he
walked through the gates he had shivers down his
spine. His life was a mess. He said that when he
walked through the door he just had goose
bumpsfor four weeks he just had goose bumps.
He said that every single week, unless he has
been away or sick, he has been at the meetings.
From the first day until now . God did such a
radical work in his heart that he has not been
offended by things that Ive done wronghe just
made a decision. His wife told me that the
amazing thing about the church is that there are
miracles happening all the time: somebody comes
in broken and they get healed, somebody comes
in with debt and it gets sorted out. One single girl
came in with R300 000 debt and now she is debt
freethats a miracle.
There has been an
incredible testimony of Gods goodness. And
every one of the partners that have contributed
have enjoyed both the risk and the profit of that,
and Paul is saying, I remember with affection
those days and how you stood strong in God all
the way through.
Can you remember your first day with Jesus?
Was it radical? Was it life-changing? Was it
transforming?
Did you get baptised with
everything?
Remember Lydia by the river.
Remember the jailer who put Paul into the jail but
who changed into the man who invited him into his
home.

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2: Partnerships for the Gospel


Introduction
As we look at the book of Philippians we will be
finding something of the heart of God. We are
going to look at this book in detail to try to catch
the heart of what Paul is saying. It is a wonderful
book. It is about apostolic motivation.
Some of the books that Paul wrote were
because things were not going well in the Church:
there were all sorts of conflicts in the churches. In
some churches there was legalism (where people
felt that they needed to earn their salvation), Paul
had to deal with that in the book of Galatians. In
the book of Corinthians he had to deal with the
issue of licentiousness (where people say that
they know Jesus but they feel that they can
continue to live in sexual immorality) so, Paul has
to show them that they cannot continue to walk in
impurity. But Philippians is an amazing book
because it was a good churchit brought Paul
lots of joy and I believe that it is a church on which
we should be modelling ourselves.
We looked at Acts 16 in the last section,
which is the story of how this church was planted,
and we saw how Paul was worshiping at midnight
after he had been severely flogged. As we look at
this we want to worshipeven when we are
severely flogged and find ourselves in jail at
midnight. Now, we might not be in that exact
situation but we might find ourselves in difficult
situations. We need to learn the secret of Paul so
that in all circumstances we can find joy.

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Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,


To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi,
together with the overseers and deacons:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with
joy because of your partnership in the gospel from
the first day until now, being confident of this, that
he who began a good work in you will carry it on to
completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of
you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am
in chains or defending and confirming the gospel,
all of you share in Gods grace with me. God can
testify how I long for all of you with the affection of
Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may
abound more and more in knowledge and depth of
insight, so that you may be able to discern what is
best and may be pure and blameless until the day
of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that
comes through Jesus Christto the glory and
praise of God. (Philippians 1:1-11)
1. A Right Understanding of Gods Ways
There is a key point in verse 1: Paul does not
introduce things in a hierarchical order of elders
first, then deacons and then all the saints. He
does it in the opposite order. There is no
hierarchical structure in the Church.
To become a deacon is not a promotion in the
life of the church.
It is a greater call to
servanthood. To become an elder is not a

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promotion. It is a greater call to servanthood. We


have to understand that when we bring into the
church a hierarchical structure or mindset from the
world, we hinder the life of God here.
2. A Desire for Excellence
In verse 10 Paul speaks about being able to
discern what is best. The RSV says, That you
may approve excellence. Much of what the world
does (be it movies, be it business, ) is a search
for excellence. Computers keep getting updated
because they are looking for something that is
excellent. Cars keep getting more streamlined
because they are looking for something that is
excellent. But Paul is saying that the Church
should be modelling excellence. And, so, when
the world, businesspeople, artists and the like,
come into the Church and look at it and say, This
is not excellence, that is not good. We are not
looking for professionalism, we are looking for
excellence. Church meetings are not productions
or performances but we should be giving
something that is the best.

The Nature of Biblical Partnership


Another thing that I want to look at is partnership.
In the world, people always go into a partnership
for a profit. People always go into a partnership to
see what they can get out of it. But in the life of
the church, partnership is all about what you can
put into it, not always what you can get out of it.
The dictionary says that a partner is one who
shares in the risks and the profits. So many times
people come to church to enjoy the profits of the

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church but dont want to share in the risks of the


church. Lets look at what biblical partnership is:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return
for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together,
they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands
is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
1. Two Are Better Than One
Two are better than one.
This is biblical
partnership. According to one report, in America
there are 12 million born-again believers who do
not go to church.
They worship God by
themselves at home. They are not prepared to
engage in a partnership with the rest of the
Church because they have been hurt, offended or
dont like to be inconvenienced. The Bible says
that two are better than one. You cant serve God
by yourself.
You have to serve God in
partnership, together. That means, because we
are human, that we have to work out our
differences.

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2. A Good Return for Their Work


because they have a good return for their
work. This means that when we partner in the
gospel, there needs to be a return for it; we dont
just come here week after week. We need to see
a return for our work: we need to see fruitfulness,
we need to see the church grow, we need to see
life grow, we need to see marriages grow, we
need to see relationships grow and we need to
see Christ grow inside of us. Because when two
are together, there is a good return for our work.
3. They Help Each Other Up
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But
pity the man who falls down and has no one to
help him up! We have a lot of young people who
have been saved out of the drug culture. And
Christianity is difficult. That is why God has called
for partnerships. Now the world is very enticing;
when people have come out of the drug and sex
culture, there is a very strong draw to get back in
there. The Bible says here that when you fall
down, someone can help you up. But what some
guys do is, when under pressure to go back, they
pull away from the partnership. They pull away
from the very people that God has put into their
lives to help them stand.
I remember in our home group that when
certain guys walked through the door I would
think, Thank goodness they are here, because
they helped build up people. Sometimes when
you walk into home group you are feeling down
and you need to be built up. Other times you walk
into home group and you are feeling up and so

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you need to lift somebody else up. But God has


called us to walk out our faith together, so that
when we fall, somebody helps us up.
Sometimes its good to have somebody to
pray with, to work things through with, and to keep
short accounts withotherwise your short account
becomes a big account and you fall down with no
one around you.
4. They Are Intimate
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep
warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Now
you dont lie down with just anybodyyou lie down
with somebody that you are close to (Im not
meaning sexually). Lying down together speaks of
intimacy. Intimacy is an amazing word. The best
explanation that I have heard for it is into-me-yousee. It is a place of warmth in a relationship.
Every one of us gives off warmth. If there is
somebody next to us, that heat that they give off
actually warms us up. The Bible says that this is
biblical partnership. The love and warmth and
compassion that they exude is actually there to
build up the partnership. That is why, when your
heart goes cold, your partnership suffers.
5. They Have Better Defences
Though one may be overpowered, two can
defend themselves. Once I was in a place in
Africa and we used to stand guard at night in the
middle of nowhere. We saw no other people and
two of us had to stand guard at night, with the
roars of lions all around us. We didnt both look
out in the same directionwe stood back to back

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and each surveyed our 180 degrees. But if I had


had to be there on my own, I would have been
dizzy from turning around in circles. What actually
happened at one of our school excursions is that
the guys fell asleep at the camp fire and, when the
schoolmaster woke up, the lions were walking
around our schoolmates. He had to get into the
car at night and drive between the boys and the
lions, wake them up and get them into the car.
They saw the lions and realised that they had not
defended themselves well. Friends, as partners in
the Church we have a responsibility to defend the
people in the partnership.
When you see
somebody is down, you go and defend them.
When you see somebody is walking into
something dangerous, we go and defend them.
Paul says, I rejoice in our partnership.

The Way to Live Out a Biblical


Partnership
When we look at this text, it shows us several
ingredients of a partnership:
1. Have People in Your Mind and Thoughts
Verse 3 says, I thank my God every time I
remember you. The first thing is this: we have
people in our minds and in our thoughts. Thats
how I can know that we are in a partnershipif I
have you in my mind. One of the businessmen in
our church gave up his job and went on his own.
He was with a company for eleven years and
since he left the company, only one person from
the company has contacted himbut his Christian
friends have contacted him. Why? Because we

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are in partnership, we have him on our mind. It


means that we dont always think about ourselves
but we think about other people as well.
2. Have People in Your Heart
Consider verse 7. It is right for me to feel this
way about all of you, since I have you in my heart
. Partners have people in their minds and
partners have people in their hearts. One of our
elders in particular has got the people of our
church in his heart. God will often wake him up
early in the morning, at 2 or 3 am, and place
someone on his heart and he will get up and pray.
As a partner in this church he has the people on
his heart. I have seen the elders cry out to God
for the single people. It is difficult for single
people to live pure sexually. I have seen them
crying out and weepingmarried men weeping
because they have the single people on their
hearts.
When you have someone on your heart it is
much deeper than just a Hello and How are
you? You can go and have a game of golf with
somebody, you can play for five hours and talk
about absolutely nothing significant or life
changing. You come back and you say that you
had a great game but actually there was nothing
hearty. To have someone on your heart means to
care about them and to be deeply committed to
them. It means, I have something inside here
that I want to share with you. I will tell you some
of my secrets, some of my desires, some of my
joys. At that level this partnership is not just a
superficial relationship but it is a deep, meaningful,
emotive relationship. And that is why, as a church

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grows bigger, our responsibility as partners is to


make sure that the new people can join in
meaningful relationships in the life of the church,
where they dont feel that they are just outsiders
who come in Sunday after Sunday. Friends, we
are not trying to build a preaching centre: we are
trying to build the Family of God. That means that
everybody can have meaningful relationships
where they can share their hearts, share their joy,
share their sadness, in a partnership that is going
to glorify Christ. Therefore everybody has to take
responsibility for the new people that God sends a
church, to make sure that they are knitted in to
meaningful relationships in the family.
3. Have People in Your Prayers
Verse 9 says, And this is my prayer: that your
love may abound more and more . We should
say, I have you in my mind, I have you in my
heart, and I believe, most importantly, I have you
in my prayers. As Charismatic Christians we so
glibly say, I will pray for you. Its a kind of catch
phrase: How you doing? Oh, my family is taking
strain. Okay, I will pray for you. And you see
them a week later and you havent said a single
thing to God. True, meaningful partnerships mean
that others become part of our prayer life.
I once read a wonderful story about a nurse,
how she goes about her daily duties of prayer.
She uses her hand. Her thumb is closest to her,
so she starts by praying for the people closest to
herher mother and father, her husband and
children. The next finger is used to point, so then
she prays for her teachersall the people who
have taught her since she was a little girl

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schoolteachers, hospital sisters, doctors etc.. The


middle finger is the tallest, so it stands for the
leaders of the country. The Bible tells us to pray
for our leaders, so she prays for her leaders. The
ring finger is known as the weak finger (ask any
pianist) and so she prays for all the weak people
that she knowsall the people who are in trouble
or going through hardship. And the little finger is
the last one and so she prays for herself last.
Are you in a prayerful partnership with the
members of this church? Those closest to you,
those who teach you, the leaders of our country
(including those that we dont like and dont agree
with), the weak peoplethe down-and-outs, those
that give us a hard timeand then finally
ourselves.

Knowledge that Aids Biblical Partnership


Now, what does Paul pray? Lets have a look at
what he prays.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound
more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best
and may be pure and blameless until the day of
Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that
comes through Jesus Christto the glory and
praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
Why it is so good to go through a book over a
period of time like this is because normally we
would just read over these kinds of words and not
know what they actually mean. But when we go
through it slowly and thoroughly we can look at

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each word and discover what Paul was trying to


convey.
1. The Knowledge of God
The first thing he prays for is depth of knowledge:
more and more knowledge. About who? About
God. Why? Because thats what gets us through.
Thats how Paul, at midnight, after he had been
beaten, flogged and locked in stocks, was able to
worshipbecause he knew God.
I read an account of a small aeroplane that
was flying over the Grand Canyon and got into
trouble. The pilot radioed in for help saying, Help
me, Im in trouble. The guy radioed back asking
for his position, so he gave his position.
What is the trouble?
The clouds are coming in and I am loosing my
bearings.
Are you instrument rated?
No, I am not.
Avoid the clouds.
I cant avoid themthey are coming down
everywhere.
Are you moving left or right?
I dont know, Im just spinning.
Pull yourself out.
I cant, I dont know how to.
And the next moment there was a crash. They
picked up the wreck the next day. The point is
that when we dont have a deep knowledge of
Godwhen we are not instrument ratedwhen
the clouds come down and the hardships hit us,
we spin because we dont know how to get out of

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it. Our faith cannot be based on just emotion. We


cannot come to church, lift our hands and just feel
good. We actually need a root system and a
strong rock as a foundation underneath us so that
when trouble comes we can say, Yes, I am
instrument rated. Then we can fly through the
clouds of life when we cant see a single thing and
everything looks grimeven when we are in jail
and we are beatenwe can fly ourselves out of
there because we are instrument rated. How do
we get instrument rated? By increasing our
knowledge of God. How do we do that in the
Church? We pray and pray until people become
mature in God.
2. The Ability to Discern What is Best
The next thing it speaks about is discerning what
is best. If you have ever had a child you will know
that once they have seen a woof-woof, anything
with four legs becomes a woof-woof. There are
woof-woof cows and woof-woof sheep and
woof-woof kittens because they dont know the
difference. All they see is that it moves, it has four
legs and a tail, so its a dog. It starts a bit like that
in the Christian life. We start to discern things and
we know that there is life there but were not quite
sure. Paul is saying, I pray that you will be able
to discern the difference between a cat and a
dog.
Sometimes when you see a beggar on the
street its not always good to give him money.
Sometimes it is but sometimes it is not. We are to
discern what is good and what is bad, what is right
and what is wrong. I believe that as we and our
partnership grow in God, we will start to make

THE HEART OF AN APOSTOLIC CHURCH

better and better decisions and discern what is


best. The apostle Paul is helping us to see what
is best in the Christian life.

Attitudes that Aid Biblical Partnership


1. A Servant Heart
What is best is servanthood, not position. He
starts the book like that. We are taught our whole
lives that we should climb the corporate ladder
and that when we get to the top we are the boss
and that that is good. The Bible says that it is not
goodits bad. In Luke 22 it says that they call
themselves benefactors.
We are not in the
Church to benefit ourselves, we are in the Church
to serve. Paul is saying that his prayer is that we
would be able to see that it is not about position or
title but that it is all about servanthood.
2. A Worshiping Heart
Its not about entertainment, its about worship.
The world entertains, the movies entertain, but the
Church worships. We have to discern that, and
we have to know that it is what is best. We dont
leave the meeting on a Sunday saying, That was
a good time, That was a bad time, The music
team was good, or The music team was bad.
We leave here saying, Have I given my worship
to the King? Thats best.
3. A Heart that Doesnt Grasp
It says in chapter 2 that laying down our lives is
better than grasping for something. We are taught

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to grasp but the Bible says that what is best is to


lay it down: lay down our ambitions and lay down
our aspirations.
4. A Heart that Works in Team
Paul says that team is better than individualism. I
once met with somebody and they had been in
ministry and had gone through a divorce. They
were asking about Dudley and how he was doing
and I was talking about how Dudley has a team
around him who can speak into his life at any time.
The team looks at his finances, they look at his
marriage etc.. This person said to me, If only we
had had that, we would have been alright. But
they became so powerful that nobody could speak
to them. We are committed to this thing of team,
friends.
Its about character and servanthoodthats
whats best.

The Purpose of Our Partnership


1. To Become Pure and Blameless
After discerning what is best, Paul speaks about
being pure and blameless. The Greek word for
pure can mean to live by the sunlight or
daylight. Its a bit like when the curtains of a
stage open accidentally and the actors are caught
unawares and suddenly jump into position. The
Bible is saying that when the curtains open, and
people in the crowd can actually see what you are
doing behind the curtains, you should be
unashamed and prepared. It is so easy for the
Church to point fingers at the world and say, They

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are doing horrible things, and make the world feel


that the Church is condemning it, but we need to
point at ourselves and get our own act together.
Then, when the world comes in here, they will
acknowledge that we have something right
because we are living by the daylight. Then they
dont feel like there is a finger pointing, rather they
feel like the Christians have got their lives
together. When they come in here with broken
marriages and broken sexuality and broken
emotions they will say, These guys have let the
light of the Son of God come in to touch them and
change them.
Paul carries on to say, And be blameless.
That word blameless can mean to stop other
people from stumbling. Dont cause other people
to stumble. Not only do we want to get our lives
right but we want to help others to get their lives
right.
2. To Stand Strong Until the End
Until when? Until the day of Christ. Im not in
this thing for five years, Im not in this thing for just
ten years, Im in this thing until the day of Christ.
Im going to stand strong, Im going to stand firm.
Im going to contribute to the partnership because
we dont know until 15 or 20 years down the line
how we are actually standing. And I believe that
we must do what Paul says, Stand strong until
the day of Christ. We see people come into the
Church and taste, taste, taste, and then they go.
No! Until the day of Christ we are committed to
stand strong: through every storm, through every
beating, through every hardship we stand strong

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because thats our commitment to apostolic


Christianity.
3. To Be Filled With the Fruit of
Righteousness
Filled with the fruit of righteousness. Not filled
with the fruit of prosperitywere not in this thing
to get rich; not filled with the fruit of selfgratification; not filled with the fruit of selfpromotion.
Were filled with the fruit of
righteousness where Jesus Christ and his ways
break into our lives. People should be able to look
and say, Hes actually not in this thing for himself,
hes actually in this thing for Jesusapostolic
partnership.
4. To Be More Like Jesus for His Glory
To the glory and praise of God. I believe that
this statement was the thing that motivated Paul.
Paul said in the beginning that he who began a
good work in you will complete it. Paul knew that.
That good work is for us to become like Jesus.
God is not trying to make us successful and hes
not trying to make us failureshes trying to make
us like Jesus. That is what he is committed to,
and if we have to go through a jail term to deal
with some attitudes, he will let us do that because
Paul says it is all to the glory and praise of Jesus.
Paul realised that the Church was not about him.
The Church is not about us. The Church is about
Jesus breaking into our lives and about Jesus
being praised. I believe that when we produce a
community that is committed to see the glory and
praise of Godnot just one church but all the

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churches in the cityI tell you that the world will


come running more and more. We are not here
for self-gratification, we are here to praise God.

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3: Praising in Chains for the Gospel


Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi,
together with the overseers and deacons:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with
joy because of your partnership in the gospel from
the first day until now, being confident of this, that
he who began a good work in you will carry it on to
completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of
you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am
in chains or defending and confirming the gospel,
all of you share in Gods grace with me. God can
testify how I long for all of you with the affection of
Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:1-8)
Have you ever thought of Christ Jesus as
affectionate? The elders went away for a few
days to talk about theology, the Church, and to
spend some time together. Now, at this time one
elder thought he would just show one of the other
elders some affection. He started to rub his
shoulders and the other elder was very
uncomfortablehe was squirming and worming.
But the more he squirmed the more affection the
other elder became.
We are looking at the apostolic Church and
Paul (the apostle) is talking about affection! We
have such a fear in our minds that says that boys
dont touch boys because its not right: we have

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lost something of the affection of Jesus Christ.


We are talking about the true apostolic Church
where there will be love and contact without
sexual connotationswhere there will be an
affection.
Remember, Jesus is affectionate
towards us, and the Father loves us even if our
role model has been one of distant parents.
When we come into the Church we have to
understand that Jesus is deeply dippy about
mehe loves me. Some of us have been
brought up in a Rugby culture where we dont
touch and we are not close, and all I talk about are
things at a distance and we rub shoulders but we
never become affectionate. Because of this we
might never appreciate the full love that Jesus has
for us and we might never give the full love that
Jesus has for others. So, when we talk about the
apostolic Church, we are not talking about a
model that is devoid of love and affection and
power and grace and servanthood. We are talking
about a Church that is made up of those very
things.

We Can Learn Contentment


And this is my prayer: that your love may abound
more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best
and may be pure and blameless until the day of
Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that
comes through Jesus Christto the glory and
praise of God.
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what
has happened to me has really served to advance
the gospel. As a result, it has become clear
throughout the whole palace guard and to

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everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.


Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the
Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of
God more courageously and fearlessly.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy
and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter
do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the
defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ
out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing
that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in
chains. But what does it matter? The important
thing is that in every way, whether from false
motives or true, Christ is preached. And because
of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know
that through your prayers and the help given by
the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to
me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly
expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage so that now as
always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether
by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and
to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body,
this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall
I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the
two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is
better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I
remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that
I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for
your progress and joy in the faith, so that through
my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus
will overflow on account of me.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a
manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then,
whether I come and see you or only hear about

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you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm


in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith
of the gospel without being frightened in any way
by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them
that they will be destroyed, but that you will be
savedand that by God. For it has been granted
to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in
him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going
through the same struggle you saw I had, and now
hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:9-30)
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have
renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have
been concerned, but you had no opportunity to
show it. I am not saying this because I am in
need, for I have learned to be content whatever
the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty. I have
learned the secret of being content in any and
every situation, whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want. I can do
everything through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:10-13)
I heard that there was a whole thing going on in
the city where some of the very rich people of the
city are hiring out their homes to conference
delegates from around the world to make more
money. They have all the money in the world and
they still hire their homes out for more money. Im
not judging them, but their motivationwhat is
best to themis money.
When the most
important thing is money, you never have enough
so, you keep hiring out your home, or you keep
looking for another job, or you keep looking for a

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promotion. But Paul says that he has learnt the


secret of contentment. I believe that the greatest
challenge that most of us face is this issue of
contentment. Somehow we need to close the
circlestop the cycle of ever-increasing desires
and spending.
Paul says that he knows what it is to be in
need and he also knows what it is to have plenty.
Paul is not saying that it is wrong to be rich. He
says that he has been in a place of need as well
as in a place of plenty. He is talking about finding
contentment whatever his situation. He says that
he can be rich and content, or he can be poor and
content. Throughout the book of Philippians we
are trying to learn the secret because he goes on
to say, I have learned the secret of being content
in any and every situation, whether well fed or
hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can
do everything through him who gives me
strength.
So, the book of Philippians is actually the
revelation of a secret. That is what much of
Philippians is about. At the end of it he says that
he has learnt the secret of being content, whether
he has excessive amounts of money and things,
or whether he has actually been lackingin both
those scenarios he says, I am content. In the
Church you will find people who are in need and
you will find people who are seriously wealthy.
Some are multimillionaires and others are battling
to feed themselves, but both sets of people should
find the secret of contentment. When you go to
church and see someone coming in with their
4 x 4, you dont look at it with envy and think, I
wish I had that. No, you find yourself content with

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what you do have. You also dont look at


someone driving something old and think, Im so
pleased that I dont have that. No, you find
yourself content with what you do have. Thats
what Paul is saying. It is quite a challenging
message.
1. By Being a Servant
In Philippians 1:10 Paul speaks about discerning
what is best, and we spoke about that in the
previous section. What is best in the world is
position, title, prestige and promotionthats what
is best.
But when Paul is talking here he
introduces himself by saying, Paul, a servant.
He was a bright man, he was an intelligent man,
he was a well studied man, but he realised as he
walked with God that finding contentment in his
life was not about getting position but about
becoming a servant and laying down his life.
When he realised that, the contentment broke into
his heart.
One day I walked out to the tea table on
Sunday night and there were four men standing
on the other side with tea pots in their hands. The
first used to live a lifestyle where he went to all the
social parties and went through a high-profile
divorce. He thought he had everything but then
Jesus broke in and a remarriage took place. He
and his wife are very important in their circles and
they are well known by many peoplehe stood
with a tea pot in his hand (and a Mercedes Benz
in the car park). He was pouring tea for a group of
people with tatty T-shirts and no shoes. And I
thought, Jesus is here. Right next to him was a
director of a very famous clothing company

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many people wear those shirts. And that director


of that clothing company had a tea pot in his hand
and was pouring tea for some surfers wearing his
T-shirts and he just poured the tea.
Next to him was someone who has been
highly successful as a young man in business and
he had been crying most of the meeting. He has
had all the fancy cars but he has realised that
what is best is to serve and he also stood with a
tea pot. Next to him was another man who owns
a massive company in this city, he also drives a
fancy car and he had also been crying all night
and he also had a tea pot. And I thought, The
Kingdom of God has come! I could just see that
these men have taken off their cloaks as the
directors of companies, they had taken out their
car keysMercedes Benz and Land Roverthey
had put them down before the king and they
shouted, Hosanna to the King! Let him walk on
our cloaks, let him walk on our cars, let him walk
on our titles because his Name has to be glorified
through our lives.
I went home and I thought that the meeting
was an amazing time, but that picture was like a
snapshot and I thought that if we can get people to
understand that it is not about position or
promotionits about servanthoodthen we are
doing something right. One of the men sent me
an e-mail saying, My wife and I thoroughly
enjoyed serving the church on Sundaythank you
for the privilege. That man has been served his
whole life but he got saved a few months ago and
now he realises that servanthood is the best.

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2. By Living for the Gospel


In Philippians 1:1-9 we see the heart of Paul. We
see that this church had been planted under
adversityhed been beaten, severely flogged
and put in jail. In verses 12-30 we begin to see
more of the apostolic heart. It is the thing that
motivates us as a church and it is the thing that
should motivate you as a member of the Church.
Paul goes on to say in verse 12, Now I want you
to know, brothers, that what has happened to me
has really served to advance the gospel. To
advance the gospel was Pauls motivationthat
was the apostolic heartthat is what Paul lived
for.
He goes on to say in verse 13, As a result, it
has become clear throughout the whole palace
guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for
Christ. Because of my chains, most of the
brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to
speak the word of God more courageously and
fearlessly. He is saying, It doesnt matter that I
am in chainsat least something is happening
at least the gospel is advancing. And to me, my
circumstances are not as important as the fact
that the gospel is advancing.
Many times we look at our chains and say,
Look at my chains, look at my adversity, look at
my confinement, look at my restrictions. When
people ask us how we are doing, we might tell
them of our restrictions, we might tell them that we
are bound up, we might tell them about our
confinementinstead of using the opportunity to
advance the gospel. But now we see that the very
things that we saw as a restriction, we should
actually see as an advancement of the gospel.

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Sometimes you feel chained to your spouseyou


feel she restricts you or you feel he contains you.
Ask yourself, How can this confinement advance
the gospel? You say, But you dont understand.
Sometimes you feel confined to a home group
you feel restricted or bound to a home group, or
you feel bound to the prayer meeting. You feel
bound sometimes to come to church. But if we
look at the chains and think, Oh! Another prayer
meeting, another home group! then we have
actually lost the plot: we are living for the wrong
thingwe are living for our own satisfaction
instead of the advancement of the gospel. We go
to home group so that the gospel can advance, we
go to the prayer meeting so that the gospel can
advance.
3. By Forgetting Ourselves
I watched a TV program with a group of guys, and
a man came on to be interviewed. We noticed
how many times that man used the word, I. He
said, I did this , and, I went here , and, I
got selected , and, I got promoted , and, I
got the contract , and, I , I , I . We
noticed how much of our lives are exactly the
same as that manits full of I. Its got nothing
to do with Iits got everything to do with God.
While were living for I, we never find
contentment because with every restriction we feel
flustered,
we
feel
contained,
we
feel
claustrophobic, instead of actually seeing it as an
advancement of the gospel.

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We Can Stand Firm


There is a progression through the book of
Philippiansit starts with this affection and
fellowship. We start off our relationship with God
as a son or a daughter, and then from verse 12 we
progress to being a servant where we are not just
enjoying a relationship with God (if you have just
been saved, enjoy it because that is the ground
from which we begin to do things for God). We
are his sons; then we become servants where we
start to serve and advance the gospel; then later
on we become soldiers and we start to fight for the
faith.
Paul is saying, Dont let anybody scare you
dont be frightened by anybody. Its a military
concept, its about standing firm. When everybody
is talking about legalising this and legalising that,
we stand up and say, No! You put a stake in the
ground and you do not budge. Its great to just be
a son and love God but at some point you need to
stand up for the gospel and say that you will not
budge.
1. By Knowing Gods Word
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead,
descended from David. This is my gospel, for
which I am suffering even to the point of being
chained like a criminal. But Gods word is not
chained. (2 Timothy 2:8)
Gods word is not chained! Thats why we need to
get to know our Biblesbecause we cannot put
restrictions on this thing; it cannot be chained.
Paul says, Im contentI am okay because

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although I am in chains, although I am bound up,


this thing cant be chained. And what Im going to
do, is I am going to release it. And they think
theyve tied me up and they think theyve caught
me and they think theyve put me in the deepest
prison but this thing has got life.
A famous philosopher once said that God was
dead and that in fifty years there would be no
Christianity in Europe. Fifty years later the Bible
Society had bought his house and they were
distributing the word of God from the very house
where he proclaimed that God was dead. The
Bible has been the best selling book right
throughout history. There is no other book that
has sold more copies than the Bible. When we
understand that, our circumstances dont matter
because they cant chain the message of God.
2. By Producing Results
In verse 13 Paul says, As a result . What is
the world looking for? They are looking for results.
I read an interview in a Saturday newspaper of
one of the fund managersa guy who had come
flying through the ranks, 37 years old, with a
Masters degree. They asked him, How do you
quantify a successful fund manager? He said,
Results. Results! Paul is not looking at his
confinement, he is looking at the results of his
confinement. The world is saying, I want to see
results. Paul is saying that when we get our
priorities right, we will see results.
These are the results (verses 13-14): It has
become clear throughout the whole palace guard
and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the

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Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of


God more courageously and fearlessly.
All the saints send you greetings, especially those
who belong to Caesars household. (Philippians
4:22)
Hes not talking about Caesars guard, hes talking
about Caesars household. How did Caesars
household come to hear the gospel? When we go
back to Acts 16 we see that this church was
planted, Paul got arrested, he got severely
flogged, he got stuck in stocks and at night he was
worshiping God: God is so good, so very good
. Now that was in severe circumstances after a
severe beating! This time he hasnt been flogged,
hes just been chained. You better know that if
Paul sang songs between murderers and rapists
after being severely flogged then when he is
simply chained to the imperial guard, he is going
to sing like a canary. Not only does he sing but he
gets them so converted that they go back to their
homes and their wives and they tell about this
Jesus Christ. Paul says at the end, Not only the
saints but all of Caesars household. The results
of our confinement should be that people get to
know about Jesus.
There is a wonderful family that have joined
our church. One man bumped into a girl who he
fell in love with (she was going to another church)
and brought her to this church. So, she decided
to invite her brother and sister-in-law to church
and they got saved. That brother and sister-in-law
have invited all their friends. Now there is this
group of about fifteen people and its growing all

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the timeand they are coming to know the Lord.


Paul is saying that there needs to be results in our
Christianity. Not only do we tell them but they tell
the next people. I think that there is something in
the Church where we have lost the pure joy of our
salvation, where we have stopped telling people
about Jesus. But Paul said, The advancement of
the gospel is what I live for.
Not the
advancement of our careers, not the advancement
of our richesthe advancement of the gospel.
Sometimes our moods depend on whether we are
doing well or badly on our career paths but Paul
says, in effect, It doesnt bother me, as long as
the gospel is advancing.
3. By Taking Courage
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the
Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of
God more courageously and fearlessly.
(Philippians 1:14)
Sometimes when we become weighed down by
our own situation, we need to go and read the
stories of the great saintsthe men and women
who have laid down their lives for the gospel. We
had a man preach here who has stood before
firing squads, hes been tracked by leopards, hes
been bitten by mice as he slept. When he stands
up, you know that he has settled the issue in his
lifehe lives for the advancement of the gospel.
This thing is so much bigger than our church or
our city, it is so much bigger than our lives and our
houses and the kitchens that we want to put in
its so much bigger than that. Paul said, I want
my life both to influence the unbeliever and I want

THE HEART OF AN APOSTOLIC CHURCH

it to influence the believer. So, when we see a


businessman whose marriage was broken come
back and reunite with his wife and pour some tea,
we are encouraged.
4. By Dealing with Our Motives
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and
rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so
in love, knowing that I am put here for the defence
of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of
selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they
can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.
(Philippians 1:15-17)
Friends, the apostolic Church will have no envy
and it will have no rivalry. Even if the church next
door grows faster than us, has more profile than
us, gets more people saved than us, has more
money than us and has a bigger building than us,
we cannot have envy and rivalry in our ranks.
Much of it is about numbers and how powerful the
prophetic word ishow well did he preach? We
go back to Paul and he says, I pray that you may
have discernment, that you will know what is best.
Numbers is not what is best, profile is not what is
best, the biggest building is not what is bestPaul
says that servanthood and the advancement of
the gospel is what is best. The apostolic Church
will deal with its motives.
5. By Knowing What is Important
Paul says this in verse 18: But what does it
matter? The important thing is that in every way,
whether from false motives or true, Christ is

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preached. And because of this I rejoice. Paul


could have said, The important thing is my
rights. Paul could have said, The important thing
is my release from jail. Paul could have said,
The important thing is my comfort. Paul could
have said, The important thing is my defence.
Paul could have said, The important thing is my
convenience. But Paul says that the important
thing is that Christ is preached.
I wonder what the most important thing is to
great golf players. I wonder what the most
important thing is to rich businesspeople.
I
wonder what the most important thing is to famous
sportsmen. Friends, we get fashioned by that
because they flash them up on billboards and they
flash them up on posters. A guy once told me that
those big billboards near the airports can cost a
hundred thousand rand a month to advertise up
there. And they flash the big faces up there and
we look at that.
We look at the famous
magazines, we look on the front cover at a person
who has been nipped and tucked by a computer
(her eyes have changed colour, her cheeks are a
little narrower, her neck is perfect), we look at it
and say to ourselves, This is important. But Paul
is saying, No, its not.
What is important to you? Some of us were
talking about the best excuses that we have ever
heard for people not coming to home group.
Hello, weve had a power failure and we havent
been able to cook our supper on time, so
unfortunately we wont be coming to home group.
Hello, I have a flat tyresorry, cant make it.
Hello, its raining, I cant come (even though I own
a car). Its the privilege of a home-group leader.

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From 18:45 to 19:15 you know that your phone is


like a highway: its one weak excuse after the next.
When I look at this and I look at Pauls life, I have
to realise that it is actually weak. They are weak
excuseswe all made them and we are all full of
them. Im studyingIve got exams.
Friends, if advancing the gospel is important
to students then, when they know when their
exams are, they study accordingly so that they
can be at church on Sunday night, because they
need to worship before they go and write their
exams. When you miss church because you are
studying for exams, it is not a legitimate excuse
because you have actually not understood what is
best: you have your priorities all mixed up.
6. By Being Disciplined
There was a situation where we had a whole lot of
people planned to worship at a leadership training
time on the stage. We asked each one of them
whether or not they passed their midyear exams.
If they passed their midyear exams then they
could sing but if they had failed their exams, they
could not, because they had their priorities wrong.
The guys that have gone before have sat at
places of study, got degrees, got diplomas and
have built careers. There is this new group of
people coming through saying, All to Jesus I
surrender, and its all going to fall on a plate for
me! Im not going to have to get a degree, Im not
going to have to work! Im just going to go and
serve Jesus full time! We have to be disciplined.
Paul was disciplined, he was structured and he
worked.

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When it comes to finances, there are four


basic principles: tithes, offerings, blamelessness
and work. The Bible says that if you dont work,
you dont eat. Young people, if you want to serve
God full time but he has not opened a door for
you, you go and get a jobyou pursue a career
until such a time as God changes that.

The Important Thing


1. Rejoicing in All Circumstances
What is your response to your situation that you
find yourself in right now? We all hate pain, we
hate inconvenience and we hate discomfort. Our
wives hear first, then the children and then
everyone closest to us. Hows it going? Really
not well. Why? Things are not going according
to plan. Whose plan? My plan. What about
Gods plan? I actually havent thought about
that, but my plan is not going well!
We read the book of Philippians written by
Paula man who has been beaten, a man who
has been stripped, a man who has been put in
stocksand find that he is singing at midnight like
a canary. He gets chained to somebody else and
he says, I thank God that the gospel is advancing
through my life. What is your response to the
situation that you find yourself in right now? What
is your attitude like to those that you are chained
to?
2. Seeking the Gospel in Every Situation
But you really dont understand my boss. Im
sure I dont, but can the gospel advance through

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your being chained to him right now? But you


dont understand what it is like living in my home.
My dad is not like your dad. I know that, but by
being chained to your home can the gospel
advance through your life?
I had a situation with a relative. I thought,
How on earth do I advance the gospel through
this situation? So, I phoned the person and, even
though I thought that there were two people at
fault, I decided to just swallow my pride and I said,
I overreacted, Im sorry, I ask your forgiveness.
It doesnt matter because I hope that through my
asking for forgiveness that the gospel will
advance.
What is your attitude like towards those that
you are chained to? I include your spouse, even
if they are unbelieving. Sometimes people can get
so frustrated because their wife or husband is not
saved and they start to ridicule them. What is
your attitude like? The gospel is the good news.
3. Conclusion
What is the important thing to you? I believe that
Paul found something so that when he lived in any
place he found contentment. When the important
thing to us is money, or when the important thing
to us is position, or when the important thing to us
is promotion, we will never live in contentment
its impossible. What is important to you?

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4: Becoming an Apostolic Church


Changes to Our Priorities and Behaviour
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has
happened to me has really served to advance the
gospel.
As a result, it has become clear
throughout the whole palace guard and to
everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the
Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of
God more courageously and fearlessly.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy
and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter
do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the
defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ
out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing
that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in
chains. But what does it matter? The important
thing is that in every way, whether from false
motives or true, Christ is preached. And because
of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know
that through your prayers and the help given by
the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to
me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly
expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage so that now as
always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether
by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and
to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body,
this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall
I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the
two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is

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better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I


remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that
I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for
your progress and joy in the faith, so that through
my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus
will overflow on account of me.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a
manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then,
whether I come and see you or only hear about
you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm
in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith
of the gospel without being frightened in any way
by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them
that they will be destroyed, but that you will be
savedand that by God. For it has been granted
to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in
him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going
through the same struggle you saw I had, and now
hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:12-30)
1. Our Priorities Challenged
Verse 18 speaks of the important thing. When
we looked at this before, we saw that we dont
know what is really important to us until we are
under pressure. Some of the good that will come
out of a major disaster is that people will re-look at
some of their priorities. The icon of financial
success for many was the Twin Towers and the
icon of military success was the Pentagon. In one
hour both of those were penetrated. What is the
important thing? It is with no callousness to the
people but it does challenge our priorities. What is
the important thing?

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2. Our Conduct
Verse 21 says For to me, to live is Christ and to
die is gain. This is one of the most powerful
verses in Scripture and I neglected it for years
because I did not understand it. But Paul gets to
the place where he says, For to me, to live is
Christ and to die is gain.
Verse 27 of our text says, Whatever
happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy
of the gospel of Christ. If you were to just flip to
this verse and read it, you would think, Who are
you to speak, Paul? But Paul has been beaten,
Paul has been whipped, Paul has been abused,
Paul has been in chains, Paul has been
shipwrecked, Paul has been falsely accusedand
he says to the people, Whatever happens,
conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the
Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ghandi was asked what the greatest
hindrance to Christian mission in India was. He
said, Christians. Christians are the greatest
obstacle to apostolic work in India! The word
conduct in the Greek can mean, to be a
responsible citizennot just a responsible
citizen of our nation because our citizenship is in
heaven.
3. Our Boldness
Verse 28 goes on, without being frightened in
any way by those who oppose you. You and I
should never be frightened in any way because we
have found something that is unshakeable.

THE HEART OF AN APOSTOLIC CHURCH

4. Our Ability to Embrace Suffering


Then verse 29 says, For it has been granted to
you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him,
but also to suffer for him . It has been
grantedit is a present to yousuffering. It
comes all wrapped up in a parcel, its got ribbon
and a card but when you open it up, its still
suffering. The Church under persecution has
been the purest form of Church that there ever
has been. As we read on, I believe that this is the
kind of church that we should be aiming to
become.
If you have any encouragement from being united
with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any
fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and
compassion, then make my joy complete by being
like-minded, having the same love, being one in
spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider
others better than yourselves. Each of you should
look not only to your own interests, but also to the
interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)
That is the Church that people are going to run to
when they are under pressure! Thats the kind of
Church that you and I should be aiming to
become. Lets backtrack, and then look at these
last verses.
5. Our Purpose in Life
Going back to verse 21, For to me, to live is
Christ and to die is gain. For me to live is not
self-gratification, for me to live is not self-

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promotion, for me to live is not prestige or financial


success, for me to live is Christ. How many of us
can actually say that with confidence? I think that
one of the reasons why I used to avoid that
particular text is because I couldnt speak it with
integrity.
6. Our Knowledge that Jesus is King
Lets look at this little story in Acts 8 because it
speaks so strongly to the condition that we find
ourselves in.
Now for some time a man named Simon had
practised sorcery in the city and amazed all the
people of Samaria. He boasted that he was
someone great, and all the people, both high and
low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, This
man is the divine power known as the Great
Power. They followed him because he had
amazed them for a long time with his magic. But
when they believed Philip as he preached the
good news of the kingdom of God and the name
of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and
women.
Simon himself believed and was
baptised. And he followed Philip everywhere,
astonished by the great signs and miracles he
saw.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that
Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent
Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they
prayed for them that they might receive the Holy
Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come
upon any of them; they had simply been baptised
into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and

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John placed their hands on them, and they


received the Holy Spirit.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at
the laying on of the apostles hands, he offered
them money and said, Give me also this ability so
that everyone on whom I lay my hands may
receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:9-19)
In verse 9 we see that Simon was a bit of a hitman with a stage as he practised his sorcery and
his arts, and he was amazing everybody. Hes
amazing the crowds. It says that the people gave
him their attention and called him the Great
Power. One of the problems in the world is that
people want a king and people want to be king.
Simon is an example of thisI am great, just look
at my power. Even in the Church people want a
king. How do I know that? Because people
phone and say, I want to see you. I ask them,
Can you see one of the other elders? They say,
No, I want to see you.
Its a kingship mentalitythat pastor is not
the king of the church, Jesus is the king.
Sometimes its a lot better to see one of the other
elders than it is to see the lead elder. Why?
Because some can be a lot more caring and kind,
with more time to pray for you. The whole thing of
the world is to build yourself up and then boast
about yourself.
But then Simon himself believed and got
baptised. A little later, Simon offers the apostles
money in order to have the same gift that the
apostles hadeven though he had got saved and
baptised! Why? Because hes used to power,
hes used to exercising sorcery, hes used to

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having the attention, hes used to the crowds


being amazed by him. He came into the kingdom
of God and he wanted to pay for the gift of the
Holy Spirit. This is the same Simon who believed
and got baptised. Paul says, For me to live is
Christnot me, not my gift, nothing I can do. To
live is Christ and we lay down our kingship.
Simon was baptised and he believed, but Christs
kingship had not yet come and he had not died
yet and Christ is not living yet. We can live as
Christians in this day, in this city, with the name of
Christian all over us but our lifestyle is like Simon:
we want to pay money to get what we want. Paul
says, To live is ChristI have died to all of that
other stuff. Im not the king, he is the King. And
he says that to die is gain.
7. Our Final Destination
Have you ever given your funeral thought? Paul
had, because he says that when he dies it is going
to be goodhe says that it is going to be gain.
You can understand why he is content. He gets
one more beating and he knows that he is closer
to death and he is happy. Once he understood
that, what a powerful position Paul found himself
in: no man could do anything to him. He goes on
to say in Philippians that to be with Christ is better
by far.
8. Our Desire to Live for Others
Paul said that it was better for them that he stayed
alive in order that they may benefit. We seek to
understand the apostolic heart and mandate. Paul
says that it is better for him to die and go and be

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with Jesus but it is more useful for the Philippians


that he stays to be with them. Ive seen homegroup leaders get better job offers somewhere
else with more money, and so they pack up their
home groups and relocatefor money.
Im
asking: What is better for the people that God has
entrusted to your care?
Thats the kind of
leadership that we want in the Church.
Sometimes it is good to leave when you get a
promotion, but sometimes it should not be
because the rental is cheaper on the other side of
town. I remember a home-group leader that
moved from Glenwood to Durban North because
we needed home groups in Durban North. The
apostolic Church says, It actually doesnt matter
what happens to me, as long as you get
benefitedthats alright.
Before we can understand living for others
and the ability to embrace suffering, we need to
understand our position together on the winning
side.
9. Our Ability to Stand Together
We never stand alone.
Paul speaks of
contending as one man for the faith. There is a
man here who has been diagnosed with diabetes
and if he had been in the world, he would have to
contend against it on his own. But now that he is
in the Church we can get around him and stand
with him. The Church is the place where you dont
stand alone. The world is where you stand
alonethe Church is where you stand together.
And when youre in difficulty, thats where your
brothers come around you and they pray for you.
He was scared about what he was going to eat so,

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one of the girls in the home group knows someone


who is diabetic who has a book about that. She
went out and bought the book and slipped it under
the garage door. He got the book and said, I
thought there was no life after being diagnosed
diabetic. He hadnt realised that you can eat
scones.
How?
Through one girl who was
standing at his side, who lifted up his arms.
In the Church we never stand alonewe
always stand with people around us, we always
contend together, we always play in a team. If you
are not a team player then you will never ever live
in the benefit of what the Church has to offer.
One report said that there are 12 million bornagain American people who will not go to church
on a Sundaybecause they do not want to play
team; they will not submit. I trust that at this time
they will get back into where God has called them
so that they can contend as one man for the faith,
so that when people are down, there will be others
that will stand around them and lift them up.
When you are down, or battling with your
sexuality, instead of battling on your own, you
should press in, because this is where you will find
the victoryits in team. It happens especially
with young people when they get seduced with
drugs. We can fight together where a guy can
say, I am seduced by drugs. He can get a
couple of Christians together and they can fight
together. But instead of making an effort to get
involved in the life of the church, they get drawn,
drawn, drawn, and eventually they are no longer in
the churchthe enemy has pulled them out.
Paul is saying, Contend as one man for the
faith. Understand, you are in an army now. In

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the beginning of Philippians it starts as a son, it


ends up as a servant and now it goes into the
army stage where we take people who are sick
and we pray for them and we lift their arms and we
bring them meals and we buy them books. We
make sure that peoples faith will not wobble in
any way.
10. Our Position of Being On the Winning Side
We are on the winning side. Friends, we have an
obligation to get people onto the winning side.
That is why we can see through a disaster when
many people are killed: those who were killed who
knew Christ are in a better place nowthey were
on the winning side. The tragedy is that those
who died without Christ were not on the right
sidemany were on the losing side.
Can you imagine running onto a Rugby field
when every single time you run on, you know that
you are going to win? Thats an amazing thing.
You know that you are going to get bruised, you
know you are going to get battered. But when you
come off, you come off on the winning team.
When you understand that you are going to win,
you dont get scared. Most of the time when
people get scared it is when they are about to
lose. When the stock market is about to crash,
everybody gets scared because they are going to
lose money. But if we know that, whatever
happens, we are still going to win then we stand
firm.
The Bible says that God has not given us a
spirit of fear. Fear has got two elements to it.
First, fear means to be scared, but second, the
Greek root can mean revenge. Justice has to be

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exercised but not revenge. When people do


wrong, they have to be brought to justice and, as I
have looked at the Scriptures, I believe that the
Church can pray for that. But we have to pray
against revenge. Paul says, Do not be frightened
in any way. You and I should never be frightened
in our country in any waynot frightened through
fear and not frightened through revenge. When
we do that, the Bible says it will be the judgement
of the devil.
11. Our Character Developed Through
Hardship
It is a privilege to suffer for Jesus. Often the
Church preaches a soft gospelmay we never be
guilty of that. People say, Come to Jesus and get
rich, get promoted, get prosperous and if suffering
comes then the devil has come in. Paul says that
it has been granted to you to suffer.

suffering
produces
perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
(Romans 5:3-4)
In golf a certain captain has the privilege of
choosing two wild-card players as part of the
team, on top of the ten best players who have
qualified for the team. Normally the captain would
choose the two players who qualified 11th and 12th
because those are the ones that nearly made it, or
he would choose an experienced player, or one
who has won some tournaments. But one year he
chose two men who nobody would have guessed.
They were complete outsiders, nobody would
have thought of them. When everybody asked

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him why he picked them he said, For two simple


reasons: one had cancer, was out, went through
chemotherapy, at one stage thought that he was
going to die, but has overcome suffering. Inside
of that man is characterand I want the character
of that man on our team. He hasnt qualified
according to points but he is out there playing
again, when at one stage he had no hair. The
other man went through major surgery two years
ago and was out of the circuit for about 18 months
but he came back and is playing again. I chose
him because even though he is qualified at about
number 25, he is a man with characterhe went
through suffering and has come out on top. My
friends, the week after that man was chosen (he
had not won a tournament for a couple of years),
he won a tournament. Why? Because hes got
character.
Consider Joseph. Joseph got everything
easyhe got an amazing coat from his dad
saying, Youre the man! He got a couple of
revelations from God the Father saying, Youre
the man! And that little thing crept into his heart
and so God decided that he would take his coat
off, send him to Egypt and put him in jail. Why?
To develop character. Why? Because God
wanted him to lead. God wants to use leaders
with character and sometimes suffering is used to
develop character.

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Things that Make the Church Attractive


1. Relational Excellence
If you have any encouragement from being united
with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any
fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and
compassion, then make my joy complete by being
like-minded, having the same love, being one in
spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider
others better than yourselves. Each of you should
look not only to your own interests, but also to the
interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)
The logic of this section is based on if then. If
you have something then you should do
something. This is what we want to look like. This
is the Church that the druggies are going to run to.
One night, one of the big drug boys of our city got
saved in the meeting, weeping his eyes out. We
all need to have a reputation: that when things get
toughwhen buildings come tumbling down,
when the financial markets come crumbling
downthey will run to us because they have seen
a Church that is relationally excellent. This is
relational excellence.
2. Encouragement and Comfort
Paul is dealing with character. He is saying, You
are going to suffer but you are going to win, and
you are going to contend together, and now, if
you have any encouragement from being united
with Christ . Hes talking to the individualare
you encouraged by being united with Christ? By

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being united with Christ Jesus, we are


courageous. Thats what hes sayingdo you
have any courage from being united with Christ?
Do you have any comfort from his love?
I had people staying with us at home, so my
office was gone and because of the building
project, my office at the church was also gone. I
was just so frustrated because all I wanted to do
was read the word of God. The weather was bad
and I just could not find a place where I could sit
down and be with God. I had a meeting in a mall,
so I thought I would find a nook where I could
hide, where nobody was going to see me. I went
into the first coffee shop but there were some
people from church there, so I left. When I came
out I bumped into another person from church and
we had a bit of a chat. Then I thought I would go
to some other coffee shop and sneak behind the
pillar with my Bible and notepad. So, I snuck in
there, where nobody could see me.
So, there I am reading and the waiter comes
to me and says, Youre reading the Good Book,
are you? I said, Yes, Im reading the Good
Book. Do you know the Good Book? He said,
Yes, Im a Christian. I battle with the Good
Book. I said, Really? He said, Yes. I said,
Tell me about yourself. He said, I have an
illegitimate child, although I am married to the
mum now. I said, Let me show you this Book.
Let me show you what Jesus has done for you.
And I just started to open it up. And you know
what happened to him? Courage started to come
into him. Comfort started to come into him. He
said, Do you mean that God can take the fact that
I had an illegitimate child and weave a pattern

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around it so that it looks alright? I said, You


better believe it. Friends, a relief came over the
guy.
It was like he started bouncing again
because he got comfort from Jesus. He got
encouragement from Jesus.
In this text there are two thoughtsif and
then. If I have the if without the then, I
become a big, fat tick. If I have the then without
the if, I become a malnourished gnat. If I have
the if and the then, I find excellenceI find a
church working properly. So, if you have the
then, which is one in purpose, one in vision, one
in spirit, and you say, Well, Im part of my church
and Im at all the prayer meetings and Im going to
home group and Im going for it, but youve got no
comfort from Jesus Christ, youve got no
encouragement from him and no fellowship with
the Holy Spirit, you will come to meeting after
meeting and eventually dry out. We are saying
that the relationally excellent church is going to
find encouragement in Jesus, its going to be
fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit, its going to find
tenderness and compassion in the presence of
God and its going to bring all those attributes and
say, I have this from Jesus and I want to pour it
into your mandate. I want to get behind what God
is doing in the life of the church. And together we
get what Paul says is best, is excellent, when the
church functions properly like that: encouragement
and comfort.
3. Like Mindedness
Verse 2 says, then make my joy complete by
being like-minded . One of the accusations
against the so-called charismatics is that people

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are brainwashed.
People say, Youre all
brainwashedyou all think the same. Paul is
saying that youve got to be like-minded. That
doesnt mean that youve got to have the pastors
mind, it means that youve got to have Jesus
mind. For who? For the church. What church?
Your church.
4. The Same Love for Everyone
The verse continues, having the same love
. That means that we dont love the guys that
play Rugby more than the guys that dont.
Whether people come in their 4 x 4s or whether
they come in their 2 x 2s, or if they walk here, we
love them the same.
5. One in Spirit
It says that we are to be one in spirit and purpose.
What is one in spirit? Team spirit is when you
take a guy from Gauteng and you take a fellow
from Western Province and you take a chap from
the Vrystaat and you take one of the boys from
Natal and you put them all together into one team.
Each one has a bit of their particular
provincialisma little bit of red and a bit of white
and some blueand we take the jersey off and
become one in spirit. That is why we cannot
criticise anybodywhether Anglican, Baptist or
whateverbecause we will be affecting something
called the team spirit and when the things of the
world come down, the Church has got to stand,
contending as one man for the faith, so that the
world will know that nothing will shake the Church
of Jesus Christ. We cannot break the team spirit

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of the Church, which the Bible says is the pillar


and foundation of the truth. The Church has got
to stand strong. We have to pray, calling out to
God to display himself to the Church, so that the
churches all around the world will become full of
people searching for this God who has worked
himself out amongst a group of people who have
taken off their provincial jerseys and put on the
jersey that says, Christian.
6. One in Purpose
It is often easier to get people saved than get
people coming in from other churches because
they come in here with different purposes. God
says that our church exists for one purposeit is
multi-faceted but there is a purpose upon this
church. It isnt my purpose, it wasnt the previous
pastors purpose, its not the elders purpose, its
Gods purpose. God gave us a purpose. We
cant do everything that other churches are doing.
Thats why people should get to know the elders
and the vision and values so that every time we
speak about the nations they dont have a bad
attitude. You need to get behind the purpose so
that we can be one in purpose.
When somebody gets up and speaks about
Malawi, we say, Yes! Yes! Sometimes we have
the hat of the teacher on and we think that we
know how to do everything. Take the hat of the
teacher off and put the hat of a student on and say
to God, What is your purpose for this church?
What is your purpose for New Covenant
Ministries? I want to get behind it. I want to push
through with it. I want to take all the compassion
youve given me, all the encouragement youve

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given me, all the comfort youve given me, all the
tenderness youve given me and I want to get likeminded with one spirit and one purpose behind
what God has called us to do at my church with
New Covenant Ministries.

The Right Ambitions


1. No Selfish Ambition
Moving on to verse 3, Do nothing out of selfish
ambition.
Not all ambition is wrong.
The
dictionary says that ambition is desire for
distinction; arduously desirous.
Consider this:
Early in the 1980s, Fortune Magazine published
an article that left nobody in doubt regarding
todays young entrepreneurs. Even the title was
revealing: On the Fast Track to the Good Life.
The article gave research findings on the attitudes
and values of 25-year-olds who were taking their
places in the current business world. The purpose
of the research was to give readers an idea of
what to expect from young adults in the next
decade. This is what they found:
1. These young people believed that a
successful life means financial independence and
the best way to gain financial independence is to
be at the top of a major corporation.
2. They believe in themselves. They believe
that they have the abilities and capacities to be the
best. There is no humble talk among them.

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3. They believe in the corporate world. They


are sure that the corporations they lead are the
most worthwhile institutions in the world.
4. They view as a drag on success any
relationship that slows their ascent on the
corporate ladder.
Marriage is an acceptable
option only if it does not interfere with their
aspirations for success. Having children, for most
of them, is something to which they will have to
give a great deal of thought.
5. Loyalty is not high on their list of values.
Unlike the organisational man of the fifties, the
young people of this new breed have their
rsums ever at hand. They are ready to move
from one company to another and believe that
loyalty to one company could lead to staying in a
system that might not maximise upward mobility.
6. They are convinced that they are more
creative and imaginative than those who now hold
top corporate positions and they believe that there
is not much that they can learn from these older
types before they take their places.
God says, Do you want to be the Church thats
going to change the world? Youve got to deal
with selfish ambition. Do you understand what
ambition is?
You ask yourself one simple
question: Why? Why does a man take a guitar
and stand before a thousand people every few
weeks? Why do you do it? If the answer is so
that people can see you on the stage, thats
ambition. You could have a man behind the
drums who is ambitiousIm not saying that they
are, Im just saying that we have to ask the
question. Do you come to some meetings in the

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church so that people can see you so that you can


come into leadership? God says that he wants a
Church that is excellent, where there is no selfish
ambition. We should have ambition for one thing
alone: that Christ is preached.
2. No Vain Conceit
What about the vain conceit in verse 3? The
dictionary says that conceit is an excessively high
opinion of yourselfof your position, of your
achievements, of your prestige.
It leads to
boasting and exaggeration. I believe that Joseph
was conceited and God used his brothers to deal
with the external trappings of conceitthey ripped
up the coloured coat, Egypt dealt with the internal
trappings of conceit. God takes off our labels of
Rugby captain and attended the best school.
We cannot live in our pastsour successes or our
failures. We have to live in our futures. And Paul
says that the future is so glorious that even if he
dies, thats good.
3. Considering Others Better Than Ourselves
How do we deal with ambition and conceit? Well,
it continues, in humility consider others better
than yourselves.
There are three important
words here. The first word is humility. Humility
is not thinking badly of yourselfhumility is not
thinking of yourself at all. The second word is
consider. Just consider. The third word is
others. In humility consider others that is
how we deal with ambition and conceit.
The Christian is one who takes off his title and
his jacket (MD of a company or such like) and he

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acknowledges the person who walks around with


tea and he considers them better than himself.
(Im not talking about false humility. I cannot
stand up here and say that a certain person is a
better squash player than me when he is not. But
I also cannot say that I am better than him at
everything because I am not. Part of humility is
having an honest assessment of yourself and
those around you.)
When we have a church that lives out
Philippians 2:1-4, we will attract the people who
need to know what truth is. Let us try to be like
the church of Philippi.

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5: Embracing the Nature of Christ


Introduction
The book of Philippians, as we have seen, is a
book about excellence. Paul says, I pray that
your love may grow more and more in knowledge
and depth of insight, so that you may be able to
discern what is best . The book of Philippians
is about what is best and what is excellent and
what is the most worthy thing. We are so
fashioned by culture, we are so fashioned by
experience, we are so fashioned by what we see
in the world, that we bring some of that into the life
of our church, thinking that what is best out there
is best in here. And the book of Philippians is so
strongly against what is out there and brings a
completely different value system into the life of
the church.
1. One in Spirit and Purpose
Paul makes such an incredible statement and he
gives us a standard to aim for.
If you have any encouragement from being united
with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any
fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and
compassion, then make my joy complete by being
like-minded, having the same love, being one in
spirit and purpose. (Philippians 2:1-2)
We went away with the apostolic team and it was
an amazing thing to see because they are all
strong guys, all with their persuasions, all called

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by God (otherwise they wouldnt be there). They


are a group of people who have been encouraged
by God, who have been comforted by his love,
many of them having deep fellowship with the Holy
Spirit, forming a team with one spirit and one
purpose. It is so interesting to see because it is
like we wear a different-province Rugby jersey
(and all of those teams have a different philosophy
of coaching) and we come onto another team with
another leader and we have got to take the
encouragement of what we know and unite it in
one spirit and one purpose.
2. The Heart of a Team Member
I was chatting over coffee with someone from the
USA and he was talking about Michael Jordan.
He said that Michael Jordan, as gifted as he was,
was never selfish. As a result, he raised the level
of his whole team. He was talking about a
particular playoff game where they had only a few
seconds to go and they were a few points behind.
The coach called them all together and called a
playand everybody thought that the ball would
go to Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan took the
ball, drew all the players, and threw the ball to
someone else who scored the winning points.
(When that team broke up and all the players went
to other teams, only one of those players ever
made it back into a first team line up.) One man
lifted up the whole profile of the team and built the
team spirit.
Instead of becoming selfish he
focused on the team winning the prize.
If we want relational excellence then we have
to take the encouragement of what God has done
with us and unite it with the spirit and purpose of

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what God is doing with the Church and the team.


It is absolutely essential.
I have had the privilege of captaining many
sports teams in my life. In one Rugby team we
had a highly gifted player but he was an individual.
Eventually I had to go to the coach and say,
Either remove me from the captaincy or remove
him from the team. It is better to play with 15
people who have the same purpose than to play
with 14 and a superstar. God is saying that he
wants a Church where there are no superstars,
where the pulpit is not a platform for anyone to
produce their goods but simply an opportunity to
do what God has called them to do.

Having the Same Attitude as Jesus


Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ
Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him
to the highest place
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,

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in heaven and on earth


and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11)
It is verse 5 that says, Your attitude should be the
same as that of Christ Jesus. I find that one of
the hardest scriptures in the Bible.
1. He Made Himself as Nothing
Verse 7 tells us that he made himself nothing
. Jesus made himself nothing! Many of us
have been told our whole lives to be something.
Now Paul says that our attitude should be the
same as that of Jesus, who made himself nothing.
Some people have made us nothing before but
have we ever made ourselves nothing before?
He humbled himself. We have been humbled
many times but have we ever humbled ourselves?
Philippians 2:5-11 does two things for us.
First, it reveals and exposes the condition of our
own hearts and, second, it reveals to us some of
the heroes in our churches. When I read, Your
attitude should be the same as that of Christ
Jesus, I see it as the goal, and then what follows
is how I get there.
I look at the guys who do the meetingadministration ministrythey get here about an
hour before anybody else, they almost never get
thanked, they never get praised, they never get a
reward in the churchbut they do it week after
week, month after month, year after year. Ive got
to say that they are heroes. People count the

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moneynobody sees them, nobody thanks


thembut that is what Jesus says the Church is
going to be made up of: men and women who will
serve without getting thanked.
Most times we want people to at least say,
Thank youits just good mannersbut Jesus
didnt get thankedhe got spat on, he got
mocked, he got ridiculedand the Bible says that
our attitude must be the same. This, Paul says, is
the standard. For who? For everybody who
proclaims Christ as the Kingno excuses are
acceptable. Lets examine this further.
Verse 6 says, Who, being in very nature God
. His being is God. Our being is human. And
while his being/essence was God, he became a
man. It is called the incarnation. This is what
Rodman Williams says about the incarnation:
Without ceasing to be God, through whom all
things were made, he concurrently became a man
by assuming our flesh. Thus is he Immanuel
God with usin the person of Jesus Christ.
Before proceeding further, we must pause a
moment to reflect on the wonder, the
awesomeness, the utterly amazing character of
the incarnationChrist becoming man.
This
event is a fact of such proportions as to transcend
human imagination. The God of the universe, the
creator of all things visible and invisibleangelic
hosts as well as countless galaxies and stars
has in Jesus Christ come to this minute planet
called earth and taken upon himself our human
existence. If the original act of creation of the
universe out of nothing is an immeasurably vast
and incomprehensible act of Almighty God, the

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incarnation is surely no less stupendous.


Superlatives will not suffice. Perhaps best are the
words of Paul, Great indeed, we confess, is the
mystery of our religionhe was manifested in the
flesh. Great indeed.
Sometimes those in authority will not even make
the people who work for them a cup of coffee.
God is saying, When are you going to have a little
bit of time where you come in and say, Good
morning, can I make you a cup of tea? Because
Jesus who being in very nature God, became a
man. He is saying, Church, that is the attitude
you need.
Rodman Williams continues:
And the purpose of the incarnationagain one is
carried beyond adequate words to declare itis
the redemption of the human race. Jesus was
born to die and in dying to bear the awful weight of
the punishment of the sins of all mankind. He
came as the mediator of a covenant of grace. The
one mediator between God and manthe man
Christ Jesuswho gave himself as a ransom for
all. In the words of the fourth gospel, The Word
who became flesh was full of grace and truth and
from his fullness have we all received grace upon
grace. Verily, it is the unfathomable grace of God
bringing eternal salvation.
Our text starts with Jesus being in very nature
God. He wasnt a failure, he wasnt the vice
captain, he wasnt plan B, he was the top. The
world says that we should start at the bottom of
the company and slowly work our way to the top.

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But Paul says, The attitude you need to have is


that when you get to the top, be as if you were at
the bottom.
He didnt go into the ministry
because he failed in business. He didnt go into
the ministry because hed had enough of
businesshe was the top and he decided to come
down. And that has to break into our hearts and
attitudes.
2. He Grasped at Nothing
The emblem of many trade unions, or any
organisation that has got rights, is one of
grasping for power. But the only Person on the
face of the earth who ever had any rights chose to
relinquish them; he didnt grasp for position, he
didnt grasp for profile, he didnt grasp for platform,
he didnt grasp for promotion, he didnt grasp for
people, he just opened up his hand.
In church leadership, when we see someone
coming through the ranks, it is so easy to grasp
them and say, They can be useful for what God
has called this church to. But Christ taught us to
release people.
Thats what Jesus didhe
released people. Whatever people you have
under your authority, or whatever relationships you
have, do not grasp them, release them. Jesus,
right until the very end, died with an open hand.
How can we be stingy?
He made himself nothing. Made himself
means that he is a volunteer. Nothing in Greek
means nothing. A little bit of reputation? No,
nothing. A little bit left in the bottom of the cup?
No, nothing. He emptied himself outnothing.
He made himself nothing.

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3. He Took On the Nature of a Servant


taking the very nature of a servant . Have
you ever been to a restaurant where you have
seen a waiter (supposed to be a servant) who
comes up to you all sugary sweet saying, Hi! My
name is Penelope, but call me Penny, and Im in it
for the bucks. I will serve you and I will run and I
will jump and I will hide and I will do whatever you
like but Im not really here to serve youIm here
to get my percentage. Have you seen that?
They have a servants uniform but their nature is
not the nature of a servant, the nature is of a
grabber. Sometimes you go into a restaurant and
you get a person who actually has the nature of a
servant. They are friendly because they love their
job. Jesus says, I dont want people to take a
jacket and put on the jacket of a servantI want
people to change from the inside out and get the
nature of a servant.
Friends, some people, when they are on duty,
put on the jacket of a servant and open up
windows. What happens when a guy opens them
all and then he is asked to close them all?
Someone who has the nature of a servant says,
Sure, but someone with a servants jacket on
says, Close them yourself! I believe that the
Church that God wants to raise up are not men
and women who wear the jacket of a servant but
who have the nature of a servantnot checklist
people.
Many husbands are checklist servants: I go
out to serve my family. Because I work and
because I provide, I must get this and that at
home. Thats Checklist Charlie, it is not the
nature of a servant. God has called us to serve

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our wives, God has called us to serve our children,


God has called us to serve our home groups. Not
an attitude of, Oh no! I have home group tonight
so Id better get down on my knees and cry out to
God,no, that is the jacket of a servant, not the
nature of a servant. The nature of a servant starts
waiting on God for the home group on
Wednesday: we start to pray for them, we start to
fast for them, we call out to God for them, so that
when they come on Tuesday we can serve them a
meal that comes out of the very nature of Jesus
Christ breaking into our hearts, dealing with our
deficiencies, dealing with our attitudes, dealing
with our excesses, and serving something that is
godly. We find this a challenge because by nature
many of us are not servants.
The evening meal was being served, and the
devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot , son of
Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the
Father had put all things under his power, and that
he had come from God and was returning to God;
so he got up from the meal, took off his outer
clothing, and wrapped a towel round his waist.
After that, he poured water into a basin and began
to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the
towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:25)
Jesus knew where he had come from, he knew
that he was God, he knew that he had all the
power under him, he knew that he was returning to
the Father, and he still got up, put a towel around
his waist, got down on the floor for a bunch of
unimpressive guys (twelve men who didnt

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understand what was going on properly, who


missed the boat time after time), he lowered
himself below them, took the towel and started to
wash their feet. Thats the nature of a servant.
He knew that he was God and yet he chose the
life of a servant. Todays equivalent to feet
washing is probably car washing because in those
days people used to walk around on dusty roads
and get their feet dirty but today we drive around
and get our cars dirty. Today its washing cars.
Today its preparing meals. Today its praying for
. Today its laying down . But whatever it is,
weve got to do it.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed
your feet, you also should wash one anothers
feet. I have set you an example that you should
do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no
servant is greater than his master, nor is a
messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Now that you know these things, you will be
blessed if you do them. (John 13:14-17)
A preacher thinks at times that out of all the
church congregation, he is going to get the
greatest heavenly reward because he is doing
most of the preaching. We realise, with shock and
dismay, that the people from the congregation
who are going to get the greatest rewards are
people we probably dont even know exist. What
about the lady who made cups of tea for fourteen
years? Do you know who cleans the toilets? Do
you know who records the CDs? Do you know
how much the home-group leaders go through
and how much money they spend? We dont

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know it all but God does. He started at the top


and ended at the bottom and he says, That is the
system that I want to see in my Church.
Afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples,
by the Sea of Tiberias . Jesus said to them,
Bring some of the fish you have just caught.
Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net
ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with
so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them,
Come and have breakfast. None of the disciples
dared ask him, Who are you? They knew it was
the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it
to them, and did the same with the fish. This was
now the third time Jesus had appeared to his
disciples after he was raised from the dead.
(John 21:1, 10-14)
He embraced the very nature of a servant. When
Jesus came down, he came to serve. People
were expecting a political leader, people were
expecting a military leader; they got a servant and
they did not recognise him. The world today is
looking for this Church to rise up and become the
magnificent, splendorous, incredible temple that
we read of in Chronicles. Ill tell you how it is
going to come about: by the Church serving
people, serving the community, serving one
another. When the world comes in looking for
political greatness, they are going to see a bunch
of servants with their garments taken off, their
towels around their waists, sitting down at the feet
of ordinary people or less-than-ordinary people.
But that is the Church and that is the attitude that
Paul says you and I are to have.

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The excuse that we often make is, I was born


like this and I wont change. Friends, we do not
have the privilege to say that we will not change
we have to change until we have a Church that
has the same attitude as Jesus Christpre- and
post-resurrection. He didnt just cook the fish, he
served the fish. Can you believe that? He comes
and takes my order, What would you like for
breakfast? Then he cooks it and then he comes
out and he serves it. Who? God!
4. He Submitted Himself to Others
Many people get claustrophobic.
Can you
imagine God, being cooped up in a womb for nine
months? Imagine how he felt! The Bible says in
Luke 2 that he obeyed his parents. Can you
imagine that? Some people come to me and say,
You dont understand my parents. How can I
obey them? They dont serve God. Well, Jesus
did. He was perfect and his parents were fallen
and he obeyed them. Can you imagine Jesus
sitting his parents down as a ten-year-old boy and
saying, Listen, mum and dad, there are a couple
of things Id like to tell you. First, I created you.
Second, you havent got everything together, I see
some serious faults in you. I feel that you have
some relational tensions, which, if you allow, I can
help you deal with them. Can you imagine this?
Can you imagine the rest of his brothers? Jesus
never did anything wrong. Never. All his brothers
and sisters must have been saying to his parents,
Mum, dad, when are you going to give Jesus a
hiding?
Hes a perfect sonhes obedient.
Jesus, do your bedroom. Sure. Bedroom.

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Jesus, tidy up. Sure. Tidy up. Can you wash


the dishes? Sure. Wash the dishes.
Can you imagine? Jesus had to humble and
submit himself to parents with all their faults.
What about us? If God has called you to a
church, as perfect as you are, you are not Jesus.
As imperfect as the church leadership may be, if
Jesus submitted to fallen parents, can you submit
to church leadership? Thats what hes saying.
Go and read your Bible because it says, Your
attitude must be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
There will be times when leaders make mistakes
as Mary and Joseph made mistakes and it still
says that Jesus was obedient. (Im not talking
about sin.)
Isnt that amazing?
This is
challenging.
5. He Became Obedient to Death
Verse 8 says, and became obedient to
deatheven death on a cross! How many things
have you allowed to die in your life? One of the
most active parts of our bodies is our tongue
joking, laughing, joking, laughing. Paul says,
Your attitude must be the same as that of Christ
Jesusobedient. And if your tongue is unhelpful,
it must become obedient to death. What about
some of your emotions that just keep rising up and
blurting out? What about some of your attitudes
that just keep rising up and blurting out? Obedient
to death! Some of the things youve held on to in
ministry, that are not part of the spirit and purpose
of the local church? Obedient to death.
When I go to apostolic team times, I have to
take off the hat of a teacher. When you teach
week after week and you read a lot of Scripture,

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the problem is that you think that you know


everything. I have to take the hat of the teacher
off and put the hat of a student on and ask, God,
what are you teaching me through this man?
Obedient to death! Some of our thoughts, some
of our perceptions, some of our attitudes, have got
to die. Why? So that Christ can be exalted.
Death on a cross was painful, slow, and
perhaps appropriate for some criminals. Jesus
was spat on, rejected and mocked, and the
crucifixion was public. As we look at this thing, we
say, God, I dont want to just exercise restraintI
want you to deal with my attitude.

Conclusion
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11)
On the day that every knee bows, it will be a day
of great regret, as well as a day of great
enjoyment and praise. Every knee will bow one
day and every tongue will confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord.
Why did Jesus come from
everything to nothing? For this simple reasonfor
you and for me. Thats it.
Three things in summary:
He never grasped.

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He took the nature of a servant (not the jacket


of a servant).
He became obedient to death.
What do we learn from the Philippian church? I
believe that it is a book about apostolic motivation,
I believe that it is a book about living for Christ, I
believe that it is a book about excellence. It is a
book about what is best. May we all learn what it
is to have the nature of a servant and become
obedient to deathall our aspirations, all our
ambitions. Allow them to die so that God can
raise us up and exalt us. We are never to exalt
ourselveshe will exalt us.

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6: Learning Obedience
Obedience is Required
This Philippian church was an amazing church
that brought Paul lots of joy and we want to look at
it to see what lessons we can learn. We want to
be a church that brings the apostolic team lots of
joywe want to be a church that represents the
Scriptures well. There are things that we do well
and there are other things that we are not so good
at, and we are trying to raise the standard across
the board. The Philippian church is a good church
to look at to see the standard that Paul expected.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always
obeyednot only in my presence, but now much
more in my absencecontinue to work out your
salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who
works in you to will and to act according to his
good purpose.
Do everything without complaining or
arguing, so that you may become blameless and
pure, children of God without fault in a crooked
and depraved generation, in which you shine like
stars in the universe as you hold out the word of
lifein order that I may boast on the day of Christ
that I did not run or labour for nothing. But even if
I am being poured out like a drink offering on the
sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am
glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should
be glad and rejoice with me.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to
you soon, that I also may be cheered when I

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receive news about you. I have no one else like


him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.
For everyone looks out for his own interests, not
those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy
has proved himself, because as a son with his
father he has served with me in the work of the
gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as
I see how things go with me. And I am confident
in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
(Philippians 2:12-24)
Verse 12 uses the word therefore.
Now,
whenever you see the word therefore, whether it
be in the Scriptures or in some other book, you
have to ask yourself the question, What has gone
before? Whenever there is the word therefore,
there has to be something that has gone before.
The dictionary says this about the word
therefore: for this reason; consequently; or, as
may be inferred by what precedes.
So,
something has preceded it, and Paul says,
therefore, obey.
1. Gods Word is to be Obeyed
Therefore, obey.
Now Paul is specifically
speaking about a number of things that we looked
at in a previous section. Lets quickly go back to
Philippians chapter 2.
Verse 2 says, Make my joy complete by
being like-minded, having the same love, being
one in spirit and purpose.
Verse 3 says, Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider
others better than yourselves.

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Verses 6 and 7 say, Who, being in very


nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped, but made himself
nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, .
So, what must we obey? How do we obey?
What has God called the church to obey? Well, it
says it there. It is dealing with selfish ambition. It
is telling us that selfish ambition is wrong
therefore, obey. It is telling us that vain conceit is
wrongtherefore, obey. It is telling us that the
nature of a servant is righttherefore, obey.
We spoke in the previous section about
waiters who have a waiters outfit but dont have
the nature of a servantthey just come and serve
you because they want your bucks. We spoke
about home groups that are on duty, that open up
the windows, that clean the toilets, that take up the
offering, and sometimes they just do it because
they are on duty. No, the Bible says that they are
to have the nature of a servant and that they
should serve anytimetherefore, obey. I believe
that this whole chapter is about therefore, obey.
As for you, son of man, your countrymen are
talking together about you by the walls and at the
doors of the houses, saying to each other, Come
and hear the message that has come from the
Lord. My people come to you, as they usually do,
and sit before you to listen to your words, but they
do not put them into practice. With their mouths
they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy
for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing
more than one who sings love songs with a
beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for

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they hear your words but do not put them into


practice. (Ezekiel 33:30-32)
2. Gods Leaders Bring Gods Word
We come to the church, we come to listen to
apostolic messages, we go to leadership training
times, not to be entertained or to hear eloquent
speakers but to be instructed by the word of God.
God has been speaking to us through the
book of Philippians about an apostolic motivation,
hes been talking about the nature of a servant,
hes been talking about not grasping. Trade union
symbols are often one of grasping but the symbol
of the Christian is holding out an open hand. We
do not grasp position, we do not grasp promotion,
we do not grasp titles. Thats the message: not a
message of entertainment, its a message of
instruction to the Church.
Dudley spoke about how the leadership
structures of the Church need to be flattened and
how there should be no special pastors parking
and there is no special title for the lead elder. As
an eldership we meet and discuss this thing and
ask whether we have hierarchical structures and
whether there is a gap between us and the
people, and if there is, it has to be broken down.
We have to act on the word, not just listen to it
and think, Oh, that was beautifulit was like
singing. Dudley spoke and I have to take it and
apply itit is not entertainment, it is instruction.
Every time we open the word of God, it is
instruction for our lives and for the life of the
church and the purposes of Godit is not just to
tickle our ears. There are people who hear the
word of God and then they go out and wilfully

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disobey it. God says, I am going to raise up a


ChurchIm going to raise up men, women and
childrenthat will take my word and obey my
word. Therefore, obey.
Let me ask you this, then: What has God said
to your local church over the last while? What did
God last say to you? And let me ask you to do
this: make yourself vulnerable and accountable
with somebody so that they can measure the
outworking of those statements.
We had the most amazing time at a particular
leadership training time. We have prayed many
times as a church for Fred Roberts and he came
to Bloemfontein and spoke for three or four
hoursand hes about seventy years old. He got
up at around 9:30 a.m. and he handed the
microphone over after 1 p.m.. The power of God
just flowed through him and he spoke about
evangelism and signs and wonders. That, my
friends, is not entertainmentthat is instruction.
We do not want this church to grow with a group
of people that relocate from other churches. We
want this church to grow with new converts. We
want the worst of the worst, as well as some nice
people. We want them to come because God has
put something in our hearts. Therefore, obey.

Things Preventing Obedience


1. Apparent Success
People think that some churches have done well
because they have grown.
Some have two
buildings that are bond-free. And so there is this
thing out there where people think that such

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churches are successful. I want to tell you that


that is one of the most dangerous places to be
because we become slack.
My friends, if we even think that we are
successful, I pray that we will bow down on our
knees and say, Father, I ask for forgiveness
because everything that we have, you have given
to us by your grace. Problems can be the best
things that can happen to us because it can put us
back on our knees with a humble heart, trusting
God again.
2. Ignoring Gods Past Word
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptising them in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you. And
surely I am with you always, to the very end of the
age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Jesus says here that we must obey everything
that he has commanded us. We need to sit down
and go through everything that we feel God has
said to us and we need to be obedient to it
because that is what the Word says. Most times
when we stop growing in our faith, it is because
we have stopped being obedient to the thing that
God has said to us. If God is not speaking to you
then I suggest that this is one of the possible
reasons: you have not done what he has last told
you to do. God will not speak to us again,
changing his mind, until we complete what he
called us to do the last time he spoke to us.
Jonah disobeyed God. He went on the boat, he
ended up in the whale, he got vomited onto the

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beach and said, Okay, God, Im sorry. And God


said exactly the same thing that he told him before
he went through the process. He said, Go to
Nineveh and preach. If we obey God then we
avoid the boat and the whale, and we just get on
with the job.
The greatest revival recorded in Scripture is
Nineveh repentingbecause one man chose
(second time around) to obey. God is saying to
us, Church, I want you to look like the Church of
the Scriptures. I want you to look like the Church
of the book of Acts where nobody was in need
not one single person. It was a Church where
everybody was worshiping, where everybody was
giving, where there was no uncontrolled
complaining, criticism or arguments. But the
Church was full of friendly people, was relationally
united, was one in spirit, one in heart, one in mind,
one in purpose. There will be a Church like that
one day. Friends, we have to commit ourselves to
becoming a part of that Church. Therefore, obey.
We do not go to training times to be entertained,
we go there to be instructed. Therefore, obey.
Philippians 2:12 says, Therefore, my dear
friends, as you have always obeyednot only in
my presence, but now much more in my absence.
When an apostolic man comes in, we dont want
everyone saying, Wow!and then the message
is on the shelf. When they go, we take the word in
his absence, and we make sure that we apply it.
3. Trying to Work for Your Salvation
continue to work out your salvation with fear
and trembling . It says, work out, not work
for, work out. We dont work for our salvation

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because our salvation is given to us, but we have


to work it out. If you ask any of the young guys
what their highlights of meetings are, they will
often talk of the power. Young guys love the
power. They see a guy walking up and down
praying for people who are just falling, laughing,
crying, talking in tongues, and the guys say,
Thats what I like. But God speaks to such
powerful leaders many years before, saying, Ive
called you to signs and wonders. Therefore,
obey. Those men get on their knees and cry out
to God for decadesprayed, fasted, read the
Scriptures, read booksand then they work out
what God has called them to. People see that
outworking but they dont want the work that goes
with it.
4. Lack of Preparation, and Laziness
We see men preach for over an hourabsolutely
inspirationalquoting scripture after scripture,
after scripture. We say to God, How will I ever
get there? God says, Very simple, work out.
Dont just wish that you will get there, work it out.
Youve got to go and spend time in the Wordnot
for your salvationyou work it out. God has a
purpose and we play a part in that purpose. Now
the way that we play our part is actually preparing
ourselves for the purpose. Work out. The Bible
says that we shouldnt have any lazy people. It
says that if you dont work, you dont eat. Its the
same principle. If you want to fulfil the purpose of
God in your life then youve got to work hard. This
is not a lazy Faith. If you want to stand sure,
youve got to know the word of God. You dont
just come and get an emotional experience with

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God. If you want to know how to work some


equipment, you have to read the manual. If you
want to learn the Faith, you have to read the
manual. You have to work out your salvation.
Verse 13 goes on for it is God who works
in you . God works in, we work out. There is
something that he does inside here that we do
outside there.
to will and to act according to his good
purpose. Now, when he works something into
our will, it does not feel nice because human will is
unbelievably stubborn.
And Paul is saying,
Therefore, obey. What must we obey, Paul?
Obey what I just told you. Which is what, Paul?
Well, go and read it: its dealing with selfish
ambition, its dealing with vain conceit, its dealing
with loving people more than you love yourself, its
dealing with the nature of a servant, its dealing
with not grasping. Therefore, obey.
In verse 11 it goes on to say that every
tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
those in heaven, those on earth and even those in
hell will one day confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We stand born again and we confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord. We confess it publicly, we confess
it privately. Therefore, obey. How do we obey?
By taking on the nature of a servant, by dealing
with our selfish ambition, by dealing with our
conceit.
5. Worldly Standards and a Worldly Heart
In school life, we are often taught conceit: you
must play the best, you must be the best. You
build up this self-esteem and this self-image
where everybody glorifies themselves and you

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come into the Church and God says, The


greatest amongst you will be the servants. If you
confess Jesus Christ as Lord then obey and bring
your greatness into the Church as servantheartedness. We leave our titles behind, we leave
our car keys behind, and we come into the life of a
church to serve. That is the kind of Church that
the Bible says is going to shine like stars in the
universe, in the crooked and depraved society in
which we live. A Church full of servants, a Church
full of men and women who will not grasp for
position or title, a Church full of people who will die
to their selfish ambition and vain conceit and
actually serve the lawyers, doctors and prostitutes
that walk in the door. Then we are going to have
a Church that is going to stand.
6. Taking Shortcuts
I remember that when I was at school, we used to
have inter-house competitions. We had a crosscountry run and the school would take the top 20
runners and calculate who had won. When the
race was finished, our house won the race and we
got awarded the trophy. The next day we got
informed that one of the guys in our house had
cheated. He wasnt one of the top 20 runners, he
came in right near the end but he had taken a
shortcut. Our trophy got taken away from us and
given to another house. We argued and said, He
wasnt even one of the 20. The answer was, No,
but he was part of the team.
We cannot take a shortcut. You say, But Im
not one of the elders and Im not one of the
deacons. No, but you are a part of the team and
if you start taking shortcuts then you will disqualify

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us from what God is wanting to do with us. God


has a purpose and we have a part. The righteous
purposes of God in making us servants, making
us unselfish, making us not grasp, should not be
cut short or we will be disqualified.

Signs of Obedience
Well now look at some things that signify
obedience.
1. Progress and Perseverance
continue to work out . I once saw an old
man who went to the gym, and you could see that
he used to work out but he had lost his form
recently! But he still wore the clothes that he used
to wear when he was in good shape. So, I saw
this guy in the gym with big arms and seriously
overweight! Paul says, Continue to work out your
salvation.
My friends, one of the greatest
tragedies is when people get saved they grow to a
certain spiritual level and then stop growing.
Underneath the flab one can see that there used
to be muscle there but now it is covered over with
layers of fat. I wonder how many of us as
Christians were once sleek and muscular. God
was building something but we stopped because
the therefore, obey became too hard. It is
painful and hard to changewe need to be aware
of that.
God will not move us on until the nature of a
servant breaks into our lives and until grasping is
dealt with. Paul says, Continue to work it out.
Take what you have heard and continue to work it
out. Take what you have learnt at leadership

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training times and continue to work it out until we


stand strong, even under pressure.
William Barclay says that the tragedy of the
Church is that we are victims of the same habits,
we are slaves of the same temptations, we are
guilty of the same failureswhen we should be on
a journey towards God, continuing in the process
of salvation, not working for, but working out, our
sanctification.
2. A Healthy Fear and Trembling
Next, there is fear and trembling. We dont need
to give kids hidings when they get older if there is
a healthy fear and trembling inside of them from
when they were disciplined young. When we say,
No, they know we mean it. The child should
have a fear and trembling that says, I dont want
to miss the part that I have to play in the purpose
that God has for me.
They are healthy
boundaries where God doesnt have to hit us but
we know that we dont want to go outside of the
boundaries. Youve heard the teachingobey.
God is holyobey. There is going to come a new,
healthy fear and trembling into the life of the
Churchevery church.
3. Solution-minded Contentment
The next sign of obedience is a contentment and
a certainty. It says in verse 14, Do everything
without complaining or arguing . This is a
reference to the rebellious children of Israel, the
discontented mutterings of the mob. God is
saying that if we deal with grasping and if we have
the nature of a servant, if we will obey the

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teachings laid down for us, there will be no


complaining or arguing in the life of the Church.
Tyrone Daniel has said, We do not need one
more critical person in the life of the Church. The
world (the business world, the sports community,
the arts world) is full of critics. Those people must
walk into the doors of a church and see something
different.
4. Purity and Blamelessness
The next point that we can see is that there will be
signs of purity in the Church. It says in verse 15,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God . There will be signs of purity in
the Church, signs that have never been seen
before.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound
more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best
and may be pure and blameless until the day of
Christ. (Philippians 1:9-10)
So, Paul is saying, I am praying that you will
actually understand what is excellent, I am praying
that you will know what is best and my prayer is
that you will be pure and blameless. Pure means
walking by the daylight. Blameless means not
causing stumbling to anybodythat is his prayer.
But in chapter 2 verse 15 it is no longer his
prayerit is now their mandate to respond in
obedience to live a pure and blameless life. He
says that he is praying for them, then he reveals
different aspects of the nature of Jesus to them,
and he says that one day everybody in heaven

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and on earth is going to cry out, Jesus Christ is


Lord!and we say, Yes, amen, that is me!
Then Paul says, No longer am I just going to pray
for you to be pure and blamelessobey and be
pure and blameless. It is no longer a prayer, it is
a decision.

Conclusion
1. We Obey Because Christ is Lord
I ask you this question: Why do you tithe? Why do
you give ten percent of your income to the life of a
church? Is it so that you can take the promises of
the Bible and prosper, and so that God can
protect you? Is that the reason you tithe? Or is it
because you want to be obedient to the
Scriptures? I want to say that Paul is addressing
our motivationwhy we do things. There are
many times that we put our tithe cheques in and
say, Now, God, I stand on the promises of tithing:
that you will protect my finances, you will stop the
moth and the rust . As I have looked at this
thing I have said, No, no. We tithe because we
want to be obedient to the Scriptures and the
Scriptures tell me to tithe. It takes the average
Christian three years to start tithing and I want to
say, Therefore, obey.
You can look at marriage: Husband, lay
down your life for your wife. Why do we do that?
Because we want to be obedient to the Scriptures.
Wives, submit to your husbands. (We have
spoken about the right meaning of submission
before.) Why do we do that? To be obedient.
Therefore, obey. What has God said to us over

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this last period of time? Obey. People say, Oh,


my sexuality! Im battling, Im working. Have
you declared Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?
Yes, I have. Read Philippians: therefore, obey.
Jesus is not just our Saviour where he comes
and saves us, he is our Lord. Jesus Christ has
rulership of our lives: over our emotions, over our
finances, over our marriages, over our parenting.
2. An Obedient Church Will Impact the
Nations
Finally, verse 15 says, in which you shine like
stars in the universe . I ask you to do this
before you go to bed: go outside and look into the
sky and where you see black, the Scripture says,
Crooked and depraved generation, and where
you see stars, say, Lord, that is what I want to
be. How do we know that our salvation is getting
worked out? We start to shine in the world. We
are going to see many stars that take out a huge
chunk of the black and we are going to say, That
is the Church of God. We will see a Church so
strong that it will take a huge chunk out of the
blackness of our citiesprostitution and drugs.
We are going to break right through that and we
are going to have a shining light. People will say,
I feel desperate, and others will say, Go to the
Church. We will look like the Church of the
Scriptures. Therefore, obey. The last part of that
verse says, as you hold out the word of life .
This is talking about evangelismour focus on the
lost.

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7: Genuine Interest/Team Work


How are we going to outwork something of the
relational excellence of which Paul speaks? Its
going to require all of us getting involved, all of us
stretching to grow and all of us taking a genuine
interest in others.

Everyone Involved and Growing


1. Breaking Limitations
I have been told that at a recent conference an
eight-year-old girl stood up and spoke for ten
minutes about how to hear God. I think that God
wants to take away many of the limitations under
which we have lived: limitations in our
expectations of God, limitations that we have put
upon our children, limitations that we have put
upon our own giving, limitations that we have put
upon our worship.
2. Living in Increase
There has to be an increase in our lives. The
words we speak to our wives have to increase
we cant just keep telling them, I love you, I love
you, I love you. Theres got to be something
more. God is creative. God is the God of
language. God is the God of creativity. He is the
God of colour. Hes the God of words. We need
to go before God and ask him to show us things.
It is a time where we need to push beyond
our own comfort zones and our own levelslike

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lifting your hands up during worship. With guys


there seems to be a time limit of between thirty
seconds and a minute of lifting their hands what
are we going to do in heaven? I just feel that
something of the Spirit of God has got to grab us
and make us bigger. When last did you just grab
a flag and run and let God break something in
you?
Consider a list of all the nations. Perhaps
start at the top with the As and call them out by
name and work through them alphabetically.
There is something of God wanting to make us
bigger, otherwise we come and we just worship at
the same place and we do the same thing and we
arrive at the same time and we go to the same
home group and we have the same
expectationsbut there is no largeness of God
inside of us.
If the building restricts us in any way then we
need to leave it and go and pitch a tent on the
field at a large stadium and meet there so that
God can break some mentalities in our minds.
Our building is not the churchit is just something
that keeps the rain off but if it puts limitations on
us in any way, we have got to break that mindset.
The wonderful thing about when we used to meet
in the tent was that sometimes people would just
break out and run around and around and around.
When we used to meet in the tent, there
would often be Hindu weddings and there would
be all these cooking pots. The wind used to blow
the smoke into our tent and there was dust on the
ground and you couldnt see the overhead
because the tent was pink and dirty, but people
were worshiping God. And we used to bring our

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kids there in the heat and the cold. If we get too


fussy again, God will send us back to the tent,
until we learn to be tough again. We tend to get
soft on certain thingswe get used to the
comforts of life. It is very, very easy to get used to
the comforts of life.
Allow God to make you bigger! We have
been doing a series on apostolic motivation,
looking at what motivated the apostles. We have
looked at some of it and I want to look at two men,
Timothy and Epaphroditus, in this section.
3. Letting Difficulties Develop Character
for it is God who works in you to will and to act
according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
God works in us. Is he still working in you, or has
he stopped working in you? If he has stopped
working in you, it means that you have stopped
him from working in you. God works in us to will
and to act according to his good purpose. When a
portion of our churchs parking was taken away, it
caused me to call out to God in a new way. It
worked something in me that has been amazing.
Something happened inside of my heart. I came
alive inside, there was a love for God inside of me.
I never prayed so much in my life. I spent hours
and hours a day in prayerjust because a man
put up a barbed-wire fence. God will use that.
When I first heard it, it nearly killed me. Physically
it has tired me out but spiritually it has worked
something inside of me.
God sends difficult things to come across our
paths so that his character can be outworked into
our lives. Take the difficult things in your life right

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now and ask yourself, Father, what lessons do I


need to learn? If its humbling, we need to
humble ourselves. If its not grasping, we need to
let go and stop grasping. If its to let something
die, weve got to let something die.
Do everything without complaining or arguing.
(Philippians 2:14)
It says everything. Fetching the kids? Thats
part of everything. Day after day? Week after
week? Month after month? And when you have
five of them? Dont complain and dont moan.
Why? Because God will teach you lessons there
that will make you more like Jesus.
4. Everyone Playing Their Part
In chapter 2 Paul gives us this incredible picture of
relational excellence: one spirit, one purpose, one
mind. Then he gives us the example of Jesus and
you think, Thats quite a thing to lay hold of.
Then he tells us that he is being poured out like a
drink offering and that hes sacrificing his life and
you begin to think, Thats fine for Jesus and thats
fine for Paul but how am I ever going to attain to
anything? And then he just speaks about two
very ordinary menone is Timothy who is
somewhat timid and the other is Epaphroditus,
which can mean cheerful fellow. Our church is
full of cheerful fellows.
I plan (according to Jesus plan) to send Timothy
to you very soon so he can bring back all the news
of you he can gather. Oh, how that will do my
heart good! I have no one quite like Timothy. He

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is loyal, and genuinely concerned for you. Most


people around here are looking out for
themselves, with little concern for the things of
Jesus. But you know yourselves that Timothys
the real thing. Hes been a devoted son to me as
together weve delivered the Message. As soon
as I see how things are going to fall out for me
here, I plan to send him off. And then Im hoping
and praying to be right on his heels.
But for right now, Im dispatching
Epaphroditus, my good friend and companion in
my work. You sent him to help me out; now Im
sending him to help you out. He has been
wanting in the worst way to get back with you.
Especially since recovering from the illness you
heard about, hes been wanting to get back and
reassure you that he is just fine. He nearly died,
as you know, but God had mercy on him. And not
only on himhe had mercy on me, too. His death
would have been one huge grief piled on top of all
the others.
So you can see why Im so delighted to send
him on to you. When you see him again, hale and
hearty, how youll rejoice and how relieved Ill be.
Give him a grand welcome, a joyful embrace!
People like him deserve the best you can give.
Remember the ministry to me that you started but
werent able to complete? Well, in the process of
finishing up that work, he put his life on the line
and nearly died doing it. (Philippians 2:19-30,
The Message)
Paul reveals something of his team. He lays
these expectations of relational excellence, he
talks about Jesus who is our standard, he talks a

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little bit about himself, and we might think, But,


Paul, youre an apostle and you have this
exceptional grace that has been given to you. He
says, Okay, then, if thats what you think, I will
introduce you to just two of my team matesone
called Timothy and the other named Epaphroditus.
You take those guys and you learn a little bit from
their lives and you take that into the life of your
church, and your church is going to be strong.
Friends, this is not just about some heroes with
international ministriesthis is about every single
person playing their part.
I read a wonderful story about an air-force
pilot. He flew seventy-five missions in Vietnam.
On his seventy-fifth flight, he got shot down,
parachuted down, landed, got captured and spent
six years in an infamous jail in Vietnam. He came
back to America after the war and was having
dinner one night with his wife. A man walked past
him, stopped and turned to him and asked, Did
you fight in the war? He answered, Yes. The
man asked, You went down on your seventy-fifth
mission, did you not? He said, Yes, I did. Who
are you? The man said, Im the man who
packed your parachute. He suddenly realised
that if it were not for this man whom he had never
met, never known and never acknowledged, he
would not be there to tell the tale. From that day
on until now, he speaks about the man who
packs parachutes.
Paul was the hero but the true heroes were
the guys who packed his parachutes, the guys
that nobody hears aboutbut when they leave
there is a big void although not many people knew
them. God says, You want to have an apostolic

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motivation in the church? Youve got to have


people in the background that do amazing things
without ever being noticed. Just cheerful people
who just go about their jobsdirecting cars,
washing cupsthose are the heroes of the
church. If you are a parachute packer and you
have never been acknowledged then you need to
know that your contribution is deeply appreciated.
Look at Jesus having the nature of a servant: the
world says that you have to get to the top to be the
best but the Bible says that we are to start right at
the bottom, and that is where greatness is.

Everyone Taking an Interest in Others


Verse 21 says, Most people around here are
looking out for themselves, with little concern for
the things of Jesus. How do we take care of
Jesus Christs interests, the things of Jesus? It is
clear from this text that the way we take care of
the interests of Jesus Christ is by taking care of
people.
Jesus is actually not interested in
buildings whatsoeverhe is interested in people.
When we are interested in people, we are taking
care of the interests of Jesus Christ.
When you look at the difference between
bonded-leather and genuine-leather Bibles, you
will notice that the bonded leather will get cracked
and torn after a couple of years of use, while the
genuine leather will hold out much longer. When
you buy it, bonded leather is cheaper and the
shopkeeper tells you, Its just the same, just the
same, exactly the same . People think that
bonded leather is the real thingonly time will tell
whether it is the real thing or not. How do you
know whether your love or someone elses love is

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genuine?
How do you know whether your
commitment is genuine or not? If over years and
years it doesnt break, if it survives the test of
time. God is saying, I want to raise up a group of
peopleno shortcuts, no look-alike fakesI want
to raise up a generation of people with genuine
interest in one another. It costs more. I want to
tell you that many Christian bookshops are
hoodwinking us. God says, I want men and
women in my team who have a genuine interest in
one another.
There is a man named Titus who was another
member of Pauls team. In 2 Corinthians 8:17
Paul says to the church in Corinth that Titus is
coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his
own initiative. When we look at that word,
enthusiasm, it come from the word theos,
meaning God. Enthusiasm thus involves the
meaning, in God. A man who has been in God
is enthusiastic. So, Paul says, I have a couple of
guys on my team who dont have the same profile
as me but one of them has a genuine interest in
you and the other one is enthusiastiche has
been in the presence of God. Those are the kind
of guys, Paul says, that we need in our teams.
What, then, is genuine interest and how do
we live it?
1. Visiting People, Even When Uncomfortable
It means that you sometimes go where you dont
necessarily want to go. You can see that because
Paul says, I am sending Timothy to you now.
Timothy might have felt, Hey, Paul, its not really
the right time. Winter is coming, the road is not
that good, the sea is a little dangerous . But Ill

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go anyway because I have a genuine interest.


Genuine interest means that we will go, even
when we dont really want to go. Genuine interest
says that even when it not exactly convenient, we
will go anyway.
2. Asking Lots of Questions
Genuine interest means that we ask more
questions than we speak out answers. Genuine
interest asks questions. We all have an opinion
on everything. When I have a meal with people, I
ask myself whether I talked more than I listened.
If I talk more than I listen then I am actually not
genuinely interested. When you call someone,
consider asking, How is your wife? If they have
kids, How are your children? We all have stories
and we can all talk and talk but I tell you that our
voices often bore people and after youve told a
hundred stories, people actually stop inviting you
for dinner.
Genuine interest says, How are you?and
you dont switch off. When you ask someone,
How are you? and you see the tears welling up,
minister until God has done his workthat is
genuine interest.
And then you follow up
afterwards.
3. Remembering Names
When do you normally forget a name? Before
they even say goodbye to you? Actually, within
fifteen seconds of being told a name, many have
forgotten it. Why? Because you are preoccupied
and you actually havent listened properly.

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One of our elders met a lady at a function and


asked her, What is your name? She answered,
and he said, I wont forget that, thats my wifes
name. She said, Thats what you said last time!
As a church grows, everybody becomes Buddy.
No, Jesus went up to Zacchaeus and said,
Zacchaeus, come down. I have asked myself
whether Zacchaeus came down because Jesus
said, Come down, or whether Zacchaeus came
down because Jesus said, Zacchaeus, come
down. I believe that it is both.
Remember peoples names. Thats why we
get given names. Its called your surname and
your Christian name. Christians should remember
Christian names. This is practical. We should be
able to greet people by their names. We all make
mistakes but must learn to try and associate
things in our minds that help us because it shows
a genuine interest.
4. Taking Note of Details
A man asked to come and see me and spend
some time with me. At one point he mentioned in
passing his birth dateI took note of it and
remembered it. So, when the day came I phoned
him to wish him a happy birthday and he was
amazed. The next year I received a phone call
from someone thousands of kilometres away. Hi,
I just phoned to wish you a happy birthday. I
said, I didnt tell you my birthday. He said, No,
but I found out.
When you meet with people, you need to be
taking good mental notes. When they tell you on
a Sunday that their marriage is taking strain,
phone them on Wednesday and ask them how

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they are doing. That is a genuine interestthe


world could not give a hoot about how people are
doing but the Church is different.
Paul shows us what relational excellence is,
shows us the example of Jesus, shows us his own
example, and we might think that we can never
attain that. But then he shows us Timothy, just a
timid guy, taking a genuine interest.
5. Following People Up
Follow up afterwards. What starts as a discipline
becomes a delight. When someone has a scan in
hospital, phoned him and pray for him. When you
see him, ask how he is and how he is feeling.
This does not come naturally for many. The
Bible is saying, Just get in amongst the people.
We dont need any more I-specialists in the
church: I did this, I did that, I achieved this, I
achieved that. I I I .
6. Returning Phone Calls
Return phone calls. This is a small thing and is
part of showing a genuine interest.
7. General Hospitality and Politeness
Sometimes I ask people to turn around and greet
one another before I start preaching. Recently I
bumped into a man who told me, You remember
you asked us to turn around and shake hands with
each other? Well, it lead to a R70 000 business
deal. It was the guy sitting in front of me. I had
something which he needed, so we got a third
party involved and put it all together. Just from a
two minute greeting!

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We stop inviting people to church when we


become comfortable and we put blinkers on. God
wants to take our blinkers off. Gods asking us
whether we have seen who is just around us.
There are people in our churches who are going
through a marriage disaster. We have people who
are broken and bruised. We have single people
who are just crying out to God for partners. Do
you notice that? They just need someone to give
them a squeeze and some love and say, Im
standing with you. Im praying with you. A
common problem with married people is that they
always invite married people to dinner. Its wrong.
Invite some single people as wellnot to matchmake randomlywith a bit of prayer.

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8: Rejoice!
Introduction
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no
trouble for me to write the same things to you
again, and it is a safeguard for you.
Watch out for those dogs, those men who do
evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who
are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit
of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no
confidence in the fleshthough I myself have
reasons for such confidence.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put
confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised
on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the
tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard
to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the
church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider
loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I
consider everything a loss compared to the
surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my
Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I
consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and
be found in him, not having a righteousness of my
own that comes from the law, but that which is
through faith in Christthe righteousness that
comes from God and is by faith. I want to know
Christ and the power of his resurrection and the
fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming
like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to
the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:111)

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This can be quite a complicated Scripturethats


why expository preaching is good (where we go
through the Bible verse by verse). Exhortationorientated preaching is good sometimes, but to try
and pick up the whole flow of the Scripture you
have to interpret it systematically.
1. The Context for Pauls Testimony
If I told you that this morning on TV there was an
interview with Bill Gates and he said that he has
had enough of Microsoft, that hes giving it all up
and selling all his shares, that hes going to work
with an apostolic team doing church work in
England .
Or that there was another interview with Nicky
Oppenheimer who said that he was sick and tired
of diamonds and De Beers and all of his mining
and farming interests, that hes giving them all up
to join us here at our church to preach the gospel
to the nations of the world .
If I told you that, then those stories would
create the same reaction that Paul would have got
at his conversion.
2. Everything Else Became Rubbish to Paul
Paul was at the top. He was a Pharisee of
Pharisees, he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, he was
an intelligent man at the top. He was persecuting
the church (the Bible says that he was breathing
out murderous threats against the church), he
hated anything to do with Christianity or
Christians, and all of a sudden he had one
encounter where a bright light came shining down.

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He fell on his face and he said that all that he had


stood for was rubbish and he now stood for Jesus.
Thats the power of this text, friends. Thats
the kind of stir it would have sent right through the
Jewish communityright through the temple, right
through the ranks of the Pharisees. We need to
look at it, because Paul writes this Scripture not
just to the elders, not just to the deacons, he
writes this Scripture to every single person in the
church and he says that here is a challenge, here
is an example: when you meet Jesus Christ,
everything else has to become like rubbish.
We dont come to church just to fulfil some
kind of religious ritual. We see that at Christmas
time when many come out of their houses,
staggering with a hangover from the night before.
They go to church and praise God, give their
twenty bucks and feel some kind of legalistic
righteousness for having fulfilled a function.
Friends, we are not just here for empty ritual, we
are here to carry on a powerful relationship with
Jesus Christ.

Secrets For a Life of Rejoicing


Lets look at the text of Philippians 3:1-11 in more
detail.
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!
We are at the halfway mark in the book of
Philippians, and he says, Finally. If you have
been in a church for any length of time you will
know that when the preacher uses the words in
conclusion or finally he is probably going to
preach for another twenty minutes! Paul is an

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intellectual guy who has been to Jewish


universities, is highly qualified, has been into the
third heaven, has seen God, has seen Gods
glory, and now he is finally going to deposit one
little piece of truth to us. What is it going to be?
Will it be some great theological secret? Are you
ready? He says, Rejoice in the Lord. You say,
What? He says, Rejoice in the Lord. We think
it must be something deeper than that, but, no,
just rejoice in the Lord.
1. We Rejoice in God Despite Circumstances
Sometimes the best theological advice that we
can give to people is to rejoice in the Lord. When
we go through the winters in our lives it is good,
because that is how God deals with our weak rootsystem: in winter your root-system goes deeper.
When we go through winter, we shouldnt just cry
out, O God, rescue me from this situation! We
should say, O God, make my root-system
deeper.
When I went through a winter period some
time ago, I imagine that if the apostle Paul had
come into my officeand if I had said, Paul,
please listen to me, and just expounded all my
misery and hardship that I was going throughI
believe he would have said, Rejoice in the Lord.
I would have said, You dont understand, Paul!
He would have said, No, I do understand, thats
why Im telling you to do it!
Not rejoice in your circumstancesrejoice in
the Lord! How could Paul say that? You will see
that Paul got put into prison when this church was
planted. The Bible says in Acts 16 that he got
severely flogged, then a jailer guarded him

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carefully and put him into stocks. The guys back


is bleeding, his feet are in stocks, its midnight, he
hasnt been fedand he is worshiping God! Hes
worshiping God and all the other prisoners are
listening late at night. Do you know what happens
when we rejoice in God in adverse
circumstances? Other people start to listen! Men
and women who are walking with Jesus are men
and women of joy. When your joy goes you have
stopped walking with Jesus in the circumstances.
Paul had been shipwrecked three times, given the
thirty-nine lashes, faced death again and again
this is the Paul who is writingand as he writes
this text, in jail (again!), he says, Rejoice! We
say, You dont understand, Paul! He says, Im
writing from jailI do understand.
God is raising an apostolic generation of
Christians that are going to rejoice in the Lord, not
in their circumstances.
Rejoicing is not an
emotion but a decision based on the unchanging
character and nature of God. When we rejoice in
God, our circumstances dont necessarily change
but our perspective of what were going through
will changethere will be an internal change that
will allow us to cope with what were going
through.
This is what the Expository Dictionary of Bible
Words says about the word rejoice: It is an
expressed joy in shouts and laughter and praise,
and an enthusiastic commitment to Gods ways
and Gods will. My friends, we are not rejoicing in
circumstances themselveswe find that some
circumstances are not easy to find joy inbut we
can rejoice in the faithfulness of God. I realise
that circumstances that we go through are tough

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at times but God never, never changes. Paul had


seen an incredible picture of God, and the truth
that he is sharing with us is, Church, see this
vision of Jesus so that whatever goes on around
you, you still rejoice.
It is not an emotion, it is a decision of our
redeemed will to rejoice. Some people have been
consumed by the circumstances in their marriage,
in their finances, in their emotions, and they have
lost sight of the Lord. I want those people to
respond immediately to Pauls words, Finally, my
brothers, rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice means with
a loud shout, laughter and praise, and a
commitment to doing his will and his ways. I ask
you right now to respond with praise to the Lord.
Even if you are sick, you can still rejoice in the
Lordbecause
of
the
Lord
not
your
circumstances. Just praise him. Let that thing
break off you. It is not just a 20-second shoutit
is something breaking out of your chest because
the world puts a bondage and a heaviness upon
you. When we come into the Faith, there is
opposition against us, but there is a freedom in
Jesus that will not allow us to be bound by the
ways of the world and the ways of the devil. We
praise God based on his unchanging character
and nature.
2. We Need Repetition to Assist Obedience
It is no trouble for me to write the same things to
you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
How do we learn, friends? We learn by repetition.
People, even in the life of a church, always want
the new thingthey are always looking for the

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latest thing that God is doing in the earth. Paul


says that he is writing the same things to us to
safeguard us. What happens when you want to
cross the road? You look left then right, and then
left again, then you cross the road.
Why?
Because your parents drummed it into you over
and over. Now you dont even think, Left, right,
left, you just do it and you cross. The repetition
has become a truth and it is actually a safeguard
to have that second left look before crossing the
road.
Change only comes by one thing and that is
obedience. Weve been going through the book of
Philippians for a long time now, but unless we
change we might as well throw the thing away and
just continue. Weve looked at laying down our
lives, about the fact that the important thing is
Jesus Christ. But the only time we change is
when we become obedient to that thing, and
obedience comes with repetition.
People ask me why I keep talking about
husbands laying down their lives for their wives,
about wives submitting, about titheswhy do I
repeat it over and over again? For this simple
reason, friends, obedience results in change and
obedience comes from repetition: hearing again
and again the basic foundations of the Christian
faith so that we can get them into place and God
can be glorified.
Paul had no trouble writing the same things
twice so I should not battle to preach the same
sermon twice. These values just have to come
over and over again until we start to actually obey
them. Change comes when we are obedient and
obedience comes from repetition.

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3. We Need Freedom Not Rules


Verse 2 then says, Watch out for those dogs,
those men who do evil, those mutilators of the
flesh.
Paul has found a freedom, and all of a
sudden he realises that the old way is coming and
yapping at his heels and trying to put shackles on
him again. Now a dog in Jerusalem was not a pet,
it was a scavenger. He is saying that these guys
who are putting rules and regulations upon you
are the same as dogsthey are like scavengers
that roam through the streets and wake you up at
night. These men do evil because they dont
teach about the freedom and the grace of God.
Mutilating the flesh brings to mind circumcision,
because in the law you had to get circumcised to
be right with God. He is saying that if you have to
get circumcised to get right with God then it is a
mutilation of the flesh. You dont have to do that
because it is about circumcision of the heart. Paul
has found a freedom in God and nobody is going
to put him back under that bondage again.
I dont like smoking but there are some
people in the church who smoke. If you looked in
the pot plants of many churches, you could start a
cigarette recycling factory! But I tell you what, I
would rather have a cigarette recycling factory
and have the people coming here to listen to the
word of God and to worship him, than to have
them not come because the church says, Dont
smoke.
One day there was a guy from the church
whom I had never met. As he was about to meet
me he took a big puffhe filled his lungsand
then he realised that he had to say hello to me.

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The smoke was going to have to go somewhere!


He put his cigarette behind his back and the
smoke was coming up behind his back. This is
not about rules so I asked him to relax. Let God
convict you. God has shown us freedom from
rules and regulations. Its the freedom of the Spirit
and freedom of life.
4. We Have No Confidence in Achievements
The next verse says, For it is we who are the
circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God,
who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no
confidence in the fleshthough I myself have
reasons for such confidence.
What reasons have you got for confidence?
Did you go to a special school? Do you have a
degree? Do you have a diploma? Do you have
an important job? Do you have a big car? Do you
have fame? Do you have status? Do you have a
large house? What reasons do you have for
confidence? Paul says he has more!
5. We Dont Seek Worldly Authority
circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of
Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin .
To understand the Scriptures we have to go and
see what it means: Benjamin was the only son
that was born in the promised land and Benjamin
means son of my authority or son of my right
hand. Benjamin was initially called Ben-Oni
meaning son of my suffering. His father named
him Benjaminson of my right hand. Saul, the
first king of Israel, was from the tribe of Benjamin.

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Paul grew up understanding authority and he


reached the top of the authority pile and declared
it rubbish compared to knowing Jesus Christ!
a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a
Pharisee .
There were only a couple of thousand
Phariseesthese were the intellectual elite in the
lawand Paul was one of them.
6. We Have Passion for the Right Things
As for zeal, persecuting the church
He says that he wasnt just sitting in the academic
halls arguing against Christianityhe was out on
the streets kicking them; he was okaying their
murders; he was in the front there, passionate,
gripped by this thinghe had conviction.
7. We Have No Pride In Outward Acts
as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
He was a goodie-two-shoes that you could never
fault. Look at girls? Never! Sleep around?
Oh, not me, I was perfect. Perfect! Did you
know that he counted it all as rubbish in the end?

Our New Value System


1. What Profit Is Not
Then he becomes the accountant. He says,
Whatever was to my profit . Many people run

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businesses or are in management. Most people


are in it for a profit, they are in it to make bucks.
Paul does a balance-sheet exercise herehe lists
a profit and loss column. The world says (and his
culture says) that being a Pharisee is profit,
being a Hebrew of Hebrews is profit, being of the
tribe of Benjamin is profit, zeal against the
church is profit and circumcised on the eighth
day is profit. He looks at all that and he has a
comparison called Jesus: he realises that he has
to shift everything to the opposite column.
2. What Loss Is
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss
for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider
everything a loss compared to the surpassing
greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for
whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them
rubbish .
The word rubbish is also translated dung or
excrement. I was once chatting to a guy and I
said, Tell me about your first encounter with your
in-laws. He said that it was his first nervous visit
as the boyfriend and their dog had fouled at the
front doorbut he didnt notice: he was too busy
trying to get his words right. He ended up walking
right through their entire housea pristine
housewith doggy mess on his shoe. He said
that his mother-in-law taught him a very good
lesson! She didnt say, Welcome, my daughters
boyfriend, but rather, Young man! Here is a
bucket and a clothgo and clean it all up, thank
you very much!

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Sometimes a single translation can soften the


actual meaning of what Paul is trying to write and
we dont get the real depth of the message. As I
try to understand this word I see that sometimes
as we go through our homes with diplomas on our
walls and trophies in our cabinets, they should
give us the same smell, the same stench that that
young man created walking through that house.
Paul says that it is all rubbish compared to
knowing Christ.
Francis Schaefer once said that every
Christian, for their daily devotions, should take
their Bible and go and sit on top of a rubbish
dump, read their Bibles and realise that everything
else compared to this is below them: rubbish. But,
friends, unless we know Jesus Christ we cannot
say that. Unless we know Jesus Christ in the way
that Paul knew Jesus Christ, we cannot say that.
Unless we are completely convinced of what
Jesus has done for us, we cant rejoice when
were under pressure. When we look at our
achievements (even international sportsmen), how
can we say that all of that is rubbish compared to
Jesus Christ? It is difficult because achievements
are the everything of our society. My prayer is
that each person would get a revelation of Jesus
Christ so that everything else can fade into
insignificance. That doesnt mean that you dont
work hard, it doesnt mean that God wont make
you successful, it doesnt mean that you wont live
in a great house. Some people buy themselves
magnificent homes and I believe that that is a part
of the blessing of God upon their particular lives
but that, compared to Jesus, is nothing.

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3. Loss Now Becomes Gain


Let us look a little at this issue of loss. I consider
everything a loss , says Paul.
Many people have lost things when they
joined the church: they have lost friendships, lost
businesses, lost reputations. I want to say this to
those peoplewe can dwell on our losses when
we dont understand the gain. People ask me,
When I come into the church, am I going to lose
some of my friends? I want to tell you that I keep
in touch with as many of my unsaved friends as
possible because I can be a positive influence for
their salvationI am the only hope for some of
those guys to ever hear the gospel. But some of
my friendships are unhelpful for my relationship
with Jesus Christ and have to be lost. There are
even some people who have lost business
reputations but have gained Christ, and you need
to know that what you have gained is far greater
than what you have lost. Some people are called
to business and are going to be incredibly wealthy
and successful, and thats excellentbut there are
times when we lose something for the sake of
Jesus Christ, and weve got to be comfortable with
that and be consumed by what we have gained.

True Christian Life


Four things that highlight a true Christian, one not
caught in rules and regulations, can be found in
Philippians 3:3.

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1. Worshiping By the Spirit of God


We worship by the Spirit of Godnot by rules and
regulations, but by the Spirit of God. Friends,
many, many peoplehundreds of thousands, if
not millions of peoplewill go to church on
Christmas day to fulfil some religious desire. We
must worship by the Spirit of God. Paul is saying
that if we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and
Saviour then we will worship God by the Spirit.
The Bible says that wherever the Spirit of God is,
there is freedom. A born-again believer should be
worshiping in freedom. Sometimes, when we
have sung the same song fifteen times, we want
to give the worship leader a little nudge. But if
hes keen for fifteen times then well just worship
in the Spirit and lift up Gods name. Well let the
repetition grab us until what the words say have
become truth to us, until were obedient to them
and change starts to take place. We worship by
the Spirit of God. Friends, we dont come here on
Sundays to sing five songs and go home, we
come here to worship God by the Spirit.
2. Glorying in Christ Jesus
The mark of the true believer is that he will take no
credit for himself. Im not talking about false
humility but rather no credit for himself, no glory
for himself, all glory to God. God has to raise up a
church where people will not be elevated higher,
but they will be brought down low so that he can
be raised up high. If there is any form of pride or
self-promotion in your heart then read this
Scripture until it becomes a truth to you. All the
glory must go to Jesus.

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3. Putting No Confidence in the Flesh


They put no confidence in the flesh. The true
Christian puts no confidence in the flesh: what
school you went to, how much money you have,
what reputation you have, whether you played
sport at the highest level, what achievements you
have, what car you drive, what opinions you might
have, what promotions you might have received.
Putting no confidence in the flesh means that we
have to put our confidence somewhere else: my
confidence is in Jesus. As you go out to work
each day, do you put your confidence in Christ or
do you constantly just rely on your own intellect,
your own strength and your own opinions? You
can actually stop and say, God, give me
confidence to go out and do business today. We
should not be doing business in our own
strengthwe should be doing business in the
confidence of Jesus Christ, because our god is no
longer money, our god is God.
4. Desiring to Know Jesus Christ
Paul says we are to have a desire to know Jesus
Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss
compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing
Christ Jesus my Lord, ... (Philippians 3:8a) Not
the churchs Lord, not the pastors Lordmy Lord:
it has become a personal relationship. And he
says, I want to know Christ . Friends, even as
a born-again, saved person, when we look at Paul
and this relationship that hes gothe can rejoice
in jail, he can rejoice when beatenwe surely
want to know that Christ. He didnt just want to
know the person that walked the earth or that died

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on the cross. He wanted to know the Christ that


was resurrected by the power of God. We want to
live a resurrected, powerful Christian life where
morality doesnt fall every few weeks and where
we dont get tempted by financial things. We want
to live with the resurrected power of Jesus Christ
upon the Church.
What we value is the
glorification of Jesus Christ.
My friends, activity never replaces intimacy
and fellowship. God called people out of Egypt to
fellowship with him. You can come to church, you
can go to home group, you can come to prayer
meeting, and you can go through the religious
rhetoric without ever actually knowing Jesus. The
word knowing is an intimate word.

Father, we want to know you. We want to


somehow attain to the power of your resurrected
life. We want to know you.

O God, help us. Help every single person to


know you like Paul knew you, to rejoice in you,
Lord God, like he rejoiced in you. In Jesus name,
Amen.

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9: Mediocre Christianity
Overcoming Mediocrity: Showing
Progress
The church of Philippi was a wonderful church that
brought Paul much joy and there are many things
that we can emulate in this church.
In this section, I want to exhort you to hold on
to your seats because the word of God is going to
challenge you, offend you and change you. I dont
want it to be my attitude that offends you but the
word of God. In this section Paul deals with
mediocre Christianity and we see that Paul hates
carnal Christianity and he hates mediocrity. Paul
deals here with some strong things and he is
saying that we cant do anything less than what
Christ has done for us. We need to grab hold of
the things that Christ has grabbed hold of us for.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss
for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider
everything a loss compared to the surpassing
greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for
whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them
rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in
him, not having a righteousness of my own that
comes from the law, but that which is through faith
in Christthe righteousness that comes from God
and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the
power of his resurrection and the fellowship of
sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his
death, and so, somehow, to attain to the
resurrection from the dead.

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Not that I have already obtained all this, or


have already been made perfect, but I press on to
take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold
of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to
have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining towards
what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win
the prize for which God has called me
heavenwards in Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature should take such a
view of things. And if on some point you think
differently, that too God will make clear to you.
Only let us live up to what we have already
attained.
Join with others in following my example,
brothers, and take note of those who live
according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I
have often told you before and now say again
even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross
of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is
their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.
Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship
is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour
from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the
power that enables him to bring everything under
his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that
they will be like his glorious body.
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and
long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should
stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! (Philippians
3:7-4:1)
1. Seek God Earnestly
When I first joined the church, I used to feel like a
bit of a fake because I used to see these guys with

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their arms lifted up high, caught up in worship,


singing in tongues, dancing and clapping. I
thought, Im here and Ill partake but what is the
thing that makes them feel like that? I came to
church because I had been brought up in a
Christian set-up and I had received Christ but I
didnt know the surpassing greatnessI didnt
know his glory. Paul challenges us today and he
asks us, Are you earnestly seeking Christ, or are
you just a casual observer? The Bible says that
he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
When we seek Christ, look for his character,
try to find his ways and try to understand his
person, the Bible says that he will reward us with
the revelation. We dont want to just come to
church week after week and fill up a seat and
warm the thing up and look at all these people that
are so caught up with God. We want that for
ourselves.
Part of the promise of the New
Covenant, it tells us in Hebrews, is that No longer
will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his
brother, saying, Know the Lord, because they will
all know me, from the least of them to the
greatest. You will know him yourself: you wont
have to go through a priest to get to know God,
you are a priest and you go through Jesus the
High Priest to get to know God. At every level we
need to break this thing down: when somebody
comes to me and asks, Can you pray for me?
the first thing I say to them is, Have you prayed
for yourself? Have you gone to Jesus? Paul is
saying that once youve got the surpassing
greatness of the risen Christ, then you begin to
live a victorious Christian life.

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One of the things I am hoping to achieve as


we look at the book of Philippians, is to teach
people how to read the Bible line upon line. Often
when someone reads a text like this quickly, they
dont know what it means. When you take it line
upon line and you look at it systematically and you
compare each line with what has gone before and
what comes after, you begin to get the revelation.
The whole purpose of this passage, as we
see in chapter 4 verse 1, is that the Christians will
stand firmthat they will stand strong. Paul says,
in effect, Actually, I am so overwhelmed that you
are not doing some of the things that I taught you,
that I am actually crying.
We started this book by saying that it is a
book of intimacyPaul refers to them as friends.
He says, I long for you, I think of you, I pray for
you. Paul has got the best interests of this
church at heart and he says, Friends, you are not
doing what I told you to do. You are not living
according to the plan that we gave you. You are
not living in the fullness of what God has for you
and it is so troubling me that I am weeping. This
man who is so full of joy is crying because they
are not living in the fullness. I am not talking to
unbelievers here, I am talking to those who have
been connected with the glorious richness of
Jesus Christ: we cant just stay there and plateau.
We have to progress into the fullness of
everything that he has for us.
2. Find Yourself in Christ
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have
already been made perfect , says verse 12. I
just read this and I think, Whew, hes just a

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normal man after all. Hes aiming for something


but he hasnt got there yet. Well, thats great; now
lets ask, Well, what are you trying to do, Paul?
He says, Not that I have already obtained all this
. What is all this?
Well, it says it there, in the first five verses
before:
One: to know Christ. He says, I want to
know Christ.
Two: to be found in Christ.
You may remember John 15, it says that
Jesus is the vine, I am the branch and the Father
is the gardener. You can do nothing unless you
are linked to the vine. You can not produce fruit
unless you are in the vine. What happens when
the gardener comes with big clippers to cut away
our character flaws? It is painful but we are linked
to the vine. We get our character dealt with on the
outside, but we are linked to the vine and so we
draw our strength from the vine. Paul is saying, I
dont only want to know Christ, I also want to be
found in Christ. I want to live in him, I want to get
my resources from him, so that whatever
happenswhether I get pruned, or cut, or beaten,
or the fruit plucked off meI am still in the vine.
Friends, we have to find the place where we
are digging our own wells, where coming to church
on Sunday is to be with the believers, to
fellowship, to partake in the corporate. Our wells
have got to come from our own personal walk with
Jesus Christ. The pastor is not your answer to a
successful Christian life.
3. Share in His Sufferings
Three: the power of his resurrection.

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Four: sharing in his sufferings.


If you want to know the full resurrected power
of God, you have the privilege of sharing in his
suffering. This is no longer commonly preached
as true Christianity, so often people preach,
Come to Jesus and get rich. You can drive a
bigger car, live in a bigger house, come; come so
that your marriage can get touched. No! Come
so that you can be a part of the sufferings of
Jesus Christ. Some of the worst sufferings that
we go through is, I havent got satellite TV.
When we want people to go on a camp some
people say, There is no cell phone reception
there. Suffering for Jesus in Africa!
1 Peter 4 tells us that we will suffer for being a
Christian. How do we suffer for being a Christian?
Over the silly season of Christmas people go to
office parties, get completely drunk, they have
affairs and take drugsand you are going to
stand as a Christian, and stand strong, and you
are going to suffer for that thing and the Bible says
that then we will understand the resurrected power
of God. What about you who are getting older and
still single? You have sexual desires inside of
you, and the Bible says that God wants us to be
holy. I want to tell you that some of you are going
to suffer sexually to keep your ways pure but the
Bible says that when you do that, when you take
your stand, although physically you might suffer,
you will start to feel the resurrected power of the
Almighty God. Instead of giving in and giving in
and giving in, you stand and say, I will suffer for
being a Christian. I will make a stand.

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4. Be Obedient to Death
Five: Becoming like him in his death, and so,
somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the
dead. (Verses 10b-11)
What does that mean? All the synoptic
Gospels have got the account of Gethsemane,
where Jesus prepared to die, and he went before
the Father and said, Father, take this cup from
me but not my will be doneyour will be done. It
says that he was so overcome with sorrow that the
sweat on his brow was like blood dripping off him.
He went back to his disciples and they were
sleeping. He went back to his Father and said,
Father, take this cup from me but not my will be
doneyour will be done.
Thats how he diedhe was obedient to
death. What does it mean for the Christian to
share in the death of Jesus? It means to be
obedient even unto death, to maintain the word of
God and the will of God for our lives. Do you
know what the problem is with many so-called
charismatic Christians? We dont die so well.
Romans 12:1 tells us to present ourselves to God
as a living sacrifice. The problem with a living
sacrifice is that it keeps getting off the altar. God
wants some things in our lives to die before we will
feel the full resurrected power of God. Unless we
let some character issues, some visions and some
dreams die, we will not know the resurrection
power of God.

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Knowing Christs Purpose for Us


1. Desire to Fulfil Your Purpose
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have
already been made perfect, but I press on to take
hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of
me. (Philippians 3:12)
Hes not talking about salvation, hes talking about
purpose. Paul says that Christ Jesus took hold of
us. We didnt find God, he found us. We get the
theology wrong. We say, I went and found God.
No you didnt, God found you. Do you know what
it means that Christ has taken hold of us? When
we want to go our own way, he pulls us into the
direction that he wants us to go. Paul is saying
that Christ has taken hold of us for something, and
we havent taken hold of it yet but we are going to
reach out for it: we are going to stretch out
towards it until we have taken hold of everything
that he has for us. Paul has already been saved,
he has already taken the righteousness that
comes from Godhe is not talking about
salvationhe is talking about the purpose that
Christ Jesus has grabbed hold of him for.
Most Christians come to church and do their
one hour, or one-and-a-half hour worship and they
go out and live exactly how they want. Paul is
saying, Christians, God has had a purpose for
you before you were even born. Before he knit
you together in your mothers womb he had a
purpose for you and unless you are fulfilling that
purpose, I want God to change your mind and

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change your thinking so that you can see clearly


again.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of
Godnot by works, so that no one can boast. For
we are Gods workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in
advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
We get saved by grace but lined up in front of us,
for all the years of our lives, are good works that
God has planned for us to do. If you do not
understand the reason for which Christ has taken
hold of you, you will just miss one after the other
and you will go to heavenbut you wont fulfil your
purpose.
There was a whole generation (you can see it
in 1 Corinthians 10) that saw the miraculous
provision of God in the desert where they ate
manna and quail, but it says that God was not
pleased with them. You can see the supernatural
provision of God because the Bible says that as
we give our tithes and offerings, God will take care
of our needs. You can do that and still not fulfil
the purpose that God has for you. You can see
the miraculous power of God at work and still not
fulfil that thing for which Christ Jesus has taken
hold of you. But I want to tell you that it is twofold.
First, its your personal relationship with Jesus.
Second, its the purpose of your local church
touching and impacting every single town, village,
community, city and nation of the world. If you are
not knitted into a local church where you are
supporting and serving the vision then the purpose

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of God for your life will never be fulfilled. And


thats what Paul is sayingif you are mature, you
should think about this.
Jesus says to Peter in Matthew 16, Peter,
who do you say that I am? He says, You are the
Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus says,
That did not come to you by man but by the
revelation of Godon this thing I will build my
Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail. That
is the purpose for which we exist. It doesnt say
that the devil will attack the Church and we will
fend it off, it says that the church will attack every
cultural thing that is not of God and we will prevail.
2. Serve Your Generation
What are you giving yourself to, friends? You just
have to look at your diary. You just have to look at
your spending. You just have to look at your time
that you give to people and you will see what you
are giving yourself to. Paul says that there is only
one thing that he is giving himself tothat thing
for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of him.
For when David had served Gods purpose in his
own generation, he fell asleep . (Acts 13:36a)
Instead of David, you could put your name in
there. There are several aspects to this:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Its you.
There is a servant-heartedness attached to it.
There is a purpose of God.
It says, His generation.

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People keep saying, Are these the last daysis


Jesus coming back? I dont know the answer to
that question, friends, but for you and I these are
the last days. We arent going to get a second
chance. For each of us, these are our last days.
People ask, Can we read the signs? Can we see
the symbols? Can we match all the numbers up?
I dont know, but these are the last days and in
these last days of yours, youve got three things:
1. You have yourself.
2. You have the purpose of God upon your life.
3. You have to serve in your generation.
Each of us have a generation of ten years older
and ten years younger than us to reach, and each
of us had better be serving the purpose of God
upon our lives for our generation.
3. Become Focussed
That is what Paul is saying, I will not settle for
carnal or mediocre Christianity. He is saying, If
you understand the riches of Christ then you will
understand his purpose and you have to make
sure that it gets fulfilled. He says in 1 Corinthians
9:24b, Run in such a way as to get the prize. I
love motivating people but this is not hyping
people up, it is a response to the goodness of
Christ. He says, Dont go around beating the air
aimlessly.
The problem in ministry is that it is very
difficult to quantify what you do. In business you
start a project and you complete it, or you sell a
product and you get a profit. In ministry you meet
with people, have tea with people, pray with guys,

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fast with guys, read the Bible, preach the word of


God and you go home and you dont know what
has happened. But there is not one single day
that we should wake up without an aim and a
purpose upon our day because we know the
purpose of God upon our lives: it is to build the
local church. We are going to plant churches and
we are going to release finances. We did not
release money to build a building, we released
money to build a building that contains people with
faith. That is the purpose of God upon our lives.
But one thing I do . (Philippians 3:13b).
The enemy has got many tactics. Some of them
are despair, some of them are depression, some
of them are disaster but one of the greatest tactics
that the enemy uses against us is distraction. We
see that in Nehemiah 6: Nehemiah is building the
wall and the enemy comes and says, Lets meet
in the plains of Ono. Lets talk there, lets discuss
some things. Nehemiah sends a messenger
back to them and says, Tell them that I am busy
with a great project. The messenger comes back
saying, Lets meet. Nehemiah sends him back,
saying, Tell them that I am busy with a great
project. It says that they came to him five times
asking the same question and five times he sent
the messenger back to tell them, I am busy with a
great project.
4. Build the Church
Friends, God has given us one thing to do: to
have a relationship with him (which is ongoing and
growing) and we have a purpose to build the local

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church. Not build the economy! Not build the


arts! Not build the sporting arena! Build the
church! When the church gets built and people
get saved and challenged, and it grows up into the
fullness of God, it will then go and impact those
thingsbut our task is to build the church. This
one thing I do: build the church!
There are plenty of distractionsand they
normally come in spiritual language, normally with
a prophecy attached, and normally by somebody
wearing a religious thing, saying, Oh, brother,
bless you. I get letters like that on my desk
regularly, asking me for money or asking me to be
at a certain meeting. Ive got to say, No! over
and over because I spent most of my early years
in ministry meeting as many as forty people a
week for the first three years. I nearly burnt
myself out and I didnt achieve what God wanted
me to do.
First this thing happens, then that thing
happens, and they are sometimes legitimate and
in line with what God has called those men and
those women to do. There are ministries all over
that may be legitimate and God given, but for us
and what God has called us to do, they are not.
We can have a measure of unity with them as we
work alongside them but we must never become
distracted with those things. People say, Youre
exclusive. We say, No, Im not, I am focussed.
And you should be too. We may not build the
biggest church but God has called us to raise up
leaders and release them to the nations of the
world and we are going to do that as best we know
how.

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This one thing I do . If your heart is not to


build the local churchto see people coming in,
getting saved, getting restored, getting healed and
grown up, becoming good leadersif your heart is
not for that, you will struggle.
5. Forgive and Forget
Forgetting what is behind .
What we
sometimes say is, I will forgive but I will not
forget. Paul says that we can never live to the
fullness for God unless we actually forget. Some
people hold things against their spouses because
of things they did ten years ago. Perhaps they
had an affair ten years ago: you say that you have
forgiven them but you have never forgotten. Paul
is saying, Unless you forget, you will never
move. To forget doesnt mean that we just have
some kind of shock treatment, it means that it no
longer has influence or bearing on our lives.
6. Keep Looking Forward
Do you remember Lots wife? She looked back.
What did she become? A pillar of salt. When the
sweetness and glory of God wants to come and
dwell upon us so that we can taste the sweetness
of God, many Christians have mouths full of salt
because they are looking back. Paul is speaking
here about some of the achievements of his life.
In 1 Corinthians 2 it says that God didnt use the
wise, he didnt use the influential, he didnt use
those of noble birthhe didnt choose all of
thosehe chose the despised, he chose the
ignoble, he chose the people of no reputation.
Why? Because he knew that he would get all the

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glory.
Philippians 3:5-7 speaks of Pauls
achievements. It says that he is a Pharisee, a
Hebrew of Hebrews, circumcised on the eighth
day, from the tribe of Benjaminhe is
everythingbut he says that he chooses not to
look behind him because he has to look forward.
People come to the faith and they say, Im
the boss of this company, and Im this, and Im
that . Paul is saying, You will never achieve
anything for Jesus if you keep reminding God of
what you are. Paul is saying, All of that is
rubbish!
You are nothing compared to the
surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ. With that
revelation we use whatever we have done in the
pastwhether our achievements or successes.
We use them as a launching pad to get going and
receive everything that God has for us. We take
hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold
of us.
7. Become More Mature
All of us who are mature should take such a view
of things .
The Greek word for mature is the same word
that is translated as perfect in verse 12. He is
not talking about grey haired men, he is talking
about men and women who have the finished
work of Jesus Christthat is what he is talking
about. You get acorns and you get oak trees. In
verse 12 he says that he is not an oak tree yet.
An acorn is perfect but an oak tree is what an
acorn is meant to become. So, you have all these
little acorns in the churchperfectthey all die
and go to heaven but they never reach the

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fullness of the oak tree. God is saying, I want oak


trees. I want oaks of righteousness who stand
with deep roots and good fruit.

Standing Firm
All of us who are mature should take such a view
of things.
And if on some point you think
differently, that too God will make clear to you.
Only let us live up to what we have already
attained.
Verses 15 and 16 tell us that if you think differently
on any one of these things that we are looking at
in this section, that God will make a change in
your perception. He says, Only let us live up to
what we have already attained.
Remember the concept of building a wall
behind us. It can be illustrated with firemen. The
bigger guy supports the guy with the hose. The
guy holding the hose stands with the big guy
behind him and when the pressure in the hose
gets strong, he has to lean back, sitting on the big
support guy. Friends, that is what Jesus does for
us: when the pressure gets too much, he will
make sure that we will never go backwards.
So, not only do we have Christ laying hold of
us for our future, we also have Christ laying hold
of us so that we do not go back to our past. No
backsliding. No disappearing when the pressure
comes. Paul says, Not only do we need to be
laying hold of things, we need to be standing firm
so that when the pressure gets too strong, we
know that we have Christ standing behind us.
Build a wall behind you so that you dont have two
steps forward and one step back, two steps

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forward and one step back. Build a wall behind


you, so that you will stand strong in the things of
God: sexuality, finances, emotions. How? By
laying hold of Christ. I want to know Christ and
the power of his resurrection .
1. Be a Friend of the Cross
There are three things that prevent us from laying
hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of us:
1. Being an enemy of the cross of Christ.
2. Our cravings.
3. Not knowing our citizenship.
It doesnt say, Enemies of Christ, but it says,
Enemies of the cross of Christ. This speaks
about obedience, friends: thats what the cross of
Christ speaks about. Jesus said, Father, if it be
your will, take this cup from mebut your will be
done. The Father said, You have to walk
through it, Son. Isaiah 53 says that it pleased the
Father to crush his Son. The cross is about
obediencethe cross is about a hatred of sin.
Golgotha means the skull, and the cross got
planted into the hillthe cross got planted into the
skullit broke the power of the enemy. The cross
of Christ says that we deal radically with sin in our
lives. Over festive seasons you are going to have
sexual temptation put before you, you are going to
have drinking temptation put before you, you are
going to have adultery temptation put before you,
and I pray that the cross of Christ will be firmly
planted on Golgothathe skull of the devilso
that we will stand strong in God and we will press
forward.

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Paul, we saw, plays the accountant: he does


all his sums and he speaks about profit and loss.
Then he plays the athlete where he says, Press
on lay hold of . Then he becomes the
visionary: he begins to see the future. He is an
alien who realises that he is not a part of this
world. So, he does all his numbers and realises
that it is worth fighting for so that we can have our
future inheritance.
The cross also speaks of a deep love for
sinners. That is what the cross meantGod
loved the sinner so much that he sent his Son to
die. When we live as an enemy of the cross, we
dont have the love that God had for sinners.
2. Control Your Cravings
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their
stomach, and their glory is in their shame.
(Philippians 3:19a)
Paul is speaking about the cravings that prevent
us from fulfilling our destiny. How many of you
know that when money is needed for a church
project, it offends your craving? By putting your
money into something like a building offering it
means that you have to forgo something else. We
think, Im giving up golf, and this, and that .
Many times God will give us projects, God will give
us words, to make sure that we deal with our
cravings. He says that while your cravings are not
under control, you will never ever fulfil the
mandate of God upon your lifebe they sexual,
be they emotional, be they material.

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3. Remember Your Citizenship is in Heaven


Our passport is in heaven. That means that we
are unaffected by the exchange rates and the
dollar. We are unaffected by the pound and we
are unaffected by the government. We pray for
them because the Bible says that we must, but our
citizenship is in heaven.
When you go and visit someone on a golf
estate, the security guard comes out and says,
What is your name? He looks at his list and
says, You are expected. He opens the gate and
you go in. Friends, we are expected in heaven.
Paul says, I am expected, my name is on the list.
When I get there, the gates are going to open.
But we cant have citizenship there and here. Do
you want to live for God? Do you want to live fully
for God? Do you want to achieve everything that
he has for you? You cant have citizenship in both
places. You cant swear and tell vulgar jokes with
your office buddies and then come and worship at
church. You can have citizenship in one place
onlyeven facing the problems in the nation. Its
a challenge! We need to call on God to bring
down the power of heaven to help us live here on
earth. Our citizenship is in heaven and we will
achieve everything that God wants us to achieve
because he has laid hold of us for something. He
has called us to live in our country, even when all
our mates have left. He has called us here for this
reasonto build his church now.
Paul says in chapter 4, Therefore, my
brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and
crown, that is how you should stand firm in the
Lord, dear friends! How? Become a friend of the
cross of Christ, deal with cravings, make sure that

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our citizenship is in heavenand then we will


know the power of the resurrection; we will live in
the power of the resurrection, we can live
victoriously, we can be fruitful because we are
linked to the vine and we can achieve everything
for which Jesus Christ has laid hold of us.

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10: Relational Excellence


I am particularly excited to share a few verses with
you in this section because I think that you are
going to be challenged to your core.
This
message is not a word that is going to tickle our
ears, it is a word that is going to challenge us and
we are going to have to change.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have
already been made perfect, but I press on to take
hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have
taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting
what is behind and straining towards what is
ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenwards in
Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature should take such a
view of things. And if on some point you think
differently, that too God will make clear to you.
Only let us live up to what we have already
attained.
Join with others in following my example,
brothers, and take note of those who live
according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I
have often told you before and now say again
even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross
of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is
their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.
Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship
is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour
from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the
power that enables him to bring everything under

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his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that


they will be like his glorious body.
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and
long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should
stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche
to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I
ask you, loyal yoke-fellow, help these women who
have contended at my side in the cause of the
gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my
fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of
life. (Philippians 3:12-4:3)
Someone once said, I plead with Odious and I
plead with Soon-Touchy to agree with each other.
Every church has got Odious people and SoonTouchy people. Ask yourself whether you are
Odious or Soon-Touchy because if you are, God
is saying to you, agree with one another.
In this section, I just want to look at these last
few verses about agreeing together and standing
firm. We have tried to look at what the apostolic
motivation is: what motivated Paul, what motivates
Dudley and what motivates the leadership in the
life of a church.
Philippians 3 speaks about two important
things: liberty in Christ and purpose in Christ.
Then there is that little word therefore.
Whenever you see that word therefore you
should ask yourself what has gone beforeand
what comes after. What happens here is that
purpose goes before and relational disunity goes
after, and he says, If you want to achieve the
purpose then agree with each other. God has a
purpose for every single local church but it will

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only be achieved when every single person agrees


in the Lord together about that purpose and with
each other. What happens is that we have the
head called Christ and we have the body called
the people. Sometimes all the people agree but
they are not in submission to Christ and
sometimes we are in submission to Christ but we
dont all agree together. He is saying that the
purpose and the relational unity have to be
combined if we are to fulfil the mandate upon our
lives.
Can you imagine having only one verse
written about you in Scripture and it being one
about disagreement? Can you imagine being
Euodia or Syntyche? Can you imagine being that
particular person? This book is going to be the
best seller in all the history of the world and the
thing that it says about you is that you disagreed!
Imagine it carved into your gravestone:
HE/SHE COULDNT COME TO AGREEMENT.

Paul is saying that there is a purpose upon our


lives; there is a purpose upon the church and it is
to touch the nations, to get the gospel out, to get
people saved and changed, to get people
worshipingbut you couldnt agree. Can you
imagine building a big building with everything
apparently going well but you couldnt agree? The
church gets a wonderful, raving reportbut you
couldnt agree. The frightening thing is that God
knows our details to the very thoughts in our head,
to the very hairs upon our head, he knows every
single thing. I am saying that if one thing gets
written about me, I dont want it to be that I

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disagreed constantly with the purpose of the


Church and the purpose of leadership.
On the other hand, there is this guy called
Clement and another guy called the yoke-fellow,
who constantly agreed and constantly worked with
each other, and we want to be like them. But if
there was one line written about you, what would it
be?
The Philippian church was buzzing: people
gave their finances, people got touched
miraculously, there was the life of God there, there
was a servant-hearted nature in the life of the
church, there was one spirit, they were contending
and fighting together. They had received Christs
liberty, not legalism or licentiousness. Finances
were pouring init says that they helped Paul
again and again: a generous church. Yet Paul
takes the time to pick out just one relationship that
is not working. One relationship! That, for us, is a
challenge.
People ask the pastor, How is your church
going? The answer may be, On the whole, it is
going well: there is a momentum, there is a buzz,
there is a financial release, people are getting
savedall sorts of things. But I look at Scripture
and Paul says that if there is one relationship in
your church that is out of line, you have to deal
with it. Can you imagine if we take this seriously?
We stand up at the church meeting and we
worship God and we are just about to give him all
the glory for what has taken place in our midst and
the pastor stops the meeting and says, Hang
onyou, Anne, and you, Jo, used to sit next to
each other but you no longer do. You dont
because you will not reconcile your relationship.

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Now, every single person in the life of this church


is going to be affected so, stand up and deal with
it so that we can get on with the purpose of God
over the life of the church. Thats how serious
Paul is about one relationship that is wrong. Isnt
that amazing? We say, Paul, why?
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to
be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to
be pastors and teachers, to prepare Gods people
for works of service, so that the body of Christ
may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith
and in the knowledge of the Son of God and
become mature, attaining to the whole measure of
the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed
back and forth by the waves, and blown here and
there by every wind of teaching and by the
cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful
scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we
will in all things grow up into him who is the Head,
that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined
and held together by every supporting ligament,
grows and builds itself up in love, as each part
does its work. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
It does not say here that the ministry gifts are to
entertain the body of Christ but rather to prepare
the body of Christ for works of service. There is a
difference between entertainment and preparation.
Entertainment is wonderful but preparation is hard.
Preparation is challenging, preparation is difficult,
preparation is confrontational. Entertainment is, I
come, I get myself buzzed and I leave. If there is
one bad relationship with any member of your

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church, or the body of Christ in the city or in the


world, you have to get it sorted out if you are going
to be used effectively for the purpose of God
thats what the Scripture says.
We notice three things in this text:
the Head;
the joints; and
the ligaments.
In the church the pastor is a bit like a tongue: he
talks a lot. But he is in relationship with some
jaws, some skulls, some necks. The joints speak
about relationships. The ligaments speak about
the things that join the joints: love, patience,
kindness, gentleness, joy.
I remember when I was at school there was a
huge guy who was about 21 years old in the
opposition Rugby team. I remember giving a
penalty away and they put the ball on the ground
and called this guy uphe was about 125 kg. My
captain said to me, You gave the penalty away
you take the tackle. So, I stood there as he took
the tap and came charging.
I just heard
something go crunch and snap. My arm went
numb. I thought, Ill just warm it up and jump for
the next ball in the lineout. I went to the lineout
and they called the ball to me and I jumped but I
couldnt lift my arm because the ligament and the
tendons were torn and my arm became useless.
That whole week I didnt work on my ankles, I
didnt work on my knees, I didnt work on my
neckI worked on repairing my shoulder with
injections, doctors and medication until I got the
feeling back so that my arm could work properly.

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God says that if one relationship is out of


placewhen one bad attitude, when one
ligament, gets smackedit needs to get dealt with
in the ways of the Scriptures so that each limb can
start to work properly again. When Mr 125 kg has
hit you relationally, when Mr 125 kg has hit you
financially, when Mr 125 kg has hit you whatever
wayand he has hit your ligament so hard that
your limb has gone numbyou have got to get
into the presence of God according to the
Scriptures and get it healed so that that ligament,
and that arm, and that sinew, and that joint, and
that muscle, can start working again so that the
purpose of the church, which God has placed
upon us, can be fulfilled by every single person
operating properly.
A man who loses his leg will tell you that his
toes still get itchy. Even though he just has a
stump, he still wants to scratch his toes. The
head is joined to the leg but the head cant get the
blood to the feet because the feet have gone.
Some people are like body parts that have been
cut off: they are itchy and they want to be
scratched but they are not joined to the body and
they are not joined to the head and, so, they
cannot be fed properly. They just itch and they
never get fulfilled. God is saying that in a church
that is dynamic, happening, powering, sending
money, sending people, if there is just one
relationship wrong, we have to deal with it so that
Gods purpose can be fulfilled. That is how
important it is!
Friends, we will stop nothing short of what the
Scripture sayswe will not have three
relationships wrong or two relationships wrong or

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one relationship wrongwe will try and get the


church to function properly relationally, in a mature
way, where the head is linked to the body, and the
bloodstream is flowing, and the resources are
flowing, and the people are getting ministered to,
and all the circulation is operating properly.
Is that Utopia? Yes it is. Is it biblical?
Absolutely. Are we going to aim for it? You better
believe it. If there is something in your heart then
you had better let God deal with it because there
is going to be a church one day that looks like this.
They devoted themselves to the apostles
teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of
bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with
awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs
were done by the apostles. All the believers were
together and had everything in common. Selling
their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone
as he had need. Every day they continued to
meet together in the temple courts. They broke
bread in their homes and ate together with glad
and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the
favour of all the people. And the Lord added to
their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:42-47)
God will add people to a church that is functioning
apostolically. We are saying, How on earth are
we going to get people? Do we need to go onto
the streets? Do we need to have campaigns? Do
we need to advertise? Do we need to ? No,
just get these things right: give yourselves to the
apostles teaching, give yourselves to fellowship,
give yourselves to prayer, give yourselves to the

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breaking of bread, give yourselves to sharing with


people, give yourselves to those who are in need
and to that community of people. It says that God
added to their number daily.
It says that they devoted themselves to
fellowship. Fellowship doesnt mean a group of
businessmen in a home group talking about
business, it means a group of businessmen with
others in a home group talking about Jesus.
Fellowship is talking about the thing that we have
in common, which is Jesus, not business, not
sport, not arts, not recreationJesus. If your
home group is full of businessmen and all they talk
about is business then youve got to change that,
because the fellowship that this is talking about is
Jesus: what we have in common with Jesus: what
has Jesus done to us, how has he changed us,
how has he touched us, how has he affected our
businesses?
That is what we should give
ourselves to: we give ourselves to the talk of
Jesus, the future of Jesus, the past of Jesus, the
present of Jesus. That is how we work out our
relationships: we work them out with Jesus in our
midstpowerfully and effectively.
C J Mulhaney speaks of things that prevent
decent relationships in the life of the church. One
of them is negative past experiences. Perhaps
youve lived in a home with disappointment,
perhaps your father was constantly disappointed
with you. Perhaps youve come from a place
where performance and attractiveness have
always been the keys to your wellbeing. The Bible
word agape (where it says, Love one another)
does not mean attractiveness or performance. It
means, I love you despite the way you look and

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despite the way you dress and despite the way


you behaveI just love you. If youre under the
domination of attractiveness or performance, you
will never come into meaningful relationships
because it doesnt matter what you wear or what
your little behavioural differences areyou should
be accepted.
The church is not to help you make a fashion
statement, it is a family.
If we enjoy our
recognition from the labels that we wear or the
shoes that we wear or the glasses that we wear or
the cars that we drive then we will never enter
meaningful relationships. It is not based on
performance, it is not based on attractiveness, it is
not based on labels. It is based on the fact that
we are sons and daughters of the living God, and
God says, Love unconditionally.
Now, statistically, if 200 couples got married
in our city yesterday then within two years 50 of
them will be divorced and within five years more
than 130 of them will be divorced.
Why?
Because they are not trained properly on how to
go into a relationship. They world says that if you
are sexually attracted to somebody then sleep
with them and get married to them. But in two
years time the sexual attraction is gone and you
have no emotional or friendship foundation to
sustain the relationship and you get divorcedyou
find somebody else that you get sexually attracted
to and you sleep with them and get married to
them and youll dump them eventually too.
God says that we are in a spiritual
relationshipwe are born again in Christthat is
the relationshipits emotional, its friendship.
Thats why God says, Dont sleep with each other

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before you get marriedso that you can develop


a friendship and you can develop an emotional
stability. I can tell you as a married man that your
sexuality goes through fluctuations in your
marriage all the time.
But if you have an
emotional and friendship base, when it goes
through a difficult time, your marriage doesnt fall
apart, it just keeps getting stronger. Many of us
are not trained properly. Men are not trained on
how to have relationships with women. Hey, bru,
the Rugby was cool, what a great pass .and
the women are just thinking, Its so shallow!
Theres nothing deep and meaningful. When a
lady asks some guys, What was she wearing?
they say, Hey, I dont know, she was just there.
We are not trained to build relationally and God
says that if there is one relationship in our church
that is wrong, we have to deal with it. Men,
understand that women do not get switched on
by details of Rugby matches. We have to find a
way that we can train people to communicate so
that
we can have meaningful, biblical
relationships.
I believe that some of our school stuff is the
biggest load of junk and it stops us from
worshiping God properly. For example, in 1986
one particular school beat another at Rugby on
Old Boys Day. It was the first time they had
beaten them for years. I saw big men cry. There
was a kick that went over and they won 6 - 3.
Recently I said to someone, Do you remember
the winter of 1986 on your Old Boys Day? The
first thing he said to me was, That kick didnt go
over! That was many years ago yet the first thing
he said to me was, That kick didnt go over! Do

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you know what could happen in 20 years time?


We are going to be standing at the side of the field
with our boys playing, saying, Do you remember
the winter of 1986? Hes probably going to say to
me, That kick didnt go over! Who cares if the
kick went over? Paul says, Forget what is behind
you and press on to lay hold of the things that are
ahead of you for which Christ Jesus has laid hold
you. Who cares about your old school? Those
things pale into insignificance in the glory of what
Christ has laid hold of us for. Who cares about a
Rugby match in 1986 compared to changing
peoples lives, getting them saved, getting them
converted, getting them worshiping God!
Lets stop the superficial relationships that are
based on 15 years ago and lets build something
meaningful.
Lets learn how to ask people
questions, people who are poorer than us, who
are richer than us, who are from different cultures
to us. Lets ask, and, in true fellowship, build
something into the future. Lets talk about the
future, not so much about the past. Thats how we
build meaningful relationships. I dont know what
Odious and Soon-Touchy were arguing about but
it was probably something in the past.
Relationships are hard work. The person that
sits next to you in church (not the one you come
with, the other one) is one radical sinner. It may
have been last week, last month or last year but
let me tell you: that person has come out of the
gutters. Now God says that we are all to start
relating. That is hard work. Perhaps you are
sporty and your wife is not. God says, You and
that lady have to come and find some
compatibility. People say, I cant marry her

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because we are incompatible. I dont think that


there is a couple that is compatible. Dont give up
on your incompatibility, thats the reason that
God has given her to you, thats the reason that
God has given him to you, thats the reason that
God has given some of your friends to you. God
gives us people to mature us and he says, Youd
better get this relationship sorted out. In the
world we walk away, If I dont like someone, I
leave them. If I dont like the company, I leave
them. But in the church God says, Youd better
work it out. If Christ is the Head, youd better
work out your relational differences and those
things will be there to mature you.
Perhaps your wife is quiet and you think, O
God, I wish she would say something more, I wish
she would talk. In her mind she is saying, O
God, I wish he would keep quiet! God says, Ive
given you that blessing to keep you quiet, and
Ive given you that blessing to get you out of your
shell. You sit next to an extrovert or you sit next
to an introvert for a reason.
If Christ is your Head then we have to learn to
get on. Youre going to learn a couple of lessons
from the guy next to you and hes going to learn a
couple of lessons from you but together we must
work this thing out. Relationships are hard work,
friends. I see people who will work hard at their
sport, they will work hard at their job, they will work
hard at improving themselves, but they wont give
an ounce of time to working out a difficult
relationship. God has given us people to make us
mature. Its nice reading your Bible in your study,
Ah, yes, Lord; ah, joy, Lord; ah, peace, Lord; ah,
patience, Lord; ah, gentleness, Lord; ah, self

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control, Lord! Ah! Yes, Lord. But we dont live in


our studies, we live in the world. On our own its
all great and we can agree with it and we love
Galatians 5 and we cross-reference it with
something else, but as we come out we walk into
somebody at the office and its like sandpaper!
People have different types of sandpaper on their
shoulders. Some people are nice and smooth and
when you walk past them its like a tickle. But you
walk past others and it is all rough. God says,
Work it out, friend. Work it out? Why? Because
there is a purpose on your life and God has called
you to something and you have got to lay hold of
that something. And for you to lay hold of that
something, properly, every single relationship in
the life of your church has got to work properly. It
is hard work.
I know a man who is a 120 kg meat eater.
Meat, rice and potatoes! He is a massive man
with a thick neck. Who did he marry? A petite
little vegetarian. What do you feel like for supper
tonight? I feel like a rump steak with a bit of ribs
and potato and a bit of gravy! Wonderful!
Youve got carrots, beetroot, cabbage and a little
bit of gherkin; a bit of onion and tomato; all
mashed up into one! God has blessed you
because he has given someone to you to make
you 105 kg, you meat lover! God sometimes puts
difficult people into our lives to deal with us.
How many of you are going on holiday with
your parents? Now thats a challenge, hey? Its
quite a thing just going on holiday with some of
your friends: you eat at different hours, you
discipline your kids differently, you wake up late
and they wake up early, you go to bed early and

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they go to bed late, and you think, Oh! God .


He says, Yes! Work it out, friend.
We dont all have to be the same: we dont
have to dress the same, we dont have to decorate
our houses the same. I remember when we had
our first couch recovered with this great fabric, and
a friend came to our house and he and his wife
were quite the interior decorators. I asked him,
Hey, what do you think of my couch? He said,
Um, explain your long-term plan. What are you
going to do with your whole house? I said, Im
not talking about my whole house, Im just talking
about my couch! He said, No, I dont like it.
Thats great, we dont have to agree about the
couch, we have to agree in the Lord. God has
given a plan to us, he has given a pattern. We
dont have to dress the same, we dont have to
look the same, we dont have to do the same
things, we dont have to run home groups the
same waywe just have to agree in the Lord.
That which God has placed upon everyones lives
at the local church and upon the leadership is the
thing we have to agree with, we have to work
together, work it out relationally, so that we can
achieve everything that God has for us.
In verse 3 Paul speaks about Clement and
the rest of my fellow-workers . What would
happen if I thanked a team, but only thanked one
of them by name, not all the people who were part
of it all? Hey! At least mention my name! Just
throw it in there! What happens when we get left
out? Paul just left some guys names out (fellowworkers) and said, Listen, work this thing out
relationallyyou and all the other guys. When it
is for the glory of God, it doesnt matter who gets

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the glory. Until we can start sharing glory and


giving other people glory, we will never achieve
the relational excellence that the Scripture speaks
about.
We should be happy to see other people
elevated, even at our expense. When youve
done a job and somebody else gets the glory, God
is maturing you, you should let it go. Thats what
is happening here. He is saying, Deal with your
differences and Im going to test you as well,
youre not going to get the recognition. You
should say, God, it doesnt matter, because all
this is for your glory. I want to tell you that if any
man would take glory for himself, God will be
highly grieved. We should be thanking God for his
goodness to us, not elevating any man above
another, although some will be thanked. Some
will be left out but that is part of Gods dealings as
well.
How do I handle offence biblically?
Get before God. Imagine if every time the pastor
offended you, you came to speak to himthere
would be a long line every Sunday! No, get before
God. We work relationally and we have different
personalities and different styles. Get on your
knees before Godand if it needs to be chatted
through, then chat it through; but if it needs to be
released, then release it. Release it before God,
not with twenty othersbefore God.
Take the log out of your own eye before you look
at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye.
One man I know gave me a big plank and he said,
This is what I have taken out of my eye so that I

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can see you better. I put it in my boot and it


rattled around. It is a reminder: it is easy to look
at faults in other people without taking the plank
out of our own eyes. Friends, you take the plank
out of your own eye before you look at the speck
in the other persons eye. What are your faults?
Go and tell your brother. Matthew 18 tells us how
we deal with offence in the life of the church: it
says that we should go and tell our brother. It
doesnt say, Stay, it doesnt say, Mutter, it says,
Go and tell him. Do you have a problem? It
says, Go. You actively get up and tell him. It
says, Alone. Do you know how we often do it in
the Church? We just gather a couple of listeners,
a couple of people to sympathise with us. We
say, You wont believe what he did to me . We
just gather them in, we get the sympathy and we
ask, What do you think I should do? No, dont
ask what they think you should do, do what the
Scripture says you should do: go alone and tell
that person. If they do not see the fault then take
somebody with you. If they still do not see the
fault then call the church leadership.
Friends, it is after a process of dealing with
God, God dealing with us, taking the log out of our
own eye, going alone, going with a friend, that it
comes to church leadership. Lets start to live in
the Bible way and get ourselves freed from all the
junk that we get ourselves into because we dont
follow the Scriptural way. Paul says that when we
get this thing right, the purposes of God are going
to start to be fulfilled over the life of our churches,
and when that starts to happen, God is going to
add to youand you are going to impact and

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change the world with that thing that Jesus Christ


has laid hold of you for. This message demands a
response. If there is a shadow upon your heart,
you have to deal with it today, otherwise you are
not true to Scripture.

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11: The Peace of God


Introduction
I want to talk about the peace of God that comes
through prayer, how we lose the peace and how
we can regain the peace of God.
I once had a chat with a man who had gone
to Australia. When he was in South Africa his wife
was hijacked at gunpoint and two weeks after the
event he woke up at night and there was a man
next to his bed with a gun. When he was in
Australia his briefcase and his laptop computer
were stolen from his spare room. That very day
when I chatted to him I had been reading in the
Bible that the peace of God is not in
circumstances, its something internal despite
circumstances. You can have a hijacking here or
a robbery there and live within the peace of God.
The peace of God is essential for us to live in,
especially when so many things are changing all
the time.
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long
for, my joy and crown, that is how you should
stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche
to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I
ask you, loyal yoke-fellow, help these women who
have contended at my side in the cause of the
gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my
fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of
life.

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Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again:


Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about
anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your
minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever
is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif
anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about
such things. Whatever you have learned or
received or heard from me, or seen in meput it
into practice. And the God of peace will be with
you. (Philippians 4:1-9)
In verse 1 when Paul says, that is how you are
to stand firm , he is referring to everything that
has gone before, as well as to what he is about to
say. Obviously the Philippian church is under
some kind of pressure and attack, and Paul is
giving them some handles on how to stand firm.
In verses 6 and 7 Paul deals with anxiety
versus peace. I once met with a man who was
going to an leadership training time in England.
He had paid for his ticket but he had no other
money so, I asked him, How are you feeling?
He said, You know, the amazing thing is that I
feel the peace of God because I know that God
has called me to go to England. Peace it is not
dependent on circumstances. Circumstantially
that man should have been nervous but by prayer
and petition with thanksgiving, he feels that God

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has said that everything is going to be alright, and


he feels peace.
In verse 8 Paul tells them to think on excellent
and praiseworthy things.
This is going to
challenge your thought life a little because many
of our victories are won or lost in our thought life.
Many of the things of the peace of God are also
won or lost in our thought life. We can win a
victory in prayer about how God will take care of
us in our country and we can lose that victory in
our thought life.
In verse 9 Paul encourages them to practise
what they have learnt. We see that we find the
peace in prayer, we keep the peace with our
thought life and we guard or guide the peace with
our practise.

Enjoying the Peace of God Requires


1. Hard Work
We like to get onto the centre stage and perform
but we dont necessarily like to practise. Many
people do well in their first years of school
because they just need to hear and remember.
But our outstanding academic achievement slowly
declines. Why? We need to put in hard work that
gets the results. Now, Paul is saying, You are
under pressurethere is a pressure that has
come upon you in the life of the churchmake
sure that you practise so that you dont crumble
under the pressure.
I once had an encounter with a man who told
me that he was leading a youth group in a church
and everything was going strong, but all of a

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sudden things came crumbling down because he


didnt have any foundation. As a result he left the
church for a few years. He had to come back,
learn the foundations and just practise them, and
practise them, and practise them. The next time
trouble comes, he will stand. Friends, we cant
just have people building up their faith, building up
their livesthey like the glory, they like the
attentionbut never put the hard work in behind
the scenes. That all comes falling down. So, Paul
says, if you want the peace of God to stay with
you always then you must put into practice all you
have seen or heard regarding the Kingdom.
2. Confrontation by the Scriptures
When we come to the Scriptures we need to be
confronted by them not just comforted by them.
Husbands, when you read things about marriage,
you are not just to be comforted, you are to be
confronted with it. We see a generation of people
who come to church because they want to obtain
something.
But we should be raising up a
generation of people who are obedient. Put
obtaining aside and take obedience as the number
one step.
3. Correct Praying, Thinking and Living
Right praying, right thinking and right living will
enable the peace of God to remain in our lives.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in
everything, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Philippians 4:6)

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Praying. In Mark 1 we see that Jesus got up


very early in the morning, while it was still dark,
left the house and found a solitary place where
he prayed. How many of you have got that
revelation and how many of you have lost that
revelation? We make commitments but we
never get conformed to the biblical pattern.
Paul says that we are not only to be committed
but we are also to be conformed. So, we find
the peace of God in prayer.
Thinking. Finally, brothers, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is
pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
admirableif anything is excellent or
praiseworthythink about such things.
(Philippians 4:8)
Living. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view
of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as living
sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is
your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform
any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what
Gods will is his good, pleasing and perfect
will. (Romans 12:1-2) He is saying that we
offer our bodies as living sacrifices in the light of
everything that God has done for us (explained
in Romans 1-11).
The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps
getting off the altar when the heat gets turned up.
I believe that we need to stay on the altar. We
should say, Lord, I will stay on the altar until you

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have dealt with the excess and deficiency in my


life. I will stay there, Lord, in view of your mercy.
4. Renewing Your Mind
We have only two choices with regards our minds.
One is to conform to the patterns of this world and
the other is to be transformed by the renewing of
our minds to the will of God. From the minute we
wake up to the minute we go to sleep we get
bombarded with the worlds mindset, and the
pressure is to conform. If we are going to keep
the peace of God that we win in prayer then we
have to fight this thing by the renewing of our
minds. This renewing comes in two ways: the
word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thats how we renew our minds.
A survey showed that by the time Americans
turn 20, they have each watched 18 000 murders,
250 000 sex scenes (of which 95% are between
unmarried people); and by the time they turn 70,
they have spent about 20 years in front of the
television set. God says that he wants his people
to be renewed in their minds so that they can
understand the peace of God! How can we let our
kids sit there week after week, month after month,
watching TV just because we need a bit of a
break? Friends, the programmes on kids TV
channels have got lovely names but most times
the content is evil. God says that he needs their
minds transformed. Get them under the Word, get
them in prayer, but dont stick them in front of the
TV set because you are too lazy to teach them the
ways of God. I am speaking to adults as well. We
get home tired from work and it is so easy to
switch on the TV and switch yourself off

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psychologically. But we lose something that is so


incredibly vital to stand firmits called the peace
of God.
The advertising world has seduced the church
so radically. They use sex to sell products. The
church has got to say, Hang on, I need my mind
transformed by the renewing and the washing of
the word of God until it is clean so that I can stand
firm in the peace of God.
Friends, it doesnt matter what your
experience has beenif you will take this word of
God and sit with it day upon day allowing the Spirit
of God to ignite the Word in you then that thing of
the past will get washed away. It will be washed
away until one day you will stand with those
thoughts cleaned out of your mind, having no
more power over you, no more degradation over
you. Youll be standing strong in the peace of
God.
What happens in your thought life? They can
be negative thoughts, they can be discouraging
thoughts. We have to just block them off. Lets
see what Paul says we should think about in
Philippians 4:8.
Whatever is true. That means that whatever is
false we must not think about. No lies.
Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever
is pure. That is why we cannot watch
pornography and keep the peace of Godits
impossible. When we indulge our natures in
those things, we will lose something called the
peace of God. I am not putting condemnation
upon you but I am telling you that the price is

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too high to pay. We cant be struggling with the


same things year upon year upon year. The
power of God breaks in once and for all and he
breaks the cyclical sin in our lives and allows his
purity to come back in and wash us clean.
Whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If
things are excellent or praiseworthy we should
think about them.
The renewing of our minds is an ongoing process
of being washed by the word of God and the Spirit
of God.
5. Maintaining a Servant Attitude
The book of Philippians speaks about servanthood
and putting Christ first in all things. Paul gets to
the end and he says that it is not just theology, not
just doctrine, that he wants us to learn, but also
whatever we have seen or heard him do we must
put it into practice. The Scripture says that if you
want the peace of God then you have to take all
these lessons that you have learned and put them
into practice. Wouldnt it be nice if somebody
other than the usual person picks up the vacuum
and says, I am going to put into practice that
which Ive learnt.
Friends, when is the church going to be on
duty just because they want to be on duty? Not
because your home group is on dutybut all the
time. This is a challenge! Then the God of peace
is going to be with you.
Sometimes we just want to comfort the
disturbed, but many times we need to disturb the
comfortable. Most Christians are comfortable in

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their faith. Some of these things need to be


challenged. Husbands, you need to start serving
your wives in your homes.
6. Obedience to the Word
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone
should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow
to become angry, for mans anger does not bring
about the righteous life that God desires.
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that
is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word
planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive
yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens
to the word but does not do what it says is like a
man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after
looking at himself, goes away and immediately
forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks
intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,
and continues to do this, not forgetting what he
has heard, but doing ithe will be blessed in what
he does. (James 1:19-25)
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the
mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When
they saw him, they worshipped him; but some
doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, All
authority in heaven and on earth has been given
to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all
nations, baptising them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching
them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end
of the age. (Matthew 28:16-20)

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Teaching them to obey everything that I have


commanded you. The sign of a disciple, friends,
is complete obedience. As I see people going out
there and struggling with their marriages and their
emotions, Ive got to say that somehow,
somewhere, there had to be a decision they made
not to obey on some issues. God wants to
transform us. He has got us on the altar, he is
dealing with us; he is fashioning us and shaping
us. If we choose to ignore it, we lose something
called the peace of God and when the pressure
comes we will not stand firmits as simple as
that.
Three things happen when I obey the word of
God, when I put into practice the things that Ive
heard:
Those that have, get given more. If a person
has spent hour upon hour in the word of God
(practising) then when he comes up to preach,
there is a flow. God will give more to those who
have and are faithful. When God gives the
song writers a song and they are faithful with it,
and they put it down, and they put the hours in,
God gives them more songs. If God says to
you, Lay down your life for your wife, and you
put it into practice, he will give you more
opportunities to lay down your life for your wife.
If you dont have any words to speak to your
wife and God says to you, Speak to your wife,
and you just say one sentenceI love you, or
Thank youyou are faithful with that and God
will give you more words until you are writing
poems and singing songs over your wife. But

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when you choose to disobey, the peace of God


leaves your home.
When you obey, you change and get healed.
No matter how relationally broken you are, if you
will put into practice the word of God, he will
heal you relationally and he will heal you
emotionally. If you choose to disobeyif you
choose to rebel in your self-pity, the peace of
God will never come to you. But if you choose
to obey, he will come and inhabit youas
broken as you are and as bruised as you are
he will come.
We will produce fruit. The sign of an obedient
people is a fruitful peoplemen and women
producing fruit.

The God of Peace


Paul says that if your prayer life is right, and your
thought-life is right, and your obedience to the
Word is right, the God of peace will be with you
the God of peace, not just the peace of God, will
be with you. My friends, you and I, however
tumultuous our country is, however tumultuous our
economy is, you and I, by some of the decisions
we make, should be living in peacehere, in our
homes, in our fellowship, in peace.

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12: Contentment
One shade of the meaning of contentment is
containment. It basically means that we are full if
we are content. We have a tendency to think that
contentment comes from external things but,
biblically, contentment comes from internal things.
One of the greatest ways to deal with our
needs is to see somebody who is in more need.
Once you see somebody who is in more need, you
feel a little better and wonder how you could have
been so weak and faithless.
I have worked much harder, been in prison more
frequently, been flogged more severely, and been
exposed to death again and again. Five times I
received from the Jews the forty lashes minus
one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I
was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I
spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have
been constantly on the move. I have been in
danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in
danger from my own countrymen, in danger from
Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the
country, in danger at sea; and in danger from
false brothers. I have laboured and toiled and
have often gone without sleep; I have known
hunger and thirst and have often gone without
food; I have been cold and naked. Besides
everything else, I face daily the pressure of my
concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians
11:23d-28)

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I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have


renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have
been concerned, but you had no opportunity to
show it. I am not saying this because I am in
need, for I have learned to be content whatever
the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty. I have
learned the secret of being content in any and
every situation, whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want. I can do
everything through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:10-13)
Paul is writing this letter from jail. His background
is a couple of thrashings, a couple of stonings, a
couple of shipwrecks, and he finds himself in jail at
this time and he says, You know what? Im
content. I find myself satisfied. Sitting in this
place, I find myself satisfied.
I think many people find themselves in
proverbial prisonssome peoples marriages are
prisons that they want to get out of. But if you
take those same secrets that Paul knew then you
can find yourself content, be it the prison of
marriage, or the prison of an unruly boss, or the
prison of emotionswhatever it might beyou
can still find yourself content.
It is so easy for us as Christians to ask God to
bail us out. So much of the teaching of the
Church is, Lets live in victory, instead of, Lets
live in obedience. There is a challenge for us to
live in obedience. Paul was in the perfect will of
God, doing the exact works that God asked him to
do, and yet he got thrashed, and still he said that
he was content. We must look at that and at

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some of our own groans and moans and say,


God, help me to become an apostolic, New
Testament believer, not a comfortable, Western,
first-world culture believer. Help me, Lord, to walk
through the things that you want me to walk
through in order to teach me the character that
you want for me.
It is good to be concerned. Paul is dealing
with character issues in the life of the church of
Philippi and he is saying to them, I like the issue
of concern. I like a concerned church. Friends,
in some things our churches have become
comfortable and cosy. Because of growth we lose
some of the characteristics that set us apart from
the world, some of the things that got people here
in the first place. One of them is concern
genuine concern for other peoples interests, for
visitors, for the sick, for those in need. The reality
is that most people come to church because of
needsand Jesus Christ has to meet those, not
the church in itself. But concern is an issue that I
believe God is challenging us with. We get into a
culture where we shake hands with people and we
are looking for the next person. As soon as
somebody starts sharing a need with us, we like to
break away. But, friends, somebody has to meet
those needs, and I believe that it is going to be a
concerned group of Christians who will meet those
needs.
The Bible says two things about opportunities.
Colossians 4:5b says, Make the most of every
opportunity. Galatians 6:10 says, Therefore, as
we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of
believers. Now, what happens when we become

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comfortable is that we have opportunities but we


are no longer concerned to exercise the
opportunities. Paul speaks about two things:
concern and opportunity. Within the church we
have to meet the opportunities with the concern
that Christ puts within our hearts, that way we can
do everything that God wants us to do. What
have you done with the opportunities that have
been presented to you in the last week, month and
year?
If you have missed them, you have
probably lost concern for people. Friends, church
is not about an organisationit is about one
individual believer at a timeloving them, looking
them in the eye, taking care of them. If someone
gives you some information and asks you to pray,
follow it up in a concerned manner.
Paul
commends the church of Philippi and he says that
previously they had no opportunity to show
concern but now they have and because of this he
greatly rejoices in the Lord.
He says, I have learned the secret of being
content. What happens if you dont learn? Well,
if you dont learn then you dont pass and you
dont get the diploma. And, so, God says that we
must rewrite the test! When we write exams there
is great pressure to pass and not fail because with
the passing comes the privileges of progressing in
life. Paul says, Ive learned the secret of being
content.
If we learn the secrets, take the
opportunities as they come and pass the test then
we will start to live in the privileges of the Christian
life. These privileges include contentment in every
situation whether beaten, poor, shipwrecked or
stoned, and we will find ourselves living in the
victory of the lesson that we have learned. If we

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dont pass then we will keep rewriting and


rewritingGod has a way of doing that, and the
devil has a way of doing that as well.
Paul said that he had learned the secret of
being content in any and every situationso must
we, whatever the situation. The three words
whatever, any and every, cover your situation of
need right now. If you only remember one thing
from this, remember whatever, every and any.
Learn contentment in whatever situation, every
situation and any situation. Friends, when we go
and study the Scriptures, and we allow the
Scriptures to minister to us, we realise that we
actually have a whole lot of growing up to do. God
is committed to our Christ-likeness not our
success. There is a whole teaching within parts of
the Church that say, Come to Jesus and get rich
and become successful. We should be saying,
Come to Jesus and become like Jesus.
What is contentment? Are you content?
This is what the New Bible Dictionary says
about contentment: Its freedom from reliance
upon others; its the satisfaction of ones needs;
its the control of ones desires; its the positive
assurance that God provides ones needs; its
the release from unnecessary desire; its to be
containedthe resources are within us.
The Oxford Dictionary says, To take or ask no
more than what is needed; amount that the
container can contain; satisfaction with ones
lot.

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How many people are satisfied with their lot? In


many churches there are those that are very rich.
Now, remember that Paul says that he knows
what it is to have plenty and what it is to be in
want, and that he is content in both. He is
addressing two groups of people, and he is
saying, In both situations I find myself content. It
is much more dangerous to be rich than poor.
You see so many sportsmen sign multi-million
dollar contracts but they dont have the character
to handle it. They start taking substances to find
some kind of contentment because finances cant
make us content. You must be secure in your lot
otherwise you will walk out of a church meeting,
into the parking lot, and be envious of somebody
elses cardiscontent! God says, If I am going to
minister to a world that is discontented, I want a
people in the church who are content with the old
bottom-of-the-range car they drive or the middleof-the-range car they drive.
The heart of every problem is the problem of
the heart.
You shall not covet your neighbours house. You
shall not covet your neighbours wife, or his
manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or
anything that belongs to your neighbour. (Exodus
20:17)
Have you ever coveted your neighbours house?
His ox or donkey is todays equivalent to his car or
his beach-buggy. What happens is that we live in
a world that is discontent and so it forces people
to do things that are unnatural.
When the
fashions change we are expected to change all

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our clothes. What if I have a dinner party and


everybody sees that I am outdated? Biblically, it
is more important to put people onto seats than to
put cutlery onto tables. Even if none of your
cutlery matches, invite people to your home
because God has given you a home for
hospitality.
When men have to put their wives under
some kind of operation so that they can maintain
their youthfulness, it is a lack of contentment. The
church has got to say, Listen, lets live in
contentment with what we have, without coveting
somebody elses body, job, or education. Live
free!
Keep your lives free from the love of money and
be content with what you have, because God has
said,
Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.
(Hebrews 13:5)
Do you know what happens? Many Christians
make decisions to live lifestyles beyond
themselves. God is not felt there because God is
not committed to our bad decisions. If we are
discontented with something and we increase the
standard of our lifestyles so that we can keep up
with others, God is not committed to that program.
But if we live within the means that God has given
us, he promises that he will never leave us and he
will never forsake us. As Christians, we have to
live with masks off and say, This is who I am, this
is the house that God has blessed me with.

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You cannot live with an expectation that


worldly magazines place upon you. You have to
be set free. Ladies, you should not be living with
diet tablets and you should not be aiming for
popular magazines pictures that have been airbrushed because you will be discontent. Part of
the cause of things like anorexia is that the world
subversively dictates how we should look. Jesus
says that he loves you just the way you are.
When you give him access, he might change
some thingshe might change some habitsbut
you dont have to perform for Jesus love. You
have to be contentsomething has to settle in
your heart.
What should we do then? the crowd asked.
John answered, The man with two tunics
should share with him who has none, and the one
who has food should do the same.
Tax collectors also came to be baptised.
Teacher, they asked, what should we do?
Dont collect any more than you are
required to, he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, And what
should we do?
He replied, Dont extort money and dont
accuse people falselybe content with your
pay. (Luke 3:10-14)
How many of you are content with your salaries?
How many of you believe that you deserve more?
The Bible says that he will meet every need, and,
Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.
Are you content? Are you content with your pay or
are you constantly at your bosss door? My

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friends, the Bible says that God gives us the ability


to create wealthyou should be dealing with your
salary in the place of prayer, not at your bosss
door.
Someone in the crowd said to him, Teacher, tell
my brother to divide the inheritance with me.
Jesus replied, Man, who appointed me a
judge or an arbiter between you?
Then he said to them, Watch out! Be on
your guard against all kinds of greed; a mans life
does not consist in the abundance of his
possessions. (Luke 12:13-15)
When Jesus warns, weve got to take him
seriously. When he warns twice, weve got to take
him very seriously. The status symbols that this
world places upon us are, What kind of house do
you live in? and, What kind of car do you drive?
and, What kind of things do you own? That is
where we sometimes get our status frombut
Jesus says that all that stuff means nothing to
him. Paul didnt have any of that and yet he said,
I am content. Jesus says, Watch out. In
Colossians it says that greed is idolatry. Idolatry is
when a created thing replaces the creator. God
does not tolerate idolatryhe hates it.
And he told them this parable: The ground of a
certain rich man produced a good crop. He
thought to himself, What shall I do? I have no
place to store my crops.
Then he said, This is what Ill do. I will
tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and
there I will store all my grain and my goods. And

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Ill say to myself, You have plenty of good things


laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink
and be merry.
But God said to him, You fool! This very
night your life will be demanded from you. Then
who will get what you have prepared for yourself?
This is how it will be with anyone who stores
up things for himself but is not rich towards God.
(Luke 12:16-21)
If you own your own home and you own your own
car then you are rich. Only about 5% of the
worlds population owns their own home and car. I
think that the Church has got to understand that
God is going to release rich people. The mandate
of the Church is an incredible mandate. Rich
people have got big thinking patterns, but they still
have to work through the life of the local churches.
God wants to trust people with millionsI believe
thatto reach the world.
He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and
quarrels about words that result in envy, strife,
malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction
between men of corrupt mind, who have been
robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is
a means to financial gain.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can
take nothing out of it. But if we have food and
clothing, we will be content with that. People who
want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and
into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge
men into ruin and destruction. For the love of
money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people,

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eager for money, have wandered from the faith


and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Command those who are rich in this present
world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in
wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope
in God, who richly provides us with everything for
our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:4-10, 17)
Verse 5 speaks of men who think that
godliness is a means to financial gain. There are
incredible men of God who are teaching about
financial restoration and about the restoration of
Kingdom finances. As I have watched, I see that
people go there so that they can become rich, not
so that they can seek the kingdom of God. Those
men are preaching the restoration to seek the
kingdom of God, not to make people rich. They
want to see the restoration of a biblical system
that is going to reach the nations of the world. We
cannot listen to those teachings with a selfish
mandate upon our hearts because godliness is not
a means to financial gain.
Verse 8 says, But if we have food and
clothing, we will be content with that. This is a
powerful statement.
The clothing industry
changes styles and fashion each year not so that
you can look nice, but so that they can make more
sales! We cannot put ourselves in some kind of
financial risk to buy the new garments. The
Church has got to put a stop to it and say, If I
cannot afford this years fashion then I will not buy
it and I will not be discontented with what I have.
Verse 10 says, For the love of money is a
root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for
money, have wandered from the faith and pierced

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themselves with many griefs. Many men have


lost their families and the call of God upon their
lives through the love of money.
Verse 17 says, Command those who are rich
in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put
their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to
put their hope in God, who richly provides us with
everything for our enjoyment. There are two
things that Paul says to rich people: do not be
arrogant and do not put your hope in wealth.
Enjoy it and seek the Kingdom with it.
Paul says, in effect, I know what it is to be in
needbeaten, flogged, hungry, cold, naked; and I
know what it is to be rich; but my hope is in neither
of those. Philippians says, I can do everything
through him who gives me strength. But we have
to live in the required steps for it to be fulfilled.
Something has to happen in our hearts first. The
externals have to be quietened, the internals have
got to be learned. Then we can say, I can do
everything through him who gives me strength.
My friends, the most important part of a tree is its
roots. The most important part of our lives as
Christians are the roots that you cannot see. If
our roots do not go down into him who gives me
strength then we will be discontent, we will burn
out, we will be tired and the fruit will fall off.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his names sake.
Even though I walk

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through the valley of the shadow of death,


I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
(Psalm 23:1-4)
When we are in the valley of the shadow of
death we say, God, please get me out of here!
This is too uncomfortable! But God is dealing
with our characters and some deficiencies in our
lives. Even though we walk through the valley of
the shadow of death we should fear no evil
because his rod and his staff are with us. Friends,
the rod of God speaks of his discipline, and the
staff of God speaks of his protection. If we will not
submit ourselves to the discipline of God, we will
not enjoy the protection of God.
Friends, how deep are our roots? We need to
pray, O God, please change me. If an outsider
walks in here with a broken marriage and broken
finances then he has got to see us strong in you
whatever we are going through, whether we are
being whipped or being beaten, whether we dont
have or we have plenty.
The biggest
businessmen in the world with the biggest cars
must not be arrogant and their trust must not be in
their accounts, but their trust must be deeply
rooted in God. Its a trust that we cant see
because roots speak of a private and personal life,
something underground.

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13: This Church is a Model for Us


This sermon was preached at a pastors meeting.

We, Also, Are to


1. Be a Base Church
I want to do an overview of the book of Philippians
and see what the Philippian church was
committed to.
We saw that in Pauls different letters, he was
dealing with various issues in the churches that he
was writing to. In Corinthians he was dealing with
sexual immorality: they were a group of people
who were strong in the spiritual gifts but they were
licentious, so Paul had to address some of those
issues and bring them into line. In Galatians he
was dealing with legalists who had become caught
up with religious rituals and they had lost the joy
and freedom that they had in Christ; so Paul had
to deal with legalism. We dont want to see any
legalists, people who have to go through a
process of events in order to try and appease
God. If we are born again by the Spirit of God, we
live in freedomwhere the Spirit of God is, there
is liberty.
But this church in Philippi was a church that
brought Paul a lot of joy. There were only two
people that were saved initially (in Acts 16) when
this church was planted. In reading this letter, we
see that it is a fully established church with many

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wonderful qualities. If we want to be like one of


the churches in the Scriptures then the church at
Philippi is a wonderful model to try and follow.
There is something of a base church there. There
are some incredible characteristics, and I want to
see what they were committed to. What was Paul
exhorting them to be committed to? They had
some things right and they had some things wrong
but he was exhorting them to be committed to a
whole lot of things.
We are looking at what it means to be in
relationship with an apostolic team and to share in
apostolic partnershipswe are not trying to build
a big church and look successfulwe are in
relationship with an apostolic team and we are
trying to make sure that we fulfil the mandate of
that partnership. We are involved with many
thousands of churches in many different countries.
We travel in order to be a part of leadership
training times and to minister into different
churches as we strengthen the partnerships that
we are involved in under God.
2. Be a Family
We see a wonderful picture in the Philippian
church of community livingthey had a drive for
relational excellence.
They were looking for
something different, something special; they
wanted to be a family. We dont just want to grow
the church through all kinds of methods and have
all the people leave straight after the message
we want people to come early to talk and chat, to
open their hearts and be vulnerable and be
worshiping together, enjoying the Spirit of God
together, being under the word of God together,

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and talking about how its shaping us and


fashioning us. After the meeting we want people
to have a doughnut together with some tea or
coffee.
We want the family to be. What happens as a
church gets bigger is that it has to make sure that
those relational links remain strong. We build the
church on a value system not on personalities
personalities come and personalities go.
Churches are built on a value system: Jesus
Christ is Lord of all and we are family and all those
kind of values. The Philippian church shows us
some of those things.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi,
together with all the overseers and deacons:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with
joy because of your partnership in the gospel from
the first day until now, being confident of this, that
he who began a good work in you will carry it on to
completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of
you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am
in chains or defending and confirming the gospel,
all of you share in Gods grace with me. God can
testify how I long for all of you with the affection of
Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:1-8)
The local church is not an organisation. Paul is
just not some guy writing to a distant church. This
is heartfelt. The people have crept into his heart.

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Thats what we wantwe want a church where


our hearts have been touched by God, caring for
one another.
3. Have Purpose
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound
more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best .
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy
and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter
do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the
defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ
out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing
that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in
chains. But what does it matter? The important
thing is that in every way, whether from false
motives or true, Christ is preached. And because
of this I rejoice. (Philippians 1:9-10b, 15-18)
What is the important thing to you? You know
what the important thing to you is by knowing how
much money you spend on things, how much time
you spend on things and how much time you
spend thinking about things. Those are the things
that are important to you. Paul says that the
important thing is that Christ is preached. The
important thing for a base church is that Christ is
preached.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a
manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then,
whether I come and see you or only hear about
you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm
in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith

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of the gospel without being frightened in any way


by those who oppose you. (Philippians 1:27-28a)
If you have any encouragement from being united
with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any
fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and
compassion, then make my joy complete by being
like-minded, having the same love, being one in
spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider
others better than yourselves. Each of you should
look not only to your own interests, but also to the
interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of
Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death
even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:1-8)
Verse 2 says that the church has to be one in
spirit and purpose. Every person in the church
has different ideas but the only way that we are
going to be effective is if our spirit and purpose is
the same.

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Not that I have already obtained all this, or have


already been made perfect, but I press on to take
hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have
taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting
what is behind and straining towards what is
ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenwards in
Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
Paul is exhorting this churchhe is saying that if
they want to be a strong church, if they want to be
a base church, then they have to press on.
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their
stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their
mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in
heaven. (Philippians 3:19-20a)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again:
Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about
anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your
minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever
is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif
anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about
such things. (Philippians 4:4-8)

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4. Remain Content
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I
have learned to be content whatever the
circumstances. I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty. I have
learned the secret of being content in any and
every situation, whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians
4:11-12)
I believe that when the Church learns
contentment, we will change the worldbut
unfortunately the world makes us discontent
because the world always has a desire for more.
There will be times that we will be in need and
there will be times that we will have plenty. There
will be people in the church that will have plenty
and there will be people in church who have need
at timesit helps us to trust God.
Paul says that, I know what it is to have
need,but still he finds himself content. Some
preach this gospel that says, Come to Christ
and get blessed and get rich. What some do is
put the church alongside the money-making world
and say, Those guys have got that way to get rich
but you come into the church to get rich. There
are many people in the church who will never be
rich. You dont come to Christ to get richyou
come to Christ to get content.
In some places there is a culture of seeking
pleasure all the time: if they are not on jet-skis,
they are on boats; if they are not on boats, they
are on yachts; if they are not on yachts, they are
running; if they are not running, they are in the
gym. Its like a hedonistic culture that just says,

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More, more, more, Body Beautiful! I must look


right, I must be at the right places! I once asked
a pastor, How on earth do you ever get guys to
church in this place when everybody is just so
drawn to the beautiful surroundings, events and
sunsets? He said, You know, after 5 000
sunsets these people are still empty inside. They
have to come to a church where people are
content, not driven by the urge to have more.
5. Give Generously to the Apostolic
Even while I was in Thessalonica, you helped
outand not only once, but twice. Not that Im
looking for handouts, but I do want you to
experience the blessing that issues from
generosity.
And now I have it alland keep getting
more! The gifts you sent with Epaphroditus were
more than enough, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice
roasting on the altar, filling the air with fragrance,
pleasing God no end. You can be sure that God
will take care of everything you need, his
generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that
pours from Jesus. (Philippians 4:16-19, The
Message)
This church gave Paul money on numerous
occasions and Paul says that God will meet their
needs in response. From the day that our church
started giving money to the apostolic ventures, as
soon as we started giving money to the nations of
the world, every single one of our needs has been
met. Weve got a few wants but our needs have
been met abundantly.

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6. Love Gods Promises and His Commands


We love the promises of God but we dont
necessarily love the commands of Godbut the
commands of God and the promises of God go
together. There is something that has crept into
the Church where all the promises are listed on
computers, and you get special books with all the
promises of God, and people take them and they
claim the promises of God, but they dont want to
obey the commands of God. God commands
some things and we have to do these things. Part
of the promises of God is that his grace will rest
upon us but the book of Philippians has some of
the commands of God and some of the
exhortations of the apostolic man. So, I want to
take a look at what a base church looks like, some
of the qualities of a base-church culture from the
book of Philippians.
7. Preach Christ and the Gospel
The important thing is that Christ is preached. An
apostolic church is committed to Christ and to the
gospelnot to buildings, not to growthChrist
and the gospel.
Every church should be
committed to Christ and the gospel. That means
that however we can present Christ biblically, and
however we can take the gospel out, we will do
that. That is the important thing.
The important thing for some sportsmen is to
win. The important thing for some businessmen is
to be the among the richest men in the world.
That culture somehow infiltrates the Church and
we start to think that we have to reach something
like that in order to be successful. Paul says, No,

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the important thing is that Christ is preached.


What happens with some is that they leave the
preaching of Christ to a few people who are socalled fulltime. But you are the preacher of Christ.
To who? Your families.
I wonder what we need to do for every
believer to get motivated to evangelise. The first
thing is that you have to have a revelation of what
Jesus has done for you. Somehow we have
become muted in the preaching of the gospel. Its
too comfortable to come and do church Sunday
after Sunday and never affect anybody else. We
just come and we worship God, and we are meant
to do that, but a base church says that every
single person in that church is preaching Christ
and presenting the gospel.
Most marriage
problems result because one of the heads rise up:
the husband becomes too strong in dominance or
the wife becomes too strong and dominant,
instead of finding their authority under Jesus
Christ the Head. Christ gets preached in a base
church. Christ gets preached in a New Testament
church.
8. Keep to the Pattern of Scripture
We are committed to a pattern. In verse 1 Paul
mentions the saints, then the elders, then the
deacons. It is not a hierarchy because if it was a
hierarchy then Paul would have mentioned the
elders first, the deacons, then the saints. But Paul
mentions the saints first. Your identity doesnt
come from pedigree, it doesnt come from the
family you were born into. Somehow we find our
identity from our pedigree, whether we are rich or

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221

poor, and thats rubbish; it puts people into


bondage.
Other people get their identity from their
performancewhether we have a degree or
diploma or a great job. No, our identity comes
from our sainthood: the fact that Jesus Christ has
forgiven us and that we are part of the priesthood.
That is where our identity comes from. We have
to make sure about this, friends, because some
have got greater pedigrees in the world than
others and we have to make sure that whether
their names are great or average, they feel
welcome.
Saints, deacons, elders. There is a pattern in
Scripture and the leadership pattern goes like this.
There is an apostolic team. Paul was on an
apostolic team. He related to individual churches
that chose to relate to him. The churches were
governed by elders and deacons. That is the
biblical model. We are committed to that pattern.
There is a pattern of everything in Scripture.
There is a pattern for finances and it goes
something like this: tithes, offerings, general
generosity, apostolic giving, and giving to the
poorthats five types of giving. If you have just
started tithing and you think that you have arrived,
youve just taken your first stepbut at least
youve taken it.
In the same way that there is a pattern for
finances, so there is also a pattern for marriage
and a pattern for children. The Bible says that
when we build according to the pattern, the
promise is that the Lord will be there. We should
all be committed to building a pattern church.
According to the Scriptures! Everything according

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to the Scriptures! A base church is committed to


building according to the pattern of Scripture. If
you dont know the pattern then go to God and
say, Lord, show me your pattern. Show me your
pattern for marriage, show me your pattern for
relationships, show me your pattern for salvation.
9. Pray and Seek God
A base church is committed to prayer. In Mark
1:34-35 it says that Jesus got up very early in the
morning, while it was still dark, to find a solitary
place for prayer. When his disciples found him to
tell him that the people were looking for him, he
said, Lets go somewhere else. He had found
his priority in prayer. The text says, Very early in
the morning, while it was still darkprayer is
inconvenient. A base church is committed to a
culture of prayer. There are times when, very
early in the morning, while it is still dark and you
cant see clearly, you need to be on your knees
before God.
10. Be Committed to the Vision
They were committed to the vision. Philippians
3:12 says, Not that I have already obtained all
this, or have already been made perfect, but I
press on to take hold of that for what Christ Jesus
took hold of me. There was once a survey of the
top companies in America and they all had this in
common: they stuck to their value system. A base
church sticks to what God has called it to. In the
Church there are always new things that come in
but God has called a base church to something
specific: to raise up leaders and to plant churches.

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We should desire to build a strong base church


where people will get restored, where broken
people can be made whole, where disillusioned
people are envisioned again about the things of
God, where lonely people are knitted into a family,
to be made strong so that they can worship God
properly and actually have an impact upon our
community. Thats the vision, nothing else. Its
nothing fancy but that is what we give ourselves
to: thats what we give our time to, thats what we
give our finances to. This one thing.
11. Stand Shoulder to Shoulder
In Philippians 1:27 it speaks of contending as one
man. Base church people are committed to each
other and to contending as one man. In the book
of Nehemiah they built the wall shoulder to
shoulder. The wall of Jerusalem had been burnt
down and Nehemiah led the rebuilding operation.
Some guys built a section of the wall that was just
over their houses, a couple of meters long. Other
guys built a section of the wall a few hundred
meters long. When the enemy wanted to attack
them, the word came to them and Nehemiah said,
Make sure you guard the low points. The enemy
comes in at the low points.
If we are not contending as one man, if we
are not contending shoulder to shoulder, then the
enemy comes in the gap. A base church says that
we are committed to each otherwe are
committed relationally to each other, to the vision
that God has called us to and we stand shoulder
to shoulderevery person playing their part. If
one person comes to a meeting distracted or
disillusioned it can affect the whole corporate

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momentum of that meeting. You may think, How


can it do that? Because we are spiritual people
and there are spiritual things happening. So,
when we come to our corporate endeavours, we
need to stand shoulder to shoulder, contending as
one man for the faith because there are times
when somebody feels weak and those around can
hold them up.
What often happens in the Church is that
when somebody feels weak they disappear. But
what should happen in the Church is that when
somebody feels weak they should be held up.
Especially when somebody is tempted to sin or
has sinned, he walks away instead of coming into
a church and finding forgivenessbeing restored
back to wholeness where he can take his place in
the wall again.
Sometimes people think that if they have
sinned, the pastors will just kick them out.
Friends, God forgave. How many times? Seventy
times seven. Now, Im not advocating sinI hate
sin and the Bible says that God gives us the grace
to say No to sinbut we do still sin. But we can
come to him every day and the church helps to
restore us. We stand shoulder to shoulder,
contending as one man for the faith. A basechurch culture says that we are committed to one
another, to the well-being of one another and the
accomplishment of the mission that God has
called us to.
12. Live in Relational Excellence
If you have any encouragement from being united
with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any
fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and

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compassion, then make my joy complete by being


like-minded, having the same love, being one in
spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit . (Philippians 2:1-3a)
It says if and then. There are a whole lot of
things that happen when I come to Christ but there
are a whole lot of responsibilities that go with it
and I have to outwork it in relational excellence. It
says in 4:2, I plead with Euodia and I plead with
Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.
So, this apostolic man writes a letter to the church
on all sorts of matters about finances and about
the nations and about Christ being preached and
about all sorts of things. Then he stops his whole
train of thought after speaking about the cross and
he addresses two women who cant come into
agreement. There are all those people in the
room and he just picks out two people (the whole
church is going strong, the finances are coming in,
everything seems to be going quite well, the
worship is happening) and he stops the whole
process and says, Hang on! There are two
people in the whole church that cant agree.
Before this thing goes on, youd better sort
yourselves out. Relational excellence! Friends,
relational excellence is nothing short of the biblical
standard. That means every person in every
church getting on in Christ. You say, But thats
impossible. Surely there has to be a church that
pulls it off somewhere.
A base church is
committed to relational excellence.
Covenant is so different to contract. Contract
means that I can terminate. We are in a contract
culture. I sign a home loan with one bank and

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another bank lowers their rate. So, what I do is I


cancel the deal with the first bank and I go with the
second because it is better for me. I have an
agreement with one cellphone provider and a new
one comes along so I cancel my contract with the
first because it is better for me. So, we come into
the life of the church and we say, I will have
whatever contract suits me. But God says, This
is not a contractual thing, it is a covenantal
obligation. Covenant says that you sort things
out. Covenant means that it doesnt matter what
is best for you, it is about what is best for the other
person. It says that we do nothing out of vain
conceit or selfish ambition. So, we have to have
our whole mindset changed from contract to
covenant.
One of the things some people did in
establishing a covenant was to exchange jackets.
Now, one person goes into a shop and buys a
jacketand the jacket that he buys is not
necessarily the jacket that you would buy. You
also buy a jacket that you like. God says, I want
you to go and join that church. So, you come to
join the church and people see you come in and
they might look at your jacket and say, Ooh, God,
not that guy! But I must take my jacket off and I
must put it upon him and he must take his jacket
off and put it on me. Everything that you are, I
take on, and everything that I am, you take on.
Thats covenant, friends, and if God has placed
you in a church then he has put you into
covenantal relationships that will not necessarily
always enhance you, they will not necessarily
always build you up, but it will be better for the
other personthats the relational excellence that

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Paul speaks about and thats the relational


excellence that we as the Church are committed
to.
When the world comes into the churches with
contractual disagreement, they walk in through the
door broken. When they do that, they do not walk
into a contractual church but they walk into a
church of covenant that loves them despite their
name, despite their pedigree, despite their birth,
despite their job and despite their brokenness. In
the world, when somebody is married to a woman
and she puts on a bit of weight or there is a new
secretary that is pretty at work, he might dump her
and marry somebody else. But when people walk
into the church, it must be different and they must
feel welcome here under the blood of Christ
because we are all equal here. That, my friends,
is the commitment that we have as a base
churchto see every person that God sends to us
to be integrated and loved in the life of this church.
And we do this by working in team.
13. Develop a Servant Heart
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ
Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant .
(Philippians 2:5-7b)
I have to ask you this question: How can you
serve your church? How can you serve God?

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One of the best ways that you can serve the


church is by coming prepared. One of the best
ways that you can serve the church is by looking
out for new people. One of the best ways that you
can serve the church is by just being part of a
home group where you can lift people up and love
people. One of the best ways that you can serve
God is by taking a pregnant mum a meal.
Servanthood is not always spiritualsometimes
it is just very practical. But a base-church culture
means that every single person is serving in some
capacity in the life of the churchwhether serving
God in worship or serving God with your finances
or serving God with friendshipbut every person
serving. Many have a mentality that we are on
duty with our home group this week and so when
Im on duty I open the windows but when Im off
duty you can hop if you think that Im going to do
anything. A base-church culture breaks that and
says, I serve all the time, I serve the church.
14. Be Grateful for What We Have
Paul says, Ive learnt to be content. When you
are living in a beautiful home you can become so
discontent so quickly. In one beautiful area you
are not allowed to build your house over a certain
size so they are all small. There is a certain man
who bought three houses at three million rand
each and he has linked them all up with
underground tunnels. Are you content with your
life? In a base-church culture we are committed to
contentment. Most times a lack of contentment
comes from an unthankful and ungrateful heart
when you dont thank God for the things you have.

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Contentment is a major issue in the life of a


church. Why? Because the world is discontent.
We need a commitment to closing circles:
friends, you have to decide that youve actually got
enough. Sometimes your car has got to be fast
enough even though a faster one is on sale. I
think that a new car is a blessing of God. And with
all the trips that we do into Africa, those who own
4 x 4 vehicles are able to make their cars available
and be a help. Be generous! We saw that the
Philippians gave to Paul again and again. There
is a commitment to financial freedom, there is a
commitment to generosity.
15. Obey the Commands
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always
obeyednot only in my presence, but now much
more in my absence . (Philippians 2:12b)
When Jesus called his disciples, it says that
immediately they left everything and followed him.
We want our response to the word of God to be
immediate where as soon as we hear the word of
God we change. To be radically Word based is a
dangerous placeit means that every single time
that you open your Bible you are open to change,
you are open to God doing something, you are
open to God challenging you.
Almost everything people do is towards
pleasure, away from pain: we dont like suffering.
Now, one of the greatest forms of suffering is in
the human heart. Our hearts can be so rotten that
the word of God begins to challenge us causing
suffering. That is a type of suffering because we
lose something, something of our identity,

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something of what we have built ourselves up on,


something of our performance inside of our
hearts. The word of God challenges that and it is
hard and it is suffering. God says, If you are
committed to my Word and committed to
obedience then there will be some suffering that
takes place in your heart.
Thats what an
apostolic church does, thats what a base church
does. We are to be a group of people who hear
the word of God and respond. We cannot stand
up Sunday after Sunday and speak about prayer
and see only one third or two thirds of the church
responding. God challenges us. If there is a word
that comes to the church about prayer then
respond. One day we will have to give an account
to God.
Somehow, the Church has become fat and
flabby. I am talking generally. Many look at the
word of God thinking, We want the promise but
dont give us the commands. Im saying, God, I
want us to be a base church where we do
everything that pleases you. If you are calling us
to pray then we will pray. If you call us to fast then
we fast. You say, You are radicals. We have to
be radical! Its a radical gospel! Therefore,
obey. A base-church culture is obedient to the
Scriptures, obedient to God, obedient to his voice
and call.
16. Keep an Eternal Perspective
Their mind is on earthly things.
But our
citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:19b-20a)
Our citizenship is in heaven. That is why a Zulu
and a Xhosa and an Englishman can get on. We

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have to have an eternal perspective, friends. We


have to have an eternal perspective on everything.
We wrestle and argue with God when we are sick
but when we look back at what the ill health has
done we often find it has taken some arrogance
out of us, it has dealt with us. There were times
when I was so angry with God, but when I look
back and I look forward, I say, God, I can see
something of a heavenly perspective of what you
have done in my character and nature.
Everything that happens to us, God says, will turn
out for the good of those who believeeverything
that happens to us. We might not understand it at
the time but a base-church culture says, Lord, I
dont understand what I am going through but give
me a heavenly perspective. My citizenship is in
heaven not on earthgive me a heavenly
perspective.
An apostolic man from Zimbabwe once said,
Whatever you do, dont pray for peace. I said,
Why? He said, America is rich, America has
got everything, and the church has gone to sleep!
Zimbabwe is under the most incredible pressure
but I want to tell you that the church is booming.
More people are getting saved in Zimbabwe now
than ever. Please, dont pray for peace. Just pray
that people would get saved! Now, Im not saying
that that is entirely right but somehow he has got a
heavenly perspective where he would rather see
people saved than see prosperity or peace.
17. Have Pure and Holy Thinking
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is
noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif

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anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about


such things. (Philippians 4:8)
If I gave you a microphone and asked you exactly
all the thoughts that have gone through your mind
today, would you be happy to say them in front of
a whole lot of people? A base-church culture
says, Not only does your heart change, not only
does your mouth change but even your very
thinking changes. This is something for which we
press forward.
18. Enjoy Gods Grace
Then the Bible says, And the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ be upon you. Friends, we should be
committed to being a base church that will
resource the nations, get people saved, get them
restored, get them healed, get them into families,
get them content in Christ so that his grace can be
upon us and with us.