Morning Bible Study
Thursday is movie night – we’ll be showing Greg Laurie’s documentary on the
life of Steve McQueen.
In two weeks, on the first Sunday of January, I will be doing our annual
For those of you who missed last Sunday, I have an announcement about some
things that may impact the future of our church.
A week and a half ago I was informed that our landlords, now known as
“Searchlight Ministries”, have had an offer made on this property.
The builder K.B. Homes has offered them a deal worth $9million, with the
intention of relocating Searchlight to Yorba Linda, and then building town
homes on this property.
Searchlight has not decided yet whether they are going to accept this
offer, but if they do, and unless we can come up with $9million to make a
counter offer, we will need to find a new home for our church, and we will have
about 12-18 months to do that.
We do have money in the bank, though nowhere near enough to finance
$9million. If you are interested in
donating towards our building fund over and above your regular giving, just
write “building fund” on the bottom of your check.
Please be praying for these events and the future direction of our church.
This morning we will take a break from our study in Proverbs, and talk
It seems to me that the older I get, the more potential there is for stress
instead of joy at Christmas.
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except me and my spouse
The stockings were empty, no presents were wrapped
We were way behind schedule and our resources tapped
The children were nestled all snug in the beds,
While the horrors of assembling danced in our heads
Dad armed with a screwdriver, ready and poised,
To build a red trike for one of our boys.
When off in the hall there arose a strange noise,
We dove over boxes to hide all the toys
The thud, it turned out, was our dumb puppy Paul,
Who was chasing the cat and ran into the wall
Back to his task, Dad cursed at his mess,
I suspect he was lost, but he'd never confess
He wrestled with parts and fumbled with tools,
E-mailed the manufacturer and called them all fools
After hours of struggle, the bike finally took shape,
With a few cuts and bruises and the aid of duct tape
He stood back and gaped at the bike he just built,
It weaved and it wobbled and rolled with a tilt
His frustration grew; his voice shook as he spoke,
“The directions are Greek, it’s all a sick joke”
At this point he snapped, his thinking unclear,
He'll do something stupid; this was my big fear.
He grabbed each toy’s instructions, oh why won’t he learn,
He lit up the fireplace, chanting “burn baby burn”
“Burn Disney, burn Huffy, to blazes with you,
Burn Fisher Price, Playskool and Hasbro, too”
As smoke filled the room, this was his first clue ,
That in a moment of haste, he had neglected the flue
To the top of the mantle, to the top of the wall,
A black cloud developed and ash settled on all
Soot landed on stockings and covered the tree,
And gave a look of charcoal to all we could see
The firemen came, dressed in yellow, like sun,
Seems the neighbors saw smoke and dialed 9-1-1
Out came the axe, out came the hoses,
Out came a Dalmatian who trampled my roses.
“There’s no trouble here,” I swore up and down,
Realizing this faux pas would soon be 'round town
“My husband’s a good man,” I tried to explain,
“The instructions weren’t clear. It drove him insane!”
The fire chief nodded and gathered his crew,
Hopped onto their truck and away they all flew
But I heard them converse as they drove out of sight
“Her husband’s the third jerk who’s done that tonight!”
- Author unknown
Overall, the church in Philippi was an amazing group of believers.
Yet the church in Philippi was having a little bit of trouble.
There was a little bit of disunity in the church.
At the end of the letter, Paul will even call a couple of folks out by
name, urging them to learn to work together.
Are you in a situation where you are facing a little strife or disunity?
As a church, we are facing a potential difficult time with our
You or I might be tempted to get angry or disappointed with the
developments that we’re facing as a church, but we need to remember that
Searchlight is not our enemy. They are
our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we have loved them greatly over the
years. Should that really change now?
The Bible says we should “rejoice with those who rejoice”, and they
certainly have a reason to “rejoice”.
We are facing a time where the unity God wants between churches will be
I think our passage today will show us the way ahead, the way to honor
One of the major areas of stress over Christmas can be the prospect of
spending time with people you may not particularly like to be with. And you’re
related to them.
And you might even be trying to exchange gifts with them…
Dr. Laura Schlessinger has been a psychologist and call in radio-host for
many years. About fifteen years ago, her
mother was found dead in her condominium.
Yolanda Schlessinger was 77 years old, and apparently had died about a
month earlier. Her body wasn’t
discovered until a neighbor called the police because they hadn’t seen her in a
couple of weeks.
Dr. Laura had been estranged from her mother because her mother had
apparently been successful at cutting herself off from her entire family. Dr. Laura made this statement:
“And I guess one of the reasons I am so clearly committed to the sanctity
of the family and protection of children and the welfare of children in my
books and on this radio program is quite frankly because I was not fortunate
enough to grow up in a loving, close-knit family myself.
“My dad’s dead, my mother ... they were divorced, and my mother and I have
had a long estrangement, which was her choice, as it was her choice to be
estranged from all the family.
“And I deeply regret that despite any attempts I made to make contact or
stay connected she died without that ever being accomplished.”
Signing off, she said: “I just want to remind you as I do all the time,
hold your family very tight, very close and very dear and don’t sweat the petty
stuff—the bad stuff is bad enough.”
What Paul will share about getting along with others doesn’t guarantee your
relationships will all change, but it will head you in the right direction.
:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort
of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ
Paul poses several questions. The
Greek grammar demands that all these questions be answered “yes”, or “of
course”. If these things are so, then…
:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being
of one accord, of one mind.
How can we be “like-minded”, have the same love, be of one accord, and of
one mind, when sometimes we’re so different?
And hard to get along with?
:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit,
but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
:3 selfish ambition or conceit
Four men are driving cross-country together: one from Idaho, one from Iowa, one from Florida, and the last one is from New York. A bit down the
road the man from Idaho
starts to pull potatoes from his bag and throws them out the window. The man
turns to him and asks, “What are you doing?” The man from Idaho says, “Man, we have so many of these
darned things in Idaho.
They’re laying around on the ground, I’m sick of looking at them!” A few miles
down the road, the man from Iowa
begins pulling ears of corn from his bag and throwing them out the window. The
man from Florida
asks, “What are you doing that for?” The man from Iowa replies, “Man, we have so many of these
darned things in Iowa.
I’m sick of looking at them!” Inspired by the others, the man from Florida opens the car
door and pushes the New Yorker out.
When our focus in life is on our own personal needs, we end up learning to
resent others and wish we could get rid of them instead of learning to work
:3 in lowliness of mind let each esteem others
The key to getting along with others is humility.
R.C. Chapman, a pastor and teacher back in 19th century England, wrote
a book called “Agape Leadership”. He
has a couple of great quotes about “unity”:
“Pride nourishes the remembrance of injuries: humility
forgets as well as forgives them.”
“When mutual intercession takes the place of mutual
accusation, then will the differences and difficulties of brethren be
“Humility is the secret of fellowship, and pride the
secret of division.”
At a reception honoring musician Sir Robert Mayer on his 100th
birthday, elderly British socialite Lady Diana Cooper fell into conversation
with a friendly woman who seemed to know her well. Lady Diana’s failing
eyesight prevented her from recognizing her fellow guest, until she peered more
closely at the magnificent diamonds and realized she was talking to Queen
Elizabeth! Overcome with embarrassment, Lady Diana curtsied and stammered,
“Ma’am, oh, ma’am, I’m sorry ma’am. I didn’t recognize you without your crown!”
“It was so much Sir Robert’s evening,” the queen replied, “that I decided to
leave it behind.”
Friends, when you go to your Christmas gatherings, leave your
:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for
the interests of others.
:4 but also for the interests of others
Note the word “also”.
Paul isn’t saying that we neglect our own needs, but that we be sure to pay
attention to the needs around us.
Unity comes when we start to think about the needs of others.
A.W. Tozer wrote,
The widest thing in the universe is not space; it is the
potential capacity of the human heart.
Being made in the image of God, it is capable of almost unlimited
extension in all directions. And one of
the world’s greatest tragedies is that we allow our hearts to shrink until
there is room in them for little besides ourselves.
-- A.W. Tozer in The
Root of the Righteous. Christianity
Today, Vol. 34, no. 3.
:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Paul is now going to give the great illustration of what it is to have the
“mind” that leads to unity.
It’s the “mind” of Jesus, to learn to think and act like Jesus did.
:6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal
:6 being in the form of God
Jesus Christ is the only individual who has existed prior to being born.
That’s because He is God the Son.
Before His birth in a Bethlehem manger, Jesus had existed from eternity
past in heaven with the Father.
One of His names before Bethlehem was “the Word”.
(John 1:1 NKJV) In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
:6 did not consider it robbery to be equal with God
Giving up your rights
This is the example Jesus set.
Though Jesus was in heaven as God, He didn’t feel like He had to cling to
His position and His rights as “God”.
He considered our needs more important than His own needs.
:7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and
coming in the likeness of men.
:7 made Himself of no reputation
made … of no reputation – kenoo
– to empty; deprive of force, render useless, of no effect
Jesus didn’t stop being God when He took on human flesh, but He emptied
Himself of his “rights” to His home in glory.
One commentator (Lightfoot) wrote, “He stripped Himself of the insignia
:7 and coming in the likeness of men
Jesus was fully God.
He also became fully man. He put on
Have you been wondering where “Christmas” comes into the message? This is it.
This is what happened in Bethlehem.
The land of Persia was once ruled by a wise and
beloved Shah who cared greatly for his people and desired only what was best
for them. One day he disguised himself as a poor man and went to visit the
public baths. The water for the baths was heated by a furnace in the cellar, so
the Shah made his way to the dark place to sit with the man who tended the
fire. The two men shared the coarse food, and the Shah befriended him in his
loneliness. Day after day the ruler went to visit the man. The worker became
attached to this stranger because he “came where he was”. One day the Shah
revealed his true identity, and he expected the man to ask him for a gift.
Instead, he looked long into his leader’s face and with love and wonder in his
voice said, “You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark
place, to eat my coarse food, and to care about what happens to me. On others
you may bestow rich gifts, but to me you have given yourself!”
Jesus emptied Himself and took on human flesh. He knows what we’re going
through because He’s been through it too.
:7 taking the form of a bondservant
We talked last week (Proverbs
17) how we cultivate humility by learning to serve others.
Jesus gave a great example for us to follow at the Last Supper (John 13).
Jesus got up from the supper, laid aside His outer garments (like giving up
His rights), and took the role of a servant to wash the disciples’ feet.
Over this holiday period, will you be looking to others to serve you? Are you all about what others will give you?
Or will you serve them?
13:17 NKJV) If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Your “blessedness” or “happiness” will be related on
whether you are thinking about yourself, or whether you are serving others.
:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became
obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
:8 even the death of the cross
At the time the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was doing, but we
now know that Jesus was coming to fulfill His long planned purpose of coming to
earth. Isaiah foretold God’s plan 700
years before Christ:
(Isaiah 53:5 NKJV) But He was
wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His
stripes we are healed.
Jesus died to pay for our sins.
He did this because He loves us.
5:8 NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us.
:9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which
is above every name,
:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven,
and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
:11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
:11 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
Here’s the absolute truth:
Every single person who has ever been born will one day bow their knee and
admit that Jesus is the Lord of heaven.
Some will do it reluctantly, after they have died and are facing God.
They will no longer be able to lie to themselves about the truth of
Jesus. They will come face to face with
Jesus and will realize that He is God, that He had died for them.
But it will be too late for them. Having refused God’s gift of forgiveness,
they will spend eternity paying for their sins in hell.
Some willingly confess that Jesus is Lord now, before they die.
And when they do that, they find the love and forgiveness that God has for them,
the same love and forgiveness that others have rejected.
You will spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your choice today?