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Philippians 2:1-11

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 24, 2017


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words  Video=75wpm

Thursday is movie night – we’ll be showing Greg Laurie’s documentary on the life of Steve McQueen.

Video:  McQueen Trailer

In two weeks, on the first Sunday of January, I will be doing our annual “Prophecy Update”.

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 about Christmas.

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

Philippians 2:1-11

Overall, the church in Philippi was an amazing group of believers. 

They weren’t a wealthy church, but they were a giving church. They cared about Paul and about supporting the work of his ministry.  When other churches had stopped supporting his ministry, this poor church continued to help Paul out while he sat in prison in Rome.

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.

The passage we’re in hints at the disunity, and later in Paul’s letter, he drops a hint that two of the gals in particular were having trouble getting along.

(Philippians 4:2–3 NKJV) —2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.

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 landlords. 

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”.
In the book of Jonah, after Jonah has preached to the city of Nineveh, and they repented, he went up to a hill overlooking the city and waited to see what God was going to do.
(Jonah 4:6–11 NKJV) —6 And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. 7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. 8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” 10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?
Our Lutheran landlords have been like that plant, providing us shelter.  If God were to remove that shelter, we shouldn’t be angry.  We’d only be angry if our priorities are in the wrong place as Jonah’s were.

Jonah was all upset about a plant, while God was concerned about the salvation of an entire city.

We too ought to be concerned about the city where God has planted us, and that ought to be our focus … not the comfort of our location.

We are facing a time where the unity God wants between churches will be tested.
I think our passage today will show us the way ahead, the way to honor Christ.

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…

Video:  Addams Family - Thing


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,

consolationparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace

comfortparamuthion – persuasive address; from paramuthia – any address, whether made for the purpose of persuading, or of arousing and stimulating, or of calming and consoling 1a) consolation, comfort

“to speak to someone, coming close to his side”; “to speak to someone in a friendly way”

“to admonish”, “to reassure”, “to console”; “tender persuasion”

fellowshipkoinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

affectionsplagchnon – bowels, intestines, (the heart, lungs, liver, etc.); the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.); a heart in which mercy resides

mercyoiktirmos – compassion, pity, mercy; bowels in which compassion resides, a heart of compassion; emotions, longings, manifestations of pity; compassion for the suffering of others, not the mercy that a criminal begs from the judge

: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?

Read on…

: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

selfish ambitioneritheia – electioneering or intriguing for office; apparently, in the NT a courting distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts; partisanship, fractiousness; This word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means. (A&G)

“selfish ambition” (NIV); “selfishness” (NAS)

conceitkenodoxia (“empty” + “glory”) – vain glory, groundless self esteem, empty pride; a vain opinion

“vain conceit” (NIV); “to make a good impression on others” (NLT)


Cross-country Drive
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 from Iowa 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 things out.

:3 in lowliness of mind let each esteem others



lowliness of mindtapeinophrosune (“not rising far from the ground” + “mind) – the having a humble opinion of one’s self; modesty, humility
Not the making of one’s self small when he is really great, but thinking little of one’s self, because this is in a sense the right estimate for any human being, however great.
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 overcome.”

“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 crown behind.

: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 with God,

:6 being in the form of God

the formmorphe – the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision; external appearance; the essential attributes as shown in the form.

beinghuparcho – to begin below, to make a beginning; to begin; to come forth, hence to be there, be ready, be at hand; to be; present active participle.

Robertson: “existing”

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 wrote,

(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

robberyharpagmos – a thing seized or to be seized; a thing to be seized upon or to be held fast, retained
from harpazo – to seize, carry off by force; to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly; to snatch out or away
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.
considerhegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think; denotes a belief resting not on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, and the weighing and comparing of facts; deliberate and careful judgment.
equalisos – equal, in quantity or quality

: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 reputationkenoo – 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 of majesty”.

I like to think of it as Jesus putting on a “veil” over His glory.

There were a few times during His ministry where He allowed His true inner glory to “peek” through, like at the Mount of Transfiguration (Mat. 17:2), but for the most part He covered up His glory.
(Matthew 17:2 NLT) As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.

:7 and coming in the likeness of men

the likenesshomoioma – that which has been made after the likeness of something; a figure, image, likeness, representation; likeness i.e. resemblance, such as amounts almost to equality or identity

Jesus was fully God.

He also became fully man.  He put on human flesh.
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


Serve others

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?

(John 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


God’s Plan

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.

(Romans 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


Your Choice

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?