- What regular maintenance do you practice in your faith?
- What things do you feel you need to do in order to earn God’s love or favor? How do you feel that affects your relationship with him?
- In what areas of your life do you struggle most with guilt? What do you think that is telling you and how can you make an adjustment?
Welcome to Hope City Church! God is doing some great things here at Hope City… I don’t know if you saw these pictures from last weekend or not… but we had an incredible weekend at Hope City. Saturday was our annual Sisterhood Brunch, SO GOOD!
And then Sunday was Baptism Sunday! We had the privilege of hearing from 8 different people who said, I want to go public with my faith. I want to tell the world around me that I’m a follower of Jesus. And right over here in the waters of the Holy Hot Tub, we baptized 8 of my friends. Look at this picture! SO MUCH JOY!
Which is actually the point of this entire teaching series. We are going through the book of Philippians which is a book that Paul wrote to the church at Philippi in order to encourage them to make the wise choice. Out of all the choices that they have in front of them, Paul says, let’s make the RIGHT CHOICE… CHOICES that bring JOY rather than fear, or anxiety, or worry.
Remember, YOUR CHOICES CREATE YOUR LIFE. So, when we talk about are you living the type of life that you’ve wanted, or the type of life that you’ve hoped for… we have to talk about choices. And particularly the MULTIPLE CHOICES that you face everyday.
In Chapter 1 Paul talked about how in order to have Joy you need to CHOOSE GOD. That’s the only way to have true Joy, is to CHOOSE Jesus. Trust His Process, Live His Priorities, and Live out His Purpose.
In Chapter 2 Paul gets really practical… and he says, If you’re going to have true Joy, YOUR MINDSET MATTERS. What you think about, and how you think about it matters.
And today in Chapter 3 we’re going to see that Paul says Joy Requires MAINTENANCE.
When Tiffany and I were first married, we lived pretty tight financially. And we drove what I call, DISPOSE-A-CARS. Like the kind where you buy them cash, for maybe a couple hundred bucks and you drive them into the ground. So I had my fair share of beaters… They’d knock around for a while and then when they were no longer safe to drive anymore, I’d scrap it and start the process over again.
Well… There came a point in time when we had two babies now, and this approach to transportation was no longer really an option. I think people around us realized the same thing… A guy from our church came up to us and said he had a mini-van, it was ours, but the only catch was we would need to put a transmission in it. I looked at the van, it’s the nicest car that we had owned in our married life, and so I jumped at the opportunity.
I took that van to the transmission repair and said, please fix this car as cheap as possible. And the guy said, okay no problem.
AND EVERYTHING WORKED PERFECT…. FOR A WHILE…
About 8 months later, the transmission completely stopped working. The car wouldn’t move forward. It would only go in reverse. And so back to the repair shop we went. This time a different shop. I got a phone call from the technician and he said, “Sir, I want to let you know that your van is going to need another transmission. When you had it replaced last time, they did not replace the computer module, and it has failed which meant that it most likely shifted into reverse while in 3rd or 4th gear which shredded the gear box.” Had they replaced the computer module during the first replacement this would never have happened. He went on to explain to me that it was standard practice to replace the computer module when replacing the transmission… But it looked like someone had cheaped out on it!
That someone was me! BASIC MAINTENCE would have kept my car running smooth, but instead it required that I put ANOTHER transmission in this car.
Maintenance is the process of preserving & upholding something, it’s general upkeep. In life, MAINTENANCE IS MANDATORY.
You’ve experienced this in every area of you life. The things you don’t maintain have a way of breaking down…
Go to long without routine maintenance in your MARRIAGE and you’ll find that you’re going in two different paths. You may have thought that you were each headed in the same direction, but without some tune ups every now and then, you won’t get to the final destination together.
Go to long without routine maintenance in your DIET and you’ll find that you can easily be over nourished, or malnourished. You may be eating enough, but not enough of the right things.
Or maybe you’ve gone to long in your FAITH without some maintenance and you’ve found that things just aren’t working quite as well any more…
Maintenance is Key in all aspects of your life. Today, we’re going to discover that there are choices we can make that help us Maintain our JOY… Let’s dive into Philippians 3… page *** in the Bible’s around you.
Look at what Paul says, here in chapter 3… in verse 1…
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. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 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 flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. i
Quick question: How many of you have a pet dog at home? Yeah, us too… This is my dog Cooper. Yessss…. I KNOW… he’s cute. Here’s the best part about Cooper… this guy will sit on the steps and look out he front window, and whenever AMAZON comes to drop off a package, COOPER loses his ever loving mind. He’s barks like our house is being attacked by robbers… He htinks that He is this big old mean junk yard dog.
When we have people come over, we have to put the dog away… NOT BECAUSE HE’S MEAN, but because he’s gonna pee on you. This dog is harmless. He’s just so excited to see you.
Listen to me, your dog, and my dog, are not like the dogs of Jesus day. See back then no one was carrying around dogs in a purse. They didn’t push them around in strollers. I’m telling you, I’ve lived in Florida for 4 years now, and this is my home, but I will NEVER get over seeing people push their dogs through lowes. WHAT? I kid you not… FL is weird… No way, dogs were considered SAVAGE, RAVENOUS, GNARLY BEASTS.
This is important because notice how Paul comes right out and says:
2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.
This is some strong language! It doesn’t sound very “Christian” at all… Right? Running around calling people dogs… see how far that gets you in life. But you’ve got to wonder, who is Paul talking about? And what could they have done that is so bad, that causes the APOSTLE PAUL, a God fearing man to use such harsh language?
Once you tap into the Language and the Heart of the Author… You’re very close to tapping into the message of the author. Paul’s message is simply this: If you want to MAINTAIN your Joy in the Lord… you must 1. RESIST RELIGION.
That sounds crazy, right? Especially coming from a pastor. But I want you to hear me clearly. Paul says to resist religion, because “RELIGION” kills a “RELATIONSHIP” with Jesus. Religion is man-made rules to approach God… We would call this LEGALISM… and I’ve shared with you the evils of LEGALISM before. Legalism says, there are list of things that you can’t do if you’re going to follow Jesus. And LEGALISM STEALS JOY. More specifically, we need to understand that here in Philippians 3, Paul is coming after these people called the JUDAIZERS. One commentator, DR. Robert Lightner, put it this way, He said,
The Judaizers plagued Paul and his converts constantly. Confused about the gospel, they added works of the law to faith in Christ, both for salvation and for Christian living. [For instance,] The Old Testament rite of circumcision was of special concern to them. They insisted that it was necessary for salvation. They did not omit faith in Christ but added works of the flesh.
Legalism = substituting RULES and REGULATIONS for a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. And it can be a very subtle shift, or maybe even a drift that leads us away from Joy. Legalism starts sneaking in by saying things like… A Good Christian doesn’t gamble, go see movies, or play cards. At least that’s what my Grandmother’s generation said. Legalism sneaks in anytime that we ADD anything to what Jesus has already done.
Legalism and Religion take the focus off what God has already done for you and puts the focus on what you “NEED” to do for God. And whenever that happens, you are guaranteed to lose JOY. RELIGION, RULES, & LEGALISM IS A STUPID TRADE-OFF FOR INTIMACY WITH JESUS. This is why Paul says we are to RESIST RELIGION, because he knows that intimacy with Christ, Relationship brings JOY.
Paul goes on to remind us… look back at verse 4 again…
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 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; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. ii
If you were to ask Paul… What did all of that get you, here is what He would say.
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 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.iii
Paul is saying, I’d give up everything in order to gain the one thing that matters most—KNOWING CHRIST! IN fact, he gets pretty HYPE about it, look what he says next…
I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.iv
Your Bible has translated Paul’s language and made it a PG version… He is using an explicit term for human waste. He says, I consider all of my effort, as human excrement… as worthless…. Because it is about Christ… Look what he says next.
10 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, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. v
don’t miss this – the guy who looks most impressive on paper, is the first to say … I’d trade it all for knowing more of Jesus and becoming more like him.
8 I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.
What are you willing to lose to gain more of Christ? Pauls says HE GAVE UP to GAIN MORE. He gave up his upbringing, his ethnicity, his traditions, his training, his pedigree, his accomplishments, so that he would GAIN MORE Jesus. This is what leads him to say for whose sake I have lost all things.
Where in your life have you given up something to gain more of something?
Tiffany and I have had to step back from GOOD things in order to maintain our relationship with one another. There have been seasons in our marriage where we’ve recognized that we have filled our life with a lot of GOOD things, but it was preventing us from being connected with one another. It prevented us from experiencing depth in our relationship, and whenever that happens, my world gets out of whack… So we cut back on the good things so that we could have the best things.
Paul is suggesting that if we’re going to maintain our JOY that first we should RESIST RELIGION, and then secondly we need to 2. REMEMBER JESUS. Remember the gospel, the good news of Jesus. Preach this to yourself and others every single day!
When you wake up in the morning remind yourself of the good news… Jesus loves you, not because of what you do, but because of what he has done. You are forgiven not because you are good enough, but because God is GRACIOUS ENOUGH. You once were GUILTY but God sees you as RIGHTEOUS.
I guarantee that if you REMEMBER JESUS and REMIND YOURSELF about what JESUS has done, you will MAINTAIN your joy!
This is why Paul said, even while he was locked in prison concludes that…
10 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, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. vi
When we remember Jesus, we maintain our JOY…
This got me thinking, what causes you to forget about what Jesus has done for you? Isn’t it when we focus on what we’ve done?
The same thing is true with our relationships. We can get sideways in relationships when all we focus on is what we’ve done for others… I took out the trash, I picked up the kids… I made dinner… I cleaned it up… I DID and you fill in the blanks. This breeds a sense of forgetfulness. And forgetfulness breeds entitlement. And entitlement diminishes joy.
When we stop and think about what has been done for us, it increases gratitude and gratitude increases joy!
So, let’s stop and think for a minute, just like Paul… what has Christ done for you? Last week we heard people’s story as they were getting baptized…
Listen to what one of our middle school students said:
This past summer I went to 12 conference and MFUGE with Hope City Youth and it really opened my eyes to who Jesus is. I learned about what it means to serve people in the same way He did and I learned about how much Jesus loves me, how He will always forgive me, and how He will always help me. After this summer I have realized that I don’t have to carry around those burdens by myself anymore, that I can take all of my worries and fears and give them to Jesus.
Another person said,
My relationship with Jesus isn’t about my perfection, it’s about my pursuit. I am not in relation with Him because I am perfect, I am in relation with Him because I am forgiven. It is not my perfection He seeks; it is my pursuit.
There is so much joy here… they were remembering what Jesus has done for them. If you want to maintain your joy, keep Jesus as your focus! Let me remind you today:
God loves you not because of what you do
God wants a relationship with you not because of what you can do, but because of who you are.
God sees the best in you even when you can’t because He sees Christ in you.
Your Past doesn’t define you.
Where do you need a tune up in your life? Where are you tempted to put your focus on your own accomplishments?
Or what are you tempted to believe that you need to do in order to be loved by God?