SER # 37Wa
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
17TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 27TH 2020
TEXTS: PHILIPPIANS 2: 1 – 13
THEME: LET JESUS SHINE IN US.
Paul in writing to the church in Philippi encouraged them to explore ways that they can live their faith in a very practical way. Paul knew that every believer faced challenges as we do today when it come to doing, saying and living what is right. Paul encouraged the people to find ways in which they can do the following: First, have the same thought pattern – think in the same way. There is a saying that goes, “Great minds think the same.” What this means to us believers when it comes to issues that affect people’s lives like, injustice, racism, hunger, homelessness, health and the list goes on there are no two ways to think about them. Injustice is injustice unless we wish to use any other word but it is still injustice. If someone in homeless they are homeless no matter what you think. Therefore, the oneness of thinking embraces all those things that show we care about one another. Second, love the same way. When we show love or live in love the end result is the same, people will experience and know they are loved. If they will accept it is another thing all together. For God so loved the world. That means you and me. Some have accepted this love while others have not but God love is there for us all. Paul continue to challenge the believers to let Jesus shine through them so that the world will know that God lives. Paul challenges believers to today in the following ways to shine for Jesus:
- Don’t be selfish: “Don’t do anything for selfish purpose” Paul is inviting us to a moment in life when we honestly think of others as better than ourselves. Some people have a tendency of looking at others as less important because of reasons they have created in their mind. This is a tendency Jesus had to fight with everyday when he was here as human. People blamed him for eating with sinners and tax collectors. This is because the community had already put these people in a different category. Even worshipers like Pharisees they thought they were better than others. Listen to a prayer of one of the Pharisees: “The Pharisees stood by himself and prayed: God I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get” (Luke 18: 11 -12). I believe Paul message would be appropriate to our American culture today where we have become more egocentric in term of what we pursue in life. It is a culture of me and myself. People will tend to ask this basic question, “What is in for me” This is the kind of trap that Paul was helping the church in Philippi to avoid. Jesus taught us how not to be selfish by giving his life for us. He chose to come and live with us when he would have enjoyed his heavenly home. The message for us today is to live a life where self is not above others. A life where we are willing to sacrifice for others. This time of campaign you will hear a lot of selfish advertisement that put others down. I believe one can share about what they can do for the country without putting the other down. But the truth is that this is where we are as people in this country. You can check your selfish level when you get to know the failures of others. Do you celebrate their failure (I told you so) or do you pray that their life might be changed for better?
- Allow Jesus be LORD of your life: “Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” In those early times when Rome was in Power Caesar was the LORD. The challenge that comes our way as people of faith is who is in charge of our lives? If you are like many the answer is quick and easy, you are in charge. But I would like to invite you to the think with Paul. Paul invites us to level where we are willing to open our heart and for Christ to take control of everything. Not only the living room but every room of our lives, at home at home and even in our hobbies. This thinking does not take the accountability of our actions away. If we kill someone, we can’t blame God. Even those who kill in the name of their god the blood is on their head not of God. The killing in the name of God has happened in the history of the church and in some places it still continues. Having Jesus as the LORD of our life or the head of our life, call us to practice three basic rules: One, Seek Jesus in prayer before our act on anything. When we invite Jesus to be the head or the LORD of our lives the one way we connect is through prayer. Before we make those decisions like (being involved in a food drive) or those which will impact our lives like buying a home, let us seek the guidance from the Two, seek Jesus through the scriptures. This will give you the guidance. Sometimes we might find; comforting, affirming, provoking, warning, and even assuring word of God from the bible in relation to what we are planning to do. We are reminded of this when it comes to the word of God, “Your word is a lamp for my feet a light on my path” (Psalm 119: 105). The Psalmist was very clear for he knew every step he took needed God guidance which was God’s word and even in the darkness he knew the word of God will light the path for him. Third, share with trusted believer. This could be your spouse, parents your child even your pastor if you have that close connection. Sometimes when we share what happening in our life we may get a better perspective of issues and how to deal with them. We believe that the people we are sharing with may help us understand what is going on with and help us make the right decision. This remind us of the story of the young Samuel and Eli. “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the LORD called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, Here I am you called me. Then Eli realized the LORD was calling the young boy. So, Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there calling as at the other times, Samuel! Samuel! Then Samuel said, Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3: 7 – 10). So, God can use other people to bring the message home and letting us know how to respond. I have known relationships that have worked this way where a friend has been used to confirm a message of a conviction. March making in the website apps try to do that these days though I believe that is pure business God is not in the equation but that does not mean you get a true-life partner.
- Live with humility: “Carry out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Humility is a key ingredient of what love is. Paul writes, “Love does not boast and is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4b). People have acquired different medals for different reasons. But when it comes to us people of faith, we have to remind ourselves that all our achievement is because God was there. That why very often people will say these words after an achievement, “Glory be to God.” It is a simple praise yet it shows our humility in accepting the blessing that have come our way. Satan plan is to use arrogance to show off the achievement that come our way. Any career in life produces success but we have to be reminded what Paul also wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2: 20). When we serve God as humbled people then the world will know that the Christ, we serve can accept them too. God has promised those who humble themselves when time comes, they will be lifted up. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast your anxiety on him because he care for you” (1 Peter 5: 6 – 7).