"Standing Firm during Diffiuclt Times"

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:54
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-How do we stand firm when someone tells us they are leaving us for someone else?
-How do we stand firm when we hear the bad health report?
-Or how do we stand firm when someone tells us a family member has passed?
-How do we stand firm when we are told something that goes against what we believe? What will you do? What will you say?
-How do we continue to live like Christians in a world where there is no moral standards and our country’s leaders are not standing up for what is right?
Standing firm is tough, but it’s what we are called to do as believers. We are never assured of Non-difficult days. We want to run from these things or pull the covers over us and hope it’s not real. Let’s take a look at what Paul says we should do.
Last week we discussed what Paul was dealing with. He was dealing with being in jail and chained to a Roman guard, and yet he had joy even in difficult times. Today, we begin to see how Paul takes the focus off himself and now turns to the Philippians. This part of Paul’s letter, in just these 4 verses is the Main Thesis Statement for the entire letter of Philippians. There was a big time need for the church at Philippi to stand united as they dealt with persecution because things could seem to be very scary. So the question I want us to look at this morning is how can we stand firm during these difficult times? Paul answers this question by showing us some examples of conduct and attitudes that are both positive and negative.

How do we do this?

1. Remain Resolute in the Spirit.

Philippians 1:27 (ESV)
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
When I think about someone who is Resolute I think about the soldiers who stand at the unmarked grave in Washington D.C. These men are there rain or shine. They don’t waver, they never leave their post.
When difficult times come our way, some of the first things that can cross our minds is fear and worry. As Christians we can doubt ourselves, our faith and even the Lord. This is why we need to run to Christ and know that we can lean unto him and not trust in our feelings because feeling are up and down. Run to God and His word. Seek the Lord in prayer and know that He is there.
The first thing we as believers can do to stand firm is to be resolute! Be determined and unwavering in your faith. The picture we see here is a military metaphor of soldiers standing their ground. In ancient warfare, troops fought as a densely packed group, eight ranks deep, and they moved together against their opponents. They would always stay together in formation with their shields overlapping and their spears extended. This type of togetherness was what helped them win battles. If one soldier broke rank or retreated it could allow the enemy to pour through. This is why Paul is challenging them to remain resolute whether he comes or hears of them from a far it doesn’t matter they have to continue in their faith. Paul is doing everything he can to encourage his fellow soldiers. He knew that many battles were won or lost on the basis of unity of one mind. Paul wanted these believers at Philippi to be consistent to remember that they were citizens of heaven and as they journeyed through this life, to live a life pleasing to the Lord.
One more thing here that I want us to see. Paul tells us, or qualifies to us, that we can be resolute by the Spirit, or in one Spirit. This is the source of our unity. Standing firm in the Spirit of God gives us the power to stand against the opposition and to continue to work together to share the good news about Jesus. The Holy Spirit had helped Paul many times throughout his missionary journey’s. Now he was encouraging these believers to know that the Holy Spirit would help them as they faced potential trials in order to share their faith.
Church we have to stand together:
-Meet together for prayer.
-To study God’s Word.
-To encourage one another. And sometimes call each other out.
-And even to just fellowship. Remain Resolute in one Spirit!

2. Come together in Unity.

Philippians 1:27 (ESV)
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
Again we see here in verse 27 some more military language. This striving side by side has the meaning of struggling together as in battle. This could mean struggling in a fight or even in an arena where gladiators struggled in life and death combat. We know that the early church was persecuted often and many believers lost their lives in the arena. This type of battle or fight would again call for joint action. Believers must when things get difficult in this life and especially as we face persecution.
Paul calls for these believers to come together with one mind, and strive side by side. During this time there may have been some internal problems in Philippi with some discord with the believers because of pride and hurt feelings. Has this ever happened to you? You ever get your feelings hurt? Yes, it can happen to anyone of us and especially within a church family. Paul tells Euodia and Syntyche in chapter 4 verse 2 to agree in the Lord. This is exactly the same message we as believers need to hear thousands of years later. Agree in the Lord, get along church and quit your fighting!!!
What I want us to understand here church is that often times when things get really difficult in our lives and even in the church we can tend to fight and bicker and become dis-unified. This is exactly where the enemy wants us. He doesn’t want us to get along. He wants us to fight with one another. He wants families and friends to fight. He wants to tear apart good godly relationships.
Paul mentions several keys to how we can have unity. I want to talk more at length about this in the next few weeks, so I just want to show you several of these verses now. Look with me at Philippians 2:2-5
Philippians 2:2–5 (ESV)
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
-First of all we can have unity when we are not selfish. Sometimes all we think about is ourselves. Watch out for pride and remain humble.
-Second count others more significant than yourself. We live in a world today that screams it’s all about me. It’s all about your rights, and living to make yourself feel good. Our world today is more divided than ever before because it’s all about me, and we don’t stop to count others more significant than us. God’s word tells us to die to ourselves and to pick up our cross and follow the Lord. Church I promise you this. I have been to Guatemala and I have seen what Feliz is doing there, and I don’t know much but I can tell you beyond a shadow of doubt that more than anything she understands that in running an orphanage you must count others more significant than yourself. How are we doing today?
-Finally Paul says we are not only to look at our own interests, but also the interest of others. Do you know what other believers are going through? Do you know their hurts and pains? Do you know what they are rejoicing in? When we are able to take our eyes off of us and focus on others it allows us to be unified and to come together and serve the Lord.

3. Understand that the Gospel takes away our fear.

Philippians 1:28–30 (ESV)
and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
One thing we know for sure is that the enemy is for real. Sometimes it seems like the Devil is getting the upper hand. This is why we must stand up and fight. Paul is encouraging the believers here not to fear or be alarmed at anything the enemy might throw at them. When we can lean unto God, we can be confident that our lives belong to him and our future is in his hands no matter what happens.
One of the things that the early church understood is that the gospel was the good news about Jesus. Jesus died for our sins and was buried and rose again so that we as believers may have real life, eternal life. The greatest weapon against the devil is a godly life, and when we as believers come together with the gospel it not only gives us hope but when we share it with others it gives them hope.
Here in the book of Philippians we see how the gospel takes away fear. It takes away the fear of going to prison and even being in prison. It takes away the fear of loss and even death.
-First Prison. Philippians 1:14
Philippians 1:14 (ESV)
And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
-Second Loss. Philippians 3:7-8
Philippians 3:7–8 (ESV)
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
-Third death. Philippians 2:28-30
Philippians 2:28–30 (ESV)
I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.
So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men,
for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
The Christian life brings with it a call to suffer, but God gives us the strength to go through it. In fact, going through conflict is one way we grow in our faith. God does gives us strength through His Spirit to stand against the enemy. This week as you face battles or come against the enemy depend on the Lord. Get into your word and call out to God. The early believers needed to be encouraged to stand firm in difficult times. To remain resolute, to be unified and not to be fearful as they went through the trials of life. We do as well. I know that often times the our world seems to be getting further and further away from God. As your pastor I want you to be aware and know that God is so much bigger than the problems of this world. He can help us to stand firm even today.
(Pray and lead into Communion)
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