Therefore Stand Firm
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
4 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. NASB
1. Follow my example and observe those who walk like we walk.
The Bible is a book about people who came into contact with God and followed Him. Read it to follow their example. Look for people around you who are living like those people lived. Look for people who are trusting God. Spend time with them and learn to live as they live.
I don't know what you think about Paul. There are those who think Paul's attitudes about women were not always good, but you have to admit He followed Christ. He led others to accept His love and grace. He counseled the people in the churches he planted to continue to live out their life in relationship with God. He wept for the lost.
Paul said we should follow him as he followed Christ, and we are to look for others, like him, and follow them as they follow Christ.
2. Weep for those who don't walk like us.
Yes, there are enemies of the cross. People who are living for their own desires. They glory in what is shameful. They have their minds set on earthly things.
And God weeps for them. Paul weeps for them. Paul was not weeping because of the grief they were causing him although they were. Remember he is in prison as he writes this letter. He was weeping because their end is destruction. They are on the road to eternal separation from the God who loves them with an unfailing love, a steadfast love that we looked at last Sunday evening in Psalm 33.
We weep for them. Our greatest sorrow is for those who will enter eternity with no hope of redemption. We weep not for ourselves, as difficult as this life may be, but we weep for the lost. We are moved by the Spirit of God to love them and to seek to win them over to living out the relationship with God that He has planned for them. Instead of complaining about them we must weep for them and pray for them.
One of my evangelism teachers in Bible College used to say that evangelism is one hungry beggar telling other hungry beggars where to find bread.
We hunger and thirst after the love, mercy, and grace of God. We hunger after the righteousness that God gives to us. We find fulfillment in living in relationship to Him. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us and He becomes the fountain of living water. Once we find it, we want to share with others. Like the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well. She found living water and went to tell her neighbors about what she found. They came out to Jesus and found out for themselves that this man she spoke of, really is the Christ, the promised one from the Lord. They came and tasted of the goodness of the Lord for themselves.
How many will miss out because when the Spirit moved us with compassion for the lost, we sent up a quick prayer and moved on. We need to nurture that weeping. We need to listen when God leads us to reach out in love to those around us.
Pray for our Youth and our Young Adults. Look for ways to reach out to them, to spend time with them and tell them how much your relationship with the Lord means to you. Help them to learn to listen to God as they read the Word and Pray. Make reaching out to others and spending time with them a way of life. Make disciples by being followers of Christ. Share the love He gave to you with those who do not know.
3.Our citizenship is in heaven
Remember where your citizenship lies. Where is your allegiance? Who is your King, your Lord?
They, those in the world, are living for themselves. They live for today. We have a greater reason for what we do. We serve God, not anything of this world. Our allegiance is to Him first, and others second.
Before we came to Him, we lived as they lived. We laid up treasures on earth. Now we know that the real value in life comes from serving something greater than ourselves; something greater than any thing in creation. God is our Lord and Master. Him we serve. Our citizenship is in heaven.
4.We wait for Our Lord's return
We now have something we are waiting for that is laid up for us in heaven. He sits at the right hand of the Father waiting for the order to come and bring us home to be with Him forever. He will return and reward us, we, who are living for Him. We wait, expectantly, for Our Lord's return.
5.We will be transformed
On that day, we will be transformed. We will be changed in the twinkling of eye. We will put off mortality and put on immortality. We will reign with Him throughout the ages to come. Eternity in the presence of God, who has proven His love for us. The only difference between us and them is that we have put our trust in God. He loves them just as much as He loves us. He is patient, not willing that any should perish. He waits for them to trust Him. For their sake we are here to give witness to the truth of God's Word, the truth of His love for all of us. We will be transformed. We will be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. We want all others to join us. While we wait for the great change, we seek to bring others with us. We call them to repent and accept the Love and the Lordship of Christ.
We look for examples to follow. We weep for those who do not know the Father's love. We rejoice that our citizenship is in heaven. We await the return of Jesus, the Christ, the Lord. We look forward to the transformation that will take place when He comes. Therefore... Because of these Truths...
6.Therefore stand firm in the Lord
Therefore, because of these truths, For this reason, Stand Firm.
Stand Firm. Do not give up. Hold on to the end. Do not allow other things to get in the way. Do not fall back on the ways of the world. Stand Firm.
When the children of Israel came to the shore of the Red Sea, Moses told them “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” We wait as they waited. Fearful and yet expectant. Struggling to hold on to our faith in God. We stand firm in the Lord, trusting His timing. Trusting His Love. Trusting Him to lead us as we wait here for the “glorious unfolding”. Have you heard Steven Curtis Chapman's song “The Glorious Unfolding”? I love that song. He reminds us that it may feel like life is over for us; that we are at the end of our rope. But, the song says we were created to live in eternity. There is more to life than we have here. And what we have here, if we understand it, is also a glorious unfolding. What will God do next? What does He have in mind as we stand firm in the Lord and wait to see His salvation.
Trust God to see you through to the end. Trust Him to lead you. Trust that His plan for you, whatever He sends to you, is best. Believe, Accept, Receive the truth that He is Lord and that is a good thing. It is not a bad thing. His way is always best for us. It is in God's hands.
7. PS: I love you
Paul reminds them of his love for them. Paul says“ my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown”.
He loves them. He longs to see them. This church that he planted he calls his joy and crown. Paul made a difference in their lives. Epaphroditus has come with an offering, proof of their love and proof they are seeking to assist Paul in the work he is doing with the Lord. He has evidence that his work was not in vain. What a joy to have this confirmation that what he had done was a good thing.
Paul had lived before these people as he was now encouraging them to live. He had labored to see them grow in their faith and their love for the Lord. Now, here in prison, he has the encouragement of knowing they care about him and the work he does for the Lord.
About once a month I receive encouragement from some whose lives I touched in the past. What an encouragement it is to know you are loved and that the work you are doing is supported by people from the past. I am so grateful to my friends in Sapulpa. I understand what Paul meant when the called them beloved and his joy and crown.
Who is coming after you that will rise up and call you blessed? Who sees you standing firm in your faith in the Lord? Who are you praying for? Who has God brought across your path to share with? Has He brought someone to mind that you need to pray for and perhaps reach out to share with them in some way?
PS: I love you!
This is not only a message from Paul, it is a message from God Himself. He loves you! If you are listening to this, or reading it on the website or on Facebook, know that God loves you! He is calling you to put your faith in Him and seek Him above all else. He is calling you to a radical faith in Him! He has a plan for you.
If you are trusting Him, He is calling you to Stand Firm in your faith. Whatever you are facing in life, you are not alone. He is with us! He loves us! Stand firm!
The message is really quite simple. God loves us. He is our Lord. He is calling the the world to believe these two truths. The church, the ekklesia, those called out of the world, those who have accepted these truths, He is calling to live out these truths every day of our lives. He is calling those of us who really believe these truths to stand firm and reach out to any who will listen and encourage them to join us.
Are you listening to God's message to us?