SERMON SUNDAY 10th MAY 2020

STANDING FIRM

 

Philippians 1:27

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Then whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the Gospel.

 

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippian church is very much in season for us today in our lockdown situation. This phrase “Lockdown” comes from prison terminology. Paul himself was a prisoner in Rome, in fact it was under house arrest, so you could say he was in a testing situation, a testing of his faith and I believe it’s important to note that in this fellowship of Christians in Philippi (which was an important city in Macedonia) it was Paul who planted the first Christian community in Europe. The apostle is challenging them then but his words are still for us today. Those words “whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner of the Gospel of Christ” and he adds the word firm to reinforce his message to his readers/hearers, which can bring pictures to our minds. To me its like a soldier standing with his comrades to left and right in a bad situation, but although fearful standing steady not giving way to the enemy, and of course when we stand firm (together) we are firm in Gods purpose not moved from our faith in God and his plans for us.

In John’s first letter, John reminds us by believing in Jesus we offer ourselves to Gods care and direction in life, Matthew Henry The Bible commentator puts it like this “so although all are sinners we in Christ are now all spiritually descended from God and are loved by him and we prove our love by obeying his commandments” So their not a burden to us but a delight. Psalm 1v2 clarifies this with these words “but his delight is in the law of the lord and on his law he mediates day and night” notice the word delight. Speaking of Gods love, the Great Victorian Preacher C.H Spurgeon was one day walking through the English countryside with a Friend, as they strolled along Spurgeon noticed a barn with a weather vane on it’s roof at the top of the vane were these words “God is Love” Spurgeon remarked to his companion that he thought This was a rather inappropriate place for such a message.” Weather vanes are changeable”, he said “but God is consistent” I don’t agree with you about those words Charles replied his friend “you misunderstood the meaning, that sign is an indication of truth: regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love”.

When we think of Gods love for us it can help us to stand firm against the tides that come against us in life, tides that disrupt our everyday lives, and our confidence. Many people are saying of this virus, “the trouble is this is an unseen enemy, it’s invisible” and that’s true of course and makes it seem more dangerous. Even to the brave in a war situation we could compare it with a hidden sniper, but yet in another of Pauls letters ‘Ephesians’ he writes of other unseen enemies, Ephesians 6:12” for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms”

So as Christians often our real enemies are unseen this of course was revealed to the prophet Daniel when he began to earnestly pray about his people’s future, Israel, then in captivity. In Daniel 10 We read of the prince of Persia (an invisible to us) spiritual force of evil these like invisible forces of course would have been active during world war two.

 

Friday was a celebration of victory in Europe, during those six years of war it would have seemed like it would never end, but it did, so we can be encouraged in this that these times will come to an end also.

Paul of course writes his letter not just to leaders, but to the whole fellowship and this encouragement to stand firm does not mean to stand alone but he writes standing firm in one spirit as one man, in other words standing united in Christ as a body whatever the odds. Today of course because of modern technology although isolated we can still communicate with our brothers and sisters in Christ and encourage those in our fellowship that live alone or are more vunerable and we can rest assured that God is with us whatever the circumstances and be emboldened knowing that Christ has overcome the world and by his word and his spirit we too are equipped to be over comers if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our lord and saviour.

 

I pray you enjoy good heath and all may go well with you in Jesus Christ our Lord

Pastor Terry.