Preach Christ

The Apostle Paul encourages the importance of preaching Christ. He rejoices in the message spreading regardless if its from true or false motives. This is interesting because don’t we want all messages to come from a true motive? But Paul, in Philippians 1:18 says, “what does it matter?”

Paul writes to the Philippians

Paul is writing to the church of Philippi while he’s in prison. He wants to tell the church that although he was arrested (for preaching Jesus as king and not Caesar) the mission continues. To Paul what a better way to reach the Roman empire then to the guards themselves. Paul rejoices because now the word is spreading all the more because of this!

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

Philippians 1:12-14

Paul takes what would seem like a depressing situation (prison) and turns it into a blessing situation (preaching). Being a light to a dark place. As believers, this reminds us of having the mind of Christ – thinking of things that please God.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

The important thing is… Christ is preached

Philippians 1:15-18, Paul describes two groups of Christians spreading the Jesus message – ones with good intentions and others with bad intentions. Both groups are preaching the correct gospel, so its not a matter of false teaching. Paul doesn’t want us to worry about the motives behind the message he only cares about the message itself.

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Philippians 1:15-18

What does it matter?

We don’t have to judge the motives of others preaching the gospel – let God take care of that.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord

Proverbs 16:2

False teaching is a different matter altogether. In Philippians 1:12-18, Paul is speaking of the motives behind the correct message. Paul is encouraging the church not to worry that he is in prison because people are still hearing the gospel. Regardless if they liked Paul or not.

Proclaim the gospel

And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

Philippians 1:14

The Philippians church were without their fearless leader Paul. Yet, they stepped up. Proclaiming the gospel because they knew their true leader was not Paul but Christ in them.

Today in this time of isolation, and without our church building, lets still be a people that “proclaim the gospel without fear”. Not worrying about how we will look or sound. With the mind of Christ we can see the light in a dark place. So don’t hold back speaking about your faith even if it feels awkward. Getting the word out in itself is good.

Jesus is the one who saves! We just share who He is

Jesus died on the cross as a perfect man and perfect God. Shedding his own blood as a sacrifice for our sins. So we, sinful humans, could have a right relationship with the living God. Through acknowledging this sacrifice and repenting of our sins we can receive the gift. The gift of forgiveness from a God that so loved us that He gave (John 3:16).

Just like Paul who wrote from prison, the journey is not easy and we will suffer on this earth. However, our hope is not from earth but from Heaven. A hope filled promise that beats death itself – an eternal life with the living God for all those who believe in Him (John 3:15).

This message is important because there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ (John 3:17, Romans 8:1). All it takes is a willing heart to believe.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17

Unexpected

Some time ago (before the virus)

It was middle of the week and I’m strolling my daughter, Lyla, to the grocery store, which was part of our weekly routine. At the time all I was thinking about was what to make for dinner and it was only 9am.

A typical day for a mom.

After checking out with my groceries, the Starbucks inside the store caught my attention. It was one of those, I deserve an obnoxiously-priced-latte, type moments and I caved. As I was waiting for my latte I noticed an employee from the store crying at one of the tables nearby. Drawn with compassion, I knew I wanted to pray for her.

My squawking toddler and the tearful woman locked eyes and both exchanged a smile. Okay, I thought, this was my moment and I approached her and asked, “are you okay?” She sighed, “no”, and explained to me that her dog had to be put down that day and she couldn’t be there. It was happening in Maple Ridge and we live in Victoria. This struck me because I am originally from Maple Ridge so I made that to be a weird connection or coincidence. Regardless, my compassion for her grew.

Coincidence?

After she told me about her dog, I asked if I could pray for her, she replied, “yes”. I prayed that God would bring her comfort and peace in this hard time and thanked Him for what a great companion her dog was to her. After I prayed, I asked about her dog’s name.

She said, “my dog’s name is Lyla”.

“Wait... what? that’s my daughter’s name,” I replied.

Both Lyla the dog and Lyla my daughter shared the exact same name – spelling too! Crazy! Talk about coincidence? No, this was God at work.

Maybe if the names didn’t match or her dog wasn’t in Maple Ridge I would have left thinking it was all me that encouraged her. But the fact that the names matched confirmed that it had to be all God – purposefully planned to show her His love.

Unexpected love

God is always on the move to love. Having a relationship with God means we get to experience His love for others as well. It was such a joy and rush of excitement to feel God’s love for this woman whom I did not know. I felt encouraged that even in unexpected places God can be expected to show up.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:7-16

Lifted Hands

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”

Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”

Exodus 17:8-16

Being used by God

So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.

Exodus 17:9

Verse, Exodus 17:9, I was interested in the significance of God using Moses’ staff. Why is Moses’ staff “a thing” God uses? First we understand that Moses was a shepherd, his staff was part of his everyday – the tool of his trade.

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff”, he replied.

Exodus 4:1-2

Whenever God is asking someone a question in the Bible we have to stop and think, why? God knows everything – what was, what is and what is to come… so why does He ask questions?

Two points come to mind when I think of God asking questions:
1. Relationship – God wants dialogue because He is a relational God
2. To highlight a point – there is something deeper He wants us to learn

Throughout Exodus 4:3-9, God performs miraculous signs with Moses’ staff to demonstrate His power. God used what Moses already had, which changed purpose but kept the same function. God called Moses from shepherding sheep to shepherding people.

What we learn from Moses is that God can use you in your current state. You don’t have to wait for anything additional to contribute to the kingdom of God. God wants to use whats already in your hands.

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.

Exodus 4:10-12

Despite your doubt – God is with you.

God is not asking for your perfection, He is asking for your partnership.

What is in your hands?

Worshipping in times of battle

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

Exodus 17:10-12

Lifted hands (“hands”) is mentioned quite a bit in this passage. It got me thinking, when do I lift my hands? When I think of lifting my hands toward God I think of, “praise hands”. I think of church; being in an atmosphere of peppy tunes, dimmed lights and led by talented singers on stage. I think about dancing around in my kitchen, with my daughter, listening to worship music. But here in this passage, I am reminded that sometimes we base our worship upon our feelings rather than on our faith. The best time to worship is always; and especially when we don’t feel like it.

Posturing our body (in whatever way that looks for you – lifted hands or closed eyes, for example) helps bring our minds into worship.

Supporting each other towards God

When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Exodus 17:12-13

Aaron and Hur came to Moses’ rescue – they didn’t say, “well you tried… too bad you got tired, next time bud!” No, they believed in God’s authority through Moses and did everything they could to keep Moses’ hands lifted. They supported Moses when he grew too tired to do it himself.

As a nation we too are in a battle – against Covid-19. We don’t know how long this virus will last or what the outcome will be. It is crucial that in this time of stress and sickness we become like Aaron and Hur who lift up their friend in need (figuratively speaking of course as we can’t literally hangout with our friends. But praise God for great technologies to still connect us!). We need to surround ourselves with friends that lift us up to God and be friends that lift others up as well.

Concluding Points

1. Moses was an everyday ordinary man and through God he became extraordinary – how can God do that through you? What is already in your hands?
2. Posture your body to set your mind on worship – the best times to worship is at all times

Hebrews 13:15, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
3. Pray and ask God to highlight someone in your life that needs to be lifted up