Our new series, Hope Again is based on the book of Philippians and a personal book. It tells us the most about Paul. It’s also a practical book. It deals with a lot of the problems in life that we all face, a lot of examples of day to day decisions. Most of all Philippians is a positive book.
In the first chapter, Paul starts right off talking about people. If relationships are bad, life stinks. If relationships are strained, life is difficult. If you have problems with people it kills the joy in your life. How can we Enjoy the People in our Lives?
- Remember The Good Times.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
Paul wrote, “I like to remember the good times with you!” He chose to focus on the good times they had and remember the positive experiences. What do you remember about people, the good experiences or the bad experiences?
Paul says that he has happy memories of his time with this church. Does that mean that there were no sad times, no times of difficulty? Of course not!
When Paul said this, he had not had a relaxing vacation in Philippi. Acts 16 tells us the background of this story. When he went to Philippi he was arrested, stripped beaten with rods (ouch!) in public, humiliated, thrown in prison and put in stocks. Stocks were also a humiliating and painful position to be put in. While in prison there was an earthquake. He was run out of town. Paul had by anyone’s measurement horrific experience in Philippi; it would have ranked among the worst in anyone’s book. Yet he says, when I think of you I remember the good things. “I thank God every time I remember you.” Paul could have dwelt on the negative. He could have remembered the painful memories. He chose not to remember the painful and he focused on the things he could be grateful for.
Maybe a parent, partner, co-worker, relative or friend has in your past hurt you and you’re still holding onto that hurt. As a result you can’t enjoy them today. You’re still focusing on the bad and the negative. Be grateful for the good in people. Pleasant memories are a choice. I can choose what I’m going to remember about the past.
Am I saying to deny the hurts and excuse the weaknesses in other people? No. That is not healthy either. But focus on the good, the pleasant and choose to emphasize those instead of the negative, and unpleasant.
- I can dwell on the bad or I can dwell on the good; it’s my choice.
- Recall The Ways People Have Helped Me
Who has been helpful to you? Definitely your parents! Studies reveal it takes over a million dollars to raise a child – your parents did that for you! Teachers, think of the time spent for you to learn to read, write and count. There’s a pretty long list beyond that: someone at work, a friend, a husband or wife. Maybe they didn’t do anything really spectacular, like give you a million dollars but time and time again, when they had every opportunity to walk out on you, or hit you they didn’t. They hung in there. They have been with you day in and day out. When you were going through the crisis, the change in careers, when you were just being a jerk — they stayed with you. They haven’t left and they’ve had plenty of good reasons.
*It will revolutionize your world if you will stop thinking people owe you and start thanking people who help you!
Paul remembered all the things the Philippians did and called them his partners. Did you know it takes many people to pull things off, especially in ministry? People were reached for Christ and the Philippians had a part.
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
Partnership, I want to focus on that word for a moment. We are reaching people for Christ at The Ridge Fellowship. As of last Sunday we have recorded 835 people (since our existence 14 years ago) that have made a commitment to Christ. It takes partnership to do that. Every one that is doing anything here at The Ridge Fellowship, even if you think it’s small, from cleaning, to helping with the children, to working in the yard – it makes a difference! You are partners in those decisions for Christ, you are partners in what God is doing, and you are partners in eternity.
Everything you see on a Sunday morning took partnership! For instance, the music set, the slides, printing, proofing, practicing takes dozens of people hundreds of hours to complete, an hour here an hour there. The coffee, the clean floors, the empty trash cans, the programs, the crafts, lessons and snacks for your kids, the sound, the information projected on the screen, the music, the lawn and flower beds, the list could go on and on and on of all the other things that go into preparing the weekly service – It all took partnership!!!
7bFor whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
I want to remind you about the make-up of the church at Philippi. Like our church, it was made up of people who outside of the church had little in common. The church at Philippi was a Gentile church, because all of the names associated with it are Gentile names, and no Old Testament passages are quoted in the book. There was the local jailor and his family (Acts 16:25-34), a slave girl who had been delivered from demon possession (Acts 16:16-18) and a businesswoman named Lydia (Acts 16:14-15). Apparently, there was little to bind them together by worldly standards, but they had one important thing in common, their love for the Lord and involvement in His church.
In Paul’s day the world was filled with barriers that separated people, just as it is today, barriers of race, wealth, education and culture. But within the fellowship of the gospel none of these things mattered. They simply loved one another and the world marveled at this.
*Like our church here we have Longhorns, Aggies, Red Raiders and others but what matters most is we are all on the same team, Jesus’ team!
We may have money or not have money, we may be blue-collar, white collar or have ring around the collar but we ALL HAVE THE SAME JESUS, THE SAME FAITH AND THE SAME MISSION – “To KNOW Christ and GROW to be like Him.” That is our mission and we partner together to fulfill it.
3. Learn To Appreciate The Growth In People
Do you have any unfinished projects around your house? How about any unfinished projects at work? Most of us do. Do you realize that you are in the hands of a loving God who is at work in your life? STILL… You may feel like an unfinished project but God will complete it. And please know this takes time!!
6 Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. This is our memory verse.
Paul believed in God’s power to change the human personality. Paul believed that no person was hopeless. He never gave up on people. This is a great promise of God. Claim it for your kids, for your mate, for yourself.
It is God who originates it. It is God who carries out the His work in us. It is God who will complete it. Our hope does not rest in anything we have or will do, but in the fact that Christ lives in us and through us.
Paul is talking about faith. Faith is expecting the best from other people. There’s tremendous power in faith.
The common mistake is we tend to judge people on the basis of how far they have to go rather than how far they have come.
Paul looked at people’s future and not just at their past. He looked at their potential and was patient with their progress.
We need to be patient with people’s progress. To enjoy people we must allow for growth and for development. Paul could say, “I’m not the man I used to be, thank God. But also, thank God, I’m not the man I’m going to be. I’m growing and changing.”
In your marriage, if you want to enjoy your marriage, you’ve got to learn to enjoy your husband or your wife right now while allowing for growth and development. Otherwise, by the time they meet your conditions you will have still another condition for them to meet. You’ve got to learn to enjoy them where they are right now. Parents, if you’re going to learn to enjoy your kids, you’ve got to learn to enjoy them in the process, while they’re growing because there is no such thing as a perfect kid. And there’s no such thing as a perfect adult. If you demand perfection of the people in your life in order to enjoy them, you’re going to be miserable for the rest of your life. Nobody’s perfect.
- If I wait for perfection in people before I am happy with them, I will remain unhappy.
To enjoy people, you’ve got to enjoy them in the process, not when they’ve arrived.
In the next post we’ll look at 3 more ways to enjoy the people in our lives.
For more about the series, Hope Again or to watch messages, go to www.RidgeFellowship.com