TWO KEYS TO A HAPPY MARRIAGE


Two Keys to a Happy Marriage


Almost every marriage starts out as a huge celebration.

Together with their family and friends, each couple is full of hopes and dreams for their future life together. But the road to a happy marriage is far from easy. And as today’s divorce statistics demonstrate all too well, many couples opt not to complete the journey.

It would be easy to blame our high rate of marital failure on things like not spending enough quality time together, allowing bitterness and resentment to build in our hearts and failing to keep communication lines open. There’s no end to books, articles and seminars that tell you how to improve these and many other aspects of your relationship. But while quality time, forgiveness and communication are vitally important to creating a happy marriage, if such things aren’t happening, it’s usually a sign of a much deeper problem. And until this problem is addressed, no amount of external behavior modification will work.

To get a hint of what this deeper issue might be, let’s take a look at the following Scripture passage:

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35-40)

I believe that virtually every marital problem can be traced back to one or both partners failing to abide by these two laws. The same is true of any relationship. The minute we begin to focus on our own wants and needs over those of God or our partner; we’re destined for trouble.

Experiencing communication problems in your marriage? How often do you really focus on listening to what your partner (or God) has to say instead of insisting on more airtime? Feeling bitterness and resentment growing toward your partner? When was the last time you brought him or her before the Lord in prayer and truly thanked God for your relationship? Struggling to find quality time together? How about praying with your partner and asking God how he would like you to use your time?

As you begin to do these things, you’ll notice that your focus automatically starts to shift away from you and your desires and over to God and your partner. As a result, communication problems begin to improve, anger and resentment fade away and you naturally want to spend more time together. Of course, you can’t expect such changes to happen overnight. Your relationship is also bound to face financial pressures, child-rearing issues and other problems that are beyond your control. But if you commit your relationship to God and make a conscious decision each day to put God and your partner first, your marriage will be able to weather any storm. Not only that; you’ll also have plenty of fun together along the way!

“SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”

“SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”

                    With Fear And Trembling (Php 2:12)

INTRODUCTION

1. In the previous lesson, we noticed that in order to “shine as lights

   in the world”, that we would do well to first “work out our own

   salvation” by:

   a. Developing a Christ-like character

   b. Developing a Christ-like service

2. But it is important to notice that Paul said we should do this “with

   fear and trembling” (Php 2:12)

3. In writing about the early church, Luke recorded:

   Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and

   Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and

   in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were  multiplied. (Ac 9:31)

   Note that they were “walking in the fear of the Lord”!

4. As mentioned in our introductory lesson, the concept of “fear and

   trembling” in connection with God is not a popular concept today

   a. People prefer to hear about God’s love, longsuffering and mercy

   b. Sometimes, when we point out God’s righteous indignation,

      holiness, and justice, people reply:  “My God is not like that!”

5. The emphasis on God’s love and mercy today is probably a reaction to

   the “hell, fire, and brimstone” preaching of another generation

6. But could it be that we have gone to other extreme?

   a. Where there is no concept of “fear and trembling” as it relates to

      the Christian?

   b. Could this be why many Christians are apathetic in their service?

   c. Could it be we have forgotten Whom we should fear if we are

      negligent in our service?

7. In this lesson, I hope to accomplish three things:

   a. Define the “fear of the Lord”

   b. Point out why the “fear of the Lord” is important to the Christian

   c. Suggest how we can develop a healthy “fear of the Lord” without

      going to one extreme or the other

[We begin by…]

I. DEFINING THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”

   A. THE WORD “FEAR”…

      1. In the Hebrew, the word is “YIR’AH” and is used in the Old

         Testament to describe:

         a. fear, terror

         b. awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear)

         c. fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety

      2. The Greek word is “PHOBOS”, and it is used to describe:

         a. fear, dread, terror

         b. that which strikes terror

   B. IN CONNECTION WITH THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”, IT IS OFTEN DEFINED AS

      “REVERENCE” OR “AWE”…

      1. Which is fine as far as it goes…

      2. But I wonder if this definition truly goes far enough…

      3. For though the terms “reverence” and “awe” imply a place for

         “trembling”, do most people make the connection?

   C. THE “FEAR OF THE LORD” SHOULD INCLUDE A PLACE FOR “TREMBLING”!

      1. Even as Paul indicates in our text, by combining “fear and

         trembling” in our text – Php 2:12

      2. The Greek word for “trembling” is “TROMOS” and means “a

         trembling or quaking with fear”

   D. A PROPER “FEAR OF THE LORD” WOULD THEN INCLUDE…

      1. “reverence and awe…”

      2. “being afraid to offend God in any way” – HENDRICKSEN

      3. A trembling and quaking if one knows they have offended God and

         have not obtained forgiveness! – cf. He 10:26-27, 30-31;

         12:28-29

[The value of such an attitude is seen as we continue on and now

notice…]

II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”

   A. FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS, WE LEARN…

      1. The “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of knowledge – Pr 1:7

      2. The “fear of the Lord” will cause one to hate evil – Pr 8:13

      3. The “fear of the Lord” will prolong life – Pr 10:27

      4. The “fear of the Lord” provides strong confidence and is a

         fountain of life – Pr 14:26-27

      5. The “fear of the Lord” prompts one to depart from evil – Pr

         16:6

      6. The “fear of the Lord” leads to a satisfying life, and spares

         one from much evil – Pr 19:23

      7. The “fear of the Lord” is the way to riches, honor, and life!

         – Pr 22:4

   B. WITHOUT THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”…

      1. We close ourselves to the treasures of God’s wisdom and

         knowledge!

      2. We will flirt with evil and be corrupted by it

      3. Our lives are likely to be shortened by our refusal to heed

         God’s word (e.g., suffering sexually transmitted diseases

         because we did not heed His Word on sexual relationships)

      4. We will not come to know the love of God that gives us

         assurance and confidence of our salvation

      5. When fallen into sin, we will not be motivated to repent and

         turn to God!

      6. We will not be motivated to truly “work out our own salvation”!

[Without the “fear of the Lord”, we cannot please God (cf. Isa 66:1-2).

Only the person who “trembles at His Word” has God’s promise to receive

His tender mercy! (cf. Ps 103:17-18).

But how does one develop the proper “fear of the Lord” without going to

the extreme of earlier generations?]

III. DEVELOPING THE “FEAR OF THE LORD”

   A. THE “FEAR OF THE LORD” COMES THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD!

      1. Just as “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of

         God” (Ro 10:17), the same can be said for the “fear of the

         Lord”!

      2. Notice Deut 31:10-13, where the children of Israel were told to

         gather every seven years to read and hear the Word…

      3. The purpose?  “…that they may learn to fear the Lord”!

      4. As one reads the Word of God, they should gain a healthy degree

         of the “fear of the Lord”

         a. Consider the words of Paul in Ro 2:4-11

         b. Or how about the words of Peter in 2Pe 3:7-14

   B. THE WORD OF GOD, PROPERLY USED, WILL MAINTAIN A PROPER BALANCE…

      1. It is important to emphasize, however, that to avoid extremes,

         we must read ALL of God’s Word

         a. Some read only those portions will reveal God’s love and

            mercy, and have no “fear of the Lord”

         b. Others emphasize the “fire, hell and brimstone” passages,

            and know nothing of God’s everlasting lovingkindness

         c. The one develops an attitude of permissiveness that

            belittles God’s holiness and justice

         d. The other develops a psychosis of terror that forgets God’s

            grace and compassion

      2. Even in the passages noted above, the context of each speaks

         much of God’s grace and forgiveness for those who will repent!

      3. So we must be careful how we use the Word of God, but use it we

         must!

CONCLUSION

1. The Psalmist said…

   God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be

   had in reverence of all [them that are] about him. (Psalms 89:7)

2. Why do we need to “fear the Lord”?  So we will be sure to “work out

   our salvation with fear and trembling”!

3. The warning is necessary, for as it is written in Hebrews:

   1  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of

   entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

   2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but

   the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in

   them that heard [it]. (He 4:1-2)

   And again…

   Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall

   after the same example of unbelief. (He 4:11)

4. With the proper “fear of the Lord”, we will “work out our salvation”,

   we will “labour…to enter into that [heavenly] rest”!

5. And we will not only save ourselves with God’s help, but will also be

   able to “shine as lights in the world”!

   Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse

   ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting

   holiness in the fear of God. (2Co 7:1)

Are you “perfecting holiness in the fear of God”? 1

SHINNING AS LIGHT IN THE WORLD PART 2



“SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”
 
               By Working Out Our Own Salvation (Php 2:12)
 
INTRODUCTION
 
1. Faced with the challenge of living in “the midst of a crooked and
   perverse generation”, it is natural that we wish to react against it
 
2. But how shall we do it?  In our first lesson I suggested that we
   “work out our own salvation” first!
   a. Otherwise, we may jeopardize our own salvation in HOW we react
   b. As I fear many are doing in the way they are trying to change
      others
 
3. In talking about “working out our own salvation”, perhaps a word or
   two is in order before we actually begin…
   a. We should remember that we are “saved by grace through faith, not
      of works” – cf. Ep 2:8-9
   b. But as those saved through faith without meritorious works on our
      part (though we did have to respond to the gospel with its
      conditions of faith, repentance, confession and baptism), we have
      been “created in Christ Jesus for good works”Ep 2:10
   c. As Paul told Titus in Tit 3:1-8
      1) We are to be ready for every good work – 1
      2) Though we were not saved by works of righteousness – 5
      3) But were saved through the mercy of God bestowed in the washing
         of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (a reference to
         baptism) – 5
      4) Therefore those who have believed in God should be careful to
         maintain good works – 8
   d. Why the need to be careful?
      1) Because though we were not saved by good works…
      2) We can lose our salvation if we with God’s help do not produce
         them! (as we see later in this lesson)
 
[How then should those who are saved “not of works” go about “working
out their own salvation”?
 
I would suggest two major thoughts, the first one being…]
 
I. DEVELOP A CHRIST-LIKE “CHARACTER”
 
   A. BY GROWING IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST…
      1. As Peter admonished in 2Pe 3:17-18, as an antidote to
         falling away
      2. In 2Pe 1:5-11 Peter defines what is involved:
         a. Developing “Christ-like” qualities – 5-8
         b. It requires diligence, and an ever-increasing growth in
            these graces – 5,8
         c. To lack these things jeopardizes our entrance into the
            “everlasting kingdom of our Lord” – 9-11
         d. Thus the need for “diligence” on our part! – 5,10
 
   B. BY PUTTING OFF THE OLD MAN, AND PUTTING ON THE NEW MAN…
      1. As Paul wrote in Col 3:1-17 to the Colossians
      2. As we examine this text, we see that it involves…
         a. Setting our minds on things above – 1-4
         b. Stop doing the things upon which God’s wrath is going to
            come one day – 5-9
         c. Putting on the “new man”, which is according to the “image
            of Christ” – 10-11
         d. Developing “Christ-like” qualities – 12-14
         e. Allowing “God’s peace” to rule in thankful hearts – 15
         f. Letting “Christ’s word” to dwell in us richly, through
            singing – 16
         g. Doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus – 17
 
[By developing such Christ-like “character”, we will not only save
ourselves, but we will truly “shine as lights in the world”!
 
And that is because we are simply reflecting in our lives the glory of
Christ that shines in our own hearts.  As Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
 
   5  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and
   ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6  For God, who commanded
   the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to
   [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of
   Jesus Christ. (2Co 4)
 
In our efforts to change others, are we coming across as “preaching
Christ” or “preaching ourselves”?  Developing a Christ-like “character”
will go along way, not only to work out our salvation, but to
effectively preach Christ!
 
In the above passage (2Co 4:5), Paul intimates that in one sense we
ARE to preach ourselves.  That is, as “your SERVANTS for Jesus’ sake”.
 
This leads to our second point as to how we can “work out our own
salvation”; that we…]
 
II. DEVELOP A CHRIST-LIKE “SERVICE”
 
   A. FULFILL YOUR FUNCTION IN THE BODY OF CHRIST…
      1. As Paul admonishes in Ro 12:1-8
      2. We have a “reasonable service” to perform, which is to “prove
         what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” 1-2
      3. To do this effectively…
         a. We need to maintain a proper spirit of humility – 3
         b. We need to remember that the body of Christ has many members
            but they don’t all have the same function – 4-5
         c. We need to exercise whatever “gifts” we have – 6-8
            1) For some it may be a form of teaching
            2) For others it may be a form of serving
 
   B. MINISTER YOUR “GIFT” AS A GOOD STEWARD OF GOD’S MANIFOLD GRACE…
      1. Notice what Peter said in 1Pe 4:10-11
      2. Each person has a “gift” to minister to others – 10
      3. Because God’s grace is “manifold” (multi-faceted), we should
         expect some diversity in our service – 10
      4. But everyone is to be a “good steward”, which means we will one
         day have to answer for what we did – cf. the parable of the
         Talents – Mt 25:14-30
      5. So let us exercise our “gifts” (or service) in such a way as to
         glorify God through Jesus Christ! – 11
 
CONCLUSION
 
1. Much more could be said, but developing a Christ-like “character” and
   “service” will go a long way in “working out our own salvation”
 
2. And “working out our own salvation” in this way will certainly help
   us to “shine as lights in the world”!
 
Are you being “careful to maintain good works”? (Tit 3:8)  Remember
what Paul wrote about Jesus’ death on the cross…
 
   Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity,
   and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good
   Works. (Tit 2:14)
 
Are YOU “zealous of good works”, or did Jesus die in vain in YOUR

SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD

          “SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”

      In The Midst Of A Crooked And Perverse Generation (Php 2:12-16)

INTRODUCTION

1. A grave concern to any thoughtful Christian is how quickly our

   society is changing, and clearly for the worse

2. As some theologians would describe it, we now live in a

   “post-Christian culture”

   a. This simply means that the old norms once held true are no longer

      accepted by the majority

   b. For example, people as a majority once believed in God, that the

      Bible was the Word of God, and that Jesus was the Son of God; but

      such is no longer the case

   c. The majority no longer accepts certain basic principles of

      morality taught in both the Old and New Testament, even ridiculing

      those people who do as “old-fashioned” and “un-enlightened”

3. That we live in a “post-Christian culture” is true both socially and

   religiously

   a. Socially, in that divorce, remarriage, living together without

      marriage, and homosexuality are now commonly accepted as

      “alternative lifestyles”

   b. Religiously, in that women in the role of church leadership,

      homosexual ministers, and various forms of “new age” religions are

      now accepted by many

4. How are Christians to react to this change in our society?

   a. What can we do to change the direction in which our society is

      heading?

      1) Should we form “political action committees” and try to change

         it using the organizational powers of the church?

      2) Should we resort to boycotts, picketing, or other forms of

         “economic blackmail”?

      3) Should we resort to violence, both verbal and physical, if

         necessary?

   b. What can we do to protect ourselves, and our children?

      1) Should we simply change our views to conform to those of

         society?

      2) Should we isolate ourselves, or form communes?

5. I believe that the Scriptures provide the correct answer, in a letter

   written by Paul to a church which, like many others in New Testament

   times, lived in a “PRE-Christian culture”

   a. The letter is the Epistle to the Philippians

   b. Written to Christians living in city heavily influenced by the

      Roman culture, with its paganism, intellectualism, and immorality

   c. What Paul wrote to them, is very likely the sort of things he

      would write today

   d. Especially the things mentioned in Php 2:12-16

6. This lesson is the first in a series designed to notice carefully

   what Paul wrote in this passage

   a. Which I believe contains guidance for Christians living “in the

      midst of a crooked and perverse generation”, whether then or now

   b. Providing directions, hope, and warnings which will help us to

      “shine as lights in the world”

[With this lesson, we shall simply touch upon those things we can glean

from this passage.  In succeeding lessons, we shall develop each point

more thoroughly.

For example, if we are going to shine as lights “in the midst of a

crooked and perverse generation”, we must do so…]

I. BY WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION FIRST! (12a)

   A. AS JESUS PUT IT, “FIRST REMOVE THE PLANK FROM YOUR OWN EYE” – Mt

      7:1-6

      1. This passage, often misused to prevent any proper judging, is

         emphasizing the importance of “getting your own act together

         first”

      2. Notice, that once you have “removed the plank”, you can then

         (and should) be used to “remove the speck” in another’s eye

   B. IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE MAY LOSE OUR SALVATION IN THE WAY WE

      REACT TO OTHERS!

      1. Many people go about trying to change society for the better,

         using methods that will keep themselves out of the kingdom of

         God! – cf. Ga 5:19-21

      2. Paul saw the need to be very careful when trying to save others

         – cf. 1Co 9:27

[How tragic it would be, if when we go around preaching to others, do

it such a way as to “disqualify” ourselves!

We can be more careful, and “shine as lights in the world”, if we do

so…]

II. WITH “FEAR AND TREMBLING” (12b)

   A. THE WORD “FEAR” IN CONNECTION WITH GOD IS NOT POPULAR TODAY…

      1. Perhaps a reaction to the “hell, fire and brimstone” preaching

         of another generation

      2. But could it be that we have gone to the other extreme?

         a. Have we diluted the concept of the “fear of the Lord” by our

            definitions?

         b. To the point there is no place for “trembling” in our

            definition of fear?

      3. Jesus certainly taught the “fear of the Lord” – Mt 10:28

   B. THE NEED TO HAVE PROPER “FEAR AND TREMBLING”…

      1. Without it, it is unlikely we will seriously make the effort to

         “work out our own salvation”

      2. Could this be a reason there is so much apathy and

         fruitlessness in the church today?

[There may be another reason for such fruitlessness; and that is, if we

don’t “shine as lights in the world”…]

III. BY LETTING GOD WORK IN US (13)

   A. TO SUCCEED AS “LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”…

      1. It will be essential to let God do His work, something He is

         able to do beyond our ability to comprehend – Ep 3:20-21

      2. He is there “working in you”! – cf. Php 1:6

      3. How?  Both…

         a. To “will” – helping us in our motivation

         b. To “do” – helping us in our ability

   B. BUT IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE CAN EASILY…

      1. Quench God’s efforts to work in us

      2. Prevent God from using us altogether (at least for doing things

         for our own good)!

[Later, in another lesson, we shall examine how God is at work in us,

and what we can do to promote such activity on His part.

Another important element in our “shining as lights” is that we go

about our task…]

IV. WITHOUT MURMURING AND DISPUTING (14)

   A. BY MAINTAINING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE…

      1. Living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation can

         easily get us down, where we can become constant complainers

      2. But allowing that to happen will render us less effective

      3. And as with Israel, “murmuring” can lead to our own downfall

         – 1Co 10:10-12

   B. BY GETTING ALONG WITH YOUR BRETHREN…

      1. Unity among brethren is extremely important as we try to

         convince the world concerning Jesus – Jn 17:20-23

      2. Disputing with one another simply reveals we have some growing

         up to do! – 1Co 3:1-4

[If the “body of Christ” is going to influence the world the way it

should, it cannot be devouring itself through such destructive forces

like “murmuring” and “disputing” among themselves.

But also important is our relation to those in the world, and that they

truly see us…]

V. AS CHILDREN OF GOD WITHOUT FAULT (15)

   A. WHICH REQUIRES US TO BECOME “BLAMELESS”…

      1. Not that we are perfect, but like elders are to be blameless,

         we are to be “above reproach”

         a. We may be sinners, but we quickly confess our sins and make

            amends when it is called for

         b. We should live in such a way that we have no “outstanding

            faults” that are clearly evident to others

      2. Nothing hinders our ability to “shine as lights” like

         inconsistency and hypocrisy, especially that which is evident

         to all!

   B. IT ALSO REQUIRES US TO BE “HARMLESS”…

      1. Though we may firmly oppose sin in all forms, sinners should

         never fear bodily harm from us! – again cf. 2Ti 2:24-26

      2. Sadly, many so-called “Christians” appear to be using “Old

         Covenant” methods in their efforts to change others, and come

         across as likely to produce great bodily harm!

      3. But as Jesus said, we are to be “wise as serpents and harmless

         as doves” – Mt 10:16

[Finally, if we are to really “shine as lights in the midst of a

crooked and perverse generation”, we must be…]

VI. HOLDING FAST THE WORD OF LIFE (16)

   A. REMEMBER, THE WORD OF GOD IS THE “SWORD OF THE SPIRIT”!

      1. It is the ONLY “offensive weapon” we have in the armor of God

         – Ep 6:10-17

      2. It is the instrument by which the Spirit convicts the world of

         sin, produces repentance and brings about the new birth – cf.

         Jm 1:18; 1Pe 1:23; Ro 1:16

      3. Thus it is truly the “word of life”!

   B. WE MUST BOTH “HOLD FAST” AND “HOLD FORTH” THIS POWERFUL WORD!

      1. Some translations say “hold fast”, others “hold forth”

      2. Both are called for, as we should:

         a. “Hold fast” the word in our own study and application

         b. “Hold forth” the word as we proclaim it to those we are

            trying to change

      3. In this, we would do well to follow the example of Ezra, and

         the order in which he applied himself – cf. Ezra 7:10

         a. To first “seek the Law of the Lord”

         b. Then “to do it”

         c. Finally, “to teach” others

CONCLUSION

1. In these verses, then, I believe we find the way Christians are to

   “shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”

2. It involves…

   a. Working out our own salvation

   b. With fear and trembling

   c. By letting God work in us

   d. Doing things without murmuring and disputing

   e. As children of God without fault

   f. Holding fast the word of life

3. If our ultimate objective is not just changing legislation, but the

   hearts of men to the ways of God, then this is how we can do it!

4. And this is how we will “rejoice in the day of Christ” — and know

   that our own labor will not be in vain! – cf. Php 2:16

We will expand upon these thoughts in succeeding lessons; but for now,

have you given serious thoughts as to how YOU shine in the world…?

          “SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”

      In The Midst Of A Crooked And Perverse Generation (Php 2:12-16)

INTRODUCTION

1. A grave concern to any thoughtful Christian is how quickly our

   society is changing, and clearly for the worse

2. As some theologians would describe it, we now live in a

   “post-Christian culture”

   a. This simply means that the old norms once held true are no longer

      accepted by the majority

   b. For example, people as a majority once believed in God, that the

      Bible was the Word of God, and that Jesus was the Son of God; but

      such is no longer the case

   c. The majority no longer accepts certain basic principles of

      morality taught in both the Old and New Testament, even ridiculing

      those people who do as “old-fashioned” and “un-enlightened”

3. That we live in a “post-Christian culture” is true both socially and

   religiously

   a. Socially, in that divorce, remarriage, living together without

      marriage, and homosexuality are now commonly accepted as

      “alternative lifestyles”

   b. Religiously, in that women in the role of church leadership,

      homosexual ministers, and various forms of “new age” religions are

      now accepted by many

4. How are Christians to react to this change in our society?

   a. What can we do to change the direction in which our society is

      heading?

      1) Should we form “political action committees” and try to change

         it using the organizational powers of the church?

      2) Should we resort to boycotts, picketing, or other forms of

         “economic blackmail”?

      3) Should we resort to violence, both verbal and physical, if

         necessary?

   b. What can we do to protect ourselves, and our children?

      1) Should we simply change our views to conform to those of

         society?

      2) Should we isolate ourselves, or form communes?

5. I believe that the Scriptures provide the correct answer, in a letter

   written by Paul to a church which, like many others in New Testament

   times, lived in a “PRE-Christian culture”

   a. The letter is the Epistle to the Philippians

   b. Written to Christians living in city heavily influenced by the

      Roman culture, with its paganism, intellectualism, and immorality

   c. What Paul wrote to them, is very likely the sort of things he

      would write today

   d. Especially the things mentioned in Php 2:12-16

6. This lesson is the first in a series designed to notice carefully

   what Paul wrote in this passage

   a. Which I believe contains guidance for Christians living “in the

      midst of a crooked and perverse generation”, whether then or now

   b. Providing directions, hope, and warnings which will help us to

      “shine as lights in the world”

[With this lesson, we shall simply touch upon those things we can glean

from this passage.  In succeeding lessons, we shall develop each point

more thoroughly.

For example, if we are going to shine as lights “in the midst of a

crooked and perverse generation”, we must do so…]

I. BY WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION FIRST! (12a)

   A. AS JESUS PUT IT, “FIRST REMOVE THE PLANK FROM YOUR OWN EYE” – Mt

      7:1-6

      1. This passage, often misused to prevent any proper judging, is

         emphasizing the importance of “getting your own act together

         first”

      2. Notice, that once you have “removed the plank”, you can then

         (and should) be used to “remove the speck” in another’s eye

   B. IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE MAY LOSE OUR SALVATION IN THE WAY WE

      REACT TO OTHERS!

      1. Many people go about trying to change society for the better,

         using methods that will keep themselves out of the kingdom of

         God! – cf. Ga 5:19-21

      2. Paul saw the need to be very careful when trying to save others

         – cf. 1Co 9:27

[How tragic it would be, if when we go around preaching to others, do

it such a way as to “disqualify” ourselves!

We can be more careful, and “shine as lights in the world”, if we do

so…]

II. WITH “FEAR AND TREMBLING” (12b)

   A. THE WORD “FEAR” IN CONNECTION WITH GOD IS NOT POPULAR TODAY…

      1. Perhaps a reaction to the “hell, fire and brimstone” preaching

         of another generation

      2. But could it be that we have gone to the other extreme?

         a. Have we diluted the concept of the “fear of the Lord” by our

            definitions?

         b. To the point there is no place for “trembling” in our

            definition of fear?

      3. Jesus certainly taught the “fear of the Lord” – Mt 10:28

   B. THE NEED TO HAVE PROPER “FEAR AND TREMBLING”…

      1. Without it, it is unlikely we will seriously make the effort to

         “work out our own salvation”

      2. Could this be a reason there is so much apathy and

         fruitlessness in the church today?

[There may be another reason for such fruitlessness; and that is, if we

don’t “shine as lights in the world”…]

III. BY LETTING GOD WORK IN US (13)

   A. TO SUCCEED AS “LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”…

      1. It will be essential to let God do His work, something He is

         able to do beyond our ability to comprehend – Ep 3:20-21

      2. He is there “working in you”! – cf. Php 1:6

      3. How?  Both…

         a. To “will” – helping us in our motivation

         b. To “do” – helping us in our ability

   B. BUT IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE CAN EASILY…

      1. Quench God’s efforts to work in us

      2. Prevent God from using us altogether (at least for doing things

         for our own good)!

[Later, in another lesson, we shall examine how God is at work in us,

and what we can do to promote such activity on His part.

Another important element in our “shining as lights” is that we go

about our task…]

IV. WITHOUT MURMURING AND DISPUTING (14)

   A. BY MAINTAINING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE…

      1. Living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation can

         easily get us down, where we can become constant complainers

      2. But allowing that to happen will render us less effective

      3. And as with Israel, “murmuring” can lead to our own downfall

         – 1Co 10:10-12

   B. BY GETTING ALONG WITH YOUR BRETHREN…

      1. Unity among brethren is extremely important as we try to

         convince the world concerning Jesus – Jn 17:20-23

      2. Disputing with one another simply reveals we have some growing

         up to do! – 1Co 3:1-4

[If the “body of Christ” is going to influence the world the way it

should, it cannot be devouring itself through such destructive forces

like “murmuring” and “disputing” among themselves.

But also important is our relation to those in the world, and that they

truly see us…]

V. AS CHILDREN OF GOD WITHOUT FAULT (15)

   A. WHICH REQUIRES US TO BECOME “BLAMELESS”…

      1. Not that we are perfect, but like elders are to be blameless,

         we are to be “above reproach”

         a. We may be sinners, but we quickly confess our sins and make

            amends when it is called for

         b. We should live in such a way that we have no “outstanding

            faults” that are clearly evident to others

      2. Nothing hinders our ability to “shine as lights” like

         inconsistency and hypocrisy, especially that which is evident

         to all!

   B. IT ALSO REQUIRES US TO BE “HARMLESS”…

      1. Though we may firmly oppose sin in all forms, sinners should

         never fear bodily harm from us! – again cf. 2Ti 2:24-26

      2. Sadly, many so-called “Christians” appear to be using “Old

         Covenant” methods in their efforts to change others, and come

         across as likely to produce great bodily harm!

      3. But as Jesus said, we are to be “wise as serpents and harmless

         as doves” – Mt 10:16

[Finally, if we are to really “shine as lights in the midst of a

crooked and perverse generation”, we must be…]

VI. HOLDING FAST THE WORD OF LIFE (16)

   A. REMEMBER, THE WORD OF GOD IS THE “SWORD OF THE SPIRIT”!

      1. It is the ONLY “offensive weapon” we have in the armor of God

         – Ep 6:10-17

      2. It is the instrument by which the Spirit convicts the world of

         sin, produces repentance and brings about the new birth – cf.

         Jm 1:18; 1Pe 1:23; Ro 1:16

      3. Thus it is truly the “word of life”!

   B. WE MUST BOTH “HOLD FAST” AND “HOLD FORTH” THIS POWERFUL WORD!

      1. Some translations say “hold fast”, others “hold forth”

      2. Both are called for, as we should:

         a. “Hold fast” the word in our own study and application

         b. “Hold forth” the word as we proclaim it to those we are

            trying to change

      3. In this, we would do well to follow the example of Ezra, and

         the order in which he applied himself – cf. Ezra 7:10

         a. To first “seek the Law of the Lord”

         b. Then “to do it”

         c. Finally, “to teach” others

CONCLUSION

1. In these verses, then, I believe we find the way Christians are to

   “shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”

2. It involves…

   a. Working out our own salvation

   b. With fear and trembling

   c. By letting God work in us

   d. Doing things without murmuring and disputing

   e. As children of God without fault

   f. Holding fast the word of life

3. If our ultimate objective is not just changing legislation, but the

   hearts of men to the ways of God, then this is how we can do it!

4. And this is how we will “rejoice in the day of Christ” — and know

   that our own labor will not be in vain! – cf. Php 2:16

We will expand upon these thoughts in succeeding lessons; but for now, have you given serious thoughts as to how YOU shine in the world.