Lights In The World ē Philippians 2:14-15

I.†† INTRODUCTION

A.Sam & Jed

1.†† Some years ago, an organization offered a $5,000 bounty for each wolf captured alive

2.†† So Sam and Jed turned into fortune hunters.

a.†† they packed up some gear, bought some traps

b.†† and headed into the forest

3.†† For several days they saw no evidence of wolves and fell asleep one night exhausted

4.In the middle of the night Sam awoke to hear the sound of growling

5.†† He turned on his flashlight on discovered that they were surrounded by dozens of wolves with flaming eyes and barred teeth

6.†† He nudged his friend and said, ďJed, wake up Ė weíre rich!Ē

B.Attitude

1.†† Charles Swindoll has some good insights about the importance and power of our attitude in his book, Strengthening Your Grip

2.†† He writes . . .

Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life.The longer I live, the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90- percent how we respond to it.

I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day to day basis is my choice of attitude.It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failure, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position.Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress.It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope.When my attitude is right, thereís no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.

3.†† Paul speaks to us about our attitude in our passage this morning . . .

II.TEXT

A.Vs. 14-15

14Do all things without murmuring and disputing,

15that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

1.†† These verses lie in the midst of a portion of the letter in which Paul is calling the Philippians to live out what they in fact, are

2.†† They are saved, so they must lived saved lives

3.†† He hesitates none at all in calling them to follow his example

4.†† And the example he gives us in this letter is one of supreme joy, in spite of his circumstances

a.†† Paul was in prison in Rome; and prison at that time was no Club Fed

b.†† it was incredibly difficult to be incarcerate in an ancient prison

5.†† Yet throughout the letter, Paul is rejoicing!

a.†† his joy in Christ is so great it cannot be contained within the walls of his cell

b.†† as we saw last week Ė Paul isnít even concerned about whatís going to happen to him - released, executed

c.†† all that mattered to him was how he would live; right now, today

d.†† he wanted to make sure that no matter what happened to him, he would live boldly and without shame for the glory of God and the good of others

6.†† And now, in these verses, as he calls the Philippians to live outwardly what they are inwardly, he reminds them that their attitude is an all important part of how they will live

7.†† So he tells them . . .

14Do all things without murmuring and disputing,

15that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

B.Stop Complaining!

1.†† On the opposite side of the spectrum from a joyful spirit is the attitude that is always complaining

2.†† Paul says, ďLet all your living be marked by freedom from complaint.Ē

a.†† ďDonít grumble and murmur your way through the day.Ē

b.†† ďAnd donít fall into endless debates and disputes with others.Ē

3.†† Iím sure we all know people like that Ė I call them Darth Vaders; people who are always looking on the dark side

4.†† They seem to constantly be murmuring

a.†† they grumble about everything

b.†† no matter what it is, theyíre able to find fault and something negative

5.†† The Greek word actually sounds like what it is it means

a.†† itís the word ďgoggusmoss Ė gong-goos-mosĒ

b.†† in Greek, grumbling would sound like . . .

c.†† in English; ďmur-mur-mur-murĒ Ė same thing

6.†† Some people just love to complain it seems

7.†† One morning a man came down to breakfast and told his wife he wanted two eggs -- one fried, one scrambled.

a.†† without comment, the long-suffering woman cooked each egg to his specifications and then quietly put the plate in front of him.

b.†† "Oh no!" he groaned, pushing it away."You've fried the wrong egg."

8.†† Disputing is that contentious kind of wrangling that wants to pick a verbal fight with everyone

a.†† in both the Old and New Testaments, this word is usually associated with envy and pride

Prov. 13:10By pride comes nothing but strife

b.†† in Mark 9 we read how the disciples disputed among themselves over who would be greatest in the Kingdom

c.†† the one who likes to dispute is the one who values his own opinion more than anything else

d.†† wisdom, knowledge, and experience mean little to him

e.†† whatís more important and valuable, as far as heís concerned, is his own thoughts

f.††† so whenever someone says or does something, heís there to play the critic and to say that he could do it better or at least he knows someone who could do it better

9.†† Complainers take the joy out of life Ė not only their own, but those around them too.

10.Proverbs 15 says . . .

17Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred.

18A wrathful man stirs up strife, But he who is slow to anger allays contention.

a.†† you can be sitting at a table that is spread with a plate of choice prime rib, baked potato packed with butter, sour cream, bacon and cheddar cheese, and a nice crisp Caesar salad,

b.†† but if across the table from you is a bitter, angry, grumbling complainer, the meal willlose itís appeal Ė it will taste sour

c.†† conversely, all you may have before you is a plate ofchili-cheese fries, but if the person across from you is joyous and the two of you are in one accord, those fries will taste fantastic!

11.Paul says,

14Do all things without murmuring and disputing,

12†† Why?Because as Christians, we are to be like Jesus, and Jesus didnít grumble and complain

a.†† He could have

b.†† if there was ever anyone who had the right to complain, it was Him!

c.†† after all, what He deserved as mankindís worship and service; what He got was rejection and abuse

13.And Jesus refused to get in to debates

a.†† when the religious leaders came to Him and tried to embroil Him in some controversy so as to get Him in trouble, Jesus refused to play their game

b.†† I mean think of it Ė Jesus could have engaged every single so called expert on every subject in the entire world and showed each and every one of them where they were wrong, and then made them look like complete idiots

c.†† but he didnít

d.†† He spoke the truth and moved on

e.†† people could either accept it or not Ė but Jesus would not get caught up in a shouting match

14.We are to follow His example, and the example of the Apostle Paul

15.We are to live without complaint and without contentions

16.People usually complain because of their circumstances

a.†† they believe that life owes them happiness

b.†† and when circumstances conspire to deny them happiness, they complain

c.†† happiness is dependent on what ďhappenĒ

d.†† God wants to give us something deeper, something more substantial and less changeable than happiness

e.†† in fact, that ďsomethingĒ God wants to give is the theme of this letter = Joy!

f.††† while happiness is dependent on our circumstances, joy is dependent on God, and so it is unshakeable

17.Paul could be joyous in prison because he knew that while he had no control over his circumstances, God did Ė and God loved him and had pledged Himself to Paulís salvation

18.When we murmur and complain, we deny the sovereignty and love of God

a.†† to grumble is to criticize God

b.†† it is to call His goodness into question

c.†† it is to tell God that He is doing a lousy job of running the universe and that we can do better

19.When we become contentious and want to straighten everybody else out, weíre saying weíre smarter than everyone else and we ought to be looked to as the answer.

20.Christian Ė donít go there!

21.Stop complaining and debating

22.A man decided to join a monastery and one of the rules of the order was that you were only allowed to speak two words every ten years.

a.†† at the end of the first ten years he said, "Bad food!"

b.†† ten more years went by and he said, "Hard bed!"

c.†† finally, on his 30th anniversary with the brothers in attendance he thundered, "I quit!"

d.†† at this the priest in charge said, "You might as well. All youíve done since you got here is complain."

23.Generally, we donít have control over our circumstances, but we do have complete control over our attitude

a.†† we decide how we are going to react to what life throws at us

b.†† I am amazed at what a young Fanny Crosby, the great hymn writer, wrote when she was a mere 8 years old

c.†† Crosby was smitten with blindness while a youngster, yet wrote . . .

O what a happy soul I am!

Although I cannot see,

I am resolved that in this world

Contented I will be;

How many blessings I enjoy

That other people donít!

To weep and sigh because Iím blind

I cannot, and I wonít.

24.Victory Frankl was a Jew who survived the horrors of Nazi Germany

a.†† he even spent several months in the hell of Auschwitz

b.†† years later, as he reflected back on life in the death camps he came to realize the incredible power of oneís attitude

c.†† many people refused accept what was happening to them; they lived in a state of perpetual shock and as a result lost touch with reality

d.†† others gave up as soon as they arrived in camp, and died a short time later

e.†† others cursed God and grew so bitter they spent their days in constant complaint

f.††† then there were the few, who realized that while they had no control over their circumstances, they at least had control over how they would react to those circumstances.

g.†† the Naziís might imprison their bodies, but they could not imprison their souls

h.†† they found freedom in choosing their own attitude Ė and they chose to make the best of each day

i.††† they began to live for others, and made it their mission to bring light to the darkness instead of just cursing it

j.††† many of those survived their ordeal

25.While I was putting my notes together for this message on Friday, Frank Slaughter came up to my office and sat in the chair next to my desk

a.†† he had just left the doctorís office where they had told him that a recent test had discovered he has a lime sized spot on his lung

b.†† this next week, after more doctors have had a chance to take a look at the tests, they will tell him what they want to do

c.†† but it looks like they will have to go in and do a biopsy to see if itís lung cancer

d.†† Ed asked for prayer Ė but you know what he was most concerned about?

1) his loved ones; his wife and kids

2) he didnít sit there and demand that I give him reasons for why God would let this happen to him

3) he didnít complain and grumble about Godís love and goodness

4) he said, ďIf this is it, Iíve lived a full 68 years.Ē

26.Ed Slaughter is a Christian!

a.†† and Christians donít complain,

b.†† they donít grumble and murmur and get caught up in all kinds of endless arguments

27.The faith they have in Jesus Christ for eternal life and the hope of heaven is a faith that spills over into this life, today and the needs of earth.

C.Lights

14Do all things without murmuring and disputing,

15that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

1.†† When by faith, we rise above our circumstances and maintain our joy in Christ, it leaves the world little to blame us for

a.†† what are they going to accuse us of?

b.†† being joyful?

c.†† what harm can we do if we arenít polluting the air with grumbling and contentions?

2.†† What Paul is doing here is setting the Christian alongside the world

a.†† since the best the world can know is happiness and happiness depends on what happens

b.†† then the world will be unhappy

c.†† why?Because the world is crooked and perverse; itís twisted and everything is distorted

d.†† consequently, life doesnít really work in the world

e.†† on a new car, everything fits snugly

1) all the doors close and seal

2) the trunk and hood all fit perfectly

3) everything opens and closes as itís supposed to

f.††† but if you crunch that car between a armored car and a semi, no matter how much time the body shop spends on it, things will ever be the same

1) the frame has been twisted

2) every panel has been crunched

3) now the doors wonít close tight and the glove box drops open of itís own accord

4) driving it over 50 mph causes it to start shimmying; over 60 and it feels like itís going to fly apart!

g.†† sin has twisted this world and torn it apart

1) no amount of therapy and worldly wisdom can ever put it back together again

2) this world is crooked and perverse

3) and while people live by itís rules, the best they will know are fleeting glimpses of happiness

4) like the faint scent of a sweet perfume you smell at the mall

5) itís there but a moment Ė and then itís gone, leaving you felling cheated because all it does is tease you

6) thatís this life without Christ

7) thatís the pursuit of happiness

3.†† Christ came to give us something better

4.†† And as we live in Him, trusting in His love and goodness, we stand straight in a crooked world

5.†† Like lights in the dark

III. CONCLUSION

A.Lights In The Dark

1.†† Go out at night and look into the sky

2.†† You will see many stars

3.†† Some are bright; they donít twinkle at all because they are so big and so close that their light is unwavering

4.†† Others are so weak and so distant that youíre not even really sure itís there

5.†† At certain times, one of the planets of our solar system will cross the might sky and then it appears as an especially bright star, but itís a planet, and itís brilliance is due to the light of our sun reflecting off it

6.†† What kind of a light are you in the darkness of this world?

a.†† are you one of those twinkling little dwarves on the edges of sight?

b.†† or are you a planet, in orbit around Jesus, boldly reflecting His glory

7.†† The answer to that, is largely answered by what kind of attitude you have in life

8.†† The more you complain, the weaker your light

9.†† The more you rejoice in Christ, the brighter you shine

B.Reflecting His Glory

1.†† In a tenement district in New York City, where the apartments are so close together the sunlight rarely gets in the windows, a young boy was playing with a piece of broken mirror

a.†† he was standing in an open area, catching the sunlight on the mirror and then angling it so that it reflected into a window several stories above him.

b.†† a man who was passing by saw him and thinking the boy was disturbing someone asked,

c.†† "What are you doing? Up to no good Iíll betĒ

d.†† the boy looked up into the stern face of his accuser and said, "See that window up there?Thatís my little brotherís room.He's a cripple, and the only sunlight he ever sees is what I shine up to him with my mirror!"

2.†† Christian, you may be the only Son of God light the lost around you ever see

3.†† Donít hide your light under a basket of murmuring and complaining

4.†† Donít filter your light through the shade of angry disputes and endless arguments

5.†† Let it shine in the fullness of a heart that is free in Christ!