Month: April 2020

Philippians Sermon Notes Week 06

The Secret of Contagious Joy

Having the Mind of Christ Part 2

(Philippians 2:5-11)

Two little guys were arguing at breakfast over the last pancake. Mom broke the conflict up and said, “Now boys you remember what we learned about the way Jesus thought? Do you think that Jesus would argue over the pancake? No He would let His brother have the pancake. Now I need you to be like Jesus to each other and do what He would do.” The boys were quiet for a moment, staring each other down. Then the older brother looked at the younger and said, “You be Jesus first.”

We need to be Jesus to each other. And we need to go first.

Paul’s appeal to the Philippians applies equally to us today. He didn’t leave what that would mean in the area of theory. We are to outwardly show the inward and hidden mind of Christ, which you have if you’re a Christian. Having it, however, does not mean we are perfectly showing it!

You know we miss the joy of the Lord sometimes precisely because we look for it in all the wrong places. We look for it as we grasp selfishly, and live proudly, and refuse to give ourselves sacrificially in service to others. A selfish, proud man who will not love His wife sacrificially is a death sentence to his marriage.

Selfishness, pride, and an unwillingness to give ourselves freely should not characterize us if we’re Christians. Now we will no doubt occasionally slip back into these from time to time. After all, they are our default mode! We still live with a fallen nature.

The Bible doesn’t just show us how Jesus lived and what He, but it takes us inside how He thought. And then it says, “When you think this way, and then you’ll live the same way.” If we are not acting this way, it’s a thinking problem. And we must be willing to have our minds renewed. How often? Well every time we start living and thinking in the flesh again. “The mind set (same word) on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”

How does that look? Well, three things we learned last week. The mind of Christ (or “mindset” of Christ) leads us first to be unselfish…considering the interests of others first.


Jesus “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” Jesus had a good thing going in heaven. Jesus didn’t come to earth to become God. He was eternally God before He came. “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich” we read in 2 Corinthians 8.

This One Who is Deity, was Deity, and will always be Deity—the second person of the Trinity—had eternal wealth and power and wisdom and strength and angels worshiping Him constantly. He was enthroned in glory, but He gave that up unselfishly, seeking the interests of His Father and our interests before His own.

We had nothing to motivate Jesus to act unselfishly toward us. We are not unselfish people by nature. Anything but, actually. Now that said, there are some folks who seem to be less selfish than others; who are more generous and philanthropic. But that is not the kind of radical unselfishness Jesus demonstrated for us.

Recently there was a picture on Twitter that demonstrated something of this. A twelve year old girl was having trouble with her math homework, and so she emailed her teacher. He came to her home with a whiteboard, knelt down on her front porch and taught her through the door! He didn’t say “good luck” or “come to my front porch.” This teacher would have been paid the same to stay home. He didn’t have to risk his health or give up his free time to help this little student out. He had nothing to gain, but the satisfaction of getting to help.

We couldn’t comprehend God. We couldn’t solve our sin problem, and didn’t know enough to know we were in real, eternal trouble. A person unawaken to their sinfulness is like a person infected with the coronavirus but is not aware that something is terribly wrong inside them.

But Jesus, Who was equal with God, Who in fact WAS “the fullness of the godhead bodily,” gave that up to be born as a Jewish man, and He came and knelt before us and gave us a picture of Who God is. He washed His disciple’s dirty feet. He served the least deserving.

The mind of Christ leads us to live unselfishly. Even when it’s hard; ESPECIALLY when it’s hard. We are to have an unselfish attitude (mindset) even toward people who are selfish by nature.


You know it may sound strange, but the Bible says that Jesus, “for the joy set before Him” went to the cross. Sometimes there are hard things we have to endure. But even hard times don’t stop the joy Jesus gives us.

He did not count equality with God something to be clung to. He unselfishly gave up His rights to be worshiped, to be honored, to be adored as He was in Heaven and He stepped onto earth as an infant.
RG Lee, the great Southern Baptist evangelist, used to say, “Jesus was as much God as God is God, and as much man as man is man.”

I know some critics have claimed that Jesus never directly claimed to be God, but let’s understand that when Jesus was tried by the Jews He was being tried for blasphemy. They understood that He was making a claim to be God, and they wanted Him crucified for it. 3 reactions to Jesus: Hate Him, run from Him, follow Him. But you can’t “like” Him.

We are remembering the HUMILITY of Christ as we think about and reflect on His dying. I think, of all the qualities of Christ we need to be looking for in our lives, humility is the one thing (my opinion) that God values most. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” The death of Jesus, the obedience of Jesus shown by the humiliation and shame of the cross, is the extreme illustration of Christ’s humbling Himself. Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” The mind of Christ is a mind of humility.


Jesus “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

We see some amazing illustrations of sacrifice in our world today in the self-giving we are seeing in our medical communities. Doctors and nurses are risking their lives just by showing up for work. Yet they serve even knowing it may cost their lives.

These sacrifices point us to the One Who said, “No man takes my life from Me, I give it to them.” You know it’s one thing for us to see these amazing folks giving as they are, but let me ask you a question. If a patient showed up one day that the doctor knew; let’s say a guy that he had recently found out was having an affair with his wife.

So ideally that wouldn’t change the doctor’s treatment of this patient. But now, this man who took the doctor’s wife has the virus and treating him may cost this doctor his life. Would he give up his health and maybe his very life to care for one who was an enemy?

What is unique about Jesus’ sacrifice is that EVERY PERSON He died for was an enemy! “But God demonstrated His love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were enemies (at enmity) with God, He sacrificed Himself for us.

There will be countless ways, I believe, for us to show a sacrificial attitude. But for the Christian, there should be no hesitance here. We have the mind of Christ! A mind that forgives; that loves even when love isn’t returned; that shows the best when others show their worst.

We should not shrink back when we are called to give everything for the sake of the Kingdom. In his book The Insanity of Sacrifice, missiologist Nik Ripken wrote,

It is one thing to read about God’s people in other times and other places who have sacrificed in obedience to God. It is another thing altogether to imagine that God would expect the same of us. But why would God exempt us from the same sacrifice that He has required from His people throughout history? God will do anything—ask for anything—demand anything . . . to fulfill His purpose. He even sent His only Son to fulfill His purpose. And when that Son arrived, He declared the purpose of God clearly and openly: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). That is the purpose of God: to seek and to save the lost, for His glory. As the people of God, it is both our privilege and our calling to embrace and share in God’s purpose. In fact, the very reason for our existence is to join God in His work.

These three attitudes: unselfishness, humility, and sacrifice should mark us as Christians. The verses we have briefly examined show a perfect picture of all three.


“Therefore,” Philippians 2:9 begins. “Therefore,” looking back on all that was written in verses 6-8; Christ’s self-emptying, His refusing to “grasp” the privileges of Deity, His becoming a servant (doulos: slave), His becoming obedient to the death of crucifixion; all of that is included and summarized in THEREFORE.

THEREFORE God has “super-exalted Him.” Jesus stepped down into human existence, occupying a lowly human body. He became man and yet never ceased being fully God.

Of all the world religions and philosophies that people have followed, NONE regards the material, physical world as highly as Christianity. Eastern religions as a whole reject the material world as an illusion. Greco-Western religions regard matter as evil.

Neither religions of the East or the West could have imagined a statement like the Hymn to Christ that is found in Philippians 2:6-11.

That God became a man…not for a little while, but reigns forever in a human, though exalted and resurrected body!

THEREFORE God has exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every Name…

“There is no other Name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved, “ we read in Acts. Jesus has a Name that excels and exceeds every Name that could be named.

It is before Jesus that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that HE IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father. Every knee, every tongue, in every language…for the first time since Babel every tongue will speak the Name of Jesus together!

The confession, JESUS IS LORD, has been for two millennia the confession by which men and women, boys and girls are saved. No other Name will do. No other Name can suffice. No other Name but the Name of Jesus.

This confession requires two things:

  1. It requires CONVICTION. We must be convinced in our hearts that Jesus is indeed Lord of our lives. He is God, as He claimed to be. When the disciples said “Jesus is Lord,” they did not confuse what they meant. The Greek word “kurios” (Lord) was used in the Greek Old Testament translation to translate the word “Yahweh,” which is the Hebrew name for God. Over 1600 times this term was used. For the apostles who wrote the New Testament, this would have been the Old Testament translation they were most familiar with. For them, saying “Jesus is Lord” was claiming “Jesus is God.”
  2. If Jesus Christ is God, as the Bible claims He is, then this requires of us a second thing: COMMITMENT. Our conviction of Who He is must be followed by our COMMITMENT of everything to Him. You cannot casually “like” Jesus. People didn’t just “like” Him. Some people hated Him, and wanted Him dead. Some feared Him, and fled. But some fell at His feet and called Him Lord and God.

If Jesus Christ is Lord, then that confession demands “our soul, our life, our all,” to paraphrase the old hymn. It leaves us no quarter. We despise Him, we flee from Him and hide in claims of atheism and intellectual arguments to prove His claims wrong, or we fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.

But you can’t just “like” Him. That option is not open.

He is Lord, He is Lord
He is risen from the dead and He is Lord
Every knee will bow, every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord

As We Move Forward…


We continue to monitor official updates regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19 as it impacts Fruit Cove and our community. All regularly scheduled on-campus ministry and programming events remain suspended until further notice. If you are not receiving regular email updates from us use the Connection Card to request being added to our email list.

Sunday Worship Plans

  • Facebook Live and LiveStream will air at 9:30 am and 11 am
  • Listen live on radio 94.1 FM (Jax Country) at 9:30 am and 100.7 FM (The Promise) at 11 am
  • NEW Download Fruit Cove KIDS listening guide here
  • NEW Fruit Cove Worship Spotify playlist here

Sunday School Plans

  • Use this the in-home teaching guide for personal Bible study or to guide your family
  • Weekly guides will be posted by Friday and can be found at Fruit Cove Sunday School
  • If you would like to connect with one of our Sunday School classes that are meeting via Zoom email Jonathan Wilson

NEW Community “Thanks” Initiative  

  • As a church we want to reach out to the Medical, Law Enforcement, and Fire/Rescue personnel in our area to let them know we appreciate them and are praying for them as they are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. We’d love for your class to be activated and mobilized to focus on Medical, Law Enforcement, and Fire/Rescue Personnel in our area. To maximize our resources class assignments have been made, but if there are existing relationships your class has with a specific hospital or fire station please continue in that direction:
  • Focus on Medical personnel at local hospitals/ERs. Ask class members and their families to write notes of encouragement and thank you cards to hospital/ER staff teams…mail or drop them off in person.
    • [9:30am classes that meet in the ROC buidling] Baptist Medical Center South, 14550 Old Saint Augustine Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32258
    • [9:30 classes that meet anywhere BUT the ROC building] Baptist Medical Center, 800 Prudential Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32207
    • [11am classes that meet in the ROC building] St Vincents Southside, 4201 Belfort Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32216
    • [11am classes that meet anywhere BUT the ROC building] Memorial Hospital, 3625 University Blvd S, Jacksonville, FL 32216
  • Focus on Law Enforcement. Cards and notes from your class families would mean a lot to these guys! For classes with families that include younger kids ask them to send some artwork as well!
    • NW SJSO 725 Flora Branch Blvd, Saint Johns, FL 32259
    • Main SJSO 4015 Lewis Speedway Rd, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
  • Focus on Fire/Rescue personnel in our area. Cards, notes, dropping off snacks/food are just a few ideas.
    • [9:30am classes that meet in the ROC buidling] Jax Fire and Rescue Station 42…2948 Delor Dr Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL 32223 (Off of San Jose in Mandarin)
    • [9:30 classes that meet anywhere BUT the ROC building] Jax Fire and Rescue Station 62…14279 Bartram Park Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32258
    • [11am classes that meet in the ROC building] St Johns County Fire and Rescue Station 2…1120 Sheffield Rd, Saint Johns, FL 32259(Off of SR 13)
    • [11am classes that meet anywhere BUT the ROC building] St Johns County Fire and Rescue Station 17…10001 Cartwheel Bay Ave, 10001 Cartwheel Bay Ave (Off of 210)
NOTE: Ask class members to sign their names, put the name of your class and Fruit Cove Baptist Church. If class members are unable to get out for stamps, cards/letters can be dropped off at the church for mailing. Just make sure envelopes are addressed and marked “needs postage”.

MidWeek@Home Plans

  • MidWeek options for children, students and adults will be posted at MidWeek@Home

I Need Help

  • If you find yourself in need of an encouraging phone call, urgent supplies or a personal shopper for a grocery store run contact us at and we’ll see how we can help

How Can I Help?

  • Prepare to minister to fellow church members and neighbors, especially those who are older. If you live beside or are in close contact with families who have high-risk individuals in their homes, reach out to see if they need anything. Maybe that means offering to pick up supplies on your next trip to the store or dropping off some food if they’re unable to get out.
  • Look for opportunities to share the gospel. When conversations of fear and uncertainty arise with neighbors, talk about the hope you have in Jesus. Many people are looking for answers that only He can provide. Click on our Jesus link for help in communicating the Good News!
  • Here’s an easy way to let your neighbors know you are there to help. Print this out as a postcard or full sheet and place in mailboxes or on doors of homes on your street
  • Download the Help Postcard

How Can I Pray?

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” As believers, we can trust that God brings triumph in our trials. As believers, we have the authority through Christ to pray against the spread of any disease and to pray for healing for those who have the Coronavirus.

  • Begin your prayer time by praising God for His sovereignty. He still is and always will be in control of all things. Pray that we will trust Him to help us navigate this season of uncertainty.
  • Pray for wisdom for government leaders, the CDC, researchers, other medical personnel, and leaders in churches and other strategic places to respond wisely and appropriately.
  • Pray for the protection of doctors, nurses, crisis response teams, emergency first responders, researchers and other medical professionals who risk their lives to protect ours.
  • Pray for comfort and healing for those stricken with this virus. Pray they will receive the quality health care they need to regain health and strength. Pray for their healing and for a vaccine to cure and eradicate this virus.
  • Pray for peace and calmness, as well as freedom from fear, anxiety, and panic among individuals and communities.
  • Pray that we would be proactive in proclaiming the gospel and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Pray that this event would be a catalyst for revival in Northeast Florida and around the world.

Continue to give 

  • Fruit is a generous church and we want to demonstrate our faith by giving in this time of crisis
  • The funds given help us to minister to many local, national and international agencies who will bring relief to those affected by Coronavirus.
  • You can send your tithes/offerings to 501 SR 13-St Johns FL-32259, stop by the church office and drop an envelope through office foyer door mail slot, or  Give Online

Daily Video Updates

Look for daily video updates posted by our staff team members on Facebook and Instagram.

Philippians Sermon Notes Week 05


Having the Mind of Christ, Part One

(Philippians 2:1-5)

A first grader was sitting with his family at the dinner table when he did the unpardonable:  He sneezed into his hands.  Right after the blessing.  Then he wiped them on his pants, and started to eat his macaroni and cheese.  Mom said, “Uh-uh young man.  You have germs on your hands now and you need to go to the bathroom and wash them.” He pushed away from the table, and stomped off to the bathroom muttering, “Jesus and germs, Jesus and germs.  That’s all I ever hear about around here and I can’t see either one of them!”

Well I hope this finds your home life less stressful than that!  Hopefully you’re seeing moments of joy break through even in the chaos of these days.

Let’s remember that we’re not just talking about ordinary joy here.  Ordinary joy comes to everyone at times if we’ll look for it:  the joy of playing with our kids or grandkids; of enjoying a good meal or watching a beautiful sunset.  These are gifts, and these are good.  But the quality of Christian joy is something more.

We are talking about embracing the joy that Jesus said “I give to you…” in John 15:11.  This is a joy that stays with you, regardless.  It’s the joy that helps you sing songs in the midnight of a prison cell or in your living room or a hospital room in the middle of a coronavirus outbreak.

We know that Paul had that kind of contagious joy.  We want to understand how to have a joy that will not be taken from us…a joy that Jesus had even as He faced the cross and His passion in Jerusalem.

The “hinge point” of this text and THE BIG IDEA of Philippians 2 revolves around verse 5:  “Have this mind in yourself that was also in Christ Jesus…”   If we don’t learn to think like Christ we will never know His joy.  If we want His joy that can’t be taken from us, we must embrace:

Now even as I write this, I am in a conversation with a person online about the frustration of social distancing.   Figuring out how to “embrace” the body in this time is tricky to say the least.  I know many watching would love nothing more than to be on our campus today.

But let’s remember that Paul was not physically with the Philippian church when he wrote this.   He was “socially distanced” in a jail cell hundreds of miles from them.   Let’s remember also that, in many places in the world today, contact between believers is illegal if not impossible due to persecution.

I will never forget the Iranian pastor who asked a group of believers gathered in Turkey for a time of learning, and prayer and encouragement, to please sing loud when we sing.  In Iran, small groups of believers gather in apartments for worship.  They have to whisper their songs, out of concern that their neighbors will hear and report them.  “Sing loud for us.”  Even isolation can’t keep us from worship!

But what Paul gives us in the first two verses are things that make Christian community strong and healthy, even when we can’t be physically with each other.

  • First, he speaks of ENCOURAGEMENT IN CHRIST
  • Next, he talks about COMFORT FROM LOVE
  • Then, PARTICIPATION (fellowship) IN THE SPIRIT.  “If any man…”
  • Followed by AFFECTION AND SYMPATHY (over 100 widows)
  • And finally, WALKING IN HARMONY

You know it’s interesting that all of these drain down to one bucket:  We are to be in unity, in harmony, walking in love.  Jesus said, “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). (Or Jim).   These verses tell us what that love looks like.  Joy comes when we embrace the body of Christ.  It is this that “completes our joy.”   

Until we embrace the MIND of Christ, we will not know the JOY of Christ.   Paul locates everything he’s said and is about to say “in Christ.”  If there is any encouragement IN CHRIST…  Christian joy requires a healthy relationship with Christ and with the body.

Christians are called to ACT like Christ.   Acting like Christ means we first begin THINKING like Christ.  If you or someone you know ACTS like the devil it’s because they are THINKING like the devil.   The enemy, by nature, is SELFISH, PROUD, and SELF SEEKING and when those attitudes characterize our lives, we are thinking the wrong way.

The mind of Christ, in other words, bears three fruits or life attitudes

  • Unselfish
  • Humble
  • Sacrificial

Paul refers to the MIND (lit. “Mind set”) three different times in the first five verses of Philippians 2.   There is a connection between how we THINK and what we DO.  If we are “like-minded,” we will have “the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”   Our fellowship as believers with each other and with Christ is rooted in how we think.


Our THINKING precedes our ACTING.  We will act exactly like we think…no more and no less.   I’ve been reading a book lately called The God-Shaped Brain.  What would our brains; our minds look like if they had not been distorted by sin?   How would our thinking, and then our acting and living be different?  How would we think if we thought like God created us to think?   “The mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” (Romans)

Part of what begins the moment we are redeemed is a process the Bible calls “the renewing of our minds.”  Think of it as a sort of rewiring of our brains; of our neural pathway and thought processes.  We all live with loose wiring and misplaced connections because of sin, and because we are born into and grow up in and live in an environment of sin.  Sin actually physically rewires our brains.  (PORN)

The God Who created you and wired up the three trillion plus nerve endings when He “knit you together in your mother’s womb” to begin with knows how to reconnect them properly.  But it doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s a process that we must cooperate with as we read God’s Word and stop believing lies that are hard-wired into us and then allow this process to transform us into thinking and then acting like Jesus.

“Let this mind (set); this attitude be in you which was also in Christ…”  Our attitudes are a reflection of how we think.  In a sense, the way we look at others is like looking at ourselves in a mirror.  These attitudes are characteristics of a God-shaped brain.



If we are selfish, we will be suspicious of others.  If we are of a generous nature, we will be more trusting.  If we are honest with ourselves, we are less likely to anticipate deceit in others.  If we are inclined to be fair, we won’t always feel we’re being cheated.  Looking at others is like looking at ourselves in a mirror.  In other words, if you want to know how you think, ask yourself what you think about when you think about other people.

When you look in that mirror, what do you see?  Do you see the things that reflect the attitude; the mindset of Christ?


Are you humble, or are you constantly seeking to exalt yourself?

Are you unselfish, or are you mainly concerned with what you want no matter what happens to others?

Are you sacrificial, or are you more concerned with losing or protecting your privilege… your possessions… or your life?

Now I can imagine some of you asking, ‘Ok Pastor.  I’m going to throw a flag here.  We’re in a crisis!  I have to take care of me and mine, don’t I?  I mean, on most days I’m a reasonably humble, unselfish, and sacrificial person.  But we are in a state of war right now!  Surely we get a pass on this don’t we?  How do we survive when everyone else is pushing themselves, protecting themselves, and not being sacrificial?


How would Jesus think about this present time we are in?  What would Jesus’ attitude be to others?   Are these attitudes just to be applied on warm spring Sunday mornings, as we gather in Bible study groups, and the birds are singing and the sky is cloudless?

Or is this the mindset most needed in a time like we are facing?

Again, I am challenging us in this study to experience joy.  I don’t want this to be a theoretical exercise.  And I never promised this was easy-peasy.  I want it to work in you right now!

Here is where it starts.  Finding joy…being joyful…means having the mind of Christ as we relate to God and to others.  And relating well to God and others embracing these 3 essential things:

Living Unselfishly :  Consider the interests of others ahead of yours

Allison’s gift…Joy comes as we live putting others interests first

Living Humbly:   Esteem others better than yourself…humility doesn’t mean we think less of ourselves; it means we don’t think of ourselves.

CS Lewis suggested that the first step of humility is admitting that we are proud!   “All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for `God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”   For the sake of our country, we had better begin to be humble!

Hold back nothing in your obedience to God

Until you figure out what you’re willing to die for, you’ll never learn what you are meant to live for.  “The Son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus knew what He was willing to give everything for.


(Hebrews 12:2) “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  In Phil 2 we see Christ’s unselfish attitude, His absolute humility “making Himself nothing;” His sacrificial love.



There once was a town high in the Alps that straddled the banks of a beautiful stream.  The stream was fed by springs that were old as the earth and deep as the sea. The water was clear like crystal. Children laughed and played beside it; swans and geese swam on it. You could see the rocks and the sand and the rainbow trout that swarmed at the bottom of the stream. High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man who served as Keeper of the Springs. He had been hired so long ago that now no one could remember a time when he wasn’t’t there. He would travel from one spring to another in the hills, removing branches or fallen leaves or debris that might pollute the water. But his work was unseen. One year the town council decided they had better things to do with their money. No one supervised the old man anyway. They had roads to repair and taxes to collect and services to offer, and giving money to an unseen stream-cleaner had become a luxury they could no longer afford. So the old man left his post. High in the mountains, the springs went untended; twigs and branches and worse muddied the liquid flow. Mud and silt compacted the creek bed; farm wastes turned parts of the stream into stagnant bogs. For a time no one in the village noticed. But after a while, the water was not the same. It began to look brackish. The swans flew away to live elsewhere. The water no longer had a crisp scent that drew children to play by it. Some people in the town began to grow ill. All noticed the loss of sparkling beauty that used to flow between the banks of the streams that fed the town. The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper. The city council reconvened, the money was found, and the old man was rehired. After yet another time, the springs were cleaned, the stream was pure, children played again on its banks, illness was replaced by health, the swans came home, and the village came back to life. The life of a village depended on the health of the stream.

Philippians Sermon Notes Week 04


Finding Joy in Confusing Times

(Philippians 1:21-30)

So last week I mentioned that I’m using Brut cologne as a hand sanitizer since the main ingredient in Brut cologne is alcohol.  Apparently that created a run on Brut cologne, so some guys called me and asked if Old Spice or Stetson would work.   Though they aren’t FDA approved, I’m sure they’d do fine.  I have found, full disclosure, that smelling Brut cologne has caused me to have flashbacks to the 60’s, and I’m having this unconscious need to listen to Bob Dylan music.

The classic little Charlie Brown cartoon offered this favorite of mine.  Charlie and Lucy are having a deep discussion about life.  Lucy says, “Charlie Brown, life is like a deck chair.  Some people set their chairs so they can see where they’re going.  Others set their chair to see where they’ve been.  And others so they can see where they are in the present.” Charlie was wordless for a frame, and then said, “I can’t even get mine unfolded!”

One of the last places we would expect to encounter joy is in the middle of a dilemma…a confusing, perplexing experience…tossed back and forth between options or opinions.   Quite a few of us are facing dilemmas today in the midst of our current situation, and you’re “trying to get your deck chair unfolded…”

Paul dealt with this very thing in 2 Corinthians 4…

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”  (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

We are perplexed, but not in despair.

  1. Do I hunker down…or try to press on with life as usual?
  2. Do I stockpile as though the end of the world is upon us…or just live day-to-day?
  3. Which media reports do I believe…the conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated Twitter opinions or another source? Should I pay attention to them at all?
  4. How do I talk to my kids about all this? Do I tell them everything, or shelter them from much of what is happening?
  5. Do I spend my time and energy taking care of my own family, or do I see this also as a time of generosity and ministry to my neighbors who hurt just like me and try to reach out to them?

We could list more.  Again, we are living through times like we’ve never seen in our lifetime.  The uncertainty of it all produces a lot of dilemmas for us.  And times of crisis usually do.  They are “perplexing.”

Ideally, though, they force us to our knees in prayer.  Maybe we need to spend more time just focused there, rather than worry about  the storm blowing around us.    Every emotion you are experiencing right now…fear, anxiety, anger, depression, loneliness, frustration…should be processed before God in prayer.  Don’t dwell on it until you have prayed about it.

We stand in serious times, to paraphrase a famous quote of John Adams.  Most of us have never seen times more serious than these.  It seems almost hourly a new reality is revealed making our bad situation worse.

Let’s admit it.  We do find ourselves confused, perplexed, sometimes frightened, anxious, stressed and unsure what to do next.  Sometimes that is precisely where life circumstances bring us.  God knows right where you are today.  He is still on His throne and He is the One we should be looking to in this.


It may also help to realize that this is not the first time, nor the worst time the Body of Christ has faced on earth.  The church has continued and even thrived through far worse.  (The Black Plague, The Spanish Flu of 1918, the Nazi takeover of Germany in World War 2; not to mention wars, genocide, and persecution on a scale we have never experienced).


CS Lewis was a voice of stability to the British people during the Second World War.  His messages were broadcast over the BBC network and were eagerly heard by this beleaguered people.  After World War Two ended, Lewis continued to lecture and write.  In one essay, he responded to a question asked by an individual who was concerned of the possibility of a nuclear attack on London.

I will read his reply as he wrote it.  But as you hear it, just insert “coronavirus” wherever you heard the word “atomic bomb.”

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”  In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.

Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways…It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty


God does not forsake His people.  The Lord is in the Heavens, and He does whatever He pleases.   He’s not afraid of catching the coronavirus, nor is He washing His hands and trying not to touch His face.  He’s not socially distancing from us!  Do not begin to believe God is absent from us, even though we are for a time absent from each other.    We should not let the prospect of what MIGHT happen dominate our minds and preoccupy and sideline our lives.

And as chaotic as all of this seems, God is working in the midst of our distress to bring His purpose to completion.  You and I get to be a part of that purpose, and whatever the coronavirus does to us as a child of God, we still win!

So let’s stop acting like we’ve already lost the war and everything important to us.  We haven’t.  God is still on His throne.  I am asking God daily to do a work that will be so amazing and undeniably His hand that no man or no country can take credit for it.  I am daily praying Ephesians 3:20 over us that we will see God do “exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.”    “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”  Habakkuk 1:5 ESV.    God is at work, in ways that we would not believe.

I want us to be delivered from this moment.  I truly do.  I want my granddaughter who is home watching Poppy preach on TV this morning (thinking it’s FaceTime) to grow up in a world without this pestilence.  But if not this it will be something else.  The world we live in… the world our Creator God entrusted to us…is  broken beyond our remedy.  We are seeing now what that truly looks like, without the candy coating of our daily lives and activities softening the reality.


Yesterday, the NYT ran a headline article which said,
“Coronavirus-weary people are seeking joy.”

In our study today, we hear again through the inspired Words of the Bible about a man who could be joyful in spite of false accusations, a prison sentence, and even possible execution for the crime of claiming that only Jesus was Lord… and not Caesar.

And we are looking clearly for the secret of his joy that was contagious.  Joy is more contagious than the coronavirus!  If we can choose joy in a time like this, well, some people will think we’ve just gone insane.  But others will want to know, “How do you do that?”

Well, we can do it like Paul did it.   People are looking for it now more than ever.


Paul was not suicidal, nor did he have some kind of morbid death wish.  Paul had hope.  He knew that when he went home, his suffering would be over forever.  The persecutors that sought to shut him up would forever be silenced.

Paul did not fear death.  He did not vacillate in what he believed about it.  He had a confidence that the life to come is “better by far” than his life here.  He had confidence that death was a beginning, and not an end;  a continuation of His walk with Christ only now with  face to face fellowship.   It is possible to walk in a fellowship with Christ that is so real, and so life-giving that you barely notice it when you die.  I think Paul was there.

But fear is indication of a problem.   We are ONLY to fear God.  Oswald Chambers said, “If you fear God, you need fear nothing else.  If you fear anything else you are not properly fearing God.”  Jesus said, “Fear Him Who has the power to throw both body and soul into hell.”

If we are fearful about everything happening around us, then we are not focused on the One we should TRULY fear.   Paul was not afraid.  He had a certain hope.  He knew, as he new that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” that death opened the door to a  lot of things for the faithful one who dies in Christ.

Death held an end of suffering for Paul; an end to pain and despair of imprisonments and illness and having nothing and no money and no family and no home.  Of course he looked forward to it!

What is your hope in today?  Are you hoping in government, in the United States, in science, in health care, in the economy?  I pray for all of these and those involved in trying to solve this crisis.  But all of these will fail us, if not this time, then at some point.  Only God is the rock we can anchor your hope to, and He never wavers and never fails.


CS Lewis’ 1948 article continues:

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are… going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.  (And they should not crush our spirits.)

Jesus used an interesting word in talking about the day of His coming.  He gave instruction to the disciples, and to us,  “occupy until I come,”

So how then do we live in this present distress?  What does it look like to “walk around” having a worthy life…to occupy until He comes?

Firm in one spirit:  Encourage each other  (…continue to be the church)

Defending the faith:  Engage the lost

Not being fearful of the enemy:  Enrage the devil by refusing to be afraid of his threats.


This part of Paul’s letter leaves them with an expectation.  He fully expected they would be victorious, no matter what happened to him or even what happens to them.  “It has been granted you that you believe and suffer….”. As your faith is a gift of God’s grace; (BUCKLE IN here; ) so is your enduring suffering well an evidence of faith.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t have problems.  It doesn’t create a guarantee for you that you won’t get this cursed virus.

But even if you do,  when you suffer as a believer you are showing the certainty of your faith and bearing witness to God’s goodness in the midst of it.

Paul had a certainty they would do this well.  I have the same confidence in you, and in this now temporarily scattered body of believers called Fruit Cove.

It’s our time to step up,.. Folks.

Welcome to the battle.

It’s our time to live a worthy life in a dark, dark time.  We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are cheering us on!  It’s our time to choose to rejoice in the Lord, and having done all else, to rejoice!

  • Make sure your hope is in the right place—and fear is put in its place
  • Make sure you are living a life worthy of the Gospel—if not, course correct!
  • Make sure you are keeping your eye on the finish line, confident that the One Who began this good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

The Gift

“What are you giving up for Lent?” I overheard several chatting and saw some online conversations about this as the Easter season began several weeks (or several decades?) ago.

The answers would vary. Some would go to the stand-by sacrifices of favorite foods or beverages. Others were planning to fast from social media. And some (like me) were going to ignore it altogether.

I did not grow up in a liturgical church that followed the church calendar. Lent was something reserved for Catholics or Lutherans and, according to my upbringing, was not something Baptist folks observed (though we did often eat fish on Friday). Lent, I later learned in seminary, has long been observed as part of the Christian calendar. My observance of Lent became listening to the second part of Handel’s Messiah to remind me of the Easter season.

There are some healthy things about Lent we would do well to pay attention to, and, whether we like it or not, we have been participating in a rigorous Lenten season.

If we see God as Sovereign over all He has created, then that leaves little room for coincidence and luck. Things happen for a reason; some we understand and some are above our pay grade. My belief is it is not coincidence that the coronavirus crisis began in America at almost the same time Lent began.

As the coronavirus began to take hold in America, we immediately began losing things. We experienced having things taken from us that were precious to us as Americans: our freedom to travel around as we wanted, our access to stores that actually had what we wanted on the shelves, our ability to gather together in worship.

The list can go on. Now I said these things were “taken” from us. But let me suggest something to you. Things cannot be taken from you if you willingly surrender them.

Ok don’t click off yet. “What are you giving up for Lent?” Well, I am giving up my ability to come and go as I please. I am giving up my right to have answers. I am giving up my freedom and joy of assembling with my church family for worship. I am giving up access to restaurants, and coffee shops, and social gatherings, and face-to-face conversations with friends.

What if we started to approach this whole thing differently? Instead of griping and grousing about what we are having “taken away” from us, what if we simply said, “It’s Lent. I’m giving these up in remembrance of the One Who gave everything up for me?”

Jesus said, “No man can take My life from Me; I give it freely.”

What if we surrendered these things joyfully? What if we live in imitation of the One Who “though He was equal with God, did not consider (the rights) of that equality something to be grasped?” What would it mean if we were to say, “Lord whatever you want to do with me through these things I’m surrendering, then I give them as a gift?”

And as this mentality takes hold in us, we allow it to guide us as we approach Holy Week; the week where we remember Christ’s passion, Christ’s willingness to die for our sins, Christ’s willingness to die alone on a cross. Let the things we are surrendering draw us closer to Him in His dying, so we can also be drawn closer to His resurrection. What if we willingly sacrificed these conveniences and the blessings we have known (and often taken for granted) as a gift to Jesus?

What are you giving up for Lent?

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