Beth Moore - Shining Like Stars in Deepening Darkness - Part 3
All right, Philippians chapter 1. Let's go back to our three points from last night: the darkness has never seemed darker. Number two: we stars, we have never had a chance to shine brighter. Number three: unlike planets, each star possesses light in its core. And one of my favorite songs that we're singing very often in the church today is "King of Kings". Now, for anybody who's just joining us by screen, you were not with us when we sang it, but for those of us in this room that sang it together, it's got such good theology, I just love the song from beginning to end. But I love what it talks аbout: the church of Christ being born when the Spirit lights the flame, came down like flames from heaven and lit on them. That is what happens inside our hearts when we are born again in Christ, when we trust Christ as our personal Savior.
We come and give our life to him and say, "I want what you offered on that cross. I want it, I receive that free gift," and I mean in that moment, whoo, that flame is lit in us. And so, as stars, according to Genesis 15, according to Daniel chapter 12, and then according to right here in Philippians chapter 2, that we have got that light in our core. And Jesus says, "You are the light of the world. Do not hide it, but let it shine to the glory of your Father".
Now, I'm gonna read Philippians 1, starting at verse 20: "My eager expectation and hope," this is the apostle Paul talking, "is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death". Can I pause here for a moment and say something to someone who may be chronically ill?
What freedom there is in this passage, I believe that we come and bring the desires of our hearts before the Lord. I believe that we have full invitation to do that. I do, very much believe that God still heals today from physical diseases, from all manner of physical infirmity. I absolutely believe that. And when he doesn't, when in his sovereignty because somewhere, somehow, glory is in play and glory is at stake and he wants to bring the highest honor through our being to his great glory, he may choose otherwise, but what freedom would there be in being able to say, "Lord, I want very much to be physically healed, but here is what I want. I want for you to be highly exalted in my body, whether by my life or by my death".
The Shirers and Evans are extremely dear friends of mine. We're the real kind of friends that we... our relationship isn't just online. Y'all know what I'm talking about, Priscilla Shirer and her family and then her dad, Dr. Evans, is just my buddy Tony. And one of the things that we talked about when I had a chance. I don't know if I can say this without crying. When I prayed with him and Lois Evans, Dr. Lois Evans, when she was diagnosed with a cancer that was already so advanced there was just like nothing to be done but pray. And one of the things that we talked about when we prayed together was this very thing: to be able... there's so much we can't control, but we can control our approach to it.
And listen, don't downplay that. That's no small thing. We may not be able to control what's gonna happen here, but we get to control our own approach to it, our own attitude to it, how we're gonna take it on, and I said there's such power in being able to say, "Here, be glorified. What is it that glorifies you most? I give myself to you: body, soul, spirit". Very often, I just will get down on the floor before God and I'll just name all these things. "Today, I give you my physical body, I give you my bones that are beginning to really hurt. I give you my personality. I give you all my genetics. I give you my, whatever knowledge I have. I give you my memory. I give you", I'll just go through all of these things, "It's yours. Leverage all of it to your great glory".
And there's power in it that it that there is a sense of I do get to control something. I get to decide if I'm gonna just fully submit myself to the Lord and go, "You know what, devil? The thing of it is you can't mess this up. You think you can, but if I live, Christ. If I die, Christ. Go knock yourself out". Anybody know what I'm talking about? Do you realize how that frees us? What that does for us, to just go, "Ha, I don't know what to tell you. You really can't ruin this. You can't destroy me because I'm in Christ". All in the world that will happen with this body, I'm gonna drop it. That's it. That's it.
Just gonna drop it off and go, "Listen, I forgot how bad you hurt". You know what I'm saying? Like, whoa, I'm glad to get rid of you. That's a beautiful, gorgeous, gorgeous thing. "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now, if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me, and I don't know which one I should choose. I'm torn between the two. I long to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better, but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And since I'm persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue on with you all for your progress and joy in the faith".
That word "joy" is so important to us. "So that, because of my coming to you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound. Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation", this is from God, "For it has been granted to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have. If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose".
I want you to begin to see some words here. I'm gonna bring one of 'em on the board because it's such an interesting word: contending. That word is athleó, athleó. And it means, and I am quoting, "To engage in an athletic contest". Isn't that fascinating because you can see the word "athletics" in it. And so I want you to see, now look at the words "contending together". Look, it's gonna be a Greek compound word. I want you to see it on the board. Do you see the S-Y-N and then do you see the A-T-H-L? You already know that that's beginning that word, a word that means athletics. So that S-Y-N is a prefix that means together, so it's in what would be, originally, the word "athletics" in its very first form, in its most nascent meaning was simply a gathering place, a gathering place.
Then it became known as a gathering place for athletic competitions because that's what gathering was often about. Then it became known, it went on and morphed into that those who are on the field for athletic events are the athletes. So that's where that word, in an athletic competition, it is being teammates together. And I want you to get this with me because we are meant to be in teams and we are meant to have a camaraderie in the midst of it that makes it all not just survivable but where there is some joy and some victory behind it. I gotta tell you, I've just been doing so much thinking about this, that what a team... tell me, when was a time, try to think back in your own life.
Have you ever been part of a really, really good, maybe great team? And I wouldn't say that that's always a winning team. So if you're thinking, like, "Well, I was part of a great team but we never won". That's still, you know what I'm talking about. When teammates work together. We think in terms of athletic competitions, but it may not be that at all. It could be as part of a symphony. It could be as we've mentioned a couple of ways last night, anything that brings a group of people together in band, in debate, as we were talking about, where everybody works, good grief, it could be AA, for crying out loud. Whatever it might be, where that team is all working together, and it doesn't take getting to the end of it and thinking you got a big score on the board.
You know, a woman was telling me something, somebody I really, really, really love and keep up very closely with her family, was telling me something that I just can't quit thinking about. Her son is in the high school band and so they go to all the football games, et cetera, and they had not won a football game in several years. And there's a reason for this, and some of you are going, this is gonna be angsty for a minute here and I'm hoping not to show any attitude while I tell about it but there are two major high schools in the town and one is really cool and has a lot of money in it. And the other one does not. And so, when these kids come up in middle school, if they're athletes, those parents are already knowing which school is gonna give them the best athletic opportunity.
So you see, it keeps doing, they're in a cycle. They never get, all of the best athletes go to the other school and pay to do it, and so they don't ever go to this school because that school doesn't have, that school never gets a chance to have a good athletic program because everybody opts out of it. So this is just, it's created this situation where they never win a game. Well, a week ago, Friday, she said, you know, typical, she said they literally were at the fourth quarter and it was 40 to nothing, 40 to nothing. She said, "By this time, the other team is putting in, like, their fourth string, like..."
Her team scored a touchdown, and she said, "You in your life have never seen what erupted in those stands". She said, "The screaming, the high fiving, the hugging, the no social distancing, the climbing one another like trees in victory. The tubas were playing... you know how they do? I mean, the trumpets were up, the band was playing. The other side was, like... 'Who could be that happy over 7 points?' Us, that's who. Do you know what that feels like? We scored! So what you..." I wanna tell you who won that night. I promise you that other team did not get in the car with the same joy. It was right at the end. Our team was like, "We won state," you know? Just one little touchdown. Teams, teams.
We're meant to be in teams. We need to reform teams, not cliques. Teams, not superstars. Teams, not celebrities. Teams. Look at 4:3 for a moment, 4:1 is where I'll start. Paul says, "So then, my dearly loved and longed for brothers and sisters, my joy and my crown, in this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord". Verse 3: "Yes, I also ask you, true partner, to help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near".
So these who had contended together, sweated together, worked together, seen things through together, endured together, but now they're in a big fight. Listen, there is nothing the enemy loves more than to get people who have contended together in a big, fat disagreement that has everybody on the team deciding between them. Let's have some repentance today. Let's get a grip about the true things that are at stake in our world and let's decide that some arguments are not worth it because, let me tell you, it takes a lot of energy to be mad, and so we get all huffed up, we're all offended, so you know what, the energy we would have had for our athletic ability to contend for the faith, oh, that's being used over here, we're mad. We're using all of that, completely undercut.
The enemy has gotten away with the stupidest thing, and he just says, "Agree in the Lord". You don't have to agree about... just thinking, "Well, you know, when she comes to my standing and I can agree, I can get over it". What a... listen, I've a co-worker, I heard her say this on the phone to people so many times, "Do you wanna be right or do you want a relationship"? I mean, how important is this to you? You can get your whole church community in a split because you are on the worship team and you're mad at one of the people on the worship team with you. It can happen between two ministers. It can happen between two leaders of a church, in a women's group, a whole women's ministry at a church can completely unravel where nobody's left in it. Young women certainly don't wanna come because two old women got in a fight. We've just gotta get over ourselves and get on with it.
So, every now and then, I've had to say to somebody, "You know what, I really don't, let's not even talk through the conflict". Sometimes there's talking through it, other times it's like, "You know what, honestly, if someone takes a bone marrow sample out of us, she believes this and I believe this, and that's all there is to it". Sometimes we just go, "We don't see this eye to eye but I tell you what we do see: we see that everything in life is about the glory of Christ, everything. Let's go forward, let's go forward to the other side". Sometimes it's just that. Sometimes it's just that. Now, there's a really crazy part here I want you to see, verse 29. This is back in 1:29 'cause this is just huge. "For it has been granted to you," no way did you miss this, when I've read it. "It has been granted to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have".
Okay, this is wild. So what Paul is saying is, "Listen," and I just think this is so important in this particular generation to understand that they're all gone now. Paul and his co-workers, they did their job. They did their thing, they're gone. The Philippians that he originally wrote to, gone. They did their thing. They either received the words and followed through in obedience or they did not. We don't know, but I mean, they're gone. The only people now that this is in play for are the believers in Jesus Christ in our present generation. That would be us, us all over the globe, us. We who are stars shining with the luminosity of the Holy Spirit within us. So I want you to think this through. He said, "You're engaged in the same struggle I am".
So understand that what we see Paul going through, said, you know, "You're going through the same thing. The enemy hates us. The darkness doesn't want the light. It will fight it and fight it and fight it and fight it. These are principalities and demonic powers that are involved. You've got the same struggle I do. You'll go through the same things that I went through, maybe at differing degrees. I warned you to think with me 'cause all the things that we're engaged with in a serious battle against a spirit of this present age, and Satan fights dirty". And this world can be cold and mean, anybody? So here's the truth of it. We will at times suffer in our battle with darkness. We will at times suffer betrayal, we will, we will. And it'll be of people we thought loved us. We will at times suffer rejection. We will at times suffer physically. We will at times suffer loss for doing the will of God. Listen, our earthly obedience to Jesus doesn't always mean that the earthly outcome is going to be what we would have chosen it to be.
Sometimes, we choose to go with Jesus on it and we already know this is gonna cause loss. And we just have to accept it. And it's hard, but it's just, it's how it's gonna go. We think sometimes, if I do the right thing it's always gonna come out so beautifully, but no, it is going to. It is going to, but you may not see the fulfillment of that beautiful thing until you see him face to face, but I promise you "that the sufferings of this present time are not even worthy to be compared with the glory that he shall reveal in you". Oh, it's gonna turn out well, all right. But maybe not on this side of eternity. We will at times suffer because we chose obedience of Jesus over the approval of people. People can be mean. And listen, they can indeed hurt us. They can. But there's the most wonderful word here 'cause it says it's been granted to you on Christ's behalf.
I want you to look what that word "granted" is on the screen. You see that "charis" in the middle of it? So it's the morphing of that particular word, grace. It has been graced to you, graced to you. I want you to just try to get that with me because when we have an occasion to suffer because we chose to be obedient to Christ, that it literally was given to us, try to go here with me 'cause this is against everything our natural minds can think. It was literally given to us as a grace, as a gift, that on the other side we will be so glad we had, and not always does it wait till the other side. I've gotta show y'all the crazy... leave something here in Philippians, but turn with me to Acts chapter 5. So this is the very, very beginning of the church. This is just after the Holy Spirit has been poured out at Pentecost, very, very early in.
Well, Peter, who was filled with all manner of impetuous behavior and words prior to receiving the outpouring of the Spirit, I mean, he is completely changed here. And he's, like, preaching like a wild man on the truth of the gospel, like, they're just like... and I mean just like fearlessly. Well, then he and John see a man healed in the name of Jesus, and so it begins to be this huge thing 'cause the man can't keep it to himself. Well, then, all the religious leaders are like, "What in the world is..." Listen, you wanna know what ruined their day? When they thought they'd got rid of Jesus and then they had to deal with the apostles. It's like, "You've got to be kidding me. They will renounce him 'cause he's just gone, and no, we got rid of him". Oh, no, his Spirit is in every single one and they were just unstoppable.
So, they bring them in, and in Acts 5:17 through 21: "Then the high priest rose up. He and all those who were with him, and who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. So they arrested the apostles and put them in public jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said, 'Go and stand in the temple, and tell the people all about this life.' Hearing this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach". I mean, like, the jail's empty. They're out there, preaching. So they bring 'em back in again and it says in verse... so look at the late part of this chapter in verse 40: "They called in the apostles, they had them flogged," so they beat them.
Let's just not forget this hurts. So they beat them, they had them flogged. "They ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name. And every day in the temple, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah". They were like, "Did you see what got to happen"? I mean, who is that? You know, this is our legacy, this courage that says, "What a privilege, what a privilege". Look at chapter 2 of Philippians, verse 1: "If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way".
For some of us, we think our circumstances are our problem. No, our thinking is our problem, our thinking. We're always gonna have hard circumstances. Those are never, ever... one will fix, and another will break. "Thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus". Nothing of us can birth sustained humility. Humiliation, yes, I'm talking about humility, that we would actually esteem others as more important than ourselves. There's nothing that comes out of our... we can't birth it. There's nothing in our natural body, in our natural psyche, that can birth that. It has to be adopted in, adopted in. Adopt that same attitude.