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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Boundless

Craig Smith - Boundless

Craig Smith - Boundless
TOPICS: Boundless

Welcome to Mission Hills. So honored to have you with us this weekend. It’s kind of a big weekend at Mission Hills. It’s the first weekend after Labor Day, which is when a lot of our ministries really kicks into high gear, so we’re all taking a deep breath for that. It’s Compassion Weekend. How many of you are Compassion sponsors? Awesome. We love Compassion and love being able to partner with them here and around the world. I’ve got a big announcement about Compassion that I’ll be given a little bit later in the service. We’ll be hearing a little bit more about that ministry. And, of course, last but absolutely not least, we are launching our new fall series today on the Book of Philippians called “Boundless” and what we’re doing in this series is we’re on a search for God’s secret to living bigger than our circumstances because we all face circumstances that feel like they put a lid on us, right? That hold us down and keep us back.

Maybe you know, maybe you’ve had a friend group that you’ve been investing in and all of a sudden, right when you need them most, they just kind of flake out on you. Or maybe you’re drowning in student debt. Maybe actually, maybe God’s calling you to do something maybe, something stirring in your heart. Maybe you’re thinking about going back to school and becoming a counselor or maybe going to seminary and going into vocational ministry, or maybe God’s calling you to some part of the world to be on mission with him and you just feel like, I can’t do that because I gotta work this stupid job that I’ve got to pay loans, which I…for a degree that I really wish I hadn’t gotten in the first place. And you just feel kind of trapped. Maybe that’s you.

Maybe you’re in this place where you feel like your marriage is just not what you signed up for. Maybe it’s just all boring routine or maybe it’s not boring. Maybe it’s bad and honestly just all the emotional energy that that saps out of you keeps you from doing anything else. Or maybe you’re in a place where you’re taking care of little kids or aging parents and that’s all you feel like you have the space for. We all have these circumstances that feel like that they limit us, that keep us where we are. And then really they kind of destroy our ability to be content and joyful. And interestingly, if anybody knew about circumstances that aren’t conducive to contentment, it would be the Apostle Paul. Apostle Paul had a dream. His dream was to go to the city of Rome and he believed that Rome was going to be a strategic base of operations for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the wider world. And he longs to go to Rome, he prayed to go to Rome, he believed that God was calling him to Rome. And in a lot of his letters in the New Testament, we see him talking about his desire and his work to get to Rome. And when we get to the Book of Philippians, he’s finally in Rome, but not the way he intended. He’s actually in Rome as a prisoner. He’s in Rome under house arrest. He’s in jail.

So instead of being a preacher, he’s in Rome as a prisoner, which is not what he signed up for. And it’d be very easy for him to feel like this is not what God is calling me to. This is not the circumstance I expected. This is not a place where I can be content. And yet in the Book of Philippians chapter 4, Paul actually says this amazing thing. He says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” in spite of his circumstances, he says, “I’ve learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” I don’t know about you, but that feels like a secret that I need to know. Anybody else? Anybody else? Yeah. So if you wanna know that secret you just need to hold on for eight weeks, we’ll get there in a couple of months.

No, actually, really, what the entire Book of Philippians does is that it unpacks the principles that allow him to have contentment in any and every situation. It’s not so much that there’s one secret, but there was a series of truths that allow him to that, but there really kind of is maybe one truth and I’ll just go ahead and give you a sneak peak right now. Here it is. The sneak peak here. Here’s the secret. The secret to having contentment in every situation is to stop looking for contentment in any situation. You hear me, church? That’s the secret. If you wanna be content in every situation you find yourself in, you have to stop looking for contentment in any situation. Because if your contentment depends on your circumstances, then your contentment can be destroyed by your circumstances.

On the other hand, if our contentment isn’t dependent on our circumstances, then it can’t be destroyed by our circumstances, but that’s not how we usually live, is it? It’s not how we use it. We usually look for contentment in the soil of our circumstances, and the problem is it just doesn’t work. It’s like trying to grow an apple tree in the cracks of the sidewalk in the city. Or you might get a little something that springs up for a little while, but it’s always gonna be small. It’s always gonna be sickly and it’s always going to be subject to being stomped on and torn out. That’s what we have to do is we have to do a contentment transplant. We have to transplant our search for contentment out of the soil of our circumstances and into something else, something very, very, very different. And that’s really what the Book of Philippians is all about.

So why don’t you just go ahead and grab your Bible, start making your way to the Book of Philippians chapter 1 where Paul begins this way. He says, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi.” In other words, he’s writing, to all the followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi. “Together with the overseers and the deacons,” that will be the church leaders there. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Here’s what you need to know. The Book of Philippians is really a letter. Now, for the millennials and for the Gen Z-ers out there, a letter was a little bit like an email, but it was even longer and slower, okay? That’s what a letter was. It was written from one person to another or to a group of people. And that’s what the Book of Philippians is. It’s the letter that Paul and Timothy, Timothy is kind of Paul’s protege. They wrote to the followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi. Philippi was a Roman colony in what we would call modern day Greece. Now, just so we’re on the same page, understand that this is The Paul. This is The Apostle Paul. This is The Apostle Paul that started out his career as a bounty hunter for Christians. He was hunting down Christians and killing them. And then he met Jesus on a road and he went from being a killer of Christians to one of the greatest Christian preachers of all time. One of the greatest Christian around became a follower of Jesus himself.

This is The Paul that God commissioned to spearhead the movement, the mission to take the Gospel out to the non-Jewish world, to the Gentile world. This is The Apostle Paul who planted churches all over the ancient Roman Empire. This is The Apostle Paul that God gave supernatural power so that he could confirm the truth of the Gospel he’s preaching with miracles. This is The Apostle Paul that God inspired to write about half of the books of the New Testament in the Bible. He’s kind of a big deal. But do you notice how he introduces himself here? He says, Paul and Timothy, say it with me, servants. He introduces himself as a servant. Why would he do that? And you might go, well, that’s humility. Christians are supposed to be humble, right? He’s humble. Yeah, but that’s not how he normally introduces himself.

In fact, if you look at most of his letters in the New Testament, in most of them, he does introduce himself as The Apostle. That’s not arrogant, it’s just a simple fact. An apostle is one who had been sent out on a mission, so he’s identifying himself. Nothing arrogant about it, but the fact that he does that in most of the letters means that it’s interesting that he doesn’t do it here. And what I wanna suggest to you is that the way he introduces himself here isn’t humility, it’s a contentment strategy. This is a contentment… This is one of the things that allows him to say, yeah, I know what it’s like to be content in any and every situation. And what he’s doing is he’s reminding himself as well as his audience of who he is, and that’s so important because listen, how we think about ourselves determines how we think about our circumstances. Really important principle.

How we think about ourselves determines how we think about our circumstances. Think about it. If you think you’re a really big deal and you’re in a circumstance where nobody’s treating you like a big deal, how do you feel? Not content, right? Contentment is impossible in that situation. If you think you’re somebody who deserves a lot of attention and you’re in a situation where nobody’s paying any attention to you, poof, there goes your contentment, right? If you think you’re somebody who has a lot to contribute and you’re in a situation where nobody’s asking your opinion, nobody’s asking you to contribute, all that stuff that you have to contribute, what happens to your contentment? It’s gone, right? How we think about ourselves determines how we think about our circumstances. Paul’s saying how I think about my circumstances is ultimately dictated by how I think about myself and the way I think about myself is I’m a servant, first and foremost I’m a servant.

See, if he’d said he was an apostle, if he says a preacher, then he is going to look at his circumstances where he’s on house arrest, 24/7, not allowed to preach, he’s gonna go, this is miserable. This is terrible. And contentment’s gonna go away, but he’s not doing that. He’s saying, no, no, I’m a servant first. And here’s the interesting thing about servants. Listen, when we see ourselves as servants, we can be content even when we aren’t being treated like royalty. I mean that secret alone is worth the price of admission today. I mean, I know you got in here free, but let me tell you that secret alone will change your marriage. It’ll change your parenting or your childing. I don’t know, that’s not a word, but if you’re a child it will change the way you think about your relationship with you. I mean, it’ll change so many things.

When we think of ourselves as servants, we can be content even when we’re not being treated like royalty. That’s what Paul’s doing. He’s saying, I’m a servant, and if I’m a preacher, then I have to be preaching to be content, but if I am a servant, listen, there’s all kinds of ways that I can serve and there are ways that I can serve Jesus. I can be on mission with him, regardless of the particular situation, regardless of my circumstances, even though they’re not what I was anticipating, I can still serve in a meaningful way. And you know what? That changes the way I think about this situation.

How we think about ourselves determines how we think about our circumstances. So he goes on and he says this, he says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all of my prayers for you, I always pray with joy.” And I love that. Because what Paul is saying is he is experiencing joy in spite of his circumstances. That when he’s praying, he’s actually praying with joy. There’s a sense of happiness. There’s a sense of joy, of satisfaction, a piece of the contentment. He says, I’m praying with you. I’m experiencing joy in spite of my circumstances. Why is that? Why is able to do that? Well, he goes on and he says this. He says, “Because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.” Because of your partnership in the Gospel, what does that mean? What is partnership in the Gospel? Well, basically means two things. It means that they have received the Gospel and that they’re rebroadcasting it, okay? Both of those pieces are there. To be a partner in the Gospel is to receive the Gospel personally, but also to be rebroadcasting into the world. So they’ve received the Gospel. And if you’re new to church, if you’re new to this Christianity thing, welcome. We’re so glad you’re here. Maybe you’ve heard that word Gospel. Let me give you a brief snapshot of what we mean by it. Sometimes we use it, but we don’t really explain it.

Here’s the Gospel. It means the Good News, and this is the Good News. God loves us, but we haven’t loved him back. Instead of living in obedience to God, we basically said to God, Hey, I appreciate the life and everything, but I’ll take it from here on. We’ve turned our backs on God. We’ve lived apart from God. We’ve committed sin after sin, after sin. We’ve created a barrier between us and God. So God loves us, we didn’t love him back, but God didn’t stop loving us. And in fact, God continues to love us so much that he sent his own Son, Jesus, who lived a perfect life. He went to the cross intentionally. He chose to go to the cross so that his death could pay for our sin. He died on the cross to pay for our sin. Three days later he was raised from the dead. The Father raised him from the dead to prove that he had accomplished it. He had beaten sin and its dog, death.

And this is the incredible news. This is what we call grace, is that to receive that, to be the beneficiary of that, to be forgiven and have all of our sin wiped out to begin a relationship with God, all it requires is a relationship with Jesus. And we say yes to Jesus, say, I’m gonna put my faith in you, I’m gonna trust in what you did for me, it’s not going to be my efforts, it’s not gonna be anything else. I’m just putting my faith in you. I’m saying yes to a relationship with you and we’re saved. We’re forgiven of our sins, we’re brought into a relationship with God that begins now and goes on forever. That’s the Good News.

Well, the church is flawed, but they’ve received that. They’ve said yes to that relationship with Jesus. They’ve received it, but that’s not it. That’s not all of it. They’ve also started to rebroadcast. They’re making sure other people know the Good News of Jesus. They’re rebroadcasting. And I know that somebody’s saying what a strange word, but I did it because I realized in my house this past week that I have parts of my house that don’t have good Wi-Fi signal. And that bothers me a lot because I never know where I’m gonna be when I suddenly need to watch a YouTube video, right. My latest thing is I’m fascinated by those people who they do wood and this hard colored resin and then they turn it on lades and they make these cool bowls and vases.

I know it’s weird, but it’s what I’m into right now and I never know when the mood to watch those are gonna take me and sometimes when I’m in parts of my house like I’ll start to watch one and it’s all blocky and pixelated and I hate that. So I was like, I need to get Wi-Fi spread throughout my house. And so I bought a rebroadcaster, just this little box and it went into the wall in a place where it was receiving the Wi-Fi signal. So it receives it and then it rebroadcasts it to the rest, and now I can watch videos in every part of my house and they’re crystal clear and it’s awesome. That’s actually a pretty good picture of what Paul’s talking about when he talks about their partnership and the Gospel. They’ve received the Gospel themselves, but they’re also rebroadcasting, they’re extending God’s influence in their own community and really beyond their community in the world.

One of the things that’s happened, we’ll see later in the Book of Philippians, is they’ve actually sent Paul a financial gift intended to be used to further his work of spreading the Gospel in Rome and then beyond that to the rest of the world. And so they’re rebroadcasting the Gospel. And so he says, “I’m praying with joy because you’re partners in the Gospel.” And I love that about the Church of Philippi because it means the Church of Philippi is a great model for really what every church is supposed to be. One of the things that we say here at Mission Hills is that we exist, we’re here to help people become like Jesus, that’s receiving the Gospel. That’s an inner transformation that happens when we say yes and God begins to work on us from the inside out that we’re called to help people become like Jesus, but also to help them join him on mission.

It’s two sides of the same coin. We’re here to help people become like Jesus and join him on mission because there are two sides of the same coin. You can’t follow Jesus without following him on mission. You can’t receive the Gospel and then not rebroadcast. It just doesn’t work that way. We’re called followers of Jesus. We’re not called hangers out with Jesus. We’re not called standers around with Jesus. He didn’t say, come follow me, I booked some rooms at the Marriot. He said, come follow me, I’ll make you fishers of men. Come follow me, I’m gonna send you out on mission with me to extend God’s influence into the world because there are two parts of the same thing and that’s what the Church at Philippi is doing. They’re partners in the Gospel and that gives Paul joy in spite of his circumstances.

He knows the Gospel’s going out, even if he’s not able to be spreading the Gospel himself in the way that he longs to, he knows that it’s still happening and that gives him joy. He says, “I got another reason why I’m joyful,” and that’s verse 6. He says, “because I’m confident.” He says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” He says that’s why I’m praying with joy because I know that this isn’t a flash in the pan. I know that this isn’t just a fad for you. I know that this is the new normal for you. I know that you’re gonna continue to broadcast the Gospel. You’re gonna continue to be on mission with Jesus, whether it’s through me or not, you’re gonna continue to do it because how can he be confident of that, how can he know that it’s not just a momentary thing? Because he knows that what God starts, he finishes. What God starts, he finishes and he says, “I know that the work that’s happening in you and through you didn’t come because of your effort. It came because God began this work and what God starts he finishes.”

The Bible says that when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus didn’t die for us because we did the best that we could and then we went, God, I can’t make it the rest of the way. I don’t know what else to do. He’s like, okay, I’ll finish it for you. That’s not what happened. He came for us while we were walking away, while we were running away, while we were living in rebellion, he came for us. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. While we were still sinners, the Holy Spirit began to stir in our hearts and to give us a longing for our Creator. While we were still sinners, Jesus said, I’ve already done the work. All you have to do is say yes to a relationship.

God began that working. All we did was say yes. And what God starts he finishes. God doesn’t give up. He doesn’t Peter out. His work doesn’t just kind of go away. And so yes, if you’re wondering and if you know these kinds of terms, then what I believe that this verse and others in the Bible teach is what we call eternal security. That salvation is not something we have to worry about losing because it’s not based on our work. It’s based on his. And yes, we’re gonna backslide and we’re gonna struggle and we’re gonna have these periods, even maybe periods where we struggle with our faith itself. But what God starts, he finishes. And so Paul knows that this is the new normal for them. This isn’t a momentary thing. And so he says, I’m praying with joy because you’re partners in the Gospel and I know that what God has begun in you and through you is gonna continue. And so he says, I pray with joy.

Now, some people might go, well that seems inappropriate, Paul. You’re not paying attention to your circumstances now because your circumstances aren’t conducive to joy. And I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced anybody pushing back on you like that. Maybe you’ve had this experience where, yeah, your circumstances aren’t great. There’s issues that are not going well and yet you don’t seem to be as sad as other people think you should be. Anybody? But there’s still something in you that says, yeah, but you know what? God is good and he’s at work in me, and even in this circumstance, I can still serve him. And maybe you’ve had that experience of going, Huh, I can be a little bit joyful, maybe even a little bit content in spite of my circle and other people like you’ve got to stop that. What are you stupid? Did you not…Maybe there’s something wrong with it and you don’t understand how bad things are. It’s inappropriate for you to be joyful right now.

And I wonder if maybe Paul is wondering about that because look what he says in the next verse. He says, verse 7, “It is right for me to feel this way.” Basically, sit down, shut up. It’s okay for me to feel joyful, it is right for me to feel this way about all of you since I have you in my heart, whether I’m in chains or defending and confirming the Gospel, whether I’m a prisoner or a preacher, all of you share in God’s grace with me. We’re in this together. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus, and did you notice all of the “all of yous” there? There is a lot of them, right? See, Paul’s not looking at his circumstances, he’s looking at his relationships, right? He’s not looking at his situation, he’s looking at his partners in ministry and that’s where the joy is coming from. And I think this is so, so, so important that we understand. Listen, the quality of our relationships determines the power of our circumstances. So important we understand this.

The quality of our relationships determines the power of our circumstances. We all know this because we’ve all been in these places where we’ve got bad circumstances, but we’ve got high-quality relationships that take the sting out of the circumstances. They make the situation better because we have good relationships. Maybe you’ve had the other experience that you’ve got good circumstances but bad relationships, which takes the joy, takes the good power out of the circumstances. And God forbid that you be in bad circumstances with bad relationships because that’s hell. It just makes it worse and worse and worse and worse. The quality of our relationships determines the power of our circumstances. I saw this recently in my own family.

My oldest daughter, Rochelle is in kind of a difficult place. She had to break off a relationship recently that just… It was a very special relationship, it was a serious one. We thought it was going a particular direction and then through a lot of tears and prayer and dealing with some difficult circumstances that have happened, she came to conclusions that I need to bring this to an end, but it’s a really hard thing. And so she’s sad and we’re all kind of grieving through that with her. And we came home the other day and there was a Christmas tree in my living room and it had lights on it. And the lights wound around the tree and then down the stairs to her room and there were Christmas presents around it and there was a sign that said, “No matter how bad things get, a little Christmas cheer always makes it better.” And that was my youngest daughter, Lynae and she’d actually bought presents. She’d gone to the grocery store and she bought like things that Rochelle likes to eat. So like Sour Patch Kids and a whole lot of macaroni and cheese. And we had this Christmas moment. And you know what? It was good and it didn’t fix everything, but it absolutely made things better. There was a moment of joy, there was a moment of happiness, there was a moment of peace, even in the midst of some really difficult circumstances.

And I’m really proud of the way that my youngest daughter loved Rochelle, but I have a little bit of a criticism. She didn’t do the sign right. She didn’t. She said a little bit of Christmas cheer makes everything better, but that’s not what was happening. The sign should have said, “No matter how bad things get, good relationships makes things better.” I think people that love you well make things better. That’s what she should have said because that was the truth of what was happening there.

The quality of our relationships determines the power of our circumstances. And Paul has these incredible high-quality relationships with the Church of Philippi and they’re transforming his experience of his circumstances. And you might go, okay, how do you get those? How do you get those quality relationships because I don’t know that I have any of those kinds of relationships? Here’s what I’ve come to understand. This is so important to understand. The highest quality relationships come from being on mission together. The highest quality relationships come from being on mission together. There’s a reason why people who go off and they fight side by side with others in battles end up forming bonds and relationships that are incredibly deep and powerful in a way that most of us can’t even fully understand. It’s because they’ve been on mission together.

Our culture seems to think that the best relationships come from looking at each other face to face and going deep. No, no. The best relationships don’t come from face to face. The best relationships come from living side by side on mission together. I’ll tell you what, I would put my marriage up against any marriage on the planet in terms of satisfaction, peace and significance and strength, and that’s not because I have a perfect marriage. I’m really hard to live with, okay? So is my wife. We’re not perfect people. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but our marriage is a profound source of strength and encouragement. It is a source of contentment in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances. Why? Because we’ve been on mission together for coming up on 26 years. Our marriage has always been about being on mission, extending God’s influence in the world together. Our kids are part of that because we’ve chosen to raise our kids to be on mission.

I got a confession for you. This might seem like a strange thing to hear, but I’m gonna be honest with you. I have no interest in raising my kids to be responsible adults. I have no interest in that. I’m raising my kids to be world changers, to be on mission with Jesus in whatever way, whatever unique way God equips them and calls them to be. That’s what we’re looking to do. We’re raising them to be on mission and we’re doing it as a family. We all have our own ways of doing it. We’re doing it together and that changes the quality of the relations that we have and that changes the power of the circumstances that we face. The highest quality relationships come from being on mission. Again, if feel like you don’t have the kind of relationships that can do that for you, then maybe what you need to start thinking about doing is figure how to start living more on mission alongside others and you will find that those relationships come naturally.

Paul says, I have joy and it’s right for me because of my joy. And then he says this, he says, “And this is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” So he’s already told us how he’s praying, he’s praying with joy. And he’s told us why he’s praying, he’s praying with joy because of their partnership in the Gospel because they’re living on mission and he’s praying because he’s confident that it’s the new normal for them, that what God’s begun in them will be carried on to the day that Jesus returns and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And now he tells us what he’s praying. And what is he praying? He’s praying for their love, that their love for God, their love for him. He’s praying that their love would about more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.

And what you need to understand is he’s not talking about information, he’s talking about wisdom. He’s not talking about knowing things. He’s talking about the ability to make good decisions. Even the word that he uses for knowledge is not the normal Greek word for knowledge. The normal Greek word for knowledge is “gnosis.” This word is “epignosis.” It literally is “upon knowledge” and what that means is he’s praying for them to have knowledge that they can build wise choices on. It’s not about information, it’s about wisdom, about making the right decisions.

Notice this is what he says next. He says, “So that you may be able to discern what is best.” Best to do. Best to do for what? And the answer is to extend God’s influence in the world, to advance the Gospel. And I wonder if what he might be thinking at this point is, hey, I really appreciate the gift that you’ve sent to further the Gospel through the ministry that God’s called me to, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily the best thing for you to keep doing. I don’t know how long I’m gonna be in prison. I don’t know how long my circumstances are gonna be such as they are right now. I’m not sure that’s the best thing. I appreciate it, it’s awesome, but maybe it’d be better for you to make those kinds of gifts somewhere else. I don’t know. So I’m praying for God to give you wisdom to discern what is best to advance the Gospel.

Maybe he means something like that or maybe he means just the best, most effective ways to advance the Gospel in your community and around the world. But he’s praying for wisdom to do what is best and he says he’s praying for wisdom that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, that you may be pure and blameless. He’s praying for wisdom so that they can be pure and blameless and when Jesus comes back, he’s gonna be able to find them pure and blameless. And you might go, wait a minute. Why does being pure and blameless involve wisdom? Isn’t wisdom really just about knowledge? I mean, isn’t being pure and blameless about knowing the right things to do and the wrong things to not do? Isn’t that really just about information? No, not at all. So many of our decisions that either lead to sin or a way into purity and blamelessness, they’re based and rooted in wisdom, not just information.

How many of you have ever done anything wrong? Online, go ahead, just admit it right there in the comments. How many of you knew it was wrong when you did it? Um hum. Yeah. Information’s not always what’s needed. And often this is an interesting thing, often, the line that separates us from sin and from righteousness isn’t information about what is sin and what is righteous. It’s wisdom about putting ourselves in situations where we can do what is right and avoid what is wrong. Because the reality is a lack of wisdom often puts us in situations where we do the wrong things we didn’t even wanna do that we knew were wrong, but it was so hard to resist in that moment. I mean, as a very simple example, if you struggle with alcohol, then taking one drink might be sin for you. And you might know that and yet you continually put yourselves in situations where it’s hard to resist that and so you find yourself committing that sin, not because you didn’t think it was wrong, but because you didn’t practice wisdom in the steps leading up to that moment.

And so wisdom might say that you have to go, you know what? I’m gonna find a new way home. I’m gonna take a route home that doesn’t take me past that one bar where I spent so much of my time. And so wisdom says if I’m gonna avoid that, if I wanna be pure and blameless, I have to make decisions beforehand that keep me out. And so Paul says that, he says, hey, the dividing line between sin and righteousness isn’t always information. It’s about wisdom. So he says, “I want you to be wise.” And so he prays for wisdom. But it’s interesting even as he prays for the wisdom that they could live pure and blameless lives, he ends up bringing it back to mission again. He says, ultimately, I want you to be pure and blameless for the day of Christ filled or being filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and the praise of God.

He says, I want you to be filled. And he doesn’t say, I want you to be filled with righteousness. He says, I want you to be filled with what? Fruit of righteousness, that’s the result of he’s not looking for righteousness as the end. He’s looking for righteousness as the means to the end, which is the fruit of right. Well, what is the fruit of righteousness? Well, he says it at the end of the sentence, is that which brings glory and praise to God. That’s the fruit of righteousness, that we can live lives that bring glory and praise to God, that we can live lives that allow us to extend the influence of God into every area of the world that God has given us influence. That’s mission. He’s back to mission again. He says, “I want you to be pure and blameless so that you can be on mission extending God’s influence in advancing the Gospel.”

Listen, I know this is gonna sound like a very strange thing for a preacher to say, but just stick with me for a second. Let me tell you a truth. God didn’t make you to be righteous. You were not made to be righteous. God made you to be on mission, which requires righteousness. There’s an important difference there. God didn’t make us to be righteous. If He just wanted us to be righteous, he could’ve done it without giving us free will, right? He could have made us just nice and shiny and pretty, and then put us in a display case and gone, “Look at them. So righteous.” No, no, no. He didn’t make us to be righteous. He made us to be on mission with him.

I mean, that’s what we see all the way back on the first page of the Book of Genesis, all throughout the scripture, we were made as the image of God. We were made to represent God, to extend God’s influence throughout creation. Our lack of righteousness makes that mission impossible, but our continual growth in righteousness allows us to engage more and more in that mission which brings God glory and praise. We were not made to be righteous. We were made to be on mission, which requires righteousness. Very, very important difference.

And so he says, I’m praying that you would have the wisdom to know what is best, how best to be on mission with Jesus, and that you would have the wisdom to be pure and blameless so that you can be filled with the fruit that comes from that righteousness, which is to the praise and to the glory of God, that’s mission. And you might be thinking, hang on a second. I thought this message series was about me, right? Isn’t that what you said? You said you’re gonna teach us the secret to being content in each and every. That’s about me. Now you’re making it all about God. You preachers do this all the time. You’re kind of sneaking in a, you know, this is gonna help you, it’s gonna make your life better, but then it’s all about Jesus. It’s all about God, right?

Listen to me. They’re the same thing. They’re the same, our good and God’s glory, they’re the same thing. And here’s the truth that you gotta get a handle on. We experience our greatest good on mission for God’s glory. Do you hear me, church? If you want to be content in any and every situation, it’s only gonna be because you have learned to live on mission in any and every situation. We experience our greatest good, our greatest peace, our greatest contentment on mission for God’s glory. That’s what Paul’s getting at here. It’s not just about Jesus because it has this boomerang. In fact, when we were living on mission with Jesus, it ends up being for our good and that’s one of the secrets that Paul knows, that allows him to say, I can be content in any and every situation because the situation is not where I’m searching for contentment. Our greatest good is experienced on mission for God’s glory.

We’re gonna continue to unpack that for the next several weeks. Before we go any further, I wanna ask an important question to everybody and the question is this, I want you to ask yourself this, do I have a relationship with God that produces righteousness or am I hoping that my righteousness will produce a relationship with God? It’s a very subtle, it’s not subtle, it’s a sneaky difference and we often get it wrong, but I want you to notice what Paul says. He says, “I want you to be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” Righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ and what he’s speaking there is the Gospel message we talked about a little earlier.

It’s this idea that the righteousness that we can have doesn’t come from trying harder. It doesn’t come from our work. It comes from our relationship with Jesus. That when we say yes to Jesus, he forgives our sin, he puts the Holy Spirit in us and he begins to build in us a righteousness that we could never have accomplished on our own. That is a relationship that leads to righteousness, which leads to fruit, which leads to contentment. But it begins with a relationship and so many people, even people who spend a lot of time in church, seem to have this idea that just by being in church, just by trying to do the right thing, just by trying to be a good person, that’s the secret. It’s not because it’s never gonna happen, it’s never gonna work.

And so my question to you is, do you have a relationship with Jesus that is leading to this righteousness, which is leading to fruit, which is leading to contentment? Or are you trying to be righteous, hoping that God will love you, hoping that God will accept you, hoping that God will have a relationship with you? Because if that’s the way you’re doing it, it’s not gonna work. And I wanna give you the opportunity to change that right now. If you’re listening to this and you don’t have a relationship with God through faith in what Jesus did for you, I wanna give you the opportunity to say yes to that relationship right now. Let’s get everybody to close their eyes and bow their heads. Wherever you are, including online, you just, if that’s you and you know you don’t have that relationship, you can have it right now. You just say this to God in your own heart:

God, I have done wrong. I have not been righteous and I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Thank you for paying off my sin. I believe you rose from the dead. Right here, right now, I’m accepting your sacrifice for me. I’m saying yes to a relationship with you. Come into my life. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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