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Perspective - Week 1

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Hey everybody at all of our LifeChurches, our Network Churches, those of you in our Church Online family, today we're starting a brand new four-week series called Perspective. Everybody say Perspective. We're going to look through the Book of Philippians taking some high points out of four different chapters over the next four weeks and look at one of my favorite books in the Bible, the Book of Philippians. And what I want to do is give you a little bit of context about this book because the context will give us a different perspective and help bring this teaching to life. So if you want to jot down some notes feel free to. The Book of Philippians was actually a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi. Now, Paul actually started the church. He was an Apostle who was sent out by God and would lead people to Christ. He would raise up leaders and he would start churches in all different cities and this was actually a church that he started around the year 52 A.D., so about 20 years or so after the death and resurrection of Jesus he assembled this church and he loved them dearly. And you're going to see the deep affection the Apostle Paul has for the people in the church in Philippi. Well, he started the church around 52 A.D. The time he's writing this letter is about ten years later, around 62 A.D. or so, and he's writing in response to something the Philippians did for him. Paul was actually in a time of significant need and the people took up a very generous love offering to send to him and normally Paul wouldn't have received a financial gift. He was very proud and would say, 'Hey, I've never been a burden to you. I've always worked, I've never imposed on you for a financial gift.' But because of his relationship with this church he actually received this gift. He was blown away by it and he wrote this very heartfelt and emotional thank you letter and mingled in it some gentle and loving instruction. Now, as we go through and look at high points of the Book of Philippians, there's an unmistakable theme that rises to the top and that's the theme of joy. In fact, you're going to see joy or rejoice, or similar words, at least 19 different times. And you're going to see this massive joy come out of a guy who may not have had so many reasons in the natural to be very joyful. Now, I want to give you a piece of information that may change your perspective on how you read this. I love whenever you find out something that really changes your perspective. For example, I don't know if you've ever met someone and thought, "Man, I don't really like that person; they're kind of rude, they're snobby, they're stuck up!" How many of you have ever met somebody like that? Don't elbow them and say you're sitting next to them! That would not be polite! But then when you find out more about their story and you hear maybe what they've been through or what they're going through right now you're like, "Oh wow, I had no idea!" And then you know, maybe you have a heart for them because that new piece of information changes your perspective. It could be you're having a bad day. You know you're late somewhere and you're having a bad day. You know, you're late somewhere or you're stuck in traffic or you know your car overheats or something and you're just like, "Oh!" And then, you hear about someone who is having a really, really bad time, they've been through something tragic, and all of a sudden you go, "Oh wow!" That changes my what? That changes my perspective. Back years ago I knew a family that had four kids. We only had two kids at the time. I was like, "Man, that's a big family, four kids!" Now with six kids, I look at those little scrawny four-kid families that don't even need hardly a minivan, and I say, with six kids that changes my perspective! When I was growing up there was a kid that lived down the street, I thought they were really, really rich because they could go on a ski trip every single year! I was like, "That's rich!" Years later, I had another friend; they went on two ski trips a year and owned their own skis. I'm like, that's really, really rich! Years later, I met a kid whose dad owned the mountain and took a private plane to their mountain! I'm like, that's really, really, really rich! And that last bit changed my perspective! What I want to do today is give you a little piece of information that may change your perspective on the way you read the Book of Philippians. If you didn't know, the Apostle Paul actually wrote this joy-filled letter of appreciation out of a Roman prison. In fact, Acts, Chapter 28 shows us that he spent two years, okay, if you can imagine, two years under house arrest simply for preaching the Gospel. Now if you can imagine, two years he's chained up, literally chained 24-hours a day to a Roman soldier. Now, if you know about Paul, Paul's greatest dream was always to take the Gospel to Rome. He wanted to go to Rome as a preacher, but instead he was in Rome as a prisoner. And we're going to watch as with a change of perspective, even in the middle of another significant trial, we're going to watch as God can give you joy no matter what. So let's dive in today. We'll start in verse two of Philippians Chapter one, and I'm praying that God would give us all a different perspective. Paul writes this to his beloved church, he says: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ... Now, listen to the emotion: ...I thank my god every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with... What? Here we see it for the first time, he says: I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this... Now, watch him encourage the people of Philippi: ...that He who began... This is God: ...a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus... Verse Seven, he says: ...It is right for me to feel this way about you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am... What? Everybody, say it aloud, he said: ...for whether I am in chains, if I'm a prisoner or defending or confirming the Gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. And there you see him saying, 'Hey, even if I'm in chains.' And he knows that the Philippians are going to be very, very concerned about him so he is about to start to tell them kind of here's what I'm going through and I don't want you to be freaked out. Now, if there's anything that Paul wanted to change, chances are he wouldn't have wanted to be a prisoner, but he would have wanted to be free to preach the Gospel. I want to ask you all a question and I want you to think about this and be honest. How many of you right now, you have something in your life that you wish was different? Right now, there's something right now that man, I just wish that God would change this about my life, I wish that something was different? Chances are, almost all of us at every season, we look and we say, you know I wish this wasn't the way it was. It seems like when you are young you're always wanting to me older. Okay, then you get older and what do you want to be? You want to be younger! You're like, why am I never satisfied? Sometimes you look and say, "You know, I really wish I wasn't doing the kind of work that I'm doing. I'm in a job that it seems beneath me, or it's not very fulfilling, or I'm not crazy about the people I work with, they drive me crazy!" Or sometimes you may look and say, "I really wish I didn't live where I live. I wish I was in a different city, I wish I had some different friends, or I wish I lived in a different house, or I wish I had a house!" Some may say, "I wish I was married!" And those who are married like, "I wish I had a different kind of marriage!" Some without kids would say, "Oh, I'd give anything to have kids!" And then, those with kids say, "I'd give anything to have different kids!" Or "At least if they would behave differently!" And we look at our lives and think you know, "I just wish that there was just something about my life that was different." Here are three thoughts to write down if you're taking notes: We all have a "what" and don't understand the "why". Do you know what I'm talking about? There's a what, this is what's going on in my life and I don't understand why it's not different. God, why don't you do something about this what in my life? At different seasons, all of us, we have a "what" and don't understand the "why". I hope it brings you encouragement to write this down: Remember, God always has a why behind the what. I love that. God always has a why. God always has a why. God is not a God that wastes a hurt. God's ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He is good through and through. He is in control. He can take what the enemy meant for evil and our God is so good that He can turn an attack into something good and He can make a trial, something in you that develops a character in you and He can build your faith through difficult times. God is working in all things to bring about good. God has a why in the what that we don't understand. Another thought if you're taking notes is this: I don't have to understand the why to trust God in the what. I don't have to understand the why to trust God in the what. I can trust in the Lord with all of my heart and lean not on my own understanding but in all of my ways acknowledge Him and He will make my paths straight. I don't have to understand everything to continue to trust Him. If you're in a place right now and there's something and you're going, "I don't like it! I wish this was different! I'm not sure what to do about this!" I want to give you two questions to ask when life is hard. Two questions to ask when life is hard. The first question you're going to be tempted to ask is why, and I'm going to encourage you to bounce right over that question. And instead of asking why, I want to encourage you to ask what. We're going to say it this way, now what? Everybody ask that; one, two, three, "Now what? I don't like what's going on, but God, now what? I don't understand this God but I trust you with the why and I want to know what it is you want to show me, what it is you want to do in me." And we see this happening in verse 12. Paul says to the people in Philippi. He says: Now I want you to know, brothers... Everybody read this part aloud: ...that what has happened to me... Pause there for a moment and let me ask you what has happened to you? Not necessarily what did you do, but what has happened to you? Maybe you lost a job, maybe you woke up and you're in a bad place financially, maybe you got a bad report from the doctor, maybe you've got a relationship that's important to you that's massively messed up right now? Maybe you've hit a dead end and something is really, really bad? Maybe your cat had kittens and you weren't expecting this, and so, just joking! So, something has happened to you that you didn't plan. Paul says this: Now I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me, oh my goodness, it looks bad, but it's really served to... Do what? It's really served to: ...advance the Gospel. This word in the advance, that's translated advanced, it's a military term that means to move forward. It's described as when a group of troops are actually on the move to attack and to move the ball forward. And very literally, it's often used of a group that goes ahead to clear the underbrush or to clear the obstacles so that the army can come along. And Paul is saying that what looks really bad is actually something that God is doing something good through, what's happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. Now, a lot of times you're going to be in a place and you're going to go, "This isn't good, I don't see God working here! I don't feel His presence, I don't understand; there's nothing good that can come out of this!" I want to encourage you to stop and have a change of perspective and realize that our God is big enough and even specializes in working through things that we don't understand. We serve a God who can turn what we call obstacles into divine opportunities for Him to show Himself. We serve a God that can take what we call setbacks, and He can actually turn them into setups for Him to be glorified and for us to make a difference. We could say it this way, you may feel like you're in prison, "Oh my gosh, I'm chained up to this thing that I don't like!" Well, your prison can become your pulpit. In other words, there could be a purpose in your prison. What the enemy meant for evil, God can actually use for good in the middle of the thing that you would never choose God specializes in using those things for His glory. Your prison could become the pulpit where you share what God is doing. There is a purpose in your prison. You may not see it, but God can give you a different perspective. I don't know if any of you ever remember back several years ago, there were these pictures that you would often see in the mall. They were called like magic eyes, and they were like a collage of all of these different colors and they would say you know that if you would look into it you could see 3D images that would appear. How many of you know what I'm talking about? Anyone know what I'm talking about? Okay, I hated those things with all of my heart! Loathe them! You know, because I'm color blind and all of my friends are like, "Oh, it's so neat! I mean, you just look at them and it's like in 3D and can you see it Craig?" And I'm like, "No, you're lying! You're all in a club! You're blood brothers and you've all sworn to torture me because I can't see those stupid things!" And for years I was frustrated by this. Until one time, my family went on a vacation and we got suckered into going into a Ripley's Believe it or Not. The fact that I paid $18.00 for a ticket man, believe it or not! That actually happened! And so, the good news is in this place they actually had one of those pictures and there were instructions on the side of it that said you know what you have to do. You have to look through the colors and you have to let your eyes get kind of blurry and you have to see through it and when you see through it and stare at it for a long time, these things will come out. And so, I just told the family, "You guys go on without me, we don't have to drive home until Sunday, and I'm going to be here until I see this!" And so they went on! And so, I got into position and I'm postured and I'm looking through it and doing everything with my eyes. And I don't know how long, it might have been ten minutes, it might have been eleven minutes it might have been twelve minutes, but God as my witness, all of a sudden I saw it! And it was the most glorious, God inspired moment! There were 3D dolphins that came and they were jumping through little hoops and there was one with a ball! And I saw it and it was so great! I said, "Amy, come quick!" And then I lost it and I never saw it again! But for a moment I had a change of perspective and what was always there I finally got to see. I mean, this is going somewhere can you see? There are times when you are in a place where I don't see it and I don't understand and I don't like it and even though you can't necessarily see it, God is there. If you'll just look through the circumstances and kind of get a funny look in your eyes, you can actually see that God may have a purpose in the middle of your prison if you just look with spiritual eyes, He'll give you eyes to see. I can use this thing that you would never choose if you'll trust me with the why and just ask me, "What do you want to do God through this, now what? What do you want to show me? What do you want to do in me? What do you want to do through me? What way do you want to use this that I would never choose to bring you glory. I don't understand God, but I trust you with the why. Now what? Now what? Now what do you want me to do?" Verse 13 we see this story come to life. Verse 13 he says: As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in... What? Everybody say it aloud, he said: ...that I am in chains for Christ. Now, wait a minute. If you're reading that going, "No, no, no, no; you're in chains for preaching about Christ. We are punishing you, Paul. This isn't a good thing! You need to be quiet! We are punishing you! He could have said this: 'You think I'm chained down and can't preach Christ, but you've forgotten who I'm chained to. You see, my heart has always been to reach Rome and you just chained me to four different Roman guards a day because every six hours a new Roman guard would come in and all of a sudden you've chained me to the leaders who have tremendous influence, the Imperial Guard. And guess what you've done? You've given me a captive audience with some of the most powerful people in Rome.' And suddenly you start to scratch your head and say, "Who is the real prisoner in this story? Who is the real prisoner in this story?" It's a little bit like a martial art I studied in college, Akido. I missed the first week and had to go downtown to a class where there were only fat men in their fifties. And I thought, "This is stupid!" One fat guy said, "Hit me!" I said, "I'm not going to hit you! I'm not going to hurt you!" He said, "Hit me!" I said, "I'm not going to hit you!" He said, "Hit me!" So I threw a punch as hard as I could. And when I did, he grabbed my arm and pulled it through the air and threw me on the ground and sat on me and made me scream for mercy! And what I didn't realize is, the whole driving force of that art is to use someone else's strength and use the force of their attack against you. And when Satan attacks you and throws all his weight at you, you take by the power of God, what he meant for evil and you sit on him like a fat man on a young kid and say, "God is going to do something special in this!" Some of you right now, you're going through something very difficult and I want you to know that your test that you endure today could be the testimony that you tell tomorrow. Somebody needs to hear that again and I want to say it again: The test that you endure today could become your testimony tomorrow. Here's what God did. Your misery could actually become your ministry. I never thought I'd end up here, but oh, the way God worked through this is life-changing. The test you endure today could be the testimony that you tell tomorrow. Verse 14: Because of my chains... He says, 'Hey, I'm locked up': ...most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Man, God is all over this thing, can you see it? He's all over this thing! So, you wake up and you're not married and you wanted to be married. Now what? You wake up one day and you're financially strapped like you never thought you would be. Okay God, I trust you with the why, now what? What do you want to do? What do you want to do in me? How do you want to show yourself through this? You hit a relational dead-end, or you hit a dead-end in your career, now what God? I still trust you with everything in me, now what God? What do you want to do through this? Everybody say, now what? Say it again, now what? The second question we ask is: So what? There was some division in the church that Paul wanted to address and in verse 15 he talks about it. He said: It's true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill... He said: ...The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the Gospel. But the former, they preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains... Then in verse 18 he asks the question. He says, everybody read it aloud, he says: ...But what does it matter? The most important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. That's what's important, the most important thing. Hey, what does all of that other stuff matter? I could get pretty riled up about it and we could go on and on and on about it and we could blog about it. We could gossip about it and we could write letters of complaint about it and we could have all sorts of pity parties about it. But he says, 'What does that really matter? What's most important is that Christ is preached.' And sometimes when you get at a place in life where there are some things that are bothering you, you just have to learn to say, "So what! What does it really matter?" In fact, the words in the Greek that's translated this way are the words Tis gar plen. Everybody say, Tis gar plen. Now, when you say plen you have to say it like Tattoo from years ago when he'd say, "De plane, de plane!" Okay, for those of you that were not a product of the eighties I apologize to you, but for everybody else, you feel my love right now on Fantasy Island! So, it's this Tis gar plen! What does it matter, what does it mattter? What I've trained myself to do, and I don't always do it, but I try to. When something irritates me, when something bothers me, I try to ask myself, "So what is this going to matter 100 years from now? One hundred years from now, how big a deal is this?" If it's not going to be a big deal 100 years from now, it's not a big deal. In fact, a lot of times it's not going to be big a year from now, or even a month from now. And so, when we ask this question, what it does is it helps us to focus not so much on what's not important, but it frees us to focus on what is important. Back in 2001, our church had the first big opportunity to present what God was doing in front of the most strategic church leaders in our country. We were mostly invisible then and so we put together the most elaborate package, it was like a little four-color book that told the story, each book was like this thick, and we made hundreds of them to hand out and present to the greatest church leaders in the country. And we had never been more excited, like this was a great opportunity. The books came in late so we couldn't ship them ahead. We had to actually take them on the airplane. And so, Pastor Kevin and I had stacks this big and they were our carry-on luggage and we're carrying these things and they represent everything to us. Well, it happened to be September the 11th when we were in the air flying to Chicago, when planes started falling all over the country. And so, they diverted our plane and it landed in St. Louis. And the packages that we were guarding with our lives, suddenly when we landed and had a different perspective and we realized there was no transportation and there were no hotels available and the economy was shot, our safety was not what we thought it was and the whole world was in chaos. All of a sudden, what we thought was important we dumped in the trash. And I remember, I remember the irony of it, the thing that was most important to me suddenly became excess baggage, okay. So what? Tis gar plen, okay. So you're watching your favorite show and the President interrupts it with a speech; tis gar plen, okay. And so, you're running late and a train slows you down. Is it going to matter a hundred years from now? Tis gar plen. And so, you spill something on your favorite outfit, awwwhhh! Tis gar plen! When you identify that this isn't that big of a deal, it changes your perspective and suddenly you can focus on what really does matter, because so often we get wrapped up in the things that are not eternal. Tis gar plen, so what? Who really cares? It's not that big of a deal! When you recognize what doesn't matter, you can focus on what does matter. What does matter? What does matter? Well God matters a lot, eternity matters a lot, serving people matters, using our gifts to make a difference in this world matters and that frees us up totally and completely. That's why Paul could say one of the most stunning statements that any person has ever made in the history of the world; verse 21, he says: For me, to live is Christ... In other words, hey, if I continue living I represent Christ. I am dead to myself I live for Him. My life is not my own, it's all about Him: For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. In this Roman prison, when Paul was writing this joy-filled letter, he was awaiting a trial to determine whether or not he would live or they would execute him. He was essentially locked up on death row; what could be death row. For me to live is Christ, to die means to be in His presence; tis gar plen. When you have that perspective, all of the things that tend to weigh us down don't really matter that much. We all have a what and we don't understand the why. The good news is God always has a why behind the what. We don't have to understand the why to trust God in the what. So we've got something that we don't understand why. Now what? God, what do you want to do in me? What do you want to do through me? What do you want to show me through this? What do you want to do through this attack to bring you glory? Something else, hey, so what? Tis gar plen, this doesn't really matter, because for me I'm all about Christ. To live is Christ, to die, hey the worst thing they could do to me is kill me and guess what? That's even better because if you knew where I was going, you wouldn't be so upset about the things of this world. Change of perspective and that changes everything. Father, I pray today that your Spirit would minister to us, especially those that are hurting and struggling, and God that through your presence and the teaching of your Word that we would be different. As you take a moment today at all of our different churches and reflect in prayer, I know a lot of you are going through a really difficult time. And I don't want to minimize the pain at all. I don't want to say it's no big deal because a lot of times it really is a big deal and life can throw you some brutal punches, but in the middle of it I pray that you can trust God with the why to trust Him. And you can get to the place where you'd say, you know what? What do you want to say through this? What do you want to do? And sometimes you may look at what you're going through and say it's not that big a deal, I'm not going to let this weigh me down anymore, I want to be about what's most important. All of our churches today, those of you who would say, "I am in the middle of something that I really wish was different, would you pray for me Craig?" I'd be honored to. Would you just lift up your hands right now in a symbol of faith before God? God, I pray today that the power of your Holy Spirit would minister hope and minister faith. God, I pray that there are those today that would realize because of your goodness as the enemy throws his weight toward us, God that you can use what he meant for evil and God that you can turn it for good. God I pray that we would be encouraged that the test that we endured today could become our testimony tomorrow as we tell of your faithfulness; how you worked, how you did something in us and then you did something through us. God I pray for your miraculous presence to give us a peace that goes beyond our human ability to understand that we would choose to trust you with the why and then surrender ourselves to do what you call us to do all for your glory oh God. As you keep praying today at our different churches, let me give you a different perspective on pain. I found that sometimes God in His goodness will allow us to get to a place where we are so low that we have nowhere else to look but up. And there are some of you right now, that might be exactly where you are; you're at the bottom and there's nowhere else to look but up. And I want you to look up to the only One who can help you in your time of need, to look up to our Heavenly Father, to call on Him. In fact, if you're not down right now, it's only a matter of time before you are because the reality is, here's a change of perspective; the worst thing in our lives is that we were born sinners; that we are sinners; that our sin separates us from a Holy God; that our sin destroys our life and it makes it impossible for us to know God intimately when we're dead in our own sins. Here's a change of perspective, you can't earn your way to God. In His grace and in His love He sent Jesus who was without sin to become sin for us. He died in our place, was raised from the dead so that anyone who calls on His name would be saved; not because of what we've done, but because of what He did, change of perspective. There are many of you, you're at a low place right now; maybe because of your sinfulness, maybe because of what life's dealt you and you're going to call on His name. And I want to tell you that's why you're here, you're here because God loves you and it's time to look up, to call on Him, to give your life to Him. When you do, every sin you've ever committed will be forgiven and you'll be brand new, you'll be filled with the Spirit of God and you will not be the same. In fact, that's why you're here and you know it. At all of our churches, those of you who would say, "That's me, I'm ready, I know it! I'm down, I'm looking up! I'm a sinner and I need a Savior; Jesus, I call on You, I give my life to You! To live is Christ, to die is gain. My life is not my own, I give it to You!" If that's your prayer, would you lift your hands high right now, just all of our different churches, just lift them up and say, "Yes!" "That's my Prayer." Church Online, you click right below me and we're gonna pray together right now. Everybody pray aloud. Pray, "Heavenly Father, I need your presence. Jesus save me! And forgive me for my sins. Make me new. I believe you died for me. So I could live for you. Fill me with your spirit. So I could serve you for the rest of my life. Thank you for new life. I give you mine. I Jesus' name I pray," Would somebody celebrate new life in Christ!

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Duration: 34 minutes and 8 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Jun 27, 2012

Perspective - Week 1 - Craig Groeschel -

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