Delivered on 8/27/17 at Camp Layman
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 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.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
What is the definition of “fellowship”?
: companionship, company looking for the fellowship of friendly people.
: community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience
their fellowship in crime.
: the state of being a fellow or associate.
: a company of equals or friends : association a fellowship
: the quality or state of being comradely meaningful communication for building trust and
: membership, partnership.
This is the world’s definition of “fellowship”. According to our text, it goes beyond the word. Because of Christ, it is “More Than Just Fellowship”. “I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 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”.
I love our times of fellowship, don’t you? This weekend is another testimony of the bond that we have…which is in Christ. This weekend would have been possible if it wasn’t blessed by our Lord Jesus. Everything about this weekend is just perfect. The fellowship, games, stories, and of course the food.
We joke all the time about how much Baptists love to eat, but I think that, one of the reasons we like to eat so much is because of the fellowship that goes along with it. Those times are wonderful and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for them.
But is that all that fellowship is? Is fellowship just limited to the times when we have picnics and dinners together? Is fellowship just limited to the times when we love on each other before and after our services together? No, it’s not. Because those things are really just expressions of our true fellowship. True fellowship goes much deeper than handshakes and hugs. True fellowship is the kind of fellowship that Paul shared with the church at Philippi. The kind of fellowship that endured even when they were apart. The kind of fellowship that continually increased, despite trials, prison and persecution.
In many of Paul’s letters, he begins with a prayer of thanksgiving. He thanks God for the people he’s writing to. But in this letter to the church at Philippi, that thankfulness seems to overflow. Paul had a very special relationship with the church at Philippi. They weren’t a perfect church. Neither are we.
It is truly surprising to me on how God can build His church. You have a building full of people, that are all different. Each and every member is different. We all have our issues, and querks, and yet, God in His power can make His church well. Considering the fact that we are all messed up in our own ways. And yet…God makes it work!
In many of Paul’s letters, he begins with a prayer of thanksgiving. He thanks God for the people he’s writing to. But in this letter to the church at Philippi, that thankfulness seems to overflow. Paul had a very special relationship with the church at Philippi. They weren’t a perfect church. There were some issues going on that he would address later on.
They weren’t always unified. They had trouble discerning false teaching. They weren’t always focused on what they were supposed to be doing and weren’t all heading in the same direction.
They were far from being a perfect church.
Charles Spurgeon had this to say…
Spurgeon was pastor of the huge Metropolitan Tabernacle in London and wonderful things were happening there. Thousands would come each Sunday to hear him preach. During the week, they would give out tickets to get in because there wasn’t enough room for everyone that wanted to, to come in. But all of these great things were happening and a lady came up to Spurgeon one Sunday morning after the service. She said, “Mr. Spurgeon, I don’t believe that I will be joining your church.” Spurgeon said, “Why is that?” She said, “Because some things are lacking. It is not quite a perfect church.” Spurgeon looked at her and said, “Ma’am, when you finally find the perfect church, please do not join it. Because if you join it, you will only ruin it.”
That’s funny, but it’s true. There are no perfect churches. There never have been and there never will be. And the reason that there are no perfect churches is because churches are made up of imperfect people. And Philippi was the same way. But in spite of that, they were still very special to Paul. Maybe that’s because he knew that he wasn’t perfect either.
Later on his letter, he would remind them of…
8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
Paul knew and gives us an example, that any righteousness in him wasn’t his. He knew it was Christ’s. And he knew that the same Jesus that saved him was the same Jesus that saved the people in the church at Philippi. They were all the same…we’re all the same. And because of that, he was able to see them, not for their imperfections… but he was able to see them for who they were in Christ.
And because of who they were together in Christ, they were able to have true and real fellowship. In this passage, we see how that fellowship played itself out in two parts. Their fellowship was a gospel fellowship and it was a grace fellowship. First, it was a gospel fellowship.
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 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.
For a church to work, and have fellowship, it needs a Gospel Fellowship. That kind of Gospel fellowship has an understanding of the past, and it has a glorious hope in the future. Which is built in Christ, formed by Christ.
Sometimes the past is glorious. Sometimes it’s forgettable. Sometimes the future looks promising. Sometimes it looks bleak. But there is no organization on the face of the earth that has what we have in Christ. (The Christians, The Gospel born Christians) There is no organization on the face of the earth that has the hope and the promise and the forgiveness of the Gospel. Everything else will soon fade away. But the True Gospel remains forever.
You see, it didn’t matter what had gone on in the Philippian church in the past.
It didn’t matter because they shared a fellowship with Paul in the Gospel from the first day until now. Their fellowship wasn’t based on their mood. It wasn’t based on their feelings. It wasn’t based on how many mistakes they had made or how they had blown it with each other in the past. No… their fellowship was built in the Gospel of Christ.
That meant that whoever they were in the past had been covered by the blood of Christ. That meant that all of their past sins were wiped away. It meant that all of their present sins had been wiped away. And it meant that their future sins had been wiped away. From the first day until now, they had ALL been paid for through Christ.
And because of that, verse 6 says that they could be confident. Confident in what? Their ability to do the right thing all the time? Their ability to overcome problems? Their ability to bond together and be unified? Their ability to see changes coming and deal with them? How could they be confident in those things? The fact was that they didn’t really have the ability to do any of those things. But people in a Gospel fellowship don’t have confidence in the things that they can do. No…people in a Gospel fellowship have confidence in the things that Jesus is doing. People in a Gospel fellowship have confidence that Jesus will finish what He starts. Despite the fact that the members are not perfect. Jesus is the One that makes it work!
Because of who Jesus is. And that gave them a bond that was deeper than any fellowship you and I can ever imagine. Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church is far from being perfect. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of insight to know that your messenger is not perfect…far from it. But thank God that our perfection is not what we are to have confidence in.
Gospel fellowship comes from understanding that, despite our imperfections, Christ has been working in all of us. And Gospel fellowship comes from understanding that, despite how imperfect we might be today, Christ is still working in us. And He will continue to work in us.
Not only does true fellowship consist of Gospel fellowship, it also consists of grace fellowship. Look at verses 7-8…
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
God’s desire for His children, His church is to also have a Grace Gospel Fellowship. So… Paul is saying that they have true fellowship because they share in the Gospel and because they share in God’s grace. They have Gospel fellowship and they have Grace fellowship.
True fellowship isn’t manufactured. It isn’t casually built with plans and programs and team-building exercises. True, grace fellowship is forged in the fire. Because it’s when we’re in the fire that we really need the grace of Christ to bring us through, isn’t it?
Paul could have never made it through what he went through apart from the grace of Christ. And because of the love they had for each other, when Paul was in prison, it hurt the Philippian church as much as it hurt him. Isn’t that the way we should be toward each other? When one of us hurts, shouldn’t we all feel the pain?
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
No maturing Christian can ever say, “I don’t need the church”, because Jesus tells us that we need each other. That is why God builds churches, no “one” Christian is ever called to be alone.
Not only did the Philippian church share in Paul’s imprisonment, they shared in his work. Grace fellowship meant that they shared in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel. They were together in the defense of the Gospel. They were together in the confirmation of the Gospel. Do you know what that means? It means that they lived lives that confirmed the truth of the Gospel to a watching and waiting world.
It showed in the way they handled grief. It showed in the way they handled adversity. It showed in the way they dealt with opposition. It showed in everything they did. When Paul was in prison, they loved him and hurt for him. But they didn’t despair. They didn’t despair, because their hope was in Jesus. And they trusted Jesus. And when Jesus made them a promise, they believed Him.
I have no doubt in my mind that we love each other, we care for one another. And… I hope that whenever we are apart, we have the same mindset as Paul, when he said… “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy”. We do have a wonderful fellowship together. And it is much deeper than just sharing meals together, stories, games, and so on… What we have is “More Than Just Fellowship”.
What we share is far deeper than any flaws or differences. What we share is far deeper than any past hurts or difficulties. What we share is the saving power of Jesus Christ. And by His grace and by His mercy, He reached into time and chose you, and I. He chose us and washed us and cleansed us with the blood of His Son. He gave us a new set of clothes…righteous clothes to cover our filth and shame.
We stand before Him and before each other as heirs and joint-heirs with His Son. Each of us deserves the exact same thing. And each of us has been given the exact same thing. The ground is level at the foot of the cross where we stand. And because of that, we have confidence. Not confidence in ourselves. Not confidence in our abilities. We have confidence in Christ.
The bond that we have…the fellowship that we have does end here. It is forever. He’s not finished with us. “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”.
This is our life. It is who we are as believers in Jesus. We have been called here together. And we’ve been called here to share in a Gospel fellowship and in a Grace fellowship. And I thank God that He’s working us toward that and won’t quit until He’s accomplished it in us.
Let Us Pray….
Delivered Aug. 20, 2017
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Preaching in Solomon’s Portico.
11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.
As we now live in a time where… we always want things in a hurry. Being patient has lost its value. We are always wanting things done quick, and fast. We are always in a hurry. Sadly this is the world that we live in. For example… When we get our oil changed it is "quick lube". Our packages are delivered by "Federal Express". Since we’re always in a hurry, a quick meal is called, "fast food". Cooking rice normally takes about 15-20 minutes. Now there’s “minute rice” . Our coffee is "instant". We drive on "expressways". When you need a loan you want "instant approval".
Sadly…this way of living has also affected our spiritual life. We always approach God in hurry. When we have a prayer request, we want God to give us a quick answer. We don't like delays. Delays are at best inconvenient, most of the time they are irritating and often infuriating. Lets face it, we just don’t like to wait!
On February 12, 2009 a man named, David Becony missed a flight from Newark-Liberty International Airport to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Bad weather had delayed his earlier flight from New Orleans to Newark. This had to be a frustrating situation for Becony. Not only was he late, he was unable to get another flight. Even worse he could not find a hotel room near the airport. As a result he decided to camp out on a seat at the terminal. Becony's frustration turned to relief when he learned that the flight he missed ...Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed outside Buffalo, and killed all 49 people on board.
As he watched television reports on the crash and its fiery aftermath he said "It could have been me," ..."My wife would have been with all those families who had loved ones on the plane". He later proclaimed "I'm still in shock, really,"...."God was looking over me."
Wow… Many time’s we allow delays to ruin our day. But if we knew what we may have encountered, if we had been on time we would be eternally grateful. Have you ever called on the Lord to move in your life and He did not respond when or how you wanted Him to? Perhaps this caused you to be angry, frustrated and even doubtful.
Our selected text covers the story of a man who was lame from birth. When other babies took their first steps he did not. When the other kids were running and playing he could not. When the teenagers began to work in the fields he was not able to help. And as a grown man he could not do what was needed to support himself. Because of his condition, he was a poor beggar who sat at the gate of the temple and asked for "alms" of those who passed by. But one great day he encountered two men who would point him to the One who would change his life forever!
Do you remember a commercial from J.G Wentworth where the people were yelling "It's my money and I want it now! Many time’s, this is how we pray and approach God. We find ourselves in need of a miracle and like spoiled children we tell the Lord "it is my miracle and I want it now!! It doesn't take long to learn that regardless of our impatience, the Lord moves in His own way and in His own time! I hope that through this message we will see the importance of waiting on the Lord.
Just like the “lame beggar”, everyone here has needs, wants and desires. But there are some who seek a mighty move of God. We want a miracle to happen. We encounter those situations that are so severe that it is clear… God is our only hope! Let us break down this story, and learn from “A Delayed Blessing”.
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
As Peter and John approach the temple, they encounter a man with a certain request. He asked them for "alms". This is defined as money or food. This was a simple request and it was how he spent each day of his life. But it is safe to assume that this man possessed a much greater desire. He had condition that prevented him from walking. He was unable to live as others lived and to do what other did. Being lame was an issue that greatly impacted his life.
You may be facing issues and circumstances that have a tremendous impact on your life. You are not just here today to worship, like this man in our story, you are need. There are many people with many different problems. Perhaps you are facing a situation at this very moment and it seems that there is no hope. Your greatest desire is for the Lord to come on the scene and work a miracle in your life! Let the story of this man encourage you. All he wanted was some pocket change but he received an entire life change! As Peter and John met with him that day he received more than he could have ever asked for. And Jesus is still working miracles today!! But, He doesn't always work when or how we would choose.
Our wants, needs, and desires, sometimes comes with a delay. Just look at how long this man waited for his miracle to happen… V2 “And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple”.
This man had endured this struggle his entire life. We are told that he was "lame from birth". You may be here tonight with the same circumstance, there is something you have been dealing with for a long time, and you just want a miracle to happen. Or maybe it’s something new… took you by surprise, and now you are in a panic, and you want a miracle, and you want it now. Because of your waiting you may be frustrated, discouraged and even angry at God.
Consider if you will the location of this miracle. When Peter & John found this man he was at the gate of the temple. There were some compassionate people who would take this man each day and place him beside the beautiful gate. This was the routine for this man. At this point in the story, Jesus has already ascended to Heaven.
If you are familiar with the story of Jesus and His ministry here on earth, He had visited many temples, (churches) Could this be one of them? It is possible (I believe even probable) that this man was present on many occasions when Jesus was in the region. Jesus…at one point may have passed this lame beggar in the past. So…Why didn’t our Lord, heal this man then?
The news about who Jesus was in His earthly ministry have spread. Many knew of His miracles.
Maybe he heard that Jesus had spit on the ground and made clay, placed it on the eyes of a blind man and he received his sight. Maybe he heard that Jesus put His finger into the ear of a deaf man and he began to hear. Maybe he heard that Jesus encountered 10 lepers and at the sound of His voice they were cleansed. Maybe he heard about a man named Lazarus who had been dead for days and was raised to live again when Jesus called his name.
Perhaps he heard these miracles and was resentful. With all of these miracles in the very region where he lived WHY??? was he left out! Perhaps he lived for years thinking that one day, Jesus would come, and bless him with a miracle. And for years it didn't happen. Frustrated, even doubtful that…that day would come?
You may be in a similar situation. For a while now, you have longed for God to move in your life, answer your prayers, receive your miracle. Perhaps you have prayed day after day for God to intervene, but to no avail. You look around and see God working in the lives of others. You trust Him and you call on Him... you plead with Him and it seems that you are wasting your time. Your “Delayed Blessing” may have caused you great disappointment. After a while that disappointment may turn into doubt. ( I know the Scriptures, I know His promises, He doesn’t lie. But where is my blessing?)
I hope that you will see through the story of this lame man that just because God doesn't act when we want Him to... Just because He doesn't respond exactly how we want Him to...This doesn't mean that He has forsaken you! God always has a plan and a reason for the struggles in the lives of His children. You may request for a miracle today, and you may not receive it. But there may come a day when you least expect it that God shows up and does something amazing, when you least expect it.
As this man was placed at the beautiful gate that morning, he had no idea that this was the day his life would change forever. All he wanted was some money or some food. But he didn't get want he wanted, he got something much better!
You may have been calling on God to do something specific in your life. As of now it has not happened. But today may be the day that you receive a miracle. And you may find that God has an even greater plan than you could have ever imagined. Look with me to verses 4-6…
4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
God is Sovereign, He is in control and He knows what’s best for you. He knows the reason for your struggle. And when He works a miracle, there is a reason for that as well. We look at our situation and we think that we know how it would best be resolved. Jesus is your Creator, and He has already laid out your life before the foundation of the world. How do I know that? Here..
Psalms 139:13-16 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because, I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book, before one of them came to be.
You are not created by accident or by chance. You are created for His glory. If you are a Christian…you belong to God. Then you are precious to Him. He has a plan for you. “all the days ordained for me were written in your book, before one of them came to be”.
If this lame man had his way, he would have never been born with his condition. And I am sure that he would have loved to be healed many years earlier. God had a plan that would literally amaze those who were present. As a result, this man was used by God in a mighty way. (So will He with everyone of you) You may not have chosen your current circumstance. You may feel that you know what God should do. But God may have another plan concerning your blessings. At times, all we can do is trust Him to do what is best! The great lesson for us in this sermon is not so much about the miracle, but the reason behind it. Let’s continue with the story…
7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Preaching in Solomon’s Portico.11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.
Peter lifted this man up. His legs received strength. He was filled with Joy. He walked, he leaped and he praised God. Something that seemed impossible had happened. This was truly a miracle that changed his life forever. He was just looking for some spare change…maybe some food. But he received something better! Maybe you are in a similar situation? Maybe you are just looking for some spare change…something to just get you by. But…your days have been ordained as scriptures have shown us. God has plan for you… it has already been written. Just wait and see! And when it comes, you will be just like the man in our story. You will be “leaping and praising God”!!!
All that saw this knew that something miraculous had happened. The people gathered together in great wonder. When the crowd was gathered, Peter began to preach to them. He proclaimed that he nor John had healed this man, IT WAS JESUS! The same Jesus they had rejected...The same Jesus that they mocked...The same Jesus that they had crucified...The same Jesus who was resurrected...HE WAS THE ONE WHO HAD HEALED THIS MAN!!! It was faith in Jesus that made this miracle possible. It was Jesus that delivered… “A Delayed Blessing”
Maybe you are here and you have been waiting for a long time for the Lord to move in a mighty way in your life. You know that there is a blessing for you, and you just can’t wait. Remember that God’s timing is perfect, even when it doesn't happen the way we want it to. Just like the “lame man” in this story, God may have something better than what you asked for. If you do receive a miracle…your, “blessing”, it will be by Jesus and for His glory! Throughout the life of Jesus, He worked many miracles. And each one of those miracles came with a message.
This man may have thought that he was worthless. The world had no time for him. He may have even thought that God had abandoned him. But he found out that Jesus knew his story, and cared for him immensely! Whatever your situation, Jesus knows your story! Simply because He wrote it. He has not, and will not forget you. You are precious to Him. He sees your struggles and He cares for you, He loves you! That was settled on the cross!
By the time this miracle occurred, Jesus had already ascended into Heaven. But time and space could not prevent Him from working a miracle. Jesus may have worked through Peter and John, but when this miracle happened...JESUS WAS ON THE SCENE!!! And He is still with us today!!!
We may receive, “A Delayed Blessing”, Receive it we will!
Remember that Jesus can meet your need, whatever it may be. But sometimes the answer doesn't come right away. Sometimes He moves in ways we didn't expect. Or gives us more than we had asked for.
Other's in the bible have dealt with the same issue. The children of Israel waited for 400 years to be delivered from bondage. Even then they wandered in the desert for another 40 years. Abraham waited 99 years before Isaac was born. Joseph waited in prison for 14 years before things turned around for him. When Jairus was waiting for his daughter to be healed, his miracle was interrupted by the woman with the issue of blood. When Mary and Martha desired Jesus to come and heal Lazarus, their miracle was delayed. Though there were delayed, things worked out the way God wanted…in His time.
Perhaps, the truth of “A Delayed Blessing”, is simply this….
27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Pastor Richard Santos
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