Staying on Task and Target, Part 2 (February 11, 2022)

Last week we began to examine Philippians 1:12-18. In the middle of a world which demands our full allegiance, how can we stay on task and on target as a church and individual believers. We stay on task and on target by maintaining the proper perspective of the gospel and eternity. Paul wrote this letter from a prison cell, imprisoned for the Gospel. The phrase in verse 12, “What has happened to me,” most likely includes all the events of struggle Paul faced. It contains the riots in various cities caused by anger at his preaching, the two years’ imprisonment at Caesarea, the appeal to Cesar, the threats on his life, the multiple shipwrecks he faced, and his impending trial. Paul had been stoned, imprisoned, and mistreated throughout his ministry for the Gospel. He had lost much for the Gospel. In chapter 4, we learn that he had suffered need and hunger. At the core was the fact that Paul was wrongly imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel. Many were attempting to kill Paul. Further, the Philippian church was founded through difficult circumstances. In Acts 16, we learn that a demon-possessed girl in Philippi harassed Paul and Silas. Finally, they cast the demon out of the girl, and she was miraculously saved. However, this action angered her masters, seeing the money they gained from her slipping away. As a result, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to court, where they were sent to prison. While sitting in the stocks, they sang praises to God. God caused an earthquake that opened the prison. Fearing that he had lost his prisoners, the jailer panicked. Yet, when Paul and Silas ensured him that no prisoners were lost, he recognized the difference in these men and also came to Christ. God founded this church through the persecution of Paul. Yet, Paul stayed on task and target through all the trials. Here Paul informs us of his secret. When the church and the believer maintain a proper perspective, they will stay on task and target. From a human standpoint, all seemed to be lost. Yet, the proper perspective allowed Paul to remain on task and target in the middle of difficult circumstances.

Trials are a reality of life. Just because you have trusted Christ does not mean that life is going to be a bed of roses. And just because you are facing some difficult circumstances in life, does not mean that God has forsaken you. Paul informed Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). You will face trials in your life. Some of you may even be facing them now. Whether it trials in your family (Relational troubles with your spouse, difficulty with your children or grandchildren), trials in finances (lost his job, or the job you have just doesn’t pay), trials at work (can’t get it right, co-workers or boss making life difficult for you), trials in relationships (with friends or significant other), trials in health; God has not forsaken you, and you can still live a life of joy even in the midst of that. How? How is that possible? The key is a proper perspective.

Paul observed this reality repeatedly in his ministry and now pleads with the Philippian church to observe it as well. He states, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” The term “advance” was used in the Greek-speaking world to characterize blazing a trail before an army. Paul saw these events as forging new territory for the Gospel. While others may have seen the end of a ministry, Paul saw new ways for the Gospel to spread. And he informs the Philippians that indeed the Gospel did spread. It spread to the emperor’s inner circle. Roman military officers and Roman soldiers heard the Gospel in Jerusalem and Caesarea. Two Roman governors (Felix and Festus), King Herod Agrippa, and their wives heard Paul speak about faith in Christ Jesus. One of these governors, over two years, often sent for Paul to converse with him. What appeared at first to be the end of Paul’s ministry turned out to be the means of its advancement. These trials allowed Paul to preach the Gospel before governors and kings and ultimately to the Imperial house.

Further, we observe that some responded with boldness to fill in the gap left by Paul’s imprisonment. Interestingly, Paul uses the word “most,” meaning a great many or majority of Christians responded to Paul’s struggles with boldness and bravery. When believers heard that Paul used his chains as an opportunity to express his faith in Christ, even to the palace guard, they were emboldened to proclaim Christ fearlessly even when they might have been intimidated to keep their mouth shut. Courage is contagious—the timid catch boldness from the brave. Years later, when facing his inevitable death, Paul encouraged Timothy to carry on the task. He informed him of the secret, the needed perspective to stay on task and target in the direst of circumstances.

As this church faces the pressures of COVID and the variety of opinions, we must keep the target and tasks in mind to carry on in unity. Some would have the church close the doors for protection, and others would have the church never close. The divisions threaten the church’s viability. Some desire all to mask, and others see masks as a form of oppression. The divisions threaten the church’s viability. Some fear the ongoing threat of COVID, and some see it as a thing of the past. The divisions threaten the church’s viability. We must maintain a proper perspective. The church is not about the political views of COVID but the advancement of the kingdom. Our mission must be to press forward with the Gospel. The sufferings of today are working for us an eternal weight of glory. So don’t allow the perspective of the world to infect your mind and cause you to quit. As fellow citizens of the kingdom, we must seek to love and care for one another. This proper perspective will allow us to stay on task and target in the middle of these unusual and challenging days.

Many of you face the financial pressures of employment shortages in your work and inflation. You are tempted to question God and his work in your life. You are tempted to quit sacrificially giving to the church. Do not quit on the church. The church is about the Kingdom of God. Christ informs us in Matthew 6 that when we seek the Kingdom of God first, he will care for our every need. The proper perspective will keep you on task and target.

Staying on Task and Target – February 4, 2022

What would it take for you to turn your back on God? What would it take for you to quit the church? In the 17th century, a tinker named John Bunyan trusted in Christ. Before long, he recognized that error had infiltrated the church of England. Desiring to restore the church to its proper focus, he began to hold services in his hometown of Bedford. He was an ordinary man with little education. But he longed to serve God and do what was right. However, the church of England did not agree. They had him arrested and thrown into prison, where he spent the next twelve years. He tried to do what was right; he tried to serve God. Yet, he spent years in prison away from his wife, young children, and friends. Put yourself in that situation. If you were punished for doing right, if you faced criticism and persecution for doing right, if you couldn’t see your family because you did right, how would you respond? Would you be tempted to turn your back on God? Would you be tempted to give in to the sinful demands of others? Would you be overcome by bitterness or depression? John Bunyan spent twelve years in prison because he did what was right. But Bunyan did not turn his back on God. Bunyan did not give up on the church. Instead, John Bunyan continued to preach every day from his prison cell. People would gather outside the cell window and listen to him preach. He also took the time to write a book that for centuries became the second-best-selling book only to the Bible: Pilgrim’s Progress. He and his church stayed on task and target. How was this possible? Every believer and every church will face challenges that will cause them to question their faith.

Our church sits in the middle of a confused culture. The battles of the culture easily draw the Christian and steal their focus. In turn, this lost focus drags the church down with it. Further, over the next year, our church seeks to expand our impact for the Gospel in several ways. Without staying on task and target, these advances can threaten the unity of the church. So we must examine how we can stay on task and target in every situation.

Philippians 2:12-18 contains Paul’s secret to staying on task and target in every situation. Take a moment to read the section. Over the next few weeks, we will walk through this text and seek to understand how we can stay on task and target. For this week, simply read through the text several times and ask the question, “What was Paul’s secret to maintaining a proper focus?”

As you examine the text you will discover that a proper focus keeps the church on task and target when facing difficult situations, difficult people, and when we respond properly. Keep the Kingdom first!

The Importance of Truth – January 21, 2022

Again, this week we are reminded of the importance of absolute truth. Lafayette, Indiana, seeks to pass a regulation against counseling individuals towards Biblical morality. Across the border in Canada, the same law passed. Next week, Dr. Phil will air a show featuring a debate between those who hold to the concept of gender fluidity and those who hold to Biblical morality.

In each situation, the debate surrounds the concept of truth. One group claims that truth is relative and fluid. The Bible demonstrates that truth is absolute and centered in God himself. For the past decades, society has deserted absolute truth. Since the enlightenment period, society sought to find truth through science instead of God. However, the World Wars and advances in science shattered this thinking. Now society has moved to a post-modern age where everyone determines their truth.

Society would believe that gender fluidity and sexual immorality must be celebrated because truth lies with the individual. Simple definitions are no longer absolute. When asked to define what a man or a woman is, society balks at the question. Instead, claiming that it is whatever each individual feels it is. However, this chaos cannot lead to freedom. It can only lead to despair.

Consequently, society must find ways to anesthetize themselves from the despair they feel. Drugs, alcohol, and many other things keep individuals from feeling the despair surrounding their lives. Yet, when the anesthetic wears off, the despair returns.

The answer lies in the absolute source of truth. God holds the keys to satisfaction and joy in life. Absolute truth anchors our lives. And the Gospel declares that truth. Christians cannot afford to respond to the current societal situation with false answers. Anger, frustration, worry cannot exemplify hope. Politics does not provide actual change. Entertainment and comfortable lives cannot last. Only the absolute truth of the Gospel can change anyone. Christians must stand and proclaim the truth of the Gospel regardless of the cost.

The question remains, will you stand on the Gospel? Or will you settle for lesser answers which do not provide hope? Will you anchor yourself to the Word of God, or will you drift aimlessly with the culture? The day has come for the Christian to choose. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

God Will Work – January 14, 2022

Sometimes in life, we question God’s actions. As we look at life around us, we wonder if God is really in control. Paul writes a letter to a group of people in Philippi wondering the same thing. In Philippians 1:6, he states, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The acts of history are not up to us; they are up to God. God began redemption in us. Because of this, we can have confidence that he will complete this redemption.

Perhaps we struggle with the challenges of life because we don’t value our redemption. Because we don’t appreciate our redemption, we have a faulty view of life and history. We become frustrated when we depend on other things for our happiness, satisfaction, or stability. All are sin-stained and unable to accomplish the things for which they were not created. As a result, our faulty view of redemption and God creates instability.

Redemption (the good work God began in us) refers to more than simply getting out of Hell and going to Heaven one day. This redemption brings us into the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom overarches all human life and history. This Kingdom overarches all of life as it grants the believer a different motive and focus. No longer must we rely on this world for satisfaction, joy, and stability. All too often, we rely on family relationships, work success, financial advancement, recreation, acknowledgment, or our political party in power for our stability and satisfaction. When the thing we are looking for fails (and it will), we become unstable and frustrated. Yet, we find wonderful satisfaction when we focus on and live for the everlasting Kingdom.

The Kingdom overarches all of history. God is working every action and circumstance towards the ultimate establishment of that Kingdom when Christ returns. The changes in political establishments and countries continue to take place. Hoping that some political victory will change the course of history is foolhardy at best. Yet, the Kingdom remains an eternal promise. Relying on that Kingdom grants stability regardless of the current political or socio-economic climate.

As you walk through life and find yourself frustrated with the challenges you face, remember that God will work all things for our redemption. You can be confident through the darkest of times because your hope is in Christ. He is solid and steadfast. Don’t be angry or frustrated; find contentment in Christ.

New Year’s Resolutions – January 7, 2022

I don’t generally make new year’s resolutions. I tend instead to make resolutions throughout the year. Yet, like every human alive, I struggle to keep the resolutions after making them. After a week of 2022, perhaps you are struggling to keep your resolutions. I would encourage you to press forward. Proper resolutions provide great help in our lives.

Whenever resolutions become a topic, I think of the great puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards. He regularly made the practice of resolutions. He recorded 70 of them. His resolutions tended to be profound. Consider some of these resolutions and determine if they would not be reasonable to resolve for yourself.

1 – Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

4 – Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5 – Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

10 – Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

16 – Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

24 – Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

28 – Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

40 – Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.

41 – Resolved, to ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better.

56 – Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.


The complete list of resolutions can be found at

God with Us – December 17, 2021

God created all things in absolute perfection. However, humankind quickly destroyed that perfection through willful disobedience and rebellion. As our representative, Adam plunged all men into sin through that one sin. Creation became subject to the horrendous impact of sin. And the world became broken. Yet, God in His sovereign love did not walk away. Instead, He began to work all things towards redemption through God’s eternal plan. We find this promise in Genesis 3:15.

God chose to preserve Noah and his family out of man’s depravity. Later God called Abraham and identified this man as the headwaters of redemption’s stream. This stream would pass through Judah and ultimately be identified in King David. Through David, we learned that the One who would come would be a redeemer and a King. However, things did not go as humanity expected. Israel and Judah entered into captivity, and God stopped speaking to man. Four hundred years of silence ensued. All hope seemed to be lost.

Then, an angel visited a young woman in Galilee one spectacular day. He informed her that she was the final piece before the Redeemer. She would miraculously conceive through the Holy Spirit. We see her incredible faith because she believed the angel and responded in worship.

One can imagine the ensuing conversation with her fiancé, Joseph, and her family. Matthew 1 indicates that Joseph did not believe her. Who could blame him? An angel visited Joseph to confirm Mary’s account. Joseph also responded in faith. Nine months later, the miraculous happened. God entered the world as a baby. Christmas happened.

As we celebrate Christmas over 2000 years later, we must keep in mind the reason for our celebration. Giving gifts and spending time with family is wonderful. However, they are not the reason we celebrate. We celebrate because Jesus became a man so that he could live a sinless life, sacrifice his life for our sin on the cross, and establish the Kingdom of God again. We celebrate because God forgives our sin through our faith in Jesus. We celebrate because God makes us citizens of the eternal Kingdom of God. We celebrate because Christmas means God will fix the world fixed again and make all things right.

So, celebrate this Christmas! Give gifts as a picture of the greatest gift given to us. Spend time with family as a picture of the eternal family we have in Christ. And regularly point to the Gospel. Remember, while the world is broken, it will be fixed because of Christmas (and Good Friday and Easter)!

The Right to Life – December 3, 2021

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

This week the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding abortion from the state of Mississippi. This event turned into one of the clearest arguments in the case surrounding abortion. Throughout the arguments, the Solicitor General for Mississippi brought significant facts to the forefront. First, there is no constitutional right to take another’s life. Second, the baby in the womb is a person from the moment of conception. On the other hand, the lawyers bringing the case against Mississippi were left with two arguments. First, they argued for legal precedent. The Supreme Court had ruled in the past and must rule the same way again. Second, that women would be hurt if they ruled for Mississippi. Neither of the accusers’ arguments seemed to hold sway. All accounts are that this was a disastrous day for abortion defenders.

To this, we praise the Lord for the opportunity to see the arguments finally laid bare in public. The foundation of the abortion movement is the worship of two idols: the idol of sex and the idol of feminism. The first idol demands that sex be engaged in without consequences. The second idol demands that women be able to do everything men do. The first idol leaves broken hearts and broken bodies in its wake. The second idol demeans women by removing the beautiful and glorious things that only women can do and makes demands on them they cannot fulfill.

In all of this, the answer is the Gospel. The world demands the worship of these idols out of a search for significance, meaning, and peace. However, there is no significance, meaning, or peace apart from God. The Gospel informs us that we can find these things and, even more importantly, forgiveness, family, kingdom, and eternity through the sacrifice of Christ. To truly end this debate, we must regularly and boldly share the Gospel of Christ.

The Supreme Court heard the case, and now they will decide. Our role must be to enter the throne room of God through prayer and intercede for them. We must fervently pray that God will overthrow the wicked decision of Roe vs. Wade. We must also continue to battle for life and support those women who need it. Consider working with Helping Hands to provide tangible support. Love the young ladies in our church and encourage them when they do right. Encourage our young men to treat women with respect. Support life!

Give Thanks – November 26, 2021

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Yesterday, I hope that you had a wonderful day with family or friends. Even more, I hope that you took some time to consider all the incredible blessings that God bestows on you. In the middle of a hard couple of years, it can be easy to lose sight of all the good around us. If you have not already, take some time to express your thanks to God and others for these things.

I am thankful for several things. I am grateful for the family with which God blessed me. Twenty years ago, I met my wife when some friends set us up. It has been a remarkable twenty years. I am blessed beyond measure with a wonderful wife. I am also blessed with two fantastic boys who love the Lord and others. I am continually impressed and convicted by their faith. I cannot wait to see the men that they become.

I am thankful for my church. Over the past four years, the church has continually demonstrated love and faith. The care they show towards one another is a blessing to behold. They frequently sacrifice their money, time, and energy for the church. When one member suffers, they rally to care for that member. When they can divide, they come together and care for one another. I am regularly amazed at their care and compassion. They are committed to growth in their spiritual lives and love the Word. As their pastor, I could ask nothing more.

I am thankful for my country. The freedoms we regularly enjoy are a novelty on the stage of world history. The economic wealth we experience is unprecedented. And the education we demand has never been seen before. The past two centuries of this country present an oddity that may never be seen again. While it is easy to complain about all that has happened in this country, we cannot lose sight of these blessings.

God truly is a good God who cares for His children. Even when we face hardship, the wise believer recognizes all that God grants. Take time today to count your blessings and be overwhelmed by your God. Instead of getting caught in the consumerism of Black Friday, seek contentment with God’s provision. In every circumstance, give thanks.

The Reward for Humility – November 12, 2021

Over the past two weeks, we have examined the need for humility in the believer’s life. Unity in the church only persists as long as its members are humble. Further, last week, we examined Christ’s life as an example of humility. We cannot finish the text in Philippians 2 without looking at verses 9-13.

We see the reward for humility in two ways. First, God has given Christ an exalted position. Because of Christ’s humble sacrifice on the cross, God exalted Christ to his state of glory. He sits enthroned as King and rules over everything. As sovereign over all things, Christ cannot be conquered. Even death could not hold him. Second, God gave him a great name. At the very mention of his name, every knee will bow to him one day and declare that he is Lord over everything. From this, we learn again that God grants grace to the humble.

Verses 12-13 contain our expected response. Paul indicates that these verses are the desired response through the word “therefore.” Since we must humble ourselves for the sake of unity and since Christ set the example of humility and has been exalted into heaven, we must live out our salvation. Humility requires a daily dying to self. We must recognize that we are what we are only through the grace of God.

We live out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that God expects much of us and that we owe him everything. We fear disappointing our King. We tremble at the thought that we would love for another. And we recognize that we don’t have the strength to live out our salvation on our own.

For this reason, Paul introduces the two-track method of sanctification. We live out our salvation, but it is God who strengthens us to obey. God’s Spirit empowers us to do what we cannot do on our own. In this context, the Spirit empowers us to live for others and not for ourselves. The Spirit empowers us to look to others first and humble ourselves. Man is not naturally humble. However, the Spirit empowers us to obey God in this matter and to glorify him with our life. And the reward is eternal glory. So live for others and not for yourself.

Reflecting the Humility of Christ – November 5, 2021

Several years ago, the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” became very popular. When we consider that it means to live like Christ, we cannot overlook humility. In Philippians 2, Paul encourages us to emulate the attitude found in Christ. The attitude which Paul identified as the dominant attribute is the one of humility. To be like Christ, we must be humble. Paul identified three ways that demonstrated Christ’s humility.

First, Christ demonstrated his humility through the incarnation. This text informs us that Jesus did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. Instead, he took upon him the form of man. Prior to the immaculate conception, the second person of the trinity existed in the same form (as a spirit) as the other two persons of the trinity. However, through the incarnation, the Second Person became his creation. He confined himself to a human body. He experienced all that the human body experiences. Humans long to be freed from the travails of the body. Christ took those travails upon himself.

Second, Christ came as a servant. Although he is the Creator, he came as a lowly man. Born in a barn, Christ did not come in a humanly exalted position. Christ’s glory did shine through in his life. He came to a position of influence because of his deity. However, he came to serve. Consider that statement for a moment. The one who spoke all things into existence came to serve and save His creation. We demand to be served. We become frustrated when others inconvenience us. But not Christ! His humility shines through the fact that he embraced service.

Third, he obeyed the Father even to the point of a gruesome death on the cross. We avoid pain and death. Christ embraced it. Rather than uncreate and start over, He chose to redeem through the cross. He endured pain, ridicule, and blasphemy from those he lovingly caused to exist. Although he did not sin, he took our sin on himself. He endured the wrath of the Father. All so that we might have life. The one who did not deserve suffering and death, in humility, embraced it.

We often think that life revolves around us. Conflict festers because we demand our way and our opinion. For too many, there are two ways to accomplish things: my way and the wrong way. We see ourselves as mature, wise sages. Moreover, we see others as the ones blessed with our presence. Following the humility of Christ demands that we seek instead to serve others. We must make much of others. We must be willing to follow the thoughts, opinions, and desires of others. To be like Christ, we cannot make life about us. Instead, live for others.