Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hallmarks of a Christian-JOY

William Woo
HPCBC Youth Service

HPCBC Youth Service
[Philippians will be preached in the Chinese service during the Month of February. We will join them on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays. I encourage you to read through the book, you can take a chapter a week, before each Sunday’s sermon. This is not the manuscript from Sunday’s sermon but an adaptation, intended for publication on our website. Some items have been left out and others added.]

         Expressing joy is not easy for some people. In fact our culture [it seems] looks down on those who have joy. Even youth culture has a group collectively called “emo”. These folks walked around wearing dark outfits  and basically did not express their joy.

   A hallmark is defined by Google as, “a mark stamped on articles of gold, silver, or platinum in Britain, certifying their standard of purity”. As Christians we are called to be pure, and we are to have joy. We see this in the letter of Philippians. Unlike those who are emo, Christians should have the hallmark of joy. Do you lack joy in your life?

         Ever since the 50’s, American culture has elevated the rebel.  In some parts of American culture, people showing enthusiasm are looked down upon. In public school, if you show enthusiasm for studying you are labeled a nerd. People who show enthusiasm usually have joy, or vice versa, your joy is seen in your enthusiasm.

         The apostle Paul showed his enthusiasm for his people in the Philippian church. You can see this in verses 3 to 11 which is one big paragraph. I found that you can divide this paragraph into 3 sub ideas.[1]  We read in Philippians 1: 3-6
         I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you,[a] always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you[b] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
         We see Paul’s joy manifested in prayer for the Philippian church, in “every prayer”.  Paul had fond recollections of being in partnership with them for the gospel. Our church is in partnership with missions overseas, a joyful relationship going back a few years. We hope to go to YSMP forming a new partnership of the gospel. Those who have been on short term missions gain friendships. These friendships will bring great joy. Will you go on mission? When you partner with others for the gospel, there is great joy in your and their life.

         But I warn you, if you become involved in a church or mission trip (partnership for the gospel), you may develop an affection for people.
         It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart,[c] and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel. For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

         Paul developed a love for this church (v. 7).  Verse 8 shows us that Paul had a Christ like affection for them. In my quiet time this morning, (taken from Hebrews 10: 19-25), we are encouraged to not give up in meeting with one another. When we meet with one another, bonds are developed and relationships are established.

         Unfortunately today, the term church refers to either a building or an  activity that we participate in. When really the church is the body of believers, the people, or the assembly of God’s people. My quiet time devotional mentioned that many people are not going to “church” anymore. Why have they forsaken the gathering with other believers?

We hope that you will not stop coming. That is what we are trying to foster here in our youth group. We are doing the best we can to get us to meet together to encourage each other and worship God all within the context of our family. We hope that you will come be a part of “church”, but I warn you, you may develop affection and love for others.

The third thought in this paragraph is seen in verses 9-11.
         And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in[d] the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

         Paul’s emotions go beyond mere feelings but to a desire to see that his people grow. Verse 9- he wants to see them grow in knowledge and discernment.  All this knowledge to help us be pure and blameless.  Many people are not discerning and have brought in impurities into their life. We live in an age of easy access to sermons, biblical teachings, and writings. What do we believe? Does it jive with scripture?

On another note- Are you growing in the faith through your study of God’s word.

         To recap, we are to 1. Partner with others for the Gospel esp. at church. 2. When we do attend church we can grow to love others and vice versa, and 3. We are to grow in knowledge and discernment.  Will you grow as we go to church, go on mission, and as we go together?

[1] This appears to be how the N.I.V. (1984 version) breaks down these verses.