“NEVER FORGET!” Philippians 1:3
INTRO – America is in trouble. There’s no doubt about that, no debate about that, no denying that. Everywhere you look, there are signs of decay & decline in morality & purity. So many of the things that made our nation great are either going away or they’re gone completely.
- Marriages & families are disintegrating.
- Biblical values are ridiculed & Christians are being ostracized more & more in every arena of our society – the political arena, the business arena, the education arena, the sports arena, & others.
- Entire denominations that, at one time were filled w/ evangelistic passion & fervor, are now succumbing to unbiblical beliefs regarding homosexuality & bisexuality.
- Freedom is being trampled.
- The government is in shambles.
- The upcoming Presidential election is frightening, to say the least.
- Racism is growing.
- Islam is growing.
- Violence is growing.
- Abuse of all kinds is growing.
- Addictions of all kinds are growing.
- Immorality of all kinds is growing.
- Who would have ever thought that we would actually have discussions about whether or not we ought to let boys & men use the ladies room, & girls & women use the men’s room? Who would have ever thought that our government – the government of the USA – “one nation under God” – would have ever sent down a memo to all public schools to let students choose which restroom & locker room they felt most comfortable in?
- And while all of those things are growing, church attendance is declining.
- Thom Rainer gave 7 reasons why churches are in decline:
- “Cultural Christians” no longer see the need to attend church. Church attendance no longer seen as necessary for acceptance in the community.
- Church members attending less frequently. 30 yrs ago, a committed church member attended 3 times a week. Now we consider someone an active church member if they attend 3 times a month.
- Expectations are lower for church members. If we expect little of church members, that’s exactly what we’ll get.
- Insufficient emphasis on groups.
- Inward focus. “Me” focused instead of “them” focused. “Me” focused churches are on the way to decline.
- No clearly defined discipleship process.
- No strategic plans for multiple campuses or multiple venues.
- Thom Rainer gave 7 reasons why churches are in decline:
Our nation’s decline is inextricably linked to the decline of our churches in America. Both go hand in hand. We need to be deeply concerned about both. Freedom is never free, whether it’s our freedom as American citizens, or our spiritual freedom as children of God. A huge price had to be paid for our freedom. And throughout the 240 years of our nation’s existence, there have been men & women who have fought for & died for the freedoms that we enjoy right now – freedoms that are now under attack & are slowly being taken away from us. Memorial Day is a time for us to remember those who gave the greatest sacrifice defending our freedom – their very lives. We must never forget them. We must not let our children & our grandchildren forget them. We need to teach our children & grandchildren that there have been some truly evil people in the world who’ve done terrible things to others, & that many men & women in our nation’s military forces did the right thing & went to stop those evil people.
- They went to stop Hitler & the Nazis, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Isis, Al-Qaeda, & other enemies of freedom.
- And thousands of them didn’t come back home alive. And as Paul said when he wrote to the Philippians, we need to thank God every time we remember them, every time we see an American flag, every time we sing the national anthem, every time we pass a service person in an airport, or a restaurant, or grocery store.
As important as our military forces are to our nation’s freedom & security, they are not the answer to all the struggles & problems we are facing as a nation. The answers are found, as we look further into Phil. 1.
THE LIFELINE OF PRAYER – v. 4, 9-11 – Paul helped start this church in Philippi when he led a woman named Lydia to faith in Christ. She opened her home up to him & Silas & the church was probably born out of the group that met there. Philippi was also the place where the jailer & his family came to know Christ after Paul & Silas kept him from killing himself & witnessed to him in the jail.
So Paul had deep feelings for this church family. He had had some wonderful experiences with them & see God do some cool things in their midst. But here he is, stuck in prison in Rome, thanks to Nero, longing to see them again. And yet, he can still touch them in a powerful way through the amazing gift of prayer.
Prayer is our lifeline. It keeps us connected to God & it keeps us connected to others. It brings joy to our lives when we lift others up in prayer (v. 4). It changes us as it changes others lives when we pray. Look at what Paul prayed for the Philippian believers:
- That their love would abound more & more in knowledge & insight (v. 9);
- That the would be able to discern what it best (v. 10a);
- That they would live pure & blameless lives until Jesus returns (v. 10b);
- That they will be filled w/ the fruit of righteousness that comes from Jesus Christ (v. 11)
God has ordained prayer as one of His means of bringing about His will on earth. And since it’s His will that people be saved & their lives dedicated to Him, we definitely need to be praying for our nation, that those who are lost will turn to Him, that those who are saved will live sold-out lives to Him, that the Church will wake up from its slumber & get busy spreading the Gospel in every neighborhood, every town, every city, every county, every state, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border, from the eastern seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. We need to be praying for our nation!
THE LIFE-CHANGING GOSPEL – v. 5,7 – Paul was so thankful for the partnership of the Philippians in the spread of the Gospel. They had supported him financially & through their prayers, & it meant the world to him. They & he knew w/our a shadow of a doubt that the Gospel is the ONLY thing that will truly change someone’s life! That’s why Paul was willing to be “in chains” for the Gospel. That’s why he tenaciously defended the Gospel. That’s why he confirmed & verified that the Gospel is true; that it is the message of the love of God for a lost & dying world. And this is the ONLY message that will change our nation’s course, one life at a time.
- Mission Byram
- Country Oaks
- Southside Terrace
- Evangelism bracelets
- New Orleans
We can keep griping & complaining about all the troubles in our nation right now – crime in Jackson, drugs, government leaders we don’t like, gay marriage, the bathroom issue, abortion, how these folks or those folks are the reason things are so bad, how we wish we could go back to the “good old days.” We can post all the posts on FB we want to that bash this person or that person, or this political party or that political party, or this group or that group, & think that we have really done something & put them in their place. Only problem is – I don’t find Jesus telling us to do that. What I DO find Him telling us to do is to go & make disciples, to be His witnesses in Jerusalem…, to partner up w/ others who love the Lord & take the Gospel into our community & our nation. I’m not saying that we lie down & let others run over us & run down our Savior. But what I am simply saying is this: TELL OTHERS ABOUT JESUS, CHURCH – PERIOD! Get out there & do it! Quit letting the Mormons & Jehovah’s Witnesses outdo us! They’re telling lies & spreading a false Gospel while we are sitting in our recliners on our iPhones posting more anti-Obama & anti-Hillary memes – & lost people are continually going to hell! Only the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ will change our nation! And the only way it gets out there is if you & I take it out there!
THE LIFE CONNECTIONS IN THE CHURCH – v. 4, 8 – Can’t you feel the love that Paul had for his brothers & sisters in the Philippian Church? He longed to see them again, to fellowship w/ them, to share the deep love that only brothers & sisters in Christ can share.
There is something powerful about the life connections that happen within the Church. That’s one of the reasons why mission trips are so wonderful. Deep connections made w/ your fellow brothers & sisters in Christ as you labor together for the Gospel. But don’t have to go to Honduras or other foreign country. Labor together right here for the Gospel in many different ways.
And, even if our nation continues to decline & eventually implodes, the “gates of hell will not prevail” against the Church! We must stand together, on the Gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit, covered in the blood of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God!