As we continue our series “Philippians: To Live Is Christ,” Todd walks us through five things we should pray for if we are followers of Christ: Greater Love, Greater Things, Greater Character, Greater Lives, & Greater Glory.
Don't Worry... This Message Is for You
An Accountant, an Athlete and an Alien Walk Into a Church
Stars of the Faith
The Song That Changes Everything
How to Make Every Relationship Better
To REALLY Live Is Christ
Philippians - Week 2
The Pastoral Epistle I Would Write
As we continue our series “Philippians: To Live Is Christ,” Todd walks us through five things we should pray for if we are followers of Christ: Greater Love, Greater Things, Greater Character, Greater Lives, & Greater Glory.
5 Things we should pray for (Philippians 1:9-11):
Good morning. How are we doing? It's awesome to be here. We're working our way through Philippians. We're going to pray, because that's what we should do before we open God's Word, and we're going to see that one of the things we should do to open our hearts more and more to become the people God wants us to be is to be praying for one another. We're going to learn that today.
Father, thank you for the privilege of being together and for the privilege of getting a chance to talk to you. Let us be still. It's so hard in a big room, Lord, to take even prayer seriously, just to be still, because we either know you're God and want to be mindful of you or maybe to just be still enough to find peace from you if you're there. So Lord, if there are friends who are here who don't know you personally, I pray that right now you would help them get a clarity of who the people of God are, that they might have in them a thirst for the life you provide.
For those of us who know you, would you grow us and strengthen our hearts some more this morning and make us more of who you want us to be so that more of your glory can be made known on this earth and that our joy could be full, that the God who gave himself for us could be celebrated. Lord, we want our hearts to grow. We want to love you more, and we need your help this morning. Teach us. In Jesus' name, amen.
You may not know this, but when Walt Disney decided to start buying up swampland in Orlando, he originally wanted to call the entire project EPCOT, the whole thing. He didn't want it to be Disney World; he wanted it to be EPCOT. EPCOT was not supposed to be one little park down there (not so little if you've been there), but it was supposed to be the entire development. There's a reason for that. It's because Walt had grandkids at the time, and he began to worry a lot about the future of the world they would inhabit.
So what he wanted to do is he wanted to create a utopian ideal. He wanted to create a place that would allow them to experience life as it was meant to be. He wanted it to be the happiest place on earth. So he went out to create EPCOT. The board would not let him name the whole thing EPCOT. They felt like it was kind of a weird name. It's a weird name because no one had ever heard it before. EPCOT is an acronym. It stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. That's what it means.
He was trying to create a place that would be a utopian paradise that would be the happiest place on earth. Now if you've been to Disney World (and it's impressive), you'll know it's not the happiest place on earth. When you go to Disney World, you come home and you're like, "I need a vacation from my vacation. I need to shower for three days straight. I need to do some juice cleanse to get all those chicken parts out of me," or whatever else you've eaten for a long time.
Listen. I happen to be a big fan of Disney World. I love it. If you want to go and see excellence applied in a lot of different ways, I think you can find it at Disney World. I'm not a big fan of a lot of the policies they push and things like that, but they do a pretty doggone good job of being excellent at being an amusement park, a place where you can go and just enjoy some different things. But Walt's idea was much bigger than that.
In fact, if you look around Orlando very much, you'll see that just outside the actual Disney property, even across the highway, there's a city called Celebration. Have you ever heard of it? Celebration was kind of a prototype community where people could buy houses and live. He was really trying to reproduce… I don't want to just say Mayberry, but an amazing place that was idyllic, because Walt knew this world was not happy.
Well, guess what. God knows this world isn't happy either. It's why he has entered into it to rescue us from the dystopian world we live in, the opposite of utopia. This world is not the world God intended. This is the world you get when we say, "I don't really care, God, what you think about how I should live my life."
What happens when you start to try and build your own little community in your own little swamp, no matter how wonderful it is, no matter how many rides you can build, no matter how much wealth you have, to try and create this perfect place to let you be continually amused, to live without fret and without having to ponder what is wrong… That's what an amusement park is. You can come here, and it's so wonderful you don't think about the problems in the world. To muse is to think; to amuse is to not think. "Come here and escape. This is the happiest place on earth."
What's really interesting is it's one thing for Disney to want to create maybe a distraction for his kids. It's another thing for those of us to build our entire lives around our little EPCOT, our little experimental prototype, like we're going to be the ones who can try and order our lives and design our lives in such a way that it's going to be the happiest life ever lived on earth. All of us do that, and here's the thing: it never works out.
I don't care how much money you have, how much you can restore the swampland, how many rides or how many princess castles you can build, how many stories and narratives you can write. You know deep in your soul, "Something isn't as it should be." God loves you. God is trying to bring you back to his archetype, to his kingdom. He's trying to remind you that the reason the world is not happy is because the world is not walking in the way that leads to life indeed.
Quick story. Remember, when God created us he put us in a place that wasn't the happiest place on earth; it was the perfect place for humans. We were together. We had intimate relationships. Sin didn't in any way compromise our relationships. We were naked with each other and unashamed. We had all of the joys of physical intimacy and family without any of the self-focus, infatuation, covetousness, and insecurity that ruins our lives.
In that perfect world God created that was an expression of his sovereign goodness that we, humankind, could live in, God said, "I am going to give you the ability to have a relationship with me or to choose a different kind of life, a life that doesn't need me." So he put in the middle of this paradise the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and he said, "Just so you know, there's nothing you see, nothing you lack which would tell you that I'm good, but if you don't believe I'm good, if you don't want to have a relationship with me, if you don't want to have faith in me…"
I'll just say this. People have always been sustained or given life or lived rightly by faith, even in Eden. Adam and Eve had to have faith that God was good, and they had nothing but evidence around them and joy and perfection, and they could eat from any fruit of the trees of the garden except that one which was a tree that represented faith in God. God said, "If you want to choose to believe that I'm not good, my Word is not true, and disobeying me is not that big of a deal, I'm not going to make you love me. I'm not going to let you have the life you were created for, the life you've always wanted. You're free to say, 'I think we'll decide that.'"
God didn't want us to not eat of that Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because he knew if we knew what he knew we could run for mayor and get him elected out of office. It was because he knew we were not God. We were not intrinsically good. Our goodness came from and our lives were found in him. So he said, "If you choose to know good and evil instead of just knowing me, then you're not going to always be able to choose that which is best for you."
Isn't that your condition a lot? Most of the mistakes we made this week we didn't make because we didn't know how to live. I knew the right thing to do, the right way to talk, the right way to humble myself, the right way to not be self-centered, the right way to not live in insecurity, the right way to not be materialistic, the right way to not give myself away to a fantasy relationship in porn, the right way to not act in anger, yet how many of us found ourselves doing those things and going, "Dang! My little experimental prototype life… I just can't do it. I can't make it work the way I want."
Watch what happens. Once we ate of that tree of good and evil and we knew the difference between good and evil, we started immediately not to choose always that which was good. We were separated from God. So, all of a sudden, there was insecurity and accusation and isolation and self-absorption, so we were trying to cover up and hide from God and hide from one another and accuse each other of different things.
God did a very merciful thing at that moment. He separated us and put angels in front of the Tree of Life so we couldn't eat of that tree. Why was that a nice thing? Here's the reason it was a nice thing: it kept us from taking the provision God said was there that we could previously eat from… It kept us from living forever in a perpetual hell. What do I mean by that? Even though there are fleeting moments of joy, this world is still defined by war and betrayal and disease and death and treachery.
It's one of the problems people have all the time. They go, "Well, if God is so good and so kind, why do we live in a world that's so broken? If he's sovereign, he would fix it. If he was good, he would fix it. He hasn't fixed it. Either God is not good or he's not sovereign." So then we just run off in all different directions. What we should do is listen to the story. God says, "Here's the story. This is not the world I created. It's the world you chose."
God said, "You're going to live for a time. Then you're going to die, and you're going to go to judgment, and then you can have the world you want forever, but while you're in this world, while your little EPCOT, your experimental prototype isn't working, maybe you'll come to your senses and cry out to me for mercy." See, here's what God wants. God wants us to say, "This is not the world I want, Lord."
He goes, "Good. It's not the world I intended for you. The world I intended for you is a world defined with intimacy and confidence and faith in me, and I'm a good God. I'll tell you how good I am. Even when you betray me and deserve judgment, I'm going to make provision for your sin, and I'm going to do for you what you can't do. I'm going to reconcile you to me. I'm going to show you my kindness and my goodness, and I'm not just showing it to you; I'm showing it to the angels who can't believe I would rescue and restore people who rebel against me."
Previous to this, the angels knew all about God's justice. They knew all about God's beauty and strength. They just had never seen the sides of God that were compassionate and gracious, and he's about to show himself. So what God does is he rescues some of us by showing us what that provision is and letting us put trust in it. That provision, if you're new here and wonder what it is, isn't that we're very good for very long and we do more good than bad and eventually God says, "Okay, you're good enough people now." No. The rescue is Jesus Christ dying for me.
Who's Jesus? He's very God of very God. God himself steps into this world, fully God, fully man, lives without sin, trusts the Father the way we're called to trust the Father, and God made him, the visible image of the invisible God, to become sin on our behalf, that he would give us the righteousness of God in him, and he would go and suffer for us, and God's justice would be satisfied because his wrath would be poured out, and God's mercy would be made available so he could love us.
When you understand that that story is true and it's anchored in the context of history and not just some fable that's out there, it should make you want to run toward that God. And then guess what happens. When you start to run toward that God and you find other people who run toward that God, God says, "I don't want you to be an experimental prototype; I want you to be an essential provocation to the rest of the world that I am who I said I was and that I can redeem humanity and form a community that is, in fact, the happiest place on earth."
It's the happiest place on earth, but let me tell you something, church: it's still earth, so we're not perfect. My home is a place of great joy. My home is a place of great commitment. My home is a place of great intimacy between a man and a woman, but my home is not perfect. I sometimes hurt my wife's feelings. I did it this morning, and I had to ask her forgiveness on the way to drive out to Frisco to be with and pray with our family out there.
I just had to say, "Hey, I did not handle that well." What's different is I didn't used to even care to do that. I just wanted to intimidate her into silence and argue her into submission and tell her, "This isn't great, but it could be a lot worse. You want to go get it? Go get it, because there are a lot of people who would like this," and just be an idiot. Let me tell you this. Life is hard. I think I said this last week. Life is hard, but it's harder when you're stupid. That is biblical. That's Proverbs 12:1. Proverbs 12:1 says exactly that.
"Whoever loves discipline…" Or instruction. Those words are interchangeable. "…loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." That's literally in the Bible. That's Proverbs 12:1. By the way, the word stupid in English is a transliteration from the Latin word (I'm not making this up) stupidus. The Latin word stupidus literally means numbskull. In other words, no matter how much you screw it up, your numb skull doesn't get it.
You can't create an experimental prototype that's going to be the happiest place on earth. You're always going to divorce. You're always going to live in fantasy worlds informed with lust. You're always going to revert back to anger or what your world is going to be is "This world isn't really good, so I'll just inject some drug into my veins or pour some liquid down my throat, and I'll make myself numb from the pain of this world, and that's how I'll be happy."
God says, "I have something better. I'm going to create a new community of people who aren't stupid and who don't keep doing the same things but now begin to say, 'You know what? The prototypes we built aren't working, so I think we're going to let God inform our lives. We're going to come back to the God we left and say, "You are good. Our ways aren't good. Even when we know good and evil, we don't even choose good all the time. Will you be my King?
First of all, will you forgive me? Thank you for Jesus being the provision. Now you, God, who did not spare your own Son but delivered him up for me, how will you not also with him freely give us all things? So I want to leave my way and return to the ancient paths where the good way is (Jeremiah 6:16). I don't want to lean on my own understanding, but in all my ways I want to acknowledge you. I know you're going to make this swamp that is my life beautiful again."'"
That's the story of Scripture. We don't do it perfectly, but we do it more than most, and when we do something that isn't as it should be, we acknowledge it. We seek forgiveness. We're patient with one another. We admonish one another and help one another, and we're slowly building a community that Jesus says, "This ought to be the happiest place on earth." Happiness is not unbiblical.
Jesus showed up and said, "Do you want to be happy? Be poor in spirit. Quit building your own EPCOTs. Let me show you the prototype. I want you, together, to be a collective representation of my kingdom come. The way you love each other, care for each other, comfort each other, provide for each other, walk in humility, love kindness, and do justice is a prototype of it happening perfectly in heaven."
People ought to stumble into God's community (It's called the church. I didn't say "worship services." I said people who serve him with a life of worship.) and go, "There's something different about your home. There's something different about this gathering of the nations. You guys are united here. You're not racist. You know you have one God, one Father. You know you're one blood, and you love each other. Those of you who have more than you need give to those who have less than they need, joyfully, not out of some imposed economic sanction."
That's exactly what Philippians is calling us to. Not that we're some EPCOT, some Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. What we are is a living illustration of the kingdom of heaven coming tomorrow today. How are we doing, church? This week, on Friday, I was asked to speak by the Cobalt company. Cobalt is the maker of great boats, ski boats, surfboats, wakeboarding, those kinds of things.
It just so happens that the family that has been making Cobalt boats for the last decade is a family of believers, and they had come across some of the messages I had given here, specifically the How to Be Rich series. They were having their national sales conference and new product unveiling when all of their franchise owners and salespeople and all of their different providers were out at a conference. They said, "We'd like you to come out and speak to them."
So I went out there and shared with them about how to be really rich and what it means to have life indeed. If you weren't here for that series, we did it last June. It doesn't go the way it sounds like it's going to go. It's not like, "Sell more boats. That's how you'll be rich." It was how to have a wake behind you that is beautiful and isn't leaving destruction that you look back on and go, "My life is rich."
It won't be perfect. You can do everything you should do to live your life well, and sometimes there are going to be attacks from the outside. Sometimes there's going to be disease. Sometimes there's going to be betrayal. That's why I want to tell you, guys, don't be surprised. This is earth. That's why we are given a book called Philippians, where we're supposed to understand we should have joy when things aren't happening the way we want them to happen.
Jesus says, "Don't be surprised. First of all, don't make your life worse by being stupid. Be less stupid. Follow me. But just realize you're still in a world with stupid people who are just like you, who have no desire to honor me, and you're still in a world that is infiltrated with death and disease because I haven't redeemed it yet. So don't be surprised. Grieve, but not as those who have no hope. Rejoice."
"It's no trouble for me to say it, so I'll say it again," Paul will say in Philippians. "Rejoice." It shows up every eight verses in this book. Jesus shows up every other verse, in effect, in this book, because Jesus is the architect that will let us have a community that is a prototype of the world to come. People ought to walk in here and go, "You know what? This is still earth. You guys aren't perfect. That's why you have a Savior and sing to him, but this is a happy place. There's redemption and rescue here." Here's the question…How do we become more of that?
I was at this Cobalt dealership, and a guy walked up to me and said, "Hey, I heard you were coming. I looked up who you were, and I've listened to some of your messages. Can I tell you something? Before I was a franchise owner, I used to be a pastor at a church in Illinois, and now that I'm out here, boy, have I ever learned something. Do you know what I've learned? I've learned spiritual formation is hard. When I was a pastor I oversimplified it. I made it too formulaic, and I've learned a ton about what it takes to produce real transformation in people."
I said, "Tell me more about that. What do you mean?" He said, "Well, I just kind of simplified it too much." What he confessed and what he went on to say was, basically, "I just told people they could plug and play. Do this and that." I have to tell you, I hope I never do that to you here. I hope I don't make it simple and overly formulaic. Let me tell you how spiritual formation happens. You die continually to self. You trust and obey. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.
I'm not going to send you to a quick conference. I'm not going to have some revivalistic, energetic, quick promise, quick fix, second baptism that will fall down that'll change you forever. In fact, I want to read this to you. One of my favorite writers is a guy named A.W. Tozer. A.W. Tozer was a guy who talked a lot about what changed people. What happens a lot in churches is people will talk about, "We want revival to come. We want revival to come."
He wrote this. I wish I did. I didn't. I could act like I did by paraphrasing it, but I'm going to read it to you. This is what he said: "It is impossible to have a community revival where there has not been a church revival, and unless at least a few individuals seek and obtain a spiritual transformation in their own hearts, there can be no hope for their church, for a church is composed of individual Christians.
It is a mere commonplace to sing or pray, 'Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.' Where else can a spiritual quickening take place but in the individual life? There is no abstract 'church' which can be revivified apart from the men and women who compose it." Do you hear that? The church isn't going to change unless the individuals that make up the church are changed.
He goes, "The vague notion that there is somewhere a mysterious Body of Christ whose members are unknown, an invisible company upon whom the Holy Spirit can fall in answer to prayer, is a grand fallacy. It serves as a hiding place from reality to believe that such an unidentified superchurch actually exists apart from the plain ordinary people we see in our Christian gatherings and in our churches from week to week.
But we may as well face the truth: Christians are people and people can be identified. They have names and faces and homes and friends and jobs. They keep house, go to school, drive trucks, buy, sell, travel, eat and bathe and sleep exactly as other people do. The seed of God is in them and their names are written in heaven, but they are not invisible."
God doesn't change the church with some revival that falls in some dramatic way; he changes our community by changing us, and the way you are changed is by disciplining yourself for the purpose of godliness. Last week I said something. I said the church is never in more trouble than when false teachers or the Devil is saying the truth. I said that because I was in Acts 16, which is where the church of Philippi was founded.
I made mention of the fact that Paul and Silas were out there proclaiming the gospel and the church was growing, and there was a demon-possessed slave girl, probably a sex slave, a drugged-up little girl who was part of the god Python. They believed back in their pagan worlds, when she would go into a fit… That's literally what the word means when she was possessed. She would go into a frenzy, probably a drug-induced state. Her eyes would roll back. She'd say certain things, and maybe even they would have cards and stuff she would point to, and people believed the gods spoke through her.
It just so happened that she was following around Paul and Silas, and she was saying, "Behold! These are servants of the Most High God who have come to show you the way of salvation." Now I have to tell you something. That was exactly true. Paul and Silas were servants of the Most High God who had come to tell the people of Philippi and all of Europe the way of salvation.
Paul said, "Enough!" eventually. "I don't want this gal saying what I'm saying, making people think she's reliable, because if they think she's reliable when she says this and they go, 'Do you hear that?' it's going to make people go, 'Well, what else does she have to say?'" I made mention of the fact that there's a reason so many false teachers tell as much truth as they can or use as many of the similar words that sound truthful to us as they can, because it sets you up for things.
I made mention of one particular church that's gaining popularity. I mentioned Bethel in California. A number of folks were really curious about why I did that. The reason I did that is because it's a church that has what's called the BSSM, the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. A lot of people are coming from all over the world like very few places. It's having an amazing impact in Australia and all throughout Europe.
More and more students are going to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. I mean, who wouldn't want to go to that? Right? Or you can go to Watermark and do the Residency. "Residency? School of Supernatural Ministry? I'm in!" The problem is that while some things coming out of Bethel are good… There really are some gifted artists at Bethel. They write some amazing songs, and some of those lyrics we study and go, "Those are good lyrics," and we use them.
There's a phrase that has been brought up in certain polemic circles, which is circles of discussion, and it's called the Arian Snare or Snarianism. You go, "What is that? What's the Arian Snare?" It's not like white Arianism, but Arianists are people who were followers of Arius. Arius was a second-century leader in the church who started to get perverted in his teaching. He started to say that God the Father is God, the Son isn't, but God the Father used the Son, even though he wasn't God.
Arianism caught on around the world until, a little later, the Nicene Creed and others came around, and the church said, "Nope, nope. We don't believe what Arius is saying. Arius is in error. That's not true. Don't listen to him." What they were saying is you have to watch it. It's called the Arian Snare, because Arius was also a gifted songwriter, and he would write songs that would teach his perverted, heretical theology.
People would learn those songs and would sing them, and the next thing you know, they found themselves subscribing to a lot of what Arius thought. It was called Arianism, and it was error, and the church had to correct it. I mentioned last week we sometimes sing some Bethel songs here. We talk about the "overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God." That's just true.
People say, "Wait a minute. Is God's love really reckless? I thought God was sovereign. He did everything on purpose." Well, he does, but anthropomorphically speaking, when we look at this, when somebody would give his own Son for sinful people we go, "Man, what kind of reckless love is that?" Well, it's the kind of reckless love that ought to wreck you and make you want more of him. What I just said was, "You have to watch yourself."
I want to do this really quickly. It's all going to make complete sense as we get into this specific text we're looking at this week. Out of Bethel, as an example, with some of the things they do… They don't just have some good songs. They have some really lousy songs. They also create revivalism, which is the sense that something is going to happen, that the glory cloud is going to move in or that you can be changed this way. They teach things that just aren't true.
They teach that healing is guaranteed in the atonement, which is to say they pervert Isaiah 53:5, which says, "…the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him [Jesus] , and by His scourging we are healed." So we should never be sick. If you really love God, you would perform miracles all the time and no one would ever be sick. If we don't perform miracles, the problem is not on God's end; it's on our end, and our problem is our lack of faith.
There are all kinds of other errors and false teachings that really screw some people up, and it spins off in some bad directions. I'm just going to show you something here, because I want to show you what Paul did in Philippians 1:9-11 that we have to do. The way revival is going to come is not by some glory cloud moving in this room, not by us manipulating the room emotionally through songs, and not by grave sucking. "What did he just say? Grave sucking?"
Grave sucking is a pagan practice which basically believes if I get around some old saints and get over their grave, the Spirit of God that was on them will come out of the grave onto me and I will have the power. I just want to show you… This is a former staff member of Bethel who is now a Bethel missionary in Europe. This is him at the grave of this guy. The guy's name is Smith Wigglesworth. Smith Wigglesworth was born during the great Irish revival in 1859. He is the guy Benny Hinn learned his tricks from.
He was the first guy to heal people with kind of punching them and with long prayer meetings and things of that sort. Let me tell you something. I think God really used Smith Wigglesworth to bring some people to Christ. I think maybe even some folks have come to Christ in Benny Hinn's ministry. I think people are coming to Christ today at Bethel, but that doesn't mean when they say certain things are true that you ought to continue to run there.
I'm going to show you how to grow, church, and be more of what Jesus wants you to be. I want to show you one quick thing as an illustration. This is 2015. An ex-staff member is in England. He's at Smith Wigglesworth's grave, and I want you to listen carefully to this. Watch.
Male: Here we are at Smith Wigglesworth's grave in Bradford. It's at the other end of England. You might not be able to come here naturally, but you can certainly feel it supernaturally what's happening in this man's life. It's funny. All of our students… When we came here, the thing that we felt was the raising of the dead power and the gift of faith came on us. Some students were leaning over the back of the grave, and they felt a grace and a faith just rest on them.
It's funny, isn't it? You know, Elisha… Someone put the person's bones on his bones, and they got raised up to life. When you come into a place where the Holy Spirit was on a person, it still exists there. He still keeps the heritage of the person's life. You can see how his whole family is buried with him. But this is the man, Smith Wigglesworth. The history of this man is a history of miracles and great faith and a restoration of the miraculous anointing into the Church of England and also across the whole world.
As you know, he has written many great books and writings on gifts of faith and the working of faith and the working miracles. He even punched people at times, which I don't encourage all the time, but when the gift of faith comes on you and you know what to do, you have to punch that Devil out of people, smack that thing in the chops and get it out of someone's life and get the Devil off people's back. This is what this man did.
So although you can't be here in the natural, just open up your hands right now and get ready to receive in the spiritual, because there's no distance in the Spirit. God can release this same impartation unto you.
[End of video]
Do you see what's happening here? He's saying, "You can't be here right now, but the Spirit is going to release something to you." What he says is, "The first time some of us got near this, grace and faith just started falling on us by this grave." He said, "Remember the story of Elisha?" That's 2 Kings 13:21 where a man was pushed into a grave, and he hit Elisha's bones and popped up. They're taking that and making it some normative, prescriptive practice where they go.
They said, "When the Holy Spirit falls on a person, he still exists there. He still keeps the heritage of the person's life." So we're here not to be inspired as we remember how God used an imperfect human to maybe do some things that changed people's eternity, but we're going to go there… Let me just say this. I'm going to show you the third clip in just a second. They're all a continuation of the same event. I want you to see, and you tell me…
One of the things that happens sometimes in these circles is they believe when the Spirit falls people talk in ecstatic tongues and go crazy or they're so overwhelmed with the joy of Christ they start laughing. It should make you uncomfortable. It's a little maddening. It looks like you're mad. It's not the fruit of righteousness. It's not the joy that Philippians is talking about. I care deeply about you. I care about the folks at Bethel. I think they genuinely love Jesus. I think there is error there, and Philippians is going to show you this is how spiritual maturity happens.
Now watch. What you're going to see is them now wanting to impart to you some of this spirit. By the way, I'm going to say this before you even see this next clip. When they were pressed on this, "Are you guys into grave sucking or grave soaking?" they go, "No, no, no." They said, "Well, you know that some of your students now are doing this." Actually, the pastor's wife is seen all around Europe lying on different graves.
He goes, "I'm not going to address it publicly, because I don't want to quench what the Spirit might be doing. Where much oxen are the manger is clean, but much increase comes from the strength of the ox. So yeah, it's a little messy, but I don't want to interrupt people's spiritual seeking." This is not spiritual seeking. It's deception and it's false pathways to spiritual maturity. You don't become mature overnight by just asking for it. It is diligence and disciplining yourself for the purpose of godliness. It is trust and obey. Now watch this. This is a little disturbing, but watch this.
Male: We're just going to pray right now in Jesus' name. We release… Other students want to come in. We'll just release over the camera right now. We just release the anointing of God that is in this place, and we pray that faith, great faith would come on you. We just release right now the anointing. Just take it now in Jesus' name. Take enduring faith.
Take a great faith to do miracles, to work miracles in the neighborhoods, in the supermarkets, but also an enduring faith to continue on and to not compromise your life but to walk with the Lord Jesus. He's releasing over you right now grace for you to have enduring faith and to have a working of miracles as a lifestyle. We just thank you, Father, that what was on Smith Wigglesworth's life, let it come on us, let it come on them. In Jesus' mighty name. We bless you and love you guys so much.
Female: Someone who's watching has a mental illness, and God is healing you right now.
[End of video]
Wow. To their credit, they're not going to make this a core part of their doctrine anymore. They were confronted on this. They backed away from it, but they haven't taught from the pulpit about this stuff. They haven't said, "Hey, listen. The glory cloud, the miracles, if you're not doing miracles you're not of God…" They haven't backed away from that a bit. They're riding this wave of excitement. The people are being duped, and there's a lack of intense spiritual formation.
I think there's a deep love for Jesus there, but folks, your deep love for Jesus has to be met with what Jesus says will grow you in your intention. Guess what it is. It's through prayer. It's through meditation. It's through the memorization of the Scripture. It's through biblical community. It's through admonishing each other, encouraging each other. It's through daily bread, not weekend revivals. It's getting involved with others and saying, "You be iron in my life. I'll be iron in your life. The Word of God is going to spur us on. We're going to hold ourselves to it. We're going to trust and obey."
The greatest gift I ever received in my life I received when I was 23. There was a young woman who came up to me, and she said, "Todd, I'm going to pray for you. I'm going to pray for you every day for a year." She was a little older than me. There was nothing between us in any way that this was some kind of play for her to get to have contact with me on a regular basis. It was clear that that wasn't going on. She just said, "I'm going to pray for you."
I know she did, because periodically she'd get ahold of me through the year and say, "Hey, this is what I've been praying. Is there anything else I can pray?" A year later, she comes up to me on my birthday. She goes, "I did it. I prayed every day for you. I prayed that God would grow you into the man he intends you to be. I would read my Bible every day, and when I read my Bible every day I said, 'Lord, what in here do you want to show me that I can pray into Todd Wagner's life?'"
A little later…I think I was 28…there was another girl, also named Patty, who came up to me and said, "I'm going to pray for you for a year." She prayed for me every day for a year. She'd consistently ask, "How should I pray for you?" I can tell you how I have people pray for me when they ask me. I just got that request from another church. They said, "Hey, how can we pray for Watermark?"
When you are asked by somebody how you should be prayed for… Let me say it another way. Do you want to really know where your heart's heart is? When somebody would go back and look at your prayer life and see what you're praying for. Are you praying for different circumstances? Are you praying for more comfort for yourself or are you praying more Jesus in you?
Whatever circumstances are already there, that you would say, "Lord, give me the strength. Your strength is sufficient for my weakness. You can give me joy in the midst of this. If you'll take away this disease, great, Lord, but not my will but your will be done. If you take away this cross and there's another way, let's do it, but, Lord, not my will but your will be done. Give me the strength I need today to be your man, your woman in this difficult marriage. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to love them with the love of Christ, which is unending." Or are you saying, "God, change my circumstances or you're not good"?
I don't pray because I'm disciplined; I pray because I'm desperate. When you pray, you don't pray, "God in heaven, do my will." What you do is say, "God in heaven, who is nothing like me… You're holy; I'm not. I want your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That means you have to change me. That means you have to change us so we can be not an experimental prototype but evidentiary persons of your ability to change us.
That's only going to happen not when the glory cloud moves in but when we submit ourselves to your glory and yield to your Spirit's will and do what your Son said we should do when you were here, which is, 'Do you want to follow me? Do you want to walk in the righteous way? Then take up your cross and deny yourself.'" That's hard work.
There's no greater kindness you could ever have than to pray for somebody. The deepest longings of our hearts are most fully exposed when someone prays. Look at how Paul prayed. I'm going to show you five things here. This is Philippians 1:9-11. This is how you want to pray. Five things that you should pray.
Watermark, do you want to change? I don't pray the glory cloud moves through this room and gold dust falls. I don't pray that we start laughing together. I pray we live with joy. I pray we get serious that crucifying our flesh and being obedient to him is no laughing matter and that revival has to start in me and then in us in the way we love.
"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more…" This is the mark of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples…" You pray for greater love. This is the mark of being God's people.
By the way, he says, "I pray that your love may abound more in real knowledge…" In other words, that you would know what real love is. Real love isn't, "Oh, let's just all get along. We're together and sing songs because we like each other." Have you been in community very long? Have you been married for more than six months? Let's be honest. Sometimes I go, "I don't like the way you're acting right now." That's the way the world relates to each other.
"Hey, man, this is good for me as long as it's good for you. As long as it's good for both of us, we're going to keep going, but the second this doesn't get good for me I'm going to sue you. I'm going to leave you. I'm going to hurt you. I'm going to teach you." That's not love, even if it felt great for a long time. Real love is 1 Corinthians 13:4 love. It's patient, which is to say longsuffering. It's kind, which is to say it isn't easily flustered and mean.
It's not jealous when other people have good things happen to them or their kids and your kids don't have that happen. It doesn't brag. It's not arrogant. This is real love. Paul said, "I pray that your love would grow and that you would have real knowledge that this is what love is." Love doesn't act unbecomingly. Love doesn't seek its own. Love isn't provoked, which means when somebody in the group isn't acting in a way that makes you happy, you don't go, "I'll teach you to not make me happy!" You meet them with kindness. A gentle answer turns away wrath.
You're kind to evil and ungrateful men, just as your heavenly Father is, and people go, "Who are you? What kind of community is this?" Love doesn't take into account a wrong suffered. It doesn't go eye for eye. It just says, "I want to forgive you as I have been forgiven." Love doesn't rejoice when unrighteousness is going on, so it doesn't turn a blind eye to it. It wades in. It gets busy. It rejoices always with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.
We are in it to win it. We're in it to make this thing work by the power of God that dwells within us. That's real love. Paul says, "I pray your knowledge would grow and you would discern that some of this easy believism, and everybody else's marriage is easy, and that's the perfect church over there… No, Philippi, that you would love each other. You rich Lydia, you poor slave girl, you blue-collar jailer, you Jewish Pharisee, and you Gentile believers, love one another."
"Bro, that ain't going to happen unless something supernatural happens." That's why you pray. You pray for greater love. I want to say it again, guys. I don't know what Watermark is going to be known for, but if we're not known for our love, we are not known as Jesus' church. He says, "You can have the gift of prophecy. You can know all mysteries and know all knowledge. You can have enough faith to move mountains, but if you don't have love you're nothing."
You can give all of your possessions, Watermark, to feed the poor. You can surrender your body to be burned, but if we're not marked by love in this little experimental prototype of God's kingdom on earth, we're not God's kingdom on earth. We can't go out there and love the world until we are loved. That's why Paul says, "Beloved, let us love one another." Love embraced is love extended.
Don't come at me with "Man, this is hard." Of course it's hard. There's nothing in me that wants to love. I want to accuse Eve. God says, "You know what? Remember I didn't accuse you and I made provision for you? Why don't you learn my ways?" It's why you find in Colossians 3:14 it says, "Beyond everything, holiness and compassion, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." To say it another way, it is the uniting bond of perfection. That's what love is.
Secondly, you pray that you would approve the things that are excellent. In other words, that you would want more of greater things. You wouldn't want the things that most people want. Most people want more comfort, more money, more pleasure, more fame, more glory, more success for their college football team. There's nothing wrong with being successful. There's nothing wrong if you're being alumni right now of a school that's kicking like a cricket in football, but don't let that define you.
"…approve [seek deeply] the things that are excellent…" What's excellent? A little bit later we're going to get to Philippians 4:8 where it says things that are true and honorable and right and pure and lovely, things that are worthy of praise, things that are filled with excellence. That's all God. Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."
Philippians, I know it's easy to think that your little purple dye industry is the most important thing. No. The most important thing is that your King died for you and there are people here who don't know him. So be great at work, but set your mind on the things above. Love God. Meditate on who he is. You pray that our minds would dwell with the truth of the goodness and kindness and rescue of God and it would inform how we do everything. Greater love with a greater focus and we'd have a greater character. That's what happens when you focus on things.
"…in order to be sincere and blameless…" That word sincere is a good word. It's eilikrines. Eilikrines is a word that means sun-judged. The word sincere comes from eilikrines. Basically, pottery would be made back in that day, and what would happen is if the potter didn't do a perfect job there would be some cracks in it, so they'd put some wax in there, and then they'd cover it up with a varnish or a stain or whatnot.
If you were a smart consumer, you'd go to the marketplace, pick up that pot, and hold it up to the light, and you could see if there was a crack in there. You could see if there was wax they had used to fill it and it was not eilikrines. It was not sun-judged. It wasn't sincere. There was something here that shouldn't be there. It's a cracked pot.
Paul is saying, "I'm praying as love is more of who you appear to be and as you set your mind on the things above, when people know you, the more they know you, the more they'll go, 'Something has radically changed in their life.'" That you wouldn't just put on airs on Sunday morning.
You would live authentically with each other and deal with your sin issues and talk about your struggles, and where there's wax that needs to be eliminated and dross that needs to go away and the purifying work of the Lord needs to show up that you would be blameless in Christ, and if there are areas of your life that aren't there yet, don't hide them. Let's go to work together. God can restore them.
Fourthly, not just a greater love and a greater focus on greater things and greater character, but in verse 11 there's greater lives. That's what happens. I always say this. I heard this, and I memorized it when I was a kid, and it's true now. If you sow a thought, you reap an action. If you sow an action, you 're going to reap a habit. If you sow a habit, you're going to reap a character. If you sow a character, you reap a destiny.
So be careful what you think about, because who you are when you're alone is alone who you are. Character is who you are when no one is looking. That's why I want you to be eilikrines. When all the light is on you, people are going to see that's who you really are, and then when you're out there your lives are changed. It's not just your heart. Your life changes. You're filled with the fruit of righteousness.
What's the fruit of righteousness? Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Your life is the Spirit's life. Why? Because your heart is the Spirit's heart and because your mind is focused on the things of the Spirit, which is why the first fruit of the Spirit is the thing I prayed for to begin with, which is love. Do you see this? Greater love, greater focus on greater things with greater character that produces greater lives.
What do you think is going to happen if we are those people that they go, "Man, you guys are amazing. You're not perfect. You're humble, though. You even talk about where your wax cracks still are, and you're dealing with it. You really are gracious to each other, and you really forgive each other. You don't gossip about each other's wax cracks. You guys are helping each other. Who is your dad? Who is your father? Who is the architect of this experimental prototype? Glory to him. I want more of him in my life." That's it.
"So that glory and praise will come to God." This is what Jesus said when he was here. "Let others see your good works that are formed from a good character that comes from your right understanding of who God is. As you live a happy, beloved life, let others see your good works so they will glorify your Father who's in heaven." That's how you change. Not by some ecstatic moment. We have to go to work, people. We have to pray for each other.
It's Pastor Appreciation Month. Did you know that? I didn't either until I got some email from some tired company saying, "I'll give you 20 percent off if you buy this thing. Spend money, and we love you." If you don't like your pastor, pray for the one you have, and I promise he'll change. If you don't like your spouse, pray for the one you have, and I promise she'll change. Do you know what will really change? You won't just say, "Lord, change my circumstance."
You'll be like, "Lord, maybe I haven't been loving them the way I should. Maybe my life before them doesn't make them want to know more of the God that I want them desperately to start to serve. I have to start serving God more. My prayer is not going to be 'Change them.' My prayer is going to be 'Change me.' Let the revival start right here.
Don't let it fall on the household like it's some mysterious household out there in nowhere. Change me. Let me bring appropriate accountability into their life, but let me do it for the purpose of restoration. Let me model kindness." You don't like your spouse? Pray for the one you have. Pray for the spouse they have. Pray for one another.
Pray biblically. When you read your Bible every day, just go, "Lord, I know you have something for my friends at Watermark." I want to tell you I pray for you guys all the time. I pray this kind of stuff. I pray Ephesians 1:15-19. I pray Ephesians 3:20-24. I pray Colossians 1:9-11 and other places that Paul prayed for the church.
I want to pray for you what God wants for you. I don't pray, "O Lord, give them more money so they can build us more buildings. O Lord, would you just…?" I don't pray that stuff. I pray that your hearts would be his, and when our hearts are his we're going to do everything we can do to advance the kingdom and build more prototypes everywhere we can. Amen? Let's go, church.
Father, I pray that we would be not looking for a quick fix but we'd just go to war against our flesh and you'd melt away the wax and the dross. Father, I thank you. I really believe my brothers and sisters at Bethel, Bill Johnson and that team… I think they love you. I thank you, Lord, that you use imperfect men, just like you use me. That's why I'm able. You have nothing but erring children.
But, Lord, I pray that we would not be duped by what seems to be supernatural but that we would really listen to the supernatural teaching of your Word and that would change us. I pray we'd be discerning and have real knowledge, and I pray they would too. I pray we'd be loving to one another but that we'd speak truth and say, "That's not true. That is wrong. It's not biblical. It looks exciting. It's not of you."
Father, what's exciting to us is that we wouldn't have to die to ourselves anymore, but there's going to be a day when we die that you'll make us whole. You'll glorify us. Until then there's the hard work of sanctification. Let us be about it. Let us not walk according to the flesh this week. Let us have Bible intake and serious prayer, spiritual disciplines. Use them to change us. Thank you that we are forgiven and that you have entered into our not-so-happy place and are redeeming it day by day. Mark this community with love, the love of Jesus. In his name we pray, amen.
Todd & JP walk us through the entire book of Philippians, a love letter from a pastor to his congregation.