Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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Christ, Our Perspective
FATHER We do thank You for the joyful sound that has gone forth from here in music, and now may there also be a joyful and a certain sound going forth in regard to Your Word. Were thankful that forever Your Word is settled in heaven, and were thankful that Your Word is profitable for doctrine, for teaching, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete and completely furnished unto every good work. Were thankful for what Youre going to do through Your Word tonight as we commit our time and our hearts to You, in Jesus Name. Amen!
Christ, Our Perspective! You know, the way you look at something makes a tremendous difference in the way that something looks. It kind of depends where you are when you are looking at something. You know, if an ant is crawling across here, it has a rather limited perspective because of being so low and being so small, and everything looks large and huge to it. To a person, the perspective looks different. To a child, the perspective is different, because theyre down so low. Ill never forget the first plane ride that I took. That was in a jet, and we flew at 31,000 feet; and to look down and see the earth from that perspective was quite different from all the driving and traveling that I had done here on earth. Just last summer I ministered in a conference where I spoke at 7:00 in the morning, and then I wasnt on until 7:30 at night. So, there was a man there that had his own plane, a small plane; and he said, By the way, if you want to go down to your office and do some work one of these days, just let me know. So, he flew me down in a very small plane, and we had to stay below the clouds which were closing in and above the hills which rose up before us, we had a rather interesting trip, to say the least. We flew about 3000 feet for that, and that gives you a different perspective. So, where you are when you look at something and also what condition youre in affects how things look and how you react to them. Ill never forget, one of my sisters said about my mother [We were talking about her.], You know, I just wish I had felt good enough to appreciate Mom for the person she was! You know, when you dont feel good, it affects your perspective, doesnt it?
Now the challenge that I want to bring in regard to the subject tonight is Let Christ be your perspective! In other words, so see Him that when you see circumstances of life, youll see them as it were in the way that He wants you to see them. And I believe that this is exactly what Paul had in mind when he wrote these verses, Therefore my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and my crown, stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Eudyous, and I beseech Syntiche, they be of the same mind in the Lord, and I entreat thee also true yokefellow. Help those women which labor with me in the gospel with Clement also and with other, my fellow laborers whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful [or anxious] for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God; and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Now when I have a message that the major points begin with E, I always say that I can handle this message with Ease. Isnt that nice? So, first we have Essentials. Then Encouragement, and then Enforcement. Essentials for harmony among believers. [By the way, we had an example of harmony here, didnt we with the bells. Verses 1-3 Essentials for harmony among believers. Then in verses 4-7, Encouragement of hope within believers; and then in verses 8 and 9, Enforcement of habits by believers.
First, Essentials for harmony among believers. Now, I didnt know that we were going to have this illustration here tonight, but it is going to fit beautifully with what I want to say the four things that are here in this text that are necessary for harmony. Im going to give them to you, and then Im going to relate to each one. First, you must have Stability. Stand fast! Suppose one of these young people would have fallen over, back here? It wouldnt have worked very well, would it? Stand fast! Second, there has to be Unity! This is in the expression, Be of the same mind... Third is Identity, and each of these represented certain notes that were identifiable; and each of these persons who participated here had an identity of his or her own. You need that in harmony. There has to be that identity. Then, in and through it all, is Ministry; and thats represented in the word help, there in verse 3. All right, lets go back and relate to those.
Stability is essential for harmony among believers. Notice the very expression of this where he says, Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast.... That doesnt mean that you dont move at all. It just means that you have the good and adequate foundation of stability. Now I want you to see three things in the text here concerning this. First, Pauls Devotion to Them. Notice how it comes out. He refers to them as dearly beloved and longed for. He says and repeats again, ...my dearly beloved. By the way, he probably does this to make them realize how devoted he was to them; but hes also preparing the way for a kind of a word of admonition that he has to share with them. I think that when you have to give a word of admonition, you better first let the person or persons know how much they mean to you and how much you care for them. Remember the expression, People wont care how much you know, unless they know how much you care! And, Paul cared for these dear believers there at Philippi, and he expressed his devotion to them in those expressions of affection that he uses here in the opening of this chapter. Then second, his Delight in Them. He refers to them, as my joy and crown... and those to whom we have had opportunity to minister and have then seen them go on with the Lord and serve Him, what a joy it has been to us, and they are our crown of rejoicing before the Lord; and Paul so refers to them as such when he also writes to the Corinthians in a similar manner. Then, his Desire for Them.and heres where the imperative comes, ....stand fast in the Lord... Now notice there that the precept is to stand fast, not to be moved, but to stand fast. Now I indicated that it doesnt mean that you cant move at all. It means that even in your movement youll have stability. I was reading in some Psalms last night, The earth standeth firm. It cannot be moved. Now some people thought that that meant the earth doesnt move at all, but what it means is that there is stability in the universe and in the earth upon which we live; and so for us, just because it says, Stand fast, doesnt mean therefore you dont go out and witness. It means that you have stability within you. Now notice after the precept, to stand fast, the place. Where can you stand fast when everything else is moving?....On Christ, The Solid Rock I Stand. Stand fast in the Lord, and in Him you find your stability; for He is the Source and Substance of our stability! So, stability is essential for harmony among believers. Secondly, Unity is essential for harmony among believers, ....be of the same mind. That doesnt mean that you always think all alike about everything. What it really means is that there be the evidence of harmony. Notice in this, the Plea Extended. He says, I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche... He repeats this to each one. Its a plea of longing and concern for them, that they fulfill what he is going to share with them; and he repeats that so they feel that he is beseeching, longingly, each one of them individually. Now the Persons Exhorted, Euodias and Syntyche. Theyre interesting words. I heard someone use the slippage of the English there and says that the first one there is Odious and the second one is Soontouchy. Well, thats not what the words mean in the Greek. Euodias means a prosperous journey. [Maybe Syntyche thought that she ought to take one. I dont know.] Syntyche means a pleasant acquaintance, or another understanding of the meaning, that is good luck. I heard Dr. Walvoord speak down at Dallas a couple of years ago and he had a very difficult message to present, because they were having a problem with a particular thing there on campus; and he said as he left his office, his secretary said to him, Dr. Walvoord, just remember what John Calvin always said, Good luck! [Now you have to know Calvinism to understand that. Calvin didnt believe in luck.] Well, a pleasant acquaintance she might have been; but apparently something had gone wrong, and there was a problem existing in a church there at Philippi. We dont know exactly what it was. Apparently these two ladies werent getting along. They were probably outstanding ladies that were known in the assembly of believers. Some think that they each had a church meeting in their homes; and the one might have been a Jewish church and the other a Gentile. We dont know. We dont know exactly. We do know that there was some discrepancy and some disunity there; and theres not harmony when you have disunity. Now some think that only if you get back to the early church, they didnt have the problems of disunity and difficulty that we have in the church today. Dont you believe it! They had people in the early church, and where you have people, you have problems; but you also have potential. We believe the oldest book, the first book written of the New Testament writings was [What?]....the Book of James, written probably about 45 AD and what does James say in the fourth chapter of his book? Well, he says, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Then he goes on to speak about that. So, they had problems even in the early church.....and apparently here in Philippi. They had a problem and apparently these two ladies were somewhat involved in it or at the head of it. I dont know. And, by the way men, dont take any great consolation in the fact that its two women. Men can just as easily succumb to the promotion of problems as women do; and Im not a womens libber in saying that. Im simply being realistic; and you can have men start and maintain problems just as easily and just as well as women do. No matter what their name, people promote problems, and so Paul is trying to deal with this. Notice, he calls them each by name and he does it in alphabetical order, so that they couldnt say one was put first, ....that they be of the same mind... [the Practice Expected, that they agree together; and the place where this exists], ...in the Lord. You know, thats where we can get together, cant we?....in the Lord! We may differ in other things, but when were in Christ, lets learn to live together and love together...in the Lord. Were part of the family of God! So, he beseeches them to Promote Unity...in the Lord!
Then thirdly, theres Identity. Here in these verses, notice that individuals were exposed. Now, were a little hesitant to do that in our day. I think that there are some occasions that it has to be done. I think that you have to be careful of how you do it. You have to be very concerned. You have to be very compassionate about the way you do it, as Paul did here. Notice also that Pauls deep interest was expressed in these persons, and his intent was explained. You see, he not only mentions these ladies, but he mentions workers and refers to Clement in the next verse and indicates what he wants him to do. Sometimes we have to specify particular persons for particular tasks to be sure that they get done; and this was the case here with Paul. He was concerned about these two ladies. He was also concerned about a yoke-fellow that he doesnt name as such, which apparently they knew who it was; and then also mentioned Clement there too.
Now notice fourthly, Ministry, an essential for harmony among believers is that they realize that they were involved in a ministry. Notice, he says, ....help....in the midst of this next verse 3, I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life. Apparently this true yoke-fellow was a worthy worker. We dont know his exact name. There were also some women workers; and I thank God for the women who have been faithful to God and to the Lord Jesus throughout the years, both at home and abroad in serving Christ! Then a worthwhile worker, Clement, mentioned by name, working with them; and then also other fellow labourers who apparently I call them willing workers [as the ladies who helped in the nursery here]...other fellow labourers.
and each of them had one thing in common, their ....names were [Where?] in the Book of Life! Remember when the disciples were going out and they rejoiced that they were able to accomplish so much, and they came back and mentioned this to the Lord Jesus? He said, Rejoice not in this, but rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven; and you know, thats the most important thing in all the world? In all the universe, that your name be written there...to know that youve been born again by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ for us on the Cross of Calvary. Essentials for harmony among believers, stability, unity, identity, and ministry!
Now in verses 4-7, Encouragement of Hope within believers. In verses 4 and 5, in Conduct among Men; and then in verses 6-7, in Conduct toward God.. In Conduct among Men, let praise be predominant. Notice verse 4, Rejoice in the Lord [When?]....always. It doesnt say, when you feel like it, does it? No. It says, Always! You say, Even when everything is going wrong? Well, apparently. Its like someone said, Well, you can thank the Lord even when youre in something, because you can get out of it ! In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18) But they said, I cant give thanks always for everything. Well, the pastor who heard the person say that, said, Youd better, because the Bible says that you should. Do you know what verse that is? Thats Ephesians 5:20, Giving thanks always for all things. So, we have to learn to praise and rejoice, even in the midst and sometimes, in fact always for the things that come. Praise ought to be the predominant note of the life of the child of God!
Then, Propriety is Prescribed. In the beginning of verse 5, Let your moderation be known unto all men. Now that doesnt mean moderate drinking, by the way. The word moderation there, I think probably the best translation I ever found of that is in A. T. Rs writings, but he quotes someone else, Let your sweet reasonableness be known unto all men, and I think that its a good thing. We need sweet reasonableness. The reason for that is the prospect that is ever present [and thats at the end of verse 5], The Lord is at hand. Now that can be understood in one or both of two ways. One, The Lord is at hand, because Hes everywhere present, and never forget you cant get away from the Lord. The Lord is at hand; so let your sweet reasonableness be known to all men. But also, Hes at hand in regard to returning; because I believe at any moment, the Lord Jesus could return and would you want to be found otherwise than sweet and reasonable when the Lord Jesus returns? The Lord is at hand, so the prospect is ever present!
Then in Conduct toward God, and these two verses are two of the most tremendous verses in the Word of God if wed only apply them in our lives! First, Perplexity is Prohibited. Be careful or anxious for [What?] nothing... For nothing! Someone has said, Worry about nothing. Pray about everything, and youll have peace in anything! Thats good, because its true! Be anxious for nothing [Dont get upset by the affairs of life.]; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Prayer Prescribed. Prayer is the greatest prescription that God has ever given to the children of God! Most of us carry it around like a prescription that has never been filled. We ought to use it. You not only get a prescription filled, but you got to keep taking it; and prayer is something we need, not just daily but hour by hour. It has been said that prayer is the Christians vital breath...his native air. And, we need it. Prayer ought to be just as natural as that. ....prayer and supplication [really, binding ourselves to prayers and then mixing it well] with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Dont be afraid to ask God for what you really need; because as Paul says in verse 19, My God shall supply [What?] all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Let your requests be made known unto God. And then peace is promised! It says, And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [and that word keep there, means guard or garrison] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Notice several things about this peace that is promised. Number one, it is promised. In fact, it was promised even before Paul said anything about it here. Go back to John chapter 14 and verse 27, the Lord Jesus says this, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Peace is that condition of tranquility that maintains within the heart of the child of God when he knows his Heavenly Father can take care of everything! Do you believe that your Heavenly Father can take care of everything? I believe He can! Sometimes we dont demonstrate this. Sometimes we act otherwise. I repeated this earlier in one of the messages that I heard someone say, Peace is the assurance of adequate resources. And, you have peace when you go into a grocery store and you have plenty of money, or when you go in to a test and you know that you have studied well and you can answer any question. If you dont know, then you dont quite have peace. Do we have adequate resources? Not of ourselves. Does our Father have adequate resources? Yes. Is He willing to share with us? Yes. In fact, to do exceeding abundantly, above that which we could ask or think is promised. It is precious! I want to give you one more verse on that promise there, and thats John 16:33, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have [What?] peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation [Dont be surprised if people of the world are upset. Thats part of their lot..]; but be of good cheer [Jesus says]; I have overcome the world. And so we have His peace promised, and it is precious! Notice what it says about the peace here, ....the peace...which passeth all understanding! Now the peace of God always issues from the grace of God. Thats why its linked up so many times in the Word of God....Grace and peace be unto you. Grace makes peace possible for the child of God. Its because of Gods grace to us that we receive His peace; and His peace is present, ....the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [When?...some other time? No! Right now...when you commit your way to Him, His peace is assured to you in your present existence.] It is also Protective. Notice, it ....shall keep [and that means to guard or garrison, really as building a fence around] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. You know, theres an expression in Peters writings in I Peter 2 where he refers to us as a peculiar people, and some people think that that means were odd as possibly we can. Thats not really what the Greek word means there. In I Peter 2:9 it says, Ye are a....peculiar people... In the Greek, the word there for peculiar is literally, a people surrounded; and I remember when my Greek professor was explaining that, he said, Now, this is the way youll never forget what that word means. He said, Have you ever seen a child playing, maybe with blocks or toys on a table; and another child comes into the room. What will the first child almost instinctively do? Did you ever see them? What do they do? They put out their hands and circle those things that are theirs. They surround them. Now what are they doing or saying by that very act? These belong exclusively to me! Keep your hands off! You have no right to them! And you know, isnt that a precious truth....were surrounded. Were a people [and thats why its translated in many of the later versions of the Bible] ...a people for Gods own possession, and being surrounded by Him....nothing can enter into our lives, except what He allows; and that gives us great peace!
You know, theres one more P that I would like to add to that and that is, His peace can be Permanent. It doesnt need to pass away. Theres a tremendous verse in Psalm 119 verse 165, and Ive had to turn to it again and again and Ive found it very helpful, Great peace have they which love Thy law [Thats loving the Word of God.]: and nothing shall offend them. Nothing will cause them to stumble, to fall, to be upset; and when we love the Lord and love His Word, were going to have great peace, ....and nothing shall offend them.
Now there is Encouragement of Hope within believers. It comes as we praise the Lord. It comes as we demonstrate sweet reasonableness, knowing that the Lord is at hand. It comes as we pray to the Lord, and as we commit our way to the Lord and experience and enjoy His peace!
Now thirdly, Christ Our Perspective in Enforcement of Habits by believers. A habit is an interesting thing. Its something that develops through successive recourse or use of a particular thing [brushing your teeth. When you first do it its pretty tough. After a while you get to do it, and you dont even think about it.]. I heard someone say that the word habit itself is very interesting. They said, You know, if you start dropping letters off of it, you still dont get rid of it. You drop off the h, you still have abit. If you drop off the a, you still have the bit, and you drop off the hab, you still have it; and you drop off the i, and it suits you to a t. So habits, sometimes, are hard to get rid of. Thats why you ought to develop good habits right from the very beginning. Do you know where habits begin?....in your mind....what you think about. Now when our children went to school, we didnt have this when I went to school because I went so long ago....but when our children went to school, they had what they called, Think and Do Books. Here are think and do verses [underline it, verse 8. What does it say? ...think on these things. OK? Now go down to verse 9, Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, [What?] do!... Think and Do. All right? Now lets emphasize that. Here we have before us, Meditation on Positive Values, ....think on these things... [What?]....Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true [Think on things that are true. There are many things that are not true, but think on things that are true.], whatsoever things are honest [that is, things that you can believe], whatsoever things are just [or righteous or proper, think on those], whatsoever things are pure [and we have to be careful in our day, because theres so much impurity], whatsoever things are lovely [and that doesnt just mean lovely persons, but it means lovely in their whole demonstration outworking], whatsoever things are of good report [Those six things are essential for proper valuation of life; and as we think on those things, well become increasingly like them. And then he kind of wraps them up with two other expressions]; if there be any virtue [I took a course on the history of Greece; and the professor who was trying to get us to understand the ways of the thinking of the Greeks, spent two or three lectures on this one Greek word: the Greek word for virtue is ARETE, and it was the highest concept that the Greeks could think of for a man to attain to. It was the highest expression of human attainment. Now they thought that they could attain it by their own efforts. We know that the only way a man can be great is as God makes him great; and so what is before us here is that we should be thinking on those things that God places value upon! And then, those that are praise-worthy. Think on these things! Meditation on Positive Values!
Then, Imitation of a Person Valued. Notice in verse 9, Those things, which ye have both learned,and received, and heard, and seen in me [Paul says; and much of your life is going to be shaped by the example of other godly people; and we ought to thank God for them and pattern our lives after them as they follow Christ. Remember the other night when we talked about Christ, Our Pattern, we emphasized that we only follow them as they follow the Lord. I Corinthians 11:1, Be ye followers of me,even as I also am of Christ.
Then third, A Manifestation in a Performance of Values. Thats that little word do. Think on these things. Then imitate a person you value, and do what is right! Then fourthly, [and this is a precious Truth, at the end of this verse], ....and the God [of this peace] shall be with you. Thats A Habitation We are of the Perfection of Value which is God Himself, the God of peace.
The story is told of a man who was approached by a Salvation Army lassie who said to him, not knowing whether he was saved or lost, Do you have peace with God? Ah, yes, he said. I do.[....and by the way, you only get that by faith in Jesus Christ.] She said, Well, do you have the peace of God?[....and that comes through prayer and perseverance.] Ah, yes, he said. I do, but I have something better than either of those. Then she said, What could be better than peace with God or the peace of God? He said, My dear lassie, I have the very God of peace! And you know, thats the amazing thing....resident within us. We are the habitation of the very God of peace who shall be with us. In Ephesians chapter 3 verse 14 when Paul talks about this very Truth in writing to the Ephesians, he says, For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth in named, That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell [literally, settle down and be at home] in your hearts by faith... I dont know how many of you read that little booklet or tract entitled, My Heart, Christs Home, and the thesis of that is that Christ doesnt want to be just a guest in your heart. In fact, He just doesnt want to be the honored guest in your heart. He wants to be the Host of your heart, and have charge of everyone and everything that comes and goes within your heart! You know, if that comes to pass in your life, the very God of peace, resident in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Himself...real within us, well have the peace of God, wont we? ....and well love to pray...and well love to practice the Truth of God...and well have all these things essential that Paul sets forth here, when we have the Perspective of Christ....these other things will follow, even as they should! Shall we pray?
FATHER Were thankful for this time of sharing a very practical and we believe a potent portion of Your Word, which if we were to apply in our lives, we would find is a very transforming thing. Oh Father, may we take these Truths and further meditate upon them and confess our sins in failing to apply Your Truth, and then lay hold upon You so that Your Truth shall become reality in our lives. Bless now as we have this time of fellowship between this service and the next. Make us a blessing one to another, I pray in Jesus Name. Amen.