Post Cards From Home
Text: Philippians 4:1-7
Proposition: Like post cards from home, God calls to us through Scripture, letting us know how much He loves us and how He longs for our arrival.
Introduction: Have you ever been away from home and received letters from home encouraging and warming your heart. Likely this is so, but why haven’t we ever received post cards from home, why is it always the other way around, the post cards come from where we have never been. I suppose the obvious answer is they show us scenes of places we have never been, and, well, post cards from home would show what we already know to some degree. And yet the power of such post cards from home would be far greater than the other kind of post card, precisely because you do know about it. Imagine the impact of such cards on people you know who live far away but came from here.
I believe the Scriptures are often very much like post cards from home, reminding us of what we have already seen to be true about where our home really is. Consider these post cards from God to you in this very personal letter of Philippians:
Phil. 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ”
Phil. 1:21 “ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Phil. 2:5-7 “ Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant …”
Phil. 2:10 “ …at the name of Jesus every knee will bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under earth.”
Phil. 2: 13 “ For it is God Who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Phil. 3:7 “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
Phil. 3:13,14 “…but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Familiar verses aren’t they, they’re the kind that stick in your memory, the kind you find yourself quoting over and over again. We’re about to add some more to that collection this morning, verses that proclaim the truth of where your home is and the love of our Father as He guides us there.
Turn with me to Philippians 4:1 -7.
I. Beware of the Things That Consume You, This is Not Your Home.
Can you imagine checking into a hotel room and getting into an argument about what color the walls should be or taking pains to rearrange the furniture or wanting to get rid of the lamps because they clash with what you want to do to the room. Ridiculous, nobody re-arranges a hotel room or fumes about the color of the walls. They’re only going to be there for a short time, it’s not their home. Paul’s concern for Euodia and Syntyche is that they are building strong opinions on lesser things. The net effect is that they aren’t able to work together in a same minded way. The New American Standard uses the word “harmony”, “I urge Euodia and Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.” Perhaps this is a better translation than ‘be of the same mind’, because we all do see things differently. We are not all the same in our gifts, understanding, doctrine or experience. Harmony implies that each of us compliments the other in a way that is richer than if we all just sang the same ‘melody line’ of our faith. To push the metaphor just a little farther, harmony requires all to sing the same song with an ear to the person who is also singing next to you, especially if you are a committed, strong, passionate, singer. And that’s what Euodia and Syntyche were, women who were strongly committed to the message of the gospel, sacrificial supporters of Paul, women who were saved by the blood of Christ on the cross because of their faith in Him. The song they sung together was the anthem of their salvation. Paul was encouraging others to help them sing in the same key! That’s essentially why he says, “my fellow workers whose names are written in the Book of Life.” That’s our key, the Book of Life! Perhaps you’re wondering what this thing called the Book of Life is. Is it actually a Book, is it just a figure of speech, does it just refer to our salvation? It’s a term that’s used here in Philippians and then seven other times in the book of Revelation. From the context it refers to an actual record that has the actual names of people from the beginning of time. The book is owned by the Lamb (Rev. 21:27), that is Jesus Christ determines whose name is entered into it. The book excludes a great number of names, that is, every ones name is not in the Book. In fact four of the references to the Book of Life describe the people whose names are not in it. These people are apart from Christ, never having made the choice to accept Him as their Savior. They are by choice doomed to hell. Paul’s point is that this world is not our home, don’t get hung up on lesser details. Your names in the Book of Life!
II. Be Aware of the Way You Walk, As You Head Home.
Years ago I was teaching a class on the New Testament to some Grade 5 students at an Elementary school. We had just finished watching the Luke video of the life of Christ. I asked the kids who they thought Jesus was. Some said He’s our helper, a good man, a great teacher, a King of the Jews. Then one little girl held up her hand and asked if Joseph’s last name was Christ, because that was Jesus’ last name. We talked about how ‘Christ’ is a title or a description of who Jesus is. I asked them if they knew the story of the Titanic, about how the people ended up in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. I asked, “What if you were locked in a room and someone came to you, unlocked the door, took your hand and led you into the life boat? What would you call that person… a helper, a good man, a teacher, a king… or a Savior?” They knew the answer immediately, just like you do. Paul says to the church, celebrate continually the fact that you have a Savior, that you have been saved by faith because you took His hand. Celebrate Jesus continually, His blood = His life… His body= His death, given in our place. He pushed us onto that life raft even as He sunk into death bearing the cost of our sin, giving His life for us.
Since Jesus is your Savior, two responses are yours to follow through on.
- Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. The term gentle spirit is also translated, moderate, or magnanimous, or generous. It really is all of these and more because it’s meant to be something that is known to all men. Your rich conduct of grace and mercy done lavishly towards others, this proclaims to your heart and to others that the Lord is near. Your gracious spirit proclaims the fact that Christ is about to return and is invitational to the core. To have the understanding and belief that the Lord is near will purify you, in your thought and attitude. 1 John 3:3 says, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” It will affirm that you are aware of the way that you walk, that you are heading towards home.
- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. You can see the purification process at work in this verse. It purges anxiety with actions of faith. It rejects speculations and temptations and even accusations by bringing them all before God in prayer, believing that action will be taken. So thanksgiving is given even before you see the results. And action is taken by God, almost instantaneously… look at verse 7, “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Peace, the peace of God, guards you. It protects that which is within from that which is on the outside trying to get in. It protects your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. The peace of God defends you against sinful heart tendencies and desires. It defends against rational logic that argues for reason over faith. God helps you hold the course as you walk towards home! We’re on our way home, and the post cards from home call us onward. Let me close with the words of this poem …
Light after darkness, gain after loss;
Strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears;
Home after wandering, praise after tears;
Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain;
Sight after mystery, peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow, calm after blast;
Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last;
Near after distant, gleam after gloom;
Love after loneliness, life after tomb;
After long agony, rapture of bliss;
Right was the pathway, leading to this.