Delicate Balance Continued
Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Life is full of balancing acts! What are some things in life you’ve had to learn how to balance? Example: Work/family, family/hobbies, Checkbooks, etc.

2. As followers of Christ we have to learn how to find balance in certain things. For example, following Christ comes with some great benefits (forgiveness, purpose, joy), yet also brings with it a burden to care for those who are not yet followers of Christ. Have you found balance in this aspect of your Christian life? If yes, how?
1 Tim 1:15  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
1 Tim 1:16  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
1 Tim 1:17  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

3. Brother Larry showed an artist rendering of people safely on a dock going about their daily lives while others were drowning all about them.(Images can be seen in the full sermon notes below) Has the modern day church been guilty of complacency and even turning a deaf ear to their cries? What responsibility do we as individuals have in this, and what role do we as individuals have in correcting the problem? Paul not only wrote letters to the church as a whole, but also wrote a short letter to a man named Philemon at the church in Colossee. One answer to this question can be found in this letter.
Phile 1:4  I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers,
Phile 1:5  because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.
Phile 1:6  I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
Phile 1:7  Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.


4. From his prison cell, Paul wrote about his desire to honor Christ even as he was suffering. Sometimes our greatest witness to those who don’t know Jesus is how we live our lives during difficult circumstances. Can you think of a person who has been a good example to you of exalting Christ even in the worst of circumstances?
Phil 1:19  for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
Phil 1:20  I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.




Delicate Balance
Continued

Philippians 1:20-26

Before we get started with the message I want to say happy Veterans Day!!!


Our veterans have served our country so that means they have served you and me! We owe them a debt of gratitude! Whether they served in times of peace or war, they have been willing to give all to defend the freedoms we love and cherish!

Let's have them stand and show our appreciation!!

 Let's take a moment to pray and ask God's blessings on our service men and women, active duty and veterans.

PRAY!!

 I'm sure each and every one of these Veterans will tell you it was an honor serving their nation, and a certain joy wells up inside each of them when they see our flag raised high. But I'm equally sure they will tell you it was not easy!

 The burdens they were called to bear were not just the packs of heavy equipment and supplies they strapped to their backs or the weapons they wielded! You vets carried an emotional and mental burden as well and for that we are forever in your debt!!

 
As I shared last week...
There's certainly joy in following Jesus, but there's also a burden we are called to bear and sometimes we will suffer for the cause of Christ!

Finding the balance between the joy of the Lord and the burdens, difficulties, struggles, and sometimes even suffering is not an easy thing.

 This week I want to focus on one of the specific burdens we as Christians are called to bear. It is a burden every follower of Christ should carry at some level. If a person does not carry this burden there is good reason to examine whether or not this person has ever truly known the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love of Christ!

Why would I say this? Because I have to wonder how a person can be pulled from the raging ocean of sin, and not be concerned about the others who were passengers in the same ill-fated boat.
Yes I'm talking about the burden of caring about the lost souls who have yet to be rescued with the good news of Jesus!

Think about it. You're riding in a ferry boat that goes down. You're in the cold, deep waters and your strength is fading. Your about ready to give up and accept your fate when a hand reaches down and pulls you out! They give you a warm blanket and let you know they will be taking you to shore, but they inform you there's still a family of five missing they are hoping to find before heading back.

Can you imagine yourself telling your rescuers that if they don't take you back to the shore right now you'll be late for a meeting and you have to get home and change clothes. Your promotion at work depends on your making this meeting. "Can't you take me to the shore and then come back and search for the others?"

Now I know most of us are thinking, "Really! You're gonna be that selfish? Don't you remember how you were so close to giving up? Don't you remember how cold, how scary? How sad?

How can you forget the amazing joy you had when you saw your rescuer and realized you weren't going to drown?
How can you not care about that family?"

The person might respond, "Well I don't even know them!"

Just because you don't know them, does that mean you shouldn't care for them?
Boy, am I glad we're not like that!!
Right?

But wait a minute. Is the church not a life boat? A rescue ship? Are we not a people who've been rescued from the ocean of despair? Are we not a people who would have certainly been lost at sea if it had not been for someone bringing us the wonderful news of a Savior named Jesus Christ?

 Have we been guilty of being more concerned with our own agenda's, goals, and comforts, rather than the all consuming passion of Jesus to seek and to save that which is lost?

 I saw this picture that accompanied a message by William Boothe, founder of the Salvation Army. It was in a book published by "Last Days Ministries." It convicted my heart!





 Is that the modern day church. We're safe on the dock and seemingly unconcerned with those all around us who are struggling for another breath!

I zoomed into another part of the picture.

Take a look!



 Let's stay on that picture for a minute. At least there's a couple of guys in a small boat trying to pluck folks out. Must seem like an overwhelming task.

 And I noticed something that kinda hit home to me. There's a guy on the far left. A photographer! Ouch!! More concerned with getting that famous shot than helping those despairing souls.
Now I'm pretty sure I would chunk the camera in a situation like that, or would I?

 I must confess somedays I'm thinking more about that next cool picture I'm gonna take than the opportunity God's going to give me to reach out to some lost and hurting soul!! Forgive me Lord!!!!

 There's nothing wrong with taking pictures, golfing, watching football, or going fishing, but God forbid that we ever forget that as Christians our ultimate goal is to be fishers of men!!!

There was a man in the Bible who was  dramatically rescued by Christ. Saul the persecutor of Christians. Once rescued, his name was changed to Paul and he became obsessed with search and rescue!!

But even Paul, struggled with balancing the joy of the Lord and the burden of the Lord!

Listen...

20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Philippians 1:20 (NIV)

21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21 (NIV)

22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
Philippians 1:22 (NIV)

23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
Philippians 1:23 (NIV)

24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Philippians 1:24 (NIV)

25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
Philippians 1:25 (NIV)

26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
Philippians 1:26 (NIV)

 In this passage Paul gives us some amazing insights as to how he balanced the joy of the Lord and the burden of the Lord!
Let's look at them...


First Insight

Determine to exalt the Lord when there's joy and when there's burdens.

20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Philippians 1:20 (NIV)

 Paul was in prison! Paul didn't yet know if he would be released or if he would be killed.
What was his biggest concern? His witness!!


Paul didn't want to do anything that would make anyone think he was ashamed of the gospel! He wanted to exalt Jesus even as he was suffering physically! He wanted the joy of the Lord to be evident in the way he faced imprisonment. Paul probably remembered what he had written in the book of Romans...

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 1:16 (NIV)

17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17 (NIV)

Paul was determined to live what he preached!! After all, the righteous live by faith and not by sight!! Paul had written about his in his second letter to the Corinthians...

7We live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)

8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8 (NIV)

9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
2 Corinthians 5:9 (NIV)

And this leads us to our second insight...

Second Insight

Understand it's the joy of The Lord that creates the burden of The Lord!

21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21 (NIV)

 The joy of the Lord is responsible for and actually creates the burden of the Lord!

You want others to have what you have.

Paul wanted others to know the joy, the forgiveness, the love and the purpose he had found in his personal relationship with Jesus!

How bad did Paul want others to know his Jesus?

1I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—
Romans 9:1 (NIV)

2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
Romans 9:2 (NIV)

3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race,
Romans 9:3 (NIV)

4the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.
Romans 9:4 (NIV)

5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Romans 9:5 (NIV)

6It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
Romans 9:6 (NIV)

It's one thing to give up your seat on the airplane, but Paul said he would be willing to give his salvation so that others could be saved. Of course it doesn't work that way, but Paul was just broken over how his Jewish brothers and sisters had rejected the Messiah.

Paul knew the emptiness of the way of life they were living. He too had lived that life before meeting Jesus on the Road to Damascus. And since that day, the joy of The Lord and the divine calling on his life had been so amazing that he wished all could know, both Jew and Gentile alike!!

Had there ever been anyone else with such passion for others?

Yes!

31So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.
Exodus 32:31 (NIV)

32But now, please forgive their sin —but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
Exodus 32:32 (NIV)

Now that's heavy stuff! And what does Jesus think about this kind of attitude?

12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15:12 (NIV)

13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 (NIV)

I wrote a song for a dear friend and family member once. The words said,

I'd give my life here for your soul there, you say that's crazy but that's how much I care, 'cause heaven last forever, so I'd give what ever, what ever it takes, but it's your choice to make. Now you know I can't die for you or take away your sin, save your soul, give you freedom, but there's one who can, no there's one who did, His flesh was torn, His life blood flowed, so you could forever live!!!!

Third Insight

The Joy of The Lord coupled with the Burden of The Lord cause us to bear fruit!


22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
Philippians 1:22 (NIV)

23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
Philippians 1:23 (NIV)

24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Philippians 1:24 (NIV)

 Paul wanted to go home to be with The Lord. He wanted to go live on the mountain top, but he knew his work on this earth wasn't finished. He had read Jesus' words on fruit bearing...

4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
John 15:4 (NIV)

5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 (NIV)

 And then look down in verse 8...

8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:8 (NIV)

God wants us to bear fruit!!
Last week we talked about those who just want to live on the mountain and despise the valleys. One of our church members sent me a text after the service with a quote from Billy Graham, thank you Pat..

"Mountain tops are for perspective, but fruit is grown in the valley!"
Rev. Billy Graham

Fourth Insight

The result of carrying the burden of The Lord is Joy in the Lord!

24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Philippians 1:24 (NIV)

25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
Philippians 1:25 (NIV)

26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
Philippians 1:26 (NIV)

There's great joy in helping others come to know Jesus and then discipling them so they can become more like Jesus.
Let me just tell you it's downright addictive.
You see Jesus change a life, then a family, and then another life, it's exciting.

Did you know that some have even risked their life that others might come to know Jesus. Some have given the ultimate sacrifice.

There were five young men back

On January 8th, 1956 five missionaries landed a small plane on the sand bar of a river bank deep in the jungles of Ecuador. They were attempting to reach a tribe of indians known for their savagery and killing. They had made some contact already.

The missionaries had brought a gun, but had made a pact to only use it fire in the air to scare the tribe away if they felt endangered. But they would not use the gun to shoot the Indians even if it meant loosing their lives.


 That day, they lost their lives, but because they would not shoot their attackers, they laid the ground work for a move of God that is still changing lives today!

 Within three years of this tragedy, Elizebeth Elliot, wife of Jim, and Rachel Saint, sister to Nick Saint, along with others had reached many in this tribe with the good news of Jesus.
I'll let Steve Saint, Nate's son, tell you the rest of the story...

Please listen to the Podcast of this message to hear Steve's story.

 First Film Clip

 Second DVD clip

36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36 (NIV)

37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
Matthew 9:37 (NIV)

38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Matthew 9:38 (NIV)

End of Sermon!