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Josh Cordell: Lead By Example, Philippians 3:7-17

April 29, 2024

Audio Recording

True fulfillment comes from abandoning earthly achievements for a deeper relationship with Christ, transforming suffering into a pathway to divine closeness and future glory.

Westside Church Podcast
Josh Cordell: Lead By Example, Philippians 3:7-17
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Sermon Transcript:

You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

At the beginning of Philippians, chapter three, Paul says he reminds them to rejoice in the Lord. And he says, I'm reminding you, he says, I'm saying it again. He says, I don't mind saying these things again. In essence, it's kind of like Paul saying. It's like I always say, and I'm a guy. There's several young people in here who know that I'm a guy who. It's like I always say. I say the same things over and over again, and I appreciate that Paul gives me that freedom. So if any of you are feeling like I'm saying the same thing too much, I'm just trying to be like Paul. Okay, so a great example of it's like I always say is Pastor Ken Johnson, who was the pastor here at Westside before I attended Westside. I didn't sit under Pastor Ken. But I can tell you something that Pastor Ken always said. He said, we leak. And what he meant by that was that we have to fill up on God. We have to fill up on community and closeness with God and the scriptures and the spirit, because throughout the week, we leak it out and we have to fill back up. We have to keep it full. And the reason I know that he always said that is because I have so many people who I love who say, well, it's like Pastor Ken always said. So clearly, he said it a lot. In fact, I mentioned that in the last service, and someone grabbed me, and they said, he said it a lot. He said, I say it all the time to my friends, so it's okay to have a. It's like I always say. And in fact, I would encourage all of you to think about, what is your message? What do you always say? Is there something that. It's like mom always says. It's like coach always says. It's like the pastor always says, what is that thing? Be intentional about it. We have a thing that we always say with our youth. We're really intentional about this. We say, God loves you and we love you.

I was curious if we had to hear anything. I'm gonna give you guys the freedom. Go ahead and say it out. So we say this every time we're in the same room, and this is a big setting, so I heard some quiet voices, but we always say from up front, we say, God loves you and we love you.

And then in the audience, they say, I am loved by God, and we want that to be a thing where, man, that's just. That's the beginning point of our identity. We're gonna come back to that all the time.

Aw. Tozer said that he wanted to be a signpost that pointed towards God.

I see what this looks like. I think a signpost is my best option. I would love to be a signpost that points to God, where people say, oh, that's that sign. That just reminds me that God loves me. Mission accomplished. That's what I want.

Paul has a tendency in Philippians to repeat himself, to go back to some key things and to tell us. He tells us in verse one that this is a safeguard for us. He's doing this on purpose. He's giving us these things. And from here, he goes into a warning. He warns us about the bad guys, basically. He warns us about this group that he calls the dogs. And in a negative sense, it's not like, where's my dogs at? It's like, these guys are dogs. These guys are filthy. These guys are bad. You don't want to have anything to do with them. And what their message is is that it's Jesus plus works.

It's something else. There's some righteousness that you have to work towards to attain. There's something for you to do. And Paul takes that and he says, don't listen to those dogs. And then he one ups them. Okay? He gives them kind of the ultimate one up of where he says, oh, you guys say it's works. That's cute. Let me tell you what I've done. And then he goes down this list. I was circumcised on the 8th day. I was part of the tribe of Benjamin. I was a pharisee of the Pharisees. When it comes to persecuting the church, nobody persecuted the church like I did. I was the very best persecutor of christians that there's ever been. And he lays it out. He very much gives them, like, this one up. Anybody ever know anyone who's a one upper in your life where you say something and they're like, oh, that's cute. But let me tell you about, you know, let me take it to another level. Paul does that. And if you're not sure if you have a one upper in your life, if someone comes to mind that they might be a one upper, here's a test you can do. You tell them you're a one upper, and if they say, well, if you think I'm a one upper, let me tell you about this other guy. Then they clearly are. And you've tricked them. You've caught them.

So Paul, in this moment, he says, they're telling you you've got to do this stuff. Well, I did all the stuff. I did it better than anyone has ever done it. There's this term called the Frank Sinatra, and it's like a sales term. If you were trying to sell yourself to someone, you might give them the Frank Sinatra. And it's based on, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. Okay? And so an example, like, here's a real straightforward example. If I wanted to coach a elementary school basketball team, and I walked up and I said, I played in the NBA, that's like my Frank Sinatra, right? I don't have to say, here's all these other things. So Paul gives us this Frank Sinatra. He says, oh, you want to talk about works? You want to talk about earning righteousness through following the law? Done it. Did it the best. No one's ever done it as well as I have. But then he reaches back and he pulls out an uno reverse card. Okay? Pulls out an Uno reverse card. He gives them that, and then that's where we jump in. Is verse seven, chapter three, verse seven. After he's pulled out the uno reverse card, he says, I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of Christ. Because of what Christ, Christ has done.

He says, oh, you guys want to do this? I did that. And you know what? Worthless because of what Christ has done. He goes on to say, all of these things are garbage. Not just those things, but all the achievement. All of the stuff is garbage. It's rubbish. If you go through and look at a bunch of different translations, if you pull up an app, you'll see a whole bunch of different words used there. I'm a very pg guy. I don't even push pg 13 because I'm my audience. But you can imagine what this word would translate to, right? Of where he's like, this is filth. This is like, all of that is disgusting compared to Christ Jesus. It's gross.

And he takes us then into, what does it look like now for him to be this new person who is not trying to achieve, but is relying solely on Jesus? And here's the powerful thing about this, you guys.

This does not happen. This mindset shift does not happen based on an intellectual weighing out of whether my best options. So if we look at what we've done in Philippians so far, we started out pointing towards the Christ palm, and Dave said, something in week one that really hit me and really has stuck with me. He said, I pray that you would have an encounter with Christ.

Not just really know this book, not just really have a knowledge of who Jesus is, but that you would have an encounter with Christ.

Then we got to the Christ poem, and Evan delivered the Christ poem. And we saw, we're like, oh, God is good.

He humbled himself, he suffered for us, and then he was glorified. And now we're on the other side of the Christ poem, and we're looking back at it, and everything is about that. Everything is about Christ.

And so we could weigh the philosophies of life and make an intellectual decision on what is better. And there are people who have come to Christ doing that, right? There are people who have. Who have looked at the evidence and said, oh, this makes a lot of sense.

Paul encountered the risen savior.

Paul had a relationship with the living God, and it changed everything. When we are told to take on the mind of Christ leading into that Christ poem, it's not just this theoretical, here's how you should think. It's, here's who you should be, because here's who you should be with.

It changes everything.

After he said that none of this is worth anything, that it's all garbage, and that everything is about Jesus, we jump into verse ten. He says, I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death.

So I have to be honest with you guys. I've had time to prepare this Message and think about this and really read these scriptures and study them. And this was a very hard scripture for me. This was a very hard scripture for me. When he says, I want to suffer with him, I love scriptures that say, I want to enter into Christ's victory.

I want to kill it. I want things to go my way. I want to. I want to operate up here. When the scripture says, paul says, I want to suffer with Jesus, I had to really start looking at that. And I looked at one of the best things I found was this person wrote the five reasons for suffering, and each had a very, like, biblically based answer of, why do we suffer? And it made a lot of sense to me, and it was really good. And I was like, that's not what I'm supposed to deliver. God, what do you have? And I prayed about it, and I waited, and I felt God telling me that the reason that Paul wanted to enter into the suffering with Christ is because that's where Jesus was.

Paul wants to be with Jesus, and he wants to be transformed into the image of Christ. And Jesus is in the suffering.

And that was really hard for me because I love that Jesus suffered for me. I love the message of the cross. But in my flesh, Josh, me, I want to view it from a throne, right? Maybe not a throne, maybe a hammock.

I want to be in a hammock and think about how Jesus suffered and died for me.

But he calls us into the suffering with him.

He calls us into suffering and death with him.

I'll admit, the death part I had an easier time with, because I know how the story ends, right? I know what's on the other side of death. And so that part being called into moving into the death with Christ, that's easier for me, but the suffering is harder.

And I talked with my friend Michael after the service today. One of the things he said that was just beautiful is he said he is wired to be in the suffering with people, but if he goes there alone, it wrecks him.

So he has the ability to enter into other people's suffering and be there doing the groundwork with people. But if he does it apart from Jesus, he can't sustain it. It destroys him.

We are called into suffering with Jesus, but the beauty is that's where he's at, and we'll see why he's there, of what he has for us. It's so amazing. And we're not only called into the suffering, probably a lot of you are walking in here today and saying, no, I'm already there. Like, I'm not. This isn't a decision of like, am I going to enter into suffering with Jesus? Because that's where I'm gonna get closer to him. You're like, no, I am suffering. This life is hard.

And if you are suffering, know this. You are there with the risen savior, the creator of the universe. He is present in your suffering.

And that's amazing.

And that's amazing. And he's doing something through it. He's doing a work in it. If we jump to verse twelve, Paul is talking about, where is the suffering leading? What's happening? What's the point? Where is he going? Verse twelve. I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. Other translations perfection completion that he's obtained, that he's reached the goal. No, dear brothers and sisters, in 13, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing, forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us.

Suffering awful eventually leads to death. On the other side of that death is resurrection, is victory. There's a prize ahead.

If we can fix our eyes on it, then it changes everything.

I love to walk. That's. I walk and hike a lot, so I go on walks with people. I go on walks by myself, my family, our activity. We have a ten year old daughter who loves to hike now. So that's what we do. We go on hikes. And so we pretty regularly are going on hikes. I grew up in bend. The trails are a little busier than they used to be. I'm going to let you in on a secret. If you didn't know this used to be a little fewer people out, okay. Now the trails are busy, so we are early starters. We are. I'm not a morning person, but on a hike day I will make it happen. And so we get an early start. We're usually the first ones in the parking lot. And then we go for a hike. And some hikes are loops, but a lot of hikes that have a goal destination are an out and back. And so an out and back, you know, you reach a destination, you turn around, you come back. If you're someone who's working out, then you might do an out and back where it's just like, oh, I reached my time and I'm just going to turn around. But usually an out and back hike is because there's a beautiful destination. There's a waterfall, there's a top of a mountain, there's a viewpoint, there's a lake, a lake that you're like, how is there a lake out here? Good job, God. And so an out and back hike is all this work. And then you get to something beautiful, and then you turn around and come back. And usually it's up on the way there and down on the way back. Is pretty typical how a lot of these hikes work. You know, a little bit of this. But when I'm coming back from an out and back hike and people are coming first, I have to just acknowledge this. I apologize. I feel superior to them, so I'll put that out there. I feel a little better than them. I'm like, oh, I've decided to do something today.

Whereas I'm like, yeah, I've been there, done that, you know. And so one of the things that happens is you've been there and so you're headed back and someone comes. And especially if they're, like, looking a little ill prepared or they've got a big family with them, they'll ask some questions. How much further are we? Almost there. Does it flatten out? Please tell me it flattens out. And I've learned that because if you guys, those who are like, know me, know me, not good with telling you a distance of something. Not good with telling you what day it is. I know today is Sunday. That one's easy for me. But those kind of things, my brain doesn't work great in those ways. So I'm not helpful to say, you've got 3.1 go. That's not gonna. You're not gonna hear that from me. So here's what I tell someone when they ask me that. I say, oh, it's so worth it.

It's so worth it. It is beautiful. You're gonna love it. The kids, they're crying now, but they're gonna love it.

Having this goal, right? And Paul is towards the end of his life.

He's in the midst of the suffering. He can see glory. He just told us that to live is Christ and to die is gain. He gets it, right? Like, why is he willing to enter into the suffering? Because all he wants is Christ.

Why does he say that to die is gain? Because he knows he'll be with Christ. He's all in for it. And when we see the people walking, we can identify with that suffering, right?

It's a process. It's a suffering to get to that beautiful goal, that place where we are completed, that place of perfection, where God is waiting for us. It's an amazing thing. And what's beautiful is that we can enter into that suffering and we're not alone, because that's where Christ is, and he calls us to it. I have this amazing privilege of where I get to know young people really well, working with them through the church, through sports mentoring. And I have a high school girl who I've been working with for years. She's a really good athlete. She's both talented and works really, really hard. And so she just finished a sports season that was really, really difficult.

And it was, you know, it wasn't about wins and losses or statistics or anything like that. Those things happen. But it was relationships and pressure and expectations. And kids in sports experience something that we as adults kind of forget about a little bit of where they put a lot of work in, and they don't always get, like, the paycheck they think they're gonna get. So, like, we have an assumption with a job that, like, if I do this thing, then pay period ends, check comes, I know what it's gonna be. And kids who pour a lot into sports, you know, sometimes the paycheck's like playing time. Sometimes it's some praise from a coach, and that doesn't always come. And so I'm talking with this girl, 17 year old girl, who has poured so much into this, and she's struggling because the situation, she's suffering in it, the relationships, the expectations, the way she's treated by her coach and feels like she doesn't know what to expect day by day.

And as we're talking through this, and she's really laid it out, I'm thinking there's a couple options. I could hear from her now, I know her well, but I'm hearing how bad this is. I could hear from her, I think I'm done.

Or I could hear from her, I think I'm going to pull back a little bit, maybe not try quite as hard. It's not working for me. And instead she said, well, all of this is hard, but I'm only playing for one person.

I have one person who I hope to please in this whole thing, and that's Jesus.

And so this, the results, these circumstances, they don't change that.

I'm going to keep going. I'm going to press on towards that goal, towards that calling, even in the midst of the suffering. And I think when we talk about suffering, we have a line in our house, and it's gonna, I'll give you the context, but it's hot as hot. That's the line. When someone starts to feel bad about complaining, we just say, don't feel bad. Hot is hot. And it's based on this. When I was coaching park and rec tennis in the summer, I would do these eight hour days on a tennis court. And I would come home, and I was really hot. It got really hot. And I'd come home and I'd say, emily, how are you? And she'd be like, oh, I'm so hot. And then she'd be like, I'm sorry. Like, you're probably much hotter. And I'd say, hey, hot is hot, right? If you feel hot, you feel hot. And I think it's an important message when we talk about suffering, of where we could always be like, well, I'm not suffering like Paul, right? I'm not suffering like that person. Comparison is not just a problem for the things we want, but comparison is a problem for the things that we don't want. Right. So we have to be careful in that. So when we talk about this suffering, when I talk about this girl suffering from this circumstance, you could be on one side or the other. You could be like, oh, that's really, that's really hard. Or you could be like, that's not hard.

That's not hot. I know what hot is, right? Well, hot is hot, and Jesus is in the middle of that suffering, no matter what the suffering is. And he's with us, and he wants to be with us. He wants to draw us there to him.

Paul has a message for us. In verse 17. He says, join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, just as you have us as a model. Keep your eyes on those who live as we do. This is so encouraging, you guys. Paul is saying, follow me as I follow Jesus, not because of what I've done, but because of what he's done.

That's a message that we can get behind. That's a message that we can lead in. If you have people, you're leading, and you do, you have people, you have people probably sitting right next to you who you're leading. They're looking to you.

You can tell them, follow me as I follow Jesus, not because I'm complete. Paul just told us that he hasn't been perfected. He's not complete, but he presses on towards the goal.

Follow me as I follow Jesus, not because I have such a great plan, but because Jesus has amazing plans for us, not because of this thing I've obtained, but because of what he's obtained and what he's made available to us.

Let's press on together towards Jesus.

I do this habit of having a word for the year. So I started this. I learned it from a author named John Gordon. And six years ago, I picked my first word for the year. And the way it has come to be now is that in December, I start praying and I ask God what's going to be my word for the next year, that I'm going to focus on what's going to be the word. And then I look for it and I listen, and it's a great active listening exercise to see if you can hear from God and you can have things show up and see. I see that. I think that I'm going to make that my word. So my word for 2024 is the word complete.

And when I got that word, I was like, all right, going to get stuff done, like all of those loose ends, like, I'm going to finish the projects. Like, that's going to be, this is going to be the year of complete. This is going to feel so good. And God works on us, and he works in ways that are amazing. And it started to shift to where I was like, what would it be like to feel complete?

Do I feel incomplete?

Do I have to enter into suffering in order to be completed?

That doesn't sound great, but I want to be complete. I want to be finished. I want to enter into what Jesus has for me because he set this up for us. He made all of this happen. It's available to us, and it's this road that we're on. We're on a path that involves suffering and death. And that's awful to say, but there's victory on the other side and there is completion available in Jesus, and we can lean into that. I want to read Philippians one six because this, you guys, really encourages me, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

He is faithful to complete what he has begun in you.

And we can feel like, is this happening? Am I just going to live in these struggles forever? And there's long seasons of struggle. We look at the scriptures.

That's a long, there's a lot of examples of long lives of struggle and of suffering.

And we could give so many Old Testament examples, but how about this one, the God of the universe?

How about Jesus coming to earth as a man and suffering for us to reach the glory to be complete? And we have that available for us. And it's just incredible.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, you are so good.

You love us so much, and you are present with us in the suffering.

And we want to lean into that. God, we want to know that you are there with us, and we want to keep our eyes on the glory that you have ahead of us.

And we just have so much hope because of that. God, we pray all these things in your name. Amen. We are going to take communion in just a moment. And before we do, one of my favorite scriptures is one Peter 315. And it says, be ready to give an answer or be ready to give a defense when someone asks you the reason for the hope that's in you. So it's saying, be ready to answer when someone says, why do you have so much hope?

Not be ready to answer when someone says, why do you have the best opinions?

Why is it that you just, like, are so smart? How did you do that right? Be ready to answer when someone says, how do you have so much hope in the midst of this suffering.

And we're about to take communion. And that's why we have hope.

Not because of what we've done, but because of what he's done. And communion is this beautiful reminder of what God did for us, as we are reminded that he gave his body for us and he shed his blood for us so that we would have a path to him, so that we could have a relationship with him now and forever.