Sermon by Dr. E. Dale Locke
Series: Fixer Upper (Making the Changes that Matter Most), Week 7 – “Complete the Work”
- FOUNDATION: In week 1, we considered the foundation you are building your life upon.
- CLARITY: In week 2, we suggested that you first become clear about what needs to change in your life and what it may cost you to change it.
- PLANS: In week 3, we considered the balance between God’s sovereignty and our own plans. We noticed that, in order to see change happen, we need to take initiative and make plans, but we should also include God in those plans.
- DEMO DAY: In week 4, we examined the need to tear some things down in order to build new things up.
- GET TO WORK: In week 5, Pastor Trevor helped us understand how to work out our salvation as God works in us (Philippians 2:12-13).
- SETBACKS: In week 6, Pastor Dale talked about how the Apostle Paul handled the setbacks in his life and persevered through them. We learned that, when you are facing a setback, it’s important to remember: God has not left you, God is not judging you, and God loves you.
- Today we’ll talk about how to COMPLETE THE WORK!
- Pastor Dale told about Lewis and Clark’s expedition to search for a waterway to the Pacific Ocean. After a long, hard struggle to reach the headwaters of the Columbia River, they thought they had finally reached a valley where they could float effortlessly down the river to the Pacific. Instead, when they climbed up the ridge before them, they discovered the Rocky Mountains – a huge barrier. Yet they didn’t give up, but persevered.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation, where you had struggled through some very challenging times, and then just as you felt like things might finally get easier, you found yourself facing an even bigger challenge? How did you feel in that situation?
- Read Philippians 1:1-11: Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 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.7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
- What thoughts and questions come to your mind as you read this passage?
- Consider your own life. What good changes has God begun in you? What is hindering those changes from coming to completion?
- Setback and challenges are an unavoidable part of life’s journey, even for Christians.
- God will redeem our setbacks, if we let Him.
- But for God to redeem them, we have to get up after a setback and get back to work.
- Paul writes in Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God is not saying here that all things are good or that He causes all the things that come into our lives. But God is promising to bring good out of all things, even things He did not bring into our lives. Why does is this an important distinction?
- When you’ve been through a difficult setback, Satan wants you to feel like you have failed and you should give up. But God wants you to get up and get back to work. Notice four phrases in Philippians 1:6 that can help you get back to work, instead of giving up:
Being confident of this:
- Paul lived his life out of a spirit of certainty. In contrast, some Christians who have been around spiritual things for a long time lose their fervor and confidence in what God can do to change people. Why does that happen?
- The Apostle John writes in 1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Some people think it’s arrogant to be confident that you’re saved and have eternal life. Why can a person be confident of their salvation? Why isn’t it arrogant to have confidence that you’re saved?
He who began a good work in you:
- Name at least one thing currently going on in your life that it takes Jesus Christ to explain?
- It is possible for a Christian to fall into a pattern of just going through the motions with a form of Christianity that has grown cold and dead. What can help you keep your faith fresh and alive?
He will carry it on to completion:
- Pastor Dale said, “Your works don’t save you, but they are the evidence that you have been saved.” Explain what he meant by that.
- The “it” that God will carry on to completion includes:
- Your salvation
- Your sanctification (which is the process of changing our heart and character)
- Your service to God’s Kingdom.
Pastor Dale said that if you’re not serving God’s Kingdom, you’re serving yourself. Do you agree? Why, or why not?
- How does serving God’s Kingdom help us grow spiritually?
Until the day of Christ Jesus:
- What is “the day of Christ Jesus”? How will we know when it is here?
- Pastor Dale said, “Don’t focus on results; focus on obedience.” Why is that important to remember?