Sermon Info:

Responsive Reading: Philippians 2:5-18
Key Verse(s): Philippians 2:14-15
Background Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Matthew 5:14-16

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Introduction

A beacon of hope — Twilight is upon us.  Again, another week comes with another mass shooting – this time at a church in Alabama.  Another week, more hatred and wickedness.

I tell you, the times that we are living in today are just different.  Yes, we have had some dark times in the past; on this day we are actually observing Juneteenth, the day commemorates the “end of slavery”.  Now, slavery of that kind does not exist here today, however, I would tell you that slavery of another kind is ever present today and its control is growing tighter.  Mankind is in the bondage of wickedness and the bondage of wickedness is spreading rapidly.

So, twilight is upon us; darkness – wickedness – is growing more and more and night is beginning to settle in.  When morning comes, the light that rises will be emanating from the glory of God.  I want you to understand in this scenario, the new day will be the day of the Lord where in His light both wickedness and hatred – sin – will be judged.  To some, the day of the Lord will be a good but to those whose heart is wicked, it will be a terrible day.

So, as darkness is beginning to settle in over this world, true believers must begin to move with a sense of urgency – we cannot be fearful.  As we saw in last week’s sermon – In the Midst of Wickedness – now is the time that we should be ever watchful in prayer, wise, humble, and moving with fervent love about us.  In our key verse, Paul encourages us as children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, to shine as lights.  So, in other words, now is the time for all of us to be a beacon of hope in the growing darkness of night so that others who become lost and are lost can find their way.

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world

KEY VERSE – PHILIPPIANS 2:14-15 NKJV

The Darkness of Night

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul took a moment to write about the coming of the Lord and the days of the darkest nights for the world (2 Thess. 2:1-12).  In this passage of scripture, we will see that Paul stated that the day of the Lord would not come unless a couple of things take place first.

The Great Apostasy

First, we will see that Paul said that the day of the Lord will not come unless the falling away – the Great Apostasy – comes first (2 Thess. 2:3).  This falling away speaks to the total departure from faith in the Lord; this begins when the church, the true and genuine believers,  will be called to Christ in what we refer to as the rapture.  The day will eventually come when there will be a total departure from faith in the Lord and the world will plunge into total darkness, spiritually, and there will be great tribulation.

Now, the church is still present in the world, so as Paul said, we should not be deceived into believing that the day of the Lord has already come – it has not.  However, if you simply take a look around at the world, the signs of such a falling away are already present; it is clear that a departure from faith in the Lord is happening in our world today.  Again, I tell you that though we are not living in total darkness, twilight is upon the world.  What are we, the true believers, to do in these hours?

The Antichrist

In that same verse from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he wrote that the day of the Lord will not come until the revelation of the man of sin, the son of perdition.  To know who the son of perdition is, let us first take a look at who his father is.

To the Jews that stood in opposition to Him, Jesus at one point in time likened them to being like their “father” who does not stand in truth because the truth is not in him.  Jesus then said of this father, he is a liar and he is the father of it (John 8:44).  Jesus plainly tells us that the “father” of perdition is the devil, the great adversary that opposes the Lord.  Like his father, the son of perdition will oppose the Lord and exalt himself like he is God during the days of great tribulation.  In doing this, the son of perdition will deceive the world (2 Thess. 2:3-4).

Now, we know the son of perdition by the name which John used for him in his first epistle – The Antichrist.  Again, I want you to understand that we aren’t living in the days of the Great Tribulation, however, the signs of those days are already present in our world!  In fact, John wrote in his first epistle that the spirit of antichrist is already present in our world doing works that oppose the Lord (1 John 4:1-3).

Twilight is upon us

Twilight is upon – what are we to do in these hours?  The days of the Great Tribulation will be the darkest days this world will ever see and there will be little that can be done in those days.  With it being the twilight hours, this means that there is still time for something to be done.  There is still time for those that live with wickedness in their heart to turn to the Lord before night and before the morning comes.

To speak in terms that some of you may understand, the street lights are starting to come on and dad is waiting for us to come home.  I was one of those kids that could stay outside and play all day, but I knew when it was time to stop and get inside.  The last thing I wanted is for dad to have to call for me to come in!  The last thing you want is an angry dad having to come out, get you, and bring you home!

A Light of the World

So, these are the hours where we, the children of God, who knows better, should be the responsible ones and start telling others it’s time to start making our way home!

Now, some would much rather stay outside and keep on playing into the night hours; they would rather be hard-headed (disobedient).  So, it can be quite difficult to be that responsible kid that’s trying to go home and tell others it’s time to go home.  Nobody ever wanted to be the “goody two shoes” because that kid was always mocked.  However, I would tell you today that now is the time for the true believers to be the responsible ones in the growing darkness.

Humble and obedient

Last week, we saw that we as true believers are to move with fervent love (1 Pet. 4:8).  Paul, we will see, touched more on the thought of the believer being a light bearer – a beacon of hope – to the Philippians.  What I want to do is show you what we are to do as true believers do in these twilight hours to help show others the way.

Now, just as Peter encouraged, we will see that Paul encouraged the believer to let the mind be in you which was also in Christ (Phil. 2:5).  Paul reminds us that Christ was humble and that He was also “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8).”

Now, let us take a moment to consider this statement from Paul so that we can, again, understand the mind of Christ.  Christ’s humility:  let us consider that Christ, who was holy, came from eternity to this world of wickedness and suffered (lived) in it.  Christ’s obedience:  Paul speaks to Christ being obedient to the point of death to carry out His Father’s will.

The will of the Father is for mankind not to die in darkness!  In order for us not to to die in darkness, the Father gave His Son as a sacrifice.  Jesus, we should understand, did not come to the world to live but to die!  So, let us understand that Jesus did not have to give Himself for us!  Yet, Jesus being holy, humbled Himself in living in this world and He obediently carried out the will of His Father.

So, as Christ gave Himself for us, the Lord desires that we live for one another!  You see, there is a cross that we must bear in order to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  In bearing our cross, we will share in Christ’s sufferings in which Peter said we should rejoice (1 Pet. 4:13)!  Have we not been commissioned with a task from Christ to carry out the will of the Lord?  God commanded us to share the good news so that others can be saved!  So, who are we to not humble ourselves in the same manner that Christ humbled Himself?

Who are we not to humble ourselves, a creature born in and of sin?  Who are we to make the choice not to obediently carry out the Lord’s will? Are we better than Jesus, who was the light of the world?  You see, in these twilight hours, the world needs the light that resides in you now more than it ever has before!  Someone out there needs some hope in these twilight hours, let us not keep it from them by not giving ourselves!

Give meaning to your salvation

Paul, we will see, encouraged the believer to live in a way that gives meaning to our salvation; we should work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).  From this encouragement from Paul, I would ask, are you giving meaning to the salvation you have received from the Lord?  I feel like this is a very important question for us to answer today — what are you doing with your salvation?

Jesus encouraged us through His teaching to the Jews that we should labor (work) for the food which endures to everlasting life (John 6:27).  This labor, Jesus tells us, is to believe in Him whom He (the Father) sent (John 6:29).  As you have heard me say before, faith does not sit still!  Faith is always in motion and doing good – something that is beneficial – for all people.

Paul then encouraged us to give meaning to our salvation by doing good without complaining and disputing (Phil. 2:14).  The Lord did not grumble or complain when He gave His Son to the world!  So, when we are giving meaning to our salvation, carrying out the task that has been commissioned to us by Christ, we should do it rejoicing in our soul!  Now, the question often arises as to what good are we, the true believers, to be doing?

The good work of the Father’s will

Throughout scripture, we are shown the labor – the good we do – begins with love; a love that should be fervent, as Peter said (1 Pet. 4:8).

The beacon of hope that should emanate from the believer comes from the Holy Spirit, which we know dwells with us.  We are taught that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt. 5:44).  This love is to be given to all people, including our enemies, those who curse us, and those who hate us.  Because God loves all people and resides in us through the inner dwelling of the Holy Spirit, this is the love that pours out from the heart of the true believer.

So, our love is to be compassionate and merciful.  With this love, we are to be prayerful for those we love, and again, those who spitefully use us and even persecute us.  With this compassionate love, the believer ought to be merciful and forgiving, just as the Lord was merciful and forgiving of our wickedness.

There are so many believers who, today, scoff at the idea of loving the groups of people that Jesus encouraged us to love.  It is a terrible thing when the one who has professed to have faith in the Lord is adding to the darkness!  I tell you, it is a terrible thing when one who has professed to believe in the Lord, finds the idea of loving all people to be ridiculous.  How can we show others the way – be a beacon of hope – when we are not acting out of that faith ourselves?

In the book of Isaiah, it is said, “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday (Is. 58:10).”

So, we should be caring for each other in these twilight hours!  In his letter, James encouraged us to visit orphans and widows (Jas. 1:27) and to also care for the sick (Jas. 5:13-14).  When Jesus spoke about His judgment of the nations, He spoke of how He would judge on how we cared for one another.  Did we care for the less fortunate – the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, and sick (Matt. 25:31-46)?

Bearing one another’s burdens

Admittedly, there are many believers that struggle with being a beacon of hope in this world.  For example, it can be difficult to love those that curse and hate you; it can be difficult to pray for those that spitefully use and persecute you.  Admittedly, it can be difficult carrying the weight of guiding others and showing others the way.

I want to say something to the church today:  Our commission from Christ does not fall on just one single person.  Yes, through Christ we certainly have the strength to be able to bear loving those that curse and hate us.  Yes, through the strength of Christ we can be both prayerful and merciful to those that spitefully use and persecute us.  However, all of us as true believers should be taking part in this labor together so that not one person is bearing this labor by themselves.

To the Corinthians, Paul said that by an equality, at this time, our abundance should supply the lack of others who partake in this great labor in the times they are lacking.  At other times, when we are lacking – when we are down and others are up good – their great abundance should supply us (2 Cor. 13:8).  So, in other words, we are to help one another in this mission; we should all bear this burden together (Gal. 6:2)!

That Beacon of Hope

In being that beacon of hope, we should be preaching God throughout the world, together, because the Lord is everyone’s greatest hope and He needs to be known by all people.  We should preach about the Lord’s call – His call to stop wandering in the dark with no hope and turn to the light of His salvation.  We should be preaching about God’s forgiveness and mercy!  Let us preach that the Lord is a refuge and a fortress; a comforter and great help in our time of need (Ps. 62:5-8).

You are that beacon of hope for the world to see – Jesus said this Himself about you!  From His mouth, Jesus said that you are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14).  Jesus likened us true believers to being like a city that sits on top of a hill whose light cannot be hidden.  During these twilight hours, when the sun has nearly set, our light should still be seen as the lights of a city brightly shining.

Jesus encouraged, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).”  Paul, again, in our key verse for today encouraged the believer to do their best to strive to be without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world.

It may seem like there is a lot of weight being placed on our shoulders, yet, I tell you that we can bear this weight.  We can bear this weight with the help of one another, but most importantly, we can bear it with the help of the Lord.  The Lord has not placed a task on us that we are unable to bear.

Even though the world may be growing darker and darker, the light of the believer should only be growing stronger and stronger.  In this world of darkness, it seems that most of the examples that others are being shown to follow are the ways of the wicked; we know that these ways only lead to destruction.  Solomon said, however, that the path of the just is like the shining sun that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day (Prov. 4:18).

The light of the just is life and health to all who will follow the way.  So, I encourage you the same as Jesus encouraged – let your light shine.  Let us be that beacon of hope that show others the way in which they should go during these hours of looming darkness.

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