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October 3, 2013

By Pastor Jerry Henry

First Baptist Church, Fairhope

Philippians is an amazing letter in the Bible. It is only four chapters long, but it is full of insights into the Christian life. What is amazing is that the letter was written by Paul while he was in a situation of difficulty. While in a prison cell and in the hands of a fanatic ruler, Paul wrote about the joy of the Lord. He was either crazy or he knew a power that shows up in painful moments.

I heard about a man who was driving down a street and somebody yelled, “Pig.” The man took that as an insult and turned to yell back. When he did, he hit a pig and totally wrecked his car. What had been given as a warning was taken as an insult. If he had just listened, he would have avoided a messy wreck.

The story of the church of Philippi begins with a prayer meeting by the riverside. A group of women was there every Sabbath to pray for God’s work in their lives and in the life of the city. The leader of that group was a lady named Lydia, a successful businesswoman. She was in the high fashion world and rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous.

As successful as she was, something was missing in her life. She felt God was the answer, but she didn’t know how to reach Him. Then Paul showed up. God led him to this place. He may have hoped for a citywide crusade with the leading men of the city. What he received was a prayer meeting outside the city with a group of pagan women.

Paul shared the good news of Jesus. His message included the fact that all have sinned and need the payment of our sin — the cross. Instead of being insulted, Lydia opened her heart and surrendered her life to receive Christ as her Savior. It was an exciting moment. She was the first convert in Europe. Here was a successful businesswoman who found the joy only Jesus gives.

Avoid the messy wreck of a life without God. Hear the message of God’s love in Jesus and accept His salvation. It is amazing how many people keep hitting pigs. However Paul knew the Christ who takes the messy wrecks of life and puts back together what sin tears apart. The joy that Christ gives is like no other.

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