Sermons

Lesson of the Garbage Truck

Sun, Feb 09, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:23 mins 16 secs

Message text

Lesson Of The Garbage Truck!
Philippians 4:8, Philippians 1:12-23

ILL. Someone wrote, "One day I got into a taxi & we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when a car suddenly sped out of an alley right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, & missed crashing into the other car by inches!
The driver of that car stuck his head out of the window & yelled at us. My taxi driver just smiled & waved at him. So I asked, “Why did you just smile at him? That guy almost caused a wreck & then began cursing you!”
That was when my taxi driver taught me what I now call the “Lesson of the Garbage Truck.” He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger & disappointment.
As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it, & sometimes they’ll dump it on you. Don’t take it personally. Don’t take their garbage & dump it on other people at home, or at work, or on the streets. Just smile, wish them well, & move on.
You see, what you pay attention to, what you dwell upon in life will generally determine the kind of decisions you make.
Ella Wilcox wrote:
"One ship sails east & another west with the self-same winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sail & not the gale which determines the way they go."
The apostle Paul gives us great advice in Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things."
Now we ought to memorize that verse, realizing that what so many are doing today is the exact opposite. Look at the TV programs, popular magazines, even newspapers & you will often see glorification of things that are impure & untrue.
PROP. People focus so much on the negative that the media seldom features positive news because they’re afraid they’ll lose their audience. But let's break that pattern this evening, & look at the Apostle Paul as he focuses on the positive.
A family who had twin boys wanted to teach them a lesson about attitude. They took each boy and placed him in a room by himself. The room was full of horse manure. They told the boys they had to stay in their rooms for an hour, then they would come get them. When the family returned to the first boy’s room, he was sitting in the corner of the room just watching the clock, but when they returned to the second boy’s room, he was shoveling the manure out the window. “why are you doing that?” they asked. He replied, “With all this manure in here, there has to be a pony at the bottom of the pile.” The boys were in similar situations, but took completely different approaches.
In Philippians 1:12-23, Paul mentions some negative things that are going on in his life unpleasant circumstances, unreasonable people, & his uncertain future.
But Paul goes on to show that God was able to use those negative things in a very positive way.

I. UNPLEASANT CIRCUMSTANCES
A. Paul begins by talking about unpleasant circumstances. In vs. 12 he says, "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."
We think we have troubles, don't we? But how does your list compare to that of the apostle Paul? How many times have you been shipwrecked? How many times have you been beaten near unto death? Or how many times have you been arrested, chained up & imprisoned 24 hours a day?
Yet Paul says, "I remember all these trials, & I see that they have all served to advance the gospel."
Now the Greek word translated "advance" in vs. 12 has an interesting history. It originally was used for wood cutters who go before an army, clearing a way through the underbrush so that the army can proceed unimpeded.
Paul is saying, "All these things that have happened to me have resulted in clearing the way so that the gospel might be preached more effectively."
B. In vs. 13, he says, "As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard & to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ."
Now here is the situation. For 24 hours a day Paul is chained to Roman soldiers, each serving a 6 hour shift. So every 6 hours a new soldier comes in & chains himself to Paul. The soldier was doing his duty, making sure the prisoner couldn't escape.
But Paul saw this as a wonderful opportunity to tell the soldier about Jesus. There was no way that the soldier could escape. And it worked, for in the 4th chapter of this letter, vs. 22, Paul writes, "All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household."
Now that tells us that some of these soldiers became Christians, & the gospel made its way into the pagan household of Caesar all because Paul was in prison.
C. There was a second positive result. In vs. 14 he says, "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously & fearlessly."
Paul is saying, "Because of my hardships, because of the things that have happened to me, other Christians have been encouraged. They have seen how God has encourage & protected me through difficult situations, & given me strength beyond my own power."
"Now they're facing difficult circumstances, too. But because of what they have seen in me, they're convinced that God will take care of them also."
ILL. Bob Benson, in his book, "See You At The House," tells of a good friend who had a severe heart attack & almost died, but was now well on the road to recovery.
Visiting him, Bob asked, "Bill, how do you feel about your heart attack?' Bill answered, ‘I hate it. It nearly killed me.'"
Bob asked, "Would you like to have another one?" "Certainly not!" "Would you recommend it for someone else?" "Absolutely not."
Bob went on, "Bill, now that you're feeling better, do you treasure your life more than before?" "Yes, I guess I do." "You & your wife have always had a good solid marriage, but are you closer to each other now than before?" "Yes," Bill answered.
"And what about your relationship with God? Has that changed since your heart attack?" "Yes, I feel a whole lot closer to God now than I ever did before."
"Bill, in the light of all this, how do you feel about your heart attack now?"
SUM. You see, God can take the most negative things that happen to us, & make them positive, if we'll just focus on the positives that are there.
APPL. So what are you chained to this morning? Are you chained to loneliness or grief or despair? Are you chained to an imperfect body? Are you chained to declining health? How do you really feel this evening?
ILL. I like this story about John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States. When he was 80 years old & not too long before his death, a friend asked him, “Well, how is John Quincy Adams today?”
Adams replied, “John Quincy Adams is quite well, thank you. But the house in which he lives is becoming dilapidated. It is teetering. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it, & it is becoming quite uninhabitable. I shall move out of it soon. But John Quincy Adams is quite well, thank you.”

II. UNREASONABLE PEOPLE
A. Secondly, Paul talks about unreasonable people. In vs. 15 he says, "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy & rivalry, but others out of good will." What Paul is saying is this, "There are some people who are envious of me, who see themselves as rivals, competitors in preaching the gospel."
Now what happens when people become envious of someone else? They usually try to tear them down. They point out all the negative things they can about that person, thinking that by pulling them down, they're building themselves up.
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SUM. And as we are all now very painfully aware, anyone who is in a position of prominence is liable to all kinds of criticism & accusations.
B. Even as Paul was writing this letter, he was a prisoner of the Romans because of the false accusations made by Jewish rulers in Jerusalem. Listen to what he wrote in vs. 18, "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."

III. UNCERTAIN FUTURE
A. Finally, Paul mentions his uncertain future. In vs. 19 he says, "I know that through your prayers & the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance."
Paul is facing trial in Rome. If he is found innocent, he'll be freed to preach some more. If he's found guilty, he'll be executed. He knew he was either going to live, or he was going to die, depending upon the results of the trial.
B. So he writes in vs. 20: "I eagerly expect & 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."
Do you hear what he is saying? "My concern is, when I stand before a pagan judge in a pagan court, that I won't do anything to embarrass Christ Jesus, my Lord.
”I pray that I will have enough courage to stand up in their midst, & that by what I say & do Jesus Christ will be exalted. Whether I live or whether I die doesn't matter. All I want to do is exalt Jesus."
C. Vs. 21 is also a familiar verse. You may have memorized it at one time or another. Paul says, "For to me, to live is Christ & to die is gain." The Living Bible paraphrases it this way: "To me, living means opportuni¬ty for Christ, & dying, that's even better!"
D. In vs's 22-23 Paul says, "If 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! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart & be with Christ, which is better by far..."
ILL. An old country preacher lived to be 90 years old. On his death bed, as family & friends gathered around him, they saw the agony & pain he was experiencing.
But all of a sudden everything changed, & a look of peace & a smile came upon his face. His eyes opened, & he lifted up his hands, & said, "I see it! I see it! Do you see it? It's so beautiful!" And then he died.
That's why Paul could say, "For to me, to live is Christ & to die is gain."
ILL. Kenneth Dodge tells about an 8 year old boy named Frank. Frank had a date with his father to go fishing on Saturday. They were going to fish the whole day. On Friday night he had everything laid out. He was ready to go!
But Saturday morning he awoke to discover that it was raining cats & dogs, & they couldn't go fishing. So 8 year old Frank grumbled & griped all morning long. He kicked the furniture & the dog. Nothing was right. "Why does it have to rain today?"
His father tried to explain to him that the farmers needed the rain. But that didn't satisfy Frank. "But why does it have to rain today?" he said.
About noon the clouds broke & the sun came out. His dad said, "Well, we can't go fishing all day, but at least we can fish this afternoon. Let's go." So they went to the lake, fished all afternoon, & caught more fish than they had ever caught before. Their baskets were full, & they had a wonderful time together!
They came home, & mom cooked some of the fish for supper. As they sat down to eat, Frank's dad looked at him & asked, "Would you ask the blessing?"
8-year-old Frank prayed this prayer: "God, if I sounded a little grumpy earlier today, it was because I couldn't see far enough ahead."
APPL. That's the problem, isn't it? We get so caught up in the circumstances & people & things that surround us that we just can't see far enough ahead.
But when we take time to look & listen, we'll begin to focus more & more on the positive, because in Christ we have a wonderful future. It may seem uncertain right now, but one day we'll see Him face to face & be with Him for all eternity.
INVITATION If you're here & you have a need to make your life right with the Lord
Either through baptism for the remission of your sins
Or by turning BACK to God and asking for the prayers of the congregation
we extend His invitation to you.
If you truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, we urge you to make your faith known, & then to follow His example & command in Christian baptism. If you do, He has promised to forgive your sins, & give you a brand new relationship with him. We encourage you to come as we stand & as we sing.

Contributing Sermon Given By
Melvin Newland

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