I Am Confident of This

Philippians 1:3-11

The title of my sermon this morning comes from Paul's letter to the Philippians that was read: "I Am Confident of This." I want to focus on confidence. I have two stories to share with you.

A Prime Minister of a country was sitting in his office wondering how to invade the country bordering his, when his telephone rang.

"Hallo, Mr. Prime Minister!" a heavily accented voice said. "This is Burt, down at the tea house in a city in the country next to yours. I am calling to tell you that we are officially declaring war on you, yes you!"

"Well," the Prime Minister replied, "This is indeed important news! How big is your army?"

"Right now," Burt said, after a moment's calculation "there is myself, my cousin, my next-door-neighbor, and the whole team from the tea house. That makes eight!"

The Prime Minister paused. "I must tell you Burt, that I have one million men in my army waiting to move on my command."

"Holy smokes," said Burt. "I'll have to call you back!"

Sure enough, the next day, Burt called again.

"Mr. Prime Minister, the war is still on! We have managed to acquire some infantry equipment."

"And what equipment would that be Burt?"

"Well sir, we have two Mercedes 180, and a truck."

The Prime Minister sighed. "I must tell you Burt,, that I have 16,000 tanks and 14,000 armored personnel carriers. Also I've increased my army to one and a half million since we last spoke."

"Yikes!", said Burt, "I'll be getting back to you."

Sure enough, Burt rang again the next day.

"Mr. Prime Minister, the war is still on! We have managed to get ourselves airborne! We modified a helicopter with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four more neighbors have joined us as well!"

The Prime Minister was silent for a minute then cleared his throat. "I must tell you Burt that I have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I've increased my army to TWO MILLION!"

"Good Grief," said Burt, "I'll have to call you back."

Sure enough, Burt called again the next day.

"Mr. Prime Minister, I am sorry to have to tell you that we have had to call off this war."

"I'm sorry to hear that" said the Prime Minister. "Why the sudden change of heart?"

"Well, sir," said Burt, "we've all sat ourselves down and had a long chat, and come to realize there's no way we can feed two million prisoners.

You may not have heard that one, but this second one some of you have heard, I'm sure.

As the drought continued for what seemed an eternity, a small community of mid-west farmers felt it was time to get involved and called a prayer meeting to ask for rain. The pastor watched as the congregation filed in. Everyone was taking the opportunity to visit across the aisles to socialize with close friends. The pastor's thoughts were on quieting those present and starting the meeting. As he began to ask for quiet, his eyes scanned the crowd and he took note of an eleven year-old girl sitting in the front row. Her face was beaming with excitement and she quietly sat in her place. The beauty and innocence of the girl made the pastor smile as he realized the faith she possessed, for next to her, poised and ready for use, was a bright red umbrella. No one else in the congregation had brought an umbrella. They had all come to pray for rain, but she had come confident that God would answer with the needed rain.

Confidence. Where does confidence come from? The Bible tells us not to place our confidence in kings or horses, meaning not in mankind or things that seem powerful, like horses seemed to them (we still talk about engines in terms of 'horse power'), and in this day and age, things that seem powerful are institutions and systems and big business, and most of all money. The Bible, however, tells us to place our confidence in God.

Last week we voted on a budget. It was not a budget of confidence, of vision, except in one aspect. The majority of folks voted for the budget that included a vision for the future, confident that God would supply what was needed to make it happen. I'm grateful that, despite a seeming set back of a year, enough folks still believed in a vision for the future of Trinity that included getting a staff person who would focus on family and youth ministry.

There are some members and myself who will never see eye to eye on what stewardship is, and whose money it is that this church has been blessed with. Whatever we have individually, and whatever this church has stored up, is God's money. But praise be to God we are moving forward and hopefully more and more people will catch the vision and believe that God, who began a good work among us, will bring it to completion. I am confident of this.

I could not be confident of this if I thought it depended on how well we made out in our financial investments. Or even that it depended on my making pleas to members that if they voted for a budget that means that they will support that budget. No. It will be by the power of Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit that it will come about, and it will not come about without them. We have to be open to the power of the Spirit to work through us to accomplish what God wants, what God has started in us. You may think that it was a simple vote on the budget that we took last week, but believe me, God sees way beyond that, and looks into our hearts and expects results.

Jesus wants everyone to know about God's love and forgiveness and that happens through spreading the Word, letting people know just how powerfully we have experienced God in our lives, and it happens through acts of kindness and compassion on our part in the name of Christ. This church, this congregation, exists for those reasons. It does not exist to be self-serving, just to make members happy and satisfied and fulfilled, like some sort of club.

We are here to learn more about God's wondrous creation and how to take care of it; we are here to grow in our understanding of what God expects of us; grow in our relationship with God so we can better serve others in Christ's name. We are here to learn forgiveness and how to let go of grudges and negative thoughts; we are here to learn how to love our enemies. But NONE of that is for our benefit only. It is for the benefit of others and to the glory of God. What we learn here, how we grow here is to be shared with those who don't know the love of Christ in their lives; those who still struggle in darkness and can't see the promise of the Light; those who have no hope.

I am confident that God will work wonders through this congregation as long as we put our confidence in God, trusting that as we reach out to families and youth that God will bring to completion and bless every act of kindness and compassion; every act of care and concern; every act of joy in sharing; every expression of love for others through Christ.

I am confident. May you be confident as well, in the name of Jesus and the power of the Triune God, the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Read more sermons by Pastor Brie