7. P4—Rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Phil. 4:4)

I can vividly recall a final Word—a note—being given at a retiring Ministers’s gathering, concerning one particular Uniting Church minister’s lifetime urging of others, to cultivate joy in their life. He had often said, ‘Joy is the primary mark of the Christian life’.  

This is not the first time the Philippians have been exhorted to rejoice. It is important to allow a joyful spirit to prevail in our lives. Sometimes Christians let unnecessary tiffs, and disagreements linger. This seems to have been the case for Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2). Do your best folks to resolve your small differences.

At times, people just need some simple directives as to what they should do as Christians. In chapter 4, the Philippians were certainly given some helpful directives:

  • 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
  • 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
  • 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  • 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
  • 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Paul clearly loved this congregation, and deeply appreciated their support at an earlier time in his gospel ministry there (Phil. 4:15).

He encouraged them to set their priorities in knowing Christ’s resurrection power in their sufferings.

He encouraged them to see the resurrection of Jesus, as the key to true living. He exhorted them to express together the ‘mind of Christ’, and to recognise the vicarious ministry of Jesus, being exercised through them.  He encouraged them to press on, in the race set before them. He kept the physical hope of the resurrection of Jesus, and of their own future, before their eyes.

Prayers:   Thank you Father, for this church in Philippi, and for Paul’s kind ministry to them.  May we be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, to press on in the calling God has for each one of us. May we embrace our opposition, and our sufferings with rejoicing.  In the name of Jesus we pray.

Trevor

 

 

 

 

6. P3—I Press On (Philippians 3)

‘Well, press on’ we say. ‘Onward and upward!’. Many of our little sayings have biblical origins. In Philippians 3 Paul gives many reasons why we should: ‘rejoice in the Lord’. They relate to the fruit of Jesus’ ministry, for our: 1. Bodies, 2. Pedigrees, and 3. Righteousness. Let them speak to you, in your own situation. May you and I ‘press on’ with our upward calling

  1. Bodies: Our eternal hope is not merely a ‘spirit’ existence. It is also a very physical one. Our lowly body will be transformed to be like that of Jesus glorious body.

‘…our Saviour, the Lord Jesus, will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself’. (Phil. 3:21).

  1. Pedigrees: The people you know, your connections, family, ‘tribe’, culture and local identity do matter. But probably they matter less than you think. Paul suffered a lot of rejection, and personal loss for his ministry.

‘Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish…’ (Phil. 3:8).

  1. Righteousness: Those in Philippi who hoped to attain ‘righteousness’ by the law-way they lived, but NOT ‘through faith in Christ’ alone, were enemies of the cross. There are enemies of the cross today. Jesus death was necessary to deal with our sin. His death was necessary to reconcile us to God. It was necessary to impart to us a righteousness that does not come from the law. Sadly, we can substitute our deeds, even our ‘church-going’, our championing of fairness, our helping the poor, and so on, for the faith-gift of righteousness. Do we truly trust in Christ and his cross?

‘For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things’ (Phil. 3:18-19).

PrayerDear Lord Jesus, thank you for the Apostle Paul’s ministry. In your grace, may you stir and renew our resolve also, to “press on” in life, with the ministries that you call us to exercise.

Trevor

The entire message can be seen or heard here:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1014172041523

 

5. P2—God at Work in You (Philippians 2)

In Paul’s prayerful, affectionate, encouraging letter to the Philippians, we note 3 things.

  1. Our new life is ‘in the Spirit’. He encourages the church to take the mindset of Christ’s humble, self-giving ministry, as a pattern for their own. This is only possible due to their ‘participation in the Spirit’ (Phil. 2:1).   In the words of an early hymn: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:5-11).
  2. The self-humbling, self-emptying of God the Son, is not in order to become human. To become human is a wonderful matter. Rather, his humbling is in embracing the shame of sinful humanity, in the suffering and death of a Roman cross. Hebrews 2:9 says that Jesus was “crowned with glory and honour for the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”. His crowning with glory and honour was not ‘because’ of what he underwent. Rather, He is King, for the purpose of this suffering. Do you embrace your sufferings, purposefully?
  3. It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Through faith, and the reception of the Spirit of God, our lives have become the arena of God at work. At one time, there were highway signs saying, ‘Men at Work’. Our lives could have a sign up saying: ‘God at work’ in and through us.

Prayer: Dear God, our Father, we thank you that just as you were at work in the sufferings of Jesus on the cross, so too you are at work, by the Spirit, in every aspect of our lives, including, and even especially amidst our sufferings. Lord Jesus, we often don’t do suffering and humility very well. May we continue to rediscover the truth of your way of being truly human. Amen.

Trevor

 

The entire message can be seen and heard here:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=107172053580

 

4. P1—Christian Maturity (Philippians 1)

This next four-week series is on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The letter is written from prison. It is the only letter of Paul’s which is not addressing problems and issues, but encouraging the church to press on, to grow, to rejoice in suffering, and to mature.

In Acts 16:9-40, we can read how Paul first answered Christ’s call for him to go to Macedonia, where he was to be instrumental in planting the church in Philippi. It all began at Lydia’s riverside prayer meeting. And his first church members were “a Jewish fashionista businesswoman, a demon-possessed slave girl, and a blue-collar ex-GI duty bound to the Roman Empire” (Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain). Paul has a yearning affection for these people.

Philippians contains many short now-popular Christian sayings, such as ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ and ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’, and ‘every knee shall bow’ and ‘every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’.

In chapter one, we will consider 3 aspects of Paul’s teaching:

  1. To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain (Phil. 1:21).
  2. God has granted us the privilege of believing in Christ (Phil. 1:29)
  3. God has granted us the privilege of suffering for Christ (Phil. 1:29).

May we all join in thoughtfully reading this letter, and listening for God’s Word to us. For like Paul, ‘I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 1:6).

Prayer: Living Lord, may we press on to mature as Christians. May we have a settled confidence that you are Sovereign, and are moving by your Spirit, both in our living and in our dying. May we see the privilege we have in believing, and knowing our lives are full of purpose. May we see the privilege we have in suffering for Christ, that others may thus marvel at the truth of life.

Trevor

3. The Spirit of the Lord

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppresed, to bind up the brokenhearted…’ (Is. 61:1)

This song, below, has been produced to encourage Christians to join together across the globe, on May 27th 2017, to share with the world the good news that: God is Love.

There is some sheet music in a PDF file for congregations:

the-spirit-of-the-lord-music-sheetthe-spirit-of-the-lord-music-sheet

This is coming to you, from a group called: G.O.D.

Global Outreach Day.

See: http://www.globaloutreachday.com/

1. Jesus

Q. How can a person know God?

A. If God reveals himself to us. Otherwise it is all a guess, a stumbling in the dark. God has revealed himself in ancient times through theophanies like Moses and the burning bush. In many and various ways God has spoken to people through human history. In a deliberate way God chose to reveal himself and his nature through the call of Abraham (Genesis 12), and then through the nation of Israel (see the Old Testament).

God has now fully revealed himself by coming to earth, in the person of Jesus Christ (his own eternal Son), through his life and actions and character.

A person does not have to guess who God is, or what God is like, or what he (i) has done, (ii) is doing and (iii) will do. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, the long awaited Messiah-King (or Christ), and his life’s activity is the revelation of God’s own true being.

Jesus said: ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (God)’. See John 14:6

The full revelation of God’s character and holy heart of love for the world centres upon the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Jesus the Man—and the same Spirit of God, the Father, comes to us (is given personally to humanity), so that through the Spirit’s help we come to know Jesus by faith, as we relate to him, trust him, learn of him, and hear his voice now.

The Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts and John—as found in the Bible are all written so that we might read them, or hear them, and so come to know Jesus more fully.

To know Jesus of Nazareth is to begin to make sense of life—at last!

Trevor