I am so fired-up about going through the book of Philippians with you this summer. It is one of my favorites – it is a book of the Bible that has transformed my heart and mind in so many incredible ways. And when Pastor Mike shared with me a few months ago about him taking a sabbatical, and that he was going to leave me in charge of his church and to preach through a whole series – I was humbled and excited. After spending time praying I really felt God leading me to prepare to walk through this book with you.
See, a friend asked me a couple weeks ago how I felt about Pastor Mike being gone, and having more responsibility, etc. He said, “Nick – are you just going to try and keep the ship afloat?” (Ship, meaning the church.) And I responded to him by saying: “Afloat? Simply afloat? NO! I want to see this church grow in two months – numerically and spiritually. I want my senior pastor to return from his sabbatical and be able to come back to a Holy Spirit charged church that has come to understand some amazing truths about God’s love and plan for their lives. I want him to come back and see new people involved in the life and ministry of this church like never before. I want, when he returns to see the transformational power of God in each of our lives fully active in every way possible. Afloat? No way! Sailing high? Absolutely!
During the summer months when everything church related seems to dip, I want to see an increase that can only be explained by the favor and work of the Lord. I want to see an increase in our giving – not just financially, but of our stewardship and of our service. I want to see ministries strengthened with new servant leaders supporting current servant leaders. I want to see parents more equipped through this series to be the chief disciple maker of their children. I want to see seasoned couples connecting with younger couples in a form of incarnational marriage mentorships that is life-giving and God honoring. And as a church, we will have several opportunities over the next 8 weeks to still connect and serve our community and point them to Jesus Christ! I’m fired-up folks…and I hope you are too…
Philippians is a letter saturated with joy. It provides one of the clearest pictures of the way Jesus lived out joy throughout His life and it encourages us to have the same attitude, or mindset. Over the next several weeks we will focus four different aspects of our mindsets: the single mindset, the submissive mindset, the spiritual mindset and the secure mindset. One of the sources of true joy we experience as believers is the fellowship that we have in Jesus Christ. Verses 1 through 11 is what some call the discipline of Paul’s habitual thankful recollection. And there is much that we can learn from this text about being unmoved – and about choosing single mindedness that produces so much joy. Instead of remembering all the mess-ups and fights, the disappointments and even judgment, or bitterness and frustrations – he was genuinely grateful for the people that God had brought into his life. This simple habit of Paul’s would transform the way we think about people. He found joy in his memories of his friends and in remembering them before the Lord in prayer. It was at the throne of grace, before the King of Kings, that he would pray and remember his friends and this remembered fellowship flooded his mind with true joy
Do you want to be unmoved? Do you want to experience true joy in your life? Point #:1 Daily thank God for His grace, and live in His peace. (Verses 1 &2) Thankfulness links us together in the fellowship of the Gospel. Living in peace also links us together but it also allows us to live out peace and reflect God’s peace towards others.
God’s work for us began when Jesus Christ died on the cross, in our place, for our sins. God’s work in us came about because we confessed and believed in Him as our Savior and Lord. Now the Holy Spirit has taken up residency in our lives and dwells in us, empowering us to be more like Jesus Christ every day. This is the good work, one that God develops in each of our lives. Paul describes in these three verses why we should be unmoved as he shares with us the very process of Christian growth. Point #2: When God starts a project, He completes it. Rely on His provision! (Verses 3-6) Rely on His timing. God will help you grow. He will help you grow in grace. He promises to finish the work He has begun. Be unmoved – God promises provision. Don’t let your present circumstance or condition in life rob you of the joy that comes from knowing that Christ is at work – it will only keep you from intimacy with Him and from growing in grace and peace. When we don’t stay focused like this, it robs us of what the fellowship of the Gospel truly intends for us.
We can share in the transforming power of God’s love and the joy that it produces. But we have to be unmoved. Paul had a sincere love and appreciation for those in Philippi – he longed to see them – but this longing and love for them wasn’t just based on a past experience with them. It came from the unity he experienced when followers of God corporately and passionately seek out the love of Christ Jesus. Point #3: Let the love of God motivate you to love others and purpose with your life, to express that love in your actions. (Verse 7 & 8) This perhaps, could be, the area that most of us struggle with the most. It’s easy to love the loveable. Would you be able to make the same claim that Paul did? That even God Himself can testify of your true, genuine love for others?
Paul prayed for three things: united love, discernment, and a filling of the righteousness of Christ. Now I’m not very good at math – but I’m pretty sure that if you add all three of those things into your life, the sum of it all would equal what it means to be unmoved and filled with true joy that comes from the fellowship of the Gospel. Point #4: We must be committedto praying. (Verses 9-11)
Paul prayed that they would be unified in love. Paul prayed that they would be able to clearly understand what is good and what is bad. And when Paul prayed, he prayed that their lives be filled and marked by a right relationship with God. It’s not about praying about others so that you can get what you ultimately wanted. It’s about praying for them to get ultimately what God wants for them – an unmoved fellowship with the Gospel. Let God convict them of their wrongs. Let God lead them into genuine repentance. Let God be God in their lives.
Do you want to be unmoved? Do you want to experience true joy in your life? Start by daily, thanking God for His grace, and live in & out His peace. Rely on His provision! Let the love of God motivate you to love others and purpose with your life to express that love in your actions. And, make prayer a priority in your life.
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Next week we will be looking at Philippians 1:12-26. I want to encourage you to join myself along with others from RWC and daily read through the Scripture that we will be focused on next week. Read it on your own or with your family or a friend. Pray through it and daily ask God to reveal to you His heart within this truth.