The Letter to the Philippians:
May 29th - Philippians 4:6-7, "Grow in Peace"
Pastor John concluded our sermon series in the book of Philippians by looking at chapter four and noting that in it, Paul is inviting the Church to grow in experiencing peace. He began by unpacking the reality that we all stress out and are given over to anxiety and worry. Pastor John then explained that in those moments we just want someone to cut us a break and to make is so that everything that feels off returns back to a state of peace. He then transitioned to describe how the church in Philippi was also under a lot of stress and in need of peace.
After reading Philippians 4:6-7, Pastor John pointed out that Paul did three things in this passage when addressing the Philippians stress; 1. He instructed them WHAT to do, 2. He explained HOW to do it, and 3. He dove into WHY they they should respond in this way.
In looking at WHAT, Pastor John noted that Paul simply said "do not be anxious about anything." He explained that being anxious had to do a lot with what it is that you were concerned about--what it is that you valued. He then explained that Paul didn't just want us to not worry about the big things that we valued but also some of the small things that we valued. Paul didn't want the Church to have anxiety over anything. However, Pastor John explained that it is not so simple to simply go from worry to not just because someone said so.
He went on to say that Paul didn't leave us at telling us what not to do, but he gave us the HOW, the practicals to accomplish it. Pastor John explained that Paul simply states, "present your requests to God." This step is proceeded by three deeper ways of doing so, 1. through prayer, 2. through petition, 3. with thanksgiving.
Pastor John explained that through prayer refers to intercessory prayer. What Paul is saying in fact is, if there are people in your lives that you care about and who are going through uncertain times, causing you anxiety...pray to God and let those go to Him. Surrender over your worry and trust God.
He then explained that through petition has to do with repeated requests for the same thing. Pastor John reminded us of what Jesus taught in Luke 11, that it was because of our "shameless persistence" that God grants our request. We must submit our requests constantly to God, because doing so shows Him that we value the request and that we are committed to God's ability to come through.
Pastor John then looked at the clause with thanksgiving. He challenged us to stop and ask ourselves if, in times of stress, we ever start our prayers with gratitude. If we are worried about an exam, our child, our job or our living situation--do we ever start with thanking God for what He's done already? Or do we just adopt a "what have you done for me lately" attitude? Pastor John explained that when we thank God first, we allow ourselves to remember who God is and what He's done and that will only increase our faith as we submit our requests to God.
Finally, Pastor John looked at Paul's WHY in the passage. Very simply, we choose not to worry and instead go to God with our requests, because when we do, He promises to give us His peace. Pastor John explained that God's peace is 1. supernatural (it balances everything in inconceivable ways), 2. a gift (we can't conjur it up), 3. active (it guards our hearts and our minds).
He finished by then asking us to consider what are some of the core things that are causing us stress and inviting God to rid us of them. He repeated the phrase His peace is waiting for you, to emphasize that we need only ask for it.
His big idea was, Don't worry instead go to God.
May 22nd - Philippians 3:1-11, "Grow in Confidence"
Pastor Pierce preached this past Sunday on what it looks like for us answer God's call to grow in confidence. He began by looking at three ways in which we can understand the word, confidence. The first has to do with secrecy and is where we get the word confidential. The second way is centered being sure of yourself, having a confident personality. The third way of understanding confidence and the most appropriate for what God is communicating in Philippians is "trust and assurance in someone or something."
Pastor Pierce explained that as a Christians, we put our confidence in Jesus Christ to save us, just like we would put our confidence in a bridge to hold us as we drive our car over it. He explained that confidence has to do with trust. And yet, sometimes, he explained, we put our trust in the wrong things. Things that fail. He explained that Paul warned not to put our confidence in ourselves, our status, our financial standing, in other words--our reputations. Pastor Pierce explained that when we do, we tend to look down on others, fearing and hating those who are different from us. Those people who put their confidence in themselves...in their flesh, Paul calls "dogs, evildoers and lovers of money. "
Instead, Pastor Pierce encouraged us to put our confidence in Christ and to boast in Him and what He has done for us. He explained that Paul himself wrote about how much he could have boasted in himself, in his training and heritage, but instead considered it all a loss--nothing, when he compared it to knowing Jesus. It was Paul's relationship with Jesus that gave him worth and thus, confidence. Pastor Pierce encouraged us to take a look at what it is that we count as gains in our lives and ask ourselves, Do they get in the way of knowing and loving Jesus?
Pastor Pierce explained that the apostle Paul continued to reach more and more to know Jesus better. He asked us if we were doing the same? Are we considering our relationship with Christ as the most important, trying to know Him better and better every day?
He concluded by asking us where we are putting our confidence? Is it in ourselves, our reputations, our bank accounts or is it in Jesus? His big idea was, Put your confidence in Jesus.
May 15th, 2016 - Philippians 2:1-11, "Grow in Humility"
On Sunday, Pastor John preached from the second chapter of Philippians, continuing our sermon series entitled GROW. He began by asking us to consider if we occasionally get caught up in living to build up our lives and/or to establish our credibility? He stated that while the world calls us to make build a legacy and make ourselves famous, the Bible calls us to live in a different way--humbly. Pastor John defined humility in the words of C.S. Lewis, "True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." He then explained that the Apostle Paul believed in defining humility in the same way and desired for the church in Philippi to grow in it.
Pastor John then explained Paul's reasoning by walking through the first eleven verses, stating that growing in humility requires that you 1. change your perspective, and 2. follow Jesus' example. Pastor John expanded these points by explaining that we must all move from a position of selfish ambition and vain conceit to one of valuing others more as well as their interests. Doing so infuses life and joy into others. He also noted two things about following Jesus' example; 1. Jesus humbled Himself by leaving His glory, 2. Jesus humbled Himself by being obedient to death. Pastor John stated that Jesus had a role and He submitted to His role. In the same way we have a purpose in the Kingdom, as part of the Body of believers and we too must be obedient.
Pastor then explained that Paul also indicated the result of a life committed to humility--exaltation. Paul talked about how Jesus was exalted to the highest place, with the name above all other names. Pastor John indicated that we won't get the same exaltation as Jesus, but we will find ourselves gaining trust and influence simply as a consequence of being humble.
He then explained that practically, if we sense that we might be living for ourselves and our own legacies, our own names, we should consider the following four actions;
1. Ask God to search us and reveal where it is that we are living for ourselves.
2. Confess and repent the ways in which you have been living for yourself.
3. Start devoting more of our your prayer life to praying for others and not simply yourself.
4. Begin changing the way that you talk to others, listening more and trying to understand people instead of simply talking to promote yourself.
He concluded by stating his big idea, "Growing in humility means living for God's Kingdom, and not for yours."
May 8th, 2016 - Philippians 1:27-30, "Grow in Courage"
Pastor John continued our series in Paul's letter to the Philippians, once again answering the question, How does God want us to grow? He began by showing a clip from the movie Spartacus and emphasizing that there is great value in a group of people displaying courage as one. He made the claim that when we're honest about it, we all recognize that we are stronger together. Pastor John then explained that Paul saw things the same way and in the face of suffering and opposition to the Gospel, he implored the church at Philippi to be courageous together.
He then pointed out that Paul notes that when we are courageous together; 1. It is a sign to people (that we believe in something that is greater), and 2. It is part of following Jesus (if we are following in His footsteps, we will suffer).
Lastly, Pastor John asked two practical questions; 1. Why should we be confident in being courageous? and 2. How should we be united in courage?
In addressing the question of why? Pastor John noted that we can be confident in our courage because of what Jesus did at the cross. In that act, followed by His resurrection, He claimed victory over sin and death and as His followers we share in His victory. We can be confidently courageous because Christ already won the ultimate battle. Furthermore, Pastor John said that Jesus stands with us when face trials of many kinds and He is the Lion of Judah that forces that devil to flee.
In response to the question of how, Pastor John gave us three practical ways to be courageous together;
1. Stick together
(through the trials rely on one another)
2. Speak up
(have an answer for your faith when people oppose you)
3. Live it out
(walk boldly in following Jesus as part of the Body)
Part of growing as a Christian is realizing that God gave us one another so that we might be unified in our fellowship. Pastor John's big idea was, Growing in courage means doing it together.
May 1st, 2016, - Philippians 1:1-11, "Grow in Love and Knowledge"
This week Pastor Pierce began our new sermon series entitled GROW. Over the next five weeks we will be reading through the letter from Paul to the church in Philippi while answering the question, In what ways does God want us to grow?
Pastor Pierce read through chapter 1 verses 1-11 and began by exploring the concept of the Church. He noted that the Church is; 1. holy, 2. a partnership in the Gospel, and 3. carried by God. He transitioned into Paul's prayer for the church, which was "that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight." (Philippians 1:9) Pastor Pierce then explained that having love and greater knowledge gives Christians the ability to discern (seeing through the clouds) what is pure, blameless and righteous.
He then introduced the idea that being part of the Church would allow one to grow in the love and knowledge of Christ. He concluded by asking those who aren't yet believers to repent and believe and become apart of the Church. He then asked Christians to engage in their local church and grow in love and knowledge. His main idea, Become a part of the Church, Get in Engaged with the Church.