Working Out

I am preaching through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The following prayer is what I am using on Sunday, Nov 4, before I preach on Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Holy God,
Martin Luther is quoted as saying,
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me;
it has legs, it runs after me;
it has hands, it lays hold of me.
Oh God,
run and catch us.
Lay hold of and keep us.
Open our eyes and ears
that we may see and hear Your Word of truth;
for Your Word is a living word.
It’s active and sharper than any two-edged sword.
Pierce our hearts and make us alive in Jesus.
Trim away the fat and make us lean.
May Your Word be all that is left in us,
so much so,
that You shine forth
and are glorified in and through our lives.
May we be so alive with Your Spirit
that we run after you;
working out our salvation with fear and trembling.
To you be the glory, now and forever,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

This Much

The magnitude of what Jesus did for us can not be overstated.
The lengths that Jesus went to can not be measured.
The depths of his love can not be gauged.
The wideness of his grace can not be seen,

The closest we get is this: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God (think about that for a moment, 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. [Philippians 2:5–11 ESV]

Let that sink in…

Goosebumps yet? No? Then go back and read it again and this time pay attention.
or
Goosebumps yet? Yes? Then go back and read it again and just abide in this Word.

This is how much Jesus loves you. Any questions?

The Pastor -|—

 

Worthy Lives

It is right and salutary
that we should at all times
and in all places
gives thanks and praise to You,
oh God,
for You alone are worthy of all worship and honor and glory.
You gave Your only Son to die that we might live;
people who are indeed unworthy.
But because You alone are worthy,
may we live lives that are worthy of You;
lives that shine the light of Your love.
May Your worth be evident in and through us
that Your glory may be know to all.
And so with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven
we join in singing Your unending praise…

The Pastor -|—

Partnership in the Gospel

[Prayer of the Day for Sun, Sept 16, 2018, based on the preaching text from Phil. 1:3-11]

Holy God,
Through Your grace
You have called us to salvation
through faith in Jesus Christ.
Through Your Holy Spirit
You empower us to serve in Your kingdom.
Through Your Son, Jesus Christ,
You knit us together as a holy Church.
May we, together, work to advance the Gospel;
lifting one another up
and bearing one another’s burdens.
To You be the glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|–

Light in the World

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
[Philippians 2:14–15 (ESV)]

It seems to me that many in the Church need to take these words of Paul to heart. Too Christians spend way too much time fighting and complaining about the stupidest things or whining and complaining about this and that politician. They do this all the while as this “crooked and twisted” generation is watching and thinking, “why do I need to listen to them?“. Or worse yet, this “crooked and twisted” generation doesn’t even notice the Church because it looks like everything/one else. What would it look like, though, if the Church kept the main thing the main thing and actually were “lights in the world“; proclaiming the Gospel and working out their faith with fear and trembling. What if the Church was actually holy; set apart, different from the world? What if the Church actually sought transformation through the Gospel instead of conforming to the world around them.

Hey there, Church, if you are trying to advance the Kingdom of God, stop trying to look and act like the world. Stop trying to please the world by conforming to them. Be a light in the world; lights among a crooked and twisted generation. Remember whose you are and live a life worthy of the Gospel. It’s time to grow up, Church, and be who you are suppose to be.

Rant done…now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

The Pastor -|—

Don’t be Shaken; be Stirred (Psalm 16:7-8)

There are times, like the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:23, that I want to hasten my departure from this world in order to be with the Lord (and not in a suicidal way). There are times I just want to be done with the anti-Christian rhetoric that seems to be growing. There are times I just want to be done with stories of ISIS reigning terror on many people. There are times I just want to be done with politicians who don’t get it; who don’t care or understand the concept of freedom OF religion and instead hold to the concept of freedom FROM religion. There are times that I just want to throw my hands up in the air and say,

“Lord, come and take me home. Come, and establish your kingdom in this world. Come, and begin your eternal reign.

Yes, that would be nice, to be with the Lord; away from sin and death and persecution. But then there is the other side of me (like Paul in Philippians 1:24) that says I need to remain here for the benefit of others. And when I think about that I am overwhelmed.

Who am I to think that I can be a benefit to anyone?
Who am I to think that I have anything to offer?
Who am I to think that I can make a difference?

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. [Psalm 16:7-8]

It is NOT you who can do anything but the Lord who gives counsel.

Last night I posted some verses from Proverbs 16 about committing everything to the Lord. This came after a church council meeting as we are discussing and exploring who we are, what we believe and where God is calling us to go. It’s a daunting task to consider this, and therefore one that needs to be committed to the Lord because it is the Lord who will give us counsel.

And as I consider my role in this messed up world, once again, it is the Lord who gives counsel and therefore I shall not be shaken. This doesn’t change my desire to be with the Lord, but these verses do give me hope that God is still doing something through me, and the Lord is doing something through you.

I believe the day will come when I will be with the Lord; praising and worshiping him forever, but it is just not now. Apparently God believes it is to someone’s benefit that I remain. And therefore, unlike James Bond, I DON’T want to be shaken but rather stirred (to action). And with the Lord, giving counsel, this will indeed be the case.

Lord God, may my faith not shaken by what goes on around me but rather stirred to glorify Your holy name. Give me counsel, oh Lord, and lead me in paths of righteousness. Give me counsel, oh Lord, and strengthen me. Give me counsel, oh Lord, and grant me wisdom. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Being content

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. [Philippians 4:13]

Earlier in this chapter, the apostle Paul talks about having learned the secret to being content in any and every situation. He says that he knows how to be brought low and to abound; how to face hunger and how to face plenty. No matter what, Paul is content.

What a gift.

But what strikes me about this text is not the statement about being content with very little or nothing, but rather being content with plenty. It seems like a no-brainer that one would be content with plenty but it is the source of the contentment that is at issue. For some, being content is wrapped up in the stuff and people they have in their lives. Their contentment might be through their life situation: job, status, position. They may look around themselves and say “Ahhhh…this is good” But often times, people like that are like the rich fool who tears down his barns to build bigger ones (Luke 12:16-21). Contentment in this sense only looks inward and not to others but more importantly, it is not sustainable.

For Paul it is not about material possessions or health or status. It’s not about what this world says is important. For Paul, what is important is faith in Jesus. For…

it is through faith in Jesus that helps us see that we already have everything.

And…

it is through faith in Jesus that helps us see that everything we have is nothing with him.

The “all things” from these words of Paul includes contentment, for true contentment CAN NOT be found outside of faith in Jesus. That is why some of the poorest Christians in the world are some of the most joyful. Contentment is wrapped up in their faith in Jesus and their hope of the resurrection. They know that they already have everything they need and that they are nothing without Jesus.

I can be content in God for He strengthens me; gives me hope; provides for me and loves me.

So remove your eyes from what you have and don’t have and focus on the cross. See a Savior that died and rose FOR YOU. Give thanks for the forgiveness that Jesus offers through that sacrifice. Cling to the promise of everlasting life. Bask in the love of God. Be content with this, for faith in Jesus is indeed everything you truly need.

May God open your eyes to see what Jesus has done for you. May the Holy Spirit create and strengthen faith within you. May true joy exude from the very fabric of your being. And, of course, may you be totally at peace; being content with your life.

Praise be God!

The Pastor -|—