Saturday, May 31, 2014

Philippians 1:18b-26
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Paul begins now to talk about his own situation. He is torn because he does not know his fate. But through all of this because he has the faith that no matter what happens to him there is cause for rejoicing.  If he lives he will continue to preach the good news and if he dies he will return home to Christ. We get worked up about so many things in our lives. Worries and stress overwhelm us but the truth is that in every moment and every situation there is a reason to rejoice. What can you rejoice about today?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Philippians 1:12-18a
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,
 that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

This section of scripture defines the occasion for Paul writing the letter. The occasion is that Paul is in prison and wants the people in Philippi to know two things. First, the state of the gospel and secondly what is his current state in prison. This first section fits into the category of the state of the gospel. He celebrates that other ministers of the gospel are taking his place you even ones who may be doing it for the wrong reason. Do have trouble being like Paul? Could you celebrate even in your own loss because the cause of Christ is advancing? What makes it so hard to give up our wants and needs to share the good news with the world?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Philippians 1:9-11
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

In the last section of this thanksgiving, Paul rejoices in the future of the gospel in the lives of the community of faith. What is your prayer for the future of the gospel in the lives that you come in contact with? How are you yourself living out Paul’s prayer, “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight?”

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Philippians 1:7-8
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

The second part of Paul’s thanksgiving speaks to the way God is working in their lives in the present: the blessing of sharing each other’s burdens in the gospel. Where have you seen God’s grace at work this week?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Philippians 1:3-6
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ

In our scripture today, Paul begins a three part thanksgiving. In this thanksgiving he celebrates God’s grace in the life of the community of believers. This first part of the

thanksgiving celebrates the grace God has bestowed on them in the past. In what ways has God blessed you in the past? 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Philippians 1:1-2
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, 
together with the overseers and deacons Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our verses today, like any letter, are Paul’s address to his audience. This begins to open a window into the community Paul is talking to.  His address is quite clearly to the people “in Christ” and “in Philippi.” This address will become more significant as we read on. Paul is setting the stage for his argument that God has sent these ministers of the Gospel for this time and this place, right now in Philippi. What do you think it means to you that God called you to be His minister of Jesus Christ in this time and this place? How does that look in your life?

Weekly Theme May 25 through 31

Even When You’re Left Out...Jesus Loves You

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:1-2)

            As we prepare for the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the children of our community through Vacation Bible School, we take time to look at the lessons we have prepared for the children and reflect on their meaning in our lives. It is so important for us to continue our focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ. We cannot hear the good news too many times. We should continually be reminding ourselves of the love we have found in God through the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is why today we are starting the sermon series, Jesus’ Love is One of a Kind.
            For this series we are going to do something different with the journals. We are going to read one of Paul’s letters. In particular we are going to be reading the letter from Paul to the church at Philippi. This is a marvelous letter that is both simplistic in its presentation of its message but also quite complex with many nuances to its arguments. The core message of the letter revolves around the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ and our roles as servants in mission on behalf of this gospel.

            The setting of the letter centers around the fact that Paul is in prison and fears that he may die soon. This letter is a way to keep in contact with the church in Philippi and let them know how he is doing and how the gospel is spreading in the world. It is important to remember that this is a letter.  It was written for a specific purpose and time. That does not mean that it is of no importance in our lives but that we should take note there is a specific reason and occasion for this letter to be written. Because of this it opens a window into the relationship between its author and its readers. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Matthew 6:19-21
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our scripture today reminds us why we would go through all of this work to get rid of the idols in our life. We need rid of the idols because they are pointless ventures but seeking after God will give us a joy and delight that can never be destroyed. What idol in your life do you want to get rid of? What benefit does it ultimately provide you? The truth is God loves you more than whatever it is loves you.

Friday, May 23, 2014

James 4:1-3
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the  
  dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

The final step is to delight in God.  Find your greatest joy in thinking about God, meditating on His works, talking to others about Him, praising Him, and giving Him thanks. When our joy and our hope is founded in God no earthly temptation even comes close. How can you delight in God?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

2 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

The next step is to trust God. He is faithful. More so than any other thing in our lives. What things in your lives have betrayed you? Give them to God, who is faithful.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Matthew 22:34-40
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the
Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The next step is to love God. Every day fall even more and more in love with God. Jesus says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” If we are to love the Lord God with our whole heart, there will be no room left for any idols. How can you fall deeper in love with God today?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The next step is the fear of the Lord. The Lord is so much

bigger and more powerful than we could ever imagine. We should stand in awe of our Lord. We should consider ourselves blessed everyday that He has mercy on us. How do you stand in awe of what God has done for you? 

Monday, May 19, 2014

1 John 1:8-10
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

The first step is repentance. Repentance and confession of our faith in the true God is true worship. Take time now and go to the Lord, tell Him the things that keep you from Him, and let Him destroy those idols.

Weekly Theme May 18 through 24

Demolishing Idols
 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him … .They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.”
(Romans 1:21, 25)

In his excellent book Future Grace, John Piper teaches that "sin is what you do when you are not fully satisfied in God." The same may be said about idolatry: It is what we do when we are not fully satisfied in God. In other words, if we are not fulfilled and secure in God we will inevitably seek other sources of happiness and security. Therefore, if you want to squeeze the idols out of your heart and leave no room for them to return make it your top priority to aggressively pursue an all-consuming worship for the living God. Ask Him to teach you how to love, fear, and trust Him more than anything in this world. Replacing idol worship with worship of the true God involves several steps.
Last week we discussed the last two parts of the life cycle of an idol:  judgment and conflict. We have learned that our unmet desires can lead to idols if we do not give them to God. If we have unmet desires they cause us to think that we deserve something and force us to seek earthly comfort for our desires. Those comforts lead us to judge others and even punish them because we despise those things in our lives. This week we will look at five steps to crush idols once and for all. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

2 Kings 17:32-41
Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain
I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.
Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.
From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.

Our scripture today is a particular type of psalm called a lament psalm. They are called lament psalms because of the events going on in an authors lives they are lamenting. But lament psalms are unique in that along side a lament they also contain a praise for what God has done. The trouble we get into sometimes is that we sometimes feel like the lament psalmist and think the world is against us. The truth that we need to remember is that like the lament psalmist even if the world is against us the Lord is with us. With this in mind we should go to God to really look and see if the world has turned against us or have our idols made us feel like the world has turned against us. Do you think that sometimes we can feel that the world is against us because our desires and demands are being unmet? How do you think this can be a sign of an idol in our lives?

Friday, May 16, 2014

James 4:1-3
1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.When you ask, you do not
receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Our scripture today shows the ultimate goal of an idol: conflict. Because what happens is an unmet desire led us to seek an earthly cure for that desire that we rationalize by saying, “I deserve this.” This leads us to judge our brothers and sisters and then ultimately to punish them. The trouble is that ultimately this punishment may never be known by the other people. It can represent itself as anger, conflict, anxiety, and even toxic relationships, but all of it has it’s source in our idols. How do you think conflicts in your life could revolve around an idol? How do you think a conflict in our church could revolve around an idol?  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Matthew 18:15-17
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Our scripture today reminds us that fearing we may judge another person does not mean that we do not hold each other accountable. What do you think the difference
is between judgment and accountability?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

James 1:2-8
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate,
submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

The truth is that this act of judging is the work of the devil in our lives. We spend more time worried about another person’s sin than realizing our need for a Savior. How do you think that judging could be a sign of an idol in your life? How do you think that the devil could use this trick to keep you from God?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Matthew 7:1-5
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Today, we hear Jesus, in these scriptures remind us that we should not judge. Jesus parallel between the speck and the plank is an extension of the argument that we judge in others what we dislike most about ourselves. Is there something that other people do that makes you really mad (like over the top angry)? Do you think that this could be something that you struggle with as well? Why or why not?

Monday, May 12, 2014

James 4:11-12
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

This is where the idol begins to cause conflict in our lives. The idol will start to cause us to judge one another. That sounds strange but if you think about it you know its true. The things we dislike the most in others is what we dislike in ourselves. Have you ever noticed this inside of yourself? Why do you think that we would judge others based on our own sins and idols?

Weekly Theme May 11 through 17

Understanding Idols (part 2)

 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him … .They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.”
(Romans 1:21, 25)

Paul goes on to make a long list of sins that create misery and evil in the world, but they all find their roots in this soil, the inexorable human drive for "god-making." In other words,
idolatry is always the reason we ever do anything wrong. No one grasped this better than Martin Luther. In his Larger Catechism (1528) and also his Treatise on Good Works, he wrote that the Ten Commandments begin with a commandment against idolatry. Why does this come first in the order? Because, he argued, the fundamental motivation behind law-breaking is idolatry. We never break the other commandments without breaking the first one. Why do we ever fail to love, keep
promises, or live unselfishly? Of course, the general answer is "because we are weak and sinful", but the specific answer in any actual circumstance is that there is something you feel you must have to be happy that is more important to your heart than God himself. We would not lie unless first we had made something (human approval, reputation, power over others, financial advantage) more important and valuable to our hearts than the grace and favor of God.
Last week we discussed the first two parts of the life cycle of an idol: desire and demand. We learned that our unmet desires can lead to idols if we do not give them to God. If we have unmet desires they cause us to think that we deserve something and force us to seek earthly comfort for our desires. This week we will continue to follow where idols will lead us if we do not give God His proper place in our lives. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2 Kings 17:32-41
32 They worshiped the Lord, but they also
appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. 33 They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. 37 You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.

Our scripture today reminds us that even the faithful can be tied up with idols. Take time today to look at these questions. They will help you examine your heart and find the idols that seek to run your heart.

1. What am I preoccupied with? What is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on my mind at night?

2.  How would I complete this statement: "If only _____________, then I would be happy, fulfilled, and

3.  What do I want to preserve or avoid?

4.  Where do I put my trust?

5.  What do I fear?

6.  When a certain desire is not met, do I feel frustration, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, anger, or depression?

7.  Is there something I desire so much that I am willing to
disappoint or hurt others in order to have it?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Luke 12:22-31
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Our scripture today shows the birth of an idol. When our unmet desires send us seeking support in earthly things rather than in God an idol is born. Is there something in your life that you rely on rather than God?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Philippians 3:17-19
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 

When we have unmet desires in our lives they become demands.  This is when we start to rationalize why we are doing something. I am doing this because “I deserve this.”  Have you ever found yourself doing something just because you deserve it? Think about that unmet desire from Monday how do you think if that desire is unmet it could turn into an demand?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

James 1:2-8
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

If we let go and let God when it comes to our desires God gives in greater measure than any earthly thing. More and more through giving your unmet desires to God this
perseverance allows God to grow you.  Think about this. If God loved you so much to give His only Son so that He might have a relationship with you, how far will He go to fulfill your unmet desires? Why do you think we hesitate to give our desires to God?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Psalm 73:21-28
When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
    you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.

The truth is that we need to give our unfulfilled desires to God. If we anticipate that earthly things will meet all of our desires, we are sadly mistaken. Even our loved ones will disappoint us if we expect them to fulfill our desires. Review your desire from Monday. How do you think you could give this desire to God.?