Three of the big themes in Scripture are: generosity, gratitude, and grace. All these positive qualities come from our relationship with God. We have to be careful to walk the talk when it comes to generosity. If we do, we find that God shall supply all your needs according to his riches. Notice it says according to. If Jeff Bezos (founder and Executive Chair of Amazon) gives a beggar 10 bucks, he has given out of his riches, but not according to his riches. God promises that when we give to the cause of Christ, we are stacking up not only temporal benefits but also in eternal benefits. In terms of sacrifice, I have found some people on Social Security are giving more to the cause of Christ than those who have six-figure salaries. When we give, God is pleased. Not only is that true, but God promises to meet the needs of generous givers. Needs not greeds. So in Philippians 4 we find generosity, gratitude, and grace at work in the people of God. When Pastor Erik visits I hope he sees those three characteristics which are evident in Laurelwood’s fellowship.
Philippians 4:13 is a great promise properly applied and dangerous if inaccurately applied. The number one issue is whether the person claiming this promise is basing it on a scriptural promise and not upon a whim. A person who understands his relationship with Jesus Christ based upon Romans 5-8, is in a good place to find God's will. Once we have decided something is in God‘s will and we have a biblical promise to back it we are in good shape to take the Philippians 4:13 risk. For example, God wants us to be generous people therefore we step out in faith and act generous with our finances. If we are good stewards of our money and trust God‘s promises with respect to giving we can do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). With the promises of God‘s word and Philippians 4:13 we can say "I can" more often than "I can’t." Bottom line - there is a risk you must undertake for Christ's sake.
Behind every "no" from God is a greater "yes" to follow. That statement from Sonksen is right, however, you have to learn that perspective by applying the appropriate scripture. It is not automatic. Even the apostle Paul had to learn that the "no" to any more missionary journeys would eventually be a "yes" to the lasting influence of his four prison epistles and probably Philemon and 2 Timothy. Billy Graham said, "You can’t know the future but you know who holds the future." Paul was such a critical figure in the founding of the New Testament churches, we forget that his ministry was spread out over many years. He spent several years on missionary journeys and several years of writing what now makes up much of the New Testament. Both were critical for the health of the church. Paul learned in or out of different circumstances did not mean one was better than the other or one was more satisfying than the other. Too often I, and maybe you, set up certain expectations and when those expectations are not met, we are dissatisfied. This Sunday we will investigate how changing circumstances did not disrupt the apostle Paul’s contentment and hope in Christ.
So what do you think? This is a common question that we ask each other. But when we think and we think about our answer, do we take into account the guidelines God may give us? When Paul said "Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ" (2Corinthians10:5) we may think that is unattainable. Although it is impossible to do it perfectly 100% of the time, scripture (Philippians4:8-9) give us some very practical guidelines. These guidelines are very important when it comes to the social/political landscape. I’m going to take a specific example Sunday morning, no I’m not going to reveal it right now, and apply Paul’s thinking guidelines. The great thing about Paul is that not only did he teach how to live the Christian life, he also was an example of Christian living. We have so many external influences upon our thinking, but we must count on the fact that no thought can remain as a focus of your brain without your conscious permission. So what should we think? How do we think? What should be the visible result of our thinking in our life style? This Sunday will answer those and other questions implicit in Paul’s teaching. See you Sunday.
Much like a roller coaster, our journey of life has ups and downs and twists and turns. It can be exhilarating at times, but also sometimes scary with the anxiousness that accompanies the fear of the unknown. In life, just like when riding a roller coaster, we need peace. We need to find peace to know that it’s going to be okay and we will arrive victorious at the end. The Apostle Paul gives us some very clear direction in Philippians 4 of how to find peace. And it is so much more than just praying. While prayer is certainly one component of finding peace, there is a surprising level of action and responsibility on our part for those who truly want peace. Join us this Sunday as we explore how to biblically find true peace in our lives.
You are already perfect “in Christ “and yet you are maturing in this life. You can’t be perfect in this life, but you can be transforming into the image of Christ. How do we succeed at that transformation? In Philippians 3:15-21, Paul gives us some guidelines to be transformed. We need a good attitude. We need a standard. We need an example. We need to understand who the real enemy is. We need to act like citizens of heaven even while living on earth. The subjects of King Jesus should display the manners of his court while here on earth. Also Remember the enemies of the cross are people for which we should weep. Also this Sunday we will deal with the meaning of the word “perfect “in Philippians 3:15.
When you focus on what you lack, you lose what you have. But when you focus on Christ you gain more than you have. Ironically if you focus on past positive or Christian achievements instead of what you need from Christ, you also lose what you have. But when you focus on Christ, you gain more than you ever had. So let’s focus on Christ this Sunday. His power. His suffering. His resurrection. Such a focus will release us from previous hurts or previous successes so that we might become more and more like Christ. This progress comes from his spirit and growing our relationship with Christ. A backward focus hurts us. A current focus on Christ and what he is leading us to do in the future results in more maturity. Maturity is not focusing upon Christ's power and miracles, but focusing upon our relationship with him. That I may know him will proceed knowing the power of his resurrection. If we put his power before our relationship with Christ, we hinder in our growth in Christ.