Ice Breaker: Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Who has been this kind of faithful friend to you, and what made him/her a great friend?
The sermon covered Philippians 1:3-8. These verses, along with 9-11, are Paul’s greeting to his faithful friends in the church at Philippi.
Six Ways for “How to Really Love Somebody” from verses 3-8:
v.3 Paul shows us we love others…by keeping God at the center of our relationship.
v.3-4. Paul shows us we love others…by expressing our thankfulness to them.
v.5. The Church in Philippi shows us we love others…by giving our time, resources, and friendship to do good to them.
v.6 God shows us we love others…by never quitting on them.
v.7. The church in Philippi shows us we love others…by standing with others in the hardest times.
v.8 Paul shows us we love others…by drawing our fuel to love from Christ.
Verse 8 was held out by Pastor Thomas as the place we find fuel and desire for loving others.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. | Hebrews 12:11
Here's a thought to ponder: Christians are to count the Lord's discipline as joy, because God's active discipline in our lives is evidence that he loves us and treats us like sons and daughters.
Now, before you close this blog and move on to something else, please give me an opportunity to give some biblical evidence for such a pretentious claim. Let's head back to Hebrews again;
My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. | Hebrews 12:5b-6
Did you catch it? Are you tracking with me now? The Lord disciplines the one that he loves!
Don't get me wrong, discipline of any form isn't fun, nor is it easy; and discipline from the LORD, especially when we've grown accustomed to centering our prayers on receiving relief from God, is a particularly difficult pill to swallow.
Most of us would absolutely prefer to receive a helping of God's easy grace, without the side of his loving discipline, but the author of Hebrews seems to suggest that the absence of discipline can actually be considered an absence of the covenant love, which God grants to his elect. We see evidence of this in the absence of God's loving discipline towards unrepentant sinners in Romans 1:24, "God gave [sinners] up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity." In this example, God's judgement, was to say to these unregenerate sinners, "have it your way."
Therefore, when we read the words, "For the LORD disciplines the one(s) he loves..." we can and should rejoice! Even though the reality of loving discipline often includes difficulty, groaning, and pain...we can still find comfort (and hope), because God's discipline is always loving and is always used to heal and sharpen. And it is always for our blessing and his glory.
God's Word promises Christians that they will continue to grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ. But this kind of change always comes with some natural growing pains.
Before Christ saved us, we were sinners running a hell-bound race. We were engulfed in self-centered and destructive behavior. And without the saving power of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, we too would be turned over to the lusts of our flesh.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ | Eph. 2:4-5a
And now, because we are God's adopted sons and daughters, he will not allow us to continue to live such reckless and destructive and godless lives. God's aim is, and always has been, to be glorified in and through those whom he calls his children. This can only happen through his correcting work as he transforms Christians into the image of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, may the reality of our Father's love for us, help us to be ten thousand times more eager to worship him for his loving discipline, than we are to question him for it.
Ice Breaker: Since Philippians is a letter of loving gratitude share/write down a letter or gift that you have received that made you feel cared about in a special way.
"To Live Is Christ" in Philippians
One of the biggest themes in Philippians is “to live is Christ” and Paul emphasizes this by repeatedly connecting his thoughts to Jesus.
READ Philippians 1:1-2
“Paul” from Murderer to Missionary
This truth was on screen during the sermon: Your relationship with Jesus defines you more than anything that you have ever done or that has been done to you.
“Servants/slaves of Christ Jesus”
“To all the saints in Christ Jesus”
Ice Breaker: What is your favorite story of a person’s conversion to faith in Jesus Christ?
Acts 16 relays the story of the Gospel message a) leaping from Asia to Europe, b) motivating a group of friends to embrace Jesus’ mission to spread the Gospel, c) radically penetrating blind hearts to reveal the grace of God in Christ.
READ Acts 16:1-5.
All of God’s people are sent with the live transforming power of the Gospel in the same way that Jesus was sent to us to embody and accomplish the work of the Gospel. (John 20:21)
Sunday’s sermon focused on what God might do if we seek to glorify him in our relationships; inside and outside the church.
Ice Breaker: Looking back on this ENTIRE sermon series, how has God been answering the question “What Might God Do” in your life and faith?
READ Matthew 22:34-40.
READ 1 John 4:19-21.
Many of the spiritual disciplines discussed in this sermon series are primarily “vertical” in their application, meaning they are used to sharpen our knowledge of God and help us commune more closely with him. However, Gospel-centered community plays out primarily in our "horizontal" relationships.
Community was defined as, “partnership, sharing life, and spiritual fellowship”.
READ Acts 2:44-47
Hospitality is defined as, loving the stranger or meeting the stranger at the gate.
“Self-centeredness is the great saboteur of Gospel-usefulness.”
READ Romans 5:8
In closing, read John 13:34-35 together
The words hit me like early morning smelling salts. “And he departed with no one’s regrets.” I couldn’t proceed further with my reading.
The words appear as the tragic finale of the life story of a king named Jehoram. Jehoram’s story is recorded in 2 Chronicles 21, which was a portion of my Bible reading plan on that recent morning. Jehoram had been chosen to be king, from among his brothers (21:3), by his godly father, Jehoshaphat (20:18-19). He quickly mangled the gracious privilege given to him. He departed from his father’s allegiance to God by having his brothers murdered (21:4).
After Jehoram’s bloody introduction he imitated evil Israelite kings (peers), married a wicked woman (lust) (21:6), foolishly mishandled foreign relations (pride) (21:10), and promoted a culture of God-ignoring, idol worship (spiritual prostitution) (21:11). The fallout from Jehoram’s lack of allegiance to the Lord was devasting for his family, nation, and body (21:14-19).
However, despite the grime of his life, it was the historical note made regarding his death that pierced me. “And he departed with no one’s regrets” (21:20). Jehoram’s inward godlessness led him to poor peers, godless sexuality, pride, and idolatry, and it left him with a meaningless life. No one was sad to see King Jehoram’s life or leadership depart. They didn’t regret it. It was, in fact, a relief for his people.
No one was sad to see King Jehoram’s life or leadership depart.
A HOLY HAUNTING
This brief exit note about Jehoram was used by the Holy Spirit to righteously haunt my soul.
First, it brought me to a humbled, trembling state of self-examination. Lord, how am I living with my peers, sexuality, pride, and/or idolatry? Search me, o Lord, and reveal my heart! Let me see any sin that I might repent and make war upon it.
Second, it brought me to a fresh dependence on the grace that flows to those who live in allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from Him I can do nothing of lasting worth, but in Him I am promised to bear much fruit (John 15:5). Lord, please cultivate fresh fruit, more fruit, abundant fruit, in and through my life, for your glory and for making my life worth living!
Third, it brought me to analyze how I am seeking to bless those with whom Jesus has placed me in relationship. No one regretted Jehoram’s passing because his dissing of responsibility led to difficulty for them. Lord, am I living as a husband, father, pastor, neighbor, Christian friend, son, and public Christian responsibly and in a manner that seeks the good of those You have placed in proximity to me?
Fourth, it brought me to a gladness and fresh resting in the King above Jehoram and all other Kings. Jesus Christ did not diss His responsibility, conform to evil peers, bend to corrupt sex, give into pride or false worship. In contrast to Jehoram, Jesus accepted His Father’s assignment to bring blessing and godly authority to those He was sent to rule. In contrast to myself, Jesus bore the perfect fruit of obedience and made perfect use of His life. And outrageously Jesus shares the reward of His perfect obedience and life with me and all who place faith in His death, resurrection, and loving leadership.
Lord, forgive me for my Jehoram-like moments and days. I don’t want to live with regrets, and I do want You to make my life a fruitful blessing in the lives of others. Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you, for calling me, convicting me, cleansing me, and claiming me!