Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sunday, May 24, 2020

“Your Attitude” [Matt's Messages]

“Your Attitude”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
May 24, 2020 :: Philippians 2:5-11

I invite you to open your Bibles to the book of Philippians and follow along with this video as I teach from it to you.

This recorded message is intended to be used with the Guide to Worship At Home for Sunday May 24, 2020. And it’s the sixth message in a series on the Book of Philippians, Paul’s joyful letter to his beloved church friends at Philippi.

If you haven’t already, you might want to pause this video and watch some of the other ones first, especially the one right before this one because this is kind of like the sequel, part 2.



We’re in Philippians chapter 2 and the Apostle Paul has just asked the Philippians to make his joy complete “by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” and to humbly put each other first.

Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

You before me.

If you don’t remember that, you should go back and watch last week’s message.

Apparently the church at Philippi was struggling to get along with each other, and Paul’s answer to their problem was to ask them all to put each other ahead of themselves.

And that would work, wouldn’t it?

If I put the needs and interests of someone I’m struggling with ahead of myself, and they put my needs and interests ahead of themselves? That’s a great answer to relational conflict!

Think about the marriages that could be rescued if both spouses would do that.

Think about the church splits that could be avoided if all of the members did that.

Think about the family squabbles that could resolved if every family member put “you before me.”

Workplaces.
Schools.
Communities.
Nations!

“You before me.”

Now, hold that in your mind, because Paul is NOT going to change the subject in the our paragraph for today. He’s still talking about the same thing in verse 5.

In verses 6 through 11, Paul is going to wax eloquent with an amazing poem, probably a first century worship song about Jesus. And it’s easy to get caught up in the complicated theology of that worship song about Jesus. (And that theology is worth thinking about!)

But Paul is using that song to make a point for the Philippians’ lives.

To use the big words, this passage is more about ethics than about Christology. Or it might be better to say this high Christology is used in this passage in the service of Christian ethics.

This passage is very practical. It is all about “Your Attitude.”

Listen to verse 5. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus...”

I like that translation, “attitude,” for a word that can be a little hard to translate.

Your version may say, “mind.”

“Let this mind be in you.”
“Have this mind among yourselves.”

And that’s a good translation, too, as long as you don’t think it’s talking about mind-control or some kind of mind-transfer or telepathy.

It’s talking about “mind-set.” It’s another word about your thinking like the thinking words back in verse 2.

Today we use the word “headspace.”

Where is your head at? What is your mind-set? What is your attitude?

Paul tells the Philippians that their mind-set should be the same mind-set as Jesus Christ!

Does that describe you?
Does that describe me?

Would somebody watching our lives say, “That guy has the same attitude as Jesus Christ?”

“I can see that she has the same mind-set as Christ Jesus.”

That’s the goal right there.

And remember, he’s still talking about the same thing. Putting you before me.

Because what was Jesus’ attitude? He tells us in verse 6. Here comes the worship song:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness...”

I have three points of application for this message. Here’s number one.

Your attitude should be one of:

#1. HUMBLE SERVICE.

Our attitude should be one of the humble service of others. That’s the point of this worship song.

Jesus put other people first by humbling Himself (and so should we).

Think about what verse 6 says that Jesus gave up.

He was God! In His pre-incarnate state God the Son had all of the rights and privileges and glory and exalted status of God! If anyone ever had “rights,” it was God the Son.

But what was His mindset? What was His attitude?

Verse 6 says that He did not “consider” (there’s a thinking word) equality with God “something to be grasped.” That’s another hard one to translate.

The idea is that the Son did not clutch at His glorious status and think it was more important to hold onto than to achieve the mission of the incarnation. Some other translations say that He didn’t think His divine rights were something to be exploited. Held onto at any cost.

Here’s the picture I have in my mind. He let get go of His rights and jumped down.

Down, down, down, down, down.
Jesus humbled Himself.

He chose it. Verse 7 again.

“[He] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

That’s Christmas! He became LIKE us in every way. He assumed our humanity to serve us.

He was still God with all of the attributes of God, but now He was also man with all of the lowly attributes of man. Talk about self-denial!

Look what He gave up.

How would you like to become a bug?

Well, the difference between us and a bug is infinitely different from the difference between us and God especially in status!

But God came down to our level to serve us. That was Jesus’s attitude!

But that’s not how low He went. He went all the way down.

Down, down, down. Verse 8.

“And being found in appearance as a man [showing up as a man], he humbled himself [further] and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” It doesn’t get any lower than that.

Everything we just studied in the Gospel of Matthew this Winter. Remember “It just gets worse?”

He just went lower and lower and lower until He was on a Cross and then in a Tomb.

That was Jesus’ attitude!

You and I should be amazed at what Jesus did, but we should also be inspired to do it, too.

Jesus is our model. The Cross is our paradigm. This should be our attitude. Humble service.

So, take an inventory right now of your relationships and ask yourself what is your attitude to the people in your life?

Are you serving them? Or are you demanding that they serve you?

I was talking with Nancy W. this week about the survey went sent out about re-starting in-person ministry on our campus, and Nancy said that as much as she’d like to be at church together with everyone right away, she was probably going to hold back for a while not for herself but for others that might be affected if she were to contract the virus.

I came away from that conversation thinking how Christlike that attitude was.

I’m not saying that’s the only way to be Christlike in that situation, but I could see how Nancy was thinking about it and trying to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus.

“You before me.”

Monday is Memorial Day. And the soldiers who gave up so much for our country were also putting others ahead of themselves, and we should be a grateful nation because of their sacrifices.

How about you? How about me?

Do we have a Christlike attitude of humble service in our relationships?

Down, down, down.
Lower, lower, lower.
You before me.

Of course, Jesus didn’t stay there. God raised Him from the dead. In fact, God raised Him higher than just to new life.

He raised Jesus to the highest place! Verse 9.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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.”

What a great worship song!

Jesus went from the lowest place to the highest place!
He went from the lowest rank to the highest rank!
And was given the highest name.

If possible, He is even higher now than He was before the incarnation.

Because something new has happened. He has humbled Himself and taken on humanity and accomplished our salvation.

So He is exalted like before and perhaps unlike ever before!

Exalted as the God-Man Jesus Christ.

Lord of all.

“...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth [that’s everywhere!,] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Now, let me blow your mind for a second.

Remember, this song is not here just to teach us good theology.

It’s here to inspire us with Christ’s example.

Because our attitude should not just be one of humble service.

Your attitude should be one of:

#2. JOYFUL ANTICIPATION.

Joyful anticipation of exaltation!

You and I will also be exalted.

Not to the highest place, of course, but what does the Bible say?

“Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you.”

Notice that word there in verse 9, “Therefore.”

It doesn’t say, “nevertheless” or “in spite of Jesus’ humiliation on the Cross, God exalted Him.”

It says, “therefore” BECAUSE Jesus humbled Himself, He was exalted.

Humility is the way to glory, and Jesus is showing us the way!

Listen. If you have the same attitude as Jesus Christ, you can expect the same kind of treatment.

If you go down, He will lift you up.

You and I have that to look forward to in joyful anticipation.

How’s that for a reason to serve others in love?

Do you see what Paul was trying to do the Philippians?

He was trying to get them to pour themselves out in Christlike love for each other and put each other first with the joyful expectation of Christlike exaltation!

Up, up, up!  What more motivation do you need?

One more thing about your attitude.

It should be one of:

#3. GLAD SUBMISSION.

Because one day every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

One day every tongue will be made to confess that.

But right now we have the opportunity to confess Jesus as our Lord voluntarily, from our hearts, putting our trust in what He did for us on the Cross in paying for our sins and owning Him as our Master and King.

Don’t wait until every tongue confesses. Confess Jesus as your Lord right now.

The Bible says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10, NIV84).

Don’t let yourself get a bad attitude that refuses Jesus as Lord.

Your attitude should be glad submission to Jesus as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

Saturday, May 23, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home - May 24, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home
May 24, 2020

$          Introduction
$          Home Worship Guide
$          Church Family News
$          Prayer Items
$          More Links to Helpful Resources
                       
Introduction                                                       

Dear Church Family,

Soon! We are definitely getting close to being ready to re-start some in-person ministry on our church campus. The church elder team is very encouraged by (1) your many, kind, and helpful responses to the survey we sent out last week, (2) President Trump’s recent affirmation of the important and essential nature of the church’s work, and (3) Governor Wolf’s announced plan to move our county into the “Green Phase of Reopening” next weekend. These are some clear signs that things are coming together for some of us to come together. Praise the Lord!

The church elder team will be meeting again early next week to continue working on our plan for restarting in-person ministry on our church campus. Please continue to pray for wisdom for us as we prayerfully consider all of the relevant factors and make all of the necessary preparations. We are excited about the possibilities and will communicate more soon.

At the same time, we know that many of our church family will and should stay home and not gather in-person for some time. Please know that we are committed to caring for the spiritual needs of every single person during this transition whether “at church” or at home. If that’s you, please know that you will not be forgotten or left behind. We are still in this together even when we can’t all be together (Philippians 1:3-8).
                                   
We have prepared another ten-step guide for your family to use in worship at home this weekend, and I will be posting another recorded video message from Philippians 2. For the Worship in Unity portion this week, we are reciting the Nicene Creed which was originally affirmed in 325AD with a fuller version completed in Constantinople in 381.

The Nicene Creed builds on the Apostles’ Creed (which we used back in March) and is alluded to in Article 4 of our EFCA Statement of Faith. The Nicene Creed is a beautiful summary of Christian teaching especially on the full deity and saving work of Jesus Christ. It fits perfectly with what we are going to see in Philippians 2 about Jesus’ humility and exaltation.

{Note: I have translated the Greek word “katholikayn” as “whole” to avoid confusion because the Creed isn’t referring there to a particular denomination but to the universal Body of Christ of which every genuine Christian is a part. Also note that when we say that “we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” we mean that it stands for and illustrates that forgiveness. Water baptism is an outward picture of an inward and spiritual reality (Titus 3:3-7).}

Two other neat things are planned for Sunday May 24th:

At 11am, many of us are going to connect again using Zoom for a Church Family Fellowship time (I’ll be there by 10:45 to welcome folks and help people get set-up). If her internet service cooperates, our missionary Tobi Magill is planning to join us from Papua New Guinea! It will be 1:00am her time, so we will want to begin with interacting with Tobi so that she can get some sleep before her next shift as a nurse. I’m hoping that some of the kids in our church family will have specific questions for Tobi about what life is like on the other side of the world.

And from 2-5pm, Lord-willing, I will be sitting in the drive-thru at the church building for pastoral visitation. I’ll be wearing a mask and keeping my distance, but I would love to see some of you and pray for you. I haven’t seen many of you for three months, and I miss you all very much. If you are out for a Sunday drive, consider pulling through. Hopefully, the next time that I see some of you, it will be actually be inside of our church building!

What time are you going to gather your household this weekend to worship the Lord Jesus Christ?

In His Grip,

- Pastor Matt

P.S.  Few people have known as much suffering or been as joyful as Joni Eareckson Tada. She says that one of the secrets to this paradox has been to sing her way through suffering including during COVID-19. I hope you and your family are following her example.



Home Worship Guide
                       
1. Call to Worship

Read Psalm 47 with joyful anticipation as your family gathers to worship. The kingship of God over all of the nations is great news and worthy of our songs of praise!

**Option: Families with young children may want to have the kids shout, “Sing praises, sing praises!” after a parent reads each verse.

Have someone pray and ask God to bless your time of worship at home.


2. Worship in Singing

As a household sing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” by Joachim Neander (1680) translated into English by Catherine Winkworth (1863).

**Option. Families with younger children might want to repeat the song that has our Hide the Word verse in it: “Rejoice in the Lord Always.” Parents might plan to do this short song for several weeks because repetition helps us to learn something well. Don’t forget that it is also a canon your family can sing “in the round.”

                                   
3. Worship in Unity

As a household, recite together the Nicene Creed (381):
           
WE BELIEVE in one God,
the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

WE BELIEVE in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

WE BELIEVE in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.

WE BELIEVE in one holy whole and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.


4. Worship in Lament and Thanksgiving

Share with your family both the good and the bad that you all have experienced this week and express them both to the Lord in prayer.

**Option: Monday is Memorial Day. Your household could take some time to share memories of family members who have died. Lament their loss and give thanks for what they have meant to you. We are especially grateful for those who have given their lives in the defense of our nation.


5. Worship in Bible Memorization

Recite our current “Hide the Word” memory verses, Philippians 4:4-5.
                       
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

**Option: Over the summer months we are going to memorize Philippians 4:4-9. Don’t wait until the verses get long and difficult to memorize. Have each family member close their eyes and say what they can remember out loud. Write it on a whiteboard or big piece of paper and hide key words.

           
6. Worship in Prayer

Take prayer requests and pray for each other. Read the prayer guide together and pray for the rest of the church family and the requests listed.


7. Worship in the Word

Watch or read Pastor Matt’s message: “Your Attitude.”



Some families may want to watch/read the message on their own and then have a Bible study and discussion together during this time.

Application Questions for Personal Reflection and Family Discussion:

1. Taking an inventory of all of my various relationships right now, what is my current attitude towards others? What needs to change in my mindset?

2. How does Jesus' awesome example of humility and exaltation inspire me to live this week? What specific actions should I plan to take?

3. Have I personally confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord? If not, what am I waiting for?


8. Worship in Singing

Sing “He Is Lord” by Linda Lee Johnson, Claire Cloninger, and Tom Fettke (1986).

**Option: Some families may want to sing “Praise the Saviour” by CityAlight which celebrates the same amazing truth of Jesus’ humble sacrifice on our behalf.

**Option: Some families, especially those with young children who really enjoy repetition, may want to continue to sing “Jesus, Strong and Kind” by CityAlight (2019) each week.


9. Worship All Week

Have someone pray a prayer of commissioning for your family as you end this time of gathered worship and face a week of new opportunities and new challenges to serve the Lord, the church, and the world in His Name.

                                                           
10. Participate in LEFC Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom - 11am on Sunday.

Many of us are meeting through video-conference online this Sunday at 11:00am:



More Links to Helpful Resources




                       
                                   


                                   

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Sunday, May 17, 2020

“Make My Joy Complete” [Matt's Messages]

“Make My Joy Complete”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
May 17, 2020 :: Philippians 2:1-4

This video message is intended to be viewed as part of Worship at Home for Lanse Free Church the weekend of Sunday May 17, 2020. I hope the guides we’ve been providing for Worship at Home have been helpful to your family during this difficult time when we have been apart.

I also hope that we can begin some in-person worship gatherings again soon. We are praying about that and making plans. Please continue to pray about that, too, especially for wisdom from heaven.

In the meantime, and as long as we are transitioning, here we are on video looking at Paul’s letter to the Philippians.



We’ve seen in the first chapter that Paul talks a lot to the Philippians about joy.

He always prays with joy.
He rejoices because Christ is being preached.
And he will continue to rejoice no matter what. Because he cannot lose.

And yet, in today’s little paragraph, Paul makes it very clear that his joy is not yet full.

Something is keeping Paul from fully experiencing complete joy.

Now, that’s kind of a surprise because Paul has been waxing eloquent about how joyful he is even in the face of death!

So what could be diminishing Paul’s joy?

In the previous paragraph, Paul asked the Philippians that whatever happened, they would stand firm and stand together for the gospel. And we got a little bit of whiff that Paul knows that there are problems back at Philippi.

Internal problems.

They had external problems, too. They were experiencing persecution. So they had to stand firm.

But Paul also had to remind them to stand together. “Contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.”

Apparently, the Philippians were struggling to get along with one another. There was some infighting. Some division. We don’t know the details, but it’s clear that they were struggling with one another.

And that was a drag on Paul’s joy.

I love that! Paul could not have complete and full joy while he knew that his beloved church friends were still fighting with one another.

So in today’s paragraph, Paul asks the Philippians to “Make His Joy Complete” by fixing the problems they had with one another.

But he doesn’t start there with the practical problem. He starts further back in verse 1.

He starts with the benefits and blessings of being united to Christ.

The benefits and blessings of being united to Christ.

Look again at verse 1.

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete...”

Do you hear the if/then logic in there?

It’s pretty hard to miss. Especially when I punch it when I read it. If, if, if, if.

By the way verses 1 through 4 are one long sentence in the original Greek!

And it’s just like this: if, if, if, if...then.

We’re all familiar with this kind of logic.

If you clean your room, then you can go to the ball game. (If there was one.)
If you say that one more time, then I’m out of here.
If the stock market continues this way, then we’re in big trouble.
If you finish your supper, then you can have dessert.

If the condition of the first part is met, then logically the second part should flow from it.

So, Paul says, if you have experienced all of these blessings of verse 1, then it only makes sense to make his joy complete and do the things in verses 2 through 4.

And (spoiler alert!) all real Christians have experienced the blessings of verse 1.

Because this is like a description of what it means to be a real Christian:

United with Christ.
Comforted by his love.
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
Experiencing God’s tenderness and compassion.

That’s what it means to be a Christian!

That’s how good it is to belong to Jesus Christ.

The suggested opening song for Worship at Home today was:

“What a Fellowship
What a Joy Divine
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

What a Blessedness
What a Peace Is Mine
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

Leaning on Jesus
Leaning on Jesus
Safe and Secure from All Alarms

Leaning on Jesus
Leaning on Jesus
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

Do you have that?
Is that you?

Safe and secure from all alarms because you are united to Christ?

Do you have that encouragement in your soul?

I hope so!

If not, then I invite you to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior today and be united to Him by faith in His sacrificial death on the Cross.

He died to pay for our sins, and He came back to life to give us eternal life and the comfort of His tender and compassionate love through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

I invite you to turn from your sins and trust in Jesus today.

Paul says, “If you have all of that (and I know you do!), then here’s what logically follows.” Verse 2.

“...then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

I’m going to summarize it like this.

#1. THINK AS ONE.

It would complete Paul’s joy and only make sense if these Christians (and by extension you and I) would think as one. Verse 2 again. “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

Now, I don’t think that Paul means that they all have to have all of the same thoughts about everything.

Billy Graham’s wife Ruth used to say something like “If you and your husband think the same exact thing about everything, one of you is not necessary!”

God has designed us all with our own brains and wants us to all think for ourselves. Which also means that we will come to different opinions about various things. But the most important things, we need to think the same on. And we need to be striving towards unity always.

Verse 2 is, I think, mostly about an attitude. A heart attitude of oneness. That’s why he uses words “like-minded” and “love” and “spirit” and “purpose.” There needs to be a desire for unity, especially around our shared mission.

We should have the same love.
The same love for God.
The same love for the lost.

We should have the same spirit and same purpose, the same gospel mission.

Or as we say it around here, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing; and main thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you see the logic?If you have been blessed by the gospel, then you need to be united in sharing the gospel with those who most need to hear it. And secondary matters on which you differ should stay second matters!

Now, there are probably lots of ways to apply that to our lives today, and I’m sure you can think of some. The one that jumps to my mind right now (because of right now!) is the WHEN and HOW of gathering again in our church building together. We probably have many different opinions about WHEN and HOW to do that. And we’ve asked you to share your thoughts for your family in a survey that went out this weekend.

But whatever our own thoughts are on that question, what is really important is that we focus on loving each other and staying on mission together no matter what.

We need to think as one about Jesus and about the gospel and about sharing the gospel of Jesus with the world.

What I love about our church family is that I know that we will do just that! This is a church centered on the gospel. So my joy can be complete!

We will think as one.

Not that we’ll do it perfectly! And not that this comes easily.

It certainly doesn’t come naturally. When unity comes, it’s a super-natural thing.

That’s where Paul goes next. Here’s how to get to thinking as one. Verse 3.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

I’m going to summarize that by saying:

#2. THINK OF OTHERS.

It would complete Paul’s joy and only make sense if these Christians would think of others ahead of themselves. And, of course, it’s true for us today, as well.

We need to think of others ahead of ourselves.

It starts by getting over ourselves.

That’s why verse 3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”

That’s thinking only of yourself.

That’s how we naturally are. “What it’s in it for me, me, me, me?” That’s selfish ambition.

And vain conceit is, “I deserve it. I need it. I’m worth it.” An inflated sense of self-importance.

We operate this way all of the time. It’s the default mode of our hearts, but the Bible says that we need to change our default mode. “Do NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but IN HUMILITY consider others better than yourself.”

Now, this does not mean some kind of a self-loathing: “Oh, I hate myself!” That’s just another kind of pride and vain conceit! Humility isn’t a false-kind of modesty that puts yourself down all the time.

Humility is not a focus on yourself at all! It’s a focus on others outside of yourself.

"...in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

The English Standard Version says, “as more significant than.”

The Christian Standard Bible says, “as more important than”

The 2011 NIV says, “value others above yourselves.”

And then Paul explains exactly what that means in verse 4.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests [that’s not wrong or bad, we all need to do that], but also to the interests of others.”

Think of others. And think of others first.

Now, there are so many ways that we could apply that, and we need to in every area of our lives.

Because this is how Christians are supposed to live.

If we have the blessings of union with Christ, then we need to think of others ahead of ourselves.

And we need to start with those closest to us.

Ask yourself who are you putting first in all of your relationships:

If you are a dad, does the family revolve around you and your will?

If you are a mom, is it your way or the highway?
If you are brother or a sister, do put your siblings’ interests ahead of your own?
If you are single are you focused only on your dreams and ambitions?
If you are a boss at work? If you are an employee at work? Who are you looking out for?
Drivers, who is #1 on the road? “Consider others better than yourselves.”

Do you see how this is a radical way of living? If we start doing this, then the gospel that we proclaim will get hearing!

Thinking of others first is in basic contradiction to this world’s value system, but it is the foundation of the value system of the kingdom to come. “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

Put yourself last. Put yourself second.

I think that this COVID-19 world-wide health crisis is perfect opportunity for Christians to practice this.

For example, what I understand about these masks is that, for the most part, these face-masks that we are being asked to wear when interacting with people in society are not primarily worn to protect ourselves.

We are being asked to wear them, primarily, in case we have contracted the virus and don’t know it to protect those whom we are interacting with.

The Bible says that love is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5).

That is that we “should look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

That’s hard to do. I know it. I am, by nature, a very selfish person.

It’s easy to see me. It’s easy to look to my own interests.

But I have been united to Christ; I have been comforted by His love; I have fellowship with the Spirit; I have experienced God’s tenderness and compassion.

So by God’s grace, I can look to the interests of others.

And Jesus has shown us the way.  Jesus has gone before us and shown us how it’s done. Lord-willing, we’ll see that next time in verses 5 through 11.

But for now, it’s enough to just say, “It is possible. We can do this. By God’s grace.”

We can think as one. One in spirit and in purpose.
And we can think of others and put them ahead of ourselves.
And then think how our joy will be complete!


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"

Saturday, May 16, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home - May 17, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home
May 17, 2020

$          Introduction
$          Home Worship Guide
$          More Links to Helpful Resources
                       
Introduction                                                       

Dear Church Family,

I am thankful for Sundays. Even though during these strange times the days seems to run together the rest of the week, the rhythm of setting aside one day for worship (even if it has to be at home) and fellowship (even if it has to be online) and rest (even if it followed weirder work than usual) is comforting and strengthening to me. I’m glad that Sunday comes each week, and we can sanctify the day.

To help us all sanctify this Sunday, we have prepared another ten-step Guide to Worship at Home. With Paul in Philippians, we continue to emphasize the theme of rejoicing. This week in our readings and songs, we rejoice because of the blessings we enjoy through our union with Christ and fellowship with the Spirit.

This Sunday at 11am, Lord-willing, many of the families of our church will “meet” together on Zoom for a Family Fellowship time (I’ll be there by 10:45 to greet folks and help people get set up). Our special guests will be Jeff & Faith Aldridge, the new directors of the Clearfield NxtGen Center. We have been partnering with the NxtGen Center for more than 20 years (It used to be called “The Crossroad Youth Center)! Please consider joining us to get to know the Aldridges better and find out more about what the Lord is doing through that youth ministry.

Please also continue to ask the Lord for wisdom for our leaders to determine when and how to re-start in-person gatherings on our church campus. We are all eager to return, and we want to do it in the Lord’s way and the Lord’s time.

Speaking of time, when are you going to gather your household this weekend to worship the Lord Jesus Christ?

In His Grip,

- Pastor Matt

P.S. I hope you are singing. This week I discovered a hymn by John Newton (1779) I had never heard of before. I’m glad that believers through the ages have found ways to capture and articulate their experience of the faithful provision of our Lord. You might want to sing your way through this song this week:

"Though troubles assail us and dangers affright,
though friends should all fail us and foes all unite,
yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
the promise assures us, 'The Lord will provide.'

The birds, without garner or storehouse, are fed;
from them let us learn to trust God for our bread.
His saints what is fitting shall ne'er be denied
so long as 'tis written, 'The Lord will provide.'

When Satan assails us to stop up our path,
and courage all fails us, we triumph by faith.
He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried,
this heart-cheering promise, 'The Lord will provide.'

No strength of our own and no goodness we claim;
yet, since we have known of the Savior's great name,
in this our strong tower for safety we hide:
the Lord is our power, 'The Lord will provide.'"



Home Worship Guide
                       
1. Call to Worship

Read Psalm 67 with joyful anticipation as your family gathers to worship.

**Option: Families with young children may want have the kids shout, “May the peoples praise You!” after each of the psalmist’s requests (v.2, v.3, v.4, v.5, and v.7).

Have someone pray and ask God to bless your time of worship at home.


2. Worship in Singing

As a household sing “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” by Elisha Hoffman (1894).

**Option. Families with younger children might want to repeat the song that has our Hide the Word verse in it: “Rejoice in the Lord Always.” Parents might plan to do this short song for several weeks because repetition helps us to learn something well. Don’t forget that it is also a canon your family can sing “in the round.”

                                   
3. Worship in Unity


“We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.”


4. Worship in Lament and Thanksgiving

As they prepared to face the challenge of entering the Promised Land, Moses told the people of Israel, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27a).

We are “safe and secure from all alarms,” but those alarms are still very real. The Lord invites us to bring our trials before Him. Take time to pour your families’ troubles to the Lord while expressing your faith in the refuge of His everlasting arms. Have each family member share.


5. Worship in Bible Memorization

Recite Philippians 4:4 once more, and this time add in verse 5:
                                               
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

**Option: Eventually we are going to memorize all of Philippians 4:4-9. Don’t wait until the verses get long and difficult to memorize. Have each family member close their eyes and say what they can remember out loud.

           
6. Worship in Prayer

Take prayer requests and pray for each other.

Read the prayer guide together and pray for the rest of the church family and the requests listed.


7. Worship in the Word

Watch or read Pastor Matt’s message: “Make My Joy Complete.
           
[The message will be available online by Sunday morning.]

Some families may want to watch/read the message on their own and then have a Bible study and discussion together during this time.

Application Questions for Personal Reflection and Family Discussion:

1. Do I enjoy the blessings of union with Christ? If not, will I repent and put my faith in Him?
2. Am I doing my part to walk and work in unity with the other Christians in my life? If not, what do I need to change?
3. In what ways am I humbling myself and serving other people? In what new ways do I need to begin?


8. Worship in Singing

Sing “They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” by Peter Scholtes (1966).

**Option: Some families may want to again sing “Jesus, Strong and Kind” by CityAlight (2019) to cement it in their memories and reinforce its profound message.


9. Worship All Week

Have someone pray a prayer of commissioning for your family as you end this time of gathered worship and face a week of new opportunities and new challenges to serve the Lord, the church, and the world in His Name.

                                                           
10. Participate in LEFC Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom.

- See one another’s faces and hear each other’s voices.
- Listen to announcements of church family news.
- Interact with the new directors of the Clearfield NxtGen Center, Jeff and Faith Aldridge.
- Pray for one another live and online.


More Links to Helpful Resources


                       




Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sunday, May 10, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home - May 10, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home
Mothers’ Day
May 10, 2020

$          Introduction
$          Home Worship Guide
$          More Links to Helpful Resources
                       
Introduction                                                       

Dear Church Family,

When I was growing up, my Mom always sang songs about Jesus while she went about her housework. (I’m sure she still does.) Her voice rings in my mind even as I type these words out for you:

            “I have a song that Jesus gave me...”

            “Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin..”

            “...there’s just something about that name.”

            “And He walks with me, and He talks with me...”

            “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”

            “To God be the glory–great things He hath done!”

On this Mothers’ Day weekend, I am incredibly grateful not only that Mom gave me birth but for the song in her heart and how it helped birth a song in mine.

Lord-willing, this Sunday at 11am, many of us are going to “gather” again using Zoom for a Family Fellowship time (I’ll be there by 10:45 to help folks get set-up). I’d like to ask every participant to share something in particular that they learned from their mother: a life-lesson, a spiritual truth, a helpful practice, a great example. I’m sure everybody has a story to tell!

By the way, it’s important that we also all remember that Mother’s Day is a hard day for many people many reasons including grief, loss, infertility, broken relationships, and shattered dreams. As we celebrate the joys of motherhood, we also recognize the sorrows.

We have prepared another ten-step guide for your family to use in worship at home. The theme of rejoicing continues as does our series of video messages on the book of Philippians. I hope these are an encouragement to you. For the “Worship in Unity,” we return to the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) which we were introduced to last month. In question #104, the framers noticed that the fifth commandment from Exodus 20 is repeated in Ephesians 6 as having ongoing relevance to our lives, and they also applied it to all God-ordained authorities, not just to parents. It seems appropriate to remind ourselves of this truth not just because of Mother’s Day, but also during these difficult days when we are being asked to submit to earthly authorities–in ways that are sometimes uncomfortable and even unpleasant–in the interest of public health and safety. I have again worded the translation into the first person plural so that we declare it together as a community of faith with the communion of the saints.

Please continue to pray for our church leaders as we consider how ministry will change as the government lifts some restrictions. We want to make the most wise and loving choices for our whole church family. Pray for patience, as well, because we all want to get things back to “normal,” but may have to wait for some time.

Speaking of time, what time are you going to gather your household this weekend to worship the Lord Jesus Christ?

In His Grip,

- Pastor Matt

P.S. I just finished reading a wonderful book by John Starke, The Possibility of Prayer: Finding Stillness with God in a Restless World. In the last chapter, he writes something I thought was very appropriate for us all right now:

“If God is who he says he is, then singing is the most rational thing. To sing is to join ourselves to ultimate reality–to join ourselves with everything that isn't asleep. Singing is a declaration that we are awake to reality, awake to God and to our life with him.

To not sing is to be out of sync with reality, to miss something fundamental not just about ourselves but about all of creation. To live without singing of our delight in God is like driving a car in second gear; you can drive it that way, but you'll never open yourself up to the pleasure of driving down the open road with the engine at full capacity" (pg. 170).



Home Worship Guide
                       
1. Call to Worship
           
Read Psalm 34 as your family gathers to worship the Lord. When finished reading the whole psalm, repeat verse 3.

**Option: Families with young children may want to simply read verses 1-3.

Have someone pray and ask God to bless your time of worship at home.


2. Worship in Singing

As a household sing “To God Be the Glory” by Fanny Crosby (1875).

**Option. Families with younger children might want to repeat the song that has our Hide the Word verse in it: “Rejoice in the Lord Always.” Parents might plan to do this short song for several weeks because repetition helps us to learn something well. Don’t forget that it is also a canon your family can sing “in the round.”

**Option. This Sunday is Mothers’ Day. If your household has a mother in it, ask her what her favorite worship song is and sing it, too.

                                   
3. Worship in Unity

Recite together Question #104 of the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q. What does God require in the fifth commandment?

A. That we show all honor, love and faithfulness to our fathers and mothers, and to all in authority over us; submit ourselves with due obedience to all their good instruction and correction; and also bear patiently with their infirmities: since it is God’s will to govern us by their hand.


4. Worship in Lament and Thanksgiving

In Psalm 34, King David continually praises God but also speaks frankly about his troubles. His example for us today is to cry out to God in our trials and bring him our fears while we live out the fear of the LORD in hopeful expectation.

Have each family member share something for which you are praising the Lord and a trouble or fear you are currently experiencing.

**Option. Have each family member share something about your mother for which you are thankful.

**Option. Have someone pray a prayer of lament that we are not celebrating our mothers together in person this Sunday in our normal worship gathering.


5. Worship in Bible Memorization

Recite Philippians 4:4, the first of our new “Hide the Word” verses for this Spring:
                                               
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

**Option: Don’t wait until the verses get long and difficult to memorize. Have each family member close their eyes and say the verse out loud. We will add the next verse next week!

           
6. Worship in Prayer

Take prayer requests and pray for each other.

Read the prayer guide together and pray for the rest of the church family and the requests listed.


7. Worship in the Word

Watch or read Pastor Matt’s message: “Whatever Happens.”
           


Some families may want to watch/read the message on their own and then have a Bible study and discussion together during this time.

Application Questions for Personal Reflection and Family Discussion:

1. Am I living right now in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? If not, where do I need to change?
2. Am I standing firm and standing together with my brothers and sisters for the gospel? If not, how do I need to change?
3. Am I receiving my suffering for the gospel as a gift to honor God with? If not, what do I need to change?

8. Worship in Singing

Sing “In the Garden” by Austin Miles (1913).

**Option: The newest song we have learned together as a church family is “Jesus, Strong and Kind” by CityAlight (2019). Some families may want to sing it as a closing song. The words and tune are very simple but also very profound.


9. Worship All Week

Have someone pray a prayer of commissioning for your family as you end this time of gathered worship and face a week of new opportunities and new challenges to serve the Lord, the church, and the world in His Name.

                                                           
10. Participate in LEFC Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom - 11am on Sunday.

Many of us are meeting through video-conference online this Sunday at 11:00am:

- See one another’s faces and hear each other’s voices.
- Listen to announcements of church family news.
- Tell the group something your mother taught you.
- Pray for one another live and online.