Sunday, May 31, 2020

“I am Glad and Rejoice with All of You” [Matt's Messages]

“I am Glad and Rejoice with All of You”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
May 31, 2020 :: Philippians 2:12-18

I invite you to open your Bibles to the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul’s missionary letter to his beloved church friends at Philippi, the book of Philippians chapter 2.

Next Sunday, Lord-willing, I’ll get to announce the page number in the Pew Bible once again (to some of you)! Because we are planning to resume in-person on-campus worship gatherings starting June 7.

However, space is limited so we need everybody who is planning to come to make a reservation for their household’s seating section in one of the two new worship gatherings. 

But this weekend, still none of us have a Pew Bible in our hands. We have to grab our own Bibles and find Philippians chapter 2.



It shouldn’t surprise you by now with this seventh message in Philippians to learn that Paul is going to talk again about JOY.

In Philippians, Paul talks about joy again and again and again.

In our passage for today, he ends by saying (v.17), “I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy!

Paul says that both the Philippians and he himself have many reasons to rejoice.

And to rejoice with each other.

That’s important. They can and should rejoice with each other.

What is the logic here that leads to this shared rejoicing?

What is the reason?

It actually might surprise you.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We want to start with verse 12.

Paul has just asked each of the Philippians to put other people first. He knows they have been struggling with one another so he encourages them to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (2:3).

And then he gave them the greatest example of that kind of humility and service, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who let go of his exalted privileges to become one of us and die on the Cross.

And then was exalted! And given the name above every name. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...” (vv.10-11a).

And then Paul writes our starting verse for today. Verse 12.

“Therefore [because of all that], my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Stop there for a second.

I want to make four points of application from this passage.

And they all have the word “out” in them. See if you can remember them all by the end. Here’s number one.

#1. WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION.

Do you see that in verse 12? Paul tells the Philippians (and by extension us) to work out your salvation.

Now, what does that mean?

That might sound a little dangerous to our theological ears. “Work out your salvation.” And it almost doesn’t sound like Paul. Paul is the guy who insists that we cannot be saved by works, right?

Well, this is Paul. And it’s important to hear what he’s saying and note what he’s not saying.

He’s not saying that we need to WORK FOR our salvation.

We could never earn our way to God.

And he’s not saying that we need to WORK TO KEEP our salvation.

As if God has gotten it started but it’s up to our good works to remain worthy of it.

It doesn’t work that way.

Paul is saying that we need to WORK OUT our salvation. We need to live out the potential of it. We need to work out the details. We need to live out the implications of our salvation.

We have salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Now we need to work out that salvation, actualizing it in everyday life.

We do need to do good works, but they are the fruit of our faith.

Working from the changed-inside out.

And the good news is in the next verse. Verse 13 tell us how it’s possible.

“...for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

We work out, but God works in!

Notice that this both/and not either/or.

We tend to think that the work in our salvation is either God’s our ours.
But it’s both, isn’t it?

We work out, but God works in.

If God didn’t work in, then we could never work out.

But because God has worked in our hearts, we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Does that make sense?

Before we move on to the second application, I want to dwell for a second or two on what Paul about his personal presence back in verse 12.

He says, “As you have obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence...work out your salvation.”

Paul is not with them. I feel that in Philippians like I never have before. I think because we have been so separated from each other these last 3 months.

I’ve been making these videos, but we’re not together.

So Paul writes them a letter, the preeminent communication technology of the day.

And he says, “Beloved, I know that you will do this because you obey not just when I’m with you but when we’re apart.”

Work out your salvation.

I think this raises the application question, “Do I tend to live as a Christian only when others are watching or all of the time?”

We need each other.

But we also need to remind each other to keep obeying the Lord Jesus whether we are present with each other or absent from each other.

And here’s why. Because God is present no matter what.

That’s why Paul says to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Not scared that it won’t work. But in awe and wonder and reverence that GOD is at work inside of my heart. At the desire level. At the level of the will. And at the behavior level. To act according to his good purpose. Work out your salvation.

Now, what does that look like in practical terms. Are you ready? Verse 14.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

Ooh. I wonder if there is a loophole around this one?

I mean maybe it doesn’t mean what I think it means in the original Greek!

No. I looked it up, and it means, “Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

Man, is that hard to do. Especially right now when so many things are not as we would like them to be.

Do everything without complaining. No grumbling. No murmuring. No running on about our discontentment. No whining.

And no arguing. No quarreling especially with other Christians. This is probably what was going on back at Philippi, and Paul was trying to nip it in the bud.

He’s not saying that they must agree on every single thing, but no fighting.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

If all of the Christians started to do that on, let’s just say social media, what difference would that make?

Now, remember, there is difference between groaning and grumbling. The Israelites groaned when things got bad, and the Lord heard their prayers of lament. We can and should groan when things are not as they ought to be.

And so much in our world right now is not as it ought to be!

But when the Israelites grumbled, then the Lord disciplined them.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

If all of the Christians started to do that on what difference would that make?

Wouldn’t we look stunningly different from the rest of the world?

Here’s application point number two.

#2. STAND OUT IN YOUR GENERATION.

What happens when we work out our salvation by doing everything without complaining or arguing? V.15

“...so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...”

Here’s where I get to talk about Cook Forest.

Some of you have been waiting for a Cook Forest illustration for a while.

On a clear night at our house in Lanse, we can see a lot of stars.

But at Cook Forest on a clear night, you can see like whole Milky Way.

I love to go out into the middle of field at the campground just stare up into space.

The stars really POP. They stand out against the blackness of the night sky.

That’s what Paul is talking about in verse 15. If we live out verses 12 through 14 we will stand out against the backdrop of our sinful society.

And big point here is not whether or not we lie or steal or murder.

We shouldn’t do that either.

But whether or not we complain and argue.

Do we complain or argue just like the world does?

Or do we stand out?

Ask yourself that application question right now. Is my life marked by complaining and arguing right now? What would my social media feed say about that? To whom might I need to apologize?

Because if we’re doing this right, we will be different from the world in our attitude and our words and our relationships, and people will notice and that will give us a chance to share the gospel with them.

It will create opportunities for evangelism. Look at verse 16.

“[you shine like stars in the universe] as you hold out the word of life”

That’s application point number three.

#3. HOLD OUT THE WORD OF LIFE.

Here! Here’s the words that lead to life.

Here! Here is the gospel. The good news of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

Here! Here is why my life is different. Why I don’t complain and quarrel all of the time and apologize when I do.

Here!

Remember our focus as a church in 2020 is not to just survive 2020.

Our focus is BOLD EVANGELISM. Sharing the good news about Jesus Christ with everyone who needs to hear it.

To whom could you hold out the word of life this coming week?

I’ve been giving away these books. Where Is God in a Coronavirus World? by Oxford Professor John Lennox.

Our church family gave one to each of the graduating seniors at West Branch this year.

It is full of the words of life.

We still have a small pile of them in the breezeway at church if you want to pick one up and give it someone. Or a Bible. We’ve got those too.

How are you sharing the gospel with those need to hear it these days?

Hold out the word of life.

Last but not certainly not least. Number four.

#4. POUR OUT YOUR LIFE AS A JOYFUL SACRIFICE. V.16

Live this way, Paul says, “in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

This is all about their relationship, isn’t it?

Paul wants them to work out their salvation in such a way that he won’t be ashamed to have invested all of this time in their spiritual growth.

If they turn out to be real genuine Christians, then all of his sacrifices along the way are worth it.
He didn’t “run or labor for nothing.”

Even. if. he. dies.

Remember, Paul is in prison for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And it’s quite possible that he might be executed for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Eventually, he will be.

But Paul says, “That’s okay. Helping you all to know and live for Jesus is worth it.”

It’s worth dying for.

I think that’s what he means when he talks about being poured out in verse 17. He is drawing on the Old Testament sacrificial system. You can read about it in Exodus [29:38-41 for example].

The morning and evening offerings that were sacrificed on the altar included a drink offering (a libation) that was poured out on top of the sacrificial lamb. The drink offering added something meaningful, but it was really worth nothing if there was no lamb.

[Maybe it’s a good thing we aren’t in the auditorium today or I might pour out some big drink on floor of the platform!]

Paul is saying that if the Philippians [whom he loves but is separated from] work out their salvation, and stand out in their generation, and hold out the word of life–then their service will be a sweet sacrifice to God and his service of ministry to them will be a drink offering poured out on top–a meaningful–“worth it” kind of sacrifice.

Even if he dies.

Can you relate to that?

Let me ask it to you this way. If the Lord were to return or you were to die this week (and either one is possible!), could you rejoice that your life had been lived in worship of Jesus Christ and ministry to others in His name?

Again Paul is happy to die.


In chapter 1, he was happy to die because he’d get to be with Christ.

In chapter 2, he is happy to die knowing that he had poured out his life in worship of Jesus and ministry in Jesus’ name.

That’s why he says, “I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Not because we are all healthy and prosperous and #blessed.

But because we have Jesus, and we have one another.

And even over the distance, we can be glad and rejoice with one another!

Because Jesus is worth it.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"

Saturday, May 30, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship at Home - May 31, 2020


LEFC Guide to Worship at Home
Pentecost Sunday
May 31, 2020

$          Introduction
$          Home Worship Guide
$          More Links to Helpful Resources
                       
Introduction                                                       
                                   
Dear Church Family,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Because of Jesus, we have so much to rejoice in as a congregation. This week, I got to share the good news of our plan to resume some in-person ministry on our church campus starting, Lord-willing, next Sunday, June 7th. To meet the diverse needs of our church body, we are launching 2 new shorter/smaller worship gatherings with different levels of health precautions.

To make this work, we are asking everyone to reserve a seating section for your household in advance. If you haven’t yet, please read the instructions to orient yourself to this strange new way of preparing for on-campus worship.

Even though things are going to remain weird for a while, I am eagerly looking forward to greeting the first wave of returnees!

Please continue to pray for wisdom for our church leaders as we make the necessary preparations for next Sunday.

Please also pray for those who it is not yet their time to return. Thankfully, we can all still stay connected through the use of our church directory and all of these Worship at Home resources that we will continue to provide.

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 the book of Philippians. You’ll notice that the theme of rejoicing continues to bubble to the surface.

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday when we traditionally focus on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. For the Worship in Unity portion this week, we are reciting a section of the Lausanne Covenant (1974), a statement of belief drawn up for a global conference on evangelism and world missions initially spearheaded by BillyGraham and John Stott. I love how the Lausanne Covenant ties together the work of missions with the power of the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday 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). This week Jim & Kay Panaggio will be joining us from their home in Michigan. We have partnered with the Panaggios since 1997 to reach and teach the peoples of Latin America.

Zoom definitely has its limitations, but it also has given us some neat opportunities, too, which we might not ever have enjoyed without it. Parents, I would love to have your kids do some show-and-tell from your homes this week. Would they be willing to show us on Zoom something they love at their house, perhaps a favorite toy or stuffed animal?

Next Sunday (June 7th) will be “Grad Sunday” when we celebrate the accomplishments of our church family’s recent graduates, especially from area high schools. While we won’t be able to have a pizza party together, we will be doing some special things across all of our on-campus and at-home ministries to recognize these young people. Their names are listed in the church family news below in case you want to send them a note or card.

This Sunday night (May 31st) is the West Branch Area Baccalaureate which will be an online event. Two of our own young men have a part in leading it, and I have the privilege of giving the message. I asked to be speaker a few years ago because the Class of 2020 is special to me. I have known them for all of their school days, and one of them is my oldest son! We have much to rejoice in.

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 will say it again: Rejoice! I hope your family is singing together to express your joy in the Lord. Ephesians 5:18-19 closely ties together being filled with the Holy Spirit and making music in your heart to the Lord through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. There are many good songs to sing about the Holy Spirit. I had a hard time settling on just a few for this guide. Some other favorites of our church family include,““Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart,” “Sweet, Sweet Spirit,” and “Breathe on Me, Breath of God.” Perhaps you could search the music out on YouTube or Spotify and sing along.


Home Worship Guide
                       
1. Call to Worship

Read Psalm 96 with jubilation in your heart and voice as your family gathers to worship.

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

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


2. Worship in Singing

Remind your family that Pentecost Sunday is traditionally a day for Christians to focus on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.

As a household sing “Holy Spirit” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend (2006).

**Option. Families with older adults might also or instead enjoy singing “The Comforter Has Come” by Frank Bottome (1890).

**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 Article 14 of the Lausanne Covenant (1974):
           
“We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Father sent his Spirit to bear witness to his Son; without his witness ours is futile. Conviction of sin, faith in Christ, new birth and Christian growth are all his work.

Further, the Holy Spirit is a missionary spirit; thus evangelism should arise spontaneously from a Spirit-filled church. A church that is not a missionary church is contradicting itself and quenching the Spirit. Worldwide evangelization will become a realistic possibility only when the Spirit renews the Church in truth and wisdom, faith, holiness, love and power.

We therefore call upon all Christians to pray for such a visitation of the sovereign Spirit of God that all his fruit may appear in all his people and that all his gifts may enrich the body of Christ. Only then will the whole Church become a fit instrument in his hands, that the whole earth may hear his voice.”


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.

For example, you might rejoice that some in our church family will be able to return to campus for corporate worship next weekend but lament that others will not get to be a part of the first wave of returnees.

You might also lament the more than 100,000 virus-related deaths in the United States in just four months and at the same time rejoice that the number of new cases appears to be trending downward in our whole our country and that COVID-19 has had as yet minimal invasion into Clearfield County.


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: To improve your memory, try separating the two verses and say them out of order. Say verse 5 and then verse 4 and then verse 5 again.

           
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: “I Am Glad and Rejoice With All Of You.”
                                                                                   
Facebook Video
Read on Pastor Matt’s Blog

[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 tend to live as a Christian only when others are watching or all of the time? Why?
2. Is my life marked by complaining and arguing right now? To whom might I need to apologize?
3. To whom could I hold out the word of life this coming week?
4. If the Lord were to return or I were to die this week, could I rejoice that my life had been lived in worship of Christ? If not, what all needs to change?


8. Worship in Singing

Sing “Spirit of the Living God” by Daniel Iverson (1935).

**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



“The Holy Spirit and the Gospel” by David Wells




Friday, May 29, 2020

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"