Assumptions for a New Year

In Worship by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

Daily Bible Readings:

Monday, December 26. Read John 1:4-9. 1) After a soaring statement about Christ in John 1:1-5, John tells us that the “Word became flesh.” Why do you think this act on the part of Christ is so important to us? 2) What do we learn about God in this act?

Tuesday, December 27. Read John 10:11-18. 1) How does Jesus describe himself? 2) What did Christ do that is extraordinary?

Wednesday, December 28. Read Acts 2:32-35. 1) What did God do for Jesus? 2) What is Jesus doing now?

Thursday, December 29. Read 2 Corinthians 8:8-15. 1) This text is Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian church about giving. What did he say about the giving of Jesus? 2) What is the result of Jesus’ giving? How does it change us?

Friday, December 30. Read Ephesians 1:15-23. 1) Why was Paul thankful for the Corinthian church and for what did he pray? 2) What did God’s power bring to pass?

Saturday, December 31. Read Philippians 2:1-5. This is Sunday’s sermon text.

Prayer for the Week
O God, our world is so far away from you, from being like you, and from being in the slightest sense able to be attractive and winsome to a lost world. Help us to remember what Paul told his Philippian brethren and make it a goal of ours to live in that way too. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.

Hymn of the Week:

Majestic Sweetness
by Samuel Stennett, 1787

Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
upon the Savior’s brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned,
His lips with grace o’erflow,
His lips with grace o’erflow.

No mortal can with Him compare,
among the sons of men;
fairer is He than all the fair
who fill the heav’nly train,
who fill the heav’nly train.

He saw me plunged in deep distress,
and flew to my relief;
for me He bore the shameful cross,
and carried all my grief,
and carried all my grief.

To Him I owe my life and breath,
and all the joys I have;
He makes me triumph over death,
and saves me from the grave,
and saves me from the grave.

Devotional Article:

Sing the Jesus Song!
So we are supposed to sing a song to get us on the same page?
by Phil Ware

When I ask folks what is their favorite book of the Bible, many enthusiastically say, “Philippians!” When I ask them why, they respond, “Because it’s the book of joy!”

The richness of emotion and familiarity in Philippians grabs our hearts. Paul’s exhortation to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” is rooted in what Jesus has done for us and is tied to the true peace that Jesus longs to bring to us (Philippians 4:4-8). Paul’s language of affection for these people he misses is deeply moving and emotionally genuine (Philippians 1:3-8). No wonder so many of us love this little letter.

Yet underneath these words of affection, peace, and joy lurks the reality so many of us face in our churches. Many of the typical problems of any small and struggling church made up of new disciples are behind what we find in this little letter. They were trying to hold up under persecution as Paul, their founding minister, is in prison (Philippians 1:12-26). They found themselves divided by a squabble between two leading women who had led many of them to faith in Jesus (Philippians 4:2-3). In addition, they were facing elitist false teachers who were flashing their religious credentials as proof of their legitimacy when their lives and teaching were out of phase with Jesus (Philippians 3:1-16).

In modern terms, these people were facing…
·        Hostile culture on the outside.
·        Selfish division on the inside.
·        False teachers distorting grace.

This dreaded 1-2-3 punch from the devil knocks many vibrant churches to their knees. How could a small church of new disciples without its key leader survive such an attack? What does Paul do to help them survive? How does Paul help them find joy and peace in the middle of such a mess?

First, he points them to Jesus! He reminds them that they need to invite Jesus back to church!*

Second, he insists that all that they do, say, and think** must be filtered through Jesus and his example.

And the way he does these two things is as simple as it is powerful!

Paul tells them how to live:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:3-5 NIV).
Then he reminds them of a song they sing and urges them to live like the Christ Jesus they praise when they sing these words!***

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
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. (Philippians 2:6-11 NLT)

This song gave the Philippian believers a simple “Jesus filter” — something they could use to evaluate everything they thought, taught, and did through the sacrificial example of Jesus. Their doctrines, attitudes, and behaviors could be held up to what Jesus taught, what Jesus did, and why Jesus did what he did. This song would be their reminder that Jesus was more than just a Lord to praise in song, but also the template for the way they were to live their lives.

What Paul did for them, the Holy Spirit has done for us by preserving our favorite little letter of Paul. The joy and peace we seek is found in the Lord we follow as his life of servant-sacrifice becomes the guide for our own lives.

·        Paul’s “Jesus filter” reminds us that we don’t have right doctrine — no matter how correct theologically we may be — if we treat people in ways that Jesus would never treat them!

·        Paul’s “Jesus filter” convicts us that we cannot claim to be spiritually mature while looking down on our brothers and sisters as uninformed, ignorant, and beneath us.

·        Paul’s “Jesus filter” tells us that we can’t legitimately call ourselves followers of Christ and then put our own preferences above the needs of those in our spiritual family.

In other words, Paul tells the Philippians — and us — to invite Jesus back to church. To put all we do and all we teach and how we treat each other through the “Jesus filter” and see how it holds up.

Let’s sing the Jesus song and then live it!

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