· “Ministry isn’t canceled! Community isn’t canceled! Growth isn’t canceled! Grace isn’t canceled! Redemption isn’t canceled! Love isn’t canceled!”—quote from a recent Lynchburg Fellowship of Christian Athletes letter I received from their director, my friend Tim Hill
Ministry is the key way that you, the church body, serves one another and shares Jesus with the world.
Community is the fellowship and family super glue that keeps us tightly knit with each other, regardless of the circumstances. Our ultimate communion is around the Lord’s Table.
Growth is the work of the Holy Spirit, whether spiritual within us (as we spend time with God), or numerically as He adds to the church’s numbers.
Grace is the continually poured out love of Christ on His undeserving children. You and I are saved by grace, are kept secure by grace, and are blessed by grace. We must also live lives of graciousness towards others, even those who are rude, unlovable, harsh, different, and so forth.
Redemption is the work of the Trinitarian God-head as the Holy Spirit convicts people to salvation, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross places His blood on those people’s lives, and the Father sees the blood and views them as justified and clean, no longer guilty, no longer under judgment.
Love is not the gushy, mushy emotional feeling love promoted heavily by the world (like the Care Bears), or the sensual love of romance, but is a committed, sacrificial affection that only the Holy Spirit develops within the redeemed. We demonstrate our love by serving each other. Jesus demonstrated His love by serving us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 5:2, 25, and I. John 3:16). His service was to sacrifice His life so we could have life. We, in turn, show our love by sacrificing ourselves for our fellow Christians and for the name of Christ.
What an awesome picture of how the Ephesians 4 church works in unity for the cause of Christ. We step down from our pedestals of self-deification (there can be only one God, and we ain’t it!). We give up our so-called “rights” and recognize that as slaves of Christ, as obedient children, and as brothers and sisters in-Christ, we are to put Him and each other before ourselves. We also forsake our “wisdom”. God doesn’t care about what your thoughts are about Him, the church, Christianity, etc. He chastised Job’s friends for wrongfully representing Him. We need to think spiritually which comes from submitting ourselves to the Word, and our church leadership’s teaching of that Word.
Loneliness is a major cause of depression and suicide in our world today. People live in the midst of big cities and have no community. Famous people surrounded by others have committed suicide because they were lonely. If you remember the Mel Gibson movie, “What Women Want”, he’s a self-centered, chauvinistic sales executive at a company in Chicago who only notices “hot” women. Judy Greer plays a dowdy, shy, suicidal girl who hates that no one notices her (which of course, Mel Gibson doesn’t either). Have you ever been to Chicago? It’s a very large, congested city. How in the world could someone live around so many people and be all alone? Yet, each day, all across America, this story repeats itself in the lives of real people. The point? Community, love, fellowship, family are all extremely important. That is what your role and my role are as a church, whether gathered or scattered. People should never feel alone or neglected when they’re a part of a church family. Church members should continually pour out care and love on each other, check in on each other, pray for each other.
· Philippians 2:1-8 1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
1. What is the primary first instruction Paul gives the church in Philippi (Verses 1-2)? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
a. Notice that Ephesians 4 talked about this same thing: Unity in the Spirit!
2. What are some of the dynamics of a Spiritually-unified relationship that Paul discusses in Verses 3-4? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Verses 5-7 are what’s known as the kenosis(the Greek word for “emptied”):
a. What is Paul’s first commandment about the kenosis? ___________________________________________________
i. In other words, if it’s the way King Jesus thought, then it should be our natural disposition as well.
b. Jesus is God, yet gave up His Kingly rights and position so that He could live like one of us, endure the hardships of this world, be tortured and killed on the cross, and then bear our sin—all for those Whom He decided to redeem! If Jesus is willing to do all that for our underserving, rebellious, wicked selves, how much more should we be willing to sacrifice for our church body? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
c. Jesus, in Verse 8, humbled Himself. What should this look like for you as a member of this church? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Love Each Other Hymn by William and Luella Henry
1 Let us ever love each other
With a heart that’s warm and true,
Ever doing to our brother
As to us we’d have him do.
Kind and loving to each other,
Gentle words to all we meet;
Thus we follow Christ our Savior,
Proving all His service sweet.
2 When the heart is sad and lonely,
And the eyes with tears o’erflow,
Gentle words and deeds of kindness
Fall like sunbeams on the snow.
3 Let us help our fallen brother,
Lift him gently by the hand;
Speaking words of cheer and comfort,
Point him to a better land.
4 In this world of toil and sorrow
Many hearts are full of care,
Let us live to serve our Master,
And each other’s burdens bear.