Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bethany Bullet - October 14, 2014

The fourth chapter of Philippians contains some of the most familiar verses in all of Scripture.  In this one chapter you will find quotable sayings, confirmation passages, life texts and favorite verses. 

·         “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice” (v. 4)
·         “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (v. 6)
·         “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (v. 7)
·          “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.” (v. 11,12)
·         “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (v. 13)
·         “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (v. 19)

Not only does this chapter contain a host of wonderful verses, wisdom from God and the hope of the Gospel, we can also find the entire Bethany Blueprint in it.

Over the next five weeks we will be using Philippians 4 to walk through the Bethany Blueprint. 

This morning we will be talking about forming spiritually and in the weeks to come we will look at:
·         Sharing Intentionally
·         Worshiping Faithfully
·         Serving Passionately
·         Giving Proportionately

This morning I want to focus on verse 1 of Philippians 4.  Paul writes, “So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm!” (Philippians 4:1)

This is the heart of forming spiritually.  It’s the process of keeping your relationship with the Lord firm. 

The word used by Paul literally means to stand fast, to persevere, to persist, to keep one’s standing.

Paul uses an imperative statement to encourage an ongoing connection to the Lord.  Here at Bethany, our desire is that you would have an ongoing connection to the Lord, to be formed spiritually, to regularly be engaged in the reading and studying of Scripture, to keep your relationship with the Lord firm.

It can happen in groups, or alone, in the quietness of your office, or the clamor of a coffee shop or pub.  Spiritual formation is a key component in the life of Faith.

Keeping that relationship with the Lord firm is not an easy thing.  We are bombarded with the myriad of responsibilities and opportunities of life. Often times when we try to stand firm, we end up flat on our backs. 

The diagnosis comes back…wham!

The relationship crumbles…wham!

The job is lost…wham!

The A/C breaks the car won’t start, the bills are piling up, the creditors are calling, kids won’t listen, my parents don’t understand, the market drops, the homework piles up, the other party won a majority….wham! Wham! Wham!  On your back again!

In life, things are not always firm.  On our own we can’t seem to stand, we can’t seem to get on track and forming spiritually is far from our minds. 

Our life is anything but firm and at times it’s as if everything in life is on shifting sand.

The devil will try anything to get you away from spending time in the Word.  The further we stray from the Word of life, the more unsteady our lives seem to get. 

In the midst of all of this, there is something that is firm.  God’s Word is firm, it is true and trustworthy.  As the Psalmist reminds us:

“Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)

Our God keeps a firm relationship with us, even in the midst of trials and temptations.  The prophet Isaiah says:

“I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand and say to you,
'Don't be afraid; I will help you.'” (Isaiah 41:13)

And as He promised Joshua, He promises you:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified… for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Jesus proved it on the cross where He firmly took a stand against the devil and his schemes. His firm hands took the nails meant for you and I, His head was crowned with thorns so that you might be given the crown of life.  He died so that you might live.  The Word made flesh was cut down on the cross but leapt up high three days later to defeat death and the devil, himself. 

In His Word we see that our loving Lord stands firm and comes to you when you hear that word proclaimed here as you worship faithfully and will abide with you as you are formed spiritually.  His actions motivate our response.  

“So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm!” (Philippians 4:1)

Our relationship with the Lord is firm because of what Jesus has done, and what He promises to do through His Spirit. 

When the struggles of life come, we know that we can stand firm on the solid ground of Jesus Christ; He is our joy and our crown. 

Jesus once told this parable, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Jesus, the word, the rock is our foundation, and He is firm.

Perhaps we can use the word FIRM to help us this morning when it comes to forming spiritually.  As we look to keep our relationship with the Lord firm.  Spiritual formation means to:

1.       Fixate upon Jesus - Look to his Word, we see what he has done, in Him we find grace and salvation.
2.       Investigate the Scriptures - Dig deeply into the Word alone and with others, and we hear God speak to us.
3.       Relate Scripture to everyday life - How does the inspired Word of God speak to us in the 21st Century?   
4.       Meditate on God’s Word - Spend time meditating on the Good News found in the pages of your Bible; meditate on the words of Jesus. 

Fixate…Investigate…Relate…Meditate…to stay firm in the Faith.  That is what Spiritual Formation is all about. 

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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