Monday, September 28, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of September 27, 2020



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Sermon Message:

Text: Philippians 2:1-11


I wanted to begin this time together with a very deep and intense theological question. It is the same question I’ve begun, just about, every Sunday morning’s message during the pandemic, and the question is this…  


What jumps out at you in this text? What word(s), phrase(s), or idea(s) jump out at you as you hear/read the text?  


I believe that, as we read Scripture as a community, the Holy Spirit works inside each of us and points us to what we need to hear in the text. So, I would love to hear what the Holy Spirit is drawing your attention to. I am also fully aware that this is not the usual practice at Bethany, to holler out what you’re drawn to in the text, but I would still love to hear what just jumped out at you at we read through the Philippians text this morning.  If you would rather just talk to the people around you, feel free to tell your neighbor what jumped out at you in the text. I’ll give you a few moments to do this. I am going to ask that you don’t get into a big debate about what should or shouldn’t jump out for others. Rather, just listen to what jumps out to each other.


Do you want to know what jumped out at me in this text? It wasn’t so much a word or phrase that was in the text, but it was an idea from the text. The idea was…THIS JUST DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!  


Let’s be honest we live in a very “me” centered culture today. We place a very high value on individualism and self-sufficiency in our country, I’ve even heard someone say that we live in a “dog eat dog world.” Have you ever heard that expression?  All the ads we see on TV focus on what you need to succeed, to look good, to be in style, to be happy, or to feel like you have your life together. If you listen to people talk, it’s about my rights, my way of life, my beliefs, my political party, the way that I interpret Scripture, my Jesus, my comfort, my safety, I think you get the point.  When you watch political ads, and there are plenty to go around right now, the focus is on how much of a sleaze ball the other person is, or how you should fear what the other person is going to do if they win. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard an add that went like this, “Though so and so is a good candidate, with a good track record, I believe I would be a better candidate because I have proven myself by doing ‘X’.”  


So, when I read verses 3 and 4, “Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves. Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others” My initial reaction is, “Yeah, right!? Doesn’t God know the world we live in? Doesn’t he know how countercultural and rebellious it would be to live with a humble attitude and seek to serve others, especially people that I very much disagree with?  


Yet, isn’t that the point? If everyone one of us lived this way, what would you think would happen? Do you think there would be riots in the streets still?  Maybe, but I also think things would be a lot different in this world. I think there would be a lot more unity if we all lived with humility. So, how’s that working out for you?   


Did you know that Paul wrote these verses to a group of people that were probably persecuted and looked down upon by their neighbors? If you notice, in Philippi, Paul didn’t go to the synagogue first, as was his custom, probably become there wasn’t one. That would mean there weren’t enough Jewish men in Philippi to necessitate one, meaning that there were less than 10 Jewish men in the city.  My guess, is that there weren’t a lot of Jewish men in the city of Philippi because they weren’t welcome. The Jews weren’t the top rung of society. As a result, they were looked down upon and persecuted in some places, and Christianity, until the fall of the temple in 70AD, were seen as associated with Jews. This book was probably written in the early 50’s AD. So, Paul is writing to a group of Christians who are being looked down upon by their neighbors and saying that you should think of them as better than yourselves. How would you do with that one?   


So, how do we begin to change? The answer is actually in the text and it is the other thing that doesn’t make sense to me. The answer is also reflected in 1 John 4:19, where it says, “We love because God loved us first.” The answer is We because He.  


The answer comes from reading Scripture, and then living it out, in proper order. Here’s what I want you to do. Take just a few seconds, maybe up to a minute, and go back through the text to answer this question: What does the text say about who God is and what He has done? Before we can talk about ourselves, about things that need to shift and change in our lives, we need to first talk about what God has done. You see, God is the hero of the Bible. This book is really all about Him, and we simply live in response to the work that He has done, and is doing, in our lives. So, what does this text say about God?  


Well, if you look at verses 6 and 7 again, you see that the King of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. The one who is equal with God. The one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, who was there before the world was created, Jesus Christ. He chose to empty himself, taking the form of a servant, and dwelt among us.  


In a few months, were going to celebrate Christmas, don’t flip out, we’re not there yet. When we get there, we are going to talk about the lowly conditions in which Christ was born in: a young couple, not yet married, yet she was still a virgin, being born in a stable because no-one wanted them in the home or didn’t have room, and to be announced to, and visited by, shepherds, who were some of the lowliest people of that day. The King of the Universe, Jesus Christ, didn’t come as some conquering king in an earthly sense. Rather, He came “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  


The text goes on in verse 8 to say that “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross.” The creator of the world, the King of the Universe, the one who has all power, and glory, and honor humbled himself; and he subjected himself to one of the most painful and tortuous ways to die, for you. Why? Because He loves us. Because he wanted our broken relationship with God the Father, and ultimately each other as a result, to be reconciled and restored. Because we can’t do that, no matter how hard we try.  


Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.   


You see, when God created the earth, He created Adam and Eve, and He set a rule in place but they broke that rule. As a result, sin entered the world, and that sin separates us from God. We see the effects of that sin all around us, and even in our own lives.  


Jesus came to reconcile us to the Father. Through Him, our sins are forgiven, we are made new, and we are set free. Jesus did what we could not: He lived a perfect and sinless life, He went to the cross to suffer the punishment for your sins and mine, and he rose on Easter morning, proving his victory over sin. He redeems us, changes us, restores us, and makes us new through faith in Him.  


“This is why God has given him an exceptional honor—the name honored above all other names—so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”


“In ancient times, people were given names to describe them. The name of Jesus describes the essence of who He is: “salvation is of the Lord.” There is no other savior or means of salvation.”1 It is only Jesus that saves. It is only Jesus that restores, and it is only Jesus that deserves all honor, praise, and glory.  


Now, one day, everyone is going to realize this, either on this side of heaven or the other. My prayer is that it ends up being this side. ;-)   


Until that time, you and I are called to live in response to what Christ has done in our lives. To have “the same attitude and the same love, living in harmony, and keeping one purpose in mind.” To not, “act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves.” To not “be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others.” To “have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”  

Let me go back to a question I asked earlier, “How is that working out for you?”


  • What would change in our world if, as a result of our faith in Christ, we truly did “nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but humbly considered others better than ourselves”?  
  • What would change if in our relationships with the people under our own roof if we lived out of our identity in Christ, who God says we are and calls us to be, than out of our own selfish ambition?
  • What would change in our relationships with those in our community?
  • What would change in our nation and world if every Christian, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, lived this way?


Honestly, I believe a lot would change.


  • If I’m being honest, I still have a lot of growing to do in this area. It’s really easy for me to be much more concerned with my own interests rather than the interests of others.
  • If I’m being honest, I probably need to spend more time confessing where I have fallen short, where I have given into the culture, than I do pointing out where I feel others are wrong.


Could you imagine how different social media would be, how different our world would be right now, if we were all more concerned with understanding the “other,” than we were about being right? If we sought to love people more than we do to demean them?


  • What would happen if when we came across someone that we disagreed with politically, or even personally, we would invite them over to our home, or out for coffee, and just sit with them for a while, listen to their story, listen to how they came to believe or value the thing they do, and then ask them how we could best serve them? Oh and there was a rule that, unless asked, we wouldn’t share with them our own opinion. (BTW eventually, I guarantee, someone would ask what you think.)
  • What would happen if, when we did speak truth to people, we did it with a lot more grace then we typically do? If, before we responded, we stopped to think about how much grace God shows us before we interacted with others?


How would things change if you knew that God would think of us, speak to us, or treat us the way you think, speak of, and treat others…especially online? Thank goodness He doesn’t, right?


We are going through a lot right now as an individual, as a family, as a church, as a community, and as a nation; and it is not always easy. There have been many times I have found myself out of step with Christ and with others during this time. There have been several times where I find myself, like Paul, saying, “What a miserable person I am! Who will rescue me from my dying body?” Yet, “I thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ rescues me!”2


I thank God that, in the midst of it all, He still loves us for the sake of Jesus. That he continually forgives us, and that, even when we mess it up royally, he still calls us His own. I thank God that, through the power of the Spirit, He continually grows us through what we go through. Amen


Let’s pray… Dear Jesus, I confess that I have been concerned with myself more than I have others. I confess that I have been quick to fight for my own interests and slow to concern myself with the interest of others. Forgive me, change me, and lead me to reflect the love, grace, and mercy that you constantly show me in my relationship with others. Fill me with joy and cause me to have the same attitude and the same love as you. Then I will be able to live in unity with my brothers and sisters, and with others as well. Lord, bring healing to our homes, churches, communities, and nation; and may you get all honor, praise, and glory as you grow us through what we go through today and every day. Amen.

- Pastor Kyle Blake


1 Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1 2009), 2035.

2 Romans 7:24-25


Worship Resources for Sunday, October 4th

will be up on Bethany’s website 

by midday Saturday, October 3rd.



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