Good morning First Baptist. We welcome you to worship this morning. Be sure to remember your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the week as you pray for them, and as the Holy Spirit brings their faces to your mind. Be sure to also connect with them in the ways that are possible. And if you have any questions or would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to contact the church through the church telephone and leave a message. (519-733-4144)
Call to Worship
God who is One, calls us to be one,
God who is Three, calls us to be community,
God who is all calls us each by Our name,
Come, let us worship God who is always with us.
GOOD MORNING FBK & WELCOME TO WORSHIP!
Prayer of Confession & Assurance
Heavenly Father, let it not be said that we are disunified as a people. For the truth is that oftern we are unified by our grumbling. We grumble against you for what you have done or left undone, according to our misplaced communal judgement. We rail against your provisions as being too little and too late. We cry out in protest when we experience a drought of that which we desire and want. It is our tendency to put the blame squarely on your shoulders. Although you lead us out of harm, protect us from the evil, and give us all that we could ever need, we grumble that it is not enough. We are blinded to your goodness by our collective complaints. Forgive us, we pray, for not trusting you and for not thanking you as a truly unified people ought. Do not hold our unified grumbling against us. Cleanse us from breaking unity with you, we pray.
Assurance of Pardon:
Hear this good news: Christ died for our sins and rose again that God may free us to live fully in the power of His grace. In the name of Jesus Christ, God forgives your sins and offers you a transformed future. Live fully into That!
Today's Message: Pastors Marlee Page and Dave Page
Let’s begin this morning by facing the truth: We live in an increasingly divided world. Our country is currently divided, around race, politics, economics just to name a few. The church of Christ is divided, around many of these same issues and beyond – theological and doctrinal divisions on top of the others. Even our very own lives are divided between work and family, responsibilities and dreams. Everywhere we look, we are faced with division! Yet If we examine the scriptures, we see repeatedly, that is not of God’s design. In fact, we find that there are over 30 times where we see the combination of two words, “one another”. “Encourage one another. Love one another. Serve one another. Comfort one another.” The pathway to holiness is through “one another”. There is power in connectivity. We draw strength from one another.
Paul’s message to the Philippians, his desire for the church, is an all-encompassing call for unity! One that I believe is something for us all to keep forefront in our thinking these days.
Our main text this morning is Philippians 1:27-30. In these verses, Paul presents a beautiful description of the life God calls his people to lead as followers of Christ, as His Church. Let’s read it together:
Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:27-30
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
All throughout chapter one of Philippians, Paul has been expressing his love for and unity with the members of the Philippian church. He expresses his gratitude for not only their faithful love for him, but for their consistent partnership in advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the surrounding areas. Here, Paul turns his focus from them to himself. In doing so, Paul encourages them from a place of love and unity to walk in holiness regardless of their individual circumstances. We see what Paul has in mind for them when we look at these verses.
Point #1: The foundation of Christian living should be living in unity
Paul begins this section of his letter by encouraging the Philippian believers to pursue one goal: unity in Christ.
By emphasizing unity, Paul highlights the importance of being united in purpose, mind and spirit amidst all of the trials and tribulations Christians face. Ultimately, it is through standing together with one another that the gospel can be shared more effectively with the world around us. In fact, many of Jesus’ parables allude to the idea that if we are to be effective in sharing God’s love, we must first work together in peace, love and unity. For example, Jesus’ parable of the vineyard workers demonstrates that God grants everyone an equal opportunity to enter into His kingdom as long as they fulfill their responsibilities and remain diligent despite the differences among them.
When we remain concentrated on sharing the good news of the Gospel without concerning ourselves about superficial matters, our mission to bring God’s love to the world around us can be accomplished much more effectively.
Paul wrote these words to the Philippians to remind them of what true unity in the body of Christ looks like.
1. The Commandment to Stand Firm (vv. 27-28)
No matter what kind of divisions we experience, we are called to strive for unity, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” He then goes on to say, “Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[e] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel ”
Paul is commanding (yes, we are to receive this as a command, its that important ) us to stay true to the gospel and faith of Jesus Christ as we stand firm in unity. We must remember that as we conduct our lives, it must be done in a way that reflects the Gospel message of Jesus. There is no room for compromise or division. We must be unified in our faith and beliefs.
2. The Conflict and Contentment (vv. 29-30)
Paul goes on to say,
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Paul understands that he is asking the Philippians to do something extremely hard, because even in his own home base of Macedonia, they are facing persecution. Yet in the face of that persecution and division, Paul is calling them to strive for unity. Paul is essentially reminding us that as followers of Jesus we will face opposition and adversity in our lives. We can rest in the knowledge that God grants us strength and courage during times of hardship and pain. As we go through the difficult times, we can have confidence that the Lord will be leading us and comforting us. We can find contentment in knowing that we are unified in the struggle and are ultimately contending for the faith of the gospel. This is applicable corporately, as the Church as it is individually. The Christian faith does not enjoy the cultural footing it once did. In fact, today around the world, including at home here in Canada, being a follower of Jesus can get you argued with, disrespected or worse. As the world course departs from the path of God’s desire for us, we who cling to hope and example in Jesus will know greater and greater isolation.
3. Unified in Love and Mutual Respect (vv. 27-30)
Paul uses the actions of love and mutual respect as indicators of real unity. Paul reminds us that our faith and beliefs must be centered on sacrificing ourselves for one another in both joy and suffering. We must be united in spirit and thought, focused on the greatness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, when we look around us, even within the broader church context, we see disunity and division. As such, it’s easy to get frustrated and become discouraged. Illustration: Church, think of a brick wall. Each brick is integral to creating the structure of the wall, and each brick is an important part to creating the wall. That is what it means to have unity in the gospel of Christ. Every life, every contribution, is important to the structure of the gospel.
When we remain focused on the joy of salvation through Jesus Christ alone, it helps us to remain unified in spirit no matter the circumstance.
This encouragement of Paul’s can be especially difficult to apply. It’s very important to remember that when we possess unity and mutual respect for one another, we show ourselves to be true followers of Jesus Christ to a world that is watching us closely. That means intentionality when it comes to looking beyond our differences, working hard to focus and build on our common ground, and most importantly to let the world see us love one another as Christ loved us – even when we don’t always think the same way.
We need to always remember the importance of operating as the body of Christ. Even though we are unique and diverse, we are a single, unified church as we live out our calling of following Jesus.
We can be unified in the faith by accepting the love of Christ, suffering when the time requires, and standing firm in the same spirit, even when the world is filled with darkness. Unity within the body of Christ means that we remember that we are all part of the same family and no one should feel left out or excluded in any way.
“Seek not to be the first but the faithful.”
— Dr. S.R. Colgan,
As believers, we need to demonstrate the courage to remain faithful, to stay unified and to show up in unity….these are all attributes the world is of in short supply of today.
Dear God who lifts us up, who carries us, and who delivers us, we are grateful for the beauty of this sunny day, the hint of warmer weather, and the grandeur of this earth’s natural beauty, but also for the simple touch of a loved one, a call from a friend, the support of caring ministries of our church and for those who walk with us in difficult times. All of these gifts add to our wonderment of the world that you have created and reminds us of your abundant and never-ending love.
And while we are mindful of these generous gifts, let us also reach out as we can, for those who are suffering the devastation from the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. We pray for the thousands of families who have lost loved ones, and those that are left wounded or homeless, and for those who work diligently to help with the rescue efforts.
And here at home, help us to feel your presence as we deal with our anxieties of everyday life, the constant barrage of political discord, our own health issues that frighten us, or our concerns for loved ones who are in need. Help us to breathe slowly, to turn to you in prayer, to feel held up as we strive for balance with those we love, and those with whom we struggle. Help us to reach out for a caring hand in our own times of need and let us be that caring hand for those who find this day difficult. Guide us as we support one another, using the gifts we have received to serve others as faithful stewards of your love and grace.
We give thanks for this church community dear God, and all those who support and nourish it with their gifts of time and talent. As we grow in our relationship with you loving God, help us to hear your words each day, and transform them into deeds that work toward the growth of your kingdom here on earth.
Keep our hearts and thoughts in Jesus Christ, your son, who taught us to pray together: Our Father…Amen.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom. 15:5-6
Blessings & have a wonderful week.