Phil 1:19–26 Paul has let the Philippian Christians know that although he is in chains, Christ is being preached, the gospel is gaining ground, and so he rejoices. As Paul shifts his focus to his own predicament, we learn he isn’t totally sure if his imprisonment will end in freedom via deliverance from his chains or salvation via death. Knowing God will orchestrate his life’s journey, whether it be through a fruitful ministry on earth, or by receiving the crown of life after being faithful unto death, Paul, in all ways, will always rejoice! Can we follow his lead in living our lives on this side of eternity!?
Phil 1:12–18 After giving thanks and praying for his friends in the Philippian church, Paul seeks to update his koinonia partners on his well-being. But, in an unexpected twist, Paul doesn’t speak to his well-being while in Roman chains. The apostle instead focuses on the fact that the gospel is gaining ground in spite of his circumstances. There are some around Paul that are gaining clarity as to the reason for his imprisonment (preaching the gospel of Jesus) and some others that are gaining confidence. For Paul himself, he’s able to look beyond his hard circumstances and see the growth of the gospel, and this, for Paul, is a reason to rejoice! What an example we have to follow when our life circumstances are less than ideal!
Phil 1:1–11 We will begin the first month of 2020 by walking through the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This first Sunday we will read of the partnership Paul shares with the church in Philippi and the great joy it brings to him in spite of his current circumstances: imprisonment. From prison Paul prays for the new Christians of Philippi as they learn to balance their new call to follow Christ as citizens of Rome. In a day and age where our feelings are often dictated by our circumstances, Paul’s letter to the Philippians should serve as a great source of encouragement for us to find our joy in Jesus and our heavenly citizenship, no matter our circumstances!
Memory and Hope: We live in the present between memory and hope. The past lives on in memory, for good or for ill, enabling or debilitating us for the future which looms ahead. Do we see an open doorway to hope, or is the door closed? The last Sunday of the year is a good time to pause and pay attention to our memories of the past year and our hopes for the new year. We will have a time of body life to share memories and hopes for which we can give thanks and offer prayers.
John 1:19-34 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory” (1:14). After writing the most astounding good news to ever be written “the Word became flesh,” why does John then say, “and we beheld his glory?” Why didn’t John say something like, “and we received the gift of eternal life?” Or, why didn’t John say something like, “and God and humanity were reconciled?” Why does John say, “and we beheld his glory?” Come Sunday as we conclude our Advent series discussing this important phrase in John’s prologue.
John 1:14-18 Before time and space began, God was already as a community of perfect Love: Father, Son and Spirit, fully present to one another. Out of the generosity of this great love, God through the Word, created a cosmos to experience his presence. In the fullness of time he sent his beloved, his One and Only, into the world, into space and time. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He did not abhor the Virgin’s womb, but dwelt there for nine months. In the man Jesus Christ, God was present to his people in love. God drew near: his One and Only has made him known.
John 1:6-13 Like a musical overture to a symphony, the prologue to John’s gospel introduces the major themes of his work — the pre-existent Word, light, life, witness, darkness, rejection, believing, birth, glory. It is poetic — prose, dense with layers of meaning, ambiguity and especially surprise. After we are initially captivated and seized by awe with John’s exalted view of the the Word — preexistent, creator of all things, equal with God (John 1:1-5) — we can’t help but wonder, How will the Word make its grand entrance on planet earth? What kind of reception will the Word receive? What impact will it have in a world shrouded in darkness? The answers John gives are not what we would expect, but equip us with realistic expectations and tools for how to spread God’s light and love in a hostile world.
John 1:1-5 How one begins a story says a lot about what that story will be about. In his gospel, John begins with the Word who ‘was’ before anything else came into being. Whose greatness is matched only by His love. And who is powerful enough to ensure that the Darkness will not overcome the Light and that Death will ultimately be defeated by Life. Come join us this Sunday as we begin our Advent series walking though John’s introduction to the story of the One who was both fully God and fully man, the Word who became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
Genesis 22 This week we come to the climax of the Abraham and Sarah story. In what has been called the most difficult passage in the entire Bible, we come to the binding of Isaac. Way back in chapter 12, God calls Abraham and Sarah to cut themselves off from their past. Here in chapter 22, God calls them to cut themselves off from the future. It’s a monstrous test from God to Abraham, one in which we struggle to find the words to understand. But, could it be that through this uncomfortable, even horrific test, we make the ultimate discovery about God?
Genesis 21 Do you live a life of wonder and amazement at God’s great gifts? Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? After a long 25-year wait, the promised baby finally arrives and, wonder of wonders, it’s a boy! Sarah responds in wonder and amazement at God’s great gift. However, not everyone is happy with the new baby. But even in the turmoil and conflict we discover another wonder-ful attribute of God – he hears all our prayers. Wonder upon wonder and every wonder true! Come this Sunday full of wonder at God’s great gifts, then share them during our time of body life.
Genesis 19 Genesis 19:1-29 Last week we saw that God came down to investigate whether Sodom was indeed wicked. On his way to Sodom, he stopped to see Abraham and Sarah. And, we saw Abraham’s hospitality on full display. In chapter 19, the two angels arrive at Sodom, and they find the people of Sodom not very hospitable. In fact, they are very wicked and depraved. They are living by the motto: No one tells us how to live our lives. So, God judges them. However, within God’s judgment, we find deliverance. Lot is delivered for the sake of Abraham. The story ultimately reminds us today of our deliverance from sin, evil and death through Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6).