A Summer Challenge

I apologize that my attendance is erratic this month. I’ll be out of the pulpit for a couple of weeks and I appreciate Will’s stepping up to prepare a couple of messages on top of his other responsibilities with our students. I’ll be back on June 2 and we’ll consider what it means to live in light of the Resurrection of Jesus from Colossians 3:1–4. On June 9, which is the Day of Pentecost, we’ll ponder what an unleashed church, full of the Holy Spirit, might be like (Acts 2:43–47).

Then, on Sunday June 16, I am going to begin a sermon series from Paul’s little letter to his friends in Philippi. One of the surprising words in that letter, written from a Roman prison, is “joy.” Paul uses the noun “joy” or the verb “rejoice” fourteen times in a hundred and three verses (1:3, 18, 25; 2:2, 17, 18, 28, 29; 3:1, 4:1, 4, 10). He uses another related word, “content,” as well (4:11). That surprises me.

Caesar’s power is keeping Paul from preaching the gospel to the nations, planting churches, and ministering to those congregations that he loved. The world’s power is interfering with his divine call, apparently. Joy in such circumstances is not reasonable. But something unreasonable is at work in Paul’s life, which certainly raises the question of what might make such an attitude possible. And would such an attitude be available to me and you? And how?

Along the way this small letter also addresses such things as church unity, the sacrifice of Jesus, the lordship of Christ, and the faithful pursuit of life in Christ. Those five or six pages in our New Testaments are worth immersing ourselves in for a couple of months.

I want to challenge you to read through Philippians daily over the next few weeks, continuing to do through the summer. Underline those words or phrases or verses or paragraphs that stand out to you. Choose some verses to work on memorizing during this season. See what questions Paul’s words raise for you. Here’s a helpful chart that can introduce you to Paul’s words.

Continue to pray for one another, to love one another, to encourage one another. These are days in which God is at work among us and in us.

Jesus is Lord,

Robert


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