"Staying Connected in a Disconnected World."
- Good morning welcome to our online service… I am excited to be with you this morning… and to be sharing the Word of God with you…We are starting a new Series entitled entitled,“Reframe”We are living in this season where we have this overlap of experience.…Where literally the whole world is dealing with isolation, distancing and interruption to of normal routines…This morning we are going to look at - How we can stay connected in a disconnected world”In Psychology they have what is called the “locus of Control,” where there are two response to life and circumstancesThere is external locus which believes that happen to us are outside of us that we have absolute no control… and we have no control of outcomes...Then there is internal locus… which believes that we have the power over our behavior and so we can change outcomes..There has been quite a bit of research on this topic of locus of control. What they have discovered is that those who have an inner locus controls… tend to have better outcomes... in challenging times..One of the main reasons is that people with internal controls are more likely to be more prepared.. They are better and going through information information and take preventive or precautionary measures … for example.... when it come to their health or well being…they tend to be proactive as far as diet and exercise..There was also a study done in 1996 that measured God control (locus)… and what they discovered is that those who trusted that God was in control of outcomes… tended to have … positive expectation of the future…and ultimately had better outcomes..One of the question we need to ask ourselves… Is .How do we frame things? How do you and I frame the stories of our lives?Over the next several weeks we going to be looking at Paul’s letter to the Philippians… we see how the apostle Paul Reframes His Circumstances!… The letter to Philippians is one of the prison Epistles…Historians believe that Paul is writing from Rome… in fact you can still visit the Maratine prison today… ...and it is documented that both Paul and Peter were actually were at this prison at different times...This prison is basically below ground… as you enter the prison you are faced with stairs and you come to the first chamber where a Roman Guard would be stationed … and below that is a 8 f X 12 ft tiny space… a dark room with a dirt floor…This is where Paul would have been chained to his guard. And it from this situation that Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, dictating it to one of his visitors who would have been allowed upstairs to speak to him through the grill, which was a kind of trap door to his cell below...So...before Paul has even written One word of this letter .... we have a pretty good sense of how dire and hopeless is situation seems..Several years ago we took one of those Hop on hop off bus tours around San Fransisco and I remember our guide telling us thatAlcatraz was designed for the worst of prisioners and part of the punishment was that everyday they heard the and sounds of the city.... the inmates knew exactly what they were missing out on.. It was only a mile and a half away.. and yet they could never get to it...You could say that Paul’s situation is dire…He is in isolation… the clouds are closing in… he has a death sentence over his head and the outlook is bleak..But as we open up Paul’s letter … what we discover is that Paul’s letter is Full of Thanksgiving, Enthusiasm, encouragement and Joy…quite the opposite to what you might imagine....Paul’s is writing a thank you letter to the church of Philippi… thanking God for his grace and peace, Thanking for sending one of their pastors Epaphroditus.. to help him.Paul is thanking the church for their support and partnership in the gospel. .What we see from Paul’s letter is that this internal locus…/ control.... But it comes from the belief that is in control.. or God locus…In Phil 1:18b Paul says...Phil 1:18b Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliveranceWhat a statement of Faith…Paul declares His confidence that God is going to deliver Him… The reason he has this confidence because is seeing God working through the prayers of the church..and Holy Spirit’s power is moving..… God was ultimately going to turn these things around for his deliverance..As we think about our current condition.. We think of our health crisis… our Economic Crisis.. Our job crisis… What we need to remember that God is in Control… And prayer is a huge part of placing our confidence in God...lets start with Pauls Greeting…1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,The church at Philippi was planted during Paul’s 2nd missionary journey… When Paul was heading towards Asia minor… and the Holy Spirit.. literally changed his direction and led him towards Macedonia…… The church in Philippi was the first European church… and from Europe the Gospel is going to literally spread around the world....when Paul writes this letter…The Church of Philippi is about 10 years old and we already see that the church has this cohesive structure... with Overseers and deacons....functioning with leadership, teaching and serving one another… Pretty close to what we have today...The Christians in Philippi are some of Paul’s favorite people…his letter is warm.. and overflowing with love for this church..Paul says that he and Timothy are servants of Christ.. This is a theme that Paul is going to come back to.. an attitude that is found in Christ...The word servants is a word doulos, speaks of slaves or domestic servants..... In the Roman world slaves were the least in society… and nobody would stand up and say I’m a slave… because of the fear of being marginalized…What an inversion… From the Paul… or Saul that was persecuting the church....… Before, Paul prided himself Hebrew of Hebrews.. studying under the famous Rabbi Gamiel, He was Zealot…in persecuting Christians…But now he is a servant of Jesus Christ…Philippians is a book about change and reframing ...Paul blesses the church … Grace and Peace..He says..“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”Grace - has to do with goodwill of favor benevolence… Unmerited Favor..Grace is the summary of everything that we have received from Christ... Some once said that Grace is God Riches at Christs Expense.Shalom is the result or outcome of God’s Grace… Grace and peace go together…and When ever there is a grace given… peace… follows.Before there can be any genuine peace there must be a personal response to God’s grace …Here is the thing....Grace and peace are not going to come from Daily briefings from the White House… It is not going to come from the news headlines…or from how many people are dying of coronavirus… Peace is not going to come in the form of a bail out check in the mail. ....it helps but that’s not where your peace come from..Paul tells us that real peace is going to come from your heavenly father..T/S So how is it that we can maintain unity and connection in Absence of community..1.Through Prayerful PartnershipsA good question to ask ourselves is How are connecting in this disconnected word?… Most us had our first Zoom calls this month....And to be honest I have lot positive things say about their experiences..… We have had a couple of calls where we have connected with family in four time Zones on three Continents… This is pretty amazing...In the book of Acts which is the story of the church… and Act 2:42 we see how the church stuck together..They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread (observing the lords supper) and to prayer… These were marks of their meetings....and Prayer was central to Connection...As time went on the church was persecuted and so the scattered… and one of the ways that they stayed connected was through Paul’s letters…and the other letters that were circulated through the churches..But One of the major connections was through Prayerful partnerships...listen to what Paul says..…I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.Paul begins by giving thanks and remembering these Christians in his prayers… Praying for this church had become for Paul a source of joy…Because he had see how God had worked in and through this group of people..When we talk about prayer… it need to be more more than sentiment.. Prayer is one of our weapons……It is the way that we deal with opposing spiritual forces...12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.This is how John Piper discribes prayer..John piper“Prayer is a war-time walkie-talkie, not a domestic intercom for ringing up the butler to change the thermostat. It is a war-time walkie-talkie to call in firepower because the enemy is greater than we are. If you try to turn this into a domestic intercom to bring another pillow, it malfunctions, and you wonder why. Its not made to be an intercom. Its made to be a war-time walkie-talkie”. – John PiperT/s Prayer is essential Part of Connection… because it inter intertwined with with our partnership… Pauls says.. HE PRAYS WITH JOY .... because...5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.The word Partnership is the greek word...-- kononia — fellowship —Most have heard of this word.. Kononia.. fellowship …and what comes to mind Fellowship time or church potluck dinner… conversation we are having… cup of coffee.. ..Fellowship is much deeper word… it means Partnership ---- it is a market place word … where there are this joint interest and investments...Kononia.. is a strong bond between people… who are invested in each other and in mission..Here is a great definition..“Fellowship - Kononia.... occurs among friends who are committed to a common goal and flourishes through their common pursuit of it.”There connection is through prayer, through giving and sharing in the mission..Paul tells the church that his prayers are with joy… because since the first Day God has been working in them as a community...…When Paul went to Philippi the first time… that first day… He tried to find a place of worship …and there was no synagogue in Philippi... but he was told that there... were a group of women were meet down by the river on the Sabbath.Paul meets with them and after he told them the story of Jesus, one of the women, Lydia, opened her heart to the Lord…On “the first day”... he cast an evil spirit out of a slave girl, and her owners were incensed to the point of having Paul flogged and imprisoned.But on “the first day” God worked miraculously again and the jailer was converted, then his family, and the Christian community grew in Philippi.Paul marvelled what God did on that first day… and continued to do through them… We see that this church is a generous church… and later on gave out of their poverty to elevate the suffering of the church in Jerusalem...Because Paul had see how God had worked through church in the Past he was confident that God was going to continue this work in them...6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.Paul says, I am sure of this… other translations say, I am convinced, I am certain, or I am confident… Paul often used this kind of language as a device to make an important point…It was similar to say… listen up...God who started the work is going to finish it… Paul connects confidence in the good work of God directly to their partnership....Hudson Taylor who responsible for taking the Gospel into inland China… trusted that God would always support His work… He God would never frustrate His own purposes… that..“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”.When we feel our confidence wavering… we need to remind ourselves that God is in Control..… Our partnership is not just with each other…but it is also with God… Now only will he supply our need but he will provide for us.10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.…Paul is confident not only that God is going to finish his work but that when he comes that they will have confidence before God on that day…T/S How do we stay Connected in a Disconnected world?1. Through Prayerful Partnerships2. Through Participating in Grace.Have you notice you can belong to something without actually participating? … You can have a gyn membership and never go…You can be part of a school alumni and never attend a meeting.. You can have an investment account and never make a contribution.....You can have church membership and never attend…Partnership (fellowship) — Is not our affiliation.. it has more to do with participation…Participation is about investments… it is about sharing common goals, mission and vision..It is about praying for one another, It is about contributing … it is about serving...... it is about attending..When you think Paul was isolated in prison - some 800 miles away from this church… yet Paul calls the church Partners… in the Grace of God..…Why because they were in this thing together,…7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.Paul starts out by questioning his own motives… Is this too much that I feel this way about you?As a leader I identify with this question… when ever you ask people to step up… or to help… or to contribute… there is this feeling… is this right for me to feel this way??Paul gives us the answer.. and it is absolutely!…Why because we all share in the Grace of God…When Paul is going through suffering… --- they too are suffering with Paul… when the Gospel spread through the whole prison guard… the Philippians share in those times of victories.. …That is how partnerships work…Paul tells them that as partners they are partaking of the same grace…the Greek — word add the prefex “syn" kononias" “Fellow Partakers " in Grace..and As Grace Shares…share both in sufferings and the confirmation of the Gospel.T/S How do we stay Connected in a Disconnected world?1. Through Prayerful Partnerships2. Through Participating in Grace.3. Through Persevering in Grace.Several years after World War II, Winston Churchill was asked to be the keynote speaker at a High School school.It had been quite a while since he had given a speech of any kind. Age had robbed him of much of his strength and agility, so his movement to the podium was painfully slow.He stood, pausing a few moments to take stock of the young audience. His eyes still held the fire of the man who led England through one of her darkest hours.All attention was focused on this great man. What words of wisdom, what stirring oratory, what passion would he convey to the young people gathered on this momentous occasion?With a strong voice Mr. Churchill spoke. “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!” And, with that, he turned and made his way back to his seat.One of the ways that we stay connected in a disconnect world.. is through persevering in grace..Perseverance is the ability to continue, even when results are not evident. It is doing right thing even though it is not convenient.At the end of the day....Perseverance is what it takes to win the day..Paul tells them to Continue… to persevere..8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.Paul’s prayer that the Philippians’ is that they would continue… to do what they have been doing… Whether together or far…Continue to Overflow in love for one another…Continue to Grow in knowledge and discernment.Continue to be filled with the fruits of righteousness that comes through Christ Jesus… It is easy to be an idea person.... One of the reason we wanted to create an action team at Richvale is because we want our ideas to become realities.…We want to engage our community.. we want to be reaching out to others.. well this never happens with good sentiments..So often we will say to ourselves that something sounds a good idea or something would be nice, helpful or a step forward, but then manifestly fail to do anything concrete about it.What we have learned from Paul is that he was spiritually a man of action.... Prayer, Partnerships are part of the equation… but it also takes action.WE NEED TO HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION..Paul challenges the church to grow in four area…1. Grow in our affection for Jesus and other2. Grow in our knowledge and discernment3. Grow in holiness being awareness of Christ's coming5. Being Filled with the fruit of Righteousness.CONCLUSIONWe are living at a moment where we have an opportunity to reflect… on our goals.. but we need to move beyond sentiments to action..One of the ways that we can develop and action plan is.. simply by making three columns and in the first column..The Idea Goal.... then.. The Actual experience.... then in the third column list the Barriers...Ideal GoalsIn the ideal column ask yourself What would be happening in your life if you functioning in a fully effective way..Actual Experience..you can ask what is currently being achieved? write those down..In theBarriers..What is it that is preventing you from realistically putting the ideal goal into practiceLook at those barriers and write out an action plan to overcome those barriers.. Don’t be general … be specific about your goals...I love the way that Kent Hughes summaries this section of Scripture… he says...“The Apostle Paul looked through the bars of his confinement and remembered the Philippians with a smile and with prayers laced with joy as he thanked God in all his remembrances of them. His joy was real—not a futile willing but the attitude of a man who knows God is in control.”
2 Corinthians 9:10ESV
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