Summary: Does our faith show us how tomeet any and every situation...and come out on top? From slight adjustment to major makeover the Bible guides our steps. Attitude is key.
In his excellent book, Laugh Again, Pastor Chuck Swindoll relates a true story that illustrates the innocence of childhood. One evening a grandmother was spending time with a very precocious granddaughter The little girl looked up and asked, “How old are you Grandma?” The woman was startled and she responded, “Well, honey, when you’re my age you don’t share your age with anybody.” The little girl said, “Aw, come on, Grandma, you can trust me.” “No, dear, I never tell anyone my age.”
Then the grandmother got busy fixing dinner. Before she knew it she realized her granddaughter had been absent for about twenty minutes—much too long! She checked upstairs and the child had dumped her grandmother’s purse on top of the bed and was sitting in the midst of the mess, holding her grandmother’s driver’s license.
When their eyes met, the child announced, “Grandma, you’re seventy-six.” “Why, yes I am. How did you know that?” “I found the date of your birthday here on your driver’s license and subtracted that year from this year…so you’re seventy-six.” “That’s right, sweetheart. Your grandmother is seventy-six.” The girl continued staring at the driver’s license and then she added, “Grandma, you also made an F in sex.”
There’s an innocence about children that gets squeezed out of us as we wrestle with issues like war, politics, health concerns and mortgages. Studies show that children laugh about four times more than adults. And unfortunately, some of the most serious people around tend to be those who profess faith. Think about it. Does the stereotypic Bible believing Christian ever have a smile on his or her face? Well, in this new series I hope God will turn that stereotypic frown into a Spirit-filled smile.
Over the next nine weeks we’ll explore one of the most infectious books in the New Testament: the book of Philippians. Philippians is only 104 verses long. But over and over again joy splashes out like a rubber ball popping up after being submerged under water. Twelve times we find the Greek word for joy or joyful in the four short chapters of Philippians. The message in this letter is fairly simple. But it has revolutionary potential to transform our outlook on life. Today we’ll consider the first eleven verses of this remarkable document.
(Read 1:1) The authors of Philippians are Paul & Timothy. Even though Paul wrote thirteen of the New Testament documents he still refers to himself first as a servant. The Greek word for servant in verse one is doulos. You might circle the word in your Bible. A doulos is a bondservant. A doulos is someone who voluntarily submits themselves—someone who chooses—to be a slave to God.
Exodus 21:5-6 describes a slave who refuses the opportunity for freedom and re-submits himself to his master for life. The scripture says, “If the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.” That’s a picture of what doulos means. A doulos is a bond-servant who freely gives up his or her personal rights to serve God. It’s when we allow God’s grace to crucify our selfishness with a cross-shaped awl.
Paul’s ministry partner in Philippi was his protégé Timothy. Whenever we read about Paul’s ministry he’s surrounded by other people. One reason Paul was so fruitful was because he never ministered alone. Verse one indicates the letter was first sent to the “saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi.” The Bible refers to every Christ-follower as a saint. The word saint in Scripture is not used for a select group of faith-heroes. Saint describes all of us who have been declared righteous by God on the basis of his grace through our faith in Christ. So why don’t you turn to the person next to you and say “You’re a saint!”
In addition to the Christ-followers in Philippi, the letter is also addressed to “the overseers and deacons.” These were the leaders in the local church. Overseer is a term that’s used interchangeably with elder in the New Testament. Summit has eight elders who oversee our ministry. The term deacon refers to a second tier of church leaders. At Summit deacons correspond to the leaders of our major ministries and to Life! Group leaders.
(Read 1:2) This is a greeting Paul often uses in his letters. The focus is on God’s grace—the unmerited favor he so freely bestows—and the supernatural peace that follows; all of which comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ.
(Read 1:3) For us to appreciate what Paul is saying, we need to understand what happened when he was in Philippi. Let’s turn for a moment to Acts 16. The chapter opens with Paul ministering in what’s now the country of Turkey on his second missionary journey. Paul and Silas were re-visiting the churches Paul established on his first missionary journey. Along the way, according to Acts 16:3, Paul added Timothy to their ministry team. Remember that Paul lists Timothy as his co-author of Philippians.