Monthly Archives: July, 2015

Friday | July 31

Philippians 2:1-5

God has created each and every one of us as unique individuals. It is incredible to see the many differences between all of us. When we look at the body of Christ, we see people of every nationality, gender, and age all coming together to further the Gospel of Christ. Somehow, in the midst of all this diversity, Christ brings us together to do His work on this earth. However, due to our sinful nature there are many times where the unity we are called to have can break down. We see people more focused on their own desires, instead of sacrificing for one another.

Paul understands this battle for unity that believers face, and he addresses it in Philippians 2:1-5. He encourages believers to be of the same mind, maintain the same love, be united in spirit and intent on one purpose. As believers, our one purpose needs to be proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. We have been given the Great Commission, and it is when we stray from that purpose that we see our unity break down. As a church we can have unity in our diversity when we are all pressing forward with the Gospel as our main goal. There are thousands of people in the towns we live in that need to hear the Gospel, and it is our mission to be unified as a body of believers preaching it to them.

Also, in our unity, we need to be putting others before ourselves. Verses 3-5 instruct us to adopt the same attitude that Christ has. He came to this earth, humbled himself, and died on a cross for the sins of humanity. He paid the ultimate price for the good of others. This is an attitude that may seem impossible for us to have, but through the power of the Holy Spirit we can emulate Christ. To have true unity we must forget our own desires and focus on the needs of the body of Christ. This extends past the body of Christ to the world. We need to be showing the love of Chist to other people by meeting their needs instead of our own. We honor God by serving “the least of these” in our every day life. Thought we all may be different, let’s honor God through our unity by laying down our desires and meeting the needs of each other.

Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

Discussion Question – Why is unity within the church so important?

Thursday | July 30

Acts 16:11-34

In Acts 16:11-34, we see the birth of the church in Philippi. Paul arrives in Philippi on his missionary journey and finds Lydia, the slave girl, and the Jailer. These three radically different people end up becoming the first pieces of an incredible movement of God in Philippi. It goes without saying that these three people may have not been an “ideal” church planting team. You have a prominent businesswoman working along side a girl who just had a demon cast out of her. Then, you have those two working along side a blue-collar tough guy who almost killed himself before converting. This is not what I would consider the dream team, but these are the people God uses through Paul to spearhead the diverse beginning of the Philippian church.

We see such a beautiful picture of what the Gospel and church are all about through Lydia, the slave girl, and the jailer. Paul understood that there was nothing that could stop the Gospel from impacting the lives of these people. The socioeconomic, religious, and racial walls that people build up between themselves crumble when the Gospel is introduced. The blood of Jesus Christ is the single unifying factor we have in this world. We can celebrate our differences in the way Christ made us; all while knowing that through Christ we are one family. Once these three people were saved by the grace of Christ they all joined the body of Christ together. They were just the beginning of a radically diverse church in Philippi that would be unified under Christ.

We need to understand the serious implications the Gospel has on our lives and on our church. It should breakdown any barriers that exist between us and any other person because the love of Christ is more important than any difference two people can have. The church in Philippi had a diverse beginning that led to a diverse church, all because of the power of the Gospel. It has the power to save any who would open their ears to hear it. It saved a wealthy businesswoman, a possessed slave girl, and a suicidal blue-collar jailer. God then used these people to spread his Gospel to an entire city. Let’s see the Gospel go forth in the same mold as it did with the Philippian church.

Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

Discussion Question – Why do you think God used such an eclectic group as the start of the Philippian church? How can we apply that to our own life?

Wednesday | July 29

Acts 16:25-34

We all find ourselves in difficult situations, that are physically and/or emotionally draining. Paul and Silas found themselves in a situation like this, but we will focus on their part of the story later this week. A key person during their imprisonment was the jailer. The jailer had probably never encountered anyone like Paul and Silas, so imagine what he must of thought when he heard them singing and praying. In the face of adversity they praised God, and had a peace that He was at work. Imagine what that must have looked liked to someone who didn’t know God and had never known that sense
of peace.

The jailer was terrified when the earthquake happened, the doors of the jail were thrown open and the prisoners’ “…bonds were unfastened.” For him this was inevitable death. The prisoners would run, he would be blamed and executed. In his mind the only option was to end his life on his terms…until he heard Paul’s voice. Paul’s voice broke through the darkness. In that moment the jailer realized that all of the prisoners were still there, and his life would be spared. Imagine what that moment must have felt like for the jailer, a mix of surprise, awe, and God opening his heart to Him. It was life changing; he instantly knew his need for God, and knew that the men who had spent the night praising and praying to their God must have the answers.

God was pursuing the jailer, getting his attention. While we have the whole perspective, the jailer could have chalked up the prisoners staying as a lucky break, or just accepted it and continued his life the way he had been living it. How many times and situations has God tried to get your attention? You cried out to Him for help, and you ignored the help He offered, or thought it was your own doing? The jailer was able to recognize the work of God and it changed his life.

Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastors

Discussion Question – Talk about a situation in which you ignored God’s prompting and relied on your own strength. How could you have handled it differently?

Tuesday | July 28

Acts 16:16-19

Paul was continuing his journey in Philippi, and he was joined by Silas. As they were out in the streets proclaiming the Gospel, they crossed paths with a slave girl who was possessed. She followed them for days disrupting them, to the point that the Bible says that Paul, “having become greatly annoyed” addressed the girl (or rather the spirit that had possessed her). It was clear to Paul that the slave girl was possessed, being able to tell fortunes, and her owners were using her for economic gain.

When Paul commanded the spirit to come out of the slave girl, he had to have known that her owners would be enraged, since their ability to use her for money would be gone instantly. Paul and Silas did it anyway, and they were instantly taken into custody. So, what can we learn from this short story leading into the imprisonment of Paul and Silas? We are to obey God no matter what? Absolutely! Protect those less fortunate than us? Of course!

What stands out the most to me is that we all have that one person who drives us crazy. God has called us to help them, guide them, even disciple them, and yet they annoy you. Why would God bring those people into our lives? Insist on reaching out to them? Simply, He has something to teach us, and situations that He decides to use us. God used the slave girl to get Paul and Silas in a situation where they could help the jailer (see tomorrow).

Those situations guide us into moments that change our lives, and allow us to see God work in miraculous ways. If we decide to avoid the uncomfortable situations, we miss seeing God work and being used to further His Kingdom. Embrace people God brings into your lives, no matter how annoying or exhausting and ask God to use you for His glory.

Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastors

Discussion Question – What are some situations/people that you avoided because it was too uncomfortable or too difficult to handle?

Monday | July 27

Acts 16:11-15

Paul and Timothy were on a journey, one that was difficult and emotionally draining. God was leading them on their journey, but when they attempted to go Bithynia God prevented them from going there. After they were prevented from moving in that direction, Paul saw a vision directing them to go to Macedonia, “concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” They ended up in Philippi, and after a few days, on the Sabbath, they set out to find a group of believers. Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, was in the right place at the right time. Lydia was amongst the women that Paul and Timothy stopped to talk to about the Gospel. The Lord opened Lydia’s heart, and she gave her life to God. She then converted her entire family. After all of that, she invited Paul and Timothy into her home and gave them a place of rest and recharge.

What does that mean to us? Lydia was included in Acts, in the Bible, for a reason. There is something we can learn in this small story in Acts. Lydia was a “worshiper of God” and yet not a follower of God. She was searching, seeking out follower’s of God, and gathering with them on the Sabbath. It says in verse 14, “the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” God enabled Lydia to get past all of her worries, all of her reservations, and see what He was offering. It’s almost comforting it doesn’t indicate what Paul said that day to her, but that God opened her heart, not Paul, not Timothy, but God. It reminds me that we are called to proclaim the Gospel. We don’t have the power to save people. We are simply called to proclaim. In all of my inabilities, stumbling words and nerves, God somehow uses those moments to speak into people’s lives. Don’t let our inabilities or fear stop us from telling people about the Gospel, because God is there in those moments, and He is working.

Philippi held a special place in Paul’s heart. In Philippians 1:4, he even talks about the partnership in the Gospel he feels with the church. Lydia is a great example of the hospitality and support the church of Philippi gave Paul. He had a community that supported him, loved him, and prayed for him. This gave Paul strength through his ministry and imprisonment (Philippians 1:7). We all need community, support, love and truth in love. We were created to crave this, to be surrounded by this, and this allows us to go out into the world and make disciples.

Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastors

Discussion Question – How can you overcome your fear and hesitation in sharing the Gospel?

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