Sunday – July 4, 2021 Independence Day Philippians 1:27-30 “Christian Citizenship”

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 4, 2021

Philippians 1:27-28
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

Paul was aware when he wrote to the Philippian church of just how important the desire to re-create a home in a foreign place was. Philippi was a colony of Rome—a part of the Roman commonwealth. This meant more than its being a subject city: Philippi was distinct from other cities in Macedonia in that it was made to be a model Roman city. In a colony one would find Roman customs, Roman architecture, Roman dress, and the prevailing language was Latin. It was, in a word, a fragment of Rome. If you were to walk into the city, you would have the feeling of entering an Italian suburb of Rome, even though it was nearly a thousand miles distant.

When Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, he knew they would understand him when he said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20) There is an important difference between Paul’s calling Christians to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom and the human tendency to make a home on foreign soil by imitating the customs of the homeland. While there is a continual reminder of the alienation that accompanies having a home in a foreign land, we have the hope of going to our true homeland.

We as Christians must never forget that this world is not home. There must be a sense of alienation taken into the heart of all our experiences because the gospel has given us more than new lift-  it has granted us new citizenship. Unfortunately, adaptation is second nature to the human race. We adapt ourselves to the environment and culture in which we find ourselves until we act and think like those around us. In doing so we exchange the distinction of being a heavenly citizen for a lesser title of a citizen of an earthly nation. We lay aside the standard of the gospel in order to have room to carry the standard of the nation.

The gospel is the new and higher standard of conduct for who bear the name of Christ. The gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ; it is the declaration of how God has made it possible for people to obtain the forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life. The actions of the believer are attempts to prove to this world the real existence of another world; another citizenship. In all matters relating to the gospel, we must obey God and not men. This will cause friction with the nation in which we live. The friction caused by our spiritual loyalty to our true nation is the way we testify of another eternal world and to another glorious King.

Sunday – April 25, 2021 Romans Week 5 Rom 1:16-17 “The Power of God for Salvation”

Sunday – April 25, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 25, 2021

Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

For us to understand the power of these words, we need to see the flow of Paul’s reasoning. Paul states, “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Why? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel….” Why? “For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” How is this gospel the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes? “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” Is this a new idea that Paul thought up? No, he cites Habakkuk 2:4, “as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”

At the outset, we may wonder why Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” It is a figure of speech called litotes, where through understatement the affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary. For example, if you say, “he’s not a bad athlete,” you mean, “he’s a pretty good athlete.” So when Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel, he means, “I glory in the gospel. I’m astounded by the gospel.”

But why does he express it this way? Well, there were many reasons a first century Roman might feel a bit uncomfortable about this Jewish man coming to a sophisticated city like Rome to preach about a Galilean carpenter-prophet who was executed by the Roman government in the most humiliating manner possible, by being crucified. After all, this was Rome, the capital of the civilized world! Your message had better appeal to the educated or it won’t fly here! Your message needs to offer political solutions to the pressing needs of the empire or it will not gain a hearing here! It had better offer some answers to the massive problems of greed, hopelessness, lust, and violence, or the people in Rome won’t listen!

But Paul’s main message did not directly address these issues. His message focused on the main need of every human being, whether the most religious Jew or the most educated, worldly, immoral Greek—the need to be reconciled to the holy God. How can I be right before God? Paul’s theme in Romans is God and the good news that comes from God, how sinners can be delivered from His righteous judgment and reconciled to Him. It is the very power of God to save everyone who believes, because in it God reveals how His perfect righteousness will be put to the account of the guilty sinner who trusts in Christ. This is called salvation. I pray that we will understand the gospel, believe it personally, preach it to ourselves every day, and proclaim it unashamedly to this lost world.

Sunday – April 18, 2021 Romans Week 4 Rom 1:8-15 “Saints Serving Saints”

Sunday – April 18, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 18, 2021

Romans 1:11-12
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

Paul is still introducing his letter to the Romans, most of whom he has never met. He knew that due to his enemies, he was sometimes portrayed as a radical who was teaching all sorts of dangerous things (Acts 17:6; 21:28). But he longed to visit these fellow believers in Rome and share together in the things of God. He is a man with a mission, an apostle with a commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, leading to the “obedience of faith.” He is also a man with a heart for the saints at Rome. So, Paul has the delicate task of explaining to these mostly unknown Christians, some of whom may have heard negative things about him, who he is and why he wants to visit them and preach the gospel there.

Paul shares how he has heard of their faith and how frequently he prays for them. He shares his heart about wanting to come and spend time with them, both strengthening their faith and also being encouraged himself by them in the things of the gospel. He lets them know that he has often desired to come, but thus far has been prevented. But now he hopes to come and find opportunities to preach there. So Paul wants to use his gifts to serve these people he does not yet know, and he wants to benefit from them using their gifts to serve him, as together they labor to see the gospel expand in Rome. This little snapshot of Paul and the church at Rome gives us a picture of serving saints.

God wants all whom He has saved to be serving saints. It’s obvious that Paul is not the only one in these verses who is serving. He begins by mentioning how he has heard all over about the faith of the Roman believers. He also says that he expects not only to minister to the Romans, but he also expects to be ministered to by them. As we saw in verse 7, the believers in Rome were “called as saints” and all believers are to be serving saints. Serving saints long to be with other saints for the purpose of effective ministry by and to each other.

Paul wanted to go to Rome to impart some spiritual gift to them (1:11). What does he mean? 1 Corinthians 12:11 tells us the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to each person “just as He wills.” It’s not that Paul had the ability to impart various spiritual gifts to others. Rather, he wants to impart the gift of his apostolic understanding of the gospel, which we have in the Book of Romans. As Paul exercised his gift of teaching, these believers would be more established in their faith. In turn, the saints in Rome would be able to exercise the spiritual gifts they had in the life of Paul to encourage, equip and expand his ability to minister.  This is why at Sunrise Community Church, we value ministry by and to each other.

Sunday – November 8, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 27:1-44 “Leadership in a Storm”

Sunday – November 8, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 8, 2020

Acts 27:23-25
Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

Most of us never have been in a terrible storm at sea in a small vessel. If we had, we would identify with Luke’s description of the shipwreck in Acts 27. He and Aristarchus accompanied Paul on this difficult journey to Rome. Against the human helplessness of this frightening adventure stands the sovereign hand of God, who had promised Paul he would testify in Rome. Since an angel repeats that promise to Paul here in the midst of the storm (27:24), Luke’s main purpose is to show that God’s purpose cannot be thwarted, even by such powerful forces of nature.

The story of the deliverance of Paul and his shipmates is a wonderful illustration of the salvation God offers to all who will receive it. The majority of those on-board trusted in themselves, in their captain, and in their ship to get them safely to port in Phoenix. The gentle south winds at Fair Havens proved deceptive. At first, they supposed they would be able to weather the storm, but in time they lost all hope. They could do nothing to save themselves. Yet, there was one man who promised salvation if they would do as he said – Paul. In so doing, all were saved from disaster and brought safely to shore.

Men and women today think they will somehow reach heaven on their own. Their prosperity or good health may give them confidence that they can make it, so they reject the warnings of Scripture. Then the storms of life overwhelm us, and we realize that we are hopeless and helpless. There is only one person who can save us, and His name is Jesus. He died for sinners, and God raised Him from the dead. He offers salvation to all those who will trust in Him. Those who seek to abandon Christ for another lifeboat will only perish. Those who trust in Him will be delivered safely through the storms of this life to heaven.

While Paul’s practical gifts and value to others are wonderful to appreciate, let us not end by putting the spotlight on Paul. Let us end by reminding ourselves that the Book of Acts is about God, about His faithfulness, about the fact that He sovereignly orchestrates all things so that His purposes and His promises are fulfilled. Paul was spared, along with the entire passenger manifest, not because of Paul’s greatness, but because Paul served a great God. God would not allow Jewish assassins or weak-willed Gentile rulers to keep Paul from the mission for which he had been saved and to which he had been called. In the final analysis, it is not about great men, but about a great God, the one true God, who has purposed to use mere men to proclaim the gospel and thus to bring glory to Himself.