Author: Drew Steadman

Seeing Jesus // Part Three

Today Drew Steadman continued our series, Seeing Jesus, by unpacking the question, “How do we find Jesus in the midst of uncertainty?” There are uncertainties all around us, and it seems easier to give into anxiety and fear. But when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we get fresh perspective and our uncertainties no longer seem daunting.

CHECK OUT SOME OF OUR TAKEAWAYS FROM TODAY’S MESSAGE:

  • Uncertainty isn’t increasing, our ability to deal with it is decreasing.
  • When we lose our stable rock and foundation, everything feels unstable.
  • We, the people of God, have to be careful to not follow the course of anxiety. Instead, we need to press back into Jesus so we can stand strong in the midst of the uncertainty.
  • There is not grace for all the things that could happen, there is only grace for what will happen.
  • Fear is a form of atheistic thinking because I am imagining a future where God is not with me.
  • If we try to put our trust in our circumstances, we are agreeing to live in anxiety.
  • God brings healing in a holistic way, and He wants to meet with you.
  • Anxiety is grieving something that hasn’t happened and may never happen.
  • Our perspective should be Jesus first, and then we interpret the world.
  • The same God who has faithfully led you is still going to be with you no matter what happens.
  • When I get my eyes off my circumstances, I have power and faith.
  • Worrying about my future does not prepare me for my future.
  • Work diligently from a place of faith, not a place of fear.
  • Faith is easy when everything is going well, but it’s hard in the gap.
  • Jesus didn’t come to establish the Kingdom of Israel, He came to establish the Kingdom of heaven on Earth.

IN RESPONSE:

  • Lift your eyes off the challenges // This week intentionally set aside the things that bring up uncertainty – it could be the headlines on social media, analyzing financial investments or something else, whatever it is try diverting your focus for a week.
  • Set your eyes on Jesus // In the midst of uncertainty, Jesus is the one thing that is certain. Press into Him by declaring who He is, and praying into the uncertainty.
  • Resources // Drew mentioned two messages that we encourage you to check out:

By Drew Steadman – Adult Pastor

Seeing Jesus // Part One

This morning Drew Steadman kicked off our new series, Seeing Jesus. Throughout our series, we will be taking a look at John the Baptist, who didn’t fit in with the rest of the world, but saw Jesus from the very beginning. John embraced the period of silence as he awaited Jesus’ arrival. When we embrace the silence and become desperate, we create space to allow to speak. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • Anyone who has ever done anything great probably didn’t fit in with the world around them, but that is what changed the world around them.
  • How do we live lives that allow us to see Jesus when He steps into the room?
  • The law reveals sin, but the law cannot destroy sin.
  • When you turn down the path of sin, it only brings pain.
  • The heart of God says, “I will do anything you need to set you free.”
  • God doesn’t grade on a curve, we’re all guilty.
  • The decisions I make in the moment of silence will define my destiny more than anything else.
  • John saw Jesus because John embraced the silence.
  • Jesus came to take away the root of sin that has plagued mankind.
  • Trying to find spiritual life in some form of physical pleasure never works.
  • The conviction of God always has hope attached to it.
  • Man’s strength is not involved at all, God brings life on His own.

IN RESPONSE:

Sometime in the next 30 days, we challenge you to sit and embrace the silence. When we open ourselves up to embrace the silence, we create space to receive from God.

By Drew Steadman – Adult Pastor

The Universal Calling

“What is my calling?” I heard it often throughout my eight years of college ministry. It’s a good question, and not just for students. So, let me go ahead and answer it for you.

Before I do, here is a quick disclaimer: Aspects of our calling are unique to us – where you live, what job you take, who you marry – and the only way to find these answers are a lifelong process of seeking God.

BUT WHAT WE OFTEN FAIL TO REMEMBER IS THE MAJORITY OF OUR CALLING IS UNIVERSAL.

We are all called to love God and each other. We are all called to live holy lives and serve the poor. I find too many of us try to find the answer to the unique aspects of our calling but don’t invest enough time learning to live out the universal parts of our calling. My experience is that when I begin to live out what I already know, God begins to reveal what is next.

With this in mind, let’s read 2 Corinthians 5:18-20:

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

This passage sobers me as I consider its implications, realizing that Jesus gave me His ministry; the ministry He died for; the ministry that is the only hope for this broken world. If you have been reconciled to God then you are deputized to reconcile others. This is your calling.

We live it out by becoming an ambassador. Ambassadors serve as the official representative of one kingdom to another and is revealed in everything they do, their words and their lifestyle.

To be a messenger is the calling, but each ambassador is given a unique assignment. Your assignment may be as a lawyer, student, businesswoman, teacher, mechanic, politician or stay-at-home mom, but first and foremost, you are an ambassador. And that alone is in an incredible calling.

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING THREE STEPS TO RESPOND

1. PRAY CONSISTENTLY // It’s overwhelming to step into the pain and brokenness permeating the world around us, but we are not left on our own. When Jesus commissioned us to step into a hurting world He promised to go with us. Start praying for co-workers and others around you by name and watch the power of God begin to work.

2. LIVE LIKE JESUS // Our most powerful testimony is our lifestyle. Serve someone today. Encourage a co-worker. Take time to listen to a neighbor share about their life. Jesus lived entirely different than the world around Him; when we live the same way, people notice!

3. SHARE THE MESSAGE OF JESUS // The natural result of looking like Jesus is the opportunity to talk about Him. If you commit to pray and you resolve to live the Kingdom, then you will consistently have the chance to share your testimony, and ultimately to see lives transformed.

Let’s resolve to live on mission with God. Even while we strive to discover the unique aspects of our calling, let’s first commit to live out what God has already given us.

By Drew Steadman – Adult Pastor

To The Philippians: To Live is Christ // Week Six

This week Drew Steadman continued our To The Philippians series with a message on living by grace.

HOW TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  • This week take time to renew your mind and ask God about the identity He has spoken over you. Use this card as a guide.

DIGGING DEEPER:

SCRIPTURE FOCUS: Living by Grace // Philippians 3:1-14

Philippians 3:1 appears as an abrupt transition. Paul brilliantly called us to Christ-like living, yet felt his exhortation was incomplete without a reminder of the grace that makes it all possible. His words in verse 1 ring true for us, even thousands of years later. We need to be reminded of the foundation of our faith. It’s a safeguard for us to keep this truth central, so let’s respond by rejoicing in the Lord and seeking God for a fresh revelation of His grace.

The Flesh Counts for Nothing (3:2-7)

Paul began this section with strong and provocative language, meant to shock the listener into grasping an important point: None of our earthly credentials, experiences or backgrounds matter compared to knowing Jesus.

Verse 2 is a thesis of sorts denouncing the Judiazers, a group of Jewish Christians who taught that all Greek believers had to embrace the Mosiac Law. Their efforts prominently focused on the rite of circumcision. Their influence was a frequent concern for Paul (see Galatians) and, to combat the emerging threat, he responded by turning the argument on its head. The Judiazers central point was that the Law was necessary for holiness, so Paul countered by saying that they, the legalistic, are in fact the impure.

His retort is striking, calling his opponents “those dogs,” “those evil-doers” and “those mutilators of the flesh (false circumcision).” These were more than insults, but rather a sharp contrast of identity. The word dog was used by devout Jews to describe the non-believing Gentiles (see Matthew 15:21-28), but now, it is the legalists themselves that are the dogs. Furthermore, they are evil-doers. Far from making the new believers more holy by mandating living by the Law, their legalism is actually leading to evil. Lastly, circumcision in this environment is not a sign of the covenant, but rather a mutilation of the flesh, analogous to a pagan ritual.

Instead, as verse 3 states, it is, “we who are the circumcision,” “who serve God by His Spirit” and “who boast in Christ.” We are not circumcised by human hands but rather, as Colossians 2:11 declares:

In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ

Rather than the physical token of removing skin externally, Jesus removed our sinful nature entirely! He then filled us with His Spirit and gave us a mission. We aren’t evil-doers, but rather servants of God. None of this stems from our external efforts of religious conformity – instead, it’s the result of a complete heart transformation.

The next several verses systematically outline the things that Paul might have boasted in, yet counted for nothing:

  • Circumcised on the eighth day // To use a modern analogy, Paul grew up in the church. He was set apart for God as a baby and raised in a home of religious Jews.
  • Of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews // To continue our analogy, he didn’t just grow up in church, but his family was the church. He was an insider, a Hebrew’s Hebrew. The type of person who just belonged.
  • In regard to the Law, a Pharisee // Paul was born into a religious home and as he matured, he chose this belief for himself. The Pharisees were the most conservative religious group in Israel, and it was with them that Paul studied the Law.
  • As for zeal, persecuting the church // His knowledge of the Scripture was matched by his religious zeal, which in a tragic, and yet ironic way extended to persecuting Christians. Paul upheld the Judiazers own arguments to such an extent that he traveled the region attempting to stop the teachings of Christ.
  • As for righteousness based on law, faultless // And lastly, he actually lived according to the Law without fault. He was a true believer, an archetype religious zealot.

Paul’s religious resume was impressive: he grew up in the right home, was of the right ethnicity, had the right religious background, believed the right things about the Scriptures and lived the right way with an unmatched zeal.

And it mattered nothing. How easily we fall victim to either pride or inadequacy! When our credentials rival Paul’s, we attach a sense of self-worth to our achievements. When we fall short, we easily succumb to crippling spiritual insecurity. Both miss what matters most, and it has nothing to do with anything we have (or haven’t) done.

Knowing Jesus Surpasses Everything (3:8-11)

All our earthly boasting is nothing compared to the worth of knowing Jesus. The language is an economic analogy: your earthly credentials may be worth a few cents, but they are nothing to compared to the vast riches of knowing Jesus. For a similar parable of Jesus, see Matthew 13:44-46: We exchange something cheap and gain something priceless. If we still find our identity in our flesh, it’s a powerful indication that we do not yet understand the value of our new identity in Christ.

Paul declared that what was a gain to him – an asset – is in fact excrement or rubbish (verse 8). His blunt rhetoric hammers the point that human righteousness counts for nothing, and in fact, often prevents us from fully embracing our need for Jesus. The next few verses highlight the vast riches of our new identity in Christ:

  • I may gain Christ and be found in Him // We lay down our earthly life – our “credentials” and our sin alike – and in its place gain Christ. We are found in Him; no longer do we live on our own, but He lives through us (Romans 6:1-6, Romans 8:1-17, Ephesians 2:1-6). We are restored back to the intimacy of relationship in the Garden, lost when sin entered the world. This treasure is far greater than anything we could envision in our own power. We need to remember that it’s all about relationship.
  • Not having a righteousness of my own…but that which is through faith in Christ // This truth represents the core doctrine of Justification. We cannot overcome our sin or pay its penalty, so instead Jesus stood in our place and offered Himself as a sacrifice on our behalf to pay once and for all our debt of sin. We cannot earn this righteousness, but instead receive it through faith. See John 3:14-19; Romans 1:16-17, 3:21-26, 4:13, 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 10:11-18, etc.
  • The power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings // By faith, we are found in Christ and our sins are forgiven, but that is the beginning, not the end, of our spiritual journey. Our ultimate goal is to know Christ. We have a lifetime ahead of learning to live in our new relationship, being transformed by His Spirit and learning to endure even in trial.
  • Becoming like Him in His death…to attain to the resurrection from the dead // We live in the “now but not yet.” We are in Christ now. We walk in the Spirit now. But this is just the deposit (Ephesians 1:13-14); we do not yet live in the fullness of our salvation. There will always be a waiting and a groaning in this life until the day Christ returns (Romans 8:18-25, 1 Corinthians 15:12-22). This is our great hope!

These four points describe the essence of core theology; they are the whole point of everything. While it’s something many of us have already learned, we must avoid the temptation to think we fully understand it. We can spend a lifetime mediating on this and still not fully realize what Jesus has done for us. Let’s resolve to be anchored in these truths, and in doing so provide a stable foundation for everything else God seeks to do in and through us.

By Drew Steadman – Adult Pastor

To The Philippians: To Live is Christ // Week Four

This week Drew Steadman continued our To The Philippians series with a message on lasting transformation. When God works in us and we walk in active relationship with Him, we see lasting transformation. God still works and we have an opportunity to partner with Him each day.

THREE WAYS TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  • 1. Understand the reality of your salvation (God worked in) // Throughout the week, ask God to renew your mind and recall the ways God has worked in your life.
  • 2. Recognize you have a necessary place of partnering with God (you work out) // Ask God how you can be partnering with Him in this season.
  • 3. Walk in an active relationship with Jesus and experience His power to bring change (God still works) // Pray and ask God to bring transformation in your life and in those around you.

DIGGING DEEPER:

SCRIPTURE FOCUS: Living Responsibility // Philippians 2:12-18

This section zooms out from the previous section’s emphasis on humility and frames it in the much larger context of our walk with God. Humility matters because it’s the example of Jesus and necessary for us to walk in unity. Unity matters because it is necessary for us to experience the fullness of our walk with God (see 1:19).

You Work Out Because God Works In You (2:12-13)

Verses 12 and 13 concisely reveal one of the great paradoxes of our faith: We are saved by the work of God alone. And, as a result, we must now go work out our salvation. Too many people live focused on one of these two verses to the exclusion of the other. In order to really understand our process of growing into the image of God, we need to fully embrace both.

  • Work out your salvation // Modern Christianity has limited the word salvation to only include our justification, or being born again (John 3:7). It’s right to emphasize this – we saved by grace through faith alone (Romans 3:23-24, 10:9-10). But this is the beginning of a new life, not the completion. Our salvation starts a new life, but it must be worked out to point in which we are completely transformed into the image of God, and that is a lifelong process.
  • With fear and trembling // This phrase makes me uncomfortable…and that is the point. The process of working out our salvation is critically important and requires us to die to ourselves and embrace our new life in its entirety (Romans 6:1-7). We no longer live for our sin (1 John 3:5-6) or the world (James 4:4). It’s a process and we will make mistakes (1 John 1:8-2:2) – we don’t need to fear that we’ve lost our salvation. Instead, we soberly recognize that this process is not easy and requires our complete surrender. It’s not something we take lightly.
  • For it is God // Verse 13 on its own would lead us into legalism by causing us to work out our salvation alone. Instead, the word, “for” provides a critical link. We can do our part because God has already done His. Our working is never done independently of God.
  • Who works in you to will and to act // Notice the word work is used twice – once of us and once of God. When describing God, the word is in an active form. True, He worked on the cross to buy our freedom, but He also continues to work to enable our full transformation. The passage highlights two specific areas in which He is working: “to will” and “to act.” The Spirit of God gives us power to overcome sin (act), and more than that, to even overcome the desire for sin (will). See Romans 8:1-17 to study this idea further.
  • According to His good purpose // God has a plan for us! He redeemed us from sin, resurrected us from death, regenerated us to live by His Spirit and not our sinful desires, and restored us back to our calling. He has a purpose for our lives regardless of how battered we are from the stains of sin. It is a process to be sure, but as we embrace the work of the Spirit in our lives – working out our salvation – we will find that God has a purpose for us. Good works that He has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).

As theologian Sam Storm states, “the call for doing follows and flows out of the divine done.” We need wholeheartedly embrace both truths: The charge to wholeheartedly work out our faith while fully living in the freeing and empowering grace of Jesus. To miss either one of these is to miss the life God has for us.

Live As Blameless Children (2:14-18)

The exhortation of the previous verses provides an overview of how to grow in our relationship with Jesus. Verse 14 shifts the focus by zooming in on one particularly important issue. The charge is a warning to avoid the same mistakes of the Israelites while they awaited entry into the Promised Land. Ultimately, many people never saw the fulfillment of the promise because they grumbled and lacked faith; Paul is challenging the Church to be diligent so that we would not miss out on the fullness of what God has for us.

  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing // See Exodus 15:22-25, Exodus 16:1-4, Numbers 13:26-14:4, Numbers 16:41-42 and Exodus 17:1-7 for context. The Israelites grumbled against God because they didn’t fully trust Him. They preferred the predictability of slavery to the risk of freedom. We are no different – when we come up against challenges, our instinctive reaction is to grumble and blame, which are symptoms of a lack of faith. As children of God, we are instead called to trust. He gives food in the desert and water out of rocks; the issue is not our circumstance, but rather, will we trust Him?
  • So that you may become blameless and pure // The result of faith is that we live a pure life by living dependent upon God, like a branch connected to the vine (John 15:1-5). We are pure and blameless because of the sacrifice of Jesus. But, as this verse implies, just as we are already saved (verse 13), there is still need for us to work out our salvation (verse 12). We also need to become pure, and that only occurs as we live according to the Spirit and not our sinful nature (Romans 8:5-8).
  • Children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation // This is a reference to Deuteronomy 32:5. The preceding verse states that God’s “works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong…” God is blameless and pure, but we, in our sinful nature, are warped and crooked. He redeemed us through the sacrifice of Jesus so that we can also carry His purity. Choosing to walk by faith is us walking in the nature of our Father, and that sharply contrasts to the world around us.

When Israel lived by faith they took possession of the Promised Land. They extended the Kingdom of God. Likewise, when we live this way, we shine like stars in the midst of the darkness of the world around us. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus calls us the light of the world and commands us to let our light shine before men. In order to shine in the world we must look different than the world. If there is no contrast to darkness then we have no power to set people free.

Verses 16-18 conclude this section. These verses can be a bit tricky to unpack; Paul is essentially saying, “I’m telling you all these things so that you – as individuals and together as the Church – will make it for the long haul.” If we start to focus on ourselves, seeking our own interests, then when things get difficult our natural response will be to grumble. This perspective is entirely centered on self. To be an enduring church that overcomes the challenges of this world, we need to instead live a full life of faith and then willingly lay down our lives to serve each other.

By Drew Steadman – Adult Pastor

To the Philippians: To Live is Christ // Week Two

This week we continued our study in the book of Philippians by focusing on Paul’s declaration, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” When we realign our life and put Christ first, everything else falls into place. We live in a world full of distractions, and if we don’t prioritize, we could get distracted and miss the very things that matter most. Check out three practical ways to apply this week’s message followed by an in-depth study guide for this week’s passage.

THREE WAYS TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  • 1. Get plugged in to a Lifegroup and discipleship // We need godly examples in our lives so we don’t get on auto-pilot, that’s why community is so important.
  • 2. Begin looking at life with the perspective of, “to live is Christ, to die is gain” // Put your relationship with Jesus first, and everything else around that. Be sure to get time in the presence of God every day.
  • 3. Live free from distractions // Set aside time to search your heart and ask, “what am I living for?”

DIGGING DEEPER:

SCRIPTURE FOCUS: Living for Christ // Philippians 1:12-30

This is a fairly unique way for Paul to start off one of his epistles. Rather than discussing a theological point, he instead gives a report on his missionary activity and subsequent imprisonment. It seems that one of the main reasons for writing this letter was to provide an update to the Philippians, most likely because of their partnership with the Gospel through prayer and financial giving.

Paul penned this letter from a prison cell in Rome. The Philippian church was worried for their spiritual father and close friend. It was a time of uncertainty – what will happen to Paul? What will happen to us? Division was creeping up within the church, what if he is dead and cannot guide anymore? These concerns are emotional and personal, and they remain relevant. How do we respond to uncertainty? How do we respond when things don’t go according to plan?

Opposition Cannot Stop the Gospel (1:12-14)

Verse 12 dramatically challenges our assumptions about opposition. Paul’s imprisonment seemed like a block of the Gospel to those who desperately needed it. Instead, he informed the Philippians, his imprisonment actually advanced it!

Through his chains the very palace guard of the Roman Emperor heard the message. Furthermore, though Paul sat in jail, many other believers began to step out in increased boldness. One man was partially stopped, yet countless others stepped up in his place.

Verse 14 states that, “most…have become confident in the Lord.” When someone boldly proclaims Jesus it inspires others to do the same. Perhaps a few people will shrink back as they see the consequences that arise from boldness, but most believers will be inspired to rise up in faith.

Man’s Evil Motives Cannot Stop the Gospel (1:15-18)

Many believers stepped out in increased boldness due to Paul’s imprisonment, but not all of them did so with pure motives. Selfish ambition, envy and rivalry motivated some to preach, presumably recognizing that Paul was inaccessible and thus maximizing the opportunity to make a name for themselves.

Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-2:5 for further insight into Paul’s mindset. We need to guard our motives! We are called to minister, preach the Gospel and live as ambassadors to those who don’t know Jesus, but we need to carefully maintain the right perspective. People are saved because of the power of the Spirit, not due to our eloquence or wisdom. God does not move in power so we can build up our earthly fame.

Despite this tragic tendency, we need to keep perspective: In the end, the Kingdom will advance regardless of our motives. And because of this we can rejoice and live at peace.

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain (1:19-26)

Paul was assured of his deliverance because of two things: The Spirit within him and the prayers of the saints. God empowers us to overcome the trials of this life, but that power is not due to our strength. Instead, He has created us to need others. We need the Spirit, and we need the Body of Christ if we want to overcome. Beware the enemy’s ploy to isolate us – both from God and from His people.

This passage highlights a fundamental message: Paul’s hope was secure, both in life and in death. Stop for a minute. Consider this radical perspective! Paul wrote these words while sitting in a jail cell, unjustly charged and awaiting his fate, yet despite his circumstances, his message was hope and assurance.

These verses reveal an emotional struggle, putting to pen an internal wrestle the apostle faced. But pay attention to his choices: on the one hand, he saw how much better it is to be with Christ, while on the other he saw the need to keep proclaiming the Gospel and strengthening the Church. Noticeably absent was my preferred option of being released from jail and living a peaceful, comfortable life.

This section is summarized in verse 21, “for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” If we see Jesus clearly and our hope rests in heaven then this is a natural perspective. This faith causes us to maximize this life by proclaiming Jesus, while living with the assurance that death is the doorway to our inheritance, not something to fear. Why squander this opportunity to bring God glory by instead choosing cheap, temporary pleasure?

So much of our internal wrestle stems from this issue. We want to live for Christ… mostly. And, if we are being honest, a little bit for the world. Paul exposed his deep internal wrestle so that we might be challenged to follow his example. In verse 25, we read that Paul lived “convinced of this” and thus was assured and at peace.

Live Worthy of the Gospel (1:27-30)

Paul exposed his soul, his commitment to live for Christ and his assurance that far from being defeated, death itself was the ultimately victory. And now he challenges believers to carry this same perspective.

Verse 27 begins with the phrase “whatever happens.” Paul was not naïve. He recognized that he might be killed for his faith. Regardless of the outcome, he was assured of the deliverance of God for eternity, but he also wanted to assure the Philippian church that they too can overcome.

The command is to, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” The original Greek language the book was written in calls us to, “Live as citizens worthy of the Gospel…” Paul is challenging us to embrace our heavenly citizenship (see also Philippians 3:20). We are aliens and strangers in this world (1 Peter 2:11); we need to live according to our new identity (Romans 12:2). Paul recognized that he may never see the Philippians again and wanted them to succeed, even after his death, and that starts by wholeheartedly committing to live as citizens of Heaven.

One important concern was that they, “stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one.” This theme of unity is further developed in the next chapter. Chapter 4 verses 1-3 indicate division was an emerging problem within the church. When Jesus is central to our lives then we are free to serve others.

His other chief concern was that they stand strong in the midst of opposition, “without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” Suffering will come and will challenge the Church. When we live for Christ then we have no need to fear death or suffering in this life and these trials transform into a catalyst for growth. But if we live for this life, then we will shrink back when difficulties emerge.

Paul shared his journey to set an example. Yes he suffered, but he also conquered, and God invites us into this same calling.

By Drew Steadman – Adult Pastor

To the Philippians: To Live is Christ – A Summer Bible Study

We are excited about our summer series and a chance to dive into the book of Philippians. While the book was written nearly two thousand years ago, it is just as relevant to our modern lives as it was to the early church. The core themes of living for Christ instead of the world, of the unity of believers, of generosity and contentment and of growing in our walk with God through empowering grace speak to our greatest struggles – relationship, character, and money – and ultimately provide the breakthrough we all desperately need.

Philippians will be our sermon series throughout June and July, but more importantly, we encourage everyone to study the passages themselves through the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) tool.

THIS METHOD ASKS THE SAME FIVE QUESTIONS OF EVERY PASSAGE:

  • What is the main point? Start by summarizing the passage in your own words. This helps us to capture the main themes of the book.
  • What does it reveal about God? Write out what the passage teaches us about the character of God.
  • What does it reveal about us? Look for commands, “if/then” statements and statements of identity that describe who we are and what we are called to do.
  • How can you apply this passage to your life? We don’t want to just hear the Word, but instead want to do what it says (Matthew 7:24-27, James 1:22-25). Ask the Spirit to highlight a specific thing you can do this week in order to obey the Word.
  • Who can you share this with? Lastly, we never want to merely accumulate knowledge nor be content with our own growth. God calls us to live on mission (Matthew 28:18-20) and to give away what we’ve been given. Reach out to someone else who is spiritually seeking and go through this book together – let’s see this work of transformation begin in us but extend far beyond in our community!

Always start by praying and asking the Holy Spirit for revelation. I encourage you to write out the answers to your questions in a journal to help organize your thoughts and then share with your discipleship group the ways you feel led to respond.

In addition to studying the Bible using DBS, we will provide weekly study notes. I suggest reading the Bible on your own first, but then use this resource as a way to fill in gaps. Moises Silva’s excellent commentary on Philippians has been a helpful resource in creating this study and I recommend it for anyone looking to dive even deeper into this book.

The structure of Philippians is up for debate amongst scholars. There is a clear introduction (1:1-2), thanksgiving (1:3-11), main body (1:12-4:20), and conclusion (4:21-23) as is typical for Paul’s letters. I’ve found Peter Wick’s 1994 work helpful in understanding the structure of the main points by identifying themes found in pairs throughout the book.

THEMES IN THE PHILIPPIANS:

  • Living for Jesus and for Heaven – 1:12-26 and 3:1-16
  • Living according to the example of Jesus to radically serve – 1:27-2:11 and 4:1-3
  • Living the fullness of our faith – 2:12-18 and 4:4-9
  • Living a life of rich generosity and contentment – 2:19-30 and 4:10-20

Regardless of the exact outline, the main points are clear and highly relevant to our lives. Let’s dive into the Word and trust the Spirt of God to speak to us and ultimately experience His transforming grace!

By Drew Steadman, Adult Pastor

A Simple Invitation

I walked into Antioch exactly 15 years ago. As I stepped through the doors I appeared to have my act together, but under the surface I was a mess. Hidden sin plagued my life; I rarely spent time with God and never shared my faith. My spiritual life was in disarray. And I didn’t even know it.

God intervened in the form of a simple invitation to Lifegroup.

I’m still not sure why I committed. For the next few months I weaseled my way out of accountability and only partially engaged with the group. But for some reason I kept showing up and before long, things began to change.

Lifegroup changed my life. It was never one specific meeting, but somewhere along the way I woke up and realized my life has been forever transformed through a decade and a half of intentional community.

I’VE FOUND IT’S THE SIMPLE THINGS THAT CHANGE THE WORLD; IT’S THE POWER OF THE MUNDANE.

The simplicity of accountability, encouragement and Godly friendship empowers us to grow in Christ and live out our calling. This is why Hebrews 10:24-25 states, 

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Community isn’t always flashy.

At times, my Lifegroup feels like crowd control with more than 15 young kids; sometimes I’d rather just take a nap. I’ve experienced disappointment as past groups fell apart, or when close friends moved away. But still, when I reflect on my life, it’s been the consistency of “meeting together” that transformed me.  I would not be the man I am today without it.

As a result, I am deeply motivated to provide the same experience for others. Every Sunday dozens of people walk through the doors of our church and I can’t help but wonder whether they will get the same invitation that was given to me.

This is where you come in.

We need more Lifegroups to care for and disciple the hundreds of new people God is sending us. You don’t need a seminary degree, just a passion to serve people and create an environment for discipleship to occur.

IN RESPONSE:

If you are interested, we are hosting a rally this Sunday, August 14th, at 6:30 p.m. at the church for any current or prospective Lifegroup leaders. We hope to see you there!

By Drew Steadman

Antioch staff member Drew Steadman

Come to the Mountain: Blessed are the Peacemakers

Today, Drew Steadman continued our Come to the Mountain series and focused on what it means to be a peacemaker. Matthew 5: 9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” The more we understand we have been reconciled to God, the more power we have to reconcile with others. Here are some of our favorite quotes from his message:

  • It’s easy to skip past this Beatitude, but why? I think we all agree that peace is good and we all feel like peacemakers. Let me put it another way: almost no one thinks of themselves as a conflict-maker.
  • We have all bought into the idea that someone or something is blocking us from happiness.
  • There is hope for the world because the One who has the greatest reason to demand justice is the very One who sacrificed His rights so that we can be reconciled.
  • No matter how badly you’ve been hurt or you’ve been wronged, the debt you owe God is far larger. The more I understand this about myself, the more free I am to forgive others.
  • Making peace requires sacrifice: we give up our right to be angry and take the first step of reconciliation – even when the other person doesn’t deserve it.
  • Peacemaking is not appeasement. Appeasement is avoiding conflict. It turns the other way when it sees injustice.
  • Peacemaking actively confronts injustice, but the goal is reconciliation, not retribution.

Key Scriptures from today’s message:

Failure To Fix Ourselves

It’s almost the new year which means it’s time to review my resolutions from last year. The fact that I have to review them is probably the first indicator that things didn’t exactly work out. Fortunately, I’m not alone.  According to the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people actually achieve their resolution.

Resolutions represent what matters most – family, faith, health – yet we are terrible about making progress. For me, this time of year brings up the uncomfortable reality that I don’t do the things I want to do, nor am I the person I want to be.

Romans 7:19-25 illustrates this struggle:

 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

We want to honor God, we want to walk free from sin and we want to serve others, but often we do the exact opposite.

This feels depressing, but this is the Gospel.  We cannot fix ourselves; that is the whole point. Jesus rescued us from our sin through salvation; that is the beginning. But His work didn’t stop there

Too often, we receive salvation as a free gift, but then go right back to trying to fix ourselves and live righteously.

And inevitably we fail because we still cannot fix ourselves.

What is the solution?

  • Confess your need. Romans 7:18 is a cry for help.  Confessing our need to God and to others is often the first step to breakthrough.  Why?  Because God moves in the humble, those who recognize they cannot fix themselves.
  • Seek Jesus. Romans 8:5-6 describes the power of living by the Spirit.  This comes from a lifestyle of seeking God.  Spend time with God in the morning, set aside time to pray throughout the day and make worship a lifestyle. Rather than condemning yourself over your sin, pray for help! The more you are full of Jesus the more you will look like Him.
  • Stand on your identity. Romans 8 is a powerful portrait of our identity in Christ.  When we fail, we easily believe the lie that we are a failure.  The longer we fail, the more entrenched the lie becomes.  Eventually you will live out who you think you are.  Start walking in freedom by declaring the promises in this chapter, even if you don’t feel it.  To become who you want to be you have to know who you already are.
IN RESPONSE

By all means, have resolutions this year.  But resolve first and foremost to radically seek Jesus and you will soon find that there is power for everything else.

By Drew Steadman, Director of Ministries and U.S. Church Planting