Saturday, 27 September 2014


Psalm 103 : 13 – 22        Philippians 2 : 19 – 30               Luke 10 : 17 – 24
1. TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS.  I begin with our series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians and our epistle from chapter 2: 19 – 30 which is the passage for our study today. The Bible Study Home Group to which Barbara and I belong spent a fascinating evening last Monday looking at the different character of these two men, Timothy and Epaphroditus. Basically, the group prepared this part of the sermon with me

Timothy, we know from various passages in the New Testament, was considerably younger than Paul, but was Paul’s most trusted second in command. Utterly loyal – indeed devoted – we learn from this passage that Paul had effectively adopted him as his son. We know that Timothy came from a Christian family on his mother’s side, going back to his grandmother, but his father was a Greek and not a believer.

We know, too, that Timothy was by nature diffident and reluctant to push himself forward. But Paul, who is in prison, is proposing to send him to the church in Philippi (and report back) because Timothy has the gift of pastoral care, and (v. 20) has a genuine concern for their welfare. Timothy had a special pastoral gift.

What a wonderful thing it is when the church leader has beside him a devoted, loyal team of people (as I have always had) who have this true pastoral concern for individuals – who can see, at a glance, who is in need, who is not there, who is troubled, and the spiritual tact to get alongside. It is both indispensable and invaluable. I thank God for all the ‘Timothys’ it has been my privilege to work with.

Epaphroditus comes across as an equally valuable, but very different character. The Philippian Church had chosen him, it seems clear, to take a considerable sum of money, plus personal gifts to help provide for Paul in prison. In those prisons you were reliant on family or friends to provide for you or you starved. 

Rightly or wrongly, we imagine him as bigger and more forceful than Timothy, and well able to look after himself. But disaster nearly strikes, because either on the journey or when he arrives, he goes down with a serious illness and nearly dies. But his character is such that he doesn’t really want the Philippian Church even to know about it. ‘Oh, just a bad cold – I was soon right as rain!’  But Paul makes it clear that he did very nearly die, although he has now made a full recovery.

I imagine Epaphroditus as someone who liked to be active, and wasn’t going to let illness get in his way if at all possible. Paul describes him as a ‘brother, a fellow worker and a fellow soldier’. Did Paul need something? He would go and procure it. Did something need fixing? He was the fixer – the active DIY man. That’s my take anyway!

How blessed I have been over so many years to have teams around me with people in both those categories, and who have been on my spiritual wavelength. Pastoral care and practical action. Such Christians are gold-dust - indispensable. No Vicar could be successful without them and I have been enormously blessed, and I’m so grateful.

Now, such was the situation in Philippi, that Paul was proposing to send them both back to sort everything out in their different ways. Wow! – was Paul going to miss them! And it looks as if he is expecting to go on trial for his life, but hoping for release. Just the time, you would think, when he needed both spiritual, prayerful and practical support. In fact, we know that Paul has some years of fruitful ministry still ahead of him, so his worst foreboding did not materialise on this occasion. But he was going to be potentially very lonely without them. We will find out more about why Paul thought it necessary to send them both to Philippi as we progress through the letter.

2.  ARCHANGEL MICHAEL.  Now I want to move on to say something about Michaelmas – this Church’s Patronal festival. This church lives under the banner of the Archangel Michael, and this places our ministry and worship here in a much broader, bigger, greater context than we are perhaps normally aware of. In Revelation 12 verses 7-9, we read of the great battle between Michael and his angels with Satan, who leads the world astray and into darkness and evil. (Revelation 12: 7 – 9).  (See Banner). We must never forget, let alone underestimate, the magnitude of the battle in which we, as Christians, are engaged.

St Paul tells us in Ephesians 6: 10f that ‘our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ We see its earthly manifestations in the world every time we turn on the radio or television or read a newspaper.

Now we know that – on the cross – Jesus defeated the powers of sin, evil and death once and for all. But we know also that the time when that victory will be fully manifested is not yet – it awaits God’s appointed day for which (as St Paul tells us in Romans 8: 18 - 25) the whole creation longs.

And so my own ministry, and the ministry of all God’s people and the church of God everywhere, has faced many kinds of opposition from the very beginning  - and although (speaking personally), I have never experienced physical persecution of which there is so much in the world today, we are always surrounded by the attacks of secularism and the spiritual forces of darkness.

But we walk into a sadly spiritual dark and secular world with the Gospel of the glory of Christ held in our open hands, and when someone turns to Christ and that darkness turns to wonderful light and faith, the walls that separate the realm of darkness from the glory of God come crashing down and (like Jesus) we see Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Moments of glory, great thanksgiving and truth. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6 : ‘God who said, let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’. My own manifesto for my ministry has been the same since that first day I was ordained, and it has undergirded everything I have said and done. It is Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4: verses 1 – 5 (groups can read as time allows).

3. ANGELS.  Now thirdly, Michael is surrounded by God’s heavenly host, and this service is full of references to the angels. The word ‘angel’ simply means a messenger – someone who is sent from God to deliver a message – usually to an individual. The example which immediately comes to most people’s minds is the angel Gabriel visiting Mary at Nazareth to tell her the news (both shocking and wonderful   -  how often, when God speaks to you, it comes with this double effect), that she was to give birth to Jesus, the one who brings us all together this morning and whose life, death and resurrection would change the whole nature and destiny of the world forever.

Angels and Archangels are invariably pictured with wings. But when three messengers from God visited Abraham in Genesis 18, they appeared in totally human form. And this leads the writer to the Hebrews (13:2) to advise us to give hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels unawares. You never quite know when an angel will knock on your door and ask for a cup of tea – or something stronger! I have had many such visitations over the years, and – like Abraham and Sarah – I have only been conscious of a human presence (often someone I have known), and it was only later (if at all) have I realised that what I was hearing from that visitor was a message from God.

So if there is one lesson I have tried to learn over 50 years, it is to listen. To listen – to weigh what people say in my own mind and prayers, and to ask God for the gift of discernment. What is simply a point of view? What is something that God really wants me to hear from one of his many ‘messengers’ or angels? And what comes from a darker source which needs to be recognised for what it is, although the speaker will usually be entirely unaware of it?

And the walls that separate the secular from the spiritual dimension are, I find, actually very thin. God is so near – so involved – and his love so accessible – that I find it sad that so many have either never tried to tune in to his wavelength, or have drowned it out with so much extraneous noise, or in some cases, made themselves deliberately spiritually blind and deaf.

What a privilege it has been – and continues to be – to spend a lifetime helping people to find that God dimension, that wavelength, which transcends our ordinary experience of time and space, and come to a personal encounter with their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ – risen, alive and present with us today, ready to meet each and every one of us at our particular point of need; our particular glimmer of faith, however weak, and show himself through the mist of our confusion, doubt and sin. What a wonderful way to celebrate this anniversary for me it would be, if someone today were to respond to God’s voice, and turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour, and begin a new life of adventure with the risen Christ.

God is much nearer than we imagine, and his messengers pass to and fro. Are we tuned in? Are we listening? It is certain that God has something He wants to say to you today.

So – in summary – how can we better exercise our ministry the church? Whether it be a ministry of pastoral care or of practical action?  Are we listening to the voice of God, breaking through the boundaries of time and space either directly or indirectly through people who speak as angels unawares? There are many angels in this world – don’t miss them! And - Yes there is a battle between the worldly and the spiritual, good and evil, light and darkness – no-one can deny it. But the good news is that – through the cross and resurrection – Jesus has won the victory over evil, sin, and death, and as we come to Holy Communion this morning, we take to ourselves the love, and the power, and the life-giving victory of the one who – for us – died and rose again. Praise be to him!


1. The New Testament makes it clear that the Christian and the Christian Church are up against spiritual evil forces, and not just people who are evil, anti-Christian, secular or uninterested in spiritual matters. Do you agree with St Paul that we wrestle against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6: 12).
Discuss how these forces manifest themselves, and how we should counter them?

2. Do you believe in angels? How do they convey their messages to us? Do you believe you have ever seen or received a word from God through an angel? What do you understand by ‘entertaining angels unawares’ (Hebrews 13:2)?

3. Discuss the differences in the characters of Timothy and Epaphroditus. Find the other passages in the New Testament which refer to Timothy to help you make an assessment.

4. Are you enjoying and benefiting from a sermon series on a book of the Bible? What are the pros and cons?  Should we do this more often? 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sunday 21 September 2014, Philippians 2:12-18, Matthew, Bruce

Have you ever met someone who “lights up” the room just by being in it?

Welcome to week four of our look at the letter of Paul to the Christians in Philippi. You will remember that when Paul first visited the city and made converts, starting a church, there was a riot and he was thrown in prison. Now he is in prison again, on trial for his life. People in the church seem to be stirring up trouble and rivalries, and he is constantly pleading for unity. He starts his explanation in chapter one, that God is working his purposes out even through his imprisonment. In chapter two he says that as a result of our unity in Christ we should look to be like minded. We should have the same mind set as Jesus, who accepted all that life had to throw at him, not clinging to the privileges that he was due as son of God. Jesus became obedient, even to the point of death, and humbled himself.

Since we are seeking to have the same mind set as Jesus, we also are called to be obedient – it is a serious business. If we also have humility and self-knowledge, we will also doubt our ability to live the obedient life, but Paul reminds us that “it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good pleasure”.

What does this obedient life look like? In negative terms, it is to “do everything without complaining or arguing”. This does not mean that we must always agree with each other or go along with everything we are told. It is permissible to send an undrinkable cup of tea back! It important to contribute positively to discussions and plans; it is good to seek to avoid problems and make projects better.

The two words used are gongysmos and dialogismos.

Gongysmos carries the suggestion of murmuring, backbiting, almost whining. Nothing is ever quite right or good enough. There is always a problem. There is a whiff of the Victor Meldrew: “I don’t believe it!” You can imagine if Laurel and Hardy had been thrown into jail in Philippi: "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." Jesus said: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)

Dialogismos speaks of one who just needs to be right. My father is famous for liking a good discussion, and always to win. He is quite capable of arguing forcefully for a point of view, but then to take the opposite line on another occasion if it gets the discussion going. Sunday lunch could be quite wearing. The truth of the gospel is important. Too often in the church, however, we have contended for our own version of the truth, to the exclusion of all others, and no matter what hurt is caused. The greatest truth is love, and we are trying to be like-minded with Christ, which will mean that we bring forth the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. One of the wisest sayings I ever heard was “I might be wrong”.

Jesus also said that outsiders would know that we are Christians by our love for each other. We do not live this life of love by our own efforts. I am not suggesting that we live our lives rigidly being kind and polite and courteous, as a supreme act of will. This feels false. It is also very hard work, and we always, eventually, let the mask slip, usually during times of stress and difficulty.

So what can we do? First take comfort from the fact that it is “it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good pleasure”. It is his power at work in us. Later on during communion we will pray “send your Holy Spirit and change us more and more to be like Jesus our Saviour.” If grumbling and disputing reveals a basic attitude of lack of trust and acceptance of God’s will, then we can learn lessons every time that we find ourselves falling into to doing them. We ask forgiveness, and as the light of his Spirit shines on our lives, so we see him transform us over time into the humble, obedient, trusting children of God, who will light up a room by our presence. It will be like the moon reflecting the sun’s light onto earth, as we live bible-based lives that are rooted in sincerity and humility, and reflect the light of God’s love in a dark world.

But this seems rather passive. So second, rejoice in the Lord. Learn to sing praises, at all times and in all places, (even if we do it internally and under our breath). Exercise your “praise muscles”.

Take care to warm them up, so you don’t give yourself a strain. Again, during the communion prayer the president exhorts you to “lift up your hearts”; it is good to remind and encourage each other to do this. See yourself grow in this essential area of Christian life. When Paul and Silas sang hymns and praises at midnight in jail in Philippi, this was not bravado or a whim, but the fruit of years of consistent engagement with God, leading to love, joy, peace and the rest.

You will recall from week one that I debated whether the key word of Philippians is “fellowship” or “joy”. Paul says that it is possible that he will be “poured out” like a wine offering at a sacrifice: he might be about to die, he might suffer the death sentence for his faith. This completes the explanation of his imprisonment started in the first chapter. His comfort is his fellowship with the Philippian people who are living this life of obedience and faith. This causes him to be filled with joy and to rejoice with them; he urges them to be filled with joy and to rejoice with him as they share this fellowship.


Discussion starters

1. Have you ever had that feeling of dread that you do not want to get up out of bed and face

what the day will bring? What is there in this passage to help us?

2. What do you make of “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”? (Is it

significant that Paul has just been speaking of the “throne room”, of every knee bowing and

every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord?)

3. How would you say that we can “become blameless and pure”, shining in the world?

4. What does it mean to you to “hold firmly to the word of life”?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

14th September  2014       Have the Same Mindset as Christ Jesus                  Anne

We are now on week 3 of our 9 week sermon series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  Let me just begin by briefly recapping where we left off last week.  Paul is in prison – he is in “chains for Christ” (Phil 1:13).  At the end of chapter one, he urges the Philippians, that even though they face opposition and the same struggles as Paul, they are to conduct themselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27).  He also urges them to “stand firm in the one Spirit striving together as one for the faith of the gospel”.  His call to them is a call for unity. 

There doesn’t seem to be the same huge kind of problem with disunity as there was in the church in Corinth, but nonetheless, there are some issues.  People are preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry and out of selfish ambition and later on in the letter, Paul names two women who seem to have had a falling out.  So Paul urges the Philippians to make his joy complete by being “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind”.

Now, being of “one mind” sounds like a ‘tall order’.  Even with our best intentions, this sounds really daunting and, dare I say it, impossible.  Frankly, even as Christians, we’re not going to agree with each other over everything.  If I asked the question now, what’s your favourite hymn on the service sheet today, we’d have different answers.  If I start talking about things like the renewal project, I expect our opinions would be even more diverse.  If I add in political and ethical issues, then maybe the conversation would get quite heated!  But Paul does not mean we all have to have the same opinions or agree on everything; we are not clones of one another.  Instead, he is telling the Philippians, and us, that we can “be of one mind” even when we have differences of opinion.  He tells the congregation in Philippi that they can live together in unity.

So what will this way of living together ‘look’ like?  He says to the Philippians “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Phil 2:3).  Instead of putting their own interests first, he tells them that in humility they are to “value others above yourselves” (vs 3) and to “look to the interests of the others” in their community (vs 4).  Let’s take a closer look at that word ‘humility’.  What does it conjure up in your mind?  I always think of Uriah Heep in the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield.  He is an overly ‘O so ‘umble’  character who is anything but humble.  He grovels so much and is so self-deprecating that he takes pride in his humility; this though is false humility.  In society today, it seems that humility is a quality or ethic that’s often seen as a weakness in someone.  In a competitive world where targets, goals, aims, objectives and self-interest dominate, putting others above self is seen as a weakness.  So far then, the impression of that word humility is quite negative.  C.S Lewis in his book Mere Christianity defines it more positively though, he says: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."  

In his letter, Paul clarifies the meaning for the Philippians.  He does this by telling the Philippians to have the “same mindset as Christ Jesus” (vs 5).  Then he continues to say exactly what this ‘mindset’ is by quoting from what is probably an ancient hymn about Christ (it is sometimes called the ‘Christ Hymn’).  You’ll notice on the service sheet and in your Bibles that these verses are indented, which indicates they are a poem.  Some scholars consider these verses to have come from a hymn sung by the very early church during Communion.  If we think that Philippians was written at the latest around 63 CE then this ‘hymn’ could have been written as early as ten or twenty years after Jesus’ death.  The hymn is a statement about who Jesus is and what he accomplished.  Paul uses it in his letter to the Philippians to explain what it means to “in humility value others above yourselves” (vs 3).  (It is incredible that today we might be listening to the same words in our Communion service as those early Christians listened to in theirs.)

Although there is much debate about the exact meaning of some of the words used in the hymn, the general shape of it tells us how Jesus humbled himself.  The first verse of the hymn starts by proclaiming that Jesus Christ is God and yet he took the form of a servant or more accurately from the Greek, he took the form of a bondservant or slave.  Christ who is God does not exploit his rights, grasping at power to use his equality with God to his own advantage; he does not seize the opportunity to further his own interests.  Instead, he does the exact opposite; he makes himself nothing by taking on the very nature of a slave. 

Jesus is God and man, but he’s not the sort of man you might expect God to be.  He’s not the most powerful of men, not a rich king or powerful military man, no – he becomes a bondservant or slave.  This was the lowest possible position in the Roman world; God on high becomes the lowest of the low.  And as a slave, he is obedient even to death, death on a cross.  Notice the text says he ‘humbled himself’ – this was a voluntary act of self-giving.  He willingly and graciously offered himself for the most humiliating death possible.  This is where the ultimate, perfect ‘putting others before self’ is played out.  This is the perfect attitude and act of humility.  

What does this mean for the Philippians and what does it mean for us?  In our relationships with one another, and the world beyond the church door, we are to have the mindset of Christ.  His mindset is not only a disposition or intention, an abstract concept of humility, but also action.  He gives up his rights, his position and his power to serve others.  He gives up his life so we might have ours. 

The questions we have to ask ourselves are: what would giving up our rights look like in our relationships with each other?  What does deferring to others, relinquishing power look like in our lives?  Maybe there is something in a work context, maybe in a personal context, maybe in a church context that springs to mind for you.  Instead of striving for upward mobility, what would it be like to strive for downward mobility?  Instead of grabbing for what we feel we deserve, what would it be like to let go and give instead of take?  

Does all this seem too hard?  Too big?  Asking too much?

It is from Christ’s position of the lowest of the low that God then highly exalts him and gives him the name above all names.  The name above all names is the name for God - Lord.  Jesus is Lord.  He is exalted to the highest high so that every knee should bow and every tongue acknowledge that he is Lord.  We live under his Lordship and the source of these qualities of humility and service in us is Christ.  By acknowledging him as Lord, these qualities become a pattern of life we participate in together as we grow in him.  This participation with him and with each other is Koinonia (pronounced kin-on-ear).  This is God at work in us.


1.         What can we learn from the Philippians 2:1-11 about how we can strive for unity in 
            our church community; in our work environment; in our friendship groups?  What                   would you personally have to do differently?  What would enable you to change?

2.         Are humility and servanthood evident among us?

3.         Does our life together as a church community reflect “the same mindset as Christ 
            Jesus”? (vs 5)

4.         What does the reading tell us about the person of Christ?

5.         What does it mean to be humble or to be a servant in our community?  What are the             challenges that work against us?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Sermon for Sunday 7th September 2014 – Philippians 1:12-30 - Developing a purpose. Kim

Last week we started looking at Philippians. Bruce spoke about the koinonia which Paul lived out as he shared the gospel in words and deeds. It's a personal letter written by Paul in very difficult circumstances. Surprisingly, it's a letter that's full of joy and encouragement! It’s the type of letter we would like to receive when going through tough times. This week we will be looking at this letter to try and discover how we – no matter what circumstances we are living in; can live beyond the mundane to live joyful and encouraging lives.

If you think back to days of old, most of the people who accomplished great things did so in the context of very difficult circumstances. Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Corrie Ten Boom, our Olympian and Paralympian’s, the aids agencies and people in Iraq to name just a few. Some people are able to accomplish great things in very difficult circumstances. What's more, they're able to maintain a sense of calm and purpose. This matters to us because we spend a lot of time looking for reasonably good circumstances before we make our mark. How is it possible to rise above the circumstances of life? How is it possible to make a mark and live a life that's not only joyful and encouraging but significant?

As we read through Philippians, we will discover just how Paul was able to rise above his circumstances.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in life is what is important and what isn't. What are our priorities? One of the reasons Paul was able to withstand so much was that he knew where to place his priorities. His mission mattered more than his problems. His problems of being in prison, facing opposition, facing possible death. BUT Paul says: ‘And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters; that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.’ Does our health or family or financial or jobs or possessions, social problems, help us to spread the Good News? Do we use our circumstances to live for something that is bigger than our circumstances?
Often in life, we give up a present benefit for a larger future benefit.  The student gives up his leisure for the sake of an education.  The lover gives up his freedom for the security of marriage.  The dieter gives up foods he likes for the sake of health and a longer life.  The person in the military gives up civilian life for the benefit of his military career.  The jogger gives up comfort for health.  The saver gives up some purchases for the sake of a larger one later on.  That is what separates man from animals.  Cattle will eat until they die. The problem with all of these is that they're not big enough or permanent enough to overcome the obstacles we face in life. The problem is - most of us have nothing bigger to sustain us; that give us purpose and joy or encouragement. BUT Paul saw the larger eternal benefits and gave up the present, smaller benefits.

Paul used his problems served to advance the gospel. Used his problems served to inspire others. Paul's prison was a literal one. We may be facing circumstances we didn't choose, which wasn’t part of our plans, from which we can't escape. Paul faced opposition, others were preaching with selfish ambition, not sincerely. BUT whether or not their motives are pure, the fact remains that the message about Christ is being preached, so Paul rejoiced and would continue to rejoice. Paul knew that the gospel could be preached from dual motives and it can be preached amid misunderstandings.

Paul’s MASTER mattered more than his person. Although Paul was under threat, of being tortured and his life in danger, Paul knew that his Master gave him meaning for life and meaning for death. In death or life, all that mattered to Paul was that his master be glorified. ‘For I  (Paul) live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honour Christ, whether I live or I die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, but it is better for you that I live.’

We do know that Paul was released from this imprisonment, and even anticipated this release. When Paul wrote this letter, the outcome of the trial was still uncertain. His thoughts turned to the possibility of death.
What would give someone in jail, betrayed by his friends, with his own life in danger, be filled with joy and encouraged? What would cause him to see himself as part of a pioneer in spreading the gospel? To see the good that was coming from people who were promoting themselves at his expense? To even view the possibility of death without alarm or fear? The answer is: Paul had a purpose that was bigger than his circumstances.

If we live as if earth is all there is, and we live for only what lasts here - money, popularity, pleasure, prestige - we won't have enough to live for. We don't have something worth living for until we have something worth dying for.
There's freedom in coming to the place at which our purpose is so huge we've got nothing to lose. "But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love." (Acts 20:24)

So how can we rise above the circumstances in our life? It starts with a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul's priorities changed when he met Jesus on a road to somewhere else. Meeting Jesus changes everything, and it elevates your life from one of temporary impact to one of eternal impact.  Paul had three attitudes that helped him to rise above his circumstances:

Paul had a BELIEF! That God is in control of every circumstance. (v19) ‘For I know that as you pray for me and as the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will all turn out for my deliverance.’ We only have two options: to believe that this is all a series of co-incidences and mistakes, or to believe that God is at work in our lives, even in and through (not despite) our difficult circumstances. Think about circumstances of the past and look at the past to see how God has been at work in difficulties. Is God in control of the circumstances or our lives?

Paul thought through and found his PRIORITY! I'm part of something bigger than my life Paul didn't measure what was happening in his life according to how it affected his comfort or his plans, or even his life. He measured everything according to how it accomplished his life mission. (v12) ‘And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters; that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. What’s our life mission? Do you know yours?

Paul changed his PERSPECTIVE! It became the wider, longer view. Often we live as if this is all that there is. If this is true, then it does make sense to live like everyone else. But if you believe in eternity, that changes everything.
Our jobs, possessions, hang-ups become pretty insignificant compared to the realisation that we're members of and contributors to heaven. What changes do we need to make to be like Paul?


·         How would you rate the level of joy in your life? (score of 1-10)
·         How often do you remind yourself that God is in control of every circumstance? Often or not so often?
·         Do you see the bigger purpose of your life is to join Jesus in what he is doing?
·         How often do you think from a longer (eternal) perspective?
·         Does your health or family or financial or jobs or possessions, social problems, help you to spread the Good News?
·         Do you (as Paul did) have a belief, a priority, a perspective?

Maybe we need to recite this prayer below on a daily, weekly basis?

That we would rise above our circumstances; realize the power of a life well lived for an eternal purpose
Remind ourselves that God is in control; that we're part of something bigger; that eternity is much bigger than our lives.

Pray that our meeting with Jesus Christ would change our priorities forever.