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Lectionary Readings — 18th Sunday after Pentecost, October 1, 2023
Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32.
Call to Worship (based on Exodus 17:1-7)
Leader: Come, people of God! Remember how the Lord led Israel through the wilderness, through places of thirst and trial.
People: We gather, aware of our own wilderness places, but confident in God's guidance and provision.
Leader: Moses struck the rock at Horeb, and water flowed out because God commanded it.
People: Living water still flows for us today! We've seen God's power and love made manifest in our lives.
Leader: Let us not test the Lord but come forward in faith, knowing God hears our cries.
People: Our hearts are open, O God; we are eager to both speak and listen to Your word today.
Leader: So let us worship God, who led us thus far and will continue to lead us all the days of our lives.
People: With singing and praise, we worship the God of all ages, our Provider and Sustainer. Amen!
Opening Prayer (based on Matthew 21:23-32)
Heavenly Father, we come before You today, humbled and in awe of Your majesty and love. We are reminded by Your Word in Matthew 21 that authority comes from You, and yet You extend to us the grace to question, to seek, and to doubt. Lord, may our hearts be open to receive Your divine authority in our lives.
We confess, O Lord, that like the chief priests and elders, we sometimes question Your work and Your call without recognizing the authority with which You operate in our lives. We also admit that we can be like the sons in the parable: saying "yes" with our lips but "no" with our actions, or openly rebelling only to turn back to You in obedience. Father, forgive our inconsistency and our hesitancy to fully embrace Your will for our lives.
In this sacred moment and in this holy place, we ask for Your wisdom to descend upon us. May our hearts be fertile ground for the truth you wish to plant within us today. Give us the courage to not only hear Your words but to act on them, to be obedient children who honor You in thought, word, and deed.
For those among us struggling with doubt, Lord, we pray that Your Spirit will provide assurance. For those among us grappling with decisions, we pray for Your guiding hand to lead the way. And for those among us seeking a touch from You to heal, comfort, or provide, we stand in faith, believing that You hear our prayers and will answer in accordance with Your divine will.
In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Sermon Outline: [NOTE to Paid subscribers — scroll down for the full manuscript sermon].
Purpose: To illuminate the deity of Christ as revealed in Philippians 2:1-13, and to explore how this divine nature serves as a model for Christian unity and obedience. By examining key aspects of Christ's character and actions, the sermon aims to deepen the understanding of His divine nature, challenge common cultural concepts of leadership and service, and inspire a life of humility and obedience among believers. The overarching goal is to encourage the congregation to transcend worldly definitions of success, power, and individualism, embracing instead the eternal principles of divine love, unity, and servitude exemplified by Jesus Christ.
Title: Christ's Divinity: The Blueprint for Unity and Obedience (Philippians 2:1-13)
The profound mystery and revelation of Christ's deity
A call to explore Philippians 2:1-13 to understand how Christ’s divine nature informs our Christian living
I. Communion of the Spirit (Philippians 2:1-2)
A. Spiritual Solidarity
The Unity of Spirit (v. 1)
The Charge to Consolation in Christ (v. 1)
B. The Synchronized Church
The Pursuit of Likemindedness (v. 2)
Love as the Glue of Unity (v. 2)
II. Counter-Cultural Humility (Philippians 2:3-4)
A. Shunning Selfishness
Humility Over Vanity (v. 3)
Emptiness of Conceit (v. 3)
B. Sanctified Sight
Seeing Others as Higher (v. 3)
Concern for Community (v. 4)
III. Christ's Cosmic Citizenship (Philippians 2:5-7)
A. The Divine Dimension
The Mind of Christ (v. 5)
The Equality with God (v. 6)
B. The Surrendered Sovereign
Emptying Himself (v. 7)
The Servant Nature (v. 7)
IV. Crucial Conformity (Philippians 2:8-13)
A. Obedience’s Offering
Humble to the Point of Death (v. 8)
The Divine Exemplar (v. 8)
B. Submissive Sovereignty
The Exalted Name (v. 9-11)
Working Out Salvation (v. 12-13)
The Divine Dichotomy: Christ as both God and Servant
An invitation to emulate Christ's humility and obedience, rooted in His divine nature
Full Manuscript Sermon Below for Paid Subscribers
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