Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Standing Firm

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, May 22, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody

Click Here to Download the Philippians Outline Chart

Scripture Reference:  Philippians 3:10 - 4:1

Stand firm. Stand fast. Stay faithful. Keep the faith. Never give up. Stand your ground.

We all want to be that guy who never gives up when the chips are down; to be the one who remains strong and faithful to his family, his friends, his principles. It takes the courage we want to have; it takes the determination we want to exhibit. We want to be faithful to Jesus Christ in a world that assaults us with their insults, their skepticism, their impatience, their intolerance.

Stand firm. Oh, how we want to do so.

Here is what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:1: “. . . THAT is how you should stand firm in the Lord!”

Whoa, wait a minute. I need the HOW part to help me stand firm in the Lord. Where is that part?  In one of those ironies that pop up now and then, Stephen Langton, who established the Bible’s chapter divisions in the year 1205, made a booboo here. Verse 4:1 should have been in chapter 3. (To his credit, he got most of the chapter divisions right.)

So we back up to chapter three to find out HOW to stand firm in the faith. But the HOW isn’t what you think it is.

No talk of church business meetings, committees, building funds, Sunday Schools, or seminaries. No talk of degrees, certifications, titles, or pedigrees. In fact, Paul makes clear that these things are “of the flesh.:”  He means that they have no eternal value, and are in fact tainted with the brokenness of the fall as much as anything else we bring to the table of life. He thinks that compared to the glory that is to come that these things are trash:

“. . . I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . . I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him . . .” Philippians 3:8-9  

He was telling the disciples at Philippi that standing firm is something other than what we can do for ourselves. It is something God must do in us. He uses the athletic imagery of the Roman games to illustrate:

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Forget what lies behind. Strain toward what lies ahead.

That’s it? That’s how you stand firm in the faith?


The passage goes on to say:

“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.  Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” 

I boldfaced the words I wanted you to see most. Note that he says our citizenship IS in heaven. Present tense. It is now that you are citizens of the Kingdom of God. It is not something we are waiting for.

Second, the power that transforms us into his likeness is his. We can’t do it. God says he can. No, actually he says he will. Done deal.

So we are citizens of the right kingdom by Jesus’ sacrifice for us. And it is he who empowers our ongoing progress in becoming like him.

That’s why Paul can write: “Forget what lies behind. Strain toward what lies ahead.”

The past? Forget it. It doesn’t count anymore. Sure, learn from it. But it isn’t worth worrying about.

The future? It belongs to God, not to you or me. We only think we influence it. (For some reason we keep thinking we are in charge of our life.) Paul is telling us to keep our eyes on the Christ who has saved us, is saving us, and will save us.

“Forget what lies behind. Strain toward what lies ahead.”

And THAT is how to stand firm.

Sound too simple? Maybe it’s meant to be.

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One final note:  This was the last Sunday for Chip as Pastor at Mountain View Christian Church.  Pastor Chip has retired from the day-to-day life as a pastor at MVCC.  This doesn't mean that he's slowing down, heaven's no.  Chip is the Dean of Students at Phoenix Seminary and is teaching the next generation of Pastors and Church Leaders for God's church.  We, at Mountain View, wish many blessings on Chip and Gina Moody and thank them dearly for the 22 years of service that they have given this community.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Philippians - Now, About that Attitude of Yours

Click Here to Listen to the Sermon for Sunday, May 15, 2011 by Pastor Chip Moody

Click Here to Download a Copy of the Philippians Outline Chart

Scripture Reference:  Philippians 2:1-16

“Be like Jesus.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Be like Jesus. It astonishes me that we can say this so blithely.

Be like Jesus. You’re kidding, right?

Is there anything else you would like me to do? Leap a tall building in a single bound? Stop a speeding locomotive? Catch a bullet between my teeth? It shouldn’t be a problem for someone who can “be like Jesus.”

But there it is in Philippians 2. Be like Jesus.

The precise words are “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus . . .” What attitude? Oh, only absolute unfettered selflessness, that’s all.

Really? Selflessness?  I suppose there are times when I am somewhat selfless . . . maybe.


But Philippians 2.5-8 describes this selflessness in a not so “sorta” kind of way.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who,
although He existed in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied Himself,
taking the form of a bond-servant,
and being made in the likeness of men.
Being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. [NASB]

Nothing sorta about this. The attitude we are to have is that of Jesus as he emptied himself of his glory to become incarnate in human flesh and offered himself to crucifixion for the sins of the world. You know. Selfless.

Oh, that attitude.   

Paul the Apostle wrote to this church of Philippi, a solid, healthy, and joy-filled church, to concentrate on selflessness, for in it they would find what all humans seek, as well as what God desires us to have--harmony with one another. Peace in the flock. Healthy relationships with brothers and sisters in the Lord. Peacemaking.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent,
children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
 among whom you appear as lights in the world,
 holding fast the word of life,
so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory
because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. [NASB]

I find it fascinating that Paul seems to be saying that at then end of the age Paul will be most proud to be able to say, “In a selfish world I planted churches in which everyone got along nice.”

That would take a miracle, you say.  Well . . . yes, I think it is a miracle. Selflessness is a miracle that only comes about because of the transforming work of God in my life. Because of the presence of God in me, thanks to Jesus, I can choose to put myself last, consider others better than myself (v. 3), and we can achieve a level of love for one another the world without God can’t experience.

Call it abundant life. After all, most of our most troublesome problems are about relationships, especially relationships with those we are supposed to love and who are supposed to love us. Most other problems don’t keep us from abundant life. Bad relationships always do.

So be selfless, Paul writes. Doesn’t he know how difficult this is? Doesn’t he see the inherent complexity and confoundedness of getting along with others?  Yes he does. And he knows the only successful solution for our inability to get along is—you guessed it, selflessness.

So be like Jesus.


Philippians - Joy in All Circumstances

Click Here to Listen to the May 8, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Download a Copy of the Philippians Outline Chart

Scripture Reference:  Philippians 1:1-30

How do you have joy in all circumstances? 
Life is deucedly tough sometimes.  Can I get an ‘Amen’?  As a pastor, you  get a glimpse into the pain in a lot of people’s lives.  It seems that every day, someone close to me is going through their own private hell.
Here’s just a few from the last few weeks: 
  • An old friend sent me the news that a mutual friend from Junior High and High School had murdered his wife and then shot himself.
  • A friend of mine got THE diagnosis of the ‘C’ word.
  • Another friend is in the suffering in the hospital and the doctors cannot seem to find out what’s wrong.
  • Several friends are going through varying degrees of serious marital problems.
  • Several friends have lost their jobs.
  • Others are dealing with serious workplace conflict.
There’s divorce, medical problems, family fights, betrayal, death, and a thousand other real life problems.
The question then is:  How do you be joyful in your circumstances?
Our current series at Mountain View is on Paul’s letter to the Philippian church.   Paul is writing them a letter of thanks and encouragement.  He is thankful for their support and encouragement and he is encouraging them as they work through problems of persecution and internal conflict within the church.
The irony is this… Paul was in prison, facing possible execution.  You’d think that he would be the one that needed the encouragement, but here he was encouraging them.
Encouragement.  Joy.  Unity.  These are all powerful themes in this letter.  They are also things that should naturally flow out of being a believer.  We have received the greatest gift in the entire universe, the hope of salvation in a loving God.  It would seem that nothing else should phase us.  Why fear death if we know where we are going?  Why fear persecution when we have a Lord that gives us strength?  Why worry about squabbles and fighting when we are part of the greatest world-wide body of people?
Those are three great questions, but the simple truth is that we are all human.  We do get discouraged.  It is possible to get so overwhelmed that we forget our joy.  Disunity does happen due to our selfishness.
Well then, what’s a Christian to do?
God has given us a gift that makes a difference:  Each other.
We can encourage each other.  We can share joy with each other.  We can be unified with each other.
Encouraging another person can be simple.  Write a short letter to them.   Take someone to coffee or lunch and let them vent.  Pray with them.  Drop a short line on Facebook or by email.  Call them up during the week or give a hug on Sunday.  This brings them joy and it builds unity.
The funny thing about encouraging someone else is that it builds our own joy too. 
We live in a world of discouragers.  There’s always someone ready to tear you down at work, at school, and often in our own families.  That’s why we need our fellow Christians to be encouragers and that’s why each of us must make the decision to be an encourager.
Our practical application during this series is to send an encouragement letter to someone.  Sit down with paper and pen and write a good old fashioned letter or card to someone that you know needs encouragement.
Do this and you’ll make a difference in someone’s life.
It might just be your own.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Deacon Means Servant - Deacon Ordination Service 05/01/2011

Click Here to Listen to the Sermon for Sunday, May 01, 2011 by Pastor Chip Moody

Click Here to Listen to the Deacon Ordination Service for Sunday, May 01, 2011

Scripture References:  Acts 6:1-8 and 1Timothy 3:8-13

“Deacon” equals “Servant”

There are two offices in the church that have the distinction of a job description. One is that of Pastor/Elder and the other is the office of Deacon. Sunday we ordained, or “set aside” for God’s service, two of our number as biblical Deacons.

What are deacons? For background lets look at Acts 6. It records a problem in the fledgling church of Jerusalem:

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."  5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.  6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them”[NIV]

These men, chosen to solve the sin of discrimination in the church, were specially chosen for their spiritual integrity and servant hearts. The duties of the biblical Deacon have not changed over these 2,000 years. There is still a need for godly men and women who will look after the day-to-day service of the flock so that the pastors might give themselves fully to prayer and to the study of the Word of God.

And then there is that job description I told you about:

“Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 3:8-13 [NASB]

So what does the biblical deacon look like?

A deacon has a right relationship with the Savior - The church was commanded to choose from among the members of Christ’s body. Make sure they are part of the flock of God, one submitted to God in faith in Jesus Christ. Many churches have paid a terrible price for elevating unsaved men and women to positions of leadership in the church.

A deacon has a right relationship with the flock - Notice that the saints were to "choose from among yourselves." They were to recognize from among their own fellowship persons they had observed. Men and women they trusted. This corresponds to a portion of the requirements of a Deacon listed in 1 Tim. 3:10: “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.”

A deacon should have the recommendation of the Spirit of God.  They were to be "filled with the Holy Spirit.” This term carries the idea of having behavior under the control of the Holy Spirit.

A biblical Deacon must be a servant.  The very word “deacon” in your NT, in the Greek of the New Testament, can be translated as “servant.” In the early church, Deacons were chosen as servants overseeing the fair and equitable distribution of food to the needy.

Similar to an elder, deacons are to live an uncommon life.  When we look at the list of qualifications in 1 Timothy 3, it’s easy to see that Deacons are expected to live godly, separated lives.

  • Deacons are to be worthy of respect. They live lives worth imitating.
  • Not double-tongued.  They say what they mean; they mean what they say.
  • Not greedy for money. They have a spiritual attitude toward money and who will not use their office to gain something from others.
  • Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. They do not confess adherence to doctrine that they do not wholeheartedly believe. Plus, deacons are more concerned with what the Bible says than they are with what the church constitution and by-laws say.
  • Let them be proved. Examined to see if they live a consistent life of faith. 
  • In control of their home.  They have earned the love and respect of the family. They are family people. They are dedicated to a spiritually healthy home.

But most important of all is a Deacon’s function: Deacons are to serve the church--the family of God

Deacons don’t cut grass or paint the Sunday school classroom. They don’t constitute a board that competes with elders in overseeing the church. Deacons don’t count offerings or teach classes. A deacon serves people.

They visit the sick, care for the grieving; oversee benevolence gifts, food for the poor and other resources. They counsel the lonely and the worried. They encourage the hurting. They give godly wisdom to those they serve. And they help mobilize you to accomplish all these tasks with them.


Support these Deacons that you have set apart to serve you.
Pray for them as you do your pastor and the other biblical elders of the congregation.
Recognize their wisdom and respect their dedication

What we have done in setting apart deacons for His service brings even more glory to God.

And that is what our lives, our obedience, our church is about.

Bringing all glory to God.