Last Sunday for a While and Why I’m Eternally Grateful For You

On Sunday it was my last official Sunday as Plattsville’s lead pastor. A position I have held for over 4 years, and one I have loved every single minute of it. Plattsville is a really unique and special church. They have something special within them about how they practice grace, how they show love, and how they support.

So on Sunday for my final sermon here, I re-preached the passage I preached for my first sermon here: Philippians 1.

Here in Philippians Paul is writing to a church he deeply deeply loves but has been called away from. And he writes this:

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. I always pray for you, and I make my request with a heart full of joy because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.”

I unpacked this passage a little bit and why Paul was so thankful to the Philippian church.

Paul was so grateful to the Philippian church because of how they supported him. Paul was in prison and in that day and age meals weren’t covered or provided. You needed to rely on others for your daily sustenance and support. And the Philippian church were part of daily providing for Paul.

Paul was also deeply welcomed into the Philippian church family. All you need to do is to read his letter and how often he mentions them as dearest friends, brother and sisters, or partners in God’s grace to get that these are just people to him – they are his people. They are his family. He loves his church because they welcomed him.

And lastly, Paul loves the Philippian church because they have been his partners in sharing God’s grace. Paul makes that explicit in the first few verses, and keeps on mentioning it throughout his letter. He loves the church because of what they did together.

And on Sunday I shared with you all that I love this church for the same reason. That you supported me, that you welcomed me, and together we partnered with God in the business of God’s grace. I shared story after story after story of how you did that. And that bcause of how you supported, welcomed, and partnered I am eternally grateful.

That was my main point really: that I’m grateful to each and everyone of you, because this is a special church. I challenged each of you to commit to this place, because this is a special place.

And to close I ended the same way I started almost 5 years ago with these words:

Paul writes, ““Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. I always pray for you, and I make my request with a heart full of joy because you  have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.” I actually believe that this passage is prophetic for us. Meaning that I believe it will be true for us. That, like Paul, in years to come, when we’ve been living out this grace business for a while, I’ll be able to say to you like Paul did to the Philippians. Plattsville church every time I think of you, I’m filled with thanksgiving. With joy, with excitement. It’s never a struggle to pray for you, and my prayers to God are always filled with joy at the amazing privilege and honor it is to be your pastor. This is because you and I have joined in this grace business of God together. We’ve jumped in with two feet, supporting one another, loving one another, and deciding that from day one we would be about spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ

And that’s exactly what happened.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: I am so grateful for you.

Teaching Points:

  • I’ll always consider myself part of this place and your pastor.
  • Paul loves Phillipi because of how they supported him, welcomed him, and partnered together with God.
  • When someone is hurting, you don’t get to take the focus.
  • Being changed by Jesus and changing lives with Jesus.
  • You have a special place in my heart.
  • This is a church that supports one another, journeys together, and is about God’s grace.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? How have you been welcomed here, supported here, or partnered together in sharing God’s grace? What are you thankful for in this place? Are you willing to commit and see what the future God has for you?

Challenge for the Week: This place rocks, and you should commit to being here.

Don’t be Scared to Follow

Picture1Fear is a subtle and sneaky thing. It steals good things, and turns them into bad things. It takes joy and excitement because of “what could go wrong.” And it happens so easily, and it happened to us a little while ago when we were trying to sell our house, and unsure why it hasn’t been moving.

And then through a series of unforeseen events, our house became sold. Which was great! This is something I had been stressing and worrying over, and it happened. But then rather than being excited, we got worried that we now have only have a little while to find another house.

All of a sudden this good thing, became almost a bad thing. All of a sudden something to celebrate became something to worry about. This is what fear does, but it also does something subtler and even more dangerous. It steals our gratitude towards God. Because all of a sudden rather than thanking God for what he did, we began to ask him about this worry or problem. Rather than appreciating the gift of our house selling, in his timing, we rushed forward to yet another issue for him to fix.

All of a sudden our focus shifted from God’s hand working in our lives, to what else we needed him to do in our lives.

But God is gracious, and good even when we miss the point.

So the next morning I went into my office to do my daily devotions. Still feeling a little apprehensive about everything. Knowing in my mind that God has the details worked out, but wanting to really know that in my heart. And the passage for my daily Scripture reading was, Number 13:31-14:25. A passage all about trusting, and not giving in to fear. A passage all about following where God has called you to go. A passage all about how God will provide, do miraculous things, and surprise you with the blessings he has for you when you trust. And in the margin I had wrote previously, “TAKE GODLY RISKS, Don’t be scared to follow”.

And while some people might just say it’s a coincidence that was the reading for today. Or some people might say I’m just reading into this, or it’s just random chance. All I can say to that is that it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like God was reminding me that he is with us, and has a future for us. It feels like God is reminding me that trusting in him is never wasted. It feels like God is drawing the attention back to him, and deepening my trust in him because that’s what it’s about.

So I share all this to just remind you of a few things. Don’t let fear steal the future God has for you. Don’t let worry shape your mind so much, that you lose trust in God. Don’t let the “what if’s” of life cloud the fact that God is with you, and for you. Don’t let our anxiety, and uncertainty stop us from taking Godly risks. Or as I needed to be reminded myself, “Don’t be scared to follow” in whatever it is that God has for you. Because the Israelites found out that fear just leaves you wandering in the desert, but trust is the thing that moves you forward.