Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: https://sothrichfield.podbean.com
Philippians 3:12-4:1 (NIV)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Following Paul’s Example
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 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.
Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity
4 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
From what Paul is saying in this passage, what do you think was happening in this community?
Lord, I have been deeply grieved by the things happening as a result of this horrible virus. I have been skeptical and angry at the disruption in my life and for the many people who are being hurt physically, emotionally, and financially by this. It is scary stuff. But I never dreamed that I would not be able to come together to worship You. Church has been my safe place, a place to share Your message of love and forgiveness, surely that would be ok. But it’s not. My mind was set on earthly things. You have made it clear to me that I need to think differently. I thank You, Lord, that You have called a new pastor to our congregation at just the right time to shepherd us through this storm. You are bigger than any storm. Things are different now and we can’t look at what is behind us but we need to press forward to the goal of winning souls, nurturing the sick and lonely and sharing Your love through this crisis. We will learn how to worship You in new ways, how to support each other differently and how to study together remotely. Thank You for technology. I pray that as Your message of love goes public in ways that could not happen within the four walls of our church that You reach the hearts of the many who currently don’t know You or reject You as Lord but tune in to the online services to hear Pastor Mike’s words, the music, Bible studies or other messages. Let us continue to praise, worship and serve You in whatever way possible until we reach our final destination as citizens of heaven where no virus, no evil, no sin, will ever separate us from praising You face to face. I long for that day and until then I will stand firm in You and worship You where I am because Your Spirit is with me and connects me with fellow believers not only from Shepherd of the Hills but from around the world. Amen