Mastering the Letter As We Study the Book

Last Sunday we embarked on a pulpit study of Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. This choice by our elders during my medical leave of absence thrills me. Why? The theme of peacemaking runs throughout it.


We don’t get any further than 1:27 before Paul begs, so that I may hear of you standing firm in one spirit , with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. Then in 2:2 the apostle goes so far as to plead, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Come 2:14 he lays this on them: Do all things without grumbling or disputing. And before the book ends, he calls out two women by name charging them to agree in the Lord (Phil. 4:2). He even invokes the aid of a mediator to assist them to that end. This church certainly endured its share of unity challenges!

We could hardly dig into a more strategic book to strengthen our peacemaking core value than the book of Philippians.

Here are seven ways to get the most out of a study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

  1. Listen to Pastor Mike’s comprehensive overview of the book AGAIN. My, what a job he did! For extra credit check out ISBE’s article for its introduction of the letter.
  2. Read through the entire book at least once per week, perhaps on Saturday nights in preparation for the Lord’s Day.
  3. Read the sermon passage of the week DAILY. Ask the Lord to give you insight. Make some observation, interpretation, application notes along the way in a notebook, journal, or your mobile device. Tomorrow’s text is Phil. 1:1-11.
  4. Pick a key verse (mine is Phil. 2:1-11–I know that’s a section), memorize it, and meditate upon it throughout the series. How might God work in our church this year if everyone did this? Take a smaller portion if eleven verses overwhelm you. I get it. For some reason memorization comes rather easily to me. Not everyone enjoys the same experience.
  5. Bookmark the Preceptaustin page in your computer for more commentary resources you can possibly consult along the way. After you do your own study through the week, check your conclusions against the scholarly work you’ll find at that site.
  6. Use your Sunday’s well. Remember Pastor Shane’s message a few weeks back? He stressed this. Discuss the sermon at lunch with others. Review the points from your notes later in the day. Decide on one thing you will do to apply the message that week. Ask someone to hold you accountable to it.
  7. Pray for the speaker each week (Dennis Mudge serves tomorrow) and for us as a congregation. Pray for anointing on the preacher. Pray for soft hearts among us as hearers (James 1:21).

Imagine the fruit to come from these messages, if our covenant members adopt this kind of strategy for mining the rich ore laden in the shafts of this peacemaking treasure of God’s word.

Lord willing, see you tomorrow back in my appointed seat. I might even let loose with an “Amen!” or “Preach it, brother!” here and there.

Question: What excites you about our study in this book of the Bible? You can leave your comment here.

Help for Expositional Listening

In his little book on healthy church membership, Thabiti Anyabwile promotes expositional listening as the first mark of a healthy church member. He defines expositional listening this way: listening for the meaning of a passage of Scripture and accepting that meaning as the main idea to be grasped for our personal and corporate lives as Christians (p. 20).

He gives six suggestions for cultivating this habit:

  1. Meditate on the sermon passage during your quiet time. FYI, tomorrow’s text is Galatians 5:13-15.
  2. Invest in a good set of commentaries. These would aid your study in your quiet time prep.
  3. Talk and pray with friends about the sermon after church. I supply discussion questions in every bulletin to help with this.
  4. Listen to and act on the sermon throughout the week. We upload the audio recording normally every Sunday afternoon after the message is given that morning.
  5. Develop the habit of addressing any questions about the text itself. Be active not passive in your reading and study.
  6. Cultivate humility. Beware knowledge puffing up as opposed to building up.

Will you seek tomorrow to develop this mark of a healthy church member? Pray that all who attend will.

No Sermon Upload Today

Due to security reasons attached to the sensitive nature of the material and locations presented by our guest speaker today, there will be no sermon upload for August 14, 2011.

Lord willing, we will post the next sermon in the series The Graces of Gospel-Shaped Community, as I resume the series next Sunday, August 21, 2011.

We appreciate your understanding for our need to be discreet in this regard.

Listen Up!

Available this Sunday for a mere buck at the resource table will be Christopher Ash’s little book Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons (2009, The Good Book Company, 30 pages).

Here’s how the publisher describes the resource:

Christopher Ash outlines seven ingredients for healthy listening. He then deals with how to respond to bad sermons – ones that are dull, or inadequate, or heretical [not that you’ll need this at OGC]. And finally, he challenges us with ideas for helping and encouraging our Bible teachers to give sermons that will really help us to grow as Christians.

Ash prescribes these seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening:

1. Expect God to speak
2. Admit God knows better than you
3. Check the preacher says what the passage says
4. Hear the sermon in church
5. Be there week by week
6. Do what the Bible says
7. Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice!

Endorsements include:

‘We give Listen Up to all our new members’
– Mark Dever, Sr. Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church

‘We just don’t have teaching and training on how to LISTEN to sermons. Christopher Ash shows what a gaping hole that omission leaves’
Rico Tice, All Souls, Langham Place, London

‘New, fresh, wise, and personally convicting. A must-read for anyone serious about growing as a Christian’
Andrew Reid, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

‘Provides crucial theology and practical advise about listening that can make the difference between life and death in the church.’
R Kent Hughes

‘A great resource to help grow a new generation of believers who both tremble at God’s word and are changed by it.’
Vaughan Roberts, St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, UK

Be sure to pick up your copy this Sunday!