God's Spiritual Stimulus Plan – Relationships (2 of 14) by Steve Jones

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God's Spiritual Stimulus Plan – Relationships (2 of 14)
Series: God's Spiritual Stimulus Plan
Steve Jones
Philippians 1

INTRODUCTION: Today, I want to talk about Church relationships. The huge redwood trees in California are amazing. They are the largest living things on earth and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them are 100m high and more than 2,500 years old. You would think that trees that large would have a tremendous root system, reaching down deep into the earth. But that is not the case. Redwoods have a very shallow root system. The roots of these trees are, however, intertwined. They are tied in with each other; interlocked. Thus, when the storms come and the winds blow the redwoods still stand. With an interlocking root system they support and sustain each other. They need one another to survive.

Church relationships are a lot like that – we need each other to survive. If you're a "me and Jesus make a church" kind of person I believe you are seriously misinterpreting Jesus' plan for your life. I'm in a sermon series based on Paul's letter to the Philippians entitled "God's Spiritual Stimulus Plan." It's a series of sermons about the provision that God has made to keep our spirits strong and healthy, even if our economy is sick and weak. Paul wrote this letter from prison to an audience that was living in extreme poverty. And yet, the letter is full of faith, hope, confidence and joy. What are the elements of God's spiritual stimulus plan as they're revealed in Philippians? The first that we're going to look at today is relationships; but not just ANY relationships. According to Paul, we need relationships that are characterized by three criteria.

Philippians 1:3-6 "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
In this verse, Paul says that he is "thankful" and "joyful" - that's spiritual stimulus. Don't you want to be thankful and joyful? As I mentioned last week, Paul, the author of this letter, is writing from prison. In prison he is constantly chained to a Roman guard and dependent upon the financial contributions of far-away friends for his own physical welfare. If that were you or me and we were writing letters to our church friends from prison would we be expressing how thankful and joyful we were? More likely we would write "Hey, what are you doing to get me out of here? Where's my 'dream team'?!" But not Paul; Paul was thankful and joyful because he considers the Philippians to be "partners in the gospel." That's his reason.
Perhaps when Paul wrote this he was thinking about the first person he baptized in Philippi. We read about her in Acts 16. She was a Jewish businesswoman named Lydia who ...

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