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good morning friends great to be with you on this new year 2021 you made it way to go you you got through and you did it and great job i was just intrigued on new year’s eve just to listen i went and sort of listened to some of the different comments that were made by different um people on tv as the new year clicked over and one reporter went simply with this thank goodness that’s over i was like wow i mean way to go negative and and then on the bbc they did a big fireworks display right after midnight and the first words were as they started their big display and the voice over were in 2020 a new virus hit the world i was like is there anybody that that is news to at this point surely we all need we know we’re good um and and what we wanted to do in this new year was this we wanted to to think about the idea that we can look

back at 2020. that’s maybe for some of us a celebration we get to look back and say hey that year is gone we’re in a new year but also whenever you go through an experience one of the best things you can do is is to learn from it so so our goal was this how can we learn from 2020. now there’s something about us as human beings i think that we like rhythm we’re just made that way so think about this if you woke up or you never got to wake up on a new day how would that feel every failure every time you made a mistake every era that would always be today there’s something fresh about waking up on a new day and be like ah i can i can start over there’s something about a new week about the weekend about having some time off and starting again we’ll get to that in week four when we talk a little bit about rest but there’s

something about rhythms that we like so i think it’s normal that we think new years are a fresh start but there’s a danger there as well maybe this was something that theresa outcomes director sent me uh that a friend of hers had posted his post from 2000 december 2019 220 is gonna be a great year now maybe it would have been maybe 2021 will be a fantastic year or round but if our reliance is just on a calendar ticking over for things to get refreshed for things to be new then eventually we’re going to find ourselves back in the same place that we might have found ourselves at the end of last year just waiting for another fresh start if we learn from it if we put some principles in place that actually we may get to come out of 2020 into 2021 feeling stronger feeling like we are better equipped to to do what south fellowship wants to do

which is to walk in the way of jesus with the heart of jesus so over the next few weeks we’re going to follow this guy called paul a new testament writer and we’re going to read through his letter to the philippians now we can’t go verse by verse that would take us a lot of time a lot more than the four weeks that we have but one of my encouragements to you would be this take that one book in the bible and read it just take half an hour sit down you can read it in half an hour read it cover to cover when we land on the high points as we go through it week by week here take some time to read the bits in between the bits that we didn’t get a chance to cover this is a chance for you to to self feed to grow by yourself which is is a really cool thing so let’s get into it this is paul writing to a church in a place called philippi i marked it with a p i

realized that may have been a mistake because that could also mean paul paul is not where the p is philippi the town is where paul is and paul paul’s stuck in prison paul’s in maybe one of these three places there’s all sorts of like scholarly reasons why you could be over on the the sort of the far side of your map over here is a town called caesarea over in the middle is a town called ephesus and and far over there in italy is a map it is rome now in case you needed to hint this is the mediterranean if you’re unaware just filling you in geographically but but paul is somewhere here and there’s a reason we picked philippians because you might say that philippians is a lockdown epistle philippians is a virus time epistle philippians is a letter that you might write in a situation just like lots of us find ourselves in right now this is paul’s situation

see if it sounds familiar paul is locked up in house arrest he’s not allowed to go out anywhere right now he’s separated from those that he loves he doesn’t get to see them this is a church that he started he went on this big expedition he started this church in this town called philippi and it’s now been years since he got to see them and he’s also living through some politically volatile times the the year is probably somewhere about 62 a.d jesus died and rose again about 30 years before christianity went from this tiny little sect in one town to spreading everywhere and the guy that’s running everything is this guy called nero some people love him some people hate him he’s very divisive does that sound familiar i’m not saying that that president trump is like nero or not i’m just saying that people love him people hate him he’s in that time of like

what’s going to happen now i think one of the things we could learn learn there on a little side note is this i don’t think paul was sat around asking if nero was god’s man for the roman empire i’m not sure that was the biggest thing in his mind his focus his sole focus was on how can i share who jesus is and what he did and then this church in philippi this church is facing uncertain finances they do not know where their next paycheck is coming from does that sound somewhat like someone you might know maybe that’s you right now this is a little note that paul writes to another church about this little town in philippi and now brothers and sisters we want you to know about the grace that god has given the macedonian churches in the midst of a very severe trial their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity

this is a church that that didn’t know where the money was coming from and yet still found themselves to be generous this church is experiencing persecution this sect this group of people this new religion christianity is no longer popular it was to start with just a little thing that was a side note and now it’s big and significant and people hate it people are not happy that this thing is spreading everywhere nero the guy we just looked at will in a few years start a huge campaign against christianity and this group of people is trying to learn the way of jesus even though the guy that started the church paul is now many miles away and they haven’t seen him for years they’re a group of people wrestling with what it is to follow jesus in this world that they’re presented with philippians is a letter that could be written to our times could be written

to our times and so if you want a broad summary of philippians this is what i would say if you wanted to get it in a sentence obviously there’s more to it than this the message of philippians is this because of god’s good grace we can choose joy at all times because of god’s good grace we can choose joy at all times so some of you all want to know where we’re going some of you all want to do some reading during the week if you want to grab your phone you can take a picture if you want to write down these passages you can go and look at them as well we’re going to cover most of them today but it’ll give you a chance to do your thing i’ll leave it up there for at least the next five seconds so act quickly while they’re doing that i can just note that we talked about leaving the layout as it is loads of you said that you loved it for this season

right now i said dangerously this let’s try and make it feel like a comedy club and then backtracked quickly because there’s two implications there one is that i’ll be funny which is not probable and two what happens at a comedy club you’re told things that aren’t true um and you’re supposed to laugh at them which is not what we do here just on a side note and your time’s over so let’s jump in philippians chapter one verse one paul and timothy servants of christ jesus to all god’s holy peoplein christ jesus at philippi together with the overseers and deacons grace and peace to you from god our father and the lord jesus christ 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 we’re going to use these three verses as an anchor for the next four weeks if you like to memorize parts of the bible this is a great part for you to memorize over the next few weeks it just has so much in it and we’re going to go through this bit by bit and we’re going to jump into some of the other chapters in this really short letter to this church in philippi the start is just the start of a normal letter this is just how people wrote letters in the first century a.d i just send you my greetings it could be a letter from a mother to a fur to a son it could be almost any kind of letter so paul starts off just in the traditional way and then he lands in this first line i thank my god every time i remember you paul’s first step is gratitude philippians begins with gratitude and think about

that in the context of what they’re going through we just said paul’s in jail paul’s been in jail for a while and paul may never get out of jail this writer is he’s his court case is in the balance he could be executed at any moment he doesn’t know what his future holds this church in philippi is struggling they are doing some great things and yet at the same time their future is uncertain as well and yet paul in the midst of this philippians in the midst of this begins with gratitude this incredible word this greek word eucharisto which is literally two words put together the greek word for good and the greek word for grace when paul talks about thanks when he talks about gratitude he’s talking about this idea of good grace and now you guys i’m sure every one of you can find a source of gratitude something that you’ve experienced at some time in your life

maybe you’ve had one of those feelings where you’re like i am so grateful in this moment right now this is my family back in england we went to visit them we tried one of these shots called magic pano so my actual my my second daughter gigi has kind of disappeared from the shot uh didn’t really work very well but these are all the people that i love most in the world and i have this moment this feeling of gratitude a couple of years ago i distinctly remember sitting in my parents garden and just having one of those moments everyone i love in the world right now most deeply is safe they’re here present with me this is joy every one of you can think of a moment i’m sure where you have felt that deep sense of gratitude life is good maybe you’ve seen it maybe you’ve seen it on others a few years ago i was taking a trip out to haiti i was

spending some time with the the representative in the country and we hadn’t got to meet this group of kids that we were going to work with yet but i said to france where i said francois i have a plan um how would it be if we took them to the beach haiti’s like this caribbean paradise in some ways and yet so much of it is broken and i just said i’d love us to take him to the beach and he looked at me and he said it would be really expensive i said well we’ll figure out the money part but what would it mean would it be worthwhile i don’t want to do something that’s not worthwhile and francois looked at me with tears in his eyes and he said it would be everything these kids have never been more than sort of 10 minutes outside of their the the street that they live in they live on a caribbean island and they’ve never seen the ocean it would

mean everything so i said well we’ll make it happen we’ll figure out the money and so we we got these buses and we grabbed there was a hundred of us about 60 haitian kids about 20 american kids and then a load of adults and stuff like that and we we stuck them on this bus and we drove them two hours to this beautiful ocean side uh a beautiful ocean beach and i had this plan there’s about 60 of them they can’t swim so i’m like we’re going to send them into the water about 20 at a time and we’ll keep the other 40 on the side so we got there and we split them into groups and i sent the 20 into the water and i was sick i had shingles i was miserable in some ways but i’m there sort of helping things happen and i send these 20 kids into the water and then i watched as this group of american teenagers is left to sort of police this 40 that are

left on the beach looking at the water and it’s like that moment if you’ve ever seen a dam start to burst you see like a little bit of water starting to appear and then more and then more and more and slowly one haitian kid finds a way through a crack and then another and as you turn to stop those two three more run to the other side of you and in the end it was just this joyful mess of screams and giggles and laughter and joy of kids enjoying life kids born into adversity born into situations that aren’t great many of these kids they lost their parents during the earthquake in 2010 and the pastor of the church he he just they just turned up on his doorstep and he just went about figuring out what do we do now and he just made plans and he kept working and he kept feeding them and he kept clothing them and he kept schooling them and

he just made it happen and one of my joys in this moment was to watch him just floating away in the deep water as though he didn’t have a care in the world this guy who carries so many burdens and then the moment where these kids ran up to me and i’ve just met them for the first time and just their their eyes and just the idea of ah i’m so thankful they were so grateful they were experiencing this incredible gratitude maybe you felt it maybe you’ve seen it and even in 2020 part of our dream for this series was we wanted to reclaim 2020 because it was tough and there were things that were hard but i would guess so many of you experienced things in 2020 that were a wonderful joy to you i moved to a different state i became part of south and this community here it was a joy to me many of you have experienced what it is to

have kids to to give birth to children many of you have experienced marriages you’ve experienced new jobs you’ve bought new houses you’ve done new things that have been things in 2020 that have been good and to say that it was just bad doesn’t do justice to the great gifts that this year that this last year gave to us there is so much good we can redeem this year because good gifts were given in 2020. so why is practicing gratitude so important because i would suggest it is now you could just go for the biblical answer the the poor answer is that that actually the bible just tells us to do it this is from 1 thessalonians chapter 5 18. rejoice always pray continually give thanks in all circumstances for this is god’s will for you in christ jesus this is psalm 107 give thanks to the lord for he is good his love endures forever but that

answer may not work for every single one of you what we can say is this psychologically gratitude actually is just important whether you’re following jesus or not there’s this idea about how our brains work bad experiences bad things they work like velcro they stick really quickly to your cognitive experience you have a bad experience and it just stays you don’t have to do any work you don’t have to do anything you don’t have to contemplate it it just stays with you think about watching a movie with a bad scene something in a horror movie maybe that you watched as a kid and glue it’s just there and you might even be able to picture it now it just stays all these years good experiences they don’t work like that good experiences are like the other thing that’s one of those nasty cheap teflon pans if you still have them in your uh kitchen i

apologize get rid of them um that’s my one piece of advice for today other than the biblical stuff but there’s this sense that good ideas they don’t stick you actually have to work you have to decide to process them and there’s this idea that 15 seconds is the minimum amount of time that you need to process something for that good experience to stick gratitude is important as a practice because it’s the only thing that gives us the value from our good experiences the negative ones will stay anyway the good ones require work good gratitude changes my attitude when i’m low when things aren’t going as i want them to there’s something about this practice of gratitude that makes it changes me it’s transformative good gratitude changes my attitude now i would say this for so far this works whether you’re following jesus or not i would say

whether you’ve chosen to follow jesus whether you’re at home whether you’re here if you’ve decided that that isn’t for you right now gratitude is still an important practice it will still benefit you it’s still really good self-care there’s a ton of value in it but i would suggest that the question of who gets our gratitude is the next question i would push to you we’re going to read this story about jesus encounter with a group of guys that are sick now on his way to jerusalem jesus traveled along the border between samaria and galilee as he was going into a village ten men who had leprosy this disease where your body would literally almost disappear disintegrate in front of you they stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice jesus master have pity on us when he saw them he said go and show yourselves to the priests and as they went they were

cleansed one of them when he saw that he was healed came back praising god in a loud voice he threw himself at jesus feet and thanked him and he was a samaritan someone who wasn’t supposed to acknowledge the god of israel someone who’s supposed to try and keep a distance from anyone of a jewish background which jesus certainly was jesus asked were not all ten cleansed where are the other nine has no one returned to give praise to god except this foreigner then he said to him rise and go your faith has made you well there’s this moment where every single one of them receive a gift they are healed and nine of them just go off and they just do their thing they don’t show any particular gratitude they’re excited they go and they celebrate and then one comes back one comes back and recognizes that the gift was given

by somebody do the other nine lose their healing no but does this one get something that they don’t perhaps jesus chooses to use a different word here he uses the word well not the word healed there’s maybe something that this guy gets out of his experience that the others don’t but certainly he gets this incredible privilege of recognizing that the gift was given by somebody i wonder about our tendency sometimes i wonder if there’s a tendency to experience great things and sometimes to miss the fact that they were given as gifts i wonder if we have a tendency to focus on the gift itself and not the person behind it and and in this ways in some ways i think i think it’s like a bubble maker um and so i didn’t just bring this toy just for fun well kind of i guess i did um i’m not just bringing toys regularly to services anymore so i’m going to

try and turn this upside down without spilling it everywhere so this will be a project okay there we go and this thing is pretty noisy i’m going to warn you but think about how a bubble maker operates this one doesn’t it’s broken success so give him a second in amongst his noise to to do his work for us there he goes i’m gonna move my ipad because it doesn’t like bubbles so there’s something about them that they’re captivating right for kids you see bubbles you want to come pop them you want to come play with them i don’t blame you i’m making a ton of mess here sorry aaron your beautiful stage there’s something about bubbles that are so just they just they they just grab you they are like gifts and yet they came from somewhere and it takes an adult and their mental capacity i think to appreciate the fact that it’s the bubble maker that that

produces these bubbles now it sounds really weird to say that god is like a bubble maker but in some ways for the purpose of the illustration this is true think about the wonderful things that you have we just talked for a while about gratitude we talked about things you’ve experienced in 2020 things you’ve experienced throughout your life maybe you’ve had moments sitting with the people you love and it’s been wonderful maybe you’ve had moments where it felt like you were floating on a haitian ocean and you didn’t have a care in the world and you have those sense of i am so deeply grateful maybe you’ve looked into the eyes of someone you loved all of those experiences they are all wonderful and yet they are all bubbles at some point they will pop at some point they will go at some point they will be over some of you have experienced

that this year as well you’ve experienced loss you’ve experienced grief my bubbles laura elena gigi jude they’re temporary as much as i would love to keep them safe forever as much as i would love to protect them i can’t at least not ultimately they’re all things that are ultimately made to disappear at least from my experience or i’m made to disappear from theirs and yet the thing that gives the gift the bubble maker is permanent and it constantly gives new bubbles maybe you won’t appreciate them in quite the way that you appreciate the other ones but it constantly gives new ones there’s something wonderful about how gratitude changes us when we move not from not not just being grateful but we move to this idea that the gift was given by someone who loves us deeply who loves to give good gifts who values us and loves to see

the joy in us when we receive them so many of us find that i think we fall in love and without someone to thank for that person it loses some of its value we receive something a child maybe as a gift something some joyful experience and the something transformative about being able to move from just thanking for the gift or being thankful for the gift to being able to say this gift was given by someone who loves me and i am so thankful for the gift and its giver there’s something about this god-centered gratitude that i would call it this move from just gratitude to centering it around the fact that god was the giver of the gift that i think is powerful and so the question is just how powerful well let’s look at philippians chapter one a little further down this is what paul will say now i want you to know brothers and sisters that what has happened to

me is actually served to advance the gospel as a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace garden to everyone else that i am in chains for christ and because of my chains most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear it is true that some preach christ out of envy and rivalry but others out of good will that like to do so out of love knowing that i am put here for the defense of the gospel the former preached christ out of selfish ambition not sincerely supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while i am in my chains but what does it matter the important thing is that in every way whether from false motives or true christ is preached and because of this i rejoice paul in this incredibly difficult situation in a situation where he is in chains and

other people are preaching about jesus teaching about jesus showing the way of jesus and it’s making his life worse he can still say that’s a good thing his god-centered gratitude can bring him through even this incredible trial and yes i will continue to rejoice for i know that through your prayers and god’s provision of the spirit of christ jesus christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance what does he mean by deliverance well we read a little further i eagerly expect and hope that i will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always christ will be exalted in my body whether by my life or by my death for to me to live is christ to god to die is gain poor his life is in the balance this court case it could go one way or another he’s probably been charged with disturbing the peace or something like

that if he’s found guilty he’ll probably be killed if he’s found innocent he may be set free but maybe not poor can say whether i die or whether i live i can rejoice that’s what this god-centered gratitude drives him to whatever happen this is his advice to them whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of christ then whether i come and see you or only hear about you in my absence i will know that you stand firm in the one spirit striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you remember i said this is a group of people that are experiencing persecution paul’s message to them is i can i can thrive even when life is hard you as a church you can thrive even when life is hard but that thriving it begins with gratitude good gratitude changes my attitude

and he at this last point in this chapter one he he celebrates about what is happening to them freddie’s been granted to you on behalf of christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him since you are going through the same struggle you saw i had and now here that i still have paul has this landing spot of we’re in this together and you you philippi you group of people that are feeling persecuted feeling like the world is against you this is good you are so privileged in in the midst of these trials paul can find reasons to be thankful and his thankfulness is what will carry him through poor believe that god’s centered gratitude can navigate us through the most difficult of situations and why why does it navigate us through because it takes our eyes off of us our tendency is to keep our eyes on us and god’s centered gratitude it doesn’t put

them on us it doesn’t put them on the gift but it keeps it firmly where it needs them firmly where they need to be i’m the giver of the gift god-centered gratitude will carry him through because it puts his eyes firmly on jesus which is where they need to be this idea of this word eucharisto this word that i said was a mixture of good and grace what it means at its heart is something like this it’s acknowledging that god’s grace works well we’re going to move to a time in our service where we’re going to celebrate communion together in some places you may have grown up in a tradition that called it mass you may have grown up in a tradition that called it the lord’s supper but in many places it is called that word it is called eucharist it’s the same heartbeat it’s a celebration of good grace god centered gratitude is an acknowledgement

that god’s grace works well and that’s what we get to do in communion if you’re at home and you’d like to take communion with us in a few moments you can go grab some elements we’re going to give you a couple of minutes to do that and in a second i’m going to invite aaron and the team uh just aaron to come back up on stage but let’s read how jesus processes gratitude this is his moment of sitting with his earliest followers and doing communion with them while they were reading jesus took bread spoke a blessing and broke it and gave it to the disciples saying take and eat this is my body then he took the cup gave thanks and gave it to them saying drink from it all of you this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the given the forgiveness of sins i tell you i will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until

that day when i drink it anew with you in my father’s kingdom jesus at his lowest point at his worst hour can sit with his group of friends and know that it’s for the last time on earth this is the last time they were gathered this is the last time they will share a meal together and he’ll hand them this bread that he says resembles his body broken on a a cross he’ll hand them a cup that he says that this is my blood poured out for you and in the midst of all of that he can give thanks he can give eucharisto he can say good grace he can acknowledge that god’s grace works well at his lowest point at his worst hour jesus can look and say this thing that’s about to happen to me is good because of what it will do for you and what it will do for me his death is the worst thing and it’s the worst thing because it happened to the best person it happened to

the only person to live a sinless life the only person to live on this earth and live seamlessly and he did that because he was both god and man and and he gave that life for you and for me so you and i could say this the the last thing is not really the last thing death is not the last thing it’s just the thing before the last thing jesus came and and could celebrate good grace because he knew what it meant for you and i it’s one thing to be grateful for the great gifts we experience it’s another thing to be grateful for the god who gives good gifts but it’s still another thing to recognize that the greatest gift of all was given by jesus by god himself who came and could say good grace over the worst thing because it led to the best thing i’m going to invite aaron to come up and we’re going to sing a song after communion that is simply called good

grace but i wanted to give you a moment to prepare a moment to think for a second about what you’ve been grateful for in 2020 moment to recognize that maybe for the first time that that good gift was given by the god of the universe who loves you but his greatest gift his greatest gift is himself jesus came and gave his life that we could have new life so in this place with the joy of kids doing their thing and parents don’t worry about your kids causing noise it’s okay we can work around it we’re just going to take a moment to contemplate you might want to close your eyes you may want to hold your hands out as someone waiting for a gift you may want to hold the hands of someone that you love who’s nearby to you we have been given so many good things and they have been given by a good god who loves you deeply who

experiences great joy in seeing your joy who loves to hear your murmurs of gratitude and then i’m going to invite you to take your communion elements your eucharist elements and whether you’re here or whether you’re at home jesus said that when we did this he would be present with us after being grateful for good gifts been grateful for a good giver of gifts we take time to remember the greatest gift of all but right before his death jesus could gather with his earliest followers he could take bread and breaking it hand it to each of them and say this is my body broken for you and we take the bread and we remember jesus whose body was broken and in the same way he took a cup of wine and he gave thanks gave thanks for his blood spill and a palestinian ground gave thanks because he knew what it meant for you and i the new life was

possible and so we drink the wine and we remembered jesus who gave his life for us communion eucharist mass the lord’s supper is this incredible thing it has both a contemplative element and yet it is also at its heart a celebration a celebration that the god of the universe came and actively worked in amongst us that became a character in his own story that gave his life so that we could have a new future and ultimately will come and reshape this world in new ways we get to celebrate the fact that we are part of his story shaped by him one community and amongst many others thank you jesus for your new story thank you for your good gift amen

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