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Focused Praise (Philippians 4)

Paul continues to exhort the Philippians on how to effectively live in the peace of God. Their minds are to be focused on what they have heard and seen in him.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Paul continues to exhort the Philippians on how to effectively live in the peace of God. Their minds are to be focused on what they have heard and seen in him.

View sermon notes based on this passage


Prelude / Gathering Music: “When Morning Gilds the Sky
[see music notes]

Call to Worship

*Opening Hymn of Praise: “Psalm 19: God’s Glory Fills the Heavens

*God’s Greeting and Congregational Amen!

*Song of Response: “We Come, O Christ, to You

We Are Renewed in God’s Grace

Call to Confession: Romans 12:1-2 [see liturgy notes]

Prayer of Confession

*Assurance of Pardon

*Passing the Peace of Christ to One Another

*Thanksgiving: “Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God” [see also HW 142]

Call to Grateful Obedience: Colossians 3:15-17

Offertory and Our Offerings: “Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God

God Speaks through His Word

Sung Prayer for Illumination: “Speak, O Lord” [see CSW 17] or

Holy Spirit, Mighty God” [see also SFL 192]                  

Old Testament Reading

Psalms of the Day: Psalms 1 and 119 [see liturgy notes]

The man who chooses to live a significant life
is not going to take his cues
from the religiously indifferent.
Nor will he conform to the crowd
nor mouth his prejudices
nor dote on the failures of others. [Psalm 1:1]

Happy are those who way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong ,
but walk in  his ways. [Psalm 119:1-2]

His ultimate concern is the will of God.
He makes his daily decisions in respect to such.
He can be compared to sturdy tree
planted in rich and moist soil.
As the tree yields fruit,
so his life manifests blessing for others.
His life is productive and effective. [Psalm 1:2-3]

With my whole heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandment.
I treasure your word in my heart,
so that I may not sin against you. [Psalm 119:10-11]

This is not true concerning the ungodly.
They are like sand in a desert storm
or leaves in an autumn wind.
They cannot stand against the judgments
of the eternal God.
And they re most uncomfortable
among those who demonstrate genuine faith
in the God of righteousness. [Psalm 1:4-5]

Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
Before I was humbled I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.” [Psalm 119:66-68]

The children of God walk in the course
that God has ordained.
The Children of unbelief walk
in paths of self-destruction. [Psalm 1:6]

Oh, how I love your law!
It is my meditation all day long.
Your commandment makes me
wiser than my enemies,
for it is always with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your decrees are my meditation. [Psalm 119:97-100]

New Testament Reading: Philippians 4:8-9

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!


Anthem: “Think on These Things”, Ruth Elaine Schram
[see music notes]

Prayer of Application [see liturgy notes]

We Respond to God’s Word

Profession of the Church’s Faith

God gives this world
many ways to know him.
The creation shows his power and majesty.
He speaks through prophets, poets, and apostles,
and, most eloquently, through the Son.
The Spirit, active from the beginning,
moved human beings to write the Word of God
and opens our hearts to God’s voice.
The Bible is the Word of God,
the record and tool of his redeeming work.
It is the Word of truth,
breath of God,
fully reliable in leading us
to know God
and to walk with Jesus Christ
in new life.
Our World Belongs to God, arts. 31-32]

Prayers of the People

We Leave to Serve God

*Words of Sending [see liturgy notes]

*Song of Commitment: “Lord, We Hear Your Word with Gladness

*God’s Parting Blessing with Congregational Amen!

Postlude: “Lord, We Hear Your Word with Gladness” [see music notes]

*Indicates standing if you are able.

The materials included here from THE WORSHIP SOURCEBOOK are used by permission from THE WORSHIP SOURCEBOOK, © 2004, CRC Publications. This permission is granted for one time worship use in an order of service for a congregation, or in a special program or lesson resource, provided that no part of such reproduction is sold, directly or indirectly. For all other uses, please contact the copyright holder.

Liturgy Notes

1.      The first two verses of Romans 12 will provide a meaningful Call to Confession which is consistent with the theme of this service and sermon, though it has not all be exhibited yet. In this case, the prayer of confession can focus on those times when our values and thoughts have been shaped more by the world than by God’s word and will.

2.      The Old Testament reading provided here is an antiphonal reading of Psalm 1 and portions of Psalm 119. The text of Psalm 1 is from Psalms Now, by Leslie F. Brandt, published by Concordia ISBN 0-570-03230-X [1986].  The text of the portions of Psalm 119 are NRSV. We suggest that one leader read Psalm 1 portions and the congregation responds in unison with the testimonies of Psalm 119.

3.      Notice the quick movement through several elements as soon as the sermon in completed. The anthem, “Think on These Things”, sung by a choir or vocal group, should be ready at the conclusion of the sermon so their message will reinforce the message of the text and sermon. The Prayer of Application can pick up on that theme again and ask for grace as we feed, direct and focus our minds.

4.      The service will come to a nicely focused conclusion if the Words of Sending repeat the words of the text from Philippians 4:8-9. The leader can simply say, “Hear the Word of the Lord as we are sent to live out our faith…..” and include the two verses of the text.

Sermon Notes

When Paul says, “Finally, beloved…” we can sense that he is nearing the end of what he intends to say and is searching for an emphatic way to get his passionate concern across to them. So he wraps up his thoughts in a crescendo of interrelated exhortations.

We must note that Paul is focusing here on the primacy of the mind in shaping our peace. It would be worth dwelling on that for a little while. How much do we believe and follow that? It is true that today much attention is given to the mind. We are a culture convinced of the importance of education. Children are taught words and reading from the beginning. Parents aim to instill within them an appetite for learning. In the Christian Church, we  have classes to “teach” everyone from the youngest to the oldest. The accumulation of information and truth in our minds seems very important to us. Paul would be very much at home with that emphasis.

Yet, at the same time, our culture competes with a contradictory set of values which tells us that feeling/emotions are primary. What we believe isn’t as important as our sincerity about it all. Our decisions about moral and ethical issues are shaped by what we “feel is right” rather than what we “know to be true”. Many human relationships are shaped by emotions more than thinking.

But Paul says “Think….”

And he creates another dilemma by telling us there are certain things we should think about – things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing and commendable. However, our society sets many different unrelated kinds of information before us. Millions of messages are received by each of us daily through the printed page, voice, sound bytes, video screen, and every other imaginable form. If we dare to ask how much of this information coming into our minds would pass Paul’s criteria, we may have some very hard issues to deal with. What our minds receive is not often compatible with his criteria. So what do we do? How should we make our choices? Where is the line to be drawn between “only observing”, “critiquing” and “begin shaped by” these messages?

This brief passage perhaps leads us to ask some hard questions. It may precipitate some intense struggles. Is it possible that the oppression (persecution?) of many Christians today comes through the mind more than through any other channel?  How much of the peace of God is lost because our minds are focused on the wrong things, or simply not focused at all?

Paul’s call is that we “think on these things” that are exhibited in his life as he lives out his commitment to Jesus Christ, the crucified and rise Lord, who is now building his church. He challenges us firmly in this passage.

Music Notes

1.      Prelude suggestions are based on the hymn “When Morning Gilds the Sky”. Resources can be found in:

        LAUDES DOMINI [ELW 853; HW 113; PH 487; PsH 438; RL 365; TH 167, TWC 99; UMH 185; W&R 111]

  • Organ:
    • Christiansen, David. O Christ Victorius. Concordia 97-7259 [2007]  (E-M)
    • Culli, Benjamin M. Musica Sacra: Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ. vol. 5 Concordia 97-7193 [2006] (E)
    • Ferguson, John. Three About Jesus. Morningstar MSM-10-572 [2005] (E-M)            
    • Haan, Raymond H. O Worship the King. Broadman 4570-42 [1979] (E-M)
    • Langlois, Kristina. Miniatures and Interpretations for Organ. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-2354-1 [2006] (E-M)
    • Lutkin, Peter. Christian Hymn Tune Transcriptions. H. W. Grey. [1908] (E-M)
    • Miller, Aaron David. Improvisations for the Church Year. vol. 2 Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7676-9 [2004] (M-D)
    • Sedio, Mark. Organ Tapestries. vol. 2 Concordia 97-6861 [2000] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Carter, John. Favorite Hymns for Piano. Hope 8823 [2007] (E-M)
  • Handbells:
    • Buckwalter, Karen L. Daystar. Flammer HP-5190 [1985 (3-5 octaves, E-M)

2.      Different hymnals use different tunes with the text of “Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God”. Offertory music and alternative harmonizations based on this hymn can be found in the following resources:


  • Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Lenten Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-309 [1990] (E-M)
    • Cherwien, David. Interpretations. bk. 9 AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
    • Kerr, J. Wayne. (1998) Augsburg Organ Library – Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M)
    • Miller, Aaron David. Eight Chorale Preludes. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7756-0 [2005] (for manuals only–easier with some pedal; E-M)
    • Stoldt, Frank. Five Hymn Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-931 [1988] (M)
    • Travis, Albert L. Joyful, Joyful: 6Festive Postludes for Organ. Morningstar MSM-10-591 [2006] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Boertje, Barbara. Piano Improvisations for the Church Year. Unity 70/1194U [1998] (M)
    • Raney, Joel. A Triptych for Holy Week. Hope 8318 [2007] (M)
    • Raabe, Nancy M. Grace and Peace, vol. 2. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8806-7901-9 [2008] (E-M)
  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ. bk. 1 Ludwig O-05 [1975]

                ST. FLAVIAN

  • Organ:
    • Goode, Jack. Prelude on Hymn Tunes. Hope [1965] (E-M)
    • Sedio, Mark. Organ Tapestries. vol. 2 Concordia 97-6861 [2000] (E-M)
    • Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes. set 1 Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M)
  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Busarow, Donald. Thirty More Accompaniments for Hymns in Canon. Augsburg11-10163 [1992]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]

3.      The anthem “Think on These Things” by Ruth Elaine Schram, published by Alfred BSCM 03045, is scored for SATB voices and keyboard.

4.      Resources for “Lord, We Hear Your Word with Gladness”, the closing hymn and postlude  can be found in the following resources:

        HOLY MANNA

  • Organ:
    • Cherwien, David. (2003) Augsburg Organ Library – Autumn. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7579-7 [2003] (M)
    • Cherwien, David. Groundings. Augsburg 11-11119 [2001] (M)
    • Cherwien, David. Interpretations. bk. 9 AMSI SP-106 [1992] (M)
    • Haan, Raymond H. O Worship the King. Broadman 4570-42 [1979] (E-M)
    • Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes. vol. 1 Augsburg 11-9318 [1972] (E-M)
    • Wallace, Sue Mitchell. Hymn Prisms. Hope 270 [1985] (M)
    • Wood, Dale. Wood Works. bk. 2 SMP KK400 [1989] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Bottomley, Greg. Piano Sunday Morning. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-6384-1 [2009] (M)
    • Carter, John. Contemplative Folk Tunes for Piano. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-5977-5 [2001] (E-M)
    • Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M)
    • Carter, John. Hymns for Piano II. Hope 8197 [2003] (M)
    • Larkin, Michael. Simple Gifts Piano Meditations on American Hymn Tunes and Spirituals. Morningstar MSM-15-836 [2006] (E-M)
    • Miller, Aaron David. Chorale Preludes for Piano in Traditional Styles. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-7903-3 [2008] (M)
    • Organ, Anne Krentz. Reflections on Hymn Tunes for Holy Communion, vol. 2. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006- 7909-5 [2008] (M)
  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]
    • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ. bk. 5 Ludwig O-14 [1992]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]
    • Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]


  • Piano:
    • Miller, Aaron David. Chorale Preludes for Piano in Traditional Styles. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 978-0-8006-7903-3 [2008] (M-D)
  • Handbells:
    • Wilson, Malcolm C. Meditation on “Blaenwern”. Lorenz 20/1068L [1996] (3-5 octaves, level 2)

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations

  • CSW: Contemporary Songs for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • ELW: Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Augsburg Fortress Publishing)
  • GSW: Global Songs for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • HW: Hymns for Worship (Calvin Institute of Christian worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • PH: The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
  • PsH: The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • RL: Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
  • RN: Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
  • SFL: Songs for LiFE (children’s songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • SNC: Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • SNT: Singing the New Testament (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • SWM: Sing With Me (Faith Alive Christian Resources)
  • TWC: The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing)
  • TH: Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
  • UMH: The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
  • WOV: With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)
  • W&R: Worship and Rejoice (Hope Publishing)