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God at Work (Philippians 2)

A worship service outline on Philippians 2: 12-13

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Those who know Christ are called to responsive obedience to him. Their obedience does not achieve their salvation, but draws out all the potential of it through the strength of God working within us.


Prelude/Gathering Music:

When Morning Gilds the Skies” [see music notes]

God Himself Is With Us

Call to Worship:

Praise the Lord!

The Lord’s Name be praised!

Our hearts are ready, O Lord,
our hearts are ready!

We will sing and make melody!
We will awaken the dawn!

We will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples,
we will sing praises to you among the nations.

For your steadfast love is great above the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

(Based on Psalm 108:1-4. TWS 1.2.17)

*Song of Faith: “God Himself Is with Us” [see also HW 98]

*God’s Greeting and Congregational Amen!

*Song of Thanks: “We Give Thanks for Our Salvation

*Passing of the Peace

We Are Renewed in God’s Grace

Call to Confession

Sung Prayer: “Cambiame, Senor/Change My Heart, O God” [see also ELW 801]

Assurance of God’s Pardon:

In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus,
we are assured that there is no sin so terrible
that God cannot forgive,
no hurt so terrible that God cannot heal.
God accepts, God forgives, and God sets free.
Receive the forgiving love of God.
Thanks be to God.            
(TWS, 2.4.37)

Gratitude: “Psalm 34

Anthem of Dedication: “My Heart I Offer”, Gerald Custer

Offertory and Offering: “O God Beyond All Praising” [see music notes] [see also ELW 880, HW 240]

God’s Word is Proclaimed

*Hymn of Preparation: “O God Beyond All Praising” [see also ELW 880, HW 240]

Prayer for Illumination

Gospel Reading: John 15:1-11 [see liturgy notes]

Epistle Reading: Philippians 2:12-13

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks Be To God!

Sermon: God At Work

Prayer of Application

We Respond to God’s Word

*Song of Thanks: “My Lord, I Did Not Choose You

*Affirmation of Faith:           

The Spirit renews our hearts
and moves us to faith,
leads us into truth,
and helps us to pray,
stands by us in our need,
and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant.
God the Spirit lavishes gifts on the church
in astonishing variety –
prophecy, encouragement, healing,
teaching, service, tongues, discernment –
equipping each member
to build up the body of Christ
and to serve our neighbors.
(Our World Belongs to God, art. 29)

*Sung Prayer for God’s Filling: “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” [see also HW 160]

Prayers of the People [see liturgy notes]

We Leave with God’s Peace to Serve Him

*Words of Sending:

“I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of  peace.”   (Ephesians 4:1-3)

*Song of Commitment: “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian” [see music notes] [see also HW 165]

*God’s Parting Blessing and Congregational Amen!

Postlude: “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian” [see music notes] [see also HW 165]

*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.      Often when there are two passages of Scripture read, particularly when they are of a different nature, it is helpful to have two different voices reading. One voice can read the instructional words of Jesus from the Gospel; another voice can read the challenging words from Paul in Philippians.

2.      The focus of the General Prayer should be very clear. The sermon has taught the call of God’s word to be responsive in our obedience; our affirmation of faith has pointed to the work of the Spirit to stir up fresh and vibrant service in the church; and the sung prayer has called for God’s Spirit to breathe on us until we are filled. Therefore the theme of the prayer should be that of the faithful obedience and life of the local Christian Church, and also the world-wide church, asking God to continuing doing his work in us, stirring us to healthy response, asking forgiveness when we have failed, and seeking a new vision for doing his work in the world.

Sermon Noes

Here are two highly concentrated verses that give us at the same time a powerful call and some profound theological insight.

Paul’s subject is obedience, an obedience which flows naturally from what he has previously said in verses 1 through-11.  “Therefore...” makes this connection.  What follows is a direct and logical result of what has just been presented. Paul aims to reinforce such responsive obedience. They have obeyed that way previously when he was present; he hears now that they continue it in his absence; he passionately desires that it continue even if he should never be able to return. So he uses an exhortation which points to a process. He does not call them to one-step obedience, but rather to a continual process of sustained efforts of obedience.

The exhortation “work out your own salvation” is not, of course, a call to achieve or provide for their salvation, but rather to recognize that the salvation they have received by grace from God is pregnant with possibilities. Those possibilities, represented in much fruit, will be actualized only if they continue to obey. Salvation, therefore, is seen as a process. Justification may be a single step in our experience, but sanctification is something very different. It is a life-long process of drawing out the potentials of our new life with God.

It is helpful to reflect on the perspective that The Canons of Dort provide on this matter. This historic confession tells us that God’s outward work is that of having the gospel proclaimed to us; his inward work is that of enlightening our mind powerfully by his Spirit so we can understand and respond to the Gospel. The Spirit of God actually penetrates our inmost being to open and soften our heart, give new qualities to our will so that “like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds.” (See Canons of Dort, III-IV, art. 11)  Christians who realize this, find it rich to sing “My Lord, I did choose you for that could never be; my heart would still refuse you, had you not chosen me….” (Josiah Conder, PsH 496)

In that light, Paul’s reference to “fear and trembling” is understandable. The believer approaches his/her obedience with a sense of awe and reverence knowing that to work at such obedience is to join efforts with a sovereign gracious God. Being a co-worker with God requires wholeheartedness and humility, but also a fear of offending God who has begun this work. No room for nonchalant and casual Christians here!

Paul is encouraging the Philippian Christians to live with the paradoxical reality- God is at work and has been all along, yet we are called to continually work out our salvation.

Music Notes

1.      The prelude/gathering music is based upon the hymns “When Morning Gilds the Skies” and “God Himself Is with Us” Resources for these as well as alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in the following: 

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)

ARNSBERG/WUNDERBARER KONIG [HW 98; PsH 244; RN 8; TH 166, 382; TWC 799]

  • Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving. set 2 Morningstar MSM-10-752 [1989] (E-M)
    • Cherwien, David. Interpretations. bk. 1 AMSI OR1 [1980] (E-M)
    • Leupold, A. W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (M)
    • Peeters, Flor. Hymn Preludes for the Liturgical Year. vol. 6 Peters 6406 [1966] (E-M)

2.      The anthem “My Heart I Offer to You, Lordby Gerald Custer is published by GIA G-7090 [2007]. It is scored for SATB divisi and keyboard with optional assembly.

3.      The offertory music is based on the Hymn of Preparation “O God, Beyond All Praising.” Resources can be found in:

THAXTED [ELW 710, 880]HW 240; TH 660; WOV 797; W&R 64]

  • Organ:
    • Farlee, Robert Buckley. (1995) Augsburg Organ Library – Autumn. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7579-7 [2003] (E-M)
    • Fruhauf, Ennis. Organ Music for the Seasons. Vol. 2 Augsburg 11-11010 [1999] (E-M)
    • Miller, Aaron David. Improvisations for the Church Year. vol. 2 Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7676-9 [2004] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound. CPH 97-6891 [2000] (E-M)

4.      Alternative harmonizations and postlude suggestions based on the closing hymn can be found in:

I WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN [HW 165; PH 372; PsH 264; RN 145; SFL 40; TH 530; TWC 563; UMH 402; W&R 457]

  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]
    • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]
  • Organ:
    • Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book. vol. 1 Fred Bock B-G0548 [1980] (E-M)
    • Haan, Raymond H. O Worship the King. Broadman 4570-42 [1979] (E-M)
    • Kerr, J. Wayne. I’ll Praise My Maker. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7570-3 [2003] (E-M)
  • Piano:
    • Carter, John. Spirituals for Piano. AugsburgFortress ISBN 978-0-8006-2169-8 [2008] (E-M)
    • Edison, June. Great Day! Houston B41 [1991] (E-M)
    • Marohnic, Chuck. We Shall Overcome. Morningstar MSM-15-830 [2002] (Jazz style, E-M)
  • Handbells:
    • Lloyd, Sallie. Lord, I Want to Be a Christian. Beckenhorst HB134 [1993] (3 octaves, E)            

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)


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