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The Chapter of Great Resources - Philippians 4

A service plan focused on Philippians 4 and the assurance and peace we can have in times when life requires great strength and courage. This is part of a series called "Great Chapters of the Bible."

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Written by Paul in prison, the chapter speaks to us about the strength, peace, contentment and assurance that we are able to have for times when life requires great courage and strength.

As people of faith on a journey,
we come to be renewed in God's strength.


Prelude: "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace"
Or: "If You But Trust in God to Guide You" [see music notes]

The Call to Worship

Let us worship God.
"He is our refuge and our fortress,
Our God, in whom we trust."
Let us confess with our mouths, "Jesus is Lord,"
And believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Let us call upon our true God, believing him in our hearts,
confessing him with our mouths, worshiping him in spirit and in truth.
(The Worship Sourcebook, 1.2.32, p. 55)

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting

Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom do you trust?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*Song of Approach: "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" PsH 545


Our Prayer for Illumination

O Spirit of God,
you who have written this rich fourth chapter of Philippians
through your servant Paul,
now speak to us through these same words,
so that we may know your will,
our hearts may be encouraged,
and our fellowship be strengthened.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Agreement in Church

The Reading of Philippians 4:2, 3

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!


The Pastoral Prayer

Song: "Christian Hearts in Love United" PsH 513

God's Peace

Anthem: "Rejoice In the Lord Always," Rathbone [see music notes]

The Reading of Philippians 4:4-9

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!


*Song: "Like a River Glorious" PsH 560, TH 699, TWC 594

True Contentment

The Reading of Philippians 4:10-13

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!


Song: "If You But Trust in God to Guide You" PH 282, PsH 446, RL 151, TH 670, TWC 636, UMH 142

God's Provision

The Reading of Philippians 4:14-19

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!


The Pastoral Prayer

Song: "Those Who Wait Upon the Lord" SFL 215
v.1 - All
v.2 - Women
v.3 - All
v.4 - Choir
v.5 - All
v.6 - Men and Children
v.7 - All

(During the singing an offering is received for..)

God's Glory

The Reading of Philippians 4:20-23

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!


*Song: "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above" st. 1-3 PH 483, PsH 465, RL 146:1,2,4 RN 52, TWC 50, UMH126


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Sung Response: "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above" st. 4 PH 483, PsH 465, RL 146:5, RN 52, TWC 50, UMH126

Postlude: "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above" [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

1. I had a conversation with a parishioner about the church's attempts to minister to different age groups. She was well on in her years and, frankly, was feeling slighted by the church's attention to youth. She said, "Don't ever forget that all of God's saints, of whatever age, have a terribly hard time of our journey from time to time and need the best resources." Philippians 4 is a chapter that has the best resources for every age group for each time of the journey. Five helpful resources are contained in this chapter, and a brief message is associated with each one (thus, a sermon in "five parts"). The overall picture should be established at the outset that Paul is imprisoned and writing this letter out of love for the church while he is forced to be separated from them.

2. Agreement in church. It is significant that his first concern centers on a problem -- the broken working relationship between two women. Those who were partners are now stuck in conflict with each other, and such conflict gets in the way of the real work of the church. One evangelical leader in the church today has said that nothing so impedes the work of the church as the divided state of so many believers. Paul steps right into that problem with advice from the Holy Spirit.

3. God's peace. Verses 4-7 are especially precious verses for many believers. Anxiety arises, but we pray. Notice the three major Christian fruits -- joy, thanks, and peace. These are inner conditions that shape and guide our external living. They are beyond our full understanding, but they give us the protection we need in tough times.

4. True contentment. Remember that Paul is in prison when writing these words. His use of the word "contentment" is not referring to the ability to be happy wherever we are. (I'm sure he was not happy in prison!) A careful study of this word (check out 2 Corinthians 9:8 -- it's the same word there) will reveal that he is referring to "having all the resources you need to measure up to what you have to deal with." He personally exemplifies that kind of contentment and calls us to live the same way.

5. God's provision. Close on the heels of contentment comes the nineteenth verse, which is a huge and bold promise. There is no comparison between all our needs and all God's provisions. His grace is always sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). Notice also that God's provisions frequently come to us via the loving actions of fellow Christians (see verses 14-18).

6. God's glory. The final idea of the chapter is found in the closing verses. It's a doxology. Paul often broke into doxologies, even in prison. And he calls us to find and exclaim them today in our circumstances.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
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)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America;
Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice ( Augsburg Fortress)

1. The suggestions for prelude are based on the hymns "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" and "If You But Trust in God to Guide You."

TEMPLE ["Make Me a Channel of Your Peace"]


Carter, John Contemporary Hymns & Songs for Piano/4 Hands Hope 8087 [2000]


Wagner, Douglas E. Make Me a Channel of Your Peace Agape 2064 [1998] (3-5 octaves, level 2)

NEUMARK/WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT ["If You But Trust in God to Guide You"]

Bach, J.S. Six Organ Chorals (Schubler, ed. Riemenschneider) Ditson [1952] (M)
Bach, J.S. The Liturgical Year (ed. Riemenschneider) Ditson [1933] (E-M)
Carlson, J. Bert A New Look at the Old Augsburg 11-11009 [1999] (E-M)
Cherwien, David Interpretations bk. 8 AMSI SP-105 [1991] (E-M)
Curry, W. Lawrence Chorale Prelude on Bremen Abingdon APM-283 [1963] (E-M)
Hildebrand, Kevin Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ vol. 3 Concordia 97-7052 [2004] (E)
Leupold, A.W. An Organ Book Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M)
Manz, Paul Ten Chorale Improvisations set 5 Concordia 97-5257 [1974] (E-M)
Peeters, Flor 30 Chorale Preludes set 2 Peters 6024 [1950] (E-M)
Powell, Robert J. If You But Trust in God to Guide You Morningstar MSM-10-873 [1994] (E-M)
Sedio, Mark Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ Augsburg 11-10718 [1996] (E-M)
van der Panne, Wim Variaties over Wie maar de Goede God laat Zorgen Musicript MR122 [1986] (M)
Walcha, H. Chorale Preludes bk. 1 Peters 4850 (E-M)


Boertje, Barbara Piano Improvisations for the Church Year Unity 70/1194U [1998] (E-M)
Nordquist, John Four Hymns for the Concert Pianist Hope 301 [1983] (M)


Clisham, William F. If Thou But Suffer God to Guide You Agape 1337 [1988]
(3 octaves, E-M)
Kerr, J. Wayne Danza Choristers Guild CGB 340 [2003] (3-5 octaves, level 3)
Lowenburg, Kenneth If Thou But Trust In God to Guide Thee AGEHR AG-23005 [1992]
(2-3 octaves, M)

2. The anthem "Rejoice in the Lord Always" by George Rathbone is written for SATB voices and organ and is published by Novello 15652 [1931] (E-M; based on Philippians 4:4, 6 and 7).

3. The postlude suggestions on "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above" can be found in the following resources:

GENEVAN 138/MIT FREUDEN ZART ["Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above"]

Candlyn, T. Frederick H. Prelude on Mit Freuden Zart Abingdon APM-148 [1961] (E-M)
Ferguson, John Three Psalm Preludes Augsburg 11-10823 [1997] (M)
Haan, Raymond H. Canonic Variations on With High Delight Concordia 97-6167 [1992]
Leavitt, John Three Hymn Preludes Concordia 97-5894 [1985] (E-M)
Leavitt, John With High Delight Concordia 97-6845 [2000] (E-M)
Wolniakowski, Michael Partita on With High Delight, Let Us Unite Morningstar MSM-10-416 [1996] (D)


McChesney, Kevin Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above AGEHR AG23006 [1993]
(2-3 octaves, M)

Liturgy Notes:

1. This worship service does not follow the normal structure and pattern but takes its structure from the five major thoughts in this chapter. Explaining this to worshipers at the beginning, either in writing or verbally, will aid them in following the flow of this service. Each of the sections of the service follows a similar pattern -- reading a portion of the chapter, commenting on it, and responding. A prayer for the Holy Spirit's illumination is offered before we enter the chapter.

2. Since there are five readings from the chapter, we suggest that including five lay readers, each of whom will read one section. They should be so familiar with the words of the chapter and its occasion that their reading can reflect the passions of the heart of the imprisoned apostle as he writes.

3. Two "pastoral prayers" are included in the service. The first one is early in the service and focuses on the life of the church, its mission, and the need for healthy cooperative efforts. Your situation may even warrant a confession of divisions and request for healing. The second pastoral prayer is nearer the end of the service when the focus has been on the resources God provides for each of his children, and this prayer can take on the tone of an intercessory pastoral prayer for those with special needs and the suffering of the world. It can be much more specific in its intercession for those who are oppressed.

4. This service provides a golden opportunity to highlight the significance of a benediction. Before the benediction is pronounced, the pastor can explain that it's a promise, not a wish or prayer. The pastor can note that this benediction captures and includes all the resources and provisions that the entire chapter (and service) has explored. With the benediction, God is promising that we are taking all of the resources of Philippians 4 with us!