Same Page Summer 2023

Most meals are just O.K. Not great. Not memorable. Just O.K. And that’s O.K. Because, most importantly, meals are about survival. Food sustains us through the labors of the day.

It should be the same with Bible reading. We don’t live by bread alone, but by the Word of God. Bible reading is food for the Christian. It’s spiritual sustenance. And, in the same way that every physical meal isn’t memorable, neither should we expect every Bible reading to be memorable.

Too often, modern Christians have succumbed to pure emotionalism. We want every time we read the Bible to fill us with emotions of rapturous joy and utter delight. And, when we don’t get those feelings we think something’s wrong with us, or worse, something’s wrong with the Bible.

But nothing is wrong with the Bible. It’s food. And whether it makes you feel good, eating it will sustain you. So eat it. You’ve never said, “Unless I get a 5 course meal prepared by a chef, I’m not eating dinner.” Treat the Bible the same way. Eat the meal that God has placed in front of you with gratitude for the sustenance it will provide.

On June 1st, we’ll begin the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. I’m encouraging you to read through the New Testament with me. Download the plan here. Join the Facebook Group here.

Also… I originally heard this illustration from either Doug Wilson or Rachel Jankovic. Can’t remember which.

The Rare Jewel of Contentment


10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.


When someone sends us a giant check, we typically begin our thank-you letter with thanks, but Paul begins with 3 chapters of exhortation and correction, but this is normal.

The Philippians had been in dire straits (2 Corinthians 8) but at last, have completed the support they had long desired to give. (v. 10) Having abandoned the privileges of his Pharisaism, Paul has weathered storms, beatings, imprisonment, and even been stoned to death. He’s gone through every single grade of the school of contentment. (v. 11) He’s learned how to abound and how to be abased. He’s learned how to be hungry and full. He’s learned the secret everyone is trying to find out: how to be content; to be buoyant in life’s up and down seas. (v. 12)

A great definition: a steady, quiet, and submissive heart that delights in God’s fatherly disposal of every circumstance. (Jeremiah Burroughs)

Of course, as you all expect, the key ingredient is Christ who strengthens us. This is not a “you can do it” verse. (v. 13)


Consider how much research people do to find contentment and balance. In the 50’s it was dianetics and engrams. Today it’s self-care and enneagram. I’m not here to weigh in on the latest mental and emotional health fads. I’m just pointing to the fact of them.

V. 12 – “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret”’

What is a secret? It’s something everyone wants to know, and Paul is saying, “Everyone is looking for contentment.”

How many of us have had a meal or sunset or a book that we didn’t want to end? Why? Because as we were eating the meal, or watching the sunset, or enjoying Christmas morning our hearts were at rest, we were fully present, in the moment. We weren’t worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. We all desire that kind of contentment, but it eludes us. It’s a secret.

But in contentment I still feel
The need of some imperishable bliss. (Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning)

What’s he saying? What’s Paul saying? Reaching for contentment in a meal or a sunset, or the arms of a lover… you know that it’s like trying to catch smoke with your bare hands.


12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Here’s what’s so shocking about this verse: “I’ve learned how to be content when I have plenty.” Why would you need to learn contentment when you abound? Because abundance reveals our misplaced content just as much as need.

We tend to think that contentment must be learned if you have needs, but it’s not a virtue for the rich or those with functional families, and we couldn’t be more wrong. Paul is saying you have to learn contentment in times of abundance just as much or more than in times of need.

Discontent comes primarily to two kinds of people: those whose dreams as smashed, and those whose dreams come true. Why would your dreams coming true make you discontented?

Listen to this from Cynthia Heimel, a NYC writer in 1990:

I pity celebrities, no I really do – Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Barbara Streisand, were once perfectly pleasant human beings. But now their wrath is awful. I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you he grants you your deepest wish and then laughs merrily when you realize you want to kill yourself. You see Sly, Bruce, and Barbara wanted fame. They worked, they pushed and the morning after each of them became famous they wanted to take an overdose. Because that giant thing they were striving for, that fame thing that was going to make everything OK, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and happiness had happened and they were still them. The disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable.

Now listen to me: plenty and abundance reveal our discontentment as much as sorrow and poverty because earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy our needs, but only to arouse our desires. They arouse our desire for a greater satisfaction which they themselves cannot supply.

A good meal, a beautiful sunset, Christmas morning, are only good images of what we really desire, but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols and break our hearts.

Both plenty and poverty expose our discontent. Most of us are in the mushy middle between those two. Most of us never get to the place where our dreams are really dashed. And most of us never realize them to the full. And as a result, most of us remain in the illusion that contentment can be had by the arrangement of circumstances.

Blame the Things – If I had a better woman/man, a more expensive vacation… and you become driven, anxious, and unable to commit to anything.

Blame Yourself – There’s something wrong with me. If I could iron out a few psychological wrinkles, I could be happy. The problem goes far deeper.

Blame the Universe – I will trust nothing. I will give myself no one. Lewis, do this… and you’ll do more than keep your heart from breaking— you’ll make it unbreakable. Hard and cold as stone. And you will find out, the moment you die, that infinite happiness was possible.

Blame your relationship with God – I have the capacity for deep communion with the source of all earthly joys and instead, I’ve sought joy only in the stuff of earth.

In the end, our discontent flows from our search for contentment in pleasures that cannot possibly deliver what only God can.


13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

This is not a bumper-sticker encouragement to try harder. Even the best human pleasures are cruddy little samples of the infinite joys that are in Christ. In Christ, poverty won’t make me despair. In Christ, abundance won’t make me a slave.

You’ve had a good meal? Jesus Christ is the bread of life. You’ve seen a beautiful sunset? Jesus Christ is the beatific vision that will bring out the beauty in which we were first made. You’ve had a good Christmas morning? He is the great Giver and Gift. He is the fountainhead of the stream of all joys, and we are invited to drink.

When you love Christ above all you can enjoy all the little meals down here and you can go hungry because you’re invited to a wedding supper that will not end.

You can love and enjoy the good moments of your marriage, and you can endure the painful moments because you’re engaged to the bridegroom whose love will never go cold.

God’s Remedies for Anxious Hearts – Philippians 4:4-9


Our text for today comes from Philippians 4:4-9 and can be found on page 982 of the Bibles in the pew racks. These are the words of God:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.


The most amazing thing happens when your NYC cabbie gets rear-ended. Absolutely nothing. Down here when you rear-end someone it wrecks your day, if not your week, but for NYC cabbies, it’s normal. They expect to get rear-ended. A lot of Christians are walking around downcast because of misplaced expectations.


Concluding the letter, Paul scatter-shots exhortations across a broad field of maladies, and the verses before us take aim at anxiety and peace. There isn’t one silver bullet, but rather several spiritual disciplines we must practice in order to practically experience the peace of God.

First, rejoice, then do it again. (v. 4) Next, serve others. (v. 5) Relieve your anxiety through multifaceted prayer. (v. 6) When we do these things we are told that the peace of God becomes like a battalion of soldiers surrounding us. (v. 7) But Paul isn’t finished with his list of disciplines. We must also fill our thoughts with truth, honor, justice, and excellence (v. 8) as we put all these into practice the God of peace will be with us. (v. 9)

The peace we need. The practices of peace. The promise of peace.


Why do we need peace? Anxiety is not the normal burden of love and concern. This word means to be torn to pieces by fear. Our bills, our children, or lack of children, our spouse, or loneliness because we don’t have a spouse, our health, our regrets, our future. Sometimes our own anxiety. I’m a Christian. It’s not supposed to be like this.

One of the social media mantras of the day is, “Guard your peace” or “Protect your peace.” And, while it is true that you need to “cut some people out of your life,” these phrases are often just code words for “I don’t listen to anyone who tells me hard truth.” When we come to the Scriptures we are not told to guard our peace, but rather that God’s peace guards us.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And what is that peace? The Scriptures teach that before you trust in Christ you really have one big enemy. Yes, Satan is our enemy and so is sin and death. But our true enemy is God. Our refusal to love him and our desire to throw off his authority makes us his enemy. But the good news is that God is a great enemy to have because God loves to forgive his enemies. And when he forgives you, your great enemy becomes your Father, your Lord, and your friend.

This is the great heart-rest, the great anxiety reliever that we all need.

However, the very moment you make peace with God, all of the other enemies you have hate you more than before. Satan, your own sin, and this world which hates God, want nothing less than your destruction.

Therefore, the peace of God is a peace that makes enemies.


One of the reasons our culture has an epidemic of anxiety is that we have forgotten what a human being is. We are not simply a mind full of thoughts, nor are we a simple body made up of electric signals and hormones. We are both body and soul. We have physical needs, emotional needs, and deep spiritual needs. In the passage before us, we see several practices or disciplines that weave together the physical, emotional, interrelational and spiritual.

Thinking – Don’t empty your mind. Fill it.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Thanking – Multifaceted prayer (Praise, Thanksgiving, Rejoicing, Confessing)

in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.


We trust that God is the sovereign author of all our stories, and for some of us he has sovereignly chosen to write dark chapters. The good news of the gospel is that the Sovereign God wrote himself into the darkest chapter of all. And here’s why this is important: first, because in Jesus, you have a God who knows what it’s like to feel anxiety.

Albert Camus, who was an atheist novelist, wrote this:

The night on Golgotha is so important in the history of man only because, in its shadows, the divinity ostensibly abandoned its traditional privilege, and lived through to the end, despair included, the agony of death.

And, more importantly, Jesus doesn’t just sympathize with you—he substituted himself for you. At the cross, the peace of the Father was utterly removed from the Son, and in its place was divine wrath and judgment. Do you know what this means? It means that the peace of God did not guard Jesus—it abandoned him, though he deserved it so that the peace of God can surround and protect you forever even though you don’t.

You say, “What does the cross have to do with your fear and anxiety?” Everything.

When you lose your peace you say, “Maybe I’m being punished.” No, look at the cross. When you can’t control your anxiety you say, “Maybe God has forgotten me.” No! Your sin was nailed to the cross, and God cannot forget you.

When Church Members Fight – Philippians 4:2-3


I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2-3, ESV)


How does Paul, who is in Rome under house arrest, know about this unhappy division? Either the Philippians asked for aid in a letter, or Paul had quizzed Epaphroditus.

Who were these women? It’s likely they were in the company of the first Philippian convert: Lydia (Acts 16:11-14)

11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

They weren’t just servants of the church, they stood, like soldiers, shoulder to shoulder with the Apostle Paul. (v. 2)

What was the nature of the division? We do not know for certain, but the text may give some clues. Because these women were courageous enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Apostle, it’s likely that their division was as strong as they were. (v. 3) Was it doctrinal, ethical, personal? Was there jealousy? We are not told.

What is Paul’s entreaty to them? First, notice that he refuses to play favorites. He doesn’t not say, “I entreat you both.” Rather, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche.” It means to beg on one’s knees; to plead, and he applies it to them equally.

What is he pleading? : “Agree in the Lord.” They must think about one another as Christ thinks. They are to treat one another as Christ has treated them: service, humility. They are not to stand on their dignity. (v. 2)

Notice, as well that he calls for aid from among the membership. This letter would have been read in the gathering on the Lord’s Day. He’s naming them and asking for public help because they, not Christ had become the focus of the church. (v. 3) Why does he invite a third party (true yokeman)? Perhaps they were refusing meet and solve it themselves. And who is the True Companion (v. 3)? Epaphroditus, Lydia, Luke?

When he invites this companion to help, it’s the same word construction that is used in Luke 5:7

And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.

This spat was so heavy that it may break the church. There must be one goal: preserve true Christian unity. All hands on deck. No one can sit this out. Pray, listen, demonstrate patience.

Why? Three reasons.
• First, Paul had just exhorted the church to stand firm. (4:1)
• Secondly, these women had been faithful laborers in the gospel. (Elaborate, women teach women, Titus 2, mission work)
• Third, their names are written in the book of life. (v. 3)


The Christian church is not problem free. As the church faces opposition from the outside, she must also guard against division internally.

complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit (Phil. 2:2)

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? (James 4:1)

Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (John 17:1)

Sadly, the church is really good at shooting it’s own wounded.


Christian unity is not warm feelings, it’s recognizing and aligning my life with a reality.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.

What’s the reality that I recognize and align with? I am one with all Christians in Christ. Christ has won our unity. It’s not something we produce. It’s something we enter into as we come to Christ.

In the Creed, we confess that there is one holy universal church. Christ has one bride. He is not in heaven saying, “I wonder who will get here.”

The community of the Triune God, serving as the concrete manifestation of God’s eschatological kingdom in the world. – P. L. Metzger

Our congregation is a local and visible manifestation of the one true church eternal, glorious, sinless, divisionless.

You are free to have your own favorite color. You are free to wind the spaghetti noodles around your fork or to cut them up like a heathen. But you are not free to see fellow Christians in any way other than how the Lord Christ sees them. You are not free to treat another Christian as if they are not your brother or sister in Christ.


We don’t create it. But we are called to maintain it.

  • Treat division seriously (“I urge you”)
  • Embrace the Christ Pattern (Who took on the form of a servant, who didn’t insist on his rights)Humiliation before Exaltation
    • Cross before the Crown
    • Death, then Resurrection
    • All of this pattern for all of your life.
  • Focus on Essentials (In Christ, not minor differences either doctrinal or ethical)
    • “How big of an issue is this?”
    • How much can you overlook?
  • Recruit Help
    • Encourage others to come to terms.
    • Exhort others to admit their own blindness.
    • Discourage gossip and slander.