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Courage encourages others to be courageous, exalts Christ, and displays God's supremacy.

Introductory remarks from Mark Buchanan:

"Courage" was the third week in a 10-week series on Philippians entitled I Can Do Everything: Paul, Jesus, the Philippians, & Us. I began the series with a memory citation of the entire letter. The second week, I dealt with the first 11 verses. "Courage" is based in Philippians 1:12-30.

I had preached a shorter (5-week) series on Philippians a mere two-and-a-half years prior. I decided to preach it again because of a heightened focus on outreach in our church. Though outreach is hardly the letter's most conspicuous theme, three considerations led me to approach it in this way: one, the letter's robust call to unity and joy as a sign of the gospel's deep winsomeness and ultimate triumph; two, its emphasis on Christ-likeness as the heart of witness; three, its prophetic engagement with contemporary issues—fear of death, pride of accomplishment, preoccupation with the here and now, the fickleness of happiness, the equation of security with wealth. I wanted to frame the letter as a biblical critique of these popular but flawed values, and as an invitation to follow a more excellent way.

I also wanted to integrate the story of Paul's travels in Philippi recorded in Acts 16. This story (featuring a businesswoman, a slave girl, a jailer, and some prisoners) is a powerful confirmation that Paul lived the life he commends to others. In fact, we hung at the back of the sanctuary four black-and-white photos, enlarged to 4'x3', that depicted a rich socialite in Seattle, a modern-day slave girl in India, a Khmer prisoner in Cambodia, and a prison guard in Sudan (all photos my brother, a professional photographer, shot on assignment in those places). The idea was to create a visual link, with ...

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Mark Buchanan is an Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Ambrose Seminary in Calgary, Alberta.

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Sermon Outline:


Despite abundant reasons to be afraid, Paul and the Philippians chose courage.

I. God says we must be courageous in the face of fear.

II. Courage encourages courage.

III. Courage exalts Christ.

IV. Courage is a sign of whose king is really King.


Polycarp's courage encouraged courage, exalted Christ, and announced to the whole world whose king is really King.