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|Posted on February 13, 2016 at 9:55 PM||comments (0)|
Philippians 4:10 (NIV) I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Paul thanks the Philippians for their support and acknowledges that previously they had no means of getting another offering to him until the one carried by Epaphroditus. Paul was not in dire need of assistance but was grateful for their concern. Paul is not moved or dissuaded from his mission by his circumstances. We know from the book of Acts that Paul has been stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked, beaten, and much more. He says he can be content with plenty or little, hungry or well-fed. He says he has learned the “secret” of contentment which is that his satisfaction is found in the Lord. It does not come from any other source. There is no way I can be continually content in and of my own strength. In order to live in a state of constant contentment, I must allow the grace of God to continuously flow in and through me. Someone once told me that the gist of this verse is that Jesus infuses me with His strength. This would be similar to the infusion of antibiotics one gets in the hospital to fight an infection. Jesus infuses us with His power in order to fight the discontentment we find as we seek to serve Him in this world. The Lord infuses us with His life, and the life is in the blood of His perfect sacrifice.
Reformation Study Bible
Vs. 13 Paul is able to face all circumstances with contentment.
1 Timothy 6:6 (KJV) “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Q – Have you discovered the secret of contentment?
Philippians 4:14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.
Paul praises the Philippian church for sharing in his troubles through their monetary gifts and send Epaphroditus to work with him. He recalls that they were the only church that sent him support. In fact they had sent him an offering several times as they found out he was in need. They were his only genuine, true partners in the ministry, his regular supporters. Paul’s desire was not so much for their financial gifts for himself but for the amount deposited in their heavenly account. His motivation was for their blessings from the Lord.
Q – Is it sometimes difficult to accept a gift from a brother or sister in the Lord, especially if they are giving from a place of barely having enough for themselves?
Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Paul assures the Philippian believers that he now has plenty due to the gifts they sent to him. He makes it clear that their gifts are not only given to him but given to the Lord. When we support a minister, a missionary, a Christian school, or such, our gift is not to that person or institution so much as it is an offering to God. When we give to a minister or ministry, the focus always needs to be on giving to the Lord to be used through that minister or ministry. The gift and the glory go to Jesus rather than any particular ministry. Paul says this type of sacrifice is pleasing to the Lord. Paul assures the Philippians God will meet their material needs even though they have sacrificed to send him gifts. Our God is able to supply all that we need. He is the ultimate owner of everything! God is the source of provision for natural needs as well as spiritual.
Psalm 50:10 (KJV) “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.”
Psalm 37:25-26 (VOICE) Through my whole life (young and old), I have never witnessed God forsaking those who do right, nor have I seen their children begging for crumbs, 26 Because they are always giving and sharing; truly, their children are a joyful blessing.
Q – Do you consider the donations to make to a minister or ministry as gifts to God?
Philippians 4:20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul is all about bringing glory to God. It was John the Baptist who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30 NASB); but Paul would be in hearty agreement with that statement. It’s not about me, and it’s not about you. It’s not about that fantastic speaker in the pulpit or the stadium. It’s ALL about the Lord Jesus Christ!
Philippians 4:21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
Timothy was with Paul, and we know Epaphroditus was about to carry this letter. There were others ministering in Rome as well. Those of Caesar’s household would include the soldiers chained to Paul while he was under house arrest, household slaves he may have preached to, etc. People in Caesar’s own complex were being brought to saving knowledge of Jesus! These new believers sent greetings back to the Philippians who were sending support to the one who led them to the Lord.
Philippians 4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
May the grace of Jesus be the source, the very apex, of your joy, the encouragement of your spirit.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. The secret of contentment is a life intertwined, abiding in Jesus. Remember to turn your worries into prayer and remind yourself that God is able to meet every need. George Mueller was a fantastic example of depending on the Lord and taking every need to him. Read about him here:
2. Sometimes we hesitate to receive something given to us by someone we think has less than we do. Please do not deny them the blessing of giving freely. In the current vernacular, just “pay it forward” by doing the same for someone else on down the line.
3. When you give to a ministry, remember that your gift is to God. It is then that entity’s responsibility to use the gift as God directs. Give to those who are proclaiming Jesus rather that promoting themselves.
4. Remember the Source of your joy. As your prayer life increases, so will your contentment and joy.
|Posted on February 13, 2016 at 8:55 AM||comments (0)|
Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
Those who have been discipled by Paul, his students who have received instruction from him, are his joy and crown. We cannot take things to Heaven with us, but those we have introduced to Christ, those we have mentored in the Lord, will be with us there and cause us to rejoice in all the Lord has done. Those we have discipled are living trophies to the faithfulness of God who works through our lives. Paul urges the Philippians to stand firm on what he has already taught and the instructions in the verses that follow. The readers must be in a cooperative partnership with the Lord by His grace in order to “stand firm.”
Q – Are there people who will rejoice in Heaven because of you? Will you be rejoicing over those you had the privilege to influence by the power of the Lord?
Philippians 4:2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
The two women, Euodia and Syntyche, must have been pillars of the Philippian church because Paul says they contended by his side for the Gospel. They were obviously in some type of disagreement. Paul wanted them to not necessarily be of the same opinion but in the very least to “agree to disagree” and move forward. Paul wanted them to have unity even if they did not completely see eye to eye. He urges his “true companion” to help them in this. He says that they worked along with Clement (who is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible) and his other co-laborers. He says all their names are written in the book of life, so we know all of these people were believers.
Q – Are you at odds with a fellow believer? Read Matthew 5:23-24
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Paul emphasizes rejoicing by repeating it. Remember that he is writing this letter from prison! We can rejoice even in dire circumstances because the source of our joy is the Lord and is not conditional upon what happens around us. That being said, joy is a choice of aligning ourselves with God’s will. By doing this, we can be certain that God has our backs. The Captain of heavenly hosts, our Chief Advocate and Defender goes before us into battle and is our rear guard as well. We can rejoice because we are confident in His care.
Psalm 139:5 (VOICE) “You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.”
Q – Are you rejoicing always? If not, what is stealing your joy?
Philippians 4:5 (NIV) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
We should be characterized by a gentle nature. This is the nature of our Good Shepherd with whom we are to be “like-minded.” We are to be inextricably linked with Christ. This type of person does not demand his/her rights, but looks out for others. I have been demanding, defiant, and obstinate when I felt I was not being heard. I have let my flesh get the best of me rather than deferring to the other person for the sake of peace. A self-righteous attitude steals your joy. Being self-less maintains a joy-filled heart. The Lord is near due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we are to live as though His return may be tomorrow or today.
Matthew 24:36 (NASB) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”
Matthew 24:42 (NASB) “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”
Q – How often do we demand our rights? Do we have a gentle spirit?
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Do not nervously pace or fret concerning ANYTHING. Paul purposely uses the all-inclusive “anything” and “every”. We can apply this truth to ALL situations. This is difficult for me to handle. I know I am not supposed to worry, but in the moment it is sometimes hard to remember to pray rather than to fret. It takes intentional trust and reliance on my relationship with Jesus not to fret. Forsaking worry and turning to prayer is a deliberate act of worship and confidence in God. The act of praying actually helps to calm the nervousness within me. Notice Paul says to pray and beseech the Lord WITH THANKSGIVING. Thanksgiving along with our petition is evidence that we believe in faith that God supersedes what we see and feel with our senses and is ultimately in control.
When we hand our cares and concerns to God, He will replace them with unfathomable peace. Instead of being out of our minds with worry, we will be delivered from focusing on fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) and instead place our trust in the only One who can solve the problem. We will put our faith and our focus on the solution instead of the problem.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB) “6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Q – When you have an extreme problem, do you do everything you can to solve it on your own and pray as a last resort? Or do you pray first and then act once the Lord has calmed you?
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This is not an all-inclusive list of virtues but a representative group. Paul’s teaching here in Philippians 4:8 is a total contradiction of societal mores today. The mantra is “look out for number one” and “get them before they get you.” Paul would say prefer others above yourselves as he did in chapter two. Focusing on these positive attributes is contrary to the way of the world. Whatever is true – people do not value truth as they once did. We need laboriously long contracts to feel secure in our dealings. People do not want truth in business; they want expediency, the quickest means to an end. Whatever is noble – honest, honorable actions. Think of ways to live honorably among others. Whatever is right – Desire justice and kindness. Whatever is pure – purity is not as highly regarded as it once was. Society seems to idolize many impure people, thoughts, and actions. Just turn on the TV. Yet we are to fill our minds with pure thoughts. Any time people abstain or try to be pure, they are made fun of and chastised. Rather than being exalted for their standards, they are abased and called prudish. Whatever is lovely – pleasing, amiable, kind, gracious. We should fill our minds with ideas for acts of kindness, ways to show friendship (familyship), and how to extend the grace of God to each other. Whatever is admirable – according to John MacArthur Study Bible “kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.” Excellent or praiseworthy deeds should receive our attention rather than dwelling on all the evil of this world. Paul says to think on these things. Meditate on the positive rather than the negative. In other words, don’t get bogged down in the nightly news, but pray about it intentionally and keep your focus on the Captain of the Hosts who is “large and in charge.” He is the One who is truly in control of everything. Think on these positive attributes in order to emulate them in your own life. What we focus on is what will develop. This an aspect of “working out your salvation” as Paul instructed earlier. Paul is saying the Philippians should do what he has taught them and lived in front of them. They need to make all of these things evident in their daily lives.
Micah 6:8 (ESV) “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. People are the only investments we can deposit in Heaven. Work at taking some buddies with you to Heaven. Share Jesus with others, and as they receive Him, invest in their lives to help them grow. They will become your joy!
2. When was the last time you left your gift at the altar and sought out someone you needed to be reconciled with? Do you need to give or ask forgiveness? Settle matters sooner rather than later because tomorrow is not promised.
3. Rejoice – Count your blessings and see if they do not outweigh your complaints.
4. Try gentleness and acceptance rather than barking demands. The Lord does not expect us to be doormats, but in reality anything good we have is more than we deserve when we compare our paltry goodness with the righteousness of Jesus.
5. When a worry crosses your mind this week, turn it into a prayer and thank the Lord for the answer in advance.
6. Guard your thought life and think on the things in Philippians 4:8. This would be an excellent verse to commit to memory!
|Posted on February 12, 2016 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Paul is saying that he hasn’t grasped or completely perceived all the ramifications of the truths that he is teaching. He has not achieved complete sanctification as none of us will this side of Heaven, but he is continuing to move forward rather than “backsliding” into his former way of life. He is leaving the past behind. He is leaving behind his past claims to fame, his intellectual pedigree, and his extreme Jewishness. What is in our past that we need to leave behind? We need to repent and turn from our sin and leave our past sins behind. They have been paid for on the cross.
Isaiah 38:17 (NIV)
“Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (You would do well to read the rest of this chapter of Hebrews)
Sin is a thought that is dwelt upon and nurtured or an action that is contrary to the will and the heart of God.
We need to leave Satan and his temptations behind, to flee him and turn to the Lord.
Luke 4:5-8 (NIV)
“5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
James 4:7 (KJV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
We also, like Paul, need to leave behind and forget our own claims to self-righteousness. We can become quite prideful of our “accomplishments” for Jesus instead of remembering that without Him we can do nothing. We need to remember that all the glory, all the claim of accomplishment is His alone.
Galatians 6:14 (KJV) “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
John 15:5 (VOICE) “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing.”
We need to leave behind our selfish way of life and follow Jesus, to lose our life in order to find it in Him.
Matthew 16:24-27 (NASB)
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
And as we have seen previously, we are to do what God has called us to do without complaining. Leaving grumbling and negative attitudes behind is paramount for cutting off the pathway to complaining. We also need to quit constantly complaining about others. For example, I am tempted to complain about those who complain all the time. We need to cease obsessing about others’ inconsistencies and focus on our own journey with the Lord.
James 5:9 (VOICE) “Brothers and sisters, don’t waste your breath complaining about one another. If you judge others, you will be judged yourself. Be very careful! You will face the one true Judge who is right outside the door.”
Whew! We have a lot of junk to leave behind in the junkyard! And just like I need to periodically clean out my closet, we need to examine ourselves occasionally to see if there is a build-up of these things that should be tossed. Many times we stuff our junk instead of purging it. We put our negative attitudes, our sin, our pride into a dark closet to hide it from others; but the Lord knows it is stuffed in there. It is important not to hoard the negative things because they weigh us down and cripple us in our walk with the Lord. They prevent us from, fulfilling our purpose which is to bear good fruit, or in the least slow us down.
Q – Is there stuff you need to clean out of your life in order to move forward with the Lord?
Philippians 3:15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Mature believers are those who have left behind their pasts (attitudes and behaviors that do not reflect the work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection) and are moving forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. The view we are to take is that of the preceding verses 12-14. Paul is confident the Holy Spirit will convict those who do not understand this yet. The Holy Spirit indwelling us is also Who enables us to leave the past behind and to press on. We need to live up to what the Lord has already revealed to us as we continue to listen and study to learn more. We need to press on, press toward, be in pursuit of the goal of Christlikeness.
Q – Am I living up to all the Lord has already revealed to me through His word?
Philippians 3:17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
Our ultimate role model is Jesus Christ, but Paul served as a mentor to many in the early church. We still need godly mentors today, those who live according to the scriptures. We do not place our total trust in them because we are all human and will fail at times. Our trust is in Jesus, but we can learn from people He places in our lives to encourage and disciple us.
Q – Do you have someone you look up to and follow? Someone who is known for following closely with the Lord?
Philippians 3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
Some feel Paul is referring again to the Judaizers, others to Gentile libertines as enemies of the cross of Christ. Either one could apply since both groups denied the power of our salvation in our earthly bodies. The Jewish establishment was so concerned with dietary laws and conformity to rules imposed above the Law that they denied the fact that Christ accomplished our salvation by His death and resurrection, and we do not earn it by keeping the Law but by grace. The Gentile libertines were the forerunners of Gnostics who discarded any moral law. Therefore, they ate and drank any and everything to excess and felt no shame in sensual, sexual pursuits. They denied the power of the Lord to transform the believer into someone who could obey within this body of flesh. They did not believe that anyone could willfully (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) dedicate themselves to such a way of life. The Jews were concerned with outward ceremonies and traditions of men rather than the condition of their hearts, and the Gentile libertines were simply worldly to the extreme.
Q – Are there any temporal (worldly) things that impede my progress to the goal of conforming to the image of Christ?
Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
The Philippians prided themselves in being a colony of Rome with all the privileges that afforded them. The church is colony of Heaven! We should take great joy in our heavenly citizenship. Not only do we have citizenship, but we have a seat with our name on it. We have not only season passes, but eternal passes for a box seat with our Lord.
Ephesians 2:4-7 (NASB)
“4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
When Jesus returns for us, to take us to our home in the Father’s house and to that reserved seat, He will change our earthly bodies with all their problems into perfect bodies fit for Heaven. Many years ago, I was complaining to the Lord about not walking yet; and He said to me that the most pristine athlete had nothing on me and I had nothing on them. We were both the same. We were only fit for earth, highlighting that BOTH of our bodies would require changes to be fit for Heaven. I have not physically walked, but I walk with Jesus in the spirit. The Lord controls all things even now, but we sometimes have a difficult time understanding His reasoning. However, when He takes us to be with Him, our eyes will be opened to see clearly. Right now, we use eyes of faith until the day that we know Him as we are known by him.
1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as when we stare into polished metal. I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture. But one day, when Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face. In that day, I will fully know just as I have been wholly known by God.”
To quote my former pastor, Dr. James T. Draper, “If that don’t light your fire, your wood’s wet!”
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. Ask the Lord to show you the things, attitudes, behaviors you need to jettison from your life in order to follow Him more closely and know Him more intimately.
2. If you feel you have not learned anything new in the Word lately, could it be due to the fact that you have not obeyed what God has already shown you? Inventory what you have learned in Bible study and ask yourself honestly if there are any areas of your life that need to be brought into compliance. (Ouch!)
3. Be sure you are following the right models. Look for someone who loves the Lord, knows the Word, and lives with integrity. Emulate this person as they emulate Jesus. Try to be this person in someone else’s life.
4. Beware of strong affections for the things of this world. Do not let the quest for things, prominence among men, or fulfillment of earthly desires overtake you and draw you away from time spent with the Lord.
5. Praise the Lord for the day you will be transformed into someone completely qualified to walk by His side in Heaven. Illness, disabilities, sinfulness, and any other fleshly flaws, proclivities of the “old man” will not be present in the new body. Hallelujah!
|Posted on February 11, 2016 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
Philippians 3:1(NIV) Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.
Where does your joy emanate from? The Lord! The fact that God has adopted us into His forever family gives us the ability to rejoice regardless of outward circumstances. Paul's own situation is proof positive of this fact since he was writing this letter from prison!
Paul had given them previous instruction on dealing with their opponents, those who espouse false teaching, but he says it is no trouble to reiterate those truths. He does not want them to fall prey to Judaizers and other false teachers.
Jews often refered to Gentiles, who they thought beneath them, as dogs. Dogs in those days were not housepets or handbag poodles. They were mangy mutts who roamed the streets scavanging for food among the garbage. Even Jesus, when dealing with the canaanite woman, said it was wrong to throw the children's bread to dogs. She replied that even the dogs were able to eat the crumbs that fell from the master's table. She was acknowledging that Jesus was LORD. (read Matthew 15:21-2) In this case, Paul is referring to the Jewish teachers who would require Gentile believers to adhere to every tenet of the Law, including circumcision, in order to be saved, as dogs and evil doers. Salvation is by grace alone and requires no such thing. This is why he refers to them as "mutilators of the flesh." Circumcision would serve no true spiritual purpose for the Gentile believers and therefore would only be a mutilation.
We are not saved by any type of works or obedience to the Law of Moses. We are saved by faith through the grace of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9) However, the evidence of our inward change will be outward works.
Q - Should we require new converts to totally "clean up their act" before being accepted in the congregation? Did Jesus tell the father of the demon possessed boy to go give him a bath and make him behave before casting the demon out? (Matthew 17:14-21)
Philippians 3:3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
Those whose hearts have been circumcised, cut around, by Christ are the true believers. Jesus removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19-20). Jesus cuts into our hearts in order to sew Himself into us so we can be one with Him. Jesus wants us to like Him and the Father, that we may be one as He and the Father are One. (John 17:21-23)
Philippians 3:4b If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
Paul states that we cannot depend upon the works of our flesh, our good deeds, our obedience to the Law to earn our salvation. Then he makes the case that really great in the eyes of man is not good enough at all by presenting his own pedigree. Paul was a circumcised Jew from the same family line as the first king of Israel, Saul. He was a Pharisee, a group well known for adhering to the letter of the Law but not necessarily the heart of it (See Matthew 23:23). He was such a zeolous Jew that he persecuted the Christians before he became one! He would be found blameless as far as his obedience to the Law.
Q - Even if we could compare in greatness to the Apostle Paul would that be enough good works to get us a ticket into Heaven?
Philippians 3:7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Q - What do you count as loss, as garbage, compared to knowing Jesus?
Paul says that he considers all these worthy deeds as refuse, actually cowpatties, dung, or as we would say in my house, poo-poo. What we consider to be greatness means absolutely nothing! Paul counts all this loss compared to the extravagant, superlative, insurmountable value of knowing Christ. Paul realized he could never be righteous enough in his own efforts to merit salvation. We only enter into the presence of the Almighty, All-knowing, All-powerful Lord of the universe because He extends grace to us and enables us to believe on the Lord Jesus by faith.
Q - Is there something that you believe makes you "worthy" of Salvation?
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul wants to know Jesus intimately, tapping into His power, almost as if they are moving as one heart. And they are by the Holy Spirit. Paul wanted to understand Jesus from all facets of His life, the good and the bad. That is the only way you truly know a person is to take not only their best, but the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unmentionable as well. Paul is willing to suffer because of his affiliation with Christ. He wants to be intertwined with Jesus to the point of following Him in death. Paul knows that if his body dies, he WILL be resurrected, but he wants to get to that point triumphantly, standing firm in the Lord all the way. It does not matter to Paul HOW the Lord gets him to the point of resurrection, just that He does.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. When new believers join the church do not expect them to instantly change what may be seen as offensive behaviors. Pray for the Lord to change them inside out. Offer to spend time discipling them and let the Word of God do the convicting.
2. Our good works will never earn us a place in Heaven. Only trust in Jesus can get us there. Be sure you are not measuring yourself compared to others instead of compared to the perfect life lived by our Lord.
3. In a study on Philippians taught by my former singles' minister, we were handed a single sheet of toilet paper. He read us the passage about counting it all as dung and said, "Whatever you might think is good enough, whatever achievement you are most proud of in your life, write it on this toilet paper and place it on this page of the Bible to remind you that it is dung compared to knowing Jesus." My (Susie's) paper with "intellect" written on it is still there. I challenge you do to the same.
4. Are you willing to identify with Jesus, not only in His power, but in His suffering? Pray the Lord would work this intimacy with Him into your life.
|Posted on February 10, 2016 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
Philippians 2:19 (NIV) I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Paul planned to send Timothy back to Philippi to serve as an example of being a servant leader. That way Timothy could take them further news of Paul and send news back to Paul about the Philippian church. Timothy stood out above all the rest that Paul had mentored. When persecution came, the others sought self-preservation at the expense of the Gospel. Their interest was only in saving their own skins. Their fear prevented them from continuing with Paul. Timothy would prefer the interests of the Philippian believers above his own. He would model the things Paul had written and taught in Philippians 2:1-5.
Q - You've heard the old cliche, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." When persecution comes, (and I believe it will), will you be rooted and grounded enough in the word of God to stand firm? Workers had desserted Paul in favor of "looking out for number one." Will you flee when things get tough or will you continue with the Lord?
Philippians 2:22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
During the time of Paul, fathers often mentored their sons as apprentices in the family business just as Joseph taught Jesus the skill of carpentry. Timothy was Paul's protege, his son in the faith. He had worked faithfully beside Paul and learned from him. Timothy also was hungry for some male companionship because he was being raised by his mother and grandmother, so Paul provided something for Timothy that otherwise he would not have had, a fantastic father figure. Timothy's adopted dad was in the "business" of spreading the gospel and passed on all he knew to his spiritual son. Timothy must have been visiting and ministering to Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome because Paul had the ability to contact him and send him out to the Philippians. He had not fled in terror but persisted in the work. Paul hopes to send Timothy soon, and his expectation was that he would be able to follow shortly. Paul is confident the Lord will release him from prison so he can continue to minister to the churches he had established and have opportunity to begin new works as well. He realized God was sovereign over his future plans but felt "confident in the Lord" that his release was what God was providentially accomplishing for him.
Q - Taking someone under one's wing to instruct them in serving the Lord is not just for a pastoral mentoring program. Is there a person who is younger than you in the faith that you could be mentoring (discipling)? Do you need to ask a more seasoned believer to disciple you?
Philippians 2:25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.
This passage is an example of unity and compassionate concern among believers. Paul calls Epaphroditus his brother, in other words family in the Lord. The second connotation is co-laborer to advance the Gospel. Thirdly, he calls him a fellow soldier. Remember, it is Paul, directed by the Holy Spirit, who gave us the excellent instruction on the armor of the Lord. (see Ephesians 6:10-20). Next he refers to Epaphroditus as the Philippians' messenger because they had sent him to take Paul a monetary gift and to minister to his needs. Perhaps on the way to Rome, he had fallen ill and was even near death. Epaphroditus was concerned that his home church would be distressed by this news. God spared him which Paul says was a blessing for himself because he would have had extreme sorrow if Epaphroditus had died. Paul knows that when the Philippians see Epaphroditus again, they will be relieved and will rejoice. This will cause Paul to rejoice and have less concern about them because he knows that they are caring for each other. This entire circle of concern between Paul, Epaphroditus, and the church at Philippi shows the attitude of putting others before yourself and having unity among the believers. In a perfect world, in mature church communities, this is how we should function.
Q - Do we express true concern when a brother or sister is down due to illness or other distress?
Philippians 2:29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
Paul thought Epaphroditus should be given a welcome home party. He instructed the church to honor people like him.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) "We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor amng you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves."
I Thessalonians 5:12-13 (VOICE) "Brothers and sisters, we ask you to show appreciation to those who are working hard among you and those who are you leaders as they guide and instruct you in the Lord - they are priceless. When you think about them, let it be with great love in your heart because of all the work they have done. Let peace live and reign among you."
We should respect and honor our church leaders. Unfortunately, we often do the opposite. Instead of highlighting what our leadership is doing right, we rant and rave about their minor offenses which usually boils down to their human frailty. It is little wonder that leadership burns out so quickly with this kind of treatment. We must take the tactic as congregants to war on behalf of our leadership through prayer. We also need to encourage them verbally and/or through notes and cards, and speak well of them to each other and outsiders. Ministers are the most underserved part of the family of God. The undershepards are lead by the Good Shepard, but they still need the love of the sheep. They have needs that need to be prayed for and met just like the rest of us. It takes more than the occasional Sunday dinner of fried chicken! Our pastors and other leaders are pouring their lives into ours. We need to reciprocate.
Paul was not saying in verse 30 that the Philippian church had failed him in any way. He was applauding Epaphroditus for bringing their gifts since they could not all travel to Rome at that time.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. In order to stand firm when faced with trials, study Ephesians 6:10-20. Each day mentally go through the pieces of armor and ask the Lord to remove any hindrances to your service and place His armor on you. Do not give up when things get tough. Trust in the Lord to hold you up!
2. Are you in need of help to grow in the Lord? Attend Sunday school and maybe even seek out a believer you respect and ask them to instruct you one hour per week and pray for you. Perhaps you are that respected believer. If so, pour your life into at least one younger Christian to help them walk more closely with the Lord.
3. Express true concern for others. Instead of glibly saying, "I'll pray for you," stop and pray with them right when they share their need. This can be done in person, over the phone, or via email. Those few minutes will encourage them greatly and insure that you do not forget to pray as you have promised.
4. Honor your spiritual leaders. Take time to speak to them when a message blesses or challenges you. Write a brief note of encouragement or send an email. Speak highly of them to other members of the congregation and to the community. Do not engage in gossip or negativity about them. Walk away. If you have a true concern about something they had said or done, talk TO THEM not about them.
|Posted on February 9, 2016 at 11:30 AM||comments (1)|
Philippians 2:12 (NIV) Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Paul is asking the Philippian believers to continue in obedience to the Lord even while Paul is not physically there to guide them. Paul wants them to contine as if the Lord, the God-Man, was right there alongside them and as if he, Paul, were still there mentoring a ministering among the people. They are not to "work for" their salvation but to "work out" their salvation, to live in obedience to the Lord in reverence and awe. Our salvation is not accomplished through self-effort. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." This is only possible because the Lord has already redeemed them and freed them from slavery to sin, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables them to live godly lives. Continuing in Ephesians 2:10 (ESV), "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." It is God's will that they be sanctified, "conformed to the image of Christ" (Romans 8:29). Therefore, as we saw in Philippians 1:6, the Lord will complete this goal in His children. God has already prepared good works for us to do. Our part is to seek Him and obey.
Q - I (Susie) remember my mom relating how a visiting pastor was preaching at their church in England. His own congregation was there as well because the two churches shared one baptistry. Everyone was shouting, "Amen, Preach it Brother." He then said, "Yeah, you say amen and that's right on Sunday, but I be bailing you out of jail on Monday!" Do we put on our "Christian Face" at church and then live like the world throughout the week? Do we ask the Lord what He would have us do each day?
Philippians 2:14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”
This is really difficult for many people, especially me at times. I like to grumble. I will do what needs to be done, but sometimes amid much complaining. There is a difference being arguing and being argumentative. You can argue or defend a viewpoint without attacking the person. The attack is at the ideology, not the person themselves. Paul is not saying we cannot express disagreement or have calm, informed discussion when trying to work out differences among people or withing the church body. He is saying not to argue for the sake of arguing or to tear others down in the process. Avoid personal attacks at all costs. When we slip over into personal attacks, our argumentation must be very weak, not able to stand up to scrutiny. This harkens back to the earlier theme of unity among believers. If we truly adhere to the truths in verses 1-5 of chapter 2, the idea of putting others' needs ahead of our own, we will be much more successful at refraining from complaining and arguing.
Talk about a "warped and crooked generation!" I believe that describes our present day quite well. Paul's generation describes ours in a nutshell. The Voice Bible translates verse 15b as follows:
"...you are God's children called to live without a single stain on your reputations among this perverted and crooked generation..."
To live without stain requires us to make integrity paramount, to insolate the content of our character, to become Christlike in order to withstand the fiery darts the Enemy directs at us.
Q - We know you have seen this one before, but it is still applicable. If you were being tried for the "crime" of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Philippians 2:15c Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
When we operate with integrity, in obedience to the Lord, with compassion for others, we will stand out among the perversion of our society like a star stands out in the blackness of night. We will reflect the light of Jesus like multifaceted jewels.
Malachi 3:17a (Amplified) "And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure).
1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) "But you are a chosen race,a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencis of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
In the King James Version, "a people for his own possession," is translated as, "a peculiar people". When I was younger I always thought, "I don't want to be 'peculiar' because that means weird!" I always thought peculiar meant strange or odd, nothing special, and certainly not something you wanted to be. However, in a sense, we will stand out as odd if we behave the way the Lord instructs us to amid a sea of people who have no regard for the Lord's instruction. May we all be peculiar in the best sense of the word, set apart as being followers of Jesus!
Paul would take joy in the maturity of his spiritual children. When he faces Christ, he would be proud of the church he had started at Philippi.
Q - Do you stand out as belonging to Christ at your workplace or school or among your friends, or do you try to blend in as much as possible without completely compromising your beliefs?
Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Reformation Study Bible notes:
2:17 if I am to be poured out. Paul here refers not to his present suffering, but to the possibility that he will die as a martyr.
Paul was saying that even if he were to be a martyr, a witness that died for his faith, the Philippians should still rejoice. I think he is saying that when a person dies as a witness, it is a privilege and an honor to give your life for the faith. He was glad for the monetary gift and support of the Philippian church. It would not be in vain even if he were to be executed. He would still rejoice and asked them to rejoice with him. After all, the executioner would only be sending him into the presence of Jesus.
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. Purpose in your heart to live out your Christian faith every day, among every group of people. Refrain from the temptation to compromise your integrity.
2. Ask the Lord to live through you in such a way that your relationship with Him is obvious at all times. When your human frailty flares up, and it becomes less clear who you belong to, immediately ask Him to forgive and cleanse you. (1 John 1:9)
3. Do not try to be as much like the world as possible without stepping over some contrived line. Instead, allow yourself the freedom you have in Christ to be as different from the world as possible while still living in it. Read 1 John 2:15-17.
|Posted on February 8, 2016 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
Philippians 2:5 (NIV) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Paul says to have the same mindset, the same attitude as Christ, in all our dealings with other people. As we will see in the following verses about Jesus' attitude, this will involve extreme humility and a heart for serving others.
Q - This can only be accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit. Do you pray to have the mind of Christ?
Philippians 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
In other translations it says Jesus did not consider his equality with God as something to be "grasped". Still other translations state that "He thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Jesus IS fully God and fully man, a concept hard to wrap our minds around. Jesus' continuous essence was that of being God. He chose to embrace His humanness in order to rescue mankind from sin.
Philippians 2:7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Jesus made himself not only human, but a human embryo. He left the splendor and glory of Heaven to be confined for nine months in Mary's womb, be born in a stable, and live as the son of a carpenter. (Luke 2:7) Carpentry became His trade also until He was 30 years old. He did not "empty Himself" of His deity, but renounced the display of some of His attributes as God. He chose not to enforce His deity, but set aside His privileges, in order to live as a perfect man.
Q - Jesus stooped down to raise us up. Are we willing to stoop down to elevate our fellow man?
Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Christ confined Himself to the limitations of a human body, experiencing human needs such as food, water, sleep, etc. He chose to be in submission to God the Father even though equal with Him. He obeyed even to the point of becoming the perfect sacrificial lamb to take upon Himself our sin. Revelation 13:8b (KJV), calls Jesus, "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Jesus' arrest, mockery of a trial, and death upon a cross did not come as a surprise to God. It was His plan all along. As a man, Jesus submitted not only to death but to the most excrutiating, humiliating form of death known at that time - crucifixion. The Jews would particularly view this as humiliating because according to Deuteronomy 21:23b (NIV), "...anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse..." Jesus suffered this particular death for those who would believe in Him. He suffered this punishment in my very place and your very place in order to redeem us. Paul states in Galatians 3:13, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'"
Q - Jesus suffered the ultimate humiliation in order to rescue us. Has God ever asked you to do something you thought "beneath you" in order to minister to someone? Did you obey or resist?
Philippians 2:9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
Jesus had always been equal with God, but His followers did not fully realize His deity until after His death, resurrection, and acension. They only came to understand Him as LORD after He came back from the dead and revealed His true nature to them more completely, as much as they could take in. They were still in amazement as He arose in the clouds before their eyes. After the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they would have a more full understanding of Christ as the God-Man.
Philippians 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This has not been completely fulfilled at this time. This brings elation to us who have believed now and in the future, but it will bring pain and sorrow to those that have never surrendered to and trusted Him for salvation. Believers, angels, non-believers, and demons will ultimately all bow to Jesus and acknowledge His deity. When Jesus returns in all His glory, this will be done!
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. Pray that the Holy Spirit will enable you to minister to others with the "mind of Christ." I (Susie) am reminded of the old hymn, "Let Others See Jesus in You."
2. Is there someone you have a difficult time feeling any sympathy for, or someone who grates on your nerves? Ask the Lord for the strength to show them some kindness anyway. You cannot do this on your own, but the Lord through you can minister to the difficult people in your life.
3. Choose to acknowledge Jesus as LORD now. Even if you have already trusted Him and surrendered your life to His will, it is good to affirm this daily.
4. Don't keep all this to yourself. Proclaim the deity of Christ and the truth of His Gospel every chance you get!
|Posted on February 6, 2016 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
Philippians 2:1(NIV) Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Paul exhorted the Philippians that SINCE all the things listed in verse one were true, they should DO all the things in verse two. Paul rejoiced even while in prison, but he would be even more joyful if the church he began in Philippi displayed unity. They were to love all members whether "lovable" or note. They were to be in "one in spirit" or as ESV translates it, "full accord." John MacArthur notes that "This is perhaps a term specially coined by Paul. It literally means 'one-souled' and describes people who are knit together in harmony, havin the same desires, passions and ambitions." The old testament friendship between King Saul's son, Jonathan, and the future king, David, is an example of this kind of love. In 1 Samuel 18:1 (ESV) we read, "...the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of Davd, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." When I first met Susan, I liked and enjoyed her company; but when she suggested being roommates someday, I bristled and said, "I could never do the full-time caregiver thing again." My uncle Mark who I lovingly call my bruncle (brother-uncle) came in one day and said he thought that Susie and I were supposed to become roommates, and he felt it was something that the Lord wanted. I told him it would take a parting of the red sea miracle to cause this to happen because Susie had tunnel vision on the caregiving experience. So I told him to pray about it. I had taken care of my mom for about six years and much of the time had felt confined to the house even though I loved Mom and chose to be the one to care for her. She passed away April 30, 2014; and I met Susan on September 21, 2014. I just was not ready to consider taking care of another person's needs again. However, as we began working together doing background work for our pastor's sermons, the Lord gradually changed my mind. Now we can only describe our relationship as a female version of Jonathan and David. I am still not certain exactly when it occured, but the Lord knit our souls together. It would be amazing if more brothers and sisters in Christ could experience this oneness of spirit or being in full accord. This does not mean we never disagree, because we do. But it means that we agree on the most important things, and work to see eye to eye on the lessor things. Or agree to respectfully disagree.
Q - Do you have an intense friendship with a brother or sister in Christ? How can we develop closer relationships and more unity of spirit in the local church?
Philippians 2:3 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3 (Amplified) "Do nothing from factional motives - through contentiousness, strife, selfishness or for unworthy ends - or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself - thinking more highly of one another than you do of yoursleves. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others."
I wasn't sure what to make of "selfish ambition," so I looked it up in some other translations. The Amplified Bible makes it a bit clearer. Do nothing from the place of being cliquish. Cliques should not exist in the body of Christ! We should not spend our time contending against our brothers and sisters, but should be working together to proclaim Christ and make disciples. In Christ, as you are looking after your own needs, it is required that you come alongside brothers and sisters to build them up or nuture them in the faith. Exhibit concern; and, when possible, give aid to their physical needs as well. If the church were truly being the church, there would be much less need for welfare. When I needed a special mattress to protect my skin from pressure sores, the church members came together to meet that need. It was the church being the church. For me, this was a true miracle, and I was blessed.
Q - Do you feel jealous of a friend at church or are you in a dispute with one? If you follow Paul's instructions to the Philippians, how might your attitude and actions toward that fellow believer change?
APPLY TO THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. Pray for unity among the members of your local body of believers.
2. Make the effort to develope closer relationships with the brothers and sisters in Christ at church. Move beyond the casual "hello, how are you" to inviting someone for coffee or a meal at your house.
3. Ask the Lord to bring your church into the condition of "full accord".
4. In humility, look beyond your own needs to see the needs of others around you. It may surprise you to find that even if you have "nothing," there is someone with less that you can help.
|Posted on February 5, 2016 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
Philippians 1:18b Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul could continue to rejoice because the Philippians’ prayers and the Holy Spirit within him gave him confidence that he would be delivered. He could be talking about being delivered from the accusations against him and freed from prison, or he could be alluding to being delivered from his earthly body by death. Either way he would be free! Whether living for Christ and continuing to be persecuted, which he knew was guaranteed, or being executed by the Romans, Paul knew that God would administer grace, strength, and courage in abundance. Then he made probably his most famous statement, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” which the Voice Bible renders as, “For my life is about the Anointed and Him alone. And my death, when that comes, will mean great gain for me.” Paul speaks on this theme also in the following verses:
2 Corinthians 5:6-8The Voice (VOICE)
6 In light of this, we live with a daring passion and know that our time spent in this body is also time we are not present with the Lord. 7 The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes. 8 There is no doubt that we live with a daring passion, but in the end we prefer to be gone from this body so that we can be at home with the Lord.
Paul had dedicated his entire life, after his conversion, to preaching the gospel; and he was certain that when his earth-suit fell away, he would be in the presence of his Lord and Savior eternally. Therefore, he could continue fearlessly.
Q – Read verse 21 again. Can you affirm this truth in your own life?
Philippians 1:22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Paul said he was torn between the two, continuing to live and serve or dying and being with Christ. I can relate because if vacate my earth-suit that has many limitations which definitely feel like shackles and chains; after falling at Jesus’ feet and praising him, I would probably break out into a joyful dance fully enjoying a body that functions as it should. But if I remain, God will continue to give me courage to overcome my physical challenges in order to proclaim salvation through Jesus, teach liberty in Christ to the body of believers, and help others to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord.
Q – If you are reading this, you are still alive. God has you strategically placed where you can best serve Him. Are you seeking His purposes for you each day?
Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Paul admonished the Philippians to have integrity, to live what they proclaimed they believed. When I was in the hospital due to having both legs amputated above the knee, the grace of God enabled me to remain joyful and encourage those who entered my room. The ironic thing was this served notice on the Enemy that my campaign for the Gospel would not be thwarted. Had Susan given in to despair, depression, or even excessive complaining, her witness would not have been as strong. By the power of the Lord, she was able to live out the joy she was proclaiming to her caregivers and visitors. Integrity – honesty and fair dealing with others, “walking the talk”, is crucial to being an effective witness of all the Lord has done.
Paul wanted to hear that the Philippians were continuing to serve the Lord, not only individually, but as a united team. If everyone on a sports team is trying to be the hotshot instead of working together toward the goal, it hinders their effectiveness. Paul wanted the believers instead of individual “hot dogs” to be a seamless unit moving in tandem. Striving together reminds me of tug-o-war. The winning team pulls together to multiply their strength. Unity in the church is extremely important if we wish to be an effective team advancing the Gospel in our community.
Q - Do you feel like the members of your local church function as a unified group? If not, are you a part of the problem or the solution? When visitors enter the doors of your church, do they see a bunch of individuals who happened to come to the same place or do they sense they have entered a family? We often refer to "fellowship," but Susan has coined the term "familyship".
When Christians are persecuted yet remain strong in the Lord, boldly proclaiming salvation in Christ, their fearlessness brings conviction on their persecutors. Read some of the testimonies found at http://www.persecution.com to see this truth played out in contemporary situations. The notes in the John MacArthur Study Bible, for verse 29 says, “the Greek verb translated “granted” is from the noun for grace. Believers’ suffering is a gift of grace that brings power and eternal reward.” My spirit receives this idea, but my mind has a hard time accepting it. The Philippian believers had witnessed the persecution of Paul and Silas when they ministered among them, so they knew exactly what they faced. So often, prosperity and ease are preached, but Paul is saying that God graciously allows suffering. Wrap your mind around that! We find this same idea in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Dear ones, don’t be surprised when you experience your trial by fire. It is not something strange and unusual, but it is something you should rejoice in. In it you share the Anointed’s sufferings, and you will be that much more joyful when His glory is revealed.”
Q - Most of us have not suffered true persecution - the threat of bodily harm or even death due to our faith. Some of our readers outside the USA may be in that position. Can you wrap your mind around the concept of suffering as a "gift of grace?" Do you pray for your brothers and sisters in the persecuted church?
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:
1. If you know the Lord, nothing can truly devestate you if you remember that "to live is Christ, and to die is gain." NO matter what happens to you, the Lord is in control. He will sustain you in this life and welcome you home when your time here is accomplished.
2. Not just in big decisions, but daily, seek the Lord's plans for you. Each morning, ask Him to direct your paths that day.
3. Refrain from gossip, grumbling, and divisiveness among believers. "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV) Read Romans 12:9-21 for instuction on how Christians need to interact with others.
4. Read the testimonies of those who have suffered persecution. Pray for the persecuted believers around the world on a regular basis. "Remember those imprisoned for their beliefs as if you were their cellmate; and care for any who suffer harsh treatment, as you are all one body." Hebrews 13:3
|Posted on February 4, 2016 at 10:00 AM||comments (0)|
Praise the Lord! I was able to open our work in WordPad, so I was able to post the next lesson after all!
Philippians Chapter 1 – Lesson 2
Philippians 1:12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
What HAD happened to Paul? Read Acts chapters 21-28. Paul had been cast out of the temple, arrested by the Romans, moved in the night to escape a plot to kill him, tried before Festus, and defended himself to King Agrippa. Since the Jews wanted to take him back to Jerusalem to be tried there (and lay in wait to kill him along the way!), Paul appealed to Caesar. Agrippa even said he would have released him had he not appealed. But the Holy Spirit had revealed to Paul that he was destined to go to Rome. So he is writing from his prison cell while awaiting a trial that could very well have ended with his execution. “Advance” in verse 12 is a military term. Paul had taken his army’s campaign into the very camp of the enemies. Here he is, in the heart of Rome, chained to soldiers who became his captive audience. It became clear to these soldiers the usual criminal they dealt with. Whoever he came in contact with knew whose he was and that his mission was to proclaim Jesus Christ whatever the cost.
This reminds me of being able to share with nurses, doctors, and care techs while in ICU even when unable to speak because Susie knew me well enough by then that I could point to her, and she would share with them. It was their job to come into the room and take care of Susan, so we had a somewhat captive audience as well. They may have viewed Susan as held captive by the ventilator, but we knew we were there to share the gospel with yet another group of health care providers!
It seems backwards to me that Paul’s imprisonment developed boldness instead of fright among his fellow believers. They saw that the Lord empowered Paul to continue to advance the gospel rather than to retreat to the safety of silence even while already imprisoned. Because of this, Christians were strengthened to continue declaring salvation through Jesus Christ alone even under the threat of persecution.
Q – Paul continued to advance the gospel by sharing with the guards and anyone else who would listen even while in prison. He also wrote letters to the Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and his friend Philemon. How diligently do you share the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ alone? How much more should we be telling our friends, family, and even acquaintances about the Lord while we still have the freedom to do so?
Philippians 1:15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Some of Paul’s “competition” in ministry thought they could use his time of imprisonment to elevate their own ministries to the forefront as if preaching the gospel were some type of race to be won. They had a “my following is bigger than your following” attitude. Other people continued to preach out of respect and love for not only Paul but for the Lord. They had an attitude of “we’re all in this together.” Paul’s joy was not tied to his circumstances or how he was portrayed by others. It emanated from his intimacy with Christ and his desire to see others have that same relationship regardless who introduced them to Jesus.
Q – Converts to Christianity are not notches on a belt to be counted. They are baby Christians who need to be loved and discipled. Are we so concerned with the number of people at a church event that we fail to make sure each one is receiving the Gospel message or instruction in growing in their walk with the Lord? Are we jealous of the bigger church across town that can afford to bring in prominent guests while failing to realize that God has placed us exactly where He intends for us to serve?
APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE
As we learned in our study in Esther, God providentially places us where He desires to use us. Be sure to “plug in” to your local church, using the gifts and talents the Holy Spirit has given you to advance the Kingdom of God.
Pray for the leadership of your church to be wise in how best to utilize the facilities and people the Lord has placed in their care.
Do not focus only on the number of people in attendance. Rather, focus on building mentoring relationships with members of your congregation. If you are a new believer, link yourself to someone who has walked with the Lord and learn from them. If you have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Jesus, find the time to teach another believer what the Lord has taught you. (2 Timothy 2:2)