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|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 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.