29 April 2011

Philippians 4:10-20

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. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

  Paul begins by thanking the Philippians for their thoughts, prayers, provision, and overall concern for him.  He is not asking for anything, but thanking them for what they have done.  Paul in fact teaches us a valuable lesson for the Christian life.  The Lord will provide.  He has provided us with what we need up to this point in our lives, have faith he will provide for us for the rest of our lives.  We need to learn to live when we do not have much and when we have plenty.  Excessive spending or undo stinginess may not be prudent.  A lot of it depends on where the Lord is leading us. 

  My wife and I are learning this right now.  We have been talking about selling our home.  Is it right?  We have enough to maintain what we have now, but not a ton more.  If we were to move the Lord would have to provide that opportunity.  We are learning to have faith in Christ that He will guide us.  We are seeking His council in this situation, as we should in every situation.  Either way, we need to be content with where the Lord has put us and with what He has given us. 

  Perhaps one of the most recognizes verses in the New Testament, v13, states “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  How true this statement is!!  Praise God that we can do things through His strength and not our own.  We are so weak and lowly, as we should be.  However; God is good!!  Praise the Lord for everything He has done.  We view certain situations as good and certain situations as bad.  We should view them as where the Lord has put us.  This life can be and has been won for Christ, lets live in His power, not our own!

  God is truly good.  He will give us all we need in this life.  After all, has He not already given us all we need for the next life?  How great is our God!!

22 April 2011

Philippians 4:8-9

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.

True: 2 Samuel 22:31: This God—His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.”

Honorable: 1 Peter 2:12: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Just: Ezra 9:15: “O Lord, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”

Pure: Psalm 119:9: “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.”

Lovely: Song of Solomon 2:14: “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”

Commendable: Galatians 4:18: “It is always good to be made much of for a commendable purpose, and not only when I am present with you”

Excellence: 2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence

Worthy of Praise: Psalm 18:3: “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”

  Finally Paul mentions in v.9 whatever you have seen in me.  This means that Paul was living a life worthy of his calling right?  Absolutely he was trying to.  This does NOT mean he was perfect by any means.  What this means is Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  This sums up these two verses perfectly.

  Father, please live through me.  Spirit fill me with praise for the Father through the gift the Son has been offered for me.  Allow me to serve you in everything.

19 April 2011

Philippians 4:1-7

1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.  2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 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.  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.

  Paul mentions three people, Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement as having their “names in the book of life.”  He exhorts the Philippians to help the two women.  This is something that we should all do when it comes to fellow believers.  We should always be welcome and helpful to their needs.  When people travel or perhaps move from one place to another, we should let them stay with us, feed them, and love on them as they are our own.

  This has been my experience here in Texas.  The Lord has truly blessed me with a church that I feel at home in.  Why do I feel at home?  Because there is a genuine love for Christ here.  This Love has been apparent from day one and is constantly there.  Thank You so much Lord for blessing me with the ability to serve and be served by this local body.  Praise You for Your work in their lives.

  Peace is something that is overshadowed many times when we talk about what the Lord has done in our lives.  Has He given you peace?  If not brothers and sisters be at peace!  The Lord will take care of today and tomorrow.  He has always done so and will continue to do so.  He is a great God.  Be happy, rejoice, pray, and have peace.  These things are what we are called to.  Not anxiety or unhappiness for not knowing the future.  If you trust the Lord with your life, then trust that He will take care of you and has HIS best interest in mind for your life.  After all, it is His life that we have desired in us right?  Trust in Him.  Take comfort in His love, not the situation you are in.

18 April 2011

Philippians 3:17-21

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

  Many people seem to set a good example for us to follow.  This world is full of idols and people we look up to.  They can be musicians, poets, movie stars, and even pastors.  We much be careful to not put these people on a pedestal.  Think about who we look to for examples in life. 

  We look to how sports athletes are on the ice or on the court.  We should be looking to the study habits of a man like Piper.  The discipline of Macarthur.  The fire and enthusiasm to serve like Mahaney.  These people are trying to serve Christ with their lives.  But are we able to look at those around us in the same way?  These three men named are “big” names in the Christian faith, whatever that means.  Can we not find this dedication in our own churches?  Can you find a man who devotes seemingly endless hours to studying God’s Word?  Can you find a man who spends countless hours in prayer for the body?  Can you find a man who has the discipline to serve even when it is difficult for that person to get out of bed in the morning?  These people are all around us, we need to recognize that.

  Paul is talking about that in these verses above.  Who should we intimidate in the Church?  The very men spoke about; the ones devoted to prayer, discipline, and study.  Why?  Why should we imitate these men?  Because they are simply trying to be more like Christ in every way with their lives.  There are those in the church who say they are followers of Christ and are not.  This is a fact of the church as a whole.  We are going to have those in our midst who do not follow the Word of God.  We should be so devoted to the Lord in every way that these people obviously do not belong.  We want these people to come to know Jesus as their Lord.  If they do not and they walk away, “their end is destruction.” 

  What this means is that we need to use discernment in who we imitate.  We need to emulate those brothers from the past and present who emulate what it means to be a true follower of Christ.  Heavenly Father, help me to follow as I see those devoted to you follow.  Help me to be more like Christ and an example of who You are, because of Your work in me. 

16 April 2011

Philippians 3:12-16

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

  What has Paul not obtained?  Refer back to v.11 as he talks about “attaining the resurrection from the dead.”  This is the goal of the Christian, to be resurrected as Christ was resurrected.  We should desire, and it should be our life’s goal, to strive to share in the sufferings of Christ.  The reason we do this is to be like Him in death and newness of life.  Christ has made us His own, so let us strive to make His desires our own.  This does not mean we suffer needlessly or for no reason, if by doing the work of Christ we suffer then we should rejoice in that. 

  Brothers, our lives as Christians is not meant to be an easy one, it is meant to glorify God.  If that means suffering are you okay with that?  If you are not, then you need to reflect on your faith.  Paul explains that our desire as Christians is to obtain the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Are we focused on the future and what the Lord wants for us or are we focused on what has already taken place?  Are we focused on our personal failures or the Love that God showed for us by striking His Son down for us?  Press forward in what God has deemed we should have in this life and rejoice!

  Understanding these things is one thing, reconciling your life to them is another.  It is not an easy thing to be reconciled to not living a life for our own cares and worries.  Especially in the U.S. that is a very tough thing.  We are always told that we can have anything we want as long as we work hard.  “Live the American dream they tell us.”  What does that mean exactly?  And, is it truly Biblical?  Paul says to live a life for God, striving to be resurrected with Christ.  This means our lives are defined not by our supposed “success” in this life, but rather by our desire and drive to serve Christ!  To the world this does not make sense.  That is why Paul says “let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” 

  These things are not easy to reconcile in our lives.  Through Christ we can have clarity.  Through Christ we will know truth.  If we are saved and yet do not understand certain situations and what is going on that is okay.  Turn to the Word and as v.16 says, “hold true to what we have attained.”  Christ has revealed things to us.  He has chosen us as His Children.  He will reveal to us what we need to know.  Trust in what He has already revealed to us, if nothing else His saving grace through the Cross of Jesus, and hold true to that.  Put all future knowledge and understanding through what we KNOW is true.  Pray about these things, and let the Lord reveal to you His truth through His Word and the interpretation of the Holy Spirit. 

Philippians 3:1-11

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for 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; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order 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 comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

  Writing or repeating the Gospel is “safe” according to Paul.  It is important to always preach the Gospel to our brothers and sisters, especially though who are brothers and sisters.  Many times we think that it is only important to preach the Gospel to those who are not a part of the church.  That is not true.  It is vital to continually preach to each other and ourselves that Christ died for our sins because we could not.  He has paid the penalty and it is a free gift by grace. 

  Paul of all people had right to boast in the flesh, but as he explains, the flesh is just that, flesh.  It means nothing when it comes salvation (v.9).  What means everything is the faith we put in Jesus Christ.  Every “religion” in the world puts stipulations and rules on what must be done to please a god.  For a Christian pleasing God means having faith.  Acts 16:30-31 “what must we do to be saved?  Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”  Salvation comes through faith, not works. 

  Our desire should be to serve the Lord Jesus with our lives.  With that we should keep in mind that even though it is not our works that brings us to God, we should allow Him to rule our lives in a manor that shows He is Lord of our lives.  If we would simply allow Him to do that, He will be pleased with our lives and the product thereof.  Put to death what was in our lives “that by any means necessary” we may come to be raised to life as Christ was raised to life.  Live a life worthy of your calling. 

14 April 2011

Philippians 2:19-30

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
  The Lord puts people in our lives for reasons.  Some have a positive affect, some have a negative affect; ALL have benefit for helping us to grow in Christ.  I have been realizing over the years that I may not know why people are in my life, but that someday the Lord may reveal it to me.  There are people I have met and not until years in the future do I see why they are, or were, in my life.  People help us to grow for good or for bad.

  Paul mentions two people that have been influential in his life, Timothy and Epaphroditus.  Timothy took to Paul like a son to a father (v.22).  He served with Paul in the Gospel in multiple locations over a long period of time.  Paul will later write to Timothy as he is leading a church.  This is a great depiction of a mentoring relationship that is pointing to Christ. 

  The second person is Epaphroditus.  He we know less about, but his worth is not to be underestimated.  The value that he has given to Paul is shown here, as is his heart for the church of Philippi.  He does not want them to worry about him as he believes Christ to be so much greater than one man.  It is very easy to put people on pedestals and allow them to be the focus of our affection.  Christ should be that focus, not men.  Epaphroditus knew this and wanted the church to know this.

  The last thing that strikes me about this really hit home for me.  v.29 explains that Paul would like the church to receive Epaphroditus “in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men.”  Why do this?  “for he nearly died for the work of Christ.”  This man was a man who wanted to serve the Lord, we should honor that.  We should honor our brothers and sisters in Christ who are not from where we are.  Make them feel welcome.  I have felt nothing but welcome here in Wichita Falls at the church I attend.  The love of Christ is apparent and obvious.  Lord, I am so grateful for you bringing me here.