:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Philippians Chapter 1

vs. 1-2

- This is a letter from Paul and Timothy. They announce themselves as slaves to Christ Jesus. Once again, giving their credentials and why they have the authority to give direction/instruction.

- Paul is writing to everybody in the church at Philippi. Including the elders and deacons. No one is exempt.

- May God give you grace and peace.

vs. 3-6

- Every time I think of you, I thank God for you. Anytime I pray, I make my requests for you with joy.

- Are you excited about your prayer times? When you think of all the wonderful people in your life, do you thank God with an overflowing heart?

- When you love someone, you are happy to help them. To see them do well.

- So when you pray, are you happy to be able to pray for your friends and fellow believers?

- The Philippians have been Paul's partners in spreading the Gospel from the first time they heard it. God used them to start a ministry immediately.

- footnote- “When Paul said that the Philippians were partners in spreading the Good News, he was remembering how they contributed through their practical help when Paul was in Philippi and through their financial support when he was in prison. As we help our ministers, missionaries, and evangelists through prayer, hospitality, and financial gifts, we become partners with them in spreading the gospel message.”

- God began a work in their hearts that day. And he will continue it to its completion. And it won't be finished until Christ returns.

- I think that's a good thing to take a look at. When we start this walk, we're rough around the edges. (Some more than others... : ) God has to start chipping away at us to shape us into what He wants us to be. This is a process seemingly without end. We can never reach the place of perfection that He wants us to get to. Until Christ comes back, we can't become who we were created to be before the fall. The relationship status as the bride of Christ can't happen until He returns in all His glory as King of the earth AND our hearts.

- footnote- “The God who began a good work within us continues it throughout our lifetime and will finish it when we meet Him face to face. God's work FOR us began when Christ died on the cross in our place. His work WITHIN us began when we first believed. Now the Holy Spirit lives in us, enabling us to be more like Christ every day. Paul is describing the process of Christian growth and maturity that began when we accepted Jesus and continues until Christ returns.”

- footnote- “Do you sometimes feel as though you aren't making progress in your spiritual life? When God starts a project, He completes it! As with the Philippians, God will help you grow in grace until He has completed His work in your life. When you are discouraged, remember that God won't give up on you. He promises to finish the work He has begun. When you feel incomplete, unfinished, or distressed by your shortcomings, remember God's promise and provision. Don't let your present condition rob you of the joy of knowing Christ or keep you from growing closer to Him.”

- I Corinthians 1:4-9
- Ephesians 3:14-20

vs. 7-9

- The Philippians were special to Paul. Probably partly because they were the 1st fully Gentile church. Which was living proof that Christ was for all men.

- This is also the place that Paul and Silas sang in prison and the doors were opened. The Jailer and his household were saved as well as Lydia, seller of purple cloth. (Acts 16:11-40).

- You shared with me a special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Gospel.

- These baby Christians not only believed in Christ, but they supported their brother whole-heartedly. They stuck with Paul in his imprisonment, they defended him and the gospel, and they confirmed the gospel. Such faith. Such love. Such passion.

- I think that would've made a big impression on me too...

- Paul says he loves these people and longs for them with the compassion of Christ. He feels like he's missing his closest friends.

- And because he feels so much and so close a love, he prays that their own love will overflow more and more and they will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.

- Have you ever been to a wedding? Or been around an engaged couple like the week or so before the wedding? Or right after they get engaged?

- Do you see love between them? Can you feel the excitement? Their joy and love spill over into your life. It's infectious. You can't help but smile.

- Now on the other hand... those who are single... that love sort of rubs salt in a wound if they have allowed their heart to grow bitter from not having that love... but that's another sort of story... For them... this kind of affection can get really annoying, really quick.

- Now consider our walk with God. We are “engaged” to God if you will. Are you in love with God? Does your love overflow to everyone around you? Do you exude joy in your relationship?

- Now... those who don't have a relationship with God... the singles if you will... Do you overflow to them as well? Do you, in your happiness, want the same for them? Do you try and “fix them up” with God? Don't worry about offending them, or making them feel bad... If you're happy, let it out! Be the Tigger for all the Eeyores... : )

- Romans 1:8-9, 12:1-21
- I Thessalonians 3:12-13
- Ephesians 3:1-13

vs. 10-11

- Paul prays that they will grow in knowledge and understanding so that they will understand what really matters. So that they can live pure and blameless lives until Christ returns.

- To understand what really matters means to understand right and wrong. To understand what we should and shouldn't do. In understanding right and wrong, we can live pure and blameless lives for Christ.

- footnote- “Paul prayed that the Philippian believers would have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad, vital and trivial. We ought to pray for moral discernment so we can maintain our Christian morals and values. Hebrews 5:14 emphasizes the need for discernment.”

- Paul also prays that they will be filled with the fruit of salvation (fruit of the Spirit- Galatians 5:22-23) and the righteous character produced by Jesus. Because this will bring much glory and praise to God.

- footnote- “The “fruit of your salvation” includes all of the character traits flowing from a right relationship with God. There is no other way for us to gain this fruit of righteousness than through Christ.”

- When a seed is planted, it is expected to grow and eventually, to bring forth fruit.

- The fruit in Galatians are those things that Christ, gardening in your life and in your heart, gradually produces.

- And as with every gardener, the presence of fruit brings joy... And they, just have to show if off... which generally brings glory and praise to the gardener.

- John 15:1-17

vs. 12-14

- Paul stresses that everything he's gone through has helped the spread of the gospel.

- Wait. Paul's in prison. How does that help spread the gospel!?

- Because Paul didn't stop preaching just because his circumstances looked bleak. Every prison guard, every servant, and every leader remotely close to Paul's vicinity knew he was a Christian.

- If Paul didn't directly speak to them, people were at least talking about how outspoken this imprisoned man was.

- And you know what happened? They believers around Paul were strengthened in their faith and gained the confidence to speak boldly, the message of Christ without fear.

- Do people notice your witness? Does I make enough of an impact that they tell others about you? Do you inspire people to stand up and be bolder in their own walks with God?

- footnote- “Being imprisoned would cause many people to become bitter or to give up, but Paul saw it as one more opportunity to spread the Good News of Christ. Paul realized that his current circumstances weren't as important as what he did with them. Turning a bad situation into a good one, he reached out to the Roman soldiers who made up the palace guard and encouraged those Christians who were afraid of persecution. We may not be in prison, but we still have plenty of opportunities to be discouraged—times of indecision, financial burdens, family conflict, church conflict, or the loss of our jobs. How we act in such situations will reflect what we believe. Like Paul, look for ways to demonstrate your faith even in bad situations. Whether or not the situation improves, your faith will grow stronger.”

vs. 15-19

- Paul starts telling about two different kinds of preachers.

- One set, is preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. No pure motives. They are preaching to life themselves up and to promote their own interests.

- This kind of preacher reminds me of some of these TV preachers who get up and preach prosperity and then want you to send x amount of money in order to receive your blessing today. Buy the most expensive suits, cars, have the most decked out wives... and every message... always comes back around to the money...

- Or... I thought about these preachers in turn of the century America. Youngest sons or sons from poor families who had very little inheritance, had little choice of occupations... so they ended up as ministers... (not called to the work... but doing the work out of necessity for a living.) They gained such a stigma because they got their sermons from books of sermons from other, better, more studied men. They showed up to visit parishioners around lunch and dinner time and required fried chicken... So a lot of times, the preacher/minister was seen by the community to be a necessary evil. Someone they had to feed and had to take care of, just so they could get a little word from God on Sundays... that was over their heads... but good solid Americans had to go to church...

- The second set were preaching because they loved Paul and knew his heart for the gospel. They caught his fire. Saw his passion and adapted it to their own lives.

- Paul then goes on to say that he doesn't care so much about the motives. Because regardless, the gospel was being spread and God's word will never return to Him void.

- So as long as they're preaching truth to someone, regardless of their actual motives, God can use it. Because He's God and He can use anything He so chooses.

- Paul rejoiced in this fact and said he would continue to rejoice because he knows that the Philippians (among others) are praying for him and the Spirit was helping him and that all of this combined would eventually lead to his deliverance.

- footnote- “This was not Paul's final imprisonment in Rome. But he didn't know that. Awaiting trial, he knew he could either be released or executed. However, he trusted Christ to work it out for his deliverance. Paul's prayer was that when he stood trial, he would speak courageously for Christ and not be timid or ashamed. Whether he lived or died, he wanted to exalt Christ. As it turned out, he was released from this imprisonment but arrested again two or three years later. Only faith in Christ could sustain Paul in such adversity.”

vs. 20-26

- Paul was a bold man. He says that he hopes and expects to never be ashamed of his faith and that he will continue to be bold for Christ as he has been before.

- He is trusting God to use his life for His glory whether he lives or dies.

- This next bit is intense. If only we had this kind of fight in us.

- Paul says to live means living for Christ, but dying is even better.

- What!? Paul's hoping for death!?

- Not really... but sort of...

- To live means that he can continue to be a witness for Christ. Continue to work to save souls.

- But to die. Oh! To die means to be able to spend all of eternity with Christ.

- So Paul is torn between two desires. To spread the gospel or to spend eternity sitting face to face with Christ.

- For Paul, death would be better. A much greater reward. But for his friends and brothers, it is better that he continue to live and preach.

- So Paul is convinced that for the sake of spreading the gospel, he will be left alive. In this way he can continue to strengthen his fellow believers and help them to grow in the joy of their salvation.

- Because of this, his fellow believers will have reason to take pride in Christ Jesus and the work He is doing through Paul.

- My dad once had a sermon about, when he died what would people write on his epithet? Or what would they remember when he was gone?

- Would they say “he was a janitor.” or maybe “he played the piano... real loud...” Or “he was a good dad.” or “he sang in church.” or “he liked to laugh.”

- But his question became then... “will they remember seeing Christ in my life? Does every aspect of my life reflect Christ?”

- He talked about a many faceted diamond. Each facet is different, but every facet will reflect whatever is in the center of it.

- So is Christ the center of your life? Is He being reflected in every aspect of your life? Parent, child, co-worker, boss, hireling, neighbor, brother, sister, friend, stranger...

- Are you sold out enough that people notice?

- We have a mission on this earth to spread the gospel. We should want that. Our hearts should cry out for the best.

- But we should also maintain a relationship with Christ and be so in love with Jesus that we can't wait to spend face to face eternity with Him. What greater thing could we ask for or imagine?

- II Timothy 2:9-14
- Romans 14:7-13

vs. 27-30

- You must live as citizens of heaven. Conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

- As a citizen of a given country, you have the right to live in that country as long as you follow the laws of the land. (If you disobey the laws, there are known consequences.) Your children are born as citizens of your country. They have the right to the same rights and freedoms that their parents do as citizens. You have an identity as being from this country. You have a home. A place to come back to if you leave. A culture that is identifiable specifically for that place. You may be identified by your accent or your way of talking or a language/dialect.

- As a citizen of heaven, there are laws to follow. There are expectations for your behavior. You have great freedoms. You have a home to go to. And we should have an identifiable culture.

- This means that we should do things that people around us recognize as us being citizens of heaven. Paul explains.

- Whether or not he comes to see them, he wants to know that they are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, the gospel.

- Now, if Paul doesn't go see them, how's he going to know that this is what they're doing? Because it will be evident enough that word will travel back to him.

- Don't be intimidated by your enemies. The more you stand up to them, the more they get scared. Yeah, they might eventually kill you or break your body down... but you know... we've read the end of the book. We know the ending of the story... and God wins. So, you may die physically, you may be crushed, persecuted, broken... but through God as your salvation, you still win. : ) So be bold, be strong, stay courageous, and let God fight beside you. (or for you as the case may be...)

- You have been given the privilege of trusting God, and knowing Him, and depending on Him... but this also means that we get the privilege of suffering for Him.

- Privilege? What kind of Privilege is that? It's like saying that the wine tester (human poison detector...) for the king is privileged to stand beside the king and take the first sip of his wine... well yeah... but... he's probably gonna die for it one day...

- (For sake of the concept, assume that the wine tester has agreed to do this job willingly...) But you know, that wine tester, is trusted by the KING himself. He is KNOWN to the king. A king doesn't put his life in just any hands. This king is trusting this servant, because he knows him. Do you think the servant loves the king? Well yeah! He has to feel at least a little something or he wouldn't be ok with standing there!

- Christ gave us life. Saved us from hell. What gratitude have we? Do you trust and love your King, your Savior, your Lover, enough to put your life on the line for Him? Are you willing to suffer so that He may be glorified?

- But here's something to remember. We're not alone. This is not a struggle that we have to go through all on our own. We as a group of believers, are all in this together. Paul says that the Philippians have seen his struggle and know that he's still in the midst of it.

- This battle doesn't end midday. This battle goes on forever. This doesn't end until your life ends. There will ALWAYS be persecution, there will ALWAYS be suffering. If not from people directly, then from Satan himself.

- footnote- “Throughout his life, Paul suffered for spreading the Good News. Like the Philippians, we are in conflict with anyone who would discredit the saving message of Christ. All true believers are in this fight together, uniting against the same enemy for a common cause. Paul never urges Christians to seek suffering, as if there were virtue in pain.” Rather... when suffering comes, face it, acknowledge it, and fight it.

- (Unity is key. It does us no good to use our energy fighting amongst ourselves rather than the enemy. Unite to fight and forget about petty differences. Maintain your purpose. Maintain the fight for the kingdom of Christ and not your own selfish desires.)

- footnote- “Paul considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ. We do not by nature consider suffering a privilege. Yet when we suffer, if we faithfully represent Christ, our message and example affect us and others for good. Suffering has these additional benefits: 1. It takes our eyes off of earthly comforts; 2. it weeds our superficial believers; 3 it strengthens the faith of those who endure; 4. it serves as an example to others who may follow us. When we suffer for our faith, it doesn't mean that we have done something wrong. In fact, the opposite is often true—it verifies that we have been faithful. Use suffering to build your character. Don't resent it or let it tear you down.”

- So... can people tell you're a citizen? Do they see the evidence of where you're from and who you're family is? Can they tell that you belong to a family of believers? Does your family of believers make a showing in your community? Do people know where they're at and who they are? Do you make an impact?

- Are you ready for suffering? Are you willing to bear it? If suffering has never been present in your walk, if no one has ever disagreed with you about your faith... are you really showing them your faith? How present is God in your daily walk?

- I Corinthians 1:10-17, 6:19-20
- I Thessalonians 4:1-12
- John 15:18-27
- Galatians 2:20-21
- Colossians 1:24-29
- II Timothy 4:5-8
- Hebrews 13:6
- Matthew 5:10-12

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