Monday, November 29, 2010
Philippians Chapter 3
- No matter what happens... rejoice! Regardless of how bad or good things may appear... Rejoice!
- Romans 8:28
- Why? Because God is still God and we can count on the fact that He knows best for us.
- And you know what? We can rejoice in the fact that we are children of THE King, THE Lord, and THE ONLY God. We might feel poor now, and we might not see the riches coming, but by golly, we have the inheritance of dreams coming to us...
- More rich than you can ever imagine..
- Paul says he never tires of telling them to rejoice because he does it to safeguard their faith.
- I think this is important. It's important to remember all of the above and to be reminded of them often. Simply because, when our faith is weak, we need to remember from Whom our strength comes... And that will help our faith grow. When God comes through for us when we're at our lowest, it's memorable.
- Watch out for people who tell you that you have to earn your salvation. You can't earn the right to your salvation no matter what you do.
- Revelation 22:15
- We who worship by the Spirit of God have a place in the Kingdom of God. Not because we've earned it, but rather because of our adoption process.
- John 4:21-24
- We rely on what Christ has done for us. Not on our own or anyone else's human effort.
- Psalm 22:1-31
- We may think we have reason to be able to put faith in our own effort... We don't hurt anybody intentionally, we keep all the laws of our country or our state, we love our families, we give money to charities, we may even volunteer to do loads of community service...
- Isn't that enough? Doesn't God like those things?
- Paul starts giving his credentials as a Jew.
- His parents had him circumcised at 8 days old. (as was the requirement of the law. Paul was following the law even before he knew the law...)
- Full blooded citizen of Israel with tribal standing. A true Hebrew. (The tribe of Benjamin was one of two tribes that did not intermarry in captivity...) A Pharisee. One of the religious elite. Was so zealous in his religious beliefs that he persecuted and killed members of the early church... He obeyed the law without flaw. He was perfect in all his actions.
- Shouldn't that have qualified him for entrance into heaven? He fought for what he believed in. He followed all the rules and laws.
- Because of all this, Paul considered himself valuable. Wouldn't God be lucky to have him as a follower?
- But now, he considers all his previous actions to be worthless because of what Christ has done.
- Everything is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ.
- footnote- “After Paul considered everything he had accomplished in his life, he decided to write it all off as “worthless” when compared with the greatness of knowing Christ. We should value our relationship with Christ as more important than anything else. To know Christ should be our ultimate goal. Yet how do we know Him better?
1. Study the life of Christ in the Gospels. See how Christ lived and responded to people.
2. Study all the New Testament references to Christ.
3. As you worship and pray, let the Holy spirit remind you of Christ's words.
4. Take up Christ's mission to preach the gospel and learn from His sufferings.
To do these things, however, may mean that you must make major changes in your thinking and in your lifestyle. Are you willing to change your values in order to know Christ better? Will you fix or rearrange your crowded schedule in order to set aside a few minutes each day for prayer and Bible Study? Will you change some of your plans, goals, and desires in order to conform with what you learn about Christ? Whatever you must change or give up, having Christ and becoming one with Him will be more than worth the sacrifice.”
- Everything you think you can prove and everything you think you've earned, is worthless.
- Our human effort means practically nothing in the large scheme of things.
- The MOST important thing we can do is to know Christ. That one thing outweighs everything else.
- but in order to know Christ intimately, there are sacrifices that have to be made.
- To gain Christ, to see Him as first priority and most important, means that other things have to come second and have to get less attention. Become less important.
- In a marriage, you can't get married and maintain the schedule of a single. Your spouse has to take top priority for the marriage to survive.
- A happy marriage is one build on hearts. IF you're just considerate on the outside... or just loving on the outside... or just do what you have to do to stay out of the dog house... You won't be happy and neither will your spouse. Oh you might delude yourselves into thinking you're perfectly happy for a little while... but in the long run?
- Just following all the rules doesn't make you a good spouse. It has to be something that comes from the heart.
- The law does not come from the heart. Faith does.
- Romans 2:25-29, 1:17, 3:21-28, 9:30-33, 10:3-17
- Galatians 6:14-16, 2:16-21
- God's path to making us right with Him is based on faith. Not works.
- Paul says he wants to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.
- He wants to suffer with Him and share in His death.
- Does Paul have a death wish? Nah...
- We're all going to die sometime. Nobody gets out of here alive. It just doesn't happen. Even Lazarus had to die again.
- The question is not when or how you will die. The question is “will you die worthy of life?”
- If you stand up for something, if you go against the flow, you will suffer just as Christ suffered.
- II Corinthians 11:16-33, 12:1-10
- so when you die, will you die on the battlefield, fighting to spread the gospel?
- Paul is hoping to share in Christ's suffering and death. Why? Because that will mean he has done his job to the fullest. Because he will have accomplished much for the forwarding of God's Kingdom.
- Romans 6:1-23, 7:16-17, 26-30
- One way or another we will experience resurrection from the dead. We will either die of old age, or some sickness, or an accident, or maybe even as a martyr. But we will be raised up again into new life.
- I Corinthians 15:21-58
- Revelation 20:4-6
- Are you leading a life worthy of such a death?
- Colossians 2:6-23, 3:1-17
- Have we reached this goal? No. We have not the capability to achieve perfection. Does that mean we give up? No.
- footnote- “Paul said that his goal was to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all Christ had in mind for him. This goal took all of Paul's energies. This is a helpful example for us. We should not let anything take our eyes off our goal—knowing Christ. With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training, we must lay aside everything harmful and forsake anything that may distract us from being effective Christians. What is holding you back?”
- Focus. Focus on ONE thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
- Just a side note. When I was reading this, I was struck with a thought. Paul had quite a past. To forget his past meant to put aside all the memories of his pride. ALL the times he'd pushed people aside to maintain his “righteousness”. And then to remember persecuting and killing those who were now his brothers and sisters in Christ? To remember Stephen and to wish he could have learned something from him. He probably wished he could have talked with Stephen and learned what kept him even in death.
- Acts 8:1-3, 22:3-5, 26:4-11
- We all have regrets and pasts that are sometimes haunting... But it doesn't mean that we should allow Satan to constantly beat us over the head with it.
- Our pasts have been erased. Sins cast as far as the east is from the west.
- Don't let your past run your life. Instead look ahead and press forward.
- Run the race like a professional athlete. You can't think about all the ones you've lost before or the mistakes you've made. You just have to focus on running the present race.
- Press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God is calling us.
- I Timothy 6:12-16
- I Corinthians 9:24-27
- II Timothy 4:6-8
- Hebrews 12:1-13
- Now sometimes in running a race... you start to get tired...
- Are you tired? Are you weary in running? Are you ready to take a nap?
- Last week our sermon was on the Ravine of Besor. David left 200 men there on the way to a battle because they were too tired to push on. So he left them there to rest and guard the armies supplies. And after the battle, he came back and they were rested enough to do other duties. (And they received an equal share of the spoil along with the rest of the army.)
- Sometimes we all need a break. But when you take one, don't lose the progress you're made. (You always need to guard the stuff.) Don't let Satan drag you backwards. Sometimes it's necessary to rest... but resting doesn't need to cause you to be weak...
- Luke 9:62
- Rest, renew your strength in the Lord and then press on. There's still work to be done. You can't rest for forever...
- footnote- “Sometimes trying to live a perfect Christian life can be so difficult that it leaves us drained and discouraged. We may feel so far from perfect that we think we can never please God with our life. Paul used “perfection” to mean mature or complete, not flawless in every detail. Those who are mature should press on in the Holy Spirit's power, knowing that Christ will reveal and fill in any discrepancy between what we are and what we should be. Christ's provision is no excuse for lagging devotion, but it provides relief and assurance for those who feel driven.”
- Ephesians 4:14-16
- footnote- “Christian maturity involves acting on the guidance that you have already received. We can always make excuses that we still have so much to learn. The instruction for us is to live up to what we already know and live out what we have already learned. We do not have to be sidetracked by an unending search for truth.”
- I Corinthians 2:6-16
- This last bit reminds me of a friend of mine...
- This young man does not understand grace. (who does completely really?) He thinks there has to be a catch somewhere. So, he started studying. Trying to figure out what God REALLY was trying to say. He started learning Hebrew, went back to study the Old Testament. Wanted to find a “pure” religion because he felt that the church was corrupt in its teachings.
- He now (after a few years of this) believes that we have to believe in Christ... believe that he is the sacrifice for our sin. Believe that he is God's Son. Believe in the trinity... but also that we have to go back and follow all the Old Testament law. The whole bit. From the 10 commandments to the laws of sacrificing for sins to the food laws.
- And still he studies. Because even that doesn't seem to be enough. He cannot accept Grace. That just seems to be too easy for him. There's got to be something else there. There has to be a way for us to EARN our salvation (which we already talked about.)
- And it breaks my heart. Because as much as he knows ABOUT God and about following the law... he doesn't have a personal relationship with God. He keeps God at a distance through trying to live a perfect life. Because until he is living what is in his eyes a perfect life... he does not think that he can come to God and have a personal relationship until he fixes all the bad things in his life. Doesn't think he has the ability to come before the throne until he's following all the laws.
- He knows he's missing something... but he can't figure out what... There's something missing from his equation. But to bring up the idea of Grace is blasphemous to him. Because Grace does away with a way to earn your salvation... and you always have to work for what you get...
- Knowing truth is a good thing... but the search for knowledge... “Seeking to be wise, they made themselves fools.”- Romans 1:22
- If there's something you want to understand more fully, something you can't comprehend... don't go to commentators and texts... Go to the source first.
- Pray that God will reveal truth to you. Pray that He will open your eyes and your understanding. Yes that understanding may come through the reading of other texts, but pray for discernment before you start your study.
- a lot of people have a lot of opinions about just about anything and everything. And only ONE Truth exists. Sometimes it's hard to wade through the garbage to find what you're looking for. But if you have a map or a tour guide, things will go much faster... : ) Let God be your guide...
- Granted... there are some things, you will never understand. There are some things that literally only God knows. Not even the ANGELS know when Christ is going back. God is still a God who likes surprises....
- footnote- “Paul challenged the Philippians to pursue Christ likeness by following Paul's own pattern or example. This did not mean, of course, that they should copy everything he did' he had just stated that he was not perfect. But as he focused his life on being like Christ, so should they. The Gospels may not yet have been in circulation, so Paul could not tell them to read the bible to see what Christ was like. Therefore, he urged them to imitate him. That Paul could tell people to follow his example is a testimony to his character. Can you do the same? What kind of follower would a new Christian become if he or she imitated you?
- I Corinthians 4:10-17
- You know there's a line in a song that says “I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one any day.”
- You are the only Bible some will ever read. The only contact they'll have with the Gospel.
- Do they see the attributes of Christ? Or do they see someone just like them?
- Your actions speak louder than words. Much louder. You can preach until you're blue in the face... but do you practice it when you're done preaching?
- There is no “Do as I say not as I do” clause in this faith...
- There are those whose conduct shows them to truly be enemies of the cross even though they profess otherwise.
- These are headed for destruction.
- Now Paul makes the statement that their God is their appetite. Now... as I think about this, this isn't just a food appetite. (although that's part of it)
- These are people with no self control. If they want food, they eat it. If they want a new car (or any other new thing they see...) , they buy it (even if they can't afford it), If they want sex, they go get it, regardless of where and with whom.... Whatever they desire, they indulge in it. (It may be one of the above... or it may be all of the above and more besides...)
- And THEN! They go brag about the shameful things they've done and seen and been a part of. They have no shame and no conscience.
- And the only thing they think about is their life here on earth. Nothing seems to have eternal consequence or value. “You only have one chance at life, so live it up and do what feels good!”
- but we are citizens of heaven. We have a higher purpose and a greater command.
- Romans 8:18-39
- footnote- “Citizens of a Roman colony were expected to promote the interests of Rome and maintain the dignity of the city. In the same way, citizens of heaven ought to promote heaven's interests on earth and lead lives worthy of heavenly citizen ship. Too many Christians have failed to transfer their citizenship to heaven. They still seek earthly pleasures and treasures instead of heavenly ones. Paul told the Colossians to remember that they are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. Have you transferred your citizenship? How are you promoting heaven's interests?”
- footnote- “The phrase “weak mortal bodies” does not imply any negative attitude toward the human body. However, the bodies we will receive when we are raised from the dead will be glorious, like Christ's resurrected body. Those who struggle with pain, physical limitations, or disabilities can have wonderful hope in the resurrection.”
- Have you read the ending yet? Jesus wins... : ) And we with Him. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST is Lord. Everything will be completely under His rule and control.
- Who's side are you going to be on?