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Friday, September 27, 2013

How Bold are You?


IN NOTHING SHALL WE BE ASHAMED
Philippians 1

     We enter the time of Paul's second missionary journey (AD 51) following a vision given to him from a man in Macedonia.
     In Acts 16 you can read about the cross-section of people Paul preached to and that Jesus speaks to today. The wealthy, The middle class, The poor, The industrious, The bound up, The oppressed. Paul is showing the people of Philippi and you and I that God doesn’t leave anyone out when it comes to drawing people to Himself. We've read in the chapter why Paul had to leave Philippi then later pen this letter to the flock rather than going to see them again in person.
     Paul was bound in chains.
     Persecution of the church was growing rampant during this time in history just as it is once again taking a difficult turn for the Christian today. Persecution is growing, and will be widespread before long.
     We just learned recently in the news of the many Christians who were killed; the churches that were burned down and people who love God openly are being increasingly persecuted for their stands. People are turning away from moral and Christian standards which held us firm in the past. Rebellion is taking over in schools; it is taking over in government; it is taking over in our cities; and unfortunately it is taking over in many of the churches where compromise and moderation is the emphasis -- where diversity is the welcome character over the desire to be a serious standard bearing Christian.
     Who is making a stand on the principles of moral and God focused living?
     The church at Philippi also inherited some of this persecution that went on then just as it as will increase in the taking of the church in this day. What was so important was how the Philippian Christians did not allow their persecution to hinder their joy in the Lord -- that joy that Christ had filled them with.
     Another attribute of the Philippian Christian was the bond of friendship they employed and encouraged. They worked at this; Paul recognized it. He boasted of their willingness to hang on to that which made them special.
     What are we hanging on to today?
     When Paul pens this letter  he did so from a jail cell. While he was there, he shared with there the importance of
  • Giving thanks
  • Taking note of another servant in need of care, love, joy, and encouragement during a time of illness (in this case it was Epaphroditis)
  • Preparing for the trials they would endure
  • Encouraging them to keep that unity so necessary for the body of Christ to function properly
     Were there any problems in the Philippian church? Paul spends a short time warning them of evil workers that would come and try to destroy What God was doing.
     We, too, need to think on these things as we go further into the first chapter.
     There are many things we can consider just as Paul shared with the Philippians.
  • Am I continuing to give thanks to God for HIM and for others?
  • Am I continuing to give thanks for His blessings?
  • Am I able to give thanks even for my trials
  • Am I remembering to be there for those who have needs that arise doing what I can, even if it is simply a word of prayer or encouragement?
  • And finally am I making sure to be aware and prepared for the evil workers that might come and find selfish ways to destroy what God is doing
     We've already set the tone for Paul's letter. The emphasis is on having Christian joy again, Koinonia fellowship, letting go of SELF which speaks to personal surrender, and Spiritual Maturity. Some of the marks of a true Christian.

I.                    The Mark of a Christian 
NKJV
Verses 3-7    I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,  For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ; Even as it is meet for me to think this of you  all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
 
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy
 
     There’s something powerful about saying the word “thank you” and meaning it. Almost every time Paul wrote a letter he began with a word of thanks. Not only is the word thank you powerful. So is living in the JOY of the Lord.
 
The Mark of a Christian  
  1. That JOY shows through collective prayer (silently or vocally bringing each other to the throne of God by our interceding for those God places on our hearts)
  2. That willingness to share Jesus with others whenever we can, in whatever way we can.
  3. Our Faith in action. Does our walk show others we are blessed because we live in Faith?
Reflection: If our Christian walk does not make us happy and blessed, what is it doing for us?
 
     We can think of Moses, who after he had been on the mountain top with God came down off that mountain, his face RADIANT.  It was impossible for him to hide the joy and blessing God had given Him

When we look in our mirrors do we see the radiance of the Lord? If not, what do we see? 
 
  1. Another mark of the Christian shows when we are unified in fellowship
PSALM 133:1  
     In order for God's joy to be evident in our lives, how important it is to walk away from
  • Strife when it threatens to embrace us
  • Bitterness which can creep up on us when someone or something brings us emotional pain
  • Jealousy which tears us apart because we refuse to be content with who we are
  • Standoffishness which makes others think we don’t want to have them around
  • Self Pity which is another SELF problems which comes at us when we least expect it, or open ourselves up to it   
     Joy is also evident when we can express it even in the midst of Suffering (as Paul and the Philippian Christians did)
 
      "Suffering gives us the opportunity to demonstrate to God our loyalty to Him."  Our Lord Jesus took it as a privilege to suffer and die for us. What better way to honor God. We all go through times of suffering and personal pain. How important it is to pray through it.
 
Lord please give me joy in this situation I'm in.

     One way, as a commentator writes, suffering can be described: Like lighting a torch from the fire that's on the altar. By dipping that torch in water for cleansing and purifying. That torch being your life and mine.
Romans 12:1-2 says it all
 
Reflection: Think of some ways YOU can show joy in your life. Some ways YOU can express it both quietly and openly.

     In verse 6 Paul reminds us that God will finish what He started in us.  Sometimes our lives get discouraged, but Paul shares how we can turn it all around. A crucial reminder to us that from the day we took the Lord into our hearts it is from then on HIM for it is HE not us who does the work from that first day until the day He takes us home to be with Him.
 
Verse 6…Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
1.         He is doing the work.
2.         He starts it.
3.         He will finish it. 
4.         Will we let Him?
 
     The Lord will bring your life and mine into maturity .Our hearts are continually changing and being strengthened to be stronger and stronger for the Lord. As we stay firm in his word and in fellowship with the rest of the body. As we get to know him more closely through prayer.   

Something to consider:
How can we know him well in heaven 
if we don’t spend time talking to him today?

     We see in Verse 7 how Paul’s love for the church greatly abounded. It didn’t matter that he was in chains and fetters.  He wanted to encourage the Philippians that they too were receiving the grace of God in their lives just as he was there in prison.  It’s the same with you and me.  Whether our lives are going along easy or hard we can get through it since God’s grace is being perfected within us.

II.                 Approving what is excellent
Verses 8-11
For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;  Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.. 
 
     Loving with the love of Christ is so much better than trying to conjure up our own love that will eventually grow stale.  Paul was loving these people with the love of Jesus.  
     Do we love one another with the love of Jesus?   
    In verses 9-10 we see how Paul is desirous that the Philippians and YOU and I would and will grow not only in love for God and one another, but also in spiritual knowledge and discernment so that we can make wise decisions in our walks and not be brought to confusion.
     In Verse 11 He speaks here of our  living holy lives unto God.  Our making that choice to be set apart for Him. We are not under a rule of dos and don’ts but God directs each one of us individually on how to live before him day by day. 

III.             Ambassadors even while in chains
Verses 12-14
 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;  So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other palaces; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
 
     The reason Paul was in prison because of his faith in Christ. He wasn’t afraid to stand for what he believed and in Rome you couldn’t even use the name of Christ. The other prisoners, some of whom were brothers in the Lord, knew what he was there for; they watched him as he was strapped in bonds…to see how he would respond. 
     Ephesians 6:20 speaks to how we too can be ambassadors for Christ even if we become in Chains. While a person was in chains in prison back then it meant he was bound by the wrist to the wrist of the soldier who was his guard. In other words, there was no escape.
     Even while Paul was bound to his soldier guard it didn’t stop him for being a witness for Christ. It didn’t stop him from preaching the gospel. Even being bound up, Paul didn’t lose his courage to speak the truth of Christ. I love that.  
     What does the word say to us Romans 8:35
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."…
 
People watch us as well in this day, to see if we will have courage as Christians, and not be afraid to stand for our beliefs even to the point of longsuffering.  Are you and I also more than conquerors?
 
Reflection: How does this verse minister to you personally?    

IV.              The Heart of Paul
Verses 15-18
Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
 
The heart of Paul DOES show greatly in these verses. 
  •        One preaches Christ with envy and strife
  •        Another preaches Christ by Goodwill
  •        One preaches Christ in a partisan way, not pure
  •        Another preaches Christ with love
     We know how Paul preached Christ. We need to consider how we preach Christ too.  I would rather speak about the Lord with goodwill in my heart and with love than in any other way.
     At the same time Paul also says here if Christ is proclaimed we can only rejoice as he did that the Lord is proclaimed at all. As long as people hear about the Lord there is reason to REJOICE.
 
How do you share Christ?
 
18. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
 
     It's awesome to me how Paul used his time of imprisonment as not a deterrent to preach but as an incentive and opportunity.
     So what should be on our minds today?  What is the wrong way to share the Good News? 
     We need only think of Jonah was called to go to Ninevah and did whatever he could to get out of it, even to the point of getting swallowed by a fish!     
 
    V   Staying Eager  
Verses 19 and 20
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,  according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
 
     With prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit, Paul was able to stay eager with expectation. He was not shamed into silence. He spoke boldly, his desire to glorify Christ.
     Even as we see and read about Paul while in bonds, and reading about his eagerness and refusal to quit, we also see how he gained support and prayer from his Philippian friends. 
 
1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Corinthians 1:11,  2 Thessalonians 3:1, 2; Philemon 22, Romans 15:30-32
 
     Such excellent scriptures that encourage us to the importance of doing the same, for just as Paul, we too need the prayers of our friends.
 
     VI Our beginning, our end, our fruit    
Verses 21-26 
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.   For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.  And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
 
     While Paul was in prison, he had to wait for his trial to end. He didn’t know if he would live or die. He made it his goal to have Jesus Christ as his strength, his inspiration, and his reward no matter what happened.
 
Reflection: When it comes to our personal goals, how have we chosen to allow the Lord to live through us? 
 
What is he to us?
 
"Death for Paul was both a reunion as well as a union" W Barclay
 
    VII  The Way we Live 
Verses 27-30
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.  For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
 
     No matter what happens to any of us, our faith, and our profession of Christ must show by the way we live. We need to ask ourselves, does it? I need to ask myself, does it.
     Between Paul and the Philippian Christians he just wanted to see them stand fast, be one in Christ, stay calm and be filled with joy as they make the right choices.  As he says to them in the end, for you and me the battle is on -- in other words
 
(For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
 
Don't Give Up
 
For You To Think About
 
       How can you show God and others you are not afraid to be bold in your witness for Him?
      If you really believe that God will finish the work He began in you the day you accepted Jesus as your savior how do you show it?
     If your Christian walk does not make you happy and blessed what is it doing for you?
 
     Once again, no matter what happens to any of us, our faith, and our profession of Christ must show by the way we live. Between Paul and the Philippian Christians his encouragement to them was to stand fast, be one in Christ, stay calm and be filled with joy and be careful to make the right choices. 
NEVER GIVE UP.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In remembrance



In special, precious remembrance
September 11, 2001
May history never repeat itself
 
America, America,
God shed His grace on Thee

Saturday, September 7, 2013

JOY IN THE MORNING -- IT'S ALWAYS AVAILABLE TO US


His Word was in my Heart like a Burning Fire
Jeremiah 20:9b
 
 
Yesterday we began our first Koinonia session for the fall season of 2013. What a joy it was to share in Koinonia fellowship with all the ladies who came by and, now, to share with you, who either could not be present with us, but are here online. I love it that we can have that time together no matter where we are.
 
 
I started our introduction of what our focus will be from September to December with that scripture you see above. "His Word was in my Heart like a Burning Fire" from the book of Jeremiah.
 
 
Is His Word in your heart today?
 
  • How important it is for you and I to be zealous about our walks with the Lord.
  • How important it is to be inspired and encouraged by all God speaks to us, whether through prayer or through our reading of the Scriptures, and even with the time we spend together.
  • How important it is to have that inward fire he speaks which comes only from Him. How I've often tried to drum it up myself. Doesn't work!
  • How important is to live with His joy in our hearts -- even in the worst of times...though certainly not always easy. 
 
JOY IN THE MORNING
 
 
This will be the theme of our new study series. I gave you a hint of what to expect in my sharing of how we will go through Paul's letter to the Philippian Christians and  later Philemon, another awesome letter which speaks of joy in the Lord.
 
 
Both of these letters speak to you and I having joy in our hearts in the morning, at noon, and at night, no matter our circumstances, no matter our trials and troubles, no matter our personal tribulations, health issues, financial difficulties, and family ups and downs. And especially no matter the negativity of the world situations we are so surrounded by in this age. All of these things can so easily get  in the way of that joy we can and should have in Christ our Lord.
 
 
During each lesson, you have an opportunity, whether near or far to share in our time together just by clicking on the link that adds you to our email list. Then these will come to you directly and if you like, you can do the time of review right along with us with your Bibles right in your most comfortable chair with some music in the background.
 
 
In our time together yesterday, we all began with the Lord's Prayer, because that will help us to remember our focus should always be on Him first and how wonderful God is. If anything can give us a taste of joy to start our day, that can.
 
I also shared with our group the Lord's letter to the Philadelphia church in Revelations, chapter 2. I hope you will take a minute to read this too. For we ARE the church still with a little faith, and Jesus tells us (I'm sure with His whole heart) to hold on to what we have (that little bit of faith) and He will keep us from the hour of immense testing and tribulation that will come upon the earth (probably sooner than many think).
 
One way that we can hang onto our witness as a church (each of us a part of it) is to keep the peace and love and faith and joy of the Lord that is deep within us.
 
 
It's the joy of the Lord that is our strength.
 
 
Before we begin our series, I just want to ask you: Do you know what KOINONIA (It's a Greek word) really means?
 
Here is a good list to get you thinking and then asking yourself if you are a part of God's Koinonia.
 
  • Communication (Talking with God in prayer -- Talking with others in the body of Christ about Him
  • Fellowship (Getting together with a body of believers for the purpose of encouragement, admonishment, and a willingness to listen. Opening your home to let fellowship come in.)
  • Contribution (What have you to give spiritually to someone other than yourself?)
  • Companionship (Being a friend to someone who needs your friendship. Taking the time to call someone when God shows you in your heart someone has a need or maybe you have a need to be ministered to)
  • Communion (And what a blessing this is to have an intimate moment with God by taking part with Him in remembrance of what He did for us on the cross)
  • Distribution (sharing what we have by giving of ourselves to one another in whatever way God shows us)
  • Partaking of Christ and one another and being a Partner in faith.
Koinonia is all these things wrapped into one.
 
 
If you take some time to look up the following scriptures you will find the Greek word Koinonia included in these verses. In some of these verses you will also see how true Koinonia also shows us what to avoid in all those things I've listed above.
 
Philemon 6, Romans 15:26, Philippians 4:15, Philippians 4:14, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 20, 2 Corinthians 8:4, Ephesians 5:11, and Revelations 18:4
 
Joy in the Morning. How I look forward to sharing that together with all of you as we take a few minutes each week to remember one with another how to start our days off with our focus on God first before ourselves. How much better our good and difficult days can be.
 
His Word was in my Heart like a Burning Fire
Jeremiah 20:9b
 
Is His Word in your heart today?