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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Are We Pressing On to the Mark?


PHILIPPIANS 3
PRESSING ON AND PRESSING IN
 
 
Chapter Three speaks to the Joy we have in Believing: The Joy we have in pressing toward that Goal in Christ: The Joy we have in remembering that our citizenship is really in heaven.

It's all about the matters of our hearts.

I.                  That Matter of the Heart

Philippians 3:1-3 

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
 
·         To rejoice in the Lord
·         To press on
·         To worship God in the Spirit and not in the Flesh

In other words, giving our all for Christ

But a body of believers even when full of faith and growing spiritually can at the same time find itself in need of warning and caution to be ready to stand strong against disturbances that come and could bring problems in, around, through, and with the church.

Back in the Book of Acts, Luke speaks to this when he says (in paraphrase) 
THEY WERE OF US BUT WERE NOT A PART OF US…THEY WENT OUT FROM US

How can that be? Isn't everyone who goes to church there to seek unity, spiritual growth, humility and the truth of Jesus Christ without being confused or causing confusion for others?
As a flourishing church, the body in Paul's day had to also face those in leadership who were still hung up on keeping the Law -- Judaizers. These folks were neglecting the grace God had for them (that free gift we have all been given in Christ).
The Bible tells us He came to set the captives free
John 8:33 John 8:36
Reflection: Why was it unwise and even harmful to try to live as Christians while at the same time want to keep the law rather than live in that freedom the Lord provided? What was so wrong with the practice?
Note: Mixing observances of the law with the doctrine of Christ and with the standards of the Christian church caused dire confusion during Paul's day. This would be the same for the average Christian today while at the same time the Bible tells us GOD is Not the Author of Confusion.
Ps 71:1 tells us "Let me never be brought to confusion"
(Titus 3:5  1 Corinthians 14:33)
That confusion can bring doubt in what it means to have that personal relationship with Jesus and living a victorious life. It also can make a believer come to think he or she is made righteous by works over faith. But the Bible in Titus tells us: It's not by works of righteous which WE have done but according to HIS MERCY HE saves us)
Paul warns often in his letters of why the unwise tend to follow the traditions of man, which takes away our freedom…which makes that freedom secondary. It causes people to focus more on their traditions rather than focusing on God and what He did for us, through Jesus Christ on the cross. It focuses on what a person can DO for God or to make them think it is bringing them closer to God, rather than what He does for them.
 
What can we do for God? NOTHING.
But think about what He did for you and me right there on the cross. He was able to say  IT IS FINISHED.
The faithful services we do, though they are good and pleasing to the Lord, are still the natural responses of our love for the Lord. We serve Him because we love Him.
Living in our Faith is our spiritual response to our love for the Lord. It is the spiritual outgrowth that shows by our actions.
Why would Paul say to the Philippian Christians and us "To write the same things to m , to you indeed is not grievous but for you it is safe." Here, once again, Paul is reminding the believer how important it is to know these things, he must write to us about, and for him to share them is for our good.
Paul wants to share with us what is SAFE for our walks. It should not be Grievous to hear these warnings about dogs or about evil workers. They are out there. He just wants us to be ready and not to be brought to confusion by them.  
Sin and its effects are going to be out there throughout our lives, and we are going to have to face them; and we're going to have to deal with them, but it's important to note, our  praise and thanksgiving to  Him is because He can deliver us from those sins and forgive us when we lay them at His feet and no longer look back.
It's in verse 2 that Paul emphasizes his warnings to the Philippians about the false teachers. Though the Jews had called the Gentiles "dogs" We see it turned around here when Paul instead shows us that it was the Judaisers who were the dogs because it is defined here that dogs were a class of people who lived in rigid ceremonialism -- as non-conformists, as evil workers, and those who lived their salvation by doing works rather than by faith, and who tried to convince those who were living by grace to do the same. (Those who were dogs had a way of literally dicing up the word of God)
In verse 3 Paul is just bringing out that to be of the circumcision was a spiritual matter of the heart. To rejoice in the Lord and have no confidence in the flesh, in other words.
Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:27, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Ephesians 2:9, 2 Timothy 1:9
II.                Outward Show Inward Grace
Philippians 3:4-8
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Paul is showing here that, while he could have easily boasted on his own upbringing because of his birthright, being a native Israelite, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, being taught by Gamiliel, a doctor and scholar, he counted all these things as meaningless when compared to his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he didn’t. To Paul, those things simply didn’t matter. In fact he goes so far as to call them nothing more than dung.  "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ"

He's teaching the Philippian believers the same thing, and for us to consider this too. Paul's glory was NOT in the things of the flesh (according to the law) but the things that are of the Spirit.

He made the choice to trust in Christ, not his heritage  (Which we can also read about in Acts 26:5). Paul shows of the great difference in trusting in the Lord over trusting in the flesh. Not proving his Christianity by outward performance which means little to God but by inward Grace which is God evident in him.

"But none of these things move me, neither ount I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace of God. " Acts 20:24

III.             Knowing Him 

Philippians 3:9-14

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul again reiterates what he was trying to say earlier that the righteousness of Christ is so much better for all of us than the righteousness we earn by keeping the law but we also need to understand that as we come to know Him better each day and as we continue to grow in Him, we also will be sharing not only in the power of Christ but also in the sufferings that take place in everyone's lives. The Bible tells us it will rain on the just and the unjust. A trial is real, but we can get through these as we look to him.
None of us have attained. None of us are perfect. But just as it was shared in a Bible Study I recently attended, it is so important for us to press on toward that mark -- press on to that high calling God has for us -- press on in the race we are in to attain the prize that awaits us.  To press also means persecution will come. We just need to press through it.

Are we willing as Christians to forget the past and not allow ourselves to rest in our past works, but instead push ourselves ahead? Are we willing to give our Christian walks everything we've got?

Reflection: What are some things that hinder you in your spiritual walk?

"Many people are hindered in their progress because they are always looking at the past, either hung up by their failures, or bitter against those who have hurt them, or resting on the laurels of their past successes."
Chuck Smith:

How important it is to look forward to what God has planned for our futures rather than how we might have messed up in our past. Yesterday is gone. He grabbed hold of you and me for a purpose.

IV.            Keeping Our Conversation Heavenward

Philippians 3:15-21

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)  For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Paul was able to set himself before the believers as one who could be followed because of his example.

What are some ways they could follow him. And we can follow him today? Let's remind ourselves once more...

·         Be likeminded
·         Stay faithful to set our hearts and minds toward heaven
·         Stay faithful to keep our focus on Jesus Christ
·         Make Christ our all
·         Press toward the mark
·         Bear with one another

Once again in the section of Chapter three, Paul warns of the enemies of the cross for whom we must watch. That it is the design of those enemies of the cross to draw the believer away

·         Their end for us is for destruction
·         Their God is their belly (they mind earthly things not heavenly things)
·         Their glory is in themselves and is to their own shame

It would be a dangerous thing for us to even desire to follow them. Just as Matthew Henry writes in part: while we are on earth…keep our conversation about heavenly things…the world is not our home.

It is better for us to have fellowship with those who have fellowship with Christ. Verse 20 explains why. Because we look for our SAVIOR who is from heaven; we keep our eyes on Him. We know He is coming for us. We know He could come at any time.  And I say Lord please come quickly.

Though yes, this chapter is full of warnings to us all as believers I love most the parts about joy. 

·         The Joy we can have when we stay faithful to keep pressing toward our Goal in Christ --
·         The Joy we have in remembering that our citizenship really is in heaven
·         The Joy that He is transforming us each day into the person he wants us to be.  (1 John 3:2)

His exhortations to us? To follow his example - to beware of enemies of the cross - to be heavenly citizens and to look for God's return.

Paul was sold out to Christ. He was serious about pressing on to reach his goal. He was in a position to be able to encourage us to follow in his footsteps as we follow Christ.

Ask yourself:
  1. Are you sold out to Christ?
  2. Are you serious about pressing on to reach that goal?
*****

SEEKING CHRISTLIKENESS 
Other things to consider
 
Why did Paul feel it necessary to warn the Philippian Christians about dogs?
What does the “fellowship of his suffering” mean to you?
Why is it important for us to forget the Past?
According to Paul's teaching in chapter three, what is the difference between walking in the spirit and walking in the flesh?
Read Revelation 22:15 and Acts 16:16. What types of people are characterized there as dogs?
How much do you as a Christian today rely on traditions for your salvation?
 
The end of this chapter once again tells us about these aspects of the enemies of the cross.
Where is their focus? here they will wind up
What are they taking pride in?
What will happen to them in the end?
What else can you say about them? 
 
IT'S ALL A MATTER OF THE HEART

 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Who We Really Are


Philippians 2
His Mind in Us
 
 
 "He who began a good work in you will be able to complete it"

 The second chapter of Philippians is one of the most powerful chapters in the Bible. About who we are to be in Christ, but also a clear explanation of who HE is.
What applies to us as Christian women?.

·         Who am I in Christ?
·         Why is humility the key to selflessness in Christ?
·         How am I showing that I'm the genuine article for the Lord and for others?
·         What does it mean to be in obedience to God's will?

I.                   Consolation, Comfort, Relationship
Philippians 2:1-4
 
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
These scriptures say it all when it comes to us showing The Marks of a Christian. We touched on this in the first chapter. Now we go into more detail. These words of encouragement from Paul in just four verses can be added to what we strive for.
He doesn’t leave anything out. J
  • Our consolation and comfort should always be in Christ
  • It is His love that will sustain us
  • It is His Spirit that gives us the proper fellowship we need to have for one another
  • Our affection and mercy instilled from Him makes it possible for us to have affection and mercy for others.
  • Being Like Minded with other believers shows we are like minded with God's will for us
  • Having the same love one for another. That love being God's love in action
  • Living with One Accord and of One Mind in Christ with others
  • Not living for self-reward and conceit which comes from putting ourselves before considering others (esteeming others better than ourselves) (looking to the needs and spiritual interests of others)
  • Living in Humility (lowliness of mind)  
Where are you in your relationship with Christ? Where am I? When you rise in the morning and start your day do you make a decision to please yourselves, your families, your friends, or God, first? I ask myself the same question.
In this chapter of Philippians, we will again talk about the joy we can receive by serving others and by living our lives for the glory of God and not simply for self-gratification. In this chapter Paul will bring emphasis to all these things through Consolation, Comfort, and Relationships.  
"FULFILL YE MY JOY"

A.    What the Lord Exhorts.

God's focus through the writings of Paul remain continuously on God THEN others.

  • The Lord Jesus Christ first,
  • others second,
  • Paul put himself last. 

Looking on the interest of others:    2 Thessalonians 3:11  1 Timothy 5:13

B.     What Paul Encourages.

He sets the example for us. "Let each of you look not only for his own interest, but also for the interests of others"

To live with the fellowship of spirit, affection and mercy and to have the comfort of God's love is shown by our being LIKE-MINDED, IN ONE ACCORD, OF ONE MIND, AND WITH HUMILITY WHILE BEING FOCUSED ON GOD'S LOVE LIVING IN US
 
Barnes (from Barnes' Notes) wrote, “Our happiness is almost all centered in love. It is when we love a parent, a wife, a child, a sister, a neighbor, that we have the highest earthly enjoyment. It is in the love of God, of Christ, of Christians, of the souls of men, that the redeemed find their highest happiness.”

Our Attitudes of Heart. That we might express love…that we might stay in unity…that we might show humility…
Do our actions tie us together in and for each other and IN CHRIST.  With HIS help, we can walk in HIS steps, and be all that He wants us to be as we lay our lives at His feet and allow the beatitudes of life rule and reign in our hearts each day.

For your reflection: With reference to unity with humility what then is that which causes disunity and pride?  _____________________________________________________________________

In today's church and world, the dangers of disunity are usually derived from

ü  Self-ambition
ü  Personal Prestige
ü  Destructive Purpose  

Any self-ambition can eventually ruin a unified church body. 

Having true perspective

For your reflection: How does humility build a church? ______________________________

II.                Christ, the Humbled One; Christ, the Exalted One
                Philippians 2: 5-11

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Chuck Smith said it so well. He called it from the Highest to the Lowest. "You can't get any higher than equality with God, being God Himself. And you can't get any lower than a death on the cross. But Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father and took these steps down, making Himself of 'no reputation.'"
Why did He do it? Because that was the only way WE could be saved. Jesus' love for us drove Him to this voluntary and obedient descent from the highest high to the lowest low.

"HE LOVES YOU AND ME THAT MUCH"

You cannot describe humility and exaltation in any way more simply or effective. These verses show us the importance of acknowledging who Christ is.

  • The anointed One,
  • Jesus the human man,
  • The pre-existent Glory of God.
Hebrews 1:3 says: Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by himself purged our sin, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

JESUS IS EXACTLY GOD
John 1:1, Colossians 1:15-19

In this section we see Jesus' main characteristics as humility, obedience, and self-renunciation.

§  Not domineering -- but a servant,
§  Not self-seeking, but God-seeking
§  Not self-exalted, but He renounced His glory for man

Only man who humbles himself is later exalted. Matthew 23:12, Luke 14:11, Luke 18:14

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Peter 5:6
Some in the Philippian church wanted to focus men's eyes on THEM. Paul's instruction was so different. He brings out that Jesus wanted the Christians to focus only on GOD. How do we focus only on God?
  • By bowing before His name, literally from our hearts,
  • By remembering the importance of keeping Christ Jesus more than just our SAVIOR but also our LORD.
III.              The Genuine Article
Philippians 2:12-18

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the mid sot a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, hold fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.. Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.”

Was Paul's work in vain? In no way. He was the genuine article. He wanted the Philippian Christians not to be overly dependent on him (which can be such a tendency for any Christian who hangs onto the coattails of others) but to learn from the letters he wrote them to live their lives dependent on God.
It was not Paul who worked in the Philippians to live for his pleasure but for the pleasure of God.

  • Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling
  • Seek to do God's will for HIS pleasure
  • Don't complain or dispute the purpose of God in your life
  • Live above reproach (being blameless and harmless) [without guile]
  • Shine as lights in the world
  • Hold fast the word of life
WITHOUT BLAME - WITHOUT HARM  - WITH LOVE  - WITH INFLUENCE

When we work out our own salvation, it is the same as learning to walk alone with the Lord, relying on Him to see us through our days, not relying on someone else. It is God who wants to work in us to HIS pleasure. 1 John 4:18, 1 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 7:15, Ephesians 6:5


You and I won't always have each other but we will ALWAYS have Jesus.

IV.             Proven Character
Philippians 2:19-24

"But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly"

Paul sends Timothy whose mother was Eunice, a Jewess, His grandmother who was Lois, and his father was a Greek sent him in his place to Philippi, because he could not be there. Paul, because he trusted in Timothy's proven character, could use him to get info and updates about the church. He also sent him to rebuke or encourage as necessary. He trusted Timothy also because he was like-minded, Paul knew he didn’t seek his own glory, he was a loyal friend and faithful to the Lord.
Timothy was valuable to Paul because he was always willing.

For personal reflection: How willing am I to be a servant to others when I know what I would be doing is for the glory to God?
_________________________________________________________________

  1. Timothy a Faithful (a REAL) Friend

·         He could be trusted
·         He had no desire for personal ambition
·         His desire was to serve
·         He was content to be where the Lord placed him as long as he could serve

V.                Faithful in Service
Philippians 2:25-30

"Yet, I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, but your message, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all and was full of heaviness, because ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death. But God had mercy on him and not on him only but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefor the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation; because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."

Another man who made a difference in Paul's life was his friend Epaphroditis. Who was Epaphroditis? Also a man who lived a like-minded life, and sought to the needs of someone else, above himself, he delivered money from Philippi to Paul then returned with thank you letter to Philippi. Paul also trusted him, considering Epaphroditis a brave man, a personal attendant of man awaiting trial, a friend who risked his life to serve, a friend, who though he fell ill to the point of death, God graciously spared his life  Epaphroditis was the genuine article just as Timothy was.
Epaphroditis: "A Christian with reckless courage which makes him
ready to gamble with his life to serve Christ and men" William Barclay

Two different men entirely and with different missions, Paul valued and esteemed these brothers highly. He saw their loyalty, their faithfulness, their availability, their trustworthiness, and their evidence of being men who expressed true brotherly love.

WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE THE GENUINE ARTICLE TODAY AND A WOMAN OF PROVEN CHARACTER? HOW DO YOU KNOW?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________