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Showing posts from March, 2018

Work Out Your Salvation

Scripture:
Philippians 2:12-13
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Observation:
As the beautiful early church hymn comes to a close the people of God are invited into the conversation. The beloved are those who have come to follow Jesus Christ. Paul encourages those who have followed him, to continue to work out their salvation “with fear and trembling.” All of this is in light of the beautiful kenosis hymn which has just been quoted. The humility of the Almighty God has resulted in the uniting of humanity with the Divine and participation in the Triune God. For those who have already come to the Lord, there is the charge to continue to work out their salvation, which is an encouragement to continue in the spiritual journey. Each and every single person is to re…

Humility and Exaltation

Scripture:
Phil. 2:9   Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Observation:
Something amazing happens in this hymn. First there is the focus on the humility of Christ and the beauty of his incarnation. Then comes the connecting word “therefore” that leads us to new heights in understanding the love of God. This is the exaltation of humanity because Christ's humility was the assumption of human flesh. It was not Jesus that needed the exaltation — it was us!
By assuming human flesh, Jesus was able to exalt humanity, saving us from death. When Jesus was lifted up by the Father, so were we. Jesus creates a human bridge between created and Creator that allows us to become partakers of the Divine nature; we can now fellowship with the Triune God.
We are the ones …

Do You Know Who Jesus Is?

Scripture:
Philippians 2:5-8 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Observation:
This beautiful first-century hymn gives us a glimpse of the early church’s understanding of Jesus. They were close to the reality of Christ, some having witnessed his very life and ministry here on earth. How would those who had seen him try to describe him? 
This hymn affirms the divine nature of Christ, and that he is God. It also affirms that Jesus viewed power in a way which would always be used for the good of others, and that this is an attribute of God. God, the eternal and creative, who is all-powerful, uses power for the sake of others. Or, is even willing to relinquish power for the sake of others, which…

The Mind of Christ

Scripture:
Philippians 2:3-5 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
Observation:
When this section comes to a conclusion we discover that Paul is talking about the mind of Christ. It is the character of God which is selfless, doing nothing out of selfish ambition, but everything for others. It is God’s character that is humble, which is why the incarnate Christ came for humanity. We are invited to participate with Christ, so that his mind becomes our mind, and his characteristics become our characteristics. 
Application:
When we are in Christ we discover the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit unites us in fellowship with the Triune God. It is there that we discover the mind of Christ. His thoughts become our thoughts. His passions become our passions. His humility becomes our h…

The Destructive Nature of Self-Centeredness

Scripture:
Philippians 2:1  If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 
Observation:
Christ becomes the encouragement for God’s people, his life an example of sacrifice for the sake of others. If God’s people are “in” Christ, then self-centeredness is being destroyed on an on-going basis. Love fills our being and there is no room left self, but the Holy Spirit brings about transformation. 
Paul’s joy is made complete when he witnesses the destruction of self-centeredness and now sees the unity of the body of Christ. The mind of the believer is to be joined to the mind of Christ and to the mind of neighbor. Together the…

The Danger of Hypocrisy

Scripture:
Phil. 1:27   Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28 and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29 For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— 30 since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Observation:
Paul’s concern for the church in Philippi is one of spiritual consistency. He knows the dangers of hypocrisy, for if Christians do not live as they preach and speak, their witness will be invalidated. Just as Paul endeavors to live every day of his life worthy of being a servant of Christ, so every follower of Christ is to do the same. Whether someon…

What’s Your Motivation?

Scripture:
Phil. 1:15   Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16 These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Observation:
Paul was in chains because of his love for Christ. When he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, everything changed for him. He didn’t just embrace a faith, he embraced the author of that faith and fell deeply in love with Jesus. His passion was to know Christ and to proclaim Christ to everyone he could.
In Rome, it appears, he encountered those who were not happy with him, or his preaching. It may have been that there were those who were already working in Rome, preaching, and Paul’s appearance in town may not have…

Making the Best of Things

Scripture:
Philippians 1:12-14
I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Observation:
Paul was writing to his dear friends in Philippi while in prison in Rome. His concern was not for himself, but for those whose lives he had touched. He didn’t want others to be discouraged by his circumstances. He also probably understood that he would not be the only one who might experience imprisonment and so he wanted to show the ways in which God could be at work. 
As a result of his imprisonment, Paul made every opportunity to preach to those guarding him. The whole imperial guard had now heard about Christ. He had reached an entire group of people who were insiders …

Paul Prays Again

Scripture:
Philippians 1:9-11 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Observation:
Paul, as a spiritual leader and mentor to many, is constantly modeling prayer. In this opening greeting to the church in Philippi, he begins with a prayer. His concern is for the spiritual well-being of the people of God. As followers of Christ, their lives were to be defined by love. This love was not only to be seen in and among the church community, but was also to overflow and touch those around them. Christianity was to become marked by this love of neighbor. 
The ministry of the church in Philippi was to live into the wisdom of God. This would help them to have knowledge far beyond their own skills and abilities, and would give them insight …

Reprise

Scripture:
Eph. 6:23   Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Observation:
Much of what we learn from Paul is about prayer. In this letter to the Ephesians he breaks out in prayer several times, and just when you think he’s finished praying and wrapping up his letter, he seems to pray again. 
Paul finishes up this letter by bringing his readers back to the main theme of the whole letter. The church is to be a place in which Messianic peace is lavished upon the entire community. This becomes expressed in action through holy love, lived out in faith by those who are willing to embrace the work of the Father expressed in the Lordship of Christ. All of this is bathed in unmerited grace as the church grows in her undying love for the Lord.
Application
Paul needed this prayerful reminder in his own life, as well as in the lives of those whom he’d help to disciple…

How to Pray

Scripture:
Eph. 6:18   Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
Observation:
This prayer begins immediately after Paul’s admonition to put on the full armor of God. A deep theological grasp will result in passionate prayer, because it is in truly understanding the gospel that we comprehend the importance of prayer. There is a gospel of peace that is at odds with the world and there is this cosmic unity which is to be experienced in the church. We must recognize that there are forces that are directly at odds with God’s desire for believers and the church. 
Paul is encouraging the church to have a spiritual understanding that creates a heightened awareness to the need …