good quote

" In my opinion, the great single need of the moment is that light-hearted superficial religionists be struck down with a vision of God high and lifted up, with His train filling the temple. The holy art of worship seems to have passed away like the Shekinah glory from the tabernacle. As a result, we are left to our own devices and forced to make up the lack of spontaneous worship by ...bringing in countless cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people." ~ A.W. Tozer

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 2

Philippians 1: 1-11
   " Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every rememberance 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. 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."

Chapter 2: God's Work Force
  God is working in every believer's life.

  Longfellow wrote, "Life is real; life is earnest." He was right. God didn't put us on the earth primarily to have fun, although having fun seems to be the chief ambition of so many. God put us here to honor Him, and that noble purpose involves dedicated work.
  This responsibility impacts our everyday lives and the life of our local churches. In order for the church to carry out the work of the gospel, Christians must work together. [this doesn't just mean each church with it's own members, but all true Christians together as ONE body.] In order for Christians to work together, they need to love one another. You need the other believers in your church so that you can work together with them in the gospel. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul endeavored to forge a strong link between Christian love and cooperation in the Philippian church.

Paul's Greeting to the Philippians
  As he did in each of his letters, Paul began his correspondence by identifying himself as the sender and by greeting the recipients. In his letter to the Philippians, he included Timothy's name with his own as the senders (Philippians 1:1). Perhaps he included Timothy's name because he planned to send Timothy to Philippi soon.
  Paul called Timothy and himself "servants of Jesus Christ" (verse 1). The word he used for "servants" signifies slaves. Slaves were considered the masters' possessions. Their masters made decisions and choices for them, established their schedules and told them what to do. Masters owned and controlled their slaves. Paul and Timothy were Jesus Christ's slaves. They submitted gladly to His control. They did what He told them to do. Although they figured prominently in the life and ministry of the early church, they regarded themselves as servants--slaves. How different their attitude was from that of so many today, who occupy prominent positions and expect to be served rather than serve.
  Are you a servant of Jesus Christ? How can you serve Him today?
  Paul described the Philippians as "saints" (verse 1). Contrary to popular belief, saints are not holy persons who have died and gone to Heaven and later been canonized by a church. When Paul used the word "saints," he was writing to living Christians at Philippi. The word means set apart unto God. The Philippian Christians were set apart unto God "in Christ Jesus."
  If you are a Christian, you, too, are a saint. When you trusted in Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit set you apart in Christ. Does your behavior reflect the truth that you have been set apart unto God? Are your ambitions, attitudes, actions, vocabulary and views different from those who have not been set apart? Do you think, talk and act saintly?

Paul's Gratitude for the Philippians
  After greeting the Philippians in his traditional manner- "Grace be unto you, and peace..." (verse 2), Paul indicated that he thanked God for them "upon every rememberance" (verse 3). When he thought about the Philippians, he thanked God for them and joyfully prayed for them (verse 4).
  What do you do when you think about other Christians? Do you thank God for them? Do you pray for them? i find that if I thank God for other believers and pray for them when I think about them, my attitude toward them keeps improving. It takes a positive posture instead of a negative one.
  Why did Paul thank God for the Philippians? He was thankful for their "fellowship in the gospel" (verse 5). Paul was not reflecting upon time spent with the Philippians over coffee and cookies. The word "fellowship" means partnership- a joint participation in the Lord's work. The Philippians had fellowshipped with Paul by supporting his ministry. Specifically, the philippians had sent him money "from the first day until now" (verse 5b). They had cooperated with him from the time he visited Philippi.
  Each believer in a local church is a partner with his fellow Christians in spreading the gospel. Each is a partner with his church's missionaries in spreading the gospel. Are you cooperating by thanking God and praying for your fellow church members, pastor and missionaries upon every rememberance of them? Do you cooperate by giving to your local church for the work of the ministry at home and abroad? Partnership in the ministry of the gospel involves serving, praying and giving. A Christian cannot accurately claim to be in fellowship with other believers if he is not a partner with them in the work of the Lord.
  Perhaps today you can send a brief thank you note to your pastor telling him that his ministry has blessed you and assuring him of your desire to serve God in your church. You may wish to write to a missionary to assure him of your prayers. Or, you may call your Sunday School teacher and volunteer to host a class social or contact absentees.
  The Philippians were partners in the gospel because God had begun a good work in them and would "perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (verse 6). This was the second reason Paul thanked God for the Philippians. The good work God had begun in them was His work of grace in saving them, in sanctifying them and in leading them to serve Him in partnership with one another and with Paul. God would continue His work of grace in them until the Rapture, "the day of Christ." God always completes what He begins.
  The Philippians were right to think highly of Paul and to send him money, because he had them in his heart (verse 7). He had a strong affection for them. Since they were partners with him in the gospel, they were partners with him even in his imprisonment (verse 7). They didn't drop Paul's missionary support when the authorities placed him under house arrest in Rome. They weren't just fair-weather friends; they stood with Paul even when ominous clouds engulfed him. No wonder Paul had a strong desire to see them again (verse 8).
  God began a good work in you also when He saved you. He continues to work in you to equip you for significant partnership in the gospel. He wants you to grow in your spiritual life; He wants to perfect you. Are you cooperating with Him as He continues to work in you?

Paul's Prayers for the Philippians
   A Christian once told a non-Christan friend, "You sure swear a lot." The friend replied, "Yeah, but I don't mean anything by it. You sure pray a lot, but you don't mean anything by it either."
  Paul prayed a lot, too, but he meant something by it. I find it interesting that he told his readers what he was requesting for them. I'm not sure that I would want to know what another person was asking God to do in my life. However, by knowing what Paul requested God to do in the Philippians' lives, we recognize what we need in our lives.
  Paul prayed that the Philippians' love would "abound yet  more and more" (verse 9). A popular song several years ago suggested that "what the world needs now is love, sweet love." Of course, the songwriter wasn't refering to God's love, but Paul was, when he prayed for more of it in the Philippians' lives. Today, as then, what the church needs is love, God's love.
  Every baby is born with a need to be loved-- and never outgrows that need. Love is a necessary quality for all stages of life. The young need love; the middle-aged need it; and so do the old. The church at Philippi must have included believers from all stages of life- and they all needed love. Abounding love leaps over age barriers, gender barriers, racial barriers, social barriers and economic barriers and it tells the world that Jesus truly is present with Christians.
    Paul wanted the Philippians' love to abound in "knowledge and in all judgment" (verse 9). "Judgment" means insight or discernment. Judgment is an essential quality in effective human relationships. Both knowledge and judgment refer to man's capacity to discern and make right decisions. Paul wanted love to govern both the Philippians' decisions and their personal relationships. He wanted love to influence their impressions and opinions of others. Love would enable them to overlook the shortcomings of other believers and to perceive them as cherished brothers and sisters in Christ. Does love abound in your discernment? Does it influence the decisions you make about your personal relationships?
  If the Philippians let their love abound in knowledge and judgment, they would "approve things that are excellent" (verse 10). "Approve' means to put to the test and then to accept as tested. "Things that are excellent" are things that really matter. Paul wanted the Philippians to base their relationships in the work of the gospel on things that really mattered. They would accomplish this if their love abounded toward others.
  Too often we base our relationships with others on things that don't really matter. We like people who are like us. We like people who think a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way and dress a certain way. If they don't fit our mold, we tend to criticize them or even shun them. We may excuse our lack of cooperation by saying, "If he's a deacon, I don't want to be one." "If she sings in the choir, I won't join." "If he ushers, I won't serve as an usher." "If she works in the nursery, count me out." "I won't go on visitation with him or her." As a result, the work of the gospel suffers. Love, on the other hand, leads to wholehearted cooperation.
  If the Philippians let love govern their relationships, they would be "sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" (verse 10b). They would be without blame at Christ's coming. Also, righteous acts would characterize their lives (verse 11a). Paul reminded the Philippians that these righteous acts are made possible by Jesus Christ. He produces them in Christians for the glory and praise of God (verse 11b).
  Sydney Harris said, "In the arithmetic of the stomach, half a loaf may be better than none; but in the calculus of the heart, half a love is incomparably worse than none." Paul's goal for the Philippians exceeded half a love; his goal for them was abounding love. Are you abounding in love toward others? Are you and your fellow believers working together in your church as partners in the gospel?

More to come on Philippians later...

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