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 3

Philippians 1:12- 26
   "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 places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 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 defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again."

Rejoice Regardless
The gospel advances in spite of difficult circumstances.

Matthew Henry, the famous scholar, was accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse. He wrote these words in his diary: "Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and forth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed." [Let me add one more, though they took what he had, they left more room for some later on]
 Matthew Henry was able to rejoice in a very difficult situation. We might say that he "rejoiced regardless." We often find ourselves in situations we would not choose to be in. Although we can't control those circumstances, we can control our response to them. If we remember that God controls our circumstances according to His purposes for our lives, we will look for His purposes and rejoice in them. Remembrance of God's purposes brings rejoicing in present circumstances.
   Paul found himself imprisoned-- not a good circumstance-- and yet he rejoiced. How did he do it? Philippians 1:12- 26 answers this question.

The Progress of the Gospel
  Paul assured the Philippians that what had happened to him happened for "the furtherance of the gospel" (Philippians 1:12). Although Paul was not in prison when he wrote to the Philippian letter, his circumstances at Rome were far from normal. Acts 28:30 reports that he was living "in his own hired house." In other words, he was living in a private dwelling at his own expense. Furthermore, he was under house arrest there, having been falsely accused of sedition (Acts 24:5). Confined to quarters, he was chained to soldiers continually (Acts 28:16), while he awaited trial. Yet, he perceived that something beneficial had resulted from this nasty situation. He perceived that the gospel was spreading because of his unjust confinement.
  Paul rose above his circumstances and saw what was happening around him. Too often, we are so overwhelmed by our circumstances that we cannot see how God is using them for our good and His glory. We should look at circumstances from a spiritual viewpoint.

The Results of Paul's Imprisonment
  Paul identified the first result of his imprisonment as "My bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace" (Philippians 1:13). The word "palace" most likely refers to the "palace guard." Likely, the soldiers chained to Paul were members of the palace guard. They realized that his arrest and confinement had come about because he was a Christian. He was suffering for the faith. He wasn't suffering for a crime. It's quite possible that some of the palace guard had come to know Christ when they were "closely linked" to Paul (4:22).
  Paul added that other people had become aware of who he was and why he was in Rome. "My bonds in Christ are all other places," he wrote in Philippians 1:13. The gospel was spreading to people beyond the palace guard in spite of Paul's difficult circumstances. God was in charge of Paul's life! He's in charge of ours too!
  The second result of Paul's confinement was that many believers were "much more bold to speak the word without fear" (verse 14). Somehow Paul's imprisonment had charged many believers in Rome with the courage to speak the Word of God, and Paul rejoiced because of this sudden evangelistic impetus.
  After a heavy snowfall, a man saw a boy skiing with one ski. He asked the youngster, "Don't you know your suppose to have two skis?"
  Looking up with a happy grin, the boy replied, "I know I ought to have two skis, but I ain't got 'em. But mister, you can have a lot of fun with one ski if you ain't got two."
  Although Paul was unable to preach the gospel beyond his rented quarters, others were spreading the word, so he rejoiced. Like the boy with only one ski, he made the best of his far-less-than-perfect circumstances.
  If we depend upon ideal circumstances for our happiness, we'll never be happy. We must look beyond our circumstances and see the One Who is in charge of all of life. When we understand that He controls the circumstances for our good, we can rejoice.
  Are you rejoicing?

The Reaction of Paul's Brothers
    As you read further in chapter one of Philippians, you develop a greater appreciation of Paul's rejoicing in hard circumstances. Verse 15 informs us that not everyone was preaching Christ with pure motives. Some saw Paul's imprisonment as an opportunity to advance themselves. They preached Christ "even of envy and strife." "Strife" means rivalry, and along with "envy" it suggests a bad relationship. Paul added that they were not preaching sincerely but rather out of "contention" (1:16). "Contention," a negative word, denotes a mercenary attitude and a partisan spirit. It indicates self-seeking-- selfish ambition. The self- seeking preachers declared Christ because they believed that by doing so they would add anguish to Paul's imprisonment. Their message was correct, but their motive was incorrect.
  A lesser man than Paul would have resented the self-seekers' activity, but Paul rejoiced because the gospel was advancing. While men of impure motives tried to take advantage of Paul's misfortune, Paul rejoiced.
  Do some Christians today minister out of a wrong motive? Is it possible for you to minister out a wrong motive?
  Happily, some preached Christ out of a right motive. They were preaching out "of good will" (verse 15). Their motive was love (verse 17). They preached to show their support of Paul, knowing that he faced an impending trial. What he could not do because of his confinement, they endeavored to do in his place.
  At the conclusion of a concert, two ushers applauded longer and more loudly than anybody else. Concert-goers smiled at the ushers appreciatively until one of the ushers stopped applauding and then the other one shouted, "Keep clapping, Harry. One more encore, and we're on overtime."
  Think about your motives. Why do you do what you do in the ministry of the gospel? Fellow Christians may see your deeds, but God sees your motives.

Paul's Response
  Paul looked at the big picture. He saw that some were preaching for personal gain while others were preaching with pure motives. He refused to let those with impure motives discourage him. He rejoiced because Christ was being preached (verse 18).
  Are you able to see the big picture? Instead of getting discouraged because some Christian workers seem to have impure motives, do you rejoice because a growing number of people are hearing the gospel? Are you willing to let God deal with those whose motives are wrong?

The Prospect of Paul's Release
   Let's review. Paul was in prison, or more accurately, imprisoned in a house at his own expense. His ministry was somewhat interrupted. However, the ministry of the gospel was not curtailed; the gospel was still circulating. Because Christ was being preached, even though he was not doing the preaching, Paul was rejoicing. He rejoiced, even though he was imprisoned and waiting trial. But what about his imprisonment? How was he handling it? What did he think about it? How did he respond to it? Was there any chance for release? 

Paul's Deliverance
   Paul believed his unfavorable circumstances would culminate in his salvation (1:19). "Salvation" in verse 19 does not seem to refer to Paul's release from imprisonment. Rather, it seems to refer to the future, final realization of Paul's spiritual salvation. [ so there's no confusion, it is not through Paul's works that he was saved, it was through faith in Jesus Christ] His present circumstances were part of God's working in his life. They demonstrated the genuineness of his salvation. He was not in prison because he was a criminal, but because he was a Christian. Consequently, his circumstances indicated the certainty of his salvation, a salvation that had a future aspect. Someday, Paul would be present with the Lord. Then he would be free from every trace of sin's power and presence.
  In the meantime, Paul wanted to magnify Christ in his body "whether it be by life, of by death" (verse 20). He did not want to be ashamed in anything. He wanted to honor the Lord throughout his confinement and court trial. He testified that this prospect was "my earnest expectation and my hope." For Paul, living was Christ and dying was gain (verse 21).
  Charlie Brown commented that it always gets darkest just before it gets totally black. Sometimes your circumstances seem totally black. And they may be. How do you respond when they are totally black? Do you remember that God is controlling your circumstances? Do you realize that God is using those circumstances to perfect you? Realizing that your circumstances underscore the certainty of your salvation, do you trust Christ in your circumstances and reflect His presence? Perhaps no one exasperates us more than the person who sees the bright side of our misfortunes, but we Christians need to see the right side of our circumstances and rejoice in them.

Paul's Dilemma
  Paul wanted to magnify Christ in his body, whether he lived or died, but he did not know whether he wanted to live or die. He realized that if he lived, his ministry would bear more fruit, but he still was not sure whether he wanted to live (verse 22). He was "in a strait" between living and dying (verse 23). He meant he was under pressure from two sides. He felt like a traveler on a narrow road with a wall of rock on both sides and unable to turn either way.
  Paul had "a desire to depart, and to be with Christ" (verse 23). If he died, it would be to his gain, because he would be with Christ. However, he realized that it was "more needful" for the Philippians that he live (verse 24). It was necessary and indispensable. Dying was beneficial for Paul; living was beneficial for the Philippians.
  Although we don't grapple with the life-or-death dilemma every day. We must decide between what is good for us and what is good for others. How do you choose when you face this dilemma?

Paul's Decision
  Paul made a choice. He put others' interests ahead of his own. He was convinced that he needed to live to increase the Philippians' spiritual growth and joy (verse 25). He assured them that he would live and continue with them; he would come and visit them. He would do what was best for them.
  Two brothers, John and Charles Calvin, were born at Noyon, France. Even at an early age, John was studious, thoughtful and reverent. At twenty- seven he wrote one of the world's greatest books, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. When he died at Geneva in 1564, he bequeathed to the world the great principles of democracy and religious freedom. However, Charles pursued a course of profligacy and dissipation.
  How do you explain the difference between John and Charles Calvin? Not by heredity or environment. The brothers had the same parents, the same home and the same early influences, but they made different choices. Each brother's choice set the direction he would follow in adulthood.
  Each of us experiences different and difficult circumstances. How we respond to those circumstances is a matter of choice. We will choose correctly if we remember that God controls and works in our circumstances.
  We are partners in the work of the gospel. The gospel is the priority, we are not. Our circumstances can further the work of the gospel. Therefore, as the work of the gospel progresses, we should rejoice in our circumstances. Like Paul, we should rejoice regardless!

This was taken from Chapter 3 of " The Joyful Life; Study of Philippians."

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