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

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 6

Philippians 2:5-11
    "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

The Son Who Became a Servant
The believer should humble himself.

    A small religious college was experiencing financial difficulties. One day a wealthy man visited the campus, where the first person he met was a white-haired man in overalls. The old fellow was painting a wall.
  "Where can I find the president?" the wealthy visitor asked.
  The painter pointed to a nearby house and assured the visitor, "If you stop by that house at noon, I'm sure you'll find him there."
  At noon the visitor knocked at the front door of the president's house. To his surprise, he was greeted by the same man he had talked to earlier, but now the old fellow was dressed like a college president. After accepting an invitation for lunch with the painter-president, the visitor asked a number of questions about the needs of the college and promised to send a small donation. Two days later a check for $50,000 arrived.
  Because the college president was humble enough to tackle a painting job, he had not only brightened a wall but also the college's future.
  In a far greater way, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled himself for the sake of others. Although He was God, He became man. Because He humbled Himself and died for us, we Christians enjoy a bright future.
  Paul wanted the Philippians to serve one another humbly, so he focused their attention on the example of humility Christ set. If the Philippians emulated Christ, their church would resemble a little bit of Heaven.

Be Lowly Minded
   Paul wanted the Philippians to be like-minded, but he knew that like-mindedness develops only when people are lowly minded. So, to encourage the Philippians to be lowly minded, he introduced the example of lowly mindedness Jesus Christ set.
   "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," Paul admonished (Philippians 2:5).  Another way to express Paul's admonition is to say, "think like Christ among you." Such thinking would activate the will. It would produce Christlike behavior. If the Philippians thought like Christ, they would humble themselves and serve one another just like Jesus Christ humbled Himself for our sakes. High-mindedness divides a church and causes individuals to serve only themselves, but lowly mindedness welds a church into a dynamic and caring group of selfless followers of Christ.

Where's Your Focus?
    Paul commanded the Philippians to share an attitude of humility. After all, Christ humbly focused on the needs of others. Throughout His earthly ministry He gave Himself in service for others. And at the end of His earthly ministry He laid down His life for others.
   In the work of the gospel, attitude is far more important than aptitude. Because they were partners in the work of the gospel, the Philippians' attitude toward one another was more valuable than the talents they contributed to the work. A church may bulge with talent, but only humility makes it a home. Talented people may entertain one another, but humble people edify one another. Talent may give a church notoriety, but humility gives it unity.
  Hudson Taylor, a pioneering missionary to China, is remembered best for his faith. However, he was also a humble man. When someone asked him how he was chosen for missionary work in China, he replied that God chose a little man so that others could see what a great God we have. If more Christians regarded themselves as little and God as great, the church would present a clearer picture of God's grace and power.

Down from His Glory
  Jesus Christ provides the perfect example of humility. He provided the standard by which Christians should examine their willingness to put others' interests ahead of their own.
   Paul described Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate existence in Heaven as "being in the form of God" (Philippians 2:6). "Being" means existing. "Form" denotes the essence of something. Therefore, "being in the form of God" means that Jesus Christ existed with the same nature as God, because He was God.
  Paul also wrote that Christ was "equal with God" (verse 6). Because Jesus Christ was God, He shared equal honor and glory with God.
  How did Christ respond to His eternal position as God? He "thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (verse 6b). He did not think the nature and prerogatives of Deity something to be clutched and used for personal advantage. He freely left Heaven and came to earth to identify with humanity, to experience humiliation and to "taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9). Hebrews 2:14-16 describes our Lord's condescension on our behalf:
                    Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

   When Jesus Christ left Heaven, He "made himself of no reputation' (Philippians 2:7). He did not cease to be God, but He "took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men," (verse 7). Although He assumed the form of a servant, He remained God. He could never cease to be what He was eternally-- perfect God. However, He veiled His deity when He became a man. He freely laid aside the independent exercise of His divine prerogatives and lived on earth as a servant. Throughout His earthly ministry, He did the Father's will. He said, "I do always those things that please him" (John 8:29).
  The word "form" in Philippians 2:7 indicates that Christ possessed all the essential characteristics of a servant. Just as He was really God, He was also really a servant. He demonstrated this servitude often during His life on the earth, but graphically portrayed it when He clothed Himself as a household servant, bent down and washed His disciples' feet (John 13:1-12).
   "Made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7) means that Christ became a real human being. Having a real human body, He experienced pain and suffering, hunger, thirst and weariness. He was a human being like every human being, with one exception-- He did not have a sin nature. Hebrews 4:15 assures us that Jesus Christ "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 7:26 adds that He was "holy harmless, undefiled separate from sinners."
  In His condescending to come to earth as a real human being, our Lord identified with humanity. The incarnation did not interrupt or terminate His deity; He was God and remained God, but to His divine nature He added a real human nature.
   Paul informed the Philippians in Philippians 2:8 that "being found in fashion as a man," Jesus "humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." The word "fashion" in this verse denotes something external and changeable. Since Christ was a real man, His external appearance changed, just as ours changes. If you need proof of this fact, look in the mirrior. You will recognize that your appearance is different now than it was ten years ago. However, Jesus' eternal deity didn't change.
   Jesus humbled Himself by becoming a human being and by becoming a servant, but His humbling Himself went even further. He "became obedient unto death" (verse 8). His death was repulsive, excruciatingly painful and barbaric. He died on a "cross" (verse 8). His obedience to the Father and His servanthood took Him to Calvary, where He voluntarily died for our sins.
  The lesson is clear: Jesus considered others better than Himself. He looked on the things of others. He emptied Himself, humbled Himself and died on the cross. Paul wanted the Philippians to be like Christ-- to share with one another His spirit of humility. Just as Jesus put others first, the Philippians were to do the same. By being lowly minded, they would experience like-minded fellowship.

The Name above All Names
    Christ humbled Himself, the God "highly exalted him" (verse 9). After dying for our sins, Jesus arose bodily from the grave and later ascended to Heaven. God exalted Christ not only by seating Him at His own right hand (Hebrews 1:13; 8:1), but also by giving Him "a name which is above every name" (Philippians 2:9). God gave Jesus the name "Lord," which was God's own personal name. Jesus did the humbling, God did the honoring. Is there not an interesting sequence here? Humiliation precedes honor.
  God honored Christ for two reasons: (1) that every knee should bow at the name of Jesus (verse 10) and (2) that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (verse 11). The Son became a servant, but He didn't cease being sovereign. Someday everyone will submit to His sovereignty.

A Personal Challenge
    You and the other members of your church are partners in the work of the gospel. As partners, you need to work together. To work together, you need to be like-minded. To be like-minded, you need to be lowly minded. To be lowly minded you need to think as Christ thought. The work of the gospel summons you to humbly submit yourself to God's will and to serve others in Jesus' name.

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