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 14, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 7

Philippians 2:12-18
    "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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 which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me."

The Christians Daily Workout
  The believer's life should demonstrate that he knows Christ.

   A laborer had complained all morning to his fellow workers that he didn't have a shovel. Finally, at noon, he complained to the foreman. "I've got a problem," he said, "I don't have a shovel."
  "Well, what are you complaining about? You don't have to do any work if you ain't go no shovel," the foreman offered.
  "Well, I know that. But I haven't got anything to lean on--- like the other guys," the worker complained.
   Sometimes we Christians would rather lean than work. We forget that we need to work. Being a Christian is a full-time job. We must work at it. If you're a "leaner" instead of a worker, you need to pay close attention to what Paul wrote to the Philippians about working out their salvation.

An Obligation not an Option
  After portraying Jesus Christ as the example of humility, Paul once again exhorted the Philippians to take appropriate action. With lowliness of mind (Philippians 2:3). He wanted each of them to esteem others better than himself and to consider the needs of others. He knew, of course, that humble and selfless thinking doesn't just happen; the Philippians needed to work at it. Therefore, he exhorted: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (verse 12).
  "Work out" has the idea of bringing something to completion or conclusion such as working out a math problem. Notice that the concept is working out and not working for salvation. The Philippians were saved. They needed to apply their salvation to their lives. Their salvation would be incomplete until they applied it to their relationships with one another. The command "work out" demanded continuous action. It also demanded individual action, because each believer received Paul's command. It demanded inclusive action, too, because all the believers were supposed to comply.
  Not only did Paul exhort the Philippians to work out their own salvation, he urged them to work it out "with fear and trembling" (verse 12). This phrase demonstrated the seriousness of their thinking about other believers. They were obliged to be both serious and sensitive in their interpersonal relationships. The command was an obligation not an option.

A Vocation not a Vacation
   Are you working, or are you on vacation? Are you applying your salvation to everyday situations? Someone described his vacation this way on a postcard, "Having a wonderful time; wish I could afford it." If you're on vacation and not working out your own salvation (notice "your own"; not someone else's), you can't afford it. There's too much at stake. You need to work at the responsibility of considering others better than yourself and at the task of showing genuine concern for them. Remember consideration, concern and cooperation in the work of the gospel require that you work and not just wish.

Cooperation Please!
  The Philippians were able to work out their salvation because God was working in them "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (verse 13). They could work it out because God is working in them. The Greek word "worketh" in verse 13 is different from the Greek word for "work" in verse 12. The word in verse 13 means to work effectively.
   A frustrated boss called his new secretary into his office. "Maggie," he sighed, "I don't understand it. You've worked here only three weeks, but you're already five weeks behind in your work."
  Like Maggie, some people "work" but don't seem to get anywhere except further behind. It's not that way with God; He works effectively.
  God was working in the Philippians "both to will and to do of his good pleasure." "To will" denotes purposeful determination. God was causing the Philippians to be willing to work out their salvation. "To do" means to accomplish something, to cause it to happen. God was accomplishing in the Philippians' lives what He caused them to want to do. The Philippians were not alone in this task of becoming what God wanted them to be. God was working in them; they needed only to cooperate.
  In southern New Jersey, a clearing exists where oak and pin timber once stood. However, whoever cut down the oak and pine spared one tree about fifty feet from the road. Evidently it was spared because of its freakish appearance. A close look at this sole surviving tree reveals that it started out as two trees, about eight feet apart at the base, where each measures about ten inches in diameter. About six feet from the ground, the trees arch and unite in one trunk. From that point, they are one tree with a common truck and top. The Philippians were joined together with God in working out their salvation. God was exhorting them and enabling them. He and the Philippians were working together to work out their salvation.
   How comforting! God was so interested in the Philippians' spiritual growth that He initiated and implemented the growth process. In the same way, God is working in you so that you might work out your salvation.

Getting Along in God's Family
  The Philippians were partners in the work of the gospel. They needed to work out their salvation in their everyday relationships with one another. Their relationship with Christ was supposed to affect their relationships with other believers. Therefore, Paul urged them to "do all things without murmurings and disputings" (2:14). "All things" is both emphatic and inclusive, and refers to the Philippians' attitude toward one another. "Murmurings," meaning complaining, denotes grumblings against other people. Specifically in verse 14 it refers to grumblings that cause disunity. "Disputings" means disputes or arguments. Paul wanted the Philippians to avoid these harmful behaviors.
  If the Philippians did all things without complaining and arguing, they would present a strong, united testimony to an unbelieving society. Their interpersonal relationships would build for them an appropriate reputation. They would be "blameless and harmless" (verse 15). "Blameless" means free from fault and describes a person who is above accusation. It describes a person's reputation in the community. "Harmless" means unmixed and refers to a person's motives. Taken together, the two words "blameless" and "harmless"  picture a pure and sincere Christian.
  Paul also wanted the Philippians to be "without rebuke" (verse 15). This word means unblemished and describes the Christian whose relationship with God is pure.
  Each of these three words emphasizes an essential aspect of Christian purity. The Philippians lived in a dishonest and depraved world (as you do). Paul wanted them to maintain a pure testimony.
   In Hatfield, England, Margaret Elms, the municipal registrar of births, marriages, and deaths recorded the name of a deceased man on a death certificate. She wrote "Mr. Serious Misconduct of Mill Lane, Welwyn, aged 74."
  How did such a strange name originate? It originated when Malcolm MacTaggart changed his name to Serious Misconduct following an ugly work-related incident.
  In 1939, MacTaggart had a quarrel with his employer, the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company. It seems he took two weeks vacation when the company insisted that he was entitled to only one week. The company fired him, and listed the reason as "serious misconduct."
  MacTaggart never forgot the railroad company for what he perceived to be an unjust dismissal. Perhaps to keep his resentment alive and to embarrass his ex-employer, he changed his name from MacTaggart to Serious Misconduct. He put his new name on all his official documents, including his social security payments book, and kept that name until his death 34 years later. His death finally removed the stain from the character of former railroader Malcolm MacTaggart.
  Our character stains stay with us for a long time also. And many times those stains come from messy relationships with other Christians. Non-Christians know when "serious misconduct" exists among believers. The word gets around, and our testimony loses its effectiveness. We are perceived as no different from unbelievers. Have your attitudes and actions toward other Christians affected your testimony? If they have, begin to repair them. The next time you are tempted to put yourself first and disrupt the unity of the body, remember that the charge of serious misconduct may dog your steps for a long, long time.
  Right relationships among Christians help to build a strong testimony for Christ in their community. In the midst of spiritual and moral darkness, they "shine as lights in the world" (verse 15). They stand out because their character and conduct are different. While they hold back a tide of godlessness, they hold forth the word of life (verse 16). They keep a firm grip on the gospel, which they offer freely to the unsaved. They order their lives by the high standards of the Word of Life, thereby proving that they are citizens of Heaven. Those who hold fast to the Word of Life become a source of joy to their spiritual mentors (verse 16). They will rejoice at the Rapture.

Paul's Example
  Paul practiced what he preached. He did not live a "Do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do" life. He considered the Philippians as better than himself; and he was deeply concerned about them. If somehow his death as a sacrifice could be credited to the Philippians' account in addition to what they had sacrificed to support his ministry, he was willing to die. In fact, he would rejoice in that sacrifice (verse 17).
   Commenting on verse 17, J. Dwight Pentecost observed:

  Paul views the Philippians as priests, and he sees the good works that spring from faith as the thank offering that the Philippians are offering to God.... But Paul does not want that sacrifice to be a bare sacrifice, and when the sacrifice of their works is offered as a thank offering to God, Paul adds himself as a drink offering in order that the heart of God might rejoice at the offering of praise and thanksgiving that the Philippians together with Paul make. The effect of pouring wine upon the sacrifice would be to cause it to flame up brilliantly. When God sees that sacrifice of good works offered to Him, He is satisfied; but His heart rejoices with new rejoicing when He sees the brilliance of the flame that comes as a drink offering, the sacrifice of Paul, is added to the sacrifice of these saints (The Joy of Living, pp. 106, 107).

  Someone has calculated that the average worker could double his production overnight if he would do everything he knows he should do and stop doing what he knows he should not do. You are a partner in the work of the gospel. That responsibility demands work. Throughout your Christian life, you are supposed to pursue a vocation not a vacation. You are supposed to serve God faithfully. You need to work out your salvation as you work for the gospel. As you do so, your productivity in the work of the gospel will increase dramatically. Just do what you know you ought to do and stop doing what you know you shouldn't do.
  Consider others better than yourself. Be concerned about others. Don't concentrate exclusively on yourself and your needs.

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