Philippians 3 Part 2–Pressing On Toward Heaven

It is so tempting to hover in our lives at a place that is comfortable.  Even if the place one is hovering in is a bad place, it is often easier to languish than it is to press on.  Paul told the Philippians that they had to press on.  they had to forget what was in the past.  In other words, do not live in nostalgia of the glorious days of yesteryear!  We always look back fondly but often forget each part of life has had its struggles.  No matter the trial or pressure, Paul encourages us to press and strain forward to reach the goal of becoming like Christ.
 
In addition, do not become attached to this world and this culture.  This simply is not our home.  Life hear is temporal, self-centered and the culture Godless. Our citizenship is elsewhere! We are citizens of Heaven. Christ rose to give us that.  He is preparing a place for us that is eternal and perfect.  So we live as citizens of eternity, not as if tomorrow is all that we have.  We make the most of our life, but, never think that this is as good as it gets.  We recognize this world is self-centered, Godless and proud of it.  We should never fit in.  While we are here, we need to live as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We implore others to know the Lord and we live lives that honor Him. That was Paul’s example and that was Christ’s example.  Help me, Lord, to make it my example.
 
God Bless You

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Following Paul’s Example

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Philippians 3 Part 1–Bragging Rights

Paul was the super pharisee.  If one wanted a poster child for how to “do religion” Paul was easily that guy. He was circumcised, Part of the tribe of Benjamin, trained by Gamaliel the ultimate Rabbi.  He knew all the traditions, all the law and exactly what to do.  He attacked the Christians with zeal and complete abandon. Any Jewish leader would be proud of Paul’s record.  Paul, however, realized that it was not his knowledge or performance that made him righteous.  Paul went as far as to say that stuff was bio-waste compared to the surpassing greatness of Christ,  Paul no longer needed to flaunt a resume–He simply needed to trust God and allow God to transform him into the image of Christ.
 
We are the same.  We are not a product of our accomplishments.  We can never “DO” Christianity to a level that our actions bring us justification.  In fact, as Paul so elegantly articulated it, our efforts to earn salvation look, smell and feel like bio-waste! We need to know Christ! As we get to know him we quickly see that it is His grace and His mercy, not our background or performance that brings us salvation. If we will simply trust and follow His lead–He will restore our relationship with God, and he will prepare us for the journey that lies ahead.  In addition, the Lord will change our hearts and our desires to conform to His image.  There is simply no greater gift than the salvation we receive by trusting Christ alone.
 
God Bless You
 

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 2 Part 3–Working Out Our Salvation

Next, Paul puts practical steps into this idea of having Christ’s attitude.  First is to continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.   The ongoing transition from a Godless life to a Christ-filled life.  The technical term is sanctification.  It is the process we experience as we come to be like Christ.  It is a difficult process because it runs counter to current world culture.  Paul reminds us, however, that it is God at work in us that makes sanctification happen.  His spirit aligns with ours and slowly makes us over into His image.  It is that verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “For if anyone is in Christ, they are new creatures.  The old has passed away and behold all things become new.”
 
The other command for us is to do what we do without grumbling or disputing.  It is the idea that as a church we learn to be content in our circumstance and do our lives humbly trusting God to finish the work He has started.  It is easy to get frustrated in training. It is easy to doubt, complain and to lose hope.  But God is greater than any circumstance, no matter how difficult.  We simply have to trust the Lord and follow Him despite the emotion and trial.  When we do, we not only honor God but also we honor those who have poured into us all our lives.  Help me, Lord to humbly allow You to do the work in me that You have planned and allow me to do it without a bad attitude or complaint.
 
God Bless You


 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2 Part 1–Unity and A Like-Minded Church

Two of the greatest gifts Christians can give to God are the gifts of selflessness and unity.  Paul told the Philippians that nothing would bring Him more joy to have them be a church filled with selfless and unified folks.  He had the Philippians to look deep within themselves to find the selfless nature within.  In that, he called them to look to gain the same purpose.  Be of one mind. Act selflessly and consider others interests more important than their own. Sadly, none of those traits come naturally.  Paul knew that the church would need to look at Christ and his nature to discover the need to be selfless.
 
In our culture, it is the same. Like the church in Philippi, we are surrounded by a culture that screams individuality. It tells us to look out for old number 1. It breeds conflict and drives churches apart. That is why the call to unity is as critical today as it was in Paul’s day. The world would love to see the end of the church and its antiquated ways. The world hates to see selflessness. It loathes unity. Those things are boring and tend to bring folks together and make them stronger.  Both strength and unity allow the Church to grow and to give hope in an otherwise hopeless life.  Paul knew it then and we know now that the three great gifts from God are faith, hope, and love. If the church becomes selfless and unified, those gifts will flourish. If unity is absent, those gifts wither and die. We must, therefore, follow Paul’s lead and seek to live united and selfless lives.
 
God Bless You
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 1 Final–Living A Life Worthy of the Gospel

Paul was at the end of his life. He was imprisoned and awaiting final judgment from Rome and Nero.  It was hard to keep a stiff upper lip, as it were.  Still, Paul demonstrated to the Philippians the critical choice we each need to make each day. We have to choose to rise above our circumstance and live. We cannot give up on life when it is difficult. We must not only live but live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel. In Paul’s life, that meant that he was not afraid to share Christ with each of the palace guards that were chained to him each day.  Paul reminded the Philippians that their rising above the circumstances of each day showed their enemies that faith is stronger than anything life can throw at them.
 
In our lives, we have to live our lives in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel. We have to face each day with peace and faith. Knowing that ultimately, if we remain faithful we will stand firm and see His hand. He will meet our needs and help us to live above whatever the world throws at us. It is difficult to remain faithful through trials.  But, God does difficult better than anyone.  Like Paul, we have to decide to live and not only live–but live in a manner worthy of the Gospel.
 
God Bless You

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Life Worthy of the Gospel

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[e] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 1 Part 3–To Live is Christ and to Die is Gain

As Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians, He was in prison in Rome. He lived chained between two guards. The one-time world traveler now was awaiting his final fate from Rome. In the midst of the hopeless situation he faced, Paul was able to continue to preach the Gospel through his letters. What’s more, others were preaching the Gospel loudly and spreading the message even beyond where Paul had reached. But, at the end of the day, Paul knew that life on earth was not comparable to eternity in Heaven.   As he languished in prison;  beaten, broken and blind—Paul longed to be home with Lord.  Amazingly, it was that longing that drove Paul to preach the Gospel all day every day.
 
Paul, more than most, understood the deception of a rules-based religion. As a Jew of Jews, Paul learned from the best and performed religion as well as anyone. But, when he had his encounter with Christ, It changed Him. He realized he would never be worthy in his own power. He also learned that God’s grace was sufficient to meet his needs. From there, God brought him to a place that made him a true ambassador for God and showed him that Christ alone was all anyone needed to have a relationship with God.  Paul was driven to get that message out to everyone. So until God brought him home, Paul would spread that message to all who would listen and all who would read the letters he drafted.  Paul Had come to a place that valued Christ above all. So wherever he was Christ was the most important thing.
 
In our lives we have to come to a place where we also can say to live is Christ and to die is gain. Each of us faces trials of various types. In those trials, we can become distracted from what is important and what is not.  If we can move forward with a grateful heart and follow His leading, then no matter the circumstances we face our response can remain grateful and hopeful. Only with a grateful heart is this life bearable. Otherwise, we become like the Israelites in the desert;  complaining when God is in their presence literally dropping food from heaven each day.  Treasure the joys of our life here–but, know to live is Christ and to die is gain.
 
God Bless You

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Ephesians 5 Part 2–You Gotta Serve Somebody

Bob Dylan produced an album in the late 1970s that was a tribute to his recent conversion to Christianity.  The album was called “Slow Train Coming” one song that became very popular at the time was called “You Gotta Serve Somebody!” As a young teenager, that song stuck with me.  The reality is that we do have to serve somebody.  That is what Paul was reminding the Ephesians in this chapter.  Paul laid it out. Live as children of the light. Live as though all things we do and say will be held up to the light for all to see.  Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. Live as wise people, not like those who are unwise. Paul could not have been more direct.
 
In our times, each day we still get to choose how we live.  We control our choices, our attitudes, and our lifestyles.  We can live secret lives, do shameful acts and think like this is all there is. But, as Bob Dylan so aptly said, “It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but, you gotta serve somebody!” Paul encourages us to serve God, Live as if we are living in the light, walking in public. He encourages us to be filled with His spirit–not the world’s cheap substitutes! We need to live our lives in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel. If we will, we will taste the fruit of freedom and will have love, Joy Peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. A life led by God’s Holy Spirit will bring freedom and purpose. One that has meaning and leaves a legacy! No matter, what we choose, however, in the end, You Gotta Serve Somebody!
 
God Bless You

Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.