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 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.

Ephesians 6 Final–The Full Armor of God

Many Christians have heard of the full armor of God.  They know they have to rely upon God to stand firm in the spiritual war each of us as Christians face. Paul was speaking to the Ephesians using very culturally relevant terms. Rome was in its glory days,  the empire stretched around most of the known world. So, when Paul spoke of the full armor of God, it was not only easy for the people to visualize it, but it was equally easy to grasp its form and function. Paul wanted the people to consider how to be strong when support for the faith was so weak. He wanted them to consider their functions as The Lord’s warriors. He wanted them to remember it was not the Romans they were fighting, but Satan and his force of demons.  So Paul said, mount up, dress up and let’s go to war. 
 
1st Belt of truth–the utility belt that holds everything together and carries the weapons. Truth does that! you can attack supposition and speculation, but, truth stands on its own and can hold everything else in place!
2nd Breast Plate of righteousness–It is hard to come at someone head-on with accusation and grumbling if they remain above reproach. Take your best shots and righteousness wins out.
3rd Feet fitted with the readiness of the Gospel–In a word, you are given the message of Salvation and nothing will keep you from stepping out, no finer shoe, no more impervious sole than the true message of salvation.
4th Shield of faith–Sometimes you have to move forward without being able to see what is ahead. Faith is that shield that blocks the enemy’s deadly shots and allows forward motion in extreme situations!!!
5th Helmet of Salvation–Our salvation protects the very most important part of us–our Minds (Hearts in Jewish culture). It is the helmet to protect against fear, hate, lies, and evil. We can never forget it is a gift, not an earned commodity. it is the critical piece of armor!
6th Sword of the Spirit–God’s word. It was the weapon Satan twisted to strike God’s people down from the famous line in the Garden, “Did God really say you would die?” God’s word is more powerful than a two-edged sword. It truly cuts to the heart of things. Jesus wielded it masterfully as the enemy tempted him in the desert. He was an artist as he fenced with the religious leaders. He changed the world from a sermon on the mount and set into play the restoration of mankind with the great commission. It is a masterful love letter that has drawn men back from a hopeless end and into a journey of peace and purpose. We must learn to wield it with the confidence and artfulness that our Lord intended. We study and rest in its truth. Then we can truly battle the forces that would destroy us.
 
The Full Armor of God is all we need to stand firm in this life and battle our way along until He calls us home or returns for us! Thanks, Lord for your protection, provision, and preparation of us, your children, to face the battles you have set before us!
 
God Bless You

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 5 Part 1–How Must We Live?

Paul next attacks the elephant in the room;  “How do people act when they are saved?” Since they are freed from the Law, How does one behave?  The answer is quite simple, Walk in a way that honors God and is consistent with the calling of Christ.  Christians are not to be the brash, vulgar deceitful lot; instead, they are to walk with humility, patience, and kindness. People should never fear that they will be evil, proud deceitful or mean. Their purpose for living is to draw men to Christ–not, cause men to run and hide in fear.
 
That message is as true today as it was when Paul penned this letter.  We, as the Lord’s chosen need to stand out for whose and who we are.  We are the ones that folks love to deal with. We are the ones that folks can trust.  We are the selfless and joyful ones–not the crabby, narcissists.  We need to conduct ourselves in a manner that makes people glad they were with us, did business with us, and have been in contact with us.  We live each day to honor God with our lives.  
 
While the principle sounds simple, it is one difficult task.  It is not to be taken lightly, nor, is it going to be easy.  The world of trial and temptation will constantly pull us away if we let it.  Help us, Lord, to walk humbly with you, and allow you to lead us as we live lives that resemble you! 
 
God Bless you

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. 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.

Ephesians 4 Part 2–A Life of Unity, Peace, and Purpose

It was never God’s intention to create a clone nation.  He knew that, as in one’s personal body, the Church required individual giftings and cooperation to be effective.  God gifted some of His chosen to be the apostles, the prophets, the teachers, the givers, and the encouragers. No gift was intended to be any more important than the others. They were intended to round out the church and make it effective in its operation and in its mission. All were saved with a purpose; and, that purpose was to be in relationship with God and to introduce God to others.
 
In order to do that effectively, one must quit living like the world. One need not be self-absorbed, wicked or indecisive. Instead, we live a new life–one led by the Spirit of God to become like Him. We become selfless, purposeful and free from the need to please others or satisfy our momentary whims. Instead, we live humbly, purposefully and focused upon the freedom of living like Christ.  In that life, we are not indecisive, nor are we controlled by impulse–instead, we are focused on the eternal, and on living a life worthy of God’s call. Such life brings meaning and purpose. It also brings joy and peace. We work together to be the people the Lord has called us to be!
 
God Bless You

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Instructions for Christian Living

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.