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Showing posts from November, 2018

Philippians 2:17: Even If I Am Poured Out As A Drink Offering

Philippians 2:17 [17] Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (ESV) There are some who think that ministry is about getting a job which pays them well and having a congregation of people who are impressed with every thing you say. We call them first year Seminary students. The reality is that true ministry for Jesus Christ is all about sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed his life for us, and we in turn lay our lives down for Him. The Apostle Paul has a description of ministry that is most beneficial for us. He describes himself as being poured out as a drink offering. This illustration is lost on most of us in today's culture. Because we are not familiar with actual sacrifices, whether to God himself, or even to false idols, we would likely miss what Paul is saying here. Dr. John MacArthur will help us to understand: "He is referring to his sacrificial ministry among the Philippians. D

Philippians 2:16: Holding Fast to the Word of Life

Philippians 2:16 [16] holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (ESV) The older we become the more we think about the life we have lived. What have we accomplished? Has it been worthwhile? What kind of legacy have we left that others would want to follow? The Apostle Paul is likely thinking about those kinds of things as he writes these words to the Philippian believers. He wants to be proud that he did not live this life in vain.  For Paul it is very clear what needs to happen for him to feel like he has left a proper legacy. For him to feel like his work was not in vain he needs for the believers to hold fast to the word of life. What is the word of life Paul is talking about? It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the message that alone is the power of God unto salvation. It is interesting that in this day and age so many people talk about making sure that their children are happy as the most

Philippians 2:15: That You May Be Blameless and Innocent

Philippians 2:15 [15] that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (ESV) In the previous verse we discovered that God is very concerned about our attitude towards him. We are not to grumble or dispute with him. Rather, we are to humbly obey him. There is a reason for this. We are called by our Savior to declare his glorious Gospel to the world. If our attitude is wrong we will be ineffective in accomplishing our worthy task. While it may be impossible for us to fully comprehend this ideal of being blameless and innocent we should realize that this is what God wants for us. He has given us his righteousness. He has given us His precious Holy Spirit to empower us. Walking in purity is not impossible, but it is only possible in the Lord's strength which he will provide for us. Paul describes this world that we live in as a crooked and twisted generation.

Philippians 2:14: Without Grumbling or Disputing

Philippians 2:14 [14] Do all things without grumbling or disputing, (ESV) Anyone who has children will likely identify with the words Paul has written in this verse. As parents we tell our children to do something and it can be a rare occurrence when our child responds without grumbling or disputing! I can remember what would happen if I grumbled or disputed something my father said. If I did not like what he had just asked me to do, it was about to get worse. My grumbling would guarantee me even more tasks that I was not interested in. So, what's the big deal with grumbling or disputing anyway? Well, let's look at both words individually and figure it out. Grumbling is literally a low, muttering word of unhappiness at what we have been asked to do. It belies an attitude of the heart that is selfish, and not the attitude of a faithful servant. How about disputing? Disputing is a more direct negative criticism. Understand here that this disputing is in the context of r

Philippians 2:13: For It Is God Who Works In You

Philippians 2:13 [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (ESV) This verse proves why we must always look at Scripture in its context. If we were just to look at this verse without reading the preceding verse we might completely miss what the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us. This verse implies that God is doing the work in us, so there must not be much for us to do. To avoid the erroneous interpretation, let's look at both of those verses together: Philippians 2:12–13 [12] Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (ESV) We are to work. In fact, we are to work out our salvation with a sober and serious effort before God. Yet, where do we get the power to work? It is God's power working through us! I am so encourage

Philippians 2:12: Work Out Your Own Salvation

Philippians 2:12 [12] Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (ESV) Every time you see a "therefore" in Scripture you need to look and see what it is "there for." The Apostle Paul has just finished a powerful section describing the humility of Christ. He laid aside the glory that was rightfully his and humbled himself by becoming a man, and even demonstrated the ultimate obedience to God by being crucified for our sins. Therefore . . . Therefore, you have a responsibility as well. You are to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Paul gives this command in response to what Christ has done, and he appeals to their obedience which they have already demonstrated. As this is a command for the Philippian believers it is also a command for us. So, what does it mean for us to work out our own salvation? We know that we are s

Philippians 2:11: Every Tongue Confess That Jesus Christ is Lord

Philippians 2:11 [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV) Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Many today refuse to make that confession, but we know that one day all will confess. It is important that we understand what Paul is saying here. He is not suggesting that all will confess that they believe Jesus lived. They are not going to just confess that Jesus was good. They will confess he is Lord. The Lordship of Christ is an essential doctrine of our faith. He is not a Savior, he is the Savior. So many make the mistake of believing everything but that Jesus Christ is Lord. They do this so that they will not have to submit to his authority and have to change the way that they are living. The sad reality of that is their refusing to submit to Christ as Lord just tightens the shackles of their submission to their real Lord, Satan. You see, every other religion has one Lord. His name is Satan. He is the great

Philippians 2:10: At The Name of Jesus Every Knee Will Bow

Philippians 2:10 [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (ESV) We get so frustrated as we live in this ungodly world. People mock us for following Christ. We hear people at work using the name of Jesus as a casual swear word, completely dishonoring the name that is the only name whereby we may be saved. It seems for us that this kind of mockery of Jesus will never end. Yet, it will end. Paul gives us a promise. Everyone will bow at the name of Jesus. We will all bow at the name of Jesus. The option is willingly or unwillingly. To the believer in Jesus Christ we joyfully bow at the name of Jesus. His very name gives us joy as it reminds us of the sacrifice that he has given for us. He has changed our lives. He has given us hope. He has given us eternal life. We willingly bow. Those who choose to live in their wickedness, rejecting the offer of salvation, will also bow at the name of Jesus. There will come a day when

Philippians 2:9: Therefore God Has Highly Exalted Him

Philippians 2:9 [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (ESV) Jesus lowered himself to humanity. He lived as a servant, even though he was the King of the universe. His perfect life was sacrificed on a cruel tree of crucifixion, the lowest form of execution. Yet, God raised him from the dead, and now Paul tells us here in verse 9 that Christ has been exalted and given the name above every name. We need to understand what this verse is not saying. Paul is not saying here that Christ was in some way inferior to the Father, and that now because of his obedience he has gotten a promotion to deity. We have already established that when he came to this earth he was in the form of God, meaning he was exactly equal to the Father. Jesus laid aside his glory and rights as God in becoming man. He is different after his ascension to the Father in that now he can truly identify with every aspect of humanity. He never ceased for one m

Philippians 2:8: Being Found In Human Form

Philippians 2:8 [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (ESV) The Apostle Paul is continuing to give us an inside look at just what the Savior did in becoming a man. This is all about condescension. We view that word in a negative light usually, but in the context of Jesus we find that God condescended by lowering himself to our level. It ought to amaze us every time we read this passage. God had no need to do any of this, and yet Christ willingly came to us. We have already looked at how Jesus lowered himself to become a human. This is what we call the incarnation. For the Creator of the universe to take on humanity seems to be about as low as one could go, but let's look at this verse today. It appears that God went even lower than we first notice in just the incarnation itself. Paul says he humbled himself by becoming obedient. He took on the nature of a man. Not just any kind of man. The

Philippians 2:7: But Emptied Himself

Philippians 2:7 [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (ESV) We continue in this grand section of Scripture where the Apostle Paul is describing the character and nature of Christ in his taking on flesh. This verse says that he emptied himself. It is important for us to pause and consider exactly what that means. It does not mean that he gave up his deity. He was still fully God on the Earth. We know that he had power to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, and had power over the elements of nature. What it does mean that Jesus emptied himself is that he laid down certain privileges that he experienced while being in the presence of the Father. Consider that he no longer had the sweet fellowship of the Father. He no longer had all the riches of Heaven. He submitted himself completely to the will of the Father, depending on the Holy Spirit. He lived a lowly life of relative poverty. He also took the form of a ser

Philippians 2:6: Who, Though He Was in the Form of God

Philippians 2:6 [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (ESV) This section of Scripture is of great importance. Here we have the Apostle Paul speaking of the Incarnation, God becoming flesh, and what that means for us. If you look at every single cult that distorts the truth of God's Word you will find that every single one of them make a mistake when it comes to the nature of Jesus Christ. The Jehovah's Witnesses declare that Jesus was a created being. He was not God, but rather a god. The idea of equality with the Father is not accepted by their theology. The Mormons also make a mistake in this area. They declare that Jesus was one of many spirit beings created by God. He was not equal with God. In fact, he was the spirit brother of Lucifer in their teaching. It is very important that we understand the truth of what God declares about the nature of Jesus Christ. If our Savior is not fully God than his sacrifi

Philippians 2:5: Have This Mind Among Yourselves

Philippians 2:5 [5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (ESV) Sometimes we read a verse of Scripture and we are overwhelmed with what seems like an impossibility for us to follow it. We are told here to have the same mind as Christ Jesus. Paul, in the preceding verses has described how we are to consider others greater than ourselves and to care for one another. That is Christ-like behavior. How does the behavior happen? It starts with our thinking. Our thinking will dictate our actions. If I view my fellow man with hatred and contempt there is no way I will reach out to him with the love of Christ. I have to think like Christ would think. In the following verses the Apostle Paul will define more specifically just what Christ's character is like. The more that we are like him the more that we will do what he wants us to do. Now, before we look at all of the specific statements about the wonderful character and nature of Christ I want to give y

Philippians 2:4: Let Each Of You Look Not Only To His Own Interests

Philippians 2:4 [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV) A number of years ago, I was a youth pastor at a small Baptist church. It was a wonderful experience for the most part and I was mentored by a great pastor who helped me learn much about the ministry. The church was well attended. The youth group was growing. We were getting to the point where we really needed a church van to transport the teens. I waited until our next business meeting and I was ready to present the need for a church van to the church. I had researched the cost of vans. I was only looking for a few thousand dollars for a used vehicle. I knew that the church had no debt and over $600,000 in the bank. So, we got the van, right? No, the request was denied. Why? I was told, "If we spend money on a van we cannot collect interest on that money." This is just one example of many how churches look to their own interests, yet ignore the interes

Philippians 2:3: Do Nothing From Selfish Ambition

Philippians 2:3 [3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (ESV) I can remember being told as a child to think before I acted. That's good advice for all of us at any age. The Apostle Paul loves the church that God has established. He wants the church to be unified and effective in proclaiming the Gospel. That's why he gives instruction on what motivates our behavior. We are not to do things from selfish ambition or conceit, but rather humility. There are many churches that are havens for people who war with one another. Each person demands their own way. The stronger members form coalitions of people who agree with them. Perhaps, it is a group of family members who put a stranglehold on any efforts to bring any necessary change to the church for fear of them losing any of their power. Paul is saying that if our motivation for doing anything is from selfish ambition or conceit (striving to get one'

Philippians 2:2: Complete My Joy (Part 2)

Philippians 2:2 [2] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (ESV) As we discovered in the first part of looking at this verse, Paul had much anxiety as he cared for all the churches. It would make his job much easier and more joyful if the believers that he was overseeing spiritually would walk together in unity. This was true for Paul the Apostle and it is true for all pastors, elders, deacons, and spiritual leaders who have care for a church body. Paul lists the characteristics of what unity looks like, starting with being of the same mind. Now, we know that everyone has a different opinion. Paul is saying that we should have the same mind. How can that be? We can be of the same mind as we lay aside our demand for our opinion to compete against others. We choose to agree together so that the work of proclaiming the Gospel can be unhindered. We are to have the same love. This is able to happen in the body of Chri

Philippians 2:2: Complete My Joy (Part 1)

Philippians 2:2 [2] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (ESV) The Apostle Paul was a man who was responsible for many people. He had traveled much of the known world declaring the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was an adventure. It was exciting. God did many miraculous works through Paul. Yet, there was much stress involved as well. Paul was concerned about every church that he had helped into existence. In his letter to the church at Corinth Paul alludes to this holy concern: 2 Corinthians 11:28 [28] And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (ESV) Let's bring it back to our verse today. Paul has just said in Philippians 2:1, "If there be any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy." This "IF" is a rhetorical posing about all of the benefits that come f

Philippians 2:1: If There Is Any Encouragement, Comfort, Participation, Affection, and Sympathy

Philippians 2:1 [1] So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, (ESV) If you are reading this verse for the first time you may wonder, "Has Paul lost his mind?" If?? If any encouragement in Christ? If any comfort from love? If any participation in the Spirit? If any affection and sympathy? But, you should know that he is setting up what will follow. It is a rhetorical "if." We know that, of course we have all these things in Christ! So, let's look at them. Encouragement in Christ: This word for encouragement implies coming alongside and giving help, counsel, and wisdom. I am so thankful that our blessed Savior does not save us from our sins and then leave us to fend for ourselves. He is there to encourage us. Discouraged today? Turn to the Savior. He has what you need. Draw close to him. He will draw close to you. Comfort From His Love:   This world brings so much hurt

Philippians 1:30: Engaged in the Same Conflict

Philippians 1:30 [30] engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (ESV) I like this word same. Same conflict. Paul reminds the people at Philippi that the struggle they are going through is just like the struggle that Paul encountered on his first trip to Philippi. To find out exactly what that struggle was like we need only go to the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts gives us the backdrop of what happened in the Early Church. Let's take a look: Acts 16:22–24 [22] The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. [23] And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. [24] Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (ESV) Paul and Silas had come to Philippi, preaching the Gospel. They were falsely accused of disturbing the city after Paul cast

Philippians 1:29: It Has Been Granted To You . . . To Suffer For His Sake

Philippians 1:29 [29] For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (ESV) We love to celebrate the wonderful grace of God which has given to us forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life. Rightfully so. Without God's grace we would be facing an eternity of punishment in Hell. God's grace is something we should celebrate every day of our lives. Yet, when we think of the gift of God's grace we do not think of suffering. Paul has some news for us. Paul says it has been "granted" that we should suffer for his sake. Here is what Dr. John MacArthur says about this word "granted": "The Greek verb translated “granted” is from the noun for grace. Believers’ suffering is a gift of grace that brings power (2 Cor. 7:9–10; 1 Pet. 5:10) and eternal reward." - Dr. John MacArthur, Online Study Bible Notes We have been given the gift of suffering. That gift brings po

Philippians 1:28: Not Frightened In Anything By Your Opponents

Philippians 1:28 [28] and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. (ESV) We live in a country in which most of us can live out our faith with not a lot of opposition. Yes, there are times when we may get laughed at by a co-worker for our commitment to Christ. We may get excluded from certain events because of what we believe. And, there have been more occasions where some business owners' rights have been infringed because of their faith. But, in general, we are very free to practice our faith in Christ here in the United States. Many parts of the world do not experience this kind of freedom. Opposition is expected the moment they confess the name of Christ publicly. The Apostle Paul was in a prison cell when he wrote Philippians. He would eventually be executed by the sword for his faith in Christ. Yet, he writes to the Philippian believers that they should not be frightened b

Philippians 1:27: Let Your Manner of Life Be Worthy of the Gospel

Philippians 1:27 [27] Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, (ESV) In 1976 Francis Schaeffer wrote the book, " How Should We Then Live? " It continues to be a great question. I believe that if one were to have asked the Apostle Paul that question he would have responded with the words we find in Philippians 1:27. "Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ." This high standard of life challenges us to be focused on the Gospel of Christ at all times. It is of far greater significance than anything else that we tend to focus on. The gospel is that good news that Jesus Christ laid aside his eternal glory to condescend and be with the lowliest of all mankind. In order to save them he gave his very life. It is this very sacrificial nature that is to b

Philippians 1:26: You May Have Ample Cause To Glory In Christ Jesus

Philippians 1:26 [26] so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (ESV) As you read that verse it raises a question. Does your coming to a body of believers give them ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus? That is a challenging question. Paul is continuing in this thought about how his living a little while longer on this earth, while keeping him from his goal of being with Jesus, would be a benefit to the believers in Philippi. So much of the time, when we think about our walk with Christ, we think in terms of what we are experiencing and how satisfied we are with our own current situation. Paul models for us a life that puts on hold what would be beneficial to himself, and prefers to look at how his life can be a blessing to others so that Christ would be glorified. Sadly, there are churches where people coming together is not ample cause for Christ to be glorified, but rather self to be amplified. Where you have church

Philippians 1:25: Convinced of This, I Know I Will Remain

Philippians 1:25 [25] Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, (ESV) This verse begins with an interesting phrase. Paul says he is convinced. What does that mean? Is this part of the divine revelation that he has received to pass on to the Philippian believers? Is he convinced because God told him this directly? The answer is that Paul does not claim supernatural revelation in this verse. Yet, he is certainly filled with hope that he will remain. For Paul, any confidence that he will remain on this earth means that there are things to do. The other day my wife asked me if I had a bucket list. I suppose that is what happens when you get older. Every day on this earth is one day closer to my last. I could not come up with anything for my bucket list. My Philadelphia Eagles already won the Super Bowl so I think I'm good. Joking aside, what should be on the bucket list for every believer in Jesus Christ?

Philippians 1:24: But To Remain In The Flesh Is More Necessary

Philippians 1:24 [24] But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. (ESV) When you think about it, if it is so grand for us to be with Christ, why do we spend any time on this Earth at all? We know that it would be better for us. We would have no sickness, no sorrow, no pain, no depression, no poverty, no hatred, no killing, no deception, no sinning of any kind! Why stay here? Paul says, remaining in the flesh is more necessary. Why? On the account of the church. Paul had planted the Church in Philippi. He continues on in helping them to grow in their faith and carry out the work of proclaiming the Gospel. Yes, he could go to heaven. But, God has willed him to remain on the Earth for the benefit of assisting the Church. The fact is, we all have a purpose on this Earth. And sadly many Christians do not realize what that purpose is. We are Christ's ambassadors. We are called to carry out the message of God's grace to all the world around us. That is wh

Philippians 1:23: I Am Hard Pressed Between the Two

Philippians 1:23 [23] I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (ESV) Paul is speaking further about this conundrum he faces as he considers his future. He knows that as a Roman prisoner he has a high likelihood of execution. Yet, he knows that the believers in Philippi are praying for his release. He is not at all concerned about dying. Rather, he prefers it. He knows that the moment he leaves this earth he will be with Christ and there is nothing better than that. I am reminded of a humorous moment when Dr. John MacArthur was critiquing the book written by Joel Osteen,  Your Best Life Now . MacArthur remarked that if this is your best life now then you are going to hell. His point being that our best life is not the one we are currently living. Rather, the best life is the one that is eternally spent with Christ. Because this world is all that we have as yet experienced we seem to think as death as terrible and s

Philippians 1:22: If I Am To Live in the Flesh

Philippians 1:22 [22] If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. (ESV) Paul has already established that the purpose for his living is Christ. It his ultimate goal to be with Christ. This purpose is to be the true purpose of every believer in Christ. As a result of Paul's goal he has a conundrum. If he stays on the Earth he is unable to be in the eternal presence of Jesus Christ. Yet, while he is here there is work to be done. He desires to share the Gospel until his  last breath. Do you experience the same conundrum in your own life? Do you love the Savior so much that you long to be with him in eternity? Do you find it difficult at times to decide which is better for you? To live with Jesus or to serve him here until your last breath? The true life of the believer in Jesus is one who is consumed with Christ. It was not long after Paul wrote these words that he left this Earth. He was beheaded for his faith.

Philippians 1:21: For Me To Live Is Christ

Philippians 1:21 [21] For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (ESV) For me to live is __________. How do you finish that sentence? Depending on who you talk to you might get a whole lot of different answers. For many of us we would say, "For me to live is the pursuit of a career. We strive to reach the top of whatever corporate ladder that we are on. We kick and fight others along the way. Maybe we have even achieved our goal of being at the top. Is it worth it? Consider those who finish the sentence, "For me to live is a struggle." There are some who have born with a physical handicap that only know struggle every day of their lives. Others deal with crippling depression and anxiety. We foolishly think them lazy when they have a hard time getting out of bed, but for them the fear and sadness is a reminder of their particular vulnerabilities. We could go on thinking about different ways to finish that sentence. I love the way that Paul finishes it. &

Philippians 1:20: Christ Will Be Honored in My Body

Philippians 1:20 [20] as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. (ESV) In the midst of our tragic moments in life who are we usually concerned about? I will give you a hint. Ourselves! We will call all of our friends and commiserate with them. The old saying is true that misery loves company. I tend to love to have pity parties. They aren't very well attended, however. Paul is in prison. His possible death is imminent. This verse gives us insight into who is concerned about in the midst of this tragic time of his life. Paul is concerned about Christ! He desires that Christ will be honored in his body, whether that means life or if it means death. The whole focus of Paul is not Paul. I have said before that Paul is a far better man than I. While I desire to have the same focus that Paul had I find myself struggling with a selfish motivatio

Philippians 1:19: This Will Turn Out For My Deliverance

Philippians 1:19 [19] for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, (ESV) Paul is full of joy. The last words of verse 18 start the sentence that continues in verse 19. Let's put those together: "Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance."   The Apostle Paul is in prison. His circumstances are bleak, but his attitude is not. He chooses to be filled with joy. Why? Because of the prayers of the saints in Philippi and the help of the Holy Spirit. He is confident that ultimately God will deliver him. Now, at first glance, it would seem that Paul was speaking of being delivered from his circumstances, i.e. prison. Let's pause for a moment. We all have gone through times in our lives when the circumstances that we were in were less than pleasant. And so, we do the right thing, we pray.