Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Philippians 2:19-24


19But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22But you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. 23Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; 24and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.

Personal letters such as Philippians gives so much insight into the inner-workings of the ministry. Note three things here:

1. Paul's genuine and passionate concern for the believers in Philippi. This is a constant throughout with the New Testament letters and books that are written to the believers in Rome, or Corinth or Galatia or Ephesus. Is it any wonder that the men who turned the world upside down did it, because their love for one another was in such stark contrast to the world's ways of doing life? When Jesus commanded them to love one another, He noted that this would be a unique distinction that will be noticed by the world. And, in the Lord's prayer in John 17, Jesus was all about being united in His love. With all of our fractured world of comparisons marked by the variety of world religions and the variety of denominations within Christianity, we have lost our way in being one and loving one another. We tend to love our own kind. We need a heavy dose of "otherness" that the early disciples practiced.

2. Paul feels he only has a few who are of "kindred spirit" who will have the same concern for the Philippian believers as he. Over the last 3 and a half years my learning curve has been perpendicular, to say the least. However, the most vital thing I've come to realize is that it takes so long for people to "get it", meaning how to walk with Jesus and with one another how to BE THE CHURCH of Jesus--to be a revolutionary. I was agonizing over this to the point of complaining about it to a friend of mine. He didn't miss a beat and came right back at me and said, "But it only takes a few!" (My friend is way ahead of me in understanding how the revolution of Jesus works.) Jesus was never discouraged with a few. In fact, Jesus purposefully began His ministry with just three fishermen. He didn't challenge them to start a revolution that would change the world, but invited them to BE TOGETHER with Him. Although Jesus spoke to large crowds from time to time, it was clearly not in His revolutionary strategy to work with the masses. He was all about "life on life" training of His disciples who would go on to turn the world upside down. Paul is not complaining, but stating a fact. Timothy is the only one he knew who "got it" enough to make the visit to the Philippians and be an encouragement to them.

3. Those who left Paul and Timothy's fellowship are said to be seeking after their own interests, not those of Jesus. They were disqualified because they were too busy seeking after their own interests and not those of Jesus. This, of all things in our lives right now, is the one that breaks my heart the most. It's the wonderful people who claim to love Jesus, but are too caught up in their own interests-too busy to participate in the things of Jesus and to be with a few. When you're too busy seeking after your own interests and not the things of Jesus, then being a spectator at the best show in town is all you need.

So, how do you stack up with these 3 observations? Do you have a genuine concern for other believers? Are you participating with a few who are stubbornly supporting one another in this Jesus journey? Are you too caught up in seeking after your own interests and not the interests of Jesus?

Jesus is looking for a few revolutionaries who are willing to follow Him and Him alone, will give themselves to others and who will make their primary interests the things of Jesus over their own. Will you apply for the job?

Philippians 2:12-13


12So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

These two verses are a dynamic duo for walking the walk! Verse 12 will scare you to death! "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Most people read this, stop and shudder a bit. "Work out your own salvation." What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean that you have to work hard enough to earn your salvation. That would be totally contrary to everything taught throughout Scripture. There are two ways of thinking about this:

1. I am to "work out" into my life-into my behavior-the salvation work of God that is on the inside of my heart. I have His salvation inside. Now I must work it out into my lifestyle.

2. I am to "work out" my salvation to its completion. In other words, I am to stubbornly remain obedient in working my salvation into my lifestyle until the end.

Then, it says, "with fear and trembling." This simply means that this is a serious matter and must be carefully and cautiously worked out into my life. Note that to NOT work it out would be to be a spectator among the fellowship or maybe a 'secret service' believer rather than being a participator in the process or working it out. God's salvation is a supernatural work in my life, but He expects me to complete His work of salvation by working it out into my life. This proves that it is the real thing!

Verse 13 will empower you beyond yourself! Now, if you read on to this verse, you will get the entire context of your walk with Jesus, "for it is God who is at work in you, both to the willing and working for His good pleasure." Through this salvation process, God is already at work IN YOU personally to bring about the willing and the doing of the "working out" your salvation into your life.

So, isn't this a bit contradictory? In verse 12 it is saying that I am to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling and in verse 13 it says that God is already at work in me to work it out. So which is it? Do I work it out into my life or does God do it? This is the classic question of the walk of faith. Think about it-THE WALK OF FAITH. The WALK (that's what you do) of FAITH (that's what God does). It's the same balance throughout the Scriptures-100% from God and 100% from man! Now, don't get too haughty about your percentage. God' 100% is so much more than yours! But I am to do all that I can do BY FAITH that God will do all that He can do in working out my own salvation into my life and my behavior.

Think of it! By faith Noah built a boat. If Noah had built the ark like most believers live by faith, that boat would have never been built. Noah had to work very hard, building that ark. But he did his best (his 100%) by faith that God was already at work (His 100%). This principle is everywhere you look! My favorite is found in the miracles of Jesus. Jesus involved His disciples in filling the waterpots at the wedding and pouring out the wine; Jesus is the one who changed the water into wine. At the death and burial of Lazarus, Jesus showed up 4 days after his death. Then he asked where they laid him, had them move away the stone from the tomb and take off the grave-clothes, but only Jesus could resurrect Lazarus from the dead.

YOU DO THE POSSIBLE BY FAITH THAT GOD WILL BE ALREADY AT WORK DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE. That's the principle and it is still that way today in your life. This principle is all summed up in these words: 20"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20). That's it! Each day I am to work out the supernatural work of God that He has performed in my heart, knowing that He is already at work inside me to empower the willing and the doing. He is already working in me.

It's a supernatural partnership with the God of gods. I must do all that I can do-my best, by faith that God is doing what He can do (His best) in my life. Now if that doesn't motivate you, then you may already be in need of the local mortuary and don't know it. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."