Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lessons From Philippians 3 - More Reasons to Rejoice!!

Oh what a word the Lord spoke to my heart awhile back! I've been revisiting it trying to get a real grasp of what all it means but how's this for starters? God does not find it "irksome" to tell me the same things over and over! Praise the Lord! Do you know how freeing that is to me? I get irked all of the time over how slow I am to actually start walking out the things that He's teaching me. My obedience lags so far behind my heart! As all Scripture is God-breathed, listen to these words spoken to us through the apostle Paul...

...delight yourselves in the Lord and continue to rejoice that you are in Him. To keep writing to you [over and over] of the same things is not irksome to me, and it is [a precaution] for your safety. (vs. 1, Amplified)

Does anyone else just find that reason to rejoice?! A God like that is one I can delight in and rejoice to be found in! I am so encouraged by these words. My feelings can get so "off" but as I remember to delight myself in the Lord, my feelings disapate. As I rejoice in abiding in Christ, I am safe-guarded against the enemy. Verse 2 is a really fitting warning to me (the Lord knows me so well).

Look out for those... [legalists]...

I tend to be so legalistic and performance based. Legalism does not lead me to worship God, rather it leads to condemnation of self because the focus is on me and I can't measure up. The Judaizers of Paul's day were dealing with physical circumcision. Today, we are being circumcised to a new nature. Verse 3 says, For we [Christians] are the true circumcision who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh... I not only put confidence in the "good" things I do "for" God but sometimes I think I put even more confidence in the "bad" things I do as I sin against God. I become confident that He could never really love someone like me or that there must be limitations to His love for me and I start to act like it. Jumping ahead to something Paul says in verse 15, if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. And this is exactly what He's been doing for me!

The Truth is that NOTHING can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39)! The Truth is that all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)! For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned... (John 3:16-18a) It is ALL about love and grace - His love for me and His grace extended for me! Any striving on my part should be a natural overflow to His great love for me. Paul makes it clear that no matter our background or zeal, we're to consider it as loss for Christ's sake. When I walk in obedience, that doesn't give me right standing with God, just as disobedience can't negate the gift He purchased for me on the cross.

So, I want to know Him more! Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him... and that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law's demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ... the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith. (vs. 8-9)

So what does that look like? Verse 10 tells me to make my determined purpose to know Him better. It's a progressive knowing. As I begin to perceive and recognize the wonders of His Person more clearly and come to know the power which He exerts and makes available in the lives of believers, I am being transformed. It's a process! Sometimes, I learn through hardships and suffering - you know, when you reach the end of your own rope? He does not expect perfection! Someday, I will be glorified but not until heaven. Until then, I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me. (vs. 12b) I made myself a list in the margin. Why did Jesus say that He came? He came that we should have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10)! He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). I want to lay hold of that life and I want to be found - in Him!

Verse 13 says in order to truly know Him, I need to have a single-minded purpose... I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. "What" lies behind isn't only the past failures but also the past victories. I need to trust the Lord when He says that His grace is sufficient to cover the sin and remember that works can never add up to equal sufficient. There's freedom to live in the moment here! I don't need to be bound by what I did wrong yesterday nor worry about what I may do wrong later on today. I can just live in the moment and worship Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly!

So I'm going to press on! I'm going to hold true to what knowledge of Him I have already attained and, to the best of my ability, I'm going to order my life by that. I'm going to observe those around me who are living after God's pattern and follow their example. And where I need a change of mind, I'm going to trust He who is faithful to handle that too. I'm going to listen to the warning of serving the god of my appetites and siding with earthly parties because I am a citizen of heaven. I may be living out-of-country for a season but I know in my heart where home is and I want to earnestly wait for my King to take me home. (see verses 14-20) And I will live to praise Him Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself. Even me. (vs. 21) I am not too big of project for God!

Therefore... I will stand firm in the Lord my beloved! (Philippians 4:1) I pray you will too!

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