the glory of God

Are You Engaged? 2 (Philippians 1:27-30).

Are you engaged in your Christianity? Are you fully-committed and involved in your walk with the King of kings? Are you an active part of a local congregation of holy ones who work in the kingdom and worship the King together? Almost a month ago we considered the correspondence and the cooperation of our engagement in the life of a disciple of the Messiah. Let us continue to explore this question with the apostle Paul...

Courage....

After exhorting the Philippian Christians to stand “side by side” for the good news of Jesus, Paul writes the following:

“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. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of the Messiah you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:28-30).

To even count the number of times the word of our God tells us, “Do not be afraid”, is quite the undertaking. Paul first tells us in this section of the text to not be intimated by those who stand in opposition to us and our cause in the Messiah. He was writing then to people living in the midst of a pagan world, but our current world is ever becoming more and more like the world of First Century Christianity. Even the Western-religious world of roughly a century ago is ultimately dead and gone today. Living in a pagan world helps to make the distinction(s) between godly living and sinful living even clearer, and it actually increases the faith of the faithful. Ultimately, it should not scare us or cause us to be alarmed... 

But this outside aggression is just another reason why we must strive for close unity with our fellow slaves of King Jesus. The presence of our unity under the storm of persecution is a sign that we are heading to the time when God makes all things right,...and to the time when God brings about His final punishment upon the wicked of this world.

Have you ever looked at persecution that way? Paul informs us that it is a sign of our deliverance from sin and death. It is a reminder that we are following in the footsteps of our Master...for as they scornfully attacked and brutally murdered Him, so they also antagonize us for obeying Him.

Paul then goes so far as to say that suffering for being a child of God is something God grants to us...as if it is a kind of gift. When we suffer for being Christians, we are partaking in the suffering of Jesus. Our suffering due to our faithful Christianity is a testimony that we are unified with the Master of the universe (see Romans 8:17; Luke 9:26; and Philippians 3:10). Remember: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Jesus the Messiah will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Yes, our world is becoming increasingly hostile toward God and all uncompromising Christians, but let us not be ashamed or afraid, for our Savior reigns on high and we are suffering to and for His immense glory. Instead of caving and compromising to the demands of a godless society, may we all give attention to being “engaged in the same conflict” that we see in the life of the apostle to the Gentiles (Philippians 1:30). It is upon this context of unity in the face of persecution from a secular world that Paul writes,

“So if there is any encouragement in the Messiah, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Jesus the Messiah...” (Philippians 2:1-5).

 

For His infinite worth,

Gantt

A "Building Prayer": Philippians 1:9-11

"And this is what I’m praying: that your love may overflow still more and more, in knowledge and in all astute wisdom. Then you will be able to tell the difference between good and evil, and be sincere and faultless on the day of the Messiah, filled to overflowing with the fruit of right living, fruit that comes through King Jesus to God’s glory and praise" (Philippians 1:9-11, The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation by N.T. Wright).

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:9-11, English Standard Version).

Have you ever considered the "building" flow of Paul's prayer* for the Philippian holy ones in 1:9-11? It begins with an overflowing love, a deep love that is channeled through knowledge and profound insights gleaned from learning/living God's reign. Is your love overflowing and flowing through the rivers of a knowledge of God's Book and principles gleaned therein? How much will your love grow in 2016?

But notice the "building" or leading phrase, "so that you may be able" or "Then you will be able to" (v. 10a). Our immense love for Deity and for one another provides us with the ability or skill to discern between right and wrong, to determine the best decisions to make in our daily lives (v. 10b). The popular philosophical expression, "Just always do the loving thing" may actually ring true, if we are using the Divine definition of "love." It has been noted that this prayer is about practical love, discerning love, righteous love, and glorifying love. 

So then, this educated love enables us to live lives that are pure and upright before our Master (v. 10c). The result of this channeled love and discernment is that we produce the fruit of proper behavior in this present world (age) of sin and foolishness (v. 11a). Are you standing today in purity and holiness before the One who holds your breath in His hands (see Daniel 5:23;Job 12:10; Acts 17:28)? If not, why not? 

Of course, all of this only occurs because of Jesus, His birth, His life, His blood, His resurrection, and His ascension to the throne (v. 11b). Without the anointed One (Messiah), none of the above is even possible – Christianity is "inanity" (ianity) without the "Christ." However, all of this is working toward and for one chief goal or purpose: the glory of Deity (v. 11c;). God's glory is a grand purpose indeed (see Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). Will you choose to glorify Him daily in the coming year? 

Summary thought: Philippians 1:9-11 is a Pauline prayer for loving and holy growth in Jesus that glorifies Deity. Let us give ourselves to this end in 2016! 

For His infinite worth,

Gantt

 

*By the way, you can find a similar type of flow in some of Paul's other prayers for congregations. Look at Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; and Colossians 1:9-14, and note the use of phrases like "so as to" and "that you may."