Coming Sunday Nights Starting January 2014

Daily Distinctives, April 22, 2015 (Rejoice Forward)

April 22, 2015

Daily Reading:

[Phl 2:12 NKJV]
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

[Phl 2:13 NKJV]
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for [His] good pleasure.

[Phl 2:14 NKJV]
Do all things without complaining and disputing,

[Phl 2:15 NKJV]
that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

[Phl 2:16 NKJV]
holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

[Phl 2:17 NKJV]
Yes, and if I am being poured out [as a drink offering] on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

[Phl 2:18 NKJV]
For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

Daily Distinctive:

Okay LORD I get it…Rejoice. Perhaps I don’t yet get it, and this is why He keeps bringing the WORD to me day after day now for the past week! I am sure you know this, but I do my devotionals here based on the Scriptures that the LORD gives me. Sometimes He gives them to me through something I have heard, other times I just read the WORD and the Scripture stands out on the page as if it was highlighted, other times the LORD will use a brother or sister in my life to speak to me and give me a word. The latter is the case today. A dear sister in the LORD sent a word of encouragement and included verse 13 in the reading above as the premise behind the word. I thought when I read it, “that will be my devotional for today.” I know the encouragement was not meant to be a request, like something you find¬†on Karaoke Night, it was a very encouraging word to my wife an I with regard to the ministry. I am so grateful for it. Still, I though it would be a great topic to do my devotional on. I had no idea that it contained the word “REJOICE” in it, and since that has been a running theme here this last week, it only makes sense. God truly does that in my life. It is amazing. So anyways let’s dig in the WORD. Again thank you for joining me in my devotional time, I hope that it blesses you as it has me.

[Phl 2:12 NKJV]
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

This passage comes just after one of my most favorite passages of Scripture in the Bible. You may be familiar with it. It goes, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” and it goes on to talk about how Jesus became a man and humbled Himself in obedience to the point of death and how God has exalted Him and given Him the position of preeminence in the existence. And so we come to verse 12 and Paul writes…therefore, or, in light of the fact that Jesus is the preeminent one of all the universe, do this.

I love the way that he refers to us as his beloved. This term of endearment speaks volumes to me personally. It is the way I feel about my own son. His language is like that of a father to a son. And then he petitions us with regard to our behavior. I know you can track here if you have ever been to school and the teacher has to leave the classroom for any period of time. The old adage, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play” applies here. Paul is saying essentially, “Look, I know how you behave when I am here. You always are obedient, but I want you to be even more obedient now that I am not here.” Paul is laying a mantle of responsibility on the believers that he is addressing here. He is saying to them, I am leaving you to it, don’t disappoint.

But notice here too that he says, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” I want to be clear here, because some people will use this as a proof text for their belief that you can lose your salvation, or that salvation is works based. That is simply not true. If you are truly saved you cannot lose your salvation. If you lose your salvation then you never really had it to begin with. That is all I will say about that for now. Nor is it saying that you must work for your salvation. Look carefully at the verse. It says, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

The term here for “work out,” means to make every effort to obtain. As an illustration, let’s say that I give you a lottery ticket, and I tell you if you win then it is all yours. And then you watch the balls drop and discover that you just won the biggest lottery jackpot in history! You’ve won! It is yours. You did not have to earn it, but you still have to claim the prize. Wouldn’t you make every effort to get to the Lottery Commission with your winning ticket? Well, much like that, Paul is saying make every effort to obtain the free gift of salvation. And then when you have it, live it out. Simply put, Paul is telling them to recognize the value of their salvation and live accordingly. We play a role in our sanctification, we must be obedient and yielding to the Holy Spirit. This is the work that Paul is referring to. It has nothing to do with working for your salvation, but rather, working out your salvation. I look at it like a puzzle of sorts. I own the puzzle, I simply have to put the pieces together to make it look like the picture on the box. But unlike a puzzle, my life is a mess that looks nothing like the picture on the box, but it is God who is putting the pieces together, I just need to fit where he places me. The beauty of it is that he makes me a certain shape so I can fit. There is nothing I can do but fit because He allows me to fit. Now I could try to put myself where I don’t fit. But then the picture would not be complete and I would damage myself and other pieces around me trying to force my way into where I was not intended to be. When it is all said and done, and I am yielded to Christ, then I fit and am completed in His image.

Notice here that is says with fear in trembling. This is not something with a negative connotation applied. Fear is not the fear of guilt, but rather of reverence. Trembling is not the trembling associated with horror, but with awe. And so Paul wants us to be amazed and struck with wonder at the fact that we even have salvation, and then work it out in our minds, hearts, and spirits. Like solving an equation, you have to work it out, and then all at once there is that “Aha” moment. I believe that is what Paul is getting at here.

[Phl 2:13 NKJV]
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for [His] good pleasure.

The illustration above this verse is long and and umm….illustrative? But the verse above cuts right to the point. It is God who works in us. God is the One who does all the work. We are simply active participants in that we strive to be obedient. Even then we blow that often. But God is the One who does the work in us. He works in us in a couple of unique ways. First He works on our will. We have a free will and a choice to serve God. God simply works to guide us into His will. Ultimately our will shall become His will. That is a part of the sanctification that believers undergo. The closer we get to God the more our wills line up with His will. What we find then is a tighter, more unified walk of solidarity with Christ. We move from walking in the outskirts of His permissive will to being in alignment with His perfect will. But even this requires the work of the LORD, for apart from Him we can do nothing. And so He works in us to will. But then it says that He works in us to do. This means He begins to work in us to change the way that we behave. Again this could be summed up with one word: sanctification. God works to sanctify us. And for what? Well it says it right here at the end of the verse…for His good pleasure. God finds pleasure in seeing us conformed to His image and likeness. It pleases the LORD when we are saved and sanctified.

[Phl 2:14 NKJV]
Do all things without complaining and disputing,

I know a good number of people who could stand to put this verse into practice, but I will start with myself. I am sure that there is a whole lot of complaining and disputing that goes on in my own wicked heart. I understand completely what I am and what I am capable of, but I am equally sure of what I have been redeemed from and what the LORD is doing in my life to change me from the man that I once was to the man that I am today, and further into the man I will be until my sanctification is complete. Still there are others who think it is their responsibility to remind me and you about how vile and wicked we are. We call them accusers of the brethren. They run around being divisive; complaining and disputing over every little thing. You would think that this is the only thing that brings them any joy. The bite on and don’t let go until they have drawn blood. LORD forgive me for when I am ugly like this in my own life. I found this interesting quote in the commentary section on Blue Letter Bible that was quite fitting with this verse. It was from Charles Spurgeon who said….

“Dispute not with God; let him do what seemeth him good. Dispute not with your fellow Christians, raise not railing accusations against them. When Calvin was told that Luther had spoken ill of him, he said, ‘Let Luther call me devil if he please, I will never say of him but that he is a most dear and valiant servant of the Lord.’ Raise not intricate and knotty points by way of controversy.”

And yet there are those who will not rest until they have leveled all kind of accusations against the brethren. Sadly this indictment could be justly laid upon some who consider themselves a part of the body of Christ. I think of how legalistic and just plain mean I used to be. I think about how naive I was. And you know what? Today I am just little less than I was the day before. God is working these kinds of things out of me daily and for others He is doing the same thing. But should you find yourself yoked to someone whether in business, marriage or any other kind of relationship  who is less mature spiritually than you are then you are going to be in for a bumpy ride. At least an unbeliever has an excuse. But the point that Paul is making here is that we have our salvation and we should live like we have our salvation, here are a couple of things that can help you to that end.

[Phl 2:15 NKJV]
that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

The goal in God working in us is to vanquish our complaining ways and disputing in orderto make us blameless. This means to be above reproach. We know that the only way that we can be above reproach is to be washed by the blood of Jesus and follow Him in obedience. And then He says that God is working in us to help us become harmless. Now this does not mean weak by any stretch, but rather, that we are not out being harmful to others. He is conforming us into His image to make us His children, whose faults have been wiped away, even though we are surrounded by a world that is full of the exact same things that He saved us from. He is turning us into lights that shine amongst our former peers. It is not by any intrinsic worth or merit of our own, but by the transforming work of sanctification as the Holy Spirit pours into us and illuminates us.

[Phl 2:16 NKJV]
holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

As these beacons of light we are connected to the Source by the Spirit. We must simply hold fast to the Word of Life. That is Jesus. And by doing so we too will be able to rejoice (there is that word again) when the LORD returns in glory! Paul wants to look back on his own life and see that the work that he has done in the LORD was not in vain. That he was not spinning his wheels. He wants to see fruit in his own life. That should be the same for all of us. We must get plugged in and stay plugged in so that we too may rejoice when Christ returns for His bride the church. I, for one, hope that the labors I have made to glorify my LORD are evidenced by Him. At the end of the day, it does not matter what I think about me, or even what my critics think about me. The only thing that matters is what the LORD thinks about me and I want to simply please Him so that I may rejoice in the day that He returns.

[Phl 2:17 NKJV]
Yes, and if I am being poured out [as a drink offering] on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

This is the picture of what is referred to as a libation. It was a customary ceremonial offering to pour out wine, or even some kind of perfume near the animal that was being sacrificed in the priestly work of the temple in Paul’s days. Paul recognizes that he too plays a part in the sacrifice of those who he is ministering to. It is as if Paul is saying, I am right there beside you. You may be the offering, but I am the libation that accompanies it. Even so the fact that Paul mentions this could be evidentiary that his own execution is at hand. Still Paul is glad to suffer for the saints. Notice here that he says that he is glad and rejoices (that word again) with us all. Always the example of accepting the state of being whether good or bad with contentment and rejoicing. Jesus was the leader, Paul followed and set the example for us to follow so that we could live it out as an example for the generations to come.

[Phl 2:18 NKJV]
For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

I love Paul’s humility. I could stand to cultivate some myself. But don’t you just love the way Paul puts himself on the same level as those who he is over in Christ. It is like he is not concerned with title (he wasn’t always running around pulling the “apostle card”), but rather in building those mutual relationships in the LORD for the purpose of celebrating Christ with them in rejoicing (Again…we see rejoice…I am going to be praying about this one). And so what Paul is saying here is that we are all sacrifices for the LORD, all the more reason to rejoice with one another! If we spent more time rejoicing with one another we would be lest apt to complain, gossip and dispute with one another. Just a thought.

Daily Muse:

It was an amazing day today. God is so good to me. I could tell you all of the wonderful details but I want to focus in on something I noticed. It never seems to fail that when you are on an emotional high, the enemy will send in his warriors (sometimes unsuspecting believers who are caught up in some kind of sinfulness) to knock you down. It is at this point that I am compelled to quote some lyrics from a Suicidal Tendency song (but I digress). But in all seriousness, people will try to bring you down. But you know what we have to do is recognize who we are in Christ, and who we are apart from Christ. When people condemn you for being a sinner, tell them, “You know what you are absolutely right, I am a sinner.” If it makes them feel good to rail accusations against¬†you, then the Bible tells us to pray for those who spitefully use us. You could camp out in Luke chapter 6 and get a whole lot of what I am talking about under your belt. But what I am really focused on is not so much detractors as I am the LORD. I am quite content to serve Him even as the sinner I am, because He is the One who is working in me. If you have a problem with the way that I am, take it up with my Father. He is the One perfecting me. ;o)

Daily Prayer:

LORD, I am having a hard time putting into words what it is that I want to say to You today and so I would simply ask that the Holy Spirit intercede on my behalf. I feel much like Elijah must have felt being chased by Jezebel. But today should be a day of rejoicing. And so I will choose to rejoice in You and what You are doing in and through me despite the circumstances. Please open my eyes if I am the problem, if not let the shame fall upon those who have made themselves my enemy. I choose to forgive LORD, just as You have forgiven me. Thank You LORD for the ministry that came to our church tonight for the encouragement and hope that they brought with their ministry. Finally LORD, I lift up my wife to you. I pray LORD that You would pour into her where I am incapable of going. Help me to be a better leader and husband for her. I love You LORD. It is in Your name that I pray. -Amen

About the author