Thursday, May 28, 2015

Paul's Example FOR You is Exciting

Scripture: Philippians 2:17-18
But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.  You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.

Insights:  We conclude this week’s Thoughts by Scott with Paul’s example of exciting joy-filled worship to our Lord.  You will recall last week I mentioned that chapter two is Paul giving examples to the reading audience about the truths he had taught them in chapter one.  Last week we looked at the first example and that was Jesus.  Paul now tells his readers to also look at his example as well.  His life was poured out as a drink offering before the Lord.  In other words, every last drop of Paul was spent for the service of His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Paul urges his reading audience to rejoice in the same way he is as they share in his joy with them.  Remember Beloved, throughout this book joy and excitement are being used interchangeably.  Paul is talking about worship that is joyful and exciting.  He is telling his audience the only way they will experience such worship is to give it all to God.  There is no room for exciting worship that is held back for another time.  All of it must be poured out to God and then He is pleased.  Beloved, let us live such a life before a watching world, and as we learned yesterday, let us shine as lights in this dark sinful world. 

1.  Does Paul’s example encourage you to worship more excitingly and joyfully?
2.  Is there anything holding you back from following Paul’s example?

Prayer: Father, let my prayer be Lord that my life is a drink offering poured out for You.  Lord, I want every bit of my life to honor and glorify You.  Let every drop of my life be pleasing in Your sight, O’ Lord. Amen.

The Work of God OUT of You is Exciting

Scripture: Philippians 2:14-16
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

Insights:  After we have experienced God working IN us we are able to let Him work OUT of us as well.  This outward work falls into the realm of service.  Paul warns us to not allow that external work to be full of grumbling, disputing, or even a running in vain.  Rather, Paul admonishes us to work with people in a manner that is blameless, innocent, above reproach and holding fast to the word of life.  I would not presume to tell you living this kind of external life is easy.  In fact, I would tell you it is impossible unless it is God working IN you to enable Him to work OUT of you.  These verses today tell us why God does such a work out of us in this world.  It is so that we may shine as lights in this world.  This world is crooked and perverse, but God loves them.  God’s love is so great that He desires for all to come into a saving relationship with His Son, Jesus.  The method God has chosen to share this truth with a lost world is us shining as lights before them.  Serving them in all of these positive attributes previously listed.  Beloved, be careful how you serve the Lord.  Let your service be light in the midst of darkness.

1.  In what ways is the Lord leading you to work out of you in the world?
2.  Are you serving with the right attitude?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I do work for You with a grumbling, disputing and vain attitude.  Let my work for You be blameless, innocent, above reproach and holding fast to the world of life.  Amen.

The Work of God IN You is Exciting

Scripture: Philippians 2:12-13
So 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; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Insights:  Let me start today’s Thoughts by Scott with the truth that salvation is not based on any work that I do or any challenge I accomplish for God.  Salvation is a work of Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection are the only works that bring about salvation.  God is the One who initiates the drawing on one’s heart to bring them to salvation and God does all the work.  I clarify this because in today’s verses some have taken the phrase work out your salvation as a doctrinal position that one saves oneself.  The better way to think of this phrase is like a person that works out with weights.  The more the person lifts weights, the stronger the person gets.  If the person stops lifting weights, the weaker the person gets.  Paul is telling us if we desire to have exciting joy-filled worship, then we need to work out our salvation.  If this idea is the concept Paul is dispensing, and it is, then how do we work out our salvation?  That is where the next phrase in the verse comes into play.  God works IN us.  He leads us to practice the spiritual disciplines of life and we get stronger, but it is Him guiding us into these practices.  It is Him taking these disciplines and molding our lives into the image of Jesus.  Our worship comes from within because of God’s transforming work as we work out our salvation.  Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Too many Christians obey God only because of pressure on the outside, and not power on the inside. . . .  We have a tendency to please men, and to obey God only when others are watching.  But when you surrender to the power of God within you, then obedience becomes a delight and not a battle.”  The reason for this delight is because of the joy with which the Lord grants you as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  Beloved, start sweating for Jesus as you practice the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, fasting, tithing, witnessing, serving, sacrificing, worshipping corporately in church and the many other disciplines available to us as Christ-followers.  Let God use those work outs to work IN you for His glory.

1.  In what ways is the Lord working on the inside of you?
2.  Are you lifting spiritual weights for the strengthening of your exciting worship?

Prayer: Father, I am so grateful You are working IN me.  Day after day and year after year I become more pliable in Your hands because You are working in me.  Thank You for not giving up on me, Lord.  Amen.

Jesus' Signal

Scripture: Philippians 2:9-11
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Insights:  The last seven words in today’s verses is what the real issue is regarding this exciting worship.  The reason Jesus was selfless, willing to serve others and to sacrifice His very life was all so that God would be glorified.  This issues was the sole driving force behind Jesus’ obedience to the Father.  Jesus desired His Father to be praised and adored.  Jesus understood the Father was the One worthy of ALL glory.  All of Jesus’ decisions were driven by this simple reality that God was worthy of all glory.  Beloved, I am praying the Lord does such a redemptive work in my life that I am able to year by year be more like Jesus and care more about God’s glory than I do anything else.  To Him be all the praise, honor and glory, forever and ever!!!

1.  Is God’s glory the most important thing for you?
2.  Are you harboring anything that ought to be given to the Lord?

Prayer: Father, let my life truly be a beacon pointing and signaling to a world that everything is really about You.  May You truly become for me the most important thing and let me understand how important Your glory truly is.  Amen.

Jesus' Sacrifice

Scripture: Philippians 2:8
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Insights:  As we enter into this eighth verse we start to see this level of commitment keeps getting deeper and deeper.  In other words, the way to experience exciting joyful worship is to be selfless in our position.  Selflessness, however, is not enough to truly experience complete exciting joyful worship in the Lord.  One must also serve others and put their needs above one’s own desires.  This service, however is not enough either to experience the depths of this exciting joyful worship.  One must also sacrifice.  Dr. J. H. Jowett wrote, “Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.”  True, real worship of our Lord is going to cost us something.  The cost may even be painful for a time, but it is worth whatever the cost to experience Him and to know His presence is with you.  Beloved, I think we are really good at identifying the problems of this world, but I think we drastically fall short when it comes to the necessary sacrifice required to fix the problems.  As a result, the problems persist and we continue to complain because we were unwilling to experience the personal pain that was required to fix the problem.  Because we refused to sacrifice, we then complain about others and say it is their fault we are in such a situation.  The truth is it was our fault as well, but we were too comfortable and unwilling to pay the sacrificial price required to see God move in an amazing way in the midst of this problem.  Beloved, let me encourage you to live sacrificially.  I promise you, once you do, you really will not regret the decision.

1.  In what ways is the Lord commanding you to sacrifice your life to Him?
2.  Is your sacrifice really costing you something?

Prayer: Father, sacrifice is painful and costly and I have not come to the place where I enjoy it as of yet.  I understand, however, true exciting joy is only going to come through such a sacrifice to You.  Grant me the courage to live life in such brokenness before You.  Amen.

Jesus' Service

Scripture: Philippians 2:7
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Insights:  Verse seven tells us Jesus took on the form of a bond-servant.  This word is another way of saying, slave.  If you think about the rights of a slave, you quickly come to the realization they do not have any rights.  Jesus is in a very real a deliberate sense demonstrating to us the secret of joyful exciting worship in the Lord.  He is communicating that a life that is totally and completely surrendered to the authority of God the Father is the only life that is truly exciting and joy-filled.  I want you to understand the extent of what this servitude meant for Jesus.  We are told in this verse that Jesus was made in the likeness of men.  Before His incarnation Jesus was not bond by the physical limitations that afflict us people.  Yet, when Jesus became a man, this act of servitude was not just some temporary thing.  Jesus did not become a man for thirty-three years and then return to His former limitless existence.  The truth is the moment Jesus became a man, He permanently became a man for all of eternity.  Jesus understood that true exciting joy-filled worship was only experienced when one completely surrendered all of one’s will to the Lord God and became a slave to this One ultimate authority.  By such a surrender we observe perfect service to the will of God.  Beloved, let me challenge you to strive to live in perfect submission to our Father above and to feel the pleasure of His love wash over you as you obey Him.

1.  Are you living life as a slave to your Lord and God?
2.  Is your life pleasing to the Lord because you truly are submissive to His authority?

Prayer: Father, I am your slave to command and to obey.  I, unfortunately, am not perfectly obedient as Your Son, but I do desire to be of that nature.  Please mold me into the image of Jesus.   Amen.

Jesus' Selflessness

Scripture: Philippians 2:5-6
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Insights:  From verse five to the end of the chapter Paul begins to give us examples of a life which is truly unified and looking to the interest of others.  It is as if Paul is communicating the thought, “Okay my fellow brothers and sisters in Philippi, I know I have been telling you about this joy we have in the Lord through being unified and serving others, but you don’t seem to be getting it.  So, after further contemplation, I have decided that a few living examples of this kind of life might be helpful.  I have also decided to start with the very best example possible of one who was completely unified with the Lord and completely desirous to serve the Father’s best interests.  As a result, let’s look at Jesus and see some of the ways He lived this life of surrender out before us.”  He started by living a selfless life.  He did not have to strive to grasp equality with God the Father.  In fact, think about all Jesus gave up in order to prove He did not have to have a position of exaltation to be in fellowship with His Father.  He left a perfect environment.  He left a place where He was perfectly obeyed when He spoke and gave commands to the angels.  He did not suffer the limitations of a body full of sickness and death.  He left perfect wealth where the streets were lined with gold and He had all the cattle on a thousand hills.  He left an environment that was full of perfect praise to Him.  Jesus gave all of that up in order to show us what a selfless life looked like.  He left all of that to demonstrate for us His incredible love for us.  Beloved, let us strive to be selfless in our pursuits as well.  Let us not care who gets the credit for the things of God, but rather let us point all people to Him, just as Jesus did.  Let our Lord and Father receive all the praise and adoration because He is the One worthy of such exultation.  Let us be selfless.

1.  Are you selfless in the way you live your life?
2.  Are you always grasping for recognition and praise for your accomplishments?

Prayer: Father, I am so often selfish and desirous of personal glory.  Lord, forgive me of this attitude and help me to truly be humble in You and to experience Your joy in my life.  Amen.

Our Situation

Scripture: Philippians 2:1-4
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Insights:  Paul turned the corner as he entered into the second chapter of this letter to the church of Philippi.  In chapter one, Paul was giving us a discourse on the theological perimeters of joy, but as he moves into chapter two, Paul is more practical in his explanation of living life out of joy.  In today’s verses, Paul basically states our present situation with a series of “if there is” concepts.  The implication is these individuals are not presently living life from this vantage point.  These statements go like this:  If there is any encouragement in Christ, then be unified and look to the interest of others.  If, however, there is no encouragement in Christ, then at least if you have ever experienced the consolation of His love, then be unified and look to the interest of others.  If, however, there is no encouragement or consolation of His love, then at least if you have fellowship with the Spirit, then be unified and look to the interest of others.  If, however, there is no encouragement or consolation of His love or fellowship with His Spirit, then at least if you have any affection or compassion of any kind, then be unified and look to the interest of others.  Paul is begging them to be what they currently are not, and that is unified and looking to the interest of others.  Beloved, I believe we all from time to time fall into this same trap.  We need reminders like Paul's to prompt us into more appropriate behaviors for the glory of God.  Live in unity, Beloved.  Live with a view of service for your fellow family members in Christ Jesus.

1.  Are you walking in unity with your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord?
2.  Do you strive to live life in the service of the body of Christ?

Prayer: Father, forgive me for those times in which I walk in selfishness and disunity with the body of Christ.  Grow me in Your grace to see life from Your vantage point.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Conflict of a Soldier

Scripture: Philippians 1:29-30
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Insights:  Our final thought for this week deals with our conflict as a soldier for Jesus.  The conflict comes in two ways.  The first way is the persecution we face in our lives here on earth.  Notice the verses states that we suffer for His sake.  Beloved, we in America do not really face persecution, but that day is coming and coming quickly.  We need to be reminded that persecution is the theme throughout the New Testament for believers.  Second Timothy chapter three verse twelve tells us that all who live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.  In Philippians chapter three verse ten we are told we have fellowship with Christ’s sufferings.  Warren Wiersbe states, “the presence of conflict is a privilege. . . ‘granted’ to us—it is a gift!”  The second way in which we suffer has to do with Paul’s phrase, “experiencing the same conflict you saw in me.”  You will recall from earlier verses in chapter one that Paul was torn between his desire to die and be with Jesus and his desire to remain and strengthen the body of Christ.  In the end he knew it was better for him to remain to build up the body, but he desperately longed to go home to his eternal and true home with Jesus.  It can be said then that home sickness is a very real conflict within ourselves that we often battle as a child of the King.  We ought to want to go home.  In this longing we are able to experiencing exciting joy and worship because we know this longing will one day come to pass and be our reality.  It gives us hope and the power to undergo any persecution we experience here and now.  To God be the glory!

1.  In what ways are you presently being persecuted on this side of eternity?
2.  Do you experience home sickness for your true dwelling with Jesus?

Prayer: Father, I really do want to go home with You, but I know that You have called me here to remain faithful to you and to proclaim Your great name.  Amen.

The Control of a Soldier

Scripture: Philippians 1:28
in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

Insights:  Remember the context of this weeks sermon had to do with the spiritual warfare with which we are engaged.  In today’s verse we begin to understand the tactics of our enemy.  The first thing I want you to understand is that satan’s tactics ought not to alarm us.  We know how satan attacks.  His methods have never changed.  He attacks us with the lust of the flesh, which deals with our physical desires (sex, food, addictions, etc.)  The second attack which comes at us is the lust of the eyes, which deals with our greedy desires (clothes, cars, houses, etc.)  The final attack comes to us from the pride of life, which deals with our power desires (we want to be the boss, leader, captain, etc.).  Every tactic satan has falls within these three categories in some form or fashion.  We can see all three of these in the garden with Eve, as well as, with Jesus in the wilderness.  Because we know these are satan’s tactics, then we don’t have to be alarmed.  The second thing we learn from this verse is that when we remain faithful to the Lord and draw near to Him, He transforms our life.  As a result, our life becomes a testimony or a sign to our enemies that they are going to be destroyed, but that we are going to be saved.  The major truth behind that statement is that God is the One who brings both of these realities to pass (satan’s destruction and our salvation).  Beloved, because we know both of these realities from this verse, we as soldiers for Jesus are able to control ourselves under His authority and power.  When satan attacks we don’t have to run for the hills.  We can be under the power of Christ and remain steadfast and in control of ourselves when these attacks come.  Rest in Him, Beloved, and you will be victorious in your battles.

1.  Do you know that satan’s tactics never change and therefore ought not surprise us?
2.  Have you ever thought about the fact that the enemies tactics are actually a sign of their own destruction?

Prayer: Father, help me to recognize satan’s attacks in my life and help my life to truly be a sign of satan’s defeat.  May my life bring You glory, Lord Jesus!  Amen.

The Conduct of a Soldier

Scripture: Philippians 1:27
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Insights:  War is an ugly thing in human history.  Yet when we read stories like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table or J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, we see the authors use language that depicts the renown of battle and the valiant people with their many exploits of bravery.  From this aspect, war is exciting as we watch evil defeated and the extremely outnumbered champions for good walk in victory.  Paul in the book of Philippians turns the page and helps us understand that in the midst of spiritual warfare there is a place for joy and exciting worship.  The first place he starts is with our conduct as warriors for Jesus.  We are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ and this worthy manner has two parts.  The first part is that we are standing firm in one spirit.  In other words, because we are born again, the same Spirit resides within us.  We, therefore, ought to all be under His Lordship and obey His commands.  This concept is so important to our walk as Christians that Paul tells us sixteen times in this short little letter that we ought to be unified in one way or another.  In this verse this thought is communicated through the idea of standing firm in one spirit.  There is, however, a second way we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ and it also carries with it the theme of unity.  We are also to strive together for the faith in one mind.  As we read the Bible our minds are transformed according to Romans chapter twelve verse two.  As this transforming process takes place the more our fellow brothers and sisters think the same way we are thinking regarding the faith and the gospel.  Beloved, let me encourage you to spend time reading His Word and worshipping together in a biblically centered church.  As you grow, heed the admonition of Paul and conduct yourself as one of His soldiers in a manner worthy of the gospel that so changed your life and set you free.

1.  Are you standing firm in one spirit with your fellow Christ-followers?
2.  Are you united by one mind for the faith of the gospel?

Prayer: Father, I so often want to make people uniform to my desires, but that is never Your plan.  You desire for Your children to be united in by Your Spirit in faith for the purpose of the expansion of the gospel.  May this be true of me and my family, which is the body of Christ.  Amen.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hope Presses Us on to Our Exciting Joyful Reunion of Worship with Christ

Scripture: Philippians 1:21-26
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.  But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.

Insights:  Everything that drives Paul is his knowledge of the life to come in eternity with Jesus.  He has encountered Jesus while he lived on earth, but he knows he will see Him face to face in eternity and that brings about a great deal of joy and excitement to Paul.  Beloved, we have that same kind of life as well.  If we truly are born again, then we will one day see Jesus as Paul has already experienced and we will have the same exciting joy as well.  Our lives ought to reflect such joy and excitement in our daily lives.  We ought to be people who encounter a lost world and the lost world asks the question, “Why are these people so different from me?”  We then need to tell them why we are different.  We need to tell them about our hope that presses us on to our reunion with Jesus.  Our lives ought to be like binoculars for a lost world and when they look through us, their binoculars in this illustration, they ought to see Jesus big and bold.  When people look through the lens of your life, I do pray it is Jesus they see.  If for some reason it is not, then repent and ask the Lord to further transform your life into the image of Jesus.  Continue to be pliable and moldable in His hands and may you have a deep longing for your reunion with Jesus throughout the entire process.  Come Lord Jesus, come!

1.  Are you looking forward to your eternal reunion with Jesus?
2.  Do you know the only way you will have that reunion is if Jesus is Lord of your life?

Prayer: Father, I can’t wait to get home.  So many things here on earth I don’t understand, but I long for the day I am with You unfettered by this sinful world in which I presently reside.  Come Lord Jesus, come.  Amen.

Hope is the Result of Exciting Joyful Worship

Scripture: Philippians 1:18f-20
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

Insights:  Paul has told us about his imprisonment for the proclamation of the gospel.  He has told us about his joy in the proclamation of the gospel by those who have impure motives.  Now he is telling us that he knows that through the Spirit and the prayers of the saints that he will be delivered.  This deliverance Paul is referring to is not an earthly deliverance, though I know he would have rejoiced in that as well, but in an eternal deliverance.  His hope is built on the fact that God is going to take him home one day.  It is for this reason that Paul tells us that Jesus is going to be exalted whether by life or by death.  If he remains alive, then he will keep on proclaiming Jesus as the Lord and Savior of the world and people will get saved.  If he dies, then he goes to be reunited forever more with his true love, Jesus.  Either way, by life or by death, Paul wins and he is excited about this kind of hopeful prospect in the Lord.  Beloved, it is my earnest prayer that we all begin to live life with this kind of fervency and hope.  May we understand our position as winners no matter what comes our way.  Let is always be bold, as Paul was bold, in our proclamation of the gospel.  May our words lead many to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Put your hope in Him and you will never be sorry because He is always faithful.

1.  Would you characterize your life as being hope-filled or hopeless?
2.  Do you know that your only true hope can be found in a relationship with Jesus?

Prayer: Father, my hope is found in You and You alone.  Thank You that I know one day you will deliver me from this world into Your glorious kingdom.  Amen.

Joyful Worship is the Result of Exciting Proclamation

Scripture: Philippians 1:15-18e
Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

Insights:  If you have read my blogs for any length of time, then you know that from time to time I rant about the Word of Faith movement, also know as, the name it and claim it prosperity gospel.  They are preaching Jesus, in my opinion, from false motives.  They are stealing from people and lining their pockets with money form their converts.  Many of these followers of their gospel don’t have enough money to support themselves, but because they have bought into his prosperity lie, they give out of faith and make these TV preachers all the more wealthy.  Now, here is where I have to step on my own toes.  Even though I do not like what they are doing to people and the lies they tell, most of these preachers do preach that Jesus is the only way to heaven.  For this fact alone, I ought to be like Paul and rejoice in the proclamation of the gospel and worship the Lord for the lives that have been changed.  I will tell you that I am letting the Lord work on my heart regarding this situation.  I would challenge you to ask the Lord to examine your heart and reveal to you if you are proclaiming the gospel with pure motives or selfish motives.  If He reveals that your motives are impure, then repent and ask the Lord to do a redemptive work in your heart and start proclaiming the gospel with a renewed zeal and passion for His glory.

1.  Are you proclaiming Jesus out of selfish ambitions or out of pure motives?
2.  Are you able to worship as a result of the Lord’s promptings to proclaim His good news?

Prayer: Father, thank You for empowering me to share the love of Jesus with other people.  Let the well spring of joy overflow into worship as I proclaim the gospel.  Amen.

Difficult Times Refine Us for Exciting Proclamation

Scripture: Philippians 1:12-14
Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

Insights:  Richard Melick wrote, “All events could be redeemed for the Lord’s sake.”  Paul, as we learned last week, has been put in prison for the proclamation of the gospel.  I will speak only on my behalf, but if this occurred to me, I would probably be belly aching and complaining about the injustice of it all.  Paul, on the other hand, rejoices and worships God because he accepts the Lord’s refining process.  Paul sees his situation as a way to be chained to four different groups of guards each day.  He is looking at the prospects of the expansion of the gospel.  We know that some of these guards and even members of the emperor’s very family came to know the Lord Jesus because of Paul’s circumstances.  God redeemed Paul’s situation for His glory.  Beloved, the Lord does this in our lives as well.  He allows us to go through hard times in order to make us more dependent upon Him.  As we grow more dependent on Him, the better we are able to proclaim the gospel.  The more we proclaim the gospel, the more exciting our Christian walk becomes.  Let me challenge you to not resist the Lord’s teaching moments through the tough times, but rather embrace them and look forward with eager anticipation as to what He is going to do in you through this process.  If you will let Him work, then you will be a different person in a year from now.  He will continue to redeem your life and your situations.

1.  Are you currently facing a difficult season in your life?
2.  Do you understand the Lord may be using this time to refine your worship of Him?

Prayer: Father, I do not enjoy difficult seasons in my life, but I am grateful for what it does in me.  I am glad those events point me to You and You use them to make me a better worshipper of You.  Amen.

Exciting Worship Matures with Family

Scripture: Philippians 1:9-11
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Insights:  This weeks final thought deals with God’s work in maturing us in our faith through our family.  God puts our family in our lives to help encourage, strengthen, shape, disciple and mold us into the image of Jesus.  As the Lord is using our family to do this He is training us up to know and recognize Him better and better.  We develop knowledge from His Word and His Spirit grants us discernment.  We are able to prove the things are that excellent and good.  As a result, we are able to walk in a manner that is both sincere and blameless until Jesus takes us to our eternal home.  The body of Christ helps in this journey and is used by God to work on us.  This transforming work can be very exciting and can even be a very worshipful experience.  Now it is true that often times this transforming work is painful, but even in the midst of the pain, we can rejoice and declare this is an exciting time because the Lord is doing a work in me and using my family to help in the process.  When we are able to recognize this truth, it can help us worship this good and just King properly.  Beloved, don’t fight His transforming work.  Don’t resist the church body when they encourage you to walk more faithfully with Jesus.  Rather see these moments as God’s way of making you into a person who will experience much growth over the next year and worship the Lord for such a blessing.  To His great name be praise.

1.  Is there a distinct difference in the person you are today as compared to the person you were one year ago?
2.  Have you embraced the transforming work of Jesus in your life and have you surrendered to His purging work of making you more like Him?

Prayer: Father, when You start to chisel away at my defects, flaws, desire for sin and every other blemish that my life produces, it is painful.  The rewards of such work, however, is worth all You take me through to be conformed into the image of Your Son, Jesus.  I thank You that even in Your work on my, You are gracious and always good.  Amen.

Exciting Worship Works with Family

Scripture: Philippians 1:6-8
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.  For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Insights:  Paul is in prison for the proclamation of the gospel and he knows that his fellow brothers and sisters in Philippi are also proclaiming and defending the gospel in his absence.  As a result, he is able to acknowledge with excitement the work they are doing.  Paul also understands that any work they are able to accomplish is because Christ Jesus is perfecting that good work in them.  Jesus initiated the work.  Jesus is currently doing the work and Jesus will one day complete that work.  The work Jesus is doing is perfecting us for the day of our glorious entrance into His eternal kingdom.  The predominant way Jesus does this work in us is by having us work while we are here.  Paul proclaimed and is now in prison and he is still proclaiming.  This family in Philippi is also proclaiming and are facing persecution.  Both Paul and these Philippian brothers and sisters are working out of the joy that is swelling up inside of themselves.  Beloved, we need to work with this same kind of intensity.  We need to let Christ do such a redemptive work in us that we understand and recognize that we never get to stop serving and working for our Lord Jesus.  There is no retirement from the command to go and proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world.  Will you, Beloved, join Christ in His mission to make His name known in all the world.  I pray you will and enjoy the exciting adventure on which He will set you.

1.  In what ways are you working or serving with your family in Christ?
2.  Do you understand that it is not possible to be a follower of Jesus and to sit on the sidelines watching other people work?

Prayer: Father, grant me an insatiable passion for serving You and for Your glory.  You are the One to whom all glory belongs and my simple service is an exciting way to worship You.  Please receive it as my joy to serve You.  Amen.

Exciting Worship Prays for Family

Scripture: Philippians 1:3-5
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.

Insights:  Are all of your memories regarding your true family in Christ such that it brings you to a place of gratitude before the Lord.  I can, at this point in my life, not say that all my memories are filled with gratitude.  If we look back on Paul’s relationship with the people of Philippi, we have to wonder how Paul was able to pen those words as well.  This was the same little town that stripped him naked and beat him.  After they beat him they threw him in a jail ceil and did not clean him up or clothe until after an earthquake opened the prison doors.  Yet, it was through all of those things that the jailer and his household came to a saving knowledge of Jesus.  I think it is because of God’s exciting work within the life of Paul and these kinds of results that he is able to have a heart of gratitude when he thinks about his brothers and sisters in Philippi.  Notice that Paul not only had a grateful heart but one that was filled with exciting joy.  He truly, deep down, loved and cherished these people.  He wanted the very best for them and it was because he loved them so much that he prayed so earnestly for them.  Beloved, it is my hearts desire for the body of FBCBG to love each other so much that we are compelled by the Lord’s Spirit’s promptings to pray for our family on a regular basis throughout the day.  It is my belief that if you will do this, then you will be overwhelmed with an exciting joy for your church family when you come to church this week.  May God draw on your heart and produce these kinds of result.

1.  Do you earnestly pray for your fellow family members in the body of Jesus?
2.  Is prayer one of those tools in your spiritual tool box that does not get pulled out very often or is it so used that every one can see the effects of its work?

Prayer: Father, forgive me for those times in which I have not interceded for my spiritual family.  Let me continue to be prompted by Your Spirit to cry out on their behalf and watch You work in their lives.  Amen.

Exciting Worship Recognizes Family

Scripture: Philippians 1:1-2
Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Insights:  Last week we finished the first part of our sermon series titled REAL Worship.  In that first part we spent several weeks learning about how worship was relevant for our daily lives.  In this second part of our sermon series we are going to examine how our worship is also exciting.  Throughout this second part I will use the word exciting and joy interchangeably at times.  The reason is because it is out of the joy we experience in Jesus that worship really does become exciting.  The best book in the Bible, in my opinion, that addresses this exciting joy we have in the Lord is Philippians.  As a result, we will spend the next several weeks in this fantastic book and learn how our worship ought to be exciting because of Jesus.  In many ways, the first sermon point in this second part of the sermon series is exactly the same point as the last in our first part of the sermon series out of First Peter (Did you follow all of that, because I think I got myself lost even while typing it).  Both of these have dealt with our family.  Last time we realized that family was relevant for our worship and in today’s verses, which is just a traditional salutation in the first century, we pick up on the fact that our families also bring us a great deal of joy.  When we joyfully worship with our family we are brought into the exciting part of communal fellowship that enhances our worship to the glorious One.  Beloved, it is my prayer that you wake up each Sunday with an exciting anticipation to the fact that you are getting to join together in worship with your fellow family members.  This thought ought to excite you from the top of your head all the way to the bottom of your feet.  These services are weekly family reunions and they ought to be joyfully exciting.  I prayer your weekly church service is filled with this kind of attitude.

1.  Are you a member of the family of God?
2.  If you are not, what has hindered your birth into his wonderful family?

Prayer: Father, thank You for my salvation.  I am so grateful that You have birthed me into Your family.  I am forever alive with You because of Your immense love for me.  Thank You.  Amen.

Relevant Worship Must Pertain to All

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:12-14
Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!  She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.  Greet one another with a kiss of love.  Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

Insights:  Today is the last Thoughts by Scott that deals with the relevancy of worship in our lives.  The verses today are nothing more than a traditional closing to a letter in the first century.  Many names are mentioned and it is from those names I wish to present today’s thoughts.  I do not wish to focus on individual names from these verses, but rather to use them as a spring board to help us understand that relevant worship also incorporates the rest of the body of Christ.  Yes, there is an aspect of worship that is extremely personal and private, but there is another aspect that is very public and incorporating of the entire body of the church.  Just as salvation is offered to all people, so the natural bi-product of receiving Jesus’ gift is worship with everyone who is born again.  All of eternity, as we learned yesterday, is going to be centered on worship of Jesus.  A great deal of that time will be spent with the corporate body worshipping our Lord.  There is something powerful and impacting when we worship together.  Let me admonish you from the writer of Hebrews to not forsake the assembly of the brethren as some are in the habit of doing, but rather come with a longing heart to worship with your family (10:25).  May your worship and ours together truly be relevant for our daily lives in Jesus.

1.  Have you come to recognize the importance of corporate worship?
2.  Has the Lord ever gripped you by His grace in the middle of a worship service?

Prayer: Father, I am not always ready to worship with my fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus.  Please forgive my sinful heart and grow me in Your grace to long for time with Your children.  Amen.

Relevant Worship Longs for Perfect Worship of Jesus

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:10-11
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Insights:  I love the fact that the Lord Jesus is perfecting, confirming, strengthening and establishing me all for His glory.  I am incapable of saving myself.  I am incapable of fixing myself.  I am incapable of becoming strong and established by myself.  Yet, if I have received the eternal gift of life found in Jesus Christ, then He does all of that kind of work for me.  He is the One who breathes new life into my soul.  He is the One who makes me new and by His grace I am born again.  I long for that eternal worship with Jesus that is not hindered by this world and the sin that so easily entangles this place.  I am set free from my shackles of death and I get to worship unashamedly the Savior of the world.  Notice in today’s verses it does tell us that we will suffer for a little while, but after that suffering we will be called into His eternal glory.  Beloved take heart that your present afflictions will not last forever.  In fact, from the perspective of Jesus, your troubles, even if they last you your entire life here on earth, are but for a little while.  This truth brings me much joy and peace to know this life is the temporary, but the life with Jesus is the forever.  Glory to His name!

1.  Are you born again and ready to spend eternity with Jesus?
2.  Does the worship of Jesus for all time fill your heart with Joy?

Prayer: Father, this world is so full of things that disturb my heart.  It makes my heart long for that day in eternity when I will see the Triune God unfettered by the sins of this world.  I long to worship You because I am Yours and You are mine.  Amen.