Monday, September 17, 2018

 

Psalm 2 Four Voices

Psalm 2 Four Voices

1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,

3 "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us."

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.

5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

6 "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill."

7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

 

Poet Robert Browning wrote, "God's in his heaven‑‑all's right with the world." Where in the world was he? As we look at reality, we have to question Browning. God is in heaven, but all is not right with the world!

Since the beginning of time, the world has known strife. The history of man is essentially the history of war. One of the earliest of all historical records, a Sumerian bas‑relief from Babylon (ca. 3000 B.C.), shows soldiers fighting in close order, wearing helmets and carrying shields (James Boice, The Last and Future World [Zondervan], p. 98). There have been almost non-stop wars ever since.

In our century, World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. About 20 million people were killed. Soon after the world was locked into World War II, which claimed 60 million lives. The December 25, 1967, U. S. News & World Report wrote, "Since World War II [there have been] at least 12 limited wars in the world, 39 political assassinations, 48 personal revolts, 74 rebellions for independence, 162 social revolutions, either political, economical, racial, or religious" (the figures and quote are from Boice, p. 99).

Obviously these figures would have to be revised upward significantly in the 25+ years since then. We've seen war between Russia and Afghanistan, China and Vietnam, Vietnam and Cambodia, Iraq and Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, and the current war in Bosnia. There have been and still are numerous regional conflicts and violence: Northern Ireland, South Africa, Lebanon, Israel, Azerbaijan, India, Panama, Peru, Colombia, etc. Our own country faces continued racial tensions, a rising crime rate, gang wars, random violence, and increasing moral degeneracy. Instead of agreeing with Browning that "all is right with the world," we would probably be more inclined to side with the guy who wrote this limerick:

God's plan made a hopeful beginning,

But man spoiled his chances by sinning,

We trust that the story

Will end in God's glory,

But at present the other side's winning. (Boice, pp. 124‑125.)

Is the world out of control? How should we view the present world chaos? Should we sink into depression and despair? Should we ignore the world and its news, ostrich‑style? Psalm 2 gives us an answer. In it, the author, King David (see Acts 4:25), views the rebellion of the nations against God. He looks at the chaos of the world scene in his day and says that

Though the nations have rebelled against God, He is sovereign; thus, we must submit to Him while there is time.

Even though the world scene looks as if God has been on an extended vacation, David shows us that God's plans have not failed and shall not fail. Everything is under His sovereign control and He will ultimately triumph in His ordained time. Thus David appeals to the rebellious nations to bow before the Almighty God while they still have time.

Structure and background of the Psalm:

Psalm 2 is the most frequently quoted psalm in the New Testament. It fits together in an interesting way with Psalm 1 to introduce the Book of Psalms. Psalm 1 begins with, "How blessed"; Psalm 2 ends with the same word (in Hebrew). Psalm 1 ends with a threat; Psalm 2 begins with a threat. In Psalm 1, the godly man meditates on God's law; in Psalm 2, the wicked meditates (NASB = "devising," NIV = "plot"; same Hebrew word) on how to cast off the rule of God. In Psalm 1 the theme is the contrast between the righteous and the wicked person; in Psalm 2 the theme is the contrast between the rebellion of wicked rulers and nations and the rule of God's righteous Messiah. Psalm 1 consists of two stanzas and six verses. Psalm 2 is twice as long, consisting of four stanzas and 12 verses.

The Psalm is structured as a dramatic presentation in four acts. In Act One (2:1‑3), David raises the question about the chaos in the world, and the kings and rulers come forth in a chorus to say their lines (2:3). In Act Two (2:4‑6), God calmly sits upon His throne in heaven and speaks His line against the rulers (2:6). In Act Three (2:7‑9), God's Anointed One speaks and reveals God's decree or predetermined plan for dealing with man's rebellion. In Act Four (2:10‑12), the psalmist speaks out again, giving a closing appeal in light of the previous acts.

The psalm goes far beyond David's experience. It is ultimately fulfilled only in God's Anointed (Hebrew, "Messiah"), God's Son who is also David's son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David wrote this psalm not only about himself, but in a deeper and much more complete way, about Messiah Jesus.

Psalms 1 and 2 serve as the preface to the psalter. These twin songs began and end with the theme of blessedness (1:1; 2:12). Kidner helpfully points out, "the private world of the first Psalm opens out into the public world of the second; the personal is followed by the cosmic…one is domestic and the other international" (p. 23). Further, what we see is that the blessed Man of Psalm 1 becomes and is the Messiah-King of Psalm 2. The blessed righteous of Psalm 1 are the blessed humble who trust this King in Psalm 2. The wicked scoffers in Psalm 1 are the foolish rebels in Psalm 2. It is possible that Psalm 1 and 2 were incorporated into 1 Psalm.

This Psalm finds its climatic fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. Note surprisingly it is one of the most often quoted Psalms in the New Testament. William Van Gemeren notes the significance the 1st center church attached to this psalm. "The second psalm is one of the psalms most quoted in the NT. It was favored by the apostles as scriptural confirmation of Jesus' messianic office and his expected glorious return with power and authority. The writers of the synoptic Gospels alluded to Psalm 2 in their account of Jesus' baptism, when the Father proclaimed him to be his son (v.7; cf. Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).

The first-century church applied the second psalm to the Messiah as an explanation of the crucifixion of Christ by the rulers (Herod and Pontius Pilate), the nations, and Israel (the priests, scribes, and Pharisees). They had conspired together against the Messiah of

God (Acts 4:25-28). Paul applied it to Jesus' ministry: his sonship, resurrection, and ascension to glory, which confirmed God's promises in Jesus as the Messiah (Acts 13:32-33).

Psalm 2:8 is similarly applied in Hebrews, where the glory of the Messiah as "the exact representation of his [God's] being" is revealed in Jesus' suffering for sins, in his authority "at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven" (1:3), and in his authority over angelic beings (1:5-6). The apostle John reveals the greatness of the Messiah's victory. He was born of a woman but is destined to "rule all the nations with an iron scepter" (Rev 12:5). He is the

Rider on the white horse who will "strike down the nations" in the day of God's wrath (Rev 19:15; cf. 11:16-18).

1.     Resist The Stupid Cry of Rebellion

Thus just as these kings rebelled against King David, so all men have rebelled against King Jesus. The Bible teaches that:

A. Satan is the author of this rebellion.

Isaiah 14:12‑14 describes the rebellion of Satan in heaven against God. When he fell, he led a portion of the angels with him. Under his authority, these demons now wage war against God and the righteous angels. The world was created as the theatre for this great conflict to take place. Man was created in the image of God and placed on earth to reflect God's image and rule as His representatives over His creation. But the Scriptures also teach that ...

B. All people have followed Satan in his rebellion against God.

When Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan's temptation and disobeyed God, the human race fell into sin and thus came under God's judgment. This rebellion took on an organized form at the tower of Babel, when proud men came together and proposed to build a tower into heaven to make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:4). The Lord confused their languages and scattered them, which was the beginning of the nations. The pride of those at Babel, who sought to make a name for themselves, was diluted by being divided among the various nations of the earth. But Satan works through the pride of world rulers to weaken the nations through conflict and keep them from submitting to God (Isa. 14:12). As biblical prophecy shows, in the end times, the nations will come together under a single world ruler in defiance of the Lord and His Anointed. Satan is the main force behind this world ruler, the antichrist.

But even in His curse upon the serpent, God pointed to the way of redemption that He had planned for fallen man: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He [the woman's seed] shall bruise you [the serpent] on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel" (Gen. 3:15). Messiah Jesus, born of a woman, would be bruised on the heel by Satan in death as the sin‑ bearer for the fallen race, but He would bruise Satan upon the head in His triumphant victory over sin and death in His resurrection from the grave. By bringing people from every nation under the lordship of God's Anointed, Jesus, the rebellion of Satan is thwarted.

Thus in His eternal decree, the Father invites the Son, "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession" (Ps. 2:8). Either through their willing submission to the message of the gospel now or through their forced subjection under the rod of the Messiah when He comes to judge the nations, their rebellion will be quelled.

Meanwhile, where is God in all this rebellion? Did He go to sleep? Has He lost control? No, the psalmist goes on to show that even though the nations have rebelled against God ...

2. Receive The Sovereign's Challenge of Reproof  (2:4‑9).

God doesn't even get up from His throne to deal with the vain schemes of rebellious kings: "He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them" (2:4). This doesn't mean that God gets a kick out of man's rebellion or its devastating results. "'As I live!' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live'" (Ezek. 33:11). Rather, God's laughter shows the folly of rebelling against Him. It shows us that ...

A. God has a calm assurance in the face of man's rebellion (2:4‑6).

Mighty men rise up and proudly think that they're so great and powerful. God laughs: "You've got to be kidding!" Who is puny man to try to stand against the Sovereign God? "He removes kings and establishes kings" (Dan. 2:21) according to His will. The mighty Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest ruler on the earth in his day, grew proud and attributed his greatness to himself. God humbled him with a strange disease, so that he lived in the fields and ate grass like a beast, until he learned that "the Most High is the ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes" (Dan. 4:25).

Napoleon Bonaparte, when intoxicated with success at the height of his power, is reported to have said, "I make circumstances." God laughs: "Oh, really?" God let him go on for a while, and then He spoke to him in His anger and terrified him in His fury (Ps. 2:5), and Napoleon came to nothing.

Did you know that God is not worried about man's rebellion against Him? He isn't sitting on the edge of heaven, biting His nails, and saying, "Oh, what am I going to do?" He lets man go on for a while in his rebellion, but then His anger and judgment will come, and man's proud plans will come to nothing. The psalmist thus goes on to show that ...

3. Recognise the Son's Claim Of Redemption

 God has a predetermined plan to deal with man's rebellion (2:7‑9).

This plan centers on the person and the power of God's Messiah, His Anointed one.

*The person of Messiah (2:7): Verse seven obviously goes beyond David to Christ. The verse is quoted several times in the New Testament with reference to Jesus (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). It plunges us into some deep theological waters that we can never fathom. We can never fully understand the Trinity and the nature of the relationship between the members of the godhead. If we could, God would not be God. We can only go as far as the Scriptures reveal, and no farther.

While probably somewhat anthropomorphic (using human terms to describe God) so that we can understand it to some degree, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity is expressed as that of Father and Son. This does not imply any inequality, or that there was a point in time in which Jesus was begotten of the Father (in which case He would not be eternal). The scriptures teach, and orthodox theologians for centuries have agreed, that Jesus is eternally the unique Son of God, second person of the Trinity.

The Athanasian Creed puts it: "The Son is from the Father alone; neither made, nor created, but begotten ... generated from eternity from the substance of the Father." The Nicene Creed expresses it: "The only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Lights, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father" (quoted in Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology [Dallas Seminary Press], I:316).

When Psalm 2:7 says, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You," there are two possible interpretations. Either it refers to the day of the eternal decree, when Christ was declared to be the Son of God and begotten (John Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord [Moody Press], p. 41). Since the decree is eternal, Christ's Sonship is eternal. Or, "this day" refers to the time when Christ's identity was manifested, when the Father bore witness to Christ as being His own Son, which was primarily through the resurrection (Rom. 1:4; this is Calvin's view, Calvin's Commentaries [Associated Publishers & Authors], 2:129-130). But both views hold that Christ is eternally the Son of God.

God's predetermined plan for dealing with man's rebellion involves the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, whom God sent into the world to pay the penalty for man's rebellion (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4). He died according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God at the hands of godless men (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). But God raised Him from the dead and He ascended to heaven, where He is now waiting to return with power. That's the second part of God's plan:

*The power of Messiah (2:8‑9): Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, will return bodily to this earth in power and glory to crush all opposition and to reign in righteousness from David's throne. John describes his vision of the Lord Jesus in that great day in Revelation 19:15‑16: "And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.'" At the end of Christ's 1,000 year reign, Satan and all who followed him will be thrown into the lake of fire where they will be tormented forever and ever (Rev. 20:10-15).

That is God's plan for dealing with rebellious man and with Satan and His forces. His plan involves the Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, who is going to return to this earth in power to put down all rebellion and to rule in righteousness. How should we respond to this fact?

But whether it were man or angel who plied the steel, without doubt the doer of the deed was the minister of the will of God. It is related that when Julian had received the wound, he filled his hand with blood, flung it into the air and cried, "Thou hast won, O Galilean." Thus he gave utterance at once to a confession of the victory and to a blasphemy. So infatuated was he.

4. Respond to The Spirit's Call To Repentance (2:10‑12).


Wednesday, September 05, 2018

 

Philippians 2:10-23 Learning Contentment

Philippians 4:10-23  Learn Contentment and Trust

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.

16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.

17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you.

22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

 

 

This week a pastor friend of mine contracted an infection after a minor  operation in hospital. He died a few days later of blood poisoning. At the age of 40.

Another pastor friend's 77 day old daughter passed away suddenly in hospital:  It's with a heavy, aching heart and plenty of tears that we let you know that our precious daughter, Evelyn, has gone to be with her Lord and God. Evie started declining at around 11:30pm Thursday night. She went into hospital with a faint heartbeat and shallow breathing. Little did we know that shortly after she would take her final breath. She died peacefully, pain free and with all of us - including the kids - around her. It was all very sudden but glad that we got to say our farewells. Knowing this outcome was coming since pregnancy doesn't make it any easier dealing with it now in reality. We've shed a lot of tears but are comforted by our God who declares resolutely that death is not the end. Jesus himself has conquered the grave and while we grieve and mourn, we don't do so without hope.
"Where O death is your sting? Where O death is your victory?..  ...But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:55-57). We continue to hold and treasure the 77 days God gave us with our precious daughter. In some ways "complete" but in so so so many ways incomplete.

 

The Church at Philippi was one of the most pleasing and pleasant Churches in the New Testament record.  It very well could have been Paul's favourite.  Every time he thought of them, he gave thanks to God (1:3).  And, there really is a fragrance about this Church.  

A Church's ministry and testimony in the community should be like a fragrant perfume—pleasing all who come in contact with it. Yet, even in the best of congregations, all is not perfect.  There was a fly in the ointment, so to speak (cp. Ecc. 10:1).  There were tensions among the members. Some may even have betrayed Paul.  Some things still our joy.

Joy is not guaranteed.  Joy is an attitude of the heart that must be nurtured and developed.  It is possible, however, to live in constant joy.  We saw last Sunday that we are to stand firm over our emotions by reminding ourselves to rejoice in the Lord, realise the nearness of the Lord, rest in prayer and discipline our emotions. That's what Philippians is all about!  We live our lives filled with joy and peace in Jesus Christ.  

But there are concerns. Anxieties in fact. Things that cut us inwardly as the greek word merimnao pictures. It is (v.6) translated "careful" is a word that means "to be anxious about" or to possess a "distracting" attraction toward someone or something to be torn inwardly.  In verse 6, however, Paul clearly cautions Christians to place all trust in God through prayer rather than be distracted by things of this world. Interestingly, the only other person in the NT to employ this term is Jesus (cp. Matthew 6:25, 27, 28, 31, 34).

How can you stop this tearing anxiety that develops in our hearts through our circumstances?

Learn Contentment in the Providence of God (vv.10-12) Be content in God's plan.

I have learned to be satisfied with what I have and where I am. (Philippians 4:11 paraphrased)

The word "content" is the original word "autarkes" which can be translated, "an internal attitude of self-sufficiency," or simply, "having enough."

One of the most sought after secrets of life is the secret of contentment. Discontent is deadly to joy.  It chokes every opportunity for joy to live.  A number of years ago, a documentary was filmed about the way consumerism affects virtually everyone and everything. The producers coined a term to describe the toxic and dangerous effects of materialism and consumerism. The term is, "affluenza".

We have certainly seen already, the tragic effects of selfish consumerism.

People are not nearly as important as some product, and you have waited since early dawn to be the first person to get it. This is affluenza at its devilish worst. The truth is that every person is born terminally infected with this disease. It is only one more outbreak in the epidemic of "me, myself, and I". And it just so happens that our generation has for the most part, stopped offering for the generation now rising, antidotes marked self-sacrifice, humility, and patience.

Paul had learned the secret.  He said "I know…I have learned."   What had he learned?  Namely that "in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (v.11).   How can we learn this secret to being content?  

The first clue to knowing the secret of contentment is to rejoice in your substance (vv.10, 12).  You must be satisfied with what you have (cp. 1Tim. 6:7-8).  God has given you to be where you are. Be content! Paul says he learned to rejoice in "whatsoever state" he found himself.  

God knows what your needs are.   Whatever God provides, you must rejoice in it without complaining or grumbling.  The Dutch minister Frans Bakker wrote, "True thankfulness begins by recognizing our weakness.  It ends in praising God, glorifying His Name, and praising His attributes in love.  A mark of true thankfulness is that we love the giver more than the gifts.  When God's creatures return to Him, there in His presence His goodness is experienced.  If we possess this love we always have something to be thankful for."

The second clue to knowing the secret of contentment is to rest in your situation (v.11).  This is a picture of a perfectly contented man.  In jail, Paul neither frets nor fumes.  He is content where God has placed him in life.  

Note, though, that contentment does not mean you are self-satisfied.  You should not be satisfied to be an office assistant when your abilities can make you president of a company.  

Now it's our turn. What does the sovereignty of God mean for us, in practical terms?

Our God is so sovereign that he can be present in our darkest hours.

Jesus promised, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew28:20). David could pray with gratitude, "In your presence there is fullness of joy" (Psalm 16:11).

Scripture assures us: "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth" (Psalm 145:18). Jesus tells us, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).

Have you opened the door to your Savior today?

The Stoic philosophers used it to mean that nothing or no one outside of ones self—including God—was required for self-fulfilment.  They needed no one.   Paul took the word and employed it in a way unacceptable to the self-satisfied Stoics.  For Paul, "contentment" meant "self-surrender".  It means a relationship with Jesus Christ which keeps the soul unbroken regardless of circumstances.

Charles Spurgeon, the eloquent pastor and teacher in England during the 1800s, wrote in his devotional regarding this particular verse these words,

We need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education. But contentment must be cultivated. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented without learning, or learn without discipline. Contentment is never exercised naturally, but is a science to be acquired gradually. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content[ment]. Warren Wiersbe wrote that it is the disciplined mind that views life, not as a series of accidents, but as a series of appointments. Learn to be content. Learn to say I am under the eye of God. Sing "His eye is one the sparrow and I know He cares for me!"

Know that I am under the Mighty Hand of God. He undertakes!

Learn Consciousness of the Power of God

Contentment does not come to you because you have conquered your circumstances, but because you have learned to live with them. But how can you learn to live with prosperity or poverty? The idea here is like that of a pacemaker. The pacemaker attached to a person's heart doesn't work 24/7, otherwise you'd have to have the battery changed weekly. It kicks in when the heart stops. In the same way, when our circumstances get on top of us, the Lord has promised his strength in our needs.

This verse is often taken out of context to apply to just about anything. However, the context of this verse indicates that the "all things" that Paul is referring to are the extremes of life. He is saying, "I can endure the loss of my rights; I can live through the loss of food and comfort; I can survive even this imprisonment with joy – with inner satisfaction that expresses itself in terms of contentment."

One commentator suggested that Paul is also perhaps hinting at the voluntary surrender of his own

rights to the early church as he is maligned, mistreated, misinterpreted, and even ignored in his incarceration.

Learn a consciousness of your true strength (v.13).   What Paul did say was "I can do…through Christ".  This is the language of Paul and it is the language of power!  The dynamo of contentment is revealed here—the dynamite of the Christian life.  The believer is infused with the very power of Christ Himself, Who, as the verb tense indicates, "keeps on" pouring the power of God into my life. 

Paul is also saying, "I can handle the heights of accomplishment, success, and wealth, and plenty of food and comfortable surroundings – I can respond to this with humility, grace, and gratitude." In other words, "I can handle the extremes of life with balance and grace; I can be satisfied with life on either end of the spectrum." How? "Through the power of Christ who lives within me." J. B. Phillips translates this verse, "I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me."

"I can't" is the language of a pessimist and Paul was no pessimist.  In fact, no Christian can be a pessimist if they are living the Christian life.  Note also that "I can" is the language of presumption.  It reveals the inner ego out of control.  And Paul's ego was not the problem here.  

Consciousness of Christ's strengthening of you is a key to overcoming worry, fear and doubt.  Discontentment is a rapid killer which drains every bit of joy from the believer's life.  How content is your life? Do you see your struggles as chance to demonstrate the power of Christ residing in you?

Two: Our God is so sovereign that he can meet our needs by his grace.

"There will be deserts in your Christian pilgrimage, but God will provide streams to supply your needs, for the will of God never leads where the grace of God cannot sustain."

This is why we can "with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

Have you brought your need to the throne of grace today?

 

Learn Cooperation in the Purposes of God

First, Paul speaks of the beauty of giving (vv.14-18).  His reception of the gift the Church sent him was the actual occasion of the writing of Philippians.  Three things happen every time we give.  

First, our giving blesses others.  Paul spoke of the Philippians' giving as "you communicated" (v.15).  They actually shared in Paul's needs.    It encouraged his heart since "no Church" but them gave.

Secondly, giving also enriches us.  Paul speaks of "fruit that may abound to your account" (v.17).  He clearly is indicating that since the Church gave, fruit would be multiplied back to them.  

Jesus said "lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven…" (Matt. 6:20).  Too many people assume happiness is in getting.  To the contrary, according to the Bible, happiness and joy is in giving.  

Giving also pleases God. Paul calls their giving "sacrifice" (v.18).  For God, the giving we do is a sweet smelling aroma to God.  That's the beauty of giving.

Learn Confidence in the Promises of God 4:19,20  God will provide for you.

Paul is coming to the close of the letter he penned to his favourite Church.  He offers them a thank you note for the fellowship and support they'd given him through the years.  As he does, he reveals a subtle but real threat to the Philippian Church—beneath their glowing fellowship lay a paralyzing distrust in the full promises of God to meet their every need.  

He writes "But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (v.19).  Paul uses the generosity of the Philippians themselves to teach them a final lesson about God provision (v.18). Paul speaks of the bounty of God (vv.19-20).   This must be kept in context.  God will supply the needs of those who give to others.  When your giving pleases Him, He will supply your needs. "Supply" literally means "fill to full".  

God is the source of that supply. He is "my God".  The mighty and majestic God is "my God"!  He is my source!  His riches include goodness (Rom. 2:4), grace (Eph. 1:7) and glory Eph. 1:18).  Paul said "my" God.  That brings a personal aspect to view.  

 God is the scope of that supply. What a promise.  He can meet them all—"My God shall supply all your need".   

Note the promise is not to fulfil all your greed.  God is not a cosmic bellboy.  He has no buttons you push to get your greedy wishes.  He will supply your material, spiritual, social and emotional needs.  

God is the standard of that supply—"according to His riches".  This assures us no request is too big for the bounty of God.  Why then do we so often become paralyzed by distrusting His promises?   A sure killer of joy in our lives is to distrust such a gracious, bountiful Giver as is our God.

Paul's wrap up gives us a summary of what everything is about. It's about Christ!

Our God is so sovereign that he redeems all he allows.

I often restate this principle because I think we need to be reminded often of its truth. Because our Father is sovereign, he must allow or cause all that happens (Matthew 10:29). Because he is love, he must want only what is best for us (1 John 4:8). He therefore redeems for greater good all that he allows or causes.

We may not see or understand God's redemption on this side of heaven, but one day we will (1 Corinthians 13:12). In the meantime, we can rest in the fact that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28 NIV).

Where do you need the redemption of God?

 

Learn that Christ can  be your God.  4:21-23

1) We are His saints. 4:21-22

2) We have His grace. 4:23

Paul speaks of the benediction of grace (vv.21-23).  He wraps up the letter the way he began it—grace (cp. 1:2). The whole Christian life is a work of God's grace.  

There is emancipating grace (v.22).  Paul was incarcerated at "Caesar's household".  

These were imperial employees, caught up in the decay and destruction of the Roman Empire.  Paul was no doubt in chains as he even penned this letter.  Yet, even more significant was Paul's freedom within.  No chains could keep him from God's grace.  No prison could void the promises of God. 

The grace Paul both experienced and expressed is also ennobling grace (v.21).  He speaks of "all saints".  Many of them were slaves who labored at menial tasks.  They lived a lowly, humble life.  But the grace God gave created them anew as people of worth and value.  

Paul assured the believers there and us here that a Christian is not one to go through life with head down, feeling inferior as a person.  Jesus made us fresh and new! 

Finally, the grace God gives is enabling grace—"the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all" (v.23).  Paul did not know what lie ahead but He knew Who did. And he trusted without reservation in God Who supplies all our needs.  Distrust in God's promises cannot live together with joy in God's presence.  Trust God.  Let joy live!

 

 

"Secularism sucks hope out of a society"

Pastor and author Max Lucado was asked why suicide rates are rising and so many people are feeling anxious. He replied: "My hunch on this is that we are seeing the fruits of a secular society. When we raise up a generation of people and tell them that all of life is just what they can see, what they can touch and what they can hear—in other words—there's no transcending power, there's no good God overseeing the affairs of mankind—you remove that from society—my feeling is that creates a discouraged society."

He added that "secularism sucks hope out of a society."

In days like these, our joyful trust in God's sovereignty can be our most powerful witness. When Kayla Stoecklein says of God, "He has got this," her faith resonates across the culture.

Your Father is still on the throne of the universe. Is he on the throne of your heart?

 

 

 

Fritz Rienecker and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Regency, 1976), p. 801.  p. 562.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning By Morning (Baker, 1975 ed.), p. 47.

Ralph P. Martin, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Philippians (Eerdmans, 1987), p. 178.

Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Joyful (Victor Books, 1978), front cover.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

 

The Attitude of Gratitude that Pushes Christian Progress.

 Attitude of Gratitude that Pushes Christian Progress.

Philippians 3: 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith---

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. 16 In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. 17 Join in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and pay careful attention to those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, 20 but our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself. 

 

 

What really matters to Paul?

Is it jewish regulations and laws? No.

Is it righteousness or self-righteousness? No.

It is something very relational.

Philippians 3:10 That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11. In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect.

Relational!  To know Christ intimately: this is Paul's primary goal.

 

Did you catch that? I haven't obtained it . . . what is it that he wants to obtain; is he talking about the resurrection? In a sense yes, but more than that, we're given a clue with this verb translated perfect. I haven't . . . already become perfect.  It's the only time Paul uses this word in verb form in any of his letters (teteleiomai)  It means to reach moral and spiritual perfection. You could translate it, "not as though I were now already perfected." This is what one author called holy dissatisfaction.  Warren Wiersbe wrote on this text, Paul never permitted himself to be satisfied with his spiritual progress; he was satisfied with Jesus Christ, but he was not satisfied with his Christian life – he lived with a sense of sanctified dissatisfaction.

We Christians get self-satisfied because we tend to compare our running with other Christians – and we usually find someone slower than us to watch.  We need to avoid the danger of comparing ourselves to someone slower than us – and someone faster than us! We need to stop looking over the wrong shoulder!  Maturity, being "perfect" isn't found by looking over your shoulder.

Paul here is comparing himself to the goal of Christ-likeness and says, "I haven't arrived."  But he is also saying "I haven't given up!"

12: "but I press on, so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus." But I press on – (diwkw) – which means to move decisively toward an objective, to pursue that objective.

It was a clear sunny day on August 7, 1954 – perfect weather for the British Commonwealth Empire Games.  One particular event had gripped everyone's interest and imagination. And that's because, for the first time in sporting history, two men had recently run the mile in less than 4 minutes.

Roger Bannister from England and John Landy from Australia – and they were now going to face each other, along with other runners in the 1954 British Games.  The race was being called The Miracle Mile, because everyone expected a close, exciting, record breaking match.  Roger Bannister had strategized that he would relax some on the third lap of the four lap race; he planned to kick it into high gear, saving all his energy for the last lap.  But as they began the third lap, John Landy began to stretch his lead even further – and it was already impressive. So Bannister was forced to pick up the pace just simply to have a chance to win the race and as they began the fourth and final lap, Bannister had already cut the lead in half – and he was gaining ground.  Landy began running faster and Bannister followed suit. Both men looked like they were running the 100 yard dash as they made the last turn on the track.  Then came that moment that would be played and replayed thousands of time in print and on flickering movie screens in black and white footage.  Landy was still in the lead by only a few steps. The crowd was roaring and cheering and he wondered where Bannister was – was he far back or close. And John Landy did the unthinkable.  He looked back! He looked back over his left shoulder, which automatically broke his concentration and slowed his rhythm – and in that split second, Bannister, who was at his right shoulder, swept past him and won the race.

Looking back Landy would be the caption of a thousand pictures.

 

Simplicity

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,

If Paul was the running coach of John Landy, just before the British Empire Games this would have been the perfect locker room speech: "No matter what you do, do not look back over your shoulder – keep your eye on the tape at the end of the race."

Dwelling on the past is like trying to run with a ball and chain around your ankle.

Imagine Paul's problem – had he dwelt on his past persecution of the church; his misguided passion; his cruelty toward the true children of God.

He never forgot it, but he chose to move past his past.  The problem with the nation Israel in the Exodus was that they forgot the right things and remembered the wrong things. They forgot the power and provision and promises of God and they remembered Egypt. In Numbers 11 they said, "We remember the fish which we used to eat in Egypt . . . the cucumbers and the melons." (Numbers 11:5)  We remember Egypt. Evidently we're not going to remember our escape from Egypt.

Forgetting everything about his past failures, frailty, or his fulfilments and trophies he wants to press on to know the Lord better.

Hosea 6: 1 "Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. 3 Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;…..

4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. 5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. 6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

This was the one thing for the apostle Paul.  We should wonder whether Paul's travelling companion, Dr. Luke, had not reminded him of the Lord's two friends Martha and Mary.

Luke 10: 38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." 41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."

One thing!  Simplicity!  To know the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

Like the Psalmist  Psalm 27: 4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

One thing!! Is it your One Thing: to know the Lord Jesus Christ?

Forgetting what's behind, with its losses and its wins.  The One thing today is to know Him.

 

Intensity

I press on..

14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

What is God's heavenly call on your life? It is in Christ Jesus!  It's a prize!  The Prize is to know Him more perfectly.

but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Both really point to that unbroken and complete fellowship with Christ which is attained through the power of His resurrection, that resurrection being the condition of the believer's victory over sin and death, and making it possible for him to enter the "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens". The purified life in heaven is, in a word, both the goal and the prize.

, "the prize marks the position of the goal"

 

When Spain led the world ( in the 15th century), their coins reflected their national arrogance and were inscribed Ne Plus Ultra which meant "Nothing Further" - meaning that Spain was the ultimate in all the world. After the discovery of the New World, they realized that they were not the end of the world, so they changed the inscription on their coinage to Plus Ultra meaning "More Beyond." In the same pattern, some Christian lives say, "Nothing Further" and others say "More Beyond."

This is where child-like faith meets real maturity. A child can't wait to be bigger, and always wants to be more mature.

But I press on meant that Paul had put his hand to the plow and refused to look back (Luk. 9:62).

That I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me: Paul pressed on for what Jesus wanted. His effort was put forth to do God's will, not his own.

When Paul said, "That I may lay hold," he used strong language. "The word 'apprehend' is from the same Greek word translated 'attained,' but with a preposition prefixed which means in its local force 'down.' He wants to catch hold of it and pull it down.(Wuest)

Paul began this verse with the idea that Jesus Christ had laid hold of him. This is an important idea; yet sometimes Christians react to that idea by being passive. They suppose, "Jesus got a hold of me; so that is it now. I am a Christian and I am going to heaven." Paul showed a different attitude, that he would take hold for that for which Jesus took hold of him. So one should ask, "Why did Jesus lay hold of Paul?"

Jesus laid hold of Paul to make him a new man (Rom. 6:4) - so Paul laid hold of that and wanted to see the converting work of Jesus completely carried out in himself.

Jesus laid hold of Paul to conform him into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29) - so Paul laid hold of that and wanted to see the nature of Jesus within himself.

Jesus laid hold of Paul to make him a witness (Act. 9:15) - so Paul laid hold of both the experience of Jesus and to testify of that experience.

Jesus laid hold of Paul to make him an instrument in the conversion of others (Act. 9:15) - so Paul laid hold of the work of bringing others to Jesus.

Jesus laid hold of Paul to bring him into suffering (Act. 9:16) - so Paul laid hold of even that work of God in his life, wanting to know Jesus in the fellowship of His sufferings.

Jesus laid hold of Paul that he might attain to the resurrection of the dead (Phi. 3:11) - so Paul laid hold of that heavenly hope.

 

"It is a high calling because it comes from above, from God; the conception of it has emanated from His heart. It is a high calling because it is worthy of God. It is a high calling because it is so much above the ideals of men. . . . And then this is a high calling because it summons us to where Christ sits at the right hand of God." (Meyer)

 

Determination: Take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of you

Persistency

I press on…. It takes Discipline 15,16 . 15 Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. 16 In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.

Sir Francis Drake to wrote stirring words to Willingham:

'There must be a beginning of a matter, but the continuing unto the end yields the true glory. If we can thoroughly believe that this which we do is in defence of our religion and  our country no doubt our merciful God for his Christ Our saviour's sake is able and will give us victory, though our sins be red'

Expectancy

17 Join in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and pay careful attention to those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, 20 but our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself. 

 

Paul acknowledged there were people who discouraged him.

They would say of Paul, "You are deluded! You're odd!"

You have wasted your life Paul. There you are in jail, with nothing going for you. You have no wealth, no possessions, you are poor! Look at your brothers!  They have lots of money! And you? Ha!"

Satan would say in his conscience, "you are defeated!"

Warren Wiersbe notes: "In what sense were the Judaizers the "enemies of the cross of Christ"? For one thing, the cross ended the Old Testament religion. When the veil of the temple was torn in two, God was announcing that the way to God was open through Christ (Heb. 10:19–25). When Jesus shouted, "It is finished!" He made one sacrifice for sins, and thus ended the whole sacrificial system (Heb. 10:1–14). By His death and resurrection, Jesus accomplished a "spiritual circumcision" that made ritual circumcision unnecessary (Col. 2:10–13). Everything that the Judaizers advocated had been eliminated by the death of Christ on the cross! Furthermore, everything that they lived for was condemned by the cross. Jesus had broken down the wall that stood between Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14–16), and the Judaizers were rebuilding that wall!

They were obeying "carnal [fleshly] ordinances" (Heb. 9:10), regulations that appealed to the flesh and were not directed by the Spirit. But the true believer crucifies the flesh (Gal. 5:24). He also crucifies the world (Gal. 6:14). Yet the Judaizers were minding "earthly things." It is the cross that is central in the life of the believer. He does not glory in men, in religion, or in his own achievements; he glories in the cross (Gal. 6:14). Paul wept because he knew the future of these men: "whose end is destruction" (Phil. 3:19). This word carries with it the idea of waste and "lostness." (It is translated "waste" in Mark 14:4.) Judas is called "the son of perdition," and this is the word used (John 17:12). A wasted life and an eternity of waste! In contrast, the true child of God, whose citizenship is in heaven, has a bright future.

I think all of us experience this at times. Feelings that you have wasted your life.. nothing going for you. You have no wealth, no possessions, you are poor! Look at your brothers!  They have lots of money! And you? Ha!"

And Satan reminds us and our own conscience confirms it: "you are defeated!"

You need to remember that you have a different citizenship. This life is not all there is. If this is your "best life now," it isn't much. But it's not.  You have a citizenship in heaven.

A dear friend, Matthew K. entered bible college after being held for a long time on the Operation Mobilisation ship "Doulos." He had started on a short mission trip on the ship as a citizen of Ceylon. But Ceylon became Sri Lanka. And the government wouldn't issue him a passport. He was a man without a country!  He couldn't leave the ship to step onto land for a long time, until Australia allowed him a visa to leave the ship. For a day.  It was tough!! You are not a man without a country like Matthew was.  Matthew is now an Australian citizen , pastor of a large multicultural Baptist church in Bonnyrigg. You have a Home, but it's not here, it's Heaven. And you have a Hope, but it's not you, it's Him!

Wiersbe writes: "As the accountant in Philippians 3:1–11, Paul discovered new values. As the athlete in Philippians 3:12–16, he displayed new vigor. Now as the alien, he experiences a new vision: "We look for the Saviour." It is this anticipation of the coming of Christ that motivates the believer with the spiritual mind. There is tremendous energy in the present power of a future hope. Because Abraham looked for a city, he was content to live in a tent (Heb. 11:13–16). Because Moses looked for the rewards of heaven, he was willing to forsake the treasures of earth (Heb. 11:24–26). Because of the "joy that was set before him" (Heb. 12:2), Jesus was willing to endure the cross. The fact that Jesus Christ is returning is a powerful motive for dedicated living and devoted service today. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (read 1 John 2:28—3:3) The citizen of heaven, living on earth, is never discouraged because he knows that his Lord is one day going to return. Paul mentioned particularly that the believer will receive a glorified body, like the body of Christ. Today we live in a "body of humiliation" (which is the meaning of the word translated "vile" in Phil. 3:21), but when we see Christ, we will receive a body of glory. It will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye! (1 Cor. 15:42–53). At that moment, all the things of this world will be worthless to us—just as they ought to be, relatively, today!"

 

Sometimes I catch myself saying, when I die will I think this was worth my time and energy?

Are you Loyal to heaven's cause?

Are you  looking for Heaven's Lord?

 Sir Francis Drake, a reformed preacher who preached the gospel each day morning and evening, to his sailors wrote a prayer that sums up our hope and desire. Let's make it our own today.

"Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when With  the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst For the waters of life; Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery; Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars. We ask You to push back The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future In strength, courage, hope, and  love."


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