Monday, November 29, 2010
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
"Therefore" ties this verse to the previous section. "Work out your salvation," in light of the preceding exhortation to unity, may mean that the entire church was to work together to rid themselves of divisions and discord. The Philippian Christians needed to be especially careful to obey Christ, now that Paul was not there to continually remind them about what was right. In the same way, we too must be careful about what we believe and how we live, especially when we are on our own. In the absence of cherished Christian leaders, in the absence of people we trust to hold us accountable, we must focus our attention and devotion even more on Christ so that we will not be sidetracked. Our journey takes us on adventures day to day, and we can see God's hand working in our lives, if we are paying attention. By the same token, we can get easily sidetracked if we are not paying attention to what is true and right. So much in this world is set before us purely as a distraction. We must be wise and we must be wary in order to avoid the pitfalls that are common to us all. Keep looking up and all will go well with you, even when things around you are truly chaotic.
God Bless you,
Monday, November 22, 2010
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This is, perhaps, one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible. The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to the Philippians. It might seem strange that a man in prison would be telling a church to rejoice. But Paul's attitude teaches us an important lesson: our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. Paul was full of joy because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus was with him. Several times in this letter, Paul urged the Philippians to be joyful, probably because they needed to hear it. It is easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously. If you haven't been joyful lately, you may not be looking at life from the right perspective. Take this Thanksgiving weekend and reflect on what is really important . . . and rejoice!
God Bless you,
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Let us live up to what we have already attained.
Sometimes trying to live a perfect Christian life can be so difficult that it leaves us drained and discouraged. We may feel so far from perfect, that we can never please God with our lives. Paul used the word perfect to mean mature or complete, not flawless in every detail. Those who are mature should press on in the Holy Spirit's power, knowing that Christ will reveal and fill in any discrepancy between what we are and what we should be. Christ's provision is no excuse for lagging devotion, but provides relief and assurance for those who feel driven. Christian maturity involves acting on the guidance that you have already received. We can always make excuses that we still have so much to learn. The instruction for us is to live up to what we already know and live out. What we have already learned. We do not have to be sidetracked by an unending search for truth. We simply accept where we are, and we move on.
God Bless you,
Monday, November 8, 2010
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul says that his goal is to know Christ, to be like Christ, and the be all Christ has in mind for him. This goal of absorbs all Paul's energy. This is a helpful example for us. We should not let anything take our eyes off our goal of knowing Christ. With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training, we must lay aside everything harmful and forsake anything that will distract us from being effective and productive in our daily lives. You must ask yourself, what is holding you back? Once you pinpoint what those things are that are holding you back, you must let them go. We all must shake off the things that hinder us. All of us have baggage. Some of us carry baggage around with us for years before we decide to finally let it go. It may be baggage of the past, baggage of habit, baggage of hurt or resentment. It doesn't matter what it is. The point is that it is doing nothing but slowing you down. It is time to let go. Strive forward and attain what God has for you.
God Bless you,
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
When we are united with Christ by trusting in Him, we experience the power that raised Him from the dead. That same mighty power will help us live morally renewed and regenerated lives. But before we can walk in the newness of life, we must also die to sin. Just as the resurrection gives us Christ's power to live for Him, His crucifixion marks the death of our old sinful nature. We can't know the victory of the resurrection without personally applying the crucifixion. James says, "Faith without works is dead." This is not speaking of works in the outward sense, that we need to earn God's grace or earn our ticket to heaven. This is simply talking about the application of the new covenant; the application of the cross in our lives. Faith that we have for what Christ has already done will ensure His power working in us and through us on a daily basis. The power to change our nature, and to become more like Christ is not in us, the power resides with Him who chose us. The sooner we realize how powerless we are as mere frail human beings, the sooner we will be filled with His power from above.
God bless you,
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Why does forgiveness require the shedding of blood? This is no arbitrary decree on the part of a bloodthirsty God, as some have suggested. There is no greater symbol of life than blood; blood keeps us alive, Jesus shed His blood - gave his very life - for our sins so that we would not have to experience spiritual death, eternal separation from God. Jesus is the source of life, not death. He gave his own life to pay our penalty for us so that we might live. After shedding His blood for us, Christ rose from the grave and proclaimed victory over sin and death. In that, we need to realize that the victory has already been won. It is time that Christians all over the world take hold of that victory and share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. It is time that we walk victoriously, not in our own power, but in the power of him who had the ability to do what could not be done by anyone else. We have all received a great gift. But some of us have taken it for granted. We continue to act as if no sacrifice had ever been made. We continue to act as if we are the ones who are making all the sacrifices. We need to start to pay attention to the Truth and walking in the victory that He has given us.
God Bless you,
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices, day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself.
In the Old Testament when animals were sacrificed, blood was demanded as atonement for sins, and God accepted animal blood to cover the people's sins. Because of the sacrificial system, the Israelites were generally aware that sin cost someone something and that they themselves were sinful. Many people take Christ's work on the cross for granted. They do not realize how costly it was for Jesus to secure our forgiveness - it cost him His life and painful, although temporary, separation from His Father. Because Jesus died once for all, He brought the sacrificial system to an end. He forgave sins - past, present, and future. The Jews did not need to go back to the old system, because Christ, the perfect sacrifice, has completed the work of redemption on the cross. You do not have to look for another way to have your sins forgiven - Christ was the final sacrifice for you.
God Bless you,
Monday, November 1, 2010
Because of this oath, Jesus has become a guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
No one can add to what Jesus did on the cross in order to save us; our past, present, and future sins are all forgiven, and Jesus is with the Father as a sign that our sins are forgiven. If you are a Christian, remember that Christ paid the price for your sins once and for all. As our high priest, Christ is our advocate, the mediator between us and God. He looks after our interests and intercedes for us. The Old Testament high priest went before God once a year to plead for the forgiveness of the nation's sins; Christ makes perpetual intercession for us. Christ's continuous presence in heaven with the Father assures us that our sins have been paid for and forgiven. This wonderful assurance frees us from guilt, and from the fear of failure. We no longer need to feel bad and beaten up over past deeds that we regret. Christ has let us off the hook; it is time that we do the same for ourselves. The key to living a joyous life is realizing the significance and reality of the cross and finally being free of the past. God does not hold it against you; it is time for you to let go.
God Bless you,