Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Kingdom is Relational

"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life." Philippians 4:1-3 TNIV
There are a couple of emphasis to see in this passage. The first is the "reward" that Paul is counting on as a result of his ministry among them. He considers them to be his "joy" and his "crown." In his expectation of what is his in the Kingdom, Paul counts people as his joy. They are not just the reason for it, they are it. As long as they abide in Jesus, he has joy, and he has a crown. This points to the entirety of the Kingdom as relational. Everything about it is relational. Its dwelling, its blessings and scope has to do with the heart of each individual mutually dwelling in relationship with the Lord and with one another.

That is why it is by grace through faith. We can only live this way through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we would just avoid those we differ with and go our merry way. Here we see another way. The Kingdom is relational.

The second item is the difficulty in the relationship between two women who have served the Lord in his gospel along with Paul and Clement and many others. Notice, he urges his companion (Syzygus) to help them solve their differences. He does not regard the women in another category of servants. They have contended at his side. We are not told their particular type of contending, but the language would lead us to believe they also taught. This, of course, is just a guess. Since he uses the same terminology in regard to them as he did to Clement, whom we know preached the gospel. Anyway, I find it interesting that we usually consider them less than the preachers when they may have well been such. Just some thoughts. Their relationship was in trouble - so the Kingdom needed to help - regardless of their role. However, their roles seem to have been prominent. 


When we become inclusive in our thinking, many doors open that have been closed. Relationship requires an openness that legalism will not abide. Paul is busy including everyone. It is this inclusion that is important - not really their role. 

As a minister of the gospel, and a woman, I often encounter exclusion simply because the church has for so long had only male leadership. I realize the difficulty if one believes that only men were to proclaim the gospel publicly and believe that is Biblical.  One must be true to one's own heart before God, and I bless all who hold to that conviction. However, please Beloved Ones in Jesus, let us all get rid of the attitude of exclusiveness in our Kingdom relationships. The women are not less - even if their roles are different. No one is less but all are one in Christ Jesus.

Nothing is quite so painful as exclusion. The Kingdom must be inclusive in all areas. The way we treat others is the way we will be treated. So I appeal to all - let's get rid of any attitude and action of exclusiveness in any area. The Kingdom is relational.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Belonging Elsewhere

"...but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 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." Philippians 3:20-21 HCSB
(Back to blogging and back to study. My husband is home and doing well, and I am rested from begin away from home so many days. So now I am back to our time. Thank you for praying for us as you read. The Lord is so very faithful).

The apostle Paul has just explained the characteristic of what we would call "worldly Christians." They hold on to the name of Christ, but do not have a life-style of discipline in His Spirit. Their bodies demand their adoration. Their spirit is not taking instructions from the Holy Spirit inside, so they are trapped in the prison of very worldly thoughts and living. This is solved in our lives by a willingness to allow Him to transform our thinking by learning to think with Him in and through His Word.

Now Paul turns to what he calls "spiritual people" in 1 Corinthians 3:1. "But our citizenship is in heaven..." Most translations use "citizenship" in this passage. However, it can also be translated "a state," or "a commonwealth." It defines a form of government. So the sense is that as Christians we are under an entirely different form of government than the world.

If I were to travel to another country, I would need to learn the customs, language and the social norms of that country. In the language of Colossians 1:13-14
"He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
So we have a different belonging place - hence "citizenship." We do not belong here on earth, this is not our home. Now I think every believer would agree with that, however, there is a calling for us to recognize this on a deeper level and begin to re-arrange our thoughts and our behaviors in ways to enable the glory of Jesus to be seen through our persons. Our heart is given to One who has placed us in His very self, from the point of reigning on the right hand of the Father. We have much in this country to learn and to embrace; another language, another food, another identity, etc....

Thank you Lord for allowing us to see the un-see-able, feel the un-feel-able and to know the un-knowable in your heart and from your point of view. What glory! What vision! May we be willing to see and willing to embrace.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not Forgotten!

Dear Faithful Blog Readers, I have not forgotten our teachings. My husband, Joe, was taken to the ER on Saturday morning and later admitted. He is still hospitalized. His symptoms have been very confusing and his pain severe. We think we now have a diagnosis - a small kidney stone. We will know if they will release him a bit later in the day.

His pain is less and he is so grateful to those who pray. Thank you for understanding and for praying. I will be back to our daily teachings in Philippians just as quickly as I can get him home and settled. Just pray and we trust I will be back in another day or so. Bless you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Life-Style Change

"For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." Philippians 3:18-21 TNIV
This passage of Scripture needs to be read as a unit. It has much to "unpack" so it will take us several posts, but we need all of it in its context.

Paul is warning these dear ones about not slipping back into a worldly way of life. Our way of living is begun in our mind with our heart's desires. Whatever motivates us there defines our placement.
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4 TNIV
These two passages make it very clear that where our mind  goes - our heart goes; where our heart goes - our life goes. So the instruction and the encouragement is - because we belong to the Kingdom of God, then let's think with the Lord, so our life will reflect that thinking. The caution is against immediate self-gratification.

Our way of living, regardless of where we live on this globe, is determined  by our thinking processes. The person who lives as an enemy of the cross (notice that it does not say, "enemy of Christ" as this is addressed to Christians) is a Christian who refuses to deny their own immediate desires. They take, take and take, but never learn to wait on the Lord's movement in their lives. They choose to spend, eat, drug out, drink out, indulge in relationships inappropriate in the Kingdom, etc.... It has many names, but it is the same lack of willingness to be a part of the fellowship of the sufferings mentioned in verse 10 of this same passage in Philippians. It is the action of not working out our own salvation in fear and trembling knowing that it is Christ in us both to will and to work. It is independent thinking and satisfying our own needs immediately.

This "enemy of the cross" status is a demonstration of a lack of willingness to allow the Lord to discipline and instruct. In typing all this out, I know all of us have guilt here. This post is not about trying to make us guilty. It is instead a look at what the Lord has for us - way beyond the drudgery of trying to get our own needs met. He has a way of living in Him that is releasing and filling. It is embracing and being embraced.

It is a matter of faith. Faith waits. Faith trusts. Faith is willing to "think with" instead of the "me" attitude of immediate self-gratification. Faith is how we see in Him, how we feel in Him and how we live in Him. Enemies of the cross are not living in faith at all, but living to please themselves.

Those of us who live this way, either do so in ignorance of this passage or we simply have not been willing to allow our Lord Jesus to become our primary relationship and source. As a citizen of heaven, there are some outstanding benefits for our life. They are only discovered in a willing faith walk. So may we hear this truth and begin to be willing to process in Him the life-style of His Kingdom. It's benefits are far beyond the benefits of immediate self-gratification in every way.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Holy Watching

"Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do." Philippians 3:17 TNIV
This verse is attached to those following, however, I believe there is a principle here that we need to consider.

The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is instructing the precious Christians in Philippi to keep their eyes on those who are living, working and teaching according to the Gospel of freedom in Christ Jesus.
"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age..." Titus 2:11-12 TNIV 
This marvelous gospel of our Lord that has brought us love and grace without measure has an automatic empowerment of holy living embedded within its reality. So Paul is telling them to keep their eyes on people who live in a way that is obviously God's.

Who we watch, just like who we read, have a lot to do with who we admire and therefore the influence in our lives is huge. If we are watching and admiring examples that are worldly and   not God's, then our way of life and thinking will be compromised. So the principle I see here is to watch and read and admire those who follow our Lord in truth and integrity before the world.

The Spirit calls us to an alertness in this area. There are many distractions always around us pleading for us to look, desire and follow. This principle will guard us in these areas.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Called Beyond Status Quo

"All of us, then, 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. Only let us live up to what we have already attained." Philippians 3:15-16 TNIV
In verses 13 & 14 we have been instructed by the Lord to forget of what is behind (I would include both negative and positive items - but all Paul included was positive which we usually think are our qualifications to work for Him), and then to strain or stretch forward to what is ahead; to press forward into the purpose (goal) for the prize (embrace of all He intends for us to be and do) for which God has called us to Himself in Christ Jesus. I put in to "Himself" because that is Heavenward. But I realize Heavenward also has other dimensions to it. All for a later time, God permitting.

So now we are instructed to live up to what we have already attained. In other words, do not look back and so step back and fall back, but keep the ground we have already conquered in His love. Do not be misled into starting over and covering the same ole' same ole'. Quite frankly this is a call to be adamant about not accepting "status quo" in our walk in the Lord Jesus. Instead, always pushing forward, always receiving more, always moving into His heart and fullness of Spirit!

There is never a time to let progress in the Spirit-attitude and spirit-life slack in expression. This also cannot be left up to others - no matter who they might be. We have in our world today so very much available in terms of teaching and data available. We need not settle for what we have in any way. However, another teacher or preacher or pastor or movement is not what Paul has in mind. He is urging (do I dare say commanding) us to be very proactive in our personal pursuit of more of Him. Teaching, preaching, writing, movements are all embraces to urge us on, but only our time with Him in prayer and Word will do the job effectively. He must become our primary teacher, preacher, encouragement and movement. That is how we consistently move forward in our revelation of Him.

Life gets rather hum-drum if we just let things be as they are. Never stop in Him. Always move forward even when it doesn't feel like it. Know that in Him, as we rest and enjoy His presence and His Word, we are being propelled forward in Spirit through and in Him. Such is our call and our joy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Resting Differences

"All of us, then, 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. Only let us live up to what we have already attained." Philippians 3:15-16 TNIV
I love these two verses. The Spirit is letting us know that God interacts with us and teaches us truth. We know that is Scripture, but what is so sweet here is Paul's spirit-attitude toward those who might differ with him.

He did not say they should shape up and get in line for after all he is an apostle. No. Quite the contrary, he just leaves them to the Lord in full confidence that since they belong to Him, the Lord will show them what is truth. That is an absolutely marvelous Spirit attitude of heart. He does not step into arguing, or trying to prove anything. He just lets the truth stand and does not dispute with others in it or about it.

His confidence (trust, faith) is not in his reasoning ability, nor his own "rightness." He just lets his words stay in full confidence that the Lord will under gird them in truth. He is, even as he teachings his people, interacting with the Holy Spirit. He has not gotten his own person in the way of the truth he has spoken. No defense - just truth and then he trust his Lord to inform all the mature ones to accept these words.

Trust, faith, confidence - all synonyms used for resting in the Lord - faith. He just trusts the Lord to bring His people around to accepting the truth and in that he rests any differences that might arise.

The call is to rest as we work. Rest all in Him and learn not to defend our position or our point of view. How different that is to our normal flesh thought process. However, it is the call in these verses. The Lord in us will rest us here. We will flow in Him in grace and love toward all. Then we can begin to discover the unity we have in the Holy Spirit as those born from above into the family of love and honor.

Verse 16 - tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stretching Forward

"Brothers and sisters, 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." Philippians 3:13-14 TNIV
We have all been taught in the past few years the value of physically stretching our muscles to keep them healthy. It was at first thought we should stretch before exercise, now we know that doesn't work best. Now we are to stretch after exercise. But we need to stretch them to keep them loose and able to continue to do their job.

Well, of course, Paul is not talking in this passage about physical stretching, however, the word used in verse 14 - "press" is also used in Greek for the word "stretch." So we are being told that part of the key he understood in making constant progress in the Lord was to forget everything in his past and to stretch forward with all - to receive that which had been poured out for him. He had been called and that call was to be in and of heaven as he lived here on this earth - called to live constantly embracing all the Lord had for him.This is absolutely impossible to do, if we hold on to any "past" for any reason.

We spend so much of our time remembering. As we age, this increases. However, the Spirit is not concerned in this passage with our age. He is concerned that His people, regardless of age or situation, forget the past and constantly stretch forward. The secret here to keeping spiritually fit is stretching toward what the Lord has done for us and in us in all areas of our lives.

One way to "see" what he is saying is to think of an oil lamp. When we use one, if we want the lamp to keep burning brightly night after night, then each morning the wick must be trimmed. So each morning, that which burned its brightest the night before, now needs to be cut off and thrown away, so that which can still burn brightly will be able to function well. Otherwise, the lamp will smoke and the light will be less than it could have been.

We have been given the light of Christ. To keep that fully operational, we need to be those who willingly trim (forget) what burned brightest for the Lord yesterday (what is behind), and press (stretch forward) into what He has in mind for this day - this minute, this hour, and this season.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Forgetting

"Brothers and sisters, 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." Philippians 3:13-14 TNIV
As we discussed yesterday, Paul does not consider himself as having arrived. He is an apostle and all that, but he understands this life is a process of walking in the Lord with an openness of receiving. This produces, in our relationship in the Lord, an unfolding of Him on a consistent basis - always more - always in newness and refreshment. So he understands position in the Body of Christ is only about function and gifting. It is not about rank. But that is another lesson for another time.

There is one thing he is concentrating on - forgetting the past. If you will review the first part of the chapter, you will see the things he is forgetting. It is all good, very good in fact. It is his heritage, his lineage, his educational and religious placement, on and on. These are things that he is counting as loss and of no value to him now. He is choosing to live in the "today" and its unfolding of Christ in his life and the unfolding of his life in Christ. This is what he is focused on.

Living without any qualification to do anything, except the qualification of belonging to Christ and being appointed by Him for Kingdom movement and development is our life. Whoever we are, and whatever placement our Lord Jesus has given (along with the empowerment and giftedness to accomplish), these are all we count as essential to whatever is before us today. It is a total leaning into His ability in us.

The next phrase is about stretching forward and we will work with that tomorrow, but see that the forgetting is essential. It is essential in our lives of progressive revelation in Him that we hold on to nothing of the past. It is essential that we identity and eliminate all sources of support in our heart -- except the support and care of our Lord. It is essential that no "idols of emotion" be allowed to hamper our steps. No one looking back can walk effectively forward. Have you ever tried that in the natural? I have and promptly stumbled dangerously. So as we process this in our hearts - let us follow and allow Him to be our all in all. That way the next step will be marvelously empowered.

I bless you today, and thanks so for studying with me!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Not There Yet

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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." Philippians 12-14 TNIV
All English translations miss "pieces parts" of these verses, but the one above is pretty good. So let's work with it today.

Paul is saying - "I have not yet arrived." The word "obtained" is not there, rather it is the word "received." (Again, it is not a product of his work, but something that is available in Christ Jesus for him). He has not yet come into the full reception of what has been accomplished for him and therefore he is not yet able to live totally in the items we have been considering, i.e..."to know Him, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death and inheriting the resurrection of the dead." So Paul is letting us all know that he is still in process. He has been taken hold of by Christ Jesus, and now he is in process. One of my friends used to say, "We never, on this plane of life, arrive. We are always arriving." That is what Paul is saying. There is more to receive; there is more to respond in; there is more to become.

He wants to encourage those who read to keep moving forward. The tendency to sit and stay  where we are, satisfied with the status quo in our relationship is something all of us possess. The encouragement here is that there is more to receive and a clear call to interact with Jesus Christ in dimensions of relationship we have not yet discovered. Paul says he presses on, or he pursues to receive or overtake all that Christ has overtaken for him. He wants all he can possible receive.

I realize there is more and that he does not end on this thought. We will work with that tomorrow. For today, let's enter into the realization that there is always a need, no matter what our age, no matter how long we have been in Jesus, to press in further in that relationship for all He has already accomplished for us. Until He comes - either in the clouds for for us personally, let's move forward in our relationship with Him. I wonder what that will look and feel like?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Yet In My Flesh

"...that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death;  if somehow I may come into the resurrection out of death." Philippians 3:10-11 (my own translation of these verses"). 
"...if somehow I may come into the resurrection out of death."  This part of the section is always troublesome. That is why I choose to translate it differently. This is not something "attained" as some translations suggest, because that whole idea violates the "righteousness in Christ" and Christ alone concept Paul worked so hard to establish. So when we come across things in the Word that appear to conflict, we have to look deeper. Paul is telling us that these things (knowing Him, the power of His resurrection, fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed to His death) in his life will lead into the resurrection out of death that will come, not just in a spiritual dimension (as has already occurred when He received Jesus Christ), but the automatic consequences of following and becoming in Christ ending in bodily resurrection.

The fact of the resurrection of the flesh body of Christ continues to be a debate among those who discount the obviously impossible idea. The fact that a body, long since decayed and in worms and dust, now to be brought back to life is seemingly preposterous. It is only preposterous to those who do not believe this is what the Lord promised. Even Job in the Old Testament said,
"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" Job 19:15-27 TNIV
It is clear to me that Job was looking very forward to the resurrection of his body of flesh. So we too, look forward to a time of resurrection of our flesh - because of the empowerment given to us in Jesus. Since He lives in us (our body of flesh), therefore, He will indeed raise this temple in newness and in life eternal.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

He Gave Me All He Is!

"...that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death;  if somehow I may come into the resurrection out of death." Philippians 3:10-11 (my own translation of these verses"). 
"...becoming conformed to his death;" As we worked with in the last post, since we died with Christ and were raised with Christ (see that post if you need review or catch up), then we are able to maintain a life that is conformed to His death. It is not foreign nor strange to us, but is our "natural" placement in the Spirit. We are empowered to maintain a life-style that is always living and reliving Philippians 2: 5-11.


"In your relationships and with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: 
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be used to his own advantage; 
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a human being,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death--
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." (TNIV)

Therefore, we are empowered to embrace and move forward, as Paul was praying for himself to do, in each of these listed dimensions of knowing Christ Jesus. The action of becoming "like him in his death," is simply living in the same attitude of mind He had that is described in these verses. 

I think it is probably the fruitless efforts of legalism that keep us from embracing all these as ours. It is arrogance of the highest sort to consider ourselves separate from His work. That statement is hard on me, and I am certain it is hard on most of us. False humility is simply arrogance and pride.  To be unwilling to believe and live from the position He has purchased for us and has chosen to share with us - is pride. After all, He is seated at the right hand of the Throne of Heaven and He says we are there with Him. (Ephesians 2:6) Such are the consequences of having His presence abiding in us. 

Well, I'm a bit challenged (understatement). So until tomorrow ----. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My True Identity

"...that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death;  if somehow I may come into the resurrection out of death." Philippians 3:10-11 (my own translation of these verses"). 
To really grab hold of the concepts here we need an understanding of the work of Jesus Christ that is seldom taught. 2 Corinthians 5:14 reads,
"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died." 
Colossians 3:1-4
"Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
The concept is through-out the New Testament. When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him. That is counted by God as our death. When He was raised, we were raised with Him. That is counted by God as our resurrection. Therefore, we have been given a resurrected life in the here and now. Spiritually, we are already through the veil of tears and into the glory of the Son. We are in Him and therefore, everything He accomplished is credited to us as having been accomplished in us and by us. This is often called the "finished work of Christ."

My true identity (and all who receive Jesus as the Christ of God) is in Christ Himself. Our God does not have one understanding of Him and another understanding of us. The unity has been accomplished! Therefore I am identified by His words and His actions in every way. Now as we walk this life, we are empowered to be as He is.

1 John 4:16-17
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus." 
Now back to our passage in Philippians 3:10.  Since we have already "been there," so to speak, we are able to embrace the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings because they are ours as well as His. It is not about feeling bad or sad because of what we have done, it is about embracing the "already done" in us and allowing that to cause deep fellowship in our Lord's heart and life expression. Whatever He did and does, we did and does. (I know that English is poor, but it helps get the point across).

So our lives are marked with His resurrection power and with the fellowship of His sufferings. Our embracing these understandings (which are of the Holy Spirit through His Word) empower us to move into our true identity and live in the Spirit, choosing not to view life from our circumstances but seeing the eternal in Him.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

(All Scripture except the opening verses are from the TNIV version).

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Power of His Resurrection

"...that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death;  if somehow I may come into the resurrection out of death." Philippians 3:10-11 (my own translation of these verses). 
  Paul places the first thing first - "...that I may know Him,... and the second thing second, ...and the power of His resurrection." He understood that in order to live in the knowledge of Christ meant that he would be dwelling in the life purchased by the resurrection. Therefore, it would automatically need the power of that action to effectively work and live in the knowledge of Christ.

 In Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23 for the believers there (and subsequently for all believers who would read), he prays things for them that are not automatic in a relationship with Christ. (Verses 3-14 describe the "spiritual blessings" that are automatic).
"For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and your love for all his people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every name that can be invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything, for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Ephesians 1:15-23 TNIV
In the underlined section, Paul uses all four of the common Greek words used throughout the New Testament for "power." He, more or less, throws all the "power" language at the reader that was available in his language, so we would not miss the point of the great power available for us who believe. That resurrection power is what Paul was talking about here in Philippians. It moves, changes, re-arranges and ignites everything with the power of God Himself through a life once dead and now alive.

Every time a sinner encounters Christ and receives Him -- there is a resurrection! There is one who was eternally dead in their spirit, now alive in His life. This is wonderful. Now Paul urges us on through his sharing that he seeks that same power for his life. To live in the power of the resurrection is to live a life not hindered by any fear of  death or sickness; no fear of any event in the world political system or climate; no fear of what may happen around us in any way. It is a way of life that knows it will live forever in the peace and goodness of the Lord. Read the section in Ephesians underlined above and enjoy what is available to us. 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

To Know Him


"...that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death;  if somehow I may come into the resurrection out of death." Philippians 3:10-11 (my own translation of these verses). 
[I am truly not a translator, but once in awhile when I am studying out the Greek of a passage, the translation I see is not identical to what others have written and I choose to use my own "seeing." So this is as close as I can get right now to the Greek rendering.]

The Holy Spirit is continuing to use the Apostle's own emotions to teach us in this passage. Paul has been letting us know he has not been holding on to anything in the natural - but has let it all count as loss (or nothing) so he could have a righteousness that was given - imparted - not earned -- the righteousness of Christ Himself. 

Paul now moves into his purpose in all this loss - it is to know Christ, to know the power of His resurrection, to know the fellowship of His suffering and to be conformed to His death. Most of us are really good with the first two items, but the third give us cause for stopping and pondering. Let's look at all three - one at a time. 

The first is that he might know Christ. He has understood there are two kinds of living: one is according to flesh; the other is according to the Spirit. In the life according to the Spirit, in order to receive this person of Christ - everything of flesh must be relinquished. This Paul has done. A note here: it is possible to relinquish everything in the heart and the spirit, yet be good stewards of those things in the natural. All Paul had become in the natural was eventually used by the Lord in Paul's trials through the years of imprisonment by Rome. To relinquish the emotional, spiritual, and flesh hold of something is to count it as loss, but it still remains as an entity in the life for one's stewardship. There is an entire area of exploration of this thought that would be worth our time at some point, but for now we will continue directly with this passage. 

The passion of Paul's interior being is to know Christ. This was his goal of every waking moment. He understood that this Christ was indeed God and worth every moment's seeking of more. Paul did not consider himself as one who had attained all this - (verse 12), but one who was constantly learning about Him and all He is. 

So often, we think we know Him. Well, if we are believers, we do know Him, but there is always more! There are manifold wonders we have never begun to see or know about His person and His invitation is for us always to discover. He is dimensional in nature - so are we. All of us have people who really know us, others who sorta know us, and others who are only acquainted with us or do not know us at all. Well, as we have been made in His image originally - our Lord is also dimensional. We can have, we can know, we can behold as much of His person as we choose to embrace thorough out our life-time. Eternity will be, I believe, a constant unfolding of His person, His glory and His fullness to our continual delight and enjoyment! 

 "I want to know Him!"

Friday, June 08, 2012

Righteous in His Faithfulness!

"...I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." Philippians 3:8-9 TNIV
The Holy Spirit, writing through the Apostle Paul, is sharing something very important in this scripture. We have dealt enough with verse 8, but I wanted the context of it with us so we could understand verse 9.

He is letting us know that "doing right" is not the criteria for pleasing God. Now, lest I be misunderstood, I want to state to all that I fully believe in living in a way that brings glory to the Lord Jesus, that confirms the "rightness" of God in all matters and that reflects the "holy" status He has given me. However, those items do not make me right with God.

We often get "being right with God" (aka - doing right things and "being right") synonymous with pleasing God. I do not doubt such behavior pleases Him, however, the scriptures teach us that our behavior does not make us righteous nor unrighteous, as important as our behavior is.
"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Romans 3:20-22 TNIV
When we receive the Lord Jesus, He gives us His righteousness. We please God and stand in a right placement with Him simply and only on the basis of Christ and our relationship in Him. Our behavior will, in that climate, find its holy expression through that grace (Titus 2:11-12), but the fact of being "right" with God has been answered in Him and by Him!

Our understanding of "right" will change from humanism to that which is Godly and God focused as we allow the transformation of thought through the Word. However, our rightness is secured in His righteousness - never by our correct understanding and subsequent behavior. This is such good, good news. His love for me and care of me in this relationship is in His faithfulness. Verse 22 could just as easily read, "This righteousness is given through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to all who believe." Oh what an awesome privilege and gift! Thank you Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Purposeful Loss

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, ...." Philippians 3:8 KJV

I know we covered most of what this verse is saying to us in yesterday's post, but waited to have this verse by itself in a post to observe several things.

We noted yesterday that Paul counted all the positives of his life as loss, but this verse goes on to say that he considered everything that was not Christ in that same purposeful loss. This is not talking about what we lose during our life time for some reason or another. Usually we teachers use it like that, but Paul is talking about everything being counted in a purposeful loss. These items are not what someone else has taken from him, nor what life has taken in its regular course of loss. He is in his heart counting everything gone in order to gain Christ.

The "knowledge" mentioned here, is not even the full experiential knowledge that Paul often uses in relationship to our Lord. This is the simply knowing of and knowing about. He counts everything in his life, both the positive and the negative - everything, not as something to be available for use by Christ, but as "dung." This is one rendering of the word - the King James rendering. I like it better than "rubbish," because rubbish is something we put out for the garbage people to take away, while "dung" is what we flush. It gives a more dramatic sense to the passage which I believe is meant by the Spirit.

He is saying that nothing life has given us in any way compares to the "excellency" of knowing Jesus Christ. He also let's us know that if we choose the "knowing" then all other things are counted as loss to us. This is not what we generally think in today's world. We do not see ourselves in the same position.

How does one do this and love as we are instructed? I rather suspect, if we will take it to prayer we will discover that counting all as "dung" is the only way true love for others will ever be expressed.

Paul is using his own life and what he has found necessary to live a life of fellowship with the Lord. Nothing can come between, nothing can mean the world, no one can have the adoration of heart that is due the Lord. Indeed, to know the Lord is to purposefully count everything else as loss.

I suspect you feel as challenged as I do with these thoughts. We are loved in Christ more than we can comprehend - no condemnation ever given. So these thoughts are to challenge us to dig deeper in Him to discover this "excellency." In the "excellency of the knowing" is the power of willing entrance into a mind-set of purposeful loss.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Surpassing Worth

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Philippians 3:7-8a ESV
In our passage for today, Paul has just completed listing many of the "positives" of his life. I urge you to read the scripture in Saturday's post to get the entire picture.

Now he is letting us know his thinking about all these +'s of his early life. He makes a statement that is shocking, to say the least. All these good things, even the things the Lord uses (and we know He uses all things), Paul considers them as "loss." Not as a positive at all, but as a loss. In other words, he has turned his back on the entire lot of qualifications as a Jewish man! Everything that was done for him and to him as a member of the Jewish elite community - gone. Not a part of his life any more.

This would be hard for anyone - except for the reason he did the turning. Once Paul had encountered Jesus (on the road to Damascus and afterward), he no longer had any desire for position or placement among people. It was this encounter that turned his life into an offering unto the God he had always thought he served. Now he had seen! Now there was no returning to what was less than the least in his heart.

This is part of the missing link in our current attempts in evangelism. Most of the time we do not stress the need for an encounter, nor make a way for such to occur. We spend our time trying to get decisions. Decisions will only go so far, then the past and the flesh cravings, which have not been satisfied, return with force, the decision gets lost in the self-need. However, when we encounter Him, when ever we see, whenever we behold - then the past is like candle light in comparison to the illumination of a room full of electric brightness. Nothing calls us back - the comparison is beyond explanation.
So Paul had no need of what his past held. He had seen! "For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." Gal. 1:11-12 ESV
When we truly "see," then nothing can draw us away from following with all we are and have. When the "unfolding" of Him (in Him) begins through the Scriptures and through our lives -- now there can be no return to darkness -- we have heard His voice and have become one with the Light!
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (v. 8a)

Saturday, June 02, 2012

No Confidence in Flesh

"For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh--though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ." Philippians 3:3-7 ESV
We have been "taking apart" verse 3. In this post I want us to look at Paul's bold statement about his own self- esteem. I know it doesn't use that term, but confidence is what we in our modern world would call self-esteem. Our own estimation of ourselves; our ability to function with others in self confidence. The Greek word used here for confidence is a derivative of the  common word translated for "faith." In almost every case of that word used in Hebrews 11, the word "confidence" can be placed and a new understanding emerges.

Confidence is trust. The willing trust of someone other than ourself. When we understand who our God is and what He has completed for us through Jesus Christ and released into us
through the Holy Spirit, our confidence in Him soars. Paul is saying that is where his faith/confidence rests. Then he goes further by listing many of the attributes of his life that would normally cause confidence in his natural training and abilities. He could have listed many more - education, position and on and on. He did list his natural/flesh heritage.

Yet, he states that a person of the true circumcision, the true children of God circumcised in heart by the Holy Spirit, put no confidence in their natural persons, nor education, nor position. Instead, they have placed all their trust in the Lord, for the scripture says, "put no confidence in the flesh." This means, that even though we know certain people did disappoint him, his ability to function and to move forward in the Holy Spirit and in his call was never dependent upon anyone of flesh - his or another person's. He rested all his faith/confidence in his God!

Those who are my students know I find great fault in the term "self-esteem," as it starts with the wrong word and is based in an elevation of self that I do not find appropriate for a believer - a true worshiper in the Spirit. Instead, there is this understanding of having faith/confidence/trust in who our Lord is and what He has accomplished for us, in us and through us. He is more than enough to provide adequate confidence to rise and be and rise and do. When He is our confidence, it does not come and go with the opinions of others, nor the love of others, but simply rests in the nature of our God. We have an amazing Lord!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Expressing Our Lives

"For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh --." Philippians 3:3 ESV
The Holy Spirit wants us to understand where and how our lives are to be expressed. We have already worked with the "worship by the Spirit of God," so today we will consider what "and glory in Christ," can mean.

This is one of those easily overlooked phrases in the middle of two very obviously important ones - the "worship in the Spirit," and "put no confidence in the flesh." So, I know I have, just overlooked this middle phrase. But as we know, every word of the Lord is important, so let's work with this one for a few moments.

The common word for "glory" is not used here. This is the word primarily used for "to boast or to brag." As people of the true circumcision, circumcision of the heart, our boast is in Christ Jesus. In other words, we brag about Him, what He has done, is doing and will do - according to His Word. We are not like those who live in the flesh and brag about their family, accomplishments, education, economic status, position, favorite team, and on and on we could go. Our thought process is in the Spirit. Therefore, we only have one main thing on our minds - Christ Jesus.

I know this is so very foreign to us. Yet, that is the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The more we understand He is Lord and grab hold in our hearts of the awesome work He has accomplished, Jesus Christ becomes our preoccupation and our prize. Anything else, is less than Spirit and would be classified by Paul as of the flesh.

This is part of the process of transformation. You will notice I have not used the word "should" in this post. That is because this is an action of the Holy Spirit in us as we lean and begin to consciously live in the realm of the Spirit of Christ. Our tongues begin to confess the truth of the Spirit instead of the passing fact of our circumstances and our lives begin to brag about Jesus everywhere. It will happen in us as we attach ourselves in Spirit to His truth. We will be defined as those of the true circumcision - who worship/serve in the Spirit and brag on Christ Jesus! It's working in us - allow and enjoy Him.