Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Philippians #3 Mind Over Mood

Christians have no business living their lives by their moods or relating to others according to their moods.   Moodiness is an evidence of spiritual instability and immaturity.   Rather, we are to live our lives regulated by God’s unselfish agape love.  Agape love is a love that only God has, but He gives it to His own.  As we allow Him to control us by submitting to His indwelling Holy Spirit, we begin to share that agape love with others.  I invite you to read Philippians 1:9-11 and learn about dynamic, growing unselfish agape love.

 

Love is the foundation of the Christian life.

 

All other religions have fierce, hateful deities. The worshippers do not love their gods, nor do they sense their gods love them.  Hebrews 2:15  characterizes their lives as controlled  by fear and bondage.  They offer sacrifices and do penance to try to appease their angry gods.

 

On the other hand,  Christianity is characterized by a loving relationship with God, Our Creator, as our Heavenly Father.  We do not deserve that relationship with God, for our sins have offended Him.  Thanks be to God, He sent His Son as a man, Jesus, to come into this world and live among us and then die on a cross, taking the penalty of death we deserved to pay for our sins and then rising from the dead three days later to justify us. When we receive Him by faith as our Saviour, He imputes His righteousness to us. We are justified and declared righteous.  It’s His righteousness; not ours, that saves us.

 

Not only are we justified and declared righteous, but His Holy Spirit comes to live in our bodies and He empowers us to live lives pleasing to Him.

 

Furthermore, we are adopted into His family and begin to experience His amazing, unfathomable love to us.   As a result we begin loving Him and  others, because He first loved us. I John 4:19.

 

For us, love is not static. As  Christians, we have the ability to grow and mature by feeding on God’s Word. With that growing maturity we have the ability to grow in our love for God and for others.  That was Paul’s concern for the Philippian Christians and that is the concern of every true pastor for his congregation.  We as pastors need to grow in selfless love for our congregations and model that love for them.

 

 

Nothing we do has value unless we are motivated by God’s love.

 

That’s the message of I Corinthians 13, the great love chapter of the Bible. For example,  knowledge without love is just irritating noise.  Preacher, teacher, remember that next time you stand before others to teach your congregation or your class God’s Word.

 

Romantic love shown to your spouse or sweetheart is basically selfish unless it comes from the heart of one who has been touched by God’s unselfish, agape love.

 

Love without humility is simply proud, arrogant self-love.

 

The use of our spiritual gifts, apart from agape love, is just another pious manifestation of ugly pride.

 

Only prayer from a heart of love and concern is effectual prayer.

 

Growth  in agape love is commensurate  with spiritual maturity.

 

With a growing spiritual maturity that comes by feeding on God’s Word, comes a growing genuine humility that enables us to esteem others as better than ourselves and a growing discernment of being able to distinguish right from wrong and that which is better from that which is best.  That’s what Paul is teaching in Philippians 1:9-10

 

We don’t become know-it-alls, forcing our opinions on others.  An arrogant teacher is so unbecoming as a Christian.  He has nothing of value to share but his hot air.

 

Love leads to excellence. 

 

Do you see the progression in verse 9-10?  So that ye may approve things that are excellent.” Christian parents, preachers and teachers, by feeding on God’s Word and staying surrendered to His indwelling Holy Spirit, we progress in spiritual maturity so that as we stand before our children or our Sunday School class or congregation, we are able to distinguish between trivia and our opinions and give to those we teach that which is valuable and worthwhile, God’s Word.  Everyone’s time is too valuable to waste on trivia and trivial pursuits.

 

Spiritual maturity is caught more than taught.

 

In the final analysis, our children, our students and our congregations learn more by observing our lives than they do by listening to what we say.  That’s why Paul and every true preacher or teacher or parents should be saying with the Apostle Paul, “Be followers of me as I follow Christ.”  I Corinthians 4:15-17, 11:1,  Philippians 3:17, and  I Thessalonians 1:5-10.

 

Most people do not think.  They simply react to their moods.

 

Spiritual growth does not come by our seeking feelings and experiences in church.  It comes by quietly and humbly listening to or reading the Word of God and determining to obey what we learn.  Philippians 4:8 warns us that it is important what we read or what we watch on television or at the movies and feed our minds.

 

We need to get beyond living by our moods and reacting to circumstances and other people.   We need to feed on God’s Word. We need to meditate and ruminate on God’s Word as a cow chews its cud.

 

Philippians 1:10 teaches us that the goal of feeding on God’s Word is so we may be sincere and without offense.   That word sincere speaks to us of integrity.  The word sincere comes from a Latin word that means without wax. 

 

Pottery merchants would sometimes take cracked pots and fill the cracks with wax and repaint them so that they looked as good as new.   For us to pretend to be what we are not is to lack integrity.   How many preachers stand in pulpits today who preach a good Biblical message, but whose lives are not what they ought to be.  Such preachers lack integrity. They try to cover the cracks in their lives with the wax of hypocrisy.

 

It’s only as our lives are in harmony with what we preach that we have integrity.   That’s why we need to expose our lives and our flaws to the light of God’s Word. Sometimes God allows the heat of trials to come into our lives in order to expose those cracks. It’s only as we confess our sins and get right with God that we can become men and women of integrity.

 

May we be so filled with God’s Word that we are repulsed by the world’s attractions, values and standards.  May we not tolerate sin in our lives.

 

May we as Philippians 1:11 teaches, be filled with the fruits of righteousness. Only then can we bring praise and glory to God our Saviour.  Will you begin this process today? 

 

March 6, 2009 Posted by | Philippians | Comments Off on Philippians #3 Mind Over Mood

Philippians # 2 Joy in Suffering

The human author of Philippians was the Apostle Paul. I doubt that any Christian in the past 2000 years ever suffered for Christ anymore than Paul. His life was filled with it from the moment of his conversion until the day he was executed, no doubt by beheading, by Rome.

 

The Book of Acts describes much of his sufferings and he makes reference to that suffering often in his Epistles; never for sympathy,  but as his reason for rejoicing.  In II Corinthians 11  he lists a sampling of his sufferings for Christ.  Shortly after his conversion to Christ,  Saul (later named Paul) was given an inkling in Acts 9:15-16 of the sufferings that lay ahead for him.

 

But is wasn’t just Paul who was called to suffer for Christ.  As we read through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7  and through  the Epistles, we Christians are repeatedly reminded that suffering for the sake of Christ is the common experience of every faithful Christian.   Paul shows us how to face that suffering joyfully. In fact, he says in Galatians 6:17 that he bore the scars of repeated beatings for Christ as a badge of honor.

 

There is no greater theme in the Epistle to the Philippians than the theme of joy and rejoicing.  This theme is repeated in each of the four chapters. Joy, in fact, is the essence of Christianity. A miserable, pessimistic, defeated Christian is an oxymoron and a shame to the cause of Christ. Although I am an empathetic person by nature and know what it is to weep with those who weep;  I have little patience or sympathy for pessimistic, whining Christians.

 

What is Christian joy? 

 

Joy is the heart-felt emotion that wells up from the depths of our souls when we receive Christ as our Saviour from sin and surrender to Him as Lord of our lives. It’s not something we can work up. Rather, Psalm 16:11 explains that joy comes from living in the conscious presence of Christ.  It’s the gift of God that is produced in us as we live surrendered to the indwelling Holy Spirit.  In fact,  Galatians 5:22-23 teaches that it is fruit produced in us by the Holy Spirit. Joy comes from reading and obeying God’s Word, we learn in Jeremiah 15:16 and I John 1:4.

 

Don’t confuse joy with happiness.  Anyone, saved or unsaved, can be happy if the circumstances are going well.   Joy is infinitely more wonderful than happiness.

 

I first experienced joy as a nine year old boy, when I trusted Jesus Christ as my Saviour.  Joy is the combination of experiencing God’s love and peace, knowing that my heart is right with Him and I am ready for Heaven. Only one who has been born again into the family of God, can know and experience true joy.  It never wavers, regardless of the worst of circumstances.

 

Keep in mind, that being saved and living in the joy of the Lord, does not insulate us from the trials of life and the pain and sorrow that accompanies those trials.

 

The Purpose of Philippians

 

Paul wrote this Epistle to encourage the hearts of the Philippian Christians and our hearts to live above our circumstances and to recognize Christ, not only as our Saviour, but also as our life. Philippians 1:21

 

I have had my share of negative, heart-breaking  experiences with fellow Christians; but, to tell the truth, I need to dig into my memory to remember those negative experiences. They’re not on the surface. All of my conscious memories of Christian friends, are only joyful.  I refuse to dwell on the negative memories.   One day in Heaven, I will meet those Christians who have hurt me in the past, and hug them with Christ’s love.  But, as far as I’m concerned,  I’m ready to hug right now.  I desire only God’s best for my former enemies. I refuse to be bitter.  I wouldn’t touch that negative emotion with a ten foot pole. I encourage you to go to the GEM link and read the short statement by a medical doctor on the high cost of HATE.  

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Philippians | Comments Off on Philippians # 2 Joy in Suffering

Philippians # 1 Introduction

We’re presently going through Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians in our Sunday evening services. As I prepare this for HIDDEN TREASURES I want to simply hit the key points in these studies from this Epistle.

 

Paul was imprisoned by the Roman Empire for preaching God’s Word.  The events leading up to his being taken to Rome for his trial and later his execution  began in Acts 18. I would encourage you to read of the events that led to his capture and journey to Rome in the exciting events described in Acts 18 through 28.   Actually you would do well to start in Acts 9 with his conversion when he was still known as Saul of Tarsus.

 

When he finally arrived in Rome, he was not yet in a dungeon awaiting execution. That time came later.  For now, he lived in his own private quarters in Rome, chained to guards day and night.  These guards were changed every six hours.  Can you imagine being chained to a guard day and night?  The chains were about 18 inches long, so there was not much privacy for Paul, whether he was sleeping, eating or whatever he needed to do.   

 

But can you imagine what it was like for those guards to be chained to Paul for six hours at a time? Talk about a captive audience! Acts 28:30-31 informs us that this house imprisonment went on for two years.  You can be sure those guards were thoroughly evangelized and taught the truths of God’s Word. Many were saved as they heard him explain the wonderful Gospel of the grace of God.  Philippians 1:12-13 and 4:22 speaks of the saints  in Caesar’s household who joined Paul in sending greetings to the church of Philippi. That included many of those guards.

 

Epaphroditus, a leader in the Church of Philippi had traveled to Rome with a financial gift from the Philippian Church for Paul.  Paul had received the gift and was greatly encouraged by their love and thoughtfulness.  This Epistle to the Philippians was a thank you note from Paul which Epaphroditus would take with him when he returned to Philippi.

 

Of course, coming from Paul, it was more than a thank you note.  It was an epistle of inspired truth concerning salvation and Christian living. I hope you will take time to read it and reread it several times as we work our way through Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.  If you enjoy memorizing, this would be a great epistle to memorize and hide away in your heart.  I guarantee you that it will change your life.   

March 4, 2009 Posted by | Philippians | Comments Off on Philippians # 1 Introduction