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Friday, February 18, 2011

Can you take the heat???

Bible Study with Debbie....Philippians 1:15-30

In this passage, Paul is trying to accomplish several things.  First of all he wants to be upbeat and positive about his current imprisonment.  He's clearly concerned for his safety....but he doesn't want his friends to concentrate on the possible danger he was in.  So...he drifts back and forth from rejoicing about the fact that God was going to take care of him and mentioning the "death" issue.  Four times in this passage he mentions death and his willingness to die for Christ.  It must have been a real possibility. seems that he was almost relieved to think of going home and leaving all the problems behind him. 

Have you ever had to "work" at your faith?  I certainly have.  I know that God can take care of me, but it's oh so easy to let your mind wonder about all the what ifs and how will I handle it if he doesn't come through. The Christian life is not easy.  It's not about accepting Jesus and then gliding along through life without a care.  The Christian life is not an Insurance policy.  Christians have to take a lot of heat and unlike the undisciplined person....Christians are required to find a way to be pleasant even if the fire gets hotter.  (check out the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego in Daniel Chapter 3)

By verse 25 Paul has resolved the issue and as if he took a deep breath he says..."I know that I will remain and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith."  In other words...."Oh well.  I guess I need to remain here in order to help you and keep you moving forward."

In verse 27 he adds...."Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."  Paul  pleads through the entire book of Philippians for his friends to do the right thing.  To stand up for Christ and to be a good example.

That's the trick isn't it?  Doing the right thing at just the right time.  Being the person that God has called you to be.  Handling all your problems as if you had the mind of Christ and encouraging those around you by letting the love of God shine light on them as well. 

Don't miss the fact that even while Paul is struggling with the danger issue that he's also struggling with the self-esteem issue.  Look back at verses 15-18.  Paul talks about other preachers and teachers who seem to be doing the work out of "selfish ambition".  These guys were a lot like many of the preachers I know today.  They were more interested in collecting bodies, accolades and money than they were in making disciples of Christ.  In order to further their own cause they were making false accusations against Paul. 

That must have been really hard to take.  Negative comments are always hard to take....but they would be especially difficult when you are in prison.  Yet, Paul fought the desire to be angry by concentrating on the important fact that Christ must be preached.  "The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this I rejoice."

Human nature wants recognition for a job well done.  All of us want to know we are loved and appreciated for our hard work.  I hope today we can take a lesson from Paul and humbly let God know that "HIS DESIRE FOR US" is our goal.  Where ever that takes us....recognition or invisibility - it doesn't matter as long as His will is accomplished.  Denouncing our need to be noticed will be difficult - but in the end we will be glad that we did our job, we accomplished the task before us and that we stayed true to his will for our lives.  Only then will we be able to hear those wonderful words:

"Well done thy good and faithful servant.  Enter now into the joy of the Lord."

God loves you,


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