Monday, May 16, 2016

The Peace Of God (Philippians 4:1-9)

“For this reason, brothers and sisters, my joy and crown whom I dearly love, I cannot wait to see you again. Continue to stand firm in the Lord, and follow my instructions in this letter, beloved. Euodia and Syntyche, I urge you to put aside your differences, agree, and work together in the Lord. Yes, Syzygus, loyal friend, I enlist you to please help these women. They, along with brother Clement and many others, have worked by my side to spread the good news of the gospel. They have their names recorded in the book of life.
 Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice!  Keep your gentle, forbearing nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.  And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Philippians 4:1-9)

Euodia (Ee –oo’ –duh) and Syntyche (Syn’-tuh-kee) worked with Paul to spread the gospel; their names were written in the book of life (if this draws from the Roman culture, this was referring to a record of citizenship – in this case, in heaven). No one questioned that they followed Christ and labored together with Paul and others as sisters in Christ.
And they had issues. It doesn’t appear to be about doctrine or sin. It seems like…they just had trouble getting along. And it is serious enough that Paul asks a dude to intervene and help them resolve it.

Have you ever seen Christians argue? I mean people you really admire, people who you respect deeply because you are know they are committed to surrendering to and serving Christ – have you ever seen them just really butt heads over something and not be able to resolve their conflict? This has been a problem for 2,000 years.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Best Resume (Philippians 3:1-21)

 It is time that I wrap up these thoughts to you, my brothers and sisters. Rejoice in the Lord! (I don’t mind writing these things over and over to you, as I know it keeps you safe.) Watch out for the dogs—wicked workers who run in packs looking for someone to maul with their false circumcision. We are the true circumcision—those who worship God in Spirit and make our boast in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King—so we do not rely on what we have accomplished in the flesh. 

If any try to throw around their pedigrees to you, remember my résumé—which is more impressive than theirs.  I was circumcised on the eighth day—as the law prescribes—born of the nation of Israel, descended from the tribe of Benjamin. I am a Hebrew born of Hebrews; I have observed the law according to the strict piety of the Pharisees, separate from those embracing a less rigorous kind of Judaism. Zealous? Yes. I ruthlessly pursued and persecuted the church. And when it comes to the righteousness required by the law, my record is spotless. 

But whatever I used to count as my greatest accomplishments, I’ve written them off as a loss because of the Anointed One. And more so, I now realize that all I gained and thought was important was nothing but yesterday’s garbage compared to knowing the Anointed Jesus my Lord. For Him I have thrown everything aside—it’s nothing but a pile of waste—so that I may gain Him. When it counts, I want to be found belonging to Him, not clinging to my own righteousness based on law, but actively relying on the faithfulness of the Anointed One. This is true righteousness, supplied by God, acquired by faith.  I want to know Him inside and out. I want to experience the power of His resurrection and join in His suffering, shaped by His death, 11 so that I may arrive safely at the resurrection from the dead. 

Not that already I have obtained it or already have been perfected, but I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed. 

All of us who are mature ought to think the same way about these matters. If you have a different attitude, then God will reveal this to you as well. For now, let’s hold on to what we have been shown and keep in step with these teachings. Imitate me, brothers and sisters, and look around to those already following the example we have set. 
I have warned you before (and now say again through my tears) that we have many enemies—people who reject the cross of the Anointed. They are ruled by their appetites, their glory comes by shame, and their minds are fixed on the things of this world. They are doomed. But we are citizens of heaven, exiles on earth waiting eagerly for a Liberator, our Lord Jesus the Anointed, to come and transform these humble, earthly bodies into the form of His glorious body by the same power that brings all things under His control. (The Voice)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Apparently, those who meant Paul harm and undermined his ministry in Chapter 1 were insisting that Paul just wasn’t qualified to talk about the gospel because he didn’t have a good resume. Unfortunately for them, they chose a bad marker for qualification – circumcision. As odd as that sounds to us, it was a sign that as children they had been dedicated to God by their parents. It was a covenant ritual. The legacy of being one of God’s chosen people had continued through them because their bodies showed their commitment to the Law.

Paul just was not a good guy to challenge about carrying on the Law. If there were woodsheds in Philippi, he takes them there. “Are you kidding me? I am the man. I am blameless in following the Law. I killed people for the sake of the Law.” He’s also a Roman citizen using his Roman name, Paulus, to write to his Roman audience. By any external marker, by any sign of outward conformity, by any punch list of things good religious people do, Paul wins.