December 30, 2012   Philippians 2   Work Out Your Salvation

          Andrew Chan shares the following illustration.   There was a certain old recluse who lived deep in the mountains of Colorado.     When he died, distant relatives came from the city to collect his valuables.    Upon arriving, all they saw was an old shack with an outhouse beside it.     Inside the shack, next to the rock fireplace was an old cooking pot and his mining equipment.      A cracked table with a three-legged chair stood guard by a tiny window, and a kerosene lamp served as the centerpiece for the table.     In a dark corner of the little room was a dilapidated cot with a threadbare bedroll on it.   They picked up some of the old relics and started to leave.    As they were driving away, an old friend of the recluse, on his mule, flagged them down.    “Do you mind if I help myself to what’s left in my friend’s cabin?” he asked. “Go right ahead,” they replied.     After all, they thought, what inside that shack could be worth anything?    The old friend entered the shack and walked directly over the table.    He reached under it and lifted one of the floor boards.    He then proceeded to take out all the gold his friend had discovered over the past 53 years – enough to have built a palace.   The recluse died with only his friend knowing his true worth.    As the friend looked out of the little window and watched the cloud of dust behind the relative’s car disappear, he said, “They should have got to know him better.

     Sometimes we miss the true treasures.  We see the problems in life and do not see how God is using them in our life.   We look at the things of the world and we do not see the God who made this world.   We talked last week about all the things that we see in Jesus that he is full of love joy and peace.   That Jesus is gracious and merciful and that Jesus is the friend of sinners.   That Jesus is the center of life and the center of scriptures and that Jesus is the highest and the best.   Jesus in us is the hope of glory and that someday we will go and be with him forever.   All of the goodness of God is in the Christian.   Paul tells us in this passage to work out our salvation.   Well some may think what do you mean to work out my salvation.   I am saved by grace and not by works.   Yes that is true but Paul or the HS is telling us to work out that which is in us.   God is in us.   We are the temple of God.   Love, joy and peace are inside of the Christian but it does not always work itself out.    We have an old sin nature.   Paul tells us to work out what God has put in us.   We have things to do.  We have a responsibility. 

      I think many Christians are looking for the easy path.   They are looking for the easy life.  Smooth sailing would be nice but it is not reality.    It was not smooth sailing for Jesus and it won’t be for us either.    I will tell you I would love to go back to the Garden of Eden and live like Adam did.   Wouldn’t that be great?     Well God has reserved that for when we get home with him.   That life is what God has for us in heaven.   I want to preach on working out today.   Normally we think of working out as going to the gym.   Sally and I exercise.   Often we get up at 4 AM to go and exercise at the fitness center.   We lift weights, do the elliptical and Sally does the tread mill.   It is good for the body and it is hard work.   The point of working out is to exercise your heart and to work up a good sweat.   Sometimes life is hard work.   

    I find life challenging and at times difficult.   It takes effort to get somewhere in life.  I heard when I was young that any dead fish can go down stream.   I do not want to go with the flow of this world.    The HS tells us to work out our salvation.   Do you know what hard work is like?   Work hard at it.   Discipline yourself.   Spend time in prayer and spend time in God’s word.  Draw near to God.   Many folks are content to be an average ole Christian.    The days we are living in are tough days and we are going to have to be tough to walk in a pleasing manner for God.    God is going to toughen up Christians in these days so that we can walk confidently, with our heads upright and bring souls and glory to God.   I do not want to go to heaven alone – I want to bring some others with me by God’s grace. 

     God says work out your salvation.  Work out that life that I have put in you.   Be that servant.   Be that person of prayer.   Be that person of the bible.  How do you work out your salvation, God says in fear and trembling?   That does not mean that you dread God.   Proverbs tells us to keep our heart in all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.  You put diligence in your walk.   Any one of us can slip and fall from our walk with Jesus so we pay attention to our walk with God.   Is that a reason to tremble?   It should make us concerned.   I am concerned about that.   The enemy chips away at us day by day to get us out of step with the Lord.   He chips away at us when we consistently have our devotional time.   He chips away at our prayer life.   He would whisper in our ear you have prayed about that for years and God has not answered you yet.   Why don’t you quit praying and don’t trust God.   He will whisper and say it won’t do any good to go to bible study.   Why don’t you stay home tonight?   It is the lie from hell.   We stay in Christian fellowship and our brothers and sisters are watching our life.   He chips away at our giving and our service.   Work out your salvation with fear.   Work it out with trembling.   Take your walk with God seriously.  The Christian life is not a game. 

      Be consistent in your love and thankfulness to God.   God has proven His love to you and Satan will whisper in your ear God does not love you.   God has been mean to you and look at what he has done to you in your life.   God has taken that person or thing away from you.   All lies from the devil.  But it can throw us off from loving God and from being thankful for all the blessings that God has given us.   Every human being belongs to God – not to you and me.   God in His wonderful grace allows us to enjoy each other for a season.  Be thankful for the length of the season that God graces you with them.    I was reading in Deuteronomy this week and Moses tells the Israelites when they get into the Promised Land that they need to praise God for what God had given them.   We give thanks for what we have not be angry for what we don’t have.   Work out your salvation and be thankful to God.  We can never thank God enough. 

    Kelly Mitchell shares this illustration.    In the recent Summer Games (2012), Kim Rhode won the gold medal in skeet shooting making her the first American to win 5 Olympic medals in 5 consecutive Olympic Games.   That’s a span of 20 years and not her only distinction.   In the 2012 games, she hit 99 out of 100 skeet shots setting a new Olympic record and tying the world record for the event.   Also, her first medal was in the 1996 Summer Games making her the youngest female gold medalist in Olympic shooting.   How does one so distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd?    In an interview with the New York Times, Rhode firmly answers the question of how.    She shoots anywhere from 500 to 1,000 rounds every day of the week year around.  Let’s say she shoots 750 rounds a day.   In 4 years that is over 1 million rounds.   That is over 1 million rounds per metal. When you step back and look at that number, the medals and accomplishments really are not that surprising.   It would be interesting to know how much other Olympian medalists have invested in their training.   How many calories have they burned?    How much money have they spent?    How many other things have they rejected so that it would not interfere with their training?    They work, work and work hard to get to their goals and metals.   When I lived on the farm in the early 60’s I bought 5K rounds of 22 ammo and I still probably have over 2K rounds.   I cannot imagine shooting 5K rounds of ammo in one week.  For one thing it would take a tremendous amount of time and shot gun shells are not cheap.   It cost her a lot to do that.  

    Paul writes in I Corinthians 9.    Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?   Run in such a way as to get the prize.     Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.    They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.    Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.     No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.   In this race you are not running to beat other people or other Christians.   You run the race that God has set before you.   This race is between you and the Lord.   Each of us will stand before him someday and give an account of our life.  

     This year is about finished.   We can thank God for this past year.   I trust that all of us have grown in our walk with Jesus and that we are closer to Him and if so then we can be thankful.   This church has much to be thankful for.   We have had several decisions for the Lord this year.   God has been good to us.   Christ light through us has shined on others.   Keep praying for the lost and we need to pray for laborers.   Jesus said pray for laborers.  As you look forward to the new year what does God have for you?   I trust we do not go into the New Year without some prayer time asking God what is on his heart for us.   Lord what do you want me to do?   How can I work out the salvation that is in me?   Christians can be guilty of thinking that they would like to do this or that and then we ask God to bless it.   Lord I would like to lead a bible study.   That is a good and worthy goal but is that God’s will for you.   We often make plans and say Lord you bless my plans.   Well God does not have any responsibility to bless your plans. 

     Ephesians 2 tells us that God has good works for us to do.   Ephesians 2:10 for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.   We are not justified by our works we are justified by faith but God has works for us to do.   Work out your salvation.   Live this Christian life and in doing so do the things that God has prepared for you to do.   Walk in God’s spirit and walk in God’s will.      But if you are doing your thing then the works that God has for you are not being done.   God has specific works for you to do.    Do you know what God wants you to do this coming year?    It is best to sense what God is doing and where God is leading us so we can move in union and in step with God.   Many of the things that we are to do we already know.   We need to be in prayer, and in the scriptures, and in fellowship with other believers and we need to be involved with lost people.  

     The passage here says work out your salvation.   How does the Christian do that?   Well we need to hear his voice.  We need to get our directions from the HS.   Christians need to still their hearts and listen.   I have a sense that I need to seek God about this year and I have been praying about this coming year.   Lord what are you going to do this year?    What do you want me to do this year?   That is important for all of us to seek God.      I can’t make you do that.  Many folks go just go day by day but that is not enough.   Abraham went to Egypt when a famine came on the land.   There is no indication that God wanted him to go there.  There is no indication that Abraham prayed about it and many believe that Abraham was not doing that in the will of God.  If there was no food we would seek to move also.   That makes sense but it may not be God’s will.  Sometimes what makes sense is not right.   Interesting in my bible reading this week that God through Moses told the children of Israel that they were never to go that way again to Egypt.  They left Egypt and they were never to go back.   Hundreds of years later they did and God said he would destroy those that went to Egypt for doing it.   Egypt for the Christian represents our life of sin before our life with Jesus.   We are never to go back into a life of sin.   Are you holding this coming year with an open hand? 

    In Philippians 2 right after Paul writes work out your salvation Paul or the HS tells us that God is working in us to will and act according to his good purpose.    The HS does work in us.   We need to listen to His voice.  We need to hear his speak and then we need to obey.   We cannot walk the Christian life without Him.  Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.  Commit yourself to walk closely with God.