Paul Life in Jesus

September 4, 2016Philippians 3

   

    The first thing that Paul tells us in this passage is to rejoice in the Lord.  Rejoice which means go back to the source of your joy.  Jesus is the source of the Christian’s joy.  Joy is something that humans cannot manufacture or produce.  It is the result of walking obediently in the Holy Spirit. They fruit of the spirit is love joy and peace.   Joy is deeper than the things that the world has to offer.  It is deeper than circumstances.  We enjoyed a nice lobster supper last Tuesday.  Hannaford’s had a special on them and it was nice to eat.  Christian joy is deeper than the pleasures of this world.  Joy persists even in death. 

    I am so glad it is because things are not always easy and nice. Joy comes from being at peace with God and with others.  Joy comes from doing what God has called me to and fulfilling my God given role in life.  Joy holds me when life is painful.   The song writer said it is well with my soul.  There is something very deep about that.  That is our anchor and that anchor is in Jesus.  Real joy is in Jesus.  God invites us to walk in real joy?    Paul says rejoice in Jesus.    Paul knew life was difficult but he writes rejoice.  Paul writes this letter from jail.   Philippi was where he was beaten and thrown into jail. At the end of chapter 1 Paul I wrote that some of them were struggling and suffering.  When we rejoice in those times it helps our attitude.  The Holy Spirit through Paul gives us a good word here – rejoice. 

    Then we see in scripture that we warned to watch out for those dogs those men who do evil.  These men were evil workers.  They were fellow Jews.   It is amazing that Paul would call a fellow Jew a dog.  Dogs in those days were not like our well bred dogs today.   To tell someone that they were a dog was a slap in the face.   These men were false teachers.  They were not true Christians.  The guys in his day thought that because they were circumcised that made them acceptable to God.  They also thought being the off spring of Abraham saved them.  I wonder how many people believe they are saved because they are in a church family today or that in their mind were behaved well. 

    They taught works.  They said you have to observe all these things to be accepted by God. Works are important and God desires us to be zealous of good works.  Paul writes that I glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.  People who have confidence in the flesh tend to glory in them self.    They boast about works and about their work and how good they are.   Paul gloried in Jesus.   I am not saved by being the in church for 100 years or by giving my money or by baptism.  Those things are good and I will be rewarded for doing good things but my works will not save me.   It does not make me righteous.   Isaiah says all our righteousness is like filthy rags.  Paul writes that he had no confidence in the flesh.   What does that mean to you?  

    We have similar thoughts like that today.   I am a pretty good person so I am OK with God.  I will be in heaven.  We think if we do good things we are good.  Paul wanted a righteousness not from doing good things but from faith.  Doing good works is good.  Those that trust God and walk in faith will do good works but it does not save us.  Paul argues in Romans that if works save us we can boast.  I earned this God.  Some have the attitude that God owes them. 

    I see a false trust today that God accepts just about everybody.   I see it in funerals today where a person will spend their whole life around the bottle and his family says he is up there looking down on us.   I am not so sure and I tell them so.  Generally speaking the religions of the world are trying to appease an angry God.  In Christianity God’s wrath was appeased by the death of Jesus.  God paid the price for us.  Keeping the law does not save anyone.  Keeping the law does not qualify a person to enter heaven.  Being good does not save us.   What makes us good or acceptable to God?   Hebrews 11:6 without faith it is impossible to please God.  Faith saves us not our works. 

    The scripture exhorts us to beware of false teachers.  What we believe is very important because it impacts our behavior.   Beware of evil doers.   We live in the last days and we need to be aware.  We live in a crazy world today that can be a bit scary.   This article comes from the American Center for Law and Justice.   The Supreme Court of Pakistan has just agreed to hear Christian mom Asia Bibi's final appeal early.   Her fate could be decided in just weeks.  This Christian mother is on death row - sentenced to hang - for her faith.  She was charged, convicted, and sentenced to be executed for blasphemy.  It all started over a cup of water Asia Bibi offered a Muslim coworker - because as a Christian, she is considered "unclean."  Now Pakistan's Supreme Court will decide whether she will die for her Christian faith. The ACLJ - including our office in Pakistan - has been aggressively advocating across the globe for this Christian mom's freedom. She's languished on death row for more than 2,100 days - almost six years.   I freely admit that there is more to the story but we do get a sense that justice is perverted. 

    There are 50 countries that are predominately Muslin in the world today.  The Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 nations with the highest levels of persecution of Christians includes 39 predominately Muslin countries.   Seventy Five per cent of predominately Muslin countries are persecuting Christians.  That is certainly a point of prayer.  I am not saying do not pray for them.  I am not saying do not love them.  I believe about ¾ of the Muslins are peaceful.   There are about 1.6 to 1.8 billion muslins in the world today.  The passage tells us to be careful about evil workers.  People are losing it out there and we need to alert in these last days.  God is our protection.    

       Paul then talks about his focus on Jesus.  His whole life was in Jesus.  Paul first talks about his life before Jesus.  Paul mentions his fleshly achievements which were are very impressive.  He was a Pharisee and had tremendous zeal and followed the law perfectly.  That does not mean that he never sinned but he did what the law required when he did sin.  All that stuff put Paul on the wrong path. Paul had a great zeal. As a Pharisee Paul thought he was on the right path but he was not.   He thought he had the inside track to God but he didn’t.   He writes the Jews have a zeal but not according to knowledge.   We do not want to have misguided zeal.   The Jews were very zealous for God but very wrong.   Paul was a passionate man.  Paul was moving toward the top of his nation.  It was a very prestigious and powerful place to be.  Paul was a proud man.  He worked hard and accomplished a lot.  Paul thought he had everything right and together.  From the nations point of view he was right on.  Paul was living what the Jews had followed for hundreds of years but as a nation they were off course.  The multitudes are not always right. 

  .  On that road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to him Paul found out he was spiritually bankrupt.  Paul wanted to get rid of that new religious group that believed in Jesus.  Paul did not believe in Jesus.  To Paul Jesus was a dead man.  Then he had a personal talk with Jesus.  It turned his world upside down.   After his experience with Jesus he considered all his achievements and all those things that he took pride in as worthless and considered them a loss.  Paul then saw all of his accolades and achievements as soiled diapers.  All of his study and his heritage and all the things he boasted about became nothing compared to Jesus.  Those things and the things that world tend to hold high push and point us away from Jesus. 

    In verse 10 Paul writes that he wanted to know Jesus.   Paul had studied the law.  Paul had probably memorized a large portion of the Old Testament.     The Jews knew the scriptures.  But Jesus said the scriptures point to me.   We can be so blind.  Sometimes the majority of people are wrong.  It has been said that any old dead fish can float down stream.  It is something else to fight the current.  It can hard to go against the norm.  For those that want to walk close to Jesus the Holy Spirit will tell you no to things that other Christians are doing and which they think is OK.    God is holy. We need to pray Lord you tell me what I am doing that is wrong.  Psalm 139: 23  In the book of James we read friendship with the world is hatred toward God.   God wants all of us.   We want Jesus to be seen in us and not the world. 

      Paul writes that I may know Him.   People love knowledge today.   Paul says I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus my Lord.   People can have of pride of their knowledge of the scriptures.   It is the knowledge of Jesus that counts.   It is the relationship with Jesus that is key not what I know but who I know.  It is that intimate personal relationship that is so important and so blessed.   It is that knowledge that helps me when I feel down or discouraged.   It is the relationship that lifts me up and it is not the head knowledge that He loves me but experiencing his love.     It is the knowledge that Jesus loves me when I don’t feel his presence.  It is knowing him.   I hope we long to know his heart today.  That knowledge helps me cope with life and with pain.   Paul says all that other stuff is rubbish.   Paul found in his relationship with Jesus joy, he found hope, he found comfort, he found peace, he found purpose.   Paul found life in Jesus in day by day hour by hour and minute by minute communion with Jesus.  The song writer said my life is in you Lord and my strength is in you and my hope is in you Lord.  Paul also suffered for the name of Jesus

    Paul wanted to know Jesus.  That was not an easy knowledge.  Paul was not looking for mere knowledge.   He wanted heart knowledge.   He wanted the experience. It is not knowing about Jesus but knowing Him.   Not only head knowledge but something deeper.   Paul wanted to experience the pain and suffering that Jesus experienced.   He wanted to walk in Jesus shoes so to speak and not just for a mile or two but for the rest of his life.   This is real fellowship.  This like what soldiers experience when they are in battle together.  In chapter 2 he said Epaphroditus was a fellow soldier to him.   A lot of relationships are really shallow today folks.   They have not been tested and so the relationship is not deep.   Paul had set his face like a flint to obey God and to make Jesus known and to preach the gospel.   He followed hard after God.

     When Paul became a Christian it was not the end for him but the beginning.  Love flooded his soul and his life was changed.   Truth flooded his soul and he was forever changed.    His experience with Jesus transformed his life.   The old Paul had passed away and the new had come.   He was completely different.   Salvation was a personal experience for him.   Paul writes that I may know Him.  There was the drive of his life.  Paul cut a lot of things out of his life to make Jesus the center.  Those decisions can be tough.  For Paul it was in a relationship with his Creator God.  When Paul was living under the law all he had was a set of rules to live by but now he had a friend.   Paul turned from religion to Jesus.   Christianity is considered a religion but as Christians we see it as a relationship and not a religion.   It is not so much a system of beliefs or a code of ethics as a relationship.    Abraham was the friend of God.     Close friends are important.  There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and his name is Jesus.  Paul wrote I do not live but Christ lives in me. 

     Brothers and sisters we need to be aware of those things that push us away from Jesus.   These modern things that we live with that are supposed to make our lives better often pull us from Jesus.  There are many Christians who spend more time in face book than with Jesus.  We can be hooked in face book and ignore our spouse or children.  We get focused on the things of the world and not the bible and prayer and worship.   There are many Christians who spend more time on face book than the bible.   We need to be aware of those things that point us to Jesus and embrace those things.  Philippians 3:18 & 19 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.  What some glory in is really their shame.  Their mind is set on earthly things.  

 

    Paul writes I forget the past and press on to the future.  This one thing I do Paul writes I press on to Jesus.  Jesus told the rich young ruler there is one thing you lack.   Jesus told Martha one thing is needful.   The man who received his sight in John said one I thing I know.  The psalmist said there is one thing that I have desired of the Lord.    Paul pressed ahead.   He had a single eye for God’s glory.   Paul said I strain, I labor, and I push ahead.  I keep moving.  I am pressing for those things that God has for me.  I am going ahead and not back.  Are we pressing ahead church?  Are we ready for change?  Can we embrace change?