Christians Are to Shine in a Dark World February 10, 2020
Jesus declared that He is “the Light of the world.” He continued, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Continuing our study in Philippians 2, we come to a great verse for new Christians: “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence, work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.” Every true Christian is to shine as a light in this dark world.
How did the apostle Paul encourage new Christians in the large Roman city of Philippians? Let’s examine 2:12. They were to “work out [their] own salvation.” How were they to do that?
(1) Was it to work hard enough to merit salvation? No, the Holy Spirit did not mean that. If a person could work hard enough earn salvation for himself, then why did Jesus submit Himself to die on the cross? Makes no sense. Jesus must sacrifice His precious blood to wash away one’s sins (1st John 1:7). This is justification—repenting to God Himself and receiving Christ Jesus as our personal Savior. As in a court dismissing debt fully paid, the judge declared the debtor “not guilty.” Case done!
(2) What did Paul mean? It was not to “work out” what God has worked “in” one’s soul already.
(3) Paul encouraged new Christians to commit to grow spiritually toward the finish line or completion. It is continuing to obey the Lord as the new Christians were doing already. Paul’s commitment was to “press on that he may lay hold” to more Christlikeness. (from 3:12-14). This is sanctification—seeking to become more and more holy during our journey. This is maturing and growing up in Christ.
Christians are to shine for our personal Savior in this “crooked and perverse generation.” (2:15) An excellent way to “shine as a light” for Jesus is to stop “murmuring and disputing” like the Israelites did on that 40 year penalty for disobeying the Almighty LORD.
The Philippian Christians were not perfect then. Only one perfect Person walked on this perverse world—Jesus, the Son of God.
How did Paul expect these new believers to grow strong in the faith in God? Look at 2:16. “Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ (His return to this earth) that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”
King David’s secret to a more holy life is found in Psalm 119:9-11. “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from your commandments! Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You (God)."
God gave a way to succeed in Life: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Let’s grow more and more like Jesus Christ every month and shine bright in a dark world.
Pastor Ed Anderson
Joy Can Only Be Found in Jesus February 6, 2020
A Christian came up with a simple way of describing joy. With Christ comes joy, everlasting joy. J O Y = Jesus 1st; Others 2nd; Yourself last. Any person without Christ cannot have real joy. It is backward. Y O J = wauzzz [sounds like swamp]. If we really want lasting joy, one must have the mind of Christ, the obedience with Christ, and expect with joy the exaltation of Christ.
Philippians 2:1-2 – “If [since] there is any consolation, any comfort of love, any fellowship of the Holy Spirit, any affections and mercies FULFILL MY JOY by possessing the Mind of Christ. No one but Baby Jesus has been born with the Mind of Christ. What is the “mind of Christ”? It contains divine love, is a committed soul obeying God, and is trusting God’s plans for our future.
What is joy spelled backward? “YOJ” [verse 3] “strife” [always fighting] selfish ambition and vainglory [conceit]. That is miserable way to live. Can some who profess to be followers of God be YOJ? Yes, they can. Matthew wrote the answer: “Then Jesus spoke to the multitude and to His disciples, saying, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat [reading aloud Scripture in the synagogue]. Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say and do not do. .... But all works they do to be seen of men.’” [Matthew 23:1, 2, 5a] Conceit and vainglory is sin. All such are fake Christians.
First of all, the mind of Christ has divine consolation from the Holy Spirit who inspired the Word of God. When I have trouble or grief, I find consolation in the Psalms. The mind of Christ is filled with warm affection and undeserved mercy. Christ brings harmony, love, and one accord which produce lowliness [humility] of mind. We should esteem others to be better than ourselves, and we will not put our interests ahead of our neighbors’ interests. These 9 points are all a part of the true Christian’s mind. Therefore, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Compare this with these verses. (2:1-5).
Second, to have joy, we must commit ourselves to obey God. For example, Jesus, Son of God, never grabbed for superiority over God the Father. Lucifer did grab for the throne of God. He is Satan, the adversary of God, who disobeyed God. His doom is coming.
Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (2:8). Jesus took upon Himself to be a servant of God (2:7). Do I, do you live as a servant of God. Jesus found great JOY in death. “Looking on to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame....” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus wept in the Garden of Gethsemane because He knew what was coming. Arrest, whippings, being blasphemed, beat black and blue, and crucified. His prayer ended “Thy will be done.” Jesus “by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (2:9). Jesus urges sinners to repent, put faith in Jesus, His death and resurrection. Forgiveness brings real JOY.
Third, true Christians look with JOY knowing that Jesus is coming back again. It may be soon. Only God knows when. God will powerfully exalt the Son of God with all the glory He possessed in Heaven before He descended. When Christ returns, true believers will bow and worship Him. (Philippians 2:9-11). WHAT JOY THAT SHALL BE!! Everlasting life with our Savior.
Pastor Ed Anderson
I Joy and Rejoice with You All January 27, 2020
I have the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart;
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart,
I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart to stay.
Because I have Jesus Christ in my heart.
I learned this Gospel song in Spanish from teenagers whose parents were missionaries in Brazil and Columbia. Our youth group sang it with solid faith and great joy. I doubt this modern song was sung by Paul and Silas at midnight in the jail at Philippi, Macedonia. But what they sang must have held a powerful message: a genuine Christian can be full of joy in Christ our Savior.
The theme of that book is “rejoicing in the Lord.” In 1:4-6 Paul rejoiced with all the new Christians. The reason for this joy was that a Christian can have a personal relationship with the exalted Christ. He/she can claim Christ’s promise that they will be kept forever. The Great Shepherd has not, cannot, lose a single lamb (John 10:27-30). The spiritual fellowship is eternal. The Lord “who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Paul wrote the book of Philippians in jail. He and Silas were charged with preaching that Jesus Christ came down from heaven, died for sinners on that old rugged cross, and on the 3rd day arose from the grave. They hated him for claiming to be the Son of God. Despite such hatred, they rejoiced for everyone who decided to follow Him and believe in Him with all their hearts.
Moving on to 1:25 in the “joy of faith” and 1:26 “rejoicing for me.” Paul knew the Lord would get him released from jail south of Rome. The new Christians enjoyed real joy in believing in the promises of the Lord. The first time Paul and Silas reached Philippi they were evangelizing lost souls. Paul prayed and cast a demon out of a young woman who day after day made devilish sarcastic tirades. Her handlers were enraged and dragged them to the magistrate. At midnight the other prisoners and the jailer heard an evangelical duet from their cell. The message in those songs reached his soul. A great surprise occurred at midnight—the jailer repented of his sins and put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I can imagine them all singing a new song for a changed heart --“Jesus Is the Joy of Living.” Since my salvation, I love the songs “There Is Joy in Serving Jesus” and “I’m So Happy.”
For all Christians attending the new church in Philippi--Paul, Silas, Lydia, Timothy, a jailer and family, Epaphroditus, Euodia & Syntyche -- there was great joy in contemplating the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2:16-18). Only God knows the day Christ will come. It may be soon. The dead in Christ shall rise first and those alive will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. All will be swept up into heaven rejoice forever with our Savior. The “day of Christ” will be a day of great joy singing in the new Heaven and New Earth in eternity. Have you joined them? If not, do today what the jailer did then without delay, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Acts of the Apostles 16:30-34
Pastor Ed Anderson
To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain January 21, 2020
When Samuel Rutherford was dying, he smiled, “I am in the happiest pass to which man had ever came. Christ is mine, and I am His; and there is nothing now between me and resurrection, except—Paradise!” The man was right. To live in Christ and Christ live in the heart of a genuine believer, then, to die is to gain.
Where was the apostle Paul when he wrote the epistle of Philippians? The first church he founded in Europe was in the Roman city of Philippi. A few years later his life was spared from the hands of a vicious mob just outside the temple in Jerusalem. A Roman commander and his soldiers rushed over, grabbed him, and saved his life. Trials and hearings followed with no easy answer of what to do with him. By birth Paul was automatically a Roman citizen. Weary after two years of fake accusations, he claimed a citizenship’s right of a court hearing in Rome. Two more years of a slow legal system kept him in chains. Each guard had orders to be chained to Paul for 4 hour turn. Visitors were let in. No doubt, Paul persuaded many of these souls to believe in Jesus, the Son of God, who died and arose in 3 days. That beginning advanced to other souls receiving Jesus Christ as Savior among guards, government officials, and servants.
Why did God allow that? Paul’s answer: “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which have happened to me actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the Word (Gospel) without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14).
Paul wondered what the future would bring. Would he be executed for causing a riot? He seemed to consider that being arrested for a religious reason would not bother Rome. But riots they did not tolerate. Pondering the options—life or death, he wrote to the Christians at Philippi that may “... Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20)
His options to choose: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” To die a martyr in Rome and be immediately with the Lord Jesus Christ would be far better. (1:21). On the other hand, he could be set free go to return preaching Christ. Preaching Christ free to go wherever God led would bring lost souls to Christ. Teaching them the Word of God strengthen them spiritually.
He remembered being hard-pressed to make a decision. For himself, going to heaven to be with
Christ was indeed “far better.” His past suffering, persecution, whippings, and risking violent death could be avoided. His wounds told the whole story.
What nailed it down was this: “... to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” His decision was strong, “I know that I shall remain and continue with you (new Christians friends he loved immensely) all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” (1:24-25). Pastors that preach Christ and dedicate their whole lives to labor for the Lord follow the example of the apostle Paul.
Pastor Ed Anderson
Faith and Hope, Overcome Obstacles January 15, 2020
One of my favorite books of the Bible is the apostle Paul’s letter to new, maturing Christians. Planting the first Christian church in Philippi was filled with obstacles. But Paul put his confidence in Jesus Christ. He encouraged new Christians in that city, saying, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6). Faith and hope in the Lord will overcome obstacles.
The obstacle of finances: he, Silas, Timothy, and Luke were co-missionaries with Paul. He needed cash to sail across the Aegean Sea from Asia (Turkey) to Philippi in Macedonia. Paul never had a salary. He had learned tent making as a part-time job and managed to stretch his pennies the first week there. Then the Holy Spirit directed them to a riverside prayer meeting of God-fearing women. He sat down and shared the Gospel message with them (Acts 16:11-15). The “Gospel” is what Paul preached. “For I have delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the 3rd day according to the Scriptures, and then he was seen by Peter, then by the Twelve.” (1st Corinthians 15:4-5). Lydia, a business-woman, was the first convert. The Lord opened her heart to believe in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of sinners. Her household and lady friends received Christ as their personal Savior, too. Accommodations? Lydia persuaded the 4 poor missionaries to reside at her BnB—free.
Next big obstacle: a demon-possessed, future-telling girl. Her masters (handlers) filled their pockets with silver. That demon uttered an ungodly, sarcastic endorsement day after day: “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who claim to us the way of salvation.” Paul shouted at the demon, “I command you in the Name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” (Acts 16:16-18). Obstacle gone.
Another great obstacle: Those wicked handlers’ hot tempers flared. They assailed Paul and Silas by a screaming mob and dragged them to the city magistrate. He ordered that their bare backs beaten with rods and placed them in an ultra-secure stocks. At midnight the other prisoners awoke hearing men singing. Paul and Silas had been praying and now then singing hymns. What a great duet! Instantly the roar of an earthquake shook everything, even the foundations of the jail house. Did an angel burst open every door and all chains? Probably. (Doesn’t say that in verse 26, but Peter had been set free before by an angel.) According to Roman law, any jailer who loses a prisoner will be executed. Before he could commit suicide, Paul shouted at the jailer, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” A miracle: an obstacle created an opportunity for the jailer, his family, and household. The jailer knelt before Paul and Silas, asking, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your household.” Then Paul and Silas spoke the Word of the Lord (the Gospel) to him and to all that were in his house. Everyone put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and following that were immersed in baptism. Then the jailer tenderly washed their backs which had been beaten at his command. Went to bed sinners; before lunch became saints. * Amen!
Without faith we cannot love the Lord. With faith in the Lord all obstacles can be overcome here and definitely there—in heaven. Without hope in God we cannot not believe. With hope in the Lord we can trust the providence of God.
* 1st Corinthians 1:2 describes every genuine believer as “saint.” Set apart from sin to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Are “saints” sinless? No. But genuine Christians do “sin less.” (see I John 1:7 to 2:2)
Pastor Ed Anderson
Pressing for the Goal Philippians 3:1-14 January 7, 2020
It takes a lot of determination for Olympic skiers to reach the goal—the gold medal. College football teams practice hard to win the last opponent and put their hands on the huge trophy. I do not know if Saul ever hoped to play in the Greek Olympics, but he chose a sports illustration to picture how he was pressing for the ultimate goal. Listen to him, “I have finished the good fight, I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” (2nd Timothy 4:7). The goal—the crown of righteousness from the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ (4:8).
What if that Olympian skier cut a corner missing a flag? Disqualified. What if a good receiver caught a great touchdown pass in the end zone as time ran out and his crowd cheered? But the referees blew their whistles and tossed their flags—offensive interference call was obvious! Disqualified! They lose the trophy! Saul looked back on his religious life before Jesus confronted him. Being a Pharisee, he bragged that 7 qualifications assured heaven. These were Jewish circumcision, be a chosen Israelite, be a member of tribe of Benjamin, best of the Hebrews, a strict Law keeper, member of the Pharisee holy men, and zealous for God. In short: blameless.
But then loud voice in the sky interrupted his mission to arrest any Jews who became Christians. Luke recorded that great event in Acts 9:1-20. Verse 5, that powerful voice said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” That Saul had been “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”. Now he had his face in the dirt “trembling and astonished.” The Lord blinded him for 3 days. In those 3 days he prayed and repented deeply for fighting God.
In those few days he learned that salvation is not by works. Jesus had preached a parable of a covetous tax collector and a holier-than-thou Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14). What did the sinner pray? “God, be merciful a sinner.” God listened to the repentant sinner and forgave him. The Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself.” Jesus turned his back on the pride-filled Pharisee.
What did Saul do? Read on: “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9). Before long, Saul left his given name behind him. “Paul” means little—the raging Saul was tossed behind him. He described himself as a new creature in Christ—a humble servant.
Having been transformed by the Holy Spirit, he testified, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14). Paul was writing about his salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, how he believed Jesus died for his sins, and that at the end of his life he would be resurrected (the upward call) to heaven to worship the LORD forever. Paul, as he preached to many, many people, urged everyone to put their faith in the Lord Jesus to become a Christian, and all should be “reaching forward” in faith for that spiritual “crown of righteousness” as the goal when we enter through the gates of heaven.
Jesus wants every genuine Christian to press on forward toward the goal—to please Christ.
Pastor Ed Anderson