Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Brief Overview of Philippians 1

The name Philippians means "love of horses" and might remind us as believers that we are in a race and that our strength for the race is found in Christ alone. It is good to also remember of fact that the assembly in Philippi was established by Paul about 10 years early. In Acts 16 we noticed that this little assembly was founded on three principles represented by three people who were in the assembly from its beginning: 

1. Prayer represented by Lydia
2. Power represented by the liberated slave girl
3. Praise represented by Paul, Silias and the Jailer

Joy is a repeating theme. It is mentioned 16 times in this book and Paul teaches us in:

Chapter 1 How to have joy in-spite of circumstances.
Chapter 2 How to have Joy in-spite of people.
Chapter 3 How to have Joy in-spite of things.
Chapter 4 How to have Joy that defeats worry.

We notice that Paul wrote this letter to all the saints (those set apart for God's purpose) in Christ Jesus (our Position), connected to the Man in the glory. It was also noticed that the bishops (overseers) and deacons are on the same level as the saints. This emphasizes the another purpose of the book, which is to help us experience and enjoy Christian unity. Paul gave thanks for them and their fellowship in the gospel.

In Philippians 1:5-11 we can learn that Paul seemed to operation with three reference points in mind, from the first day their relationship with Christ began (Acts 16). The present "until now" and then the day of Jesus Christ, which is a day of accountability. It is not the same as the day of the Lord. The day of Jesus would be when the believers stand before the judgement seat of Christ and give an account for how we live. It has nothing to do with our salvation.

Paul speaks much about confidence (1:6, 14, 25), the Believer should live a confident Christian life. And this verse also speaks of the assurance that we can have, knowing that if Christ began a good work in us He will complete it. he never gives up on us! In verse 7-8 we saw his affection for the saints. This takes us back to Acts 16 again. The Lord's prayer in John 17:26 was brought in here, along with Romans 5:5. The thought was that His love is in each of us and we are able to love one another!

We see in the rest of this prayer (1:9-11) that having spoken of the possession of love Paul wants them to make progress in that love and to be productive in it that their love may abound more and more. When he used the word "abound" he was speaking of the extent of their love. When he used the words "still more and more" he was referring tot he effectiveness of their love! When Paul spoke of "knowledge and discernment" he was showing us how love is to stay focused. Knowledge is knowing about spiritual things and discernment is knowing how to apply that knowledge.This kind of love is to be sincere, real, and not hypocritical, it is to be done without being a stumbling block to another realizing that we all will give an account in the day of Jesus Christ, so now we ought to desire to produce fruit that would be in keeping with His righteousness and that would bring Him glory and praise. 

In Philippians 1:12-19 we can see that Paul was very much concern that the Christian move forward in his or her walk with the Lord. He uses phrases like "for the furtherance of the gospel," "being filled with fruits of righteousness," "fruit from my labor" (1:11,12, 25). He desired that they and us make forward progress and never simply stand still.

Paul saw the obstacles as opportunities for the gospel to shared no matter what the motives of those that shared it. Paul relied on two major things to help strengthen him, the prayers of the Lord's people and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Much discussion was enjoyed but this term "Spirit of Jesus Christ." So much that it caused me to come home a study the subject further. 

Paul was not confident in himself, but in his God (Philippians 1:22-26)! He knew that he would come through the deep waters and see his friends again. It was noted that the word," earnest expectation" is made up of three words, "away, head and watch." Together these three words give us the idea of Paul watching something so intently that his head is turned away from everything else. This really emphasizes Paul's life for Christ, he was totally sold out for Jesus Christ! He had a single focus in life and wanted to have a clear conscience and not be ashamed when he appeared before the Lord (2 Cor. 5:9-10, 1 John 2:28). He was determined to keep a courageous testimony, "with all boldness". He made a point to keep a Christ-Centered focus that Christ might be magnified in his body whether by life or death!

When we magnify Christ it has to be telescopic, not mirco-scopic. A telescope brings something big and brings it near. A microscope takes something small and makes it big. Psalm 34:3, Luke 1:46 and John 3:30 connect to magnifying our God! 

Philippians 1:27-30 was the subject of last weeks study. There were only a few verses covered, but we walked away with many profitable thoughts! Paul challenges us to have a "conduct worthy of the gospel of Christ." This word conduct is interesting, it is where we get our word "politics" It is translated else where "citizenship" (Phil. 3:20). The word actually means city and is found in our words like Minneapolis and Indianapolis. When we speak of metropolitan or metropolis we are using the same word. What Paul is telling us is that we belong to a different city altogether so we ought walk worthy of the place we are identified with. Just as an American is to live in accordance with the laws of the land so is a Christian to live according to standard of the gospel of Christ!

Another thought that came out was that we are to strive together, not strife together! The thought with striving together is to stand side by side. It is an sports word that actually means athlete. It reminds us all that we are on the same team!

While the adversaries of the Christian are many we should not be like spooked horses, which is the thought behind the word terrified. Even if we suffer for Christ we must realize that it really is a gift from God. Paul actually points this out twice when he said "from God" and "it has been granted"...to suffer. He goes onto to calls this suffering a conflict. The Christian life is not a playground, often times it is a battleground! But we need to always remember the enemy is very real but he is not other Christians!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Contented at His Table

Recently I was reading Psalm 23 preparing for a funeral and I realized that this Psalm is much more then simply a Psalm of comfort! It is a Psalm of contentment! David puts himself in the place of a sheep and can declare, "The Lord is MY shepherd." Later he describes himself as one sitting at a table that has been prepared by the Lord just for him. On that table would be all the provision the Lord would have for him. That table was not only a place of provision for David, but it was also a place of protection from David's enemy! But David wasn't simply occupied with the provision of the Lord or even the protection of the Lord, as we read this Psalm, David was really occupied with the person of the Lord Himself! He was so much occupied with what the Lord did for Him or could for him, it was not the blessings that David was absorb with, it was the Blesser! That is where real contentment comes from! 

Things can never satisfy us! David knew this and showed us that true contentment goes beyond the temporal. David was focused on a person, "the Lord is MY Shepherd!" David had a relationship with the Lord. In John 10 the Lord Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep...I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own." First, let's realize that this relationship with the Good Shepherd begins when I accept the fact the He, the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, gave himself for me, as depicted in Psalm 22. Listen to what the Lord Jesus goes on to say there in John 10:17-18, "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” My relationship with the Good Shepherd begins when I realize that I am a sinner an that He came into the world to save sinners. I was a lost sheep that had gone astray from God and He came to seek and save that which was lost! It is when I accept what He accomplished for God on that Cross, paying the price for my sin, and I confess to a Holy God that I am a sinner, it is at that very moment that my relationship begins with the Good Shepherd! It is at that very moment that I can declare with confidence that "the Lord is MY Shepherd!" 

Then once this relationship has begun I need to listen to His voice. The Lord Jesus went on in John 10:27-29 to say, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand." Being in the hand of the shepherd is a place of salvation and security, but for us it also needs to be a place of single focus! We need to be occupied with the Shepherd Himself, listening to His voice, getting to know Him daily by being in the Word. The Shepherd is the source of real contentment not what He provides as good as it all is! Recognizing Christ as the source is the secret of being content in all circumstances. Listen to what Paul's says in Philippians 4:11-13, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 

Back in Psalm 23 notice how David was occupied with the Shepherd not simply with the blessings He provided. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me; our rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." 

Real contentment is one of the results of being occupied with the Shepherd? But what are some results of being content? Let's look at a few: 

Proverbs 17:22 tells us that "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 15:15 adds, "All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast." In both of these verse we see that a heart that is content is satisfied and full of joy. 

Our service for the Lord will be affected by our level of contentment, In 1 Timothy 6:6, 8 Paul says, "Godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." Hebrews 13:5 reminds us to "Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you."Job 36:11 adds "If they hear and serve Him, they will end their days in prosperity and their years in pleasures." 

Psalm 37:7-8 adds another dimension to contentment "Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing." Worry flows out of not being occupied and content with the Lord. "Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked" (Proverbs 24:19).But a heart in tune with the Lord can say,"O satisfy us in the morning with Your loving kindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14). "For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good." Psalm 107:9 

Listen to these verse that speak of what else is affected by being satisfied and occupied with the Lord. "The fear of the LORD leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil." Proverbs 19:23 

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance." Isaiah 55:2 

"As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake." 
Psalms 17:15 

"The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever!" Psalm 22:26 

"With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation." Psalms 91:16 

"Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle." Psalms 103:5 

"The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat." Proverbs 13:4 

"He will not accept any ransom, nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts." Proverbs 6:35 

"Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, 'And what about us, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.'" Luke 3:14 

"Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10 

Contentment is saying, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. Contentment is saying, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” Contentment says, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.” Contentment announces, “He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”.(Psalm 23:1; 36:7,8; 63:3-5; 107:9). 

The real secret to contentment is found in fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. To be occupied with Him through the day. To be able to say "For me to live is Christ..." Oh that I might be able to say with all my heart "The Lord is MY Shepherd, I shall not want."

Contentment

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."
Proverbs 17:22

All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast."
Proverbs 15:15

"Godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment."
1 Timothy 6:6

"If they hear and serve Him, they will end their days in prosperity and their years in pleasures."
Job 36:11

"Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing."
Psalm 37:7-8

"O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."
Psalm 90:14

"For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good."
Psalm 107:9

"The fear of the LORD leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil."
Proverbs 19:23

"Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked."
Proverbs 24:19

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance."
Isaiah 55:2

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need."
Philippians 4:11-12

"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content."
1 Timothy 6:8

"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.'"
Hebrews 13:5

"As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake."
Psalms 17:15

"The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever!"
Psalm 22:26

"With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation."
Psalms 91:16

"Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle."
Psalms 103:5

"The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat."
Proverbs 13:4

"He will not accept any ransom, nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts."
Proverbs 6:35

"Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, 'And what about us, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.'"
Luke 3:14

"Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:10

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Life that Magnifies God

In Psalm 34:1-3 David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord, the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” 

What does it mean to magnify God? The word Magnify means to make large, praise, honor, boast about, lift up, promote, to declare great. How do we make God large? There really are two different ways to look at this word magnify. We could look at it like we would under a microscope of under a magnify glass which makes the small object bigger or we can look at this word like we would through a telescope, which takes what is far away and extremely large and brings it near. A life that magnifies the Lord does just that. It is a life that brings God near those it comes in contact with! 

The Life of the Lord Jesus 
That is exactly what the life of the Lord Jesus did. His was the perfect life that glorified and magnified God. In Psalm 69 we read of the inner feelings and sufferings of the Lord Jesus (Ps. 69:2-4, 7-12, 20-21). But we also see what such a life accomplished for the glory of God when the Psalm said prophetically speaking of the Lord "I will praise the name of God with a song. And I will magnify Him with thanksgiving" (Ps. 69:30). In Hebrews 10:5 we see that the Lord Jesus was the very vehicle that God would use to bring Himself near to us. We read "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body you have prepare for Me." These verses come from Psalm 40, a Psalm that speaks of the Lord as the burnt offering, but it goes onto to declare, "Let all those who seek you rejoice and be glad in you, let such as love your salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified" ( Ps. 40:16). This is what the life of the Lord Jesus did. He glorified God in every way, and in doing so He also brought God near to us. Scripture would say, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" and then, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 14). In John 14:9 He could say, "If you seen me you have seen the Father" He magnified God, He was "God manifested in the flesh," In and through His body He brought God near to us that we might behold His greatness. 

Our Lives 
Our lives ought to magnify God as well! I believe scripture teaches us that our entire being ought to magnify God. Our spirit, soul and body. Think of what Mary said in Luke 1:46, "My soul magnifies the Lord." The soul is the seat of our emotions, so in her inner most being she wanted to magnify her God. John the baptist had the same desire when he said of the Lord Jesus, "He must increase and I must decrease" (John 3:30). We too ought to have this same desire that not only emotionally in our inner most being should the Lord be magnified, but in and through our bodies! Paul brings this ought when he said, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." In Romans 12:1-2 he says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 

An example of such a life would be what we read of in Daniel 1:8 and 3:28. They purposed in their heart to live for God and would not bow down to any other God! And in a very practical way their lives brought God near for all to see! 

Paul was willing for his own life to bring glory to God. In fact he desired to magnify the Lord by living or by dying, it really didn't matter to him. Listen to what he says in Philippians 1:20-25, "according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith." Paul wanted to go to be with Christ, but he also wanted saints in Philippi to grow in the spiritual walk with God. He wanted their lives to bear fruit for the glory of God and he also wanted their faith to be full of joy that comes from living for Christ! So whether by death or by life he desired to magnify, to bring Christ near to them! 

At the end of his life Paul could say, "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Paul could say, "I have magnified Christ, I am ready ready to set sail. I have brought Him near to you by the way I lived for Him here and now I want to magnify Him by and through my death! 

Oh that our life would bring God near to those whose lives we touch. May the not see us but see Him who we desire to magnify!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

10 Principles of Giving (2 Corinthians 8-9)

Biblical Giving 
1. Giving is a manifestation of God's grace in our lives: "Now, brethren we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia (2 Cor. 8:1). 

2. Giving is the privilege and responsibility of fellowship with others: "begging us with urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints (2 Cor. 8:4). 

3. Giving involves one's self before one's substance: "...but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God" (2 Cor. 8:5). 

4. Giving is a sincere proof of one's love: "I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also" (2 Cor. 8:8). 

5. Giving should be governed by the principle of equality: "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have . Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little” (2 Cor. 8:12-15).

6. God's blessing is proportionate to one's giving patterns: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). 

7. Giving is voluntary worship from a cheerful heart: "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). 

8. Giving guarantees the provision of God in your life: "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8). 

9. Giving is an act of faithful worship which results in righteousness: "Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God" (2 Cor. 9:10-11). 

10. Giving glorifies God before others as a tangible testimony of the gospel: "For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God (2 Cor. 9:12).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19)

What does the Spirit of Jesus Christ mean? Why does Paul use this term instead of the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God? Why the Spirit of Jesus Christ? The Spirit is mentioned first as the Spirit of God, in relation to creation (Gen. 1:2). Then, He is mentioned as the Spirit of Jehovah, in the context of God's relationship with man (Judges 3:10; 1 Sam. 10:6); as the Holy Spirit, in relation to the conception and birth of Christ (Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:20); as the Spirit of Jesus, in relation to the Lord's human living (Acts 16:7); as the Spirit of Christ, in relation to the Lord's resurrection (Rom. 8:9); and here as the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 

The Spirit of Jesus Christ is the Spirit mentioned in John 7:39. This is not merely the Spirit of God before the Lord's incarnation but the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, after the Lord's resurrection, compounded with the Lord's incarnation (humanity), human life under the cross, crucifixion, and resurrection. The holy anointing ointment in Exodus 30:23-25, a compound of olive oil and four kinds of spices, is a full type of this compound Spirit of God, who is now the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Here in Philippians 1:19, it is not the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7) or the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9) but the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Jesus is related mainly to the Lord's humanity, the Spirit of Christ is related mainly to the Lord's resurrection. To experience the Lord's humanity, as illustrated in 2:5-8, we need the Spirit of Jesus. To experience the power of the Lord's resurrection, as mentioned in 3:10, we need the Spirit of Christ. In his suffering the apostle experienced both the Lord's suffering in His humanity and the Lord's resurrection. Hence, the Spirit to him was the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the compound, all-inclusive, life-giving Spirit of the Triune God. Such a Spirit has, and even is, the bountiful supply for a person like the apostle, who was experiencing and enjoying Christ in His human living and resurrection. 

In studying Scripture context is everything! Looking at the context of the letter to the saints at Philippi, we know from chapter four that one of the very reasons Paul wrote this letter was because there existed among them those that were not getting along. Paul reminds them that he too faced difficulties even with other professing Christians who were preaching Christ with wrong motives. He goes on to share with them that the way we get through such difficult experiences and circumstances is through the prayers of the saints and through the provision of the Spirit. God does not leave us alone, but has provided for us in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This provision (epicorhgia / epichorLgia) is "to supply fully, abundantly" (Vines) and therefore lack in nothing. Paul put it this way in Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" God is not a distant and removed Creator, but is intimately involved in our lives as our loving Father.

Paul is speaking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit here and emphasizes the relationship of the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ. In John 14-16 the Lord Jesus told His disciples that He would send another Helper, "the Spirit of truth," who would abide in them forever, and who would glorify Jesus and guide them into all truth.

The Holy Spirit continues the same ministry in true Christians today. He is still the one that teaches believers about all things (1 John 2:27). Without the Holy Spirit's work in your hearts and minds, we would not be able to do anything for the glory of God! When the truth of God's Word is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit takes that truth and applies it in our lives in convicting us of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8-10). It is the Holy Spirit that quickens a person born dead in their trespasses and sin and makes them spiritually alive (Col. 2:13, 1 Pet. 3:18) and baptizes us into the one body of Christ, the church (1 Cor. 12:13). The gifts, ministries and effects of these things given to us by God are the manifestations of the Spirit for the common good of the whole body (1 Cor. 12:4-7).

Paul did not underestimate the importance of the Spirit of Jesus Christ at work in him in the midst of his circumstances, and neither should we. Paul was confident in the midst of his circumstances because he knew he could trust the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work in him, molding him and making him more like the Lord Jesus Christ. This confidence gave Paul an earnest expectation and hope for the future as he responded to his situation. And it would no doubt have an impact on the saints their in Philippi. 

Paul mentions the Spirit at least two more times in Philippians. In chapter 2:1 he speaks of the fellowship of the Spirit and in chapter 3:3 he mentions worshiping God in the Spirit. I believe the order these three references are found in is extremely important. If we are not living in complete dependence as Paul was, dependent in prayer and on the provision (supply) of the Spirit of Jesus Christ we can not expect to be able to deal with difficulties the way Paul did. He was able to trust God through difficult circumstances because he yielded himself allowing the Spirit of God to conform him to be more like the Lord Jesus. Only then will we be able to appreciate the fellowship of the Spirit. In regards to this Paul sets before them the proper attitudes that enhance relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul knew that there is a difference between unity and uniformity. Unity is something that only God can form as Ephesian 2 teaches. But we are to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. How do we do that? It begins in the heart of each one of us! I think that is why Paul prefaces Ephesian 4:3 with verses 1 and 2, "I therefore a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love.." Paul knew that true spiritual unity comes from within, it is a matter of my heart. Uniformity is a result of pressure from without, but when I have been affected and changed by the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the ground work in my heart has been set. Then in chapter three he reminds them that their worship is not one of ritual and law, but is to be in the Spirit of God. So he begins inward, challenging us to allow the Spirit of Jesus Christ to make us more like Christ and this affects our outward fellowship of the Spirit with others. Our inward condition affects our outward relations, which impacts our upward worship.

God's ultimate purpose for each one of us is to conform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). He desires to have many sons in glory! But right now in the midst of all the problems and difficulties we face personally and collectively in local assemblies the Lord desires you and me to be transformed (changed from the inside out) into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). You and I are to bear the image of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Spirit of God. As we look into the mirror of God's Word and see God's Son, the Spirit transforms us into His very image. This change begins inwardly as I allow the Spirit of Jesus Christ to supply all that is needed. May we be willing to empty ourselves, our pride, our self will and anything else that might be hindering Him from supplying what is needed. May we be like David of old and be willing to say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24).