Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Philippians: Progress and Joy in the Faith

I've been doing a lot of reading in Philippians lately, as I'm speaking for a youth camp this weekend and focusing on several passages for the messages.

I've always characterized Philippians as a book focused on the joy of the Lord and of following Him. This is an accurate assessment, as Paul uses the term joy/rejoice over 10 times in 4 short chapters:
- 1:4- "making my prayer with joy"
- 1:18- "Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice."
- 1:25- "I will...continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith."
- 2:2- "complete my joy by being of the same mind"
- 2:17- "Even if I am am to be poured out as a drink offering...I rejoice with you all."
- 2:29- "Receive him in the Lord with all joy"
- 3:1- "Rejoice in the Lord..."
- 4:1- "Therefore my brothers, whom I love and log for, my joy and my crown..."
- 4:4- "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice."

This is a sampling of the types of things that Paul speaks about in connection with joy. He covers items from prayer to evangelism to unity to one's relationship with God. It is obvious that this is a huge theme for this little epistle.

However, as I've dug a little more deeply and more specifically recently, I've also noticed a huge emphasis on a believer's progress in the faith. Specifically, Paul repeatedly addresses the tension of working hard to progress in your faith with the understanding that God is the one working in you and through you. Consider:
- 1:6- "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
- 2:12-13- "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
- 3:12-13- "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead..."
- 4:12-13- "I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Here we see Paul repeatedly describing a believer's faith as a journey where the believer works hard ("work out", "press on", "straining forward") to progress and grow; yet, all the while, God himself is completing the work and supplying the strength (see the bold text above).

It seems then fitting that Philippians 1:25 is a great theme verse for the book, and should be the goal of every believer, and a priority of every church: "Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith."

Fight for joy, fight for progress. God will give it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fathers' Day Sermon- A Father's Love

Here's my Fathers' Day Sermon entitle "A Father's Love", given at Revive Church on June 17, 2013.

Psalm 103:13- "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him."

Disciplining Love
Providing Love
Compassionate Love.