Monday, January 31, 2011

Working and Willing for God's Good Pleasure

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation in fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure...Philippians 2:12-13.

Paul was a man who sincerely loved the Lord, loved the church and loved people.  His life's passion and calling was to tell others about Jesus Christ and to strengthen the church.  In fact, he called himself the bondservant of Christ.  He was constantly putting others before himself, and he valued those who co-labored alongside himself who had the same attitude, or "like-mindedness".  This was the topic of our study this week.  Paul's desire was for us to understand why we serve others and he gives us the secret to being an effective servant for Christ.  He even threw in a couple of examples in Timothy and Epaphroditus to learn from. 

There is a common misconception about why we serve the Lord.  In fact, many religious organizations go as far as making service or works unto the Lord a prerequisite for salvation and rightstanding with God.  Service unto God is a byproduct of what the Lord has done for us by sending us His Son, Jesus Christ to save us from our fallen state and exalting Him to Lordship by giving Him "the name which is above every name".  That is why we obey and "work out our salvation in fear and trembling".  Not only in Paul's presence or absence (or in the presence or absence of any other godly leader), but because Jesus is on the throne and we do it in reverence of Him. 

Now how does this play out practically in our lives?  This is the secret that Paul shares with us in the next scripture.  We acknowledge that it is God who "works in us to will and to do for His good pleasure" and we allow His power to do that work within us.  Kay Smith's study directed us to the scriptures from Ephesians 2:8-9 that says, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works,  lest anyone should boast.  Even the act of believing in Him is something that God does within us, it's nothing that we do ourselves.  The second part of the secret is in verse 16, holding fast to the word of life. 

Between allowing the Lord to work within us through His power and through His word guiding and directing us, we are able to be that light that shines in this world.  That is how we are able to keep from complaining and disputing, how we are able to be blameless and harmless in crooked and perverse generation, and that is how Paul was able to pour out his life for others.  Chapter 2 talks about doing things that are really difficult for us to do, but they are not impossible through Jesus. 

Lord Jesus, pour out Your Spirit upon our lives so that we will be able to live out those things that You desire in our lives.  Cause us to be Your servants and to love others with Your power in us. 

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