Lessons from the Book of Philippians

 

 

            Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and giving thanks to the Lord God Almighty for all of His goodness to you. The Word of God, the Bible, tells us that if God should mark iniquities, who could stand?  and that it is by His mercies that we are not consumed. Today we will be continuing our journey through the New Testament Book of Philippians. We are studying this book verse by verse. I believe that there is no better way to study the Bible.

            We have been looking at one of the many characteristics that set the Christian life apart from all the others is our mindset or attitude. When everything seems to be falling apart around me, I can still have peace. I do not have to ‘freak out’ like those around me,  rather I can be at peace and rest. This comes by having my mind set upon the Lord. In Isaiah 26:3 we read, “You (God) will keep him (the Christian) in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

            This is not a matter of power of the mind, or mind over matter; rather it is the promise and power of God, as we trust in Him and His faithfulness. It is not looking deep within myself to find the power or peace; it doesn’t exist within the heart or ability of any man or woman. It is a matter of getting my eyes off of circumstances and myself and placing them on the Lord who is seated above the Heavens.

            This mindset or attitude is not something that we can work up or create; it comes only by having and growing in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As we get to know Him more, we learn to trust Him and His promises and power to carry them out. We don’t have to strive to “be somebody” or worry about our needs and desires. Jesus will take care of all those things that we need.

            This is such a freeing experience. So many people spend countless hours worrying about things they need not concern themselves with. As you grow in your relationship with Jesus, not only are you freed from the unnecessary worry, but you are also freed up to serve the Lord and others as God would have you to do.

            This mindset and attitude of which I speak is epitomized in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Philippians 2:5-8 we read, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

            Here was God Almighty, who simply spoke the entire Universe into existence, becoming a man so that He could pay the price for our sins that we might be reconciled to God. This entire section causes problems for many that say they believe in God and Jesus.  They have difficulty reconciling in their minds how these verses can make sense.

            For instance, Philippians 2:6 speaking of Jesus states, “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” For you and I, or any mere man to consider themselves to be equal with God or anywhere near, would not only be ludicrice and blasphemous, but it would also be robbing God of the glory due Him.

The Bible makes it clear that there is but One who is God and any one or any thing else that claims to be God is taking away or robbing God of what is due Him. On a much smaller scale, it is similar to what is becoming an epidemic problem today, namely identity theft. This is where one person steals the identification of another in order to make gain for themselves.

For Jesus to claim to be God, which He did on numerous occasions, He was not robbing God at all of anything, for He was God all the time.

The next verse is equally amazing. Jesus was not forced or coerced to become a man, He did it willingly. He became not just any man; actually He became less than a man in a sense, for in Jesus’ day, a slave was not considered a man but an animal. We read that He made himself of no reputation. How contrary this is of man today and through time. Men are always striving to be somebody and gain recognition. Not Jesus, He put all that aside.

Read what the Prophet Isaiah had to say about Jesus 600 years before He was ever born. In Isaiah 53, “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked--But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. Then You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.” 

            Jesus did all this and more for you and for me. We read in our text that, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” We also read in Hebrews 12:2, “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

            It may seem quite strange to us that there could be any “joy” in going to the cross and suffering the horrible death that Jesus suffered, but the joy was not in the suffering, rather in what resulted from it. I believe two things in particular were the cause for this joy. First it was the joy of being in full submission to the Father’s plan of salvation. There is a joy that surpasses all other when we are obedient to God. As the old Hymn says “Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus.”

            The second cause for this joy was Jesus’ ability to see down through the ages the multitude of souls, that in turning to Him in faith, would have their sins washed away and given assurance of salvation. It is difficult to understand how God could delight and find joy in suffering for the likes of me. Yet this is what the Bible tells us and I am so very thankful for it.

            Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today? Do you have the assurance that your sins have been washed away and if you were to die this very moment that you would go to Heaven? The only way to have your sins forgiven and able to go to   Heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have any questions, needs, or prayer requests, please contact me at any of the numbers listed below.

            Next time we will continue our study in the Book of Philippians, until then, may the Lord richly bless you beloved.

If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail ccalpine@juno.com

Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine