He Began and Will Finish It The major theme of this message is that God has begun a good work in you because of the Gospel and He will finish it so be encouraged and press on in this new year. Scripture Philippians 1:6 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Secondary scripture Philippians 1:3-11 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Introduction As we get ready for a new year. As we think about the coming year. There are all sorts of thoughts and emotions. Some of us have already made plans and our calendar is already filling up with things to do personally and for work. You may be wondering what God has in store for you and us at Sendero this coming year. Maybe you are wondering what plans God has ready for you and our church. You have probably thought about your relationship with God, where is He going to take you this year? Maybe you are even thinking about how you need to get back with God or thought how to start again in a deeper relationship with him because in 2018 you struggled with your walk with God. In all these things we can be excited and we can also get a little fearful. There are a lot of unknowns. There is a whole new year ahead of us! The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “By perseverance the snail reached the Ark.”—Spurgeon1 It was God’s plan for the snail to reach the Ark. It is God’s plan for you and Sendero to accomplish what He desires for 2019. In our verses for today Paul gives us some things we can apply to our life. These are some of the life lessons that God has for us in the book of Philippians. If we learn these lessons and apply them to our lives this coming year will be an exciting year. Confidence Paul wrote that he was confident. What was he confident about? How could he be confident? Confident can be defined as 1. Marked by assurance 2. Marked by confidence in oneself; self-assured 3. Very bold; presumptuous 4. confiding; trustful. Paul was confident about his experience with the Philippian church. Paul writes that he thanks God for all his remembrance of them. He was always offering prayers for them. He remembered them because of their participation in the gospel from the first day until now. The very thing that he was confident about was God’s work in the lives of the Philippian church. What Paul is saying here is that he was marked with assurance in God. How? He had experienced it first hand. In verse five Paul uses the word participation which actually can also mean fellowship. The church came alongside Paul in the work of the gospel. It was the gospel brought by Paul that changed them to be followers of Jesus. It was because of the working power of the gospel that they gathered as a church, a community of believers. It was the work of the church in the gospel that continued the life of the church. That is why Paul was confident about the church because they had participated in the gospel, they had fellowship in the gospel and they continued in the gospel. The church was not perfect. It had its problems. But the church embraced the Lord and the gospel. For Paul it was something to give thanks about.2 It was something to be confident about. Are you confident in what God has done and is doing in your life? Take a step back and look at 2018. Think about how far you have gone. Some of you are followers of Jesus now. I have seen changes in everyone. Think about our church. We have changed this past year and for the better too. We have reason to be confident in God. A good work Did you realize that your salvation, your walk with God is a good work? A good work reminds me of God’s work in Genesis. When, in six days, he created the heavens and the earth he called his work good. It was good because He did it. It was good because it was satisfying to Him. When God saved you it was a good work. It was also good because it was satisfying to God. Your salvation was a restoration of a broken relationship. The Bible says that before Christ we were enemies of God, seeking our own way. Paul writes about this in Ephesians 2:10-16 when he says, “10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.3 The work that He did to bring about a restored relationship was good and is pleasing to God. Upon your salvation God began a good work in you. His work is not done. Your life is the continued good work God is doing in you. Do you realize that this coming new year is part of God’s plan for His good work in your life. So whatever is planned and whatever happens, in God’s perspective, it is part of His good work in your life. A Christian from Arkansas once wrote, 4324 Go On! One step won’t take you very far; You’ve got to keep on walking; One word won’t tell folks who you are; You’ve got to keep on talking; One inch won’t make you very tall; You’ve got to keep on growing; One deed won’t do it all; You’ve got to keep on going. —Arkansas Baptist4 God has begun a good work in you. Look at this past year. Don’t go back, don’t hesitate. Like the Arkansas Christian said keep on going. This is not a time to doubt but to give thanks for this year and look forward to 2019 that is full of hope and promise. We can stair confidently to the future because we know the God who started the good work is with us. Being complete Do you realize that God desires you to be complete? In verses 9 and 10 Paul explains that his prayers are for the believers love to abound more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that they may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. God is not done with you. He wants to complete what He has begun. That is what is called the Christian life. It is interesting that the word complete is interchangeable with the phrase, to perfect it. God does not do half done jobs. He completes His work and calls it good. You are his good work. Sendero is his good work. He will complete this work He has begun. Paul was confident in God and His commitment to finish the job. Our job is to keep on walking behind Jesus, keep on growing, keep on talking about the gospel, keep on doing God’s will, keep on living, keep on going! Take a look at the example Paul sets before us to press on to persevere, to keep going. This is what Paul writes in verses 18 and 21-24, 18 “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,” 21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” This new year is ahead of us. We don’t know what is in store. But confidently we know we are a good work of God. We are His. He will never leave us or forsake us. We have His word, the Bible, which is full of His promises. We have Christ working through us and we have the Holy Spirit who is our comforter and teacher. So we can go confidently forward. There is no need to go back. There is no need to stand still. Someone once said the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. And like the ant who got directions from looking up at the sun. We will get our directions from looking up at the Lord Jesus Christ.