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God Works in Us

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The Crossword puzzle in the Columbus Dispatch: Topic of the preacher’s sermon “SIN”

  • How many times does Paul use the word ‘SIN’ in the Epistle to the Philippians? 0
  • How many times does Paul use the word ‘REJOICE’ in this Epistle?

                        7 NASB - 10 KJV - 9 HCSB

- It is not fair that a blanket statement like that is repeated in the crosswords. It is not true today and was not even true in the writings of Paul.

Paul was in prison when he wrote this to the Philippians but he repeatedly told them to rejoice and we as Christians have a great deal to rejoice about.

  • Today ‘SIN’ is not the topic of the sermon. But it might be mentioned.
  • REJOICE is not the topic of the sermon. But it might be mentioned.                              
  • God is working in our lives, what more is there to rejoice about.

Philippians 1:6 (HCSB) I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God works in our lives in the Past, Present, and Future tenses. In these tenses we have aspects on which we can view the work of our Lord; there are things to be happy about in these tenses as well as things that we should be responsive to in these tenses.

I. Appreciate God’s Work in Us. II. Participate in God’s Work. III. Acclimate for God’s Work.

Appreciate God’s Work in Us

Paul states that He began in the past tense. This had an origin or a beginning point.

·    It was His initiative to do this work.

            Christ came to die on the cross for our sins. John 3:16

            It was nothing that we did, He offered it to us.

·    It was our responsibility to respond to this offer and accept Christ as our Savior.

The Philippians had done this and once we do it, the personal work in our lives begins.

We place so low an estimate on what we owe the Lord and our obligations to the Church. We never stop to complain about the high cost of other things, but when the matter of divine obligation is placed upon us, we complain, and too often fall down and miss the mark altogether. The following from an exchange is proof of this fact:

In central Texas, a rich drover, whose son had committed murder, engaged the best criminal lawyer that money could procure to defend his boy. He was acquitted. The lawyer presented his bill. It was staggering. The attorney said, "I hope you do not think it too large?" "Oh, no, not at all," he responded. "You have saved my boy. I would gladly have paid you twice the amount."

That winter a faithful pastor won that boy to Christ, and thus saved him from a continuance in drunkenness and sin. When the pastor asked the drover for a contribution toward the kingdom of God, his thank offering was one dollar!

What do we owe to Him who saved us? Appreciate God’s work in our lives.

Participate in God’s Work

Philippians 1:7 (HCSB) It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel.

A. Participate in God’s Work by Standing up for the Gospel.

The legal terms that are used in this verse: Imprisonment, Defense, and Establishment

  • Imprisonment refers to Paul’s present situation.
  • Defense of the Gospel. Apologetics = explaining and defending what we believe
  • Establishment of the Gospel = verification of the Gospel or aggressive advancement in proclaiming the Gospel.

In order to participate like this we must be participating in the work of God in our lives.

1.      Daily Devotions with prayer and Bible study

2.      Regular church attendance, Tuesday night Bible study

3.      Taking opportunities to witness to others.

The Philippians were shown as partners in grace because they were not afraid to identify with Paul in these situations.

In other words, they participated (were active) in the work of God.

·    Have you ever been left hanging?

B. Participate in God’s work by our love for each other.

Philippians 1:8 (HCSB)
8 For God is my witness, how I deeply miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:8 (KJV)

For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

·    It sounds kind of gross in the KJV, but Paul is speaking of a deep inward love for them.

Philippians 1:9 (HCSB) And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment,

  • Our love should also ‘abound’ to overflow and keep overflowing.
  • "Love like paint, can make things beautiful when you spread it, but it simply dries up when you don't use it."
  • This also comes with knowledge. Again we are to be active in the work of God.

Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting.

Well, for example, the other day I went downtown and went into a shop. I was only in there for about 5 minutes and when I came out there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. I went up to him and said, "Come on, man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?" He ignored me and continued writing the ticket.

I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires. So I called him an idiot. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more I abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, I didn’t care. I came downtown on the bus and the car that he was putting the tickets on had a bumper sticker that said, “I’m an Atheist.”

I try to have a little fun each day now that I’m retired.[1]

C. How we approve of what is done in the society that we live in.

Philippians 1:10 (HCSB) so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ,

All of the things mentioned will lead to our ability to approve what is right and wrong.

  • We are not to go with the flow. Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is still right even if nobody is doing it.

Chris and I were discussing what things that God has stated to be wrong and what the society is starting to approve.

The Ten Commandments; Exodus 20. If God approved of what is going on these days, He wouldn’t have called them the Ten Commandments, He would have given us the 10 suggestions.

            This doesn’t mean that we should study the faults of our neighbors more than we study the Bible. Rather… the Bible should be our compass… it should give direction to how we live.

Matthew 5:13-14 (HCSB)

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.

We need to be careful in what we approve and disprove of in our everyday lives.

In the early years of America the church was the conscience of the country, things are reversing to the effect that the country and our society have become the conscience of the church.

Acclimate for God’s Work

Acclimate – accustom yourself, adapt, adjust

Philippians 1:10-11 (HCSB) so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

  • If we are to be blameless, we will have to practice what has been said already.
  • If we have not let God begin this work in our lives, then this could be the day to accept Jesus as our Savior so that the work can begin.

If we are doing the things that I said then this is a reminder to persevere and keep it up.

The Philippians were active in the things mentioned but Paul reminded them to continue.

  • Christ doesn’t take us out of the world, but He wants to take the world out of us.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (HCSB) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad.

Philippians 1:6 (HCSB) I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Sometimes when things get tough, we forget that God is Working on us.

Malachi 3:3 says, “He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver…” A woman went to a silversmith to see if she could watch him work.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. 

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot. Then she thought again about the verse that says: "He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver."  She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.  

The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled and answered, "Oh, that’s easy -- when I see my image in it" 

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.
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[1]Brent Harris. (2007). Illustrations of Brent Harris.

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