Connecting the dots…

I know that I am saved by faith in Jesus.  His work alone saved me.  Nothing else, no works of mine, was needed. But now that I’m “in”, it is easy for me to roll up my sleeves and say, “now, I’d better get busy.  God has done his part.  It’s time for me to do mine!”  The Christian life then becomes for me an endless series of duties.   Combine that with a growing sense of God’s holiness and I end up with an ever widening gap of failure to measure up.  Does this sound familiar?  No wonder many of us secretly feel that it’s hard work being a Christian!

The alternative that’s often presented to this way of thinking is, “Let go and let God.”  So I decide to stop trying so hard…or even at all.  Mentally I lie on my couch and say, “Hit me, Lord!  Do it!  Change me!  Let me know when you’re finished…”

Do you vacillate between these extremes, too?

Therefore

In this week’s passage Philippians 2:12-18, Paul will address the “what’s next?” question.

“Therefore” is our cue to connect the dots between these six verses and what immediately preceded it.  The Hymn to Jesus is gloriously relevant to our Monday mornings.  So when you answer the first question, What’s going on here?, be sure to connect it with what went before.  I’m looking forward to learning together.  If you are just joining us, you can find the “Feasting on Christ Daily Worksheet” under Resources at the top of the page.

Food for the Road

Some days I don’t have much time to spend in the word.  One morning this week I got up with the alarm, but found that the coffee had perked all over the counter, leaving a dripping mess of grounds and brew puddling on the floor.  By the time I had cleaned it up, it was time to shower and head to the Y to teach.  On days like this, just a verse–or even a phrase–from the day before can provide rich nourishment for my soul.  “Striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” was that kind of phrase for me that day.  The more I thought about it, the more joy I felt as I realized that I am not alone in living out the gospel during my week.  A sense of my unity with the body of Christ at Grace Church became a tangible source of strength in my little corner of the Y. So if you have a morning like I had, suck on a little piece of the word and let it flavor your day.

Discussion question of the week:

We are up to question #4 “Where do I see Christ here?” Now this question may seem to have been better suited to last week’s passage, but I think it will be fun to discuss it where it is not quite so obvious.  And don’t let the mere occurrence of the name “Christ” fool you into thinking you’ve seen him.  We can beat ourselves (and others) over the head with the stick of legalism even in the name of Christ!  What you are looking for is his work of salvation, his identity as our Savior and our Lord.  One of the six categories:  example, sin, command, grace, promise, attribute will be your hotlink to him.  Let’s help each other see him better!

9 comments on “Connecting the dots…

  1. Courtney says:

    Thank you for the striving side by side picture! People instantly came to my mind who are struggling with the same sort of things I am. This brought me peace knowing that I have people in my life who are pursuing the same lasting thing! Jesus!

    the lines I found Jesus in were… verse 13 “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” and verse 16 “hold firmly to the word of life” and verse 17 “poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice “… this was a sweet exercise. these are not new concepts, but meditating on Jesus as the one working in me, not me working to be like Him, but me seeking Him and Him working in me… this leads me to thankfulness and peace! my response to this truth is one to believe that it is true, and then “hold firmly to the world of life” that in every way points to Jesus! who was “poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice”.

    i also looked up deuteronomy 32, quoted by paul in verse 14. this is a sweet chapter.

    Deuteronomy 32:1-14
     “Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; 
   hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. 
Let my teaching fall like rain 
   and my words descend like dew, 
like showers on new grass, 
   like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the LORD. 
   Oh, praise the greatness of our God! 
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, 
   and all his ways are just. 
A faithful God who does no wrong, 
   upright and just is he.
    They are corrupt and not his children; 
   to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. 
 Is this the way you repay the LORD, 
   you foolish and unwise people? 
Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?
      Remember the days of old; 
   consider the generations long past. 
Ask your father and he will tell you, 
   your elders, and they will explain to you. 
 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, 
   when he divided all mankind, 
he set up boundaries for the peoples 
   according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the LORD’s portion is his people, 
   Jacob his allotted inheritance. In a desert land he found him, 
   in a barren and howling waste. 
He shielded him and cared for him; 
   he guarded him as the apple of his eye, 
like an eagle that stirs up its nest 
   and hovers over its young, 
that spreads its wings to catch them 
   and carries them aloft. 
The LORD alone led him; 
   no foreign god was with him. He made him ride on the heights of the land 
   and fed him with the fruit of the fields. 
He nourished him with honey from the rock, 
   and with oil from the flinty crag, 
with curds and milk from herd and flock 
   and with fattened lambs and goats, 
with choice rams of Bashan 
   and the finest kernels of wheat. 
You drank the foaming blood of the grape.”

    the whole chapter is recounting things the Lord has done. i need to remember to reflect on how God is mindful of his people, it makes worrying so silly when you truly believe in God and believe God.

    • rondi says:

      Good stuff, Courtney, nothing stirs faith in God like thinking about what He has done! His work is the Great work, our good works follow like little quail skittering after their mother.

  2. Lissa says:

    Seeing Christ: vs. 15 “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine as lights in the world,”
    This made me think about Jesus because He was the perfect and blemish-free sacrifice for us blemished-filled people. We know that God demanded from Israel a blemish free sacrifice and to think that we too become as one without blemish before God as a result of His sons work, is awesome!
    I also thought about how Jesus told us that we are to become lights on a hill and it is only by Him and His sacrifice that we are able to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. He changes us from being children of darkness to children of light and it is His light shinning from us that they see.
    And the fact that in verse 18 Paul says to Rejoice and be glad with him, I see that as purely Jesus changing him. From being a murderer of followers of Jesus to rejoicing about following him, that is just mind boggling and that shows a real change. Paul’s example of being a light and pointing others to that light has Jesus painted all over it.

    • rondi says:

      Wonderful glimpses of Christ. Thank you for sharing! I hadn’t seen him in 2:15, but your thoughts made me take another look. The picture that our lives can “shine as lights in the world” is an inspiring one, one I want to be true of my life. But an even more encouraging thought is to remember that he himself is the “light of the world.” Now that my life is connected to him through faith, I can be a light too.

      Jesus shines through you, Lissa. I’ve seen him!

  3. Natalie Cooper says:

    Our wonderful savior Jesus Christ was the perfect example of this entire passage. He accomplished this all so perfectly without sin. As I read and looked at Christ’s example I am filled with joy! For HE as won the victory ahhh what grace! What amazing grace that we have even been chosen by God to be lights in this world. Because of Christ my sin has been paid…thank you Jesus….and our Father says go….and be a light to this dark world for my glory!

    • rondi says:

      Yes, Natalie, it is wonderful to see his perfect obedience as the foundation for our obedience. “Do all things without grumbling or complaining” is a command that is relevant to my life every day of the week. I want to obey it, but often experience failure. Knowing that Jesus perfectly obeyed it through all the circumstances of his life (2:7) on earth comforts me, because his righteousness is mine through faith. I’m so glad he obeyed even to the point of death (2:8), too, because I need his death to cleanse me from yesterday’s (and today’s) sin. Both of those gifts–righteousness and cleansing–are my standing before God as I try, once more to “do all things without grumbling or complaining.” And his resurrected life (2:9) is the power I need to make the attempt.

  4. Mireille says:

    For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Verse 13. Two days ago that was my prayer in the morning. I had a thousand things in my mind that i could or should do that day but i asked God to work in me so i would act according to his purpose. He told me to put people first. You see i had things on my list but not people. So i did, and the amazing thing is that not only did i serve people but also acconplished a lot of things from my list. And to top that i felt unhurried all day, peaceful, and i could feel God’s pleasure. So here i go again today, Lord plan my day according to your purpose, i like it Lord when you direct my steps.

    • Natalie Cooper says:

      ahhh thats so sweet and encouraging Mireille, those are the best days when I wake up saying “Lord what do you have for me today?”
      That was my struggle this morning, should I do this or this or maybe this, and its so amazing when you go to God how much easier the day becomes. I am blessed that I am not alone, God has been showing me through this blog that us women struggle in a lot of the same ways. Thank you for sharing this!

    • rondi says:

      Beautiful! And such a lovely illustration of the dynamic of his work/my work. an easy yoke indeed!