8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!–Phil. 3:8-11 (NLT)
There is absolutely no action or good work that we can do that will save our souls. Our righteousness is like filthy rags compared to the righteousness of Jesus. So, living good lives, doing good deeds, and obeying the law are useless for salvation. Sooner or later, we all have to kneel before Jesus, confess our sins, repent, take up our cross and follow Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith, lest any of us should brag that we have somehow saved ourselves. We must share in His suffering and death to experience the power that raised Jesus from the dead. When we do this, our hearts will be broken because of His suffering for us. But they will soon be filled with joy unspeakable because His Spirit abides in us and we will participate in His resurrection. We are in Christ and He is in us: therefore, we are totally immersed in Him. One day soon, we will be like Him! Hallelujah!
14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.–Phil. 2;4-18 (NLT)
Joy is contagious and it attracts other people to us when we are joyful. No one wants to spend all day, every day, with a complainer. So, if we want to attract others to Jesus, we should serve with a heart full of joy. That joy should be as pure as the joy of a small child. It should have no pretense, people can easily see through that. We want to be bright lights leading others to Jesus. We should be the kind of lights that cause as much excitement and joy as a lighthouse on a shore that is being beaten by crashing sea waves causes when it is seen by the lookout on a ship. Our lights should warn people of the dangers of sin just as surely as the lighthouse warns sailors of the danger of rocks. Keep your lights trimmed and burning bright by studying and meditating on God’s Word daily. Spend time each day with just you and Jesus.
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.–Phil. 2:1-4 (NLT)
As Christians, we find encouragement, comfort, love, and fellowship when we meet together on a regular basis. God instructs us to do this in Hebrews 10: 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (NLT)
Most of us have heard the example of taking one red-hot ember from the fireplace and placing it by itself. It quickly loses its glow and turns from red to gray to black. But, if you take the ember and place it back in the fireplace with the other embers, it quickly begins to glow and becomes red-hot again. We are like that ember, we need to be with other Christians so that we don’t lose our glow and our passion for Jesus. The more we stay together and study together, the more likely we are to agree quickly and wholeheartedly with God and with each other. Be humble and always look out for others. Think of others as being better than yourself. If we do this, we will be of one mind and we will please our Lord and Savior. Jesus sent His disciples out 2 by 2, that is our example when we go out to witness. Then we come back to the fireplace (your study group) to be reheated so that we can go out again.
9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.–Phil. 1:9-11 (NLT)
The way we keep on growing spiritually is to keep meditating on God’s Word. We must spend time alone with God each and every day. Reading God’s Word, meditating on it, praying and practicing what we have learned is the way we grow and attract others to Christ. We can only attempt to live pure and blameless lives, but it would be totally impossible without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The time we spend in study will help us to live lives filled with the righteous character of God. This will bring praise and glory to God, which is our primary purpose for being here.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.–Eph. 5:13-17 (NLT)
God has prepared the armor for us to wear when we are in battle and the battle rages 24/7. There is never a second when we are not engaged in spiritual warfare. The devil never rests, so we must always be on alert. Our belt is the truth of the Gospel and our breastplate is the righteousness of God. Our feet are shod with the peace of God, faith is our shield, salvation is our helmet, and the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Immerse all this armor in prayer without ceasing and we will be well able to resist the enemy and able to stand firm in any battle.
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.–Eph. 6:10-12 (NLT)
Every day we are involved in spiritual warfare. This warfare will not be won by flesh and blood because our enemy is not flesh and blood. The enemy may very well come to us dressed in human form and looking beautiful enough to entice us into fighting the battle on his terms and his territory. We cannot and must not allow him to do that. The battle is not ours, it is the Lord’s and we must allow Him to fight the battle through us and for us. Evil rulers, spirits, and authorities in the unseen world are stronger than we are. But they are no match for the One who lives in us. Do not fear the enemy unless you are not prepared to meet the enemy. Be prepared at all times. Tomorrow we will talk abut how we do that. Until then, just remember that “Greater is He Who lives in us is than the one that lives in the world”. We have nothing to fear if we are prepared.
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.–Eph. 5:15-20 (NLT)
To make the most of our opportunities from a Biblical viewpoint means more than working hard or trying to make a profit on everything we do. It means, at least in part, to take the time to pray for and show love for those God puts in our paths. It means being a good steward over all the resources God has allowed us to use. Understanding what the Lord wants us to do means focusing our every thought and action bringing the lost to Christ. We should avoid excesses of every kind except the fruits of the Spirit against which there is no law. Our rewards for good works here on earth are laid up for us in heaven and will last for an eternity making them much more valuable than gold or sliver. We should always have joy in our hearts and a thankful attitude in our minds and words of praise on our lips.
1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.–Eph 5:1-6 (NLT)
Each of us is a role model for those around us. There is someone watching each of us. Every day we are witnessing to those around us. Do those around us see Jesus or do they someone or something else in our lifestyle? We must imitate the example that Jesus set for us. Our conversation and actions should agree with what we know about Jesus. Both our lifestyle and our speech should reflect Jesus to those around us.
44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.–Luke 23:44-46 (NLT)
Can you imagine what all those people were thinking at this time? Both the light from the sun and from the Son were gone. There was total, complete darkness for a space of 3 hours. The veil (curtain) in the temple was torn from top to bottom. Then Jesus spoke with words from Psalm 31. If we read that quote in context, we find that it points backward to David’s suffering and deliverance and forward to the Resurrection. What a miserable place the world must have been while Jesus was in the grave. Now, we fast forward to Sunday morning. “Then came the morning” and the tomb was empty!. Victory for Jesus and for all of us who believe in Him. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Rejoice! and again, I say rejoice! We must go tell somebody the Good News! Christ is Risen!
25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.–John 19:25-30 (NLT)
We cannot even begin to imagine the roller coaster of thoughts and emotions that Mary went through as she stood and watched her Son being ridiculed and mocked. He was physically and verbally abused beyond belief. If Mary knew the book of Isaiah then she knew that this death and this type of death was inevitable for her Son. Knowing something, in the human sense, does not necessarily prepare us to see it in actuality. I believe that at this very moment, Mary’s knowledge turned to reality and she now understood Simeon’s prophecy. “And a sword will pierce your very soul”. From sometime Thursday night until 3 PM on Friday, Jesus suffered more than we will suffer in a lifetime. And just as surely as those Centurions drove the actual nails into His hands and feet, our sins drive nails straight into His heart.