BY HIS GRACE - FOR HIS GLORY
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (ESV)
Yesterday passage (Philippians 1:9-11) was really convicting to me personally, more than usual. God’s Holy Spirit has shown me how many of my decisions are really not the best(excellent) because they are motivated by self-love rather than the agape love that Paul prayed would abound in their hearts.
I really want to be caught by my Lord on the day of His return, doing something that reflects the sacrificial love that He displays for His church. I desire that all my decisions will be filtered by my love for Him and His children. This does not have to be witnessing to 10,000. It could be something as small as choosing to kick the soccer ball with my son, rather than selfishly reading a blog by some well know Christian.
I not only desire this for myself and my family, but our church. I want the love of Christ to constrain us (2 Corinthians 5:13-15). The idea there is that Christ’s love so surrounds us from every side that it pressures us into living the only life that pleases Him. Think toothpaste. Everything about a toothpaste tube is structured to make the toothpaste come out at the end for its intended purpose.
And the purpose for which Christ has love us is not that we live for ourselves, but to propel us to live for Christ who for our sake died and was raised.
That was Paul’s prayer for the Philippian church -that they would know not only the source and nature of that love, but that the love of Christ would flow so freely among them that all their decisions would validate the superiority of that sacrificial love over a self-serving love.
The implications of this truth are staggering. In fact, in 2 Corinthians, it appears that some thought Paul’s commitment to living out this love was crazy. He was nuts.
No, he wasn’t nuts, just fully devoted to God and His purposes. It just looks nuts to a self-absorbed world.
It looks radical.
That was the nature of the early church. They sold everything, so that no one in that church would have a physical need. The Philippians gave to Paul out of their extreme poverty and sent one of their very own to assist him in prison.
Abounding love has astounding consequences.
To the glory and praise of God!
To understand more fully this blog post please listen to yesterday’s sermon @ http://gracechurchlebanon.weebly.com/philippians.html
In these days, you can be members of almost anything, from Sam’s Club to Netflix and everything in between. Basically your commitment comes down to paying your monthly dues. After that, you enjoy your benefits whenever you please. If it Sam’s Club it might be a monthly visit, if Netflix, it might be a movie or TV show everyone once in a while.
To me, it seems like church membership has become in many cases the spiritual equivalent of belonging to Sam’s Club. I pay my dues (tithe) and take advantage of the benefits, when of course, I choose.
This is so very unlike what Paul describes to be true of the saints at Philippi. He was joyfully thankful for their wholehearted partnership (fellowship) in the gospel.
This isn't an original idea with me, but I believe that we should prayerfully consider no longer referring to ourselves as members of a church, but partners in gospel ministries. The early church in Acts was known as being fully devoted to the person of Jesus Christ and that worked itself out in four very obvious ways (Acts 2:42).
In light of this, please consider the following:
I PARTNER therefore with this body, by the aid of the Holy Spirit:
· to walk with you in Christian love;
· to strive for the advancement of this body, in knowledge, and holiness - even to the laying down of my life in service for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ and my brothers and sisters, and if called upon by my Lord, to hazard my life for the gospel's sake;
· to promote its prosperity and spirituality; by using my God given gifts and talents to serve the church in one of its ministries.
· to take advantage of God directed opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those within my sphere of influence and share those experiences freely with others in our body for their edification and the glory of God.
· to sustain true Biblical worship in it, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's table, discipline, and doctrines as revealed in the Word of God;
· to contribute cheerfully and regularly of my income as God has graciously prospered me for the support of this church, relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations.
· To make our meeting together a spiritual priority, forsaking other lesser endeavors for the joy of sharing the resurrected life of Jesus Christ by practicing biblical “one another’s”.
I also PARTNER with the body of believers, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit:
· to read the word of God consistently during the week and strive to apply it to my life,
· to biblically educate my children and grandchildren;
· to seek the salvation of my family and acquaintances;
· to be zealous in my efforts to advance the kingdom of my Savior;
· to walk wisely in the world and pleasing before my Heavenly Father;
· to be just in my dealings, faithful in my engagements, exemplary in my deportment, abstaining from all appearances of evil;
· and, to avoid all backbiting, gossiping, and unrighteous anger.
I also partner with my fellow believers, by the aid of the Holy Spirit:
· to watch over you, my brothers and sisters, in brotherly love;
· to remember you in prayer;
· to aid you in sickness and distress;
· to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech;
· to be slow to take offence, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the commandments of our Savior to secure it without delay.
I also understand that if I am overtaken in any fault, I will be subject to biblical discipline which seeks my restoration with the intention of maintaining the purity of Christ church and the glory of God.
I moreover commit to all present that when I remove from this place I will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church of like faith and practice, where I can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word. I also realize that Grace Church of Lebanon, Indiana has already entered into this covenant one with another and that she is also responsible to me in like manner.