Posts Tagged Philippians 2: 12

Blessed Counsel

Psalm 1: 1

How blessed is the . . ..

Psalm 1, a very good place to start. Most of you realize the psalms are songs. As such they have a different tone and complexion from the rest of scripture. The psalms contain many special messages and they often minister straight to the heart, completely bypassing the intellect.

I am struck by the first words of the first Psalm. I participate in a conference call where we are learning about the blessing. How interesting that the first words of the first psalm are about the blessing. The songwriter is going to tell us how people live in the blessing of God. What comes next? How can we each be amongst the blessed of God?

Here is the first verse in its entirety: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” The first thing we learn about walking in the blessing is what not to do. So, what is this bit of wisdom. First, don’t take your advice from the wicked. I used to think this meant not to take advice from non-Christians. So, I endeavored to hire Christians for everything. However, I made a dazzling discovery. Some of the non-Christians were more ethical than the Christians I was working with. Jesus said we will know the wicked by their fruit. So now I have learned to be a fruit inspector. I would prefer to work with Christians but sometimes my light is better displayed by its exposure to those who need to see Christ alive. Also, the salvation prayer does not include a transformation button. We all have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2: 12). That means that our transformation isn’t automatic. Romans 12: 2 reads, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Transformation is a process. It would be wonderful if there was an automatic transformation but there isn’t. Everyone has to work on becoming the Christ like person God ordained. Checking people’s fruit is a check on their journey so far and their ethics is a part of that journey. So, we are instructed not to take our counsel from the wicked which means we must be certain that the people we look to are worthy to lead us on a right path.

That is true of the next statement as well. Do not conspire or plan with sinners. Who are the sinners? Does that mean limit us to Christians? I wish. Don’t hang out with people who practice sin regardless of their Christian affiliation. Choose to be with people who are endeavoring to live above sin. Jesus gave us his life and victory so that we can be free of the chains of sin but not all who have asked Jesus into their lives have broken the chains of sin. Be wise. Check their fruit.

Last, do not be a scoffer nor associate with people who are. This is a pretty big deal, actually. Scoffers are those who jeer, mock, are contemptuous, and speak derisively. These are people you need to stay away from. I think also of people who are generally negative, contrary and critical. We all have a tendency towards being scoffers at times, but you know there is a difference between occasional slipups and a pattern of behavior.

This first psalm points us towards the blessing. In so doing it alerts us to some easy missteps. If you want to live in the blessing you can’t take your advice from wicked people, scoffers or sinners. Of course, this makes sense. These people cannot point you to the blessing. They cannot teach you or counsel you in how to walk in blessing. They can only teach what they know which is scoffing, wickedness, and sin. None of those are in the blessing. Don’t hire these people, don’t take their advice, don’t let them lead you – even if they do have a fish on their business card or are related to you. Take your counsel from people whose fruit would please Jesus.

Pinocchio

Philippians 2: 12

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Do you remember the Disney movie Pinocchio? I had it on last week and was struck, as never before, with the commonality between that little wooden headed boy and Christians.

The story goes that Geppetto, a wood carver by trade, made the little wooden puppet. He wished, though, that this little puppet could be a real boy. The blue fairy heard Geppetto’s wish and because he had given so much joy to other people she visited his house to grant his wish. She waved her magic wand and the puppet came to life. Hallelujah!

Do you see the parallel there with us and Jesus? When we were dead, nothing but inanimate wooden heads, he came and gave us life (John 10: 10). But wait, there is more to the story. The blue fairy explained to Pinocchio that it was because Geppetto wished for a real boy that she came to give him life. Upon hearing this, Pinocchio asked, “Am I a real boy?” The blue fairy told him, “No,” that becoming a real boy would depend upon him. He had to prove himself truthful, brave and unselfish, and to learn right from wrong to become a real boy. Interestingly, she didn’t say that he had to “do” right rather than “wrong”. That is implied. The key was in learning the right way from the wrong way. It is not instinctive. We, like Pinocchio, have to learn.

Pinocchio’s task was monumental, almost insurmountable, but the fairy didn’t leave him on his own to learn all of these important lessons. He would have been destined to fail. She gave him a helper. His name was Jiminy Cricket. We too have been given a helper. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever (John 14: 6). We have been told to be transformed (Romans 12: 2) but like Pinocchio, our task would be impossible if not for the Holy Spirit, our helper.

We have another similarity with Pinocchio. Jesus came and gave us life but it is up to us to become real Christians. We have the life, but we have to be transformed into “real boys” through our own walk with our helper. When we do not listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we end up in the same kind of trouble that Pinocchio found when he did not heed the advice of Jiminy Cricket. Because of his own actions, Pinocchio was being transformed into a jackass. I am afraid that comparison is far too close for comfort.

Many of us have thought that once we accepted Jesus as Lord, we were done. We concluded we could go on living like Pinocchio’s worldly friend, Lampley, without reaping the consequences. Wrong! The salvation prayer is akin to what happened when the blue fairy gave Pinocchio life. From there we should have received advice like she gave Pinocchio. It is up to you to become a real boy. Prove yourself truthful, brave and unselfish; learn right from wrong and you will be transformed into the very image that Geppetto, the Father, has for you.

We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling but we are not alone in this or any other endeavor. God didn’t tell us to be transformed and then we would be saved. No! He saved us, gave us life and then gave us His very own Spirit to be our guide, our conscience, if you will. We will never be transformed without his help. We cannot do this work in our own strength or else we would have created a prettier version of ourselves long ago. But here’s the rub, he cannot do it without us either. This is always a cooperative effort.

I hope you take your own transformation seriously. I hope you seek the heart and mind of God to discover where He wishes to lead you. The road is far better when we follow the advice and leading of the Holy Spirit. If you don’t believe me, go watch Pinocchio and see how it turns out. Spoiler Alert: the secret is in learning to be unselfish.

Be Found

Luke 15: 25

He was lost and has been found.

At spin class today our instructor played a song in which the lyric said, “I didn’t know I was lost.” I wondered how much that describes our Christian salvation. Did we realize how lost we were before Jesus found us? I think that even as I continue to grow closer to the Father that I realize how lost I was. I don’t know that I thought I was lost though.

The interesting part of this being or feeling lost is that I was actually “saved” in that I had given my life to Jesus. I called him my Lord. This is why the Word says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2: 12). Even after our initial surrender to Christ, there is so much more for us to work out. We get one area resolve only to discover there is another area of our lives where we are lost in the fog. At first, we don’t even realize we are wandering around in the tall weeds. Then, there is a moment of clarity in which we see the truth of our situation. In that moment we have a choice. Sometimes we are embarrassed by our weakness and wish to hide from the truth. That is a normal reaction, I think, but also one, which if embraced, leads to failure rather than growth. In the moment of our epiphany if we will allow ourselves the right to be on the grow rather than demanding perfection of ourselves, we can choose to let Father help us. Together we can work out our salvation in that area.

Right now, in this very moment, there may be an area where you still feel lost. That’s okay. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit for just such a moment as this. It could also be the case that you are lost and don’t even realize it. A simple prayer asking Jesus to find you in any way you are lost will resolve that problem. We all wander around at times but wise is the person who realizes it and seeks “the way” and you are wise. Reach out to Jesus and allow him to shine light upon your path. Let him lead you into all truth. Be found!

Bazooka

2 Corinthians 10: 4

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

Why is Paul talking to us about weapons of warfare after the death and resurrection of Jesus? Jesus has already won, hasn’t he? He marched in to Hades and took the keys of death and hell away from the devil. So why is Paul talking about warfare? Isn’t it done?

Well, I guess we have only to look around us to see that the war is not over. Yes, Jesus has won. He defeated the powers of hell for all time but that is almost useless if we don’t enforce it. Think of it this way. Perhaps there is a law on the books in your community. How effective is that law if it is not enforced? It is as though it doesn’t exist. You see, God gave the earth to us, therefore, we have authority in this realm. Jesus won the victory over sin, death, hell and the grave in his own flesh. He has given us this victory to employ in the earthly realm as well as in our own lives.

You have ultimate authority in your life, God does not. You can choose to go to hell if you want. Many are making that choice. God won’t stop you because He has given that right of choice, that authority to you. He has delegated His power in that area. Therefore, if Jesus’ victory is to be experienced, we must enforce it in our own lives. Failure to do so allows the devil run around free messing in people’s lives.

The Amplified version of today’s verse says that the weapons of our warfare are not physical. What are they then? They must be spiritual, wouldn’t you say? Also, I noted that he wrote about the weapons – plural. There must be more than one then. We all know about prayer and obviously that is a weapon straight from God’s arsenal. There really are many more though. Paul wanted us to be mindful of their existence, what they are and how to use them.

Don’t sit around on the couch expecting your salvation prayer to solve all of your problems. This is a process and that was only the beginning. Paul also told us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2: 12). We have a role to play. God gives us the tools and the weapons but it is up to us to utilize them for our lives. As for me, I am choosing a spiritual bazooka. What spiritual weapon do you want?

For more about spiritual warfare and the weapons of our warfare, visit our webpage and go to the Daily Devotional page (https://iveyministries.org/word-of-the-day/). Search “spiritual warfare”.