You'll Never Look @ This Emoji The Same

We’re on Week 3 of our journey alongside the Apostle Paul as he dictates a letter to the people of Philippi. As a reminder, Philippians is part of a collection called Paul’s Prison Epistles (his three other epistles were Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon). I’m certain Satan thought he had thwarted Paul by having him put under house arrest. Little did the cheerful Paul know that the letter he had written would become part of a canon of scriptures to encourage, comfort, and urge the people of God! What Satan meant for harm, God meant for good (Genesis 50:30). The same is true of your life – even though road blocks are set up to stop us, we can trust that God has a miraculous ending planned. We must keep going!   

1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

-        The Holman Bible Dictionary tells us the word rejoice is “the happy state that results from knowing and serving God.” Joy is the fruit of a right relationship with God. We’ve watched ourselves – and others – try to self-generate a life of joy; yet, these efforts end in nothing but frivolous pleasures and empty addictions. Paul knew serving God created pure, sustainable happiness and so he urges us to take up our residency in the providence of joy. I hope “REJOICE” is brightly stamped onto your license plate and you don’t let those tags expire!

-        “It’s no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” This verse is quite humbling. I can get so irritated when I have to repeat myself several times to others. Nevertheless, Paul tells the people at Philippi that it’s “No big deal…I’ll just keep telling you because it keeps you safe.” I need to put this statement on mental repeat for the next time I need to re-instruct someone. God does the same for me.

 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

-        Paul spits out a hot warning: “watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.” Ouch! This stern caution was to help the church at Philippi be aware of “Judaizers.” Judaizers were false teachers who liked to mix the law with grace. For example, they taught you must first become a Jew before being saved. Be careful of this world’s elixirs. Even today, acclaimed “teachers of Christ” manipulate the Word. That’s why we must study God’s word and know it for ourselves so we are not deceived. Paul writes in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”

-        These Judaizers, who mixed the law and grace, were essentially saying that works must accompany grace. Was Christ’s final work on the cross not enough? Of course it was! We don’t need to wear ourselves out perfecting perfection; yet, these false teachers were slithering among believers, trying to alter the Truth of God.

-        To paraphrase Paul’s point in verses 4-6, he was saying, “If anyone has the right to brag about their own works, it’s me.” Then, he goes on to substantiate his self-righteousness. Paul was a pristine illustration of a “religious” man, but on that road to Damascus, he discovered religion wasn’t Christ’s purpose.  So, Paul goes on to say…

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

-        When we unquestionably surrender our life to Christ, it’s impossible for us to remain unchanged. Each day, as we study His character and know Him better, He transforms us into His likeness. What we once thought was worthwhile and we worked tirelessly to gain, we now discover it brings no satisfaction. In Paul’s words, it is considered a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. It’s garbage in Paul’s book – or, in modern terms, we could insert the “pile of poo” emoji. This world offers stinky bile (you’ll not forget that reference the next time you get a text message!).

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

-        Paul shares a humbling point: he’s not there yet. Be careful to not rest on your hindquarters and lower your shield of faith because it allows Satan an opening to discourage you. He’ll start shooting arrows of defeat and say, “Wow, you’ll never get to that finish line. Look how far away it is. Check out how many are ahead of you. They are so much faster than you.”

-        At that moment, you have two trails to choose: you can stop, sit down on the soft, green sod, and pour yourself a hot cup of self-pity, nibble on an energy-depleting bar of negativity, and sigh as you watch others pass by. Or, you can press on. Sure, your feet may barely be shuffling while other’s have a long and steady stride. But keep going. You may be sucking air while it seems like others are rhythmically breathing deep, but that’s no problem. You keep going. None of us have taken hold of the prize – but, if you keep looking over your shoulder and don’t stay fixed, fastened, and focused on what’s ahead, you’ll surely be left behind. As you keep moving, Christ will breathe His breath into your lungs and His strength will become yours. Keep off the grass, stay in your lane, and press on. I’ll meet you at the finish line.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 

-        Verse 15 and 16 talks about the perspective we should have and how we should model ourselves after those who live like Christ. To be “spiritually minded” simply means to look at earth from heaven’s point of view (Wiersbe). Take a situation or circumstance you’re currently experiencing – something that drains your mental energy or you stew over. Visualize what it’d be like to be present with Jesus in His throne room, exchanging conversation about this situation. What would He say to you? What would be His demeanor and expressions toward you? Let Him make it clear to you and transition you from the earthly, to the heavenly.

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

-        Earlier, we talked about having a license plate that read “REJOICE” because our residency isn’t this earth. Here, in verse 20, we’re reminded again that our citizenship is in heaven. We are just passing through in this world and were given a temporary tent (body) to reside in. Keep going. Amen.

There’s a city that calls me by name
There’s a city that calls me by name
Yes, as I run this race, I am cheered by the saints
There’s a city that calls me by name

There’s a future that runs through my veins
There’s a future that runs through my veins
And there’s nothing on Earth that can stand in the way
There’s a future that runs through my veins.

Everywhere I Go, Tim Timmons