Philippians 2:12-18 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
There are days, sometimes weeks when I struggle with purpose & value. The pressures of work, the daily routines, the commitments seem like too much and the point of it all gets blurred in my mind. God, through the Apostle Paul, is a master at reminding me what its’ all about, or more importantly, WHO it is all about.
“…For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
So powerful! The mere fact that I’m frustrated with a behavior or action that is left lingering from my old ways of coping with life; a little frustration that boils over into outright anger, a glance at a woman that lingers toward lust, the desire to hide from my responsibilities through computer games or zoning on the TV instead of tackling them head on; it is God who is pressing on my heart to do better, do right, to live righteously for His pleasure and remain fully present in the moment.
The Gift of Conscience
We are blessed with knowing when we are doing wrong. God is loving us through our conscience contact with Him, and by the loving rebukes of trusted friends who call us out when we are blowin’ it. In the old days we partied like there was no tomorrow, the Spirit was not alive and thriving within us.
Embrace the Holy Spirit
It is that relationship with Christ deep within that speaks to our hearts at every turn which we must nurture. We must spend those quiet moments tuning our conscious mind to receive the quiet whisper of God’s loving direction and purpose, for it is Him who gives us value, not anything we do.
And as Paul so wonderfully states, we are to “do all without grumbling or disputing” (ouch). I can’t begin to describe the number of people that I run into during the day who complain about everything. I pray that I don’t sound that bad, but I truly identify that when feeling overwhelmed, complaining is the easiest thing to do.
Beware the Flickering Light
If we find ourselves in a place of grumbling, losing hope, feeling frustrated or wanting to disconnect on a regular basis, it is clear that our light has grown dim. And from my experience I can say with confidence that that only happens when I lose sight of God; when I forgot Who I’m living for and why.
The Creator of the universe chose in His mercy to rescue me from my self induced agony of constantly medicating my fears, insecurity, pain, resentments, disappointments and loneliness with alcohol, marijuana and lust and now instead offers me a path of learning how to become light for His glory.
But why does He care about the broken, why would He choose me?
Judges 6 14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
It is not the strong, powerful, wise, successful or self assured that God calls to glory, but the weak, broken, doubting, unfit. As we come to grips with our own brokenness and can openly admit to God and others that we have fallen short, have messed things up; when our pride and ego are no longer running the show, God sees that humility and smiles, for now He can use us.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
What side of the fence do we find ourselves this morning?
This last few months has opened my eyes to how I was using my walk with God as a form of pride, looking to God and myself and saying “look how good I’ve become, I’m doing all the right stuff now”… but lovingly God revealed how I was using all of that to continue to mask the pain under the surface as a striving for grace.
I became like those who beat me down throughout my life, condemning the child within. The are fears that have followed me into my adult life; often afraid of failure, afraid of hurting others, afraid of making a wrong choice, feeling as if I have no value unless I’m performing for others.
That child within doesn’t trust easily, but God says to trust Him and He will make all things right if we surrender to His will. (The Serenity Prayer comes to mind)
God wants us to rejoice in Him! It is easy however to loose sight of that and serve for our own glory. True love for others comes when we serve because we are overwhelmingly grateful to God for His immense mercy, grace, compassion and strength upon our own lives.
When we think about what He’s done for us, we realize we bring nothing to the table that will affect eternity, but if we will surrender our pride, our need to be in control (ouch), and let go of our fears, our insecurities, and accept our weaknesses then God can get busy molding us into the character He designed and fill us with the purpose He ordained before time began.
This is not an easy journey, but it is one filled richly with the rewards of relationship. When once we were filled with selfish desires, only seeking to fill our own coffers, we now find ourselves learning to live to the betterment of those around us.
This is not something we ourselves are capable of doing; the migration from selfish to selfless is Spirit driven. And it is not something that once started maintains its own momentum.
Pick Up Our Cross Daily
To shine brightly for Christ we must desire to know more of Him, be more like Him; to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
If we will start each day on our knees and in His word, take a mandatory moment of quietness and in that still place truly feel God enveloping us, placing His shield of protection and purpose throughout our entire being; only then will we have the presence of mind to capture each moment for Christ; to see each chance encounter with another person as a Divine Appointment to love them for Him.
My prayers that we all recognize and experience the incredible undeserved grace that God continually pours into our lives, and that for this day we choose to embrace our calling and shine brightly for Christ.