And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
This morning I want to just encourage you.
So many times we get our focus on how much we are working for God and it distracts us from the reality that it is God who is working in us. Not only is he working in us but He is faithful to complete the work He started!
So let's take a moment to look at how God is working in us and the fact that He is the one that made the promise to do that work in us.
In verse 4 it reads
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
Paul starts out this book by telling the people of Philippi that he is thankful concerning them. He then goes on to list some things that he is thankful for. Let’s take a look at those things and then we will better see what is the type of things that God is working in us.
for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.
The first thing that Paul is thankful for is their partnership in spreading the good news about Jesus. He is not talking about spreading religion, or spreading a certain type of Christianity, but instead he is talking about spreading the "good news" about Jesus.
Many times we get sidetracked concerning what it is we are supposed to be spreading. We spread our pet doctrines, our soap box issues, or even spreading the news about how sinful the world is.
This is not what they partnered with Paul about. They partnered with Paul about spreading the solution to the problems of man. They spread the good news of what Jesus did for them.
This is important because if we do not spread the right news, we will not get the right results.
I believe one of the biggest reasons the church has become irrelevant in much of our society is because we are not spreading the right news. Our focus has been on people's performance rather than on the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
Our news must be good news. The church is not empowered with good news because they are taught that they are not "living up".
The church, then the world, needs to be informed that it is not about living up, but about what Jesus did. When they understand what Jesus did, then it is good news because none of us can "live up".
That is where verse 6 comes in. Notice it says that this work is going to be progressive until the day Jesus returns.
It is His work, not ours. That work will not be finished until the day Jesus returns. When we finally get a hold of that concept then our Christian life and our relationship with Jesus takes on a whole new light.
No longer are we hanging our heads in shame. No longer are we trying to perform in order to please God. Instead we are living in a relationship that brings life!
So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.
In the NKJV translation of this verse it says that they were partakers with Paul of the grace of God. That is what it means when it says that they share with Paul the special favor of God.
Paul understood and so did the believers in Philippi that they had all received the favor of God. They had all received grace.
This is important because unless you understand and know that God has given you grace, you will never accept that it is He that does the work.
If we are trying to earn or work for God's favor, we will never receive it. It will always be something we did, not something He did.
In this case it was being able to live through being imprisoned unjustly and confirming that the message of grace is true and that it is truly good news.
In our case it may be being good mothers and fathers, good employees, or being a good witness in the home or job.
Whatever the circumstance we find ourselves in, it means being empowered by God's favor to do so beyond what is our natural ability.
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.
Finally Paul prays for their love to overflow. Love is an outflowing of receiving grace.
It is not until we experience the unfailing love of God through Jesus and the grace that was supplied by Jesus on the cross that we can really love the way God loves. We have to experience that unfailing love before we can give it away.
It is only when we have freely received, that we can freely give. (Matt. 10:8)
Paul concludes his thoughts by telling them that he wanted them to understand what really matters.
It is this outflow of love that really matters. When we are pouring out on others the love that we have been shown by the father, then and only then, as a byproduct, we will live pure and blameless lives and it will bring glory to God.
So this morning let me encourage you.
He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
Let go of your need to make it happen. Let it happen. It is all about letting God do it in His way, in His time, and with the instruments He chooses to use to make you into His workmanship, created for good works. (Eph. 2:10)
Please feel free to use this as a Bible study, sermon outline, or a lesson for your Sunday school class or home group.
Pastor Duke Taber is the Senior Pastor at The Vineyard Church in San Carlos Ca. He is an alumnus from Life Pacific College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He is a husband, father, and grandfather.
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