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Phil. 2:12-18

Philippians Podcasts #9

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:12-18

 

Posted Aug. 7

 

 Phil. 2:12-18

 

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your 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.

Obedience to Jesus Christ must be a consistent, ongoing way of life. That you and I obeyed the Lord first in repentance and baptism, only means we started that way of life. It must continue, grow deeper and broader, even when there is no audience. In our private lives, our thought life, our public image and in all our relationships – obedience to Jesus Christ must be our consistent manner of life. This activity of faith enables us to be involved in and recipients of “our own salvation” God provides through Jesus Christ. That this ongoing obedience is not grounds of merit is made clear: It is God who works in you.

Think of it like this: Our obedience to Jesus Christ gives God access into our lives to work for our present and eternal good, that which we could not do without Him.

Grumbling and disputing is not only immature and against the example and teaching of Christ. It interrupts this ongoing obedience, therefore works against not for “our own salvation.”

The aim in all this is to “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.”

Part of this is, “holding fast to the word of life.” Obedience to Christ must be grounded in our knowledge of and use of “the word of life.”

“So that in the day of Christ,” Paul said, “I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be proued out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise, you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Paul has his focus on the spiritual good of the Christians in Philippi. He is urging their ongoing obedience to Christ, without immature attitudes intruding … all of this in preparation for eternal good “in the day of Christ.” Paul makes it clear, this was his heart’s desire for his brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

Philippians Podcasts #8

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:5-11

Posted Aug. 5

 Phil. 2:5-11

 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Phil. 2:5-11

The opening verses of chapter two call upon Christians to make attitude a priority, as described in these descriptive phrases: “…the same love, being in full accord and of one mind,” etc. (See 2:1-4).

These descriptions of healthy attitude can be called unselfish humility, and there is no better example of that than Jesus Himself. So Paul says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” In the NIV: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.” That’s the high standard Christians must aim for.

Jesus never did anything through selfish ambition or conceit. He was meek and lowly, illustrating in the highest way, the attitude that should govern all who follow Him.

He existed in the form or very being as God before, during and after His incarnation and has that nature/status now in heaven. But, He “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” Jesus did not have to steal or seize Deity from God; it was His by nature.

And yet He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.” He humbled Himself, emptied Himself. He didn’t stop being divine when He came to earth – that isn’t the point. He didn’t claim that deity as an exemption. This all speaks to His humility. He became a bondservant to save us and take us to heaven.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

It was more than just visiting the human race. His unselfish humility brought Him here, to suffer and die, “even the death of the cross.” He lived on the earth, emptied Himself of His heavenly existence – obeying God and serving us; not just dying, but the death “on a cross.”

The Father honored this supreme act of humility: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.” There is no greater. Jesus Christ is not one among many religious leaders or teachers. He is Deity who came here and died for us, and was then exalted by God.

What should the response of human beings be to this? Submission. Submission now that is fully realized eventually when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, “to the glory of God the Father.”

One question comes out of this. Am I living in humble submission to Him, who humbly submitted Himself to death for me?

Phil. #7, Phil. 2:1-4

Philippians Podcasts #7

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:1-4

 

Posted July 31

 

 Phil. 2:1-4

 

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 

The main idea of this brief paragraph is immediately clear. It is about Christians thinking and living in good relationship with each other. Why is this important? Because there is “encouragement in Christ,” there is “comfort from love,” we are able to participate together in those things that the Spirit has revealed, and the affection and sympathy the Spirit enables us to have completes the joy of the righteous. Do you see that verse one is loaded with

 

motivates. This opening signals to the reader just how important it is for Christians to think and live with each other in peace.

 

Living under the authority and example of Christ, we are able to be “of the same mind.” No. This doesn’t mean we are mental clones. Rather, the center governing principle of our inner thoughts are the same. There is unity of thought among us because of our mutual submission to Christ. We think alike because we serve the same Master. It is that simple.

 

Similarly, “the same love.” This is not about us imitating each other, to achieve this sameness. This is about imitating Christ and following Him, resulting in the inner and outer presence of this love. It is self-will and care that reaches out actively to serve others in the best possible way.

 

When Christians are “on the same page” following Christ, there is this sameness and harmony of thought and attitude, “being of full accord and of one mind.”

 

The negative of this teaching is: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Any words or actions which are driven by selfish ambition or conceit should be resisted, rejected and internally rebuked by followers of Christ. It is not who we are.

 

Rather, “in humility,” we are inclined to “count others more significant than” ourselves. If it can be said that we look out for Number One, that One is Jesus the Christ, not us, not self.

 

To be even more specific: “Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others.”

 

Are you on the “look out” for yourself or for others? Is your interests of heart self-centered? To whatever extent that is true of you, you are not aligned with the Savior. (More about that in the next installment of this study).

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

Phil. 1:27-30 (#6)

Philippians Podcasts #6

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 1:27-30

 

Posted July 29

 

 Phil. 1:27-30

 

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

 

That the apostle Paul enjoyed a pleasant, peaceful relationship with the Christians in Philippi is obvious throughout the letter. Also, it appears to be, there was no major doctrinal crisis or dissension in the church (exception, see Phil. 4:2).

 

Yet, peaceful experience and good relationship doesn’t rule out the need for practical admonition and commands about daily living.

 

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

 

Paul had this great interest of heart, that the Christians in Philippi would continue to live up to the high standards of Christ on a daily basis. This, Paul wanted to know about them, whether he was present or absent. He wanted to hear that they were standing together under the authority of Christ, side by side, for the faith of the gospel.

 

This is what every Christian wants to hear about every other Christians. This is what I want for the readers of this article. And this is what you want to hear about me.

 

Likewise, Paul didn’t want his brothers and sisters in Philippi to be “frightened” by opponents. Paul said – the fact you have opponents only shows further, they are headed in the wrong direction; and you are headed in the right direction.

 

And,  “it has been granted to you, that for the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”

 

The richness of our faith is evident, when we consider persecution and suffering “for the sake of Christ” to be a granted privilege, not a realistic drudgery.

 

As the Philippians suffered, they were engaged in the same conflict, the same battle Paul was part of. To be well engaged, it was essential for them to let their manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

 

Phil. 1:19-26

Philippians Podcasts #5

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 1:19-26

 

 

Posted July 24

 

 Phil. 1:19-26

 

for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. –

 

Paul’s confidence was in the Lord, but that confidence Godward had a human element. God used His people to strengthen Paul. That is reflected here: “…for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, this will turn out for my deliverance.”

 

He encountered all difficulty head on, with his faith in the Lord, the help of the Spirit of Christ and the prayerful participation of his brethren.

 

Therefore, Paul – though persecuted, jailed and opposed – held to an eager expectation and hope, that though his body bore the injuries of hardship, it would all turn out to the glory and honor of Christ (verse 20).

 

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul’s life was all about Christ. Because of that total absorption, he considered death to be gain. “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet, which I shall choose I cannot tell.” He is stating his desire to be with Christ, alongside his strong interests of heart – to continue his work on earth. “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

 

As these thoughts were processed by Paul, he came to a tentative conclusion: “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced on this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.”

 

For the Christians at Philippi, this would mean: “…in me, you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.” His continuation in the Lord’s work would benefit the Christians in Philippi, especially if he could see them again.

 

What do these verses demonstrate? (1) The depth of Paul’s devotion to the Lord, (2) his dependence on the prayers of the Christians in Philippi, (3) his reliance on the Spirit of Jesus Christ – therefore, his hope of deliverance.

 

As long as we remain here on earth, we ought – like Paul – to live in pursuit of the greatest good we are able to do for the Lord’s cause. Though we may have moments when we long to leave and be with Christ, we may conclude – it is more valuable for us to stay here, serve people and glorify God. The progress and joy of our fellow Christians is a compelling motive to remain.

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

Phil. 1:12-18

Philippians Podcasts #4

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 1:12-18

 

Posted July 22

 

 Phil. 1:12-18

 

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,  so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guardand to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the wordwithout fear.

 

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. – Phil. 1:12-19

 

Throughout his life and work as an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul’s daily existence was accompanied by two things: (1) risk, and (2) he was widely known.

 

Risk came in the form of expected persecution. A former Pharisee, converted to Christ, now engaged in preaching the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles – there was constant opposition, comprehended in this passage by that phrase, “what has happened to me.”

 

He was well-known among the Jews. And, because of his arrests, imprisonments and trials, the Romans knew about him.

 

So, how does one cope with daily risk as a well-known preacher and traveler?

 

His perspective was, this mix would all turn out for good – since God is in control. What happened to him would “advance the gospel.”

 

He cites an example. While suffering imprisonment (since it was well-known that he was imprisoned for Christ), “the whole imperial guard” and others would have opportunity to be exposed to the gospel. Paul’s situation (and the injustice of it) would become a part of the story, and thus would “advance the gospel.”

 

Along with this and partly as a result, “the brothers” who were spreading the gospel would be emboldened and encouraged “to speak the word without fear.”

 

Rather than become bitter, Paul regarded his hardships as instruments in the hands of God to “advance the gospel.” May Christians today mark that good example and consider the difficulties of the Lord’s work to be opportunities providence can find useful.

 

Further, even when some preachers were not properly motivated, if they were preaching the right message – Paul rejoiced. He did not rejoice that some were preaching Christ “from envy and rivalry.” Rather, he was pleased that people were hearing the good news of Jesus Christ.

 

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice,” (Phil. 1:18).

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

Phil. 1:6-11

Philippians Podcasts #3

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 1:6-11

 

Posted July 17

 Phil. 1:6-11

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.  For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

This text begins with a statement of Paul’s confidence in God. Think of it like this. God doesn’t accept penitent, obedient believers into His family, then keep them from their eternal destination. God doesn’t – by His Grace – get people out of sin and get them started on the right course, then not complete the work. Paul gives assurance of this (verse 6): “…I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Start right by obeying the gospel. Once out of sin, live in and with Christ and God will see you through the work to the destination. Take heart in that. It is a guarantee to the faithful. You can count on this beyond any promises that you ever hear.

Paul added, “It is right for me to feel this way about you, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” Paul was certain – these are the kind of people God loves and helps and keeps. The Christians at Philippi were with Paul, partakers with him, and identified with him. Thus, Paul said, “it is right for me to feel this way about you.”

 

It gets personal in verse 8: “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” God knew how close Paul was to the Christians in Philippi. It was more than passing acquaintance. He longed for them, yearning with the affection of Jesus Christ.

For the Philippians, Paul prayed: “…that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.” Observe three things to be combined in the life of every Christian: Love, Knowledge & Discernment. Love alone, without good direction, will not serve us well or bring us closer to God. Knowledge, without love and discernment, can easily become a basis for inordinate pride. Discernment, without love and knowledge, becomes competitive and judgmental. All three are essential – love, driven by knowledge and checked by discernment.

“So that you may approve what is excellent, and so, be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Having love in good proportion with knowledge and discernment prepares the Christian for a good experience in “the day of Christ.” And, while here on earth, fills you “with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

 

Phil. #2 - Phil. 1:3-5

Philippians Podcasts #2

(Warren E. Berkley)

Background, Introduction

& Phil. 1:3-5

 

 

Posted July 15

 

 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. – Phil. 1:3-5

 

Think about memory, association and attitude. Paul tells the Christians in Philippi that he remembers his good association with them. And, that this memory is entertained with an attitude of joy and gratitude to God.

 

Paul first came to Philippi, simply to preach the gospel to the lost. As he undertook that challenge, he was mocked, seized and imprisoned. He was not treated well in Philippi (see 1 Thess. 2:2).

 

But now (as a prisoner in another place), Paul is able to write back to Christians in Philippi without any bitterness. He remembers them with an emotion of joy.
“I thank God in all my remembrance of you.”

 

Just pause here and reflect on how valuable this attitude is. What a high example and standard for us to imitate. It is positive, mature, godly and healthy – to remember the good and reject bitterness and resentment. The painful things of the past ought to be managed by exalting good things and good people. Gratitude to God makes this conceivable.

 

There is another part of this good attitude toward the saints in Philippi: “…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

 

How did they “partner” with Paul? What was the nature of their participation or fellowship?

 

The Christians in Philippi acted toward Paul, based on their commitment to God. They were committed to God, therefore committed to His servants. Not only through prayer.

 

Later in this epistle we learn that they responded to Paul’s needs. They sent aid to him once and again (Phil. 4:16).

 

It was not just that Paul was in “their thoughts and prayers,” though that is certainly true. Their commitment to God led to their sacrifice for His servants. Their interests in the lost caused them to support those who faithfully preached the gospel to the lost. Their love for brethren prompted their active love for Paul. All of this can be summarized as their fellowship with Paul.

 

Because they were connected with God, they were connected with His servant, the apostle Paul. 

 

Thank you for listening.

Grace and Peace

 

Philippians Intro

Posted July 10

Thank you for visiting my podcasts channel. This series is derived from the epistle of Paul to the Christians at Philippi. I’ll upload these podcasts twice a week. On Wednesdays and Fridays. These will correspond to the classes I’m offering on Youtube. Contact me and I’ll share those links with you.

First, about Philippians …

Philippi was one of the principle cities of Macedonia; historically famous as documented in Greek and Roman history. It was the location of a Roman military colony, set for the defense of Roman interests. Founded by Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, it was located in the province of Macedonia, along the northern coast of the Aegean Sea.

The Acts background can be read from Acts chapter 16. That evangelistic effort resulted in the beginning of the local church there. Lydia, from Thyatira, was baptized “and her household.”

As Paul and Silas continued the work in Philippi, they came into collision with an alleged “fortune telling” person (a woman possessed with an evil spirit, being used by men for their profit).

When Paul expelled the evil spirit from her, “her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone,” so “they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”

False accusations were made. Paul and Silas were put in jail.

In that unlikely location for a singing, Paul and Silas were heard singing praise to God. There was an earthquake; the prison opened up, and the jailer started to kill himself.

Paul shouted to the man, “do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Paul preached the gospel to this man, “and immediately he and all his family were baptized.”

Released from prison, Paul and Silas visited Lydia, before their departure.

Sometime later, Paul was inspired by the Spirit to write to these Christians in Philippi.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Phil. 1:1,2

To be a “servant of Christ Jesus” includes responding to the needs of saints, and in this case, that included providing teaching with encouragement.  Their interest in the church at Philippi begins with their wish or greeting of GRACE (generosity) and PEACE (harmony) from God.

The members of this church were all saints (set apart for God when they obeyed the gospel of Christ).

Qualified male saints became overseers and deacons. This was not involuntary service, but God’s use of good men who were anxious to do all they could to further the Lord’s work in that place.

Spiritually, these Christians were located in Jesus Christ. Physically, they were located in Philippi.

I hope this is being heard by servants of Jesus Christ, and that your commitment to Him is the purpose you take into every day.

Thank You for Listening.

Leeches?

In Pursuit of Wisdom

Proverbs Podcasts 2020 #17

Warren E. Berkley

 

This is Podcast #17 in this series of brief podcasts based on the book of Proverbs. I post these every Monday. This is being posted on Monday, July 6.

Many years ago, I’m out on a hunting trip with a friend. We get out of the vehicle before dark in the morning, gather up a gear for the hunt. We would walk through some wet boggy land to the blind.

As we gather up our gear, I look over and my buddy has his boots and socks off – spraying insect repellant inside his socks. I had never seen that so I asked. “Why are you spraying insect repellant inside your socks?” And he spoke one word that got my attention: LEECHES.

My response was immediate: “Can I borrow some of that?” I loaded the inside of my socks. We walked out through the wet area to the blind. All good.

I don’t like leeches. I know that all of these dreaded creatures in their various forms and mutations have a purpose in their earthly placement. I just don’t want that placement to be on my body.

Leeches are dreaded little parasites with a mouth that looks like a vacuum cleaner with fangs. Look up those images on Google.

If they attach to your skin, they can draw blood and they seem to never be satisfied with enough.

What does this have to do with the book of Proverbs?

I’m reading Prov. 30:15 from the New Living Translation. “The leech has two suckers that cry out, ‘More, more!’ There are three things that are never satisfied – no, four that never say, ‘Enough’!”

The Bible encourages generosity. God commands His people to be giving, benevolent people. Ready to share and help and donate. Yes.

But this observational proverb warns us. There are some receivers who are not worthy of our generosity. Once we detect that, we need to act with wisdom, to be good stewards of what we have.

In the human world there are people sometimes identified as parasites or leeches. They will take from you to a point beyond the initial damage. They will never get enough of you. They will take your money, your energy, your affection, your assistance – and while giving is a virtue, the Lord expects us to apply wisdom, be watchful and not surrender to leeches.

So, I’ve given you a hunting tip – about what to spray in your socks. And this proverb has given us a life tip. Let’s be wise.

Thank you for listening.

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