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The Chosen One's

Monday, April 7, 2008

Phil. #2- Hard Times

Today's Text: Phil. 1:9-11 (NKJV)

In today's passage Paul states that he prays that the philipian church's love, discernment and and knowledge may abound, and that they may be filled with the fruits of righteousness. Why is this important for the phillipians and for believer's today?
One answer is that as our love in Christ and eachother grows we can be a better overall witness for Christ to those around us who are not belivers. However, this does not imply that we are to become some sort of sappy, meet-less group who accept people as they are and tolerate anything and every thing. This is where the "discernment" comes in. As Christians we ARE supposed to love our neighbors as our selves. I am not saying that we should turn away everyone who is not like us. What I am saying is that we should be wary so that we don't invite wolves in sheeps clothing into our midst. An example of this is not letting unsaved persons our people who claim to be believers but are living in sin into church office. Also, quietly confronting fellow believers of sin so as not to let them stray. Please note that I said "quietly". This means to pull the person asside and tell them your concerns about what they are doing and hear what they have to say. This does not mean to interupt the pastor's sermon and charge them with grevious sin infront of the entire chirch. There might be a time for talking to the pastor about that person, but that is another topic for another day.
Also, there is discerning what the Holy Spirit's will is for either the church or one's self personally. This is done by spending time in prayer and bible study., as well as fellowship with other believers. Discernment is something that comes with time as one matures in one's relationship with Christ and I will be the first to admit that it is a trait I am still working on.
Then Paul mentions Knowledge and the grouth of it. This is generally accomplished throught bible study (both personal and in a group), Sunday school, sunday sermons, and fellowshiping with other believers. There are obviously more ways to gain knowledge but I won't mention them here. What does this accumulation of knowledge serve? Well for one, it serves to strengthen our faith in Christ. The more we know of the Bible and of God the more assured we become of our faith. Also, the more we know, the more we can withness to others about Christ. This is fairly self-explanitory.
Next, Paul prays that the church may "approve the things that are excellent,..". This means that in their descisions, no matter how small or trivial, that the church should strive to do the right thing, and the best thing. In today's terms, this means upholding right doctrine, right teaching, choosing the best church leaders, even choosing the place where the youth group goes on a mission trip (if at all). Discernment is intertwined with this.
Then Paul pray "that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,...". Meaning, having a strong faith and witness that is unwavering and not doing evil things until the End Days. Pretty big stuff. This is very hard to do. It means that as a church and as an individual believer we are to strive to have as consistent a walk and witness as possible and to strive to not sin or do anyting that weakens the witness of Christ through us. As christians, this is impossible because of our sin nature; however, with the help of the Holy Spirit it is possible.
This passage ends with Paul praying that the church at Phillipi would be filled with the fruits of righteousness to the glory of God. These fruits are by Jesus Christ, meaning that as Christians these fruits of the spirit- conviction of sin, striving to do Gods will, knudgeings of the Holy Spirit, etc., are what is there to prove that we are Christians. This is the proof we offer to our brothers and to the world of our salvation. I am not saying that everyone who pays lip service to these fruits is saved, but it is a pretty good bet. This is where you have to leave people with God.
What are specific ways to increase (or "abound") the traits mentioned in V. 9?
When is discernment nessecery?
What are excellent things (for the Chrisian)?
How do we go about striving for them?

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