Hope you sweet friends had a great weekend! I got a little R & R Sunday after church. Hung out with the hubby on the back patio, watching the robins swarm the tree in our neighbors yard while taking a pitstop here in the process of their migration.
As we get started in today’s study, please click the link and read the various versions of our text, Philippians 2:14-16.
Our three verses tell us how to live – what to do – what not to do. They are directive in nature. But I’d like to do something a little different today. Let’s moonwalk through each verse beginning with verse 16 and working our way back to verse 14.
In the New King James Version, Paul calls the church at Philippi to hold fast to the Word of Truth as well as to hold it out to others so that when it’s all said and done, he can rejoice in them.
It’s interesting that Paul’s reason for rejoicing was wrapped up in the way they lived their lives for Christ. They were his ‘kids’ in the faith. He had poured his life into them. Seeing them live holy lives and fulfill their calling made his heart smile and validated his labor of love. He agreed with John and with every other parent who truly loves their children – There is no greater joy than to see our children walk in the truth! 3 John 1:4
As we continue our backward journey, we find Paul talking about holding out and holding to the Word of Truth. Everything else in this world changes. Babies are born, children grow up, the healthy get sick, the young become old, people move, friendships change and people die. Everything changes.
But God doesn’t. Neither does His Word. God’s Word is the one thing we can depend on.
God reveals Himself, His plan and His will for us in His Word. We can trust it. We can trust Him. The Bible says, the Word of the Lord endures forever (Isaiah 40:8).
1. How does knowing God’s Word is trustworthy affect the way you look at Scripture and the way you live?
2. Do you “hold firmly to” and “hold out to others” the Word of God?
In verses 14 and 15, we see two opposite ends of the spectrum. A life characterized by fussing and fighting, grumbling and complaining is a life that is open to criticism. Those of us who have been born again by the Living God give the world reason to rail on us when what we say doesn’t match what we do.
Living pure and innocent lives is how we shine for God’s glory.
Let’s look at what some of the characteristics are of those who shine for Jesus:
“Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3
3. According to Daniel 12:3, what are the two characteristics of those who shine?
“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:43
4. According to Matthew 13:43, who shines forth as the sun?
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
5. According to Matthew 5:16, what do people see and who is glorified when we shine?
“If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
6. In Isaiah 58:10, what does one whose light dawns in the darkness do?
“Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.” Psalm 37:5-6
7. According to Psalm 37:5-6, what will the Lord bring forth as light and as the noonday?
I took you on that little journey through Scripture so you could see that our righteousness – our righteous acts – our good deeds and honorable behavior become like shining stars in a dark universe.
I remember one day someone compared our “light that shines before men” as a candle brought into a pitch black room. It lights the room and all can see it. But while Matthew 5:16 is on the heels of an illustration using a bushel to hide the light of a candle, the Bible doesn’t really describe the light of a righteous life, full of good works as a candle in a dark room. It describes it like the sun shining brightly at noon time. Bright, warm and life-giving! Lives that speak life into others for the glory of God!
Sweet sister, the life you live has great value! The way you live is important!
Others benefit when you live a righteous life, full of good works. But more importantly God is glorified.
8. Are you affecting others by living a life that shines like the noonday?
Let’s look at our final segment of Scripture for the day.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” Philippians 2:14-15a
Oh boy, we could park here! Have you ever walked into church and looked at the faces of those who supposedly know Christ? Some of them are downright scary! If they know Jesus, then they better tell their face because it looks anything but joyful.
Why is it that Christians can be some of the grumpiest and grumbling people on the planet? Really? Why do God’s people try to stir up trouble, hurt each other, backbite, gossip and argue about everything from what seat they get to sit in to what color the carpet is?
Christians are supposed to be known by their love for one another; instead they’re known for behaving badly – for fussing and fighting and using their righteousness as an excuse. Those who should be esteeming others better than themselves (we studied that last week), are bent on having their own way. Those who should be lifting others up are determined to tear others down.
They hurt those they are there to minister to. They give this crooked and perverse world ammunition to shoot our way. They darken what they should be bringing light to.
They’re not the ones who occasionally mess up and repent. They’re the ones who consistently mess up and justify themselves.
And while I’ve always struggled with the pretentious (I shared that with you two weeks ago), and I struggle with how to deal with them, my prayer is that I will not be one of them.
It’s important to remember, sweet one, that but by the grace of God, there go I. We can’t change others. We can pray for them. We can encourage them. We can even confront them. But we can’t change them – only God can do that.
But we must be careful that we don’t allow grumbling and griping to become a bushel that hides our own light. Oh Lord, may we never become those who gripe and complain and give the world a reason to criticize Your people!
May our lights so shine that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven! May it be so, sweet Jesus! May it be so!
Today, my prayer for you and I, sweet sister, is that WE SHINE!
It’s not too late to join us in our study of Philippians! You can receive your Bible study in your inbox by clicking this link. Or you can click on the Google or Networkedblog link to receive it in your feeder.
© Stephanie Shott, 2011