Skip to content

Fish Out of Water

October 21, 2017

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Philippians 3:20-21

From the moment we’re saved, we’ll not be settled on this earth. Our citizenship is transferred instantaneously to the Commonwealth of Christ in heaven.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household. Ephesians 2:19

We’ve never been there but Christ is there at work preparing a place for us (John 14:2). As such we’ll never be comfortable here, as much as we try, as much as the world tries to convince us of a heaven on earth. We are “fish out of water.”

It seems in vogue in the church to not want to bring up the imminent return of Christ, or heaven forbid, the Rapture. But here Paul tells of how we should eagerly await our savior. With the way the world’s going, we’d better have one!

In the meantime, however, we’ll tend to feel powerless in a deteriorating, increasing evil society. That’s why we should aim and long for the time when we’ll be transformed from our humble states to glory.

This is our only hope, and we should cling to it.

Hero Worship

October 20, 2017

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Philippians 3:17-21

 

In a society in which moral failures abound, it is difficult to find a single soul to emulate. Even when you do find someone who appears exemplary, I’m inclined to cast a jaundiced eye until absolutely proven otherwise. Even if you are circumspect about “hero worship,” it’s easy to catch yourself admiring those who likely deep down hate the cross of Christ. It may be a movie star or athlete, politician or business icon, or even a pastor.

My rule of thumb is whether a man or woman sincerely gives glory to God when all the world’s their stage. If they do, there’s at least a hint that their minds are not totally fixated on earthly things, if indeed the testimony is genuine.

My heroes are those who are like Paul, who have expended themselves fully in the cause of Christ. These souls are a rarity. So, if you happen upon one of these fellow citizens of glory, latch on!

High Anxiety

October 19, 2017

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Some of us worry about everything. Others are wired to take things in stride. Lucky people! For the former, it’s pretty much high anxiety all the time. Worse, in the case of a trial that would normally produce a little stress in anyone, the fretters go off the charts! And if these hand-wringers are analytical, the worst case is always plausible. I am one of these people.

When I read “be anxious for NOTHING,” I mumble to myself, “You don’t know me!” I hope God hears this and patiently replies, “Excuse me?”

This frazzled condition in which I often find myself can only be addressed with the blunt force of scripture. It needs to be beaten with a stick. I use Philippians 4:6-7.

Now I don’t recite these verses meditatively, but over and over in an emphatic cadence, until I realize that as much anxiety as I’ve chosen to wallow in, the surpassing peace of God is greater. It’s far more than could ever be imagined, and it’s instantly acquisitioned through worshipful, thankful, and specific prayer to God.

And the line of communication is not long. In the preceding verse (V.5), Paul says, “The Lord is near.” He’s walking alongside in fact.

What the Lord promises is what I desperately need, someone strong enough to stand guard at the door of my mind and heart, to beat back all those crazy imaginations, and to dissolve the paralyzing fear.

There’s another verse that fits the bill, Isaiah 26:3. “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.”

I feel like the disciples sometimes, who said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

Getting it in Gear

October 18, 2017

Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Philippians 3:15-16

Paul’s saying I’m not one to harp on this, but you really need to be thinking like I do, i.e. have the same attitude. Someone like Paul is going to want instant change. I think the Lord would also like us in his gear, but we choose to lolygag, exposing ourselves to unnecessary pain, electing to do it our way. So Paul warns that those with a different attitude would be shown otherwise by the Lord, and they’d end up at maturity, just take longer to get there. At least, said Paul, stay on the same road that they were on.

How about us? Do we need to pick up the pace? What’s holding us back on the road to maturity in Christ?

A Pressing Commitment

October 17, 2017

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

The athletic imagery here is vivid. I can see a player pursuing a ball carrier running at full speed, grabbing him from behind, and attempting to pull him down. Unfortunately the ball carrier’s Bo Jackson! But for better or worse, he’s latched on for the ride!

As doggedly as Paul tracked down Christians in his former life, he pursued perfection in his spiritual life. It’s interesting that the operative word in this passage is “press,” which means to “pursue,” or, interestingly, to “persecute.” Paul was undaunted in his mission to become as much like Christ as possible this side of heaven, and to fulfill his calling.

Not many of us have been struck down by the Lord himself and turned around 180 degrees, but this was the effort required to pull Paul to the ground. From there he was all in, forgetting what lay behind–the “one thing” he had to do–with eyes now affixed on a different finish line, expending every ounce of his energy straining for the “upward call.”

I saw two runners in the recent Olympics throw themselves at the tape to win. Something tells me Paul did the same.

Fully Engaged

October 16, 2017

..that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11

In this era, almost all use powerful computer programs to work. If you have a smartphone, and most everyone does, the power in your hands would have been generated by buildings full of machines in the 1970s. While I might be productive in what I do, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what can be done on the computer at my desk.

We occupy space as a speck in a universe created by a God who has, by virtue of our simple faith in him, taken up residence within us. We should never get over this! Paul certainly didn’t.

At the heart of this transaction was the resurrection, upon which all our hope lies. The power exerted to allow his son to conquer death is inscrutable, yet that same power resides in us! Paul wanted more than anything to understand and use that power in pursuit of his calling. He understood that in doing so, he’d encounter the same kind of suffering Jesus did. He held out resurrection from the dead as something that needed to be “acquired,” yet he knew full well he’d already grasped it. This grasping may mean, simply, a desire to be fully engaged in the pursuit of God at the Lord’s earthly return.

Honestly, when I read these verses, I find it hard to generate this kind of intense passion to know him. That’s sad but true, and it’s probably an issue with many. Face it, it’s scary to put yourself out there as Paul did, and he was way out there.

So at least strive to possess a reasonable facsimile of Paul’s passion. Try these baby steps. Daily aspire to know just a little bit more about the power that resides within you–take in a daily dose of God’s word. Daily commit to an act that requires exertion of the power that resides within you–trust him with something stressful! And daily vow to be caught red-handed at the Lord’s return, fully engaged in the pursuit of knowing him more–wisely use your time!

Past, Present and Future

October 15, 2017

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7:11

Perhaps only first-world people will be able to relate to this. We spend our lives pursuing things. Even those who aren’t materialists will have an Achilles heel. There’s something out there that’s the end all, and when you finally get it, what you had before becomes immediately inferior and expendable. Kind of like young marrieds who have their first child, and used to plan their lives around a Goldendoodle.

To Paul, gaining Christ was the end all. Knowing him surpassed everything else. Past and present.

But unlike a dream car, the acquisition of Christ through faith is only one aspect of the salvation process. You’ve got him for sure, but there’s so much more to grasp!

Each day we should know a little more about him. Each day we should shed more personal effort and rely more on faith. Each day the difference in him and me should be less discernible.

This is our future.