Intro: There was another survey that came out the other day Carson City and Reno have the highest percentage of people who have lost their jobs. Reno is second to Carson City with 16.9 %. However, I thank the Lord that all our church members today have jobs. We had in the past a few who lost their jobs and by the grace of God they have it now. God is our provider. He gave a promise to His covenant people in the Old Testament and that promise is still true today. “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” Deut. 8:18.
But there is also another side of that promise. “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.” Deut. 18:19
We see here both promises for good and consequence for disobedience. Will God treat us the same way today what He did with His chosen people under the Old Covenant? Because we are now under the New Covenant, has this changed? God’s Word remains the same except that today we are better off because we are under the New Covenant. God gave us the Holy Spirit to live in us so we will have the power to obey. Here’s the prophetic promise God gave before Jesus came. “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezek. 36:27
The Holy Spirit does not only empower us to obey God’s law but also to remind us when we forget Him as they did in the Old Testament and convicting us of sin. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
Now here’s the truth and principle. The Holy Spirit will have nothing to remind us with if we have not read His Word. Just like our computers there is nothing to pull out when there is nothing stored. The Holy Spirit will only remind us with what we have already read and learned. That’s why it is very important to spend time to read and listen to His Word, read our Everyday with Jesus Bible. What we will learn today is who does the work of conforming us into the likeness of Christ?
“God’s Continuing Work with His Saved Ones”
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:3-8, 9-11
When Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians he wrote it to people he knew. He was thankful for remembering each person from the church he started at Philippi. He knew every member. He referred to them as partners of the gospel because they have become one in Christ and members of His body. This came about when he had a vision of a man begging him to come over to Macedonia and Paul answered God’s call to go there. The first convert in Philippi was a woman named Lydia. “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded me.” Acts 16:13-15
Then Paul moved around to seek other lost ones of God to share the gospel with. “Once we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” And that moment the spirit left her.” Acts 16:16-18
This got Paul in trouble because the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money is gone. They started to cause trouble for Paul and Silas telling the people they are Jews and falsely accusing them of doing things that are unlawful to the Romans. So they were put in prison. But while they were in prison, at midnight as they were praying and singing hymns to God, God sent an earthquake and the doors flung open and their chains fell off. The warden woke up and feared that prisoners have escaped and was going to kill himself but Paul stopped him saying that none of them has escaped. He then asked Paul, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Acts 16:31
He then asked Paul and Silas to his house and Paul spoke the good news and all the others in his house believed. The jailer and all his family were baptized right after. His having been jailed unjustly turned out for good to accomplish God’s purpose. He was released the following day and that’s how the church started in Philippi. These were the people plus others Paul was writing to. But is this letter also applicable to us? Yes, because all Scriptures is for every believer whom God has saved to reveal His work and purpose in saving them. “He who began a good work will carry it out to completion.” The call of God to Paul to plant a church in Philippi was worked out by God. Paul called them partners of the gospel because they have been saved by Christ through the gospel. After their salvation, God does not stop to carry out His purpose until their completion? In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, he revealed to them God’s purpose in saving them. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” Rom. 8:29a
This is the primary purpose in saving sinners that we become like the person of Jesus Christ. Does this come automatically after one is saved? No. There is a process called “sanctification.” This is growing our spiritual life towards spiritual maturity. It starts with being born again when our spirit is made alive by God. And like a new born baby what does it need? Milk. This is the first sign of having been born again because there will be a hunger for spiritual food, the Word of God. “Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” 1 Pet. 2:2
The Word of God is essential for one’s spiritual growth. The church helps in the growing process but it is the Holy Spirit who gives the understanding and the power to live out what one has learned.“Sanctification” is a continuing process to conform us to be like Christ, starting by knowing Him. This purpose was revealed as the eternal plan of God in His redemptive work to those whom He saves. “God’s elect…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.” 1 Pet. 1:1a, 2
So the first work of God is to feed us with His Word, give us the understanding as to who Christ is, what we have in our relation to Christ and how we are to follow Him. Anyone can claim to be a Christian but if there is no obedience they are deceiving themselves. It means that the Holy Spirit is not yet there. The first fruit of the Spirit is love. And here’s the test if the Holy Spirit is present. “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
Obedience to Christ is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. One may not be obedient in everything right away but he will as God works out the process. Sanctification therefore, is the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the will of God by making us partakers of God’s divine nature in order to live a holy life. Transformation starts from the inside to live out the life of Christ. The end result is we become like Christ and do the other purposes planned for every one He saved.
We have just finished reading Genesis and in the latter part we learned about the life of Joseph. God had a plan for his life and revealed it to him in a vision when he was a teenager. When he shared the vision with his brothers and father, his brothers were offended and became jealous of him and hated him. When the opportunity presented itself to express what was in their hearts, they were going to kill him but were persuaded to sell him instead. He was sold as a slave and was bought by the commander of the guards of Pharaoh. Because he was young, strong and handsome, he was seduced by the wife of his master. He resisted the temptation and escaped the attempt of his master’s wife to force him to go to bed with her. Because of her frustration she falsely accused him of attempting to rape her and was thrown in the dungeon by his master. In all this, God was with him because he feared the Lord and kept the vision God gave him. He believed and trusted God that He will carry out His will for him. While in the dungeon God used him to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. God worked out what He had planned for Joseph and elevated him to the highest position in the government second only to Pharaoh. I will not go into the details because I trust we read our Everyday with Jesus Bible. God then used Joseph to save His chosen people from hunger and starvation due to a long famine in Canaan. All the time Joseph spent in Egypt, I believe he did not know the details of God’s purpose except that he would be in position where his brothers and even his father will bow down to him. This was fulfilled because of the high position that he occupied in Egypt. In His time, Joseph saw God’s purpose in sending him to Egypt. “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save lives by a great deliverance. So then it was not you who sent me here but God.” Gen. 45:5-8a
What God did through Joseph is the same as what God did to Paul. When he was sent to prison it was for God’s purpose of saving the warden and his family. I believe that God will use everyone whom He has saved today to do this work. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” Rom. 8:28
Notice that it is God who works out everything. But is this for everybody? Only to those whom God has called according to His purpose? With Paul, his being thrown in prison resulted in the salvation of the warden and his family. God also called the warden that through the earthquake it turned out for his good. So when one is already called and saved, do we have a responsibility to God? We are to know and believe God as Sovereign and to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our minds. Loving God is every believer’s highest response in their relationship with God. And this was Paul’s prayer for the believers in Philippi in relation to God’s work and how they ought to respond. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:9-11
The object of their love is God and the Lord Jesus Christ. When our love for the Lord grows more and more we will do whatever Christ commands and our faith will be able to accept whatever circumstance God allows to happen in our life whether good or bad. We will receive it with thanksgiving because we know that God is working something for our good that will make us to be like Jesus. Even Jesus had to go through sanctification for our sakes. “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may truly be sanctified.” John 17:19.
So whatever we will go through in our life Jesus went through much more. Did everything go well with Jesus? He was led to the desert without food and water for forty days to be tempted. He was persecuted, insulted, called to be possessed by demons and rejected by men, even by his brothers before he was crucified and resurrected. Jesus was sanctified through suffering and became obedient to death. “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Heb. 2:10
Yet in everything that He had to go through He never asked to be delivered from them but remained faithful to the will of His Father. It was all because of this, “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
But what if we suffer as a consequence of sin? Will it still be for our good? Here’s what God did to David and the good it did for him. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good and what you do is good; teach me your decrees…It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Ps. 119:67-68, 71
What is God doing to work what He began in your life? Are you in danger of following other gods and idols that is leading you away from your love for God? Perhaps, God is working to draw you to a personal relationship with Christ in salvation through circumstances in your life. Come to Jesus. INVITATION