Friday, March 29, 2013

Bible Study: Partnered in Ministry - Philippians - Chapter 3

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, winter 2009, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded, there are floods in India, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 3 of the book of Philippians. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

3 - Sudden change in tone from kind encouragement to warning.

3:1 – Paul commands the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. Such rejoicing doesn’t depend on circumstances. It’s an act of worship.

How could this be a safeguard for the one doing the rejoicing?

How could you become a better example of rejoicing in the Lord?

3:2 – Who are the dogs? The evil workers? Those who mutilate the flesh? Paul is referring to the Judaizers who dogged his ministry, added to what the Gentiles must do to be saved – forcing them to mutilate their bodies through circumcision, and stealing the joy of salvation overall.

3:3 – What is “the circumcision”? The true believer – circumcised or not in the physical body, the true believer’s heart is circumcised. Paul cites three characteristics of “the circumcision”: worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ, don’t rely on human credentials.

How do you worship by the Spirit of God?

Exult in Christ means to delight, glory, or revel in Jesus. This is the experience of triumphant joy.

Paul admonishes the Philippians not to rely on human credentials. What might he have been warning the people to watch for? What sort of “credentials” should we not put our full faith in today? Think about within the church and outside of it.

3:5-6 – A list of human credentials upon which we are not supposed to rely.

3:7 – Paul possessed these credentials, yet calls them liabilities rather than strengths. Does the fact that he was what he said add to his credibility in stating that these things are liabilities?

3:8 – All things are liabilities when compared to knowing Jesus. What is Jesus leading you to let go of in order for you to know Him more?

Dung/refuse – skubala – crap! Thoroughly useless and distasteful!

3:9 – Are you found in Jesus? Are you relying on your own righteousness? Or His righteousness that comes through His faithfulness?

3:10-11 – What is Paul’s goal from these two verses? Is this your goal also? Spend some time in prayer about it?

3:10 – What do you know about Jesus?

The power of His resurrection = life in Christ.

To share in His sufferings – How do you know Jesus more deeply as a result of suffering?

To be like Him in His death – What was Jesus like when faced with death? He was humble and submissive, willing, silent – He didn’t defend Himself, forgiving, loving and concerned for others, victorious.

3:12 – Do you strive to do and be what Christ has for you?

3:13 – We, as God’s workmanship, will never be finished this side of the grave.

Don’t live in the past. Don’t dwell on past regrets or successes. Move on and up!

3:14 – Strive, again. How can we do this and still allow God to be in control and do the actual work?

Upward call – move on and up. Allow God to take you higher.

3:15 – I don’t want God to have to correct my prideful self in this area. Better to just admit that I need work. This is a characteristic of maturity.

3:16 – Don’t revert back to bad habits.

As we practice the current standard, God raises the bar for us, leading us to higher levels of maturity. This is how He moves us on and up.

3:17 – Is your behavior like Paul’s? Something to be imitated? If not, have a long talk with God about changing that.

We may be the only glimpse of Jesus that people see. No, we are not perfect, and Jesus is the only One worthy of being imitated, but we need to realize that we are being watched. We need to strive to behave in a way that honors Jesus. Pray that God will remove from you any characteristics that don’t honor Him. Be specific. If you don’t notice any, ask Him to reveal them to you. Keep up this practice indefinitely.

3:18 – There are many enemies of Christ walking around. This is why Paul urged the Philippians to imitate him and watch the behavior of other Christians in the previous verse.

Do you weep for Christ’s enemies as Paul did?

3:19 – These are some characteristics of Christ’s enemies: they are doomed; their motive is self-gratification; they delight in their shameful behavior; they think earthly thoughts.

3:20 – We are citizens of heaven, and we await the return of Jesus to bring us home.

Are you waiting with anticipation? Apprehension? Why?

3:21 – Jesus will transform our earthly forms into glorified bodies through His awesome resurrection power!

Does this thrill you? What do you look most forward to when you contemplate this change?

• The book of Philippians emphasizes how we can partner with others doing ministry. What new ideas do you have about how you might do that in a creative way?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

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