Monday, February 9, 2015

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ Choosing Between the Work of God or the Ways of the World

          One of the things that really ministered to me in church yesterday was considering another one of the contrasts between God’s work in us, and the world’s work around us.
          For a while we have been considering the book of Philippians through the central thought of, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”[1]
          This means that, no matter what we read of God’s will for his church, we must always receive it with fear and trembling, or seriousness and reverence, because there is some very specific and personal way God is working those things into us individually, and as gatherings of his church, so that we will have the will for the things he is doing, and will express this mutual will in specific work that needs to be done.
          Every family God’s children are in, every job we go to, every school environment, every community demographic, every relationship dynamic, every world event or issue, there is some way that God is personally working in his children to draw us to have his will about our lives in this world, and to put his will into things we can do to honor him, and complete our own joy.[2]
          When we came to this phrase, “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,”[3] I suddenly saw this huge spiritual battle that is even bigger and more threatening than the present war on terror around the globe.
          As we hear God speak through his word when we meet with him on our own, or we feel the conviction, or teaching, or reminding, of the Spirit[4] as we hear a pastor’s sermon, or the message of a song pierces our hearts with some clear affirmation of the will and work of God, we will leave those experiences under the influence of either the will and work of God, or the will and ways of the world.
          On one side of the believer is God working in us to will and to work for his good pleasure and our complete joy. On the other side is a “crooked and twisted generation” that continues to go from “bad to worse,” just as God’s word prophesied.[5]
          When we hear God speak through his word, and by his Spirit, and in fellowship with the body of Christ, we will either put our minds on the Spirit,[6] and keep in step with whatever God is doing inside us,[7] or we will put our minds on the sark, the flesh, and keep in step with whatever the world is doing around us.
          The wonderful encouragement to me is that there is not only such a huge difference between God and the world, but also between the location of God’s work, and the location of the world’s work.
          There is not only a wonderful difference between God’s “good pleasure,” that gives us “complete joy,” and the world’s deception that steals, kills, and destroys[8] whatever joy we could experience in God’s perfect pleasure, but the opportunity to experience the complete joy of God’s good pleasure has the added benefit of God working in us, while the world’s “crooked and twisted” activities are limited to working around us.
          Yes, God’s children are living in a “crooked and twisted” generation, just as Christians were at the time of Paul’s writing. But we have “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”[9] Christ “in us” gives us the decided advantage, does it not?
          What I want to help us all with in this regard is that, identifying that we are facing a corrupt and twisted generation that is trying to turn us away from God helps us to see the value in constantly working out our salvation with fear and trembling in relation to whatever God is working in us to will and to work for his good pleasure and our complete joy. We are more likely to recognize when we are getting off track, or distracted, by identifying that the crooked and twisted generation we are in is just as interested in winning our affections, our wills, and our work, as our Father in heaven.
          Since everything the world does is aimed at our demise, and everything God does is aimed at our complete joy, this crooked and twisted generation, far from appealing to our hearts to join them in their evil work, actually gives us all the more reason to join our Father in his.
          Now, to be like Satan, the prince of this crooked and corrupt generation,[10] or to be like Jesus, the Prince of peace who is presently preparing a home in heaven for all who belong to him[11]? Not so hard to answer when we look at it that way.

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”[12]

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Philippians 2:12-13
[2] John 15:11; I John 1:3-4
[3] Philippians 2:15
[4] I Thessalonians 1:5; John 14:26
[5] II Timothy 3:13. Romans 1:18-32 gives a clear picture of the direction the world would go.
[6] Romans 8:5-6
[7] Galatians 5:25
[8] John 10:10
[9] Colossians 1:27
[10] Ephesians 2:1-3; II Corinthians 4:4
[11] Isaiah 9:6; John 14:1-3
[12] Psalm 16:11

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