November 17

Philippians 1-2, Psalm 11

What gives us meaning in life? What do we strive for to give our life meaning and satisfaction? The list is endless: a spouse, children, a good job and profession, a house, etc. Sometimes the list is not as morally upright: the next weekend party or event, the next high or drinking binge, the next sexual encounter. What all these things have in common both from the "good" list and the "bad" list is they will never satisfy and they will never last. All of these items are temporal and earthly, only God and eternity lasts. Once we realize this we can release the stronghold that all these items cause us to be in bondage to this world. Then, we will be freed to enjoy and experience life as God desires for us, living it to the fullest and in the process glorifying Him continually.

Today's reading is full of examples of those who realized this and experienced true joy. Listen to Paul's words in Philippians 1:12-14, "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." Realize when a Paul was in prison chained continually to Roman guards every 6 hours, Paul was completely free to share the gospel to the soldier, who had no ability to leave. I'm sure Paul never stopped, we often mistake who the real one in bondage is. Paul also didn't seem to mind his imprisonment as long as it benefited the cause of Christ. It is this mindset which enabled Paul to write in 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." It is Paul's continual striving for God and his eternal home that enabled him to have no fear over death. While chapter one emphasizes the single minded walk in Christ, chapter two goes on to describe how this reality should bring us all into submission. In 2:3-4, we read, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in loneliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Once we stop holding onto all those items that we feel we need for our happiness and fasten our eyes on Christ, we are freed to consider others more important than ourselves. Paul then described the ultimate example of this in 2:5-8, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." We can't miss this point. Jesus, being God, loved us so much, that He emptied Himself of His divine powers and walked and suffered and died as a man. Everything He did on earth, He did so by complete submission to the power of the Holy Spirit, including His teachings, healings, etc. This is our example.

So, why do we grumble and complain. Why do we live life unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Why do we fear retirement, illness, death, loss of loved ones etc. we do so because our eyes are focused on the horizontal plane, the temporal things that can never and will never fully satisfy. If our eyes focus on the vertical and the eternal, joy is ours. For these things can never be taken away from us. Retirement is not the loss of your profession but a new door to minister to others you couldn't previously minister to. In Romans 8:35-39, Paul reminds us that absolutely nothing can separate us from Christ once we enter into a relationship with Him. In Hebrews 13:5 we read, "...For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Jesus came to free us and to show us the example of that freedom. The only one who holds ourselves in bondage is ourselves.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster