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Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.As I read that scripture, what stands out is "...it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." Have you ever wanted to do God's will, but just can't seem to get it together? Or feel as if there is some barrier between what you do and what you want to do...who you are and who you want to be?
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
It's like how Paul puts it in Romans 7:15 - "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." If you read the rest of that passage, Paul goes on to explain the tumultuous conflict inside. After a series of back and forth, he gets to the end with, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Apparently we need God...a lot; just to do what we honestly desire to do. And I'm feeling that right now in life. But that takes trust. Try and get to the bottom of yourself and ask -- do you trust God to handle your life, marriage, children, career, money, business? It's tougher than it seems. But God is faithful and won't leave us.
There's the struggle; but that's part of a life that can only be explained by God (see below). And that's a life worth living.
Here are some notes from the sermon:
- Scripture is an echo throughout history that says, "God cares."
- Philippians is a letter to people who are doing okay
- Sometimes we're not in a high or low spiritually, but just going along
- This can be the hardest place to hear God's voice
- "Work out your salvation..."
- The word "salvation" can have negative connotations these days
- Salvation is used in different ways
- God saving (like saving King David from his enemies)
- God forgiving us (more spiritual sense)
- God protecting us ("you are my rock and my salvation")
- In this verse, "salvation" is a process, not a specific event
- It's a partnership and relationship
- We are designed to inspire people
- "Inspire" means to breathe life into
- Jesus is the most inspirational person to ever live
- "Working out salvation" means becoming an incredible human being
- Having more integrity, more compassion, less bitterness, etc.
- Matthew 5:14a - "You are the light of the world."
- Culture says that God just wants to take all the fun stuff away from us
- The truth is that He is the best giver
- "...with fear and trembling."
- There is a fear that traps us...
- A life of fear clips off the highs and the lows into a manageable middle
- But you miss the highs...
- This is a different kind of fear
- This is to go places in your life that require God to exist for you to be successful
- Working out your salvation with fear and trembling means living a life that cannot exist without God
- This journey requires a choice
- God has "plans to prosper you..."
- In your character
- There are some things God loves doing for us, but most things He loves doing with us
- "Grace is more than just the forgiveness of sins; grace is the opportunity to become like Jesus." - Deitrich Bonhoffer