Peninsula Community Church
June 2, 2019
Philippians 1:3-11 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Over the next couple of weeks we will take a look at the Book of Philippians to understand the power of joy in our life. To accomplish this we will choose key verses in the book as a means to discover the power of joy. For today, we will look at one of the great facts about God. What God begins, He will complete. In understanding this truth, we gain a greater view of the character of God. In so doing, we grow closer to Him and we learn to trust Him more.
I am always amazed at the promises that are made by people that are not kept. Many people promise the world, but they do not keep their promises. Sometimes they have good intentions, but life gets in the way. How many times do we hear stories of contractors who promise the world, but fail to produce to the level of their promise? When this occurs, we can feel deceived and disenfranchised by these empty promises.
But let me let you in on a secret. There are those in the world that break their promises, but God does not operate that way. Paul knew that and he wanted the church at Philippi to know that He that began a good work in you will complete it! Here is the deal, God does not start something and then leave us hanging. God does not make promises only to break them. God does not forget His promises nor does He allow the cares of life to get in the way of the promises He made. God keeps His word. In this, we have the security we need to endure whatever might come our way and it opens the door for us to experience overwhelming joy no matter the circumstances we face.
Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi speaks a lot about the power of joy in one’s life and the source of that joy. Paul is saying that this principle gives us hope and brings us peace as we navigate the issues of our life. Paul was confident that God finishes what He starts. I was reminded this week that God did not bring the nation of Israel halfway through the wilderness and leave them there. He brought them through the wilderness to the promise land. The sad part is this journey took longer than it should have. They complained and argued with God all the way through the process. They denied God and followed other gods, even when God was blessing and providing for them. This blows me away that they would have been so insensitive to what God was doing. It is so sad that their journey should have taken 40 days not 40 years. Their lack of faith and their disobedience caused their entrance into the promised land to be delayed. But it did not deter God from fulfilling His purpose for them. He finishes what He starts.
It is important to know that our decisions have consequences. While our decisions may delay God’s promises, it does not stop God from fulfilling His promises. In fact, it was through the delay that the Children of Israel learned much about God’s character and much more about themselves. It was through the wilderness journey that their hearts were revealed so God could bring healing and hope to every heart. It was through the journey that God prepared them to fight the battles that were yet to come. It was through this journey that God was able to take the Egypt out of their heart to prepare them to be the powerful army that would take the land promised to them. Yes, they had a long delay, but God finished what He started.
In our passage, Paul uses some powerful words to express this principle. Paul emphatically states “I am sure of this.” “I am confident.” The Greek word used here for confident is PEITHO. It means to come to a settled persuasion concerning some truth or fact so as to be persuaded or convinced. The word suggests that a conclusion has been reached on reasonable grounds. The apostle’s observation of what God had done among the Philippians and his reflections on the ways of God, led him to form this judgment. Paul was entirely convinced of this truth. He had no doubt. The bottom line is that Paul was convinced that God would complete the work He started in the hearts of the church of Philippi on the day of their salvation.
The perfect tense of the verb indicates that Paul had come to this settled persuasion, but he remained confident of God’s desire and ability to continue the transforming work in the lives of the Philippian believers. He had no doubt about their salvation or their security. It is noteworthy that Paul’s confidence did not rest on the Philippians themselves, but on God, who would preserve them and enable them to reach the goal set by God.
God is at work in His people. He is changing the thought patterns and the preferences of our sinful nature, so that we love what He loves. He is retooling our brain. He is reconstructing the broken places of our lives with infinitely greater skill than the world’s foremost micro-surgeon. He is not going to give up on us and the process He started. This promise is nothing more than the New Covenant promise of Ezekiel 36:26-27–note. ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes.’”
The basis of Paul’s confidence was in the fact that it was begun by God. He knew and held God’s promises with high esteem. He knew that God’s promise would be permanent. Had it been the agency of man, he would not have such a conviction.
So how do we apply this practically in our life? First, note where the work takes place. It is in you and not among you or on you. Paul is reminding us here that the real work He is doing is in us. He is in the transformation business and He will not give up on transforming us from the inside out.
Second, we can be assured that He will not get tired or get weary in this work. I love the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. Here is an amazing truth that bears our attention. God does not grow weary in His work. He does not give up.
The reason God does not give up or weary is that He sees something in us that we do not see in ourselves. Someone witnessed Michelangelo chipping away with his chisel at a huge shapeless piece of rock. The man asked the sculptor what he was doing. Michelangelo replied “I am releasing the angel imprisoned in this marble.” So it is with us. He is working to release and construct us into His special being. He sees who we are before we know who we are.
Third, through the work of Christ we are counted as perfect in Christ but one day we will be presented as perfect. In that day, there will be no sin, shame, anger, guilt, fear, or disappointment. There will be nothing broken about you in that day. This promise means that God is working stuff out in us right now. He will not give up and He will complete the transformation that He was begun. At the point of salvation we are new creations and He is working that out in us for our benefit and for His glory.
Fourth, God wants you to know that the failures of your life do not stop the perfecting process He started. The sin that you committed and have asked His forgiveness for does not stop the process. Paul’s joy in and hope for the Philippians was not only about completion on the last day, but about progress today, as well. Do not lose heart. Do not give up. We think we have blown it and we have failed, but God uses that to teach us, strength us, and move us to a better place. Remember Israel?
Jesus did something pretty amazing. He gave us the cross and the empty tomb to remind us that He does not give up on us. Today we celebrate communion. The communion elements also remind us that He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He does not give up on us. He completes what He starts.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom