Friday, September 26, 2014

Now as always

In Philippians 1:20 Paul expresses his hope that "now as always Christ will be honored." This is the heartbeat of his life and ministry as seen throughout this letter and others. In fact, in the very next breath he asserts that for him to live is Christ and to die is gain. And just a few sentences prior he dismisses his jealous rivals with apparent unconcern because his one aim is "only that in every way...Christ is proclaimed and in that I rejoice."

Now. As always. Only that. In every way. Talk about single-mindedness!

Commenting on Phil. 1:20, J.A. Motyer writes in his book The Message of Philippians,
How that word 'now' needs to eat its way into our minds and hearts and wills! It is now that we must show how great Christ is. Never again will we have the chance to live for him through this moment, to please him in this circumstance, to gladden him by trusting in this ordeal.
I don't know what your "now" looks like. Just prior to me sitting down to type this post, my "now" consisted of laundry (always and forever). When I get up from the computer, my "now" will most likely include cleaning out the refrigerator and vacuuming my dog's crate. It's not exactly the glamorous life I lead here in my "now".

For some of us, our "now" entails risk and danger. Some of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world face persecution and peril in their "now". For some of you, your "now" may be full of pain or doubt or loneliness or struggle. Maybe your "now" means reading Goodnight, Moon for what is surely the millionth time, wondering if you will go crazy with that millionth-and-first reading.

Maybe you're exhausted in your "now." Maybe you're misunderstood. Maybe you feel invisible. Maybe you're like me and you're cleaning the bathrooms. Maybe you're doing the kind of ministry that takes everything you've got and then some and you think you haven't got anything else left to give.

Maybe your "now" is good, real good, so good you're tempted to grow comfortable and complacent. Or maybe you feel hopeless or helpless. Maybe you're wondering if God is there, if He hears, if He knows, if He will answer.

Take heart, sister. No matter where your "now" finds you, be encouraged by Paul's example. "I am sure of this," he tells the Philippians, "that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Paul writes with great confidence but he also writes from a place of great difficulty, from prison. Motyer observes,
Such sentiments elate the heart, but there can have been small elation for Paul as he looked at his chain and his flesh worn by its chafing. No elation--but a resolve: now as always!
Your "now"? It's part of that good work, it's part of what God is bringing to completion. Your today--no matter how hard, how easy, how blessed, how difficult--it's important, it's necessary, it's getting you ready for the day of Christ.

So let's praise Him now, wherever we are, whatever we are facing. Let's resolve to trust Him even in the hard places. Let's be fully confident that He is working it all out for His purpose and His glory. Let's show Christ as more precious, more wonderful. Now. Today. Tomorrow. As always.

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