“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
I won’t lie to you. I’ve been home from Ellerslie for a month now and it hasn’t been the easiest time. Besides the busyness of the holidays and settling back into work, I got a bad cold that laid me out for a few days and seems to be coming back now, and I will be traveling soon to go to a second funeral. My grandfather passed away my last week in CO and my grandmother passed away just a few days ago. It’s hard to lose both of them so close to each other, but they were both believers and are now in the arms of their Savior.
Not easy doesn’t mean bad though. It has been a stretching time, filled with lots of failures, lots of apologies to my family and to Jesus; but also lots of peace, lots of abiding in Christ, lots of receiving forgiveness, lots of growing in faith, and lots of trusting the Lord. I am beyond thankful for the faithfulness and goodness of my Jesus. He has held me through so many hard times in the past and is continuing to do so now.
One of the amazing things about Jesus though is that He not merely holds us, carries us, comforts us, and loves on us, but that He lives through us. He isn’t just a backseat driver, giving us directions and a comforting shoulder, but He is actually driving our car. Or He can be, if we let Him. He doesn’t desire to be God beside you, but to be God in you. He doesn’t just desire to carry you, but to live through you and enable you to walk.
And that leads me to how comforting and encouraging Philippians 1:6 is to me. I am most definitely a work in progress, but God has promised to perfect (complete and accomplish) the good work that He has begun in me until the day of Christ Jesus. God is the one that has begun this good work and He is the one perfecting it. It has nothing to do with my ability, my strength, or my resources. It has ALL to do with God’s ability, His strength, and His resources. My job is to be like the Philippians – humble and obedient.
Their work in the gospel (see my last blog) exemplifies this. They gave no thought to themselves, but poured themselves out for Christ. And as they participated in the gospel, they allowed God to use them as He saw fit. They allowed Him to begin a good work in them and Paul is fully confident and persuaded of the fact that He will continue to perfect it.
Paul uses the phrase “the day of Christ Jesus” or “the day of Christ” in almost all of his books to refer to Christ’s second coming (made specifically clear in 1 Thessalonians and 2 Timothy). So not only is God the one who began this good work and who will continue to perfect it, but He will do it until Christ returns.
What a promise! God will not stop working in and on me until Christ returns!
If I stagnate or fall, it is not because God is focusing on other people or because I have tapped out all there is to Him. No. He is infinite. His goodness is infinite. And there is no limit to how much of Him I can have or how much He can work in me and use me. If I stagnate or fall, it’s because I took my eyes off of Him, did not humble myself before Him to allow Him to work through me, or did not respond in obedience when He directed me.
But God’s desire is to continue this good work in me and I can fully trust that.
He will reveal Himself to me in His word. He will show me more of His magnitude and brilliance, so that I can’t help but keep my eyes fixed on Him.
He will continue to lovingly show me my shortcomings, while showing me His perfection, to encourage me to humble myself before Him.
He will direct me – sometimes with a whisper, sometimes with a shout, and sometimes with a 2×4 – but I can trust His voice if I stay listening for it.
I have full confidence in my tendency to stray from my first love. But I have even greater confidence in my Jesus’ desire for me and His ability to continue and complete His work in me. He will lead me to the passage of Scripture I need to read. He will show me the perfect blog at the perfect moment. He will guide someone to send me an encouraging text or verse. He will direct me to encourage or minister to someone, filling me as I pour myself out. He will remind me of His faithfulness throughout my entire life. He will give me new eyes to see His blessings in my life, my family, and my church. And He will do a million other things.
How do I know this? Because He does it every day. And He doesn’t change. So He will continue to do it.
Oh friend, if your heart has become cold or you feel like you are standing still, be encouraged. God has not started a good work in you that He is not able and willing to complete.
Look for His faithfulness, goodness, and love. If you don’t see it right now, ask Him for fresh eyes. If you aren’t hearing His voice, ask Him for fresh ears.
If sin or apathy has separated you from Him (Isaiah 59:2), repent and walk in His forgiveness. True godly sorrow brings life and leaves no regret (2 Corinthians 7). Repent for sins of commission (God told you not to do something and you did it anyway) and of omission (God told you to do something and you didn’t).
Feast on the Word of God – read it, meditate on it, and memorize it – so that you can intimately know your Jesus and so that God can replace lies you are believing with truth.
Pour yourself out for the gospel. You don’t need to pamper yourself when feeling worn out, let God do that for you.
Humble yourself before the Lord. If you need more grace in your life (everyone raise your hand) then you need more humility. God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) and He dwells with the contrite and lowly of spirit (Isaiah 57:15). Humility is not thinking you are worthless, but rather unworthy. We have worth because of Jesus and yet are unworthy of Him. We can never deserve His grace, His love, His forgiveness, His plans for our lives. But He gives us those things anyway. Meditating on that truth should cause us to humble ourselves before the Lord and receive His grace. If it doesn’t, pray and pray and pray that God will help you to humble yourself before Him.
As you and I do these things, God will be perfecting the good work that He began in us. Here’s to an awesome 2017 of God doing just that!
Love you all and am praying for you as you walk the narrow way 🙂