Working with God

Today’s FDR is Judges 19 and Philippians 2:12-13

Today I’m feeling like I’ve drawn the short straw! This chapter in Judges is so shocking and unpalatable that one commentator has recommended NOT reading it!
Here we see the depths of depravity that people without God’s grace can sink to. The very first sentence of the chapter (used 4 times in this book of Judges) highlights the problem:
                  ‘In those days Israel had no king’
What is that telling us? Apart from there being no political monarch, more significantly we’re reminded that at this time the Israelites were living in rebellion to God, refusing to recognise His leadership over them. In other parts of the book we’re told in addition that ‘everyone did as he saw fit’ (eg 17:6 & 21:25). For those who think we can manage fine on our own without rule, this chapter of Judges paints a vividly disturbing picture of the depths of depravity people can sink to when left to their own devices.
As Keller puts it, when we’re free to shape life and morals any way we choose without ultimate accountability (ie God) it can lead to brutality.
The last chapters of Judges show us how the tribe of Benjamin almost became extinct as a result of the moral degeneration outlined in this chapter – there was much to shock Israel from its moral lethargy and awaken it to it’s responsibility (see tomorrow’s action-packed narrative as the Israelites seek revenge against the wicked men of Gibeah).
As Forrest Gump would say, that is all I have to say about that…

It is with joy I turn to Philippians 2:12-13

‘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 according to his good purposes.’

The preceding verses have reminded us of Christ’s beautiful example of humility that we are to imitate. Because of that example Paul urges the Philippians to show their obedience by growing and developing in their Christian journey together.  We see how important it is for Paul that Christians live out the gospel seriously, standing in awe of God. Note this is not in case somehow you’re not really saved, and you better back it up just in case with some hard work. No, salvation isn’t just a one-off gift, end of story. The person who has been saved by God’s gracious gift of salvation has a life-time to express that, to ‘work it out’ – which will involve things like perseverance, growth in spiritual maturity, humble service etc. Why? For God’s glory,for ‘his good purposes’.

The great news of these verses is that it is not our own resolve that will bring about this transformation in our Christian lives. It comes from God ‘s own work in us, ‘enabling you both to desire and work out His good purposes’ (Holman). Looking to God, with honor and reverence due to him, we’re to work it out in partnership with Him. This encourages me enormously! I may not be sure about what lies ahead in this earthly life, but I can remind myself that God is always at work guiding, enabling, helping if I will be open and not resistant (He has my best interests at heart after all).  We’re not called to sit back and do nothing until ‘something happens’.

If you’re struggling in your Christian journey be reminded and encouraged today:
‘Grace all-sufficient dwells in you, believer. There is a living well within you, springing up; use the bucket, then; keep on drawing; you will never exhaust it; there is a living source within.’ (Spurgeon)

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3 thoughts on “Working with God

  1. Thanks Jane!
    I am greatly encouraged by today’s reading. I am amazed that God works in me to will and act in accordance with His purpose. And His purpose is to make me like Christ!

  2. Horror. No one should have to reflect on that OT passage Jane…it shouldn’t have a place in God’s word…but it does. Reading it is like peering into the maggoty summer swill of the bottom of a garbage bin where the prawns have gone off. And it is our garbage bin. If it’s not directly our own, then at least its our shared experience of the low points of human history.

    Why does God insist we read it? So we might be reminded at what lurks in the subterrane of the human heart. So we will cry out “send us a saviour”…So we will cry out “come Lord Jesus come”. Our saviour comes and mucks out the bottom of the bin. How much there is here that we might be sobered by, let alone think about what might be lurking at the bottom of our own hearts.

    “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purposes”. Indeed.

    Come Lord Jesus come!

  3. Why would God put something so graphic, obscene, distasteful as this chapter in the Bible? Because that is what sin is to a Holy God. Sin should never be sugar-coated.As Lachlan pointed out in last nights message we like to hear the nice things but would rather not hear about the terrible things like sin. But we need to hear otherwise we are only fooling ourselves. Sin is the problem and unless we understand how depraved the human heart ( mind) is we will not fully grasp the wonderful gift of Grace. And the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who works with the Word of God to give us a new mind / heart. May God change each one of us to have His heart a heart of love and compassion for those whose hearts are still waiting for the transplant _ a new heart a heart of flesh instead of a cold stony heart. God will not be mocked.

    Jeremiah 17:9,10 Message Bible
    The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I (God) search the heart and examine the mind I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.

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