REMAIN FAITHFULL ‘TILL THE END
By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, October 13, 2019
We do not need to be a fractious person, while we are singing spiritual songs, but our heart will not be able to hold the emotion and tears will drip when we remember the wonderful love of Jesus Christ for us.
Do we already know His true mind and feeling? We must believe that the Bible which were written by people who were used by God and translated into hundreds of languages is the complete Word of God. We must love His Word even more and apply it in our daily lives.
By diligently reading the Bible, Jesus' perfect mind and feelings will increasingly dominate our superficial mind and feelings, making us grow to a certain extent to become like Him. For example: although the Apostle Paul was imprisoned as a criminal, the thoughts and feelings expressed in his writings were clearly controlled by the thoughts and feelings of Christ.
How can we think and feel like Christ? The Apostle Paul reminded, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phillipians 2:12-13)
Indeed the Philippians were quite loyal; however, the Apostle Paul still hoped that their level of loyalty would increase when he was not with them.
Application: We should not be easily influenced by the figure of the servant of God. Otherwise, we faithfully come to church and give offerings just because we admire that pastor. This is not the true faithfulness.
The Apostle Paul was obedient to the end because he had a wonderful experience with Christ. His heart and mind were controlled by the mind and feeling of Christ until he was able to offer his life joyfully.
He truly experienced how the blood of Jesus shed to cleanse him; that's why he is also ready to sacrifice his blood as expressed in his writings, “Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.” (Phil.2:17-18)
What is the Apostle Paul's advice to the Philippians (including us) through his writings on obedience?
1. That we remain obedient to God's Word → Table of Showbread
We must not obey God's Word because of encouragement/coercion from others.
Of course we must obey/submit to God but He has entrusted us the servants of God – evangelists, pastors, elders etc. who preached His Word to guide the church. In other words, if we obey God, we prove it by obeying our spiritual leaders. Hebrews 13:7,17 confirms, "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow considering the outcome of their conduct…Obey those who rule over you and be submissive for they watch out for your souls as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief for that would be unprofitable for you.”
The Apostle Paul did not hesitate to remind us to obey and submit to our spiritual leaders. Even our faithfulness needs to be increased because of other teachings that try to lead us astray (Hebrews 13: 9a) and shake our faith.
Be careful, do not be obedient and patient over the teachings carelessly because there are people preaching another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel (2 Corinthians 11: 4).
We should remember spiritual leaders who have delivered the true Word of God even though they could pass away because they were taken away by God, but the Word of God remains forever (1 Peter1:25).
2. That we remain obedient to do God's Word → Gold Candlestick
"Do all things without complaining and disputing that you may become blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ,” (Philippians. 2:14-16a)
We should keep on thinking and feeling as Christ who never changes. The Apostle Paul corrected the Philippians who were obedient, faithful and sacrificial (Phillpians 4: 14-16). Yet there were complaints and conflict that caused disgrace and shame; consequently, they could not shine brightly in the darkness of the world.
Introspection: we diligently attend Sunday services, prayer services, Bible study, etc. but have we done the Word of God that we have heard so much?
The Apostle Paul who used to be a Pharisee, must have been filled with the law; therefore he was able to preach fluently. But after he accepted Jesus and repented, his life was renewed and his writings gave us encouragement so that we do not only obey the Word of God (the Table of Showbread) but also put the Word of God into practice without grumbling so that we will shine like stars in the midst of a crooked generation → Gold Candlestick brightens the darkness in the Holy Place and its surroundings. Thus, we are blessed to be a blessing.
How can we be lights and blessings for others? We do God's Word without complaining and arguing because these two things make a disgrace and shame for our service. Challenges and obstacles may exist but we must aim to continue to be a bright star in the darkness of the world.
The Bible gives several examples of the consequences of complaining and arguing, including:
- The Israelites had just experienced God's miracle by crossing the divided Red Sea so that they were released from the pursuit of Pharaoh and his entire army (Exodus 14: 15-31). But soon they complained against the bitter water of Marah (Exodus 15: 22-25). Likewise when there was no food, they grumbled again (Exodus 16: 2-3). In their complaints they always remembered and wanted to return to Egypt. Be aware, the problem of eating, drinking, clothing should not be an excuse for us to grumble, and even more we pick a fight, because we unconsciously want to return to old life patterns. In fact, many God's servants fight not because of substantive matters but related to the positions and assets of the church.
- The Apostle Paul (the New Testament) quoted the Israelites' grumble (the Old Testament) to be a warning to us now to avoid the punishment of destruction by the grim reaper (1 Corinthians 10: 1-10).
There is no other way except we are always cleansed by the blood of Jesus because once we are tempted and urged to nag and fight, Satan quickly accuses us again. For example: a fight is a disgrace/stain, if the husband/wife does not immediately realize this and ask for forgiveness from God, the husband/wife has been tarnished and this will spoil the purity of heart and mind of the spouse resulting in marred marriage.
It turns out that there are two kinds of hearts that humans have: a crooked heart and a heart without blemish. The "crooked" condition can only be helped by being obedient to God's Word. However, we are required not only to obey but to culminate to become like a star.
What kind of star does God want? Are student stars, movie stars, soap opera stars, guest stars and so on. scattered in this world? Or do we believe in horoscope stars (Aries, Virgo, Leo, etc.) and zodiacs (monkeys, pigs, rats, etc.)?
The Bible gives us examples of three persons (Cain, Balaam, Korah) whose lives are like the waves of a fierce sea which produce slurry as well as the circulating stars which end up entering a black hole/the dark world (Jude 1:13).
The false prophet Balaam intended to curse the Israelites; however, he blessed them, instead, for four times (Numbers 23-24). It was obvious that God could use evil and cunning person but still, if they do not repent, destruction is waiting.
Why did the Apostle Paul ask the Philippians (including us) to be luminous stars instead of wild stars that have no purpose? The appearance of the star plays such an important role that it is included in the Bible.
In the beginning of creation, the star was created as a torch that determines time and dominates the day/night (Genesis 1: 14-16) as well as determines the direction to navigate fishermen who are in the open sea when going back to shore. However, these lights (sun, moon, stars) should not be worshiped even though in the days of Job astronomy was known and up to this day there are still many people interested in this knowledge.
Application: we have to be a bright "star" that gives direction to people who have lost their way. Who is the bright star? Jesus is the bright, morning star (Revelation 22:16).
We look forward to the "star", that was born 2,000 years ago and this star still shines. The Apostle Peter advises us to pay attention to the Word of prophecy like watching a lamp that shines in a dark place until daybreak and the eastern star shines in the heart (2 Peter 1:19).
We must admit that we have experienced ups and downs concerning our faithfulness in doing God's Word. But do not make our bad habits as a reason not to be sanctified. Do not underestimate the change that God is doing! The Apostle Paul became a concrete example of the most wicked life changed to be humble.
3. That we remain obedient until the end of our lives → Altar of Burnt Offering,
“holding fast to the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (Phillipians 2:16)
The Philippians (also us) are asked to remain faithful to hold on to the Word of life with joy without grumbling until the day of Christ or the end of our lives. In order to boost on the day (coming) of Christ, spiritual leaders must not relax; instead, they must work hard to provide solutions to problems and encourage the congregants to obey the Word.
Meanwhile the congregation must not compare spiritual leaders because this shows an unethical attitude. We must imitate the perfect example that is Jesus Christ who is blameless and willing to suffer to save sinful people, including us.
The Apostle Paul hoped that he would not be useless in a race; therefore, he forgot what had happened behind and directed himself while running toward the goal of getting a gift (Philippians 3: 13-14).
Thus, an athlete must strictly follow the rules. The same thing applies for Christians, that they need to be obedient, especially spiritual leaders. Honestly, sometimes it hurts to carry out order but behind it there is happiness.
Do not grumble when we are told about the rules because our God is orderly and disciplined. Without His rules, we become irrepairably damaged. Is not the world and the creations were created orderly by God to this day? If it were disorganized, the world would have been gone long time ago.
The Apostle Paul further reminded us to stand firm (not to be shaken) and be active in the work of the Lord for our labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Paul himself was willing to lay down his life with joy (Philliphians 2: 17-18) like the Altar of Incense as the final offering to enter into the glory that God provided.
Surprisingly, the Apostle Paul was not mourning, on the contrary, he was willing to give his life up; and he still rejoiced. He wanted to show that when a servant of God suffers because of Christ (not because of corruption in church money, cheating, etc.), the congregation rejoices because the servant of God is being glorified by Him.
On another occasion, the Apostle Paul was told by the Holy Spirit that he would be bound by the Jews in Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles. His congregation wept and tried to keep him from going to Jerusalem but Paul insisted that he was willing to die there for the Name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 21: 10-14).
What is our reaction when we ought to suffer because of the Lord? Are we afraid or joyful as the Apostle Paul had experienced? The Lord asks that when we come to pray, we do it joyfully, meaning that we suffer because of the truth and of course this causes a great joy.
Let’s use the time and the opportunity that God has provided while we are still alive to keep obeying God's Word, to do/to apply it in our daily lives until the end of our lives, that we can offer our lives like pleasant fragrant incense before Him. Amen.
Video ini dapat disimak di Ibadah Umum - Tetap Taat Sampai Akhir Hayat - Pdt. Paulus Budiono.