S-1380a-17SAP/C 9/08/2013 Hymns: (S) #700;
Texts: Phil. 1:1-6
Theme: “God is not finished with me yet!” (Phil. 1:6)
Devotion for SD District BOD Sioux Falls, this is the last one. SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from St. Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi: “And I am sure of this, that He who began ha good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
In the name of Jesus our only Savior and Lord, amen. All of you in this room have received either a letter or an e-mail from me. At the bottom of my note, I conclude by saying: “In Christ’s love and in His Service, Rev. Nabil S. Nour Pastor, Grandpa, and foot washer Phil. 1:6 For this reason, I have chosen this special verse as my final farewell and words of exhortation to you my dear brothers and faithful foot washers.
Paul, the author of the text, is writing this letter from his jail cell to his favorite congregation before the Lord takes him home. It is a prayer and thanksiving. Paul is thankful for every time they come to his mind. These people had over and over again proven themselves to be a blessing to Paul and to the spread of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. Paul reminds them of his thankfulness to them. And it is very important to let people know when they have been a blessing to us. I am sure you know this, but it worth repeating. Roses do no good when the person is dead.
I, like Paul, wish to thank you, for all of the blessings you have been to me. Some of you I have been privileged and honored to serve right alongside for many years and others just few years. And yet regardless of how many years we have served the Lord together, I am thankful for the opportunity to further the Gospel of my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
In 1:6, Paul shares with them the good news that God is not done with them yet. In fact He is still working on them. What a blessing to know that the Savior is never done working on us, making and fashioning us to be His instruments of blessing and joy to many saints for many years.
There is an old children’s song that speaks to this truth: I share with you the chorus and a verse. First the chorus: “He’s still workin’ on me, To make me what I ought to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars, The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be, He’s still workin’ on me!” And verse 1: “There really ought to be a sign upon my heart, ‘Don’t judge me yet, there’s an unfinished part.’ But I’ll be perfect, just according to His plan, Fashioned by the Master’s loving hand.”
That is right; we are perfect in the Master’s hands. It is His hands that reached out to us when we were just a little baby and the pastor spoke the words over us, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” With those loving hands He fed us at His table, nurtured us by His grace as we heard the Word and continues to work on our lives even now. Those are the same hands that picked up a huge wooden beam, carried it up a steep hill, and there they stretched those hands of His apart, and nailed them to that beam. They drove nails into His feet as well and suspended Him between heaven and hell. On a cruel instrument of suffering and torture, He gave His life, so that He may make ours complete and perfect.
Indeed, none of us have arrived yet. God is still working on us—we are still work in progress. He continues by the power of the Holy Spirit to remove the dross out of our lives and keeps the pure gold. He is even now, at this place still working on us to make us complete for His final return. As we travel onward toward eternity, we are still mere clay in the hands of the Heavenly Potter who is involved in making our lives His master-piece. God is not done with us yet, but He is preparing us for a glorious future.
This is what Paul is saying, “He is confident” not in himself but in the One who called Him to be His missionary to the Gentile. This confidence that Paul speaks about is rooted in Jesus Christ and the hope He gives to every sinner. The word “Confidence” means “to persuade, to convince beyond all doubt.” What Paul is saying in this verse is that he has been “persuaded beyond all doubt that he is eternally saved through the crucifixion, death and glorious resurrection of Jesus.”
And that “confidence” is not only for Paul, but to us here and to every child of God. That is the message that Paul is conveying here. It is Christ who has begun this good work of saving us from the punishment of hell, and it is this risen Christ who will complete it when He returns.
Please notice what Paul is saying: “He who has begun this work in “YOU.” This salvation act has begun, is carried out and will be completed in YOU by Him alone. That is very comforting and truly profound. The grace of God that saved us is the assurance of His work in our lives—yours and mine. According to the Word of God that testifies about His sacrificial giving of His life, we know this is true now and always.
Thanks be to God for what He has accomplished and is still accomplishing in us even today. Indeed, He continues to work on us. But what we have with this verse is the great knowledge that we have been saved. It is not are you saved? It is not will you be saved? It is not you have to do this or that to earn His favor. No, you are saved by grace alone on account of Christ alone.
And this brings us comfort and freedom to live our lives in the service of the Master. After all, He has done it all. From before the foundation of the world He has chosen us, saved us, redeemed us and blesses us always. God never leaves a task unfinished. Look at creation. Look at our Redemption. His history is our future! He, who has begun this work, will complete it. There is nothing for us to do, except rejoice and be glad in it.
No wonder Paul, states, “I am confident that Jesus the One who has begun this in you, will bring it to completion.” It is Christ and Christ alone who begins and finishes the work of our salvation.
We are privileged and honored to serve Him with the life and gifts He bestowed upon us. I will no longer sit in my chair and be here to listen, give advice or work along with you. But He will be and I am confident that He will carry on the banner of love and the spread of the Gospel in spite of the fact I am not here. It is all about Him and not me.
Children of the heavenly Father, join me in thanking the Master Potter, He is still working on us! And, He will continue to work until every single one of His children is at home in the RESURRECTION. Someday, God will finish His work in us. I have never been satisfied with the me I know down here, but I will be satisfied with the me that I will be when I arrive there. After all, you can’t improve upon perfection.
Thank God that the Savior will never stop working in our lives. Take heart and rejoice and be glad—for He is still at work in you and will complete it when He returns. To Him alone be all the glory, now and forever. Amen and Amen.
Now the peace of God…
SOLI DEO GLORIA.