I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I was encouraged to do it almost four years ago. But I didn’t. I was into something else and didn’t really have the drive or interest to start. However, my husband decided to give it a go. Four years on from that first encouragement, John is making amazing progress.
So much so, that after four years of observing my husband in action and the fruit of his labors, I decided to join him.
In late December I began memorizing Scripture. Not just verses, but the exhortation that was given to us four years ago was to memorize entire books of the Bible. John has a great morning discipline of memorizing new Scripture and then also reviewing previously memorized books. So, I started with Philippians.
A question has developed and continued to capture my thinking by this memorization exercise each morning; am I living my life in or out of the context of Scripture?
Let me give you one example.
If you have been following Christ and reading the Word for any particular length of time, you may be familiar with these words…
—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
Have you heard that before?
So what is the context of Paul’s words?
Here you go:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now even 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 purpose. Philippians 2:12-13 NIV
As I read, meditate and memorize these words I have been struck by the order and emphasis of Paul’s words. The Philippians always obeyed their God whether their obedience was observed or not. They were exhorted to continue their quest towards eternity with Christ with fear and trembling as their God worked out His will and purpose in their lives.
What was central to this relationship was obedience.
To obey, according to the Greek root of the word, akou, means to hear, to consider, to understand and to act upon what was said. The Philippians heard the words and teachings of Christ, understood them and then applied them in their daily lives…always.
As I consider these three verses, I understand why Paul exhorted the Philippians to be reverent and to tremble as they worked out their salvation each day. Coupled with their obedience, came the privilege of having the Lord Almighty work His will and purpose in them in an intimate and transformational way.
Obedience to God = Privilege of His Presence and His Good Purpose
So, in context, working out my salvation in fear and trembling makes so much more sense when I consider that my obedience to my God provides a channel for my God to work His will and His good purpose in my life. I can’t help but wonder what my God wants to accomplish even more in my life as I surrender even more to Him.
Unlike the Philippians, I cannot say that I am always obedient. I am self-centered and impatient. I allow my nose to get out of joint. I want to do things my way and according to my time frame. Sure, there are many times that I do surrender and obey…but always? All the time? In every instance?
I still have a ways to go on that.
However, in order for my God to work His will and His good purpose in my life, my heart must be rendered towards Him in love and obedience. This can only be done in my reverent acknowledgement of His all-encompassing and all-empowering Presence. Such a thought brings me to my knees in fear, in trembling and in wonder. What is truly possible when I surrender every part of me?
This is why I want to live my life in full context of the Word of my God. Not just taking one verse, and making it fit my personal context; but taking the Word of my God and enfolding all of it into my life.
What about you?
Do you want live your life fully in context?
I do. I am going to give it a good try.
Photo by Joe Cavazos of Flickr