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I grew up in a household of five boys and one girl. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of benefits. But it wasn’t an atmosphere in which one learned to savour your food. You either ate it or it would be eaten by others, even if it was still on your plate. You never left anything in the fridge for later – it wouldn’t be there later. Even if you sneezed on it in front of everyone else and announced that you were leaving it in the fridge for later. Guaranteed you’d come back to a cold empty plate, maybe with a used fork on it. Savouring was never a thing at our place.But from today’s passage Paul is calling us to savour. Paul’s call in our passage today is to savour the Saviour. Others have used the term to delight in Jesus. Elsewhere we are invite to taste and see that the Lord is good. How do we do that? How do we dine on the Divine? How do we savour the Saviour? Let’s take a look. Paul’s first instruction on how to savour the Saviour is to…
Read v1. Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.Paul says rejoice. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, rejoice. Reminds me of that dreadful song we use to sing as a round in the 80’s! Paul’s rejoicing is not annoying repetition but a fully orbed delight in the good news, the gospel of Jesus. So he rejoices in their gospel partnership; he rejoices in the advance of the gospel; he rejoices in the progress of the church; he rejoices in his gospel service to them; he is more than happy to say it again and remind them again to rejoice, Rejoice in the Lord. This gospel delight, this savouring the Saviour is a defining characteristic of Paul’s life and ministry. And he says that savouring the Saviour should be a defining characteristic in the life of his readers. Notice that rejoicing in Christ is more that a good thing to do; it’s a safeguard. How does rejoicing protect you? How is it a safeguard? Is it a safeguard by … Conjuring up positive attitude? Stopping you thinking about bad stuff? Drowning out the negative voices? No! Paul doesn’t say rejoicing in Christ is a distraction, he says it’s a safeguard.
It stops you from plummeting to your death. It keeps you from leaving the path to life. It prevents you from stumbling off the narrow way.Rejoicing in Christ is a safeguard from being enticed away from the only one who can give you everlasting life. Rejoicing in Christ will stop you from being lured to your death. Who knew it was so important?
Read v2. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.Rejoicing in the Lord, rejoicing in Christ is a safeguard against false avenues of hope.
My favourite cafe in Cronulla had a sign out the front. Pretend it is the 90’s and leave your dog outside.Paul’s attitude to dogs was the same – not a fur baby to be coddled, but a creature to be avoided. Paul is not talking about animals but heretics. These dogs, evil doers, mutilators of the flesh are sincere religious people who are teaching that Jesus is not enough. They are teaching Jesus plus! Paul is referring to such teachers as mutilators of the flesh. Reference to, circumcision, the mandatory sign for Old Testament saints as an expression that you were set apart for God, “cut off” for God. Unless you get bits chopped off you are not a full member of God’s family. Physical circumcision is no longer a requirement, it has been fulfilled in Christ; it was a sign, it pointed forward to a greater reality, it has served its purpose now it’s obsolete.
If you go on holidays and you see a billboard advertising the resort where you are going, you don’t pull up at the billboard – you just take it as a sign you’re travelling in the right direction and keep going until you get there.By requiring physical circumcision and all that went with it these guys are parking at the sign and getting ready for a holiday. They are not rejoicing in Christ. They are saying: Jesus is not the final destination; You need more than just Jesus. His sacrifice was not enough. And Paul goes off because this is false teaching. Earlier we saw that he’s not too worried about people preaching the gospel with wrong motives – what does it matter? He says. But here, Paul is most angered by people who are sincere, but wrong – people not rejoicing in the fullness of Jesus. They are sincerely stuffing up the gospel message. They are detracting from the beauty and the power of Jesus. That’s not rejoicing. We need to have the same discernment when it comes to our day. Be very careful how you assess valid gospel ministry. The measure of our faithfulness will not be the size of our church, or even the sincerity of our ministries. How is that rejoicing in Jesus? Rather, we measure our health by how we savour the sufficiency of the Saviour. Are we a church who rejoices in Christ? Is Jesus on our lips in our conversations with one another, not just in our singing? Is Christ-likeness the thing we praise and uphold? Is our collective and individual delight the truth that we have been called to belong to Christ and that apart from Him we truly believe there is no lasting life? Such rejoicing in the Lord is a safeguard against false teaching, false hope, a false gospel. Because we see and rejoice in the fact that Jesus has done it all; that it is nothing but the blood of Jesus which makes us whole. v3 the true people of God rejoice in Christ.
Read v3. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the fleshWe who rejoice in Christ are God’s people, set apart for him by him; it’s his work, all his work in Christ. Our hearts were dead but by His Spirit He made us alive. Now we are able to live to please and serve him. Apart from Jesus and faith in him we cannot please God. So, v3… we boast in Christ Jesus. HOW GOOD IS THIS!!!!! When I’m faced with anything that challenges my faith in Jesus, and the sufficiency of his sacrifice I need to rejoice in the beauty and power of His sacrifice for me and the truth of his glory and majesty which will one day be seen. When you’re feeling like a failure and a fake delight in the fact that you are a true child of God by virtue of Christ. Recover the lost art of meditation. Seeking to absorb and apply the immensity of the gospel truth, that God the Son became man, was obedient to death on a cross – setting aside his divine privilege that he may gain for me, a sinner, forgiveness, sonship and eternal life. Rejoicing reminds you that there is nothing more glorious, nothing more worthy, nothing which should grab my attention more, or my desire more, or my passion more, than the saving truth of the gospel, the glory of the Risen Lord Jesus. So Paul says, Rejoice, that is a safeguard. Then he says, we savour the Saviour as we …
Read v4. I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have morePaul is pretty much saying, If life is a 100m sprint then I am Ussain Bolt. Paul was the pin up boy of Judaism, the quintessential Israelite, by nature and by nurture. In v5a – we see all the things he was by nature. Stuff he had no say over. In v5b-6 we see all the things he was by nurture. Areas where he was encouraged and worked hard. He is a celebrity student.
Ever have those kids at school. High marks, great at sport. Good looking. That wasn’t me. But it was Paul.If anyone ever had any reason to trust in his own efforts, any reason to feel confident about themselves from a human perspective then it was Paul. The picture we get from v5-6 is one of breeding, education, zeal, discipline.
There is a Sydney school, James Ruse Agricultural School, which tops the schools each year in best HSC results. I understand that students from there refer to their ATAR as point something. What did you get? .7 or .8 – as in 99.7, 99.8. The 99 is assumed.Paul is saying .9 – you can’t get a better mark. But, says Paul
I got full marks in the wrong test. I was the furthest in front… running in the wrong direction.Having met Jesus I now realise what a loss that was. I was trusting in the wrong things, expending my energies in the wrong direction, relying on stuff that would not save,
wearing floats in the Sydney to Hobart in case you landed in Bass Strait – (not a floatation device), things that would, on that last day, disappoint and result in shame.Read v7.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.These things got in the road of me seeing my need for Jesus and what he won for me , says Paul. Now I Rest in the Lord Jesus, I rest in Christ.
Read v8-9. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.As far as my right standing with God goes I am working hard to REST in Jesus, to trust Jesus. It’s not my effort (v8) that saves me but my faith (v9) in the work of Christ. I rest in his work. I realise that I am declared right before God on the basis of my faith in Jesus – my trusting that his work on my behalf is enough, all I need. In fact, Paul says in v8b any work done with the intent of making me right with God I now understand to be as attractive and compelling as poo? NIV – garbage but Greek poo. Possum poo on the deck! Baby poo in a nappy! We do not prize it, delight in it or savour it – the very opposite. If our hope is in our own abilities we will have no peace and no comfort; no REST. Savour the Saviour by resting in his work done for you. Developing a heart which delights and rests in our Saviour. Paul calls on you today to rest in the Saviour. Finally, you savour the Saviour as you …
I love eating the marrow out of big beef bones.Do you want that? To know Christ more, to experience Him more. I do. I really do. But when it doesn’t feel like I do I pray that I would. “Lord, help me to want to want to love you, delight in you, savour you.” To see that same power that raised Christ from the dead at work in me, changing me, shaping me, maturing me to Christ-likeness. That I would more naturally desire what he desires, that my life would be shaped by his character. Following Jesus in his death is to exercise obedience. Not my will Lord but yours (Jesus in the garden). I will serve you, trust you with my very life to your glory and honour. This is a true miracle. A transformed, transforming heart. A will attuned to God. A life truly blessed through knowing a closeness to the Saviour; to feel his smile, his embrace, his presence. That’s what you do when you savour. And it guards against error, self-reliance and misdirection.
At the men’s breakfast Doug was surprised to learn that I knew who Renoir and Picasso were. Renoir – Luncheon of the Boating Party. Favourite painting. Snapshot of friends talking on a balcony overlooking a lake, boats in the background; evidence of a lovely meal having been enjoyed, now engaged in fun, lively conversation. Captures a moment of contented and full life enjoyed over food in the presence of friends. In Paris Jo and I looked all over for it – no good. In Washington I discovered that it was there. Went to have a look. Stood before it – huge, bright, magnificent. It captures a snapshot of delighted contentment, relationship and joy.My response was to do nothing more than savour it. To stand before it and soak in its beauty and majesty. To add anything to it or to take anything from it would be to diminish its value. And I’d say end my experience of enjoying it! So I stood there and enjoyed the fruits of my search and delighted in the splendour of its presence, and the skill of its creator. Marvelled at the impact that a painting could have on me. It was better than I had imagined. Do you see in that example the truth of savouring the Saviour? It’s the active engagement of living your life in Christ, for Christ, to know Christ and to experience Christ that prepares us for heaven. To savour His beauty – that through Him alone we are given the authority to be called children of God, heirs with Christ and life eternal. If Christ is not your goal and your delight here, then why aim for heaven? Why desire heaven? For heaven will be eternity in his presence, rejoicing in his glory, to have him completely. Heaven will be eternity Savouring the Saviour.