“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for his good pleasure.” — Philippians 2:12–13 NIV
Paul’s word for us today is simple: keep doing what you’ve already been doing. You’ve obeyed the word of the Lord in the past. Keep doing it.
It seems that in our world today, things appear to be so much more complicated than in the past. With all the hurry and hustle, it’s easy to get confused about what we are supposed to be doing and what really matters. But God has not changed.
He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. His word is our truth, and following it daily should be our highest priority. If you are confused about what the Lord wants in your life, go straight to his word this morning and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you search for his directions for you. But you can be sure that he intends for all of us to study his word and be obedient to his commands.
Paul also reminds us that God himself is working in us in order to fulfill his good purpose. Isn’t it awesome to think about God doing his work through us?
It’s easy to see how God used the people in the Bible to do amazing things. We think of Abraham, David, Noah, and, of course, Paul. But to think he would do something amazing like that through us?
We are all sinful and mess it up daily—but so did our great heroes in the Bible. What makes it possible for us to be used by God anyway? Our willingness to listen to his plan for us and be obedient, even when we may not want to. God can only use us if we are willing to put aside our own plans and let God take over with his. And we do that by being obedient to God’s word and making ourselves worthy of what he wants to do through us.
The plans and purpose God had for Mary were specific to her. She is the only person in history to become pregnant and give birth to God’s holy Son. Mary surely had lots of plans in her mind that did not include giving birth in a stable to the Messiah, but none of her plans were nearly as miraculous and worthy as God’s plans for her. God was able to use Mary because she listened and obeyed.
God is at work in the life of every Christian. When you go to church to worship this morning, let the Lord draw you into his holy presence. Mary’s song of praise, the Magnificat, is found in Luke 1:46–55. Today, as you worship Jesus, join in with Mary’s singing: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47). We can sing the glory of our God best when we give our life to him and allow his good purpose to be done in our lives.
Lord, may we worship you as Mary did, with praise and obedience to your plans. Thank you for the mighty things you have done in our lives, for your good pleasure.