July 5 –Joy, Cheer, Courage, and Peace

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” – John 14:27 (NASB)
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB)

Joy, Cheer, and Courage have their origin in one ultimate victory and that is Christ’s victory over hell and the grave. Old Testament saints looked forward to this promise being fulfilled and the New Testament church (post Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection) looks back on the beginning of the fulfillment. The essential ground for endurance in trials and persecution is the Jesus’ victory over the world system and its prince of darkness. Through Christ’s impending death, and he is looking for it to happen momentarily, in just a few hours. He rendered the world’s opposition null and void. While the world continues to attack His people, such attacks fall harmlessly, for Christ’s victory has already accomplished a smashing defeat of the whole evil rebellious system. This means that all the promises of God, all the promises Jesus gave to us through His disciples are imminently pending and are guaranteed by His Word. In the middle of our topsy-turvy world where all that was stable is being uprooted and discarded, we have the assurance that the peace Christ gave to us is the real thing. Let’s trust the peace.

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July 4 – Forgetting and Pressing On


“Brothers, I do not count myself yet to have laid hold. But one thing (I do) forgetting what lies behind (me) and eagerly straining forward to what lies ahead I am pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14*

Mentioned before, the Apostle Paul was very good at loading much into long complex sentences. This larger passage is another example. Paul continues sharing how deeply moved he was because he knows the pressures on the fellowship of Christians in the church at Philippi. There were those in the congregation who professed perfection. So Paul describes his thoughts. “As a believer in Christ alone, I for one am still far removed from the goal of spiritual perfection. Whatever anyone else may claim, I have not yet laid hold on it.” Paul, not despairing, instead is running in a race, while pushing himself to the limit to reach the goal. To be successful in this he has to do one thing; focus his concentration on completing the race to reaching the goal. Forget the past, strain forward for the future promises. What promises? The prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The Christian running the race stays the course with full commitment forgetting all past failures and past successes to reach the goal and the prize. The goal is heaven. The prize is awarded only where it is truly a prize, with Christ in heaven.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5: 174.)

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July 3 – What We Long For


“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) fellowship of his sufferings becoming increasingly conformed to his death if only I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10-11*

We’re staying with the promises found in Philippians 3:10-11. All who have accepted by faith the righteousness of Christ imputed to our account will experience a longing to know Him, to know God who has made us righteous in Christ. That desire is a reason we have been given the faith and gift of Christ’s work on the cross. Paul says that he longs for an ever-increasing supply of the power that proceeds from the risen and exalted Savior. When the Father raised the Son he thereby proved his acceptance of the ransom paid by Christ as full satisfaction for our sin. Yet we want more. More of the power which comes only from Christ’s resurrection. Like Paul we long to know and participate more and more fully in even the reproaches and afflictions of his Lord and Savior. Paul confesses that sharing in Christ sufferings results in us increasingly conforming to Christ’s death (see Romans 6:4-11). Paul stresses a longing and a striving to be raised completely above sin and selfishness, so that he can be a most effective representative for the salvation of men to the glory of God. But there is more in verses 12-14 next.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:169.)

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July 2 – Given, Accepted, Never Earned


“…in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. not having a righteousness of my own, legal righteousness but that (which is) through faith in Christ. the righteousness (which is) from God (and rests) on faith” – Philippians 3:9*

There is a purpose for us to also toss all our self-effort to please God on the refuse heap. This is a warning from the Apostle Paul for any who would think and expect that their own good deeds were in any way a righteousness that counts before God. Such “good works” will never be regarded as true righteousness. We’re to never expect God to accept us into His Kingdom based on how good we have been in life. Those that do will be disappointed. Some receiving this letter by Paul may have been offended by this. Paul says accomplishments which conformed to the Old Testament Law of Moses and the myriad of additional interpretations and traditions built up by the Jewish religious authorities since Moses. Yet it applies to any self-effort to please God and any effort by us to be righteous by following any set of laws. The only righteousness which is through faith in Christ has any value. By faith our hand extended to receive God’s free gift. Only righteousness that is imputed to the us sinners as God’s free gift is how we obtain this righteousness. Not earned, for a gift is never earned.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:164.)

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July 1 – Counting By Value


“Yes, what is more, I certainly do count all things to be sheer loss because of the all-surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For whom I suffered the loss of all these things and I am still counting them refuse. in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” – Philippians 3:8 *

The conversion of Saul, who came to be called Paul, happened one day on the outskirts of Damascus which was first mentioned in Genesis 14 and the account of Abraham’s rescue of his nephew Lot,. Saul of Tarsus had in this case ,signed letters of approval from Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to arrest all Jews in Damascus who were found to be “of the Way.” At that moment God interrupted Saul’s life and informed him of His plan for his life. It changed everything about Saul’s life. That instant Paul came to count all accomplishments in his life as lost and worthless. In our verse today, Paul strengthens his statements, (v.7-8). First, he underscores what was implied and what he counted as loss at the moment of his conversion, he is still counting to be loss. Secondly, Paul affirms that he still considers the status points mentioned in verses 5 and 6 to be a detriment and liability. Paul wishes to make Christ more and more fully his own. As long as one keeps clinging, even in the slightest degree, to his own righteousness, he cannot fully enjoy Christ’s. The same goes for all believers even today.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:164.)

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June 30 – The Means of Attainment


“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” – Philippians 3:7 (NASB)
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10-11 (NASB)

These two passages bracket a list of many blessings which are ours by promise if we pass on the trusting of our own self-effort to be good enough. Paul, declares these after listing his good behavior as a student and follower of Jewish Law. In that respect he had done everything necessary and was highly regarded. However, all his Jewish religious credentials that he thought were in his profit column, were actually worthless and damning. Instead, he put them in his loss column when he saw the glories of Christ. In Philippians 3:8-11 Paul described the promises and benefits that accrued to his profit column when he came to Christ. Importantly, in verse 8 Paul doubles down on how he despised what he once held dear. Paul now calls all his accomplishments that he worked so hard for to be “rubbish.” The Greek word refers to garbage or waste, and can even be translated “dung” or “manure.” Christian believers, we are found “in Christ.” Our union with Christ is a promise and possible only because God has imputed (credited) Christ’s perfect pure righteousness to us so that it is now reckoned by God as our own.

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June 29 – In Spirit and Truth


“For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,” – Philippians 3:3 (NASB)

Our verse selected today is straightforward and direct. It pulls no punches presenting truth. But first, let’s understand the first phrase. When God commanded of Abraham to perform circumcision on every male child on the eighth day after birth, it was to be established as a covenant sign. The practice wasn’t foreign in the culture of that time but it was given by God with special religious significance. Physical circumcision identified a male as belonging to the physical and ethnic lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). Christians are not commanded to abide by the physical act. But it is a spiritual characteristic of a person whose wages of sin has been forgiven and removed. We find three proofs of a true believer. First: “worship in the Spirit of God” means we render inner and respectful spiritual service with our spirit as one with the Spirit of God. Second: “glory in Christ Jesus” means⸺to boast with exultant joy⸺giving all the credit for all that we are to Christ Jesus. Third: “no confidence in the flesh” references our unredeemed humanness, ability, and achievements apart from God. It’s us trying to prove ourselves good enough for God’s approval.

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June 28 – If Commanded, It’s Possible


“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” – Philippians 2:14–16 (NASB)

Please allowed a moment of disclaimer; succeeding with today’s command from Philippians 2 is rare on our part. Apostle Paul writes a great deal in these two verses. Our focus today is on the short imperative in the first verse. “Do all things;” not do “most things,” or do “some things,” or “as many as are possible” things. It is “do all things’ without grumbling or disputing. Friends, this is a challenge and when we try in ourselves, failure often knocks us back to giving up. It’s so much easier to “gripe it out” when we have an unpleasant task or result. We are wired and programmed to complain and grumble, are we not? The Greek. word for “grumbling” is a term that actually sounds like what it means. Its pronunciation is much like muttering or grumbling in a low tone of voice. The word for “disputing” is more intellectual and here means “questionings,” or “criticisms” directed negatively toward God. But if we submit to the Spirit of God we will be prooven as blameless and innocent Children of God. Not because of what we managed on our own but because of what God does through us.

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June 27 – Setting Those Priorities, Again

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3–4 (NASB)

The church in Philippi was a favorite of the Apostle Paul. He wrote his letter to them while in prison and chained to a Roman jailer and his filled this letter with encouragement to rejoice in all our circumstance. Paul expresses his love for these brothers and sisters in Christ. But Paul also is very direct with his instruction as it concerns how we are to live if we are truly Christians and saved by God’s grace through faith also from God. Today’s we have a direct command from an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Operate in humility of mind. That means attitude and conviction. Our attitude is to put greater importance on the needs of others than on our own. WOW! Does that fit into today’s popular psychology? “Love yourself first.” Christian, there’re no excuses at all. There’s no bypass of this command. It doesn’t say we are to have no interests of our own but our interests are not our priority concern. The promises God gives us is throughout this letter and we will look at it carefully. Today, let’s establish in our minds and attitude that others have concerns more important than ours. That’s the path to humility.

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June 26 – When The End Is Not That


“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God.” – Job 19:25-26 (NASB)

Yes, we are focusing a bit on suffering these past three days. But we should not be surprised to know that suffering for Christ’s sake is promised each believer. Our portion will be according to the will of God. Job suffered for God to a degree none of us could imagine. In Job 2:7 we read that Satan “smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” Yet in the circumstance of his skin peeling off and turning black from decay, Job held on fast that he would see God in his flesh – that means after his death he believed in his resurrection by God. He believed that God who was allowing him to suffer so severely was also his Redeemer God. Eventually He will rule all taking His stand on the earth. The scripture we have received from God is His inspired word and is perfect. Nothing that ever happens to God’s family of faith believers will last even if it brings death. When hope for life is no more, we have confidence that God will resurrect our bodies and conform them to perfection as His body is perfect.

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