July 7 – Because This World, Is Not Our Home


“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12 (NASB)

Do you have a heavenly perspective regarding your future beyond this world? Jesus in our verses actually is promising those listening the consequences of being a follower of Him. We’re promised insults, mocking, being reviled and ostracized. The promise is still working out today. Today, many are secret about their faith in Jesus. Secret and silent because who likes to be insulted and we are enamored by what we have here. However there is a wonder ahead for all who believe in the Son of God as Savior. The old spiritual that sang: “everybody talking about heaven ain’t goin’ there.” Today it’s more like, “everybody goin’ there ain’t talking much about heaven anymore.” Heaven is real, it is a wonderful reward from God and it is beyond description. When asked how he was, the sixth president once replied, “John Quincy Adams is well, sir, very well. The house in which he has been living is dilapidated and old. He has received word from its maker that he must vacate soon. But, John Quincy Adams is well sir, very well.” So, we look to heaven where we will have that eternal weight of glory, and that new house from God.

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July 6 – Begotten for God’s Glory

“I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.” – Psalm 2:7-8 (ESV)

Psalm 1 and 2 haven’t any title or notations about the author. Sometimes, comparing “blessed” in Psalm 1:1 and Psalm 2:12, these songs are said to share in the role of introducing the Psalter. “You are my Son” in verse 7  recalls 2 Samuel 7:8–16 and is the only Old Testament reference to the Father/Son relationship in the Trinity; a relationship decreed in eternity past and demonstrated in the incarnation ⸺ a major message of the New Testament. But it appears seven times in the Gospels. Once in Acts and quoted directly twice in the letter to the Hebrews. It’s an affirmation, a promise, an announcement from Heaven by God our Father on two occasions (the baptism of Jesus and when He appeared with Moses and Elijah while He was transfigured on the mountain.). Thus, recorded six times in the first three Gospels. Treasured by believers, in 1740 Charles Jennens, George Fredrick Handel’s friend included these words in the libretto he wrote from scripture for Handel’s Messiah ⸺ 18 months before Handel actually composed the music. Often heard at Christmastime, we’re reminded of it now for in July, only six months until Christmas when many start their countdown.

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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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