“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.
“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.
“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.” – Job 23:10-12 (NASB)
Again we look to garner from the Book of Job a promise of God’s. Having been severely tested by Satan, who had God’s permission with limits, Job has become convinced that the trials which took everything he owned and his family – except his wife – were a test and not a punishment for evil or wickedness on his part. Job sensed that God was evading him. But Job believed that were God to show up He would, knowing the way of godliness Job followed, have to declare him not guilty. Yet the Job perceived that when God finished testing him he would come forth “shining like gold. Even though Job could not sense the presence of God, he believed God was present and Job affirmed his commitment to God’s purpose in this test and his continued obedience to what God has commanded – which were the most important issues in his life. From this real-life example Job gives us, we too can be assured that when our trials become more than we think we can bear, if God is our hope and salvation, we will emerge through His graces and for His glory.
“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart.” Job 22:21-22 (ESV)
The story of Job in the Bible is not one many really know very well. We might know of Job’s trials, losses and why. We might even have a clue about three friends who fail to understand and so missed the mark when trying to offer help. Instead of comfort counselors they were accusers. But in all that is said to Job, there are many interesting and valuable bits of advice. Eliphaz, the third and at first silent friend, is at first courteous, but in chapter 22 his frustration rises. Again, the fate of the wicked is expressed in the simplistic idea that all suffering comes from sin. Eliphaz did not believe Job was innocent and so painted a picture of the life of blessing in store for Job if only he would return to God and repent of his sin (v. 23). Out of this bit of acidic advice from his “friend” there is a truth. In order to properly “agree with God, and be at peace,” we must know Him as He has revealed Himself. In order to know God, God must know us as His own. That is how we truly know peace from Him.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:17-18 (NASB)
This isn’t our first visit to these verses. Just a week ago we considered verse 17. Psalm 139 is a gold mine of promises God has given to us in this, song by David. What brings such praise and adoration to our mind and so our lips express the joy of God’s thoughts comes forth? Let’s consider these truths through some comments by C.H. Spurgeon. The comfort in these verses is not shared and provides no such comfort to the unregenerate ungodly mind, but to us faith believers in God it overflows with consolation. God is always thinking about us, never turns His mind from us, always has us before His eyes; and this is precisely how we would want it, because it would be dreadful to exist for a moment outside the observation of our heavenly Father. We are never for a single moment left out of God’s thoughts and consciousness. Remember, God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world was made. So we can know that our election and the covenant of grace which secures our salvation results in our final perseverance from now to our final rest.
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.” – 1 Chronicles 16:23-24 (NASB)
Today’s passage is found in 1 Chronicles and was ordered by David to become part of the dedication of the newly refurbished Tent of Meeting or also known as the Tabernacle during the 40 years of Israel’s wandering in the dessert. Since the settlement and partition of the Promised Land to the 12 tribes of Jacob the Ark of God (also known as the Ark of the Covenant) had been kept safe in various places. David brought the Ark into Jerusalem which would become the site of Solomon’s temple. This hymn of thanksgiving is actually a compilation of passages from other psalms, which suggests the priority of those psalms for worship and thanksgiving. David, an experienced song writer must have excerpted parts from his earlier poetry and woven them together into this beautiful piece. The portion from verses 7-22 are from Psalm 105:1-6 where the psalmist began with a call to praise and rejoice because of the Lord’s many wonderful acts and His holy name. His name means His attributes that are revealed to us. Like Israel all who believe should depend on the Lord (look and seek His face), remembering His miraculous works.
Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Joshua 10:12-13 (NASB)
Today, for those living north of the equator, this is the day with the longest span of daylight. It is so by design. However, there was a longer day. Joshua, leading the armies of Israel according to God’s sovereign and holy command, was acting according to what the LORD God promised. “I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” (Joshua 10:8) Joshua needed and prayed for more time to fully rout the enemy. To do justice to our passage, it’s best accepted as an outright, monumental miracle. Joshua, moved by the Lord’s will, commanded the sun to delay. Some say it was an eclipse hid the sun, or a local refraction of the sun’s rays, or it only seemed to Joshua’s men that the sun and moon stopped as God helped them accomplish in one literal 24-hour day what would’ve take longer. However, such ideas fail to do justice to this passage and needlessly question God’s power as Creator. The sun does not move but the earth revolves so it appear to move, God who created all things as they are, could also stop the earth’s rotation and the sun would appear stop.
“…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:” – Romans 12:5-6 (ESV)
The passage from we considered yesterday led us to understand that all faith believers are members of one body in Christ Jesus. This is true even though as that body we have done quite a job of division of this body. So we have a plethora of what are called “denominations.” But God calls all believers to live and work together with unity, plurality, diversity, harmony, and identity – and we’ve failed spectacularly. The terms identifying these five goals have been well redefined by the powers and spiritual forces of evil we wrestle against; (Ephesians 6:12). Thankfully Paul did not end his instruction with verse 5. Our success achieving the five goals comes by each member applying the spiritual gifts given to us. Spiritual gifts are tools, not toys. They are not to be used to attract people to ourselves but employed by God, through us, for His purposes and for His glory. Whatever our gifts may be—to do with speaking or with serving—they are given for the well-being of the church. God gives these gifts to be used as He intends so that body of Christ as a whole might be strengthened.
Sourced from the Bible Teaching Ministry of Truth For Life, a daily devotional by Alistair Begg
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:4-5 (ESV)
Belonging is important. Wondering whether we belong where we are presently is a pertinent question. It’s usually asked in relation to a country club, a gym, or something similar. We might be wondering, “Is this where we belong?” Paul used the illustration of our physical bodies to describe the church, both universal and local assembly. It is not a long reach for us to understand this. Each of us have a human body made up parts with different functions yet belonging to one body. Each function is important and if we were to lose a part of our body, we might be in a crisis situation. Just so when one part does fails to work, all the parts are affected. Our bodies rely essentially upon the control and functions of our heads. In the body of Christ this is manifest most clearly in each local assembly of believers. Jesus Christ as head of the church commands that we work together with: unity, not living in isolation; plurality, because of our different parts; diversity, because functions are necessarily different; harmony, as we work in cohesion; and identity, for we cannot be ourselves when we are by ourselves.
Sourced from the Bible Teaching Ministry of Truth For Life, a daily devotional by Alistair Begg
“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” – Romans 12:3 (NASB)
We find very little humility practiced in this world. Consider a current trend referred most often as “cancel culture,” (the term first appeared in 2016). Practiced by many who hold their views and attitudes to be the only correct and appropriate opinions while ignoring scientific orders and challenges our creator God’s clear truths found in scripture. There’s a current rampage against beliefs by those who don’t live according to these esteemed values or interpretations of right and wrong. In spite of fear of ostracism from others, this practice of intolerance is not becoming of those for whom Christ, by grace, has chosen, saved, and adopted as children of God. Today’s passage warns us to not practice holding ourselves above others as anyone’s “betters” – better based on the values they hold and demand others to accept and hold. Today’s promise is for each true faith believer who has received an allotment measure of faith from God sufficient to use sound judgement based our faith in God’s word. It’s this exercise which leads believers to recognize that in themselves we are nothing (1Peter 5:5), and will yield in us the fruit of humility without compromise.