“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,
among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in
the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am
to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad
and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
Shine the light of Christ by clinging to Jesus.
So often I get irritated that things aren’t going my way; most of the time that leads to me
fighting to get my way which then typically leads to a wedge between me and whoever is
not doing things my way. Whether that is my spouse not doing the chores the way I want
them done, or not getting a break from my kids, or having to cancel plans because of this
virus, I grumble. I think my way is better than God’s way or the way of people around me
and I start to compete for my will be done. Ew, that’s’ ugly. I look at how God calls me to
be a light and just feel like it’s’ impossible at times.
How can I, how can we be a light in this world?
Paul tells us we can be a light by “holding fast to the word of life.” In John chapter 1,
Jesus is referred to as “the Word” and “in him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus is the word
of life. Cling to Jesus. In the moments we are so irritated that things aren’t going our way,
ask Jesus to give you humility like him, who died for those who mistreated him and
prayed, “Thy will be done” not “my will be done.” In the ugly, shameful moments, ask
Jesus to forgive you, then receive the grace that He gives. He is the light, we are not able
to be blameless, innocent, or blemish-free on our own. It is only through Jesus’ sacrifice
that we are children of God. Hold on tight to the words of our Savior, spend time
meditating on His grace and as His Spirit transforms you, you will begin to look more and more like the light.
What is something you are grumbling about right now? Take some time to come to Jesus
with your disappointments and surrender to Him in prayer by asking “Thy will be done.”
"My dear friends, you always obeyed what you were taught. Just as you obeyed when I was with you, it is even more important for you to obey now that I am not there. So you must continue to live in a way that gives meaning to your salvation. Do this with fear and respect for God. Yes, it is God who is working in you . He helps you want to do what pleases Him, and He gives you the power to do it."
Through faith we come to God who gives us the power to grow more like Him everyday.
How many of you can remember when you first headed off to college or to work somewhere away from home? Do you also remember your parents saying something like, “Don’t forget what we have taught you at home and don’t forget to always be on your best behavior. Now that we can’t be with you, it is very important for you to show others that you understood our teachings and obey them even though we are not around to see you in action. “
The Philippian church was Paul’s first church plant. He taught them about Christ and how to live joyfully and how to behave in a manner worthy of Christ. He was sharing concern for their actions and reminding them that the Christian values he taught them should be demonstrated in their lives even though he is not there. They were to continue working out their salvation by following the examples of Jesus who was humble, submissive, and obedient unto death. (5-9)
To work out our salvation is not to say that we have to work in order to be saved, but that after salvation , we are continually working to become more like Christ until the day we go home to be with Him. It is not through our own strength that we become more like Christ; but through the power of God within us. That power is the gift of the Holy Spirit that we receive upon salvation.
Take a look at Acts 1:8
"Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and to the end of the earth.” '
As we live during these days of the Coronavirus, we do not walk alone, my friends. As Christians, we have the power of God within us, directing our footsteps and helping us know how to best help others through this time. It is Him that gives us new and creative ideas to continue living out our lives for Him during a troubling time.
Share with a friend how your faith in God has caused you to look more like HIm during the past few weeks.
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Ultimate humility leads to ultimate exaltation.
Everyone loves a good “rags to riches” story. A story where someone who can seem so unbecoming eventually finds themselves exalted and seemingly worthy of honor. Now, there are plenty of stories where people simply try to “climb the ladder” to reach the top (think Disney’s Aladdin!), but that isn’t the type of story we’re talking about here. The Bible is filled with these types of stories: think about Sarah, who was humiliated by not bearing children, and then God met her in her grief and gave her Isaac. Think about Joseph, who was thrown away by his brothers, then eventually held great authority in Egypt. Think about Esther, a female Jew who had been disregarded through life, eventually used by God to bring hope to His people. Think about Mary, close to being sent away by her husband for her pregnancy, only soon to discover she was the mother of Jesus.
In verse 9-11 of Philippians, Paul describes what happened to Jesus after He humbled Himself unto death on a cross. Through Jesus’ humility, God exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every other name. Now, here is something that is even crazier for you and me: Through Jesus’ humility, we can join in His exaltation. How? Through joining in His humility. Oftentimes, one of the hardest things for us to do is to admit that we need help. But ultimate humility for us looks like laying aside our pride and pretense and saying to God, “I need Your help. I can’t save myself and I can’t do this on my own.” When we join in Jesus’ humility, when we rightly see that we should have been on that cross, we get to join in Jesus’ exaltation, so that when Jesus rose from the grave, through faith in Him, we did too.
May we remember this the next time we think we have to stand up for ourselves or fight our own battle. May we remember the example of Jesus, that His humility led to His exaltation. And in this case, it led to ours as well.
What would it look like for you to pursue humility so that someone else might be exalted? Is there a specific situation where you have been pursuing your own desires at the expense of someone else?
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus’ humility made a way for us to know God.
Yesterday we saw how the experience of humble service can help us and those around us experience joy. Today, we see how the ultimate display of humility secured for us the ultimate source of joy. Through Jesus’ humility, He made a way for us to know God, the author and giver of joy. We will get back to that in just a second, but first it is important to note what Paul says in verse 5 as he transitions to Jesus’ example.
Paul has just encouraged the church to walk in humility and unity of mind and now he shares that this mind is ours in Jesus! Many of us think: “well, I am just not a humble person,” or “I can’t ever seem to get along with other Christians.” What Paul has just said is that those things are not true for the believer in Jesus. Because we are in Christ and Christ is the perfect humble servant, we have access to true humility in and through Jesus. In another one of Paul’s letters, he would exclaim “Christ in me, the hope of glory!” Next time you find yourself hopeless because you’ve allowed pride to get the best of you again, remember who you are in Jesus and all that He has provided you with in Him.
The rest of this passage is one of the beautiful descriptions of Jesus in the New Testament... To think that Jesus, fully God, would come and take on flesh and dwell among us. To think that Jesus would “empty himself” and “take the form of a servant.” The only one who has every right to be served and demand submission is the very one who comes to serve those who have wronged Him... This is the beauty of the gospel. That Jesus, the humble servant, would die for arrogant men and women who wanted nothing to do with Him. Through Jesus’ humility, we have the gift of salvation.
Today, there is no next step in the context of doing. Today, simply allow yourself to worship Jesus as the glorious humble servant that brought you life.
Take some time and simply think of the glory of Jesus as a humble servant that brought you to life.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Humble service paves the way for Jesus to be made known.
I’ve been amazed at the variety of responses to the global pandemic of the Coronavirus. Everything from complete panic to total passivity. From hoarding to neighborly generosity. From fear to faith. From greed to selfless service. In fact, if I was really honest, I’ve actually felt almost all of these own responses in my own heart! But that doesn’t have to be our reality, and that certainly doesn’t have to be how we live.
Paul begins chapter 2 with some encouragement to the church by affirming them in what they already have through Jesus (encouragement, comfort, participation in the Spirit, etc). In light of their possession of these great gifts, he then calls them to unity (same mind, same love). In fact, he says that their experience of unity would “make his joy complete.” Then we get the hard part... “in humility, count others more significant than yourselves.”
I don’t know about you, but humility has always been a struggle for me. I seem to struggle thinking that others are more significant! I tend to get pretty caught up on my own interests! However, one of the great gifts that has been made visible in the midst of this crazy pandemic is that we are seeing the truth of this verse demonstrated over and over again. Tell me, what do you feel when you read a news article about someone helping meet a need in this time? What do you experience when you hear a story about someone sacrificing for another person‘s needs? One of the things I feel is joy. When we see someone put themselves second, it lights something up in us. As we will see in the next few verses, that’s because what we are actually seeing is Jesus. And whenever we encounter Jesus, we can be sure that joy is somewhere nearby.
What is one way you can tangibly serve someone in the next few days?
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have."
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Paul never urges anyone to seek suffering. However many times we see him encouraging us to consider it a privilege to suffer for Christ. I don’t think any of us naturally considers suffering a privilege. Yet when we suffer, if we faithfully represent Christ, our message and example affect us and others for good.
Suffering has several benefits: 1. It takes our eyes off of our earthly comforts and makes us fix our eyes back on Jesus. 2. It weeds out superficial believers. Many times you are forced to think about what you really believe. 3. It strengthens the faith of those who endure. 4. It serves as an example to others who may see or follow us.
When we suffer for our faith, it doesn’t mean that we have done something wrong. In fact, the opposite is often true… it verifies that we have been faithful. Look at the book of Job for example. Use suffering to build your character. Don’t resent it or tear you down. So whether you are in a state of need or of plenty, suffering or thriving, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel that has saved you and brought you into a personal relationship with Christ.
How can you conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel during this season?
“If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what will I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.”
We must decide what the purpose of our life on earth will be about.
For those of us who believe that there is a God and that Jesus died so that we can have a relationship with Him, we know that this world is not our final resting place. That one day we will meet Jesus face to face and live with Him forever. And we can rest easy knowing that we are eternally secure and that our place in heaven will be immeasurably more than anything we could imagine.
However those who have not trusted in Jesus, as of yet, are only living for the here and now. They are seeking the worlds values of money, popularity, power, pleasure, and prestige, because as far as they know, that’s all there is. But in the end their pursuit will leave them feeling empty and without a true relationship with God our Father.
Jesus told us that the greatest command was to love God and to love our neighbors. Then later he commissioned those who believe in Him to go and make disciples of all the nations, to baptize and teach them everything He has commanded. Paul took to heart these words from Jesus as he said he was convinced that it was better for him to remain on earth because he had a job to do. His job was to encourage and build up those that knew God, and to share the gospel with those that didn’t, pointing them to something more.
How can your life point to Jesus during this season?
I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Even in confinement, we can pray that the name of Christ will be exalted.
Most of us are currently being confined to our homes (for the most part) for the sake of other people lives. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has many worried about people we know and even those that we don’t know that might not be able to fight off this virus. So many have taken “action.” We have closed the door, stepped 6 feet back, and disinfected as much as we can… all for the sake of other peoples lives.
Paul in much the same way was in confinement for the sake of other people’s lives. And all the while, Paul said that he will “continue to rejoice” and that he “eagerly expected that God would be exalted through him.” Even in prison, Paul was completely sold out for Jesus willing to give him everything… willing to go to any lengths so that Christ name would be known.
While many have rallied together to stop the spread of COVID-19, learning new practices for the sake of others, what would it look like for people to rally around Christ name being exalted? What would it look like for us to live for Christ?
What would you be willing to give up or do for the name of Christ to be known?
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”
Lord, let the Gospel advance in us and among us.
Paul is writing this letter to the church of Philppi from prison. I don’t know about you, but if I were in prison (and there for wrong reasons, I might add) I don’t think I would be concerned about many things other than 1) getting out of prison and 2) defending my case. But Paul doesn’t seem to be concerned about either of those things… he says “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…” Paul continually shows us that he cares about one thing and one thing only. The Gospel. He wants people to hear the Gospel, respond to the Gospel and live in the Gospel. This was his greatest desire.
Now let me ask this: is that your greatest desire? The gospel...advancing.
Because if I am honest, I don’t know if I can necessarily say that is true of me. My greatest desires seem to be more in line with the latest instagram story, surviving the daily grind with my kids and my own comfort. Paul encourages us to desire the greatest thing, the Gospel.
Now let’s take a minute and grasp more fully why the gospel is worth our greatest desires. The word “gospel” can also be translated as “good news.” The gospel is GOOD NEWS. Y’all, these days good news seems harder and harder to come by. HEB has eggs… that’s good news! Chuy’s is still taking to-go orders… that’s good news! Good news is only good news if it’s in light of bad news. So HEB having eggs is a good thing because they haven’t had eggs in a while. The gospel is good news because before there was only bad news. Sin- pain- suffering- separation from God- trying to keep the law. All of that… bad news. BUT THEN JESUS. Jesus came and defeated sin. Jesus came and created a pathway for relationship. Jesus came and conquered the grave. We are free. We are forgiven. We are adopted as His kids. Y’all this is GOOD NEWS.
This gospel deserves our greatest desires. This gospel deserves to advance even in the craziest and most difficult and unchartered territory of Covid-19.
So Lord Jesus, let the gospel advance. Let it advance in our own hearts and let it advance among us.
What are some of your desires in life outside the gospel?
How can you receive the good news today of the gospel?
Philippians 1: 8-11
"For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."
Pray for our selfless love to abound.
This past week has significantly increased my prayer life. In a time where I am unable to control if the ones I love will get sick or lose their jobs, I have found myself begging God for the health and wellbeing of many in my life. This is not a bad thing, God calls us to “cast our anxieties on Him,” but I was struck when I read this passage that Paul’s prayer for those he loves is not for physical health or financial security, but that their “love may abound more and more.” Now I don’t think that this is because the Philipian church was in a debt-free building with each member healthy and the Dow trending upward. We can assume from 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 that the church members were actually greatly afflicted and extremely poor. So why not pray that God would bless their finances and take away their affliction?
Could it be that Paul knew that, yes, God can take away our afflictions and provide for our every need, but that self-sacrificing love, agapē, is a far greater gift than health, comfort, and security? Paul wasn’t the only person to pray for believers to love; Jesus did too. Jesus did not pray that we would never suffer, he prayed, “that the love with which you (the Father) have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). Agape, the word used in both of these passages for love is not just a feeling, it is a selfless action that is eternal (1 Cor 13:4-13) and has the power to show people who our Savior is (John 13:35). And when our lives are finished here on this broken earth, the only thing that will matter is if we have received the love of Christ through His sacrifice for us and if we have shown and shared that love with others.
So how do we self-sacrificially love? Do we give and give to the point of burnout and the detriment of those closest to us? I don’t think that is what God wants for us. He calls us to love with “knowledge and all discernment” to know the best way to love: by being filled with the Spirit that is given “through Jesus Christ.” May my prayer for myself and others be that we would draw near to Christ, listen to the Holy Spirit and love those around us with a love that looks like Jesus.
God, there are so many things I long for in this time: health, safety, security, but may I not forget that You call me to something so much higher than earthly comfort, you call me to participate in the eternal act of loving You and those around me with the love of Christ. Would you help open my eyes today to ways You are growing my love to abound more and more.
In this crazy time of socially distancing, what are some ways that you can selflessly love those around you?