Thursday, October 29, 2015
"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any deep-feelings and compassions, 2 fill-up my joy, which is that you be thinking the same thing, having the same love, united-in-spirit, thinking the one thing, 3 doing nothing based-on selfish-interest nor based on conceit, but with humble-mindedness regarding one another as surpassing yourselves; 4 not each looking-out-for your own things, but also each the things of others." Philippians 2:1-4 (Disciples Literal New Testament)
Jerry Bridges, in his book, The Discipline of Grace, says that love is the primary teaching of the New Testament, and humility is a close second. I did a Google search for “humility in the Bible” and came up with around 70 occurrences of the word, or references to putting others before ourselves. I must confess that this is a trait that I struggle with each day and each moment of my life. How about you?
The scripture passage above struck my heart with a renewed desire to seek God before myself. Paul said to the Philippians that the best way to encourage him and to fill his heart with joy is to be of the same mind—be unified in thoughts of love. If each of us put others before ourselves, think what a witness the church would be to the world. People would desire to become a part of a fellowship that provided such an example of God’s love toward us.
One thing that we must keep in mind is that loving others and pleasing others are two different things. Loving others should result from a desire to seek God every minute of our lives, not a desire to make others comfortable and like us. When we seek to please others, we allow other people to control the personal boundaries that only God should control. When we seek God in every aspect of our lives, then the ability to put others before ourselves becomes a way to demonstrate God’s grace.
One day, we will be a part of a perfect fellowship such as this. God loves us so much that He wants us to spend eternity with Him in a fellowship that exalts God above everything else. In spite of our sin, God sent His son to die for us so that we might be judged righteous before Him. This love humbles me because I am so unworthy. This humility also helps me to recognize that we are all in the same boat, and that God’s love is the same for my fellow man as for me. When I think of this, I want to consider others better than myself, because of the joy that this brings to God, and the joy that pleasing God brings to me. Praise God for His grace!
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
This God—his way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30 (RSV)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid John 14:27 (RSV)
The Bible is filled with promises that God has made to us, and the book of Psalm contains many of those promises.
Although Psalm was written by different authors, the majority of the songs were written by David, king of Israel, who lived about 1040 to 970 BC. David was a warrior, and many of his psalms are pleas for help, and shouts of victory in the context of war. I have never been in any kind of physical combat. I do not understand the oppression and fear of combat because I have never experienced it.
War changes everyone’s life, not just the lives of soldiers. I suspect that the biggest fear that people have when countries are at war is the changes that will happen in their lives. The changes that result from war confirm that our futures are uncertain. Families and societies are changed forever when soldiers are maimed or killed, laws become oppressive, and governments are overthrown.
This is why the promises in the verses above are so important. God’s promises are eternal and they will never fail. God is our shield, and He gives us peace when the ever changing earthly future frightens us.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
" From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;" Acts 17: 26-28
In the passage of scripture above, Paul is speaking with the people in Athens. Paul has approached the subject of God by appealing to the Athenians recognition of an unknown god and their propensity to seek knowledge. Paul does not present his personal testimony, but he presents an observable testimony of God through human behavior.
Paul points out to the Athenians that it is the nature of men to search for God because God made us that way. We were made to seek and find God--to grope for Him in a way that no other creature on earth can do. Groping is a good word to use because our relationship with God is a constant struggle. Without the struggle, then we would become complacent and ignore God entirely. Praise God that in His wisdom, love and grace, He planned for and encompasses our struggle to know Him.