Sunday, December 05 2021
Slander can expose your pride. You could be slandered about anything and then find pride within. If you have ever been slandered, what is the first thing that you want to do? Most often, people want to defend themselves, but then they give the impression that they are guilty to some extent. For instance, “When did you stop stealing from your employer?” Further, asking oneself why one defends the self will boil down to where many find pride. A number of biblical figures were degraded and spoken against when they were innocent. Some learned that they did struggle with pride as Job learned from his questioning of God (Job 42:1–6). Humility knows how to handle slander with patient endurance relying on God, boasting of God, and appealing to God as the witness of one’s character (2 Corinthians 10–13).
In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul built on having any exhortation in Christ, any comfort of love, sharing of the Spirit, and any compassion and affection, so he instructed the faithful to fulfill his joy by thinking the same way by having the same love joined in life (2:1–2). Christians can do this by not acting selfishly with conceit and considering others of more value than themselves by not looking out for themselves but for others (2:4). Humility is essential for harmony in the church.
The greatest example of humility and selflessness is Jesus Christ. Paul urged the faithful to have the thinking within them that is within Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Jesus who was in the form of God humbled Himself and did not regard any hold to equality with God (2:6). Christ emptied Himself taking the form of an indentured servant becoming the likeness of humanity and seen in the appearance of a human (2:7). Christ came humbly and obedient unto death even the death of the cross (2:8). For this, God exalted Him and gave to Him the name over every name so that in the name of Jesus every knee can bow of heaven, on earth, and underneath (2:9–10). For this reason, every language may confess that Jesus Christ is Lord unto the glory of God the Father (2:11).
God knows what it is like to be tempted, suffer, and die by His own knowledge, but He further knows because the Word is God, became flesh, and lived among people experiencing what all humanity experiences (Hebrews 2:14–18). Jesus demonstrated how to humble Himself because no one ever humbled oneself as Christ humbled Himself. No one has ever been in such a high position and chose a low position as Jesus did. Furthermore, Jesus suffered the death of the cross reserved for the least of society. Jesus’s humility provided the way that believers can seek the exaltation of God by humbling themselves as a servant.
Will you lower yourself to serve others? Are you trying to be a servant like Christ? Are you struggling with pride? Thank God that He helps us and has provided the way through Jesus Christ.
Sunday, November 28 2021
Paul’s imprisonment “served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). While many fear persecution, Christians can live by faith that God will work all things for good. In the letter to the Philippians, everyone knew that Paul was imprisoned for Christ and that spread the news of Christ. The apostle explained that the gospel had spread to the imperial guard because he was in prison for Christ (1:13). The imperial guard protected the emperor of Rome and often decided if an emperor would remain the emperor. The apostle concluded the epistle with greetings, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household” (4:22). Christians were now in the house of the most powerful governing authority on earth. Christians should not fear persecution for the gospel. God will work it out for good.
The apostle Paul recognized that other evangelists were much bolder to proclaim the gospel because the worst that had occurred was his imprisonment (Philippians 1:14). This is the work of God that every Christian should think of every life event or major world event is being worked ultimately for good (cf. Romans 8:28). The apostle noted that some contentious individuals were motivated to proclaim Christ by envy and rivalry (Philippians 1:15). Whether they were actual preachers or opponents, they spoke of Jesus Christ so they spread the message of Christ. Paul found reason to rejoice over this. He later described some Judaizers who spread false teachings as dogs and evildoers who mutilate the flesh and continue in the law requiring circumcision (3:2). These are those who walked as enemies of Christ (3:18). Some were proclaiming Christ from ill will and others from goodwill. Those who proclaimed the gospel from goodwill did so by love and recognized that Paul was there for the defense of the gospel (1:16). The Greek for “defense” is apologia for which Christians today study apologetics in defense of the gospel. The envious proclaimed the gospel from selfishness and without pure motives (1:17). Despite the negative motivations of some talking about Christ, the apostle rejoiced that the gospel was spread whether in pretense or in truth (1:18). Today, many church leaders are constantly disturbed by the spreading of error without recognizing the good of publicizing Jesus Christ.
Paul’s faith produced a positive outlook. He was confident of his deliverance from prison because of the prayers of the saints and the help of the Spirit of Christ (Philippians 1:19). Whether in life or death, he was committed to honoring Christ in his body with all courage in Christ (1:20). Paul declared, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21). The apostle reasoned that if he stayed and lived then he would produce fruit, and if he died, then he would better to be with Christ (1:22–23). Paul saw himself living for the need of the saints (1:24). He was convinced that he would continue for them to further their joy in the faith so that they glory in Christ (1:25–26).
For all of this, Christians must live worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27). Christians strive in one spirit and with one soul side-by-side for the faith without fear of anyone who opposes believers (1:28). This is evidence from God of the destruction coming upon the enemies of Christ and evidence from God of salvation for the faithful (1:28). God granted this evidence of destruction and salvation. For this reason, Christians believe and suffer as this is the Christian’s conflict (1:29–30). Despite difficulties, Paul found reasons by faith to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).
Do you think like Paul? Paul thinks like Christ. Do you find the positive working of God in hard times? Does your faith produce joy and hope in all circumstances? God is victorious and so are His people.
Sunday, November 21 2021
What encourages you and gives you great joy? The gospel message with its love and insight unites Christians and that unity is part of the joy of the Christian life. One way that Christians can all partake of the fruit of the gospel is by giving to missionaries and supporting missionaries in spreading the gospel. Everyone who gives to the mission of making disciples is also participating in making disciples. The epistle to the Philippians demonstrates the joy of the gospel and the church in unity as a great word of encouragement for Christians to take part in the great mission of the church.
The apostle Paul wrote Philippians to “the saints,” the holy ones, in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi “with the overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1). The congregation had grown to have mature leaders who were elders and deacons (cf. 1 Timothy 3). Paul continually blessed these saints with grace and peace from God the Father and Christ the Lord (1:2). The apostle Paul expressed, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3–5 ESV). Their partnership with Paul was giving in support of him to spread the gospel.
Giving in support of the gospel increases thanksgiving to God. Among the first to support Paul in spreading the gospel would have been Lydia and her household and the Philippian jailer and his house (Acts 16). The faithful at Philippi sent Paul financial support before any others to take the message of Jesus’s resurrection further throughout the world (Philippians 4:14–20). For this reason, the apostle encouraged them that he was sure God would complete His work in them on the day of Christ (1:6). For this reason, the apostle carried thanksgiving and joy with him having them “in his heart,” because they were partakers together of God’s grace (1:7).
Christians should have affection for one another because they support and encourage one another’s good works in proclaiming the gospel and sharing God’s love. Paul’s love for the church was increased because he could defend and confirm the gospel while enduring imprisonment (Philippians 1:7). The apostle claimed, “God is my witness,” as he often did, and in this place, he recognized God as the witness of his longing and affection for those Christians (1:8). God is the witness of the affection and love for others among Christians. The church of Philippi demonstrated that love and established that close connection by giving to Paul’s evangelistic works.
Paul built on the fellowship and communion of Christians by urging the church in Philippi to abound in love with knowledge and insight, and so they can approve of what is excellent to be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9–10). Their giving did not replace the need for them to continue to grow in Christ. The apostle cared for the congregation and wanted them to mature and remain true to Christ. He urged these Christians to grow in love and knowledge so by this they will be filled with the fruit of righteousness through Christ (1:11). By abounding in love and knowledge, this was all for the glory and praise of God.
Every Christian can have this same affection by giving in support of the spreading of the gospel and various evangelistic works locally and among missionaries. However, their giving does not replace their own need to grow in knowledge. If you are longing for this kind of faith and affection in a family of faith, Christ provides a community for belonging among the faithful.
Sunday, November 14 2021
The apostle Paul commanded Christians, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10 ESV). Many believers want the strength of God to withstand temptation and evil, yet they also neglect the strength that God gives to withstand temptation. How can Christians be strong in the strength that God gives them?
To be strong in the strength of God, the apostle Paul illustrated God’s strength with a set of armor, “the panoply of God.” The apostle commanded believers to put on the whole armor of God to be strong to withstand the strategies of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). God strengthens believers to battle against the rulers, authorities, world’s powers of darkness, and evil spiritual forces (6:12). To do this, Christians are to put on the whole armor of God and do everything to stand on the evil day (6:13). God has given Christians all that they need. No believer is lacking from God, but every Christian must put on the whole armor to stand.
The armor of God is complete. God’s soldier has a belt of truth that makes him ready to move without restraint in every circumstance (Ephesians 6:14). The Christian is a soldier who has a breastplate protecting his heart with righteousness (6:14). He wears shoes making him ready to carry the gospel of peace (6:15). He has a shield of faith constantly protecting him from flaming arrows from the evil one (6:16). The soldier takes up the helmet of salvation protecting and focusing his head upon hope (6:17; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:8). God’s warrior carries the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (6:17). The writer of Hebrews described the sword as piercing to the division of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The armor of God is glorious as the apostle Paul described this armor as “the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). God was first to wear the armor that He has now given to the faithful to stand (Isaiah 59:16–17; cf. 9:6–7). For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Having put on the whole armor of God, the Christian must remain watchful of the enemy and alert by persevering in prayer for all Christians (Ephesians 6:18). The Christian soldier is standing on guard not only to protect oneself but to protect all who serve God with him (6:19). Christians look out for each other by living and proclaiming the gospel boldly while enduring hardships (6:19–20). Many come to lead even serving as ministers, reporting the news of fellow Christians, and encouraging others (6:21–22).
God has given a brotherhood to the faithful. God has also given peace and grace to those who love Christ with incorruptible love and faith (6:23–24). For God has given the faithful all the strength that they need.
Sunday, November 07 2021
How many people do good work only when seen? God always sees what everyone does (Hebrews 4:13). God commands the faithful to work honestly before their employers. Workers are to obey their managers and supervisors.
Why did Paul command servants to obey their masters with fear trembling (Ephesians 6:5)? Why not tell them to rebel and seek their freedom? Today, many would not describe their boss, manager, or supervisor as their master, but that is what they are to some extent if not in every way. Obeying employers with fear and trembling is in respect of God. Peter instructed Christians to work with humility for those overseeing them and with all respect (1 Peter 2:18–21). Christians are to regard their employers as worthy of honor so that the name of God and the teaching are not reviled (1 Timothy 6:1). The Christian worker should serve with sincerity and without reservation as one would in working for Christ (Ephesians 6:5). This means working not to please the eyes of a supervisor, but always working in the sight of the Lord. This is the will of God (6:6). Whatever Christians do in work and service, they are to do so in service to God and Christ (6:7). This kind of service and work takes faith and trust in God through difficult circumstances because God promises to give good blessings back to the worker (6:8).
Furthermore, God instructs managers, masters, and bosses to do good to their servants without threatening their workers (Ephesians 6:9). Many employers manage workers with a heavy hand and constantly threaten them. Christian managers must not behave in this way. Masters, employers, and supervisors should know that they have the same heavenly Master as the servants and God will render to both impartially (6:9).
Whether a servant or free, all work under their heavenly Master (Ephesians 6:9). The apostle Paul taught, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24 ESV). Furthermore, the apostle called for trust in God telling Christians, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality” (3:25).
In the Creation, God made man and put him in the garden to work it and keep it (Genesis 2:15). Solomon noted, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24–25). Thank God that we can work and serve him. Jesus taught, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal” (John 6:27).
Sunday, October 31 2021
God created man, male and female, and designed them to come together in marriage (Genesis 1:26–27; 2:24). He has the answer for every struggle in marriage and family. To accept God’s answers, one must begin with humility before the Creator and Designer of the home. For the church family, Christians are to humble themselves before one another in reverence of Christ (Ephesians 5:21). This is what the apostle Paul means by commanding believers to submit to one another. The Greek word behind “submit” means to set oneself below others, to subordinate. The instruction to put self below others is a command to humble oneself. In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul taught, “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” (Philippians 2:3–4). This is selfless subordination.
With the instruction for Christians to subordinate and humble themselves before other Christians, the apostle Paul instructed wives to subordinate to their husbands “as to the Lord” in everything (Ephesians 5:22–24). In other words, wives are to humble themselves before their husbands as they do before Christ without exception. Women may have various reasons for not wanting to behave humbly toward their husbands, but God commands humility in marriage to affect the husband (cf. 1 Peter 3:1–6). In Genesis 3:16, God predicted that woman will long for her husband but he will rule. In other words, those who rebel against the humility that God commands will not be victorious and will not accomplish what one wants. Unless wives humble themselves before their husbands, they have not yet fully submitted to God. Furthermore, humility is essential for women to obey God’s command to respect their husbands (cf. 5:33). Christian women need to respect their husbands in front of family and all people.
What about husbands? God instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). As Christ gave Himself for the church, husbands are to give themselves for their wives, and thus husbands are the head of the wife for the purpose of keeping her holy (5:26). Husbands are not the head of wives as dictators but as servants (cf. Mark 10:42–45). The apostle Paul noted that Christ makes the church holy with splendor and without spot and blemish (5:27). Therefore, husbands imitate by seeking and leading their wives in pure and holy living.
Husbands are to imitate Christ by loving their wives as their own bodies nourishing and cherishing her (5:28–30). In other words, he is to provide and be warmly affectionate to his wife. God assigned this role of the husband from Genesis 2:24 as the apostle Paul noted, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). The apostle concluded by instructing, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). God has provided a basis for the husband and wife in the home according to His original plan. Children need to see their father’s affection and care in loving his wife, and children need to see their mother living respectfully toward her husband. This is the only way to maintain the home, restore marriage, and secure their children going forward.
Furthermore, the apostle Paul instructed children to obey their parents and so honor their father and mother (6:1–2). This command comes with the original promise from God that those who honor their parents will do well in life and live long (6:3). The apostle concluded with commanding fathers not to provoke their children to resentful anger but rather to discipline and train them according to the Lord (6:4). Fathers are essential to establishing discipline and training children according to God’s way. The greatest influence of the faithfulness of children is the faithfulness of their fathers to the Lord.
Thank God for designing the home and giving Christians instructions for marriage and raising faithful and holy children. The Bible is the ultimate book for life that gives the answers all people need and can use to live with increasing love, joy, and peace.
Sunday, October 24 2021
Christians live in a different way because we think in a different way. For this reason, Paul urged the church, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds” (Ephesians 4:17 ESV). How are the minds of the Gentiles futile in thinking? The apostle Paul explained, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (4:18–19). In other words, the Gentile nations are darkened in understanding because they are ignorant of God, and they are ignorant because of their hardness of heart. The result of such agnosticism is that God gave them over to sexual impurity and lewd behavior. The apostle expressed the same truth in further detail in Romans 1:18–32. God gives up those who accept a distorted view of Him over to lusts and sexual perversions.
Paul urged these Christians, “But that is not the way you learned Christ!” (Ephesians 4:20). The truth is in Jesus (4:21). The truth of Jesus Christ teaches believers “to put off the old self” that was a life corrupted through deceitful desires (4:22). Learning the truth that is in Christ renews the believer “in the spirit of the mind” (4:23). That renewing of the mind is the putting on of the new person according to God’s creation in righteousness and holiness (4:24).
The renewing of the mind as a new person is more than overcoming sexual immorality. The apostle Paul listed the changes of putting on the new person. These include “speaking the truth” with one’s neighbor and putting away what is false (4:25). Paul taught to be angry and do not sin; no longer steal but rather labor, do honest labor to share with those in need; speak nothing corrupt but what is good for lifting up others; put away resentment, anger, wrath, yelling, and cursing, and be kind, compassionate, and forgiving as God forgives you (4:26–32). This is the disposition and attitude of faithful Christians. This is how the faithful imitate God and walk in love as Christ loved and gave Himself as a sacrifice (5:1–2). For this reason, the apostle taught Christians that fornication, sexual impurity, and lust must not be named among God’s holy people who are the saints (5:3). The mind given to these things will act on them and no longer put off the old self. Furthermore, Christians are not to talk about filthy sexual things, speak foolishly, nor make crude jokes (5:4). Those who do these things have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ (5:5). God’s wrath will come upon those who act with such disobedience (5:6). The faithful cannot be partners of such evil things (5:7).
Therefore, the apostle encouraged Christians to “walk as children of light” and so do what is pleasing to God (Ephesians 5:7–10). In this way, the faithful must not partake in works of darkness, but instead expose them (5:11). The faithful expose evil by their example of walking in the light and proclaiming the truth. The Greek for “expose” means to point out and correct. These filthy things are sexually immoral and shameful even to speak of (5:12). For this reason, Christians expose what is evil by the light in their walk (5:13–14). Christians are to be wise in how they live making the best use of their time (5:15–17). Furthermore, believers are to refrain from being filled with wine but be filled with the Spirit that produces self-control among other fruits (Ephesians 5:18; cf. Galatians 5:22–23). When Christians are filled with the Spirit, they sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs among themselves with thanksgiving as is contrary to the partying centered on alcohol (5:19).
By being filled with the Spirit, the faithful give thanks to God in the name of Christ (5:20). Throughout Paul’s teaching, he emphasized thankfulness. Thanksgiving is essential to holy living. Thanksgiving to God counteracts various sins. Thankful believers want to please God and obey Him. Giving thanks to God is another fruit of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for giving believers a way to change and live a new life.