Humility and Sacrifice of a Mature Christian – 6-28-22

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:10-11 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Philippians chapter 2 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Unity Through Humility

Therefore if there is any [a]consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

The Humbled and Exalted Christ

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it [b]robbery to be equal with God, but [c]made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Light Bearers

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

14 Do all things without [d]complaining and disputing,[e] 15 that you may become blameless and [f]harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

Timothy Commended

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your [g]state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.

Epaphroditus Praised

25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, [h]not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 2:1 Or encouragement
  2. Philippians 2:6 Or something to be held onto to be equal
  3. Philippians 2:7 emptied Himself of His privileges
  4. Philippians 2:14 grumbling
  5. Philippians 2:14 arguing
  6. Philippians 2:15 innocent
  7. Philippians 2:19 condition
  8. Philippians 2:30 risking

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Acts 4:12-

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

While the young divided and mischievous church of Corinth is still on our minds – the contrast of speaking firm in love to a wild child vs this more mature church is quite a juxtaposition to ponder. Not to mention this book was written in approx. 62 ce, almost 10 years after 1 Corinthians; so Paul had also matured in Christ some in that time as well.

Some believe this book is actually a combination of 3 letters to the church at Philippi, with the end of chapter 4 being the first letter. The idea is that Paul jumps from topic to topic, seems abrupt. But it could be to save money on ink and scroll. The other argument for it being multiple letters is that in today’s letter we see that Epaphroditus was sick (almost dies) and in chapter 4 he just arrives. On the other hand, Epaphroditus’s illness could be a past event that Paul is just talking about.  

Whatever the case may be – in today’s reading we learn that no matter what your maturity level is, we all need reminding of that deep spiritual secret: humility. We also discuss the powerhouse weapon called unity. So far in our studies this year, we have only touched on it, but we will begin to see it more in Paul’s other letters.

1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”

We start with a therefore – what is it there for? Yesterday’s meaty verses about the false teachers and the state of things in general – with a focus on God’s sovereignty – seems to be what it is there for. Unity. Not be like the rest, have unity.
Modern application – we are now a bunch of denominations or non-denominational with a bunch of various ideas on prophecy, on how to baptize, on speaking in tongues, and so on… and the truth is most of our difference are not heaven or hell, life or death differences. We agree on more than we disagree on and our spirits bear witness that each other is of our Father. So like-minded and one mind is not telling us we can’t disagree on some things. There are a few records of Paul disagreeing with a brother. It doesn’t stop or prevent unity. We can agree to disagree. I know that takes maturity and humility, but it is easier than you think.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Esteem others – this is consideration. I had a dear friend years ago ask me what was the character trait that was a must have or deal breaker when it came to a relationship with someone else. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that it was consideration. I could not date someone who was inconsiderate to others, especially me. It struck her as a funny answer because most people answer with shallow things – and consideration includes a level of humility and a servant’s heart, meekness and gentleness of spirit, and godliness. The truth is – we are all drawn to it and it is easy to be in unity and like mind with someone who is considerate. They may consider you and make a choice you do not like – that does happen. But they thought about how it affects you and probably found a compromise. If we find it attractive and easy to get along with, we too should become humble and esteem other better.

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

And it is worth repeating. They will know we are Christians by our love Jesus said. And a mature Christian shows that love in the form of consideration.

Paul then inserts a poem, verses 5 through 11. The style is a popular style of poetry from the 30’s just after Jesus’s death at least from what we can tell from dating the various texts found from that time. Paul would have been in school, a child, and would have studied that style of poetry. And this is only 30+ years later – so it is possible Paul is quoting someone else, possibly a popular encouraging song or maybe Paul did write them a poem.
But after expressing consideration, this poem would come to mind as it expresses Jesus’s humility and consideration:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Every letter Paul writes also has a version of the good news, the gospel message, the point of this – the grace of the work of the cross. And here in this poem, we find that message. We can take this passage to the streets and witness to people and ask them if they want prayer and a relationship with God, with just 7 verses of poem. If Paul wrote it or not, I am glad it is included.

Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. This verse is one of the verses that help us to understand the relationship amount God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. I was always taught the concept of a trinity and the three of them are one, with different names and slightly different jobs. Although Jesus said: ‘if you know me, then you know the Father’. So not all that different at all.
The word trinity is not in the Bible. It is a word we came up with to help simplify and understand a spiritual concept we can only understand in part, and have faith that somehow these three are separate and are one. However if you do not believe in the trinity of God and think all three are very separate, crazy enough, I can understand your argument and honestly I think both are true. They are and are not one. But spirit things cannot be understood in the flesh or expressed with words. And it is not for us to know in full, now – just read the Bible and get it in you. Jesus was the word, with God and equal to God – the word became flesh and now I am quoting John chapter 1.

Paul also likens men to bondservants. We no longer have bondservants in my country (nor in most). But in the Roman world is was very common and something people could easily relate to. Having debt and paying it off in service instead of in cash was common (sadly, you could force your daughter to pay off your debt as a wife bondservant). It was actually a good business to get into. Many masters who owned vineyards, olive groves, and wheat fields needed laborers. So they would pay a debt on behalf of a working class person (usually for some settled amount), and that worker would willingly submit into a form of slavery and pay off the full amount in labor.
It is hard to understand in our world where we see treating people as property is wrong. But in that extreme swing away from abusive slavery – we lost a tender and amazing spiritual principle.  We owed a debt we could not pay and Jesus humbled himself to come here and humbled himself further to pay that debt on our behalf – and we are not forced into being his bondservants – yet, because of his loving sacrifice we humble subject ourselves to being his bondservant, owned by him and in his service.  It is good to be owned. I tell my son I own him – in spirit, I claim that ownership and take authority over the evil coming against him. But the same principle is magnified when we are owned by the most high, living, and powerful God! What then can harm us? We are HIS. (and He is ours – yes, we lovingly own a stake in God.) Being owned and a possession is NOT bad – but the enemy certainly has corrupted it and now the younger generations and those more ‘liberal’ minded struggle to comprehend and handle it, therefore they will not submit or subject themselves to being a bondservant to our Lord. That is actually a problem. That is not how our relationship with Him works. We must submit, and do so out of overwhelming love and understanding of what great love he has for us.

Verse 9 is a victorious swing of your sword EVERY time it is swung! Yep – it hit and cuts the enemy deeply enough to declare victory over that battle every time. Let’s read it again:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,”

Cancer has a name, and therefore it must bow to the name of Jesus. Sickness and pain has a name and therefore it must bow to the name of Jesus. Poverty has a name and therefore it must bow to the name of Jesus the provider. Confusion has a name and MUST bow to the name of Jesus! [fin in your prayer need’s name] must bow to the name of Jesus!
Every time, every swing of quoting that verse – these things must bow. And in the spirit they do bow. Declare the victory over the battle and keep fighting the war.

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

I repeated the end of this poem as well, because it is another good sentence for swinging in battle. Remind that enemy of the end game.

That poem contains every promise – because it is the salvation message and our every victory! It is life changing to those who believe. It is world changing for those who share it.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”

The word ‘Therefore’ is there for the reminding that this sentence is directly connected to the gospel poem. Paul says I know you are mature believers, keep going and each work out your own salvation – meaning your own relationship with God. If we truly take the time to develop a relationship and not some form of religion – God will be working on each of us where we are at and growing us at our appointed speed, in accordance with our obedience. As much as we must be in unity in spirit – mature Christians know God is going to work out all the sin in other people, so they focus on the sin in their own life.  Now if someone is in rebellion refusing to work out their sin – lovingly bring them before God. If they reject God, then they must leave until they are ready to do it right. Now, please note, that these are a combination of the lesson of Paul to the early church which was meeting underground and in houses. You had to be careful of who came in. So you when out, evangelized and brought them in. Today, we bring people in and hope the pastor evangelizes for us and we no longer have ‘out-reaches’, instead have ‘drag-ins’. In this method, witches, sorcerers, wolves, demoniacs, and other evils march in through the doors of the church and disrupt the move of the spirit in the church. Some even sit on the board. So some of Paul’s intolerance in the church does not apply because the church is where we bring it all in to clean it up. So there really needs to be a separation somewhere between the church and the body – and we vet those permitted in the body who do life with us.

13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Back to being a bondservant – or willingly submitted as a servant in order to pay back a debt that was paid by our master. Bondservants may go into it willingly and obey willingly – but they are still subjects to the will and pleasure of their master. Same with us to God’s will and good pleasure. Thankfully God is love, and good, and kind, and gentle, and generous, and affectionate, and merciful and and and…
even when we do not understand and we think we are under attack or struggle or persecution or even threat of death – He is still good. He has the right to tell HIS story any way He wants through our lives. AND he uses the non-believers as well as the believers – so you might as well be a believer where it also works out for our good!

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

Take away from this the idea that if you complain you labor in vain. The reason – complaining is a slippery slope. Just stay away from it. You can inform people of your woes and needs without complaining – otherwise God does NOT get the glory. And the point of struggling is that God gets the glory. It also gives others an opportunity to share in your struggles, either in prayer and intercession for you, or in gifts and being used by God to meet the needs. In that sharing, God is glorified doubly – once in you and once again in the person who shares in it. Then you both have a blessing and a testimony!

17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.”

This sharing of the burdens IS like a drink offering poured out to God. It is another image we do not see but they would have been familiar with. Imagine if you own a winery and you open a wine to taste it and discover you have made the best tasting wine EVER! If people tasted it, you’ll be famous and rich! Well, glory to God! Now bring that wine to the temple and offer it as a drink offering. Offer to God, your very best! Pour it out on the altar. With it goes any hope of people tasting it, knowing it was the best, all fame and hope of riches – everything is poured out. You’re left with nothing but empty bottles. But you are filled with God’s grace and favor.
Now imagine yourself a bottle full of all the best – and you pour yourself out to the Lord. Give him your all – empty yourself of self. Then God will fill you – overflowing! With him.
God poured out Paul as a drink offering. And you and I should follow and offer ourselves poured out to God.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.”

No one like-minded. That is so sad. But the truth is sometimes God gives us a burden BECAUSE no one else is picking it up. Here is a mature church, so no one is praying for them, because they seem to have their acts together. Please always remember to pray for EVERYONE and EVERY MINISTRY that touches your life. If it is mature or still new – we all need prayer.

22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

Here Paul reveals that he sees and treats Timothy as a son. And later we will see Paul give his mantle over to him.

23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.”

Ok, so if Paul is writing from Rome under house arrest, then why is he hoping to come to them shortly? It could be that Paul means after his trial before Cesare, when he hope to be found innocent (since he is) and freed. Or maybe this really is a collection if a few letters pieced together and written at different times.

25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.”

Paul was going to send Timothy, but here is Epaphroditus who what worried about them worrying about him being sick. So Paul is sending him instead. OR Paul is explaining why he sent Epaphroditus who has now returned with the offering for Paul and now Paul is sending Timothy back with this letter and the tenses are just translated wrong. Parts of scripture are just narrative and although narrative helps us know content, it is not always necessary to know everything about the narrative.

27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.”

As often as we see immediate healing after immediate healing in the Bible. This healing does not seem immediate. Also, as full of faith as Paul is and with as many signs and wonders that Paul saw – He never demanded of God – it is not lack of faith, but reverence to God’s will that make Him joyous at each miracle.  Like a child always remain in wonder by God.

Wow is this book nice and meaty. Please take time today to mediate on the word and let God continue to work it in you and help you grow.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: