Unselfish Humility, Phil. 2:1-4

 Phil. 2:1-4 – from today’s podcast, click here to follow.

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.

The main idea of this brief paragraph is immediately clear. It is about Christians thinking and living in good relationship with each other. Why is this important? Because there is “encouragement in Christ,” there is “comfort from love,” we are able to participate together in those things that the Spirit has revealed, and the affection and sympathy the Spirit enables us to have completes the joy of the righteous. Do you see that verse one is loaded with

motivates. This opening signals to the reader just how important it is for Christians to think and live with each other in peace.

Living under the authority and example of Christ, we are able to be “of the same mind.” No. This doesn’t mean we are mental clones. Rather, the center governing principle of our inner thoughts are the same. There is unity of thought among us because of our mutual submission to Christ. We think alike because we serve the same Master. It is that simple.

Similarly, “the same love.” This is not about us imitating each other, to achieve this sameness. This is about imitating Christ and following Him, resulting in the inner and outer presence of this love. It is self-will and care that reaches out actively to serve others in the best possible way.

When Christians are “on the same page” following Christ, there is this sameness and harmony of thought and attitude, “being of full accord and of one mind.”

The negative of this teaching is: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Any words or actions which are driven by selfish ambition or conceit should be resisted, rejected and internally rebuked by followers of Christ. It is not who we are.

Rather, “in humility,” we are inclined to “count others more significant than” ourselves. If it can be said that we look out for Number One, that One is Jesus the Christ, not us, not self.

To be even more specific: “Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others.”

Are you on the “look out” for yourself or for others? Is your interests of heart self-centered? To whatever extent that is true of you, you are not aligned with the Savior. (More about that in the next installment of this study).

Consumers

This is from the current issue (Aug.) of Pressing On Magazine, Click Here For More Information.

What Are We Consuming?

This is a good question when we are shopping for groceries, ordering from a menu or preparing food at home. Most of us love salt and sugar, yet we know our consumption of these substances must be controlled. Though our discipline may often lag behind our knowledge, the objective knowledge remains. It is good to watch what we consume. Wise behavior needs our consistent attention.

I know that paragraph might have been a bit painful to read. Pain Alert! I’m going to take this to another level. Should we pause and evaluate our online consumption?

If what we put in our bodies deserves good thought and practice, what about what we put in our minds? When we open a computer browser, think of that as a container holding what we are about to mentally consume. When we view social media, read emails and do all those Google searches, we are feeding our minds through our eyes and ears. What are we putting in our minds through online content? We know this is important. But online technology makes it so effortless to ignore.

Newsfeeds and websites we view and read may be the sugar and salt that is hard to turn down. We need to stop and think about our digital diet. When we read a newsfeed (cable news, websites with specific agendas or social media), we are reading what another human being saw or heard, or thought they saw or heard. They are writing about that event, person or idea based on their worldview. It may at first seem to fit something we want to say. Yet blind trust may lead us astray, little by little. Or leave a subtle impression in our minds that is like a seed planted that may not yield good fruit.

Memes are sometimes defined as pieces of cultural material captured by image and quotes. Do we ever source a meme? Do we spread it or share it impulsively? Do we see something in sync with our assumptions or beliefs, then quickly hit the share button? These are good questions but the primary question is, what are we consuming?

Is your mind hungry? Feed it and be nourished.

Truth Connection: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matt. 4:4, 5:6)

As Was His Custom

As Was His Custom

Luke 22

Read this from Luke chapter 22 this time, beginning at verse 39:

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

It should never fail to strike us and impress us – these passages which report Jesus Christ praying! I’ve often said, if Jesus needed to pray – how much more do we, weak and frail as we are, need to approach the throne of God repeatedly – to praise God, to ask for His help and wisdom; for strength – and in our case, for forgiveness.

In this passage, Jesus tells His disciples to pray. Then, “as his custom was,” He knelt down and prayed. I want to bring to our attention three simple things He said:

First, consider those three little words: “Not My Will.” If we could just embed those words in our minds and hold our will in check under the superior will of God – how much better we would be.

Second, “he prayed more earnestly.” Prayer must not become a routine ritual of memorized words. When we hurt, we ought to express to God our passionate interests in His strength. The fervent prayer of a righteous person has so much power.

Third, through prayer, we received strength against temptation. Jesus finished praying and said to His disciples, “Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

As you read Luke and the other gospels – I want to recommend that you slow down and attend carefully to these accounts of Jesus Christ praying.

The Stewardship of Preaching

From the book, LETTERS TO YOUNG PREACHERS

From the chapter by Melvin Curry:

You may grow weary and waver in your commitment to proclaim the gospel.  Sources of discontent range from the indifference of brethren to doctrinal departures from the faith.  I confess there were times I became discouraged and thought about quitting.  But, like Jeremiah, when I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name, . . . His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (Jeremiah 20:9).  “If I preach the gospel,” Paul said, “I have noting to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!  For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship” (1 Corinthians 9:16-17).  Thus, I have never been able with a clear conscience to escape the stewardship of preaching.  And, most likely, neither will you be able to do so.

Joy In Tribulation

Joy In Tribulation

By Warren E. Berkley (quoting J.W. McGarvey on Rom. 5)

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

“…the joy of the believer is not confined to this expectation of future good; he rejoices also in present [problems], even in tribulation, because tribulation develops in him those elements of character which make him useful here, and prepare him for heaven hereafter; for tribulation teaches him that patience and steadfastness which endures without flinching, and this steadfastness wakens in him a sense of  divine approval, and the thought that God approves adds to his hope that he shall obtain the blessings of  the future world…” – J.W. McGarvey

The Hero

fire portrait helmet firefighter
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Then There is The Hero

By Warren E. Berkley

We love to hear and see stories of heroes. It is encouraging, heart-warming and holds up a powerful example for our children. Courage takes over in unselfish impulses to save helpless victims out of danger, to go beyond ordinary responses and do what is self-forgetful. Movies are still made today to tell the stories of heroes.

I like the story of Cpt. “Sully” Sullenberger, who “landed” his airplane in the Hudson River. Because of his calm execution of skill and training, the downed airplane yielded no fatalities. Captain Sullenberger has become a legendary pilot who now speaks to other pilots about crisis management, leadership and his book is called: “Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters.”

Some may remember Mr. Ed Ray, the California bus driver who was hailed as a hero in 1976, for leading 26 children to safety after they were kidnapped and buried below ground in a truck trailer. He struggled with his own fear, yet kept the children’s spirits up and led them to safety. Mr. Ray died earlier this year.

Firefighters and soldiers; law enforcement people and medical emergency people are valuable to us as they put their lives at risk to help us. My son, Josh, was a firefighter on a Navy ship in the first Gulf War; my nephew, Kyle, is a firefighter in Wichita, Kansas. These men and women are rescuers extensively trained primarily to extinguish hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, and to rescue people from dangerous incidents, such as collapsed and burning buildings. It is an increasingly complex and dangerous risk they walk into every day. Do we appreciate them and thank God for them?

When we read these stories, watch the movies and see the video of acts of selflish courage, we do not have before us the ultimate sacrifice or example of courage!

“For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us,”  (Rom. 5:6-8, ESV). 

From the Archives of Expository Files

The Marvel of Unbelief

The Marvel Of Unbelief

Mark 6:1-6

Warren E. Berkley

Mark 6 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

“He Began To Teach”

Jesus could have saved people by force, snatching sinners out of sin and making them righteous (theoretically this is argued by virtue of sovereign divine power). But there is every reason to believe God did not want robots leaving their sin and doing His will without personal choice. God wants people who love Him to decide to serve Him by choice not compulsion. So it was the purpose of Jesus to preach and teach (Mrk. 1:38,39). His miraculous power was never used to capture sinners against their will and drag them into the kingdom. He delivered God’s message, telling people of their sin and offering gracious forgiveness, inviting a response of active faith (Matt. 11:28).

Jesus, who raised the dead (Mrk. 5:41; Jno. 11:43,44) and performed other miracles, gave priority to preaching. God intends for His people to spread the word, to support and be engaged in the preaching of the gospel. Paul wrote to Timothy and we have the literary work in the New Testament, but in that volume, Paul said “preach the word,” and Timothy was to find other men to train and charge to deliver the word (2 Tim. 4:2; 2:2). So Jesus “began to teach.” And after this attempt in Nazareth, He left there but continued “teaching,” (v.6). Have we started?

“Many hearing Him were astonished”

To be “astonished” is to be amazed, but not necessarily changed (Matt. 7:28). Preachers have this experience all the time, when someone leaves the building with unrestrained celebration of the sermon, yet the celebration falls short of real life change after the exit from the building/event. Many who heard Jesus immediately knew He was unique and they could not categorize him with their usual teachers. But, to take His teaching and listen to change; to give Him and His message inner access, often did not occur. This reminds us to be hearers who become engaged (Jas. 1:21-27).

“Where did this man get these things?”

“These things” refer to what He said and may also include what He did (note the series of four miracles that precede this section). It is enlightening – in these early chapters of Mark – to discover these two pressing questions: (1) “Who can this be?” in Mark 4:41, and (2) “Where did this man get these things?” To have the answer, the people needed to “stay tuned,” to keep listening with good and honest hearts. The vital inquiries about the person and work of Christ are answered clearly in four books I highly recommend: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You will see who He is and you will learn where He got what He said. “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God,” (Jno. 3:34).

“They were offended at Him”

Here was the Son of God speaking to them exactly the message they needed to hear from God, about how to change their lives and serve each other. They took offense! They were put off or annoyed by Him. It is a sign of weakness and immaturity on their part, produced by self-centered unbelief. Jesus became – to the unbelievers – a “rock of offense.” They stumbled as many today, who hold strong determination of heart that is against the truth of God and that favors self or attachment to a religious system.

And this prompted Jesus to make the statement: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Blindness to the truth can take people to such a place, they resist truth when it appears very close. Here (and in Jno. 1:46), there is evidence of what we often see today – that we make very quick judgments about people based on nothing more than the superficial. Indeed, as we have oft heard, “familiarity breeds contempt,” and (as David E. Garland said): “The expert at a conference is usually the one who has come from farthest away!” A local handyman (carpenter), telling us about our relationship with God, who sounds so much different from our rabbis? “No way,” to use modern vernacular. So . . .

Jesus “marveled because of their unbelief”

This was not just a typical or passing thought, “wow, these people don’t believe the truth when they hear it.” He was astounded and grieved that they would remain in their sin and continue under the ill-conceived oversight of selfish leaders. He cared and out of that care came his astonishment. The people of Nazareth enjoyed so many advantages. Jesus lived among them. He preached to them with power. They knew of His miracles. But they were blind to his identity, deaf to his message and hardened their hearts against Him, to their own peril and loss.

Jesus is not physically here on earth today. But His people are here and His message is sounded forth. Human responses often duplicate that of the people of Nazareth. The stubborn unbelief of sinners who are offered gracious forgiveness and life in Christ, is astonishing.

Matthew Henry: “If we cannot do good where we would, we must do it where we can, and be glad if we may have any opportunity, though but in the villages, of serving Christ and souls. Sometimes the gospel of Christ finds better entertainment in the country villages, where there is less wealth, and pomp, and mirth, and subtlety, than in the populous cities.”

ONE

Read Ephesians 4:1-6, then read below.

 

                 When you learn the truth from the One God, about

                the One Lord. And you embrace that One Faith,

                submitting to the One Baptism, you are added to

                the One Body, and you now have the One Hope

                that is revealed in the Word by the One Spirit.

Say Thank You

Phil. 4:14-17

14 Yet it was kind of you to share] my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

Recipients of kindness should express their gratitude. If you don’t want to be perceived in the image of a beggar or mooch – when someone is generous to you, express your sincere gratitude. Make certain they know how much you appreciate the gift.

The local church in Philippi had been long-term supporters of Paul, to the full extent of their ability. He couldn’t say enough about their kindness.

The support of the church at Philippi to Paul, had been singular!

“No church” entered into partnership with him except Philippi. Clearly, this was not a case where churches funneled money through the church at Philippi (common today: the sponsoring church arrangement). Paul was overjoyed to receive from the generosity and selfless dedication of the Christians in Philippi.

Even when Paul was in Thessalonica (and not having a pleasant experience), the Christians in Philippi came to his aid, “once and again.”

And, for the sake of clarity, Paul stresses: “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”

Paul’s interest in and his commendation of their generosity was not simply that he wanted support. No. It was his interest in the blessings they received from their giving. Generosity helps the giver as much or more than the recipient.

Application: Churches today with the ability should carefully consider faithful men who preach the gospel and their needs. Faithful men who receive such support ought to be thankful to God, there are people making sacrifices for their need.

 

Grace and Peace