West End Assembly of God
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Daily Devotional Guide
September 22-27, 2014
WEAG Devotions – Moving Forward in Faith
MONDAY – September 22
Philippians 2:1 – If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Paul wanted to safeguard his friends from the one thing that could destroy their precious church: disunity. When peoples’ beliefs matter strongly to them, the tendency exists to go myopic, lose perspective, and conflict and collide with one another. In verses 3-4 Paul lists the big causes of disunity. Selfish ambition emerges when people care more about advancing themselves and their little piece of ministry than understanding how it fits into the big picture of the work of the Lord. Personal prestige is a second big cause. People like to be admired and respected, but the aim of Christianity is not self-display. Our good deeds must be done to bring glory to God, not to elevate self. Concentration on self is always at the root of disunity. It leads us to compete with others rather than work together to accomplish spiritual goals. Each of us has faced these three disunity breeders. How easily do you identify them creeping into your Christian service? How quickly do you repent at the foot of Christ’s cross? Heed Paul’s words: Let us be tender and compassionate toward one another and live “one in spirit and purpose.”
TUESDAY – September 23
Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.
Killer attitudes such as selfish ambition and vain conceit can only be eradicated through humility. It is the one posture of heart through which everything comes to us from God—salvation, spiritual discernment, and Holy Spirit empowerment—everything! Trace through the Old Testament stories and witness the outcomes of those who refused to humble their hearts: Egypt’s Pharaoh, whose arrogance resulted in wave after wave of plagues that decimated his country; Israel’s wicked kings whose resistance to the prophets’ warnings ultimately led to the overthrow of both Judah and Israel. What a contrast to Jesus, who “made himself nothing” (vs. 7) and “became obedient to death even death on a cross” (vs. 8). Paul’s exhortation applies not only to the church at Philippi, but also to us today. If we are going to accomplish anything of eternal value, we must learn this lesson well. Humility opens the doorway to the kinds of honor that matter most (vs. 9). How quickly do you apologize? How easily do you soften your heart? What lessons in humility have you been learning lately?
WEDNESDAY – September 24
Philippians 2: 5 – Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
Paul teaches us important lessons about attitudes and actions connected to unity.
(Keep in mind that unity is not achieved by being alike; it is achieved by having the same purpose: to glorify God and edify others. Hence the Body of Christ has many parts, different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit leading us all –I Cor. 12:4-6.) First, if we are walking in unity with Jesus Christ, He will direct us to walk in unity with one another. We cannot be at odds with each other without being at odds with God (I John 4; Matt. 5:24). Second, Christian love is powerful. It is the bedrock evidence of our faith (I Cor. 13) and leads us to behave properly toward one another. It leads us to goodwill, even toward those who hate us. Love is a primary color in Christianity. Third, one of the ways that the Spirit of God manifests His presence in our lives is through love. If we choose disunity, we resist and grieve the Spirit of God. Paul’s passionate appeal to the Philippian church is Christ’s appeal to us today. We bring the Lord great joy when we walk in loving ways toward one another; and conversely, we bring Him deep pain when we live at constant odds toward one another. The world notices, too. Pray for Christ’s attitude to rule your heart and mind.
THURSDAY – September 25
Philippians 2:6 – Who (referring to Jesus), being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Verses 5-11 are some of the greatest and most moving passages that the Apostle Paul ever wrote about Jesus. Here “Paul is pleading with the Philippians to live in harmony, to lay aside their discords, to shed their personal ambitions and their pride and their desire for prominence and prestige, and to have in their hearts that humble, selfless desire to serve, which was the essence of the life of Christ” (The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians; William Barclay. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003). Paul chooses every word meticulously to reveal to us two things: the reality of Christ’s humanity and the reality of his divinity (i.e. the incarnation). The One who laid down His life for us expects us to humble ourselves and follow His example, becoming servants to one another (and especially to Him) even to death. We are back to that issue of humility again; and how our carnal nature resists it! Are you grasping after something? What is it? Why do you grasp? Our solution is a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.
FRIDAY – September 26
Philippians 2:7 - …but (Jesus) made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (NIV).
The RSV says: …but emptied himself. Christ poured himself out. He willingly gave up the glory of divinity in order to become human. He entered into our world fully, becoming hungry, weary, and tasting our tears. He who was rich for our sakes became poor. “There is no passage in the New Testament which so movingly sets out the utter reality of the godhead and the humanity of Jesus and makes so vivid the sacrifice that He made when He laid aside His godhead and became human. How it happened, we cannot tell; but it is the mystery of a love so great that although we can never fully understand it, we can blessedly experience it and adore it” (ibid.). Today Christ is near you; and He still feels your pain, tastes your tears, and enters into your heartache. “The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak. They rode, but thou didst stumble to thy throne. To our wounds only God’s wounds can speak. And no God has wounds but Thou alone” (Jesus of the Scars; Edward Shillito. 1919).
SATURDAY – September 27
Philippians 2:9 – Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name…
Jesus’ life was marked by obedience, self-renunciation, and humility. He renounced his glory for the sake of saving the world; and as a result, God exalted him above every other name. Obedience, self-renunciation, and humility must be the hallmarks of Christians as well. It is a spiritual principle that those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matt. 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14). Sooner or later, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (vs. 11) to the glory of God the Father. In the Philippian church, there were some whose aim was to gratify a selfish ambition; but the aim of Jesus was to serve others no matter what depths of self-renunciation their service might involve. Jesus aimed to focus people’s eyes on God. This must be our aim as well.