Saturday, 29 March 2014
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Phil. 2.5
This bald statement by Paul is both challenging and exciting.
Jesus Himself said, “Follow me.” Apart from the obvious of pursuing Him and being part of His “group”, I see this invitation to also mean what Paul is talking about. For me, when Jesus
says, “Follow me”, He is inviting me to be and do as He is and does.
Paul proceeds to outline something of Christ’s attitude, and his focus here is on humility and obedience. His love for others brought about total self-sacrifice. He was Himself God, yet He set aside any divine power when He came to earth. He came as servant, first to His heavenly Father and then to the whole of humanity. I see in this servant both humility and dignity. One might question where is the dignity in one who suffered such a humiliating demise and death? I have but to look at the manner of His suffering to see the dignity that He displayed.
This is just part of the attitude that Paul exhorts me to. Let me willingly embrace it and, perhaps, I can then, with God’s help, build further on it.
I look to You as Jesus did. The Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in Mary, anointed Him at His baptsim, walked with Him through His life, and miraculously resurrected Him after His death.
Jesus looked to the Father. He lived to do the Father’s will. He did nothing on His own but spoke just what the Father taught Him (John 8.28). He was pleasing to the Father in all that He did.
I am exhorted to “fix my eyes” on Jesus. I do so. I thus embrace the whole of the Triune Godhead. Lord God, Father, Son, and Spirit be with me; be in me. Impart to me that same attitude that Jesus had. Empower me with Your Spirit. Lead me fully in Your ways. Let me look to You in all things just as Jesus did, in whose name I ask this. Amen.
Wednesday, 26 March 2014
...for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Gal. 3.27
These words conjure up for me the most wonderful image of me being wrapped in Jesus. He covers me like a cloak. I often choose to see this as the way in which I appropriate His peace (John 14.27).
But this is even more than receiving, and living in, the peace of Christ. This is the Holy One Himself covering me just as surely as the clothes that I am wearing cover me.
Is this how Paul knew Jesus? He talks here of being clothed with Christ. Elsewhere he speaks of the fullness of Christ in us (Col. 2.10; 1.27)
Yes, yes, this is what I want – Jesus filling me on the inside and surrounding me on the outside. Paul tells me I have this. Then I shall open myself wide to embrace it. May God fill me to overflowing with an abundance of His presence.
I love You. I thrill at the wonder that You would bother with me. Yet Paul encourages me and assures me that, not only do You bother with me but, I am filled up with You on the inside and clothed in You on the outside.
I receive this and, furthermore, I open myself fully to You. I invite You to have Your way in me. Do with me what You will. My one desire is to please You. And yet, I realise I do not always do this. I ask Your forgiveness and help. Please convict me when I am wrong and lead me in the right. May I follow the way You would have me go.
Give me, if You will, every equipping and enabling to fulfil Your will for me, and to please You to the utmost. I ask that I might humbly follow my Lord Jesus. May I know the fullness of Your love and may I share it in abundant measure.
I ask these things in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
Sunday, 23 March 2014
Do everything without complaining or arguing, Phil. 2.14
Paul is talking about the believers working out their salvation with fear and trembling. He reminds them that God is at work, bringing them to a place where they will “will and act according to his good purpose”.
An NIV Study Bible note (p. 1806) comments on “complaining”, describing it as being discontented with God’s will thereby expressing unbelief which then prevents one from doing what pleases God. It references “arguing” to debatable points that do not need settling for the good of the church.
I see the point in this. If I am being refined, that is, my salvation is being worked out within me, and if God himself is the activator within me, then I truly need to dispense with complaint or argument. Rather, in allowing God to have His way in me, I ought to examine each occasion when I am tempted to complain or argue, and see what the cause of my distress or discomfort might be. If I can do this objectively I am then able to take further action, perhaps by releasing whatever to God, or maybe by inviting Him to do a further work in me.
I want to “work out” my salvation. If fear and trembling is to be part of the process then let me get on with it!
My heart is to please You. I desire to be the very best I can be for You. I delight to know that You are at work in me. I give myself over to Your work of release and sanctification. Have Your way. If fear and trembling occur in my walk then I ask You to strengthen me. Give me also help to overcome complaint or argument. Show me the cause of such potential reaction and enable me to surrender such to You.
I am on a journey of sanctification. I invite You to lead me further today. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thursday, 20 March 2014
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1.2
It would be so easy to see this verse as part of Peter’s greeting and introduction and leave it at that. But to do so would be to ignore a great and vital truth. A major purpose in Peter’s second letter is to combat heresy. True knowledge of God is an essential part of this action. But there is more in this verse that the mere gaining of knowledge.
What impacts me as I reflect on the power of Peter’s words is the strength and contentment that is there for believers through knowledge of God. I take this phrase knowledge of God to mean significantly more than any facts or data about God. Yes, knowledge of God is the knowing of God Himself. A lot may be learned through knowledge about a person but true and meaningful experience results from an actual knowing of the person. Part of the wonder of knowing God is the amazing effect it has on us, and on our lives and interaction. Grace and peace are just two of many benefits that God bestows on those who know Him.
God works miracles through His grace. Even in the direst circumstances God’s grace can lift me to a higher place. God’s grace is able to provide in my time of need, whatever that need might be. God’s grace may not necessarily change the circumstances that challenge me, but it will enable me to get through whatever might face me. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of grace that God vests in us is the wonder of peace. What an amazing quality this is. In a world that is often beset by turmoil and confusion, hurt, and even despair, the peace of God is surely the most precious gift. I feel blessed to receive this gift, yet there are times when I must consciously remind myself that I have it. When I do, sanity returns to the situation. God resumes His sovereign position as Lord and ruler of my life, of every part of it. I am able to relax, and rest in Him. It is well with my soul.
I thank You first that I know You. I pray for that knowing to increase. I ask You to draw me closer and enfold me deeper into You. I am grateful to learn about You, but my passion is to know You more, to become more intimate with You. I pray for increase in both these aspects.
Thank You for the grace you extend to me. May there be no limit to the ways in which Your grace is made manifest in my life.
I have received, and truly known, much peace throughout my journey with You. Dear Lord, may this continue. I know the power that resides in Your peace. This is not a power to challenge people with control, but a power that will enable then to work through adverse circumstances to the right result. I thank You for the power of Your peace.
I pray that my relationship with You will grow even stronger. Amen.
Monday, 17 March 2014
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Rom.13.12
In this verse Paul introduces the utmost good news. We are most certainly in the last days. The dark night is almost through, the light can be seen and the dawn approaches.
For this the children of God need to cast off completely the deeds of darkness. It is as if Paul is saying, “Remember whose you are. You belong to the light and not the dark. Therefore spurn the darkness and embrace the light. Clearly and firmly clothe yourselves in the armour of light.”
But Paul does not leave it at this. He tells us the action to take: Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature (v14).
These words bring to me a beautiful picture of myself putting on a shirt but, instead of the article I wear being a shirt, it is Jesus Himself. When I received Him in faith in salvation, He entered me. But I must also wear Him, that what is inside me may be seen also on the outside.
The picture I receive from Paul’s words is a most powerful one. I receive you, Lord. I put You on and wear You like a soft and warm but strong, resilient and effective covering.
Yes, Lord, I seek the fullness of You inside me. And I pray You will shine out from me like a light on a hill.
Let me wear You as a protective garment. But more than this, I ask You to clothe me in You, that I may know You and be consumed by You. My prayer is that You will live in me and through me.
Hear my prayer. Clothe me with You, in Your precious name I ask. Amen.