In our country we have a day set aside to give honor and recognition to the achievements and contributions of the working men and women that has made our nation great. This is a tribute in some regard to the truth that we find in Proverbs 14:23 – all hard work brings a profit, but mere talk only leads to poverty! As Christians we enjoy labor that is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). We enjoy that brings praise, honor, and glory to God our Father through Jesus Christ (Romans 16:6, 12; 1 Peter 4:7-11).
Wednesday night devotional
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
The nations have always waited and looked for God’s covenant related priesthood (Mal 2:4-5; 1 Pet 2:9) to revere / honor His name and benefit from His covenant of life and peace in a way that fulfills His purpose and brings glory to His name!
And now this admonition is for you, O priests. 2 If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.
3 “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. 4 And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty. 5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.
7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty.
In calling the church in Corinth to spiritual disciplines that will keep them living lives empowered by the gospel, Paul uses the examples of athletes training for the Isthmian Games so popular in Corinth.
1 Cor 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
2 Tim 4:7 – 8
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Rejoicing in the Lord: The Word of God
Our recent study of the book of Philippians has helped remind us of the importance of our rejoicing in the Lord. Paul reminds the saints in Philippi of their partnership in the gospel (1:5), the grace they share (1:7) and the joy they all share together (2:17,18) in the Lord.
This reminder of their joy is a safeguard (3:1) for them against false teaching (3:2-4, 17-21), just as prayer and the peace of God works to guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus against worry (4:4-7).
The joy that guarded and guided the heart, mind, and life of the apostle Paul is the same joy that guarded the heart, mind, and life of the saints in Philippi (2:2 et al.). This same joy is ours today, and it comes to guard the heart, mind, and life of the saints just as powerfully as it ever has. This joy is the same today, because it has the same source – the word of God!
The word of God saves our souls (James 1:21; Rom 1:16), and it is the source of our faith (Rom 10:17). The word of God accomplishes what God desires and achieves the purpose for which He sent it (Isa 55:11). In fact, Jesus, the Son of God, Himself, said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4).
Our Father, who is in heaven, bless our hearing of your word that we may have in abundance the joy it gives to sustain us, in Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!
We have discussed in some detail how this letter (Philippians) updates Paul’s dearest supporters (1:3-5, 7, 4:1, 17-18) of his current circumstances (1:12-13, 19-20) and offers them encouragement for the circumstances they face (1:29-30). The encouragement Paul offers them is bound up in their joy in the Lord. He reminds them sixteen times of this kind of joy! Paul joyously poured out his heart, message, and life for the benefit of these saints (Acts 16), and he confesses that all he has done and suffered for them may well be simply to enhance their own service to God. But even if this is true, he rejoices and wants them to be glad and rejoice with him (2:17-18). No wonder, he will refer to them as his “joy and crown” in the Lord (4:1).
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philipians 4:4-7).
These four verses from Paul’s letter to the saints at Philippi hold one of the most practical commands of the entire letter for keeping a mind or attitude (cf. 2:5) that will sustain these saints with joy through all they suffer (1:29-30). The command is prayer (4:6). Prayer offers the saints an avenue of release from an anxious and worried mind, as it guards their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus with the peace of God which transcends all understanding (4:7; lit. excelling the mind of man)!
May God our Father grant all of us a prayer life that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus with the peace transcends all we can ask, imagine, or face in this life. Amen!
Philippians is a missionary report and thank you letter that encourages the saints in Philippi to hold on to their joy. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Php 4:4). The word joy, in its various forms will appear something like 16 times in this letter, depending upon the translation. God’s promise of joy for His people has helped them to face the most difficult of situations in this world and yet hang on to their joy.
How can they keep their joy? The key may be found in another idea Paul will mention 10x in this short letter: MIND! Consider, think about, and keep in mind these passages in Philippians: 1:27; 2:2, 3, 5; 3:4, 7, 19; 4:2, 7, 8. Though 3:4, 19 are stated in the negative all of these phrases point to the importance of ones attitude in regard to keeping and living out our joy in Christ Jesus!
Sin distances God from sinners, and God’s commands declare His holiness and the sinfulness of sin. They always have. God’s declared holiness and the sinfulness of sin can be and is a very terrifying thing. However, God is never satisfied with sinners knowing their sin and the consequences of it. What God wants is for His people to come to Him and know His blessing on His terms by the access He affords them. This was true in Israel’s day and it is true in our own. Israel’s access to God’s blessing was through the altar and sacrifices He would provide. Our access to God is through the altar and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who was the reality behind every sacrifice ever commanded (Ex 20; Heb 10:1-4, 10; 13:9-10).