Posts tagged ‘Philippians’

June 17, 2014

Daily Devotionals (June 17th): The Testimony of a Calm and Holy Life

by Aaron Dunlop

philippians

By the “conversation” (AV) the apostles means the general frame and deportment of the whole life. It is the life of a child dependant of its Heavenly Father, called by grace, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Apostle is writing to the Church, the one body in Christ. They all speak the same language, even the language of Canaan. They all wear the same garments, even Christ’s robe of righteousness. They all eat the same spiritual meat, even the bread of life. And they all drink the same spiritual drink. For Christ is both the bread of life, and the water of life to all.

Hence, a uniformity of conversation, pursuits, and desires, form the distinguishing feature of this royal family, whom Christ hath made Kings and Priests, to God and the Father. Reader is it so in your instance? Do men of the world look at you as men wondered at? Do they think it strange, that you do not run with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you? And are these among the marks by which the world take knowledge of you; that ye have been with Jesus? There is not, perhaps, a more alarming thing to the enemies of Christ; and his people, than when they see the firmness with which the Lord’s tried ones are borne up, under the cruel pressure of their persecution. It is, as the Apostle said to them, an evident token of perdition—a sign of their own destruction. They see, they feel, their nothingness, and forebode their misery, when their threats, and menaces, and punishments which they inflict, are lost upon the objects of their bitterness.

What a beautiful example of this the Holy Ghost has recorded of the three children in the Court of Babylon. We will not, they said serve your gods. The King’s visage changed with rage, but he felt an inward horror at the same time (Daniel 3:17-18).

(Adapted from Robert Hawker)

Reading: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”—Philippians 1:27-28 

June 16, 2014

Daily Devotionals (June 16th): A Life Polished by the Gospel

by Aaron Dunlop

philippians

The times of the Pax Romana were given to vanity, luxury and hedonistic pleasure. Ironically a lot of the pleasure experienced in this “peaceful Rome” was by the persecution of the Christians. Revelation 17:6ff describes the Roman Empire from a Christian perspective—“Drunken with the blood of the saints.”

Paul was writing to Christians living in a chief city of the Empire (Acts 16:12). The first exhortation of the letter is that they would live lives that were polished by the Gospel. The original Greek, politeuomai—coming from the word polis (city)—is translated here and in other places with the old English word “conversation”. This word means, “to behave as a citizen.” You will see in the Greek word where we get the word politics (the government of the city). Our English words polite and polished, among others, also find their roots in this Greek etymology.

The apostle is saying; be polite, have your “manner of life” polished by the gospel, live as one who has a honourable citizenship. But what citizenship is Paul speaking of? Surely citizenship of the Empire would not demand such holy and honourable living. He meant of course, as he tells us later, using the same word, (3:20), “our citizenship is in heaven.”

Live your life in such a manner others know that the Gospel controls your life. How you interact with the lady at the cash register in Walmart, or with the telemarketer who interrupts your supper for the third consecutive day, or the taxi driver who cuts you off because he wants to get an edge at the next green light. Apply the rules and disposition of the gospel to your conduct. If we live with the calm serenity of a citizen of heaven and you will be a good citizen of any nation.

Reading: “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”—Philippians 1:27

June 15, 2014

Daily Devotionals (June 15th): Scripture: Relevant in a Post-Modern Culture?

by Aaron Dunlop

philippians

Christ’s ministry and the beginning of the early church coincided with a period when the Roman Empire was enjoying great peace—the Pax Romana (Roman Peace). The empire extended from Hadrian’s Wall in the north to the Sahara desert in the south and from Hispania in the west to the Caspian Sea in the East. With this diversity of nations it was inevitable that the empire would be thoroughly pluralistic in religion.

In this Pax Romana, Juvenal, the Roman poet spoke of beautification as “one of the most important technologies of the age.” A Roman lady’s boudoir had in it an array of cosmetic instruments such as tweezers, scissors, razors, files, brushes, combs, hair-nets, wigs, jars of perfume, creams, oils, pastes, pumice stones, and soaps. Abortion was a way of life practiced with abortive herbs and an array of crude instruments. Divorce was so widespread that it was said, “Seldom do marriages last without divorce until death.” Adultery was common, homosexuality practiced, and prostitution legalised and even a registered profession.

This reads like a description of society today in North America or Britain. The idea that the culture today is worse than it has ever been is false. Acts 16:12 tells us that Philippi was a chief city of the empire and so Paul’s letter to the church was addressed to people living in moral circumstances much like our own. We ought not despair then with the state of society. We should be encouraged by the fact that for two thousand years God has preserved His church through times of darkness and persecution and that He is preserving it even today in such a moral morass. He is still building His church. Read your New Testament as those in Pax Romana first read it; understand it in the context that they understood it in. It was relevant then and is still. Let us strive together for the faith of the gospel and then live in the world so as to represent the gospel well.

Reading: “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”—Philippians 1:27 

June 14, 2014

Daily Devotionals (June 14th): When Duty Trumps Desire

by Aaron Dunlop

philippians

One of the characteristics of the last days is a crippling and contagious love for self (2 Timothy 3:2). Many blogs and journal articles have been written in recent years about how the technological revolution has facilitated and advanced the epidemic of narcissism. The abandonment of a self-sacrificing sense of corporate duty that has established nations, built empires, and preserved democracy in two world wars today threatens those same nations and democracy itself.

Unfortunately, an inordinate love for self is a problem that has been in church form many years. In more recent years theological arguments have been developed to defend the proliferation of personal desire, pleasure, and preference in favour of a self-sacrificing love for others (Philippians 2:4-5). When Christians get the idea that religion is a personal pursuit and not also a corporate activity, then they treat church like a buffet dinner and pick and choose what they want out of it. When Christians believe the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel that God’s first wish is my happiness, then they can abandon the fellowship of the saints for their own pleasure and forget the mutual benefit of Christian fellowship.

The fact is, the saints need you as much as you need the saints (Hebrews 10:25), and Paul knew this. It was this burning sense of duty to the church that took the joy out of death for Paul. He welcomed the prospect of meeting death at the hands of the Roman justice system because he would be with Christ. But the joy of departing was removed when he realised the great need of the church on earth. His duty to the church trumped his personal—and holy—desire to be with his Saviour.

Reading: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”—Philippians 1:23-24

June 13, 2014

Daily Devotionals (June 13th): The Gain of Death

by Aaron Dunlop

philippians

Matthew Henry said;

Death is a great loss to a carnal, worldly man, for he loses all his earthly comforts and all his hopes; but to a true believer it is gain, for it is the end of all his weakness and misery. It delivers him from all the evils of life, and brings him to possess the chief good. The apostle’s difficulty was not between living in this world and living in heaven; between these two there is no comparison; but between serving Christ in this world and enjoying him in another. Not between two evil things, but between two good things; living to Christ and being with him.

See the power of faith and of Divine grace; it can make us willing to die. In this world we are compassed with sin; but when with Christ, we shall escape sin and temptation, sorrow and death, for ever. But those who have most reason to desire to depart, should be willing to remain in the world as long as God has any work for them to do. And the more unexpected mercies are before they come, the more of God will be seen in them.

Reading: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”—Philippians 1:21 

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