Posts tagged ‘Philippians’

March 28, 2014

843 Acres Lent: The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 15 (txt | aud, 3:40 min)
Phil 2 (txt | aud, 3:20 min)
Highlighted: Phil 2:3-4

Others: Paul writes, “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.” [1] The mindset we should have, he says, is that of Christ—the king who humbled himself. What does such a mindset look like?

Self-Forgetfulness: In his fantastic booklet The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, Tim Keller writes, “Don’t you want to be the kind of person who, when they see themselves in a mirror or reflected in a shop window, does not admire what they see but does not cringe either? … Wouldn’t you like to be the skater who wins the silver, and yet is thrilled about those three triple jumps that the gold medal winner did? To love it the way you love a sunrise? Just to love the fact that is was done? For it not to matter whether it was their success or your success. Not to care if they did it or you did it. You are as happy that they did it as if you had done it yourself—because you are just so happy to see it.”

Gospel-Humility: “You will probably say that you do not know anybody like that,” he continues. “But this is the possibility for you and me if we keep on going where Paul is going. I can start to enjoy things that are not about me. My work is not about me, my skating is not about me, my romance is not about me, my dating is not about me. I can actually enjoy things for what they are … They are not just a way of filling up the emptiness. Wouldn’t you want that? This is off our map. This is gospel-humility, blessed self-forgetfulness. Not thinking more of myself as in modern cultures, or less of myself as in traditional cultures. Simply thinking of myself less.”

Prayer: Lord, We confess that we tend to think too high or too low of ourselves rather than just thinking about ourselves less. May we not look to our own interests, but to the interests of others, so that we may enjoy things for what they are. Give us the mindset of Christ, who made himself low that we may know you. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings:

Saturday, March 29: Prov 16 (txt | aud, 3:25 min) & Phil 3 (txt | aud, 2:53 min)
Sunday, March 30: Prov 17 (txt | aud, 3:11 min) & Phil 4 (txt | aud, 2:52 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

March 27, 2014

843 Acres Lent #TBT: Three Kinds of Men (Lewis)

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 14 (txt | aud, 3:43 min)
Phil 1 (txt | aud, 3:41 min)

Paul: Philippians 1:21

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

C.S. Lewis: “Three Kinds of Men” in Present Concerns

There are three kinds of people in the world. The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them. In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them—the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society—and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on … But the third class is of those who can say like St. Paul that for them “to live is Christ.” These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us with enough to live on … The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done according to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort—it is to want Him … Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us.

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October 10, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday: What is prayer?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 13 (text | audio, 5:27 min)
Phil 4 (text | audio, 2:52 min)
Highlighted: Phil. 4:5-7

Paul. Philippians 4:5-7

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647).

Questions and Answers 98, 100-107

What is prayer? Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.

What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us? Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.

What do we pray for in the first petition? Hallowed be thy name, we pray that God would enable us, and others, to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.

What do we pray for in the second petition? Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

What do we pray for in the third petition? Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

What do we pray for in the fourth petition? Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

What do we pray for in the fifth petition? And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

What do we pray for in the sixth petition? And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us? For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.

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October 9, 2013

843 Acres: We Press On Because He Has Pressed Upon

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 12 (text | audio, 5:43 min)
Phil 3 (text | audio, 2:53 min)
Highlighted: Philippians 3:7-14

Change: Did anything change when Paul became a Christian? Before he was a Christian, Paul knew, for example, that lying was wrong. After he became a Christian, he still thought that lying was wrong. Was nothing different?

New: As a Pharisee, Paul had great reason for pride in his religious convictions and observances. He had been obedient to the law from the time he was born, he was descended of true Hebrew parents, he came from the favored tribe of Benjamin, and he had such zeal for the Jewish faith that he persecuted those who opposed it, including Christians. After he became a Christian, however, he counted his privileges and achievements as loss compared to “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” as Lord. He went from intensely focusing on his own righteousness that comes from the law to intensely focusing on the righteousness that comes “through faith in Christ, the righteousness that depends on faith.”

Holding: When Paul became a Christian, his relationship to the law changed. He used to be honest in order to save himself and put God in his debt. He would have said, “God takes hold of me because I already took hold of Him.” After he became a Christian, he was honest because he wanted to please God and live in response to grace. He would have said, “I take hold of God because He has already taken hold of me.” Or, more precisely, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” [1]

Prayer: Lord, May we know you and the power of your resurrection so that our relationship to the law changes. What joy and freedom in serving you when we do it out of a grateful and joyful heart! As we saw on Monday, we live in an already-but-not-yet age and, therefore, we press on. But we press on only because you have already pressed upon us. Faith did not start with us, but upon us. Thus, it is not our call to obedience that changes—you still beckon us to holy living—but our motivation that changes. May we obey joyfully in response to our salvation so that we may share in your sufferings, becoming like you in death, that by any means possible we may attain the resurrection of the dead. [2] Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See Philippians 3:1-14. | [2] Philippians 3:10-11

October 8, 2013

843 Acres: Tuesday Tweetables: Pride as the Cosmic Put-On

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 11 (text | audio, 7:13 min)
Phil 2 (text | audio, 3:20 min)
Highlighted: Phil 2:4-11

Discerning Brokenness

Serpent: “when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God” / they ate the fruit and their eyes were opened #Gen3

Smedes: “Pride is turning down God’s invitation to join the dance of life as a creature in his garden and wishing instead to be Creator.”

Smedes: “The fantasy that we can make it as little gods leaves us empty at the center…we are attacked by the demons of fear and anxiety.”

Imagining Redemption

Paul: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil2

Have this mind, which is yours in Christ, who, tho he was in the form of God, did not count equality w/God a thing to be grasped. Phil2

He “emptied himself” and “humbled himself” and “therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name” above all names. Phil2

Praying ACTS

Lord, You are so different from other gods—you have reason for pride, but choose humility. Therefore you are exalted. #adoration

Lord, We confess that we’re the opposite—we have reason for humility, but choose pride. It’s pride when we live apart from you. #confession

Lord, Thank you for looking at our interests more than your own, for offering yourself as a sacrifice and dying for us. #thanksgiving

Lord, We confess that we’re selfish, prideful people. Forgive us. And make us self-forgetful, loving people. #confession [1]

[1] Quotes are taken from Lewis Smedes. Love Within Limits: A Realist’s View of 1 Corinthians 13.

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October 7, 2013

843 Acres: What to Do in the Already But Not Yet

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 10 (text | audio, 4:43 min)
Phil 1 (text | audio, 3:41 min)
Highlighted: Phil. 1:21-26

Age: In one sense, the kingdom of God has already come. [1] “The healing, restoring work of Christ,” writes Albert Wolters, “marks the invasion of the kingdom into the fallen creation.” [2] In another sense, however, the kingdom has not yet come. Paul wrote that we “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit” groan as we wait eagerly for “the redemption of our bodies.” [3] We live in an “already but not yet” age. What are we supposed to do in this time?

Friendship: After meeting Paul on his second missionary journey, the Philippians identified with him in every way—they suffered with him, supported him financially, and sent him a co-laborer. In his thank you letter to them, Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me … My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith …” [4]

Reconciliation: What are we supposed to do in this “already but not yet” age? Wolters writes, “The obvious implication is that the new humanity (God’s people) is called to promote renewal in every department and creation. If Christ is the reconciler of all things, and if we have been entrusted with ‘the ministry of reconciliation’ on his behalf [5], then we have a redemptive task wherever our vocation places us in his world. No invisible dividing line within creation limits the applicability of such basic biblical concepts as reconciliation, redemption, salvation, sanctification, renewal, the kingdom of God, and so on. In the name of Christ, distortion must be opposed everywhere—in the kitchen and the bedroom, in city councils and corporate boardrooms, on the stage and on the air, in the classroom and in the workshop. Everywhere creation calls for the honoring of God’s standards. Everywhere humanity’s sinfulness disrupts and deforms. Everywhere Christ’s victory is pregnant with the defeat of sin and the recovery of creation.”

Prayer: Lord, In this age, may we work for the progress and joy of others, as we push back against the disruption and destruction of sin in our lives. Show us what cannot yet be seen—the final victory of Christ and recovery of creation. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Jesus frequently proclaimed, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” (e.g., Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15). | [2] Albert Wolters. Creation Regained. | [3] See Romans 8:22-23. | [4] Philippians 1:21-26 ESV | [5] 2 Corinthians 5:18

March 30, 2012

Let Your Requests Be Made Known to God

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Phil. 4:6
Full Text: Prov. 17; Phil. 4
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Pray | It is astounding that the omniscient and omnipotent Lord and Creator of the universe wants and asks His people to pray. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” [1]. James wrote, “You do not have, because you do not ask” [2]. Why does God repeatedly remind us to pray? Martin Luther once said,

“He knows that we are timid and shy, that we feel unworthy and unfit to present our needs to God. We feel the needs, but we cannot express them. We think that God is so great and we are so tiny that we do not dare to pray … That is why Christ wants to lure us away from such timid thoughts, to remove our doubts, and to have us go ahead confidently and boldly. Though I am unworthy, I am still His creature; and since He has made me worthy of being His creature, I am also worthy of receiving what He has promised and so generously offered to me. In other words, if I am unworthy, He and His promise are not unworthy. You can venture on this vigorously and trustfully, you can put it in His lap joyfully and confidently” [3].

How | How do we pray? Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” [4]. First, we pray “in everything” – that is, we stay in a mindset of prayer, not just in crises [5]. Second, we pray “by supplication” – that is, by asking for help. Third, we pray “with thanksgiving” – that is, we make requests with contented hearts that thank God for whatever He chooses to wisely and lovingly give us. What is the result of this type of prayer? Paul continued, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” [6].

Prayer | Lord, We care about having your peace in our hearts and minds because we struggle with worrying and know that your peace surpasses our understanding. Since your peace comes through our prayer, awaken our love for you so that we want to talk with you as vigorously and joyfully as we do our most intimate friends and family. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Matt. 7:7 ESV  |  [2] James 4:2 ESV  |  [3] The Sermon on the Mount, trans. Jaroslave Pelikan, Vol. 21 of Luther’s Works [Concordia, 1956], p. 234.  |  [4] Phil. 4:6 ESV  |  [5] See also 1 Cor. 10:31; Matt. 6:9.  |  [6] Phil. 4:7 ESV

March 29, 2012

Treasuring Christ Above All Else

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Phil. 3:7-8
Full Text: Prov. 16; Phil. 3
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Colonial | Several years ago, my friend hosted a dinner party when her mother came in town from Tennessee. Her mom was a Colonial Dame – that is, a woman who is descended from an ancestor who lived in British-America. One guest asked, “What’s the difference between a Colonial Dame and a Daughter of the American Revolution?” In a strong, highbrow Southern accent, she kindly replied, “Oh, bless your heart. About 150 years, sweetie.”

Hebrew | Paul was the equivalent of a Colonial Dame. He was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews” [1]. In other words, he wasn’t an immigrant or a convert. His parents were Hebrews and their parents before them. They circumcised him according to the Abrahamic covenant and named him after the great king of Israel, Saul, who was also descended from Benjamin, one of only two sons of Jacob and his beautiful wife Rebekah.

Accolades | Yet Paul didn’t just live off the wealth and reputation of his family. He worked and achieved and performed. Thus, not only was he a Colonial Dame, he was also a Supreme Court Justice. He attended prestigious schools, excelled beyond his classmates, and received professional accolades. As he said, “as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” [2].

Reversal | When Paul met Christ, however, everything flipped: “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” [3]. Why was Christ more valuable to him than everything he had inherited and achieved? Because “being found in Christ” meant that he was saved from eternal death unto eternal life [4], “sharing in his sufferings” meant that he was being made more holy [5], and “attaining the resurrection from the dead” meant that he would rise again with Christ [6]. These are the immeasurable riches of knowing Christ – treasures that eclipse everything else and rewards that cannot be inherited, bought or achieved.

Prayer | Lord, We long to live like Paul – practically and daily living out the reality that we value knowing Christ more than anything we could ever have or achieve. Therefore, help us love the eternal riches of Christ and teach us how to treasure him above all else. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Phil. 3:5 ESV  |  [2] Phil. 3:5-6 ESV  |  [3] Phil. 3:7-8 ESV  |  [4] Phil. 3:9 (justification)  |  [5] Phil. 3:10 (sanctification)  |  [6] Phil. 3:11 (glorification)

March 28, 2012

The Incarnation: “The Grand Miracle” (CS Lewis)

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Phil. 2:5-7
Full Text: Prov. 15; Phil. 2
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Incarnation | Jesus was both fully man and fully God. As man, he walked and breathed and, as deity, he healed sickness and forgave sins. Even his contemporaries knew that he was claiming divine status. In one instance, Jewish scribes heard Jesus forgive a man’s sins and said, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” [1]. In his doxology, Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” [2]. Jesus gave up the status and privilege that was his in heaven for our sake and came to live as a man.

Miracle | The grand miracle, according to C.S. Lewis, is the Incarnation – that is, God becoming man. He wrote, “If the thing happened, it was the central event in the history of the Earth – the very thing that the whole story has been about” [3]. He asks, “What can be meant by ‘God becoming man’? In what sense is it conceivable that eternal self-existent Spirit, basic Fact-hood, should be so combined with a natural human organism as to make one person?” [4]

Necessary | Why was Jesus’ deity necessary? In Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem offers three reasons: “(1) only someone who is infinite God could bear the full penalty for all the sins of all those who would believe in him – any finite creature would have been incapable of bearing that penalty; (2) salvation is from the Lord [5], and the whole message of Scripture is designed to show that no human being, no creature, could ever save man – only God himself could; and (3) only someone who was truly and fully God could be the one mediator between God and man [6], both to bring us back to God and also to reveal God most fully to us [7][8].

Prayer | Lord, The incarnation is the grand miracle because our faith hinges on its truth. We worship the person of Jesus because he is fully God and, therefore, worthy of our worship. As man, he lived a perfect life of obedience so that you accepted his sacrifice as sufficient on our behalf. Thank you for making atonement for us and remind us daily of the beauty and the mystery of the incarnation. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Mark 2:7 ESV  |  [2] Phil. 2:5-7 ESV. See also J.I. Packer. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Tyndale House Pub. 2001 Kindle Edition. Locations 1225-1230. (“Paul quotes from what seems to be a hymn that declares Jesus’ personal deity (Phil. 2:6); states that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9; cf. 1:19); hails Jesus the Son as the Father’s image and as his agent in creating and upholding everything (Col. 1:15- 17); declares him to be “Lord” (a title of kingship, with divine overtones), to whom one must pray for salvation according to the injunction to call on Yahweh in Joel 2:32 (Rom. 10:9-13); calls him “God over all” (Rom. 9:5) and “God and Savior” (Titus 2:13); and prays to him personally (2 Cor. 12:8-9), looking to him as a source of divine grace (2 Cor. 13:14). The testimony is explicit: faith in Jesus’ deity is basic to Paul’s theology and religion.”)  |  [3] C.S. Lewis. Miracles. Harper Collins, Inc. 2009 Kindle edition, p. 174  |  [4] Id. at p. 174  |  [5] Jonah 2:9 NASB (orig. footnote)

March 27, 2012

Slow Anger – Not No Anger – Is God’s Ideal

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Prov. 14:17, 29
Full Text: Prov. 14; Phil. 1
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective 

Danger | Anger has a dangerous power. Not only can it harm the body and ruin relationships, it can also threaten wisdom because it distorts reality. As Solomon wrote, “A man of quick temper acts foolishly … Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” [1]. Yet notice that Solomon didn’t condemn anger itself; he condemned hot tempered and quick anger.

Goodness | Slow anger – not no anger – is God’s ideal because it reflects His character. As the Lord proclaimed about Himself, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” [2]. In fact, Tim Keller has said, “It is a sin never to get angry” [3], and John Christenson said, “He who is angry without cause sins. But he who is not angry when there is cause sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices” [4]. Anger is an essential part of a loving God because anger is an outgrowth – not an opposite – of love. As Becky Pippert wrote, “Think about how we feel when we see someone we love ravaged by unwise actions or relationships. Do we respond with benign tolerance as we might toward strangers? Far from it … Anger is not the opposite of love. Hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference. God’s wrath is not a cranky explosion, but His settled opposition to the cancer which is eating out the insides of the human race He loves with His whole being” [5].

Order | Our problem, therefore, is not that we get angry; our problem is that we get angry at the wrong things. Our anger is disordered because our loves are disordered. How often do we ask ourselves, “Why am I angry in this situation? Because my own ego has been wounded? Or because the name of my Lord and Savior has been disregarded and His people have been the victims of injustice?”

Prayer | Lord, Let us be like you – slow to anger and abounding in love. For this is true wisdom that has rightly-ordered loves. Give us hearts that echo the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” [6], so that your glorious name and your beloved people are the treasures of our hearts. Then, our slow anger will rise up only when the precious things that you love are dishonored. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Prov. 14:17, 29 ESV  |  [2] Num. 14:18 ESV  |  [3] See Eph. 4:26  |  [4] See Tim Keller, “The Healing of Anger.” 17 October 2004.  |  [5] Becky Pippert, Hope Has Its Reasons.”  |  [6] John 3:30 ESV

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