Conduct Yourselves In a Manner Worthy of the Gospel of Christ

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ISAIAH 60:1-62:5 | PHILIPPIANS 1:27-2:18 | PSALM 72:1-20 | PROVERBS 24:11-12

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Isaiah’s prophecies for the people of Israel continue.  And while we have learned already of Israel’s restoration and redemption, there is more on that in these verses—only, it doesn’t appear that this has come to pass just yet.  This is the Lord’s promise to his people:

I will make peace your governor
and well-being your ruler.
18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.
19 The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
21 Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendor.
22 The least of you will become a thousand,
the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the LORD;
in its time I will do this swiftly.”

And even if it seems like it might be a long way coming, the promises of the Lord will not go in vain.  These are the purposes of the Lord in restoring Israel; these are some of the outcomes of the restoration, as Isaiah makes note of them in the verses below, speaking of what is to eventually come:

To bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

So great is this love between the Lord and his people, that the analogy of a marriage is used to describe the delight of the Lord in restoring Israel to himself.  Isaiah says:

5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.

Turning next to our reading of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we find Paul giving out a simple exhortation to live a life worthy of the gospel. 

He says27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Whatever happens? 

May it be that we might be able to say that with as much conviction. 

Paul has more where that came from, and he encourages his readers in this way:  1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Paul is as down-to-earth as can be; he speaks of the gospel of Christ and presents it in ways that is applicable to one’s personal relationships.  Life is all about relationships; in fact, that is all it is about.  And to this end, Paul says:  5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

And the consequence of such humility, we are told by Paul, is this:

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

And in even more down-to-earth fashion, Paul says this about how we ought to go about our daily business of life and living.  He says:  14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing.  Could that be any clearer?

Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find David, the psalmist, speaking of the omnipotent and merciful God that he loves:

12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs, in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, is making reference to God’s omniscience in these words:

12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
   does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
   Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

For to Me, to Live is Christ and Die is Gain

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ISAIAH 57:15-59:21 | PHILIPPIANS 1:1-26 | PSALM 71:1-24 | PROVERBS 24:9-10

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Isaiah says of the Lord’s provision:  1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. And the Lord’s response is:  21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever.”

Turning now to our New Testament reading, we commence a new book called the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, also known simply as Philippians.  Paul opens his letter with the most gracious words—words that I would like anyone to say to me personally.  

Paul says:  3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul continues with these thoughtful words:  9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Paul is writing this letter imprisoned in Rome, and speaks of how his present condition of imprisonment has also become a reason for the furthering of the gospel of Christ. 

Then, he says:  Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 

And then, in perhaps one of his most beloved and oft-quoted lines, we have this declaration:  21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 

Would that every believer’s motto would be just that!

Turning next to our psalm for the day, we find David pouring out his heart before the Lord—like he does so very often.  David says:

1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

The confidence David has in the Lord’s ability to save him is worthy of emulation.  David says:

19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.

Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs, the latter being one of several “sayings,” authored by Solomon, the wise king of Israel:

9 The schemes of folly are sin,
and people detest a mocker.

10 If you falter in a time of trouble,
how small is your strength!

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.