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"But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise
thyself rather unto godliness.” (1 Tim 4:7).
Most of us would like to have “instant” godliness but are
not willing to put out the consistent effort that is required to develop a truly
godly life. We make sporadic attempts to be more godly but become discouraged
when we fail time and again.
What is the answer? Exercise! Yes, exercise, spiritual
exercise, is the key to living a godly life. No athlete ever became proficient
at his sport overnight and no Christian ever became proficient at living for
Jesus Christ overnight.
An athlete becomes better conditioned and more skillful as
a result of consistent daily practice. Likewise, the Christian becomes more
conformed to the image of Jesus Christ as he daily strives to practice the
Christian virtues contained in the Bible.
Begin today. Prayerfully pick an area of your life in which
you need improvement. Work on it today, tomorrow, the next day, etc. Be
persistent through the power of the Holy Spirit. You will find yourself becoming
more skillful in living for Jesus.
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to
stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph 6:11).
A soldier without armor is defenseless. How foolish it
would be for a man to go into battle with no weapons and with no protective
armor. Yet that is just what many Christians do.
The enemy is real and vicious. We are in a daily battle
whether or not we realize it. We will suffer certain defeat if we don’t utilize
the weapons and armor which God has provided for us.
Do you know what your weapons are? Have you ever studied
about them in Ephesians 6? If you have studied them, do you consciously put your
armor on every day? If not, it is no wonder that you live a defeated life.
Turn to Ephesians 6 right now. Learn your weapons. Ask your
pastor to help. Then daily, with a conscious mental effort, clothe yourself in
the whole armor of God.
Find new joy as you successfully withstand the adversary of
"Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched
out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and
would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when
your fear cometh....” (Prov 1:24-26).
These are serious words, indeed! Many people want to live
their lives without much regard as to how the Lord would have them to live. They
live without the church, without prayer, without the Bible.
But when they get into trouble they think they can always
call on the Lord, and they think that He will always help them out of their
But God says here that He will laugh at them when their
troubles come. God is not going to be mocked. If we try to live without God and
then expect Him to rescue us from trouble we are going to be sadly surprised. A
consideration of this would instill us with a healthy fear of God.
"He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even
his prayer shall be abomination.” (Prov 28:9).
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving
one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph 4:32).
This beautiful verse sets forth the attitude for life that
should characterize every Christian. A Christian cannot be harsh. Instead he
must be kind. A Christian cannot be hardhearted. He must be tenderhearted. And a
Christian simply cannot have an unforgiving spirit. He must continually extend
forgiveness to all those who wrong him -- even to his worst enemies.
He is to do this because God, for Christ’s sake, has
forgiven him. When did God forgive His people? Even while they were His active
enemies. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8).
What God did for us we ought to practice toward others.
Don’t wait until all wrongs are made right before you forgive your brother. If
God had waited until we got right before He forgave us, we would all be in hell.
Freely forgive your brother for Christ’s sake and
experience the joy of the Lord.
"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from
the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1 Th 1:10).
We usually like to emphasize the love and kindness of God,
but God also is a God of wrath. His wrath is as terrible as His love is
wonderful. Someday “... the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his
mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and
that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And to you who are troubled
rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty
angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that
obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ....” (2 Th 1:7, 8). This is going
to be a terrible day. In that day those who have not been redeemed by the Lord
Jesus Christ will say to the mountains and rocks, “... Fall on us, and hide us
from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the
Lamb....” (Rev 6:16).
If we have been made true believers in the Lord Jesus
Christ by the irresistible power of the Holy Spirit, we shall escape the wrath
of God. See John 3:36.
If we have the blessed assurance that Jesus has drawn us to
Him how happy we should be. No trial or difficulty in life can take this joy
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only
to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake....” (Phil 1:29).
Two of the most wonderful gifts that God gives to His
people are listed here. First, is the gift of believing on Christ. Not everyone
can believe in Christ as Lord and Savior; only those can believe who have been
given the ability to do so. As Christ said, “... This is the work of God, that
ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:29).
If you truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your
Savior thank God for it. You did not come by this wonderful belief on your own.
The other gift listed here is that of suffering for the
sake of the Lord Jesus. Many times we suffer for our own sins, but if we have
ever suffered because we bore the name of Christ we have cause to greatly
rejoice. Paul plainly said, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him....” (2
We may consider material goods, family, health, etc. as
wonderful gifts from the hand of God. But these gifts are far inferior to those
of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and suffering for His sake.
"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise
grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace:
otherwise work is no more work.” (Rom 11:6).
This verse tells us plainly that grace and works don’t mix.
It is very important that we understand this. Many people who think they believe
in salvation by grace don’t really understand what grace is. They say that God
does His part but you must do your part too. But this is not grace -- it is a
mixture of grace and works. Such a mixture is impossible because when any work
enters the picture “grace is no more grace.”
It is true that the sinner will respond when God calls him,
but the response is also the gift of God which was worked in the heart of the
sinner by the grace of God.
Grace is the free, unmerited gift of God. Let us rejoice in
the grace of God our Savior and give Him all the credit for our
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also
on the things of others.” (Phil 2:4).
As sinful human beings we all tend to be selfish. We are
concerned primarily for our own safety and welfare. We take pains to see that
our needs are properly met and have little concern for the needs of others.
But this scripture tells us not to be so. We are to become
other-oriented instead of self-oriented. We have the great EXAMPLE in our Lord
Jesus Christ, Who “... came not to be ministered unto, but to minister....”
(Matt. 20:28). Christ did not live for Himself. He lived for His Father and for
This is the only way that we can be truly happy. A selfish
person is never happy. The happy man is he who loses himself in the service of
God. Much of this service consists in serving others. Paul says “... by love
serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13).
Begin to find true fulfillment today as you look on the
things of others.
"I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas,
that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to
the ministry of the saints,)...." (1 Cor 16:15).
We hear a lot about addiction today. Some are addicted to
drugs; others are addicted to alcohol or tobacco. But here was a wonderful
Christian household who had “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.”
When a man is addicted to anything, that thing dominates
his life. The drug addict will sell everything he has in order to purchase more
The household of Stephanas was dominated by the desire of
serving the saints. Much of their time, thought, effort, and money was dedicated
to this pursuit.
What can be said about your household? What are you
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil 2:8).
This scripture has to do with the work of redemption, but
it also has to do with the Son of Man as our great example. Jesus lived a life
of perfect obedience. To do this He humbled Himself. A man who won’t obey is not
humble. We might appear to be ever so spiritual but we are not really so if we
don’t humble ourselves and obey God and those authorities which God has placed
over us. Children are to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1); wives are to obey their
husbands (I Pet. 3:6); church members are to obey their rulers. (Rom. 13:1).
The only time we have a right to disobey any authority is
when they tell us to do something which is contrary to the word of God.
Let us follow Christ. Let us humble ourselves. Let us obey!
“... Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to
hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and
stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry....” (1 Sam 15:22, 23).
Yesterday we saw that a man who won’t obey is not humble.
Today we gain further insight into the sin of disobedience. The Lord says here
that the man who won’t obey is rebellious and stubborn. He further says that the
sin of disobedience is in the same class with witchcraft, iniquity, and
idolatry. What a serious matter that disobedience is!
Let us search our hearts and pray that the Lord will remove
all the pride, rebellion, and stubbornness that is there. Let us determine that,
by the grace of God, we will obey God and all the authorities that He has placed
"But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of
uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they
are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.” (2 Pet 2:10).
We have for the past two days considered the sin of
disobedience. This is such a serious matter that it warrants further study. In
this passage we learn that the disobedient are presumptuous and self-willed.
Furthermore, they do not hesitate to criticize and speak against those whom the
Lord has placed over them.
The Lord’s people even do this sometimes. Aaron and Miriam
spoke against Moses. The Lord showed His displeasure by making Miriam a Leper.
See Numbers 12.
Paul the apostle apologized for speaking against the high
priest, even though he spoke the truth and the high priest was a wicked man.
Let us realize the horror of the sin of disobedience and
thoroughly repent of it.
"And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy
it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God
of that which doth cost me nothing....” (2 Sam 24:24).
Many Christians today want to take a “free ride.” They
don’t want their service to God to cost them anything. They shrink from the idea
of sacrificing their time, money, or concern.
How refreshingly different is the attitude of David as
portrayed here! David wanted his service to God to cost him something. He
was so appreciative of the mercies of God that he wanted to do something to show
his appreciation. He refused to take a free ride.
May our attitude be as David’s was. Any other attitude will
bring us emptiness and lack of fulfillment.
"And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let
none of his words fall to the ground.” (1 Sam 3:19).
It is to be feared that many times the words of God’s
servants fall, as it were, to the ground. Many sermons are preached but the
words are not heeded. Hearts are not smitten; people do not repent; lives are
not changed; revival does not come.
The fault may lie with preachers, with people, or both. The
preacher may not be spending time with God in prayer. Things may not be right in
his life. The people may not be preparing their hearts to receive the word of
God with a ready mind.
We know that the fault does not lie with God. Will you join
me in repentance and in prayer that, like in the time of Samuel, the words will
not fall to the ground but will penetrate the hearts of the people of God?
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time....” (1 Pet 5:6).
All men are proud by nature. Pride is one of the chief
elements of our sinful nature. True humility is possible only in a child of God.
God here commands us to humble ourselves. We can and must do this by the grace
If we try to exalt ourselves we will only fall. “Pride
goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov 16:18).
The way “up” in the service of God is “down.” We must
humble ourselves and He will exalt us in due time. We might have to wait awhile
but we can claim God’s promise as true and sure.
It was so with the Lord Jesus. He humbled Himself.
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above
every name....” (Phil 2:9).
"Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus,
my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and
he that ministered to my wants.” (Phil 2:25).
When we are fully yielded to the Lord we can be many things
to many people. We can be an instrument of blessing to others in the hands of
Epaphroditus was such a man. He was a brother in Christ. A
brother is one upon whom we can depend. He is one with whom we can share sorrows
and joys. A companion in labor is one who works alongside us. He makes our job
easier and more pleasant. “Many hands make light work.”
A fellow-soldier is one with whom we go into battle
shoulder to shoulder. We face the enemy with confidence when we go into battle
with dependable fellow-soldiers.
Epaphroditus was also a faithful messenger of the
Philippian church and one who lovingly ministered to the needs of Paul.
How many things are you to the people of God?
"Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and
hold such in reputation...." (Phil 2:29).
Epaphroditus was a faithful servant of God. He had hazarded
his life for the sake of the gospel. Paul is now sending him back to Philippi
and he exhorts the church there to hold Epaphroditus in reputation.
We need to heed this admonition today concerning the
servants of God. They are our leaders in the fight against Satan and the world.
Both Satan and the world have the servants of Jesus Christ targeted for their
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ must hold their
faithful leaders in reputation. They must defend them against gossip and
Feeling the support of their brethren behind them, the
ministers of the gospel will have their hands greatly strengthened as they lead
into battle against the adversary of our souls.
"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the
same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” (Phil
We sometimes grow weary of repetition. We get tired of
hearing the same things over and over again. We tend to close our minds when
someone speaks on a subject with which we are already familiar.
But we are forgetful creatures. We need to be constantly
reminded of the basics which are the foundation of Christianity. Paul said that
it was for the safety of the Philippians that he write the same things to them.
Peter said the same thing in the following words:
"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these
things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I
think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you
in remembrance....” (2 Pet 1:12, 13).
Don’t be a lazy or indifferent hearer of the word of God.
Pray that each sermon will come to you afresh, even when it is an old and
familiar theme. Remember that it is for your “safety.”
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death....”
What an amazing statement this is! Paul was writing as an
old man who had served Christ well for many years. He was a good friend of the
Lord. But he wanted to know the infinite God better. He was not complacent or
satisfied with his knowledge of the Savior. Do you have this same thirst to know
Christ in His fullness, or are you lukewarm and have reached “a sticking point”
in your relationship with the Lord?
Paul wanted to know more of the resurrection power of the
Lord in his daily walk. But he realized that as he experienced this wonderful
power, he would also be called upon to fellowship the sufferings of the Lord.
Don’t shrink back from the suffering for the Lord. As you
suffer for Him you will be brought into fellowship with His mighty power.
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this
one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth
unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the
high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13, 14).
Paul compared his Christian life to running a race. He
intended to win. He ran strenuously. He concentrated all his efforts on reaching
He did not look back on past accomplishments or failures.
Past accomplishments might lift him up with pride and cause him to slacken his
efforts. Past failures might discourage him.
He concentrated on the present and looked with expectation
to the glorious future. He didn’t stop to look around to see how others were
running. He knew that each man must run this race for himself. He kept his eyes
glued to the goal.
May we follow the example of Paul as we run our race with
all our might.
"Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which
walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” (Phil 3:17).
We know that the great example after whom we must pattern
our lives is the Lord Jesus Christ.
But, in addition, he has given us other examples whom we
can also follow as they follow Christ. One of the best ways to learn to do
anything is by observing those who do it well. This is the highly-effective
apprenticeship method of learning.
Search out Christians who have learned how to live the
Christian life. Spend time with them, watch them, ask them questions, learn from
Would you learn patience? Observe a patient man. Would you
be filled with joy? Find a joyful Christian and learn the secrets of his life.
Search the scriptures. Find men and women there who lived
as you would like to live. Study their lives prayerfully. Then follow them as
they follow Christ.
"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we
look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ....” (Phil 3:20).
The word “conversation” here means citizenship. For the
true believer, his citizenship is in heaven. That is where his true home is.
This earthly life is a temporary one.
Everywhere we go we represent our true country. If we want
people to get the true conception of our country, we must behave like good
citizens. We must never forget that home of which we are the representatives.
And even though we are away from home we never lose our
desire to go there. We must never regard this world as our true home. We must
not attempt to put down deep roots here. After all we are “... strangers and
pilgrims on this earth.” (Heb. 11:13).
And we long to hear of news from home. Our newspaper is the
Bible. Our radio and television is the preaching of the gospel.
Our direct-line telephone to our true home is prayer. Let
us often use our telephone to talk with our “... Father which art in heaven....”
"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6, 7).
We have here an admonition and a promise. The admonition is
that we should not be “careful” or anxious about anything. In other words it is
sin to worry. To worry indicates unbelief in the goodness of our Father.
The way to prevent worry is to pray. Sincere, believing
prayer about every detail of our lives will drive worry far away.
The promise is the peace of God. God has promised us this
peace and we must claim it by faith.
The world may be falling down around us, but if we are
constantly praying and trusting God, we will be kept by peace which marches up
and down before our hearts and minds as a sentinel of God.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever
things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be
any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil 4:8).
We are largely a product of our thoughts. Evil thoughts
lead to evil actions. Despondent thoughts cause the heart to become despondent.
Speaking of the programming of a computer it has been said, “Garbage in, garbage
The Christian must discipline his mind. Vulgarity,
violence, chaos, rebellion, and other such influences surround us daily. If we
allow our minds to dwell on such things we will become spiritually ill.
Paul says that we must combat this by filling our minds
with truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, good report, virtue, and
praise. Then we will have the proper mental attitude with which to serve God.
To do this we must discipline ourselves as to what we read,
listen to, look at, and think upon.
Let our minds be lovely for Christ.
"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned,
in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil 4:11).
Paul was satisfied no matter what condition he was in. If
he were in poverty he didn’t fret and worry. When he was in wealth his
prosperity didn’t go to his head. What a blessed condition to be in!
But Paul didn’t come by this contentment automatically, and
neither will we. He learned to be content. He, no doubt, learned this by
prayer, by experience, and by meditating on the word of God.
Paul knew that God orders the events in our lives and that
He is a wise and good heavenly Father. He will give us what we need and what is
good for us. If we can believe this then we will be content.
Paul did not put a premium on material things. He knew that
God’s spiritual blessings were a great deal more valuable than the material
blessings. Communion with God was a lot more important to Paul than new clothes
or good food.
If we look at things the way Paul looked at them, we will
also learn to be content.
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth
me.” (Phil 4:13).
Paul is not boasting in himself here but he is making his
boast in the Lord. He is facing life with supreme confidence that his Lord will
sustain him through each trial. Paul is not afraid of life; he is willing to
meet each challenge head-on in the strength of the Lord.
How Christians today need to emulate the example of Paul.
Too often they face life afraid. They dread the problems, sacrifices, and
persecutions that accompany living for the Lord.
Often they mistake this condition of being “cowed down”
with humility. But this is not humility, it is unbelief. We must learn to face
life as Paul did -- in full confidence that we can successfully handle all the
problems that come our way because Christ gives us the strength to do so.
"Not because I desire a gift: but I
desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (Phil 4:17).
Paul is here thanking the Philippian Christians for the
gift of money which they had sent to him while he was in prison. But, even
though he was thankful for the money, he was even more thankful that the
Philippians would receive a great blessing because of this gift which was given
in the service of God.
People put money into banks thinking that it will be
secure. But banks can fail; thieves can break in and steal. But when Paul told
the Philippians that he desired “fruit that may abound to your account,” he knew
that they had made an investment which was secure. Money on account with God is
safe and will bring great returns. How much do you have invested with God?
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his
riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19).
A person gives according to his ability to do so. A rich
man can give much, a poor man only a little. Here Paul assures the Philippians
that God will supply all their need according to his riches in glory. And He
will do this by Christ Jesus.
God is not only a rich Father; He is also a generous
Father. He loves to give good gifts unto His children. He will give His children
only the best.
God is also a wise Father who will give His children what
is best for them. He knows what true riches are. He will lavish generous amounts
of the true riches on the objects of His love.
Don’t listen to the lies of Satan who tries to tell you
that the heavenly Father is stingy and hard-hearted. Our Father is rich,
generous, and wise.
"That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for
yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.” (1 Th 3:3).
Sometimes people get the idea that when a person begins to
serve the Lord all his problems vanish. When a good Christian begins to be
severely afflicted or persecuted, people become confused. Some begin to question
God or even to doubt the existence of a good and loving God.
But, as Paul pointed out to the Thessalonian Christians
here, the people of God will suffer tribulation. We should not think it a
strange thing when hard times come upon us. We bring glory to God when we
maintain a cheerful and believing attitude as we suffer. God often uses these
trials to deepen our faith and to purge us from our sins.
Don’t become discouraged when persecution comes to you or
to other Christians. Remember that we are appointed thereunto.
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth
his Son, made of a woman, made under the law...." (Gal 4:4).
God does not do things by chance. He always works according
to purpose. He is never caught off guard or taken by surprise. He is always on
time. Jesus Christ was born “when the fullness of time was come.” The entire
history of the world till that moment was a preparation for the advent of the
Son of God into the world.
Christ lived His appointed time on earth, was crucified,
buried, resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. He is now
directing the events of the world and at the appointed time will come again.
This truth should sustain the child of God as he looks
round about him and sees the confusion and chaos the world is in. God is not
confused. He still has control of things and is ordering them to His ultimate
glory. “... Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (Rev. 19:6).