In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3–4
On the verge of making team history, University of Iowa basketball star Jordan Bohannon intentionally missed the free throw that would have broken a twenty-five-year-old school record. Why? In 1993, days after Iowa’s Chris Street had made thirty-four free throws in a row, he lost his life in a car crash. Bohannon chose to honor Street’s memory by not breaking his record.
Bohannon showed a keen awareness of things more important than his own advancement. We see similar values in the life of the young warrior David. Hiding in a cave with his ragtag army, David longed for a drink from the well in his hometown of Bethlehem, but the dreaded Philistines occupied the area (2 Samuel 23:14–15).
In a stunning act of bravery, three of David’s warriors “broke through the Philistine lines,” got the water, and brought it to David. But David couldn’t bring himself to drink it. Instead, he “poured it out before the Lord,” saying, “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” (vv. 16–17).
In a world that often rewards those who seize whatever they can grasp, how powerful acts of love and sacrifice can be! Such deeds are much more than mere symbols.
Personal debt has skyrocketed in Western culture. Easy credit, a desire for material goods, and an unwillingness to save and wait have led many people down the path of financial bondage. The Bible doesn’t forbid borrowing, but it clearly warns us of its negative consequences. Our verse today describes the borrower as the lender’s slave.
Every dollar borrowed costs you a measure of freedom. It means your paycheck is no longer entirely yours, since a part of it must be set aside to repay your creditor. As the interest adds up, the financial burden may necessitate working longer hours. The obligation to repay debt oftentimes hinders the ability to give to the Lord’s work or help people in need. Instead of getting the firstfruits, God gets leftovers or nothing at all.
The consequences of accumulating debt reach beyond monetary issues. The burden of mounting bills creates emotional and relational stress. In fact, financial problems are one of the leading causes of divorce. Even our relationship with the Lord is affected when we let our appetite for the world’s goods override our obedience to His voice. Although God promises to supply our needs, how often do we jump ahead of Him and provide for ourselves with easy payment plans?
The next time you are tempted to charge a purchase that you really can’t afford, stop! Go home and ask the Lord if He wants you to have it. If He does, ask Him to provide it. Then wait. True freedom comes to those who rely on the Lord’s provision instead of their credit cards.
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
Many centuries ago, a desperate father brought his son to the Lord Jesus with an appeal for healing. The boy was demon-possessed from childhood and tormented physically and spiritually. The agony was awful. His father had brought him to Jesus’ disciples, and they were unable to do anything. Nothing worked (Mark 9:17-21).
Jesus told the father, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (v. 23). The urgent and tearful cry of that hurting father was, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (v. 24). No doubt we often need to plea for such help. Join me in this prayer that the Lord will grant us greater faith in Him.
Oh Lord, God, we cannot know the end of a thing. We do not have certainty about the plans of our days. Forgive us when we try without consulting You. Forgive our blundering efforts to make something happen. We love You, and we want to please You, but our lives are so caught up in the things of this world. Help us, Lord. Help us to know how much we need You. Help us to see the real values of eternal things. Give us a greater awareness of Your Holy Spirit. Give us a holy awe of Your Word. Drive us to our knees more often, Lord. Keep us close.
Oh, our Father, purge us from the ungodly. Separate us from the sins that hinder and blind us. Meet us in the halls of our heart and sanctify us there. And then, Lord Jesus, embolden us for the work ahead. Provide our daily bread. Cleanse us of our sins and enrich our fellowship with the saints. Clothe us in the armor of God and place us where we must stand. Enable us to resist the enemy in the faith, that we may see his strongholds crumble and his minions flee. Grant us a fruitful harvest and an effective ministry, in Jesus’ name. Amen. HMM III
She therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
—1 Kings 3:9
That so-called Bible religion in our times is suffering rapid decline is so evident as to need no proof, but just what has brought about this decline is not so easy to discover. I can only say that I have observed one significant lack among evangelical Christians which might turn out to be the real cause of most of our spiritual troubles. Of course, if that were true, then the supplying of that lack would be our most critical need.
The great deficiency to which I refer is the lack of spiritual discernment, especially among our leaders. How there can be so much Bible knowledge and so little insight, so little moral penetration, is one of the enigmas of the religious world today….
If not the greatest need, then surely one of the greatest is for the appearance of Christian leaders with prophetic vision. We desperately need seers who can see through the mist. Unless they come soon, it will be too late for this generation. And if they do come, we will no doubt crucify a few of them in the name of our worldly orthodoxy. But the cross is always the harbinger of the resurrection. WTA111-112
Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. Amen.
Yes I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.—Jeremiah 31; 3.
My song is love unknown;
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
He so governs and shapes all the circumstances of life, that if we use them aright we may draw near to Him here, and prepare to be near Him in the Forever after. He longs for our love,—our love, which is so feeble and faint, and yet so precious in His sight when we give it to Him freely. And why does He so desire it? Ah! I have told you many times before, and yet we cannot too often remember it, that it is because, if we love Him, He can make us supremely happy. All that belongs to us, or occurs to us, in this life, is so ordered that we may find in it the means of putting far from us those obstructions of evil which prevent us from seeing Him as He is, and as He has revealed Himself to us; for if we did but so see Him, how could we fail to love Him with the whole heart and soul?
How shall we become lovely? By loving Him who is ever lovely.
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Phil. 4:9
It is well when a man can with advantage be so minutely copied as Paul might have been. Oh, for grace to imitate him this day and every day!
Should we, through divine grace, carry into practice the Pauline teaching, we may claim the promise which is now open before us; and what a promise it is! God, who loves peace, makes peace, and breathes peace, will be with us. “Peace be with you is a sweet benediction; but for the God of peace to be with us is far more. Thus we have the fountain as well as the streams, the sun as well as his beams. If the God of peace be with us, we shall enjoy the peace of God which passeth all understanding, even though outward circumstances should threaten to disturb. If men quarrel, we shall be sure to be peacemakers, if the Maker of peace be with us.
It is in the way of truth that real peace is found. If we quit the faith or leave the path of righteousness under the notion of promoting peace, we shall be greatly mistaken. First pure, then peaceable, is the order of wisdom and of fact. Let us keep to Paul’s line, and we shall have the God of peace with us as He was with the apostle.